David L. Matson Ph.D.

Professor of Biblical Studies

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| x1287 | Office: Nutwood Rm 301


  • Ph.D., Baylor University
  • M.A., Pepperdine University
  • B.A., Pacific Christian College of Hope International University


David Lertis Matson is a native southern Californian who joined the faculty of Hope International University (formerly Pacific Christian College) in August 2004. Prior to this appointment, he served as Minister of the Westwood Hills Christian Church in Los Angeles (1999-2003) and as Assistant Professor of Bible at Milligan College in Johnson City, Tennessee (1995-1999). He has a deep and abiding passion for teaching the scriptures and for injecting biblical scholarship into the life and ministry of the church.

Matson holds the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Religion (Biblical Studies-New Testament) from Baylor University, the Master of Arts degree in Religion (Biblical Studies) from Pepperdine University, and the Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies/Preaching from Pacific Christian College of Hope International University. He has also studied at the University of California at Los Angeles and at Fuller Theological Seminary. The author of numerous articles and book reviews, Matson had his Household Conversion Narratives in Acts: Pattern and Interpretation included in the prestigious Journal for the Study of the New Testament dissertation series, published by Sheffield Academic Press. More recently, he co-edited and contributed to One in Christ Jesus: Essays on Early Christianity and ‘All that Jazz’ in Honor of S. Scott Bartchy. Matson has also served as adjunct professor at Fuller Theological Seminary and Pepperdine University.

Matson has strong and historic ties to HIU. In addition to having three sisters who are also graduates of HIU, his great-grandfather, Earl G. Harris, grandfather, Lertis R. Ellett, and father, Donald L. Matson, each served terms on HIU’s Board of Trustees. His grandmother, Kathryn (Harris) Ellett, attended HIU (PBS) in the 1930’s. He truly considers them his legacy.

Matson's classroom style can be aptly summarized by a placard he often brings to the first day of class: "I am subject to bursts of enthusiasm!"


TEACHING PHILOSOPHY—“to inform and to inspire”


  • Hebrew History and Literature
  • Early Christian History and Literature
  • Greek I and II
  • Tools for Literary Exegesis and Analysis
  • Upper Division New Testament courses (Gospels, Pauline Epistles)



  • “Most Historically Significant Stone-Campbell Movement Article” (Stone-Campbell Journal Twentieth Anniversary Commemoration, Johnson University, Knoxville, TN, 2017)
  • Rose B. and Edgar B. McReynolds Faculty Excellence Award, Hope International University (2006, 2009)
  • Faculty Appreciation Award, presented by the Student Government Association, Milligan College (1999)
  • International Society of Theta Phi, Emmanuel School of Religion Chapter (1996)
  • E. L. Dwyer Academic Scholarship, Baylor University (1992-93)
  • University Scholarship, Baylor University (1990-91)
  • Graduate Fellowship, Baylor University (1988-90)
  • Kenneth Stewart Academic Scholarship, Pepperdine University (1982)
  • Pi Beta Sigma Honor Society, Pacific Christian College (1981)


  • Integration of biblical faith and critical scholarship in life of the church
  • Relationship of exegesis to theological method and hermeneutics
  • Atonement and Justification Theory
  • Relationship of Ethics and Eschatology
  • Jesus’ Political Context


  • Society of Biblical Literature
  • Institute for Biblical Research


“Paul understands the human instinctive drive for self-defense and self-justification, the effort always to be sure that one is ‘OK’ in the eyes of others and oneself—Paul understands this drive as making us actual enemies of the God who loves, accepts, and justifies  us freely by his own grace. This asserting of ourselves, concern with our image and self-image, is the placing of a ‘graven image’—an idol—in the place God reserves for himself, an effort to be our own God. The acceptance of God’s grace is the end of all efforts at self-justification, ends the hostility, and opens up one’s life to God, others, and oneself”—Eugene M. Boring and Fred B. Craddock

“We must learn diligently the article of justification, for all other articles of the faith are comprehended in it; and if that remain sound, then all the rest are sound.”  --Martin Luther




  • One in Christ Jesus: Essays on Early Christianity and ‘All that Jazz’ in Honor of S. Scott Bartchy. Co-edited with K.C. Richardson. Eugene: Pickwick, 2014
  • Household Conversion Narratives in Acts: Pattern and Interpretation. JSNT Supplement Series 123. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1996


  • "‘Put Your Sword Back into Its Place’ (Matt 26:52): The Rationale Behind Jesus's Sword Directive (and It Isn't Pacifism),” Journal of Gospels and Acts Research 5 (2021): 25-46.
  • “Preach the Gospel—Just Don’t Use the Word Love: Insights from Paul’s Rhetorical Strategy in Romans,” in Looking Both Ways: At the Intersection of the Academy and the Church, eds. Wm. Curtis Holtzen and J. Blair Wilgus (Claremont: Claremont Press, 2021), 71-86.
  • “Is There a Universal Love Ethic in 1 Thessalonians 3:12? Probing a Pervasive Presupposition,” Journal for the Study of Paul and His Letters 10 (2020): 38-56.
  • “Double-Edged: The Meaning of the Two Swords in Luke 22:35-38,” Journal of Biblical Literature 137 (2018): 463-80
  • “The Scholar and the Bible,” Leaven 25 (2017):  78-82
  • “Divine Forgiveness in Paul? Justification by Faith and the Logic of Pauline Soteriology,” Stone-Campbell Journal 19 (2016): 59-83
  • “‘Eating and Drinking Whatever They Provide’ (Luke 10:5-7): Luke’s Household Mission of the Seventy(-Two) in Light of the Philip Esler/E.P. Sanders Debate,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 42 (2015): 371-89
  • “Pacifist Jesus? The (Mis)Translation of ἐᾶτε ἕως τούτου in Luke 22:51,” Journal of Biblical Literature 134 (2015): 157-76
  • “What Paul Preached at Thessalonica and Why It Matters,” Leaven 23 (2015): 6-12
  • “Should Ἰουδαῖος Be Translated ‘Judean’? The Challenge of 1 Thessalonians 2:14.” Pages 69-83 in One in Christ Jesus: Essays on Early Christianity and ‘All that Jazz’ in Honor of S. Scott Bartchy. Edited by David Lertis Matson and K.C. Richardson. Eugene: Pickwick, 2014
  • “Personalized vs. Parallel Eating: Luke’s Challenge for the Twenty-First Century Church,” Leaven 20 (2012):  6-11
  • “‘I Have Brothers and Sisters in Those Parties’: More on the ‘Conscientious Sister’ of the Lunenburg Letter,” Stone-Campbell Journal 14 (2011):  165-88 Contributor, Contexticon of New Testament Language, New Testament Language Project, Cambridge, MA, 2009
  •  "Who Wrote the Lunenburg Letter? The Untold Story of the 'Conscientious Sister' of Lunenburg," Stone-Campbell Journal 11 (2008): 3-28
  • “Tuning the Faith: The Cornelius Story in Resonance Perspective,” Perspectives in Religious Studies 33 (2006): 449-465
  • “Apostolic Church: The Significance of the Sent Community in the Gospel of John,” Leaven 14 (2006): 9-15
  • “What Does Church Have to Do with God? A Case for Historic Christian Worship” The Christian Standard (June 10, 2001): 10-13
  • “Freedom or Fortune: Discerning Paul’s Basis for Ethics,” Leaven 8 (2000): 180-82
  • “Cornelius.” Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. 285
  •  “Zacchaeus.” Eerdmans Dictionary of the Bible. 1406
  • “Revelation in Perspective,” Leaven 8 (2000), editor
  • “‘Outside Are the Dogs’: Interpreting Revelation’s Hate Language,” Leaven 8 (2000): 40-47
  • “Ministry in Luke-Acts,” Leaven (Summer Quarter), editor
  • “Breaking the Bread, Breaking the Veil: Recognition of Jesus at Emmaus,” Leaven 3 (1995): 8-12.


