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The Importance of Appreciating Paradox in the Christian Faith

Julian Spriggs M.A.

A paradox is when two things are both true, but the two seem to contradict each other. Many philosophers from the ancient Greeks onwards have noted the importance of recognising paradox in their quest to understand the nature of life in this confusing world. I have heard it said that some modern philosophers claim that the greatest truth is found in paradox. However, paradox can seem illogical and confusing.

In Christian doctrine, there is often the call to keep things in balance, not to over-emphasise one side or the other in the many differences of opinion that arise. The more I have studied the Bible over the years, the more I have come to appreciate that in Christian doctrines there are many many paradoxes. We all have a tendency to desire to keep things simple, and when faced with a paradox we tend to chose either one side or the other.

The purpose of this article is to show the wide variety of paradoxes in Christian doctrine, and the way the existence of these paradoxes explains why there are so many disagreements within the church on issues of doctrine, but also why false teaching and heresies can develop, and cause many to be led away or confused.

Examples of paradox

Here are some of the significant examples of paradox in Christian doctrine. We should note that these include many of the central truths of the Christian faith, including the nature of God and the person of Jesus. This is in no way intended to be an exhaustive list. They are not listed in any particular order, and each are important. This article is not the place for an in-depth explanation of each of these, but these are given to show the wide variety of paradoxes that are found. On other pages of this website some of these topics are explained in greater detail.

1. The nature of God as revealed through his names.

In the Hebrew of the OT, there are two main names of God which are used most frequently. Each of these names is also used in combination with other titles. The first is 'Elohim' (normally translated 'God') which describes the all-powerful Almighty Creator God of the universe (Gen 1). This God can seem to be a bit remote and rather frightening. The second is 'Yahweh' (normally translated 'LORD' in capital letters) which is the personal name of God who called Moses to bring his people out of oppression in Egypt (Ex 3). This is the God who sees the suffering of his people, and wants intimate relationship with them. In these two names we are shown that within God himself there is a paradox that we need to appreciate, and incorporate into our understanding and relationship with him.

In different streams of the church there often opposing tendencies in their understanding of God. Some groups tend to emphasise the 'otherness' of God, the mystery of God, which can make God seem distant, unknowable, and rather frightening. Others emphasise the fact that God wants a close relationship with his people, will answer their prayers and bless them with anything they ask for. The danger is that God can almost become an indulgent 'Father Christmas' type of figure, and the motivation to follow him becomes almost selfish: 'What can God do for me?'. The challenge is to keep both aspects of his nature and character in tension.

2. Jesus being fully God and fully human.

In John’s Gospel, Jesus is introduced as the eternal Word of God, who created the world together with the Father (Jn 1:1). The 'I am' statements are profound statements of his deity, as he takes the personal name of God and applies it to himself. However in his gospel, John also describes the real humanity of Jesus, who was tired and thirsty (Jn 4:6-7), and had a physical body which could be touched, even after the resurrection (Jn 20:24-25).

Through the early centuries, there was much debate over the nature of Jesus, whether he was fully divine and / or fully human. Eventually, in the great statements of the Christian faith in the Creeds, he was affirmed as being both divine and human. These creeds were developed in response to a variety of heresies, which either claimed that Jesus was not truly divine or not truly human, and so stimulated the church to define its doctrine.

In the nature of Jesus there is a paradox, as he is not 50 percent divine and 50 percent human, but 100 percent both. Logically this can be confusing, or even can seem to be a nonsense. However, this is the revelation of Jesus we are given, and therefore need to affirm both sides of his nature, the divine and the human.

3. The Bible being inspired by God and written by people

All Christian denominations affirm that the Bible contains writings that are inspired by God, and most treat it as the authoritative Word of God which should be used as the basis of faith and practice. The Bible itself claims this divine inspiration (2 Tim 3:16). The issue is how this divine inspiration actually functioned in the writing of the books. The books of the Bible were not a result of some miraculous discovery of inscribed stones or written documents, or dictation from an angelic being. They were not written by some sort of automatic writing, by which the authors went into a trance and received the words from God without their minds being involved. Instead, we see that each of the many authors of the books of the Bible exhibit their own particular literary style and use of vocabulary, but also express their own particular practical concerns and even emotions. Because of this, we can respect the Bible as the divinely inspired Word of God, but at the same time appreciate the variety of styles, concerns and fallen characters of the divinely inspired authors.

4. The physical creation declared good by God, but fallen

In the creation account, after each day of creation, “God saw that it was good” (Gen 1). God created a perfect world without sin and death, in which there was no suffering or hardship. However, when Adam disobeyed God, the ground was also put under a curse (Gen 3), so that creation itself is now groaning (Rom 8:19-23).

When we look at and enjoy the physical creation, or watch the nature programmes on television, we can appreciate the wonders, design and beauty of God’s creation, as the Psalmist did, “I lift up my eyes to the hills ...” (Ps 121:1). However this world is also full of horrible things, which cause much suffering, death and destruction. We continually hear of natural disasters on the news, such as earthquakes, tsunamis or hurricanes. We can often be troubled by these, and ask why does God allow these things to happen, but we need to remember that creation is also fallen, and is no longer in the condition that God made it or intended it. So the physical world we live in is also a paradox of being good, but fallen, beautiful but horrible.

At the end of the Book of Revelation, the glorious hope for the believer is being back in the garden in the presence of God (Rev 21-22), where much of the language used in Genesis is repeated. Paradise lost in Genesis is paradise regained in Revelation.

5. Human beings being created in the image of God, but are fallen

This is similar to the previous example, but is essential for us to understand and appreciate. Every human being, whether they believe in God or not, shares some of the characteristics of God because we are made in his image (Gen 1:26). It is this that separates us from the rest of creation, including the animals. As humans, we have the creative ability to imagine things in our minds, and then make them happen. Humans can show great care and love to others. We also have the opportunity to live in a relationship with our Creator as we are spiritual beings.

The bad news is that since the fall (Gen 3), human beings are also fallen, and living in rebellion against their Creator. This means that the nature of human beings is also a paradox. Each person is capable of doing wonderfully creative things, as well as being caring and compassionate, but unfortunately are also capable of being selfish, destructive, uncaring, and even the extreme of doing unspeakable horrors, as each human being has a sinful nature.

After people come to Christ, they are still not perfect, but share the fallen nature of humanity. It is important to remember that Christians are merely forgiven sinners, who are hopefully on a journey and process of sanctification.

6. The Kingdom of God being here but not yet here

During his ministry, the main message that Jesus brought was that the Kingdom of God has come (Mk 1:14-15). He explained the nature of the kingdom in many of his parables (Mk 4). Through the New Testament we see that sometimes the Kingdom has come, and sometimes the Kingdom is yet to come in the future. Theologians often call this 'The now, but not yet'. The kingdom is here in that we can receive salvation and become members of the body of believers, with the task of extending that kingdom. However, the blessings we have now are merely a foretaste and guarantee of the far greater blessings we will enjoy when the kingdom comes in its fullness.

This leaves us with yet another paradox. As believers, we can live in the blessings of the kingdom, such as having sin forgiven, having a relationship with God and receiving a sense of destiny and purpose in this life, and great hope for the future. However, at the same time we need to remember that we are still living in a fallen world, facing the limitations of that fallen world, including accidents, sickness, aging and ultimately physical death, as well as the consequences of the sin of other people, like crime, murder and persecution.

This can help explain what can be a perplexing and worrying question that believers may have. Jesus can and does bring physical healing as a demonstration of the arrival of his kingdom, and that healing is frequently, but not always, in response to our level of faith in him. However, often people pray for healing, but are not healed, or even die, and unfortunately that may cause us to doubt our faith. Even worse is when others, particularly church leaders, criticise us for our lack of faith, which just adds unjustified condemnation to what is already a difficult situation. We need to remember that we are not yet living in the age to come, when the kingdom will come in all it fullness. We are still living in a fallen world, subject to sickness, aging, and ultimately physical death. Even if Jesus does heal physically, it is only temporary, as we will all die, unless he comes back first. All the people healed by Jesus in the gospels, or even raised from the dead, ultimately died. Even during his ministry, Jesus did not heal everyone who was sick, showing that physical healing is not guaranteed in this life.

7. The Second Coming of Jesus being soon, but a long time

Through the NT, there are many predictions of the second coming of Jesus. It is certain that Jesus will come back, but we are not told when that will be. When reading the NT, we can get the impression that Paul and the other writers believed that the Second Coming of Christ will be within their lifetimes, while in other places it could be an event distant in the future.

In part of the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said that the Son will come at an unexpected hour like a thief in the night, and calls on his people to be awake (Mt 24:36-44). In Matthew, this is followed by a series of parables, in all of which there is a master who is coming, but who will be delayed (eg Mt 24:25-51). This gives a tension between a sense of imminence, that Jesus could come at any time (perhaps later today), or that he may come many years after our lifetime on earth. This gives another tension and paradox. We need to be ready to meet him if he comes soon, while at the same time planning for the future and getting on with life, living in obedience to his calling.

8. God’s sovereignty and man’s free will

This has been one of the most controversial issues in the church for many centuries, but also needs to be seen as a paradox. It is frequently stated in both OT and NT that believers in God have been chosen as part of God’s elect, eg Rom 9. However, in some mysterious way, that in no way diminishes our human responsibility to decide to repent and believe the Good News (Mk 1:15). So we have to emphasise both sides, and resist the tendency to favour one side or the other. Calvinists tend to emphasise God’s sovereign election, while Arminians emphasise human responsibility. Extreme versions of both sides can actually land up being a false teaching. The challenge is to hold both in tension. Yes, God is sovereign and all-knowing, including knowing the future, but that in no way diminishes our human responsibility before him. How this works remains a mystery beyond our human understanding. When Paul considered this puzzle in Romans chapters 9-11, he ended his discussion with a declaration of praise, “O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom 11:33).

The purpose of the doctrine of election is to give the believer great security and a knowledge and feeling of being loved by Almighty God, but is not intended to lead us to presumption or to treat our relationship with God lightly. There are frequent instructions in the NT to run the race with faith and to persevere to the end. In other words, we have to take up our human responsibility to maintain our faith.

Again this means we have to live in a tension of paradox. As believers, we can enjoy the blessings of being chosen by God, being elect, or predestined, but we still need to take up our personal responsibility to work out our faith in fear and trembling.

9. The problem of suffering

The great problem of suffering is probably one of the greatest challenges to the Christian faith because we believe in a good God who is also all-powerful. Again there is a paradox in this question. God desires to bless his people, but we are still living in a fallen world filled with sin and suffering.

In the Wisdom writing in the OT, we also see this tension. There are many proverbs and verses in the Psalms which speak about God wanting to bless and prosper his people. However, we must balance these with the difficult question about the righteous suffering, as found in the Book of Job.

Benefits of appreciating the nature and existence of paradox

One great benefit of appreciating the nature of paradox is that it helps us to keep balanced, and to aid in the quest to avoid extremes, disagreements and splits. The great tragedy of Church history has been the splits and divisions that have so frequently arisen between different groups, each of which may claim to be 'Biblical', but so often effectively deny the faith through their lack of love.

Paradox helps explains some of the big questions of faith

It is important to remember that the Bible is not a textbook of academic systematic theology. Rather it contains pastoral or applied theology. The writers took the great theological truths of the Christian faith and applied them to their readers in their particular situation. In some situations, one side of the paradox needed to be emphasised, and in other situations, the other side needed to be stressed.

