The New Testament is a fascinating collection of documents that illuminate the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth. It contains an amazing number of details in its texts that can easily be lost on the modern mind. This means that the full impact can pass by the reader, yet sometimes that snippet of information has major consequences for the meaning of the passage.
Commentaries usefully explain the main teaching of a passage, but do not always explore the broader context. Bible dictionaries are helpful, but they are often more interested in expressing the meaning of specific words rather than the significance of situations.
Harold Mare has helped the modern reader by combining the best elements of both commentaries and dictionaries in his New Testament Background Commentary. It is both a commentary and a dictionary of words, phrases, and situations that shed light on the text. An invaluable companion to studying the New Testament, you will wonder how you managed without it.
“On the other hand, the Cypriot Zeno (340–265 bc), who founded Stoicism (named from the Painted Stoa, or colonnade, in the Athenian agora where Zeno taught), stressed living in harmony with nature, depending on one’s reasoning and other self-sufficient powers, suppressing personal desires, and viewing God pantheistically as ‘the World-soul’ (cf. modem Hinduism).” (Pages 196–197)
“Behind the statement ‘out hands have touched’ lies the fact that some in John’s day (ad 85–95) were denying the true humanity of Christ, saying that he had not ‘come in the flesh’ (cf. John 4:2–31). He just seemed to have a body. This was a heresy called Docetism (from the Greek dokeō, ‘to seem’), a part of the general movement of thought called Gnosticism which was beginning to develop. It was a heresy setting forth a salvation obtained not by faith in Christ (that is, some denied that ‘Jesus is the Christ’, 1 John 2:22) and sought to attain salvation by special knowledge (the Greek term is gnōsis, ‘knowledge’) as they tried to make steps, or progress, toward God without the cross of Christ.” (Pages 405–406)
“In an agricultural country, worthless, tasteless salt could be used on dirt streets and paths to smother weeds and all other growing things. By this apt illustration, Jesus urges his disciples to be true spiritual witnesses to a world gorging itself in worldly pleasures and values. He also urges them to be aware of possibly becoming worthless, irrelevant witnesses for Christ.” (Page 22)
“The Greek term euperistatos (from the verb perispaō, ‘easy to pull away’) conveys the idea that the sin referred to here is easily distracting, pulling one away from the Lord and from the Christian course he has laid out.” (Page 380)
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