Category Archives: Bible Study

Connect to Christ in Function, Not Form

I recently preached a sermon on the ark of the covenant in Exodus 25. While studying the ark I realized that there was an overwhelming amount of typology written about the ark that, while not necessarily allegory, was definitely superficial. I would consider it unwise at least and probably irresponsible.

Most of these instances focused on how the Ark was built from two materials (gold and wood). Here’s an example: Continue reading

Where Righteousness and Peace can Kiss

Another awesome quote about the Ark of the Covenant. This one didn’t make it into the sermon but I really wanted to share it.

The deposition of [the Ten Commandments] in the ark underneath the mercy seat… testified to the fact that God’s kingdom in Israel was founded on immutable justice and righteousness (Ps. 89:15; 97:2). Even grace, in its actings, must respect law. Favour cannot be dispensed on terms which make the law “void” (Rom. 3:31). If sin is pardoned, it must be with full recognition of the law’s claims against the sinner. The ultimate end must be to “establish the law” (Rom. 3:31). Only in the Gospel have we the clear revelation of how, on these terms, mercy and truth can meet together, and righteousness and peace can kiss each other (Ps. 85:10; Rom. 3:21–27).
– H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., Exodus, vol. 2, The Pulpit Commentary (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 253.

Does Bible = Jesus?

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 1:1

If Jesus is the Word and the Bible is “the Word” does that mean the Bible is Jesus?

I’ve actually heard this taught in a Bible study and I recently had a conversation with another blogger about a similar statement so I thought I’d explain exactly why this isn’t the case.

Why you might be tempted to think Bible = Jesus

If you paid attention in math class you might remember something called the transitive property. It states:

If A = B and B = C, then A = C.

So, in mathematics, if (2+2) = 4 and 4 = (2*2), then (2+2) = (2*2).

Reading our English Bible we see in John 1:1 that Jesus = Word. We also often call the Bible the “word of God.” So it only makes sense that the two are equivalent.

Why you don’t have to worship your Bible.

Luckily, there’s an easy way to solve this dilemma. (And it is a dilemma: If this were true it would mean we would be obliged to worship our Bibles.) The Bible uses two separate words for these two concepts: Continue reading

Jonathan Edwards and the Typology of Nature


Typology is a sticky subject. Which passages can we consider typological? Which can’t we?

Jonathan Edwards liked typology so much that he extended it beyond Scripture and into the natural world. He assumed that if the world was made by the God of the Bible we would see things in the world and its created order that pointed us to truths about God.

Some examples:

“Children’s coming into the world naked and filthy, and in their blood, and crying and impotent, is to signify the spiritual nakedness, pollution of nature and wretchedness of condition with which they are born.”

Is it true that childbirth is a messy, ugly business? Yes. Is it true that children are born sinners? Yes. Does the one point to the other? I’m not convinced.

“The serpent’s charming of birds and other animals into their mouths, and the spider’s taking of the fly in his snare, are lively representations of the devil’s catching our souls by his temptations.”

Do serpents and spiders lure and snare their prey? Absolutely. Does the enemy lure and snare his prey? Absolutely. Does the one point to the other? Where’s the proof?

“The sun’s so perpetually, for so many ages, sending forth his rays in such vast profusion, without any dimunition of his light and heat, is a bright image of the all-sufficiency and everlastingness of God’s bounty and goodness.”

Does the sun shine seemingly forever? Surely. Is God all-sufficient and good? Surely. Does the one point to the other? Possibly.

The real problem with nature typology is that it’s so imprecise. Where can we verify its findings? How can we tell that the sun points to Yahweh and not Allah? At most it is corroboration of the truths revealed in the Bible.

My recommendation is to stick to typology within the Bible. It’s much more clear and it’s much more precise.

All three citations are from page 54 of the Yale edition of The Works of Jonathan Edwards vol 11, Typological Writings.

Is Strong’s Concordance Reliable?

Is it reliable?

The most-visited page on my website remains How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance. It’s slightly frustrating that a page which has essentially nothing to do with this site’s central message is it’s all-time leader in views, pulling in more than quadruple the amount of search traffic as most other sections of the site. I’m not too frustrated however because the gospel-centered hermeneutic I’m dedicated to here is a much narrower niche. So I thought I’d pause a moment and answer a question I see a lot about Strong’s concordance: Is it reliable?

This is the final entry in a series of posts on the use of Strong’s Concordance:

How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance
How NOT To Use Strong’s Concordance Part 2
How To Properly Use Strong’s Concordance
A Good Example of Using Strong’s Concordance
Is Strong’s Concordance Reliable?

When asking questions about “reliability” and “accuracy” you need to first answer the question, “What are you trying to be accurate about?” If you want to measure the size of a book then a ruler is your best bet. If you want to measure the number of votes for a presidential election a ruler, however accurate, isn’t what you want. That task requires a ballot box.

So when we ask if Strong’s concordance is reliable we need to ask ourselves what we’re trying to do with it first. Remember the most important insight from the first article:

Strong’s is primarily a concordance, not a dictionary. A dictionary defines words. A concordance acts like an index.

What does that mean? Just like the ruler, it’s accurate for one thing and useless for another. Continue reading

Did Moses Know the Passover was Prophetic?

The Passover and subsequent exodus was the most significant redemptive event in the history of Israel. It’s primary symbol was the lamb that was sacrificed to prevent the same destruction that hit the houses of Egypt from striking the houses of Israel. It’s no wonder that the New Testament writers made reference to the Passover lamb when writing about Christ and the greater redemption he accomplished for us:

Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.
1 Cor 5:7

It’s great to draw analogies between OT redemptive acts of God and NT redemptive acts of God. But is it legitimate to say that the OT redemptive act was prophetic (i.e. predicted) the greater NT action? Take for instance:

So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first, and of the other who had been crucified with him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. He who saw it has borne witness—his testimony is true, and he knows that he is telling the truth—that you also may believe. For these things took place that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “Not one of his bones will be broken.”
John 19:32–36.

John is referring to this description of the Passover lamb:

It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones.
Ex 12:46

But the original context of Exodus 12 has no reference to a future event. It’s all about Israel’s situation in Egypt. So did John just pretend that it was a prophecy? Did he invent a new meaning for this text?

Why This Matters

This is a big deal because it could mean that John wasn’t being faithful to Scripture as he was writing Scripture. That would make us doubt at least John’s writings and then cast suspicion on the rest of the Bible as well.

It would also raise questions like: Continue reading