Look Inside: New Anchor Yale Volumes

Posted by on 06/18/2018 in:

Look Inside New Anchor Yale Volumes

We’ve added 5 new volumes to our Anchor Yale collection:

  • Revelation: Anchor Yale Bible Commentary – by Koester
  • Joshua 1-12: Anchor Yale Bible Commentary – by Dozeman
  • Judges 1-12: Anchor Yale Bible Commentary – by Sasson
  • Ruth: Anchor Yale Bible Commentary – by Schipper
  • Amos: Anchor Yale Bible Commentary – by Eidevall

We thought this would be a perfect time to give you a look inside this classic resource.

RESOURCE GUIDE

As always, you can find content inside the Anchor Yale series that relates to the passage you have open. Just look in the Resource Guide!

Then, you’ll be able to quickly navigate to which part of the commentary you want to read. The Anchor Yale series comes with its own translation, textual notes, dictionary entries, and commentary.

CONTENT

Here are some examples of the different kinds of content you’ll find inside the Anchor Yale Commentary Series.

EXTRAS: INDEXES, MAPS, AND MORE

The Anchor Yale Commentary Series also has maps sprinkled throughout it. These will also appear in the Resource Guide when a map in this series is applicable to the passage of Scripture you are reading.

There are in-depth introductions for every volume.

Outlines will appear in the Resource Guide for quick access. Here’s one from the new Revelation volume. All of those green verse references are hyperlinked. If you tap on them, a pop-up window will appear, showing you the Scripture immediately and conveniently.

And, of course, there are plenty of indexes!


LEARN MORE ABOUT ANCHOR YALE

Now that you’ve looked inside the Anchor Yale series, head on over to our website! You can read a description provided by the publisher, see all the volumes that we have available, and watch a video on how commentaries work in our app.

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Four Aspects of Living a Life Worthy of Your Calling

Posted by on 06/15/2018 in: ,

​​I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love Ephesians 4:1-2 (KJV)

Paul calls out four particular aspects of how to “walk out” a life worthy of your calling, and they are more than personal qualities. For the life worthy of the calling of God is a life in the fellowship of the people of God; and if this is to be maintained these four virtues are vital.

LOWLINESS

The first, emphasized by the characteristic all (cf. 1:8; 4:19, 31; 5:3, 9; 6:18), is lowliness. Very significantly, the Greek noun tapeinophrosynē does not seem to have been used before New Testament times, and the corresponding adjective tapeinos nearly always had a bad meaning, and was associated with words having the sense of slavish, mean, ignoble. Lessons of humility had been taught in the Old Testament, and such a passage as Isaiah 66:2 in the Septuagint is a notable exception to the general pre-Christian use of tapeinos, but to the Greeks humility was not a virtue. To them, as indeed to most non-Christian people in any generation, the concept of ‘the fullness of life … left no room for humility’.

In Christ lowliness became a virtue. His life and death were service and sacrifice without thought of reputation (Phil. 2:6–7). Because the Christian is called to follow in his steps, humility has an irreplaceable part in the Christian character (cf. Acts 20:19), and also for the reason that he has been brought to see the greatness and glory and holiness of God, so that he cannot but be overwhelmed by the realization of his own weakness and sinfulness.

MEEKNESS

The second word, meekness (prautēs), was used in classical Greek in the good sense of mildness or gentleness of character. The adjective (praos), especially, found an important use in describing an animal completely disciplined and controlled. Meekness in the New Testament is used of a person’s attitude to the word of God (Jas 1:21), but more often of one’s attitude to other people (1 Cor. 4:21; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 3:2).

It is closely connected with the spirit of submissiveness which becomes the keynote of this letter when, in 5:21, the apostle turns to speak of human relationships. Moses is aptly described in Numbers 12:3 as ‘very meek’. For, as Mitton puts it, meekness ‘is the spirit of one who is so absorbed in seeking some worthy goal for the common good that he refuses to be deflected from it by slights, injuries or insults directed at himself personally, or indeed by personal considerations of any kind’.

PATIENCE

Thirdly, there is patience (makrothymia), a word sometimes used of steadfast endurance of suffering or misfortune (as in Jas 5:10) but more often, as is the case here, of slowness in avenging wrong or retaliating when hurt by another. It is used of God’s patience with humanity (Rom. 2:4; 9:22; 1 Tim. 1:16; 1 Pet. 3:20; 2 Pet. 3:15), and the corresponding and consequent quality that the Christian should show towards others (1 Cor. 13:4; Gal. 5:22; Col. 3:12; 2 Tim. 4:2).

FORBEARANCE

Forbearance, the fourth requirement, is also a divine quality (Rom. 2:4), the practical outworking of longsuffering. ‘It involves bearing with one another’s weaknesses, not ceasing to love one’s neighbours or friends because of those faults in them which perhaps offend or displease us’ (Abbott). It is ‘that mutual tolerance without which no group of human beings can live together in peace’ (Stott).

