The New Testament (Canonical, 40 week)

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

          This is a canonical study of the New Testament (minus the gospels, which can be found as a chronological study here). The text is grouped into seven daily sections, making it useful for a week-long study beginning on Sunday and continuing through the week. Coupled with the gospels study this is a 52 week tour through the whole New Testament that may be completed in one year. A similar 52 week tour of the Old Testament (chronological) is also available.

Acts

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Passage: 

Book Introduction

The author of the Book of Acts is generally considered to have been Luke. It is addressed to Theophilus, the same as the Book of Luke. “Theophilus” translates to “friend of God” and because of Luke’s manner of address “the most excellent” Theophilus is thought to have been a Roman of some stature, perhaps an military officer or a high official.

Jesus has been crucified and resurrected and at the end of the four Gospels has ascended back to His home in Heaven. The Apostles, disciples, believers, observers, and religious leaders are now left to sort out what has happened and what it means.

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study — Section 1 (Chapters 1-5) of the series, “Acts” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Acts 1-5

Sunday (Acts 1)

Jesus Ascends to Heaven

1:1 I wrote the former account, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach 1:2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after he had given orders by the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen.

1:3 To the same apostles also, after his suffering, he presented himself alive with many convincing proofs. He was seen by them over a forty-day period and spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God.

1:4 While he was with them, he declared, “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait there for what my Father promised, which you heard about from me. 1:5 For John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

1:6 So when they had gathered together, they began to ask him, “Lord, is this the time when you are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” 1:7 He told them, “You are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

1:9 After he had said this, while they were watching, he was lifted up and a cloud hid him from their sight. 1:10 As they were still staring into the sky while he was going, suddenly two men in white clothing stood near them 1:11 and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand here looking up into the sky? This same Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will come back in the same way you saw him go into heaven.”

A Replacement for Judas is Chosen

1:12 Then they returned to Jerusalem from the mountain called the Mount of Olives (which is near Jerusalem, a Sabbath day’s journey away). 1:13 When they had entered Jerusalem, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. Peter and John, and James, and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James were there.

1:14 All these continued together in prayer with one mind, together with the women, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers.

1:15 In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a gathering of about one hundred and twenty people) and said, 1:16 “Brothers, the scripture had to be fulfilled that the Holy Spirit foretold through David concerning Judas — who became the guide for those who arrested Jesus — 1:17 for he was counted as one of us and received a share in this ministry.” 1:18 (Now this man Judas acquired a field with the reward of his unjust deed, and falling headfirst he burst open in the middle and all his intestines gushed out. 1:19 This became known to all who lived in Jerusalem, so that in their own language they called that field Hakeldama, that is, “Field of Blood.”) 1:20 “For it is written in the book of Psalms, ‘Let his house become deserted, and let there be no one to live in it,’ and ‘Let another take his position of responsibility.’

1:21 Thus one of the men who have accompanied us during all the time the Lord Jesus associated with us, 1:22 beginning from his baptism by John until the day he was taken up from us — one of these must become a witness of his resurrection together with us.”

1:23 So they proposed two candidates: Joseph called Barsabbas (also called Justus) and Matthias. 1:24 Then they prayed, “Lord, you know the hearts of all. Show us which one of these two you have chosen 1:25 to assume the task of this service and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.” 1:26 Then they cast lots for them, and the one chosen was Matthias; so he was counted with the eleven apostles.

Prayer

Lord, I will pray that every Christian will come to know the truth of the Bible about the return of Jesus so that they will never be deceived by false Christs. I also pray that all believers be they male or female, old or young, rich or poor, across nationality and race will find fellowships where they may pray and study and worship as peers.

Summary & Commentary

Luke briefly reviewed the final days of Jesus’ post-resurrection ministry “... all that Jesus began to do and teach until the day He was taken up to heaven … He presented himself alive with many convincing proofs ... spoke about matters concerning the kingdom of God.”

Luke noted the instructions of Jesus as to the coming of the Holy Spirit and the responsibility of His Apostles to “... be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.” As they watched His ascent home to Heaven angels appeared next to them to remind them that He would return in the same way.

They traveled the half of a mile back to Jerusalem and gathered in the upstairs room that had become their most recent temporary place for fellowship; the gathered included the eleven living apostles, many believing men and women, Mary the mother of Jesus and His brothers, and together the gathering of about one hundred and twenty prayed.

Peter addressed the group, reminding them of the prophesy that Jesus would be betrayed by someone close to Him, and then that they were [according to Psalms 109:8) fill Judas’ now-vacant place of responsibility. They prayed and the Holy Spirit led them to choose Matthias.

Interaction
Consider

Jesus instructed the apostles, to pass this on to all believers, that we are to “... be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

Discuss

How could anyone believe a false claim to the Messiah-returned for the One True Jesus?

Note: There are many speculations from people as to the return of Christ. Observe again the clear message of the Gospels, repeated here in Acts, that Jesus will return as He departed - down from the clouds in plain view. (Elsewhere we read that everyone will see His return all at once, accompanied by the blowing of horns.)

Reflect

There was, and is, an intimate and peer-like relationship between men and women of true Biblical-Christian faith. Many of the institutional religious hierarchies, and the separation of the genders, are not seen in this part of the Word of God.

Share

When have you experienced or observed the powerful and unique sense of family in a gathering of Christian believers?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you how He would have you “... be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the farthest parts of the earth.”

Action:

Today I will humbly receive Your mission and I will prayerfully, in consultation with mature fellow believers, make plans to fulfill Your calling. It may be to share Your story with a fellow student or co-worker, a friend or family member, or the leader of a community in a far away land. It may be, rather, to assist a person or group in their efforts to reach a person or persons with the message of salvation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Acts 2:1-2:41)

The Holy Spirit and the Day of Pentecost

2:1 Now when the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. 2:2 Suddenly a sound like a violent wind blowing came from heaven and filled the entire house where they were sitting. 2:3 And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them. 2:4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit, and they began to speak in other languages as the Spirit enabled them.

2:5 Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven residing in Jerusalem. 2:6 When this sound occurred, a crowd gathered and was in confusion, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 2:7 Completely baffled, they said, “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? 2:8 And how is it that each one of us hears them in our own native language? 2:9 Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and the province of Asia, 2:10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 2:11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!” 2:12 All were astounded and greatly confused, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” 2:13 But others jeered at the speakers, saying, “They are drunk on new wine!”

Peter’s Address on the Day of Pentecost

2:14 But Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them: “You men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this and listen carefully to what I say. 2:15 In spite of what you think, these men are not drunk, for it is only nine o’clock in the morning. 2:16 But this is what was spoken about through the prophet Joel:

2:17 ‘And in the last days it will be,God says,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all people,
and your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
and your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams
.
2:18 Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy
.
2:19 And I will perform wonders in the sky above
and miraculous signs
on the earth below,
blood and fire and clouds of smoke
.
2:20 The sun will be changed to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the great and glorious
day of the Lord comes.

2:21 And then everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

2:22 “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man clearly attested to you by God with powerful deeds, wonders, and miraculous signs that God performed among you through him, just as you yourselves know — 2:23 this man, who was handed over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you executed by nailing him to a cross at the hands of Gentiles. 2:24 But God raised him up, having released him from the pains of death, because it was not possible for him to be held in its power. 2:25 For David says about him,

I saw the Lord always in front of me,
for he is at my right hand so that I will not be shaken
.
2:26 Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue rejoiced;
my body
also will live in hope,
2:27 because you will not leave my soul in Hades,
nor permit your Holy One to experience
decay.
2:28 You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will make me full of joy with your presence
.

2:29 “Brothers, I can speak confidently to you about our forefather David, that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 2:30 So then, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 2:31 David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did his body experience decay. 2:32 This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it. 2:33 So then, exalted to the right hand of God, and having received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he has poured out what you both see and hear. 2:34 For David did not ascend into heaven, but he himself says,

The Lord said to my lord,

Sit at my right hand

2:35 until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”’

2:36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know beyond a doubt that God has made this Jesus whom you crucified both Lord and Christ.”

The Response to Peter’s Address

2:37 Now when they heard this, they were acutely distressed and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “What should we do, brothers?” 2:38 Peter said to them, “Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 2:39 For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself.” 2:40 With many other words he testified and exhorted them saying, “Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” 2:41 So those who accepted his message were baptized, and that day about three thousand people were added.

Prayer

Lord, You offer blessings and gifts, sometimes people accept them — often many do not. May I accept the wisdom of your indwelling Holy Spirit and receive what You offer as an equipping for service to You.

Summary & Commentary

The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles, and perhaps many or all of the other 120 members of the close-knit group of believers who had been gathering at the upstairs room. They were in a public area surrounded by “Jews from every nation under Heaven” as well as non-Jewish converts to Judaism, Cretans, and Arabs who had gathered for the celebration of Pentecost.

Verse 2:4 is very clear that when the Holy Spirit came upon them they spoke in “other languages” and 2:8 that those languages represented the native tongues of people in the crowd.

The curious among them wondered what it could mean, the unteachable among them jeered and accused them of being drunk - though such a claim had no relevance to the evidence at all.

Peter declared to those gathered for Pentecost that not only were they not drunk that they were fulfilling prophesy from Joel and Jesus.

Many people responded repentantly to Peter’s message and about three thousand were baptized. [It is worthy of note that vss 2:40-41 include the text ““Save yourselves from this perverse generation!” So those who accepted his message were baptized,” another clear statement of the large invitation and the voluntary choice of individuals.]

Interaction
Consider

God chose to bring the Holy Spirit upon the believers in the presence of non-believers across many ethnicities, nationalities, races, and religious traditions.

Discuss

There was a fundamental difference between the scoffers and those who sought truth, and the resultant understanding of those seeking truth vs the blindness of the others. Have you observed the same divergent response among modern listeners?

Reflect

Reflect upon the various teachings about “speaking in tongues” and how this text only addresses the miracle of a capacity to share the truth of God in a foreign language previously unknown to the speaker - but native to his or her listener. It does not say here that a “heavenly language” does not exist, it merely excludes this specific text from support of such a “gift”.

Reflect upon the various teachings as to how one comes to the final moment of saving faith, some which claim all will be saved, others which claim only those predestined will be saved, and yet another claim that only those who persist in “good works” will be saved -- this text says otherwise -- that those who heard God’s truth and believed came forward to be affirmed and baptized. [Note: It is not the baptism that saved them but their acknowledgement of God’s truth and their willing submission to it.]

Share

When have you been among a group of people who experienced the same event yet interpreted the meaning of the differently?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Today I will ask the Lord for the boldness to share His story with someone who is teachable but unfamiliar with the language and message of the Bible - perhaps they have never heard or have only heard man-made religious distortions or the lies of the Enemy. I will also prayerfully seek an opportunity to share with a fellow believer something new that God has revealed to me that previously seemed like a foreign language but now is clear.

Action:

Today I will step-put in faith and with the boldness and clarity of the Holy Spirit to be His instrument of hope and of truth.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Acts 2:42-47)

The Fellowship of the Early Believers

2:42 They were devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.

2:43 Reverential awe came over everyone, and many wonders and miraculous signs came about by the apostles.

2:44 All who believed were together and held everything in common, 2:45 and they began selling their property and possessions and distributing the proceeds to everyone, as anyone had need.

2:46 Every day they continued to gather together by common consent in the temple courts, breaking bread from house to house, sharing their food with glad and humble hearts, 2:47 praising God and having the good will of all the people. And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.

Prayer

Lord, You call the members of Your family into an intimate relationship with you and one-another, and interdependent relationship with one-another. May I invest in fellow believers so that we may be come more-faithful in caring for each other and growing together in You.

Summary & Commentary

The fellowship among the early believers consisted of a pattern of disciplines; “... devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching”, “...and to fellowship”, “... to the breaking or bread”, “and to prayer.”

The apostles taught the message of Jesus as the fulfillment of prophesy in the context of the narratives of the Creation, Fall, and the history that followed.

[Note: Study of the Word of God, facilitated by those who have demonstrated Biblical knowledge and spiritual maturity is an important model for Christians.]

The fellowship of the believers is shown here as a continuous and intentional investment of energy and time.

[Note: Fellowship among believers built community, intimacy, and a sense of ‘family’ that went beyond the mere genetic or legal traditional family.]

For the early believers breaking bread together served both social and symbolic purposes.

[Note: Breaking bread has two possible meanings, one is the “Lord’s Supper”, also known as communion, as it is part of a special time of structured worship, and the other refers to a meal shared with others, not necessarily believers, especially in the common use of the term. In verse 2:42 it likely refers to a casual reenactment of the Lord’s Supper whereas in 2:46 it likely refers to sharing a meal with others.]

Their investment of time and attention in prayer is an explanation of their intimacy with God and their power to endure suffering and experience the power of God’s presence.

[Note: The pattern of prayer modeled by Jesus found early and important emphasis throughout the text of the New Testament texts. As the early believers studied under the apostles they learned about prayer throughout the history of prophets and other faithful servants of God and were reminded of prayer in the life of Jesus and His closest followers.]

“Reverential awe” for the power of God came upon them all as a result of these disciplines which was enhanced by “... many wonders and miraculous signs ... by the apostles.”

[Note: Their faithfulness to the “Greatest Commandment” of Jesus created a spiritual environment where God’s power flowed freely.]

“All who believed were together and held everything in common ...” so that resources were fully shared within the family of Christ.

[Note: This was at the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not a mandate of the secular State, nor by the manipulative guilt-motivation of a charismatic human.]

“And the Lord was adding to their number every day those who were being saved.”

[Note: Because of their faithfulness God was able to use them powerfully and trust them to disciple those whom He sent.]

Interaction
Consider

Consider your spiritual disciplines, do they include study, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer?

Discuss

Do you take those disciplines “to the streets” among fellow believers, sharing resources, sharing meals, enjoying fellowship, praising God, and building good will?

Reflect

As your fellowship matures is God sending more?

Share

When have you experienced or observed an truely-intimate Christian fellowship?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to motivate you to be faithful to mature quickly through intentional discipline, dedicated fellowship, and service in His name so that He may bless your fellowship with others who may also share in His blessings and then go forth to multiply the model into similar fellowships.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully review my daily and weekly disciplines in order to make study, fellowship, the breaking of bread, and prayer represent a non-negotiable core. I will also look at my calendar to assure that sharing resources, sharing meals, enjoying fellowship, praising God, and building good will are integral to it.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Acts 3)

Peter and John Heal a Lame Man at the Temple

3:1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time for prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 3:2 And a man lame from birth was being carried up, who was placed at the temple gate called “the Beautiful Gate” every day so he could beg for money from those going into the temple courts. 3:3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple courts, he asked them for money. 3:4 Peter looked directly at him (as did John) and said, “Look at us!” 3:5 So the lame man paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. 3:6 But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, stand up and walk!” 3:7 Then Peter took hold of him by the right hand and raised him up, and at once the man’s feet and ankles were made strong. 3:8 He jumped up, stood and began walking around, and he entered the temple courts with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 3:9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 3:10 and they recognized him as the man who used to sit and ask for donations at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with astonishment and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Addresses the Crowd

3:11 While the man was hanging on to Peter and John, all the people, completely astounded, ran together to them in the covered walkway called Solomon’s Portico. 3:12 When Peter saw this, he declared to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk by our own power or piety? 3:13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate after he had decided to release him. 3:14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a man who was a murderer be released to you. 3:15 You killed the Originator of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this fact we are witnesses! 3:16 And on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name, his very name has made this man — whom you see and know — strong. The faith that is through Jesus has given him this complete health in the presence of you all. 3:17 And now, brothers, I know you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did too. 3:18 But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets — that his Christ would suffer — he has fulfilled in this way. 3:19 Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, 3:20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you — that is, Jesus. 3:21 This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets. 3:22 Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must obey him in everything he tells you. 3:23 Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed and thus removed from the people.’ 3:24 And all the prophets, from Samuel and those who followed him, have spoken about and announced these days. 3:25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.’ 3:26 God raised up his servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each one of you from your iniquities.”

Prayer

Lord, You proclaimed the coming of the Messiah from the moment You declared the consequences of Adam and Eve’s rebellion in the Garden, then over and over throughout history, because only a perfect One of Heaven could redeem us. May I never forget that all hope and all power for good comes from You.

