Andreas Köstenberger – Logical Fallacies

Logic (from the Greek word logos, “reason”) is the “science that deals with the principles and criteria of validity of inference and demonstration, the science of the formal principles of reasoning” (Merriam-Webster). While theology, as the study of God, transcends mere logic, it is reasonable to expect that Scripture adheres to common principles of reasoning. Properly used, logic derives true propositions from other true propositions. Even though Scripture may not explicitly state a given truth, we may make true statements that have Scripture’s authority behind them if they are properly derived from what Scripture does say following principles of logical reasoning.

A basic understanding of the rules of logic is crucial to sound hermeneutics. Logical fallacies, both formal and informal, are found in every field of study, and biblical exegesis is no exception. In what follows, I will provide examples of some of the most common logical fallacies encountered in biblical studies. They are: (1) false disjunctions, (2) appeals to selective evidence, (3) unwarranted associative jumps, (4) improperly handled syllogisms, (5) false statements, and (6) non sequiturs.

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Amy Hall – Who Is the God of Mormonism?

One thing you’ll discover as you’re talking with your Mormon (LDS) friends is that though we use the same terms, we often mean very different things. Mormons have different definitions of Gospel, repentance, salvation, grace, Hell, and nearly every term you’ll be using in your conversation. If you fail to explicitly define your terms, you could easily leave the conversation thinking you’re both in complete agreement. (Ask, “What do you mean by that?” early and often!)

The term “God” is no exception to this. In fact, it’s the most foundational difference between Christian and LDS theology.

An Exalted Man

The key to understanding the god of Mormonism is the idea that he is the same species we are; we’re just in an earlier stage of development. Here’s a quote from Joseph Smith:

God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret. If the veil were rent today, and the great God who holds this world in its orbit, and who upholds all worlds and all things by His power, was to make himself visible—I say, if you were to see him today, you would see him like a man in form—like yourselves in all the person, image, and very form as a man; for Adam was created in the very fashion, image and likeness of God, and received instruction from, and walked, talked and conversed with Him, as one man talks and communes with another….

I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see…that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ Himself did

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Michael Boling – Exegetical Paper on Ephesians 6:10-20



The pericope of Ephesians 6:10-20 is a battle cry from the Apostle Paul written originally to addresses spiritual issues at the Church at Ephesus. However, the principles inculcated within this passage of scripture are timeless and should be fully integrated into the life of the modern believer. Subsumed within Paul’s commentary is a comprehensive overview of spiritual warfare. According to Paul, the battle that rages is a spiritual confrontation with eternal consequences between the people of God and Satan’s minions. As noted by author Warren Wiersbe, “sooner or later every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and that he faces an enemy who is much stronger than he is – apart from the Lord.” Thus, Paul’s discussion of spiritual warfare is replete with various modalities by which Christians can “fight the good fight of faith” as annotated in First Timothy 6:12.

The theological connotations contained in this passage must be interpreted as a unified peroration regarding the necessity for the believer to be cognizant of the spiritual battle that permeates our daily existence. Perhaps more importantly is the applicatory nature of this pericope and the urgency by which Paul endorses persistent engagement of the enemy through the panoply of God and through prayer. Paul admonishes believers to utilize the armor of God in order to effectively withstand the incessant spiritual barrage which they will daily confront. Without this armor, the Christian, both in the context of Paul’s era and the modern one, can easily fall prey to the wiles of the adversary.


Pauline authorship of Ephesians was largely unchallenged by scholars until the 19th century when biblical criticism became vogue amongst the theological community and academia. Moreover, support for Pauline authorship was maintained as early as the second century by early church fathers such as Ignatius who ascribed Ephesians as being from “the hand of the apostle.” Further support in this area is attributed to the fact that numerous early church fathers denoted their belief in Pauline authorship evidenced by the Ephesians being listed as a Pauline letter in the Marcion canon circa 180 A.D. and inclusion in the Muratorian Fragment. Scholars typically hold to the assertion that the book of Ephesians was written by Paul during his imprisonment in Rome around the year A.D. 60. Additionally, Ephesians is regularly included among the other Pauline letters labeled as his “prison epistles.”

Biblical criticism concerning Ephesians is often attributed to issues such as the purported excessive exaltation of Paul and the apostles. The concern over the depiction of Paul and the apostles in Ephesians is tenable as discussion on this topic is centered on the role that Paul and the apostles had in the promulgation of the gospel amongst the early church. Additional criticism has been placed by liberal scholars on the nomenclature “the holy apostles.” As noted by theologian Klyne Snodgrass, such criticism overlooks the consistent reference by which “Paul refers to Christians as the holy ones (saints). The word means nothing more than those whom God has set apart.”

Further support for Pauline authorship can be obtained by evidence found within Ephesians. The letter begins with a greeting to the Church at Ephesus; a standard element of Pauline literature. In addition, there is a “substantial amount of material presented as a first-person address on the part of the apostle to the readers.” Perhaps most telling is the discussion of the nature of Paul’s apostolic ministry and the various prayers throughout the epistle which depict Paul commenting in the first-person.

While objections to Pauline authorship continue to exist, they do not bear sufficient inherent difficulty as to not be overcome. Donald Guthrie notes that “when all the objections are carefully considered it will be seen that the weight of evidence is inadequate to overthrow the overwhelming external attestation to Pauline authorship, and the Epistle’s own claims.”

Any attempts at debating Pauline authorship do little to discredit the fundamental theological import of Ephesians for the body of Christ. As noted by theologian Peter O’Brien,

“Early and consistent attestation to its apostolic authorship is highly significant, not only because Christians of the first centuries were closer than we are to the situation when it was written, but also because they were careful in weighing and evaluating their founding documents.”


The City of Ephesus was a center of trade in the Roman Empire largely due to its geographical location on the Mediterranean Sea thus enabling the city to be a vital port in the region of Asia Minor. As a chief commercial center, Ephesus was a “melting pot of nations and ethnic groups.” Historians have noted that it was not uncommon to see various ethnic groups intermingling throughout the city environs.

In addition to being a major center of commerce, Ephesus also boasted the temple to the fertility goddess Artemis Diana; one of the seven wonders of the ancient world. The Temple of Artemis also served as the “bank of Asia Minor, one of the few places where money could be safely deposited.” As connoted in Acts 18 and 19, Ephesus was a city centered largely on the worship of Diana and the resulting moral atmosphere was largely one of debauchery. This is evidenced by the confluence of temple prostitutes that permeated the temple complex and which were an integral part of the worship ceremonies of the goddess Diana. The spiritual climate of the city of Ephesus and its surrounding communities was one centered on the accumulation of wealth, sexual deviancy and most importantly the worship of Diana.


The Apostle Paul briefly visited Ephesus during his 2nd missionary journey while he journeyed from Corinth to Jerusalem; a fact noted in Acts 18. Upon his departure, Paul left behind his traveling companions Priscilla and Aquila to further the spread of the gospel in this region. Paul returned to Ephesus during his 3rd missionary journey and Acts 19 provides an overview of Paul’s two year ministry to the Ephesus believers. Not only did Paul minister to the Gentile believers in Ephesus, Acts 19:8 denotes that Paul spent three months preaching the gospel of Christ at a Jewish synagogue in Ephesus. His preaching was met with great consternation and hostility and he was eventually forced to depart the synagogue. Despite this hostility, numerous Jews and even some Gentiles received the saving message of Christ. Acts 19:9 describes Paul bringing these new converts to Christianity to a local lecture hall where he preached the gospel daily. This lecture hall formed the base of operations for Paul for the next two years as he continued to preach the gospel to the Ephesians. So effective was Paul’s teaching, that Acts 19:10 states that “all the inhabitants of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks.”

God performed many supernatural acts to include healing of the sick and the exorcism of demonic spirits during Paul’s tenure at Ephesus. Following the tragic end of the sons of Sceva outlined in Acts 19:14-16, many Christians finally renounced their spiritual ties to the Cult of Diana and burned their books of magic estimated to have the value of 50,000 days’ wages. Spiritual revival had begun to take root in Ephesus and this revival eventually spread to the surrounding cities of Asia Minor.

As noted by theologian John Stott, Paul referred to the recipients of his letter as the saints, as faithful and as being in Christ Jesus. These descriptions are quite impressive especially considering the virulent spiritual environment and the inherent societal and economic risks involved with rejecting the idol worship and sexual depravity which so permeated their culture. Paul reminded the Christians at Ephesus of their position as called out ones by God, the need to keep the faith and the eternal perspective which the people of God should be continually focused upon. Theologian James Boice saliently notes that “in this city God was pleased to establish a faithful church. To the Christians of this city, attempting to live for God in the midst of utter paganism, the apostle directs this letter.”