Such forbearance, and indeed all these four qualities, are possible only in love. For love is the basic attitude of seeking the highest good of others, and it will therefore lead to all these qualities, and include them all (see vv. 15–16 and on 1:4). Paul has prayed that his readers may be ‘rooted and grounded in love’ (3:17), and now he exhorts them to do their part, and to go on to possess all these virtues in love.

Tyndale Commentaries Full Set (49 Vols.)

This excerpt is adapted from the Tyndale Commentaries Full Set (49 Vols.). Are you looking for a biblical resource that is longstanding and trustworthy? Then look into this commentary set! Written by some of the world’s most distinguished evangelical scholars, each book offers clear, reliable, and relevant expositions.

We have the 49 volume set available for purchase on our website! So, learn more about the Tyndale Commentaries Full Set, see how it works in the app, and add it to your library today, here.

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Jesus’ Farewell

Posted by on 06/14/2018 in:

Jesus' Farewell

Looking for something a little more in-depth than your average study Bible? The Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary is a single-volume resource that walks you through the entire Bible. We pulled this excerpt from the Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary to give you a small taste of the kind of information it offers. Mostly, being an ILLUSTRATED Bible Commentary, this resource is filled with charts, images, and graphics. So, keep reading, and discover more about Jesus’ Farewell in John 13-17.

THE FAREWELL DISCOURSE

Jesus’ Farewell: John 13:31–17:26

In the upper room, Jesus now turns to his faithful followers and instructs them at some length. The discourse runs from 13:31 to 16:33 without narrative interruption and then concludes with Jesus’s prayer (17:1–26), which precedes the arrest (18:1–11). The literary form of this section is called the “farewell speech” and was well known in Judaism at this time. For example, one can turn to the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs, an inter-testamental, extra-canonical work that records the final words of Israel’s patriarchs. The Assumption of Moses (first century AD) does the same for Israel’s prophet-leader in Transjordan.

Each Jewish farewell speech shows similar elements that are found in Jesus’s farewell:

  1. There is a plea for obedience to the law. Thus in 13:34 and 15:12 Jesus speaks of his new commandment of love.
  2. Often writings are left behind (cf. Assumption of Moses 10:11; 4 Ezra), and in the Fourth Gospel itself we have the chronicle of Jesus’s life now deposited for his followers.
  3. Spirit-filled representatives carry on the work, just as Joshua obtained the Spirit that rested on Moses (Assumption of Moses 10–12). Here Jesus promises the Spirit of truth (14:17), who anoints the disciples and particularly the beloved disciple for his work.
  4. Finally, the anxiety of those left behind is relieved. So Jesus speaks of comfort, terming the Spirit “the Comforter” or “Paraclete” (Greek paraklētos; NIV “Advocate”; 14:16, 26; 15:26).

It is evident then that Jesus recognizes the importance of this evening and is making his formal farewell.

He addresses his disciples’ worries in light of his imminent death and departure. But above all he holds out a promise and hope centered on the coming of the Holy Spirit—one who will guide, teach, encourage, empower, and mediate to the believer the comforting presence of Christ.

BAKER ILLUSTRATED BIBLE COMMENTARY

Want to learn more about the Baker Illustrated Bible Commentary? Perfect! Just head on over to our website and we will give you all the details.

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Discipling Your Staff

Posted by on 06/13/2018 in:

Discipling Your Staff

When you think of discipleship, do you think of discipling your staff? The editors of the CSB Disciple’s Study Bible are PASSIONATE about teaching about discipleship. In this excerpt, they outline why you should disciple staff and how to do so effectively. And with the notes from this study Bible, you’re sure to learn and grow in your ability to make disciples.

DISCIPLING YOUR STAFF

Ministry leaders, especially pastors, should prioritize discipling their staff. Regardless of whether the role is full time, bi-vocational, or as a volunteer, the leader can follow Jesus’s example in disciple making. Unfortunately, the people under the direct influence of the leader can often be overlooked in the discipleship process. But leaders must be intentional with those who serve under them, just as Jesus was.

I. WHY DISCIPLE STAFF?

Why did Jesus walk with twelve men more closely than the masses? And why did he choose to walk even closer with three? It is clear that Jesus wanted to have a long-lasting impact on a few men who would go on to replicate the process. Every Christ-follower since is a result of what Jesus began with his disciples.

Multiplication is certainly a key result of making disciples, but so is spiritual growth. While church staff should be expected to grow personally and consistently, leaders can undergird that spiritual growth by providing community and accountability. Leaders must inspect what they expect. By discipling staff, ministry leaders ensure those they lead are accountable and growing in a community of peers.

II. HOW TO DISCIPLE STAFF

While discipling staff takes somewhat of a different approach than discipling a new believer or a group of acquaintances, the principles of basic disciple making still apply: (1) reading Scripture, (2) sharing what God is teaching, (3) memorizing God’s Word, and (4) praying with and for one another. These key elements still drive each meeting.

Here is a practical plan for discipling a staff of any size and church context.

