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Bible Verses Emphasized by Past US Presidents on Inauguration Day

US Presidents raise their right hand and customarily place their left hand on a Bible when they recite the oath that inaugurates them into the office. Out of 67 inaugurations to date, 37 had Bibles opened to specific verses on Inauguration Day. According to the records of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, following is a list of the Bible verses past Presidents have chosen for the special day (quoted from the King James Version of the Bible).

George Washington in 1789: Genesis 49:13
“Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.” (The Bible was opened randomly for the occasion.)

Abraham Lincoln in 1865: Matthew 7:1, 18:7, and Revelation 16:7
Matthew 7:1— “Judge not, that ye be not judged.”
Matthew 18:7— “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”
Revelation 16:7— “And I heard another out of the altar say, Even so, Lord God Almighty, true and righteous are thy judgments.”

Andrew Johnson in 1865: Proverbs 20 and 21
Proverb 20— “Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise…”
Proverb 21— “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will…”

Ulysses S. Grant in 1873: Isaiah 11:1-3
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots…”

Rutherford B. Hayes in 1877: Psalm 118:11-13
“They compassed me about; yea, they compassed me about: but in the name of the Lord I will destroy them…“

James A. Garfield in 1881: Proverbs 21:1
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord, as the rivers of water: he turneth it whithersoever he will.”

Chester A. Arthur in 1881: Psalm 31:1-2
“In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness…”

Grover Cleveland in 1885: Psalm 112:4-10
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness: he is gracious and full of compassion, and righteous…”

Benjamin Harrison in 1889: Psalm 121:1-6
“I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help…”

Grover Cleveland in 1893: Psalm 91:12-16
“They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone…”

William McKinley in 1897: 2 Chronicles 1:10
“Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge thy people, that is so great?”

William McKinley in 1901: Proverbs 16:20-21
“He that handleth a matter wiseley shall find good: and whoso trusteth in the Lord, happy is he.”

Theodore Roosevelt in 1905: James 1:22-23
“But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves…”

William H. Taft in 1909: 1 Kings 3:9-11
“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad: for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?…”

Woodrow Wilson in 1913: Psalm 119:43-46
“And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments…”

Woodrow Wilson in 1917: Psalm 46
“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble…”

Warren G. Harding in 1921: Micah 6:8
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Calvin Coolidge in 1923: John 1
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…”

Herbert C. Hoover in 1929: Proverbs 29:18
“Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1933, 1937, 1941, and 1945: 1 Corinthians 13
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing…”

Harry S. Truman in 1949: Matthew 5 and Exodus 20
Matthew 5— “And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him…”
Exodus 20— “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me…”

Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1953: Psalm 33:12 and 2 Chronicles 7:14
Psalm 33:12— “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”
2 Chronicles 7:14— “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1957: Psalm 33:12
“Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord; and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.”

Richard Nixon in 1969: Isaiah 2:4
“And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.”

Richard Nixon in 1973: Isaiah 2:2-4
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord‘s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it…”

Gerald Ford in 1974: Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding…”

Jimmy Carter in 1977: Micah 6:8
“He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Ronald Reagan in 1981 and 1985: 2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

George H.W. Bush in 1989: Matthew 5
“And seeing the multitudes, he went up into the mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him…”

Bill Clinton in 1993: Galatians 6:8
“For that he soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but that he soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.”

Bill Clinton in 1997: Isaiah 58:12
“And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many great generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in.”

George W. Bush in 2005: Isaiah 40:31
“But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

The Jesus Bible Infographic: There Is No BC

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Filled with 66 book introductions, over 1,000 articles, and seven compelling essays on the grand narrative of Scripture that guide readers to treasure Jesus and encourage them to faithfully follow Jesus as they participate in his story, The Jesus Bible (Zondervan, 2017) helps readers follow the thread of Jesus from Genesis to Revelation. It stresses that the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem isn’t the beginning of the story of Jesus. The entire Bible points to him.

