Matthew Harmon


Fellowship in the Gospel (Philippians 1:5)

NOTEThis is a condensed excerpt from my forthcoming (2014) commentary on Philippians.

When Paul speaks of partnership in the gospel, he uses the word koinōnia, which is usually translated fellowship in the NT. He uses the term in a variety of ways to express shared experience among believers with each other and God. His understanding of koinōnia is relentlessly gospel centered and Christ-focused, to such a degree that Paul can assert (via a rhetorical question) that believers and unbelievers cannot experience true fellowship (2 Corinthians 6:14). Instead believers have been called into fellowship with Christ (1 Corinthians 1:9), and they experience that fellowship by partaking the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 10:16) as well as suffering for Christ (Philippians 3:10). Believers also experience fellowship with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 13:14; Philemon 1:6).

The Philippians have been participants in the advancement of the gospel. But this more active sense of participation in the gospel must not be severed from the passive sense of mutual experience of the benefits of the gospel in their own lives. It is because the Philippians first shared in the benefits of the gospel with Paul that they were then empowered to participate in the advancement of that same gospel so others might also share in its benefits.

In a day when the term fellowship is loosely applied to any time believers gather together for any purpose, it is essential to regain the biblical understanding of fellowship. What distinguishes true biblical fellowship from simple shared interests and experiences among non-Christians is the gospel-centered nature of biblical fellowship. As such it is oriented around encouraging, exhorting, teaching, praying, giving, suffering, etc. with fellow believers in an effort to follow Christ. “The heart of true fellowship is self-sacrificing conformity to a shared vision… Christian fellowship, then, is self-sacrificing conformity to the gospel. There may be overtones of warmth and intimacy, but the heart of the matter is this shared vision of what is of transcendent importance, a vision that calls forth our commitment.”1


[1] D. A. Carson, Basics for Believers: An Exposition of Philippians (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1996), 16.
 

Paul's Mindset Toward the Philippians (1:7)

NOTEThis is a condensed excerpt from my forthcoming (2014) commentary on Philippians.

Paul now shifts to explain his joyful gratitude for the Philippians by expressing the depth of his affection for them: It is right for me to feel this way about you all.1 Although most English translations give the impression that Paul is speaking of his feelings, he in fact is speaking of something far more significant. A more wooden translation would be “It is right for me to think this way about you all” (cf. NKJV, NET). The verb in question is phroneō, one of the key words in the entire letter.2 By itself the verb has the broad sense of think, judge, form an opinion, or set one’s mind on something.3 It is used in a variety of ways here in Philippians, referring to Paul’s mindset towards the Philippians (Philippians 1:7), the Philippians’ mindset towards each other (Philippians 2:2, Philippians 2:5; Philippians 4:2), the Christian life (Philippians 3:15) or Paul (Philippians 4:10), and even the mindset of gospel-opponents (Philippians 3:19). As such the verb speaks of one’s frame of reference for life, what we today might refer to as a worldview. It is a way of evaluating the world around us and acting in a manner consistent with that mindset. So although this word can include the emotions, the focus is on the mind. Of course, the close relationship between the mind and the emotions means that one’s mindset is both affected by and shapes the emotions.


1. In the Greek, this verse actually begins with the conjunction kathōs, which usually expresses a comparison (reflected in KJV, NKJV). Because of the perceived awkwardness, several English translations omit it altogether (NIV, TNIV, ESV, RSV, NRS). But this hides the relationship of Philippians 1:7-8 with what comes before (Philippians 1:3-6) and thus should be retained. Instead of its more common comparative sense, here kathōs expresses cause (cf. BDAG 3; BDF §453.2) as reflected in the NASB and NLT.

2. This verb is a distinctly Pauline word; 23 of the 26 NT occurrences are found in his letters (Matthew 16:23; Mark 8:33; Acts 28:22; Romans 8:5; Romans 11:20; Romans 12:3 [2x], Romans 12:16 [2x]; Romans 14:6 [2x]; Romans 15:5; 1 Corinthians 13:11; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 5:10; Philippians 1:7; Philippians 2:2 [2x], Philippians 2:5; Philippians 3:15 [2x], Philippians 3:19; Philippians 4:2, Philippians 4:10 [2x]; Colossians 3:2). Ten of those 23 Pauline occurrences are here in Philippians.

3. Cf. BDAG.


The Gospel According to Malachi

This past Sunday was Week 11 in my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets. We looked at Malachi, whose name means “my messenger.” Nothing else about him is known, as he does not identify any of his ancestors or any of the rulers in power during his ministry. Despite the lack of clear historical references, it seems probable that Malachi was prophesying sometime after the rebuilding of the temple in 516 B.C. but before the return of Ezra (458 B.C.) or Nehemiah (445 B.C.).

Whereas Judah’s problem before the exile was idolatry, upon their return their biggest problem was apathy. The second temple was a pale reflection of the Solomonic one, they remained under the political control of Persia and conditions in the land remained challenging. They were questioning Yahweh’s love for them (Malachi 1:2), dishonoring God with blemished sacrifices (Malachi 1:8), withholding their giving (Malachi 3:8-10) and claiming that it is vain to serve Yahweh (Malachi 3:14). Using a series of six “disputations,” Malachi writes to (1) rebuke Israel’s apathy, (2) recall the people to covenant loyalty, and (3) reassure God’s people of the coming Day of the Lord.

Malachi is especially concerned with the failure of the priests to lead the people in proper worship. Not only are they offering blemished sacrifices, but they are failing to teach God’s people His ways (Malachi 1:6-14). But there will come a day when God sends his messenger to prepare the way for the Lord to come suddenly to his temple (Malachi 3:1). Meanwhile, God’s people should remain faithful to Mosaic covenant in anticipation of God sending Elijah in advance of the great Day of the Lord (Malachi 4:4-6).

