STUDIES & Resources for Group Discussion

Often discussion questions are aimed at the timid reader. The questions below aren't. 

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 free to contact me with any feedback:

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Tim Collins, Rochester, New York


Deuteronomy 28
Minor prophets


The Signs of Jesus in John
The Sermon on the Mount
Paul's race, start and finish: 1 Thessalonians and 2 Timothy
2 Corinthians
1 and 2 Peter: Christian Life in Ancient Rome
1 John


Gordon Fee's Paul, the Spirit and the People of God
Walking in the Dust of Rabbi Jesus by Lois Tverberg
Barbara Brown Taylor's The Preaching Life


Bonhoeffer's sermon on Rev 14:6-13, "Learning to Die"
Lewis Smedes on Promises
Andrew Walls' essay "The Gospel as the Prisoner and Liberator of Culture"
An excerpt from Dallas Willard's Spirit of the Disciplines
"As Good As Dead" from The New Yorker


Global Warming and Climate Care
Poverty and Money
Science & Faith
Devotions for Holy Week
Small Groups


Knowing Jesus
The Holy Spirit
The Trinity


A few good sermons & lectures
Still more studies, articles and resources: the "new" atheists; a chart on the Mosaic law; "What American Teenagers Believe" from Books & Culture; the New Paul; the documentary hypothesis; a copy of Compline

© Copyright reserved by Tim Collins. Documents I have authored which are  linked to on this page may be freely distributed, so long as this authorship and copyright notice is attached. 


This set of studies aims to develop a better understanding of what Jesus was like, with the goal of knowing Jesus better and growing closer to him.

Here is a little introductory presentation. and a discussion question on the Jesus of the Servant Songs in Isaiah
Two passages in which Jesus interacts with Gentiles
Jesus and his family 
Jesus calls his disciples (slides due to pandemic shelter-in-place order)
Jesus walks on water (slides)
Jesus heals the paralytic lowered through the ceiling; uses a clip from the series The Chosen, episode 6, 43:07-55:30


Brief devotions for Monday through Thursday: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Maundy Thursday

Here is a little introductory presentation. Commentaries I found particularly useful were the two (big and little) by Gordon Fee, and the one by Lynn Cohick, who also has some very nice brief videos on Philippians. Also rare and very useful are these devotional lectures on  Philippians by Gordon Fee: lecture one, lecture two, lecture three, from the 2005 National Vineyard Conference in Columbus Ohio. (Other Fee resources can be found here.)

Week 1: Philippians 1:1-11: Introduction to Philippians 
Week 2: Philippians 1:12-30: To live Christ, to die, gain; and some introductory slides
Week 3: Philippians 1:27-2:11: The mind of Christ; and A chart of anxieties and their solutions in ancient Rome, the modern West and the gospel
Week 4: Philippians 2:1-14: Kenosis

PART II (with a set of refresher introductory slides)
Week 5: Philippians 2:14-30: Shine among them like stars; makes reference to a clip from this lecture by Lynn Cohick
Week 6: Philippians 3:1-14: The power of his resurrection
Week 7: Philippians 3:12-4:4: Christian maturity
Week 8: Philippians 4:4-9: Worrying, and the peace that passes understanding; makes reference to the excellent Bible Project video on shalom
Week 9: Philippians 4:2-9 again: The theme of joy; whatever is true, honorable, etc.
Week 10: Philippians 4:10-23: Imitation and discipleship; in context: "I can do all things"; "My God will meet all your needs"
Week 11: The secret of contentment presentation, using audio clips from Clive Calver (source here), Dennis McCallum (source here) and Drumomo Gary (source here)