A. Meet weekly. If possible, try not to add another meeting to the schedule. You probably already spend time with staff in some fashion, so maximize the time together by focusing on discipling. Use the first half of a staff meeting or plan to meet over lunch or breakfast weekly. Plan your meeting so that it is refreshing and helpful rather than a drain on already busy schedules.

B. Plan what you will read, share, and memorize each week. Choose what will be read, discussed, and memorized each week. Pick something that coincides with the sermon or Bible study to maximize the study time each week. Likewise, choose a passage or passages to memorize together and have one or two recite the selection each time you meet.

C. Be accountable. Ensure that your staff understands the importance of this time together. Make it a priority on your calendar and encourage the staff to hold it in high regard.

D. Challenge the staff to replicate what happens in the group. Encourage each staff member to disciple their own staff or group of volunteers. They can follow the same plan or make one that best fits their group.

E. Take breaks. Summer can be a difficult time for schedules to align. Don’t be afraid to take a few weeks or even a month or two off from meeting. Encourage your staff to continue to read and memorize Scripture even when you aren’t meeting.

III. THE FRUIT OF DISCIPLING STAFF

A discipled staff grows closer to one another and to the ministry leader. With accountability and community, team members find a greater sense of sharing one another’s burdens and celebrating one another’s victories. Staff members have a practical means by which they can grow spiritually. As team members replicate this process with their own staffs or volunteers, whole ministries can grow together.

Discipling a staff will bring them all together—from department to department as well as between each staff and its leader. Differences among believers can be divisive, but a discipleship relationship can forge an authentic unity within a staff as each member is increasingly conformed to the image of Christ. As the ministry leader engages with the staff walking through God’s Word, sharing how God is working, and memorizing Scripture, you will find yourselves growing in incredible strength and unity.

CSB DISCIPLE’S STUDY BIBLE

The CSB Disciple’s Study Bible will help you engage with and apply God’s Word to your daily life as a disciple of Jesus. Designed to equip you to follow Jesus and disciple others, it features discipleship-themed study notes, as well as tools and resources like the F260 Reading Plan, introductions with outlines and timelines, full-color maps, and discipleship articles from the team at Replicate Ministries.

Learn more about the CSB Disciple’s Study Bible and add it to your library by visiting our website

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The Significance of the Priestly Blessing: Numbers 6

Posted by on 06/12/2018 in: ,

The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron and his sons, ‘This is how you are to bless the Israelites. Say to them:
‘The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.’
‘So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.’”
Numbers 6:22-27 (NIV)

Blessing Rooted In Israelite Culture

The act of blessing is deeply rooted in Israelite culture. It bears a wide range of meaning. On the one hand, Jacob’s stealing of Esau’s blessing and the latter’s inability to acquire another from his father, Isaac (Gen 27:30-38), provides a glimpse into the near magical power of blessing. In that story, to bless is to bestow power for fertility and well-being, which, once spoken, takes on a life of its own. On the other hand, the expression of divine blessing appears to be no more than a stereotypical exchange for “Hello.” The book of Ruth provides an example of how the invocation of divine blessing was part of the everyday language of greeting, for example, when the harvesters welcome Boaz with the words, “The Lord bless you” (Ruth 2:4).

The cultic use of divine blessing, as in vv. 24-26, functions someplace between the two examples noted above.

The cultic use of the priestly blessing was widespread by the late monarchical period. Similar cultic language is richly attested in other liturgical literature. Psalm 129:8, for example, concludes with a priestly blessing on the worshipers, “The blessing of the Lord be upon you. We bless you in the name of the Lord” (see also Pss 128:5; 133:3; 134:3).

The Hebrew inscription “the Lord bless you and keep you and be with you” was found on a jar at Kuntillet ‘Ajrud in the upper Sinai, dating from the eighth-century. This inscription indicates the use of a blessing very similar to Num 5:24-26 already in the middle of the monarchical period. The discovery of the priestly blessing in a burial cave in the area of Jerusalem known as the Valley of Hinnom (contemporary Keteph Hinnom) is even more striking. The blessing is written on two silver amulets that date from the late seventh century.

An amulet is an object believed to give magical powers of protection against evil to the one who wears it. The discovery of such an amulet in a grave raises further questions of whether the priestly blessing was meant to function in association with the dead. Baruch Levine suggests that the priestly blessing may have protected the dead on their way to Sheol.

The Blessing’s Structure

The priestly blessing has a simple structure, consisting of three lines, each of which contains two verbs: bless-keep (protect), shine-grace, lift-peace. The name “Yahweh” appears once in each line, in association with the first of the paired verbs.

Yahweh bless you and keep you;
Yahweh make his face to shine upon
you and be gracious to you;
Yahweh lift up his countenance upon you—
and give you peace

Two readings are possible from this structure.

The six verbs could be interpreted to describe distinct actions of God. They can also be interpreted in pairs. The first verb in each line summarizes an activity of God upon the worshiper, and the second describes the results of God’s actions. The use of the name “Yahweh” as the subject for only the first verb in each sentence favors the interpretation in which the verbs are paired. The result is a threefold blessing.