After studying Malachi, I would summarize the theological big idea as this: God calls his people to repent of our apathy towards his proper worship and fear his name in anticipation of the great and fearful Day of the LORD. The failure of the priesthood points forward to our need for a perfect high priest, one who will obey in every detail (Hebrews 7:23-28).  God has already sent his messenger John the Baptist to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus Christ (Mark 1:2-4), who came suddenly to the temple and brought judgment (Mark 11:15-19). And just as God’s people in Malachi’s day were instructed to look back to their covenant with Yahweh in anticipation of his future coming, so we today should look back to the work of Jesus in establishing the new covenant in anticipation of his return to consummate his promises.

Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:

Week 11 – Malachi

Week 11 – Malachi (Handout)


The Gospel in Habakkuk and Obadiah

This past Sunday was week 8 in my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets. Because the class is 13 weeks and I do both an introductory and summary week, that means that there is one week where I double up and do two minor prophets. So I combined Habakkuk 1 and Obadiah 1.

Little is known about Habakkuk other than he saw this prophetic oracle and in response wrote the prayer/psalm that comprises Habakkuk 3. He likely received this prophetic revelation after the death of King Josiah (609 BC) and the initial invasion by the Babylonians (605 BC). One thing that makes this prophetic book unique is that it take the form of a complaint by the prophet and God’s response.

That complaint centers on how long God will wait before bringing judgment on sinful Judah (Habakkuk 1:2-4). God’s shocking response is that he will use the Babylonians to execute judgment on them (Habakkuk 1:5-11). Habakkuk responds with incredulity: how can God use a people more wicked than Judah to bring judgment on them (Habakkuk 1:12-17)? God responds by assuring Habakkuk that he will also in due time bring judgment on Babylon as well (Habakkuk 2:2-20). Habakkuk in turn responds with a prayer that celebrates God’s sovereignty in judgment and salvation (Habakkuk 3).

While there is much to glean from Habakkuk, I would summarize the theological big idea as this: Even when we cannot trace God’s hand of justice or providence, we can patiently trust and rejoice in His character. Habakkuk models for us how to properly question God when we don’t understand what is happening around us. He does so with humility, ready to receive correction (Habakkuk 2:1). Those who are righteous will live by faith, trusting in God’s faithful character (Habakkuk 2:4). The ultimate example of this is the cross. What seemed like the end of God’s plan was in fact the centerpiece of saving his people.

Like Habakkuk, we know little about the man Obadiah. Depending on how his name is vocalized, it means either “servant of God” or “worshiper of God.” Although there are no clear indicators of when he ministered, the most likely date is sometime shortly after the destruction of Jerusalem (586 BC). The main focus of this brief minor prophet is judgment on Edom for not only failing to help Judah in her hour of need but actively mocking and looting them. God assures his people that Edom will one day pay for her sins, just like all the nations.

The final line of the book points towards the theological big idea: God will soon defeat the enemies of His people and establish His rule over His people forever. Jesus began his ministry by announcing that the time was fulfilled and the kingdom of God was at hand. He could claim that because he was the long-promised Davidic king inaugurated that kingdom through his life of perfect obedience, his miraculous ministry, his sacrificial death on the cross for our sins, his resurrection from the dead, and his triumphant ascension to the right hand of the Father. And one day he will return in glory to consummate his kingdom in a new heavens and new earth where we will dwell with him forever.

Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:

Week 8 – Habakkuk & Obadiah (AUDIO)

Week 8 – Habakkuk & Obadiah (Handout)


The Gospel in Zephaniah

This past Sunday was week 7 in my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets. We worked our way through Zephaniah 1, one of my favorite Minor Prophets. Based on the brief genealogy in Zephaniah 1:1 he appears to have been the great-great-grandson of King Hezekiah of Judah (715-686 BC). He prophesied during the reign of Josiah (640-609 BC), during which the book of the Law was rediscovered in the temple (ca. 622 BC; see 2 Kings 22:8-13). Given the number of places where Zephaniah seems to echo the language of Deuteronomy 1, it seems possible that he wrote after this rediscovery but before the destruction of Nineveh in 612 BC.

The main theological theme in the book is the Day of the LORD. Throughout the book, Zephaniah describes the utter destruction and desolation that will come when the fire of God’s jealous wrath is unleashed. The Day of the LORD will bring judgment on God’s enemies and salvation for his people. On the one hand, the focus in Zephaniah is on the impending destruction of Jerusalem that eventually comes in 586 BC (Zephaniah 1:7-13; Zephaniah 3:1-8). On the other hand, the language used goes beyond that event to the judgment that is coming on the entire world (Zephaniah 1:2-6, Zephaniah 1:14-18). That’s because all throughout history there are a series of “days of the LORD” that anticipate the final and ultimate “Day of the LORD” at the end of human history. These small “d” days of the LORD include the destruction of the Northern Kingdom (722 BC) and the destruction of Jerusalem (586 BC), as well as the crucifixion, Pentecost, and the destruction of Jerusalem (70 AD). All of these events in some way anticipate the final Day of the Lord at the end of human history when God will bring final judgment on his enemies and consummate the salvation of his people.

How can we as God’s people today benefit from Zephaniah? What is it that God has to say to us today through this Minor Prophet?

I believe the starting point is determining the theological big idea, which I would summarize as follows: Yahweh is a mighty warrior who brings judgment but saves the remnant who flee to him as their King.

While Zephaniah describes in terrifying detail the coming Day of the LORD, he closes with a stunning picture of God restoring his people (Zephaniah 3:14-20). As the true King of Israel, Jesus dwells in the midst of his people. He is our mighty warrior who rejoices over us with gladness, is quiet in his love, and exults over us with loud singing.

Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:

Week 7 – Zephaniah (AUDIO)

Week 7 – Zephaniah (Handout)


Worthy: Will We Acknowledge Him? (Psalms 1-2)

This past Sunday we began a new series at Christ’s Covenant Church on the Psalms. We have entitled the series “Worthy” to capture two key truths: (1) God is worthy of our love, our devotion, our worship; and in light of this (2) we are called to live in a way that is worthy of him. So throughout this series we will focus on these two aspects of the term worthy as we look at various psalms to feed our souls and fuel our devotion to Christ no matter what life circumstances we encounter.

The Psalms connect with us on so many levels. They express the entire spectrum of human experience and display the full range of God’s character and his dealings with humanity. When we read the Psalms we scale the heights of joyful worship of our exalted God and plumb the depths of despair that come from living in a fallen world. In between we find the daily challenges of living a life of worship. The great Reformer Martin Luther referred to the Psalms as “the Bible in miniature.” In fact, one Luther scholar observes that:1

Romans gave Luther his theology, but it was the Psalms that gave him his thunder. The Psalms gave Luther a towering view of God, so much so that in preaching the gospel, he was ready to fight the devil himself.

The 150 psalms that are in the book come from a variety of authors and time periods, some as early as Moses. The primary person associated with the Psalms is King David. He not only wrote many of them, but one of the major themes in Psalms is the promise that God made to him in 2 Samuel 7 about one of his descendants ruling over God’s people and ultimately the world. The book of Psalms is broken up into five “books,” which likely mirrors the first five books of the Old Testament. Sometime after the Jewish people returned from their exile in Babylon these psalms were collected for use in worship. So there is a sense in which Psalms is like a hymnal. But the arrangement and ordering of the Psalms is not accidental. In many cases psalms have clearly been grouped together to make a point that goes beyond the individual psalms.

That is the case with the Psalms 1–2, as we will see when working our way through them this morning. These two psalms were placed together at the beginning of the Psalms to introduce the book as a whole. When understood together they not only set the trajectory for the entire collection, but introduce key themes that are developed along the way. In addition to that, Psalms 1–2 beautifully capture the dual focus of our series—the worthiness of God and the call to live a life that is worthy of Him. Psalm 1 will lay out for us a worthy life, and Psalm 2 will show us a worthy king. But as we go through Psalms 1–2, the question I want you to keep in mind is the relationship between the two. In other words, what is the relationship between a life that is worthy and the king who is worthy of worship?

Interested in hearing more? You can find the audio of the sermon here.


[1] See http://www.ligonier.org/blog/luther-and-psalms-his-thunder/


Who is the Worst Sinner You Know?

Paul never lost the wonder of the gospel of God’s grace to him. Even after 30+ years of walking with Christ and serving as the lead apostle among the Gentiles, he remained blown away by the fact that God had saved him. In 1 Timothy 1:12-17, Paul recounts his testimony of how the grace of God transformed his life. Before Christ stopped him on the road to Damascus he “was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor” (1:13). But the grace of God was more than sufficient to save him, since “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1:15).

At this point Paul makes a surprising statement. We might expect Paul to continue his thought by saying “among whom I WAS the foremost.” Given his life before Christ, who could argue? He was a persecutor of the church and a blasphemer! But instead Paul says “among whom I AM the foremost” (1:15). In other words, Paul thinks of himself currently as the “foremost of sinners.” It is not merely a description of his former life, but a statement of his current experience.

So how could Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, think of himself as the foremost of sinners after 30+ years of walking with Christ? I believe the answer rests in his self-understanding and his God-understanding. Paul knew the mixture of his motives, the impurity of his desires, the extent of his failure to love the Lord his God with all his heart, soul, mind and strength. As he grew in his understanding of God he progressively saw the depths of his sin in ways he never appreciated. Combined with his growing understanding of the perfections of God in Christ his sin became increasingly odious to him.

Who came to mind when you saw the title of this post? Did you think of a mass murderer? A child molestor? Osama bin Laden? Hitler? I am becoming convinced that the biblical answer to that question for every single person is “me.” Sure, I haven’t committed the outward acts that would lead others to call me the worst sinner they know. But when we recall Jesus’ exposition of the Law in Matthew 5–6, I reach a different conclusion. I am guilty in my heart of the very sins that Jesus describes. Even my best actions are tainted by sinful motivations, many of which I do not even fully recognize or appreciate.

I am convinced that one of the marks of growth in holiness is paradoxically a growing awareness of the depth and extent of our sinfulness. As the Spirit continues his work in our lives, he exposes the idolatry in our lives in all its various forms. But he does this to cause us to abandon those idols and instead cling to Christ. And that is why we need to preach the gospel to ourselves daily.

So, who is the worst sinner you know?


Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary.


Philippians: The Affection of Christ Jesus

What Paul solemnly affirms is how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. The verb translated yearn (epipotheō) means “to have a strong desire for someth[ing], with implication of need.”1 Paul regularly uses this verb to describe an intense desire for fellow believers (Romans 1:11; 2 Corinthians 9:14; 1 Thessalonians 3:6; 2 Timothy 1:4), and will do so later in the letter to describe Epaphroditus’s longing for the Philippians while he was with Paul (Philippians 2:26). In the LXX of the Psalms it expresses a longing for God (Psalms 42:1 [2x]), his courts (Psalms 84:2), his word (Psalms 119:20, Psalms 119:131) and his salvation (Psalms 119:174).2 Paul uses this strong term to indicate the depth of his longing to be with the Philippians and experience in person their fellowship in the gospel. And again he emphasizes that he longs for all of them, not merely some.

He yearns for them with the affection of Christ Jesus. The word rendered affections (splanchnon) in the first sense refers to one’s inward parts such as the kidneys or intestines, but came by extension to refer to a person’s seat of emotions or a feeling itself.3 It “concerns and expresses the total personality at the deepest level.”4 This usage is similar to the way that we might speak of the heart; when we say someone feels sorrow in his heart, we do not mean sorrow in the physical organ that pumps blood throughout the body. Paul always uses this word in connection with fellow believers, including later in Philippians 2:1.

In the Gospels the related verb splanchnizomai repeatedly describes Jesus’ compassion for people (Matthew 9:36; Matthew 14:14; Matthew 15:32; Matthew 20:34; Mark 1:41; Mark 6:34; Mark 8:2; Luke 7:13; Luke 10:33). This observation is interesting in light of Paul describing his affection as being of Christ Jesus. While there are a number of different ways this expression could be understood, it most likely means “the affection that comes from Christ Jesus.”5 Paul longs for the Philippians with a deep-seated affection that comes from Jesus Christ himself as they experience fellowship in the gospel.6 As believers we experience the very same affection that Jesus Christ showed those he encountered, because Christ lives in us to experience and express that affection for others.7 “Paul’s deeply emotional expression of Christian affection in this verse is not primarily the sign of a gushing temperament, but of a gushing Christology!”8

The power of the gospel is shown in the supernatural affection that it produces not only for Jesus Christ himself, but also for those who belong to Jesus Christ. This affection is deepened as believers experience fellowship in the gospel. People who have little or nothing in common on an economic, social, political or ethnic basis are brought together by the Holy Spirit in unified devotion to Christ and the advance of his gospel.


