Should Christians Boast? -- By: I. Howard Marshall
BSac 159:635 (July 02) p. 259
Should Christians Boast?*
* This is article three in a four-part series, “Four ‘Bad’ Words in the New Testament,” delivered by the author as the W. H. Griffith Thomas Lectures at Dallas Theological Seminary, February 6–9, 2001.
I. Howard Marshall is Honorary Research Professor of New Testament, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.
For many people boasting and being proud are acceptable activities. People say they are proud to belong to a certain church because of the good things it does, or they are proud of their children because they have grown up successfully. The brochure of a conference announces that the institute where a society met “proudly hosted the annual meeting.”
Some biblical precedent seems to be present for talking this way. Paul apparently boasted that the Corinthian Christians were showing a spirit of generosity (2 Cor. 9:2; 2 Thess. 1:4 has similar language about the Thessalonian Christians), and he was worried lest their performance should not match the boast and the boasting should prove to be hollow (2 Cor. 9:3). Also he referred to the Thessalonian Christians as a crown in which he could boast or glory at the coming of the Lord Jesus (1 Thess. 2:19). And he said he would boast on the day of Christ that his work at Philippi had not been in vain (Phil. 2:16). If Paul could boast or look forward to boasting in this kind of way, then surely the activity is at least a neutral one.
However, a case can be made for the view that boasting is another “bad” word. Perhaps, of course, the word itself is not “bad”; the undesirable element may be a particular concept that is expressed by the word when it is used in certain contexts. That is, it gets corrupted by the company it keeps.
BSac 159:635 (July 02) p. 260