The first emphasizes concrete gifts—blessing and security (guarding).

The second stresses the hope that God will be well disposed toward the person (to lighten or shine upon the worshiper) and thus temper judgment with mercy (to be gracious).

The third asserts that God will pay attention (lift his face), thus providing fullness of life (peace). David Noel Freedman notes a variety of subtle stylistic devices in the Hebrew that aid in carrying out the meaning of the priestly blessing. These include a progression in the numbers of words (3, 5, 7) and consonants (15, 20, 25) in each line. The progression is framed by an opening (“The Lord bless you”) and a closing (“and give you peace”) cola of the same length (7 syllables in Hebrew).

Blessing Within the Context

Numbers 6:22-23, 27 frames the priestly blessing within the context of Numbers 5–6. These verses take the form of divine instruction for the Aaronide priesthood. Numbers 6:22-23 indicate that the blessing is meant to function as a concluding benediction (vv. 22-23) to the instruction for camp purity in chaps. 5–6. Numbers 6:27 clarifies that it is God (rather than the priests) who blesses Israel.

The literary setting has puzzled scholars, prompting some even to suggest that the text has been displaced from Lev 9:22, where Aaron is also described as blessing the people from the door of the tent of meeting. But the function of the blessing as a concluding benediction on the camp and the congregation does correspond to other cultic uses of the priestly blessing in the Psalms (e.g., Psalm 129:1), suggesting that its present context is less arbitrary than many have suspected.

The overall design of Numbers 5–6 provides additional guidelines for interpreting the priestly blessing in its present context.

The placement of the priestly benediction at the door of the tent of meeting follows naturally upon the inward movement of the laws of defilement. These laws began with contamination requiring expulsion from the camp (5:1-4), followed by three types of relationships within the camp with the power to defile. These relationships moved in an ever-closer orbit to the tabernacle at the center of the camp—from defrauding in general (5:5-10), to adultery (5:11-31), and through to the Nazirite vow (6:1-21). The location for expiatory rituals has tended to follow the same movement. The laws of defrauding and adultery require that the offender be presented “to the priest” (5:9, 15), while the defiled Nazirite must go “to the door of the tent of meeting” (6:10, 13). The door of the tent of meeting is also the location for the priestly blessing on the congregation (see Lev 9:22).

The priestly blessing has at least two functions in its present literary context.

It provides yet another safeguard against defilement by blanketing the camp with the power of divine blessing. It also concludes Numbers 5–6 with a description of the ideal camp. The ideal is where God pays particular attention to persons, where blessing and security drive out the power of death, and where the achievement of wholeness and peace is possible.

The Central Message of Blessing

The priestly blessing (Num 6:22-24) is the most familiar passage in Numbers 5-6. The central message of the blessing is stated in the closing Hebrew word, שׁלום (šālôm), translated “peace”. In English, “peace” connotes the absence of war. It can also describe a state of tranquility. These meanings are also in the Hebrew. But the peace of God in the priestly blessing embraces even more aspects of life, including good health, security, inner harmony, wellness, material prosperity, and a long life. The broad and rich meaning of “peace” in the priestly blessing reinforces the role of holiness in the life of Israel to bring about both social and physical health.

It is noted in the Commentary that the priestly blessing provides an ideal vision of the camp and that it functions as a conclusion to the laws of defilement in Numbers 5–6. The ideal of the priestly blessing continues in contemporary Jewish and Christian worship. It is included in most lectionary cycles as a topic for preaching. The blessing of God also continues to be the last word in many of our Sunday liturgies as a closing benediction.

The central task in preaching this text is to explore what blessing means.

Is the bestowal of a blessing sacramental, or is it no more than a socially polite activity? Also, what is it that we receive at the close of a worship service? Is real divine power transmitted in blessing? Or, is the preacher simply telling us that the worship service is nearly over? The latter point creates a problem for interpreting the priestly benediction. Notice how the introduction to the priestly blessing (Num 6:22-23) stresses that only priests can bless. It is not a casual activity. Additionally, the conclusion (Num 6:27) indicates how close the text is to the world of magic. The author must clarify that the priest does not possess the power to bless independently of God. The need for such clarification underscores that divine blessing has independent power that can be let loose in the congregation.

New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary

This excerpt is adapted from the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary (10 Vols.). This series offers critically sound biblical interpretations. Also, it is written by scholars, pastors and laity representing diverse traditions and academic experience. Therefore, this collection of commentary meets the needs of preachers, teachers, and all students of the Bible.

We have the 10 volume set available for purchase on our website! So, learn more about the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary. See how it works in the app, and add it to your library today, here.

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Praying for Lost Friends and Family

Posted by on 06/11/2018 in:

Praying for Lost Friends and Family

Praying for lost friends and family is a difficult task. We so badly want to see them saved. But, at the same time, we don’t always see God answer in the way and timing that we want. Praying for lost friends and family requires endurance, strength, hope, patience, and love.

The CSB Disciple’s Study Bible contains great articles on a variety of discipleship topics. Here is an excerpt from this study Bible on praying for lost friends and family.

