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Earlier this year, Brandon Smith and I launched a new podcast called Word Matters. The gist of the show goes like this: we take a contested or puzzling passage of the Bible, walk through the most common interpretations, and then recommend how to preach or teach the passage effectively. The podcast is sponsored by the Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB), and we are sometimes joined by scholars and pastors to help us wrestle with some of the harder texts of Scripture.

We just wrapped up our first season, which means we have 24 episodes available for you to listen to.

  1. Did early Christians practice baptism for the dead? (1 Corinthians 15)
  2. Does Jesus prohibit oath-taking? (Matthew 5)
  3. Was Jesus created? (Colossians 1)
  4. Is doubt the enemy of faith? (Mark 9)
  5. Why does the Old Testament condemn mixed cloths and shellfish? (Leviticus 11, 19)
  6. Should Christians submit to the government in all circumstances? (Romans 13)
  7. Why were there wild animals with Jesus during his time of temptation in the wilderness? (Mark 1)
  8. Did Jesus tell his disciples to carry swords for self-defense? (Luke 22)
  9. What does it mean for women to be weaker vessels? (1 Peter 3)
  10. The Rich Man and Lazarus: Is it a parable? And is it about heaven and hell? (Luke 16)
  11. Is it possible to do works in Jesus’ name and still be lost? (Matthew 7)
  12. Did Jesus empty himself of divinity? (Philippians 2)
  13. Was Adam an historical person? (Genesis 1-2, Romans 5)
  14. Who was Paul referring to in Romans 7?
  15. What does it mean for a camel to go through the eye of a needle? (Matthew 19:24; Mark 10:25; Luke 18:25)
  16. Do angels walk among us? (Hebrews 13:2)
  17. Why did Jesus say he only came for Israel? (Matthew 15)
  18. Why does Jesus say to hate your father and mother? (Luke 14, Matthew 10)
  19. Who were the Nephilim? (Genesis 6:1-4)
  20. Can Jesus do anything apart from the Father? (John 5)
  21. What is the sin that leads to death? (1 John 5)
  22. Did Jesus come to bring peace or a sword? (Matthew 10; Luke 12)
  23. Can true Christians lose their salvation? (Hebrews 6)
  24. Should we heap fiery coals on opponents’ heads? (Romans 12)

Some of my favorite moments from Season 1:

  • the time Michael Bird did a mic-drop Bill Clinton joke to mock me for my position on Romans 7 (ep. 14)
  • the episode where I actually flipped a coin before deciding which interpretation to go with (ep. 19)
  • Lynn Cohick’s worshipful take on one of the oldest of Christian hymns (ep. 12)

We are taking a break before launching Season 2. If you are interested in Word Matters, please subscribe to the podcast either through the website or on iTunes. You can follow the podcast on Twitter here. It would also help us if you left a rating and review. Hope you enjoy the banter and benefit from the insight!


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5 thoughts on “24 Tough Bible Passages, and How to Understand and Teach Them”

  1. BRENT WHITE says:

    Sounds like a great idea. I just subscribed on iTunes.

  2. gk says:

    Add John 6

    1. Brian Brown says:

      On #15 re: the camel and the needle, I think it would have been helpful to point out that in the very next verse, in each instance, Jesus states that it is impossible with man but anything is possible with God.

  3. Debi Martin says:

    Ai yi yi! My podcast list is out of control, but I love this stuff! :-)

  4. Meg I. says:

    Phew! Up until I listened to episode 14 I thought, “Oh no, don’t tell me Trevin believes Romans 7 was representing pre-conversion!” Should have known better.

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Trevin Wax


​Trevin Wax is Bible and Reference Publisher at LifeWay Christian Resources and managing editor of The Gospel Project. You can follow him on Twitter or receive blog posts via email. Click here for Trevin’s full bio.

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