Rhema vs. Logos

The Problem

Popular teachings exist today in the church that claim the Greek words, “rhema,” and, “logos,” (which both translate to our English, “word”) are 2 entirely different concepts. As I understand it, such teachings see, “rhema,” as the spoken and revealed word of God, and, “logos,” as the written word of God. So this would mean that statements made in the Bible concerning the “rhema-word” would not necessarily apply to the “logos-word,” and vice versa.

After looking into this further, I have 2 problems with this teaching:

  1. It’s fundamentally not true. As shown below, “rhema,” and, “logos,” are actually used interchangeably.
  2. It can lead to dangerous conclusions. Namely, it has the potential of leading people to demote the place God set for His objective, written word (Scripture) and, instead, promote the place of subjective, personal revelation/prophecy/interpretation/etc. beyond where God sets that (see Deut. 13:1-5; Jer. 23; Acts 17:11; Gal. 1:8; 1 Cor. 14:29-38; 1 Thes. 5:19-21; etc. for examples of God’s objective word trumping subjective interpretations and “revelations”). Tragically, accepting that subjective revelations/interpretations are on par (or greater than) the objective, written word is how all cults start. To be clear, I don’t think adherents or applications of the rhema-logos teaching inevitably come to these conclusions. But I do fear that it can lead there, thus I wanted to write to warn the church.

Rhema and Logos Defined

According to stepbible.org:

  • ῥῆμα (rēma) is a Greek word meaning: ‘declaration‘ (G4487) word, saying; matter; thing. It occurs about ~69 times in the New Testament.
  • λόγος (logos) is a Greek word meaning: ‘word‘ (G3056) word, spoken or written, often with a focus on the content of a communication (note the many contextual translations in NIV); matter, thing. “The Word” is a title of Christ (Jn 1:1), emphasizing his own deity and communication of who God is and what he is like. It occurs about ~330 times in the New Testament.

You’ll notice that logos is defined as a spoken or written word, and is used for Christ Himself (see John 1:1). Thus, any claim that logos is confined to the written word only is already off base.

Rhema and Logos in the Bible

  • Matt. 12:32-37: “And whoever speaks a word [logos] against the Son of Man will be forgiven…on the day of judgment people will give account [logos] for every careless word [rhema] they speak, for by your words [logos] you will be justified, and by your words [logos] you will be condemned.”
  • Where Matt (26:75) says, “Peter remembered the saying [rhema] of Jesus,” Luke (22:61) says, “Peter remembered the saying [logos] of the Lord”
  • Acts 10:44: “While Peter was still saying these things [rhema], the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word [logos].”
  • John 12:48: “The one who rejects me and does not receive my words [rhema] has a judge; the word [logos] that I have spoken will judge him on the last day.
  • Heb. 12:19: “the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words [rhema] made the hearers beg that no further messages [logos] be spoken to them.”

And this is just a sampling. But I hope it’s enough to show that the Bible does not see such a distinction between rhema and logos. These words are very freely used interchangeably.

Further, as indicated above, there are lots of times where logos refers to something other than the written word of God. Consider 1 Cor. 12:8 where we read, “To one is given through the Spirit the utterance [logos] of wisdom, and to another the utterance [logos] of knowledge.” Or 1 Cor. 14:19: “I would rather speak five words [logos] with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words [logos] in a tongue.” Clearly, these are spoken (and revealed) words, yet logos is used.

Now it should be noted that the converse is not also true, that is, rhema is not used for the written word. So this shows a probable, subtle distinction that logos is more broad than rhema. So we might say all rhema is also logos, but all logos is not necessarily always rhema, if that makes sense. But by no means does this indicate that statements made about rhema do not equally apply to logos. The above clearly demonstrates otherwise.

In all this, it should be clear that God’s word via Scripture safely retains the promises applied to rhema AND logos, and is the pre-eminent revelation and word of God by which we judge all other “revelations” and “words.”

Other Resources

To Future Me

I wrote the following exactly 1 year ago (Jan 21, 2021), as part of a work assignment. It’s a bit more personal than most blog posts I write, but I think that’s probably for the better (you know, to help with my relate-ability haha :). Anyway, I wanted to publish it for me to have as a reference, and in case it speaks to others, too.

As a part of the Healthier U January Assignment, I am to:
“write 3 to 5 things you are grateful for today and write a letter to your future self”
Today, I am grateful:

  1. That Jesus lives and speaks. Lots of difficult conversations going on right now within our house church on account of me and my opinions on certain matters that others strongly disagree with (I’ll leave it vague on the Blog). Hoping when I read this in 1 year we can look back and see the hand of God in all of it. But I’m so thankful that Jesus speaks.
  2. To have a prudent wife. As God showed me a day before Shana and I married: “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents, but a prudent wife is from the LORD.” (Prov. 19:14). I constantly am reminded of this as I watch my wife lovingly correct me and point me to the ways of Christ (and model this herself).
  3. For the bright sunshine out my window. It reminds me of Christ’s mercy that is new every morning. Lord, may it be a new dawn for us here.
  4. For food and drink (and a surplus of it) in my home.
  5. For the hope and assurance of being with Christ together, forever, without tears, pain, suffering, or sin having even a remote chance to join us…all through the hope of the gospel.

Future me:
I know it’s only a year out, so maybe you can kick this message out another couple decades as well. As I write this letter, my life looks a lot like:

wake up around 7am, busy kids, get breakfast ready, busy kids, read the word and pray, busy kids, start my work day, busy kids, schedule appointments and my day, busy kids (well, at the moment I’m the only one in the house, so it’s a bit peaceful right now :), take a break (choosing whether to spend it ministering to my family, others, or edifying myself), make sure dinner is scheduled, finish my work day, busy kids, eat and help get people ready for bed, busy kids, put them down to sleep (waiting to see who doesn’t stay down), get the house in order for the next day, decide whether to spend the remaining time ministering to my family, others, or edifying myself, around 10pm go to bed.

There it is in a nutshell. Then, I feel other pressures on top of this related to tending the house church we are part of, ministering to others I’m connected with, and thinking about how to best take care of the family (lately I’ve been pondering/praying about a larger living space [note: as of 3 months ago, we did move to a larger space]).

