PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS
|Teaching on Divorce||Marriage and Divorce||Marriage and Divorce||Jesus Teaches About Divorce||The Question About Divorce|
|Jesus Teaches on Celibacy|
|Little Children Blessed||Jesus Blesses Little Children||Blessing the Children||Jesus Blesses Little Children||Jesus and the Children|
|The rich Young Man||Jesus Counsels the Rich Young Man||The Rich Young Man||The Rich Young Man||The Rich Young Man|
|With God All Things Are Possible||The Dangers of Riches|
|19:26||The Reward of Renunciation|
READING CYCLE THREE (from "A Guide to Good Bible Reading")
FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT THE PARAGRAPH LEVEL
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.
1. First paragraph
2. Second paragraph
3. Third paragraph
A. The Pharisees were not really interested in the question of divorce but they were trying to reduce Jesus' popularity by splitting His following over a disputed issue (cf. Mark 10:2-12). Jesus' answer must be interpreted in this confrontational context. This is not a neutral teaching passage.
B. Matthew 5:31-32; Mark 10:1-12; Luke 16:18 and 1 Corinthians 7:12-14 must also be taken into consideration when discussing the issue of divorce. This passage concerns the legal grounds for divorce and remarriage in Moses'writings.
C. When interpreting a hot social issue such as this, be careful of:
1. being influenced too heavily by your own culture and age
2. being influenced by your own existential situation and experiences
3. being influenced by your presuppositions (denominationalism)
4. making hard and dogmatic rules for every situation
WORD AND PHRASE STUDY
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 19:1-2
1When Jesus had finished these words, He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea beyond the Jordan; 2and large crowds followed Him, and He healed them there.
19:1 "When Jesus had finished these words" This phrase is apparently a textual marker for Matthew's structuring of Jesus' teachings (cf. Matt. 7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 26:1).
▣ "He departed from Galilee and came into the region of Judea" This period of Jesus' ministry is often called His Perean ministry. It covered Matthew 19-20. Many Jews would not pass through Samaria but would cross over into the trans-Jordan area of Perea, then south toward Jerusalem and cross back over the Jordan at Jericho into Judea. This was because of their hatred of Samaritans. They believed them to be half Jews, half pagans. This was the result of the Assyrian exile under Sargon II of the Northern Ten Tribes in 722 b.c. and the resettlement of pagans into the region.
19:2 "and large crowds followed Him" These were possibly pilgrims going to Jerusalem, but they could also be persons looking for healing or curiosity seekers.
▣ "and He healed them there" Jesus' healings were intended to confirm His message, to help show the future bliss of heaven, and the heart of God. He did not come primarily to heal, but to teach; however, whenever He saw people hurting from the ravages of sin, He acted; and He still does!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 19:3-9
3Some Pharisees came to Jesus, testing Him and asking, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" 4And He answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? 6So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate." 7They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?" 8He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way. 9And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery."
19:3 For a full discussion of the origin and theology of the Pharisees see the Special Topic at Matt. 22:15.
▣ "testing Him" This term (peirazō) had a negative connotation of "testing with a view toward destruction." See Special Topic at Matt. 4:1. This was not a theological discussion in a neutral setting!
NASB"for any reason at all"
NKJV"for any reason"
NRSV"for any cause"
TEV"for whatever reason he wishes"
NJB"on any pretext whatever"
In Mark 10:2 the question was about divorce, but here the question concerned the grounds for divorce. The conservative rabbinical school of Shammai picked up on the phrase "some indecency" from Deut. 24:1, while the liberal rabbinical school of Hillel picked up on the phrase "she finds no favor." So the first school said the grounds were only for adultery or some other forbidden sexual act; the second said for any cause. Later, Rabbi Akiba, of the school of Hillel, even said that one could divorce his wife if he found someone prettier!
The Pharisees are asking Jesus a question, not for information but to hurt Him
1. with some portion of His followers (factions within Judaism)
2. with Herod Antipas (John the Baptist condemned Herod's divorce and remarriage)
19:4 "Have you not read" Jesus expected that Jewish people had read God's book (cf. Matt. 12:3; 19:4; 21:16; 22:31). Knowledge of Scripture was foundational for godly living. Jesus expects modern believers to " have read" it also! The Jewish traditions twisted and annulled Scripture, as does modern denominational traditions, usually quoting one text or part of a text out of context and ignoring all other parallel passages!
