Often discussion questions are aimed at the timid reader. The questions below aren't. (Whether you will find them challenging is another matter.)
These materials were developed for a small group known to its members as
the "The Holy Huddle". Here's the history behind this effort. Feel
to contact me with any feedback:
Collins, Rochester, New York
Copyright reserved by Tim Collins. Documents I have authored which are
on this page may
be freely distributed, so long as this authorship and
notice is attached.
Background on Job
Questions on the prologue and Job's first lament, including a question on the chapter "Sitting Shiva" from Miriam's Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich
Questions about Job's three friends
"SERMON-ALIGNED" DISCUSSION QUESTIONS FOR ROCHESTER CHRISTIAN REFORMED CHURCH
GORDON FEE'S PAUL, THE SPIRIT AND THE PEOPLE OF GOD, WITH ANA FLUIT
Chapter 1 and Overture: The Spirit in Pauline theology
Chapter 2: The Spirit as the renewed presence of God
Chapter 3: The Spirit as Person (Ana)
Chapter 4: The Spirit and the Trinity
Chapter 5: The Spirit as evidence of the "presence of the future" (Ana)
Chapter 6: The Spirit and the people of God (Ana)
Chapter 8: Conversion: The Spirit at the entry point
Chapter 10: The fruit of the Spirit
Chapter 11: The Spirit against the flesh (Ana)
Chapter 12: The Spirit, present weakness, and prayer (Ana)
Chapter 13: The Spirit and worship
Chapter 14: The Spirit and the charismata (Ana)
Chapter 15, part 1: The Spirit for today and tomorrow
Chapter 15, part 2: The Spirit for today and tomorrow, part 2
Here is a little background on Hebrews
Chapters 1-2:4: Jesus is superior to the angels; pioneer of our faith; drifting from our anchor
Chapters 2:5-3:15: Freed from fear of death; identifying with others; "today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts", etc.
Chapter 4:1-5:10: The promised rest; our great high priest
Chapter 5-7: Meat, not milk; laying the foundations; falling away; Melchizedek and the new covenant
Chapter 7-9: Melchizedek; The New Covenant; Earthly and Heavenly Sanctuaries
Chapter 9-10: Christ's sacrifice one and for all; a call to persevere
Chapter 11: The hall of faith (discussion questions by Jim Smith)
Chapter 121-13: Suffering; uses a reading from Tim Keller's Walking With God Through Pain and Suffering, pp. 80-84: Kendra's story
Chapter 12:14-13:25: Final exhortations; uses a passage from Don Carson's How Long, O Lord
is a chapter from Walsh &
Keesmaat, Colossians Remixed, which does a great job
drawing the context of Colossians.
Chapter 1:1-14: Setting the stage
Paul's Christology hymn; old and new creation
Chapter 1:21+: The false
Chapter 2: Empty asceticism and
our hidden selves
Chapter 3:1-17: Five to kill, five
to put away, five to put on
in Counterpoint and Harmony", by Gilbert Meilaender, on ways to
understand headship in Col 3 and Eph 5
Chapter 3, part 2:
Pornography and thought adultery; headship in marriage; also discusses
the essay The Sermon and
the Lunch by C. S. Lewis, on Christians and home life
THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE
on Luke (handout)
Chapters 1-2: The
infancies of Jesus and John
Chapters 3-4: JtB; the
temptations in the desert; Jesus' inaugural sermon
Chapters 5-8: Jesus'
Galilean ministry: healing
the leper; Sabbath disputes; healing
the centurion's slave; signs of the Jubilee
Chapters 9-10: End of the
Galilean ministry; Start of the long journey south
Chapter 12: The yeast of the
Pharisees; the fire is kindled
Chapter 13-14: Theodicy;
the Narrow Door
Chapter 14; 17: The cost of
discipleship; stumbling blocks; lepers and mustard seeds
Chapters 18-19: Blessing
the little children; the Rich Young Ruler; healing the blind man;
WALKING IN THE DUST OF RABBI JESUS, BY LOIS TVERBERG
3: Shema: Loving
God with Your Whole Heart
Chapter 4: Meeting
Myserlf Next Door [The Golden Rule]
Chapter 5: Gaining
a Good Eye [Generosity and the evil eye]
Chapter 6: The
Mystery of the Name [The name of God, etc., incl. writing
Chapter 7: How
to Have a Kosher Mouth [gossip!]