After spending a significant amount of time addressing issues of doctrinal particularly the need for unity among believers, Paul begins the pericope of Ephesians 6:10-20 with the word “finally.” This word indicates that the final section of Ephesians is built upon the preceding chapters where Paul presented a thorough outline for unity within the church. As noted by theologian A. Skevington Wood, “the body of Christ must be united and built up so as to be ready for the inevitable encounter with evil.” Now that Paul had provided the modality by which the body of Christ could be unified, he then provides an enchiridion of spiritual warfare complete with a depiction of the method and weaponry by which believers can engage the enemy. Such a discussion is relevant not to the church at Ephesus but in some respects, an astute comprehension of the nature of true nature of spiritual warfare is even more important for the modern believer.

The metaphor of the armor of God utilized by Paul in this passage connotes a sense of a fully armed, well-trained warrior. Of particular importance is the method by which Paul contrasts a typical Roman soldier to the average believer. Theologian Michael Gudorf avers that the Greek word πάλη (palē) that Paul utilizes in Ephesians 6:12 for struggle or wrestle as identified in some translations connotes more than resistance against an enemy. Gudorf avers that Paul is instead describing a

“heavily armored soldier who also happens to be an accomplished wrestler. As one might imagine, such an individual would be particularly formidable in the arena of close-quarter military combat, where only one is left standing. The picture of an individual such as this fits quite well with the extended metaphor in Ephesians 6:10-18 where the consistently prominent theme is to remain standing in the face of attack.”

Paul is clearly indicating the necessity for the believer to be spiritually fit as the battle in which they are engaged is not for the faint at heart or the spiritually weak. Our enemy is indeed formidable and his attacks should not be taken lightly. Paul urges the believer to exercise all aspect of spiritual discipline in order to be in constant battle with the enemy.

The true source of strength for the believer is not physical weaponry or carnal ability. As Paul saliently notes, the armor of God is only effective if the believer places complete trust in God. Paul commands the believer to be “strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.” Despite the fact that God has provided the believer with the necessary apparatus by which to withstand the “wiles of the devil”, the Christian must not lose sight that every element of the armor of God is the creation of God and thus is His provision.

Another vital aspect of the armor of God is the mandate to put on the “full armor of God.” A soldier who goes into battle missing any element of his armor is in peril of being struck down by the enemy in the very area where the armor is either weak or absent. Additionally, the believer must properly don all aspects of the armor of God. As noted by Puritan theologian William Gurnall “the powers of the one and the senses of the other are divinely protected. No part is left exposed…God designs each part of the armor for a particular purpose; therefore, the saint must be properly attired…the saint is called to keep his armor ready for use and shining.”

This imagery, when combined with that of a soldier who is refined in the art of close-combat warfare, provides a complete illustration of the nature by which the believer is to engage the enemy. The elements of the armor of God, when combined with the visualization of a wrestler/soldier outlined by Paul in Ephesians 6:12 clearly identify the dangerous nature of the battle which believers face. More importantly, the armor was “forged on no earthly anvil, and tempered by no human skill.” The believer must be ever vigilant to depend on the strength of the Lord to combat evil in his time rejecting any methodology which encourages human efforts.


After making all necessary preparations for battle, Paul exhorts the believer to gird their loins with the belt or girdle of truth. For the Roman solider, the belt was the aspect of his clothing which prevented his outer tunic from being an impediment in battle. As noted by author John MacArthur, “since the greatest part of ancient combat was hand-to-hand, a loose tunic was a potential hindrance and even a danger.” Early church father Chrysostom notes that Paul is “setting in contrast, by this metaphor, the soldier who is slack and dissipated in his appetites, who lets his thoughts creep on the ground…just like the keel of a ship the loins are the central balancing support of our whole body.” Essentially, without the girdle, the soldier would be veritably unable to successfully stand in battle.

The importance of the girdle to the Roman soldier was immense and the parallels for the believer are equally important. The spiritual application of this portion of the armor of God resides in the nature of the truth the believer is to depend on. We are commanded not to be dependent on our self-prescribed intellectual acumen, but rather a thorough comprehension of the truth that is outlined in God’s Word. As noted by theologian Jack Cottrell, “just knowing what the Bible teaches is not enough, however; we must also believe the truth and love the truth.”20 The Word of God is to be our sound foundation for the distinction between truth and falsehood. As the girdle served as the point of balance for the Roman soldier the Bible must serve as the underpinning of the believer.