▣ "created" This participle (ktisas) is in the uncial MS B, but the verb "made" (poiēsas) is in MSS א, C, D, L, W, Z. It follows the Septuagint of Gen. 1:27. However, the UBS4 thinks the first option is original (i.e., a "B" rating, meaning " almost certain").
▣ "from the beginning" This quote is from Gen. 1:27 and 5:2 of God's creation of both men and women. Marriage is God's idea and it is to be monogamous (cf. Gen. 2:23-24) and permanent (cf. Matt. 19:6).
19:5 "for this reason. . .leave his father and mother" This is a quote from Gen. 2:24. Notice both parents are mentioned, but also the radical break with one's nuclear family that marriage demanded. In the ancient world families lived with multiple generations in one house. The priority and independence of each generation is affirmed.
▣ "the two shall become one flesh" The singular form but with a plural sense is also found in Gen. 2:24, Deut. 6:4, and Ezek. 27:17. Love merges individuals!
19:6 "what therefore God has joined together" This is an aorist active indicative, which expressed completed action. By stating "what," not "who," the institution of marriage was emphasized. The term "joined together" meant "yoked together."
19:7 "Moses commanded to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away" This is from Deut. 24:1-4. Jesus said that Moses did it, not because God wanted it, but because of the hardness of the peoples'hearts. Moses had compassion for the wife's societal plight. This certificate (1) required several days, (2) required legal help, (3) may have required return of the dowry, and (4) implied remarriage.
What really bothers me about Jesus' rejection of Moses'words is how do I know what else is contained in OT Scripture that God rejects. I would never have known this unless Jesus expressly stated it here. All my life I have revered Scripture, used it to guide my life and actions, but now Jesus says part of it was never God's will!! This gives me pause and forces me to cling to the NT and not the OT. The OT must be viewed through its interpretation by Jesus and His inspired Apostles! Jesus is Lord of Scripture (cf. Matt. 5:17-48)!
NASB"except for immorality"
NKJV"except for sexual immorality"
NRSV"except for unchastity"
TEV"other than her unfaithfulness"
JB" I am not speaking of fornication"
NJB"I am not speaking of an illicit marriage"
The Greek term is porneia, which comes into English as "pornography." This could have referred to fornication (pre-marital sexual activity), adultery (extra-marital sexual activity), or other inappropriate sexual acts such as bestiality and homosexuality (forbidden sexual activity).
▣ "and marries another woman" Only Jewish men had the right of divorce during this period of time. In Mark and Luke, who were writing to a Gentile audience, women are also addressed (cf. Mark 10:12).
▣ "commits adultery" This is present passive (deponent) indicative (cf. Mark 10:11-12). There are some textual variations in this verse probably caused by scribes referring to Matt. 5:32. The verb tenses from 5:32 shed light on this passage. In Matt. 5:32 the translation should be "causes her to become an adulteress." This passive voice has also been found in Matt. 19:9 in the Greek manuscripts B and C*. This possibly referred to the social stigma which was put on the divorced woman by her Jewish culture, which designated her as an adulteress by the fact that she was put away.
At this point F. F. Bruce's comment on this text in his book Answers to Questions, p. 55, is relevant to the use of this text today:
"He was not giving His disciples occasion for instituting a new legalism on the basis of His ruling, as some of them have tried to do. What He said about the Sabbath law could be said of the marriage law: it was made for human beings, and not vice versa."
See Dr. Utley's audio tapes on "divorce" online at www.freebiblecommentary.org in the "Difficult and Controversial Texts" section.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 19:10-12
10The disciples said to Him, "If the relationship of the man with his wife is like this, it is better not to marry." 11But He said to them, "Not all men can accept this statement, but only those to whom it has been given 12For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother's womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.
19:10 "disciples said. . .it is better not to marry" Jesus' statement shocked them. They had the views of their culture ingrained in their minds. So do we! Marriage is God's will for humans (this is a first class conditional sentence). It is a great blessing but also a great responsibility. In days of frequent divorces the witness of a strong, godly marriage is very powerful to a lost world.
19:10-11 Marriage is the norm (cf. Gen. 1:28; 9:17), but celibacy is a godly option (cf. 1 Cor. 7:7,17). A believer's prayerful desires will guide him/her in this area. If one chooses to be single, it should be for service to God (cf. 1 Cor. 7:32).
The Jews of Jesus' day rejected singleness as a godly option. Jesus is challenging the standards of His culture in several areas.
1. the husband's total authority
2. couples should remain together and work out their problems
3. singleness is a godly option
19:12 Jesus discusses the different types of singles.
1. born that way
a. birth defect
b. personal tendency
2. forceful castration (eunuchs, i.e., Esther 2:3; possibly Daniel and his friends, Acts 8:27)
3. personal choice of singleness for the purpose of ministry (I do not think this demands physical castration although some early church leaders did it to themselves, i.e., Origen)
Notice how Matt. 19:12 is framed
1. verse 11, all men cannot be single
2. verse 12c, some me can accept this lifestyle
CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS FOR VERSES 13-15
A. Verses 13-15 are paralleled in Mark 10:13-31 and Luke 18:15-30.
B. The New Testament does not discuss children's spiritual relationship with God.
C. Matt. 18 does not discuss the spiritual status of children but uses them as an example for new believers.
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 19:13-15
13Then some children were brought to Him so that He might lay His hands on them and pray; and the disciples rebuked them. 14But Jesus said, "Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." 15After laying His hands on them, He departed from there.
19:13 "children" Jesus was a friend to the socially outcast, ostracized, and/or underprivileged. He befriended the common person, slaves, the poor, women, and children.
▣ "so that He might lay His hands on them and pray" This was the traditional rabbinical blessing for children. This has nothing to do with salvation. Jewish parents saw their children as already members of the congregation of Israel by birth.
19:14 "Let the children alone" This is aorist active imperative. Jesus was emphatic in His desire to be available to all.
▣ "do not hinder them from coming to Me" This is present active imperative with a Negative particle. This grammatical construction implies to stop an act which was already in process.
▣ "for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these" This did not refer to the children themselves, but those (1) with child-like characteristics or (2) who see themselves in a low or receiving position who will enter the kingdom of God (cf. Matt. 18:2-4). This is not a verse on the salvation of children. The NT is written to adults!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 19:16-22
16And someone came to Him and said, "Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?" 17And He said to him, "Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments." 18 Then he said to Him, "Which ones?" And Jesus said, "You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself." 20The young man said to Him, "All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?" 21Jesus said to him, "If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me." 22But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property.
19:16 "someone came to Him" From Matt. 19:20 we know that he was young, from Matt. 19:22 we learn that he was rich, and from Luke 18:18 we learn that he was a ruler (cf. Mark 10:17-22).
▣ "Teacher" The parallels in Mark 10:17 and Luke 18:18 have "good Teacher." The better uncial MSS (i.e., א, B, D, L) omit it here (UBS4 rates its exclusion as "A," meaning "certain").
▣ "what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life" This Jewish man had the common conception of salvation held by most Jews of his day, which was a works righteousness based on one's conformity to the Mosaic Law and Oral Tradition (cf. Luke 10:25; Rom. 9:30-33). He saw eternal life as the result of his religious performance.
▣ "eternal life" This was an OT concept of the life (zoē) of the age to come (cf. Dan. 12:2). The term addressed both the quality of the new life and its duration.
In this one context several different expressions are used to describe a person's relationship with God.
1. obtain eternal life, Matt. 19:16
2. to enter into life, Matt. 19:17
3. to be complete, Matt. 19:21
4. to enter the kingdom of God, Matt. 19:23,24
5. be saved, Matt. 19:25
6. will inherit eternal life, Matt. 19:29
19:17 "There is only One who is good" Jesus was not making a statement about His lack of goodness, but was showing this man the standard of goodness that was required to be right with God. This verse should not be used as a proof-text depreciating Jesus' deity or sinlessness.
▣ "if" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true from the author's perspective or for his literary purposes. There is nothing in this context to imply that this man was trying to tempt, try or trick Jesus.
▣ "keep the commandments" This is aorist imperative (Nestle Greek text has a Present active imperative). This obviously referred to the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5. This was the heart of the Jewish Law.
19:18-19 This is a partial list of the second half of the Ten Commandments which dealt with person's relationship to his fellow covenant brother. This listing is different from the Masoretic Hebrew text and the Septuagint. See Special Topics at Matt. 5:21, 5:27, 15:4, and the following Special Topic.
19:18 "murder" The King James Version (KJV) and the Jerusalem Bible (JB) render this verb as "kill," which is an unfortunate translation of this Hebrew word for "non-legal premeditated murder." The NKJV has " murder." The "eye for an eye" law code of Israel provided a blood-avenger to exact justice from one who killed a family member (cf. Num. 35:12; Deut. 19:6,12; Jos. 20:1-9). This served to prevent feuds or unlimited retaliation. See Special Topic at Matt. 5:21.