Book Reviews           

  • ​Review of Paul against the Idols: A Contextual Reading of the Areopagus Speech, by Flavien Pardigon. Review of Biblical Literature October, 2020.https://www.bookreviews.org/BookDetail.asp?TitleId=12955
  • Review of Peter’s Halakhic Nightmare: The ‘Animal’ Vision of Acts 10:9-16 in Jewish and Graeco-Roman Perspective, by John R. L. Moxon, Review of Biblical Literature July (2020). https://www.bookreviews.org/BookDetail.asp?TitleId=11837
  • Review of An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods, and Ministry Formation, by David A. deSilva. Review of Biblical Literature May (2020). http.//www.bookreviews.org
  • Review of Luke: A New Covenant Commentary, by Diane G. Chen. Review of Biblical Literature May (2020). https://www.bookreviews.org/BookDetail.asp?TitleId=12135
  • Review of The Gospel according to Luke: Volume II (Luke 9:51–24), by Michael Wolter. Review of Biblical Literature April (2019); print edition in Jan Van Der Watt, ed.,  Review of Biblical Literature, Atlanta: SBL Press, 2019, 307-10.
  • Review of Luke, by Alan J. Thompson. Review of Biblical Literature January (2019).
  • Review of When in Romans: An Invitation to Linger with the Gospel according to Paul, by Beverly Roberts Gaventa. Stone-Campbell Journal 20 (2017): 309-11
  • Review of Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification. What the Reformers Taught . . . and Why It Still Matters, by Thomas R. Schreiner. Stone-Campbell Journal 19 (2016): 115-117
  • Review of Between Babel and Beast: America and Empires in Biblical Perspective, by Peter J. Leithart. Stone-Campbell Journal 17 (2014): 122-25
  • Review of Christ and Caesar: The Gospel and the Roman Empire in the Writings of Paul and Luke, by Seyoon Kim.  Stone-Campbell Journal 14 (2011): 144-42
  • Review of Killing Enmity: Violence and the New Testament, by Thomas R. Yoder. Stone-Campbell Journal 16 (2013): 264-66
  • Review of The First Paul: Reclaiming the Radical Visionary behind the Church’s Conservative Icon, by Marcus J. Borg and John Dominic Crossan. Stone-Campbell Journal 13 (2011): 308-10
  • Review of The Bible and Contemporary Culture, by Gerd Theissen. Stone-Campbell Journal 13 (2010): 128-30
  • Review of Beyond Reasonable Doubt: 95 Theses Which Dispute the Church’s Conviction Against Women, by T. Scott Womble. Stone-Campbell Journal 12 (2009): 142-44
  • Review of Preaching the Gospel of Luke: Proclaiming God’s Royal Rule, by Keith F. Nickle. Interpretation 55 (2001): 199-200
  • Review of Conversion in the New Testament: Paul and the Twelve, by Richard V. Peace. Interpretation 54 (2000): 326
  • Review of “Through Many Tribulations”: The Theology of Persecution in Luke-Acts, by Scott Cunningham, in Religious Studies Review 25 (1999): 303
  • Review of Luke1:1-9:50 and Luke 9:51-24:53, by Darrel L. Bock. Religious Studies Review 24 (1998): 85
  • Review of The Davidic Messiah in Luke-Acts, by Mark L. Strauss. Religious Studies Review 23 (1997): 184
  • Review of The Ongoing Feast: Table Fellowship and Eschatology at Emmaus, by Arthur A. Just, Jr. Interpretation 46 (1995): 208
  • Review of Leadership and Discipleship: A Study of Luke 22:24-30, by Peter K. Nelson. Religious Studies Review 21 (1995): 235
  • Review of New Views on Luke and Acts, by Earl Richard, ed. Religious Studies Review 21 (1995): 235
  • Review of Luke, by Fred B. Craddock. Interpretation 46 (1992): 91