1. BDAG.

2. Philo uses this verb to express a desire for virtue (Abr. 1:48) and God himself (Abr. 1:87).

3. See BDAG; EDNT.

4. TDNT 7:555.

5. As such the genitive indicates origin. Other possibilities include subjective (“affection that Jesus Christ has for you”) or possessive (“affection that belongs to Jesus Christ”).

6. “In the meantime he instructs us by what rule the affections of believers ought to be regulated, so that, renouncing their own will, they may allow Christ to sit at the helm. And, unquestionably, true love can flow from no other source than from the bowels of Christ, and this, like a goad, ought to affect us not a little—that Christ in a manner opens his bowels, that by them he may cherish mutual affection between us”; see Calvin et al., Philippians, 30-31.

7. “It is not Paul who lives within Paul, but Jesus Christ, which is why Paul is not moved by the bowels of Paul but by the bowels of Jesus Christ”; see Johann Albrecht Bengel, Charlton Thomas Lewis and Marvin Richardson Vincent, New Testament Word Studies (2 vols.; Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1971), 2:426. Compare the similar comment by Lightfoot: “The believer has no yearnings apart from his Lord; his pulse beats with the pulse of Christ; his heart throbs with the heart of Christ”; see Joseph Barber Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Philippians (London: Macmillan and Co., Limited, 1898), 85.

8. Bockmuehl, Philippians, 65.


Did Paul Write Philippians in Rome?

NOTE: This is a condensed excerpt from my forthcoming (2014) commentary on Philippians.

While some have suggested that Paul writes to the Philippians from Caesarea or Ephesus, I am persuaded the evidence points to the traditional view of Rome.

First, our earliest textual evidence supports a Roman origin. The second-century Marcionite Prologue reads in part that “the apostle praises [the Philippians], writing from Rome in prison through Epaphroditus.”1 Other early Christian manuscripts include similar notes as well.2

Second, the description of Paul’s circumstances in Philippians fits what we know of his house arrest in Rome. The period of at least two years allows ample time for the various travels mentioned or implied in the letter (Philippians 2:19-30). Interacting with local Christians (Philippians 1:12-18), receiving visitors (Philippians 2:25), and coordinating the travel plans of his ministry partners (Philippians 2:19-30) are all consistent with the freedom Paul had while under house arrest.

Third, the various “Roman” references are best explained if Paul is in Rome. Based on the context, the reference to the praitōrion in Philippians 1:13 is best understood as the imperial guard (an elite group of soldiers assigned to protect the emperor) rather than a governor’s palace. While it is true that the imperial guard could be found in various locations throughout the empire, by far the largest concentration was in Rome. Paul closes the letter by singling out believers in “Caesar’s household” who send their greetings (Philippians 4:22). Given Philippi’s pride in being a miniature Rome, these reference are most naturally understood if Paul writes from Rome.5

Without question the central objection to Paul writing Philippians from Rome is the distance. Estimates range from 700 to 1,200 miles depending on the route taken. Travel times varied significantly depending whether one traveled by sea or land and the weather at a given time of the year. Further variables included the pace at which one walked or whether one was able to use a horse or other animals. All such factors make it difficult to categorically state how long a trip between Philippi and Rome might take.6 Perhaps the shortest route would have been to take the Via Egnatia (which passed through Philippi) west to Epidamnos/Dyrrhachium on the coast of Macedonia (about 350 miles) and make the 80 mile sea voyage across the Adriatic Sea to Brundisium. From there one could take the Via Appia some 350 miles to Rome. In the best conditions, such a trip could be made by foot in about six weeks. In less favorable circumstances, it could take three months.

Of course, a number of possibilities could have significantly reduced the time period necessary for the progression of interaction between Paul and the Philippians. For example, word could have reached Philippi that Paul was being transferred to Rome before Paul left Caesarea or sometime during his difficult trip to Rome. At that point the Philippians could have dispatched Epaphroditus to meet Paul in Rome. Given that Epaphroditus carried a large sum of money to Paul, it is extremely unlikely that he traveled alone. If Epaphroditus fell ill somewhere on the way to Rome, he could have sent someone from his travelling party back to Philippi to let them know, while he and the rest of the team continued on to Rome. Based on that, Epaphroditus could assume that his illness was known in Philippi and that his fellow believers would be worried about Epaphroditus’ well-being and his ability to serve Paul rather than being a burden.

Granted, such suggestions are necessarily speculative. But given the interconnectedness of the Pauline churches throughout the Mediterranean and the regular communication between these bodies, we must not underestimate how quickly news might travel.7 As such, the distance between Rome and Philippi does not exclude Rome as the place from which Paul writes Philippians.


1. For the Latin text of the Marcionite Prologue, see Daniel J. Theron, Evidence of Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 79-83. The translation here is my own.

2. For example, at the end of Philippians in the fourth-century Codex Vaticanus, the scribe wrote “written from Rome.” Other manuscripts with similar notes include 075 (10th century), 1720 (10th century), 1739 (10th century), 424 (11th century), 1881 (14th century), and the Majority Text.

5. See further Richard J. Cassidy, Paul in Chains: Roman Imprisonment and the Letters of St. Paul (New York: Crossroad Pub. Co., 2001), 124-35.

6. For a helpful survey of the factors involved in travelling in the Roman Empire, see Lionel Casson, Travel in the Ancient World (Toronto: Hakkert, 1974), 149-96.

7. For an excellent discussion see Michael B. Thompson, “The Holy Internet: Communication between Churches in the First Christan Generation,” in The Gospels for All Christians: Rethinking the Gospel Audiences (ed. Richard Bauckham; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 49-70.