PRAYING FOR LOST FRIENDS AND FAMILY

The purpose of the Disciple-Making Pathway is to help believers grow in their faith and become more like Christ. As we become more like him, we will be burdened for our lost friends and family and will desire to see them come to know Christ in a more intimate way.

E. M. Bounds wisely said:

“You can’t rightly talk to men about God until you first talk to God about men.”

What this means is that our efforts to share the gospel must begin with and be saturated in prayer. Before we can even consider sharing the truth of God with those who do not believe, we must be diligently praying for them. Here are some specific things for which to pray.

1. That God would open their eyes to the truth of the gospel.

“When anyone hears the word about the kingdom and doesn’t understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart.” (Mt 13:19)

“In their case, the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2Co 4:4)

Satan will do everything he can to blind unbelievers to the gospel. Pray that God would open their spiritual eyes to see the truth.

2. That they would seek to know God.

“He did this so they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.” (Ac 17:27)

God will reveal himself to those who seek after him. Pray that your lost friends and family would have a hunger for God.

3. That they would believe the Scriptures.

Someone who does not know Christ will not understand the truth of the Word.

“But the person without the Spirit does not receive what comes from God’s Spirit, because it is foolishness to him; he is not able to understand it since it is evaluated spiritually.” (1Co 2:14)

“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but it is the power of God to us who are being saved.” (1Co 1:18)

Pray that they would have a hunger for the Word of God and that they would believe the truths of the Scriptures.

4. That God draws them to himself.

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (Jn 6:44)

We must always remember that, although God uses us as the instruments to share the message and help lead people to him, only he can convict and convert them. One cannot receive Christ until God first draws them. Let us therefore pray that God will draw them to himself.

5. That the Holy Spirit works in their lives.

“When he comes, he will convict the world about sin, righteousness, and judgment.” (Jn 16:8)

“When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth. For he will not speak on his own, but he will speak whatever he hears. He will also declare to you what is to come.” (Jn 16:13)

Pray that the Holy Spirit will convict them of sin and cause them to repent and believe.

6. That God would send someone to lead them to Christ.

Jesus told his disciples, “The harvest is abundant, but the workers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into his harvest.” (Mt 9:37-38)

Perhaps that someone is you. Pray that you or someone else could be used to show and share the gospel.

7. That they confess Christ as Savior and Lord.

“If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. One believes with the heart, resulting in righteousness, and one confesses with the mouth, resulting in salvation.” (Rm 10:9-10)

“But to all who did receive him, he gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in his name, who were born, not of natural descent, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.” (Jn 1:12-13)

8. That they would trust Christ, and confess him as Savior and Lord!

CSB DISCIPLE’S STUDY BIBLE

The CSB Disciple’s Study Bible will help you engage with and apply God’s Word to your daily life as a disciple of Jesus. Designed to equip you to follow Jesus and disciple others, it features discipleship-themed study notes, as well as tools and resources like the F260 Reading Plan, introductions with outlines and timelines, full-color maps, and discipleship articles from the team at Replicate Ministries.

Learn more about the CSB Disciple’s Study Bible and add it to your library by visiting our website.

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Look Inside: Cornerstone Biblical Commentary

Posted by on 06/05/2018 in:

Look Inside Cornerstone Biblical Commentary

CORNERSTONE BIBLICAL COMMENTARY

One of the best ways to decide if a commentary is right for you is to read the general editor’s preface. This gives you an overview of why and how they created the commentary. Here’s what the general editor, Philip W. Comfort, has to say about the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary:

The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary is based on the second edition of the New Living Translation (2015).

Nearly 100 scholars from various church backgrounds and from several countries (United States, Canada, England, and Australia) participated in the creation of the NLT. Many of these same scholars are contributors to this commentary series. All the commentators, whether participants in the NLT or not, believe that the Bible is God’s inspired word and have a desire to make God’s word clear and accessible to his people.

This Bible commentary is the natural extension of our vision for the New Living Translation, which we believe is both exegetically accurate and idiomatically powerful.

The NLT attempts to communicate God’s inspired word in a lucid English translation of the original languages so that English readers can understand and appreciate the thought of the original writers. In the same way, the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary aims at helping teachers, pastors, students, and laypeople understand every thought contained in the Bible. As such, the commentary focuses first on the words of Scripture, then on the theological truths of Scripture—inasmuch as the words express the truths.

The commentary itself has been structured in such a way as to help readers get at the meaning of Scripture, passage by passage, through the entire Bible.

Each Bible book is prefaced by a substantial book introduction that gives general historical background important for understanding. Then the reader is taken through the Bible text, passage by passage, starting with the New Living Translation text printed in full. This is followed by a section called “Notes,” wherein the commentator helps the reader understand the Hebrew or Greek behind the English of the NLT, interacts with other scholars on important interpretive issues, and points the reader to significant textual and contextual matters. The “Notes” are followed by the “Commentary,” wherein each scholar presents a lucid interpretation of the passage, giving special attention to context and major theological themes.