Chapter 8: Taking
My Thumb Off the Scales [judging others]
Chapter 10: Thinking
with Both Hands [weighing the laws]
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
Parts One and Two
of a lecture on the Sermon.
The following are discussion questions on the Sermon:
Beatitudes, part 1 (Mt 5:1-11)
Beatitudes, part 2
completed; salt & light; Jesus and the Law (Mt 5:3-20)
Antitheses, part 1 (Mt 5:21-48)
Antitheses, part 2 (Mt 5:21-48)
Antitheses, part 3 (Mt 5:21-48)
Antitheses, part 4 (Mt 5:21-48)
Lord's Prayer; practicing piety (Mt 6:1-18)
money, judging others (Mt 6:19-34)
others, continued (Mt 7:1-6)
Seek, Knock; the narrow gate (Mt 7:7-14)
and Doers (Mt 7:15-27)
14. Overview and
is a handout on the Lord's
And a sermon by Stanley Hauerwas on
Sermon from a community-based, Mennonite perspective.
MONEY, POVERTY AND THE CHRISTIAN
discussion questions from Bonhoeffer's Cost
of Discipleship, with an
are the very
110 and 111
of the Heidelberg Catechism, with commentary. (Thanks, Dave!)
is a sermon by John Welsey, "On
the Use of Money",
excerpted from Ben Witherington III's Jesus and Money. Oh, and discussion questions.
This paper by Klyne Snodgrass
is a useful recourse, as it lists all the major gospel passages related
Here's a paper by Craig Blomberg: "On
Wealth and Worry: Matthew
6:19-34--Meaning and Significance".
was the economic status of the
and the early church?
is a relevant
sermon by Bob Hann on the occasion of the Feast of Epiphany.
Practical guidelines from
Sider (pp. 191-4) on living simply.
Mary's to-do list for Rich
is a book review from Christian
Century, of Schneider's book, among others. Like all good book
reviews, it contains some worthwhile thinking of its own. Here is an
interesting article on the
related topic of how churches get their members to give monetarily.
are pages 187-190 of Sider,
where he discusses the graduated tithe. (Arbutus
Sider? "Arbutus is a genus
of at least 14 species of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae,
native to warm temperate regions of the Mediterranean, western Europe,
and North America" -wikipedia.)
is a paper by John Schneider
which explores in less space the themes in his book, The
Good of Affluence.
For those who missed it, here are Andy's
from the Nov 18, 2011 HH meeting.
are the first two chapters of Ron
Sider's book. Here's the third.
Here is the fifth chapter of John
R. Schneider's The Good of Affluence,
and discussion questions
by Andy and me on that chapter.
Here is chapter 5 of Sider.
1 AND 2 PETER: CHRISTIAN LIFE IN ANCIENT ROME
a lecture on the Roman
cultural and physical setting of the first-century church.
This is an introductory chapter from Philip Payne's Man
and Woman: One in Christ
(Zondervan), which talks about the cultural attitudes toward women.
Starting on p. 35 is an
interesting section on Gamaliel, Paul's teacher.
Here is some background material
on 1 Peter.
here is a chapter from Timothy Tennent's Theology
in the Context of World
Christianity, on the subject of honor
& shame in
first-century culture and the Bible. Here are two other excepts on
honor and shame: one on particularly
focusing on 1 Peter, and one
1 Peter contains a household code
which prescribes relationships between husbands, wives, slaves,
masters, old and young. Here is a handout
Aristotle's, Peter's and Paul's household codes. Here is
an article about the household
code in Ephesians, which has some good background on the topic.
And here is a really interesting
article by Miroslav Volf on 1
Peter's paradigm for cultural engagement.
Here is a nifty little article by
Calvin Stapert on Bach's St.
John Passion and Christus Victor
Some good blog entries: honor
shame in Paul; Jesus'
into hell... or the dead.
