Harmonizing the resurrection accounts

  • Mary Magdalene separates from other women at some point. Either on the way to the tomb, or at the tomb (before the angels are encountered), or on the way to tell the disciples (before Jesus appears to the women).
  • Matthew 28:2-4 is a flashback. The earth quakes and angel descends earlier in the morning, frightening the guards. By the time the women arrive, an angel is inside the tomb. It is from within that he says, “See the place where they laid him” (Mark 16:6).
  • The women initially don’t tell anyone (Mark 16:8), but then decide to (Luke 24:10).
  • Parts of the story are simplified or consolidated. Simplification: one angel is noted (Matthew 28:5) instead of two otherwise specified (Luke 24:4). Consolidation: the women “told these things to the apostles” (Luke 24:10). This consolidates Mary Magdalene reporting to Peter and John, and the other women reporting to the rest of the disciples.
  • “The sun had risen” (Mark 16:2) could anciently mean essentially: at dawn.

See also: “A plausible harmony of the accounts and sequence of events” of the resurrection


Did Paul write some of the Prison Letters from Ephesus?

Was Paul imprisoned in Ephesus? Did he write Prison Epistles (captivity letters) like Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon from Ephesus? Perhaps even Philippians? Or were they written from Rome?

Arguments for Rome

  • “The elite ancients, and even some ordinary ancients, were far more mobile than we often give them credit for.” (Witherington)
  • Onesimus could have gone from Colossae to Rome for anonymity, or Onesimus may have been sent to Rome by Philemon.
  • Luke would not have overlooked an Ephesus imprisonment in Acts.
  • Colossians reflects later theological development.
  • Tychicus is in Ephesus; why write to the Ephesians if Paul can speak through him?
  • Paul would have been willing to change/delay plans of traveling to Spain in order to tend to pressing needs of existing churches.
  • “Eusebius says that Paul was brought to Rome and that with him was Aristarchus.” (Porter)
  • “Some of the persons named in Philemon (and Colossians) are associated with Rome in other New Testament writings: Mark (if it is the same Mark) is associated with Rome in 1 Peter 5:13; Luke is associated with Rome in 2 Timothy 4:11 (and in Acts 28:16 if Luke is the author of Acts); Demas is associated with Rome in 2 Timothy 4:10; Aristarchus is said to have been with Paul in both Ephesus (Acts 19:29) and Rome (Acts 27:2).” (Powell)

Arguments for Ephesus

  • The short distance between Colossae and Ephesus is more plausible: It is a shorter distance for Onesimus (runaway slave) to travel. This also makes better sense of Paul requesting a room from Philemon, and anticipating lodging soon.
  • Prison epistles have “air of nearness and intimacy.” Journeys in prison epistles “seem to be treated in a rather casual way.”
  • Paul mentions extreme adversarial conditions and previous imprisonments in 1 & 2 Corinthians, Romans; these could not have included the later imprisonments in Caesarea or Rome.
  • We should not assume Colossians is of later theological development. Colossians and the Corinthian correspondence have substantial parallels.
  • Ephesians is circular letter, written not just to Ephesus.
  • Aristarchus was dragged before crowd in Ephesus (Acts 19); Paul describes him as fellow prisoner in his letters.
  • “Of the ten companions of Paul named in these letters, four (Timothy, Aristarchus, Tychicus, Luke) seem quite certainly to have been in Ephesus with Paul, three (Epaphroditus, Epaphras, Onesimus) could have been there much easier than in Rome, The other three could have been there as easily as in Rome, while for no one of the ten is there any evidence (save inference from these letters) that he was in Rome, at least in Paul’s time.” (Bowen)

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Notes from Cal Newport on Deep Work

Deep work definition: “Professional activities performed in a distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Deep work hypothesis: “The ability to perform deep work is becoming increasing rare at the same time it is becoming valuable in or economy. As a consequence the few who cultivate this skill and then make it the core of their working life will thrive.”

