NASHVILLE (BP) — Bible readers may be tempted to skip challenging passages like 1 Corinthians 15:29, which speaks of people being baptized for the dead, or Genesis 6:4, which references the Nephilim — a mysterious people the King James Version calls giants.
But puzzling passages like these are worth extra attention for Brandon Smith and Trevin Wax.
The two pastors who serve on the Bible and reference team at LifeWay Christian Resources have spent the last three years examining difficult passages of the Bible through their “Word Matters” podcast — which will mark its 50th episode on July 30.
“As pastors and Bible teachers, we often found it difficult to find simple, accessible audio resources for some of the most confusing and controversial passages of the Bible,” said Smith, editor for Holman Bibles at LifeWay and a pastor at City Church in Murfreesboro, Tenn. “So, when Trevin and I started the podcast, we thought it would be fun and exciting to create the resource we wish we had.”
The Word Matters podcast now reaches tens of thousands of listeners each month. It’s an accomplishment Smith finds stunning.
“When we started this podcast, we knew the number of questions could be endless,” he said, “but we had no idea our audience would grow to the point of justifying 50 episodes and counting.”
The pair’s 50th episode will examine the book of Jude. Smith and Wax will discuss Jude’s citing of an exchange between the archangel Michael and Satan — a story that isn’t found anywhere else in Scripture and is thought to have come from the noncanonical book “The Assumption of Moses.” The episode will address whether extrabiblical books are authoritative.
In each episode of Word Matters, Smith and Wax discuss a challenging passage, explore interpretations, offer potential solutions and walk through practical ways to teach the text.
They often invite Bible teachers and scholars to serve as podcast guests. Past episodes have featured Jen Wilkin, Tom Schreiner, David Allen, Russell Moore, Jonathan Pennington and George Guthrie.
Popular “Word Matters” episodes have asked:
— What is the meaning of 666? (Revelation 13)
— Can Christians lose their salvation? (Hebrews 6)
— What is the sin that leads to death? (1 John 5)
— Should Christians submit to the government in all instances? (Romans 13)
Wax, who serves as LifeWay’s Bible and reference publisher and as teaching pastor at Third Baptist Church in Murfreesboro, said he appreciates the way the podcast format serves the church by providing a way for Christians to wrestle with difficult passages of Scripture during a commute or workout.
“I’ve always loved radio for the way sounds and voices stir up my imagination,” Wax said. “Downloading podcasts has become ‘the radio’ for me — a way of diving into one of my favorite methods of communication and learning on the go.”
Listeners can subscribe to Word Matters through the website — Wordmatters.com — or listen to episodes through iTunes, Google Play Music, Stitcher and RSS feed. New episodes also are announced on Twitter, @WordMattersPod.