Summary & Commentary

Peter and John heal a lame man at the Temple, he wanted money, they gave him the miracle gift of healing “... on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name”. Once healed he responded with uninhibited praise for God.

Peter used the wonder of those observing this miracle as an occasion to chastise them to repentance. He noted that it was the power of God and not their “power or piety” which caused the healing.

He reminds them that they killed the “Originator of Life” and that their only hope for redemption was found in Him. In 3:26 Peter also reminds them that their “iniquities” are not singular but multiple; that they are guilty of rejecting and murdering Jesus but are also guilty of other sins.

Interaction
Consider

The people knew enough from the Old Testament prophets to have recognized the Messiah, yet they were blinded by bad teaching and sick hearts, and so they not only killed Him — they continued to resist His offer of redemption.

Discuss

Why was it so important that Peter make clear that the healing was totally a work of Christ and that he was merely His instrument?

Reflect

There were many things for which the death and resurrection of Christ provided forgiveness, the obvious one is our prior rejection of Him, but what of the many ways that our rebellion against God has showed itself in a variety of sins?

Share

When have you, or someone you know, been healed. Did you, or they, respond with uninhibited praise for God?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of a healing work He has done in you. It may be emotional, intellectual, physical, or spiritual. In each case it would have been something that you could not done of your own strengths or talents.

Action:

Today I will share with another believer my uninhibited praise for God Who has forgiven me and I will praise Him specifically for at least one healing He has done and/or one sin from which He has set me free.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Acts 4:1-31)

The Arrest and Trial of Peter and John

4:1 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests and the commander of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, 4:2 angry because they were teaching the people and announcing in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 4:3 So they seized them and put them in jail until the next day (for it was already evening). 4:4 But many of those who had listened to the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

4:5 On the next day, their rulers, elders, and experts in the law came together in Jerusalem. 4:6 Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others who were members of the high priest’s family. 4:7 After making Peter and John stand in their midst, they began to inquire, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, “Rulers of the people and elders, 4:9 if we are being examined today for a good deed done to a sick man — by what means this man was healed — 4:10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands before you healthy. 4:11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone. 4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved.”

4:13 When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus. 4:14 And because they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say against this. 4:15 But when they had ordered them to go outside the council, they began to confer with one another, 4:16 saying, “What should we do with these men? For it is plain to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable miraculous sign has come about through them, and we cannot deny it. 4:17 But to keep this matter from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 4:18 And they called them in and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 4:19 But Peter and John replied, “Whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God, you decide, 4:20 for it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” 4:21 After threatening them further, they released them, for they could not find how to punish them on account of the people, because they were all praising God for what had happened. 4:22 For the man, on whom this miraculous sign of healing had been performed, was over forty years old.

The Followers of Jesus Pray for Boldness

4:23 When they were released, Peter and John went to their fellow believers and reported everything the high priests and the elders had said to them. 4:24 When they heard this, they raised their voices to God with one mind and said, “Master of all, you who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them, 4:25 who said by the Holy Spirit through your servant David our forefather, ‘Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot foolish things?

4:26 The kings of the earth stood together, and the rulers assembled together, against the Lord and against his Christ.

4:27 “For indeed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 4:28 to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen. 4:29 And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage, 4:30 while you extend your hand to heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 4:31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously.

Prayer

Lord, Your truth is undeniable, You make certain that none who seek truth will fail to find it in You. May I intentionally and prayerfully seek truth so that I am always seeking You.

Summary & Commentary

The religious leaders arrested Peter and John for preaching and teaching Christ - five thousand “men” reportedly believed.

[Note: The reference to only to the males (or husbands) in the count was traditional, as it was when the Gospel texts described Jesus feeding the two large gatherings of people. It is difficult to accurately extrapolate to the true numbers, to include all of the women, and the children who had reached the age of accountability.]

On the next morning the religious leaders brought Peter and John to trial - Peter instead challenged them with the declaration that Jesus was the power that healed the lame man and was the only One “... by which we must be saved. The religious leaders were unable to deny the truth of the healing so they sent the men out and conferred as to how to silence them - they dared not punish them for fear of the people - so they warned them to be silent. Peter and John explained that silence was not possible, so they were warned again and then set free.”

Peter and John shared what had happened and the followers of Jesus prayed for boldness, their confidence was strengthened by the Holy Spirit, and they “... began to speak the word of God courageously.”

Interaction
Consider

All of those with worldly power at that time were aligned against Christ-followers.

Discuss

When challenged by the a resistant seeker or a rebellious enemy of truth which is your most common reaction; flee, apologize and be quiet, angrily confront with your human arguments, or a prayer for peace and wisdom from the Holy Spirit followed by a simple recitation of His-story of our needs met with His sacrificial provision and His blessings for our obedience?

Reflect

Recalling the boldness of Peter and John - reflect upon your own boldness in the proclamation and teaching of the Word of God.

Share

When have you experienced or observed false charges being brought against someone and their boldness in the truth caused them to be set free?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to give me the courage to be a good witness for Christ in my life, second to quietly and respectfully tell His-story when challenged for my faith, and third to resist being drawn into debates or discussions with an unteachable unsaved person that can only happen on a walled-off emotional and intellectual level, closed-off to spiritual change.

Action:

Today I will, as the Lord trusts and uses me, reach out to a teachable person who is considering-Christ and I will share His-Story.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Acts 4:32-5:11)

Conditions Among the Early Believers

4:32 The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common. 4:33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all. 4:34 For there was no one needy among them, because those who were owners of land or houses were selling them and bringing the proceeds from the sales 4:35 and placing them at the apostles’ feet. The proceeds were distributed to each, as anyone had need. 4:36 So Joseph, a Levite who was a native of Cyprus, called by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), 4:37 sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and placed it at the apostles’ feet.

The Judgment on Ananias and Sapphira

5:1 Now a man named Ananias, together with Sapphira his wife, sold a piece of property. 5:2 He kept back for himself part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge; he brought only part of it and placed it at the apostles’ feet. 5:3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back for yourself part of the proceeds from the sale of the land? 5:4 Before it was sold, did it not belong to you? And when it was sold, was the money not at your disposal? How have you thought up this deed in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God!”

5:5 When Ananias heard these words he collapsed and died, and great fear gripped all who heard about it. 5:6 So the young men came, wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him. 5:7 After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, but she did not know what had happened. 5:8 Peter said to her, “Tell me, were the two of you paid this amount for the land?” Sapphira said, “Yes, that much.” 5:9 Peter then told her, “Why have you agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out!” 5:10 At once she collapsed at his feet and died. So when the young men came in, they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 5:11 Great fear gripped the whole church and all who heard about these things.

Prayer

Lord, You have invited humankind to learn and to share in Your love. May I seek You in all things, especially in my relationships with fellow Christians.

Summary & Commentary

Conditions among early believers were like the most healthy and loving family, sharing every resource necessary to assure that no member of the family was in need. [Note: This was not forced, as in a political statement from the community leaders (the Apostles), but was a voluntary response to the blessings and power of God through the Apostles and being poured out among the believers.]

Barnabas was one member who sold a field and brought the proceeds to the Apostles for distribution to needy believers. Ananias and Sapphira, seeking the praise of man without true sacrifice, sold property and lied to Peter and the Church claiming to have done as Barnabas in giving the entire proceeds. The discernment of the Holy Spirit in Peter revealed their deception and God took their lives. [Note: It was not necessary for them to give all of the proceeds, it was merely expected that they be honest as to what they were sharing.]

Interaction
Consider

Verse 5:11 is the first place in ACTS where the text refers to the believing Christian community as “the church”. Reflect a moment on the confusion when people began to refer to buildings and man-made organizations as “the church” in contradiction to God’s purpose for that term.

Discuss

Have you ever observed Christians who make a big show of doing or giving, overstating what they were doing or giving so as to garner praise? Were the leaders aware of the deception and did they correct or ignore it? What was the result?

Reflect

Reflect upon a time, if you have experienced this, when you were among truly unselfish people who shared a common value system and who shared everything so that none in the group had a need. Perhaps it was on a retreat or a missions trip or as part of a sports-related activity or some other small group. Try to imagine that as a whole-life 24/7 philosophy of life.

Share

When have you observed confusion between manmade institutions and organizations and the true Biblical definition of the people and purpose of “The Church?”

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit reveal to you someone whom He wants you to encourage and pray who is generous toward fellow believers

Action:

Today I will encourage and pray for someone who is generous toward fellow believers in loving response to them as “eternal family in Christ”. I will pray for small communities of believers to become more intentional in serving one from the bounty and gifts and talents God has given.

I will also pray for the gift of discernment for leaders to recognize and challenge deception and selfish self-promotion among the Christian family.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Acts 5:12-42)

The Apostles Perform Miraculous Signs and Wonders

5:12 Now many miraculous signs and wonders came about among the people through the hands of the apostles. By common consent they were all meeting together in Solomon’s Portico. 5:13 None of the rest dared to join them, but the people held them in high honor. 5:14 More and more believers in the Lord were added to their number, crowds of both men and women. 5:15 Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets, and put them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow would fall on some of them. 5:16 A crowd of people from the towns around Jerusalem also came together, bringing the sick and those troubled by unclean spirits. They were all being healed.

Further Trouble for the Apostles

5:17 Now the high priest rose up, and all those with him (that is, the religious party of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. 5:18 They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. 5:19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, 5:20 “Go and stand in the temple courts and proclaim to the people all the words of this life.” 5:21 When they heard this, they entered the temple courts at daybreak and began teaching.

Now when the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they summoned the Sanhedrin — that is, the whole high council of the Israelites — and sent to the jail to have the apostles brought before them. 5:22 But the officers who came for them did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 5:23 “We found the jail locked securely and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 5:24 Now when the commander of the temple guard and the chief priests heard this report, they were greatly puzzled concerning it, wondering what this could be. 5:25 But someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courts and teaching the people!” 5:26 Then the commander of the temple guard went with the officers and brought the apostles without the use of force (for they were afraid of being stoned by the people).

5:27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, and the high priest questioned them, 5:28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name. Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood on us!” 5:29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people. 5:30 The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. 5:31 God exalted him to his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 5:32 And we are witnesses of these events, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”

5:33 Now when they heard this, they became furious and wanted to execute them. 5:34 But a Pharisee whose name was Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the council and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 5:35 Then he said to the council, “Men of Israel, pay close attention to what you are about to do to these men. 5:36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. 5:37 After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, and incited people to follow him in revolt. He too was killed, and all who followed him were scattered. 5:38 So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, it will come to nothing, 5:39 but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found fighting against God.” He convinced them, 5:40 and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 5:41 So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 5:42 And every day both in the temple courts and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus was the Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You heal through Your willing instruments as You deem best, and You allow the troubles of the world to afflict those same servants as a witness to Your power to carry them through and to illustrate the wickedness of the world. May I trust You to use me perfectly, no matter what.

Summary & Commentary

The believers continued to gather in “Solomon’s Portico” which was an open area and part of the larger Temple complex. While the population of the believers continued to grow many others avoided them for fear of the religious authorities.

People brought the physically and spiritually ill for the Apostles to heal. The Apostles were used of God to perform other miraculous signs and wonders as evidence of God’s anointing.

The religious authorities were jealous, a mixture of their desire to preserve the purity of their religious traditions and their more personal selfish desire to retain the devotion of the people for themselves. They had the Apostles arrested and jailed but early in the morning an Angel released them from the jail, without disturbing the locked doors or alerting the guards, and sent them to preach and teach again.

The religious authorities sent for them, requesting that they come peaceably as the crowds favored the Apostles, and the Apostles came. The religious leaders chastised them for preaching and teaching when they had told them to not do so - to which they replied that they must obey God and not man. The religious authorities were furious and wanted to execute them but Gamaliel reminded them that men with small followings before had been killed and their followings dispersed, this was different and they did not want to risk a fight with God, so let them go and let God sort out what would happen.

The religious authorities had them lashed “forty times minus one” for disobedience to them then released them with a warning to not preach and teach. They left celebrating that their faithfulness to God had resulted in worthiness to be punished by His enemies then resumed their preaching and teaching in the Temple court and house to house.

Interaction
Consider

Do you know of people in your neighborhood, school, workplace, or other network of associates who avoid Christian gatherings and/or discussions for fear of the opinions of others? Or are you struggling with that yourself?

Discuss

Have you experienced, or observed, punishment for faithfulness to God?

Reflect

Was the response a celebration that the faithfulness so challenged others that they punished them? Did you, or they, persevere in preaching and teaching His-story despite the risks?

Share

When have you observed people in religious or secular authority persecuting those whom they believe have violated some custom or tradition that they hold valuable, even though it is either non-Biblical or simply silly even in a secular world? Have you done that in the past?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to grant freedom from fear, for myself or others, so that God’s truth will be more important than the opinions of mere humans. Also, that people in authority will allow their eyes to be opened by the Holy Spirit to the difference between their petty human customs and traditions and the truth of God.

Action:

Today I will identify someone in local, national, or international ministry, perhaps missions or public service or a religious role who has been or is being persecuted for their Christian faith and pray in agreement for perseverance, protection, and power. I will also attempt to respectfully communicate a word of encouragement via E-mail or letter.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Acts” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Acts 6-9

Sunday (Acts 6:1-7)

The Appointment of the First Seven Deacons

6:1 Now in those days, when the disciples were growing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the Greek-speaking Jews against the native Hebraic Jews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution of food.

6:2 So the twelve called the whole group of the disciples together and said, “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to wait on tables.

6:3 But carefully select from among you, brothers, seven men who are well-attested, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this necessary task.

6:4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.”

6:5 The proposal pleased the entire group, so they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, with Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a Gentile convert to Judaism from Antioch.

6:6 They stood these men before the apostles, who prayed and placed their hands on them.

6:7 The word of God continued to spread, the number of disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.

Prayer

Lord, Your desire was for the early Church members to be a true family, to care for one-another without regard for those worldly things which You specifically excluded “Neither male nor female, old nor young, Greek nor Hebrew”. May I love my fellow believer and treat no one differently because of a worldly-priority that is not a Godly-priority.

Summary & Commentary

The early Biblical Christian community was in agreement with the Lord God that the care of all of their members was a high priority. Because of Biblical history, and the current socio-economic challenges of believers in an unfriendly society, widows were of special concern.

Within the population of Jewish converts to Christianity were two large sub-groups, the more traditional Hebrew-speaking (and overwhelmingly Jewish descended), and the newer Greek-speaking and culturally less-traditional (generally non-Jewish) group.

The Greek-speaking group complained that their widows were being unfairly under-served by the majority Hebrew-speaking leaders. This represented a significant challenge to trust within the early believing community.

The twelve Apostles called together all of the disciples. [Note: This would have been a large number of people as all believers are disciples and the Church had been growing rapidly. It may have referred to a leadership group of some sort rather than every believer.] They declared that their first obligation to Jesus was to preach and to teach; therefore, there was a need for some others to be recruited. These were to be prayerfully and reflectively identified ed as called by the Lord God to manage food and other physical care-giving resources.

The first seven "deacons" were to be "... men who are well-attested [respected by their peer-believers], full of the Spirit [saved], and (full of) of wisdom. [There was no stated Biblical reason to select only men but to have selected women at this time may have created an avoidable cultural rift in the early Biblical Christian community. There are no grounds in this immediate text to extrapolate a male-only mandate for a deacon, nor does this preclude such a male-only mandate elsewhere in the Biblical text, this text is neutral on the matter of Deacon-gender.]

Interaction
Consider

Could your worship and study and prayer and fellowship group identify seven who would meet the qualification for a "deacon" who are "... well-attested [respected by their peer-believers], full of the Spirit [saved], and (full of) of wisdom?

Discuss

Have you observed cultural sub-groups, cliques, within groups identified as "Christian"?

Have you observed favoritism, intentional or unintentional, among the sub-groups?

Reflect

Reflecting on the dedication of the early Church to the care of the needs of their "members" then contemplate how our modern building-centric, program-centric churches prioritize the same level of commitment to care. When so many resources and so much time are diverted to buildings and to programs is it reasonable to expect awareness of true needs among all of the "members", not to mention actually meeting those needs?