Definitely feel too busy to even think about being bored LOL (Laugh Out Loud, in case future me forgets that acronym LOL again). But I’m happy for this opportunity to sit in a peaceful house and contemplate my life in the future (and in the present). I keep going back to 1 Chronicles where we read things like: “Adam, Seth, Enosh, Kenan…” (1 Chron. 1:1). Those 4 names encapsulate 3,657 years of life. I can’t imagine their adventures, struggles, daily drudgery, highs, lows, etc. And God doesn’t record that. Instead, all we know is that they were born, passed on their seed, and died. In the same way, I pray that it would be said of us that we were faithful to pass on the word of God, and the gospel, as it was entrusted to us. I fear we take up too much time with things that don’t matter because we lose sight of the ultimate goal. Lord, bring us back to your path and plan.



The Authority & Sufficiency of Scripture

Audio of “The Authority & Sufficiency of Scripture” (1 hr 49 min)

Video: The Authority & Sufficiency of Scripture (1 hr, 54 min)

Scripture (God’s Written Word)

  • First Five Books (“Law”): Ex. 31:18 → Ex. 34:27-28 → Deut. 31:24-26
  • Additions: Josh. 24:25-26; 1 Chron. 29:29; Jer. 30:2; Rev. 2:1; Etc.
  • God-Human Author: Mk. 12:36; Heb. 3:7; 4:7; 2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20-21; Ps. 12:6
  • Old Testament: Luke 24:44; Matt. 5:17-18; John 10:34-35; Matt. 19:5 (cf. Gen. 2:24)
  • New Testament
    • Gospels: Matt. 24:35; John 14:26
    • Beyond: John 15:20; 16:13-14; Acts 1:1; 1 Thes. 2:13; Rev. 1:1
    • Scripture: 1 Tim. 5:17-18 (cf. Luke 10:7); 2 Pet. 3:2, 15-16
  • Bible is Set: Deut. 4:2; Rev. 22:17-19; Jn. 10:27

Scripture’s Authority

  • Word + Spirit = Light, Life: Gen. 1:3ff; Ps. 33:6: Heb. 1:3
  • Truth: John 17:17
  • God’s Thoughts/Ways: Ps. 119:130; Isaiah 55:8-11 (cf. Prov.14:12)
  • Judge: Heb. 4:12-13; John 12:47-50; Rev. 19:11-16
  • Over any “revelation”: Matt. 3:17-4:11; Deut. 13:1-15; Gal. 1:6-10
  • Matt. 4:4; 22:29-32; 2 Tim. 3:16: “every word” / “all Scripture”

Scripture’s Sufficiency

  • “Equipped for every good work” 2 Tim. 3:1-4:5
  • “All things that pertain to life and godliness” 2 Pet 1:3-21
  • Blameless: Ps. 119:1
  • Imperishable seed: 1 Pet. 1:23 (cf. Deut. 22:9)
  • Revealed: Deut. 29:29

Scripture’s Power

  • Nourishment: 1 Pet 2:2; Matt. 4:4; Heb. 5:14
  • Life: Deut. 32:47; Isaiah 55:3; John 6:63
  • God’s Presence: Exod. 25:21-22
  • Sanctification: 2 Pet. 1:4; Deut. 6:4-8 
  • Builds Church: Acts 2:42; 6:2, 4; 17:11; 20:32; 1 Tim. 5:17; Heb. 13:7

1 Kings Reflections

These are notes collected from studying with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Ch. 1 – David Raising Children

Another thing I’ve been thinking about with David…he doesn’t seem a great example of raising kids in the Lord (all the tougher when polygamy is your starting point!)…I was thinking especially of 1 Kings 1:6 – “His father had never at any time displeased him by asking, ‘Why have you done thus and so?'”…

We see this other places: David privately disapproves of a matter with his children, but doesn’t seem to do anything about it. And the results are rape, rivalries, murder, etc. He just seemed overly hands off with them…but this is my vantage point from the little we read of the matters. I do get that you can do your best to raise kids and they still turn out rotten (sadly and soberly, I say this) — consider Isaiah 1:2. But it is a mark of an elder that they’ve raised children in the faith, and I only see that in Solomon, not in the others (again, polygamy wasn’t really helping his cause in the first place!)

Ch. 4 – Solomon’s Songs

I’m touched by 1 K 4:32 ~ Solomon wrote 1,005 songs. YET, only 1 song is called:
“Solomon’s SONG OF SONGS” (Song of Songs 1:1). Of all the topics his songs covered, romance with the King gets the preeminence. Similarly, of all the topics God covers in the Bible, romance/love of Christ gets the cake (see Rev. 2:4-5)

I was also struck that he wrote about these songs/proverbs yet, how many of them do we have in the Bible? Probably a lot we’ve never read.

Ch. 3-11 – Solomon’s Wisdom and Fall

I was moved by Solomon’s prayer for wisdom in chapter 3, and his seeming humbleness before the Lord. Yet I’m reading chapter 11 today and seeing how much Solomon was tripped up by sexual sin, and how then God severely punished him for this. Yet, in His mercy He still has a remnant and shows His kindness for future generations and does not immediately show his wrath.

This was a reminder for me though of how 1) sexual sin has lasting consequences 2) the generational nature of so many sins (including sexual). Even in this though, God referred to David as being much more righteous quite a few times, and Solomon not living up to the same standard as his father David. Of course, God was disappointed by David after Bathsheba and I think what separates this is two fold. First of all, David’s repentant heart (Psalms 51), and secondly has egregious the sin was of Solomon (100’s of wives and concubines) with no regard or desire for change.

Ch. 8 – Solomon’s Prayer

I was really touched by Solomon’s prayer in 1 K 8. Some standouts:

  • v. 16 – “I chose no city…But I chose David.” I continue to be moved that God is not so interested in strategy and methods (choosing a city, if you will), but is chiefly concerned with people. Jesus chose 12 leaders. Not a lot is said on HOW they were to lead, but just that these were the guys to lead. Then, God reveals to his chosen leaders (like David) how to proceed with his plans (like building a temple).
  • vv. 33-34 – sin hidden in our heart brings defeat from the enemy.
  • v. 46 – “there is no one who does not sin”…compare this with v. 32…I think v. 46 speaks of absolute righteousness while v. 32 is relative righteousness

Ch. 13 – A Prophet to Remember

Consider 1 K 13!!