Furthermore, just as the girdle took the slack out of the Roman soldier’s cloak enabling him to be ready at all times for battle, truth enables the believer to avoid being “slack in his dealings with God or with himself.” Christians should take inventory of their spiritual life in order to identify anything which has the potential of encumbering their ability to fight the enemy. Paul reminds believers in Second Corinthians 10:5 to bring into captivity “every thought to the obedience of Christ.” This concept is also explicated in Hebrews 12:1 where the author urges believers to “lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us.”


The breastplate was a sleeveless piece of armor that covered the Roman soldier from the neck to the thighs and typically consisted of two parts – the front and the back. A soldier who went to battle without his breastplate would be exposed to “every thrust of his enemy and even to every random spear. In such a state flight or death is inevitable.” This essential piece of armor protected the soldier from attack at all angles though the greatest point of protection would have been allotted to the front of the soldier’s body.

The spiritual application of the breastplate is noteworthy. Paul urges believers to put on the “righteousness which is from God in faith” (Philippians 3:8-9). This type of righteousness cannot be attained by attempts at moral rectitude apart from faith in God. Isaiah 59:17 depicts God as putting on a “breastplate of righteousness” and “garments of vengeance” as He assailed His enemies and those who sought to attack His children. In many respects, to be clothed in righteousness and to stand before God “not condemned but accepted – is an essential defense against an accusing conscience and against the slanderous attacks of the evil one.”

A believer who wholeheartedly depends on God for righteousness and justification in their life will find that the “completeness of pardon for past offense and the integrity of character that belong to the justified life, are woven together into an impenetrable mail.” Paul exhorts the believer to be justified by faith donning the breastplate of righteousness in order to withstand the full “bodily” assault of the enemy.


Roman soldiers typically wore what was known as a caligae; a half boot used especially for long marches. This type of sandal was normally constructed of tough material with hobnails to increase traction. Wood notes that the “military successes both of Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar were due in large measure to their armies’ being well shod and thus able to undertake long marches at incredible speed over rough terrain.”

Once again the Apostle Paul hearkens back to the Old Testament in applying the image of the Roman solder to the life of the believer. Isaiah 52:7 declares “how beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace.” F. F. Bruce avers that “those who must at all costs stand their ground need to have a secure footing; in the spiritual conflict, this is supplied by the gospel, appropriated and proclaimed.” It is the kerygma of the salvific message of Christ which pushes back the advance of the enemy. The spread of the gospel in obedience to the command of the Great Commission will do the most damage to the plans of Satan. As noted by early church father Theodoret, “your footwear is not put on in order that you may walk about foolishly but to accomplish the course of the gospel.”

Paul also admonishes the believer to a state of “readiness” when donning their spiritual footwear. This denotes a constant stance of alertness to share the gospel signifying that those who are “properly equipped with God’s armor have their feet fitted, prepared and ready in their spiritual warfare.” Furthermore, Paul exhorts believers to stand firm. Typically a phrase denotes a defensive posture, particularly when couched in military language. In this pericope, however, Paul urges believers to press the battle into enemy territory “announcing the promise of divine rescue to captives in the realm of darkness.” An embodiment of this attitude can be observed in the Apostle Peter’s command in First Peter 3:15 to “be prepared to give a defense to everyone who asks you to explain the hope you have.” This demands a constant commitment to the study of God’s word to effectively spread the message of the gospel of peace to a world that increasingly succumbs to the wiles of the devil.


A shield worn by a typical Roman soldier was constructed of wood covered with leather creating a flame retardant mode of protection. This type of shield, called the thereos, was utilized by soldiers who were positioned in the front lines of the battle. The thereos covered the soldier’s entire body and when a row of soldiers stood side by side in battle, they formed a protective phalanx against the flaming arrows that were the typical method of assault used by their enemies. Additionally, as noted by Snodgrass, this type of shield was not used purely for defensive measures “for a line of soldiers with interlocked shields and weapons poised could push right through enemy ranks.”

The importance of the shield of faith cannot be overstated. As with other elements of the armor of God, the metaphor of the shield is also depicted in the Old Testament. A shield is portrayed as the protection of God for His people (Gen. 15:1, Ps. 5:12). Proverbs 30:5 states that God is a “shield to those who take refuge in Him.” O’Brien avers that to take the shield of faith, is to “appropriate the promises of God on our behalf, confident that He will protect us in the midst of the battle.”

Taking up the shield of faith is essential if the believer expects to withstand the “flaming arrows of the evil one.” These flaming arrows represent the vicious attacks inflicted incessantly upon the people of God. The early church fathers believed the flaming arrows referred to “burning lusts and desires…the satanic assaults, sudden and terrible – such suggestions to evil, such unaccountable impulses to doubt or blaspheme…as often distract persons.” By taking up the shield of faith as part of the armor of God, the believer will not only be able to deflect the attack of the enemy, but they will also be able to extinguish to a large extent satanic attack. Of vital importance is for the believer to ensure their faith is not self-contrived. Faith instead must be rooted in God alone. Only by trusting in God’s sovereignty will the Christian be able to resist the enemy and to take up the shield up faith in an offensive rather than strictly defensive posture.


The next piece of equipment Paul refers to is the helmet of salvation. The function of the helmet was the protection of the soldier’s head. The perikephalaia was typically made of bronze with attachments often added to protect the side of the face. Stott notes that “helmets were decorative as well as protective, and some had magnificent plumes or crests.” Helmets often signified rank within the Roman army.

The concept of a helmet is replete throughout scripture. Isaiah 59:17 states that God wears the helmet of salvation thus referring to the bestowing of salvation to His people. In First Thessalonians 5:8 Paul discusses putting on the “hope of salvation as a helmet” that believers will receive at the Parousia while in Ephesians 6:17, the helmet of salvation is viewed as immediately available to the believers. The salvation provided by God has subsumed within it aspects of eternal and present security for the Christian as it is also the only true source of protection against attack both now and eternally. Hodge rightly avers that salvation enables the believer to “hold up his head with confidence and joy.” Perhaps no other element of the armor of God brings such peace to the believer when engaging the enemy. Having confidence in one’s eternal security enables the believer to enter the battle boldly as they “have every reason to be confident of the outcome of the battle.”


The type of sword referred to by Paul is the sword commonly used in close quarter combat. The machaira was a “short two-edged cut-and-thrust sword wielded by the heavily armed legionary.” It was typically carried in a leather sheath attached to the soldiers’ belt and was always at hand ready to be used at a moments notice. MacArthur notes this type of sword was “carried by the soldiers who came to arrest Jesus in the Garden, wielded by Peter when he cut off the ear of the high priest’s salve, and used by Herod’s executioners to put James to death.”

The sword of the spirit is arguably the only strictly offensive weapon mentioned by Paul in his dialogue on the panoply of God. Paul clearly equates the sword of the spirit with the Word of God. The Word of God is the “gospel, or revealed will of God – and to us it is in effect Holy Scriptures, not in any restricted sense, as limited either to its commands or its threatenings.” Christ set the example for the believer on how to properly wield the sword of the spirit. When He was tempted by Satan, it was not an eloquent exposition of thought or keen intellect that enabled Christ to repel Satan’s attacks. Rather it was by utilizing God’s Word that Christ was able to defeat the enemy. Theologian John Allen saliently notes that “as Jesus used the words of Scripture to repulse the tempter, so must the Christian the words the Spirit has inspired to drive away Satan.”

In order to properly wield the sword of the spirit, the Christian must become acutely familiar with God’s Word. Only through knowledge of Scripture can the believer properly utilize this element to attack the enemy. As noted by MacArthur, the “Christian who does not know God’s Word well cannot use it well. Satan will invariably find out where we are ignorant or confused and attack us there. Scripture is not a broadsword to be waved indiscriminately, but a dagger to be used with great precision.” Hebrews 4:12 reveals that when appropriately used “the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow.” When brought to bear on the enemy, God’s Word will decimate the enemies’ ranks.


The Apostle Paul concludes his pericope on spiritual warfare with a reminder to be in an attitude of alertness constantly praying for our fellow believers. Early church father Theodoret reminds Christians that “those who have wars continually pressing on them do not even sleep. Therefore the holy apostle tells them under conditions of battle to keep awake and pray constantly.” Prayer is a vital component of the armor of God and Paul uses the word “all” four times in Ephesians 6:18 to remind the believer of the need to make constant petitions for the saints. Prayer is often one of the most under utilized elements of the Christians’ spiritual repertoire despite the constant admonition in Scripture to pray. First Thessalonians 5:17 commands us to “pray without ceasing.” Additionally, James 5:16 states that the “effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” Perhaps the most important example for the believer is the dependence which Christ had on prayer. The Gospels are replete with references to Christ spending a copious amount of time in communion with his Father through prayer.

