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When I come to this time of the year, the thanksgiving holiday, I’m reminded of Paul’s thanksgiving sections within his letters. In his second letter to the Thessalonians, Paul highlights their faith and endurance under extreme difficulty. He does not hesitate to boast to other churches that God is working in and through them. These prayers are a great example of how we as believers can also pray.

In 2 Thessalonians 1:3-12, he begins by stating his obligation  to pray for the Thessalonians. He saw his opportunity to pray as a personal responsibility before God on their behalf; a sense of proud boasting, if you will. Paul prayed for them because of the further development of their faith in God (cf. 1 Thess 1:3), the faith in God that produces action. He says that their faith grew abundantly and their love increased (2 Thess 1:3). As a result of this growth, Paul took the opportunity to boast to other churches. In fact, Paul’s motivation for boasting was the Thessalonians’ steadfastness and faith (v. 4), again, even amidst severe hostility. Mike Stallard in his commentary on the Thessalonian letters states,

Paul had noted this quality of the Thessalonians in his first epistle when he mentioned their ‘steadfastness of hope’ in Jesus (1 Thess 1:3). In the last chapter of the second epistle, the apostle prays that the Lord may direct their hearts into the ‘steadfastness‘ of Christ (3:5). This again shows the apostle’s constant teaching that there was always room for growth in the qualities that he acknowledged in the Thessalonians” (pp. 137-38).

I think the question that comes to my mind is, would Paul boast about my growth? I could also ask myself, what plan do I have in place this week for continued growth to occur?

Paul does not stop there. He continues in verses 5-10 to expand on the persecutions & afflictions. These terrible times were evidence of the righteous judgment of God (v. 5); that is, their suffering is a demonstration of the genuineness of their faith (their identity – cf. 1:1). They endured this suffering to be counted worthy of the kingdom of God. And, because God’s judgment is “just,” it’s “right;” it is right of him to repay those who trouble the Thessalonians. He will also give relief to the those who are being afflicted (vv. 6-7). One could say that a picture of this relief is the ‘slackening of a string on a bow.’ The relief He gives is when His Son is revealed and gives/hands-out vengeance to those who do not know God & who do not obey the gospel. It is a punishment that is eternal; it lasts forever (vv. 7-9).

Another question, knowing that one day Jesus will punish those who do not have a relationship with Him – does this motivate me to love others and share the gospel? What am I doing with the truth?

Paul concludes with a short prayer (cf. 1:11-12). His prayer is that God will help them to continue to display their true standing; their calling. It is an evaluation of their conduct in light of His calling; but all the time realizing that God enables them to do what is good and right. God’s calling is the foundation/basis for their conduct . . . now display it. However, they were not left to do it themselves. Paul states that this work of faith comes by the means of His power (v. 11). Ultimately for the purpose of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to be glorified, and we, as believers, be glorified in Him. To be glorified in Christ is possible only because the most exalted God and Lord is the one who stands as the true source of all things (v. 12).

The focus of Paul’s prayer is living in the present while having knowledge of the hope of a future. Rest, relief, and honor is coming to the believer; whereas judgment, destruction, and separation from God awaits the unbeliever. This provides the reality for us to live day by day as we do the work of faith; and can only be carried out by God’s enabling grace. The suffering of one’s present life is to be one day replaced with glorification. This is Paul’s incentive for the believer to live a life worthy of his status, for the Spirit indwells him. Those who bear Christ’s name must also glorify God in that name. This is dependent upon the supply of grace that is sourced in the Spirit of God.

Click the link for the diagram of 2 Thessalonians 1:1-12.


Below is a “brief review” of the new intermediate Greek grammar. Although I have not thoroughly read the entire grammar, I have skimmed it and provided some assessments at the end of the review.deeper

Going Deeper with New Testament Greek: An Intermediate Study of the Grammar and Syntax of the New Testament. By Andreas J. Köstenberger, Benjamin L. Merkle, and Robert L. Plummer. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman, 2016. 550 pp.

