Stephen’s portrait of church leadership

Stoning of Stephen

The Stoning of Stephen, Annibale Carracci (1603-04)

The church had a problem at the beginning of Acts 6. They were all Jews, of course, but most of them were native to the area. Jews had moved all over the Roman Empire and had established synagogues in every major Greek city.

A number of those Jews eventually moved back to Jerusalem. They spoke Greek, but not the local Aramaic.

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Life lessons from a list of names

When we come across genealogies and other lists of names in the Bible, it can be difficult to remember that all Scripture is inspired and useful! Romans 16 is one such passage, where Paul greeted a list of friends by name. We know a few of them, but how is this list edifying?

Remember that the last major section of Romans starts in 12:1 with the exhortation to present our bodies as living sacrifices. Every word of Romans from there until the end either helps define or illustrate what the life of a living sacrifice looks like. In the last chapter, Paul names a bunch of them.… Read the rest

True spiritual leadership

Christians today find it easy to  hold the scribes and pharisees of Jesus’ day in contempt. If Jesus was so critical, then they must have been evil religious hypocrites, right?

We forget that they were among the most highly respected people in their society. Most of them, at least, must have been sincere and  honorable. Alas, too many modern Christian leaders take after the ones Jesus scolded. (One, of course, is one too many.) When they come under criticism, many of their followers go to great lengths to defend them.

Indeed, religious leaders who live less than godly lives have always presented a quandary. … Read the rest