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Almost all of the materials posted in this blog were prepared for Christ Fellowship, a Christ-centered, caring church in McKinney, Texas. During this blog’s first three years, we have reached people in 143 countries with information designed “to explain the Bible and honor Christ.” It would be a pleasure to meet you at my home church!  (more info)

Since many of you live outside of the McKinney, Texas, area, we encourage you to gather every week with other believers at a church that honors Jesus as the crucified and resurrected Son of God and treats the Bible as God’s infallible Word. If that is sometimes not possible, we invite you to join our streamed, interactive church services at Christ Fellowship Online (CLICK HERE).

Christ Fellowship Online streams our church services, including great Christian music and some of the best preaching you can hear anywhere! Volunteers are also available to answer your questions, pray with you and help you find and follow Jesus Christ — all though an interactive web interface! (CLICK HERE)


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Copyright © 2013 Barry Applewhite, Plano, Texas. All rights reserved worldwide.

Exposition of Romans 5:3–5 Our hearts have the Holy Spirit

It is one thing to praise God when you cruise in sunny skies with a fair breeze, but what about during life’s storms? The vital point is that God has not left us to muddle though trouble on our own.

Only God can bless his own in the midst of trouble. How does he do it?

(ESV) Romans 5:3-5  More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, 5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

If the previous section (5:1–2) boasted of our having God’s approval in the context of grace and peace, the present section (5:3–5) boasts about God’s loving purpose in the context of suffering. It is certainly paradoxical to boast “in our sufferings,” but Paul assures believers that even there we may expect to triumph because of “the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (5:5).

The initial phrase “more than that” (5:3) adds the context of trouble to the previous context of blessing (5:1–2). Because of what Christ has done for us, we have a reason to boast — again, not “rejoice” — no matter what our circumstances may be. The Greek noun which ESV translates as “sufferings” is thlipsis, which here (5:3) means “trouble that inflicts distress, oppression, affliction, tribulation.”[1] This can be just about anything that puts pressure on a person; indeed, the ANLEX lexicon says thlipsis means “literally pressure.”[2]

For the unbeliever consider that trouble produces nothing but misery. The reason a believer may boast is that even suffering is used by God for good in that person’s life (5:3). So, we get the famous sequence: trouble to endurance to character to hope (5:4). It is plain that Paul is expressing a constructive, supernatural process that could not arise naturally from trouble. He next explains how this surprising uplift is possible.

The reason that a Christian may gain benefit even during trouble is because God is intervening in both the believer and the events. So, “hope does not put us to shame” (5:4) because biblical hope is an “expectation”[3] backed by God. “Hope” is so iffy in English usage that it presents problems.

The NET Bible does a good job on Rom. 5:5 by saying “hope does not disappoint.” If you live by faith, the eventual outcome when you stand before God will reward you. That is extremely significant to a Christian’s motivation since the Christian life involves sacrifice and service (Luke 9:23–24; Mark 10:45), and such sacrifice and service often involve trouble.

Finally we get to the cause of the uplift-within-trouble: the Holy Spirit within us is the expression of God’s love (5:5). Love has not previously been mentioned in Romans. Grant Osborne eloquently speaks of its significance:

First, this love is poured out into our hearts, meaning we realize God’s love as an inner, spiritual experience at the deepest level of our being. Second, the means by which we experience this is the Holy Spirit whom he has given us. . . . The Holy Spirit is the supreme gift that makes it possible for us to know the gift of God’s love.[4]

The verb “has been poured” is a Greek perfect tense, which Daniel Wallace says emphasizes the act of outpouring the Spirit into our hearts; the perfect also has that special idea of the present state emerging from that past action.[5] God gave us a matchless gift, the Holy Spirit who gets us through our trouble.

God gives inner strength

Some of us live blissfully unaware of how common trouble is in human experience. The ubiquity of trouble makes it vital for Christians to know how God will use it in their lives.

1. What have you been through that you did not initially think you could handle? How did God use that pressure to produce endurance?

2. What has been your own experience of endurance producing character? It is said that trouble makes us or breaks us: how does God use each outcome?

Jesus was not given a pass on trouble. “During his earthly life Christ offered both requests and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his devotion. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through the things he suffered.” (Heb. 5:7–8, NET). Jesus understands how to use the trouble we face to build us up!

Copyright © 2012 Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] BDAG-3, thlipsis, trouble, q.v.

[2] ANLEX, thlipsis, trouble, q.v.

[3] BDAG-3, elpis, expectation, q.v.

[4] Grant R. Osborne, Romans, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004) 131-132.

[5] Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996) 577.

Exposition of Romans 1:7–12 — Imparting spiritual gifts describes our role

The elders at Ephesus could look back in later years to their last meeting with the Apostle Paul at the port of Miletus. His parting words were full of emotional memories: “In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).

(ESV) Romans 1:7-12  To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed in all the world. 9 For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I mention you 10 always in my prayers, asking that somehow by God’s will I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I long to see you, that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you– 12 that is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Romans 1:7 is the concluding verse of a single Greek sentence that includes the first seven verses of Romans chapter 1. Sometimes modern people think the ancients to be less intelligent than we are because they lived so long ago. Hopefully, the profundity of Romans will help put that idea into well-deserved oblivion.

Another tendency we may have is to toss off anything said in the salutation of a NT epistle [letter] and get on to the main event; that is a mistake. In wishing the Roman Christians “grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (1:7), Paul is telling important things about his presentation of the gospel. “Grace” is used twenty-four times in Romans, and half of those instances occur in chapters 1-5; the next occurrence will be in Romans 3:24 — “they are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (HCSB) — where Paul presents God’s solution to humankind’s problem.

“Peace” is used ten times in Romans, most notably in Romans 5:1 — “therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” — where Paul presents the outcome of being justified by faith. As we will see, peace is not the absence of war but rather the wholeness and solidarity we enjoy through faith in Jesus Christ.

So, when Paul opens by wishing the Roman Christians grace and peace, he is telling them how they become justified before God (grace) and the result of that justification (peace). See also Romans 16:20 where these two giant concepts are combined.

In 1:8 we see that we are reading a letter and not a book on systematic theology, because Paul takes time to let the Roman Christians know that knowledge of their Christian faith has spread far and wide. Osborne says, “This refers not so much to the quality of their faith as to the fact of it.”[1] In terms of the spread of information, NT scholar Craig Keener informs us, “Couriers in the first century could get from Rome to London in one week.”[2] Word got around!

John Chrysostom (c. 347-407 AD), patriarch of Constantinople until his preaching against corruption landed him in Antioch, made fascinating remarks on the origin of the Roman church:

Having recently acquired a worldwide empire, the Romans were elated, and they lived in riches and luxury, and then fishermen brought the preaching there, Jewish fishermen moreover, who belonged to a nation which was hated and despised by everyone. And these Romans were asked to worship the crucified one who was brought up in Judea. Moreover, along with this doctrine, the teachers proclaimed an ascetic life to men who were used to luxury and concerned with material comforts.[3]

In a sense, Paul is letting them know that he realizes his visit to Rome will not establish a church but will nurture one that is already thriving. Even though Paul is an apostle, he is taking pains not to talk down to the recipients since that would impede acceptance of his message.

By essentially taking an oath before God (1:9), Paul “wants the Romans to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he continually holds them up in prayer.”[4] Paul states that he is always asking God to allow him to visit the churches in Rome (1:10), but he is plainly uncertain of the answer. He was right to doubt, because his eventual arrival in Rome occurred under the custody of a Roman guard during a legal appeal to Caesar (Acts 28:11-31).

Paul’s tone is warm in 1:11-12. Osborne says, “This is a wonderful way for all of us to think of our ministries as sharing our spiritual gifts with others.”[5] Paul again takes up spiritual gifts in Romans 12:6-8, where he names prophecy, service, teaching, exhortation. giving, leadership, and mercy. Each of us has a spiritual gift to use: “And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us” (Rom. 12:6, NET). What are we to do with them?

