What was Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7)?

Paul’s thorn in the flesh was some sort of unusual, long-term, intermittent, stabbing, face pain that was viewed by others as shameful and the result of black magic attacks, but by Paul as attacks of a demon permitted by God. This is the conclusion of my newly-released book focused on answering one of the most … Continue reading What was Paul’s “Thorn in the Flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:7)?

Should We Translate τέλος (telos) as “End Goal” in Romans 10:4?

Recently, I was teaching a class session (Life & Letters of Paul) when a student asked me to define the word τέλος (telos) in Romans 10:4 (τέλος γὰρ νόμου Χριστὸς / telos gar nomou Christos, “For Christ is the τέλος of the law”). I replied that the usage-range of the word τέλος sometimes hovers more … Continue reading Should We Translate τέλος (telos) as “End Goal” in Romans 10:4?


“What are the joy-stealers? Why do so many of us struggle with joy?” I often ask my students this question when we open the book of Philippians. “Time pressures.” “Financial pressures.” “Unfulfilled expectations.” “Hurts from the past.” These are common responses from my students. But Paul would point us toward two other foundational reasons for … Continue reading Joy

What is “Contextualization”? What is “Syncretism”?

Contextualization is putting the gospel into cultural forms that are easier for recipients to understand and receive without changing the gospel. Syncretism is mixing the gospel with false philosophical or religious ideas, resulting in the gospel message getting changed or substantially diluted. Contextualization is good and necessary. Syncretism is dangerous and should be avoided. Although … Continue reading What is “Contextualization”? What is “Syncretism”?

What is a “Stronghold”? (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

“We pray against this stronghold…” Have you ever heard someone utter this line in prayer—or have you uttered it yourself? If you have ever used this expression, what did you mean when you used it? What is a “stronghold”? The answer to this question depends upon 1) whether you are trying to define the word … Continue reading What is a “Stronghold”? (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)

“All Fall Short of the Glory of God.” But What is the “Glory of God”?

What is the meaning of “fall short of the glory of God” (ὑστεροῦνται τῆς δόξης τοῦ θεοῦ) in Romans 3:23? (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”)  It is not uncommon to hear people in our churches paraphrase this clause as falling short of God’s righteous standard. But where else does … Continue reading “All Fall Short of the Glory of God.” But What is the “Glory of God”?


Authenticity. Now there’s an important word in our generation. Young people are fed up with fakeness and sick of sham. Not long ago a youth pastor told me that the kids in his youth group preferred listening to unpolished or even stammering speakers whom they perceived as genuine over speakers who were slick but inauthentic. … Continue reading “Authenticity”

What Does the Word “Comfort” Mean in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7?

What do you think of when you hear the word “comfort”? I think of a flannel shirt I bought twenty years ago (and still sometimes wear!), the world’s softest feather pillow, or the elusive first-class seat I never get to enjoy on an airplane. What about the verb “comfort”? What comes to mind when you … Continue reading What Does the Word “Comfort” Mean in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7?

Life is Christ

“What do you want out of life?” The trained interviewer appeared relaxed—even casual—as she asked me this question, but I could tell she was intent on figuring out who I was. In the context of interviewing for a summer job at a local department store during my break from college, that only meant that she … Continue reading Life is Christ

Christian Hospitality

My wife is remarkably hospitable—far more than I. For ten straight years at her instigation, we invited all of my enrolled college students over every week during the academic year for dinner and spiritual conversation. (Fortunately, it never happened that they all showed up on the same evening. Whew!) We have scaled back a bit … Continue reading Christian Hospitality