The prophet goes to those in rebellion because God calls him. He:

  • Speaks prophetically that a king named Josiah would come to purge the idolatry (before Josiah was even born!!!)
  • Says the altar would break as a sign (which it did shortly after)

The king stretches out his hand only to have it shrivel. Then:

  • The prophet prays for it and it’s restored
  • The prophet later gets eaten up by a lion out of disobedience, and the lion just stood there as a sort of testimony in itself

Such raw and amazing power displayed!!

But the backdrop was a new level of rebellion and idolatry by people called by Gods name.I think we will see more power displays by the Lord in our day, but they will counter the extreme rebellion and idolatry we will also see. As Satan becomes more overt, so does God. And vise-versa.

Ch. 14 – No Health-Wealth Gospel!

In 1 K 14: A blind prophet prophesies judgment on Israel, but says a child who will die of sickness is the one being blessed (because he will be spared from the judgment to come). I think this chapter on its own completely contradicts the health-wealth-prosperity view of God.

Ch. 15 – David’s Only Sin

1 K 15:5 – the only sin of David was Uriah the Hittite.

This is a challenging verse in light of other things we read about David. I read it as, “of the light God gave him, he was faithful to all of it, except with Uriah” …meaning: God didn’t reveal the other matters of sin to him, but what He did reveal David did.

I do think such considerations can really help us give grace toward people who had blind spots but otherwise really loved the Lord. Jonathan Edwards and George Whitfield, for instance, with slaves, who nevertheless were used for great revival and repentance in the church.

God actually has said this a couple times about David and almost seems to view him as flawless except for the Bathsheba/Uriah episode. We know he had more sin than this. We have a merciful God and He can use us in our sin, and again, he looks at the heart.

Ch. 18 – Elijah

Elijah is quite the character/prophet- what a guy! As he approaches the wicked king Ahab his faith and courageous is inspiring. He is not worried about death, he just stays true to what the Lord has given him to speak.

I think in chapter 18:21 as he is then speaking to the people about either following the Lord or Baal he speaks amazingly directly and really speaks to them frankly about counting the cost. He says, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow Him.”

But the people said nothing…

Sometimes we have to lay it out like this and then give people the choice. This might even be a good scripture to share with others…

Ch. 22 – The Only Truth-Teller

May we be more like Micaiah, Lord (1 Kings 22)–speaking the truth from the Lord regardless of consequence!

1 Kings Summary

People are prone to evil. Kings don’t alter that; on the contrary—they solidify it even more. Gods method, instead, was/is to raise up faithful prophets to speak hard truths while they are vastly outnumbered by false prophets who tickle itching ears. May God give us the courage and insight to be in the minority of true prophets in our generation—even at the cost of our life and that of our family.

Consider the lines of Jason Upton’s, “Panic Room,” which seemingly addresses this very type of thing:

Our prophets are nicer

And kinder and sweeter,

We’ve partnered in their great reward.

They bless us with peace

In exchange for a token,

What more could we ever ask for?

Jason Upton’s, “Panic Room”

Recast: Reconciling Matthew’s and Luke’s Birth Narratives

Different Events Covered

Luke and Matthew clearly have different emphases and themes in their birth narratives (and gospels), and thus cover different events.  For instance, Luke mentions:

  • the Roman census,
  • the events of John the Baptist’s birth,
  • Joseph and Mary residing in Nazareth before Jesus was born,
  • and other things that Matthew ignores. 

On the other hand, Matthew describes:

  • the visit of the wise men,
  • the slaughter of the infants,
  • the journey to Egypt,
  • and other events bypassed by Luke. 

On the surface, it may seem difficult to understand and reconcile these differences, but closer inspection will show the differences to complement each other and enlighten our understanding of the Lord and His word.

Luke’s Themes & Emphases

First, it is important to recognize the emphases of each writer. 

Luke seems to want to promote Christianity as a religion that produces obedient citizens faithful to true Judaism, and favorable to the Roman government[1].  An example of this is seen when he says that John’s parents, “were…walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless,” (Luke 1:6), even though he later writes that John’s father was disobedient to the angel’s words (Luke 1:20).  This shows that Luke wrote with generalizations and theological emphases (e.g. Zacharias was obedient) while still maintaining truthfulness (e.g. Zacharias sinned).

Furthermore, Luke emphasizes:

  • Joseph and Mary as dutiful to fulfill the king’s census (Luke 2:4),
  • dutiful to follow the law (Luke 2:39a), and
  • dutiful to return to their hometown (Luke 2:39b).

While he ignores:

  • men worshiping Jesus and disobeying the king (Matt. 2:12),
  • Herod’s cruel massacre of infants (which is decidedly unfavorable to the Roman government, and thus strays from Luke’s emphasis, see Matt. 2:16), and
  • Mary and Joseph secretly escaping to Egypt in defiance of King Herod (Matt. 2:13). 

Luke also highlights Jesus as coming from Galilee and returning to begin his ministry there. Later on, however, Luke writes, “He [Jesus] set his face to go to Jerusalem,” (9:51). From that point, so thoroughly does Luke focus on Jerusalem that he (alone) ignores the Galilee episodes of Jesus’ resurrection. It seems that Luke has in mind a focus on Jesus bringing His movement to the center of Judaism (Jerusalem herself), where, he later writes, the church began (Acts 1-2). All of this continues to emphasize Luke’s theme of the Jesus movement encouraging obedient and faithful Judaism (see Resurrection Harmonization for more on how this relates to Jesus’ resurrection).

This selective storytelling merely reflects emphasis—not deception or contradiction—in the same way that any person who recounts a story focuses on certain details with certain audiences, while bypassing other details.  

On top of this, Luke writes Jesus’ birth account with an interesting focus on other certain patterns (Fitzmyer 1970, 28A:313–14).  One of these patterns is the departure and return of characters after Luke introduces them.