Share

When have you observed an effort to use ACTS 6:3-8 as justification to exclude women from a deacon-like role? [Note: There may be other NT texts that restrain a woman from serving in a deacon-like role, the point here is that this is not intended to do so and should not be misused as proof-text or otherwise misrepresented.]

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to pray that the gathering of believers with which you are associated (be it a traditional organization, a "house church", or some other format), will emulate the early Church in their Biblical priorities.

Action:

Today I will pray in agreement with an individual or organization standing for Christ (based on a Biblical principle, not misusing the name Christ to justify a personal crusade) despite attacks from individuals and/or organizations (perhaps even the government).

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Acts 6:8-7:16)

Stephen is Arrested

6:8 Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and miraculous signs among the people. 6:9 But some men from the Synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, as well as some from Cilicia and the province of Asia, stood up and argued with Stephen. 6:10 Yet they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit with which he spoke. 6:11 Then they secretly instigated some men to say, “We have heard this man speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” 6:12 They incited the people, the elders, and the experts in the law; then they approached Stephen, seized him, and brought him before the council. 6:13 They brought forward false witnesses who said, “This man does not stop saying things against this holy place and the law. 6:14 For we have heard him saying that Jesus the Nazarene will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” 6:15 All who were sitting in the council looked intently at Stephen and saw his face was like the face of an angel.

Stephen’s Defense Before the Council

7:1 Then the high priest said, “Are these things true?” 7:2 So he replied, “Brothers and fathers, listen to me. The God of glory appeared to our forefather Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he settled in Haran, 7:3 and said to him, ‘Go out from your country and from your relatives, and come to the land I will show you.’ 7:4 Then he went out from the country of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. After his father died, God made him move to this country where you now live. 7:5 He did not give any of it to him for an inheritance, not even a foot of ground, yet God promised to give it to him as his possession, and to his descendants after him, even though Abraham as yet had no child. 7:6 But God spoke as follows: ‘Your descendants will be foreigners in a foreign country, whose citizens will enslave them and mistreat them for four hundred years. 7:7 But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves,’ said God, ‘and after these things they will come out of there and worship me in this place.’ 7:8 Then God gave Abraham the covenant of circumcision, and so he became the father of Isaac and circumcised him when he was eight days old, and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs. 7:9 The patriarchs, because they were jealous of Joseph, sold him into Egypt. But God was with him, 7:10 and rescued him from all his troubles, and granted him favor and wisdom in the presence of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him ruler over Egypt and over all his household. 7:11 Then a famine occurred throughout Egypt and Canaan, causing great suffering, and our ancestors could not find food. 7:12 So when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our ancestors there the first time. 7:13 On their second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers again, and Joseph’s family became known to Pharaoh. 7:14 So Joseph sent a message and invited his father Jacob and all his relatives to come, seventy-five people in all. 7:15 So Jacob went down to Egypt and died there, along with our ancestors, 7:16 and their bones were later moved to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought for a certain sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.

Prayer

Lord, You called Stephen to Your service and You guided him as he reminded them of Your story. May I be more concerned about telling Your story than trying to defend or to promote my own.

Summary & Commentary

Stephen, one of the first seven Deacons, is performing “... great wonders and miraculous signs among the people.” [From the NET Translator’s Notes: Although during the ministry of Jesus there were some who mimicked the casting-out of demons and other acts of power, about whom Jesus said if they did so in His name they’d be unable to criticize Him for a while, Stephen is the first non-Apostle described in the same terms “great wonders and miraculous signs” as the Apostles.]

Members (and perhaps descendants of) former slaves who had formed a religious organization known as the ““Freedmen” disliked Stephen’s Christian ministry work. As other religious leaders had done before them with Jesus they had Stephen arrested on deliberately falsified charges.

Stephen begins his defense before the Council - as did Jesus and Peter and John before him - with a review of history.

God appeared to Abraham, our ancestor, and instructed him to leave Mesopotamia - trusting God to show the way to an unknown new homeland.

God led Abraham to Haran then after his father died moved him again to “the Promised Land”, but at this time did not give it to him as an “inheritance” but only as a “possession”. This “possession” was for Abraham and “his descendants”, though he had no children yet. [The language here is awkward in English but vss 7:4-5 appears to recognize a right for Abraham and his people to live there but to not treat it as their permanent and exclusive property, at least not yet based on this text.]

Abraham’s descendant’s were to become slaves in a foreign land [Egypt] but God would punish Egypt and bring them back to the Promised Land. [Note: This is a prophesy re. Egypt - observe that this text is out of chronological order since Stephen then describes the events leading up to the Egyptian captivity.]

God gave Abraham the “covenant of circumcision” then a son, Isaac, who had Jacob, who then had ten of the twelve “Patriarchs” from whom came the twelve tribes of Israel. [Ten of the Patriarchs of Israel were from the twelve sons of Jacob, excluding Levi and Joseph. Levi’s descendants were cut-off and it was Joseph’s two sons who occupied the other two of the Twelve Patriarchical positions. Asher, Benjamin, Dan, Ephraim, Gad, Issachar, Judah, Manasseh, Naphtali, Reuben, Simeon, Zebulun.]

Joseph was sold into slavery by his jealous brothers then rescued by God Whose plan it was to bring him into the favor of Pharaoh so as to provide food for Egypt and for Jacob’s family who would come to buy grain and discover Joseph alive.

Jacob and the extended family of seventy-five moved to Egypt and multiplied rapidly there.

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God God entrusted Stephen with power because his character and faithfulness to God made him trustworthy.

Discuss

The evidence of Abraham's trust in God may be seen in his attitude and his actions, what that might look like in your life?

Reflect

The text says some important things about Stephen which gives us guidance as to the qualifications for a Deacon and for the expectations of a maturing-believer.

Share

When have you contemplated the faithfulness of God in converting Joseph's predicament into provision?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to compare the character of Stephen to your own character, on a regular basis, as a Biblical source of accountability and a Biblical source of reference for your growing maturity.

Action:

Today I will celebrate a time in my life when the world set me up for failure and God intervened and transformed it to good.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Acts 7:17-50)

7:17 “But as the time drew near for God to fulfill the promise he had declared to Abraham, the people increased greatly in number in Egypt, 7:18 until another king who did not know about Joseph ruled over Egypt. 7:19 This was the one who exploited our people and was cruel to our ancestors, forcing them to abandon their infants so they would die. 7:20 At that time Moses was born, and he was beautiful to God. For three months he was brought up in his father’s house, 7:21 and when he had been abandoned, Pharaoh’s daughter adopted him and brought him up as her own son. 7:22 So Moses was trained in all the wisdom of the Egyptians and was powerful in his words and deeds. 7:23 But when he was about forty years old, it entered his mind to visit his fellow countrymen the Israelites. 7:24 When he saw one of them being hurt unfairly, Moses came to his defense and avenged the person who was mistreated by striking down the Egyptian. 7:25 He thought his own people would understand that God was delivering them through him, but they did not understand. 7:26 The next day Moses saw two men fighting, and tried to make peace between them, saying, ‘Men, you are brothers; why are you hurting one another?’ 7:27 But the man who was unfairly hurting his neighbor pushed Moses aside, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge over us? 7:28 You don’t want to kill me the way you killed the Egyptian yesterday, do you?’ 7:29 When the man said this, Moses fled and became a foreigner in the land of Midian, where he became the father of two sons.

7:30 “After forty years had passed, an angel appeared to him in the desert of Mount Sinai, in the flame of a burning bush. 7:31 When Moses saw it, he was amazed at the sight, and when he approached to investigate, there came the voice of the Lord, 7:32 ‘I am the God of your forefathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.’ Moses began to tremble and did not dare to look more closely. 7:33 But the Lord said to him,Take the sandals off your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy ground. 7:34 I have certainly seen the suffering of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their groaning, and I have come down to rescue them. Now come, I will send you to Egypt.’ 7:35 This same Moses they had rejected, saying, ‘Who made you a ruler and judge?’ God sent as both ruler and deliverer through the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush. 7:36 This man led them out, performing wonders and miraculous signs in the land of Egypt, at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness for forty years. 7:37 This is the Moses who said to the Israelites, ‘God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers.’ 7:38 This is the man who was in the congregation in the wilderness with the angel who spoke to him at Mount Sinai, and with our ancestors, and he received living oracles to give to you. 7:39 Our ancestors were unwilling to obey him, but pushed him aside and turned back to Egypt in their hearts, 7:40 saying to Aaron, ‘Make us gods who will go in front of us, for this Moses, who led us out of the land of Egyptwe do not know what has happened to him!’ 7:41 At that time they made an idol in the form of a calf, brought a sacrifice to the idol, and began rejoicing in the works of their hands. 7:42 But God turned away from them and gave them over to worship the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the prophets: ‘It was not to me that you offered slain animals and sacrifices forty years in the wilderness, was it, house of Israel? 7:43 But you took along the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of the god Rephan, the images you made to worship, but I will deport you beyond Babylon.’ 7:44 Our ancestors had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as God who spoke to Moses ordered him to make it according to the design he had seen. 7:45 Our ancestors received possession of it and brought it in with Joshua when they dispossessed the nations that God drove out before our ancestors, until the time of David. 7:46 He found favor with God and asked that he could find a dwelling place for the house of Jacob. 7:47 But Solomon built a house for him. 7:48 Yet the Most High does not live in houses made by human hands, as the prophet says,

7:49 ‘Heaven is my throne,
and earth is the footstool for my feet.
What kind of house will you build for me, says the Lord,
or what is my resting place?
7:50 Did my hand not make all these things?

Prayer

Lord, You worked around the choices of humankind but were never surprised, and when You dwelt among them You were never controlled or “contained” by them. May I be constantly aware of Your presence in me through Your Holy Spirit and that You do not indwell to serve my desires but to equip me to serve You.

Summary & Commentary

Stephen continued his review of the Lord God’s working in the history of Israel.

Over time a new Pharaoh had assumed power and he had no knowledge of the honor due Joseph and his descendants but rather viewed them as free slave labor.

Moses was born just as the new Pharaoh, fearful of the size of the Jewish population, initiated a population control protocol. God arranged for the infant Moses to be set adrift and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter. He was raised an Egyptian, but was aware of his heritage. As an adult he visited the work site of the Jews, where he was confronted with an abusive situation, he killed the slave-supervisor. When he later confronted two Jews fighting they asked if he intended to kill them as he had the slave-supervisor, so fearing retribution from the Egyptians, he fled Egypt.

After forty years God called Moses to lead His people out of bondage. [Note: This is a “type” or symbolic representation of Jesus.] The people resisted the leadership of Moses and even longed to return to slavery in Egypt rather than deal with the challenging unknown of the wilderness.

God gave them the “tabernacle of testimony”, a traveling altar containing His presence, which was central to the leadership of Joshua and later David.

Stephen was careful to note that God does not dwell in [is not contained by] “houses made by human hands”.

Interaction
Consider

The Pharaoh forgot the history of Joseph’s value to Egypt.

Discuss

What has been the consequence in modern civilizations or nations that forget the value of God’s centrality when they were created, in bring them prosperity, and in their protection?

Reflect

Some people who refuse to follow healthy leadership and instead return to old things they rightly discarded of fads of the moment.

Share

When have you observed believers following a leader or participating in a ministry because he or it was popular rather than because it honored the Lord God?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place of bondage from which your He rescued you.

Action:

Today I will celebrate my freedom from bondage with another believer. I also commit to prayerfully consider under whose authority I voluntarily submit myself and ask if they are God-honoring according to the Biblical qualifications for a “Shepherd” or “Deacon” or if I tend to drift back into religious and social practices of the past and/or chasing after fads of the present, and if so I will repent (turn away) and seek-out where God would take me.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Acts 7:51 - 8:3)

7:51 “You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors did! 7:52 Which of the prophets did your ancestors not persecute? They killed those who foretold long ago the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become! 7:53 You received the law by decrees given by angels, but you did not obey it.”

Stephen is Killed

7:54 When they heard these things, they became furious and ground their teeth at him. 7:55 But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked intently toward heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 7:56 “Look!” he said. “I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” 7:57 But they covered their ears, shouting out with a loud voice, and rushed at him with one intent. 7:58 When they had driven him out of the city, they began to stone him, and the witnesses laid their cloaks at the feet of a young man named Saul. 7:59 They continued to stone Stephen while he prayed, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 7:60 Then he fell to his knees and cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” When he had said this, he died.

8:1 And Saul agreed completely with killing him.

Saul Begins to Persecute the Church

Now on that day a great persecution began against the church in Jerusalem, and all except the apostles were forced to scatter throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria. 8:2 Some devout men buried Stephen and made loud lamentation over him. 8:3 But Saul was trying to destroy the church; entering one house after another, he dragged off both men and women and put them in prison.

Prayer

Lord, You blessed Stephen with clarity and purpose, and You also gave him courage and certainty of salvation. May I also find clarity and purpose and courage in the certainty of my salvation and in the perfect righteousness of the Lord God Whom I serve.

Summary & Commentary

Stephen concludes his defense with a powerful challenge to the religious leaders, much the same as those previously given by Jesus and Peter and John and is murdered for it - Stephen becomes the first Christian martyr.

Immediately prior to his death Stephen is given a vision of Jesus standing next to God the Father, then as he dies Stephen reprises the words of Jesus on the Cross for His killers "Lord, do not hold this sin against them." [Note: Those who murdered Stephen carried enough sin to condemn them endlessly, Stephen perhaps did not want his martyrdom to add to that but instead still longed for them to accept and submit to the saving truth of Jesus.]

Saul, who oversaw and approved the stoning of Stephen, initiated a "great persecution" which drove all but the Apostles into hiding. He hunted and imprisoned many in the Church (believers), doing great harm to their fellowship.

Interaction
Consider

The Bible says that all believers will face persecution and that the forces in power and at work in the world today are overwhelmingly aligned against God.

Discuss

Begin with the context of the historic persecutions of the Church in China, most Muslim nations, and elsewhere - in both the past and in the present. Imagine for the moment that you lived there, how do you think your faith would serve you then?

Reflect

Stephen demonstrated courage, knowing that the truth would likely cost him his freedom and as-likely his life, he remained undeterred.

Share

When have you known men and women of truth, not noisy self-important or immaturely noisy people, but humble and mature and thoughtful people who valued truth above all else and spoke it boldly when asked without regard to personal consequence?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who fearlessly shares God's truth whom He wants you encourage with a note or a call or a visit. It may be a missionary, a community or political leader, a religious leader, a student, a co-worker, or someone else who steps out in faith.

Action:

Today I will pray that political and religious leaders will listen to God and turn away from paths that lead to the repression and persecution of Christians and devastation to everything that they value in this temporary world.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Acts 8:4-40)

Philip Preaches in Samaria

8:4 Now those who had been forced to scatter went around proclaiming the good news of the word. 8:5 Philip went down to the main city of Samaria and began proclaiming the Christ to them. 8:6 The crowds were paying attention with one mind to what Philip said, as they heard and saw the miraculous signs he was performing. 8:7 For unclean spirits, crying with loud shrieks, were coming out of many who were possessed, and many paralyzed and lame people were healed. 8:8 So there was great joy in that city.

8:9 Now in that city was a man named Simon, who had been practicing magic and amazing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great. 8:10 All the people, from the least to the greatest, paid close attention to him, saying, “This man is the power of God that is called ‘Great.’” 8:11 And they paid close attention to him because he had amazed them for a long time with his magic. 8:12 But when they believed Philip as he was proclaiming the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they began to be baptized, both men and women. 8:13 Even Simon himself believed, and after he was baptized, he stayed close to Philip constantly, and when he saw the signs and great miracles that were occurring, he was amazed.

8:14 Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 8:15 These two went down and prayed for them so that they would receive the Holy Spirit. 8:16 (For the Spirit had not yet come upon any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) 8:17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on the Samaritans, and they received the Holy Spirit.

8:18 Now Simon, when he saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, offered them money, 8:19 saying, “Give me this power too, so that everyone I place my hands on may receive the Holy Spirit.” 8:20 But Peter said to him, “May your silver perish with you, because you thought you could acquire God’s gift with money! 8:21 You have no share or part in this matter because your heart is not right before God! 8:22 Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that he may perhaps forgive you for the intent of your heart. 8:23 For I see that you are bitterly envious and in bondage to sin.” 8:24 But Simon replied, “You pray to the Lord for me so that nothing of what you have said may happen to me.”

8:25 So after Peter and John had solemnly testified and spoken the word of the Lord, they started back to Jerusalem, proclaiming the good news to many Samaritan villages as they went.

Philip and the Ethiopian Eunuch

8:26 Then an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Get up and go south on the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert road.) 8:27 So he got up and went. There he met an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasury. He had come to Jerusalem to worship, 8:28 and was returning home, sitting in his chariot, reading the prophet Isaiah. 8:29 Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go over and join this chariot.” 8:30 So Philip ran up to it and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. He asked him, “Do you understand what you’re reading?” 8:31 The man replied, “How in the world can I, unless someone guides me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him. 8:32 Now the passage of scripture the man was reading was this:

“He was led like a sheep to slaughter,
and like a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.

8:33 In humiliation justice was taken from him.
Who can describe his posterity?
For his life was taken away from the earth.”

8:34 Then the eunuch said to Philip, “Please tell me, who is the prophet saying this about — himself or someone else?” 8:35 So Philip started speaking, and beginning with this scripture proclaimed the good news about Jesus to him. 8:36 Now as they were going along the road, they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “Look, there is water! What is to stop me from being baptized?” 8:37 [[EMPTY]] 8:38 So he ordered the chariot to stop, and both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and Philip baptized him. 8:39 Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him any more, but went on his way rejoicing. 8:40 Philip, however, found himself at Azotus, and as he passed through the area, he proclaimed the good news to all the towns until he came to Caesarea.

Prayer

Lord, You empowered those whom You called, and You redeemed good from Saul's evil intent by using the flight of disciples to spread Your Word even further. May I trust You to provide whatever I need to do whatever You ask me to do.

Summary & Commentary

As the disciples fled Jerusalem in the face of Saul's persecution they were dispersed in Samaria and beyond. The unintended, by Saul, consequence was that the Word was also dispersed.

Philip preached Christ in Samaria and performed "miraculous signs" of healing and the casting-out of demons. [Note: This was the second non-Apostle, Stephen was the other (Acts 6:8) reported as exercising this sort of power.]

A "magician" called Simon had claimed greatness to himself through acts of "magic" yet as the people around him heard Philip and were baptized, even Simon believed and was baptized. Simon then followed Philip closely in awe of the power flowing through him.

Peter and John came to Samaria to pray that the Holy Spirit would come upon the people there. They had been baptized, similar to those baptized by John the Baptist, but they had not yet received the Holy Spirit. [Note: The Apostles were among the few who had not fled in the face of Saul's persecution in Jerusalem.]

Simon remains confused and still trapped in his desire to be the focus of attention and the conduit of power, thus he asks the Apostles to sell him the ability to lay-on hands for the delivery of the Holy Spirit to people. Their discernment tells them that his heart is filled with envy, not a desire to serve others, so they rebuke him sternly and instruct him to pray that the Lord may forgive him. They then returned to Jerusalem, proclaiming Christ along the way.

An angel directed Philip to leave Samaria and follow the desert/wilderness road that connected Jerusalem to Gaza. Along the way he observed an Ethiopian eunuch, a high official to Queen Candace of the Ethiopians. After visiting the Pentecost celebrations in Jerusalem he was reading Isaiah as he traveled. The Holy Spirit prompted Philip to approach him and ask if he understood what he was reading - he invited Philip to explain Isaiah 53:7-8, which he did.

Philip explained how this OT verse prophesied Jesus. The Ethiopian Eunuch immediately asked to be baptized, which Philip did, then the Holy Spirit immediately relocated Philip to Azotus (a city on the southern coast of Palestine). The Eunuch went away rejoicing.

Philip proclaimed the good news of Jesus the Christ from Azotus to Caesarea.

Interaction
Consider

Observe the sequence of faithful obedience which resulted in the baptism of the Ethiopian Eunuch; Philip travels where directed, Philip approaches the Eunuch, the Eunuch requests discipleship, Philip shares what God has taught him, the Eunuch requests baptism.

Discuss

When have you observed someone claiming to be a follower of Biblical Christianity, and even assumed a role in leadership based on a charismatic personality, but then was exposed as a charlatan whose focus was really on their own popularity, power, and profit.?

Reflect

The Ethiopian Eunuch was so teachable that the moment he understood what the Lord God wanted him to do he humbled himself and did so.

Share

When have you observed that the enemy/the world had successfully attacked a Biblically-faithful ministry then God redeemed it to an even greater effectiveness?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to empower you to pray for greater patience and discernment within the family of believers as they select and submit to spiritual shepherds at any level.

Action:

Today I commit to be available and teachable as the Holy Spirit leads and directs so that He may use me as effectively as He did Philip. I surrender that place of resistance to change and/or risk that I have allowed to be an impediment to Him.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Acts 9:1-22)

The Conversion of Saul

9:1 Meanwhile Saul, still breathing out threats to murder the Lord’s disciples, went to the high priest 9:2 and requested letters from him to the synagogues in Damascus, so that if he found any who belonged to the Way, either men or women, he could bring them as prisoners to Jerusalem. 9:3 As he was going along, approaching Damascus, suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 9:4 He fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” 9:5 So he said, “Who are you, Lord?” He replied, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting! 9:6 But stand up and enter the city and you will be told what you must do.” 9:7 (Now the men who were traveling with him stood there speechless, because they heard the voice but saw no one.) 9:8 So Saul got up from the ground, but although his eyes were open, he could see nothing. Leading him by the hand, his companions brought him into Damascus. 9:9 For three days he could not see, and he neither ate nor drank anything.

9:10 Now there was a disciple in Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, “Ananias,” and he replied, “Here I am, Lord.” 9:11 Then the Lord told him, “Get up and go to the street called ‘Straight,’ and at Judas’ house look for a man from Tarsus named Saul. For he is praying, 9:12 and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and place his hands on him so that he may see again.” 9:13 But Ananias replied, “Lord, I have heard from many people about this man, how much harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem, 9:14 and here he has authority from the chief priests to imprison all who call on your name!” 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, because this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before Gentiles and kings and the people of Israel. 9:16 For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.” 9:17 So Ananias departed and entered the house, placed his hands on Saul and said, “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came here, has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” 9:18 Immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he could see again. He got up and was baptized, 9:19 and after taking some food, his strength returned.

For several days he was with the disciples in Damascus, 9:20 and immediately he began to proclaim Jesus in the synagogues, saying, “This man is the Son of God.” 9:21 All who heard him were amazed and were saying, “Is this not the man who in Jerusalem was ravaging those who call on this name, and who had come here to bring them as prisoners to the chief priests?” 9:22 But Saul became more and more capable, and was causing consternation among the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus is the Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You made the attacks upon Christians by Saul — at the behest of the religious leaders — personal. May I always remember that an attack on Biblical Christian faith, and faithfulness, is always an attack upon You.

Summary & Commentary

Saul received letters of authority to persecute Christians in Damascus then set off on his evil mission. Jesus appeared to him as "a light from heaven" Saul "fell to the ground".

The voice, heard also by those accompanying Saul, challenged him "Saul, why are you persecuting Me?" to which Saul replied "Who are you Lord?" and received "I am Jesus Whom you are persecuting!"

Jesus instructed Saul to go to Damascus. Saul was blinded and fasted for three days.

Jesus appeared to Ananias in a vision instructing him to overcome his fears and to fulfill the vision given Saul that he would lay hands on him to restore his vision. Jesus informs Ananias that Saul will now be a friend of Christ. Ananias faithfully does as instructed and Saul is baptized.

Saul spent several days [Note: The precise length of time is unclear from this text.] and then this former enemy of Christ became an active and effective emissary of Christ in the synagogues of Damascus.

Interaction
Consider

It was the obedient, rather than rebellious, responses which allowed God to use these men for His great plan.

Discuss

Why did Jesus make it personal and what does that mean to us today?

Reflect

Even Saul recognized the presence of God and responded with humility.

Share

When did you, and perhaps also someone whom you know well, transform from an enemy of Christ to a valuable servant of His? How was that transformation obvious to others?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you those places in your life where you have been resistant and/or rebellious, and distracted, and/or procrastinating.

Action:

Today I will pray that the Lord God will find me obedient where I have been resistant - perhaps even rebellious, and cooperative where I have been distracted or procrastinating.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Acts 9:23-43)

Saul’s Escape from Damascus

9:23 Now after some days had passed, the Jews plotted together to kill him, 9:24 but Saul learned of their plot against him. They were also watching the city gates day and night so that they could kill him. 9:25 But his disciples took him at night and let him down through an opening in the wall by lowering him in a basket.

Saul Returns to Jerusalem

9:26 When he arrived in Jerusalem, he attempted to associate with the disciples, and they were all afraid of him, because they did not believe that he was a disciple. 9:27 But Barnabas took Saul, brought him to the apostles, and related to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus. 9:28 So he was staying with them, associating openly with them in Jerusalem, speaking out boldly in the name of the Lord. 9:29 He was speaking and debating with the Greek-speaking Jews, but they were trying to kill him. 9:30 When the brothers found out about this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him away to Tarsus.

9:31 Then the church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria experienced peace and thus was strengthened. Living in the fear of the Lord and in the encouragement of the Holy Spirit, the church increased in numbers.

Peter Heals Aeneas

9:32 Now as Peter was traveling around from place to place, he also came down to the saints who lived in Lydda. 9:33 He found there a man named Aeneas who had been confined to a mattress for eight years because he was paralyzed. 9:34 Peter said to him, “Aeneas, Jesus the Christ heals you. Get up and make your own bed!” And immediately he got up. 9:35 All those who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him, and they turned to the Lord.

Peter Raises Dorcas

9:36 Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which in translation means Dorcas). She was continually doing good deeds and acts of charity. 9:37 At that time she became sick and died. When they had washed her body, they placed it in an upstairs room. 9:38 Because Lydda was near Joppa, when the disciples heard that Peter was there, they sent two men to him and urged him, “Come to us without delay.” 9:39 So Peter got up and went with them, and when he arrived they brought him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him, crying and showing him the tunics and other clothing Dorcas used to make while she was with them. 9:40 But Peter sent them all outside, knelt down, and prayed. Turning to the body, he said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. 9:41 He gave her his hand and helped her get up. Then he called the saints and widows and presented her alive. 9:42 This became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 9:43 So Peter stayed many days in Joppa with a man named Simon, a tanner.

Prayer

Lord, You called Saul — renamed Paul — but then he now faced the same deadly persecution that he had directed toward believers. May I serve You faithful without regard to personal sacrifice.

Summary & Commentary

Paul/Saul had to escape from Damascus because the religious leaders, as had become their pattern, sought to murder him for preaching Christ.

Paul/Saul returned to Jerusalem and attempted to fellowship with the disciples there but they still feared and mistrusted him. Barnabas "son of encouragement" brought him to the

Apostles with the report of his "Damascus Road experience". They accepted him. Paul/Saul then preached Christ to the Greek-speaking Jews which prompted the murderous religious leaders to conspire against him - leading to Paul/Saul's relocation to Caesarea and then Tarsus.

Meanwhile Peter healed Aeneus in Lyddia then raised Dorcas from the dead in Joppa which led to many new believers.

Interaction
Consider

The are many countries in the world where there are restrictions on evangelism (even Israel) and where it is illegal to the point of imprisonment and death.

Discuss

Does the degree of fear and hatred toward Jesus make it clear what evil power is behind such persecution of and resistance to truth.?

Reflect

Reflect on the pattern of reaction by those who are rebellious against proclamation of Christ, first they try to suppress the message, then failing they they violently attack the messenger.

Share

When have you, or someone you know well, had to change their job, their neighborhood, their school, or other place of association due to persecution for their faith?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who has suffered for their faith for whom He wants you to pray and to seek some other way to encourage.

Action:

Today I will pray that leaders throughout the world will recognize the truth of Christ and at least cease their persecution of the Church, and perhaps even lead their people to faith.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Acts” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Acts 10-16

Sunday (Acts 10)

Peter Visits Cornelius

10:1 Now there was a man in Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort. 10:2 He was a devout, God-fearing man, as was all his household; he did many acts of charity for the people and prayed to God regularly. 10:3 About three o’clock one afternoon he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God who came in and said to him, “Cornelius.” 10:4 Staring at him and becoming greatly afraid, Cornelius replied, “What is it, Lord?” The angel said to him, “Your prayers and your acts of charity have gone up as a memorial before God. 10:5 Now send men to Joppa and summon a man named Simon, who is called Peter. 10:6 This man is staying as a guest with a man named Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea.” 10:7 When the angel who had spoken to him departed, Cornelius called two of his personal servants and a devout soldier from among those who served him, 10:8 and when he had explained everything to them, he sent them to Joppa.

10:9 About noon the next day, while they were on their way and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10:10 He became hungry and wanted to eat, but while they were preparing the meal, a trance came over him. 10:11 He saw heaven opened and an object something like a large sheet descending, being let down to earth by its four corners. 10:12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals and reptiles of the earth and wild birds. 10:13 Then a voice said to him, “Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!” 10:14 But Peter said, “Certainly not, Lord, for I have never eaten anything defiled and ritually unclean!” 10:15 The voice spoke to him again, a second time, “What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean!” 10:16 This happened three times, and immediately the object was taken up into heaven.

10:17 Now while Peter was puzzling over what the vision he had seen could signify, the men sent by Cornelius had learned where Simon’s house was and approached the gate. 10:18 They called out to ask if Simon, known as Peter, was staying there as a guest. 10:19 While Peter was still thinking seriously about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Look! Three men are looking for you. 10:20 But get up, go down, and accompany them without hesitation, because I have sent them.” 10:21 So Peter went down to the men and said, “Here I am, the person you’re looking for. Why have you come?” 10:22 They said, “Cornelius the centurion, a righteous and God-fearing man, well spoken of by the whole Jewish nation, was directed by a holy angel to summon you to his house and to hear a message from you.” 10:23 So Peter invited them in and entertained them as guests.

On the next day he got up and set out with them, and some of the brothers from Joppa accompanied him. 10:24 The following day he entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting anxiously for them and had called together his relatives and close friends. 10:25 So when Peter came in, Cornelius met him, fell at his feet, and worshiped him. 10:26 But Peter helped him up, saying, “Stand up. I too am a mere mortal.” 10:27 Peter continued talking with him as he went in, and he found many people gathered together. 10:28 He said to them, “You know that it is unlawful for a Jew to associate with or visit a Gentile, yet God has shown me that I should call no person defiled or ritually unclean. 10:29 Therefore when you sent for me, I came without any objection. Now may I ask why you sent for me?” 10:30 Cornelius replied, “Four days ago at this very hour, at three o’clock in the afternoon, I was praying in my house, and suddenly a man in shining clothing stood before me 10:31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard and your acts of charity have been remembered before God. 10:32 Therefore send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter. This man is staying as a guest in the house of Simon the tanner, by the sea.’ 10:33 Therefore I sent for you at once, and you were kind enough to come. So now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to say to us.”

10:34 Then Peter started speaking: “I now truly understand that God does not show favoritism in dealing with people, 10:35 but in every nation the person who fears him and does what is right is welcomed before him. 10:36 You know the message he sent to the people of Israel, proclaiming the good news of peace through Jesus Christ (he is Lord of all) — 10:37 you know what happened throughout Judea, beginning from Galilee after the baptism that John announced: 10:38 with respect to Jesus from Nazareth, that God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power. He went around doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, because God was with him. 10:39 We are witnesses of all the things he did both in Judea and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, 10:40 but God raised him up on the third day and caused him to be seen, 10:41 not by all the people, but by us, the witnesses God had already chosen, who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. 10:42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to warn them that he is the one appointed by God as judge of the living and the dead. 10:43 About him all the prophets testify, that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”

The Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit

10:44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell on all those who heard the message. 10:45 The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were greatly astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles, 10:46 for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 10:47 “No one can withhold the water for these people to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” 10:48 So he gave orders to have them baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay for several days.

Prayer

Lord, Your truth is known, some who should recognize and respond to it do not and others unexpectedly do. May I be alert to observe and ready to obey.

Summary & Commentary

Cornelius, Gentile believer and officer in the “Italian Cohort” (a regiment of 600 soldiers, about 1/10th of a legion), was instructed in a vision to send for Peter. He did so.

Peter, had a vision that challenged his Jewish-only definition of Christianity and community, then was sent to meet with Cornelius - something he would have refused to do prior to the vision.

Peter obediently traveled to Caesarea to meet with Cornelieus, bringing some other believers. Cornelius had gathered people to hear from Peter. Cornelius misunderstood who Peter was and tried to worship him but Peter corrected him, saying “I am a mere mortal ...”. [Note: It is important to recall that throughout the Bible no God-honoring being, man or angel, ever allowed anyone to worship them in any way. Only Jesus, God incarnate, did so.]

Peter and Cornelius shared their experiences with the Lord God through the visions, then, together they discovered that God wanted them to recognize that He plays no favorites based on racial or political or social standing but is interested only in the status of our faith in Jesus and our obedience before Him.

As Peter recited the works of Jesus during His public ministry, and His commandment to the Apostles, the Holy Spirit came upon the Gentiles whom Cornelius had gathered - the same as it had at Pentecost for those gathered for the Jewish celebrations. [Note: There were Jewish-Christians with Peter whom God needed to witness this because, like Peter, they still struggled with a Jews-only misconception of the ministry of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Note once again that this experience with “speaking in tongues” is clearly identified as the same as at Pentecost where they spoke in “known languages”. This text is unavailable for use as a proof-text for a “Heavenly language”, though such is not herein excluded from the NT, it is simply good scholarship to recognize that such was not reported anywhere in the Gospels, nor so up to this point in the Book of Acts.]

Peter then instructed his Jewish-Christian companions to baptize the Gentiles and to perform a “washing of the feet” act of humble-fellowship to illustrate the teaching - originally direct from Jesus - that there is no more any division between Jew and Gentile.

Interaction
Consider

God repeats Himself in order to overcome our resistance to change. In the late texts of the OT God says that He was bringing a new covenant — one no longer exclusive to the Jewish tribes. Jesus said more than once that there was to no longer be a separation between Jew and Gentile - yet here again He had to repeat Himself because the Apostle Peter still didn't get it.

Discuss

Can you recall a moment in history, or perhaps from your own personal observation or experience, where "a mere mortal” allowed, or even required, people to worship them? What was the result?

Reflect

The religious leaders didn't get Jesus but Cornelius, a gentile, did.

Share

When in your life has it has been necessary to cause cliques or other sub-groups to interact with one-another in order to bridge unhealthy divisions? Did it improve things?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of a time, perhaps even recently, where you had been unaware of, or confused about, a Biblical teaching but the Lord God's persistence finally led to a correct understanding.

Action:

Today I will share the Lord's correction of my understanding with a fellow believer and ask that God will continue to find me teachable. I will also identify and pray for healing within the Christian family where divisions exist. It may be cliques within a youth group, competition between denominations, stylistic preferences about music or programs, or some other non-Biblical cause.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Acts 11)

Peter Defends His Actions to the Jerusalem Church

11:1 Now the apostles and the brothers who were throughout Judea heard that the Gentiles too had accepted the word of God. 11:2 So when Peter went up to Jerusalem, the circumcised believers took issue with him, 11:3 saying, “You went to uncircumcised men and shared a meal with them.” 11:4 But Peter began and explained it to them point by point, saying, 11:5 “I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance I saw a vision, an object something like a large sheet descending, being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came to me. 11:6 As I stared I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild animals, reptiles, and wild birds. 11:7 I also heard a voice saying to me, ‘Get up, Peter; slaughter and eat!’ 11:8 But I said, ‘Certainly not, Lord, for nothing defiled or ritually unclean has ever entered my mouth!’ 11:9 But the voice replied a second time from heaven, ‘What God has made clean, you must not consider ritually unclean!’ 11:10 This happened three times, and then everything was pulled up to heaven again. 11:11 At that very moment, three men sent to me from Caesarea approached the house where we were staying. 11:12 The Spirit told me to accompany them without hesitation. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house. 11:13 He informed us how he had seen an angel standing in his house and saying, ‘Send to Joppa and summon Simon, who is called Peter, 11:14 who will speak a message to you by which you and your entire household will be saved.’ 11:15 Then as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as he did on us at the beginning. 11:16 And I remembered the word of the Lord, as he used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ 11:17 Therefore if God gave them the same gift as he also gave us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to hinder God?” 11:18 When they heard this, they ceased their objections and praised God, saying, “So then, God has granted the repentance that leads to life even to the Gentiles.”

Activity in the Church at Antioch

11:19 Now those who had been scattered because of the persecution that took place over Stephen went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the message to no one but Jews. 11:20 But there were some men from Cyprus and Cyrene among them who came to Antioch and began to speak to the Greeks too, proclaiming the good news of the Lord Jesus. 11:21 The hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. 11:22 A report about them came to the attention of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 11:23 When he came and saw the grace of God, he rejoiced and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts, 11:24 because he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and a significant number of people were brought to the Lord. 11:25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to look for Saul, 11:26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught a significant number of people. Now it was in Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.

Famine Relief for Judea

11:27 At that time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 11:28 One of them, named Agabus, got up and predicted by the Spirit that a severe famine was about to come over the whole inhabited world. (This took place during the reign of Claudius.) 11:29 So the disciples, each in accordance with his financial ability, decided to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 11:30 They did so, sending their financial aid to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.

Prayer

Lord, You not only overcame the enemy's intent to harm Your mission to Jerusalem — by using the flight of Jews from persecution — You also overcame Jewish-Christian convert resistance to evangelizing Gentiles. May I resist the confused notions of humankind and view things through Your eyes.

Summary & Commentary

Peter was challenged by the Jewish-Christians in Jerusalem and explains his interaction with God and the Gentiles to them in detail - they repented of their objections and praised God.

Disciples who scattered due to the murder-martyrdom of Stephen preached and taught Jews in Phonecia and Cyprus and Antioch but had refused to share with the Gentiles. God raised-up others from Cyprus and Cyrene to send to the Greeks and many were saved.

The gathered believers (the Church) in Jerusalem, recognizing that the “harvest” was ready among the Greeks, sent Barnabas to Antioch and many more were saved. It is here that the Biblical text first actually notes the use of “Christian” as applied to believers.

Famine throughout the Roman Empire is prophesied so the disciples donated relief funds for the Christians in Judea, to be delivered by Barnabas and Saul.

Interaction
Consider

The early Church reacted with outreach to the evidence that many people in a certain area or among a certain population were responding to the invitation of the Holy Spirit - have you observed this in modern times?

Discuss

The early Church recognized and met the needs of fellow believers - are we taking the same care of fellow believers around the world or do we support organizations that divert some of our funds to non-believers leaving believers in need still in need?

Reflect

God overcomes fear and prejudice in order to deliver His Word to everyone. Have you observed this done in a faith-community of which you are a member?

Share

When have you observed believers doubting something that clearly was of-God but which a detailed presentation of the circumstances and the relevant Biblical texts resolved the confusion and the potential conflict?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a ministry opportunity in a "harvest-ready area" and/or sub-population.

Action:

Today I will pray in agreement for more "workers for the harvest" and as-appropriate either offer to join them and/or send them a financial contribution to support their work.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Acts 12)

James is Killed and Peter Imprisoned

12:1 About that time King Herod laid hands on some from the church to harm them. 12:2 He had James, the brother of John, executed with a sword. 12:3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter too. (This took place during the feast of Unleavened Bread.) 12:4 When he had seized him, he put him in prison, handing him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him. Herod planned to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 12:5 So Peter was kept in prison, but those in the church were earnestly praying to God for him. 12:6 On that very night before Herod was going to bring him out for trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, while guards in front of the door were keeping watch over the prison. 12:7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared, and a light shone in the prison cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up, saying, “Get up quickly!” And the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 12:8 The angel said to him, “Fasten your belt and put on your sandals.” Peter did so. Then the angel said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.” 12:9 Peter went out and followed him; he did not realize that what was happening through the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 12:10 After they had passed the first and second guards, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went outside and walked down one narrow street, when at once the angel left him. 12:11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I know for certain that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from everything the Jewish people were expecting to happen.”

12:12 When Peter realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John Mark, where many people had gathered together and were praying. 12:13 When he knocked at the door of the outer gate, a slave girl named Rhoda answered. 12:14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she did not open the gate, but ran back in and told them that Peter was standing at the gate. 12:15 But they said to her, “You’ve lost your mind!” But she kept insisting that it was Peter, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 12:16 Now Peter continued knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were greatly astonished. 12:17 He motioned to them with his hand to be quiet and then related how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. He said, “Tell James and the brothers these things,” and then he left and went to another place.

12:18 At daybreak there was great consternation among the soldiers over what had become of Peter. 12:19 When Herod had searched for him and did not find him, he questioned the guards and commanded that they be led away to execution. Then Herod went down from Judea to Caesarea and stayed there.

12:20 Now Herod was having an angry quarrel with the people of Tyre and Sidon. So they joined together and presented themselves before him. And after convincing Blastus, the king’s personal assistant, to help them, they asked for peace, because their country’s food supply was provided by the king’s country. 12:21 On a day determined in advance, Herod put on his royal robes, sat down on the judgment seat, and made a speech to them. 12:22 But the crowd began to shout, “The voice of a god, and not of a man!” 12:23 Immediately an angel of the Lord struck Herod down because he did not give the glory to God, and he was eaten by worms and died. 12:24 But the word of God kept on increasing and multiplying.

12:25 So Barnabas and Saul returned to Jerusalem when they had completed their mission, bringing along with them John Mark.

Prayer

Lord, You protected Peter to complete the ministry which You had assigned to him. May I be confident that You protect and provide for the ministries that You have determined must be completed.

Summary & Commentary

James was murdered by Herod, during the Feast of Unleavened Bread, in order to garner the approval of the religious leaders. James was the first Apostle to be martyred.

Herod then had Peter imprisoned under heavy guard with the intent of a public trial following Passover; however, the believers committed themselves to earnest prayer and God sent an angel to release Peter from prison. Peter walked out with the angel, gates opened without human action, and none of the guards noticed them as they passed.

Peter walked to the home of John and Mary (the mother of Jesus) where the believers had gathered for prayer. The believers doubted that it could be Peter at the gate—even though they had prayed for his protection and release—and thought it was “his angel”.

Peter explained all that happened, asked them to tell James and the “brothers”, then left for a place unmentioned in the text. [Note: It appears that Peter was not yet aware that James had been murdered.] Herod had the guards punished.

Herod traveled to Tyre and Sidon to resolve a conflict, in an effort to mollify the angry ruler the crowd called to him as if he were a god - he (Herod) failed to stop them from that blasphemy - so an angel struck him down and an infestation of intestinal worms slowly killed him from the inside.

Interaction
Consider

Contemplate history since Jesus and try to recall any political or religious leader who has allowed himself to be worship as a god who has lived long and died peacefully.

Discuss

Why would Herod have been so foolish as to tempt the wrath of the Lord God by permitting the people to worship him as a false god?

Reflect

There was a convergence of God's plan to preserve Peter for additional ministry (recall that Peter had the prophesy from Jesus that he would die young because of his ministry) and the fervent prayer of the believers for their brother and leader.

Share

When have you observed a leader of any sort permitting people to treat them as a sort of god?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a Christian who has been wrongfully persecuted.

Action:

Today I will identify and pray fervently for their freedom and vindication and that God will be glorified in the process. I will also pray for political and religious leaders that they be wise enough to stay far away from anything that approaches the encouragement or acceptance of god-like worship.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Acts 13)

The Church at Antioch Commissions Barnabas and Saul

13:1 Now there were these prophets and teachers in the church at Antioch: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius the Cyrenian, Manaen (a close friend of Herod the tetrarch from childhood) and Saul. 13:2 While they were serving the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 13:3 Then, after they had fasted and prayed and placed their hands on them, they sent them off.

Paul and Barnabas Preach in Cyprus

13:4 So Barnabas and Saul, sent out by the Holy Spirit, went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 13:5 When they arrived in Salamis, they began to proclaim the word of God in the Jewish synagogues. (Now they also had John as their assistant.) 13:6 When they had crossed over the whole island as far as Paphos, they found a magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus, 13:7 who was with the proconsul Sergius Paulus, an intelligent man. The proconsul summoned Barnabas and Saul and wanted to hear the word of God. 13:8 But the magician Elymas (for that is the way his name is translated) opposed them, trying to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 13:9 But Saul (also known as Paul), filled with the Holy Spirit, stared straight at him 13:10 and said, “You who are full of all deceit and all wrongdoing, you son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness — will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 13:11 Now look, the hand of the Lord is against you, and you will be blind, unable to see the sun for a time!” Immediately mistiness and darkness came over him, and he went around seeking people to lead him by the hand. 13:12 Then when the proconsul saw what had happened, he believed, because he was greatly astounded at the teaching about the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas at Pisidian Antioch

13:13 Then Paul and his companions put out to sea from Paphos and came to Perga in Pamphylia, but John left them and returned to Jerusalem. 13:14 Moving on from Perga, they arrived at Pisidian Antioch, and on the Sabbath day they went into the synagogue and sat down. 13:15 After the reading from the law and the prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent them a message, saying, “Brothers, if you have any message of exhortation for the people, speak it.” 13:16 So Paul stood up, gestured with his hand and said,

“Men of Israel, and you Gentiles who fear God, listen: 13:17 The God of this people Israel chose our ancestors and made the people great during their stay as foreigners in the country of Egypt, and with uplifted arm he led them out of it. 13:18 For a period of about forty years he put up with them in the wilderness. 13:19 After he had destroyed seven nations in the land of Canaan, he gave his people their land as an inheritance. 13:20 All this took about four hundred fifty years. After this he gave them judges until the time of Samuel the prophet. 13:21 Then they asked for a king, and God gave them Saul son of Kish, a man from the tribe of Benjamin, who ruled forty years. 13:22 After removing him, God raised up David their king. He testified about him: ‘I have found David the son of Jesse to be a man after my heart, who will accomplish everything I want him to do.’ 13:23 From the descendants of this man God brought to Israel a Savior, Jesus, just as he promised. 13:24 Before Jesus arrived, John had proclaimed a baptism for repentance to all the people of Israel. 13:25 But while John was completing his mission, he said repeatedly, ‘What do you think I am? I am not he. But look, one is coming after me. I am not worthy to untie the sandals on his feet!’ 13:26 Brothers, descendants of Abraham’s family, and those Gentiles among you who fear God, the message of this salvation has been sent to us. 13:27 For the people who live in Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him, and they fulfilled the sayings of the prophets that are read every Sabbath by condemning him. 13:28 Though they found no basis for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 13:29 When they had accomplished everything that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. 13:30 But God raised him from the dead, 13:31 and for many days he appeared to those who had accompanied him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These are now his witnesses to the people. 13:32 And we proclaim to you the good news about the promise to our ancestors, 13:33 that this promise God has fulfilled to us, their children, by raising Jesus, as also it is written in the second psalm, ‘You are my Son; today I have fathered you.’ 13:34 But regarding the fact that he has raised Jesus from the dead, never again to be in a state of decay, God has spoken in this way: ‘I will give you the holy and trustworthy promises made to David.’ 13:35 Therefore he also says in another psalm, ‘You will not permit your Holy One to experience decay.’ 13:36 For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, died, was buried with his ancestors, and experienced decay, 13:37 but the one whom God raised up did not experience decay. 13:38 Therefore let it be known to you, brothers, that through this one forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, 13:39 and by this one everyone who believes is justified from everything from which the law of Moses could not justify you. 13:40 Watch out, then, that what is spoken about by the prophets does not happen to you:

13:41 ‘Look, you scoffers; be amazed and perish!

For I am doing a work in your days,

a work you would never believe, even if someone tells you.’”

13:42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people were urging them to speak about these things on the next Sabbath. 13:43 When the meeting of the synagogue had broken up, many of the Jews and God-fearing proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who were speaking with them and were persuading them to continue in the grace of God.