Here, then, are the eight studies in 1 Peter:
introduction to 1 Peter
2: 1:22-2:25: an
to honor & shame in 1 Peter
3: 2:11-3:12: household
and other topics
4: 3:8-4:19: paraenesis,
of the OT, spirits in prison, etc.
5: 4: deeper
the household code; "be serious and disciplined"
Victor; preaching to the dead again; spiritual warfare
the world; the Suffering Servant; timelines of redemption
Background on second
Questions on 2 Peter, part
(on 1:1-15). And part
2 (on 1:16-2:10a).
Unfortunately, these questions don't address all of 2 Peter, just
In 1 Peter 1 there is a "ladder of virtues" which, in hellenized
language, gives a nutshell of the Christian ethical standard. A good
point of comparison is Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics. Books II-IV
virtues. To those virtues we'd want to add Justice
(discussed in book V), and the "virtues
of thought" (aka
"intellectual virtues") discussed in Book VI: practical wisdom
Prudence), intelligence (insight into 1st principles), scientific
understanding, and wisdom. (Thanks to my friend Tim O'Keefe for this
great background material!)
Here's a devotional from D. A.
Carson on 2 Peter 2:1-3.
For lack of a better place, here is an
article by Craig Keener on demon
possession now and then.
SCIENCE AND FAITH
Here is the lecture I gave on science and faith at the LLE
on 4/11/2014 to a secular audience as part of the Science and
Technology seminar series. It draws upon ideas from Ian
Hutchinson and T. F. Torrance.
a lecture on my
experience of the interation of science & faith, given at
Trinity Reformed Church, 4/18/2010, as part of their Christians
at Work series. I
also made up some
questions based on the talk.
The talk is better if you watch, when indicated, some video clips:
a segment of the show Big Bang Theory
on the topic of string theory,
from the movie Angels and Demons,
a movie of my simulation of a shock wave
propagating through a clumpy medium, and the acceleration
phase and deceleration phase of a
Some other resources related to various
aspects of science & faith:
THE HOLY SPIRIT
two excerpts on tongues and prophecy from D. A. Carson's Showing
the Spirit: first, on 14:1-5 and
tongues v. prophecy;
second, on tongues itself, such as
whether there are two types ("prophetic" v. "prayer language"). Very
Here is a very small, informal survey
of some who speak in tongues, and a few who have had nonzero
interaction with the charismatic community.
Here are some questions touching on the Holy Spirit in Acts and 1
Corinthians 12-14: Part
1 (baptism in the Holy Spirit,
the history of the gifts, glossolalia), Part
2 (prophecy, being filled with
Spirit, the charismatic tradition, close moments).
Here is a lecture giving an overview
the Holy Spirit
(if such a thing is possible).
is a section from Michael Green's excellent Evangelism
in the Early Church,
talking about aspects of the
of the early church members and evangelists. It points to the
the fruit of the Spirit were visible in those communities.
is a characteristically good article by Raymond Brown: "Diverse
of the Spirit in the New Testament" (Worship,
57 no 3 May 1983, p. 225-23),
provided the core of the above HS overview.
is a nicely
and insightful chapter on the Holy Spirit in Acts from
Michael Green's lay-commentary Thirty
That Changed the World.
interesting letter by John
in which he mentions the idea of sudden, complete sanctification. It's
in the context of complaining that old preachers are seldom good. [The Letters of the Rev. John
Wesley, ed. John Telford (London: Epworth, 1931), vol. 7, p.