Attention residue: “Every time you switch your attention from one target to another and then back again, there’s a cost. This switching creates an effect that psychologists call attention residue, which can reduce your cognitive capacity for a non-trivial amount of time before it clears.”

Persistent attention residue: “If you constantly make “quick checks” of various devices and inboxes, you essentially keep yourself in a state of persistent attention residue, which is a terrible idea if you’re someone who uses your brain to make a living.”

Four rules for cultivating deep work:

1) Work deeply. Don’t wait for lots of free time. Schedule deep work blocks and protect them.

2) Embrace boredom. Frequently expose yourself to boredom. Don’t “bathe yourself in novel stimuli at the slightest hint of boredom.”

3) Quit social media. Don’t measure social media value only by advantages. Disadvantages outweigh them.

4) Drain the shallows. Shallow work doesn’t require uninterrupted concentration. Aggressively minimize optional shallow work.

Perspectives on EFS

As I survey the landscape of literature concerning the eternal functional subordination of the Son I see five basic views:

  1. The Son never submits to the Father, even after the incarnation. Authority and submission are seen as incompatible with intimacy and love and the kingdom of God.
  2. The Son submits to the Father only after the incarnation. The incarnation itself is not an act of obedience. Obedience is only creaturely.
  3. The Son submits to the Father before the incarnation (e.g. in creating the world), but only economically and ad extra (with respect to creation).
  4. The eternal Son submits to the Father before creation and ad intra (in the internal life of God) and this is grounded in the Son’s eternal generation from the Father.
  5. The eternal Son submits to the Father before creation, but this is agnostic to or in lieu of eternal generation.

Views 3-5 agree that the incarnate Son’s willing submission is an expression of his eternal Sonship, of his “filial identity.”

Views 4-5 see the Father’s primacy of authority as a personal property and not an essential divine attribute.

Augustine and Waterdeep: God Became a Baby

“He by whom all things were made was made one of all things. The Son of God by the Father without a mother became the Son of man by a mother without a father. The Word Who is God before all time became flesh at the appointed time. The maker of the sun was made under the sun. He Who fills the world lay in a manger, great in the form of God but tiny in the form of a servant; this was in such a way that neither was His greatness diminished by His tininess, nor was His tininess overcome by His greatness.”

Augustine, Sermon 187

“Nothing was so necessary for raising our hope as to show us how deeply God loved us. And what could afford us a stronger proof of this than that the Son of God should become a partner with us of human nature?”


“Man’s maker was made man, that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that the Truth might be accused of false witness, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.”


“Man exalted himself and fell; God humbled himself and raised him up. Christ’s lowliness, what is it? God has stretched out a hand to man laid low. We fell, he descended; we lay low, he stooped. Let us lay hold and rise, that we fall not into punishment. So then his stooping to us is this: ‘Born of the Holy Ghost and the Virgin Mary.’ His very nativity too as man – it is lowly and it is lofty. Whence lowly? That as man he was born of men. Whence lofty? That he was born of a virgin.”


Do me a favor? If you know of any more similar Augustine quotes, please email them to me.

(Hat tip to Tadd Winter, Spencer Smith, Jonathan Brown, and Cynthia Petermann for the quotes.)

Does Bruce Ware pray to the Son and the Spirit? Yes, sometimes.

In 2015 Bruce Ware spoke to the issue (starting at 16:44). We get nuance on his position, which otherwise has been construed to be that of praying exclusively to the Father. I post this here to help those Googling the issue.

While he describes praying to the Father as the “normative pattern”, he also acknowledges Biblical evidence of praying to Jesus: Maranatha in Revelation 22:20 and Stephen in Acts 7:59. He also affirms the appropriateness of expressing gratitude or sorrow directly to the Spirit. He says that he has done this himself. “It’s appropriate to approach them as persons.”

But the normative pattern is praying to the Father. Jesus says, “Pray then like this: Our Father in heaven…” Piper shares this view: