Difficult Passages Series — Spring 2010

This is a series that I study together with our Wednesday evening Intercessors group.  It delves into difficult passages that the group suggests which present problems for interpretation.  Most of the texts were suggested by the group.  Occasionally, I will choose a passage which illustrates an issue raised in a question from the group.  This section contains studies from March through May 2010.

Difficult Passages Series — 1 Cor. 5:5; 1 Tim. 1:20

 1.     Why is this passage listed among difficult passages?  Both of these passages have one troubling phrase in common.  What does “handed over to Satan” mean?  2.     How do we deal with the difficulties in this passage?   “That some form of excommunication is intended is clear not only from 1 Co 5:2, but from the...

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Difficult Passages Series — Matt. 27:46; Mk. 15:34

 1.     Why is this passage listed among difficult passages?   In each of these two parallel accounts, Jesus speaks words from Psalm 22:1; words which sound very despairing and if taken at face value speak of a break in the fellowship of the Trinity.  How are we to understand what Jesus is saying?  How do...

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Difficult Passages Series — Matthew 5:20-48 for May 12

1.     Why is this passage listed among difficult passages? We find this section of the Sermon on the Mount difficult simply because the OT eye-for-an-eye justice comes more naturally to us.   It appeals to our elementary sense of fairness.  We resist Jesus’ efforts to raise our sights.  In addition, we forget the audience. Matthew is...

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Difficult Passages Series — Mark 9:1; Matt. 16:29, Lu. 9:27 for May 5

1.     Why is this passage listed among difficult passages?  In each of these three parallel accounts, Jesus has just finished speaking about his coming in glory with his angels in power to reward his followers.   The most natural interpretation of this sequence of verses would seem to be that Jesus expected his return to happen...

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Difficult Passages Series — John 20:23 for Apr. 21, 2010

1.     Why is this passage listed among difficult passages? The difficulty in this passage is this.  Exactly what power is Jesus conferring to his disciples?    We are very influenced by the discussion in Mark 2:1-12.   There the teachers of the law repeat the accepted wisdom that God alone can forgive sins.  Jesus’ words and actions...

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Difficult Passages Series — Matt. 11:1-19 for 14 Apr. 2010

1.     Why is this passage listed among difficult passages? The primary difficulty in this passage is that we can’t quite accept that John who introduced Jesus as the Messiah (John 1:33,34), who recognized him while they were both in-utero (Lu. 1:41), who said, “He must increase and I must decrease,” would be able to ask...

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Difficult Passages Series — Matt. 28:1; Mark 16:1; Luke 24:10; John 20:1 for Apr. 7, 2010

1.     Why are these passages listed among difficult passages? The issue in these passages is to answer clearly, who was at Jesus’ tomb early on that first Easter day?  Each of the four gospels gives a slightly different list summarized in the table below. Reference Who is listed as present Helps in understanding Matt. 28:1...

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Difficult Passages Series — Matt. 27:5; Acts 1:18 for Mar. 31, 2010

1.     Why are these passages listed among difficult passages? During the Easter season it might be helpful for us to consider a couple Bible difficulties that arise in passages that we usually read in this season.   One of those questions concerns the demise of Judas Iscariot.   There seem to be differing accounts of the manner...

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Difficult Passages Series — Matt. 15:21-28 for Mar. 24, 2010

1.     Why is this passage listed among difficult passages? In one of our recent group discussions, the question was asked, “Why does Jesus sometimes seem to be harsh in his answers?”   It is a good question for us to consider together.  Of course, it needs to be answered in regard to each specific context in...

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