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Did Paul ever meet Jesus and hear him teach? Yes, it is likely

51RG4+Q8HDL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_-1David Yoon introducing a new book by noted New Testament scholar Stanley E. Porter, writes:

“Our most prolific author, Stanley Porter, has another book published called When Paul Met Jesus: How an Idea Got Lost in History (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2016). Porter revives a theory set forth earlier by William Ramsay, Johannes Weiss, and James Hope Moulton, that Paul had seen Jesus in the flesh. This idea has since curiously dissolved in modern NT scholarship, probably because of Baur, Wrede, and Bultmann, who had pitted Jesus against Paul. But building on their idea that Paul had met Jesus during his earthly ministry, Porter argues that certain passages in the NT point to the fact that Paul did in fact meet Jesus before his crucifixion and resurrection, and consequently the Damascus road Christophany was not the first time Paul met Jesus. They key passages he looks at, besides Acts 9, are 1 Corinthians 9;1 and 2 Corinthians 5:16.

I, like many others, had not even thought about asking this question before—a point Porter identifies in this book. But having gone through it and thinking through many of the implications of this idea, I am convinced that it is more likely that Paul did meet Jesus during his earthly ministry than that he did not, and certain statements of Paul make much more sense if we consider that he knew Jesus and talked with him during his earthly ministry. Along these lines, Porter mentions the possibility, argued by A.M. Pope and T.A. Moxon, that perhaps Paul was the rich, young ruler in the Synoptic Gospels, although he admittedly does not think it is essential to the overall theory. I’m not sure if I am convinced that Paul was the rich, young ruler, but that’s a small point. The overall argument is compelling, and I think, even for those who are skeptical, the book should generate some very interesting conversations.”

2016 Bible Reading Plan — Read the Gospels Deeply

It is about that time of the year when we are introduced to creative ways to read our Bible for the next calendar year. Did you do it this year?

This is my eighth year encouraging others to take each day of the year to read and reflect on a single unit in the Gospels. Did you know there are basically 365 units in the Gospels?

In the past, I cited five good reasons to own a Gospel Synopsis. The fifth reason is:

Read a synopsis in one year by reading one pericope [a gospel unit] every day. By coincidence, the synopsis contains 367 pericopes. That is, all four Gospels combined contain 367 units.

Get the following edition by the first of year so you are ready to go: Synopsis of the Four Gospels.


Why Divine Electing Love Requires Exclusivity

In his The God of Israel and Christian Theology R. Kendall Soulen make a case why God’s love must be exclusive in his election of the physical people Abraham-Israel. The same principle can be applied to the Divine electing love of individuals—Jew or Gentile—who are in Christ.

But why should God be a God of election at all? Does not God love all persons equally? Why should God choose one people and not another? Wyschogrod’s insistence upon God’s freedom prohibits him from saying that God had to elect one family over the rest. Yet given the fact that God has done so, it is possible to seek reasons for what God has done in order to display ground for human gratitude….

For Wyschogrod, this account of love [sharp distinction between agape and eros love]  is suspect because it bifurcates the human condition in an unreal way. In this respect it resembles the distinction between body and soul. Body and soul are aspects of the one being that God created in God’s image. To regard a person primary as a soul rather than as a concrete unity is to risk missing the human being who is really there. Similarly, true love is impossible without an element of eros that orients agape on the reality of the particular one who is loved. This introduces an element of exclusivity into true love. Without this directedness and exclusivity, agape because fictitious:

Undifferentiated love, love that is dispensed equally to all must be love that does not meet the individual in his individuality but sees him as a member of a species, whether that species be the working class, the poor, those created in the image of God, or what not.

Real encounter is possible only when humans are regarded as more than instance of a class. Genuine human love is directed to the concrete individuality of the other; therefore, genuine human love requires exclusivity (7–8).

Preaching Jesus on the Jersey Shore

This is a brief clip from the street preaching ministry here in Jersey. I was told that this most recent preaching tour was more hostile than typical because people feel more emboldened to be intolerant toward Christians after the Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. Nevertheless, a fellow came up to one of the preachers at the end and asked him, “How can I be saved?” Let’s remember that open-air preaching is the normative biblical means by which the Gospel is proclaimed to the lost.

Street Preaching the Gospel to Muslims in Birmingham England

preaching to muslims

Robert Parker shares his recent street-preaching trip to England.

Just a quick break down of my mission trip to Birmingham England. Statistics say more children are born to Islam than Christianity in Birmingham England. A team of preachers and myself across the states and England was led by Dale Mcalpine. We had a great opportunity to preach the gospel in this town at the city center. As an American I have never seen so many Muslims handing out booklets as well as the Koran. They had loud speakers preaching against the deity of Jesus. It was a perfect opportunity for us to set up and preach the gospel. So we set up our loud speaker and began to preach. Little by little people would stop and out of nowhere a large Muslim congregated in front of us. I noticed when I was preaching the Muslims standing in front of me were like deer in headlights. It seems as if they were hearing the gospel for the very first time. There were a few heckling here and there especially the Muslim women. But generally they were listening and taking in the preaching. As the day went by I noticed a lot of oppression going on in this community with the Christians. They were very happy we were there and some even had tears in their eyes. The vendors were telling us that we don’t have to pay full price because we were the ones preaching the gospel, and they thanked God for us being there. Before the day ended Christians came by and asked if they could hand out tracts or hold biblical signs saying Jesus is God. It seemed liked the Christians in that town gained some hope and confidence before we left. One even told us we don’t know how any of you guys didn’t get attacked. But we are so happy you are here. It was a blessed day preaching the gospel and the deity of Christ. I could never have imagined how many Muslims heard the Biblical Gospel. They knew before they left that their works cannot save them and that they needed a Savior.