Seasoned New Testament scholars, Köstenberger, Merkle, and Plummer have provided an intermediate Greek textbook that is sure to assist both professors and students with a current resource for the study of the grammar and syntax of the Greek New Testament. Their goal is to provide a resource that is accessible and fun to students. They claim this is a textbook, not a reference guide/resource; a hands-on, practical guide to assist in the proper interpretation of God’s word.

The format of the textbook is straightforward and user-friendly.

First, each chapter begins with a section titled, “Going Deeper.” The purpose of this section is to introduce the student to a practical illustration that applies the material found within the chapter. For example, chapter 3 – which discusses the Genitive case, walks the student through common wording that is often found on Christmas cards (“peace on earth, good will toward men,” ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας). Is this an accurate translation of the Greek text? There is also a text-critical issue with this verse; should the text read εὐδοκίας (gen case), or εὐδοκία (nom case)? And, is Luke (2:14) suggesting that good will go to all men, humanity at large?

Following the “Going Deeper” section, each chapter states the objectives and introduces the material. Several biblical examples, written in Greek and translated into English for the ease of the student to follow along & see the relevant syntactical forms, illustrate the grammatical and/or syntactical category discussed in the chapter.

Third, and probably one of the unique sections of the grammar, is the inclusion of practice sentences. These are carefully chosen to provide students with the ability to practice the skills they have learned. This feature is unique because it is unlike the typical intermediate grammar; that is, most grammars either do not include practice sentences or publish them in a separate volume. This grammar includes them.

Fourth, this intermediate grammar offers vocabulary for students to memorize. In the introduction (p. 4), it states that the student who memorizes all words in the New Testament that occur 15 times or more will have memorized 830 words.

And last, this grammar offers a built-in reader. By reader it is meant that there are New Testament texts for students to translate at the end of each chapter. These texts were carefully selected so that students were exposed to the following: (1) grammar & syntax discussed in the chapter, and (2) a pastorally relevant/theologically foundational/or doctrinally debated text that is 10-12 verses in length. The reader sections also provide helpful notes to guide the student through the translation process.

One of the benefits to this grammar for professors is the available resources. There are a number of teacher aids from weekly quizzes to PowerPoint presentations to chapter summaries. These resources are accessible at

As the reader thumbs through the table of contents, he will not be surprised to find typical chapter titles for an intermediate grammar (e.g., Genitive Case, Dative Case, Participles, Infinitives, etc.). However, the authors have also incorporated recent studies within the fields of verbal aspect and discourse analysis into chapters 7 and 13 respectively. They have consulted a number of NT scholars (e.g., Campbell, Decker, Porter, Black, Huffman, Runge) to provide the latest information and/or techniques; especially in these fields.

“Keeping current” is a must in New Testament Greek grammar. With a publication date of 2016, Going Deeper with New Testament Greek is sure to have the latest information on key grammatical and syntactical concepts. I am especially impressed with chapter 15 (Continuing with Greek) because it offers resources for students of the Greek NT. The writers of this Greek grammar strongly encourage their readers to invest time into recommended resources and tools such as websites (e.g.,, exegetical commentaries (e.g., EGGNT series, Handbook on the Greek Text series, etc.), lexicons (e.g., BDAG), and grammars.

This is an all-in-one grammar that will be a great help to the student or pastor who desires to advance his understanding of the Greek New Testament. If you plan to learn or continue to learn Greek, you will want this text on your shelf.

Exciting News

October 12, 2014

It gives me great honor and joy to be able to share the news that Rod’s long awaited for textbook is now in hand. Reading Koine Greek from Baker Publishing Group is now in my hands. Unfortunately, the public will have to wait a few weeks before it is available. When it arrived, I sat down and quickly skimmed through it and knew Rod would have been very pleased with it. It was a bittersweet moment as the excitement and joy of having it in hand was hard to contain, but knowing Rod would never have the opportunity to see or use it brought tears so I had to set the book aside so as not to ruin it.

The joy of seeing the product of many years (about 25) of work of formulating his style and teaching as he broadened his understanding of Greek over those years through expanding the material as well as techniques of teaching, allowing it to grow into this volume. Then thinking of the past few years of actually getting it into a publishable format, proof reading it ourselves over and over, checking grammar, and on and on, and to see it finally in print was a bit overwhelming.

Baker has done an excellent job in the actual printing and overall presentation of the book. I was surprised at the size of it, but shouldn’t have been after the many times of working through it in the proofing stages. The illustrations (although Rod’s) have been displayed in such a way that it adds to the overall look of the book. My hat’s off to the editors at Baker who so graciously worked with us (yes, I feel I had a part in this too) and kept us informed and have continued to keep me posted even after Rod’s home going. They shared with me that when the book made it to their hands, work literally stopped as the editors stood around in the hallway, paging through it. They too struggled with that bittersweet moment of seeing the final product, but knowing Rod would not share in the joy of seeing it himself.

Oh, that God would take a farm boy growing up in a pastor’s home and use him to help others learn the language of the Bible is a definite proof of God’s mercy and grace to mankind. Rod would never have thought himself worthy of God’s grace and never thought highly of himself in the things he did. Our prayer as a family is that God would take this piece of work that he burdened Rod to write and use it for generations to come so that others might understand the Word of God, but even more that those in our colleges and seminaries would understand the importance of knowing the biblical languages so they may better teach it in our churches. That was Rod goal in life and in writing–to challenge men to be prepared to preach the Word in such a way that God would receive the glory and people would understand what the Word said.

I hope in sharing this that I’ve not come across as bragging about this new book as that would totally be against what Rod and I would desire. My purpose in this post is to share the excitement and the purpose of Rod’s writing. As he would always sign his work, Soli Deo Gloria.

Rydbeck, Lars. “On the Question of Linguistic Levels and the Place of the New Testament in the Contemporary Language Milieu.” In The Language of the New Testament: Classic Essays. JSNT supp. series #60. Edited by Stanley E. Porter, 191-204. Sheffield: JSOT Press, 1991.<1> [My comments are included in the at the end. -RD] The thesis of Rydbeck’s article is that in the first century A.D. there was an intermediate level of Hellenistic Greek between that of the vulgar or popular Greek and the literary.


Misc. Grammar Papers

May 1, 2014

As I have the time (and energy) over the next few days or maybe weeks, I’ll be posting some Greek grammar materials that I don’t think I’ve posted before.

I’ll begin with a summary of Buist Fanning’s chs. 1-2. Buist was the external examiner for my dissertation, now quite a few years ago. I’ve always appreciated his gentle spirit and detailed work.


The following is a draft that represents a sketch of what might have one day turned into a full fledged grammar—and perhaps would have been sufficiently substantive to have been designated as a “book”— so, though it is not large, perhaps you will find it useful in the range of an intermediate (2nd year) grammar. Much of this represents material written and/or rewritten over the course of 25 years and then rewritten together into one unified file this past winter.

New Short Grammar of the Greek Verb

Posted below is a 2-page pdf file with a list of 48 verbs in the NT that take a dative direct object. This is not complete, though it is more complete than other lists I’ve seen thus far. It is based on the list of 20 verbs in Robertson’s Grammar and then supplemented with a search of the entries in BDAG using Accordance to find verbs that have notes regarding the use of the dative. I’m happy to have feedback on this list, either suggestions for omission (if you think I’ve included inappropriate verbs) or for addition for those that I’ve surely missed. I am distinguishing between verbs which take a direct object and others that have a dative complement. I realize that some prefer just to list them all as complements, but I think there is a legitimate distinction in some instances.