For instance:

  • Zacharias returned (1:23),
  • the angel returned (1:38),
  • Mary returned (1:56),
  • the shepherds returned (2:20), and
  • Joseph, Mary, and Jesus “returned to Galilee,” (2:39),
  • etc. 

Thus, Luke writes: “So when they [Joseph and Mary] had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee,” (2:39), while ignoring the visit of the wise men, and Joseph and Mary’s exodus to Egypt (both of which seemingly happened before their return to Galilee in Matthew’s gospel). This matches Luke’s departure-return motif, and does not contradict these events recorded in Matthew. For instance, as I propose, it would be completely consistent for Joseph and Mary to be visited by the wise men and flee to Egypt after they fulfilled the law, but before they went to Galilee, without Luke mentioning it. 

In fact, a similar phenomenon takes place when Luke recounts Paul’s conversion in Acts 9, and explains that Paul went to Damascus after he saw the Lord (v. 19), and then went to Jerusalem (v. 26), while ignoring the fact that Paul went to Arabia in between his visit to Damascus and Jerusalem (cf. Gal. 1:17).  Luke would have known this detail as Paul’s traveling companion[2], and Paul would have known this detail when he endorsed Luke’s writing as the words of Scripture[3].  However, it simply did not fit the emphasis of his writing through the Holy Spirit to include Paul’s fleeing to Arabia, just as it did not fit the theme of his writing to include Joseph and Mary’s fleeing to Egypt in Luke 2:38.  

Matthew’s Themes & Emphases

In contrast, Matthew emphasizes Jesus as the Messiah spoken of in the O.T. Scriptures who saves the Jews (first), and the Gentiles (later)[4]. Thus:

  • The visit of the wise men showed that Jesus fulfilled Micah 5:2 (see Matt. 2:6), Numbers 24:17-19 (Morris n.d.), and Psalm 72:10-15 (McDowell 1999, 174).
  • The slaughter of the infants fulfilled Jeremiah 31:15 (see Matt. 2:18).
  • The journey to Egypt fulfilled Hosea 11:1 (see Matt. 2:15).
  • Their return to Nazareth fulfilled O.T. prophecy (see Matt. 2:23).
  • And Jesus beginning in Jerusalem (the “capital” of Judaism) and moving to Galilee (“of the Gentiles” – Matt. 4:15) by divine decree showed that God ordained Jesus’ ministry to be for the Jews (first) and Gentiles (later)[5]

In contrast, the Roman census, John the Baptist’s birth, and Joseph and Mary living in Nazareth before the birth of Jesus do not show O.T. fulfillment or help establish the Jew-then-Gentile salvation themes of Matthew, and thus are not included.

Therefore, it should be apparent that the writers had different agendas and different styles in their narratives, which explains their seeming discordance.  However, comparing the two accounts reveals a fuller picture of the events of Jesus’ birth, and shows no contradiction.

Matthew, Luke, and Isaiah

Now, in harmonizing the two accounts by themselves, there are a few details we simply cannot know for sure.  However, there is one more witness to the birth narrative that can help us more precisely match Matthew with Luke.  That witness is Isaiah the prophet who amazingly prophesied of God coming in a virgin birth 700 years before Jesus was ever born, as seen in Isaiah 7-9.  Though some elements in the prophecy address immediate events of Isaiah’s time, it is clear that he ultimately spoke of events that could only be fulfilled in Christ’s birth.  For instance, he writes: “Unto us a child is born…His name will be called…Mighty God, Everlasting Father,” (Isaiah 9:6).  No one except God Incarnate can fit this description.  Further, even the people living in Isaiah’s time who fulfilled the events were, “for signs and wonders,” (Is. 8:18) that speak to Christ, so that the writer of Hebrews could quote events clearly written about Isaiah and his companions in Isaiah 8:18 as applying directly to Christ (see Heb. 2:13). 

When these facts are understood of Isaiah 7-9, it is even more stunning to realize that details of Isaiah’s prophecy accurately show successive events recorded in Christ’s birth, and, even more, the events described would not make sense without having both Matthew and Luke’s accounts to provide all the details.  In this way, Isaiah truly serves as a third witness in bridging the accounts together (albeit in a more veiled form that requires care and sensitivity to understand). 

Here is what Isaiah lays out in chronological order, as well as the fulfillment recorded in Matthew and/or Luke (let the reader notice that if you removed either Matthew or Luke’s birth narrative, you would have an incomplete witness to Isaiah’s prophecy):

Isaiah’s Prophecy Matthew and/or Luke’s Narrative
God will initiate a virgin birth (7:12-14). The Holy Spirit came on Mary; God brought Jesus into the world (Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:35).
The child’s name would be revealed by the Lord, and confirmed by two separate witnesses (8:1-2). Mary was the first witness to Jesus’ name (Luke 1:31). Joseph was the second witness (Matt. 1:21).
God is prophesied as a salvation to some, but a stumbling block to others within Israel, who will break many (8:14-15). Anna prophesied that Jesus will bring the rise and fall of many in Israel (Luke 2:34).
“Mediums and wizards,” will bring shame on Israel, while Israel curses God their king (8:19-21). By contrast, God sends wise men through a star (like sorcerers and mediums) to be the ones who recognize Jesus as King and worship Him—the very thing Israel should have been doing with God all along (Matt. 2:1-12)!
The earth will be troubled and dark for rejecting God as king (8:21). Herod brought great slaughter on infants (Matt. 2:16-18).
After the boy is born, but before he can say, “Mother,” and, “Father,” a pompous king will wreak havoc over Israel (8:4-8). Herod slaughtered the infants while Christ was under 2 years old (Matt. 2:16-18).
The child, who is a, “light,” and “God,” will enter Galilee (9:1-7). After fleeing to Egypt, Joseph and Mary introduce Jesus to Galilee for the first time, and thus, God the “light” entered Galilee (Matt. 2:22; Luke 2:38b).

As you can see, the prophecies lay out in great detail elements surrounding Jesus’ birth, so that Matthew and Luke’s testimonies are needed together to show how Isaiah prophetically spoke of these events 700 years before they happened.  

