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How to Freely Access the Reformation Study Bible

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One of the best ways to commemorate the anniversary of the Reformation this year is to read the Reformation Study Bible. You can access it free on Bible Gateway. The Reformation Study Bible, which collects thousands of Bible study notes and insights from more than 50 distinguished Bible scholars, epitomizes the reformative movement’s insistence that Scripture should be easily accessible and readily shared.

It’s not every day that you can celebrate the 500th anniversary of anything (no, your grandparents are not that old). So, what better way to get into the spirit of the Reformation than to read the translation which was named after it?

All of the study notes from The Reformation Study Bible are available to read right alongside Scripture at Bible Gateway. The following is a step-by-step guide on how to do that:

1. Look up a Bible passage.

Look up any Bible passage on Bible Gateway that you want to read and study. For example, John 3.

2. Open the “Study This” panel.

To the right of the Scripture text, look for the Study This panel. It looks like this when open:

Bible study panel, open

If it’s not open (and you don’t see that list of Study Bibles, Commentaries, etc.), just click or tap the blue Study This button to open it:

Study This button

You’ll see a lot of resources listed in that panel. Many of them are part of our Bible Gateway Plus membership service, and they require that you have a Bible Gateway Plus subscription to use. However, The Reformation Study Bible is free and can be used by anyone.

3. Locate The Reformation Study Bible in the Study Bibles section.

In the Study Bible section, you’ll see a list of all the study Bibles available on Bible Gateway. Scroll down until you see the translation you’re looking for (it’s probably the last one):

Reformation Study Bible

The number in the red box next to the title is the number of Bible notes available for the Bible passage you’re currently reading. So, for John 3, the The Reformation Study Bible has 22 study notes available. To open it, simply click or tap on its name.

4. Enjoy reading The Reformation Study Bible notes alongside Bible text.

Once selected, the panel displays the individual study notes available for the Bible passage you’re reading (in our example, John 3). Each note is listed by the verse(s) it corresponds to. For example, a listing of John 3:2 means that there is a study note available that talks about John 3:2.

To see The Reformation Study Bible note for a particular verse, click or tap the verse reference in the Study This panel. Doing so displays the study note for you to read. The study notes with vary in length, depending on the verse. This is what it looks like to have The Reformation Study Bible study notes open alongside John 3:2 (click to enlarge):


The words and phrases in bold are the specific parts of the verse that are being discussed. You can use the back-arrow above and to the left of the note to go back to the full list of study notes. The two left and right arrows below the study note will navigate to the previous and next study notes, respectively.

It’s that easy! With just a few extra clicks, you can add an incredible study resource to your Bible reading. The Reformation Study Bible is usable alongside any Bible translation on Bible Gateway. The next time you find yourself stumped by a Bible passage or confused about what it means, open The Reformation Study Bible and let it shed some light onto what you’re reading.

The Reformation Study Bible is made freely available on Bible Gateway by Ligonier Ministries. For more information, see our interview with its editor R.C. Sproul. While The Reformation Study Bible is available free online at Bible Gateway, you can also buy a print copy in the Bible Gateway Store.


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Two Things Daniel Teaches Me about How to Thrive in a Hostile Culture

Jess ConnollyBy Jess Connolly

But Daniel resolved not to defile himself with the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show favor and compassion to Daniel, but the official told Daniel, “I am afraid of my lord the king, who has assigned your food and drink. Why should he see you looking worse than the other young men your age? The king would then have my head because of you.”

Daniel then said to the guard whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah, “Please test your servants for ten days: Give us nothing but vegetables to eat and water to drink. Then compare our appearance with that of the young men who eat the royal food, and treat your servants in accordance with what you see.”
Daniel 1:8-13 (NIV)

Daniel was just a kid. Scholars estimate that he and his friends were in their early teenage years. Daniel was a healthy, strong kid who didn’t do anything to land himself in hot water, except maybe be born a little wiser and taller than other kids. But he was born into a remarkable cultural battle—a time when God’s people were in the midst of a fight between their worldly identities and their kingdom identities, much like the world many of us found ourselves born into—like we’re seeing our kids born into as well.

Daniel and his pals were up against an interesting dilemma: How did they live under the rule of the king of their country while still honoring the King of their hearts? We could dig into Daniel for chapters upon chapters, but there are just a few things I want us to grab from this short passage.

What we see was that Daniel embodied the clichéd but helpful, “Be in the world but not of the world.” He said yes to going where he was taken. He said yes to the government, yes to learning. He said yes to being among people who were nothing like him. He didn’t reject the people who did things that didn’t honor God—he simply rejected the godless practices that would defile him. Daniel said yes to being in the world.

If I’m being honest, this is where the wheels get shaky for the women (and men) of God. It seems simple on paper, but it’s much tougher to live out. We seem to be okay with one or the other: being completely in the world and just like it or being completely outside of it and only interested in judging it. God’s way for us seems a lot simpler: be in the world, not judging it, but don’t become like it either. It’s a simple idea, but I believe we should keep saying simple things until we actually do them. It’s harder to say yes to being in the world while saying no to being defiled by it at the same time.

What does it look like to do this in your life? Maybe it means being in the playgroup of moms who don’t know Jesus but not laughing at the unkind jokes or leading the pack demeaning other women and men. Maybe it means seeing our lost coworkers like real humans, for whom we want good things, so we’re not only treating them decently but we’re also pointing them to the truth and the hope that we have. For some of us, it might mean evaluating our rhythms and our hours to see if we’re spending time in the wider world. Or are we surrounded only by other believers in a safety bubble?

It might mean holding off on the ranting Facebook posts, even when we’re right, simply because they’d alienate and hurt the people God sent us to love and share the light with. Saying yes to the world and no to compromising ourselves might mean saying yes to the extended family dinner and no to the temptation to enter into the family conflict that ultimately isn’t going to glorify God. It might mean saying yes to being in the book club and no to silently nodding when less-than-true things are being shared at club meetings. It might mean watching our modern-day celebrities and praying for them instead of bashing them, judging them, and only using their lives as entertainment—delighting in their downfalls or puffing ourselves up with pride as if we’re better than they are.

I believe it’s time for the women (and men) of God to return to the simple yes and no—yes to being with the world, no to joining in its sin. Not everything is clear-cut and easy to discern all the time—some decisions are gray, and some relationships are murky. But our God is not a God of confusion, and He’s given us the gift of the Holy Spirit to continually increase our capacity to discern what it looks like to live in the world without being exactly like it. As we look at Daniel’s story and our own lives, however, it seems clear that there is an open invitation to dance, stand, and run by saying yes to being with people and saying no to compromising ourselves in the midst of it all.


Dance, Stand, RunAdapted from Dance, Stand, Run: The God-Inspired Moves of a Woman on Holy Ground by Jess Connolly. Click here to learn more about this title.

Grace is always good news. But it’s not cheap—true grace compels us to change. That’s where holiness comes in.

Beloved writer, speaker, and bestselling coauthor of Wild and Free, Jess Connolly will be the first to admit that not long ago, like many women, she grasped grace but she had forgotten holiness. Dance, Stand, Run charts her discovery that holiness was never meant to be a shaming reminder of what we “should” be doing, but rather a profound privilege of becoming more like Christ. That’s when we start to change the world, rather than being changed by it.

Dance, Stand, Run is an invitation to the daughters of God to step into the movements of abundant life: dancing in grace, standing firm in holiness, and running on mission. Through story and study, Jess casts a fresh vision for how to live into your identity as a holy daughter of God, how to break free of cheap grace and empty rule-keeping, and finally, how to live out your holy influence with confidence before a watching world. Spoiler alert: it’s a beautiful thing.

For anyone longing to take their place in what God is doing in the world, Dance, Stand, Run will rally your strength, refresh your purpose, and energize your faith in a God who calls us to be like Him.

Jess Connolly is a gal who is in the thick of it herself. She is the co-owner of All Good Things Collective print shop and helped start both She Reads Truth and The Influence Network. She and her husband planted Gospel Community Church in Charleston, South Carolina where they live with their four children. She blogs at

Not Every Teenager Embraces Rebellion: An Interview with Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach

Rebecca Gregoire LindenbachTeen rebellion is seen as a cultural norm, but is it really? Or is it more that youthful rebellion is not properly understood, especially within the Christian environment?

Bible Gateway interviewed Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach (@LifeAsADare) about her book, Why I Didn’t Rebel: A Twenty-Two-Year-Old Explains Why She Stayed on the Straight and Narrow–and How Your Kids Can Too (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Why is teenage rebellion against parents accepted to be normal?

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach: Teenage rebellion is scary. You can make huge decisions in your teenage years that affect you for the rest of your life—and teens are often really dumb. Even the smart ones. They don’t always make the best decisions.

Buy your copy of Why I Didn't Rebel in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

On top of that, many parents rebelled themselves when they were teenagers. And they see themselves in their kids.

Parents love their kids so much, and when it comes to the teenage years they have two choices: faith or fear. And fear is a whole lot easier; it’s our natural response. Faith takes work. Faith takes prayer, trust, and surrender (Romans 12:1; Galatians 2:20-21; Matthew 16:24-25).

So when we think of teenage rebellion, we immediately jump to the fear response, which says, “It’s inevitable! Every teen rebels! There’s nothing you can do!”

But what if that’s not true? What if that’s faulty logic that doesn’t consider Jesus’ redeeming power?
It’s time we stop allowing ourselves to be controlled by fear. It’s time we start accepting that there is hope, and that there are things parents can do to equip their kids with the tools they need to make good decisions in their teenage years. Because “God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Give a few examples of what parents should NOT consider to be rebellion.

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach: We tend to see a “good kid” as one who fits a certain personality description. The good kid is the one who’s friendly, always knows the right thing to say, is well-dressed, soft-spoken, and doesn’t rock the boat.

The problem? Most people don’t fit in that personality!

I certainly didn’t.

We need to stop seeing rebellion as anything that goes against that “nice kid” persona. Because there are a lot of things teens do that, although they aren’t rebellion, aren’t “nice.”

Teens are hormonal, moody, and often have different beliefs and values than their parents do. None of those things are inherently wrong. None of those things are rebelling. The only thing that’s rebellion is when we’re living against what God wants (Matthew 6:33).

Some kids are going to stir up trouble. Some kids are going to be called to turn over the money tables (John 2:14-16). We shouldn’t scold them for rebellion simply because they aren’t being “nice.”

Raising kids who don’t rebel doesn’t mean raising kids who fit in and don’t rock the boat. It means raising kids who’ll go to the ends of the earth for God’s kingdom (Colossians 3:17).

What do you mean “successful parents aren’t perfect; they’re authentic”?

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach: So often parents have this vision of “the perfect dad,” or “the perfect mom,” and they feel so much pressure to match that ideal they have in their mind.

They put their identity into what they can give their kids, what they can provide, whether their kids are the best they can be. And they take any slight failure, any slight inability to meet every unrealistic “should” that they’ve put upon themselves, as a sign that they aren’t good enough.

From my research, a huge difference between parents who had kids who rebelled and those who didn’t was that kids who didn’t rebel had parents who were comfortable being imperfect. They talked about their struggles, apologized when they had wronged their child, and admitted to their child that they didn’t have all the answers—but that it was OK.

Many parents who had kids who did rebel, though, were so tightly holding on to this image of being the “perfect” parent that they couldn’t share their heart with their kids. They didn’t share their fears, their failures, their uncertainties with their kids for fear that it would shatter that illusion of perfection.

The problem? Kids are way more perceptive than we give them credit for.

Nobody has it all together—but when you frantically pretend you do when you really don’t, it teaches kids that being honest about flaws and imperfections is unacceptable. Opening up, on the other hand, and sharing your heart with your kids, creates a family that is centered on truth. And where truth can flourish, Jesus can work freely (John 8:36; Luke 8:17; Romans 3:10; Ephesians 2:8-10).

How do you explain Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” in light of rebellious children raised in a Christian home?

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach: I think the first thing we need to understand is that Proverbs is a book of principles—general trends of how the world works. But it’s not law. Take Proverbs 10:4 (NIV), for example: “Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.” In general, yes, that’s true—but we all know very lazy people who have a lot of money until the day they die and very diligent people who struggle to get by. Or Proverbs 10:2, “Ill-gotten gains do not profit, but righteousness delivers from death.” There are a ton of people who’ve made their millions by cheating their way to the top, and there are many righteous people all over the world who are killed or tortured for their faith.

So when we look at Proverbs 22:6, we need to see it as a general principle—if you train your children to follow God’s law and instill the love of God in his heart, you’re making it much more likely that later he’ll continue to follow God’s desire for his life. But it doesn’t guarantee.

An important part of this principle, though, is the word “train.” Studying the interviews I did for my book, I noticed that families with kids who rebelled didn’t “train” their children—they dictated their children’s behaviours. They had strict rules, harsh discipline, and tried to have complete power over their children’s behaviours. They used parenting lines such as “because I said so,” or “as long as you live in this house you’ll obey me.” There wasn’t discussion around the rules—what mom and dad said was law.

Kids who didn’t rebel, though, had a very different home environment. Instead of being told what to do, we were taught how to make decisions for ourselves. One girl I interviewed (let’s call her Rachel) explained that instead of having a curfew her parents would ask, “What time do you think you should be home tonight?” Instead of dictating when Rachel had to be home by, this forced her to think through her decision and make an informed choice. She hated it at the time, but looking back now is so grateful that they trained her in good decision-making. I think we so often think that imposing more rules and discipline is the same as training, but according to my interviews it’s not.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach: One of my all-time favourite verses I find myself turning back to time and time again is Matthew 6:33, which reads, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”

It’s my “I-need-a-kick-in-the-pants” Bible verse. I’m a perfectionist and get really caught up in chasing goals, and it’s so easy to forget that simple phrase: seek FIRST the kingdom of God and his righteousness. I so often need to be reminded that I shouldn’t seek first to have the perfect house, or seek first to hit that work milestone, but seek first to bring God’s kingdom here on earth and to chase after his righteousness.

We make life much more complicated than it needs to be by focusing on the wrong things. Life isn’t about being the best parent, the best student, the best spouse—it’s about seeking God’s kingdom and his righteousness. Then everything else comes second to that.

Bio: Rebecca Gregoire Lindenbach is an author, blogger, and psychology graduate from Ottawa, Canada. The daughter of blogger and author Sheila Wray Gregoire, Lindenbach is an online entrepreneur passionate about challenging pat answers and daring people to live beyond the status quo. She just celebrated her second anniversary this July.

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How to Select from the Variety of Bibles With Comfort Print Typeface

Do you feel overwhelmed and confused when attempting to choose a print edition Bible from the hundreds that are available?

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, KJV, NKJV, and NIV Bibles Get Typeface Makeover]

The Bible Gateway Store now makes selecting a Bible with Comfort Print® typeface in the New International Version (NIV) Bible translation manageable by filtering your search with five categories: price, cover material, cover color, print size, and gender/age. Click to begin selecting your next Bible.

Select your next Bible with Comfort Print typeface in the Bible Gateway Store

Bible News Roundup – Week of October 8, 2017

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Thousands of Students Rally for Jesus in ‘Fields of Faith’
CBN News

Debate Over Bible Verse on Memorial Bench Continues

Grundy County Iowa to Take Part in Annual Bible Reading Marathon
The Grundy Register

Wycliffe Associates Launching Hundreds of Bible Translations in Next Few Months
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Wycliffe Associates—Helping to Translate the Bible Where Persecution of Christians Is Severe: An Interview with Bruce Smith

St. Paul’s Cathedral to Display “The Most Dangerous Book in Tudor England”

Bible Society of Namibia Completes Khoekhoegowab Bible
Namibian Broadcasting Corporation

Operation Bible Smuggling: How Christian Texts Infiltrate North Korea
FOX News

InterVarsity to Host Urbana18 Conference
Mission Network News
Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship Focuses Students on Bible Study

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

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The 1599 Geneva Bible: History’s First Study Bible

The Geneva Bible is unique among all other Bibles. Translated by the best Protestant scholars of the day, it’s a version born directly out of the religious conflict of the Reformation. And, though sadly little-known today, The Geneva Bible became one of the most popular translations of its time.

The Geneva Bible


First, a little history: Mary I was Queen of England and Ireland from 1553 until her death in 1558, and her executions of Protestants caused her opponents to give her the nickname “Bloody Mary.” It was her persecution that caused the Marian Exile which drove 800 English scholars to exile in the European continent, where a number of them gathered in Geneva, Switzerland. There, a team of scholars led by William Whittingham, and assisted by Miles Coverdale, Christopher Goodman, Anthony Gilby, John Knox, and Thomas Sampson, produced The Geneva Bible, based on Greek and Hebrew manuscripts and a revision of William Tyndale’s New Testament, which first appeared in 1526. The Geneva Bible New Testament was published in 1557, with the complete Bible appearing in 1560, and an updated and restored version appearing in 1599.

The Geneva Bible—written with clear readability and comprehension in mind—was not only the first Bible to use chapters and numbered verses, but it was also filled with extensive marginal notes. These notes, written by Reformation leaders including John Calvin, were intended to help explain and interpret the Scriptures for the average reader.

With its variety of scriptural study guides and aids—which included cross-reference verse citations, introductions to each book of the Bible, maps, tables, woodcut illustrations, indexes, and other features—The Geneva Bible is regarded as history’s first study Bible. It also became the Bible of choice for many of the greatest writers and thinkers of that time. Men such as William Shakespeare, John Bunyan, and John Milton looked to The Geneva Bible to provide Scripture in their own writings.

If you’re looking to get in to the spirit of the Reformation this year, there’s no better way to bridge the 500-year gap in history than to dig into the 1599 Geneva Bible—available as one of the many Bible translations on It may have been especially influential throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, but it deserves to be remembered as a translation that has directly impacted the study Bibles of today.

If you’re curious, here’s John 3:16 in the 1599 Geneva Bible; you can also read more about its significance. When reading this Bible on Bible Gateway, be sure to have footnotes toggled on, so you can enjoy the accompanying study notes.


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How the Bible’s Obscure “Coincidences” Demonstrate Its Reliability: An Interview with Lydia McGrew

Lydia McGrewHow do seemingly unrelated details in different books of the Bible come together to form undesigned coincidences that strongly support the eyewitness nature of these books and the overall accuracy of the Bible?

Bible Gateway interviewed Lydia McGrew about her book, Hidden in Plain View: Undesigned Coincidences in the Gospels and Acts (DeWard Publishing, 2017).

Buy your copy of Hidden in Plain View in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

What do you mean by “undesigned coincidences”?

Lydia McGrew: An undesigned coincidence is an incidental interlocking between reports that points to truth.

Give two or three examples of undesigned coincidences.

Lydia McGrew: It’s often easiest to see what an undesigned coincidence is from examples. In Matthew 14:2 Herod is musing about who Jesus can be, and he says that maybe Jesus is John the Baptist risen from the dead. Only Matthew mentions that Herod made this guess to his servants. This might make us wonder how Matthew knew what Herod was saying to his servants. Was this detail something Matthew made up? But in Luke 8:3 we find a list of women who were Jesus’ followers and contributed to his ministry, and among these is Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod’s steward! This is a very plausible route by which Jesus’ followers might have learned about what was going on behind the scenes in Herod’s household. But Luke isn’t talking about Herod or about John the Baptist. It’s a completely different context. And Matthew doesn’t give any explanation of how he knows what Herod is saying to his servants.

Here’s another: In Acts 18:5 Paul is in Corinth preaching, and at first he’s working as a tentmaker much of the time and preaching in the synagogue on the Sabbath. But verse 5 says that, when Timothy and Silas came down from Macedonia, Paul became completely devoted to the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Of course, Paul was always completely devoted to the word, so what difference did the arrival of Silas and Timothy make? Acts doesn’t explain. But over in 2 Corinthians 11:8-9, Paul is pointing out how careful he was not to take money from the Corinthians. He reminds them that he was never a burden to them while he was there and that, when he needed money, the brothers who came from Macedonia supplied it. This means that, while Paul was ministering in Corinth, some men came and brought money to him from Macedonia. This fits beautifully with Acts 18:5. This type of connection indicates that the author of Acts knew Paul’s ministry model at particular times. When Timothy and Silas arrived, Paul could preach every day. He didn’t have to work at his tentmaking during the week, because they brought financial support for him. But we have to infer that from 2 Corinthians. Acts doesn’t mention that they brought a contribution.

Here’s one from the Old Testament: 2 Samuel 15 and following shows Ahitophel as the counselor who cooperated with Absalom in his revolt against David. But Ahitophel had previously been one of David’s own counselors. Why did he turn against him? 2 Samuel 11:3 mentions the small fact that Bathsheba, whom David seduced and dishonored, and whose husband Uriah he killed, was the daughter of Eliam. Then way over in 2 Samuel 23:34-39, we learn from a list of David’s mighty men that Eliam was the son of Ahitophel! So Bathsheba was Ahitophel’s granddaughter, which could well explain why Ahitophel had a grudge and led a rebellion against David eventually. (This coincidence is not in my book, because I’m writing there only about the Gospels and Acts.)

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, The Undeniable Reliability of Scripture: An Interview with Josh McDowell]

How do these coincidences show that the Bible is reliable?

Lydia McGrew: When we start seeing again and again that the accounts fit together in these subtle ways, we’re reasonably confident that they’re reliable. If they weren’t, we wouldn’t expect to find this kind of jigsaw puzzle pattern. That’s what we do find in truthful witness testimony. Reality, of course, fits together, and when different witnesses tell about it, they notice different things and remember different things, and putting what they say together produces a more complete picture. If they were just making stuff up or relying on poor information, this would not happen.

What can we learn about the authors of the books from these coincidences?

Lydia McGrew: We learn first of all that they knew what they were talking about. These accounts aren’t made up of rumors and legends. In some cases, like the Gospels of John and Matthew, the authors may have been eyewitnesses themselves. I think undesigned coincidences support the conclusion that the author of Acts was a companion of Paul.

We also learn that they intended to be truthful in a normal sense of the word. Sometimes one reads that ancient people didn’t care very much about accuracy in reporting and that such a concern, applied to the books of the Bible, is anachronistic. I think that’s false, and undesigned coincidences show that it’s false. The authors of the Gospels and Acts were trying to get it right in the same sense that we might say someone is trying to get it right today.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Why Trust the Bible?: An Interview with Greg Gilbert]

Can you prove that the Bible is true from an undesigned coincidence?

Lydia McGrew: I wouldn’t say “prove,” because I would tend to reserve the idea of proof for something like a deductive or mathematical demonstration. What we can say is that even a single undesigned coincidence is evidence for the truth of the accounts involved.

What do you mean when you say that the argument from undesigned coincidences is cumulative?

Lydia McGrew: A cumulative case is a set of evidence that comes together to support a particular conclusion. Sometimes just one item in the set might not be enough by itself to make you highly confident in that conclusion, but each item makes its own contribution in some way, and the whole case put together can be very strong.

These are arguments we make unconsciously for all kinds of facts in daily life, bringing together many small indications to make a strong case all together. The undesigned coincidences are like that. Each coincidence brings together various accounts, and that provides some evidence for the truth of the events involved and also for the reliability of the Bible.

Then we also see all the different coincidences coming together as well to provide more and more evidence that these accounts are trustworthy. Even if one single undesigned coincidence doesn’t fully convince you, when they keep piling up, you should be convinced.

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Why God Uses Metaphors to Describe Himself: Guest Post by Lauren Winner]

Could these coincidences actually not mean anything?

Lydia McGrew: There’s always the logical possibility of a pure coincidence, but often this is pretty improbable. It’s possible that it’s just a coincidence that Matthew mentions what Herod was saying to his servants and that Luke mentions Chuza, Herod’s steward, as the husband of Jesus’ follower Joanna. But that’s not the way to bet.

This is also related to the cumulative case aspect. How many times does one want to say that this is just a coincidence? It gets very implausible after a while.

Could these coincidences be faked by later authors reading earlier authors?

Lydia McGrew: As a bare possibility, that can’t be deductively ruled out, but all the evidence is against it. This is partly because they’re so subtle.

If John, for example, faked a coincidence with Luke, he sometimes had to write his own story in a puzzling way. In John 18:33, Pilate asks Jesus if he’s the king of the Jews, but John hasn’t recorded any accusation that Jesus said he was the king. Why does Pilate ask this question? We find out only in Luke, an earlier Gospel. Luke mentions that the Jewish leaders said that Jesus was putting himself forward as a king. So the earlier Gospel explains the later one. It would be very convoluted for John to put in Pilate’s unexplained question, “Are you the king of the Jews?” just in case a reader might notice that Luke tells why Pilate asked that.

So these are really too indirect to be of much use to someone trying to create a fake. In several cases it’s taken about 2,000 years for them even to be noticed! Those kinds of dovetailings happen naturally if the different accounts are true and reflect the incomplete memories or interests of those telling what happened.

What do you mean by “reclaiming the forward position”?

Lydia McGrew: In many apologetic circles it’s been common for some time to argue for Jesus’ resurrection by appealing only to things that are acknowledged by a majority of scholars of all stripes and ideologies. I think that limiting ourselves to “consensus facts” in our argument is far too constraining, because the field of biblical studies has some major problems, and we should just acknowledge that openly.

An example of limiting ourselves would be avoiding appealing to the book of Acts to talk about what the disciples said from the beginning. There’s a lot of gingerliness about just looking directly at Acts 2 and saying, “This is what Peter was testifying publicly within 50 days of Jesus’ death,” because there’s all this worry that maybe we can’t treat the sermons in Acts as accurate. So people will go instead to the first few verses of 1 Corinthians 15 as being the earliest statement of the truth of the resurrection. Well, it isn’t! Peter’s speech on Pentecost is a much earlier public proclamation. Peter’s sermon was probably not written down in the book of Acts before 1 Corinthians was written down, but I don’t think that should be the standard, since we have good reason to believe that Acts is an historically accurate record of the early church written by a companion of the Apostle Paul.

There are other examples like that, especially the tentativeness with which too many apologists will treat the details of the resurrection accounts in the Gospels. They tend to avoid appealing, for example, to the claim that Jesus supposedly ate with the disciples, because the authenticity of those passages is questioned by some scholars who will say that we don’t know if that really came from the disciples or was a later accretion.

I think instead we should argue on historical grounds for the truthfulness of the Gospels and Acts as (at least) accurate records of what the disciples claimed they experienced and then ask the skeptic to explain those accounts. And I think the evidence will support that approach. In that way we don’t weaken our argument but strengthen it by including all the available evidence rather than treating good evidence as weak or tainted merely because it isn’t granted by the consensus of scholars in a very contentious field.

How many undesigned coincidences have you found, and how difficult was it to find them?

Lydia McGrew: I’m always a little hesitant to answer the “how many” question, because in several cases in my book there are multiple coincidences packed into a single numbered item. In my book I discuss 27 numbered items for the Gospels and 20 between Acts and Paul’s epistles. But some of these could be considered “twofers” or “threefers,” so there are more than that in my book, and there are more in other books out there that I didn’t include.

For many of these it was very easy for me to “find” them, because I didn’t find them all by myself. I wrote my own arguments for them and presented them in a fresh form to a 21st-century audience. Nearly all of the coincidences I discuss between Acts and the epistles were given by William Paley back in the 1700s and some by his editors. Most of those in the Gospels were found by J. J. Blunt in the 1800s. Some more were found by my husband, Timothy McGrew, in various commentaries or on his own. So I’m standing on the shoulders of giants. For a few in the book, I actually did find them for myself.

They can be quite difficult to notice consciously, though I think they add to the air of truthfulness in the books that we may be cueing to unconsciously. Those of us who know the Gospels very well often have trouble noticing undesigned coincidences because we know the whole story, harmonized from various Gospels. We forget that John, for example, doesn’t mention that Peter boasted that he would never deny Jesus even if the other disciples fled. That’s in Matthew and Mark, and it features in an undesigned coincidence that dovetails with John 21.

So you have to learn to see how different documents contain different puzzle pieces. Since my book has come out I’ve had readers send me some additional candidates for inclusion that they’ve noticed themselves, and some of these are very good.

What impact do you want your book to have on its readers?

Lydia McGrew: I’d like it to give them confidence when people suggest that we have no idea where the Gospels and Acts came from, or whether they’re just late and legendary. I’d like to think that after reading Hidden in Plain View, you’ll have something to say when you hear that accusation. For those who are inclined to think that these are shaky accounts, I’d like it to make them stop and think. I also hope that it will cause Christians to realize that they really can take that “forward position” on the reliability of these books.

This argument is so old, it’s new. It’s been largely forgotten for over a hundred years, and I hope to bring it back.

What is a favorite Bible passage of yours and why?

Lydia McGrew: I’ll sneak two in here, though of course there are many. I love Hebrews 11:13-16 in the great faith chapter where it says that the heroes of the faith confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims and that they desire a heavenly country. It adds, “Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city.”

And in Galatians 2:20 Paul says, “I am crucified with Christ: Nevertheless I live. Yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.”

I would relate those passages to each other and say that, if we’re crucified with Christ, if we hide ourselves behind the cross so that any of our accomplishments are Christ working in us, then we’ll confess that we’re strangers and pilgrims on this earth, and God will not be ashamed to be called our God.

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

Lydia McGrew: I use a PC for all my writing, and I use the Bible Gateway site all the time to locate passages and quote them in my research. I have a lot of Scripture in my head from my Baptist upbringing, but in research I want to quote word-for-word, get the reference precisely correct, and have the option of using a solid modern translation like the ESV. I used the ESV for virtually all the Bible quotations in Hidden in Plain View. I used Bible Gateway a lot while researching for the book, because it allows me to call up a passage quickly, compare translations, and copy and paste it into something I’m writing. It’s very useful. I also used Bible Hub a great deal, especially for looking up the Greek text of specific verses or looking at one verse laid out in many different translations.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Lydia McGrew: I want to emphasize that the argument from undesigned coincidences is highly accessible. You don’t have to be a biblical scholar to understand it and appreciate it, though scholars can certainly profit from it. I strongly encourage people who are interested, no matter who they are, to get hold of a copy of Hidden in Plain View (Kindle ebook available) and dive right in.

Bio: Dr. Lydia McGrew is a widely published analytic philosopher who specializes in classical and formal epistemology, probability theory, and philosophy of religion. She is the co-author (with Timothy McGrew) of Internalism and Epistemology: The Architecture of Reason (Routledge, 2007) and of the article on the argument from miracles in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology (2009). Her articles have appeared in such journals as Erkenntnis, Theoria, Acta Analytica, Philosophia Christi, and Philosophical Studies, and she is the author of the entry on historical inquiry and theism in The Routledge Companion to Theism (2012). She home schools, and in her spare time, she blogs about apologetics, Christianity, culture, and politics. She lives in southwest Michigan with her husband and children.

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Evidence That Demands A Verdict Redux: An Interview with Josh McDowell and Sean McDowell

Josh McDowell and Sean McDowllIn the 45 years since its first publication, what new historical documentation, archaeological discoveries, and scholarship evidence would lead to the updating and extensive expansion of this one million-copy Christian apologetic bestseller?

Bible Gateway interviewed Josh McDowell (@josh_mcdowell) and his son Dr. Sean McDowell (@Sean_McDowell) about their book, Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

Buy your copy of Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World in the Bible Gateway Store where you'll enjoy low prices every day

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post The Undeniable Reliability of Scripture: An Interview with Josh McDowell]

[Browse the Apologetics resources section in the Bible Gateway Store]

Why is a new edition needed for today? How has our culture changed—and how have the questions changed—since Evidence That Demands a Verdict was first published?

Josh McDowell: Great question! When I began speaking on college campuses in the 1960s there was a general commitment that truth could be found. But now people question the very existence and knowability of truth. There’s also an assumption in the minds of many people that Christianity itself is bad and that Christians are bigots. Thus, before we can persuade people with the evidence that Jesus is the truth (John 14:6), we need to first address some of these misconceptions, which we do in the introductory chapter of the book.

Why is this book still important and relevant?

Josh McDowell: Two main reasons come to mind. First, young Christians are getting barraged with tough questions about the faith at earlier rates than previous generations. As a result, many either compartmentalize their faith or abandon it entirely. If we want young people to hold firm to their faith in our increasingly secular culture, they need solid reasons. Second, non-believers have genuine questions about God, the Bible, and Jesus. It’s critical in our evangelism that we be ready with an answer “for the hope within” (1 Peter 3:15).

Click to enlarge this Infographic

What are some of the new questions you answer in your book?

Sean McDowell: The updated version of Evidence That Demands a Verdict still has some of the classic chapters on evidence for the resurrection, the deity of Christ, and the reliability of the Bible. But we’ve included responses to some of the most common objections against these claims that have arisen over the past couple decades. For instance, there’s a new chapter on the claim that Christianity is a copycat religion. We have also added a chapter responding to the claim that there are “lost” Gospels that should be in the Bible. We also included chapters on the evidence for the historical Adam, the exodus, and much more. And given his worldwide influence, we included an appendix responding to the claims of Bart Ehrman.

How is the Bible unique from other religious literature and how is Christianity unique from other religions?

Josh McDowell: The Bible is unmistakably the most unique book ever written. For instance, it was written by 40 authors over a span of roughly 1,500-years in diverse places, times, and languages. It has unique teachings that include the Trinity and salvation by grace (for example, Ephesians 2:8-9). And the Bible has had more impact on individual people, governments, and civilizations than any book ever written. The historical and cultural impact of the Bible is simply unparalleled. And what’s most amazing is that even among these various factors, the Bible has an overarching focus on Jesus Christ and his offer of salvation.

What are the Gnostic Gospels and why aren’t they included in the Bible?

Sean McDowell: The Gnostic Gospels are 2nd century (and later) gnostic texts that claim to be written by close followers of Jesus such as Mary, Peter, Thomas, and Judas. Although they’re called “Gospels,” they’re actually quite dissimilar than Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in both style and content. The Gospel of Thomas, for instance, is not a narrative, but 114 sayings attributed to Jesus. The reason these so-called “Gospels” are not in the Bible is because they’re dated much later than the canonical Gospels, and they also contain teachings that fail to match up with what we know about the historical Jesus from the earliest sources (see Luke 1:1-4).

Explain new evidence on the historical reliability of the Bible.

Josh McDowell: Despite common claims in the media, the evidence for the Bible continues to grow. In the chapters of the updated Evidence That Demands a Verdict we have the most in-depth and accurate manuscript count to date. Remarkably, we can now document nearly 24,000 hand-written manuscripts (or portions of manuscripts) of the New Testament.

If we stacked the manuscripts of the average classical author, of whom most scholars accept, it would be about four feet high. In contrast, stacking the manuscripts for the New Testament would result in a pile over a mile high. Along with the number of manuscripts for the New Testament, there has also been discovery of earlier manuscripts and new archaeological finds over the past few years. Simply put, the evidence for the reliability of the New Testament has never been stronger.

Briefly explain how the martyrdom of the apostles contributes to the veracity of Christianity.

Sean McDowell: The apostles were the first eyewitnesses of the risen Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:6-8). They were not passing on secondhand testimony, but saw the risen Jesus with their own eyes and proclaimed his resurrection consistently in the earliest sermons (for example, Acts 2:23-24).

These very same apostles were all willing to suffer and die for their faith. We can’t prove they all died as martyrs, but we know with confidence that Peter, Paul, James the brother of Jesus, and James the son of Zebedee died as martyrs. And a good case can be made for Thomas and Andrew. This doesn’t prove Christianity is true, but it does show that the apostles were not liars. They didn’t invent the Christian faith. And it wasn’t a conspiracy. They sincerely believed Jesus rose from the grave, and they were willing to die for that conviction (Acts 5:29).

What do you mean that people should have an intelligent faith?

Josh McDowell: The Bible never calls us to a blind faith. Rather, Jesus said to love God with your mind (Mark 12:30). Jesus did miracles to give people confidence in his identity (for example, Mark 2:1-10). In fact, the entire book of John was written to testify to the truth about the identity of Jesus so that people could experience eternal life (John 20:30-31). Faith goes beyond reason, but it’s not blind. In fact, faith is best understood as trusting what we have reason to believe is true.

How should a Christian answer the skepticism of a friend?

Josh and Sean McDowell: Listen! The first step in talking to a skeptic is simply to listen and do your best to understand where he or she is coming from. We love getting to know skeptics, and when the time is right, asking questions such as: What do you believe? Why do you believe that? If you don’t believe in God, can you tell us why? Have you considered the evidence for Jesus? If not, are you open to hearing it?

How do you want people to use Evidence That Demands a Verdict?

Josh and Sean McDowell: Our hope is that students will use it to write papers in defense of the faith, pastors will use it to preach from, parents will use it to teach truth to their kids, teens will use it to have answers to tough questions raised by their friends, and skeptics will read it and consider trusting Christ. We have high hopes!

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

Josh and Sean McDowell: It’s remarkable. There’s a lot of genuine concern about the Internet being used for bad. But the remarkable success of the Bible Gateway App and website shows that many people today still hunger for truth.

Bio: Josh McDowell has been at the forefront of cultural trends and ground-breaking ministry for over five decades. He shares the essentials of the Christian faith in everyday language so that youth, families, churches, leaders, and individuals of all ages are prepared for the life of faith and the work of the ministry. This includes leveraging resources based on years of experiences, new technologies, and strategic partnerships. Since 1961, Josh has delivered more than 27,000 talks to over 25,000,000 people in 125 countries. He’s the author or coauthor of 142 books, including More Than a Carpenter and The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict, recognized by World Magazine as one of the top 40 books of the 20th century. Josh’s books are available in over 100 different languages. Josh and his wife, Dottie, have been married for 43 years and have four children and ten grandchildren. For more information, visit Also see the Publishers Weekly article: Christian Bookseller Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award-Winner Reflects on Five Decades of Writing.

Dr. Sean McDowell is a gifted communicator with a passion for equipping the church, especially young people, to make the case for the Christian faith. He connects with audiences through humor and stories while imparting hard evidence and logical support of a biblical worldview. Sean is an assistant professor in Biola University’s Christian Apologetics program and the resident scholar for Summit California. A regular speaker for organizations like Focus on the Family, the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and Youth Specialties, among others, Sean is the author, co-author, or editor of over 18 books, including A New Kind of Apologist, Ethix: Being Bold in a Whatever World, and GodQuest Guidebook for Teens, and is a frequent guest on radio shows like Family Life Today and Point of View.

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“How to Live the Bible” Weekly Lessons Begin Soon

In just a few weeks, author and pastor Dr. Mel Lawrenz—who previously wrote the series How to Understand the Bible and How to Study the Bible—begins a new weekly email series called How to Live the Bible.

Everyday life includes highs and lows, accomplishments and failures, gains and losses. Whatever our circumstances, we need what James called “the implanted word” which can rescue us (James 1:21). We are to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only.” Or, as Jesus said, “Everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock” (Matthew 7:24).

Mel Lawrenz

But how do we do that? How do we get over our hesitations? How do we know what God wants us to do in response to the word?

How to Live the Bible is a series of practical, weekly guides to letting the Living Word do its work in us. Mel Lawrenz’ thoughtful words will help any believer understand how to apply the truth of Scripture to everyday life.

We’ve been talking about this series quite a bit because we think it offers something genuinely new and useful to almost any reader of God’s Word.

If you are a Christian who’s curious to learn how the Bible might shape and transform you, “How to Live the Bible” is an encouraging and empowering starting point.

If you’re a pastor, Bible study organizer, or hold some other official or unofficial leadership position in your church, these lessons would make a great starting point for group discussion, and they would nicely complement an existing Bible study. If you’d like to increase biblically-inspired transformation in your congregation, this is a practical way to move toward that goal.

However you would describe your relationship to the Bible, you can always draw closer to and deeper into God’s Word. We hope How to Live the Bible will help. It’s free and it starts soon, so sign up today!

Life More Abundant: An Interview with David Jeremiah

Dr. David JeremiahHow is it possible to miss having an abundant life? What is our involvement in developing godly character? How is salvation an ongoing process?

In this Q&A, Dr. David Jeremiah (@davidjeremiah) talks about his book, A Life Beyond Amazing: 9 Decisions that Will Transform Your Life Today (Thomas Nelson, 2017).

[Read the Bible Gateway Blog post, Spiritual Warfare Questions Answered]

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What holds us back from living an amazing life?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Sometimes it’s because we misunderstand the nature of salvation. Salvation is one of the Bible’s great words, but many don’t understand that the Bible presents salvation in three stages. Many people consider salvation a one-time, past event. They forget its ongoing nature.

From the first step of that process to our last breath, we’re crossing this bridge. Throughout our lives, we develop our character consciously or unconsciously. In your journey to a life beyond amazing, you’ll learn to develop your character in ways that bring remarkable rewards.

There’s a second reason people miss the abundant life: they misapply the concept of works. Many biblical passages teach that we’re not saved by our own efforts but by the grace of God alone. But the same passages also tell us good works are an essential evidence of the salvation experience. We’re not saved by good works, but for good works. It begins with God’s grace, and it’s sustained by his grace as you shape your character by what you do as you cross the bridge.

A third reason we fail to develop godly character involves a mistaken view of spirituality. Some believe we have little or no role in our own Christian maturity. God does everything, they think, and we simply have to “let go and let God.” After all, if it’s the “fruit of the Spirit,” we should passively let him work within us as we abide in Christ.

It’s true the Holy Spirit alone can reproduce the character of our Lord Jesus, and we must always abide in Christ. But the Bible also makes us active partners in the process, and we must be diligent to do our part. “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed” (2 Timothy 2:15).

God has given us everything we need for life and godliness. And he’s given us the indwelling strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. The rest is up to us. Peter says, “Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love” (2 Peter 1:5–7).

Love is one of the nine key decisions you outline. How do we know if we’re truly loving one another?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Because love is not about what we feel for others—it’s about what we do for others. The true power of love is found in selfless attitudes and actions that seek the best for another person without expecting anything in return. When we act in that way, the feeling of love follows close behind.

What’s one thing that will help to realize a life beyond amazing?

Dr. David Jeremiah: One of the most productive things we can do is to read Paul’s prayers for the churches he was involved with. He didn’t pray for greater attendance, bigger offerings, or even more people becoming Christians. When we examine his prayers, we discover something far more challenging.

For instance, to the Christians in Philippi, he says this: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9). In 1 Corinthians, Paul urges his readers to imitate him. We too should pray for greater love, whether we’re praying that prayer for others or for ourselves. It’s God’s desire for all of us that we continue to grow in our ability to love one another. I promise you this is a prayer he will surely answer.

What’s the difference between happiness and joy?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Happiness is about what happens to you; and, to an extent, it’s dependent on your circumstances, your behaviors, and your attitudes. But the joy of Christ is much, much bigger. The joy of Christ is about relationship with a person. It’s something you have access to, but it’s also something you must choose. Christian joy shows up not only in the happy times but also in times of trial and discouragement. Jesus’ joy survived troubles and even flourished in the midst of them. He told his followers: “Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you, and revile you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake. Rejoice in that day and leap for joy!” (Luke 6:22–23). When we’re in a right relationship with God, he rejoices. And it’s only through that relationship that we experience joy in its fullness.

How should Christians assess their own integrity?

Dr. David Jeremiah: Before you begin your journey toward integrity, you need to determine your starting point. In other words, what’s your integrity quotient? How much integrity do you have? Do a moral inventory of yourself. Hold yourself accountable going forward for what you say and do. Moving toward a more faithful, fair, and honest life begins with confronting truthfully who you are. You can’t hold yourself accountable if you won’t see yourself clearly.

I truly wish I could give you an easier place to start, but I can’t. Let me tell you what I know: You can’t go anywhere if you don’t start from the truth. Confession basically means saying the same thing about your sin as God says. So if you say you want to develop integrity, but you’re not willing to face the rough parts and confess them, you won’t get there.

Bio: Dr. David Jeremiah is the founder of Turning Point, an international ministry committed to providing Christians with sound Bible teaching through radio and television, the Internet, live events, and resource materials and books. He is the author of more than 50 books, including Is This the End?, The Spiritual Warfare Answer Book, David Jeremiah Morning & Evening Devotions, and Airship Genesis Kids Study Bible. Dr. Jeremiah serves as the senior pastor of Shadow Mountain Community Church in San Diego, California, where he resides with his wife, Donna. They have four grown children and 12 grandchildren.

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