What J. R. R. Tolkien Thought about Preaching

In a letter to his son, Christopher, J. R. R. Tolkien attempts to explain why from his perspective so many sermons are so bad:

The answer to the mystery is prob[ably] not simple; but part of it is that ‘rhetoric’ (of which preaching is a dept.) is an art, which requires (a) some native talent and (b) learning and practice. The instrument used is v[ery] much more complex than a piano, yet most performers are in the position of a man who sits down to a piano and expects to move his audience without any knowledge of the notes at all. The art can be learned (granted some modicum of aptitude) and can then be effective, in a way, when wholly unconnected with sincerity, sanctity, etc.  But preaching is complicated by the fact that we expect in it not only a performance, but truth and sincerity, and also at least no word, tone, or note that suggests the possession of vices (such as hypocrisy, vanity) or defects (such as folly, ignorance) in the preacher.

Good sermons require some art, some virtue, some knowledge. Real sermons require some special grace which does not transcend art but arrives at it by instinct or ‘inspiration’; indeed the Holy Spirit seems sometimes to speak through a human mouth providing art, virtue, and insight he does not himself possess: but the occasions are rare. In other times I don’t think an educated person is required to suppress the critical faculty, but it should be kept in order by a constant endeavour to apply the truth (if any), even in cliché form, to oneself exclusively! A difficult exercise… (The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, p. 75)

A difficult exercise indeed! No wonder the apostle Paul wrote “who is sufficient for these things ” (2 Cor 2:16). Yet he also wrote “it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe” (1 Cor 1:21).


Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary.


The Gospel According to Joel

In Week 12 of my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets, we looked at Joel. Almost nothing is known about Joel; he refers to himself as the “son of Pethuel” (Joel 1:1) though that does not help us identify him. Since the book has few precise historical references it is difficult to identify when the book was written, and as a result scholars suggest dates ranging from the ninth to the fourth century. On the whole, I think it is more likely that Joel ministered in the post-exilic period, sometime during the fifth or fourth century.

Whenever Joel ministered, Judah was experiencing the covenant curses that God had promised if they disobeyed (Joel 1:2-20). So, Joel calls God’s people to genuine repentance in light of the coming Day of the Lord (Joel 2:13-17). There will come a day when God will restore his people (Joel 2:18-27) and pour out his Spirit on all of them so that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved (Joel 2:28-32). The nations will be judged (Joel 3:1-16) and God’s people will experience the abundance of the new creation where God dwells with his people (Joel 3:17-21).

I would summarize the theological big idea of Joel as this: In the coming day of God’s universal  judgment, those who call on the name of Jesus Christ will be filled with His Spirit to enjoy the new creation with Him forever. The day of God’s judgment is coming for all humanity, but all those who call on the name of Jesus Christ will be filled with His Spirit to enjoy the new creation with Him forever.

All human history is careening towards that great day, and on that Day each one of our lives will be measured against the standard of perfect righteousness. Jesus Christ will judge the living and the dead, the righteous and the wicked. What will that Day be for you, friend? Will it be destruction, or will it be deliverance? We cannot prepare for that day by washing the filthy rags of our own righteousness. We must change into proper wedding clothes to sit down at the great banquet table, and those clothes are not in our wardrobe. We must call upon the name of the Lord and ask Him to count Jesus’ death as the one we deserve for our sin, and to credit Jesus’ righteousness to us. That is what will save us from the wrath of God in the ultimate Day of the Lord. Until then, may He fill us with His Spirit to proclaim His excellencies and may He preserve us spotless until the Day of Christ.

Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:

Week 12 – Joel

Week 12 – Joel (Handout)


The Ultimate Goal of Paul’s Prayer (Philippians 1:11)

NOTEThis is a condensed excerpt from my forthcoming (2014) commentary on Philippians.

The ultimate goal of what Paul prays (Philippians 1:9-11) is the glory and praise of God. Just as the Lord’s Prayer begins with a request that God would hallow his name (i.e., cause his name to be regarded as holy and exalted), so too Paul’s ultimate aim in prayer is the glory of God.[1] On the day of Christ, when every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord (Philippians 2:10-11), God will be praised and glorified because of the fruit he has produced in and through his people. Not even the spiritual growth of the Philippians is exempt from the ultimate goal of bringing glory and praise to God. All that God does for, to, in and through the believer is ultimately so that his own greatness may be displayed and recognized.

What a blessing that God is not satisfied to merely give us the righteousness of Christ, but also fills his people with its fruits! And that fruit is the result of the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ given to the believer. Through our union with Christ, we share in his righteousness, both in the legal sense of our standing before him and in the experiential sense of a transformed life that is under the direction of the Spirit.


[1] Silva, Philippians, 49.


God’s Good Gift of Sleep

Psalm 127 is a well-known passage of Scripture. The first half (1-2) emphasizes the necessity of God superintending our work if it is not to be in vain, while the second half (3-6) extols the blessing that children are, picturing them as arrows in a man’s quiver. But tucked away at the end of verse two is a little appreciated line:

It is in vain that you rise up early

and go late to rest,

eating the bread of anxious toil;

for he gives to his beloved sleep.

What Solomon indicates here is that apart from the LORD’s blessing of our labor, it is vain (cp. Eccl 1:1-18). But this last line also recognizes the good gift that sleep is to his people. When we rest our heads on the pillow at night, we are in effect implicitly trusting both the sovereignty and goodness of God. We are trusting his sovereignty because sleep is the cessation of our labor. It is us recognizing that whatever remains undone, God alone is sovereign over it. We are trusting his goodness in surrendering to the rest that our bodies need to enable us to function. It is us recognizing that we are not God.

If you’re anything like me, it is easy for my mind to run wild at the end of the day as I lie in bed waiting to fall asleep. Often my mind turns to the things that did not get done, or what must get done for the next day. This can easily turn into sinful anxiety (cf. Matt 6:25-34). At the root of our anxiety is often the idol of control. Deep down we believe that we either have or must have control. And if we push that even further, it is at the root rebellion against the One who truly is Sovereign.

So tonight as you lie in bed, waiting for sleep to overtake you, and your mind turns to the things you did not get done, rest in the goodness and sovereignty of God. And then embrace sleep as God’s good gift.