222. Referred to in Milard Erickson's Christian
Theology, p. 869, fn. 27.]
old letters, here's a brief article from the Gordon-Conwell student
newspaper back in the 70s talking about a
little-known letter from Calvin to Beza
in which Calvin says that sometimes, during prayer, he finds himself
speaking in an unknown tongue [Quent Warford, “Calvin Speaks
Unknown Tongue,” The Paper:
Student Paper of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary 1.6
(March 24, 1975): 6]. (See
this blog entry by
G-C librarian and this
by Ben Witherington.)
of understanding of the Holy Spirit involves learning discernment. This
by Dennis McCallum provides some good pointers based on
Scripture and experience.
are questions on
6-8, part 1, along with an
clip from a
teaching by Dennis McCallum. Also, since we are jumping
into the middle of Romans, here is a
little background on the book. Here are questions
on Romans 6-8,
are questions on the Spirit in
life of the believer, as understood from Ephesians. Also, a
with background on
SOME EXCELLENT SERMONS AND LECTURES
lecture by D. A. Carson on elders, from the 9
Marks web site. And while we're
on Carson, here are two interviews of him by Mark Dever (same source):
of his many books, and his observations
Van Tholen, "What's
Deacon For?", a sermon on Eph 4:1-16; 1/9/2000.
BARBARA BROWN TAYLOR'S THE PREACHING LIFE
are discussion questions on Barbara Brown Taylor's The Preaching Life:
Chapters which describe her history and philosophy: "A
in Ruins" (1), "Call"
(6), "Preaching" (7),
and her sermons:
Love" (the Good Samaritan),
"The Fourth Watch" (Mark 6:45-52--Jesus walks on water),
"I Am Who I Am" (John 8:12-59),
Tenth Leper" (Luke 17:5-17),
Opposite of Rich"
(on the rich young ruler),
To Watch" (and here's a great
article on the Widow's Mite),
Glances" (on the Sheep and the Goats),
Voice of the
Shepherd" (on John 10 and the parable of the Good Shepherd),
"The Lost and
Found Department" (on the parables of the lost sheep and coin)
is a presentation
an overview of Isaiah, and questions
Here are questions
chapters 2-5, plus a handout with some suggestions for how
chapters 6-12, and a handout on the
the NT reads the OT.
Here are questions
chapters 24-27. (Chs. 13-23 left as an "exercise for the
Here are questions
chs. 28-35 (in two parts).
Here are questions
Here are two
of Newness" by John N. Oswalt
Sake, For My Sake" by Cornelius Plantinga
Here are questions
Here is a
nice teaching on the servant songs by Xenos Christian Fellowship
pastor Gary DeLashmutt. And here's an
by pastor Dennis McCallum discussing why the "suffering servant" and
"conquering king" messianic prophecies in the OT are mixed together in
such an opaque way.
Here are questions
chapter 49 and the second Servant Song.
Here are questions on chs. 50-55, and all four Servant Songs: part
Here is abrief handount describing the pre-Christian intepretations
the Suffering Servant.
And finally: questions
SERMONS AND MEDITATIONS FOR ADVENT AND CHRISTMAS
ESSAYS ON ADOPTION
surprised by how many excellent writers have adopted.
Here is a great Christianity Today
article by Walter Wangerin called A Stranger in Joseph's House.
Here is a must-read by Miroslav Volf called She Who Truly Loves, and
another, The Gift of Infertility.
Gilbert Meilaender, renowned ethicist, wrote six open letters in Christian Century to his adoped
son, as his son was leaving for college:
Gifts and Achievements, Living into Commitments, Moment-ousness, Silence, Being Adopted and Adoptees One and All. Check
SOME RESOURCES FOR EXEGESIS
is a handy list of common
errors (with examples!) from Douglas Stuart's book Old
Testament Exegesis (Westminster
John Knox, 2001).
And here is a great,
guide to biblical hermeneutics with some excellent examples,
by Ben Witherington (from his blog).
You may find useful this outline of Fee's short
to sermon exegesis (and as a Word
This is more on hermeneutics: an essay by Michael Green on an
understanding of the various forms of NT criticism. It may be
slightly out of date, but provides an excellent balance.
for a place
to start when studying a passage? Here are some
questions to use in inductive
study, grouped by literature type.
UNDERSTANDING OUR ELECTION IN TERMS OF JESUS'
Here is a fascinating and enjoyable article by Bob Hann (Prof. CRCDS and retired Presyterian
minister), called "Election,
humanity of Jesus, and possible worlds."
(This link points to the revised version--the one to read for the May
23rd 2008 small-group meeting.) It's one of the most thought-provoking
discussions of predestination you will read. (Journal
of the Evan. Theol. Soc. 29,
295, 1986.) Here's a lucid,
election by Ben Witherington.