[See the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Jesus Bible Debuts at Passion 2017 Conference]

The Jesus Bible (website), includes essays by Louie Giglio, pastor of Passion City Church, Atlanta, and other Christian authors: Max Lucado, John Piper, Ravi Zacharias, and Randy Alcorn.

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Click to see The Jesus Bible Infographic in PDF

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Now Available at Bible Gateway: The New Testament for Everyone

N. T. WrightWe’re excited to announce a unique addition to our library of Bible translations: the New Testament for Everyone!

On the surface, the New Testament for Everyone might seem similar to many other recent Bible translations: it renders the original Greek in easily readable modern English, aiming for both accuracy and accessibility. But what makes the New Testament for Everyone unique is that it was translated by single person—the respected theologian Tom Wright (also known as N. T. Wright)—rather than by a committee. Wright’s translation reflects his influential view and understanding of the New Testament.

Translation committees aren’t a bad thing (far from it!), but in this case, Wright’s approach allows him to focus in on specific translation questions that are especially important to him. One such area is the way that Bible passages connect to each other; the New Testament for Everyone smooths out transitions between Bible passages with the goal of making the text flow more naturally for modern readers. The translation itself remains fully faithful to the original Greek. The end result of Wright’s work is a Bible translation that is easy to read and understand, without sacrificing accuracy.

Wright’s motive for creating this new translation isn’t to “fix” or correct other translations, but to simply engage with the Bible the way that past generations have. “Translating the New Testament is something that each generation ought to be doing,” he writes in the preface. “Just as Jesus taught us to pray for our daily bread, we can never simply live on yesterday’s bread, on the interpretations and translations of previous generations.”

To give you a sense for how the New Testament for Everyone reads, here’s how it renders an excerpt from Romans 8:

So, therefore, there is no condemnation for those in the Messiah, Jesus! Why not? Because the law of the spirit of life in the Messiah, Jesus, released you from the law of sin and death.

For God has done what the law (being weak because of human flesh) was incapable of doing. God sent his own son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and as a sin-offering; and, right there in the flesh, he condemned sin. This was in order that the right and proper verdict of the law could be fulfilled in us, as we live not according to the flesh but according to the spirit.

Look at it like this. People whose lives are determined by human flesh focus their minds on matters to do with the flesh, but people whose lives are determined by the spirit focus their minds on matters to do with the spirit. Focus the mind on the flesh, and you’ll die; but focus it on the spirit, and you’ll have life, and peace. The mind focused on the flesh, you see, is hostile to God. It doesn’t submit to God’s law; in fact, it can’t. Those who are determined by the flesh can’t please God.

But you’re not people of flesh; you’re people of the spirit (if indeed God’s spirit lives within you; note that anyone who doesn’t have the spirit of the Messiah doesn’t belong to him). But if the Messiah is in you, the body is indeed dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of covenant justice. So, then, if the spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives within you, the one who raised the Messiah from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies, too, through his spirit who lives within you.Romans 8:1-11

Buy your copy of the New Testament for Everyone in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every dayYou can start reading the New Testament for Everyone by clicking here, and you can also access it in the drop-down menu at the top of You might find it useful to use Bible Gateway’s side-by-side Bible view to see how the New Testament for Everyone compares to your favorite Bible translation. If you’re interested in Wright’s theology and approach to the Bible, he’s published a comprehensive and well-received series of Bible study books which go along nicely with this New Testament translation. That series, also called New Testament for Everyone, is available in print at the Bible Gateway store.

We think that the New Testament for Everyone brings something valuable and unique to Bible Gateway’s library, and we hope that you’ll find it a useful addition to your personal Bible reading and study. We’re grateful to the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge for making it available on Bible Gateway.

Pictured: N. T. (Tom) Wright, scholar and theologian (and translator of the New Testament for Everyone).

Overcome Your Fears: An Interview with Kelly Balarie

Kelly BalarieFear and worry tend to put a choke-hold on life. They whisper uncertainties, reminding us of all we can’t do or will never be. But what does it mean when the Bible portrays God as drawing close and saying, ‘Fear not. I am with you’? What is a ‘fear fighter’?

Bible Gateway interviewed Kelly Balarie (@kellybalarie) about her book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears (Baker Books, 2017).

What are the fears you address in the book?

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Kelly Balarie: Fear begins as a child. I remember standing on the edge of a diving board for 30 minutes. Each time I would bounce a little, imagining my move, but then, I’d go nowhere. Many of us do this day in and day out: we bounce a little and want to take a leap, but get nowhere. We are afraid. We stay stuck. It is a sad story of discouragement and many times despair. Despite our heart to take the leap, we find we can’t move to where God is calling us.

In Fear Fighting, I explore all kinds of fear: fear of the future, the past, being who God created you to be, criticism, seizing your dreams, moving past the past and more. I also confront the debilitating nature of worry and anxiety in a believer’s life. I explore how to become faithful instead of fearful and hopeful instead of full of angst that the ball is always about to drop.

What does the Bible have to say about fear?

Kelly Balarie: Fear Fighting was my own desperation call to God. I lived anxious, worried, and trembling, rather than walking into God’s greatest callings. I knew God’s Word in my head, but I wanted to move his truth to my heart. I wanted to exchange fear for faith. I wanted to be delivered.

These verses inspired me:
For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline (2 Tim. 1:7).

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love (1 Jo. 4:18).

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom (2 Cor. 3:17).

What they showed me was: in the face of God’s love, it’s hard to be facing debilitating fear. They’re polar opposites; God’s love repels fear. And, when his love moves in, here, we reclaim our spirit of power, love, and a sound mind. This is a key component of Fear Fighting.

You write about eight fear inducers. Explain a few of them.

Kelly Balarie: A fear inducer is anything that hinders you from being a God abider. If you can’t rest in God, you’ll likely be resting in fear.

One inducer is worry. Worry makes us run like a mouse on a hamster wheel. Around and round it goes, but progress? Nope. We never get anywhere. Worry ends fruitless. Even more, it leaves us exasperated and worn down; certain life will come crashing down. Fear Fighting teaches you how to move past worry into the wonderful things God has planned for you in the present moment.

Another inducer is people pleasing. I remember, in college, I wanted to please everyone. Wanted an intelligent woman? I’d be slow to speak and wise with my words. Wanted an outgoing woman? I’d step right up and start chatting. Call me a chameleon, but I knew who to be and how to fit in. Fear Fighting exchanges the desire to appease man for the overwhelming joy of knowing you please God.

The only problem was when I got home. When I looked in the mirror, my reflection was downcast and demoralized. The truth was, I was living a lie. I was unknown. Isolated. Unsure. What I sold others, was not who I was.

Often, many of us live a lie. It tears us apart and it rips at the fabric of who God has created us to be. Fear Fighting is about awakening the person God has created you to be.

How does a person “cultivate unstoppable faith by harnessing God’s Word”?

Kelly Balarie: For a long time I’ve known God’s Word. I could recite verses on-demand. I could point you to key stories in the Bible. I recite Scripture in a person’s time of need. God’s Word was housed in my head, but not so much in my heart.

We cultivate unstoppable faith when we harness God’s Word in the core, in the depths, and in the heart of our being. Here, rather than living life reactive, we become active participants in God’s story. Rather than wavering when fear comes a’knocking, we start abiding in him, the one we know—beyond a shadow of a doubt—is truth. Rather than staying complacent, we get brazen. We step into God’s callings. We move with faith.

What do you mean by “discover the power of now”?

Kelly Balarie: For many a day, I’ve lived in my past, thinking, “I’ve always failed and I always will.” For many a day, I’ve lived in the future, saying, “I’ve got to get to that destination and then I’ll be happy.” Living in the power of now is about resting in the presence of God. Where God is working is your right here, right now. Your present moment is where joy is; it’s where peace is and it’s where God will liberate you. Don’t miss it. Fear Fighting helps us become alive to the transforming work of God that’s right before us.

What are daily bravery decrees?

Kelly Balarie: I’ve been so surprised. A variety of people have read Fear Fighting and told me, “Kelly, I never realized how much I struggle with fear until I read your book.”

I believe fear is our bad best friend we get used to. Fear becomes such a part of our day, we don’t realize we’re walking in worry, anxiety, or fret. Many times we become unaware of what we’re believing.

Daily bravery decrees break the power of lies. They replace the underlying belief with the life-charging power of love and grace. They’re short lines that you can carry with you through your day. They’re truths you can dwell on instead of dwelling in fear.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Kelly Balarie: The Bible Gateway app is my go-to spot for God’s truth. I can’t tell you how many times it’s lifted my day and sent me out with fresh encouragement. I’m thankful to God for all they do to bless so many.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Kelly Balarie: Be encouraged. If you fear, you aren’t a bad Christian—you’re human. Fearing less is a process, but it’s one God will help us through. Our part is to be ready, willing, and able to fight; to fall, arms-wide-open, into God’s love. This is what Fear Fighting is all about!

Bio: Kelly is both a cheerleader of faith and a fighter of fear. She leans on the power of God, rests on the shoulder of Christ, and discovers how to glow in the dark places of life. Get all Kelly’s blog posts by email or visit her on her blog, Purposeful Faith. You can also find a variety of resources for your fight against fear at

Kelly Balarie is a passionate national speaker who has spent nearly ten years leading groups of women in spiritual growth, marriage building, and general Bible studies across the nation. She has lived her subject matter. Her faith was built as she battled through a debilitating eating disorder, depression, multiple sclerosis testing and concerns, company failures, family deaths, job losses, and times without income or money. Throughout difficult circumstances, Kelly has looked past the pain to uncover the beauty of God’s always-developing purposes for her life. Her greatest desire is to share this treasured beauty with other women who need a fresh drink of God’s grace and restoration. Kelly is a featured blogger at and Her work has been featured on Relevant, (in), and was also the cover story on Today’s Christian Woman. She lives with her husband and two toddlers near the sun-soaked shores of the East Coast.

The Biblical Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.

MLKJToday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a day set aside in the United States to remember and celebrate the achievements of the famous activist and the civil rights movement he championed.

Most of us think of King as a cultural and political activist, but the vision he articulated wasn’t just a political one. It was deeply rooted in King’s understanding of the Bible. There’s a reason that so many of King’s most famous speeches have pack the spiritual punch of sermons: many of them were sermons, and all of them drew on King’s conviction that true love for God and His Word involved actively pursuing justice across racial and ethnic boundaries.

For a look at the biblical basis of King’s speeches and activism, see the links below, in which we take a close look at the Bible verses and themes that permeate his most famous public addresses:

And if you want to delve deeper into the topics of race, ethnicity, and justice in the Bible, sign up for our new two-week devotional Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Devotion About Race and Ethnicity. It walks through key Bible passages that inform our understanding of race, racism, and God’s love for all of humanity. Click here to sign up.

Bible News Roundup – Week of January 15, 2017

[Return daily during the coming week for updates]

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Bible Reading in 2017: 61% Desire to Read the Bible More Than They Currently Do
Barna Group

What is the Bible and How Should We Engage It?
Read the Bible on Bible Gateway
See the Scripture Engagement section on Bible Gateway

Kentucky’s Bible-Reading Marathon Crosses Finish Line for the Second Consecutive Year
The Layman

‘Journey Through Biblical History’ Exhibit to Open at University of Pikeville
News Release
See Bible Gateway Blog post, A Collection of Bible Museums & Exhibits

Sophisticated Defense System Discovered at Biblical-Era Mining Camp
Live Science
Read about King David in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway
Read about King Solomon in Smith’s Bible Names Dictionary on Bible Gateway

Excavation of Wall Dating to 10th Century BC May Confirm 2 Samuel 8:13
Breaking Israel News
Read 2 Samuel 8:13 on Bible Gateway
See the Biblical Archaeology section in the Bible Gateway Store

Christian Parents Urged to Make the Bible Part of Reading Time

Federal Lawsuit Filed over Mercer County Bible in the Schools Program in West Virginia
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

Donald Trump To Use Childhood Bible and Lincoln Bible For Inauguration
CBN News
See Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Verses Emphasized by Past US Presidents on Inauguration Day

Vice President-Elect Pence Will Take Oath of Office On Reagan Family Bible Open to 2 Chronicles 7:14
ABC News
Read 2 Chronicles 7:14 on Bible Gateway

Germany Issues Luther Bible Postage Stamps
Evangelical Focus
Read Matthew 27 using the Luther Bible, KJV, and NIV translations in parallel on Bible Gateway
See the Reformation Studies section in the Bible Gateway Store

Bible Saved WWI Soldier By ‘Stopping Bullet’
ITV News

Bethlehem Shrine’s Treasures Being Restored

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Devotional To Help You Discuss Race, Racism, and the Bible

Martin Luther King, JrIn the course of planning the New Year and making New Year’s resolutions, did you give any thought to the types of conversations you want to see in your church or Bible study group this year? One of the most important conversations you can start (or re-start) in 2017 is about race and ethnicity in the church. And our new devotional can help you do that.

Next Monday is Martin Luther King, Jr. Day—an American holiday that commemorates the life and work of the famous civil rights activist. The holiday is always a good opportunity to pause and consider the dangers and challenges of racism in our society, but in 2017 it arrives after a particularly grueling year of American politics in which race and racism were regular topics of (often contentious) discussion.

Most of that discussion has, appropriately, focused on racism in American society: is prejudice and discrimination still a force in American culture? To what extent do our laws help or hinder the quest for a just society? Those are important questions, but Christians can add a spiritual dimension to them: is racism a problem in the Christian church today? How does our faith in God and the Bible inform our understanding of these issues? Does the way we discuss theology, organize our worship, and communicate our faith bring us closer to or farther from racial unity?

These are important, if often somewhat uncomfortable, questions for Christians to be asking. And hopefully, our churches make a point of considering these questions throughout the year. But regardless, this month presents a particularly good time to talk through these issues in the context of Christianity. To help kickstart that conversation, we recently launched a short devotional series focused on understanding the Bible’s approach to race and ethnicity. It’s called Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Devotion About Race and Ethnicity. You can sign up for it by clicking here.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made: A Devotion About Race and Ethnicity takes two weeks to walk you through a series of Bible readings (from the Old and New Testaments) that speak to the challenge of confronting prejudice. From the call of Abraham to the Samaritan woman at the well, you’ll find out how the God of Israel has shown himself to be the God of all tribes and nations.

It’s a great devotional to read yourself, but it works even better when you discuss it with your friends, Bible study group, or family! Now’s a great time to delve into this topic, with Martin Luther King, Jr. Day around the corner and Black History Month arriving in February. Click here to sign up, and gather a group of friends to experience and discuss it with you!

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made Devotional

Top 10 Signs You May Not Be Reading Your Bible Enough

Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, How We Got the Bible: An Interview with Timothy Paul Jones

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[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Bible Translation Reading Levels]

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, When Was Each Book of the Bible Written?]

Top 10 Signs You May Not Be Reading Your Bible Enough. . .

    10) The preacher announces the sermon is from Genesis . . . and you check the Table of Contents.

Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Self-Guided Tour of the Bible: An Interview with Christopher Hudson

    9) You think Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob may have had a few hit songs during the 60s.

    8) You open to the Gospel of Luke and a WWII Savings Bond falls out.

    7) Your favorite Old Testament patriarch is Hercules.

    6) A small family of woodchucks has taken up residence in the Psalms of your Bible.

    5) You become frustrated because Charlton Heston isn’t listed in either the Concordance or the Table of Contents.

Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, A Visual Walk Through Genesis: An Interview with Stephen M. Miller

    4) Catching the kids reading the Song of Songs, you demand: “Who gave you this stuff?”

    3) You think the minor prophets worked in the quarries.

    2) You keep falling for it every time when the pastor tells you to turn to First Condominiums.