13:44 On the next Sabbath almost the whole city assembled together to hear the word of the Lord. 13:45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy, and they began to contradict what Paul was saying by reviling him. 13:46 Both Paul and Barnabas replied courageously, “It was necessary to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy of eternal life, we are turning to the Gentiles. 13:47 For this is what the Lord has commanded us: ‘I have appointed you to be a light for the Gentiles, to bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” 13:48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began to rejoice and praise the word of the Lord, and all who had been appointed for eternal life believed. 13:49 So the word of the Lord was spreading through the entire region. 13:50 But the Jews incited the God-fearing women of high social standing and the prominent men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and threw them out of their region. 13:51 So after they shook the dust off their feet in protest against them, they went to Iconium. 13:52 And the disciples were filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, You prepare teachable hearts and then use the willing to reap Your harvest. May I be willing, available, and teachable.

Summary & Commentary

The Holy Spirit prompted the Antioch Church (gathered believers) to fast and pray and then lay-hands on Barnabas and Saul/Paul to commission them to be sent-out.

Barnabas and Paul, with John, preached in Cyprus. A magician who was also a false Jewish-prophet tried to keep the proconsul from accepting the truth of God was struck blind by the Holy Spirit through Paul and the proconsul was saved.

John returned to Jerusalem and Barnabas and Paul continued through Perga to Pisidian Antioch where they were invited to share at the synagogue. There they reviewed the Biblical record, concluding with a challenging condemnation of those who rejected Jesus whom they should have recognized as the Messiah.

Many believed, the existing believers were encouraged, and they were asked to return for the next Sabbath gathering. The religious leaders were jealous and began personal and religious attacks upon Paul and Barnabas.

Paul and Barnabas replied that since the religious leaders did not find themselves worthy of eternal life they would instead go to the Gentiles. [Note: They abandoned the religious leaders and their followers, all of whom had proved unteachable.]

The Gentiles rejoiced and many were saved but the religious leaders incited the upper class citizens to persecute and ultimately banish Paul and Barnabas - who then “shook the dust off their feet” [symbolically condemning them to their rejection of God’s gift of salvation] and took their ministry to Iconium where “the disciples were filled with joy and the Holy Spirit”.

Interaction
Consider

The enemy tried to use the magician to interfere with the evangelizing of the proconsul but the Lord God, through Paul, struck him blind — demonstrating His presence and His power.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing that all Paul and Barnabas had to do was to review the Biblical record, essentially what we know as the Old Testament, and many recognized and surrendered to the Messiah?

Reflect

How interesting is the difference between those who were teachable - welcoming the truth even though it challenged much of what they had previously believed and would upset their social status - versus those who violently rejected obvious truth.

Share

When have you or someone you know, had to "shake the dust off your sandals" and move on when someone with whom you were sharing truth demonstrated a rigid refusal to consider truth.

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct me to where the Lord God wants to send me where His truth will be heard.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for the discernment to recognize the difference between someone whom the Holy Spirit has prepared for "harvest" and one who is unteachable - and the strength and wisdom to walk away from the unteachable.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Acts 14)

Paul and Barnabas at Iconium

14:1 The same thing happened in Iconium when Paul and Barnabas went into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a large group of both Jews and Greeks believed. 14:2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. 14:3 So they stayed there for a considerable time, speaking out courageously for the Lord, who testified to the message of his grace, granting miraculous signs and wonders to be performed through their hands. 14:4 But the population of the city was divided; some sided with the Jews, and some with the apostles. 14:5 When both the Gentiles and the Jews (together with their rulers) made an attempt to mistreat them and stone them, 14:6 Paul and Barnabas learned about it and fled to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding region. 14:7 There they continued to proclaim the good news.

Paul and Barnabas at Lystra

14:8 In Lystra sat a man who could not use his feet, lame from birth, who had never walked. 14:9 This man was listening to Paul as he was speaking. When Paul stared intently at him and saw he had faith to be healed, 14:10 he said with a loud voice, “Stand upright on your feet.” And the man leaped up and began walking. 14:11 So when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!” 14:12 They began to call Barnabas Zeus and Paul Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 14:13 The priest of the temple of Zeus, located just outside the city, brought bulls and garlands to the city gates; he and the crowds wanted to offer sacrifices to them. 14:14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard about it, they tore their clothes and rushed out into the crowd, shouting, 14:15 “Men, why are you doing these things? We too are men, with human natures just like you! We are proclaiming the good news to you, so that you should turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them. 14:16 In past generations he allowed all the nations to go their own ways, 14:17 yet he did not leave himself without a witness by doing good, by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying you with food and your hearts with joy.” 14:18 Even by saying these things, they scarcely persuaded the crowds not to offer sacrifice to them.

14:19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and after winning the crowds over, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, presuming him to be dead. 14:20 But after the disciples had surrounded him, he got up and went back into the city. On the next day he left with Barnabas for Derbe.

Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria

14:21 After they had proclaimed the good news in that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, to Iconium, and to Antioch. 14:22 They strengthened the souls of the disciples and encouraged them to continue in the faith, saying, “We must enter the kingdom of God through many persecutions.” 14:23 When they had appointed elders for them in the various churches, with prayer and fasting they entrusted them to the protection of the Lord in whom they had believed. 14:24 Then they passed through Pisidia and came into Pamphylia, 14:25 and when they had spoken the word in Perga, they went down to Attalia. 14:26 From there they sailed back to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed. 14:27 When they arrived and gathered the church together, they reported all the things God had done with them, and that he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles. 14:28 So they spent considerable time with the disciples.

Prayer

Lord, You said that You were opening the doors to Gentiles, that there would no longer be a separation between Jew and Gentile, and You made it happen. May I always beware of false divisions among the people of Your Church (believers, not buildings, not human-assembled religious institutions) and favoritism toward the people-groups to be reached, insisting that all be treated with equal regard, just as You have commanded.

Summary & Commentary

Barnabas and Paul shared at the Word at Lystra, much the same conflict occurred there as in Pisidian Antioch with many new believers, challenges to the truth from religious leaders who did not want the truth to be told, and a threat against their lives which led to Paul and Barnabas moving on “to the Lycaonian cities of Lystra, Derbe, and the surrounding region.”

Paul called out the healing of God in a lame man whose faith the Holy Spirit disclosed to him and the pagan worshipers there offered sacrifices to them. Paul and Barnabas tore their clothes and cried out against their misplaced worship. Despite their efforts to persuade them to the truth the people resisted, then the religious leaders arrived to take advantage of the chaos and manipulated the crowd into dragging Paul out of the city where they stoned and left him for dead. The disciples gathered and prayed and Paul revived, returned to the city, then left with Barnabas for Derbe where they declared the Word.

Barnabas and Paul then return to Lystra, then Iconium, and Antioch in Syria where they “appointed elders for them in the various churches” [Note: Churches referred to the gatherings of believers in parts of the various communities. The term “elder” here refers to someone who would meet the requirements of a Deacon but serve as something like an Apostle.]

They continued on eventually arriving home in Antioch from where they had been commissioned for the journey, sharing all that God had done then staying a long while with the disciples.

Interaction
Consider

How our modern-day notion of "pastor" may have drawn a parallel to the "elder" of ACTS 14.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing how quickly the people were turned from worship to murder?

Reflect

Pagans often try to make everything fit their beliefs and practices, such as trying to make Jesus fit into an existing religious system, or forcing non-Biblical elements into an otherwise Biblical gathering.

Share

When have you observed an idolatry of a celebrity or religious leader?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me any place where I may have drifted into the acceptance of a non-Biblical belief about an organization or a person.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully consider all that I do in my daily walk and times of gathering together with other believers, looking carefully for any indication of an element of non-Biblical elements slipping in. I will also pray for safety and wisdom for the spiritual leader or leaders of my Christian fellowship.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Acts 15)

The Jerusalem Council

15:1 Now some men came down from Judea and began to teach the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” 15:2 When Paul and Barnabas had a major argument and debate with them, the church appointed Paul and Barnabas and some others from among them to go up to meet with the apostles and elders in Jerusalem about this point of disagreement. 15:3 So they were sent on their way by the church, and as they passed through both Phoenicia and Samaria, they were relating at length the conversion of the Gentiles and bringing great joy to all the brothers. 15:4 When they arrived in Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders, and they reported all the things God had done with them. 15:5 But some from the religious party of the Pharisees who had believed stood up and said, “It is necessary to circumcise the Gentiles and to order them to observe the law of Moses.”

15:6 Both the apostles and the elders met together to deliberate about this matter. 15:7 After there had been much debate, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know that some time ago God chose me to preach to the Gentiles so they would hear the message of the gospel and believe. 15:8 And God, who knows the heart, has testified to them by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, 15:9 and he made no distinction between them and us, cleansing their hearts by faith. 15:10 So now why are you putting God to the test by placing on the neck of the disciples a yoke that neither our ancestors nor we have been able to bear? 15:11 On the contrary, we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they are.”

15:12 The whole group kept quiet and listened to Barnabas and Paul while they explained all the miraculous signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 15:13 After they stopped speaking, James replied, “Brothers, listen to me. 15:14 Simeon has explained how God first concerned himself to select from among the Gentiles a people for his name. 15:15 The words of the prophets agree with this, as it is written,

15:16 ‘After this I will return, and I will rebuild the fallen tent of David; I will rebuild its ruins and restore it,

15:17 so that the rest of humanity may seek the Lord, namely, all the Gentiles I have called to be my own,says the Lord, who makes these things 15:18 known from long ago.

15:19 “Therefore I conclude that we should not cause extra difficulty for those among the Gentiles who are turning to God, 15:20 but that we should write them a letter telling them to abstain from things defiled by idols and from sexual immorality and from what has been strangled and from blood. 15:21 For Moses has had those who proclaim him in every town from ancient times, because he is read aloud in the synagogues every Sabbath.”

15:22 Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to send men chosen from among them, Judas called Barsabbas and Silas, leaders among the brothers, to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. 15:23 They sent this letter with them:

From the apostles and elders, your brothers, to the Gentile brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia, greetings! 15:24 Since we have heard that some have gone out from among us with no orders from us and have confused you, upsetting your minds by what they said, 15:25 we have unanimously decided to choose men to send to you along with our dear friends Barnabas and Paul, 15:26 who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 15:27 Therefore we are sending Judas and Silas who will tell you these things themselves in person. 15:28 For it seemed best to the Holy Spirit and to us not to place any greater burden on you than these necessary rules: 15:29 that you abstain from meat that has been sacrificed to idols and from blood and from what has been strangled and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from doing these things, you will do well. Farewell.

15:30 So when they were dismissed, they went down to Antioch, and after gathering the entire group together, they delivered the letter. 15:31 When they read it aloud, the people rejoiced at its encouragement. 15:32 Both Judas and Silas, who were prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brothers with a long speech. 15:33 After they had spent some time there, they were sent off in peace by the brothers to those who had sent them. 15:34 [[EMPTY]] 15:35 But Paul and Barnabas remained in Antioch, teaching and proclaiming (along with many others) the word of the Lord.

Paul and Barnabas Part Company

15:36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s return and visit the brothers in every town where we proclaimed the word of the Lord to see how they are doing.” 15:37 Barnabas wanted to bring John called Mark along with them too, 15:38 but Paul insisted that they should not take along this one who had left them in Pamphylia and had not accompanied them in the work. 15:39 They had a sharp disagreement, so that they parted company. Barnabas took along Mark and sailed away to Cyprus, 15:40 but Paul chose Silas and set out, commended to the grace of the Lord by the brothers and sisters. 15:41 He passed through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Prayer

Lord, the early participants in Your “Church” faced many challenges, internal struggles with tradition-bound Jews and conflict among other members. May I pray regularly for peace and wisdom among believers — and to expect the same of myself.

Summary & Commentary

The Jerusalem Counsel attempted to impose legalistic Judaism on the Gentile believers, Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James all reflected on God’s sending of them to the Gentiles and His teaching that one is saved by responding to Jesus through the Holy Spirit in faith.

They agreed not to add the artificial “difficulty” of mandatory circumcision but instead sent a letter of instruction and encouragement to live righteously.

Judas-Barsabbas and Silas traveled with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch to explain the decision of the Apostles as to the Gentile believers, the others returned to Jerusalem while Paul and Barnabas remained.

Barnabas and Paul parted company due to Mark [apparently Mark had abandoned them in Pamphylia and lost Paul’s trust] so Barnabas took Mark and set out for Cyprus while Paul took Silas and went to Syria and Cilicia.

Interaction
Consider

It took Peter, Paul, Barnabas, and James to persuade the Jerusalem Counsel not to impose legalistic Judaism upon the new Gentile believers.

Discuss

Why would Jewish believers try to impose mandatory circumcision and other Jewish traditions upon Gentile converts?

Reflect

Even apostles and disciples struggled with interpersonal relationships.

Share

When have you Share a time when religious leaders, or others with influence and power, tried to impose extra-Biblical traditions upon new believers. What was the result?

Share a time when there was a disagreement among the leaders of a Christian fellowship and some leaders went separate ways. What was the result?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a relationship for which He wants you to pray for reconciliation between leaders who have gone separate ways due to a conflict.

Action:

Today I will Today I will pray that Christian religious leaders everywhere will refrain from distortions of the Word of God that come from confusing tradition with truth and the discouragement that may create for new and potential new believers.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Acts 16)

Timothy Joins Paul and Silas

16:1 He also came to Derbe and to Lystra. A disciple named Timothy was there, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but whose father was a Greek. 16:2 The brothers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. 16:3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was Greek. 16:4 As they went through the towns, they passed on the decrees that had been decided on by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the Gentile believers to obey. 16:5 So the churches were being strengthened in the faith and were increasing in number every day.

Paul’s Vision of the Macedonian Man

16:6 They went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been prevented by the Holy Spirit from speaking the message in the province of Asia. 16:7 When they came to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to do this, 16:8 so they passed through Mysia and went down to Troas. 16:9 A vision appeared to Paul during the night: A Macedonian man was standing there urging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 16:10 After Paul saw the vision, we attempted immediately to go over to Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

Arrival at Philippi

16:11 We put out to sea from Troas and sailed a straight course to Samothrace, the next day to Neapolis, 16:12 and from there to Philippi, which is a leading city of that district of Macedonia, a Roman colony. We stayed in this city for some days. 16:13 On the Sabbath day we went outside the city gate to the side of the river, where we thought there would be a place of prayer, and we sat down and began to speak to the women who had assembled there. 16:14 A woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth from the city of Thyatira, a God-fearing woman, listened to us. The Lord opened her heart to respond to what Paul was saying. 16:15 After she and her household were baptized, she urged us, “If you consider me to be a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house.” And she persuaded us.

Paul and Silas Are Thrown Into Prison

16:16 Now as we were going to the place of prayer, a slave girl met us who had a spirit that enabled her to foretell the future by supernatural means. She brought her owners a great profit by fortune-telling. 16:17 She followed behind Paul and us and kept crying out, “These men are servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” 16:18 She continued to do this for many days. But Paul became greatly annoyed, and turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And it came out of her at once. 16:19 But when her owners saw their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them into the marketplace before the authorities. 16:20 When they had brought them before the magistrates, they said, “These men are throwing our city into confusion. They are Jews 16:21 and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us to accept or practice, since we are Romans.”

16:22 The crowd joined the attack against them, and the magistrates tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered them to be beaten with rods. 16:23 After they had beaten them severely, they threw them into prison and commanded the jailer to guard them securely. 16:24 Receiving such orders, he threw them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

16:25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the rest of the prisoners were listening to them. 16:26 Suddenly a great earthquake occurred, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken. Immediately all the doors flew open, and the bonds of all the prisoners came loose. 16:27 When the jailer woke up and saw the doors of the prison standing open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself, because he assumed the prisoners had escaped. 16:28 But Paul called out loudly, “Do not harm yourself, for we are all here!” 16:29 Calling for lights, the jailer rushed in and fell down trembling at the feet of Paul and Silas. 16:30 Then he brought them outside and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 16:31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, you and your household.” 16:32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him, along with all those who were in his house. 16:33 At that hour of the night he took them and washed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized right away. 16:34 The jailer brought them into his house and set food before them, and he rejoiced greatly that he had come to believe in God, together with his entire household. 16:35 At daybreak the magistrates sent their police officers, saying, “Release those men.” 16:36 The jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, “The magistrates have sent orders to release you. So come out now and go in peace.” 16:37 But Paul said to the police officers, “They had us beaten in public without a proper trial — even though we are Roman citizens — and they threw us in prison. And now they want to send us away secretly? Absolutely not! They themselves must come and escort us out!” 16:38 The police officers reported these words to the magistrates. They were frightened when they heard Paul and Silas were Roman citizens 16:39 and came and apologized to them. After they brought them out, they asked them repeatedly to leave the city. 16:40 When they came out of the prison, they entered Lydia’s house, and when they saw the brothers, they encouraged them and then departed.

