Charles L. Quarles is professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He received his Ph.D. from Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, and is coauthor of The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament (with Andreas Köstenberger and Scott Kellum) and The Sermon on the Mount: Restoring Christ’s Message to the Modern Church.
WORDsearch chatted with Charles about his Bible study tips, sermon prep, and more.
WORDsearch: How do you use technology in your study of the Bible/writing your books?
Charles L. Quarles: Most of the scholarly journals that I consult are now available electronically and I can download PDF’s of articles through our seminary library. I also use two different computer programs that link the Greek text of the New Testament to the major lexica and several key grammars. A click of the mouse takes me directly to the entry that I need without having to thumb through massive and unwieldy volumes. This expedites my study significantly. I keep the hard copies at hand and occasionally consult them, but the technology enables me to accomplish much more far more quickly.
WS: Do you have any Bible study tips?
CQ: I am convinced more and more of the importance of the study of biblical languages for good biblical interpretation and sermon preparation. I sometimes encounter people who argue that biblical language study is unimportant. But I have never known anyone who knew biblical languages well who would dismiss their importance. I believe that training students in the use of the biblical languages in interpretation and sermon preparation is one of the most valuable gifts that our seminaries can impart to our students. Some elements of seminary training can be picked up by a diligent student on his own by reading the right books and attending good conferences. But rare is the student who can learn Greek or Hebrew without the benefit of a skilled and compassionate instructor. And nothing matters more.
WS: What advice or encouragement do you have for pastors in their sermon preparation?
CQ: Expound Holy Scripture with a doctrinal emphasis. In our effort to be intensely practical in our preaching for the last few decades, we have often failed to explain clearly and memorably the great doctrines of the Christian faith. I suspect that we assumed that the members of our congregations already knew those doctrines well and thus we took them for granted. However, hard data has now shown that professing Christians who faithfully attend church do not know or understand some of the most fundamental truths of the Christian faith. Thus pastors must seize every opportunity to proclaim the faith once for all delivered to the saints. Every sermon. Every Sunday.
WS: In your research for the Illustrated Life of Paul, what did you find most intriguing about Paul? Did anything surprise you about him or his life?
CQ: When I think of Paul, the word that comes to mind is not “intriguing,” but “inspiring.” I will just quote a few words from the book:
Writing this book has been one of the greatest pleasures of my life. During my research, the object of my study became a dear and familiar friend. I have been instructed by Paul’s doctrines, inspired by Paul’s commitment, awed by his missionary fervor, and overwhelmed by the depths of his sacrifice. Writing this book has changed my life as I hope reading it will change yours.
WS: What is the most important new book you’ve read in the last year?
CQ: I cannot say because the book that immediately comes to mind has not been published yet. In addition to writing my own books, I proofread and review a number of books before their publication. I have just carefully read a defense of the reliability of the New Testament by a well-known New Testament scholar that is absolutely outstanding and will be a must-read for every student of the New Testament.
The Illustrated Life of Paul is part of our Fall Sale that ends Oct. 31. See more of Charles L. Quarles books available on WORDsearch here.