Rightly Dividing

Blessing Grammar

Trying again, and trying some different things than last week’s video. But I’m still looking at the grammar in Romans 12, and the application of this content is way harder than the observation of it.

Rightly Dividing

Participles Are Your Friend

I dusted off the old YouTube channel today. I started posting videos there in 2007 (it could drive now if it wanted to, or at least have a permit). And, you know, one of my videos has almost 8,000 views, so it’s pretty serious. But I’ve been toying with how to share some of my love of diagramming, and a friend suggested that I try an app called Explain Everything. EE has its own cloud service to host finished videos, but the shortened link it produces doesn’t produce a preview image in the social media sites I tried. Hence dusting off the YouTube and posting there. This is a first, rough attempt, and, amusingly, there is not really any diagramming (but there is great grammar talk, so stick around!). I’ve turned on comments for any feedback.

Rightly Dividing



verb — [ho-de-geh-oh]

definition: to assist in reaching a desired destination; lead, guide; to assist someone in acquiring information or knowledge; teach, explain, instruct.

example usage:

πῶς γὰρ ἂν δυναίμην ἐὰν μή τις ὁδηγήσει με; (Acts 8:31)

An Ethiopian eunuch, traveling home on the Gaza road, was confused reading the prophet Isaiah. Directed by the Spirit, Philip ran over to the chariot and asked the eunuch if he understood what he was reading. He answered, “How can I, unless someone guides me?” (Acts 8:31 ESV, NAS), unless someone “explains it to me” (NIV, The Message). Then he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.

Forms of the word hodegeo are also used in passages such as Matthew 15:14 and Luke 6:39 referring to “blind leading the blind.” It is also used in John 16:13 where Jesus promises that “when the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth.”

Until yesterday, I had never heard, or at least paid attention to, someone explaining this word. I’ve lauded exegesis and paid thousands of dollars for almost a decade of training to avoid eisegesis. Interestingly enough, MacArthur, Boice, and Barclay make no comment whatsoever about the use of hodegeo in Acts 8:31 (and I mention them because those are the commentaries on Acts I own). I had to hear about hodegesis from Eugene Peterson (yes, that Eugene Peterson).

“The Greek words for “explain” and “guide” share the same verbal root, “to lead,” and have a common orientation in and concern for the text. But the explainer, the exegete, leads the meaning out of the text; the guide, the hodegete, leads you in the way (hodos) of the text.”

(Working the Angles, 128)

Peterson illustrates the nuance of hodegesis like this:

“It is the difference between the shopkeeper who sells maps of the wilderness and the person who goes with you into it, risking the dangers, helping to cook the meals, and sharing the weather.”


Don’t get me wrong. I.♥.exegesis. Let’s give three cheers for exegesis! I’m just surprised that this exegetical, hodegetical bushwhacker of a word hasn’t lead the way more often.

Devoted to Prayer



verb — [pros-kar-te-reh-oh]

definition: to stick by or be close at hand; attach oneself to, wait on, be faithful to; to persist in something; to be busy with, be busily engaged in, be devoted to.

example usage:

Τῇ προσευχῇ προσκαρτερεῖτε, γρηγοροῦντες ἐν αὐτῇ ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ (Colossians 4:2)

“Devote yourselves to prayer.” (Colossians 4:2, NAS, NIV, NRSV) Or the ESV, “continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (“continue earnestly” NKJV).

Paul likewise urges devotion to prayer in Romans 12:12. The disciples of Christ, in the days following Christ’s ascension, were “devoting themselves to prayer” (Acts 1:14). They “devoted themselves to the apostle’s teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).

To “devote” oneself means to give oneself to something with such dogged commitment that one becomes known, even identified, by that devotion. A husband devoted to his wife has eyes and time for no other woman. A teacher devoted to his or her students is committed, in and out of the classroom, that the students would learn and flourish. A fan devoted to his favorite college or professional team wears his team colors on game day, loves to talk about his team, and senses the joys of winning and the pain of defeat along with the players.

Christians are called to devote themselves to prayer. To be devoted to prayer means to commit ourselves to prayer in such a way that our lives (not merely our pre-meal rituals) are defined by prayer. Being devoted to prayer means that our eyes are on God and the moments in our days are filled with prayer. Being devoted to prayer means that we make every effort to battle for souls, our own and those of others, asking, knocking, and seeking God’s work. Being devoted to prayer means that we will be marked by an obvious, fanatical, intense, and unwavering practice of prayer.