The commentators represent a wide spectrum of theological positions within the evangelical community.

We believe this is good because it reflects the rich variety in Christ’s church. All the commentators uphold the authority of God’s word and believe it is essential to heed the old adage: “Wholly apply yourself to the Scriptures and apply them wholly to you.” May this commentary help you know the truths of Scripture, and may this knowledge help you “grow in your knowledge of God and Jesus our Lord” (2 Pet 1:2, NLT).

THE CONTENTS

Inside the Olive Tree Bible App, you can easily navigate between the 20 different volumes found in this set.

In this first image, there are a few important details you should note.

  1. Each volume prepares you with a section on abbreviations, and transliteration & numbering system, and information about the author. This is great information to have when using an in-depth commentary.
  2. There are introductions for each book, giving you plenty of necessary background on Scripture before you dive deep.
  3. The Cornerstone Biblical Commentary is structured around an in-depth outline. You’ll receive the whole outline at once in the book introduction. But you will see it again as you make your way through the commentary text!

USING THE COMMENTARY IN THE APP

Per usual, this commentary works with the Resource Guide! If you’re reading a passage of Scripture, and the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary has something to say about it—we will be sure to let you know. Just look in the Resource Guide for a number to appear next to the commentary. Tap on it, and we will show you the applicable sections!

WANT TO KNOW MORE?

Visit our website to watch a video on how commentaries work in the app, see which volumes are included in this set, and learn more about the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. It’s a fantastic resource!

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Study Through the Summer [GIVEAWAY!]

Posted by on 06/04/2018 in:

Study Through The Summer

The winter is so dreary in Spokane (where our office is located). The sun rarely makes an appearance. By the time March rolls around we are all desperate for blue skies, warm weather, getting outside and out-of-town—SUMMER. Praise the Lord that it’s almost here!

Although summer is a fantastic for spending quality time with family, being active, and traveling, it can also distract you from important responsibilities. I doubt I’m the only one who procrastinates on getting into God’s Word from June – September. It’s easy to confuse short-term and long-term happiness. If I don’t think before making a decision, I will always choose a hike with friends or trip to Lake Coeur d’Alene over quiet time with the Lord.

LET’S MAKE THIS SUMMER DIFFERENT

How can we keep from making the same mistakes this summer?

ONE: We have a bunch of reading plans in the app! These are a great way to kickstart your summer reading. Set reminders for yourself to get into the Word every day—even if it’s just for 15 minutes.

TWO: Take your Bible study WITH YOU. Remember, Olive Tree Bible… APP. You can get into the Word from your phone or tablet wherever you are because you don’t need wifi. If you haven’t tested this out, here’s a challenge for you. This summer, make it a goal to study God’s Word in the most remote places (or even just places without Internet, which feels pretty remote to me!). Here are some ideas:

  • the beach
  • on a mountain
  • in an airplane
  • in the car (when you aren’t driving, obviously!)
  • some huge gathering where service is minimal
  • visiting family that lives in the middle of nowhere

NOW FOR THE GIVEAWAY!

Take a picture of yourself studying God’s Word this summer (anywhere will do, but the more unique, the better!). Then, post to Twitter, or Instagram. Tag us, mention us, whatever you want. Just let us know you’ve shared where you’re at and use #ReadStudyAnywhere. If we see your image, and can send you a direct message through Twitter or Instagram, then we will send you a link to download the Olive Tree Bible Overview for free.

Now, what are you doing!? Get studying!

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Asking for Wisdom

Posted by on 06/04/2018 in:

Asking For Wisdom

During times of trial, it is crucial that we ask for wisdom. The Book of James touches on how we should be praying, asking for wisdom, and that He will be faithful in giving it to us. Read through this excerpt from the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary for in-depth learning of this lesson.

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking. But when you ask him, be sure that your faith is in God alone. Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do. — James 1:5-8

THE PROBLEM OF TRIALS

James uses a “chain-argument” utilizing catchwords (“need,” 1:4b, 5a; “faith,” 1:3, 6) to bring together the problem of trials and their solution (wisdom and prayer). When faith is tested by times of affliction and suffering, the Christian must turn to God in prayer and find the wisdom to turn the trial situation into a time of growing faith and ongoing endurance. As God’s people realize that they lack wisdom to handle their trials, they must find that essential resource by turning to God and accepting that wisdom as a gift from him.

YOUR TRIAL SURVIVAL GUIDE

James begins by expressing the one need everyone has in difficult times: wisdom to endure trials. The word “if” (ei [TG1487, ZG1623]) in the phrase “If you need wisdom” is a first-class condition assuming the reality of the situation—virtually, “Since you need wisdom.” In the Old Testament wisdom is an attribute of God (Dan 2:20-23) given to chosen leaders like Solomon (1 Kgs 10:23-24); it was also available to those who fear God (Prov 1:7; 9:10; 15:33). In the Wisdom Literature (Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Wisdom of Solomon, Sirach) wisdom means to live in God’s world by his rules, with two foci, its practical orientation (embracing every area of life and conduct) and its dependence on God (reverence and submission to his dictates).

