Students at commencement

Meet the Faculty

Matthew L. Skinner

Matthew L. Skinner

Professor of New Testament

  • Ph.D. (Princeton Theological Seminary)
  • M.Div. (Princeton Theological Seminary)


Matthew Skinner joined Luther Seminary’s faculty in 2002, having earned his Ph.D. in biblical studies from Princeton Theological Seminary, where he had previously completed his M.Div. and served as a teaching fellow and visiting lecturer. In 1990 he received his A.B. degree magna cum laude, with a concentration in philosophy, from Brown University. In more recent years he has conducted advanced research at the Center of Theological Inquiry as a member-in-residence and a writing fellow.

Skinner’s teaching experience covers the full range of the New Testament canon. His courses focus on the original, ancient settings and circumstances surrounding the creation and preservation biblical texts as well as how these writings continue to be experienced and interpreted in congregations and other public venues.

Much of Skinner’s published work focuses on the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the cultural realities displayed in these writings, and their ongoing theological relevance. His most recent book, Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts, explores how we best read the Acts of the Apostles so it informs our understanding of the character of God, the challenges of faith, and the purpose of the church.

He also wrote The Trial Narratives: Conflict, Power, and Identity in the New Testament and has co-edited two books: The Unrelenting God: God’s Action in Scripture and Shaping the Scriptural Imagination: Truth, Meaning, and the Theological Interpretation of the Bible. He is currently working on a textbook that will introduce students to the entire New Testament.

He has contributed to various resources for scholars, church leaders, and laypeople interested in the Bible’s connections to faith and life, including The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and Theology, Theological Bible Commentary,, and Covenant Bible Study.

He writes about the Bible for websites including Huffington Post, Working Preacher, and ON Scripture—The Bible. He co-hosts Sermon Brainwave, a popular weekly podcast that helps preachers interpret biblical texts as part of their sermon preparations.

Ordained as a teaching elder in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Skinner frequently teaches at conferences, on college and seminary campuses, and in congregations.

Featured Work

Reading Acts in the Discourses of Masculinity and Politics

Reading Acts in the Discourses of Masculinity and Politics

Bloomsbury T&T Clark (2017)

This book looks at the Acts of the Apostles through two lenses that highlight the two topics of masculinity and politics. Acts is rich in relevant material, whether this be in the range of such characters as the Ethiopian eunuch, Cornelius, Peter and Paul, or in situations such as Timothy's circumcision and Paul's encounters with Roman rulers in different cities. Engaging Acts from these two distinct but related perspectives illuminates features of this book which are otherwise easily missed. These approaches provide fresh angles to see how men, masculinity, and imperial loyalty were understood, experienced, and constructed in the ancient world and in earliest Christianity.

This collection of essays, edited by Matthew L. Skinner, Eric Barreto and Steve Walton, presents a range of topics: some engage with Acts as a whole as in Steve Walton's chapter on the way Luke-Acts perceives the Roman Empire, while others focus on particular sections, passages, and even certain figures, such as in an Christopher Stroup's analysis of the circumcision of Timothy. Together, the essays provide a tightly woven and deeply textured analysis of Acts. The dialogue form of essay and response will encourage readers to develop their own critiques of the points raised in the collection as a whole.

Reading Acts in the Discourses of Masculinity and Politics

Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts

Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts

Brazos Press (2015)

This engaging book guides readers through one of the most colorful books of the Bible, illuminating passages from Acts that show the Christian gospel expressing itself through the lives, speech, struggles, and adventures of Jesus's followers. The book emphasizes the disruptive character of the Christian gospel and shows how Acts repeatedly describes God as upsetting the status quo by changing people's lives, society's conventions, and our basic expectations of what's possible. Suited for individual and group study, this book by a New Testament scholar with a gift for popular communication asks serious questions and eschews pat answers, bringing Acts alive for contemporary reflection on the character of God, the challenges of faith, and the church.

Intrusive God, Disruptive Gospel: Encountering the Divine in the Book of Acts

The Trial Narratives: Conflict, Power, and Identity in the New Testament

The Trial Narratives: Conflict, Power, and Identity in the New Testament

Westminster John Knox Press (2010)

In this careful analysis, Matthew Skinner explores the trial narratives of Jesus, Paul, Stephen, and others in the Gospels and Acts who found themselves brought before powerful individuals and groups, often with deadly consequences. His close study of these texts is essential for those interested in the early church's relationship to the sociopolitical structures in which Christian belief emerged. He shows how the narratives helped shape early Christian identity as these communities sought to understand both the political implications of the emerging Christian gospel as well as the dangers and opportunities their sociopolitical context presented. He also reflects on the theological resources and paradigms these texts offer to Christians today.

The Trial Narratives: Conflict, Power, and Identity in the New Testament


NT 0220 50BIBLICAL EXEGESIS FOR MINISTRY Spring Semester 2016-2017

Drawing on and continuing the work of the core curriculum's language instruction, this course provides instruction and gives practice in biblical exegesis and theological interpretation in ministerial contexts. Each class will focus on a single book of the Bible or several related biblical texts and will require regular translation assignments from an ancient biblical language. Prerequisite: LG0220 Biblical Greek SPRING 2016-2017: FOCUS - GOSPEL OF MARK

SG 0702 01SCRIPTURE AND ITS WITNESSES - II Spring Semester 2016-2017

An inquiry into the Old and New Testaments as Christian scripture and the Bible's multiple ways of presenting the nature of God and God's commitments to the world and its peoples. Students develop a nuanced outlook of the Bible as a whole as they gain experience identifying how several theological ideas receive different expression in the scriptures at different times in the history of Israel and the church. Small discussion groups provide weekly opportunities to interpret several books from the Old and New Testaments in greater depth while attending to those books' connections to other parts of scripture. Students consider how they lead others in making sense of the Bible in light of their current realities and for the sake of exploring and articulating their Christian faith. The course brings students' cultural contexts into conversation with the Bible and emphasizes how understanding the Bible requires them to engage other biblical interpreters as essential conversation partners. Prerequisite: SG0701 Scripture and Its Witnesses I (or OT1110 or NT1210-NT1213). FULFILLS PAULINE TRADITION REQUIREMENT

NT 1217 01THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE Fall Semester 2016-2017

A detailed analysis of the Gospel according to Luke, attending to the themes, theology, and teaching of the Gospel within its ancient setting, as well as its significance for our own time. The course highlights both the distinctiveness of Luke and its similarities to the other Gospels. To form and equip students as biblical interpreters, the course considers various interpretive traditions and explores what it means to read, teach, or preach Luke theologically. Sections based on either Greek or English text.


Saint John Chrysostom referred to the book of Acts as “a strange new dish,” and it remains exactly that for many readers, preachers, and congregations. What can we learn from this lively story of travel, growth, setbacks, miracles, opposition, and responses to the Spirit’s initiative? This course explores Acts as a theological narrative, a book that makes bold and sometimes difficult claims about the nature of God, the gospel, and humanity. Together we will explore the challenges and opportunities that come with preaching Acts, whether according to the Revised Common Lectionary’s scattered seasonal offerings from Acts or through a series of sermons designed to walk a congregation into a deeper engagement with the book’s narrative depiction of God, the church, human cultures, and the gospel. By working with Acts in particular, the course aims to strengthen biblical preaching in general. Interpreting and preaching Acts helps us think more creatively and with more nuance about the nature and theological character of biblical narrative, and so this course also considers what it means to preach a narrative and how preachers help Christian communities understand how biblical narrative can stimulate their theological imaginations. COURSE MEETS JUNE 12-18, 2017

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