Sequence of Birth Events

Finally, now that we have considered all 3 sources (Isaiah, Matthew, and Luke), here is the general flow of the birth narrative as I understand it, shown in the subject headings of the harmony:

  1. John the Baptist’s Birth Foretold; John is Conceived – Luke 1:5-25
  2. Jesus’ Birth Foretold to Mary; Jesus is Conceived – Matt. 1:18; Luke 1:26-38
  3. Unborn Jesus and John Are “Introduced” – Luke 1:39-56
  4. John the Baptist is Born – Luke 1:57-80
  5. Jesus’ Birth Foretold to Joseph – Matt. 1:19-25
  6. Joseph and Mary Journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem – Luke 2:1-5
  7. Jesus’ Birth – Luke 2:6-20
  8. Jesus’ Circumcision and Naming – Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:21
  9. Jesus Presented to the Lord in Jerusalem – Luke 2:22-39
  10. Wise Men Seek Jesus – Matt. 2:1-12
  11. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus Flee to Egypt – Matt. 2:13-15
  12. Herod Slaughters the Infants – Matt. 2:16-18
  13. Joseph, Mary, and Jesus Return to Nazareth of Galilee – Matt. 2:19-23; Luke 2:39  

Further Reading


  • Fitzmyer, Joseph A. 1970. The Gospel According to Luke I-IX. Vol. 28A. Anchor Bible. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, Inc.
  • McDowell, Josh. 1999. The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict: Evidence I & II Fully Updated in One Volume To Answer The Questions Challenging Christians in the 21st Century. Revised, Updated edition. Nashville, Tenn: Thomas Nelson Inc.
  • Morris, Henry M. n.d. “When They Saw the Star.” Institute for Creation Research. Accessed March 23, 2019. https://www.icr.org/home/resources/resources_tracts_whentheysawthestar/.

[1] This especially fits the backdrop of Luke writing Luke-Acts while Paul (his leader and companion) awaits sentence in Rome (Acts 28:16ff.). Paul’s alleged crimes were: (1) encouraging disobedience to the Jewish law (cf. Acts 21:28; 25:8), and (2) encouraging civil unrest and rebellion to Caesar (cf. Acts 24:5; 25:8). Thus, in part, Luke seems to be writing his gospel and Acts to help clear the name of Paul and the Christian movement taking place. See further confirmation of Luke’s emphasis in Resurrection Harmonization.

[2] See the, “we,” passages of Acts that begin with Acts 16:16. The author (Luke) shows that he was Paul’s traveling companion, at least for these particular journeys. Further, Paul quotes gospel sayings in his letters that match Luke’s gospel better than the others (1 Cor. 11:23-26 = Luke 22:19-22 // 1 Tim. 5:18 = Luke 10:7), which again shows special familiarity between Paul and Luke.

[3] In 1 Tim. 5:18, Paul says that the statement, “A laborer is worthy of his wages,” is part of Scripture.  This phrase can only be found in 1 place in the entire Bible: Luke 10:7.  Thus, Paul recognizes Luke’s writings of the Gospel of Luke and (by extension) Acts as Scripture.

[4] See more on Matthew’s theme of Gentile salvation inResurrection Harmonization.

[5] See more on this theme of Matthew’s inResurrection Harmonization .

2 Samuel Reflections

These are notes collected from studying with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

More David and Saul

I think starting 2 Samuel today continued to hit home how David extends mercy. He actually weeps over Saul and avenges his death (ch 1) and and also Abner (ch 3). You would think in his flesh he would be celebrating in a sense that the guy who has been trying to chase him down and kill him is finally dead but he does not seem to hold bitterness or resentment at all- he just does the right thing time and time again. Really incredible

Agree. I’ve been struck by his trust of the Lord to deal with Saul, instead of taking it into his own hands when he could. Very admirable. We will see something similar with his son, Absalom, when he turns against David and tries to kill him. Though, as I recall, he did get rebuked for being “too soft” with Absalom when he should’ve taken a stand a bit more against the abuse. But clearly his default is to love and forgive instead of fight: this is what it looks like to be a man after God’s heart!

…saying that, as we will also see, David is by no means innocent in his dealings on his way to the throne. We’ve already seen a fair amount of dishonesty in 1 Samuel, as well as multiplying wives, for instance. A reminder that God is the one who shows the MOST MERCY to all of us in using us who are full of sin. And as we see that truth, I believe we will be freed to forgive and give others mercy and love (instead of fighting back), which David models so beautifully.

something that really strikes me with the David-Saul story is how much David trusted the Lord and wanted to honor Him. Logically speaking, he could’ve said, “Saul is crazy and used of Satan…he’s no longer a trustworthy king…he’s out to murder me and Samuel anointed me as a king…it only makes sense that, in self-defense, I kill him and take the throne.” Granted he wouldn’t get the throne quite that easily (as we see in the skirmish for the throne in 2 Samuel). But a lot of that would make logical sense. However, David didn’t trust his sense of logic or right and wrong. He trusted the Lord who anointed Saul to “de-throne” if He must, at the time He appoints. And, if God wants David as king, He will appoint David at the time of his choosing. David didn’t want to get in the way of God’s appointment.
This seems a contrast to when Saul depended on his logic and offered the sacrifices that God didn’t warrant because everything made sense to his own mind of doing things:
“there is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end leads to death” Prov. 16:25

David Accumulates More Wives

Reading further in 2 Samuel we see that David accumulates more wives. It seems a pretty depressing account to read about him forcing Saul’s daughter to come back as one of his wives while her husband follows behind her weeping. Of course, there’s A LOT I don’t know about all of what was going on in surrounding context when that happened, but it doesn’t strike me as a really righteous move at first blush.
I also think some of his actions come off pretty savage. Again, I don’t know the full story, though I do recall later God saying something to the effect that since there was so much blood on David’s hands he wouldn’t let him build the temple. I could be getting that wrong. We’ll have to wait and see :slightly_smiling_face:
But all to say, even David (a man after God’s own heart) may have had some glaring issues. Reading the Bible more almost always confronts 2 things in me: (1) I’m not as great as I thought I was, (2) God’s mercy is MUCH greater than I can imagine. Reading about heroes in the faith who are a bit “unsavory” in some areas gives me hope for all of us :slightly_smiling_face:

^^of course, not to excuse sin…and also recognizing that there’s a lot going on we have to account for in stories of people in other cultures, times

I’ve been thinking the same in reading about his multiple wives even before the Bathsheba episode. It was interesting to me that God sent Nathan to confront/speak to him about Bathsheba/Uriah but never seemed to really confront him about the multiple wives earlier in the book…

sobering to consider what are the sins in our hearts that God has yet to point out because He is currently working on some “bigger fish” in us / our community :thinking_face:
all to say…we ain’t as great as we think we are!