How to frame your ministry

What frame of reference should we use in thinking about our personal ministries within the church? Osborne captures Paul’s answer by having us think of our ministries as “sharing our spiritual gifts with others.”

1. How has your spiritual gift been used to bless other believers? How did it affect you to see that others benefitted from your gift?

2. When did you receive a spiritual gift from others and how did it move you closer to Christ? Did you let that person know how Jesus used them to strengthen you? If not, how could you do so now?

John Chrysostom said of Paul’s intended spiritual gift to the Roman Christians: “It was not his own things which he was giving them but what he had himself received.”[6] May we too give to one another from what we have received from the Lord!

Copyright © 2012 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials developed for Christ Fellowship (McKinney, Texas), by permission.

[1] Grant R. Osborne, Romans, The IVP New Testament Commentary Series (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004) 35.

[2] Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of John, vol. 1 (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 2003) 185.

[3] Gerald Bray, ed., Romans, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1998) 19.

[4] Osborne, Romans, 36.

[5] Osborne, Romans, 37.

[6] Bray, ed., Romans, 23.

Midrash in Matthew’s Gospel

Midrash is not a term familiar to most Christians, though Jewish people who have trusted in Jesus as their Messiah might recognize the term. My latest book, The Path to the Cross, uses midrash to explain Matthew 1–2. The purpose of this post is to define midrash so that you will understand what is said about it in the upcoming series on The Path to the Cross.

Midrash is an ancient exegetical technique — where “exegetical” relates to the critical interpretation of a text — and it was used by the ancient rabbis. Midrash is based on certain assumptions about the biblical text. According to Charles T. Davis, the ancient Jewish interpreters believed: “The ultimate goal of midrash is to ‘search out’ [from Hebrew darash “inquire about,” “examine,” “seek”] the fullness of what was spoken by the Divine Voice.”[1] Davis adds: “Since Scripture is the Word of God, no word is superfluous. Every repetition, every apparent mistake, every peculiar feature of arrangement or order has meaning.” I make extensive use of this last idea in explaining the presence of five women’s names (Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, Bathsheba, and Mary) in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus (The Path to the Cross, chapters 1–3).

Because they believed every word expressed by the Divine Voice had purpose and meaning, the ancient rabbis would earnestly seek connections between various texts of the Old Testament. They did this by comparing texts that seemed to share common themes or similar patterns of events. By their assumptions, such similarity would have meaning intended by God.

James Kugel explains some of the principles of early Jewish biblical interpretation by using the following ideas[2]:

  • The biblical text is basically cryptic. It has subtle nuances.
  • The biblical story contains a lesson for today.
  • The Bible is not only internally consistent, but it also allows for confirmation of the interpreter’s beliefs and practices.
  • Questions about the Scriptures may be resolved via a scrupulous examination of the precise wording of the biblical text sometimes using a verse, a phrase, or even a single word.

Of course, the bulk of Matthew’s Gospel is narrative, and his genealogy of Jesus gets it started. Two Jewish experts on midrash say, “In the narrative portions of the Bible, on the other hand, there was always a curiosity about what was left out of the story.”[3] This encouraged informed speculation about the missing facts. They further explain: “There is more to the Bible than initially meets the eye. In each sentence, word, and letter, there was either a direct message from God or an opportunity for the Rabbi to elucidate what God wanted from the Jewish people. Therefore, the text couldn’t just be read; it had to be studied. It could not be perused; it had to be deciphered.”[4] In my opinion, Matthew was encouraging such decipherment by inserting the names of the five women.

Further insight into Matthew’s methods may be gained by considering the methods used by ancient synagogue teachers. Katz and Schwartz describe this teaching by saying that the speaker would display his skill by using a distant verse of Scripture and employing a germ of an idea to connect that verse with the Bible passage scheduled for congregational reading on that day. The audience would be held in suspense to see how the speaker intended to connect the two by some form of midrashic comparison.[5] The germ of an idea Matthew uses to suggest this distant connection is the five woman’s names that he inserts into the genealogy of Jesus. In The Path to the Cross (chapters 1–3), I explain how the distant connections illuminate and supplement the birth narrative of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel.

As useful as midrash was in illuminating the meaning of the Old Testament writings, a danger always presented itself. Charles Davis describes this danger by saying, “The great weakness of this method is that it always threatens to replace the [biblical] text with an outpouring of personal reflection.”[6] Careful use of midrash can lead to profound discoveries in the biblical text, but careless use of midrash is simply the fanciful product of a human mind. At best, midrash is the skillful comparison of Scripture with Scripture; at worst it is invention.

In what may seem like a shift of topics — but is not! —midrash is roughly like the technique employed by some translators involved in publishing English Bibles that are based on the method called dynamic equivalence. The NIV 2011, for example, is very good, but it has a potential flaw. The Committee on Bible Translation says, “The NIV tries to bring its readers as close as possible to the experience of the original audience[.]”[7] Clearly, the key word is “experience.” The big problem is that we have no way of knowing exactly how the original audience experienced the Word; we have to guess. On a good day, that will make certain parts of NIV 2011 like the positive form of midrash — illuminating and helpful. In less favorable situations, NIV 2011 may be more like the speculative form of midrash. How much guessing is too much?

Copyright © 2011 Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide.

[1] Charles T. Davis, “Midrash,” based on Rabbi Burton Virotsky’s “Reading the Bible.” 10 September 2011 <>.

[2] James L. Kugel, “Early Jewish Biblical Interpretation,” The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism, Eds. John J. Collins and Daniel C. Harlow (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Co., 2010) 131–137.

[3] Michael Katz and Gershon Schwartz, Searching for Meaning in Midrash (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2002) 9.

[4] Katz and Schwartz, Searching for Meaning, 11.

[5] Katz and Schwartz, Searching for Meaning, 22.

[6] Davis, “Midrash.” 10 September 2011 <>.

[7] “Notes from the Committee on Bible Translation,” page 1.

Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:4–6

Matthew 5:4–6
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

Why meek does not mean wimpy

I first want to address something skipped in the previous post: the meaning of blessed. R.T. France discusses the difficulty of capturing this Greek word (makarios) in English by choosing happy over the alternatives blessed, congratulations to, and fortunate. After mentioning my favorite alternative, esteemed, he says, “Beatitudes are descriptions, and commendations, of the good life.” [1] Jesus commends such a life to his followers.

To say that those who mourn are happy (5:4) is clearly nonsense unless you understand that we are not dealing with a feeling here but rather knowledge that God will comfort them. For what do they mourn? Turner says that, rather than mourning over personal sin or misfortune, they probably mourn over persecution that arises over their allegiance to the kingdom.[2]

The idea that God esteems meekness requires explanation. First, the Greek word praus means, “pertaining to not being overly impressed by a sense of one’s self-importance, gentle, humble, considerate, meek.[3] Twice Jesus describes himself using this same Greek adjective, and in these instances the NET Bible translates the word as humble (Matt. 11:29) and unassuming (21:5). Further, Moses was described as the meekest man on earth (Num. 12:3). Who would ever say that either Jesus or Moses was not a great leader? Yet both were humble and unassuming. Lovers of swagger, take note!

I like the way Turner puts it: “Once again Jesus goes against the grain of human culture and experience by assuming that the meek — not those well stocked with wealth, armament or status — will inherit the earth.”[4] You should think long and hard about that statement!

In saying that the meek will inherit the earth (5:5), Jesus points forward to the worldwide kingdom he will rule — assisted by the humble — during the millennium, following his second coming (Rev. 20:4).

One of the best ways to understand the phrase hunger and thirst after righteousness (5:6) is to consider what Jesus said in John 4:34, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work.” But what kind of righteousness is he talking about?

