A New Testament Professor’s Rediscovery of the Doctrine of Vocation -- By: Robert L. Plummer

Journal: Southern Baptist Journal of Theology
Volume: SBJT 22:1 (Spring 2018)
Article: A New Testament Professor’s Rediscovery of the Doctrine of Vocation
Author: Robert L. Plummer


A New Testament Professor’s Rediscovery of the Doctrine of Vocation

Robert L. Plummer

Robert L. Plummer is Chairman of the New Testament Department and Professor of New Testament Interpretation at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he also earned his PhD in New Testament studies. Dr. Plummer is the founder and host of the “Daily Dose of Greek” screencast, and has written, co-written or edited numerous books, including 40 Questions About Interpreting the Bible (Kregel, 2010), Held in Honor: Wisdom for Your Marriage from Voices of the Past (Christian Focus, 2015), Going Deeper Greek with New Testament Greek (B&H Academic, 2016), and Greek for Life (Baker, 2017).

Imagine the average layperson in your church—the owner of a bike shop, a truck driver, a doctor, a secretary, a lawyer, a school teacher. If you were to ask him or her, “How does your pastor expect you to apply your Christian faith to your work,” What would they say?

I can imagine the average layperson answering the question posed above in two ways. First, he or she might respond, “My pastor wants me to work diligently and honestly so I can make a lot of money and tithe.” And, yes, it’s true that the biblical authors expect God’s people to give generously to others in need and to the advance of the gospel. In 1 Timothy 6:17–19, for example, Paul writes,

As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life.1

Similarly, in 2 Corinthians, chapters 8–9, Paul exhorts the believers in Corinth to sow generously in their giving on behalf of the needy believers in Jerusalem, with the expectation that they would reap generously—and thus be able to continue supporting God’s purposes.

Second, when asked what their pastor expects from them in their work, the average layperson of an evangelical church would likely respond, “My pastor expects me to share the gospel with my co-workers.” This biblical obligation, like giving, is also undeniable. In 1 Peter 3:15, the apostle writes to believers in Asia Minor:

But in your hearts honor Christ the Lor...

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