Often wisdom was personified as a life-giving force in this world (see Osborne 2006:242-254; Patzia 2000:1200-1203). Jesus was a teacher of eschatological wisdom (Matt 11:2-19, 25-30; 23:34-39; et al.), and Paul speaks of “God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge” (Rom 11:33), as well as “wisdom in its rich variety” (Eph 3:10).

THE JEWISH UNDERSTANDING OF WISDOM

James, building on the Jewish understanding of wisdom, saw it primarily as a gift from God (1:6-8) available only to those who ask him for it (1:5; see Gowan 1993, who points to 4 Maccabees as an example of this theme).

In 3:13-18 it is called a “wisdom from above” that anchors the Christian virtues that control the tongue. Most recognize that in James wisdom functions in ways similar to the Holy Spirit. Yet at the same time the two “cannot be entirely equated, because believers could not lack the Holy Spirit,” while they could lack wisdom (Blomberg and Kamell 2008:51). It is best to see the Spirit as mediating this gift from God.

Since the reality is that everyone lacks this wisdom, there is only one answer. One must turn to God and “ask” (a present imperative indicating ongoing prayer) for it. Then begins an incredible meditation on the kind of God we have—a God who responds to our prayers in love.

The Greco-Romans had capricious gods who were disinterested in humanity’s plight and whose involvement in people’s lives often had to be bought (or bought off). The Old Testament paints quite a different picture; there we see a covenant God who loved his people and was constantly involved in their needs, who even in his judgment of their foolish wanderings from him acted redemptively to bring them back to himself.

THE GOD WHO GIVES…

Here in James he is described as “the giving God” (tou didontos [TG1325, ZG1443] theou), with the present tense participle referring to a loving God “who never stops giving.” In Matthew 7:7 Jesus says,

“Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.”

Both aspects of this challenge are found here as well. Our responsibility is to bring our needs to God, and his promise is that he will respond. This is as it says in 1 Peter 5:7,

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.”

God’s free and continuous giving has two characteristics. First, it is “generous” (haplōs [TG574, ZG607]), a word that James uses dynamically (see note on 1:5) to connote not just the gracious extent of his liberality but also his single-minded focus and the unhesitating nature of his response to his children’s needs. When we lack the basic wisdom to handle and overcome our trials, we can place ourselves in the hands of a Father whose constant vigilance over us and empowering presence in our lives mean we can find the strength and understanding to withstand all difficulties.

Second, God “will not rebuke you for asking,” meaning that God does not give grudgingly or with a great deal of reproach for his children’s inadequacies and lack of wisdom. There is no need to hesitate in prayer, as if one’s finite, sinful condition will bring about only anger and recrimination from God. God does not belittle his people for their failures but forgives them when they come to him in repentance; he responds immediately to their prayers. James says simply that instead of mockery and condemnation, “he will give it to you” (this phrase occurs last in the sentence for emphasis).

ASKING FOR WISDOM

It is important to note what this doesn’t say: It does not promise that believers can get anything they want from God. That will be addressed in 4:3; when we ask for “only what will give [us] pleasure,” we will not get it. John 14:13 promises, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it,” but “in my name” means “in union with me and my purposes” (Osborne 2007:214). God will not give us what we want but rather what is best for us. Here the prayer is for wisdom, and that will always be given. Martin (1988:19) has a fine summary:

“James has painted in some bold strokes the scope of such praying: It is universal (God gives to all who petition him), it is beneficent, it is without regard to merit, and it is a response with no equivocations.”

FAITH OVER DOUBT

The rest of this passage (1:6-8) centers on the importance of faith over doubting when coming to God in prayer. Petitions to God must be done “in faith,” that is, with a total trust and dependence on God, taking him at his word. Many commentators (Adamson, Dibelius, Martin) see this as a complete confidence and certitude that God will answer. This is correct, but I also agree with those scholars (Blomberg and Kamell, Ropes) who say that the thrust is wider, referring to the basic reliance on God in every area of life, a God-centeredness that defines the Christian walk.

Mainly, this confidence does not mean we are certain that we will receive whatever we ask for but rather that God will act in the way that is best in every situation. This does not teach a “name it and claim it” theology; such is utterly wrong because it teaches that we control God, while in reality only God is sovereign over every situation!

WHAT IS WAVERING?

“Do not waver” is literally “not doubting” (mēden diakrinomenos [TG1252A, ZG1359]). The verb does not really mean to “doubt” that God is going to act but rather to have a divided mind that keeps one from trusting God in the first place. Moo (2000:60) says its basic meaning is “differentiate,” often used in the sense of “create distinctions” (2:4), “judge” (1 Cor 14:29; NLT, “evaluate”), or “dispute” (Acts 11:2; NLT, “criticize”).

In the middle voice, as here, this “doubt” means to “dispute with oneself.” So the idea is that the person is internally divided, “wavering” between trusting God and trusting self. Nystrom (1997:61-62) notes that the duplicity or dishonest doubt James addresses here is different from honest doubt, which has “healthy and even helpful effects.”

Noting the honest emotions, even anger, of the psalmists directed at God (e.g., Pss 13:1; 39:1-3), he points out how “in the press of life, we, like the psalmist, often wonder where God is, whether he really cares, and why he waits.” Such doubts force us to recall God’s faithful character and all he has done. Moreover, God responds to such doubts and meets us in the midst of our human weakness.

WHO IS WAVERING?

In the next verses (1:6b-8) James describes those who “waver.” Since they have a “divided loyalty” between God and this world, they are “as unsettled as a wave of the sea.” The two participles, “blown and tossed,” are virtual synonyms put together for poetic effect rather than to emphasize a violent force. Thus, they do not connote a typhoon or waves crashing on the shore, but rather the unsettled, ever-changing sea, driven by the wind. One moment such people are up (centered on God), the next moment they are down (centered on this world). You might call them spiritually “seasick”!

The emphasis is on the instability of this kind of Christian life, which “oscillates between faith and skepticism, unwilling to trust in Christ once for all and to stay the course in allegiance to him” (Blomberg and Kamell 2008:53). The need is for perseverance in faith (1:3-4), a constancy of walk in which God and Christ are ever uppermost in facing the vicissitudes of life. We live in a fallen world, and in this world bad things happen to good people. Moreover, as Christians we must face the possibility of persecution, and this is a theme of James as well as of 1 Peter. There is only one way to handle such ups and downs in life, and that is by an unwavering trust in the providential care of God.

CORNERSTONE BIBLICAL COMMENTARY

This excerpt is adapted from the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. This series provides up-to-date, evangelical scholarship on the Old and New Testaments. Each volume is designed to equip pastors and Christian leaders with exegetical and theological knowledge to better understand and apply God’s Word.

We have the 20 volume set available for purchase on our website! Learn more about the Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, see how it works in the app, and add it to your library today, here.

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Fellowship That Produces Joy

Posted by on 06/01/2018 in: , ,

Fellowship That Produces Joy

“How about coming over to the house for some fellowship?”
“What a golf game! Man, did we have great fellowship!”
“The fellowship at the retreat was just terrific!”

That word fellowship seems to mean many things to many different people. Perhaps, like a worn coin, it may be losing its true impression. If so, we had better take some steps to rescue it. After all, a good Bible word like fellowship needs to stay in circulation as long as possible.

True Christian fellowship is really much deeper than sharing coffee and pie, or even enjoying a golf game together. It is possible to be close to people physically and miles away from them spiritually. One of the sources of Christian joy is this fellowship that believers have in Jesus Christ. Paul was in Rome, his friends were miles away in Philippi, but their spiritual fellowship was real and satisfying. In Philippians 1:1-11, Paul used three thoughts that describe true Christian fellowship: I have you in my mind (Phil. 1:3-6), I have you in my heart (Phil. 1:7-8), and I have you in my prayers (Phil. 1:9-11).

I HAVE YOU IN MY MIND (1:3-6)

 “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy” (Philippians 1:3-4)

Isn’t it remarkable that Paul was thinking of others and not of himself? As he awaited his trial in Rome, Paul’s mind went back to the believers in Philippi, and every recollection he had brought him joy.

Am I the kind of Christian who brings joy to my fellow Christians when they think of me?

I HAVE YOU IN MY HEART (1:7-8)

“It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart” (Philippians 1:7)

Now we move a bit deeper, for it is possible to have others in our minds without really having them in our hearts. (Someone has observed that many people today would have to confess, “I have you on my nerves!”) Paul’s sincere love for his friends was something that could not be disguised or hidden.

How did Paul evidence his love for them? For one thing, he was suffering on their behalf. His bonds were proof of his love.

Paul’s love was not something he merely talked about; it was something he practiced.

He considered his difficult circumstances an opportunity for defending and confirming the gospel, and this would help his brethren everywhere.

I HAVE YOU IN MY PRAYERS (1:9-11)

“And it is my prayer…” (Philippians 1:9)

And what did Paul pray for the Philippine believers?

He prayed that they might experience abounding love and discerning love. Christian love is not blind! The heart and mind work together so that we have discerning love and loving discernment. Paul wanted his friends to grow in discernment, in being able to “distinguish the things that differ.”

Paul also prayed that they might have mature Christian character, “sincere and without offense.

This means that our lives do not cause others to stumble, and that they are ready for the judgment seat of Christ when He returns.

Paul also prayed that they might have mature Christian service. He wanted them filled and fruitful (Phil. 1:11).

He was not interested simply in church activities, but in the kind of spiritual fruit that is produced when we are in fellowship with Christ.

The difference between spiritual fruit and human religious activity is that the fruit brings glory to Jesus Christ.

“I have you in my mind … in my heart …  in my prayers.”

This is the kind of fellowship that produces joy, and it is the single mind that produces this kind of fellowship.

Adapted from BE Series Commentary by Wiersbe. Like this content? Learn more about this series here.

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