Week 1: Chapter six, "The Sovereignty of God", from Tim Keller's Walking with God through Pain and Suffering (chapters 6-8 of Keller are here); includes a chart surveying of voices from Scripture on suffering
Week 2: Chapter seven, "The Suffering of God", from Keller's book--how God suffers for and with us
Week 3: Chapter 7 continued, and Keller, chapter 14, "Praying"; D = S - M; chart of the Principles of Prayer
Week 4: Prayer, continued; how we hear from God (using an excerpt from Dennis McCallum's "The Thorn in the Flesh", 15:00-20:00); also discussion of the brief "Praising God Saved Me in My Pain" by Aubrey Sampson, which focuses on Lamentations, hesed, etc.
Week 5: Sampson, continued, and excerpt from Peter Enns' The Sin of Certainty (pp. 156-159; 166-170): God wants your trust, not your certainty; doubts, far from being a shameful disaster, may be God's way of teaching greater depth of trust

JAMES (with Andy Elliot)

James 1:1-8 Introduction
James 1:9-27: Trials and temptations; listening and doing (Andy)
James 2:1-13: True religion
James 2:14-3:12: Faith and works; Christian speech
James 3:13-4:10: How to live by heavenly, not worldly wisdom
James 4:4-5: Friendship with the world vs. romance with God based on Tim Keller's PG-13 sermon "Courage"


The Wedding at Cana: 2:1-11
Healing the Official's Son: 4:43-54
Healing at the Pool of Bethesda: 5:1-29
Feeding the Multitude: 6:1-15, 22-36
Walking on Water: 6:16-21
Healing the Man Born Blind: Chapter 9
Raising Lazarus: John 11:1-44


The following are resources and notes from an inductive-study series in Ephesians:

Ephesians, NRSV, without verse numbers or paragraphs
Ephesians, NIV, without verse numbers but with paragraphs
Introduction to the Inductive Study method; leader's introduction, motivating the method

Here is a log of our observations and questions from each section.
For background on Ephesians try Dr. Constable.
For more information on exegesis and inductive study, see the section below.

Here are section pdfs on graph paper with wide margins, for use in noting inductive-study observations, questions, etc.:
Ephesians 1:1-14, Ephesians 1:15-2:10, Ephesians 2:11-3:13

Discussion questions (smaller than the usual number because they are meant to be paired with inductive study):
Ephesians 1: Blessings of the new life
Ephesians 2:11-22: the new humanity
Ephesians 3: power, mysterion, rulers and authorities
Ephesians 4:1-16: prophecy and the four-fold ministry; maturity in Christ
Ephesians 4:17-32: Putting on Christ
Ephesians 5:1-20: ...and so how do we live?
Ephesians 5:21-6:9: Wives and husbands
Ephesians 6:10-24: Spiritual warfare


Some useful resources for the study of Amos: Dictionary of the OT: ProphetsIntroduction to the Hebrew Bible
. Here is commentary on the text: IVP Bible Background Commentary; IVP New Bible Commentary. Here also is an excellent sermon by Tim Keller on Amos, "Healer of the World".
Here is background on Amos, as well as questions on part I: 1:1-3:2 (does God intervene with modern pagan nations?)
Amos 3:4-end of 6: Cows of Bashan--Christians and riches (courtesy Andy Elliot)
Amos 7-9: The Sovereignty of God: His Wrath and His Mercy (courtesy Janet Coughlin)


Some background information on Romans. Also useful, the Romans syllabus from the class taught by Prof. Robert Hann at CRCDS
Romans chapter 1: parallels with creation; God's wrath and the surprising result
Romans chapters 2-3: Jewish boundary markers; justification
Romans chapter 4: Abraham's trust was reckoned to him as righteousness (questions by Andy Elliot)
Romans chapter 5:1-11: the benefits of grace. Refers to Jim Van Tholen's sermon on this passage, Where All Hope Lies, uses an excerpt from Walter Wangerin's Paul, and a clip from Tim Keller's sermon on this passage, "Joy"
Romans 5:12-6:23: Adam and Jesus; Slaves to sin and slaves to righteousness; our identity in Christ as the engine of sanctification
Romans chapter 7: The grace mindset v. the law mindset
Two excellent sermons on Romans 7: "Law School" by Dennis McCallum and "Splitness" by Tim Keller. This article talks about why this passage describes post-conversion experience.
Romans 8, part 1 (vv. 1-17): The Spirit. Uses clips from Dennis McCallum's Walking According to the Spirit (Part 3) and Tim Keller's Mortification Through Joy.
Romans 8, part 2 (vv. 18-39), courtesy Andy Elliot
Saul's Damascus-road experience and its influence on the theology of Romans. Also, enjoy this vivid teaching by Sue Collins on the DRE.
Romans 9:1-10:4: What do we make of Jewish rejection of the Messiah? Uses a four-minute clip from Doug Stuart on "love" and "hate" in the OT. See also this helpful page on Romans 9 by the Society of Evangelical Arminians.
Romans 12: Living sacrifices
Romans 13: Church and state (if a fellow believer steals from you, do you prosecute?)
Romans 14:1-15:13: Catering to the "weaker" brother or sister in the Lord for the sake of conscience (and here is a handout with a repeated discussion question which delved into a little more detail on matters of conscience, adiaphora)
Romans 16: Evidence of diversity from Paul's greetings, and discussion of the "homogeneous unit principle" (from a Lausanne conference)


