Elysia McColley

Why the Bible is Different From Other Holy Books

By Elysia McColley If you spend any time outside of Christian circles, you have probably heard claims that the Bible is one of many holy books and that it shows one of many paths to God. Unfortunately, these claims have made their way into Christian circles, as well, and even some pastors believe that the Bible is one holy book among many. They may believe that the Bible is on equal footing with texts like the Muslim Qur’an, the Hindu Vedas, or the Zoroastrian Gathas. Martin Luther, the founder of … Read More »

Ishmael and Jesus – Part 7

By Elysia McColley We have looked quite extensively at Ishmael, his mother Hagar, and the Ishmaelites to show how immensely and uniquely blessed they were. They were the first to see the pre-incarnate Christ and had descendants mentioned in His genealogy. However, there are some disconcerting passages in the New Testament that do seem to suggest otherwise, particularly in Galatians 4:21-31. Paul wrote here about Hagar and Sarah to demonstrate that we are descendants of Sarah, who was free, rather than of Hagar, who was a slave. In verse 30, … Read More »

Ishmael and Jesus – Part 6

By Elysia McColley In this series about Ishmael and his descendants, one thing that we looked at was how the pre-incarnate Christ appeared to Ishmael and his mother on two separate occasions. Here, I want to look at the ministry of Jesus and how He healed those who were likely descendants of Ishmael. In Luke 4:27, Jesus said, “And there were many in Israel with leprosy in the time of Elisha the prophet, yet not one of them was cleansed–only Naaman the Syrian.” In other words, miracles do not come … Read More »

Ishmaelites in the Old Testament – Part 5

By Elysia McColley So far in this series about Ishmael, we have looked at two prominent Old Testament figures – Job and Jethro – who were not Israelites and may have actually been Ishmaelites, or descendants of Abraham through his oldest son, Ishmael. There are several other Old Testament figures who may have been Ishmaelites, such as Agar and Lemuel, two kings who contributed to the book of Proverbs. Here, I want to look at someone who was possibly the most significant Ishmaelite in the Bible because of her role … Read More »

What Is The Bible?

By Elysia McColley If you are somewhat new to Christianity, or even if you have been a Christian for most of your life, you may have some questions about the Bible. It is a massive book, with approximately 800,000 words! Just for comparison, War and Peace has about 587,000 words, and Les Miserables has about 655,000 words. Many people spend their entire academic lives, all the way up to doctorate degrees and postdoctoral research, trying to understand the Bible, and there is plenty left for them to figure out. If … Read More »

Jesus and Samaritans – Part 2

By Elysia McColley Read “Jesus and Samaritans – Part 1” “Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” If you are familiar with Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan, you may recognize that the above question was posed by an expert in the law just before Jesus told the parable. The parable was meant to answer the expert’s next question: who is my neighbor? I won’t recount the parable of the Good Samaritan here, but for reference, it is found in Luke 10:25-37. My last post showed that Samaritanism … Read More »

Jesus and Samaritans – Part 1

By Elysia McColley What would Jesus do? That is the question, isn’t it? Especially when we’re thinking about engaging with people from another religion! Does Jesus provide any reference for us to understand how we should interact with our Muslim neighbors? Take a look at the following pictures. What do these pictures seem to be of? Do these pictures look like images of Muslims? If that’s what you think, you are not alone. But these are actually pictures of Samaritans. Today, there is a community of about 800 Samaritans, mostly … Read More »

Ishmaelites in the Old Testament – Part 4

By Elysia McColley Read “Ishmael’s Desert Tribes – Part 3” So far in this series about Ishmael, we have looked at two prominent Old Testament figures – Job and Jethro – who were not Israelites and may have actually been Ishmaelites, or descendants of Abraham through his oldest son, Ishmael. There are several other Old Testament figures who may have been Ishmaelites, such as Agar and Lemuel, two kings who contributed to the book of Proverbs. Here, I want to look at someone who was possibly the most significant Ishmaelite … Read More »

Ishmael’s Desert Tribes – Part 3

By Elysia McColley Read “Who Is Ishmael? – Part 1” Read “Ishmael, The Wild Donkey – Part 2” We’ve been looking at Ishmael, one of the most controversial and misunderstood characters in the entire Bible. Being able to talk about Ishmael, from a truly biblical perspective, with your Muslim friends can be a great way to get them interested in the Bible and learning more about what it says. Mention that Ishmael’s birth was proclaimed by Jesus before the incarnation, and they will almost certainly want to know more. Here, … Read More »

Ishmael, the Wild Donkey – Part 2

By Elysia McColley Read “Who Was Ishmael? – Part 1” In this series about Ishmael, we have looked at how we need to critically re-evaluate how we think about Abraham’s oldest son. We have already seen how he was blessed and how he and his mother became the first two people to see the pre-incarnate Christ. Today, let’s look at one of the more difficult-to-understand aspects of Ishmael’s blessing. The Bible records some births as either divinely ordained or divinely proclaimed. The most obvious is the birth of Jesus – … Read More »