The Four Branches Review

O Jesus Christ, Your manger is
My Paradise where my soul is reclining.

What a wonderful reminder.  Spending time with my family refreshes me.  Fellowship with fellow believers in church encourages me.  Working at ministry and enjoying the blessings of my city bring joy.

But God-with-us is where my soul finds rest.  To look in the manger and see him wearing my flesh so that it could soon enough bear my sin… what kind of God loves like this?  In one beautiful moment, the miracle of the incarnation takes all the earthly concerns and activities that either fill us with fleeting joy or run us ragged and lowers them back to their rightly station, and yet at the same time elevates and exalts them as opportunities to share the wonderful news of God’s unending, unfailing, must-be-near-his-people love.

Thank you to our new authors this month who help us see different facts of that love: sung beautifully in Isaiah’s poetry; ever-faithful, even in God’s hatred; defended faithfully through Christological controversies of the past and on display in the encouragements of his people.  I pray these articles are a blessing to you as they are to me.

Dear Christian friend, On him depend; Be of good cheer and let no sorrow move you.
For God’s own child  In mercy mild  Joins you to him – how greatly God must love you!

Joel Seifert, General Editor
Joel Seifert serves at Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church in Marietta, GA.

Four Branches December 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Appreciating Isaiah's Poetry If you page through the book of Isaiah in most English editions of the Bible, you will notice ...

Four Branches November 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Little Words, Big Worth - καί These last two months we’ve discussed how particles like ἀλλά and δέ help an exegete ...

Four Branches October 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Little Words, Big Worth - δέ Particles can be extremely helpful in exegesis because of what they do: they show how ...

Four Branches September 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Little Words, Big Worth - ἀλλά Often the littlest words get the longest entries in dictionaries. With the many different glosses offered ...

Four Branches August 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Old Testament Storytelling - Seeing Christ There One of Kierkegaard’s parables has two art lovers discussing a painter’s depiction of the ...

Four Branches July 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Old Testament Storytelling - Beauty Luther’s eloquent appeal for the study of the biblical languages is well known. They are “a ...

Four Branches June 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Old Testament Storytelling - the Narrator The narrative study of Scripture reveals much about the way the inspired biblical spellbinders communicate ...

Four Branches May 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Direct Speech, Indirect Speech, and Reported Consequences Linguistically speaking, the Gospels read a bit like a Hemingway novel, only with less ...

Four Branches April 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Analyzing Conversations in the Gospels Conversations follow rules that we might not always be aware of – but need to think ...

Four Branches March 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The "Bid" in Jesus' Words Couples who attend a WELS “Healthy Marriage” workshop are introduced to John Gottman’s concept of emotional ...

Four Branches February 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The LORD Is There! It was a stunning and welcome conclusion to Ezekiel’s prophecy. Working among the exiled, Ezekiel’s message concludes ...

Four Branches January 2018

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The Lord Will Provide Isaac was the son of the promise and evidence of God’s gracious providence. And it appeared that ...

Four Branches December 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The LORD is My Banner The Israelites’ battle against the Amalekites at Rephidim was memorable – not only for the victory, ...

Four Branches November 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The Text Shapes You The text shapes you; you don't shape the text." And even though that truth had been repeated ...

Four Branches October 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Find the Structure “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Ju 17:6). If you followed my advice in the ...

Four Branches September 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Excise the Extras The New Testament textual critic, David Parker, once wrote: Let us consider what it is to which a ...

Four Branches August 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The How of Old Testament Communication (part 3) With the Old Testament reading for Pentecost 12 (Supplemental Lectionary Year A), Exodus 14:10-31, ...

Four Branches July 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The How of Old Testament Communication (part 2) Consider how theology is communicated in the Old Testament. It may be through “narrative ...

Four Branches June 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: The How of Old Testament Communication In his address to the Society of Biblical Literature (1969), James Muilenburg described the way exegesis ...

Four Branches May 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Pentecost - The Spirit Testifies through the Church On the day of Pentecost, the Church would see just how active the Spirit ...

Four Branches April 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Easter - Jesus Testifies by Sending His Disciples As you read the Holy Week accounts in the gospels, do you get the ...

Four Branches March 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical   Exegetical Theology: Easter - The Father Testifies It almost sounds like a scene from modern-day, post-truth, Twitter-storm politics. The Pharisees challenge Jesus, “Here ...

Four Branches February 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical     Exegetical Theology: Pondering the Penitentials (Part 3) When I consider the truth that God forgives all my sins, it fills me with joy ...

Four Branches January 2017

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical     Exegetical Theology: Pondering the Penitentials (Part 2) Psalm 38 is a penitential psalm that calls us to remember.  But what are we to ...

Four Branches December 2016

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical Exegetical Theology: Pondering the Penitentials (Part 1) When looking at the psalms designated as “penitential” [1], one can’t help but see a connection between Psalm ...

Four Branches November 2016

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical Exegetical Theology: Thanksgiving Paul’s letter to the Philippians has inspired commentaries with titles like “Laugh Again” (Swindoll) and “God’s Guide to Joy” (Klug).  Bengel summed ...

Four Branches October 2016

Jump to: Exegetical Systematic Historical Practical Exegetical Theology: All Saints All Saints’ Day is commemorated on Nov. 1 each year, and in the proposed lectionary, will receive a more prominent ...

Four Branches September 2016

Editor’s intro: Welcome to the first edition of The Four Branches newsletter.  Grow in Grace (The Institute for Pastoral Growth at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary) is pleased to send you this ...