Not only does Paul admonish believers to pray at all times, he also states that believers should pray “with all kinds of prayers and requests.” O’Brien comments that the type of request Paul is referring to is intercession serving to “underscore emphatically the importance in the Christian’s warfare of believing and expectant prayer.” Intercession is to be made not only for our fellow saints but for our spiritual leaders as well. Paul asked the church at Ephesus to keep him in prayer that “whenever I open my mouth, words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for whose sake I am an ambassador in chains” (Ephesians 6:19-20). Christians should pray for those whom God has appointed as spiritual leaders so that these individuals may be attuned to the leading of the Holy Spirit as they proclaim the gospel.

Finally, Paul outlines the need for Christians to boldly proclaim the gospel of Christ. Hodge comments that it “becomes the man who is an ambassador of God to speak with boldness, being assured of the truth and importance of the message which he has to deliver.” A battle for the hearts of minds of mankind is being waged. A Christian who effectively wields the power of prayer will be able to not only effectively personally engage the enemy, but, through intercession for fellow soldiers in the faith, enable others through the power of the Holy Spirit to themselves engage the enemy camp.


The spiritual battle which Paul describes in Ephesians 6:10-12 is not meant to be fought from afar. Christians are commanded to be ever ready to put on the complete armor of God and to run to the battle. As noted by theologian Darrell Bock:

“Ephesians is ultimately about how God has powerfully equipped the church to experience blessing in Christ, by creating a new community that is able to honor God and resist the forces of the devil. No longer does one’s Jewish or Gentile identity dominate. They are part of a new, reconciled community, a reconciliation that involves not only God but also one another.”

As believers who are engaged in constant and fierce combat with the forces of evil in this world, we must daily put on the complete armor of God. Our Commander in Chief (God) has provided us with the tools by which we can effectively engage the enemy. As with all manner of weaponry, they are only effective when used properly. Snodgrass suggest that Paul’s words are akin to “speeches from generals motivating their troops for war.” Essentially Paul is motivating believers to do battle with evil through the power of God. This power should be a “continual and relational empowering that results from living in Christ.” It is this relational aspect of the Christian life that permeates the book of Ephesians and it is the foundation by which believers can have confidence that the battle is won.


Allen, John. The Epistle to the Ephesians. London: SCM Press, 1959.

Boice, James M. Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1997.

Bock, Darrell. “A Theology of Paul’s Prison Epistles.” In A Biblical Theology of the New Testament p. 319. Edited by Roy B. Zuck. Chicago: Moody Press, 1994.

Boles, Kenneth L. The College Press NIV Commentary: Galatians & Ephesians. Joplin: College Press Publishing Company, 1993.

Bruce, F. F. New International Bible Commentary. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979.

_________. The New International Commentary on the New Testament: The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1984.

Cottrell, Jack. The Faith Once for All. Joplin: College Press Publishing Company, 2002.

Eadie, John. Commentary on Ephesians. Vestavia Hills: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2005.

Edwards, Mark J. and Thomas C. Oden, eds. Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture, New Testament VIII, Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1999.

Findlay, G. G. The Epistle to the Ephesians. London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1898.

Guthrie, Donald. New Testament Introduction. 3 vols. 2nd ed. London: Tyndale Press, 1966.

Gudorf, Michael. “The Use of πάλη in Ephesians 6:12.” Journal of Biblical Literature 117 (Summer 1998): 332.

Gurnall, William. The Christian in Complete Armour, Volumes 1-3. East Peoria: Versa Press, 2009.

Hawthorne, Gerald, Ralph Martin and Daniel Reid. Dictionary of Paul and His Letters. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993.

Hodge, Charles. A Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians. Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1994.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Ephesians. Chicago: Moody Press, 1986.

O’Brien, Peter T. The Letter to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing Company, 1999.

Snodgrass, Klyne. The NIV Application Commentary: Ephesians. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996.

Stott, John R.W. The Message of Ephesians. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1979.

Wiersbe, Warren. The Bible Expositional Commentary. 2 vols. Wheaton: Scripture Press, Victor Books, 1989.

Wood, A. Skevington. “Commentary on Ephesians” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians through Philemon. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1981.

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Michael Boling – The Holy Spirit as Explicated in the Gospel of John




The Gospel of John has long been recognized by scholars as a first rate work of theological acumen largely unequaled by the Synoptic accounts. As noted by theologian and author Andreas Kostenberger, “John’s Gospel towers over the Synoptics as the theological pinnacle of the Gospel tradition.” In keeping with this theological focus, the Apostle John throughout his gospel lucidly outlines Christ’s instructions concerning the roles and attributes of the Holy Spirit (parakletos) largely in keeping with the realized eschatology which permeates his writing. The theological connotations concerning the Holy Spirit contained in John’s Gospel must be interpreted as a unified peroration regarding the necessity of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer and the modalities by which the Paraclete serves to glory Christ by assisting the believer in the walk with God.


Other than perhaps an implied mention of the Trinitarian involvement in creation at the forefront of John’s Gospel, the first overt mention of the Holy Spirit is in conjunction with the event of Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist. Indicative of his affinity for the theological especially his repetitive interaction with Old Testament prophecy, the Apostle John denotes several key aspects of the Holy Spirit, in particular, the role of the Spirit in the life of Christ.

The statement in John 1:32 depicting the Spirit descending as a dove “marked him (Jesus) as the Davidic ruler of Isaiah 11:1”, the Servant sent from God outlined in Isaiah 42:1, and finally as the prophet “who announces in Isaiah 61:1, ‘The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me.’” The permanent endowment of the Holy Spirit upon Jesus is an essential element of this pericope. Additionally, the corresponding elements of Old Testament prophetic passages such as Ezekiel 36:25 clearly aver the “Messianic phenomenon” that was inculcated in particular to John the Baptist as he observed, whether through a vision or the actual descending of a dove the bestowal of the Holy Spirit bestowed. But wait, there’s more!

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Michael Boling – Justification


The issue of justification has had a lasting influence on the Christian understanding of the topic of salvation and its relationship to eternal security. Biblical scholars have developed numerous stances on this theological understanding often resulting in a situation which has left many believers pondering the precise application of justification in their Christian walk. Perhaps the best known debate over this topic was that between Martin Luther and the Roman Catholic Church and encapsulated in Luther’s statement “this is the true meaning of Christianity, that we are justified by faith in Christ, not by the works of the Law.” It was this understanding of justification which launched the Protestant Reformation and a return to the New Testament understanding of the relationship of faith and works.

The exegetical foundation reinstituted by Martin Luther guides most theologians today in their search for a more comprehensive understanding of this immeasurable theological issue. A proper understanding of the meaning, roots and application of justification by faith is obligatory in order to properly live out a vibrant and fruitful Christian life in equilibrium with the expectation of eternal security. Justification is the underpinning upon which the believer in Christ can have assurance in the forgiveness of sin and everlasting reception by a sovereign God.

Justification can be defined as “the judicial act of God by which, on account of Christ, to whom the sinner is united by faith, he declares that sinner to be no longer exposed to the penalty of the law, but to be restored.” Further exposition on the root meaning of this term can be determined through an understanding of the Greek word for justification used in the New Testament. The judicial and legal terminology that is appropriated to dikaiōma is evident from the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. Strong notes that dikaiōma “uniformly, or with only a single exception, signifies, not to make righteous, but to declare just, or free from guilt and exposure to punishment.” In a similar stratum of interpretation, theologian George Stevens denotes that “justification is certainly in Paul an actus forensis, a decree of exemption from penalty and of acceptance into God’s favor.” Continue reading “Michael Boling – Justification”

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Mike Ratliff – False Prophets and False Prophecy Then and Now

1 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy from their own inspiration, ‘Listen to the word of the Lord! 3 Thus says the Lord God, “Woe to the foolish prophets who are following their own spirit and have seen nothing. 4 O Israel, your prophets have been like foxes among ruins. 5 You have not gone up into the breaches, nor did you build the wall around the house of Israel to stand in the battle on the day of the Lord. 6 They see falsehood and lying divination who are saying, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they hope for the fulfillment of their word. 7 Did you not see a false vision and speak a lying divination when you said, ‘The Lord declares,’ but it is not I who have spoken?”’” Ezekiel 13:1-7 (NASB)

A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused because obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal.

To continue reading Mike Ratliff’s article, click here.