  • “‘Put Your Sword Back into Its Place’ (Matt 26:52): The Rationale Behind Jesus’s Sword Directive (and It Isn’t Pacifism),” Stone-Campbell Journal National Conference, Knoxville, TN (2019).
  • “Pacifist Jesus? (Again): The Meaning of the Two Swords in Luke 22:35-38,” Stone-Campbell Journal National Conference, Knoxville, TN (2017)
  • “Justified or Forgiven? A Stone-Campbell Perspective on Justification by Faith,” Stone-Campbell Lecture, North American Christian Convention, Anaheim, CA (2016)
  • “‘So What?’ Why Preachers and Teachers Should Be Aware of New Testament Textual Criticism,” Hope International University Alumni Symposium with Paul R. McReynolds, Fullerton, CA (2015)
  • “The Scholar and the Bible,” Dunning Lectureship, Nebraska Christian College, Papillion, NE (2015)
  • “Divine Forgiveness in Paul? Further Thoughts on Justification by Faith,” Stone-Campbell Journal Conference (Plenary Address), Indianapolis, IN (2015)
  • “Pacifist Jesus? The (Mis)Translation of eate heos toutou in Luke 22:51,” Society of Biblical Literature Annual Meeting, Baltimore, MA; Stone-Campbell Journal Conference, Nashville, TN (2013)
  • “Translating Ioudaios as ‘Judean’: The Special Case of 1 Thessalonians 2:14,” Society of Biblical Literature Pacific Coast Region, Santa Clara, CA; Stone-Campbell Journal National Conference, Lincoln, IL (2012)
  • “The (Non-)Political Jesus: Challenging the Three ‘P’s’ of So-Called Progressive Christianity,”  
  • Faith and Politics Series, St. Mark’s Presbyterian Church, Newport Beach, CA (2012)
  • “‘Eating and Drinking Whatever They Provide’: Jew-Gentile Table Relations in Luke-Acts,” Christian Scholars’ Conference, Malibu, CA (2011)
  • “‘I Have Brothers and Sisters in Those Parties’: The Fascinating Family of the Author of the Lunenburg Letter,” Stone-Campbell Journal National Conference, Cincinnati, OH (2011)
  • “Introduction to Paul,” “Revealing the Book of Revelation,” Roman Catholic Archdiocese Diaconate Training, Los Angeles, CA (2011)
  • “Introduction to Paul,” Men’s Retreat, Northern California-Nevada Region, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2010)
  • “Sacred Conversation: A Study of Theological Consensus in Acts 15,” Ministers’ Special Event, Pacific Southwest Region, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2010)
  • “The Road to Cannamaugh: A Study of Luke 24:13-35,” Regional Gathering, Pacific Southwest Region, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2010)
  • "Paul: the Man, the Message, the Myth," California State University Northridge (CSUN), Visiting Distinguished Speakers Program, Northridge, CA (2009)
  • "Introduction to 1 Corinthians," Roman Catholic Archdiocese Diaconate Training, Sylmar, CA (2009)
  • "Introduction to Paul," Men's Retreat, Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2009) Bible Lecturer, Regional Assembly, Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • "'Repairing the World': A Metaphor for Resurrection," Forest Lawn Monthly Employees Meeting, Glendale, CA (2008)
  • "Who Wrote the Lunenburg Letter? The Untold Story of the 'Conscientious Sister' of Lunenburg," Stone Campbell Journal National Conference, Cincinnati, OH (2008)
  • "Introduction to 1 Thessalonians," "Introduction to Ephesians," Roman Catholic Archdiocese Diaconate Training, Sylmar, CA  (2008) Bible Lecturer, Regional Assembly, Pacific Southwest Region of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2006)
  • “‘It Has Seemed Good to the Holy Spirit and to Us’: Encouraging the Church to Think Theologically,” Theological Presentation to the Pacific Southwest Regional Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) (2006)
  • Panel Member—Leaven Symposium on the Gospel of John, 62nd Annual Bible Lectures, Pepperdine University (2005)
  • “I Wish You Happiness,” Baccalaureate Address, Pepperdine University (2005)
  • “Resonance: A New Approach to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral and a Biblical Case Study” (with Warren S. Brown), Society for the Study of Psychology and Wesleyan Theology (2003)
  • “Permanence and Change: Toward a Biblical Understanding of God” (Stone- Campbell Journal National Conference) (2002)
  • Panel Member—“God and Politics,” University of Judaism, Los Angeles, CA (Jan. 25, 2001)
  • Panel Member—“God and Animal Rights,” University of Judaism, Los Angeles, CA (Jan. 18, 2001)
  • “Parousia or Temple Judgment: The Meaning and Function of Mark 13:24-27 in the Olivet Discourse,” Society of Biblical Literature, Southwest Region (1991)



Biking, golfing, traveling, spending time with family, discussing theology