Biblical studies, theology, and critical engagement with Christadelphian doctrine


This website is for anyone interested in evaluating the Christadelphian belief system using biblical exegesis. Note that my blog is updated much more frequently with shorter articles.

The name of this resource, dianoigō, is taken from a Greek verb meaning "to open the mind of one, i.e. to cause to understand a thing; to open one's soul, i.e. to rouse in one the faculty of understanding or the desire of learning" (Thayer's Greek Lexicon). The word is so used in several New Testament texts such as Luke 24:45 and Acts 16:14.

Article Index

All articles hosted on this site are indexed topically below. As my exegetical abilities have (I hope) improved with time, the standard of the more recent articles is generally higher than of the older ones.

Satan and Demons



Satan and Demons


Satan and Demons in the Apostolic Fathers: A Response to 'Then the Devil Left' by J. Burke

August 2015
J. Burke has recently published a 50-page study online entitled Then the Devil Left: Satan's lack of presence in the Apostolic Fathers. Burke conducts exegesis of individual texts within a 'taxonomic analysis' in order to judge how 'mythological' they are, pertaining specifically to Satan and demons. This study interacts with Burke's methodology and exegesis. In contrast to Burke's minimalistic findings, the conclusion herein is that the majority of the AF (certainly Barnabas, 1Clement, Hermas, Polycarp, Martyrdom of Polycarp, Ignatius, 2Clement, and plausibly Didache, Papias, and Epistle to Diognetus) refer to a mythological Satan figure. Other evil beings (e.g., demons, spirits and angels) are a less prominent feature but are present in Barnabas, Hermas, Ignatius and Papias at least. None of the AF deny belief in any of these phenomena. Collectively, these texts witness to belief in supernatural evil in geographically diverse areas of the Roman Empire during the period from the late first century to mid second century CE. This is broadly consistent with the picture of early Christianity that emerges from the NT documents.

'When an unclean spirit goes out of a person': An Assessment of the Accommodation Theory of Demon Possession and Exorcism in the Synoptic Gospels

January 2015
A detailed exegetical study of the references to demons, unclean spirits and exorcism in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) with a view to evaluating the accommodation theory. This theory holds that, contrary to appearances, Jesus and the Synoptic writers did not actually believe in demons but accommodated themselves in some way to the beliefs of their contemporaries. The conclusion drawn is that the accommodation theory is biblically unsound, and that Jesus and the Synoptic writers did believe in the real existence of demons. Theological implications are briefly explored.

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 4: Jude

July 2014
A study of the puzzling reference to the devil in Jude 9. Zechariah 3:1-2 is also studied as part of the literary background to this text. An investigation of the source of Jude's allusion is undertaken, which provides the key to identifying the meaning of 'the devil' in this text. Christadelphian interpretations of this passage are described and critiqued.
Key biblical texts: Zechariah 3:1-2; Jude 9

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 3: 1 John

July 2014
A study of the texts in the First Epistle of John which refer to the devil, reading them in the context of early Christian satanology as well as the apocalyptic Jewish worldview characterized by modified dualism and cosmic conflict. The conclusion reached is that the writer understood the devil to be a personal supernatural being.
Key biblical texts: 1 John 2:13-14; 1 John 3:8-12; 1 John 4:4; 1 John 5:18-19

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 2: James and 1 Peter

July 2014
A study of the two closely related references to the devil in the Epistle of James and the First Epistle of Peter respectively. Particular attention is paid to Christadelphian interpretations of these texts and showing why they are best understood to refer to a personal supernatural being. This paper also discusses James 1:13-15 since Christadelphians infer from this passage that James could not have believed in a personal devil.
Key biblical texts: James 1:13-15; James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:8

The Devil in the General Epistles, Part 1: Hebrews

July 2014
A study of the single reference to the devil in the Epistle to the Hebrews, as well as the testimony of this epistle concerning Jesus' experience of temptation. Particular attention is paid to Christadelphian interpretations of these texts, since they are used as proof texts for the Christadelphians' figurative understanding of the biblical devil.
Key biblical texts: Hebrews 2:14; Hebrews 2:18; Hebrews 4:15

Satan in early Gentile Christian communities: an exegetical study in Mark and 2 Corinthians

