Acts 2:23 – Were Gentiles lawless or merely not abiding by Jewish law?

Were Gentiles lawless or merely not abiding by Jewish law?  What difference does this make? A big one, I think.  Translations that render lawless has connotations of being completely lawless.  Those outside the law implies not holding to Jewish laws, but not necessarily without law.  The rendering in the ESV and CSB imply that Gentiles were completely lawless, which can be misleading.

Acts 2:23
ESV: this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. (also in CSB, NAB)
NIV: …and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.
NRSV: …you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law. (also in NJB)
NLT: …“lawless Gentiles”; and NET: …“Gentiles

Translations that render a-nomos (ἀνόμων) as “lawless” or “without law” may still be technically correct, but this might not have been the writer`s original intent.

Were Gentiles completely lawless? No, Roman society was ruled by law, particular by Law of the Twelve Tables;
or less lawful than Jewish society?  Maybe;
or not living by Jewish laws?  I think is this most probable.

I suspect the writer of Acts was simply trying to imply that Gentiles did not live by Jewish law but were not necessarily completely lawless.  I find the NIV rendering is overly interpretive.  The NLT`s is okay. The NET is inaccurate.  Personally, I prefer the rendering of the last two translations NRSV and NJB on this one because it allows the reader to see Gentiles as only being “outside of Jewish law” but not necessarily without law.

The Lutheran Study Bible special pricing deadline is October 31: Get one!

I didn’t get a review copy of  The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) but I know that I will be very impressed with it when I get my own copy.  Yesterday, our bible study group put in an order for a case of these babies before the October 31 special pricing deadline.   The regular hardback is 3½ pounds and large print is a whopping 5½ pounds.  I prefer large print but am I going to lug a 5½ pound bible to bible study? No way. So I ordered the regular font sized hardback edition without the frills, just a basic hardcover that I can use for bible study on Thursday evenings.

Why would a person want to use The Lutheran Study Bible?  There are 12 reasons if you’re Lutheran.  But if you’re not Lutheran, I don’t really know why except to educate yourself in some good old Lutheran theology.  It’s good…really! In the past, I know Lutherans haven’t exactly been high profile bible publishers and translators but I think this edition will be a first for Lutherans putting out a very high quality study bible so I applaud Concordia for taking this initiative.  I was impressed with the sampler so I’m looking forward to finally getting my own copy just for its Lutheran content written by Lutheran contributors.  Note, that I’m not in it for the translation (ESV);  I’m in it for the uniquely Lutheran perspective, and its emphasis on rightly dividing law and gospel, which is lacking in much of our theologies today.

In the past, the small Lutheran voice in the culture of faith have been drowned out in the cacophony of evangelical voices in airwaves and popular Christian media.  And sadly, I think The Lutheran Study Bible will also likely be lost in the plethora of evangelical-based study bibles and translations, but that’s okay.  If you’re Lutheran, don’t let that deter you from investing in one.  I honestly believe that if  TLSB had the opportunity to really display its qualities, I’m sure it would stand out as a bright gem amongst other gems of study bibles. It easily holds its own against the ESV, NLT, and T/NIV study bibles and it might even out-do them. I still need to get a copy in my hands before saying anything more.   I admit–the reality is that if you’re not Lutheran, you probably won’t get one.

But okay, enough bragging up for the Lutheran Study Bible.  Get one for yourself, especially if you’re Lutheran.

Crossway has a way to help you share the good news of Christmas

Is your church beginning to plan a Christmas musical/production? How about delivering gift bags while Christmas carolling? Crossway has creative and cost-effective way to help churches, para-ministries, and individuals engage in missional activity in a pro-active way.  When your friends or neighbors open up these bags, I feel the two most important items they will find are an invitation, and a small outreach edition of the New Testament. The tract and the temporary access to an online bible for 30 days are what I’d consider throw-aways.

What type of events might the invitation be used for? Perhaps the annual Christmas production or musical, the Christmas Eve service, a home-group meeting, or even for coffee in your own home?  I can also see how churches engaging in missional outreach might want to deliver these little gift bags by hand within their surrounding community, or if they’re not home, visitors may even hang them onto the doors at friends’ homes during a home visitation or during Christmas carolling.  But it’s the personal invitation that will bring them out to a Christmas event at church.  That is where the real personal outreach ministry happens.

These kits by Crossway contain:

  • 50 Christmasy door-hanger bags
  • 50 New Testaments (ESV) Christmas outreach editions
  • 50 customizable invitations to attend a Christmas service at your church/ministry
  • 50 copies of The Good News of Christmas tract by Max Lucado
  • 50 cards giving 30-day access to the ESV Online Study Bible
  • 1 instruction card
  • 1 reproducible church bulletin insert

In Canada, these kits sell Cdn$59.99 (or Cdn$1.20 per home).  In the US, it’s US$50.00 per kit (US$1.00 per home).

Exodus 22:8-9 “God” or “Judges”?

I think this will really bug some people as it bugs me.  It seems that Exodus 22:8-9 is clearly referring to judges but some translations like the NLT,  ESV, NRSV rendered elohim as “God“; but TNIV and CSB rendered elohim as “judges“.  Yes, technically, “God” is correct; but it seems clear to me that elohim (in the sense of a small “g” gods) which can be translated as judges, was what the writers/scribes intended.