Dr. Matthew S. Harmon is a Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology.


The Meaning of Grace

NOTEThis is a condensed excerpt from my forthcoming commentary on Philippians.

When Paul greets his congregations with the word grace (Gr. charis), he is likely adapting the standard Greco-Roman greeting (chairein, which meant “Greetings”). By grace Paul refers to the undeserved blessing and favor that God bestows on sinners. In fact, it is not so much undeserved as ill-deserved. In other words, it is not merely that human beings do not deserve God’s favor, but that we have done everything to deserve the exact opposite of God’s favor—his wrath. For Paul the word grace at times seems to function as shorthand for all that God has done for his people in Christ. Perhaps that is why nearly all his letters end with the expression “Grace be with you” (Philippians 4:23).

Do you realize the staggering nature of God’s grace to you? And as recipients of it do you extend that same grace to others?


Dr. Matthew S. Harmon is a Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology.


The Dangers of Prosperity

In the final section of his letter to the Philippians, Paul writes:

“I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” (4:12)

We often think of the unique challenges and opportunities that facing lack/need presents. In those situations we are faced with the choice of trusting God for provision, or grumbling as the Israelites in the wilderness did (cf. Exod 16–17). But less frequently recognized are the dangers that abundance/prosperity brings. There are at least four that come to mind:

  1. Our hearts become more enamored with what God has given us than God himself. The more that we have, the easier it becomes for us to find our greatest joy in those things rather than God. It is this very danger that Jesus warned of when he said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matt 6:19-21).
  2. We let our guard down against the enemy. We tend to think that Satan is most dangerous when we are facing lack/need, but he is just as dangerous (if not more) when we face abundance/prosperity. Suffering tends to sharpen our spiritual senses, driving us to realize our need for God. But when things are going well it becomes easy to put our lives on cruise control and start to doze off at the wheel. But our abundance/prosperity does not change the fact that “Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” (1 Pet 5:8)
  3. We conclude that our prosperity/abundance is the result of our godliness. There is a sense in which the OT points in this direction. After all, under the Mosaic Covenant God makes it clear to Israel that obedience/faith will lead to blessing, while disobedience/unbelief will lead to cursing (cf. Deut 28). But several qualifications need to be made to encompass the totality of the OT’s teaching. First, the Mosaic Covenant functioned on the national level, indicating that the nation as a whole would be blessed or cursed based on their obedience or disobedience to the covenant. Applying this at an individual level is far more complicated. Second, one cannot conclude from a person’s suffering or prosperity the extent of their obedience or disobedience. That is one of the major points of the book of Job; his friends were insistent that his suffering was proof of disobedience. God’s answer makes it clear that Job’s suffering was not the result of sin. Similarly, Psalm 73 describes how the wicked prosper in this life. Third, while there are passages that correlate personal obedience and God’s blessing of abundance (e.g., Ps 112:1-6), we must not think of this as a quid pro quo in which man earns what he receives or that God is somehow obligated to bless in response to obedience. God does tend to bring blessing to those who are obedient, but even in those cases it is a gift of his grace since the very obedience in view is a product of God’s own work in that person’s life (Phil 2:12-13).
  4. Our trust/confidence is placed in what we possess rather than who possesses us. Paul identifies this as a great danger when he writes to Timothy “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim 6:17). Those who have abundance are less inclined to place their trust in God, because there is the appearance of security in their prosperity.

In Philippians 4:12 Paul claims he has learned the secret of contentment in either lack or abundance. That secret is knowing that our security rests not in our current financial situation but in the one who loved us and gave himself for us (Gal 2:20). No matter what your economic situation is today, whether rosy or bleak, God wants us to find our security in him. Beware the dangers of both lack/need and abundance/prosperity.


What is Biblical Theology? (It May Not Be What You Think)

Such a question at first might seem obvious—theology derived from, or based on, the Bible. But unfortunately it’s not that simple, because the term Biblical Theology has come to take on a specialized meaning. Perhaps the best way to explain what is meant by biblical theology is to define it along with other “types” of theology:

Systematic Theology—the attempt to organize the teaching of the Bible under various headings such as theology proper (what the Bible teaches about God and his character), anthropology (what the Bible teaches about human beings), soteriology (what the Bible teaches about salvation), Christology (what the Bible teaches about Christ), etc. Examples of this approach would include: The Institutes by John Calvin; Systematic Theology (3 vols.) by Charles Hodge; Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem. In the past this was sometimes also referred to as Dogmatic Theology.

Historical Theology—the attempt to trace the development of specific doctrines (e.g., the Trinity) throughout the history of the church. Attention is paid to heretical views that forced the church to sharpen and refine her formulation of doctrine. An example of this approach would be Historical Theology (2 vols.) by William Cunningham.

Pastoral Theology—the attempt to relate Christian doctrine to specific life situations in the church (e.g., sickness, suffering, interaction with the culture). Attention is paid to how Christian doctrine is to be lived out within the church and the culture.

Biblical Theology—the attempt “to explore the unity of the Bible, delving into the contents of the books, showing the links between them, and pointing up the ongoing flow of the revelatory and redemptive process that reached its climax in Jesus Christ” (J.I. Packer, “Foreword” in The Unfolding Mystery by Edmund Clowney, p. 8). Attention is paid to the “storyline” of Scripture and prominent themes across the Bible usually with an attempt to relate them to gospel and/or Christ.

While I certainly believe all of these approaches are important, it is my conviction that biblical theology provides the basis for systematic, historical, and pastoral theology. So, on this blog the focus will be on biblical theology, but given the interlocking nature of biblical theology with the other disciplines, we will often delve into these other areas as well.


Since 2006 Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology, which is a forum for all matters pertaining to biblical theology (and some entirely unrelated).


Pseudepigraphy & Pseudonymity: Do You Know What They Are?

In the panel discussion I participated in... the issues of pseudepigraphy and pseudonymity were raised by one of the panelists. Since this is an important issue that challenges the inspiration, authority, and inerrancy of Scripture, I thought I would post a few thoughts.