    1) The kids keep asking too many questions about your usual bedtime story: “Jonah, the Shepherd Boy, and His Ark of Many Colors.”
(Source: Mikey’s Funnies)

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Bible Scholar and Theologian John Sailhamer Dies at 70

Dr. John SailhamerJohn Herbert Sailhamer, an evangelical Old Testament scholar who taught at two Southern Baptist seminaries and was president of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2000, died Jan. 9, after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease and Lewy Body Dementia. He was 70.

According to Baptist Press, Dr. Sailhamer’s work was characterized by a consistent focus on the Hebrew Bible and the compositional strategies of the biblical authors. The author of more than 15 books and various articles and essays, his writing centered on reading the Bible—the Pentateuch in particular—as a unified, coherent whole.

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Dr. Sailhamer’s book The Meaning of the Pentateuch: Revelation, Composition, and Interpretation (IVP Academic, 2009), was called his magnum opus and was listed among’s top 100 sellers. He served on the review and editorial teams for the New Living Translation and the Holman Christian Standard Bible.

Dr. Sailhamer earned a bachelor of arts degree in journalism from California State University, Long Beach, and worked as a general assignments reporter for the Dallas Morning News before completing a master of theology degree in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary in 1974, a master of arts degree in Semitic languages from UCLA in 1976, and a doctor of philosophy degree in ancient Near East languages and literature from UCLA in 1981. He was ordained by the Evangelical Free Church of America in 1983.

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His 36-year teaching career began in 1975 at Los Angeles Bible College and continued at Biola University, Bethel Seminary, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Western Seminary, and Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In 2006, he joined the faculty at Gateway Seminary (formerly Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary), where he served until his retirement in 2012.

Sailhamer is survived by Patty Engdahl Sailhamer, his wife of 45 years; his children David Sailhamer, Elizabeth Sailhamer Soukup and her husband Jason, John Christian Sailhamer and his wife Kelly, Peter Sailhamer and his wife Angela; eight grandchildren; and brother Paul Sailhamer and sister Claudette Miller. He is preceded in death by his parents Claude and Belva Sailhamer.

A memorial service and celebration of his life will be held Jan. 13, at 4 p.m. at the First Evangelical Free Church of Fullerton, north campus, at 2904 N. Brea Blvd. in Fullerton, Calif. A private burial will take place near Sailhamer’s birthplace of Moline, Ill. at Kingsbury Country Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Compassion Fund or Disability Family Fund and the First Evangelical Free Church.

Paul Behaving Badly: An Interview with E. Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien

E. Randolph RichardsThe apostle Paul was kind of a jerk. He was arrogant and stubborn. He called his opponents derogatory, racist names. He legitimized slavery and silenced women. He was a moralistic, homophobic killjoy who imposed his narrow religious views on others. Or was he?

Bible Gateway interviewed E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien (@brandonjobrien) about their book, Paul Behaving Badly: Was the Apostle a Racist, Chauvinist Jerk? (IVP Books, 2016).

Brandon J. O'Brien

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Who was the Apostle Paul and why is he important?

Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien: When we first meet Paul in the New Testament, he’s approving the martyrdom of Stephen (Acts 8:1). He’s a zealous, ambitious Pharisee and, by his own estimation, “blameless” in his adherence to the Law (Phil. 3:6Acts 9). From that day on, God channels Paul’s zeal, ambition, and hardheadedness for the glory of Christ and his Kingdom.

Ultimately Paul is significant for being the “apostle to the Gentiles” (Rom 1:5). He was the first to translate the gospel, which Jesus and the other apostles preached to fellow Jews, to a hostile Gentile audience. In some respects, Paul is the first cross-cultural missionary.

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What does it mean that Paul’s books are “occasional writings” and why is that an interpretation challenge?

Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien: In this case, “occasional” doesn’t mean that Paul only wrote periodically. It means that when he wrote, it was with a specific audience and situation in mind. His writings were specific to a particular occasion (hence “occasional”).

The occasional nature of Paul’s writings poses a challenge because we don’t always know what questions, debates, or circumstances Paul is responding to in his letters.

Paul’s letters are half a correspondence. In some cases, they’re Paul’s responses to letters he received from others. But we don’t have their letters with their questions and concerns, so we’re listening in on only one side of a private conversation. Just like listening in when your spouse is talking on the phone, you can usually figure out who they’re talking to and what they’re talking about, but we can’t always be absolutely certain. This doesn’t give us less confidence in the Bible. It remains the infallible Word of God. But it should give us a little humility about how we’re interpreting it.

How difficult was it to write this book?

Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien: At first we thought, This should be easy. There are already two great books out there similar to this one: God Behaving Badly by David Lamb and Jesus Behaving Badly by Mark Strauss. What could go wrong? The road has been mapped for us.

Then it occurred to us that Paul isn’t God or Jesus. Jesus was perfect and God is, well, God. But Paul was a mortal human. He’s the one who wrote: “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do” (Rom 7:15). So, before you even begin reading the book about God behaving badly or Jesus behaving badly, you feel somehow that everything is going to be okay. Surely neither God nor Jesus ever really behaved badly, right? But it’s very possible that Paul did. After all, he’s only human. On the other hand, we believe that the Bible is the inerrant and infallible Word of God.

Explain what you mean when you write, “Paul has the dubious distinction among the earliest Christians of irritating everyone at some point.”

Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien: Paul was frequently guilty of behaving badly in the eyes of his Jewish contemporaries. He offended their sensibilities. He likewise behaved badly according to Roman culture. He challenged their assumptions and exposed their misperceptions. He had the audacity to tell a Roman man how to treat people in his own house. We say a man’s home is his castle, but in first-century Rome they really meant it. It was off limits. He told the Jews that their Law and their Temple had been replaced by the Spirit of God. That’s a real no-no. Not even his fellow Christians were or are always sure what to make of Paul.

What are a few examples of what some people consider Paul’s “bad behavior” and how do you explain them?

Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien: Among the charges against Paul are that his opinions are misogynistic, racist, homophobic, and generally on the wrong side of history. And that’s just the modern cultural critics. He’s also charged with being hypocritical and a bully. Space here doesn’t allow a fair treatment of any of those charges. But here’s how we handle it in the book. We refused to harrumph the criticisms of Paul or sweep them under the rug. We allow his critics to build the best case they can that Paul is a racist or a chauvinist or whatever. Then we weigh the biblical evidence in light of Paul’s first-century context. Knowing Paul, we think he’d appreciate the scrutiny!

Would you want to invite Paul to your neighborhood backyard barbeque?

Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien: Maybe if we gave him a list of things first that he wasn’t allowed to talk about!

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien: We both use Bible Gateway all the time, including the app. It gives us quick access to biblical texts, different translations, and also allows us to put the Greek text next to whichever translations we want. It’s our go-to tool, especially on the go.

Bio: E. Randolph Richards (PhD, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) is dean and professor of biblical studies in the School of Ministry at Palm Beach Atlantic University. He’s a popular speaker and has authored and coauthored dozens of books and articles including Rediscovering Jesus, Rediscovering Paul, Paul and First-Century Letter Writing, and The Story of Israel.

Early in their ministry he and his wife, Stacia, were appointed as missionaries to east Indonesia, where he taught for eight years at an Indonesian seminary. Missions remain on the hearts of Randy and Stacia. Randy leads mission trips and conducts missionary training workshops and regularly leads tours of the Holy Land, Turkey, Greece, and Italy. He’s served as interim pastor of numerous churches and is currently a teaching pastor. He and Stacia reside in Palm Beach, Florida.

Brandon J. O’Brien (PhD, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is assistant professor of Christian theology at Ouachita Baptist University and director of OBU at New Life Church in Conway, Arkansas. He’s the author of The Strategically Small Church and coauthor, with E. Randolph Richards, of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes and Paul Behaving Badly.

O’Brien has published in Christianity Today, Relevant, Leadership Journal, and the Out of Ur blog, and has been interviewed by and quoted in USA TODAY and other national newspapers.