Should we go with what we know as technically correct? Or should we go with what we know the writer/scribe/editor intended?

_________________________  Exodus 22:8-9 _________________________

NLT But if the thief is not caught, the neighbor must appear before God, who will determine if he stole the property. 9 “Suppose there is a dispute between two people who both claim to own a particular ox, donkey, sheep, article of clothing, or any lost property. Both parties must come before God, and the person whom God declares guilty must pay double compensation to the other.

ESV If the thief is not found, the owner of the house shall come near to God to show whether or not he has put his hand to his neighbor’s property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for an ox, for a donkey, for a sheep, for a cloak, or for any kind of lost thing, of which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before God. The one whom God condemns shall pay double to his neighbor.

TNIV But if the thief is not found, the owner of the house must appear before the judges, and they must determine whether the owner of the house has laid hands on the other person’s property. 9 In all cases of illegal possession of an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or any other lost property about which somebody says, ‘This is mine,’ both parties are to bring their cases before the judges. The one whom the judges declare guilty must pay back double to the other.

CSB If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house must present himself to the judges to determine whether or not he has taken his neighbor’s property. 9 In any case of wrongdoing involving an ox, a donkey, a sheep, a garment, or anything else lost, and someone claims: That’s mine, the case between the two parties is to come before the judges. The one the judges condemn must repay double to his neighbor.

The Lutheran Study Bible to release on Reformation Day

October 31 seems too far away.  I just got the promotional kit in the mail today from Concordia Publishing House (CPH). It says that this new upcoming release of The Lutheran Study Bible (TLSB) in the ESV translation is to be released on Reformation Day, October 31.   I can’t wait.  This really is something I am really looking forward to as a Lutheran.

I know some of you out there are not too keen on the ESV but I still like it, despite some of the rough spots.  But the study notes in this study bible are going to be amazing. I’ve only seen a sampler and it looks very good from what I can see so far. I guess the old NIV Lutheran Self-Study Bible is on the way out.

Some of the features will include:

• 26,500-plus uniquely Lutheran study notes.
• Over 2,000 application notes and prayers for every part of the Bible.
• 80,000 center column cross-references.
• Over 900 cross-references to 120 full or half-page maps, charts, and diagrams.
• 220-plus articles and introductions to biblical books and topics.
• Insights from early church, medieval and Reformation era church fathers.
• Uses the English Standard Version translation, one of the most precise English translations available.
• Durable Smyth-sewn binding.

The promotional DVD is slick…I mean totally slick.  They have two young post-moderns in their twenties talking up the new TLSB.  This campaign is really geared for the younger generations.  Take a look at this video. I have to hand it to Concordia. They’re really doing a top-notch marketing campaign–one of the best I’ve seen, at least in the Lutheran world.

ESV Study Bible: a Reformed study bible?

This Sunday, I plan to preach on the text of Ephesians 1:3-14. I noticed that, in particular, vv. 3, 4 and 11 are verses about predestination. I compared this passage in the ESV translation with other translations and did not find that the ESV had any bent toward predestination. Then I looked further and could not find any passage where the ESV was biased toward Reformed teaching of predestination. If the ESV bible could be accused of having a bent toward Reformed theology, it would have to be some of the notes in the ESV Study Bible.

I looked up some of the verses most commonly used by Arminians to challenge the doctrine of predestination. In it, the study notes in the ESV Study Bible, to a large extent, does defend the doctrine of predestination. But the study notes do not only defend Reformed theology since its contributors come from various denominations including some from non-Reformed backgrounds (e.g., pentecostal, evangelical, Southern Baptist, Lutherans). No, I’m not saying that the ESV Study Bible is a Reformed study bible. It is clearly not. But if the ESV Study Bible were to be labelled as a Reformed study bible, I don’t think many in the Reformed camp would object this label? But if it were labelled as such, it definitely wouldn’t be able to sell as well as it has.
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1 Timothy 2:3-4 “who desires all people to be saved”
“This statement figures prominently in theological disagreements over the extent of the atonement. It cannot be read as suggesting that everyone will be saved (universalism) because the rest of the letter makes it clear that some will not be saved”

2 Peter 3:9not wishing that any should perish
“see note in 1 Tim 2:4”

Romans 14:15 “do not destroy the one for whom Christ died”
“beware lest they destroy the faith of a brother or sister”

1 Corinthians 8:11 “by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died”
“Others see this as a reference to the moral harm done to the weaker brother (his conscience “is defiled,””

Hebrews 10:26-27 “a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries”
“…if there is no evidence of fruit in one’s life, to challenge such people to give fearful consideration as to whether they are in fact genuine believers.”

2 Peter 2:1 “even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction”
“they claimed to be “redeemed” and “saved” because they were part of the church, but their apostasy showed that they were not truly believers.”

John 4:42 “so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men
“the first “all men” refers to all who are in Adam (every human being), while the second “all men” refers to all believers, to all who are “in Christ.””

Romans 5:18
2 Corinthians 5:14-15
1 John 2:2

The new ESV Bible with Apocrypha by Oxford: let’s take a look

Timothy over at Catholic Bibles has recently been blogging about the new ESV Bible with Apocrypha published by Oxford. I’ve enjoyed his recent posts on how he is finding the new ESV/Apocrypha edition here: