Tag: new testament

Reading for 1 Corinthians

I’ve been reading 1 Corinthians a lot in preparation for preaching through it the rest of the year. If 1 Timothy lays the foundation for the church, 1 Corinthians builds a distinct community on top of that foundation, and it does so amidst a pluralistic culture swirling with the idolatries of knowledge, power, status, sex, and wealth.

1 Corinthians is practical theology par excellence. Every ethical exhortation is rooted in rich gospel thought. Ethical issues are treated with backwards Christology (cross) and forward Christology (new creation). The letter is retrieves old testament theology and, to use Richard Hays’ phrase, converts the imagination to think out the story of God in a way that resocializes them to live distinctly in their culture. Everything is here: biblical theology, practical issues, cultural engagement, pastoral wisdom, and Christ crucified and risen. Here are a few books I’m reading to help me understand and preach this letter well:

A Reader’ Greek New Testament 

This is a great version of the GNT with words that occur less than 30 times defined in the footnotes.

The Theology of First Corinthians

Victor Furnish does a nice job with the theology arguing that the gospel drives everything in this letter. I also have three others in this series including Green’s Luke and Bauckham’s on Revelation and have loved them both.

First Corinthians: A Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching

Richard Hays, one of my favorite NT authors, does biblical theology that inspires you.

Conflict & Community in Corinth 

Ben Witherington, especially good on Greco-Roman backgrounds.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians 

A heavy weight scholar with masterful exegetical skills and great detail. Eye-crossing at times.


Colossians and Missiology

This Sunday we launch our Fall long series in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. Due to the insignficance of Colossae and its peripheral location in the Roman empire, Biblical commentator J.B. Lightfoot remarked that “Colossae was the least important church to which any epistle of St. Paul was addressed.” It is curious that Colossae would be percieved as the lowest of the churches when its letter contains some of the highest Christology of the New Testament! Why would Paul present such a creative, compelling theology of the resurrected Christ to a such an unimportant church?

Several reasons.

Missionary Priority. Paul includes robust christology precisely because Colossae was “out there,” philosophically and geographically. Colossae’s remote location from the Western trajectory of Paul’s missionary activity placed the church on the edge of the early church planting movement. Though the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis both had churches, Colossae was less significant and further east. We should give our best theological efforts to frontier churches, whether in Austin or Burma.

Multiply Theological Influence. The letter to the church at Colossae was to be circulated: “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea” (4:16). The robust theology set out in this letter was intended for chruches not a church. Paul intended the Colossian hymn in chapter one to be sung by many saints, for the ethics of chapter three to shape many communities, for the gospel-centered counsel of chapter two to change many hearts. We should strive to multiply our theological influence through many mediums, provided that we spend more time developing and articulating our theology than we do creating websites, podcasts, videos, and so on.

Jesus Christ the Lord. Nothing is more central to the Christian faith that the supremacy of Jesus Christ. The great task of the follower of Jesus is to grow in comprehending and integrating the lordship of God in Christ in every facet of life. The Colossians were no exception. In fact, given the diverse philosophies and religions in that part of the Roman empire, an authoritative Christology was critical. Paul responds to their needs with some of the most exalted Christology in the NT. When engaging cultural issues we must be careful not to exalt culture over Christ, but rather, to demonstrate how Christ can be both exalted and distorted by culture.