19:20 "the young man" In Jesus' day a man was considered young until he was forty years old. Luke 18:18 adds that the man was a "ruler," which meant the leader of a local synagogue or of a local town council.
▣ "all these things I have kept" In Phil. 3:6 Paul makes the same claim. This is not a contradiction of Rom. 3:23, but shows the legalistic nature of the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament to which Jesus spoke in Matt. 5:20-48. Righteousness was seen as performance of a legal code. This man felt he had performed all the religious duties of his day and culture.
▣ NKJV adds "from my youth," which is found in Mark 10:20 and the uncial MSS C and W and many versions. In Jewish society a person was not responsible to keep the Law until after a time of personal study and commitment (i.e., Bar Mitzvah at age 13 for boys and Bat Mitzvah for girls at age 12). This is parallel to the concept of "the age of accountability" in Christianity.
▣ "what am I still lacking" This shows the restlessness of this man's heart. Even after keeping all of the Mosaic laws and their interpretations, he still felt empty.
19:21 "If" This is a first class conditional sentence which is assumed to be true by the author for his literary purposes.
TEV, NJB" perfect"
This word meant "full," " mature," " fully equipped for the assigned task" (from telosi). It did not imply sinlessness.
▣ "go and sell your possessions" This shows the radical nature of the Christian's faith (cf. Luke 14:33). It is a total commitment. For this man the choice was in the area of possessions. This man's possessions possessed him! This is not a requirement for all believers, but a radical, ultimate commitment to Jesus is!
There is a series of imperatives.
1. go, present active imperative
2. sell, aorist active imperative
3. give, aorist active imperative
4. come, adverb used as an aorist active imperative
5. follow, present active imperative
These commands (i.e., #4, 5) are like Jesus' call to the Twelve. Jesus was inviting this man to become part of His nucleus!
▣ "give to the poor" From 1 Cor. 13:1-3, we see that attitude is the key!
▣ "you will have treasure in heaven" See notes at Matthew 6:19-20.
▣ "and come, follow Me" Jesus perceived this man's priority structure and He demanded first place. His wealth was not the problem, but its priority (cf. 1 Tim. 6:10). Notice the radical personal commitment demanded for following Jesus (cf. Matt. 10:34-39).
19:22 "he went away grieving" Jesus loved this man but would not lower the standards of the Kingdom. The Bible is silent on this man's salvation. This is shocking when we realize that (1) he came with good motives, (2) he came to the right person, (3) he came with the right questions, and (4) Jesus loved him (Mark 10:21), but he went away!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 19:23-26
23And Jesus said to His disciples, "Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." 25When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, "Then who can be saved?" 26And looking at them Jesus said to them, "With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
19:23 "Truly" See Special Topic at Matt. 5:18.
19:24 "a camel to go through the eye of a needle" There has been much discussion over this phrase. Is it literal or figurative? There was never a small gate in Jerusalem which camels had to kneel to enter! It was an oriental exaggeration, in which it would be impossible for rich people to be saved! But with God, all things are possible (Matt. 19:26). Jesus is addressing the situation of the rich, young ruler. He seemed to be blessed by God in an OT snese, but he was not right with God. Riches and possessions can be (and often are) a curse!
▣ "it is hard for a rich man" See Special Topic: Wealth at Matt. 6:24.
▣ "the kingdom of God" This was a rare use of this phrase in Matthew because of the Jewish fear of taking God's name in vain (cf. Exod.20:7; Deut. 5:11). This phrase appears often in the Gospel parallels of Mark and Luke written for Gentiles.
19:25 "the disciples. . .were astonished" The OT taught that God blessed the righteous and temporally punished the wicked (cf. Deut. 27-28). The book of Job, Psalm 73, and Jer. 12:1-4 react against this traditional view. Often the righteous suffer and the wicked prosper. Wealth, position and health are not always signs of God's favor!
19:26 This saying may go back to the OT (i.e., Gen. 18:14; Job 42:2; Jer. 32:17,27). It is an idiomatic way of asserting the powerlessness of humans and the powerfulness of YHWH. God's purposes and plans cannot be thwarted (cf. Job 42:2; Luke 1:37)!
NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: MATTHEW 19:27-30
27Then Peter said to Him, "Behold, we have left everything and followed You; what then will there be for us?" 28And Jesus said to them, "Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or farms for My name's sake, will receive many times as much, and will inherit eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last; and the last, first.