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Anthony Buzzard – What Happens When We Die? A Biblical View of Death and Resurrection

If contemporary secular society has retained a flicker of interest in any department of religion, it is surely in the question of life after death—if only to provide answers for inquiring youngsters. Faith in the reality of life beyond the grave seems to be faltering, since an article in the NOW magazine of December, 1979 quoted the astonishing statistic that 50% of those who claim to be Christians and churchgoing members of the Church of England do not believe in an afterlife! And yet, in New Testament terms, Christianity without a belief in the afterlife represents an absurd contradiction. Indeed, the tendency to doubt the future resurrection of the faithful called forth some of Paul’s most forceful words. To the church at Corinth he wrote:

First and foremost, I handed on to you the facts which had been imparted to me: that Christ died for our sins, in accordance with the Scriptures; that he was buried; that he was raised to life on the third day, according to the Scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas [Peter] and afterwards to the Twelve. Then he appeared to James, and afterwards to all the apostles. In the end he appeared even to me…This is what we all proclaim, and this is what you believed. Now if this is what we proclaim, that Christ was raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? If there be no resurrection, then Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, then our gospel is null and void, and so is your faith; and we turn out to be lying witnesses for God, because we bore witness that he raised Christ to life, whereas, if the dead are not raised, he did not raise him. For if the dead are not raised, it follows that Christ was not raised; and if Christ was not raised, your faith has nothing in it and you are still in your old state of sin. It follows also that those who have died within Christ’s fellowship are utterly lost. If it is for this life only that Christ has given us hope, we of all men are most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:3-8, 11-19, NEB).

To continue reading Anthony Buzzard’s book, click here

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Robert Rothwell – Exegesis without Embarrassment

When you have three young children, one of the things you find yourself doing is singing a lot of the songs you used to sing in Sunday school and at church when you were a kid. There is one that has been particularly favored by my kids in recent days: “Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho.” Perhaps you remember the song’s chorus:

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,

Jericho, Jericho.

Joshua fought the battle of Jericho,

And the walls came tumbling down!

The song is a lot of fun for our kids, as it gives them an excuse to march around the living room and simulate the fall of Jericho’s walls with hand motions. It is also a good way to impress on their young minds the basic truths of one of the most famous stories in the Old Testament. In fact, I would venture to say that most children who spend any length of time in a church’s educational programs will hear the story of Joshua and Jericho several times over.

To continue reading Robert Rothwell’s article, click here.

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Michael Boling – Right vs. Right


As believers, we are called by God to always be ready to share with others the reason for our hope and faith in God and His Word. At times this can involve back and forth interaction in the form of debate or perhaps just a friendly discussion over a certain topic. As one who often frequents forums on various social media outlets, I have noticed more often than I should the tendency for individuals (to include myself) to be focused on being the one who is proven right at the end of the conversation. This urge is in stark opposition to what should be the focus of the chat, namely the pursuit of what is right and the seeking of truth as revealed in Scripture.

This is really a battle of right vs. right. On one side are those solely interested in trying to make themselves the focus or those desiring to have all the right answers to the questions presented. Now there is nothing wrong with having answers to questions. We are after all commanded by God to study His Word because in Scripture are the answers we seek to life’s most probing questions and issues. With that said, there is a distinct difference between the need to be right and to essentially be puffed up with knowledge and that of sharing with others what God has revealed and doing so with an attitude of humility.

If we are not operating in that attitude of humility, sharing the truth in love as declared in Ephesians 4:15, then we are no better or useful than a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Speaking truth in pride, while perhaps making one feel good about themselves, ultimately will cause more harm than good. Winning the debate through prideful truth bombs is in actuality not winning anything at all. Conversely, if our approach is rooted in walking through Scripture together in a spirit of love and understanding the reality that people are at different stages in their walk with God and comprehension of biblical truth, the result will be much more profitable for all involved. Since the result should be sharing the beauty of God’s Word and how it contains food for our lives and how it is the lamp to our feet and light to our path, it is clear that the prideful attitude of being right should always take a back seat to what is right – speaking truth in love.

This is not easy. The urge to puff oneself up is a temptation many of us have a hard time resisting. There are many times when we engage in conversation with the best of intentions but after a few pats on the back from people, there is the tendency to lose focus on what is right in favor of the glory of being known as “Mr. (or Mrs.) Know it All”. If that is where you are at, your faith is not better than the Pharisees that Jesus excoriated for taking that very approach. It is not a good place to be nor is it a godly approach in our pursuit of truth.

Be on the lookout for those times when you are tempted to lose focus on what is right in favor of being right. If you are seeking the glory instead of God being given the glory then that should be a clear sign priorities need to be assessed immediately. In the battle of right vs. right, God receiving the glory is the side of the ring we must always seek to find ourselves.

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