Matthew must be understood on his own terms. If you import Paul’s meaning for righteousness in Romans into Matthew, you will really be confused. R.T. France says that righteousness in Matthew is “overwhelmingly concerned with right conduct, with living the way God requires.”[5] A really good example is when Jesus allows John the Baptist to baptize him — over John’s protest (3:14) — in order to “fulfill all righteousness” (3:15). Jesus had nothing to repent of, but he wanted to identify with those who did. Jesus exemplified the humility mentioned in the previous verse.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 161.

[2] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 150, citing Matt. 5:10–12, 38–48; 10:16–42; 13:21; 23:34; 24:9.

[3] BDAG-3, praus, humble, meek, q.v.

[4] Turner, Matthew, 151.

[5] France, Matthew, 167.


Sermon on the Mount: Matthew 5:1–3

Matthew 5:1–3
When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain. After he sat down his disciples came to him. 2 Then he began to teach them by saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.”
(NET Bible)
Note: any Bible reference containing only a chapter number and verse number is understood to be in the Gospel of Matthew.

An unexpected opening

In the concluding verse of Matthew chapter 4, we found that large crowds (4:25) from such distant places as Syria and Jerusalem accompanied Jesus. They had heard that he was “preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing” (4:23).

But gathering crowds and leading them was not the mission Jesus had been given. “When he saw the crowds, he went up the mountain” (5:1). Since Galilee has no tall mountains, you should think in terms of the Texas hill country — that kind of mountain.

Whenever we read a literary work like Matthew’s Gospel, it is sensible to probe whether simple words may conceal unexpected yet intentional connections. That is the case with “he sat down” (5:1). The Greek verb is used eight times in Matthew, and in most cases it involves sitting in a position of authority or judgment.[1] That will certainly prove to be the situation on this day. Perhaps anticipating Jesus, his disciples gather around him. But, exactly what is a disciple?

When you recall that some of Jesus’ disciples turned away from him (John 6:66), it becomes obvious that disciple is not a synonym for believer. We will contrast discipleship under Jesus with other forms of first-century discipleship. How does discipleship to Jesus contrast with the disciples of the Jewish rabbis or to Greek masters such as Socrates?

Allegiance to a rabbi meant adhering to his view of the Torah, the instruction revealed by Moses in Genesis to Deuteronomy. Allegiance to Socrates was shown by adherence to his ideas or his philosophy. TDNT says: “In contrast to both, Jesus binds exclusively to himself. The rabbi and the Greek philosopher are at one in representing a specific cause. Jesus offers himself. This obviously gives a completely different turn to the whole relation of the disciples to him.”[2] Discipleship under Jesus involves personal commitment to him and the acceptance of his teachings that results in obedience.

Of course, Matt. 5:1 begins the famous Sermon on the Mount, which extends through 7:29. I agree with Turner when he says: “The sermon amounts to personal ethics for the followers of Jesus. . . . The Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ authoritative teaching about the way believers should live today.”[3]

Today we will only put a toe in the deep waters of the Sermon by considering 5:3. “Blessed are the poor in spirit” illustrates that “the sharply paradoxical character of most of [the Sermon’s] recommendations reverses the conventional values of society.”[4] If we called for a show of hands from all who strive to be poor in spirit, the resulting inner tension would show how countercultural this is! See Ps. 37:14–17, James 2:5 and Prov. 16:18–19 for further ideas on being poor in spirit.

Turner correctly says, “To be ‘poor in spirit’ is to acknowledge one’s total dependence on God for everything, for righteousness . . . as well as sustenance.”[5]

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] References are Matt. 13:48; 19:28; 20:21, 23; 23:2; 25:31.

[2] TDNT, 4:447, math?t?s, disciple, q.v.

[3] David L. Turner, Matthew, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, Baker Academic, 2008) 144.

[4] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 159.

[5] Turner, Matthew, 149.