For example, the readers of Ephesians were living in a place of great spiritual darkness, surrounded by the worship of pagan gods, and many different belief systems. These readers needed to know that they were secure in God’s love for them, so Paul begins his letter with a great declaration of the spiritual blessings in Christ (Eph 1:1-14), including being chosen (v4), destined (v5), being forgiven (v7) awaiting the promised inheritance (v14). By contrast, the readers of the Book of Hebrews were being tempted to abandon their faith and to return to the physical safety of Judaism. The author of Hebrews shows them the superiority of Jesus and his salvation over Judaism, urges them to maintain their faith, and gives severe warnings if they fall away (5:11- 6:8, 12:25-29).

The readers of Ephesians needed the encouragement to equip them for the spiritual battle they were living in. If Paul had given them the strong warnings in Hebrews, they would have become more discouraged, and more likely to give up. The readers of Hebrews needed the strong warnings. If the author had taught them about being chosen in Christ, without the warnings, they could easily have taken the teaching the wrong way, and used it as an excuse to back-slide, saying something like, “If Jesus loves us anyway, it really doesn’t matter what we do”.

Avoiding false teaching

Many false teachings arise when there is imbalance in any of these paradoxes, when one side is emphasised and the other side minimised. Heresies develop when the imbalance is taken to extreme and one side is ignored completely. It may be an obvious statement, but still helpful to appreciate in this context, that no one ever stands up and claims to be a false teacher, but each Christian teacher claims to teach the truth, and to be biblical. For example, various cults claim to be teaching the truth when they emphasise the humanity of Jesus at the expense of his divinity but are therefore rejected as teaching orthodox Christian doctrine.

What does it mean to be biblical?

To be truly biblical, when faced with paradoxical issues such as these, it is necessary to incorporate both sides into our understanding. It is all too easy to be selective and use the Bible to prove your own opinion, while ignoring the other side. For example, it is possible to find all the many verses which speak about God’s sovereignty, our election and predestination, while ignoring all the many passages which describe human responsibility before God and the importance of choosing to follow and obey him. Alternatively it is equally possible to select the reverse way round, emphasising human responsibility and ignoring God’s sovereignty. People following both options would claim to be biblical, but in fact neither are being genuinely faithful to the full revelation given in the Scriptures, so neither are actually being truly biblical.

Living with paradox and teaching paradox

This is one of the great challenges of the Christian faith, to learn to live within the tension of both sides of the paradox, not favouring one side at the expense of the other, but keeping the tension between both. It is 'both and', rather than 'either or'. For people called to teach the Bible it is especially necessary to keep the tension, to keep their teaching balanced. Teachers and preachers need to teach both sides equally, showing their congregations that paradox is important, so they too can learn to live within the tension. In preaching, as in the examples from Ephesians and Hebrews above, it may be necessary at times to emphasise one side in particular pastoral situations, while still keeping the overall tension and balance.

So to look back at some of the examples given above, we are called to worship, love and obey a God who is all-powerful, almighty, and sometimes rather scary, so we need to live in the fear of the Lord. But he is also a God who also loves his people, and wants a close intimate relationship with them, to bring comfort and healing. When reading and studying the Bible, we need to respect it as the inspired Word of God, while at the same time recognise that each book was written as a message to real people in different situations in history about issues that affected them at that time. We follow Jesus, as the divine Son of God, present with God at the creation of the world (Jn 1), but also the human Jesus who became incarnate and lived among us and was tempted in every way, but without sin, so is able to understand us in our weaknesses (Heb 4:15).

Both human beings and the physical world we live in was created perfect, but are fallen, so we need to have a theological belief system that can handle suffering, natural disasters and the consequences of the sin of others, while at the same time believing in a God who is good and wants the best for us, always remembering that we are living at a time when the blessings of the Kingdom of God have come, while we are still waiting for the full consummation of that Kingdom.

We also have to live in the difficult tension between God’s sovereign election and our free will, avoiding the extremes of fatalism, or living as if everything depends on our human determination and moral choices. The writer of Hebrews stated this succinctly when he instructed his readers to “strive to enter that rest” (Heb 4:11).

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS