Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons

This book came out this month:

Thabiti M. Anyabwile. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons. 9Marks. Wheaton: Crossway, 2012. 173 pp.

It’s excellent. Although its primary goal is to help pastors cultivate and select leaders in the church, it’s an edifying read not just for people currently serving as pastors or deacons but for

  • people who may in the future or
  • any Christian since the qualifications for elders (except for the ability to teach) are qualities that should characterize all Christians.

It’s simple, clear, accessible, and wise.

Here’s what Mike Bullmore says about it:

As a member of a pastoral team that is always at some point in the process of identifying, developing, and affirming elders and deacons, I welcome this helpful book by Thabiti Anyabwile. Right from the start, with the simple clarity and conviction of its opening sentences, this book is marked by sound biblical teaching. The consistent transition into the practical counsel at the end of each chapter, however, is where this book really proves its worth. Finding Faithful Elders and Deacons will be a most useful primer for all those who are committed to doing church leadership by the Bible.

[Read more…]


C. J. Mahaney, “Breaking the Rule of Legalism: How the Cross Rescues You from the Performance Trap,” chapter 11 in Living the Cross-Centered Life: Keeping the Gospel the Main Thing  (Sisters, OR: Multnomah, 2006), 111–21.

A legalist is anyone who behaves as if they can earn God’s forgiveness through personal performance. (p. 112)

[Legalism is] a danger that we’ll never outgrow in this lifetime. The tendency for legalism exists for each of us each and every day—because of the pride and self-righteousness of our indwelling sin. (p. 114)

Douglas J. Moo, “Legalism,” in New Living Translation Study Bible (ed. Sean A. Harrison; Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 2008), note on Col 2:16–23 (formatting added):

Legalism ([Col] 2:16–23)

Matt 23:13–33
Mark 7:1–15
Gal 2:14–21

At the time of Christ and the early church, Jews made much of rules and laws in their understanding of religion. [Read more…]

The Importance of Extracanonical Jewish Literature for NT Studies

Richard Bauckham, The Jewish World around the New Testament  (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2010), 211:

The NT student and scholar must use the Jewish literature in the first place to understand Judaism. Only someone who understands early Judaism for its own sake will be able to use Jewish texts appropriately and accurately in the interpretation of the NT. The famous warning issued by Samuel Sandmel against ‘parallelomania’ in NT studies has its most general application here. Someone who knows the Jewish literature only in the form of isolated texts selected for the sake of their apparent relationship to NT texts will not understand those texts in their own contexts (literary and otherwise) and so will not know whether they constitute real or only apparent parallels and, even supposing they are real parallels, will not be able to use them properly. A principle which NT students and even NT scholars rarely take to heart is that, for the sake of a balanced view of the relationship of Christianity to early Judaism, it is just as important to study Jewish texts which are least like anything in the NT as it is to study those with which the NT writings have most affinity.


  1. Six helpful resources that explain the nature and significance of extracanonical Jewish literature
  2. Tom Schreiner warns, “Too often in NT studies alleged background material is used to ‘prove’ various interpretations. Anyone who reads in NT studies knows how speculative such reconstructions can be. In reading such reconstructions I have often wondered why we complain about systematic theologians being speculative!”

Material Wealth May Cloak Spiritual Poverty

The six-word money quote is bolded below:

In spite of persecution and poverty, they experienced an abundance of joy, which resulted in a wealth of generosity (the Greek uses cognates, “the abundance of their joy abounded . . .”). In the New Testament the Christian’s experience of joy has no correlation to his or her outward circumstances. Paradoxically, Christians can experience joy in the midst of great persecution and personal suffering. Poverty overflowing into wealth also may seem paradoxical, but it fits the crazy-quilt logic of the gospel: joy + severe affliction + poverty = wealth. Here, wealth relates to a wealth of generosity and joy multiplied. Material wealth, on the other hand, may cloak spiritual poverty, as Christ’s condemnation of the wealthy but tepid church at Laodicea reveals (Rev 3:14–22). That church considered itself rich and prospering, but the Lord considered it “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” By contrast, Christ praises the poverty stricken church at Smyrna, also beset by affliction, as rich (Rev 2:8–11).

—David E. Garland, 2 Corinthians (New American Commentary 29; Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1999), 367.

Moon : Sun :: Old Covenant : New Covenant

“If the sun is up, the brightness of the moon is no longer bright.”

—M. Zerwick, Analysis Philologica Novi Testamenti Graeci (3rd ed.; Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1966), 396; translated by and quoted in Murray J. Harris, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text (New International Greek Testament Commentary; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2005), 289, commenting on 2 Cor 3:10.

When I slept under the stars for a week last summer while rafting through the Grand Canyon, there were a few nights when the moon was so bright that it didn’t quite seem like nighttime. But you couldn’t mistake the contrast when the flaming sun was at full strength.

  • For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. (2 Cor 3:10)
  • Jesus has become the guarantor of a better covenant. (Heb 7:22)

Celebrating Life: Tim Tebow’s 2010 Super Bowl Ad

(I know that Tim Tebow isn’t as trendy in the media this week after losing to the Patriots last Saturday, but I scheduled this post over a month ago for this week since January 22 is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday.)

Remember Tim Tebow’s controversial 2010 Super Bowl ad? He talks about it in his book, Through My Eyes (HarperCollins, 2011):

Even as we were thinking about what possibilities my next platform that God had in store might bring, another opportunity arose. In conjunction with Bill Heavener and Focus on the Family, we decided to create an advertisement to be played during the Super Bowl. We were very fortunate that Focus on the Family had donors set up to fund the ad.

Mom and I were the main actors in the ad and had a lot of fun shooting the commercial. But we didn’t let the subject matter of the script get out, and as soon as word got out that we were doing an ad with Focus on the Family, it instantly created a huge swirl of attention—with both supporters and detractors trying to figure out what the ad was all about. It was fun to see the speculation on every front as to the message the ad would convey. Because of the story surrounding the circumstances of my birth [see pp. 3–6], everybody on both sides of the issue immediately assumed that it was a pro-life message. So many columnists took me to task for something they assumed was going to be in the ad, but wasn’t. [Read more…]