How to Study the Bible Pt. III


How to Study the Bible Pt. III

The Gospel of Matthew


flickr photo by wonderlane

Here’s a brief overview of the book of Matthew that will help us gain a better understanding as we’re reading the text


Assumed to be the Apostle Matthew mentioned in Matthew 9:9 and referenced as Levi in Luke 5:27 based on early church tradition

Direct Audience:

Jews who didn’t believe that Jesus was the Messiah spoken of in the Old Testament


Around A.D. 55-65

Purpose of the text:

To make a defense to the Jews that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment of the OT prophecies concerning a Messiah that would redeem Israel.

Major Themes:

  1. Jesus is the fulfillment of the Old Testament Prophecies which refer to a coming Messiah

  2. Jesus came to bring salvation first to the Jew but also to the Gentiles

  3. The Kingdom of heaven is a present reality and a future hope.

  4. Love Ethic, Matthew makes particular note of Jesus teachings on loving your enemies and praying for those who persecute you.

Literary Elements:

Matthew being a Jew himself, carefully constructed his narrative of the gospel based on his own background and understanding of the Jewish culture in an attempt to reach the Jews. You can see the basis for this by the phrasings he used as well as what he decided to portray from Jesus life as opposed to the other gospels.

Matthew doesn’t use the term “Kingdom of God” but rather “Kingdom of Heaven” The reason behind this was because of Matthews upbringing as a Jew and his Jewish audience, they held such a high reverence of the term God, and Gods name: “Yahweh” that they would write it as “YHWH” or not write the term at all, hence excluding the term God and substituting it for heaven. Being sensitive to this issue in trying to reach his audience he uses the term “heaven” as opposed to Mark, Luke and John who all use the term “God”.

Matthew also opens up his Gospel with the lineage of Jesus to make a strong defense to the Jews that Jesus comes from the bloodline of David. This was of highest importance to the Jews because the OT prophets all spoke of the Messiah in terms of his descent from the davicid dynasty and him being the continuation of the davidic rule which was established as a kingdom that would have no end.

In addition, Matthew has the most references to Old Testament passages regarding the Messiah to show that Jesus is indeed the Christ.

Matthews mention of Jesus teachings in the Sermon on the Mount, another example of Matthew showing Jesus as being in harmony with the OT and further supporting his role as the OT messiah.

Portrait of Jesus in Matthew:

Davidic Messiah/Son of David

Authoritative on Earth

Suffering Servant

Royal but Humble

Background on Matthew:

As we can infer from Luke 5:27 and Matthew 9:9, Matthew was a tax collector. Tax collectors in Biblical times were usually of Jewish citizenship but employed by Rome. They had a reputation for extorting their fellow jewish citizens for more than the Roman law required and keeping the extra amount. They were domineering and dishonest, despised by other jews and marginalized with the prostitutes, lepers, ‘sinners’, and gentiles. The Roman empire forceably and  violently subjugated the Jewish culture to their governing, and the taxation Matthew collected would’ve went to paying the Roman army to ensure that it stayed that way. To say that the Jewish culture had a disdian and disgust for tax collectors, for seeing their brethern behave in such a way would be putting it lightly. Matthew in spending time with Jesus and writing his gospel thereafter would’ve done so through the lens of being abhorred by society but embraced by the foretold Messiah. He would’ve had a particularly vivid picture of what it looked like for the sinner to be forgiven and welcomed into the family God.


Named one of the top online Bible Colleges by


Grace College of Divinity Named one of the top online Bible Colleges by


Grace College of Divinity named of the top online Bible Colleges

Grace College of Divinity (GCD) was recognized by for outstanding online Bible studies. Online Christian colleges have become popular because of the ability to deliver flexible online instruction that can be applied to their active involvement in churches or non-profit organizations.  The fastest growing demographic for online Bible degrees are non-traditional students working 20 or more hours a week.

This award was given to GCD based on the quality of the online programs and the satisfaction of the students compared to other online Bible colleges. GCD was named #35 of the top online Bible Colleges in the country for 2015. bases it’s ranking on data from information by the National Center for Education Statistics through IPEDS and College Navigator databases. The four metrics used to judge the quality of our program were based on GCD’s acceptance rate, retention rate, graduation rate, and enrollment rate. GCD among other schools were included in the list of best online schools “because of their Christ-centered online programs and academic merits”.


Bible College partners with Manna Church’s student ministry


Bible College partners with Manna Church’s student ministry

Grace College of Divinity collaborates with Manna Church for the Experience internship program. The Experience program uses the academics of Grace College of Divinity with the practical training through an internship with Manna Church.

The Experience Program through Grace College of Divinity offers a Certificate of Christian Leadership and an Associate of Christian Leadership. The Experience program takes place on GCD’s Fayetteville, NC campus and Manna Church’s Cliffdale site. The program is broken into specific tracks to be able to better prepare students for their area of interest to better reflect their calling.

In addition to weekly practical ministry through student ministry the Experience program also takes a cross cultural missions trip. Past mission trips have been to Guatemala and Honduras.

Pictures from 2012 Missions trip to Guatemala

Student ministry trip

Student Ministry Grace College of Divinity and Manna Church

Student Ministry Grace College of Divinity


Online Bible College: Helping Pastors apply lessons learned

Online Bible College: Helping Pastors apply lessons learned


History of Seminaries

Online Bible College Helping Pastors apply lessons learned


In the past ministers would have to take time off to further their education. Seminaries were designed for pastors to take a leave of absence for several years to further their academic training in ministry whether several years to complete an on-Campus Masters of Divinity or weekend intensive classes. The vehicle of online learning has enabled ministry professionals to pursue higher education related to their field without taking time away from their ministry or family life. (Delanarter, Gravett, Ulrich, Nysse, & Polaski, 2011).

Online Bible College

Online Bible College

A recent article in Christianity today highlighted a pastor of a large church that was able to continue fulfilling his pastoral responsibilities while finishing his Bachelor’s degree online. The education could be applied immediately for example sermon prep and other practical skills learned through an online Bible school experience (Eastep, Holloway, Genring, and Quist 2015).

Christian Higher Education

Online Bible Colleges are the redeeming quality for Christian Higher Education. For Bible Colleges to succeed in the future they must be available and affordable. Online divinity, theology, and Christian leadership programs were designed to help people in involved in practical ministry anywhere in the world they are to be in conjunction with on the job experience they are gaining through their current careers and ministry activity (Glader, 2014).


Delamarter, S., Gravett, S. L., Ulrich, D. W., Nysse, R. W., & Polaski, S. H. (2011). Teaching Biblical Studies Online. Teaching Theology & Religion14(3), 256-283. doi:10.1111/j.1467-9647.2011.00719.x

Eastep, A. C., Holloway, A., Gering, R., & Quist, J. (2015). Pressing On Toward the Goal. Christianity Today59(4), 68.

Glader, P. (2014). The Unlikely Innovator. Christianity Today58(8), 60.


Online Bible College. How to Study the Bible Pt. II

Online Bible College. How to Study the Bible Pt. II

IMAGINE That I placed you in a part of the world you weren’t familiar with and told you: “Now do it!” There’s a chance you’d feel confused and helpless.
china_street Photo by: Alexander Synaptic, Flickr

If we’re honest  that’s how it can feel sometimes when we read the bible. Where are we? How did we get here? Where am I supposed to be going? And what am I even looking for? The scriptures can feel like a foreign landscape with an overwhelming amount of subtle and not so subtle nuances.


There’s at least 4 layers that affect how you read the text

1) YOU – the reader(and indirect audience) with your own worldviews, assumptions, presuppositions, predispositions mixed in with cultural, historical and ethnic background and upbringing

2) THEY – The immediate authors of the book(i.e. Moses, Prophets, Paul) with their own worldviews, backgrounds, etc.

3) THEM – The direct audience that the immediate author was trying to reach(i.e. The Nation of Israel, the Jews, the Gentiles, etc.)