January 2014
A study of the term Satan as used in the New Testament, with particular attention to Mark and 2 Corinthians. Evidence is  provided to show  that Satan functions as a proper name (or at least a definite title) in the New Testament,  and not merely a word meaning 'adversary'. This insight is brought to bear on Christadelphian  interpretations of specific passages and a case is made that they refer to a supernatural personal being.
Key biblical texts: Mark 8:33; Luke 22:31-32; John 6:70; 2 Corinthians 11:14; 2 Corinthians 12:7

The Enemy is the Devil

January 2014
A study of Jesus' teaching about the devil in his parables, which have been neglected in Christadelphian writings on the devil. Existing Christadelphian interpretations of the devil in Jesus' parables are examined. It is argued that three of Jesus' parables (the parable of the strong man, the parable of the sower and the parable of the tares) presuppose that the devil is a supernatural personal being.
Key biblical texts: Mark 3:22-30; Matthew 12:22-32; Luke 11:14-22; Mark 4:2-20; Matthew 13:3-23; Luke 8:4-15; Matthew 13:24-43

The Devil in the Wilderness

December 2013
A study of the identity of the devil who tempted Jesus in the wilderness. It begins with a history of Christadelphian interpretation of the temptation narratives and then proceeds to a careful analysis of each of the three accounts, looking for clues which can help us to determine whether the temptations were of a subjective, internal nature or whether an external tempter was present. Evidence is provided that Jesus was tempted by an external, supernatural devil.
Key biblical texts: Mark 1:12-13; Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13

The Accuser of our Brethren: unmasking the biblical devil

September 2012
A biblical-theological study of the devil (Satan) in the Old and New Testaments showing that Jesus and the early church believed Satan to be a supernatural personal being. Christadelphian objections to this doctrine are also considered.

Are demons real? A study of the New Testament evidence

August 2009
An overview of biblical testimony to concerning the existence of demons and evil spirits





The Contribution of Hebrews to New Testament Christology

December 2014
An exegetical study of the Christology of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The conclusion drawn is that the writer regarded Jesus as the pre-existent Son of God who became incarnate in order to deal with sin and was rewarded by God for his faithfulness unto death with exaltation to the full prerogatives of divinity.
Key biblical texts: Hebrews 1:1-14, Hebrews 2:6-18, Hebrews 3:1-6, Hebrews 7:1-28

You, Lord, in the beginning: Hebrews 1:10-12 and Christology

July 2012
A Christological study of the application of Psalm 102:25-27 to Christ in Hebrews 1:10-12, showing that this text implies the pre-existence and deity of Christ
Key biblical texts: Psalm 102:25-27, Hebrews 1:10-12, Hebrews 7:3

The Pre-existence of Christ: A study of the narrative of John's Gospel

January 2010
Christological studies of John's Gospel often focus on the prologue (John 1:1-18), but this study examines the evidence for the personal pre-existence of Christ within the narrative of this Gospel.
Key biblical texts: John 1:30, 1:51, 3:11-13, 3:31-32, 5:37, 6:46, 6:62, 8:38, 8:42, 13:3

Before Abraham was, I am he: Jesus' self-revelation as Yahweh

May 2009
A detailed study of Jesus' absolute "I am" or "I am he" sayings and their meaning in the context of Yahweh's absolute "I am" or "I am he" sayings in the Old Testament.
Key biblical texts: Matthew 14:27, 28:20, Mark 6:50, 14:62, Luke 24:39, John 4:26, 6:20, 8:24, 8:28, 8:58, 13:19, 18:5-8, Acts 18:10, Revelation 1:17, 2:8, 2:23, 22:13

Yahweh, our Kinsman-Redeemer: a study of the Hebrew concept of go'el

May 2009
The Hebrew concept of the kinsman-redeemer-avenger appears extensively in the Old Testament and is given deep spiritual significance in the prophets, in which Yahweh promises to take on this role to save His people. In the New Testament, the very same language is used of Christ, implying his identification with Yahweh.
Key biblical texts: Mark 10:45, Isaiah 59, Isaiah 63, Galatians 4:1-7, Ephesians 1:7, Titus 2:10-14, 3:3-7, Hebrews 2:14-15, 9:12, Revelation 5:8-10

The Greek word dia

May 2009
Biblical unitarians or Socinians typically interpret passages about Christ's role in creation in terms of indirect agency, i.e. all things were created 'on account of' him. However, the grammar of New Testament Greek rules out such an interpretation and requires that we understand these texts in terms of direct agency, i.e. all things were created 'through' him, implying personal pre-existence
Key biblical texts: John 1:3,10, Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 8:6, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:2, 2:10


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© Thomas Farrar 2016. The author can be contacted by email.