2 Sam 7

I’m very touched by 2 Sam 7. Namely:

  1. David relates with the Lord not as “Being up there” but as the Living God in front of him. Further, He recognizes His great value and worth. When no one thought the Lord’s reputation and honor was worth the fight with Goliath (nor trusted the Lord’s power to win the battle), David did. And now, when no mention has been made of God having a home more worthy to who He is, David did. He sees and considers the Lord and His value in ways unlike anyone around him. Lord, may that be said of us!
  2. The Lords response to David’s request also blows me away. It’s almost like a father who has been providing a really nice home for his family and loved ones, all the while living outside in a tent, and never saying anything about it. He probably heard so much grumbling and complaining concerning their living conditions while He just accepted a more humble home. Then one of his kids says, “Wait, Dads been outside this whole time we’ve had nice living conditions. That’s not fair to Him.” All while everyone else just thought about themselves. And God never once complained though He would’ve been the only One justified to do so. Seems similar to when Jesus came to earth: born in a manger, didn’t have a home to lay his head, died poor and in miserable condition in the prime of his life. While his disciples were arguing about who was greater and gets to sit with Him in honor. Lord forgive us.
  3. I love how David says he has boldness and confidence to approach the Lord since he has heard God’s word on the matter. Again, contrast that to so many who brashly pray about whatever THEY THINK would be good, but don’t open God’s word to pray God’s desires. Or, others who might see God spoke a certain way about a certain matter, and so they think they have no responsibility to do anything. Instead, David says, “God said thus would happen. Now I know to pray for that thing to happen.” Similar to Dan 9 where he knew God wanted to free the Jews after 70 year captivity, so he determined to pray, fast, and repent that God would indeed do that.

David as 2nd

Joshua came 2nd, but conquered Promised Land instead of Moses.
David came 2nd, but established good rule and reign over Israel instead of Saul.
…all points to…
1 Cor 15: Jesus is called the “2nd Man” (Adam is the first)…He came second to bring a new humanity that Adam failed to bring.
Jesus = Joshua (same name)
Jesus = Son of David (Matt 1:1)

More on David

  • 2 Sam 11:1 – if David would’ve engaged in battle as a king, things would’ve been different with Bathsheba…
  • “I [God] gave…wives into your [David’s] arms” 2 Sam 12:8…very interesting comment. I think it means that God allowed him to take Saul’s place, including having multiple wives (which would’ve been a sort of status symbol)…not that God wanted that for David per-say.

2 Sam 13

(A) it almost seems like a sort of “generational curse” that David’s son is following after his footsteps in forcing sex on someone not his wife.
(B) I told you that polygamy always ends up bad!! …way worse than a soap opera!

2 Sam 15-16

Again, I see a sort of repeat of David’s sins in Absalom:

  • it starts by Absalom lying about giving a special sacrifice to God (as David and Jonathan lied in a similar manner to Saul)
  • Then he openly fornicates with 10 concubines of David (just as David secretly did with Bathsheba)

…see this very thing prophesied in 2 Sam 12:11!

David’s sins were more “justifiable” and hushed…but they were still there…and in the next generation they are much more brash and open.

God help us not do the same and keep repeating this! I fear we are already seeing this trend continue in US today.

2 Sam 17

God saw Ahithophel’s advice as good, though Absalom rejected it. Interestingly, it really spoke to me as I’ve discerned how to best confront a sticky sin situation…I was weighing out whether to involve more people to confront or just do little “one-off” stuff where it comes up, only addressing the person directly who is stirring up. I thought the latter and believe God used 2 Sa 17 to confirm it.

2 Sam 22

I was really touched by David’s song of praise in ch. 22! Amazing

David and Us

Matt: I see a lot of myself in David- both in his honest lament, deep love of the Lord, and his struggle with sin, and his need of the Lord to redeem Him.

1 Samuel Reflections

These are notes collected from studying with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

God’s Victories

2 quick things from 1 Samuel that speak to me:

  1. The place that holiness and integrity plays in advancing against the enemy (see 1 Sam. 4). From the outside, it seemed like they had all ingredients for success: the Ark, the poeple, the passion, etc….but in reality, it was just a shell and a performance…their hearts were self-centered and far from God with no sign of repentance…they mistakenly thought God wanted outward things to win victory…but soon they tragically learned God wants your heart pure before Him (think of Josh 7 – Achan)
  2. When God miraculously routes the enemy (1 Sam 14) – I’m amazed at how often the people STILL advance against the enemy after the routing!! If I were in their shoes, I wonder if I’d watch the miracle and think, “Phew, we dodged a close one,” then go back to my home. But these guys see the miracle (and still being outnumbered) charge ahead. The same with Gideon, and other times. This has really struck me. I’m leaning into this…chasing down the enemy a bit where I see God’s hand of deliverance moving.

2 More Things

  1. Look at how strong God’s anointing is toward Saul in 1 Sam. 9-10. Prophecy, sign, wonder…it is all so powerful. He was clearly the one appointed by God to “restrain My people” (1 Sam. 9:17). But as you read on in 1 Samuel, Saul gets worse and worse and worse :disappointed: …this doesn’t mean God wasn’t in his appointment or beginning. But it does mean God may start something, and yet it goes south later. God is still perfect, and good, and holy through it all…and then redeems it later for His glory and purposes. I dare say this is the summary of the entire Bible (starting with Adam and Eve who God started everything off with)
  2. I was struck this morning by the beginning traits of David’s mighty men: (1) his family members, (2) those in hard times, (3) those in debt, (4) those unhappy/disgruntled (see 1 Sam 22). This is the kind of rag-tag team the Lord is looking for — Amen!

Music, Prayer, Prophecy

After that you shall come to Gibeath-elohim,  where there is a garrison of the Philistines. And there, as soon as you come to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with harp, tambourine, flute, and lyre before them, prophesying.

1 Samuel 10:5 – I am struck by how much music and prayer and prophecy are all together in the scripture

1 Sam 1-12 Reflections

This is an incredible book! Really a fun read for me anyway because of all the drama and cast of characters. It’s amazing thinking of all David had to endure for so long at the hands of Saul and really gives even new perspective to so many of his Psalms for me when he was really in distress for so long and running for his life for a lot of his young life but yet holding fast to the Lord.

In the beginning of the book I was really struck how much the people were begging for a king and how this was not God’s intention. He has set them up with judges but then eventually He relents and gives them a king (Saul)

8:19-“the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No.” there shall be a king over us.”

For almost all human history people have wanted power and influence (a king/political influence) and the same was true when Jesus came on the scene. The people wanted a king and a political figure, not someone coming humbly on a donkey and they were furious.

So God gives in and gives them Saul and this is the start to a mess yet it’s still redeemed through the lineage of David which is amazing!

Samuel’s farewell address in chapter 12:19-25 absolutely rocked me. We can sin, but we still can be redeemed if we turn back and follow God with our whole hearts and turn from our wickedness. There is great hope for redemption in this! 12:24-“only fear the Lord and serve Hum faithfully with all your heart. For consider the great things He has done for you.”

1 Sam 13

been thinking about 1 Sam 13…

  • Saul waited the allotted time for Samuel
  • Samuel didn’t come as soon as it seems like he should’ve (or as Saul expected)
  • The Philistines were getting ready for battle with them
  • Saul wanted to appease God and seek his help/favor before battle, so…
  • Saul took it upon himself to offer the burnt offering (instead of Samuel)

Logically speaking, this makes a lot of sense and seems a very natural conclusion.BUT, God’s word said only a priest should offer the sacrifice.THUS… he chose human logic over God’s wordAND… he was rebuked and his reign began to end because of this 1 “logical” decision.”Trust in the LORD with ALL your heart, and LEAN NOT on your OWN UNDERSTANDING.” (Prov. 3:5)

David & Saul

I also think it’s a big turning point in chapter 18 after David & Goliath when David starts getting praised and everyone is singing “Saul has struck down his thousands and David his ten thousands.”

Yes, Saul had pride but even more so he was jealous of David which was the root of so much hatred.This book has so much to say about good and bad leadership, but one thing is for sure- we need to guard our hearts against jealousy.

Brian says: Though where does the pride start and the jealousy begin, right? Seems like the one fuels the other….what is your experience in counseling, Matt?

Matt says: Great question! Yes, I agree one fuels another generally. They are often intertwined and I think we see this with Saul. The Bible has much to say about pride (and also jealously) but I think of you look close it’s hard to see one without the other.

Brian responds: Good points, Matt…I’ve also wondered where insecurity interacts with pride (and jealousy). Seems like it is there often with pride. Not sure where the 1 starts or the other begins…just an observation that they often seem to go together from my very amateur eyes.

1 Sam 28 – Samuel’s Spirit Returns?

Please see Samuel’s Spirit Brought Back?

I just finished 1 Sam tonight and that medium/spiritous woman is messing with me a little.  How could a great leader who Loved God turn so hard to “other” mediums to find direction…. I guess if you turn from the Lord anything is possible (sadly).

David and God’s Mercy

Another thing that hit me was David’s mercy on Saul (how many times could David killed Saul 2-3 times?).  What a picture of the mercy and grace God gives us.  He could strike us down so quickly, yet extends grace. 

Multiple Wives

Random thought, the multiple wives things messes me up.  It’s not a good picture of Christ and the Church.  But God allowed it.

About the multiple wives thing…

  • God shows his original intent in creating Adam and Eve (not Adam and Eve, Victoria, Susanna, you get the picture). From the beginning He designed 1 man to 1 woman.
  • Then, even before Israel fell into sin by demanding a king, God prophetically knew it would happen. And says this about the kings: “He [the king] must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.” (Deut. 17:17). Again, consider God warned about this before they even had a king! Sadly, the kings seem to rarely follow this command.
  • God also shows the picture of 1 man and 1 wife in His marriage to the church: Christ is our husband, we are his 1 Bride (Eph. 5). To bring in any other lovers is idolatry, adultery, and blasphemy.
  • So, saying all this, it’s true that God allows multiple wives, though it’s never His highest intent. He allowed for it in the OT because He knew their hearts were hard, and would already do it, so He gave some accommodation for it (like in Matt. 19:8). But it was never his intent. In fact, as we will see soon in David’s life, it always seems to be a VERY BAD idea in the Old Testament because it leads to lots of drama and issues and fighting, etc.

Ruth Reflections

These are notes collected from studying with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

Prelude to Ruth

In preparation of Ruth, consider:

  • Judges ended with “In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 21:25)
  • 1 Samuel is focused on the inauguration of kings in Israel. And when the people said, “We want a king like the nations,” God said, “they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Sam. 8:7)

So consider that Judges was a rejection of God as their king. And the monarchy was a rejection of God as their king.

Now…in between those 2 books is the short book of Ruth. The whole message of Ruth is watching the family line of Elimelech eventually birth David as King (who is a type for the TRUE KING to come: JESUS, see Matt. 1:1; Rev. 22:16). Ruth begins with Elimelech as the main character. And ends with David (as connected to Elimelech).

Now…drumroll please…anyone know what the name Elimelech means?? It literally means “God is King”!!! Consider the importance of this. Elimelech is a literal man, but his name (and story) conveys so much more. His story comes in between the rejection of God as king in Judges and 1 Samuel. And in the book of Ruth, Elimelech (literally “God is King”) is starved out of the land. I think it is a picture: God as King of Israel is losing power to the point of being driven out of the land.

OK…that’s all for now…lot’s more to look for in the book of Ruth though. Hopefully that sets a good start as we read about how “God is King” is driven out of the land but eventually restored through David (who points to Jesus). Amen and Amen


I was also reading this morning the Hebrew word for redemption is listed 23 times in this short book! Specifically, how redemption is bound to kindness… seems close the the heart of our Savior.