Here is a presentation on small groups.


Introduction to the Psalms (including questions on Pss 2 and 35); and a shorter "participant's version" without the lengthy leader's notes. The psalm settings in this section were selected by the incomparable Juli Elliot.
This has reference to three brief (~2 min.) audio clips, one by Lee Campbell from his very fine introductory lecture on the Psalms and two from a 2015 talk by Ajith Fernando on remaining fresh in ministry: part 1 and part 2. (His lecture is here and on youtube.)

Here are two useful articles on hesed:
    God's Grace in the OT
    Hesed as Obligation


The traditional view of homosexuality, the Bible and Christian life:
            What does the Bible say about homosexuality?
            Rethinking our responses
            Answering objections with grace and truth
            (Notes on the series)
Addressing arguments in favor of a the non-traditional (revisionist) viewpoint:
How do I live as a Christian if I experience same-sex attraction?
Finally, this topic deeply impacts the hearts and lives of many of us so levity on the topic is dangerous, but perhaps can be helpful when done thoughtfully.

Background on 2 Corinthians. This is a powerpoint presentation. Even if you don't have Microsoft Office, you can view it with this free Powerpoint Viewer from Microsoft.
Questions on 1:1-11: comfort and affliction--even beyond what we can bear--in kingdom work; Paul's itinerary kerfuffle; includes a note on the various 2 Corinthians commentaries I used.
Questions on 1:12-2:17: Travelgate; Missing in Troas; an unlikely Triumph
Questions on 2:18-4:6: GLORY; letters of recommendation
Questions on 4:7-5:10: Jars of clay; POWER in Paul's letters (handout); when we suffer at the hands of the church rather than the world
Questions on 5:1-6:10: Walking by faith; new creations in Christ
Questions on 6-7: Metanoia and metamelomai; remaining pure while living in the world
Questions on 8-9: The collection for the saints in Judea; how to motivate people; includes a question on this clip from a teaching by Dennis McCallum
Questions on 10: Taking every thought captive and demolishing strongholds--using this excerpt from Don Carson's A Model for Christian Maturity
Questions on 11: divine jealousy and foolishness for God
Questions on 12: Paul's thorn in the flesh and his vision of the third heaven
Questions on Paul in Corinthians as a model for leadership; also questions on Spurgeon's sermon, "Earnestness: It's Marring and Maintenance"


Background on Job
Questions on the prologue and  Job's first lament, including a question on "Sitting Shiva" from Miriam's Kitchen by Elizabeth Ehrlich
Questions about Job's  three friends
Questions on Job's speeches (including excerpt from Elie Wiesel's The Trial of God)
Questions on Elihu's speeches
Discussion questions on "Broken" by Henri Nouwen, from his Life of the Beloved, Spiritual Living in a Secular World
Questions on God's response to Job (including a question on "Andi's story" from Tim Keller's Walking with God Through Pain and Suffering)
New Testament views on suffering, including a question on Tim Keller's description of Elisabeth Elliot's novel, No Graven Image


Zechariah 7


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)
Hebrews 10:23-25
Hebrews 11
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