1. First, some definitions. Pseudepigraphy (“false superscription”) refers to writings that have been falsely attributed to a well-known person. Pseudonymity (“false name”) is used synonymously to refer to the same phenomena, though as Carson and Moo point out, only the latter term can be traced back into antiquity. Examples include works like Wisdom of Solomon, 3 Corinthians, Assumption of Moses, Testament of Job, etc.

2. This phenomena encompasses a variety of motives, ranging from outright attempt to deceive to mistaken conclusions by well-meaning people. In other words, some authors intentionally claimed their work was that of someone else to deceive the audience and claim the authority of the falsely named author. At the same time, other works over time came to be associated with a figure with no intention to deceive; these were “honest” mistakes.

3. A distinction must be made between those works that are anonymous and later came to be associated with someone and those that make explicit claims to authorship. For example, the work called “Wisdom of Solomon” never explicitly claims to be written by Solomon (though 7:1–14 & 8:17–9:18 strongly suggest it); by contrast 1 Enoch directly claims to come from Enoch himself. This distinction is important when we come to the NT. It is one thing to note that Hebrews was (wrongly) thought by some in the early church to be written by Paul (it is anonymous); it is quite another to say that Ephesians was not written by Paul (despite its explicit claim).

4. Despite the fact that this was a common practice in the ancient world, there is absolutely no evidence that the early church ever knowingly accepted a pseudonymous document as authoritative. Again the discussion of Carson and Moo is instructive; they point out that even works (such as 3 Corinthians) that were highly regarded in parts of the early church were condemned when it was recognized to be falsely written in the name of Paul.

5. Therefore if any of the documents in the NT are, in fact, pseudonymous, they were accepted unknowingly. Furthermore, given the dating that many scholars give to supposedly “pseudonymous” letters, such as Ephesians and the Pastoral Epistles (usually late 1st century, well after Paul’s death), one must conclude that the recipients knew they were receiving a letter falsely written in the name of Paul. But then at some point this “knowledge” was lost. How does that happen?

6. The direct statements about pseudonymity in 2 Thess 2:1–2, 3:17 are often not fully appreciated. Paul explicitly warns the Thessalonians about being shaken by a letter claiming to be from him, and then concludes by noting that the writing of the postscript in his own hand was a distinguishing mark of his letters. Paul explicitly condemns the writing of a letter in his name. Of course, many critical scholars claim that 2 Thess is itself pseudonymous, which would mean that the real author of the letter was condemning the very practice he was engaging in! Talk about hubris!

7. Claims of pseudonymity, therefore, are usually based largely (if not entirely) on internal matters such as vocabulary, style, theology, etc. But notice how subjective such claims are! Do we really have enough of a body of writing from even Paul to emphatically state that Paul could not have written in a certain way? What about the potential role that a difference in amanuensis (secretary) would make in vocabulary and style. What about the difference in historical circumstances that Paul addresses; wouldn’t they make some difference in vocabulary, style, and theology?

8. At the end of the day, claims of pseudonymity are a direct denial of the inerrancy and inspiration of Scripture, despite what some may claim. While, as evangelicals, we must not shy away from critical examination of the NT documents, we must also reject the naturalistic assumptions that frequently drive claims of pseudonymity.

This is but a brief excursion into the subject. If you want further discussion, let me once more direct you to the discussion in of Carson and Moo, pp. 337-350.


Since 2006 Dr. Matthew S. Harmon has served as Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology, which is a forum for all matters pertaining to biblical theology (and some entirely unrelated).


Should Evangelicals Use the Term "Social Justice"?

As a follow up to my two posts on the Kingdom of God and social justice, I want to briefly raise the question of whether we as evangelicals should use the phrase “social justice.” Please note that the issue is not whether evangelicals should be involved in social action; my two previous posts should make it clear enough where I stand on that.

But what about the expression “social justice”? While I am not ready to say evangelicals should completely abandon the phrase (though it might be warranted), I want to raise several concerns that we must think through when using the expression.

1. What do we mean by justice? Justice is one of those terms that seems self-evident, until we begin to press a bit harder. Whose idea of justice do we mean? What does the implementation of justice look like? Does it mean the redistribution of resources to ensure each has the exact same? What does Scripture say about justice? How much can we expect our efforts at justice in this life to match God’s standards for justice.

2. The flexibility of the term. The term is used by so many people from so many different perspectives with so many different agendas that it can be used in almost any cause: ending the global sex trade, poverty relief, debt relief, providing clean water, education reform, healthcare reform, gay rights, abortion, job training, welfare, environmentalism, etc. If you are really curious, check out this link, where there are multiple definitions of “social justice” by various folks. When a term is so broad as to include so much, I wonder just how useful it is.

3. What about mercy? In the midst of an emphasis on “justice,” we must never lose sight of mercy. Strict justice in some situations would preclude the opportunity for people to experience mercy. Many of the people who need the kind of ministries that fall under the umbrella of social justice desperately need mercy. They need someone to help them even though they deserve no help because they are in a situation of their own making.

Isn’t the beauty of the gospel that justice and mercy meet in the cross (reflect on Rom 3:21-26)? So as believers we should be those who seek to show the mercy of Christ who suffered the justice that was due to us.

So should we abandon the expression “social justice”? Perhaps. In some cases it has the great potential to muddy the waters. I understand the desire to use common expressions as an attempt to build bridges. But at what cost? And can we not continue to work to show mercy and work for justice without using the expression “social justice” with its potential to mislead? At the end of the day what matters is that our actions adorn the gospel of Jesus Christ and are an outworking of the justice and mercy that we have received at the cross


The Gospel According to the Minor Prophets

This past Sunday we came to the end of my class on the Minor Prophets. In an effort to try to summarize what we covered in the previous twelve weeks, I focused on two key concepts and four key themes.