The Sermon on the Mount: Approach to Interpretation

This post begins an occasional series on The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5–7). After today’s introduction, you may expect Bible exposition. I sometimes use the acronym “SOM” to refer to the Sermon on the Mount.

I am indebted to R.T. France for the idea of calling Matthew chapters 5–7 “The Discourse on Discipleship” rather than the more common title “The Sermon on the Mount.”[1] R.T. France correctly points out that Jesus was speaking to those who had responded to his preaching that the kingdom of heaven had drawn near. I will generally stick to the traditional title (“The Sermon on the Mount”), but France’s title would have been better.

How the Sermon on the Mount affects you

It is one thing to title Jesus’ remarks and quite another to figure out how they fit into the lives of Christians today. How did Jesus intend for us to interpret them? To answer that question is not easy! NT scholar Craig Blomberg says, “Perhaps no other religious discourse in the history of humanity has attracted the attention which has been devoted to the Sermon on the Mount.”[2] Out of this vast consideration, at least 36 different views have emerged on the sermon’s message.

Perhaps because Stanley Toussaint is a pastor as well as a New Testament scholar, I prefer his simpler overview of six viewpoints[3]:

1. The Soteriological [Salvation] Approach: People may receive salvation by governing their lives through the principles of the SOM. This idea was once popular among theological liberals, but it had been abandoned by 1980 for the simple reason that, if it were true, no one could be saved!

2. The Sociological Approach: Society would be ideal if guided by the principles of the SOM. This idea fails in that there is no evidence that Jesus was trying to modify society. Several famous people have tried to implement parts of the SOM, though not all recognized Jesus as the Son of God.[4] However, this world-system will be destroyed and replaced by God, not freshened up.

3. The Lutheran Approach: Toussaint calls it “The Penitential Approach.” This view holds that the purpose of the SOM is to make people conscious of their sin and drive them to God. But the Lutheran Approach does not recognize that the SOM is addressed to disciples; thus, he is speaking to people who have already repented and come to God. Jesus says they are salt and light (5:13-14). Still, the SOM does heighten awareness of sin, and that part of this viewpoint has merit.

4. The Millennial or Kingdom Approach: This view says that the way of life presented is applicable to the future Millennial Kingdom, in which Jesus will rule this world (Rev. 20:4). But, to say the least, it would be odd for Jesus to tell his disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom (Matt. 6:28) when it was already going on. Why would disciples be persecuted and reviled (Matt. 5:11-12) in the future kingdom? Problems abound!

5. The Church Approach: Toussaint calls it “The Ecclesiastical Approach.” The idea here is that the SOM is the rule of life for the church. However, Toussaint correctly points out that the church is not mentioned until Matthew 16:18 and does not exist until Acts 2, following the resurrection of Jesus. So, even though this view is popular and promising, it has a timing problem in NT history.

6. The Interim Approach: The idea of the Interim Approach is that the SOM presents an ethic for the time preliminary to the establishment of the Millennial Kingdom. This concept improves upon #5 by eliminating direct dependence on the presence of the church. That said, SOM also applies to the church throughout the period of its existence. In fairness, I must add that Toussaint would not agree with my application of the SOM to the church and would say that I have modified the Interim Approach as he originally described it.[5]

So, I have used the Interim Approach as the interpretive grid for explaining the SOM, and have taken the position that the principles Jesus gives are directly applicable to the church, even though the church did not exist when Jesus first taught these ideas.

My next post will explain the first part of the Sermon on the Mount, a section often called The Beatitudes.

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from materials prepared for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.

[1] R.T. France, The Gospel of Matthew, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007) 153.

[2] Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1992) 93.

[3] Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold the King (Portland: Multnomah Press, 1980) 86-94.

[4] Four men who tried to use SOM in whole or part: Leo Tolstoy, Karl Marx, Mohandas Gandhi, and Martin Luther King.

[5] Toussaint got the idea of an interim ethic from Albert Schweitzer and then modified it.