May His kindness continue to draw us toward repentance and closer to Him today.

Naomi and Mara

“She said to them, ‘Do not call me Naomi; call me Mara…’
“So Naomi returned…” (Ruth 1:20-22).

I chuckled reading this today. She just gets done telling others to call her Mara because of what she’s gone through. But then the Holy Spirit picks up the narrative by calling her, “Naomi.” It was almost like God was ignoring her feelings and read on the situation. Don’t want to take that further than I should, but it did minister to me considering how many people today believe reality is shaped by feelings and experiences. The “trans” craze seems to play into that. So while we tell people about reality through the lens of our feelings/experience, how much is God sitting there saying, “You may feel that way, but that’s not the truth. I see clearly, you don’t.”

Charity and Dignity

When she rose to glean, Boaz instructed his young men, saying, “Let her glean even among the sheaves, and do not reproach her. And also pull out some from the bundles for her and leave it for her to glean, and do not rebuke her.”
Ruth 2:15-16

Love this! He was sacrificial, even over and above the “required amount to give,” while he still had her do work on her end (she had to gather), thus giving her dignity, etc. What an example for us!

Ruth Summarized

The story of Ruth:

  • Elimelech (“God is King”) is forced out of Israel.
  • A foreigner (Ruth) is grafted into the family, redeemed by Boaz (of Elimelech “God is King” family). Elimelech (“God is King”) continues to grow through this foreigner grafted in. Eventually bringing David who is King over Israel as a type for Jesus.
  • Strikes me the similarity with Jesus (God-king). Israel largely rejected Him. Gentiles receive Him. His kingdom is built and restored through Gentiles. At the end, I believe, we will see revival among the Jews, and a return among a faction of treating Jesus/God as King.

Genealogy Through Perez

Q: What do you make of the genealogy starting with Perez at the end of the book? I have some ideas but not sure.


My thoughts on Perez…
If you look at Gen 38, the story is as follows:
Judah (the tribe where kings would come from) is part of the scheme to get rid of Joseph (see Gen 37).
After that, “Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.” (Gen. 38:1).
There, Judah marries a foreign woman, then mistreats his daughter-in-law. But through her cunning, she ends up conceiving twins for Judah, and the firstborn was Perez (Gen. 38:29)…
I just think there are so many parallels to Ruth’s story that it is fitting to connect Perez with Jesse (via Boaz-Ruth)…Namely:

  • Judah = royal line (like Elimelech = “God is King”)
  • Judah forsook God’s way in mistreating Joseph (like Israel forsook God’s way, bringing a famine, forcing Elimelech and family out of the land)
  • Judah married foreign wife // Elimelech’s family married Moabite women
  • The daughter-in-law’s husband died in both
  • So the daughter-in-law had to pursue the older man in the family to have children (in both)
  • And the first child born was Obed (with Ruth) and Perez (with Tamar)

I’m thinking those parallels may give a hint into why it’s starting with Perez here…but I’m not 100%…either way, it’s powerful to consider the much broader connections within Scripture!

Judges Reflections

These are notes collected from studying Judges with Matt Lantz and Matt Roefer. Anything good comes from the Lord. Everything else is from us!

The Book of Judges & Us

First, I highly recommend The Book of Judges & Us (Teaching by Peter J. Williams). I found this 2 hour teaching series on Judges really on point for us.

Ch. 2-3: Teaching War

“I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.” So the Lord left those nations, not driving them out quickly, and he did not give them into the hand of Joshua. Now these are the nations that the Lord left, to test Israel by them, that is, all in Israel who had not experienced all the wars in Canaan. It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.
Judges 2:21-3:2 – https://www.biblegateway.com/passage?search=Judges%202:21-3:2&version=ESV

Weak Vessels

Takeaway from Judges thus far: major players/judges that were used all seem to have deficiencies that worked in their favor: (1) Ehud was left-handed…I heard this is how he was able to slip his weapon past the guards, because they would check on where a right-handed person would hold their weapon, (2) Jael was a woman…thus the warrior enemy let his guard down around her, and she had access to kill him via tent peg, (3) Gideon was fearful…which I believe showed why he asked for so much confirmation, but this allowed God to “show off” and speak directly to him…and he still went forward, though fearful, (4) Samson was a womanizer…of course, this in itself is a sin more than a mere “deficiency”…but even this was used by God to get deliverance on the Philistines. In all this, I’m struck that God is looking for people with weakness and deficiencies. Like He said to Gideon: “I don’t want a big army…you’ll be tempted to think you did it…give me an army where everyone knows only God could have done this!” (my paraphrase). Our weakness is what God needs right now, and those humble enough to recognize this will be used mightily, IMHO.

Yes! I was also reminded in reading through the book again (which was so good) just how fallible all these Judges were! Some of them are even listed in Hebrews 11 hero’s of faith chapter. Yet, they still had so many flaws. Especially resonated with Gideon and that spoke to me.

I was really moved by chapter 2 early on and the compassion of God to even give Judges and then continue to give Judges over and over. He could have wiped them out way earlier for the continual sin and yet they continue to go back to their old ways after about every judge. We need good leaders but yet even good leaders are susceptible to sin. What a great reminder of all of our great need for Jesus and Him to break through to our sin.

Slow Fade

Another takeaway: each Judge seems more and more carnal / sinful as the book goes on. Shows the slow fade into total corruption at the end of the book. Sadly, I think we might be living in a similar time (consider when someone like Trump [with his very flagrant issues] represents Christian policies more than other leaders in US…you know we’ve gone downhill).

I have spent the last two weeks in and out of Judges…Man it’s a disturbing book. The judges seem to go from pretty good, to okay, to bad, to worse. When that happens they had no leadership and did what was right in their own eyes. Isn’t that fitting for the world we live in and the history of the world. We walk away from God and start serving our own ideals.

Another thought that came to me was the Israelites did not drive out the Canaanites in their land, thus they started to resemble them and you couldn’t tell the difference between the Israelites and Canaanites near the end of the book.  If we don’t drive out, get rid of bad habits in our life, we will look more and more like the world! 

BTW – I have been pairing this study with Halley’s Bible Handbook; it’s been a great resource.