4) GOD – the primary author, being God and what he intended to communicate from His heart and mind about His perfect will to an imperfect people.

Stop right there

unnamed That means in some cases the author(Paul for example) was writing to an intended audience(like the Corinthians) and each party had different ethnic backgrounds, cultural backgrounds, educational backgrounds,historical backgrounds, worldviews, and not to mention the purpose behind why Paul was writing to them in the first place..

  • Did the Corinthians warrant a letter from Paul?
  • How or Why does Paul know the Corinthians to write to them in the first place?
  • Was Paul writing the letter simply for the sake of keeping in touch?

I know, I know.

Just thinking about all of those unknowns sounds stressful, but finding these answerswill benefit us tremendously.

With authors we can’t relate too, speaking to an audience we aren’t kindred with, literary devices that are contextual to a culture we’re absolute strangers from, and historical context that we’d need research to understand, getting a grasp of what’s happening in any given book can be an intimidating task.

Needless to say, you’ll need a bit of help.

A good place to start is a study bible, a personal favorite of mine is the ESV study bible.It starts each book with a ‘book introduction’ that touches on:

  • Author
  • Date
  • Place of writing
  • Major themes of the book
  • How the book fits in with rest of scripture
  • Maps
  • Outlines of each narrative
  • Notes from commentaries

Having these handful of questions answered, we can often approach the Scripture with a deeper enjoyment due simply to the fact that we have a better understanding.


Online Bible College: Creating quality in advertising by marketing to the target audience

Online Bible College Courses Taught by Experienced Professionals

Online Bible College Courses Taught by Experienced Professionals

Online Bible College Courses Taught by Experienced Professionals


Advantages to Online College

The advantages to online learning allow students to attend college while still engaging in everyday life. Online college enables students to accommodate their found that online students are more likely to participate intellectually in their courses, participate in a broader world view about different cultures, have better discussions within their major, and gain use better learning practices in their learning experience compared to the classic on-campus experience. The advantages of online college apply to online Bible Colleges as much as it does to any other college. pastors, teachers, or people have other functions within the church are able to benefit from practicing what they are learning in the online classroom from wherever they live.

 Online Professors

A critical component to the online college experience is the online professor. An article in The Huffington Post discusses the importance of using instructors that are able to teach in the online learning environment. Similar to how not all students are not the best for online colleges; the same is true for professors. Pastors, church staff members, chaplains, and other professors with similar experiences teach the majority of the classes taught at Grace College of Divinity. This helps the online classes to have a more pracademic (practical and academic) than academic emphasis. These classes were built to help students practically implement what they are learning into their everyday lives.


Online Bible College on How to Study the Bible


Online Bible College on How to Study the Bible

How to: Study the Bible Part I




Lets start with the elephant in the room: “I don’t WANT to read my bible”




Personal Confession:

It wasn’t until the last year or so that I actually developed a desire to read the bible – and even still it’s a discipline. But even after having walked with God for 4-5 years, I felt this undeniable magnetic pull away from reading, it felt like a chore. At a certain point I told God:

I know I should read your Word but I don’t want too…help me, give me the desire”.

It wasn’t until multiple prayer deposits later that I began to develop an affection and craving for the Scripture. Even still it’s something I have to hold myself responsible for. However after making myself carve time in my schedule for it and praying that God would change my heart to be affectionate for his Word – like a muscle that was being exercised I began to notice a change in my appetite for wanting to read God’s Word and a satisfaction in spending time there.


  If that statement resonates with you, don’t lose heart!






Here are some videos on Bible Study that encouraged me personally, enjoy!


God Wrote a Book

Don’t Ignore Your Bible

 The Bible is Not a Map for Life

 Read Your Bible Cover to Cover

 Should you force yourself to read the Bible?

 The Importance of God’s Word


Reach Out Celebration 2014

<h2>Reach Out Celebration 2014</h2>

Grace College of Divinity was a highlighted ministry partner during Manna Church’s 2014 Reach Out Celebration. This video highlights GCD’s involvement in training Brazilian leaders for church planting.