HERESIES, ADVERSARIES AND BIBLICAL PRIORITIES
Here is an article by Craig Blomberg which I found interesting: "The
Testament Definition of Heresy (Or When do Jesus and the Apostles
Really Get Mad?)" (Journal of
Evan. Theol. Soc. 45,
Here are discussion
on the article, as well as a
chart of NT heresies and adversaries, which may save you from some
of the drier parts of the article.
Gnosticism was the first major heresy which the early church was forced
to resist and refute. A central tenet of it was docetism: the belief
that Jesus only seemed human,
but was really not tainted by the flesh. Modern bible-believing
Christians often find it challenging to know how much humanity to allow
Here's thought-provoking and brief article on Jesus' humanity
and the inspiration of scritpture: "The
of Infallibility", Word and
World, 26, 355
Here is a
presentation giving an introduction to the parables of Jesus. Good
background if you want a refresher.
Jesus' parables, and discussion
questions comparing the theology of Jesus' parables to that in
of parables rewritten in an academic context by
Deb and Loren Haarsma. Very funny!
T. F. Torrance giving a Reformed theology of the role of parables
in epistemology (18 Mb). Really fun, actually! And discussion
on the article.
is the short story Hunters in the Snow by Tobias
Wolff, and discussion
questions on the story by Susan M. Gilbert-Collins.
20:1-16, the parable of the landowner, by Barbara Brown Taylor.
questions on right- and left-handed power based on Robert Capon's
Parables of the Kingdom.
PARABLES OF JUDGMENT
to the parables of judgment, found in Mt 24-25 and elsewhere:
The parables of Lazarus
Dives, and the Unmerciful Servant; makes reference to a
brief sermon by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the unmerciful servant (Mt
to Ed Hull
for sharing this gem).
the Murderous Tenants. Here are lecture
on the Wicked Tenants. I believe they make the case that the
cleansing of the Temple is about much more than corrupt money changers.
parable of the Unjust
is a thought-provoking
parable of the unjust steward (Lk 16:1-9): Thomas
Long, "Making Friends", Journal
for Preachers, 30,
The parables of the Great
and the Wedding Feast.
The "parable" of the
and the Goats.
the Talents and the Minas, as well as a handout
various meanings ascribed to the Talents through the ages.
the Thief in the Night, the Faithful and Unfaithful Stewards, and
the Ten Maidens
Here is a handout on the
Discourse, which is the context for these parables.
PARABLES OF GRACE
related to the parables of grace primarily found in Luke:
the Good Samaritan
the Friend at Midnight
the Widow and the Unjust Judge; and the Pharisee and the Tax
here is a handout on Pharisees]
of the Lost Sheep, Coin and (prodigal) Son
PARABLES OF THE KINGDOM
are some resources related to our study of the parables of the kingdom
(in Mt 13 and Mk 4):
brief and readable history of the study of parables by a Bethel
Seminary prof., in the Luther Seminary journal Word
the mustard seed and the leaven and the growing seed
the pearl and the hidden treasure
is a five-week series on 1 Jn: one,
Gospel of John: The
version with discussion questions, and the
version with gory detail.
handout on Gregory of Nazianzus' quote, "that which was
not assumed was not healed".
Here is a handout on the
relationship with the World in the gospel of John and 1
Here is a handout on what
Didache has to say about prophets.
PAUL'S RACE, START TO FINISH: 1 THESSALONIANS AND 2 TIMOTHY
[I am aware of the
arguments against Pauline authorship for 2 Tim. (a) Even if this
is written by a disciple of Paul, it still speaks about what does and
doesn't change from the inception of the written record of Paul's
ministry to its end; (b) I am largely persuaded by Oden's argument in
favor of Pauline authorship.]
reading by Raymond Brown on the
strengths and weakenesses of the
Paul chose in the pastoral letters (1 Tim, 2 Tim, Titus) for the
of the second-generation Aegean Church in the face of heresy from
Discussion questions on 2 Tim: one,
version"; week three also discusses the article "What American
Teenagers Believe", with link below).