Two Key Concepts

  1. The Covenantal Context. After discussing things like author, date and historical context we quickly moved to what we called the covenantal context. We did this because the respective covenants were the governing structure of how God interacts with his people throughout the Old Testament. So in looking at each Minor Prophet, we paid careful attention to how they drew upon the Abrahamic (Genesis 12:1-3), Mosaic (Exodus 19), and Davidic (2 Samuel 7) covenants.
  2. Initial & Final Fulfillment. Although we tend to think of the relationship between promise and fulfillment as a simple one-to-one correspondence, we have seen that in the Minor Prophets that is often not the case. The various promises made in the Minor Prophets often have an initial fulfillment in an event in the near future of the prophet while at the same time having a final fulfillment in the distant future. Nowhere was this clearer than in our discussion of the Day of the LORD. Each of the various “Days of the LORD” are only an initial fulfillment of the final Day of the LORD at the end of human history.

Four Key Themes

Although there were a number of themes that we could have highlighted, the following four were particularly important in light of their prominence in the New Testament:

  1. Temple. As we have seen the rebuilt temple was puny compared to Solomon’s original temple, as well as the temple prophesied in Ezekiel 40. But God reassured his people that this rebuilt temple was a sort of “down payment’ on the fulfillment of his promises (Zechariah 4:8-11). In perhaps the last OT book written, God warns his people of his impending visit to his temple (Malachi 3:1-4). That promise finds its fulfillment in the NT. John the Baptist is identified as the messenger sent to prepare the way of the LORD (Mark 1:2-4). He prepares the people for the incarnate Christ to visit his temple (Mark 11:15-18). Of course, we have also talked in here about the fact that the NT identifies Jesus as the true temple of God (John 2:13-22), and we as the church are God’s eschatological temple (Ephesians 2:11-22; 1 Peter 2:4-10).
  2. Torah. Although the promise of the Law being written on his people’s hearts is found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel, we do see a related promise in Micah 4:1-8. The Law of the LORD will go out from Zion and rule over a restored people of God. To properly understand this promise we have to combine it with the promise of the gift of the Spirit in Joel 2:28-32. It is the giving of the Spirit that enables God’s people to obey God’s Law. The promise of the gift of the Spirit is fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. He enables God’s people to live in step with God’s Law.
  3. Turf. As we noted above, God promises to restore his people to the land in several places (Hosea 2:21-23). This promise is rooted in the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants. Building upon hints in the Minor Prophets this promise of restoration to the land is expanded into the hope of a new creation. In the NT this hope is most clearly articulated in Romans 4:13, where Paul claims that God promised that Abraham would inherit the world, and Revelation 21, where the new heavens and earth are described.
  4. Throne. In the aftermath of the devastation of exile, God kept alive the hope of a Davidic king. But when that royal dynasty never materialized after their return to the land, the hunger for a Son of David (Micah 5:2-5; Amos 9:11-15). Of course, in the NT it is obvious that Jesus is the promised Son of David who will rule over God’s people (Mark 10:46-52; Romans 1:2-4).

Summary List of the Theological Big Idea for Each Minor Prophet

As a final review tool, I have provided a summary chart on your handout for each Minor Prophet and the Theological Big Idea that I identified for it.

Theological Big Idea for Each Minor Prophet

Hosea God’s people must turn from their idolatrous pursuit of lovers who will not satisfy and return to the Lord, their true husband and redeemer.
Joel In the coming day of God’s universal judgment, those who call on the name of Jesus Christ will be filled with His Spirit to enjoy the new creation with Him forever.
Amos When the Day of the Lord comes, God will judge the sins of His people and reconstitute His people under a Davidic king to inhabit a new creation.
Obadiah God will soon defeat the enemies of His people and establish His rule over His people forever.
Jonah God’s extravagant compassion towards us should prompt us to be conduits of compassion to others.
Micah Because our sin has been judged at the cross and we live in the last days, we must walk humbly with our truly unique God in heartfelt obedience.
Nahum God will judge the wicked and restore His people to freedom through His ultimate Warrior-King, Jesus Christ.
Habakkuk Even when we cannot trace God’s hand of justice or providence, we can patiently trust and rejoice in His character.
Zephaniah Yahweh is a mighty warrior who brings judgment but saves the remnant who flee to him as their King.
Haggai Yahweh will renew His presence among His people and re-establish His reign over His people by sending Jesus Christ as His Messianic King.
Zechariah God’s people already participate in the restored Jerusalem through repentance and faith in Jesus as they await the consummation of God’s kingdom.
Malachi God calls his people to repent of our apathy towards his proper worship and fear his name in anticipation of the great and fearful Day of the LORD.

Want to hear more? Check out the links below:

Week 13 – Conclusion (Audio)

Week 13 – Conclusion (Handout)


Stirring the Mind to Contemplate the Glory of Christ

In his treatise “Meditations and Discourses on the Glory of Christ,” John Owen offers six “directions” for stirring up the minds of believers to contemplate the glory of Christ (chapter 4):

  1. Let us get it fixed on our souls and minds, that this glory of Christ in the divine constitution of his person is the best, the most noble, useful, beneficial object that we can be conversant about in our thoughts, or cleave unto in our affections.
  2. Our second direction unto the same end is, that we diligently study the Scripture, and the revelations that are made of this glory of Christ therein.
  3. Another direction to this same end is, that having attained the light of the knowledge of the glory of Christ from the Scripture, or by the dispensation of the truth in the preaching of the gospel, we would esteem it our duty frequently to meditate thereon.
  4. Let your occasional thoughts of Christ be many, and multiplied every day.
  5. The next direction is, that all our thoughts concerning Christ should be accompanied with admiration, adoration, and thanksgiving.

There is a beautiful progression in these five directions. Owen begins by holding out the beauty of Christ as the highest end we could possibly pursue (1), and then directs us where to find that vision of Christ—the Scriptures (2). But he is not content to allow such a vision of Christ to remain in our times in the Word (whether through personal reading or hearing the Word preached and taught); he exhorts us to frequently reflect/meditate on the beauty of Christ that we have seen in the Word (3). Such meditation and reflection should not be limited to devoted time in the Word and prayer, but should spill over into our “occasional thoughts” throughout the day (4). He then concludes with the reminder that such reflections should not be merely an intellectual exercise, but should be joined with our affections (5).


Dr. Matthew S. Harmon is a Professor of New Testament Studies at Grace College and Grace Theological Seminary in Winona Lake, Indiana. Find out more at his blog, Biblical Theology.