Thanks to my friend Ronaldo, I discovered this morning that the Mark Handbook is now listed on Amazon. They give these details:

Mark: A Handbook on the Greek Text (Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament)

Paperback – November 1, 2014

by Rodney J. Decker

Product Details

Series: Baylor Handbook on the Greek New Testament


Publisher: Baylor Univ Press (November 2014)

v. 1: ISBN-10: 1481302388

ISBN-13: 978-1481302388

v. 2: ISBN-10: 1481302396

ISBN-13: 978-1481302395

MkHdbkCoverArt MkHdbkCoverArtVol2

It is going to be two vols. (yes, I sent in a fairly large MS!). Even then the editor cut it by 20% and suggested that it might well become the first 2-vol. handbook in the series, but this is the first “official” confirmation of that I’ve seen. This means that Mark may be larger than the single vol. on Luke.

I received a heavy package by UPS yesterday:

RKG galleyProofs Jan2014sm

5.5″ tall and 1,203 pages! (No, the grammar won’t be anywhere near that big. The galleys are double-spaced—even the tables, etc.—for editorial purposes.) I have 3 weeks to proof this pile. I’m now on p. 148, so only 1,055 more to go! I don’t know who the copy editor was, but they have done a good job, not only in polishing the English, but by making helpful suggestions regarding Greek (which they obviously know, thankfully!). So if anyone has wondered if this was vaporware, here’s the evidence that it’s actually making progress through the editorial pipeline.

Unfortunately, I also received word with the Galleys that the release date has been pushed back to Nov 2014. That means, to my great disappointment, that it will not be available for textbook use this coming academic year. 🙁 The publisher says, and I suppose correctly, that since it had already slipped to July, it was not realistic that it would be used next fall anyway since textbook adoptions must be made earlier than that. So they have decided that they should not promise it before November. I had dearly hoped to use it this fall myself in the nice printed form, but looks like I will be using photocopies again. For those of you who had also hoped to use it this fall, my sincere apologies, but I have no control over such things.

CBD now lists my forthcoming grammar, and at a significantly lower price than Amazon. (I suspect the Amazon price will drop before release.)

Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook

By: Rodney J. Decker

Baker Academic / 2014 / Hardcover

$32.99 (CBD Price)

Retail: $49.99

Save 34% ($17.00)

Availability: This product will be released on 07/15/14

CBD Stock No: WW039287

ISBN-13: 978-0801039287

This was apparently released in February, but my author copy failed to arrive. I learned of it via an email query re. one of my chapters and the publisher has just now sent a replacement copy. (I received an empty, unopened box from the Netherlands late last winter, but no indication from whom it cam [it was a commercial shipper] and no means of contacting them. Apparently the shipper missed putting a book in my box!) I’ve not yet had a chance to read much of it. I shouldn’t evaluate my own chapters, but the one other chapter that I have read was well done—Jon Watt’s chapter on the history of the Greek language.

Porter, Stanley E. and Andrew W. Pitts. The Language of the New Testament: Context, History, and Development. Linguistic Biblical Studies 6. Early Christianity and Its Hellenistic Context 3. Leiden: Brill, 2013.

ISBN-13: 978-9004234772

536 pages

List Price: $189.00

Amazon price: $166.99 (you get all of a 12% discount!)

Typical Brill price! 🙂 I’m sure you will all hurry to buy several copies. 😉


PorterPitts LNT 2013a

Table of Contents

PorterPitts LNT TCa

Contents, p. 2

PorterPitts LNT TC 2

The following summary is based on Moulton & Milligan’s lexicon. I’m curious, however, if any of the data on this has changed (i.e., been expanded) in the century since it was published. I see nothing in BDAG about the legal usage which seems to be the centerpiece of MM’s thesis. Has this been rejected? Or ignored? I do note that MM’s proposal is cited approvingly by Raymond Brown in his massive Death of Messiah, 1:463-64.* I’d be grateful for any feedback or bibliographic references.

Although the -θη- forms of this verb are frequent, the middle form appears to function differently. MM (64) argues that the middle has a “formal and weighty tone,” and is used either in solemn statements or in legal proceedings. Usage of the middle in the papyri are “without exception legal reports, in which ἀπεκρίνατο … means ‘replied,’ of an advocate or a party in a suit.” Of the exact form ἀπεκρίνατο, MM lists Luke 3:16; John 5:17, 19; and Acts 3:12 as illustrating the “solemn” use, and Matt 27:12; Mark 14:61; and Luke 23:9 as examples of the legal use. To these lists may be added other aorist middle forms in the NT as follows: solemn, John 12:23; 13:26, 38; and legal, Matt 26:62; Mark 14:60; 15:4; John 18:22. (Acts 3:12 and Col 4:6 do not seem to fit these categories.)

(*Semi-related note: I scanned fairly carefully (but did not “read”!) the entire first vol. of Brown yesterday–nearly 900 pgs. [it took me the entire day]; it’s an impressive piece of work that I’d not really used much before. I now need to retrieve vol. 2 from my study on campus and do the same for it.)

– – –

Later note:

Based on the comments from Carl and Mike, I think perhaps it’s best to summarize as follows:

Although the aorist -θη- forms of this verb are frequent, the aorist middle form appears to function differently. MM (64) argues that the middle has a “formal and weighty tone,” and is used either in solemn statements or in legal proceedings. Usage of the middle in the papyri are “without exception legal reports, in which ἀπεκρίνατο … means ‘replied,’ of an advocate or a party in a suit.” Of the exact form ἀπεκρίνατο, MM lists Luke 3:16; John 5:17, 19; and Acts 3:12 as illustrating the “solemn” use, and Matt 27:12; Mark 14:61; and Luke 23:9 as examples of the legal use. Both Brown (1:463–64) and Wallace 1996 (421) endorse MM’s conclusion. At the least it could be said that the aorist middle appears to have a more formal or solemn force as a less frequently used form. Whether that rises to the level of a technical term in legal contexts is uncertain since one might well expect form formal language in such a setting even without technical terminology being involved. The present pericope certainly is a legal setting.

Reading Koine Greek

June 19, 2013

This info just arrived from Baker Books:

Title: Reading Koine Greek

Subtitle: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook

Author: Rodney J. Decker

ISBN: 9780801039287

No, it’s not imminent! Hopefully by next spring. (It will not be ready in time for SBL/ETS, Nov. 2013.) Note that the title has changed slightly. I’ve been using a working title of Learning Koine Greek, but it will be published officially as Reading Koine Greek: An Introduction and Integrated Workbook.

Eph 4:22-24, 20 ὑμεῖς δὲ οὐχ οὕτως ἐμάθετε τὸν Χριστόν, 21 εἴ γε αὐτὸν ἠκούσατε καὶ ἐν αὐτῷ ἐδιδάχθητε, καθώς ἐστιν ἀλήθεια ἐν τῷ Ἰησοῦ, 22 ἀποθέσθαι ὑμᾶς κατὰ τὴν προτέραν ἀναστροφὴν τὸν παλαιὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν φθειρόμενον κατὰ τὰς ἐπιθυμίας τῆς ἀπάτης, 23 ἀνανεοῦσθαι δὲ τῷ πνεύματι τοῦ νοὸς ὑμῶν 24 καὶ ἐνδύσασθαι τὸν καινὸν ἄνθρωπον τὸν κατὰ θεὸν κτισθέντα ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ καὶ ὁσιότητι τῆς ἀληθείας.

What should one make of the aorist – present – aorist infinitive sequence? Does the tense itself justify a translation along the lines of:

“that you have laid aside… that you are being renewed… that you have put on”? (cf. “alternate transl” in NET notes). The tenses here are sometimes used to justify particular theological conclusions.

In this case, however, no significance may be attributed to the particular tenses used. It begins with a summary stmt: put off the old man (v 22, ἀποθέσθαι, aorist infin), be renewed in the mind (v 23, ἀνανεοῦσθαι, pres infin), put on the new man (v 24, ἐνδύσασθαι, aor. infin). The aorist infin is used in v. 22 since that verb is ALWAYS aorist—it never occurs in the present anywhere in the NT, so Paul couldn’t have used a present infin. The same is true of “be renewed”—it’s always present—but then it only occurs here in the NT, so one shouldn’t make much ado in that regard! The third infin., “put on” is also aorist, but it also only occurs in the aorist in the NT.

When there is no choice, then the “choice” of a particular tense is not particularly significant. That is not to say that there are not other factors to consider here; my only point is that the tense is not significant.

[Later note: see the discussion in the comments. When LXX usage is factored in my statements need to be softened just a bit for at least one of these forms. My main point, however, is not affected.]

The phrase πρώτῃ σαββάτου (v. 9) occurs nowhere else in the NT (but see Jub. 3:1; the superscription to Psalm 47 uses δευτέρᾳ σαββάτου, “the second day of the week”) though a similar construction, τῇ πρώτῃ ἡμέρᾳ τῶν ἀζύμων, occurs in 14:12. It might be wondered, however, if such a reference in regards to the first day of the week is not part of “standard usage,” and in that case the standard collocation with σαββάτου/ων seems to be μία σαββάτου/ων (an elliptical expression for μία ἡμέρα σαββάτου/ων; see Matt 28:1; Mark 16:2; Luke 24:1; John 20:1, 19; Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2; see also the superscription of Psalm 23 [Eng., 24]). LXX usage typically employs πρώτη ἡμέρα in regard to a feast (e.g., Exod 12:15) or of a month (e.g., Ezra 10:17). The Pseudepigrapha uses πρώτῃ ἡμέρᾳ (Jub. 2:2) Josephus typically uses πρώτη ἡμέρα (Ant. 1.29), or in the similar construction, τῇ πρώτῃ τῆς ἑορτῆς ἡμέρᾳ (Ant. 5.22). Philo, likewise uses πρώτην ἡμέραν (Spec. Laws 2.162, in regard to a feast). It appears that the normal pattern is to use the ordinal (πρώτη) with ἡμέρα, but the cardinal (μία) in the elliptical expression μία [ἡμέρα] σαββάτου/ων, though the use with σαββάτου/ων appears in our literature almost exclusively in the NT; the OT and related texts are more concerned with the seventh day, typically ἡ ἡμέρα ἡ ἑβδόμη (e.g., Exod 16:26, 27)—also an ordinal. Also of note is the use of the singular σαββάτου; the only other NT uses of the singular in a temporal sense of “week” are δὶς τοῦ σαββάτου (Luke 18:12, “twice a week”) and κατὰ μίαν σαββάτου (1 Cor 16:2, “on the first day of the week”). In the LXX we find τὸ σάββατον (“the Sabbath,” usually genitive or accusative, e.g., 2 Kings 11:5; Neh 13:19), but almost never in the sense of “week” (the superscription to Psalm 47 [Eng., 48] is the only exception). The use of the singular by Josephus and Philo is the same, as it is in the Pseudepigrapha and the Apostolic Fathers.

There are two contrasting uses here: τῇ μιᾷ τῶν σαββάτων in 16:2 and πρώτῃ σαββάτου in 16:9—odd for being used divergently only a few verses apart if Mark were the author of both when usage almost everywhere else is so consistent. These differences in themselves are not adequate to demonstrate a difference of authorship between the Long Ending and Mark (i.e., between 16:9–20 and 1:1–16:8), but it does suggest that this is very unusual usage since πρώτῃ σαββάτου can be paralleled exactly, so far as I can determine, in only one pseudepigraphal text (plus one other similar expression).

I am wondering if this could reflect later usage (i.e., post 1st C AD or at least post-NT), though I do not have TLG access from off campus to check that hypothesis.