—Devoted to Prayer

Enjoying the Process

All Things Are Better in Koine

A Shot of Encouragement

Before you say that word

Pastordude: please, before you say that word…

So you’re a pastor, and you’re preaching this passage, and you want to mention some Hebrew or Greek word that is in the passage. Fine. Great, in fact. Terrific.

One request.

Say it right, or don’t say it.

Now, many would advise that you just not say it, period, because it’s not going to help your largely (linguisitically) unschooled audience, and may just look like preening. Most of the time, I think that’s good advice.

But because I know we pastordudes can be a bit thick, let me break it down and be very specific.

You’re preaching a passage. There’s a Hebrew or Greek word in it that is cool, that you think is worth commenting on. Fine.

If you do not actually know Hebrew or Greek:

1. You should learn Hebrew and Greek. (After all, you are an instructor in ancient Hebrew and Greek literature. Your Principal wrote the class textbook in those languages. Your students have the right to expect that you’re conversant with them, or working on it.)

2. Until then, you probably should not say any Hebrew or Greek word.

3. If you do, find someone who has studied, and ask him whether you’re about to say it right.

Phillips has still more to say about it here.

Enjoying the Process

The Laying on of Hands

Lord willing, I will be ordained this Sunday night. I am humbled and excited by the implications of this occasion.

Different churches (and denominations) obviously take different approaches to ordination. The typical approach in our tiny corner of evangelicalism includes a rigorous series of tests, in which a panel grills a man over his biblical, theological, and pastoral understanding. The process may also involve the candidate preaching an abbreviated sermon to the board of elders, and then answering any questions the board might have for him.

To me, that program seems to duplicate seminary. I agree that a pastor should know his Book and be apt to teach it. He should be able to rightly divide the Word and always ready to preach it. He should stand on solid biblical and theological convictions when evangelizing his neighbors and when equipping the saints. But the ministry is more than academic, and a man’s calling to ministry cannot be confirmed by looking at his transcripts. In my case, I already took tests and wrote papers and passed classes proving that I could regurgitate the information.

Regarding the biblical requirements for elders, Doug Wilson recently wrote:

One of the easiest things in the world for the Church to do is to drift into another set of requirements entirely, never quite noticing that we have replaced what the Bible requires with what we require. Nothing against Hebrew, Greek, or thorough knowledge of the patristics. Good to have, great to have, yay for having them.

I am all about Greek (and working on my Hebrew). John Piper emphasized the need for pastors to know the biblical languages in his biographical message on Martin Luther, in which he concluded that the mother of the Reformation was Greek. I take that to mean Greek is important for the gospel and the church.

I love learning and talking about theology. Doug Wilson also wrote a fantastic post on the requirement of doctrinal integrity for elders, in which he urged elders not only to study doctrines afresh (cf. Acts 17:11), but also to work through those issues with their fellow church leaders.

But wolves can enjoy those same things and use them to exploit the sheep, not care for them.

Ordination is not an academic issue primarily, nor is it merely a program. A great danger of the interview approach, it seems to me, is that a man may pass the “test” without demonstrating any spiritual giftedness. But the call to ministry cannot be determined by a panel or paperwork; it is personal.

In the Pastoral Epistles, the qualifications for pastors/elders/overseers are primarily concerned with persons, their desire for the work, their character, their families, their conduct, and their reputation. To know these things, men must be observed and known, and then affirmed. The objective requirements are affirmed subjectively by other godly and gifted men. The “gift,” affirmed during an ordination (1 Timothy 4:14), is observable in action, not just in an interview, however many hours it may last.

That’s why I’m excited to be ordained by this Body of believers and by this group of elders. They know me. They have been a part of my life, my family, and my ministry for seven and a half years. They have treated me with grace as I’ve made progress, and have encouraged me not to neglect my gift.

Being ordained won’t change my role or responsibilities. I’ve been functioning as an elder for some time and the title on my business card includes Pastor. But beyond annual tax benefits and authorization to marry and bury, this event is a spiritual celebration of God’s grace in and through me. I anticipate I will appreciate this benchmark of affirmation the rest of my ministry course, however long God let’s me run it.