Save the Date: May 5, 2012—PhD Graduation

As I announced previously, I successfully defended my dissertation for a PhD in New Testament on May 2. I have some corrections to make, but I’m basically done. I’m a doctor—though not the kind that anyone really cares about! Finishing five days before the 2011 commencement, however, means 1) it was too late for me to participate in the ceremony and 2) I confused a lot of people!

So I’m announcing a save-the-date now: I plan to walk in the May 5, 2012, commencement. Both of you are, of course, welcome to come down to Greenville for that occasion. There will probably be some sort of reception at that time.

Here are the acknowledgments from the opening pages of my dissertation:

image I would like to express profound gratitude to Dr. Mark Minnick for modeling God-centered affections and correct hermeneutics and to Dr. Randy Leedy for supplementing the latter with Greek and linguistic tools. The institutions those two men represent, Mount Calvary Baptist Church and Bob Jones University, have been the greatest formative influences on my life beyond my parents, and for that I thank the Lord. I also thank my father for teaching me to read and write even before I began the Christian education he subsequently paid for; Brian Collins for being a multi-year theological conversation partner, mentor, and friend; and Bryan Smith for the many hours he spent as my unofficial committee chair. I also thank Greg Baker for his judicious comments on the first half of the dissertation, Joseph Bartosch for his counsel, and my godly in-laws, Jeffery and Janine Vrotsos, for making their basement available to me for uninterrupted work at two key times in the dissertation process.

I asked my church and others to pray that my dissertation would benefit Christ’s body in some way, even if no one ever reads it! Many people prayed for my work and let me know it, but if I started naming people beyond my family—Donna Ward, Todd and Laura Glass—I would forget some, so I merely say thank you.

Lastly, I thank my beautiful wife, Laura, for her support and insight, and for being even more excited about finishing dissertation chapters than I was (and not merely because she got ice cream out of it). I love her with the true love of delight.

Dissertations Completed: 1

“I don’t like anything here at all.” said Frodo, “step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.”

“Yes, that’s so,” said Sam. “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started.”

My wife and I both felt that way sometimes along the way, but this part of our academic tale is ended. Today I officially became a “Doctor.” Looking back after passing through Mount Doom, all the effort was worthwhile. We both would like to thank those of you who prayed.

God’s grace was truly evident in that room (see fig. 1). I have godly professors who were very gracious to me. They improved my work greatly. All remaining errors are, of course, the fault of my committee chairman.

Just kidding. They’re mine, they’re mine.


Agape Love

One of the most popular linguistic and exegetical fallacies in modern times is that the Greek word for love, agapao, carries in it the implication of a divine love that is unconditional and comes to us in spite of our sin.

That is not true. Context must decide if agapao refers to our proud, cliquish love for our cronies (as in Matthew 5:46), or if it refers to God’s merciful and sacrificial love for sinners (as in John 3:16), or if it refers to our love for leaders, not unconditionally but precisely because of their labor (1 Thessalonians 5:13).

John Piper

Dissertation Update 42

A few weeks ago I got word that my dissertation defense had been moved; it’s now set for Monday afternoon, May 2. Please do pray for me if you think of it.

I’m busy preparing for the defense; the full defense draft should be turned in this week by Friday at the latest.

Here is a sneak peek at some of the slides I’ve got for the Keynote I’ll show. All text is subject to radical change…



If you aren’t meticulous in your note-taking, always using quotation marks and saving your full citation, you might accidentally do this:

One of the distinguishing marks of the child of God is love, a love that originates in God, displays itself in actions of self-sacrifice, and is evidence of eternal life.

Daniel L. Akin, 1, 2, 3 John, The New American Commentary, (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 2001), 161.

What’s wrong with this 2001 commentary on 1 John? Well, read John Stott’s 1988 commentary on the same verse (3:18):

Love characterizes the church, whose prototype is Christ. It originates in God, issues in self-sacrifice, and is evidence of eternal life.

John R. W. Stott, The Letters of John: An Introduction and Commentary, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1988), 146.

Each of these sentences is the last in the section on 1 John 3:18 in its respective commentary.

Plagiarism? No. Listen to Danny Akin in this edifying interview, and you’ll be convinced he didn’t plagiarize. He just goofed. It happens to all of us.

Then again, there is a third explanation that is perhaps even more likely. A Q commentary! F.F. Bruce probably wrote it some time in the 1940s, and only select evangelical scholars have been given access to it over time. It is no doubt housed inside the Ark of the Covenant deep within the vaults at Tyndale House, Cambridge. We’re bound to have verbal overlap in such a situation.