Here 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
Chapter 1:15+: Paul's Christology hymn; old and new creation
Chapter 1:21+: The false teaching
Chapter 2: Empty asceticism and our hidden selves
Chapter 3:1-17: Five to kill, five to put away, five to put on
"Marriage 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 

Background 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; Zacchaeus 

Chapter 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 collects]
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]


Here are Parts One and Two of a lecture on the Sermon.
Here is a presentation on the antitheses regarding adultery and divorce. (pdf version)

The following are discussion questions on the Sermon:

1. The Beatitudes, part 1: Intro and makarios (Mt 5:1-11)
2. The Beatitudes, part 2: Poverty, meekness, spiritual hunger, salt (Mt 5:1-11)
3. The Beatitudes completed; salt & light; Jesus and the Law (Mt 5:3-20)
4. The Antitheses, part 1: murder and anger (Mt 5:21-48)
5. The Antitheses, part 2: lust, adultery and divorce (Mt 5:21-48)
6. The Antitheses, part 3: Paul and the SOTM; oaths; the lex talionis (Mt 5:21-48)
7. The Antitheses, part 4: pacifism, nonviolence, non-resistance (Mt 5:21-48)
8. The Lord's Prayer; practicing piety (Mt 6:1-18)
9. Worries (Mt 6:19-34)
10. Worries, money, judging others (Mt 6:19-34)
11. Judging others, continued (Mt 7:1-6)
12. Ask, Seek, Knock; the narrow gate (Mt 7:7-14)
13. Hearers and Doers (Mt 7:15-27)
14. Overview and conclusions

Here is a handout on the Lord's Prayer.

And a sermon by Stanley Hauerwas on the Sermon from a community-based, Mennonite perspective.


Here is a talk given at RCRC in Dec 2019 as part of a series taught by Anthony Selvaggio (pastor of RCRC) on Christian creation care, using Creation Care by Moo and Moo


Here are excerpts and discussion questions from Bonhoeffer's Cost of Discipleship, with an addendum.

Here are the very relevant questions 110 and 111 of the Heidelberg Catechism, with commentary. (Thanks, Dave!)

Here 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 to money.

Here's a paper by Craig Blomberg: "On Wealth and Worry: Matthew 6:19-34--Meaning and Significance".

What was the economic status of the disciples and the early church?
Sider: The early church had a disproportionate number of poor (see p. 80, second full par.)
Schneider: Early congregations in the empire 'generally reflected a fair cross-section of urban society'" (134). While the majority of those who came to hear Jesus were destitute, Jesus and his closest followers "came mainly from a social and economic background similar to his own--that is, from the middle class of their day" (136). "[Jesus] led relatively privileged people into new lives of economic redemption... [as he] pulled them out of their safe worlds.. [and] placed them in contact with the very soul of the suffering world..." (138)
Blomberg: Jesus and some of his disciples were skilled workers and thus may have been better off than many; while itinerant during Jesus' ministry, "there's no indication they have sold or permanently abandoned what material resources they had at home" (108). Wealthy women helped support them in their ministry (Lk 8:1-3).
Stark:  Early Christianity was based in the privileged classes (see p. 33, end of section)
Bonhoeffer: "Now they are living in want and privation, the poorest of the poor, the sorest afflicted, and the hungriest of the hungry" (Cost of Discipleship, p. 118)

Here 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 Christians.

Here 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.

Here 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.)

This 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 questions from the Nov 18, 2011 HH meeting.

Here 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.

Here is 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 especially interesting section on Gamaliel, Paul's teacher.

Here is some background material on 1 Peter.

And 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 more general introduction.

1 Peter contains a household code which prescribes relationships between  husbands, wives, slaves, masters, old and young. Here is a handout comparing 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 atonement theology.
Some good blog entries: honor and shame in Paul; Jesus' descent into hell... or the dead.

Here, then, are the eight studies in 1 Peter:
1: An introduction to 1 Peter
2: 1:22-2:25: an introduction to honor & shame in 1 Peter
3: 2:11-3:12: household codes and other topics
4: 3:8-4:19: paraenesis, use of the OT, spirits in prison, etc.
5: 4: deeper into the household code; "be serious and disciplined"
6: rewriting the social code
7: suffering; Christus Victor; preaching to the dead again; spiritual warfare
8: interacting with the world; the Suffering Servant; timelines of redemption

Background on second Peter.

Questions on 2 Peter, part 1 (on 1:1-15).  And part 2 (on 1:16-2:10a). Unfortunately,  these questions don't address all of 2 Peter, just through 2:10.

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 discuss the moral/ethical 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 (aka 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.


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.

Here is 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 discussion 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,
the trailer 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 NIF-scale ICF implosion.

Some other resources related to various aspects of science & faith:


Here is an excellent 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): An enjoyable discussion of his many books, and his observations of evangelicalism.

Jim Van Tholen, "What's a Deacon For?", a sermon on Eph 4:1-16; 1/9/2000.

"Earnesness" from Helmut Thielicke's Encounter with Spurgeon: advice all pastors should read at least once a year!

N. T. Wright's "The God Who Raises the Dead", from his book Following Jesus (Eerdmans, 1994).

Here is a sermon by C. K. Barrett on Hosea which I found insightful, originally posted by Ben Witherington.

Here is a brief article I wrote on two very substantive articles from Books & Culture talking about surveys which show evangelicals looking very much like their surrounding culture. The B&C articles, by Sider and Stackhouse, can be found here: Jan/Feb 2005; Jul/Aug 2007.


Here are discussion questions on Barbara Brown Taylor's The Preaching Life:  
Chapters which describe her history and philosophy: "A Church in Ruins" (1), "Call" (2), "Vocation" (3), "Imagination" (4), "Bible" (5), "Worship" (6), "Preaching" (7),
and her sermons:
"Do Love" (the Good Samaritan),
"The Fourth Watch" (Mark 6:45-52--Jesus walks on water),
"I Am Who I Am" (John 8:12-59),
"The Tenth Leper" (Luke 17:5-17),
"The Opposite of Rich" (on the rich young ruler),
"The One To Watch" (and here's a great article on the Widow's Mite),
"Knowing Glances" (on the Sheep and the Goats),
"The 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)


Here is a presentation giving an overview of Isaiah, and  questions on chapter 1.
Here are questions on chapters 2-5, plus a handout with some suggestions for how to read Isaiah.
Here are questions on chapters 6-12, and a handout on the way the NT reads the OT.
Here are questions on chapters 24-27. (Chs. 13-23 left as an "exercise for the reader".)
Here are questions on chs. 28-35 (in two parts).
Here are questions on chs. 36-39.

Here are two sermons on Isaiah 43:
"The God of Newness" by John N. Oswalt
"For Your Sake, For My Sake" by Cornelius Plantinga

Here are questions on chs. 40-48.

Here is a nice teaching on the servant songs by Xenos Christian Fellowship pastor Gary DeLashmutt. And here's an intriguing essay 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 on chapter 49 and the second Servant Song.

Here are questions on chs. 50-55, and all four Servant Songs: part 1, part 2.

Here is abrief  handount describing the pre-Christian intepretations of the Suffering Servant.

And finally: questions on Isaiah 56-66.



You may be 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 out especially Living...

Here is a training presentation for new small-group leaders. Also, Xenos has a great guide for leading group discussion, which is a staple of their home-church structure. Oh, actually, it appears they removed it--that's a real loss.

Here is a handy list of common hermeneutical errors (with examples!) from Douglas Stuart's book Old Testament Exegesis (Westminster John Knox, 2001).

And here is a great, brief guide to biblical hermeneutics with some excellent examples, by Ben Witherington (from his blog).

You may find useful this outline of Fee's short guide to sermon exegesis (and as a Word doc).

This is more on hermeneutics: an essay by Michael Green on an evangelical understanding of the various forms of NT criticism. It may be slightly out of date, but provides an excellent balance.

Looking for a place to start when studying a passage? Here are some questions to use in inductive bible study, grouped by literature type.


Here is a fascinating and enjoyable article by Bob Hann (Prof. CRCDS and retired Presyterian minister), called "Election, the 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, contrasting discussion of election by Ben Witherington.


Here is an article by Craig Blomberg which I found interesting: "The New Testament Definition of Heresy (Or When do Jesus and the Apostles Really Get Mad?)" (Journal of the Evan. Theol. Soc. 45, 59, 2002).

A useful article from Christianity Today, "Evangelicals' Favorite Heresies Revisited by Researchers".

Here are discussion questions 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 Jesus.

Here's thought-provoking and brief article on Jesus' humanity and the inspiration of scritpture:  "The Heresy of Infallibility", Word and World, 26, 355 (2006).


Here is a presentation giving an introduction to the parables of Jesus. Good background if you want a refresher.

A chart summarizing Jesus' parables, and discussion questions comparing the theology of Jesus' parables to that in Paul's epistles.

A humorous collection of parables rewritten in an  academic context by Deb and Loren Haarsma. Very funny!

An article by T. F. Torrance giving a Reformed theology of the role of parables in epistemology (18 Mb). Really fun, actually! And discussion questions on the article.

Here is the short story Hunters in the Snow by Tobias Wolff, and discussion questions on the story by Susan M. Gilbert-Collins.

A sermon on Mt 20:1-16, the parable of the landowner, by Barbara Brown Taylor.

Discussion questions on right- and left-handed power based on Robert Capon's Parables of the Kingdom.


Resources related to the parables of judgment, found in Mt 24-25 and elsewhere:
The parables of Lazarus and Dives, and the Unmerciful Servant; makes reference to a brief sermon by Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the unmerciful servant (Mt 18:21-35; thanks to Ed Hull for sharing this gem).

The parable of the Murderous Tenants.  Here are lecture slides on the Wicked Tenants. I believe they make the case that the cleansing of the Temple is about much more than corrupt money changers.

The parable of the Unjust Steward.  Here is a thought-provoking sermon on the parable of the unjust steward (Lk 16:1-9): Thomas G. Long, "Making Friends", Journal for Preachers, 30, 52-57, 2007.

The parables of the Great Supper and the Wedding Feast.

The "parable" of the Sheep and the Goats.

The parables of the Talents and the Minas, as well as a handout giving various meanings ascribed to the Talents through the ages.

Parables of the Thief in the Night, the Faithful and Unfaithful Stewards, and the Ten Maidens

Here is a handout on the Olivet Discourse, which is the context for these parables.


Here are resources related to the parables of grace primarily found in Luke:
Parable of the Good Samaritan
Parable of the Friend at Midnight
Parables of the Widow and the Unjust Judge; and the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
[And here is a handout on Pharisees]
Parables of the Lost Sheep, Coin and (prodigal) Son

Here are some resources related to our study of the parables of the kingdom (in Mt 13 and Mk 4):
Background on parables
A brief and readable history of the study of parables by a Bethel Seminary prof., in the Luther Seminary journal Word & World.
Parable of the sower
Parable of the weeds
Parables of the mustard seed and the leaven and the growing seed
Parables of the pearl and the hidden treasure


Here  is a five-week series on 1 Jn: one, two, three, four ("student" version), five ("student" version).
Background on the Gospel of John: The abbreviated version with discussion questions, and the full version with gory detail.
Here is an associated handout on Gregory of Nazianzus' quote, "that which was not assumed was not healed".
Here is a handout on the love-hate relationship with the World in the gospel of John and 1 John.
Here is a handout on what the Didache has to say about prophets.


[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.]

A reading by Raymond Brown on the strengths and weakenesses of the strategy Paul chose in the pastoral letters (1 Tim, 2 Tim, Titus) for the survival of the second-generation Aegean Church in the face of heresy from within.

Discussion questions on 2 Tim: one, two, three (and "student version"; week three also discusses the article "What American Teenagers Believe", with link below).

Discussion questions on 1 Thessalonians: here and here and here.


Intro and chapter 1;
chs 6-7;
chs 10-12, which includes a description of the wisdom literature's definition of wisdom.

(And here is a a chart from Kaiser on the symbolism in ch 11). 