19:27 "what then will there be for us" Peter had left all but he still was thinking about it! The disciples still expected an earthly kingdom with a special reward for themselves (cf. Matt. 20:21,24).
19:28 "the Son of Man" See the full note at Matthew 8:20.
▣ "you who have followed Me. . .shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel" This must refer to the original Twelve Apostles (cf. Luke 22:30), while Matt. 19:29 expands the benefits of abundant blessings and eternal life to all believers (cf. Matt. 20:16; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30).
To whom does this phrase "the twelve tribes of Israel" refer?
1. the new Israel, the church (cf. Rom. 2:28,29; Gal. 6:16; 1 Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6)
2. the believing Israel of the eschaton
It seems to me the verse is emphasizing that the Twelve will share Jesus' glory and reign. Verses like this should not be used to build elaborate theories of the nature of the eschaton! See Special Topic: the Number Twelve at Matt. 14:20.
NASB, NKJV"in the regeneration"
NRSV"at the renewal of all things"
TEV"in the New Age"
NJB"when everything is made new again"
The word means "rebirth." Philo used it for the rebirth after th flood. It was used by Greek thinkers for the new world order. Here it refers to the rebirth at the consummation of the New Age of the Spirit. The disciples still thought this would happen in their lifetime. They were surprised by the two-stage coming of the Messiah.
Initial creation was damaged; the recreation after Noah's flood was also polluted, but the rebirth of the Messianic consummation will be pure, ideal (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; 11:1-10; Micah 5:2-5a; Revelation 21-22).
NASB"many times as much"
NKJV, NRSV"a hundredfold"
TEV"a hundred times more"
NJB"a hundred times as much"
There is a Greek manuscript variation at this point. The term "hundredfold" is in the uncial MSS א, C and D, while "manifold" is in MSS B and C. The first option follows Mark 10:29 and the second Luke 18:30. Most scholars assume that Matthew and Luke follow the structure of Mark. One's commitment to Jesus must supercede his devotion to family, possessions and even life itself (cf. Matt. 10:34-39; Luke 12:51-53).
The new age of righteousness is described in agricultural hyperbole (as in the OT). The Bible is not clear on what heaven will be like.
1. renewed Garden of Eden
2. agricultural abundance
3. beautiful city
4. new spiritual realm
What this text does reveal is that personal faith in Jesus now secures the blessing of heaven in the future. No personal sacrifice now will go unnoticed or unrewarded! The key blessing is "eternal life" with God in Christ! All else pales into insignificance.
We must be careful of holding a theology of sacrifice now for abundance later! True wealth is intimacy with God. Jesus' statements are
2. addressed to the disciples'current understanding
3. showing the radical, selfless decision involved in "following" Him!
I think Jesus' words here are hyperbolic and related to OT agricultural imagery. He expressed Himself this way because of the Apostles'misunderstanding of the spiritual nature of the Kingdom of God. It does not make sense to me for believers to reject materialism in this life only to claim it in the next (" pie in the sky, by and by Christianity"). Jesus is trying to encourage them on a level they can comprehend. This is not a text to base one's views of heaven on! The afterlife, both hell and heaven, are veiled. Earthly metaphors are used to describe both, but only because of our current blindness caused by the Fall (i.e., "we see through a glass darkly," 1 Cor. 13:9-12). We must always guard against "what's in it for me" Christianity. Heaven, like the Kingdom, is all about Him!
19:30 Things are not as they appear to us (cf. Matt. 20:16; Mark 10:31; Luke 13:30). God's ways of evaluation are different from ours (cf. Isa. 55:8-11). Child-like disciples are received, while the wealthy and privileged are rejected (i.e., Matt. 8:10-12). Biblical faith causes an unexpected reversal of the creation!
This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.
These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.
1. Is divorce always a sin?
2. What biblical principle did Jesus advocate in response to the Pharisees'question?
3. Why did Moses allow remarriage if God was against it? What about today?
4. Is celibacy spiritually superior to marriage?
5. Define the Bible's teachings about children and salvation.
6. Do verses 13-15 deal with salvation?
7. Why does Jesus not claim "goodness" in Matt. 19:17? Does this affect the doctrine of Jesus' deity or sinlessness?
8. Did this man really keep all of the commandments? Was he sinless? (Matt. 19:20)
9. Are riches evil?
10. Why were the disciples dumbfounded concerning the rejection of a wealthy man? (Matt. 19:25)
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