Discussion questions on 1 Thessalonians: here
10-12, which includes a description of the wisdom literature's
definition of wisdom.
here is a a chart
Kaiser on the symbolism in ch 11).
Here is an
from a paper referenced in the New Jerome Commentary which outlines the
structure of the book, which has the fascinating implication that the
book as a whole was not redacted.
five (*), six (*), nine, ten (*),
and twelve, thirteen,
(Asterices refer to versions without leaders' notes.) Plus, a chart
messianic prophecies from Zechariah.
Here is Ben Witherington's very
argument that Lazarus
is actually the beloved disciple.
one, one part
& ten, ten*,
(Files marked with an asterisk were made by Jenny Douglas.)
(courtesy Barbara Hull).
questions on Gender, Sexuality
and the Trinity by
J. B. Torrance.
questions and background
Notes on Trinitarian passages in the NT, and many examples from Gordon Fee's most excellent Paul, The Spirit, and the People of God.
handout on Gregory of Nazianzus' quote, "that which was
not assumed was not healed".
STILL MORE RESOURCES
questions on the essay The
as Prisoner and Liberator of Culture by Andrew Walls
(which can be found in the collection The
Movement in Christian History). Great article.
A Wired article from Andy Elliot on the
It's about 4 Mb, and note before you print it out that there are some
pages which are mostly black, which you may wantnot want to print.
Here is a useful chart from Xenos.org regarding the Mosaic
and its relevance for modern Christians.
a copy of the
service from the Book of Common Prayer, with Daily Family
Devotions thrown in as a bonus.
the "new perspective" on Paul? Want to know what the big noise
is about? Want to distinguish covenantal v. variegated nomism? Sure you
do! Here's a Christianity
article on the topic from Aug 2007, and here is a blog entry
Witherington (click "show original post"), critiquing it (or go here
and page down to Mar 8).
is an excerpt
from IVP's The New Bible Commentary
source criticism of the Pentateuch. This gives an overview and
asks questions a shy conservative reader would want addressed. For a
thorough and readable treatment of the canonical theory, see Who
Wrote the Bible by Richard E.
Emily has graciously agreed to lead a discussion on a sermon by N.
T. Wright, "The
Who Raises the Dead", from his book Following
Jesus (Eerdmans, 1994).
Lewis Smedes on promises, and discussion
is an article, "What
Teenagers Believe", from Books & Culture.
questions on a selection from Dallas Willard's Spirit
of the Disciplines.
questions on the New
As Dead about brain death and associated ethical
questions on the blessings and curses of Deut 28.
the distant past: The Rochester
are a set of
bible study discussion questions used in a non-denominational bible
study in Rochester, New York. The I launched the group in 1994, which
included David and Linda Boris, Andrew and Christi Markiel, Eliza
Stefaniw, Dean Johnson, Jodi Quam-Johnson, Anthony Perez-Miller,
Rebecca, Paula and Marshall Henry, Candice Bacon, George and Sue
Fisher, Ed and Barbara Hull, Laura Toepfer, and others. David Boris
co-led the group for many years, and I benefitted tremendously from
working with him.
- Ruth, I
Peter, Judges, Parables, Philippians, Revelation, Romans, Habakkuk, Hebrews, Acts
These files are in
mostly "pdf" format, readable by Adobe Acrobat. If you don't already
have Acrobat, it is free:
Above are some resources developed for
with a small group (a
subset of whom is pictured here and here)
and in adult Sunday school at Rochester Christian Reformed Church.
This small group, informally known as
the Holy Huddle, also has a blog.
Here's the history behind this effort:
are myriad study guides for any book you might want; to paraphrase Jn
21:25, I suppose that even the whole world barely has room for
study guides that have been written. So why write more? I began
these discussion questions while leading and later co-leading (with
David Boris) a graduate-level Bible study
at the University of Rochester in New York. I am currently in a small
group at Rochester CRC filled with more smart folks who have a strong
penchant for analysis and deep thought. There seems to be a
of discussion questions which address this desire--hence these
And here's Tim Collins' main web site.