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Where did judges like Deborah come from? We read in Acts 13:20-21 that the Israelites settled in Canaan and “After this, God gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. Then the people asked for a king....” Read more
If God meant women to lead in religious functions, why were they forbidden the priesthood under the Old Covenant?” This question expresses one of many arguments used to limit the participation of women within the church. It is a reasonable question and deserves a thoughtful answer. Read more
Priscilla: Christian, wife of a Jewish freedman, fellow worker with Paul, teacher of teachers, church planter — and author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, (a letter whose writer’s name is mysteriously absent)? Was Priscilla one of the most successful teachers, evangelists, and writers in the early church? A survey of Priscilla’s ministry in Rome, Corinth, and Ephesus reveals a woman whose abilities and life’s circumstances beg the question: Was it Priscilla who wrote Hebrews? Read more
In recent years many writers have been reminding the church of the exemplary women who have held positions of authority and power in the Bible as rulers, prophets and martyrs. Deborah certainly has been often mentioned as a faithful ruler, a judge, prophet, and a military strategist. Under this “mother of Israel,” the Hebrews had rest for 40 years (Judges 4-5). Wisdom was personified as a woman elder in Proverbs 8. The wise woman of Abel speaking for her people saved her city, “a mother in Israel” (2 Samuel 20:16). Read more
I was having a discussion the other evening with a family in our church about the subject of women deacons. I said, “Well, Phoebe, of course, was a deacon.” Someone said, “Really? Are you sure? Not everyone believes that she was.” Read more
Did it ever strike you as being odd, our infernal craving to catalog everything? There is a valid use for cataloging, of course. Telephone books, dictionaries, and those ingenious red wheeled cabinets from Sears and Roebuck, the ones with hundreds of tiny drawers for nuts and bolts: These are all quite functional — although I privately wonder whether that many kinds of nuts and bolts actually exist, or if all those drawers are for the illusion of competence. Read more
People say that black is beautiful, and I believe it. I think the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen on a human being was that of a young Ethiopian woman. She had been imprisoned eleven times for her participation in evangelistic and church activities, and every time she got out, she just went right on proclaiming Christ. When she would tell how the young people were marched off to jail, with their hands uplifted, singing and praising God, her face would shine. I saw there a beauty I have never seen anywhere else. The Bible says very clearly that black is beautiful (Song of Solomon 1:5). But as I studied the black persons mentioned in Scripture more carefully, I found another message—the Bible implies that black is blessed. Not that being black automatically makes you blessed, but these people had an unusual way of reaching out to God—finding Him as their own, embracing Him and His ways, committing themselves to the truth of the Gospel. And God blessed them. Read more
. . . The twelfth verse (italicized above) contains a rare Greek verb, found only here in the entire Bible. This word, authentein, is ordinarily translated “to bear rule” or “to usurp authority”; yet a study of other Greek literary sources reveals that it did not ordinarily have this meaning until the third or fourth century, well after the time of the New Testament. Essentially the word means “to thrust oneself.” Its earliest meanings are noteworthy, since they might provide a quite different understanding of a difficult text.  Read more
Although we may idealize the early church, most of us would not have enjoyed a visit to a worship service at Corinth. The impression which one was most likely to receive was that of chaos and delirious insanity: So if the whole congregation is assembled and all are using the "strange tongues" of ecstasy, and some uninstructed persons or unbelievers should enter, will they not think you are mad? (I Cor. 14:23, NEB). Read more
Often when I've heard James 2 addressed in a sermon or in a Bible study, the message was a simple admonishment to “not show favoritism” or perhaps “don't discriminate based on how well someone is dressed.” These lessons have their place in our image-conscious and outwardly-focused society. Read more

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