Here is an interesting chart 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. 


Introduction, chapter one (*), two, three, five (*), six (*), nine, ten (*), eleven and twelve, thirteen, fifteen, twenty. (Asterices refer to versions without leaders' notes.) Plus, a chart of messianic prophecies from Zechariah.

Here is Ben Witherington's very interesting argument that Lazarus is actually the beloved disciple.


Chapter one, one part 2*, two*three, five, six, seven, eight*, nine*nine & ten, ten*, eleven and twelve*thirteen, fourteen,  fourteen part 2*, fifteen, sixteen*. (Files marked with an asterisk were made by Jenny Douglas.)


Introduction, Samson, Micah et al., Gideon, Deborah (courtesy Barbara Hull).


Discussion questions on Gender, Sexuality and the Trinity by J. B. Torrance.
Discussion questions  and background material on the Trinity.
Notes on Trinitarian passages in the NT, and many examples from Gordon Fee's most excellent Paul, The Spirit, and the People of God.
Here is an associated handout on Gregory of Nazianzus' quote, "that which was not assumed was not healed".


A Wired article from Andy Elliot on the new atheism movement. 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 regarding the Mosaic law and its relevance for modern Christians.

Here is a copy of the Compline service from the Book of Common Prayer, with Daily Family Devotions thrown in as a bonus. 

Interested in 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 Today article on the topic from Aug 2007, and here is a blog entry by Ben Witherington (click "show original post"), critiquing it (or go here and page down to Mar 8).

Here is an excerpt from IVP's The New Bible Commentary  on the documentary hypothesis--the 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. Friedman.

A sermon by Lewis Smedes on promises, and discussion questions.

Discussion questions on the essay The Gospel as Prisoner and Liberator of Culture by Andrew Walls (which can be found in the collection The Missionary Movement in Christian History). Great article.

Here is an article, "What American Teenagers Believe", from Books & Culture.

Discussion questions on a selection from Dallas Willard's Spirit of the Disciplines.

Discussion questions on the New Yorker article As Good As Dead about brain death and associated ethical issues.

Discussion questions on the blessings and curses of Deut 28.

Discussion questions on Bonhoeffer's sermon, "Learning to Die", on Revelation 14:6-13.

From the distant past: The Rochester Studies are a set of bible study discussion questions used in a non-denominational bible study in Rochester, New York. 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.
RuthI PeterJudgesParablesPhilippiansRevelationRomansHabakkukHebrewsActs of the Apostles (partial)


Here are 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 helpful.
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 the Holy Spirit, the charismatic tradition, close moments).

Here is a lecture giving an overview of the Holy Spirit (if such a thing is possible).  
Here is a section from Michael Green's excellent Evangelism in the Early Church, talking about aspects of the lives of the early church members and evangelists. It points to the ways the fruit of the Spirit were visible in those communities.

Here is a characteristically good article by Raymond Brown: "Diverse Views of the Spirit in the New Testament" (Worship, 57 no 3 May 1983, p. 225-23), which provided the core of the above HS overview.

Here is a nicely balanced and insightful chapter on the Holy Spirit in Acts from Michael Green's lay-commentary Thirty Years That Changed the World

Here is an interesting letter by John Wesley 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.]

Speaking of 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 the G-C librarian and this one by Ben Witherington.) 

Part of understanding of the Holy Spirit involves learning discernment. This teaching by Dennis McCallum provides some good pointers based on Scripture and experience.

This isn't strictly about the Holy Spirit, but here is a really nice infographic about the one-another passages in Paul.

Here are questions on Romans 6-8, part 1, along with an accompanying ~3-min. audio 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, part 2.
Here are questions on the Spirit in the life of the believer, as understood from Ephesians. Also, a handout with background on Ephesians.

These files are in mostly "pdf" format, readable by Adobe Acrobat. If you don't already have Acrobat, it is free:

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Above  are some resources developed for use 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:

Context: There 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 the study guides that have been written. So why write more? I began writing 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 dearth of discussion questions which address this desire--hence these materials. 
And here's Tim Collins' main web site.