Prayer

Lord, You called Timothy to ministry and like-Paul he was willing to whatever was necessary to remove obstacles to his value as Your instrument of saving-truth. May I be as willing to set-aside that which may be a distraction to Your message to a dark and dying world.

Summary & Commentary

Timothy joined Paul and Silas, but first Paul circumcised him so that the Jews who knew that his father was a Greek and his mother a Jew could not use that, or his failure to be circumcised, as an excuse to reject him as a leader.

The Holy Spirit prevented them from “speaking the message” in the Roman province of Asia or Bithynia but in Troas Paul had a vision (from God) of a man in Macedonia pleading for them to come there so they began the journey.

They first arrived in Philippi where they spoke with some women by the river, among them Lydia, a woman whose heart was inclined toward the Lord. She and her family were baptized then she invited them to stay at her home.

Paul cast the demon out of a young girl who was being used for profit as a fortune-teller and her slave-masters, angry at the loss of profit, had Paul and Silas imprisoned. They were beaten and thrown into prison where Paul and Silas prayed and sang hymns to God.

God freed them from prison, as He had Peter, and when the jailer threatened suicide due to their escape Paul stopped him and shared Christ. The jailer and his family were baptized. [Note: This is not about a parent being saved and their minor-children being saved by association. The same qualifications apply as elsewhere, one must be capable of comprehending what one is doing if one is to make a meaningful decision for-Christ. The Biblically-consistent presumption has to be that both of these families consisted of older children and adults, and/or that those who were baptised were such — and that very young children simply were not intended in the general “family” phrase. Example: “The whole family walked to the car and drove away.” Did the baby-in-arms walk? Of course not. The generic expression was not intended to be that detailed.]

When the magistrates came to set them free Paul challenged them with his Roman citizenship and their mistreatment without a trial - a serious crime against a citizen - terrified they apologized, personally escorted them away from the jail, then begged him to leave. They visited briefly with the “brothers” at Lydia’s house then left.

Interaction
Consider

Timothy was not required by the Lord God to be circumcised, no Christian was, but he agreed in order to remove that from the excuses the enemy would give to those who might resist him as he served the Lord.

Discuss

Lydia and the jailer heart the truth and because their hearts were teachable they accepted it and were saved — and they led their families to saving truth as well.

Reflect

There are times when believers may be persecuted because non-believers blame them for lost income or lost influence, perhaps due to superstition, or perhaps a conflict of morality.

Share

When have you had an experience where a sacrifice of comfort or convenience was made by a leader in order to bypass resistance to the truth of God?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a leader in the Christian family who has sacrificed in order to be a more effective servant of the Lord.

Action:

Today I will pray for that leader and for a believer, or a gathering of believers, who are being persecuted by non-believers for selfish reasons.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Acts” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Acts 17-23

Sunday (Acts 17)

Paul and Silas at Thessalonica

17:1 After they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 17:2 Paul went to the Jews in the synagogue, as he customarily did, and on three Sabbath days he addressed them from the scriptures, 17:3 explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and to rise from the dead, saying, “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.” 17:4 Some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with a large group of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women. 17:5 But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar. They attacked Jason’s house, trying to find Paul and Silas to bring them out to the assembly. 17:6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, screaming, “These people who have stirred up trouble throughout the world have come here too, 17:7 and Jason has welcomed them as guests! They are all acting against Caesar’s decrees, saying there is another king named Jesus!” 17:8 They caused confusion among the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 17:9 After the city officials had received bail from Jason and the others, they released them.

Paul and Silas at Berea

17:10 The brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea at once, during the night. When they arrived, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 17:11 These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so. 17:12 Therefore many of them believed, along with quite a few prominent Greek women and men. 17:13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica heard that Paul had also proclaimed the word of God in Berea, they came there too, inciting and disturbing the crowds. 17:14 Then the brothers sent Paul away to the coast at once, but Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. 17:15 Those who accompanied Paul escorted him as far as Athens, and after receiving an order for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.

Paul at Athens

17:16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, his spirit was greatly upset because he saw the city was full of idols. 17:17 So he was addressing the Jews and the God-fearing Gentiles in the synagogue, and in the marketplace every day those who happened to be there. 17:18 Also some of the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers were conversing with him, and some were asking, “What does this foolish babbler want to say?” Others said, “He seems to be a proclaimer of foreign gods.” (They said this because he was proclaiming the good news about Jesus and the resurrection.) 17:19 So they took Paul and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are proclaiming? 17:20 For you are bringing some surprising things to our ears, so we want to know what they mean.” 17:21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there used to spend their time in nothing else than telling or listening to something new.)

17:22 So Paul stood before the Areopagus and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious in all respects. 17:23 For as I went around and observed closely your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: ‘To an unknown god.’ Therefore what you worship without knowing it, this I proclaim to you. 17:24 The God who made the world and everything in it, who is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by human hands, 17:25 nor is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives life and breath and everything to everyone. 17:26 From one man he made every nation of the human race to inhabit the entire earth, determining their set times and the fixed limits of the places where they would live, 17:27 so that they would search for God and perhaps grope around for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. 17:28 For in him we live and move about and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we too are his offspring.’ 17:29 So since we are God’s offspring, we should not think the deity is like gold or silver or stone, an image made by human skill and imagination. 17:30 Therefore, although God has overlooked such times of ignorance, he now commands all people everywhere to repent, 17:31 because he has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead.”

17:32 Now when they heard about the resurrection from the dead, some began to scoff, but others said, “We will hear you again about this.” 17:33 So Paul left the Areopagus. 17:34 But some people joined him and believed. Among them were Dionysius, who was a member of the Areopagus, a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Prayer

Lord, Your truth is available to everyone but some will refuse to listen and others will reject You when they hear. May I be patient and respectfully-persistent in sharing, wise in moving-on when confronted by unteachable spirits, and joyful for those whom Your Holy Spirit has prepared to receive Christ.

Summary & Commentary

Paul & Silas at Thessalonica once again preached Christ at the local Synagogue. Some Jews and many “God-fearing Greeks” responded. Once again the religious leaders bribed thugs to lie and to cause violence to disrupt things.

Paul and Silas departed for Berea where the local Jews were more receptive but the religious leaders from Thessalonica followed them to Berea and again caused trouble.

Paul moved on to Athens while Silas and Timothy remained in Berea. In Athens he was troubled by the many idols but preached Christ in the Synagogue to Jews and “God-fearing Greeks”. Some of the local philosophers invited him to share with them and he did so—using an idol he had observed labeled “The Unknown God” as a point of contact.

Some believed, but many scoffed and remained unteachable.

Interaction
Consider

The pattern of response, as Jesus prophesied, His message was to be (and is) highly polarizing - people tend to either accept it or react violently against it - recruiting others through fear and misinformation.

Discuss

How is it that some personalities draw a stronger reaction than others; Silas and Timothy were able to remain and continue the harvest and the discipleship of new believers in Berea whereas Paul needed to move on?

Reflect

The boldness of Paul was amazing, in light of the many beatings and imprisonments and efforts to murder him, he faithfully preached Christ anywhere and everywhere.

Share

When have you observed one Christian leader being effective in “plowing the ground” but another with a different style being the one who could most-effectively “reap the harvest” or disciple the new believers?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who is facing aggressive opposition as they share Christ.

Action:

Today I will pray earnestly for the one whom the Holy Spirit has made e aware. This is not about someone in the political realm or someone engaged more in evangelizing for a denomination or a local philosophy (one that may confuse a pet religious theory or tradition with God's sovereign truth) but someone genuinely preaching the essential and uncluttered Word of God. I will pray for safety, a good harvest, and a powerful testimony.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Acts 18)

Paul at Corinth

18:1 After this Paul departed from Athens and went to Corinth. 18:2 There he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all the Jews to depart from Rome. Paul approached them, 18:3 and because he worked at the same trade, he stayed with them and worked with them (for they were tentmakers by trade). 18:4 He addressed both Jews and Greeks in the synagogue every Sabbath, attempting to persuade them.

18:5 Now when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul became wholly absorbed with proclaiming the word, testifying to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. 18:6 When they opposed him and reviled him, he protested by shaking out his clothes and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am guiltless! From now on I will go to the Gentiles!” 18:7 Then Paul left the synagogue and went to the house of a person named Titius Justus, a Gentile who worshiped God, whose house was next door to the synagogue. 18:8 Crispus, the president of the synagogue, believed in the Lord together with his entire household, and many of the Corinthians who heard about it believed and were baptized. 18:9 The Lord said to Paul by a vision in the night, “Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent, 18:10 because I am with you, and no one will assault you to harm you, because I have many people in this city.” 18:11 So he stayed there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them.

Paul Before the Proconsul Gallio

18:12 Now while Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews attacked Paul together and brought him before the judgment seat, 18:13 saying, “This man is persuading people to worship God in a way contrary to the law!” 18:14 But just as Paul was about to speak, Gallio said to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or serious piece of villainy, I would have been justified in accepting the complaint of you Jews, 18:15 but since it concerns points of disagreement about words and names and your own law, settle it yourselves. I will not be a judge of these things!” 18:16 Then he had them forced away from the judgment seat. 18:17 So they all seized Sosthenes, the president of the synagogue, and began to beat him in front of the judgment seat. Yet none of these things were of any concern to Gallio.

Paul Returns to Antioch in Syria

18:18 Paul, after staying many more days in Corinth, said farewell to the brothers and sailed away to Syria accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila. He had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because he had made a vow. 18:19 When they reached Ephesus, Paul left Priscilla and Aquila behind there, but he himself went into the synagogue and addressed the Jews. 18:20 When they asked him to stay longer, he would not consent, 18:21 but said farewell to them and added, “I will come back to you again if God wills.” Then he set sail from Ephesus, 18:22 and when he arrived at Caesarea, he went up and greeted the church at Jerusalem and then went down to Antioch. 18:23 After he spent some time there, Paul left and went through the region of Galatia and Phrygia, strengthening all the disciples.

Apollos Begins His Ministry

18:24 Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, arrived in Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker, well-versed in the scriptures. 18:25 He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and with great enthusiasm he spoke and taught accurately the facts about Jesus, although he knew only the baptism of John. 18:26 He began to speak out fearlessly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained the way of God to him more accurately. 18:27 When Apollos wanted to cross over to Achaia, the brothers encouraged him and wrote to the disciples to welcome him. When he arrived, he assisted greatly those who had believed by grace, 18:28 for he refuted the Jews vigorously in public debate, demonstrating from the scriptures that the Christ was Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, You called many and blessed them with teachers as they came to You with teachable spirits. May I remember that no matter how You gift me, no matter how others may admire me because of those gifts, I am always merely Your instrument of ministry and the gifts are from You and for You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul at Corinth worked making tents alongside of Acquila and Priscilla, relocated believing Jews from Rome. He preached Christ and again was opposed by the religious leaders—and again he symbolically “shook out his clothes”, declaring that he would instead share Christ with the Gentiles rather than the Jews.

Among the Jews who were saved was Crispus, President of the Synagogue, and he led his family along with him. God encouraged Paul to continue in Corinth, reminding Paul that He had many there who were among His Family.

Time passed and Sosthenes had assumed Presidency of the Synagogue from Crispus. The religious leaders made charges and had Paul brought before the Roman Proconsul Gallio. Before Paul could speak Gallio dismissed the case as a local religious dispute. The angry religious leaders physically attacked Sosthenes, more evidence of their evil natures.

Paul traveled with Aquila and Priscilla to Antioch in Syria, first shaving his head as a private vow of thanksgiving and commitment, then continued on to Ephesus. While they remained Paul continued on to Caesarea, Jerusalem, Antioch, Galatia, and Phrygia “strengthening all the disciples”.

In Ephesus a charismatic Jewish convert named Apollos began his ministry. While highly effective in sharing the message of John the Baptist - Aquila and Priscilla were sent by God to explain the rest of the “way of God” in Christ to him. Apollos then traveled to Achaia where he preached Christ and refuted the false teachings of the religious leaders.

Interaction
Consider

Paul, formerly a member of the religious elite and now a Christian, was so humble as to willingly perform manual labor making tents alongside other converted (some would say "completed") Jews. The example of Paul here is a good one.

Discuss

Have you experienced a gifted leader who shared the teachable spirit of Apollos? Although he was a charismatic personality with many admirers when he was approached by Aquila and Priscilla he humbly accepted their teaching and was enriched as a leader by it.

Reflect

God was multiplying and distributing His leadership; first the Apostles, then the Deacons, and now disciples like Aquila and Priscilla and Apollos - discipling and preaching and teaching His truth in many cities and regions.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a Christian fellowship that included an unusually-wide sociological range of saved people as a result of the faithful preaching of Christ? Compare that to the time of Paul's ministry when it ranged from the President of a Synagogue to the average Jew, to Greek philosophers to the average Gentile. God is "no respecter of persons" - drawing near anyone who freely responds to His invitation.

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a Christian leader who may be laboring bi-vocationally, perhaps due to the enemy blocking their ministry, perhaps being humbled or taught something important by God.

Action:

Today I will Today I will pray for that Christian leader. I will also pray for new and bold and vigorous and teachable new leaders who will preach Christ with integrity and grit and that older leaders will make room for them.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Acts 19)

Disciples of John the Baptist at Ephesus

19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul went through the inland regions and came to Ephesus. He found some disciples there 19:2 and said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They replied, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 19:3 So Paul said, “Into what then were you baptized?” “Into John’s baptism,” they replied. 19:4 Paul said, “John baptized with a baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus.” 19:5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, 19:6 and when Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they began to speak in tongues and to prophesy. 19:7 (Now there were about twelve men in all.)

Paul Continues to Minister at Ephesus

19:8 So Paul entered the synagogue and spoke out fearlessly for three months, addressing and convincing them about the kingdom of God. 19:9 But when some were stubborn and refused to believe, reviling the Way before the congregation, he left them and took the disciples with him, addressing them every day in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 19:10 This went on for two years, so that all who lived in the province of Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord.

The Seven Sons of Sceva

19:11 God was performing extraordinary miracles by Paul’s hands, 19:12 so that when even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his body were brought to the sick, their diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. 19:13 But some itinerant Jewish exorcists tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were possessed by evil spirits, saying, “I sternly warn you by Jesus whom Paul preaches.” 19:14 (Now seven sons of a man named Sceva, a Jewish high priest, were doing this.) 19:15 But the evil spirit replied to them, “I know about Jesus and I am acquainted with Paul, but who are you?” 19:16 Then the man who was possessed by the evil spirit jumped on them and beat them all into submission. He prevailed against them so that they fled from that house naked and wounded. 19:17 This became known to all who lived in Ephesus, both Jews and Greeks; fear came over them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was praised. 19:18 Many of those who had believed came forward, confessing and making their deeds known. 19:19 Large numbers of those who had practiced magic collected their books and burned them up in the presence of everyone. When the value of the books was added up, it was found to total fifty thousand silver coins. 19:20 In this way the word of the Lord continued to grow in power and to prevail.

A Riot in Ephesus

19:21 Now after all these things had taken place, Paul resolved to go to Jerusalem, passing through Macedonia and Achaia. He said, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.” 19:22 So after sending two of his assistants, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, he himself stayed on for a while in the province of Asia.

19:23 At that time a great disturbance took place concerning the Way. 19:24 For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought a great deal of business to the craftsmen. 19:25 He gathered these together, along with the workmen in similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity comes from this business. 19:26 And you see and hear that this Paul has persuaded and turned away a large crowd, not only in Ephesus but in practically all of the province of Asia, by saying that gods made by hands are not gods at all. 19:27 There is danger not only that this business of ours will come into disrepute, but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis will be regarded as nothing, and she whom all the province of Asia and the world worship will suffer the loss of her greatness.”

19:28 When they heard this they became enraged and began to shout, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” 19:29 The city was filled with the uproar, and the crowd rushed to the theater together, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, the Macedonians who were Paul’s traveling companions. 19:30 But when Paul wanted to enter the public assembly, the disciples would not let him. 19:31 Even some of the provincial authorities who were his friends sent a message to him, urging him not to venture into the theater. 19:32 So then some were shouting one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had met together. 19:33 Some of the crowd concluded it was about Alexander because the Jews had pushed him to the front. Alexander, gesturing with his hand, was wanting to make a defense before the public assembly. 19:34 But when they recognized that he was a Jew, they all shouted in unison, “Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!” for about two hours. 19:35 After the city secretary quieted the crowd, he said, “Men of Ephesus, what person is there who does not know that the city of the Ephesians is the keeper of the temple of the great Artemis and of her image that fell from heaven? 19:36 So because these facts are indisputable, you must keep quiet and not do anything reckless. 19:37 For you have brought these men here who are neither temple robbers nor blasphemers of our goddess. 19:38 If then Demetrius and the craftsmen who are with him have a complaint against someone, the courts are open and there are proconsuls; let them bring charges against one another there. 19:39 But if you want anything in addition, it will have to be settled in a legal assembly. 19:40 For we are in danger of being charged with rioting today, since there is no cause we can give to explain this disorderly gathering.” 19:41 After he had said this, he dismissed the assembly.

Prayer

Lord, You not only called converts You called them to be disciples and to grow and then to tell and teach others. May I be as alert to an opportunity to disciple as I am to one to evangelize.

Summary & Commentary

Paul traveled through Macedonia and Greece with several disciples, including the author of Acts, Luke. On his last day in Troas he spoke until midnight and a young man fell asleep on the 3rd story ledge and fell to the ground. Paul threw himself upon him, a conduit for the healing power of the Holy Spirit, and the boys life was restored.

Paul set out on a voyage to Miletus, bypassing Ephesus, but asking them to instead meet him there. He reviewed his ministry with them, shared his understanding from the Holy Spirit that he would not live to return to Ephesus, and warned them to beware false teachers.

The seven sons of Sceva tried to copy Paul, though they were not saved, so when they challenged the demon in a possessed man the demon challenged them back and then empowered the man to beat them. Jesus was praised and fifty thousand silver coins worth of magic books and other items were voluntarily destroyed by the people.

The makers of silver artifacts to a false god stirred up trouble and violence broke out in Ephesus, nearly a riot, but a leader calmed the people — warning them that the Romans would treat them badly for causing trouble without cause — that if they had a legal complain against Paul and the others they needed to take it before a proper court.

Paul informed the disciples that he was going on to Jerusalem, knowing that there waited the most fierce and violent opposition to the Word of God about Christ.

Interaction
Consider

The short-sightedness of the makers of silver statues to a false god not only almost got the into serious trouble with the Romans it kept them from eternal salvation.

Discuss

Why were the sons of Sceva powerless before the demon-possessed man but Paul and the disciples could command the demons to depart and they had to obey?

Reflect

The points of emphasis in Paul's parting words to the "elders of the church" from Ephesus:

I served you with humility

I declared Christ despite the threats of the religious leaders

I worked with my hands to support myself and those with me

I earnestly discipled you and now expect you to do the same for others

Just as Jesus had Judas you have weak men among you who will betray you

The "elders" are to care for and feed the flock, as Jesus instructed the Apostle Peter

Share

When have you observed someone stuck in the “baptism of John”, repentant of their sins — pre-saved — but not yet surrendered to the Lordship of Christ and indwelt by the Holy Spirit?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me His inventory of my service to Christ, based on the list from Paul's summary, and to motivate me where I need to make adjustments.

Action:

I will identify at least one of the items that "convicts" me where I fall-short and will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for improvement. Today I will take a look at the fellowship with which I am affiliated to measure health and teachability.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Acts 20)

Paul Travels Through Macedonia and Greece

20:1 After the disturbance had ended, Paul sent for the disciples, and after encouraging them and saying farewell, he left to go to Macedonia. 20:2 After he had gone through those regions and spoken many words of encouragement to the believers there, he came to Greece, 20:3 where he stayed for three months. Because the Jews had made a plot against him as he was intending to sail for Syria, he decided to return through Macedonia. 20:4 Paul was accompanied by Sopater son of Pyrrhus from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, and Timothy, as well as Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia. 20:5 These had gone on ahead and were waiting for us in Troas. 20:6 We sailed away from Philippi after the days of Unleavened Bread, and within five days we came to the others in Troas, where we stayed for seven days. 20:7 On the first day of the week, when we met to break bread, Paul began to speak to the people, and because he intended to leave the next day, he extended his message until midnight. 20:8 (Now there were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting.) 20:9 A young man named Eutychus, who was sitting in the window, was sinking into a deep sleep while Paul continued to speak for a long time. Fast asleep, he fell down from the third story and was picked up dead. 20:10 But Paul went down, threw himself on the young man, put his arms around him, and said, “Do not be distressed, for he is still alive!” 20:11 Then Paul went back upstairs, and after he had broken bread and eaten, he talked with them a long time, until dawn. Then he left. 20:12 They took the boy home alive and were greatly comforted.

The Voyage to Miletus

20:13 We went on ahead to the ship and put out to sea for Assos, intending to take Paul aboard there, for he had arranged it this way. He himself was intending to go there by land. 20:14 When he met us in Assos, we took him aboard and went to Mitylene. 20:15 We set sail from there, and on the following day we arrived off Chios. The next day we approached Samos, and the day after that we arrived at Miletus. 20:16 For Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus so as not to spend time in the province of Asia, for he was hurrying to arrive in Jerusalem, if possible, by the day of Pentecost. 20:17 From Miletus he sent a message to Ephesus, telling the elders of the church to come to him.

20:18 When they arrived, he said to them, “You yourselves know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia, 20:19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears, and with the trials that happened to me because of the plots of the Jews. 20:20 You know that I did not hold back from proclaiming to you anything that would be helpful, and from teaching you publicly and from house to house, 20:21 testifying to both Jews and Greeks about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus. 20:22 And now, compelled by the Spirit, I am going to Jerusalem without knowing what will happen to me there, 20:23 except that the Holy Spirit warns me in town after town that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me. 20:24 But I do not consider my life worth anything to myself, so that I may finish my task and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace.

20:25 “And now I know that none of you among whom I went around proclaiming the kingdom will see me again. 20:26 Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of you all. 20:27 For I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God. 20:28 Watch out for yourselves and for all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God that he obtained with the blood of his own Son. 20:29 I know that after I am gone fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 20:30 Even from among your own group men will arise, teaching perversions of the truth to draw the disciples away after them. 20:31 Therefore be alert, remembering that night and day for three years I did not stop warning each one of you with tears. 20:32 And now I entrust you to God and to the message of his grace. This message is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified. 20:33 I have desired no one’s silver or gold or clothing. 20:34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine provided for my needs and the needs of those who were with me. 20:35 By all these things, I have shown you that by working in this way we must help the weak, and remember the words of the Lord Jesus that he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

20:36 When he had said these things, he knelt down with them all and prayed. 20:37 They all began to weep loudly, and hugged Paul and kissed him, 20:38 especially saddened by what he had said, that they were not going to see him again. Then they accompanied him to the ship.

Prayer

Lord, You caused the apostle Paul to evangelize and disciple, then he transferred leadership and instructed them all to persevere and to watch out for deceivers. May I also be a useful instrument but then not tarry when my service is complete and I need to be elsewhere.

Summary & Commentary

Paul traveled through Macedonia and Greece with several disciples, including the author of Acts, Luke. On his last day in Troas he spoke until midnight and a young man fell asleep on the 3rd story ledge and fell to the ground. Paul threw himself upon him, a conduit for the healing power of the Holy Spirit, and the boys life was restored.

Paul set out on a voyage to Miletus, bypassing Ephesus, but asking them to instead meet him there. He reviewed his ministry with them, shared his understanding from the Holy Spirit that he would not live to return to Ephesus, and warned them to beware false teachers.

Paul informed them that he was going on to Jerusalem, knowing that there waited the most fierce and violent opposition to the Word of God about Christ.

Interaction

Consider

The key points of emphasis in Paul's parting words to the "elders of the church" from Ephesus:

I served you with humility

I declared Christ despite the threats of the religious leaders

I worked with my hands to support myself and those with me

I earnestly discipled you and now expect you to do the same for others

Just as Jesus had Judas you have weak men among you who will betray you

The “elders” are to care for and feed the flock, as Jesus instructed the Apostle Peter

Discuss

To what message from the Lord God to an Old Testament prophet was Paul referring when he said in Acts 20:26-27 “Therefore I declare to you today that I am innocent of the blood of you all. For I did not hold back from announcing to you the whole purpose of God.“

Reflect

Paul warned them to be watchful because deceivers would come.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a deceiver come into a fellowship?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a ministry you may need to hand-off to someone else, a threat to ministry from bad teaching or other deception, and/or and opportunity to be His instrument of emotional, intellectual, physical, and/or spiritual healing.

Action:

Today I will step out of my comfort zone of ministry in faith that He is in control.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Acts 21)

Paul’s Journey to Jerusalem

21:1 After we tore ourselves away from them, we put out to sea, and sailing a straight course, we came to Cos, on the next day to Rhodes, and from there to Patara. 21:2 We found a ship crossing over to Phoenicia, went aboard, and put out to sea. 21:3 After we sighted Cyprus and left it behind on our port side, we sailed on to Syria and put in at Tyre, because the ship was to unload its cargo there. 21:4 After we located the disciples, we stayed there seven days. They repeatedly told Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem. 21:5 When our time was over, we left and went on our way. All of them, with their wives and children, accompanied us outside of the city. After kneeling down on the beach and praying, 21:6 we said farewell to one another. Then we went aboard the ship, and they returned to their own homes. 21:7 We continued the voyage from Tyre and arrived at Ptolemais, and when we had greeted the brothers, we stayed with them for one day. 21:8 On the next day we left and came to Caesarea, and entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. 21:9 (He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied.)

21:10 While we remained there for a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 21:11 He came to us, took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it, and said, “The Holy Spirit says this: ‘This is the way the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man whose belt this is, and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’” 21:12 When we heard this, both we and the local people begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. 21:13 Then Paul replied, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be tied up, but even to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” 21:14 Because he could not be persuaded, we said no more except, “The Lord’s will be done.”

21:15 After these days we got ready and started up to Jerusalem. 21:16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea came along with us too, and brought us to the house of Mnason of Cyprus, a disciple from the earliest times, with whom we were to stay. 21:17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the brothers welcomed us gladly. 21:18 The next day Paul went in with us to see James, and all the elders were there.

21:19 When Paul had greeted them, he began to explain in detail what God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 21:20 When they heard this, they praised God. Then they said to him, “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all ardent observers of the law. 21:21 They have been informed about you — that you teach all the Jews now living among the Gentiles to abandon Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. 21:22 What then should we do? They will no doubt hear that you have come. 21:23 So do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow; 21:24 take them and purify yourself along with them and pay their expenses, so that they may have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is nothing in what they have been told about you, but that you yourself live in conformity with the law. 21:25 But regarding the Gentiles who have believed, we have written a letter, having decided that they should avoid meat that has been sacrificed to idols and blood and what has been strangled and sexual immorality.”

21:26 Then Paul took the men the next day, and after he had purified himself along with them, he went to the temple and gave notice of the completion of the days of purification, when the sacrifice would be offered for each of them. 21:27 When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from the province of Asia who had seen him in the temple area stirred up the whole crowd and seized him, 21:28 shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere against our people, our law, and this sanctuary! Furthermore he has brought Greeks into the inner courts of the temple and made this holy place ritually unclean!” 21:29 (For they had seen Trophimus the Ephesian in the city with him previously, and they assumed Paul had brought him into the inner temple courts.) 21:30 The whole city was stirred up, and the people rushed together. They seized Paul and dragged him out of the temple courts, and immediately the doors were shut.

21:31 While they were trying to kill him, a report was sent up to the commanding officer of the cohort that all Jerusalem was in confusion. 21:32 He immediately took soldiers and centurions and ran down to the crowd. When they saw the commanding officer and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 21:33 Then the commanding officer came up and arrested him and ordered him to be tied up with two chains; he then asked who he was and what he had done. 21:34 But some in the crowd shouted one thing, and others something else, and when the commanding officer was unable to find out the truth because of the disturbance, he ordered Paul to be brought into the barracks.

21:35 When he came to the steps, Paul had to be carried by the soldiers because of the violence of the mob, 21:36 for a crowd of people followed them, screaming, “Away with him!” 21:37 As Paul was about to be brought into the barracks, he said to the commanding officer, “May I say something to you?” The officer replied, “Do you know Greek? 21:38 Then you’re not that Egyptian who started a rebellion and led the four thousand men of the ‘Assassins’ into the wilderness some time ago?” 21:39 Paul answered, “I am a Jew from Tarsus in Cilicia, a citizen of an important city. Please allow me to speak to the people.”

21:40 When the commanding officer had given him permission, Paul stood on the steps and gestured to the people with his hand. When they had become silent, he addressed them in Aramaic,

Prayer

Lord, You call us to be faithful in an evil and rebellious fallen world, and so sometimes we will suffer for our faithful obedience. May I worry less about what may happen if I am faithful then what won't happen through me if I am not faithful.

Summary & Commentary

Paul’s traveled from Miletus to Tyre on his journey to Jerusalem. In Tyre he met with the disciples for seven days during which the Spirit revealed to them the danger to Paul in Jerusalem and they encouraged him to not go. [Note: It is unclear in the text if the Holy Spirit was affirming earlier warnings to Paul, which he continued to ignore, or if He wanted the disciples to comprehend the risk Paul was taking for the cause of Christ.]

Paul journeyed on to Caesarea (Palestinian coast south of Mount Carmel) where stayed with one of the original seven Deacons from Jerusalem named Philip, and his four daughters. The Holy Spirit was delivering prophesies via Philip’s daughters. [Note: The author, Luke, makes an intentional point of the parenthetical note both that Philip’s daughters we single and that God was using them in an important ministry role. It is also notable to recall that most Biblical “prophesy” was the re-telling of what God had done and only a small fraction was fore-telling of things to come. The text does not record any prophesy; that they prophesied appears to have been the purpose of their mention.]

Agabus, a prophet from Jerusalem [also mentioned in Acts 11:28], came to Caesarea and tied Paul’s hands and feet with Paul’s belt then prophesied that the same would happen to him in Jerusalem. Luke and the others pleaded with Paul, weeping as they did so, not to travel to Jerusalem but Paul was undeterred so they entrusted the matter to God.

Paul continued on to Jerusalem where he was warned of the rumors that he had taught Jews to abandon their law-keeping customs and even brought Gentiles into the inner courts of the Temple [presumed to be for Jews only]. They started a riot and Paul was attacked. The commanding officer of the cohort hear of the disturbance and stopped it.

He arrested Paul then had to remove him to the barracks so hysterical had the mob become. There Paul noted his citizenry of Tarsus and requested permission to address the crowd. He addressed them in their local dialect of Aramaic.

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God used the Romans to rescue Paul and then to require the people to listen to him.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing that despite the danger to Paul and others - which they courageously ignored - how they were persuaded in their minds that the calling of Christ was worthy of any price?

Reflect

Philip’s unmarried daughters were empowered by the Lord God to prophesy, actualizing His teaching that there was no hierarchy "male or female, Greek or Hebrew" in God's value system.

Share

When have you been aware of someone who was faithful to the Lord in sharing His truth and suffered a violent reaction — physical or social — yet they persevered?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you increased-courage to serve the Lord God.

Action:

Today I will share a word of encouragement with a woman whose calling is blocked by man.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Acts 22)

Paul’s Defense

22:1 “Brothers and fathers, listen to my defense that I now make to you.” 22:2 (When they heard that he was addressing them in Aramaic, they became even quieter.) Then Paul said, 22:3 “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated with strictness under Gamaliel according to the law of our ancestors, and was zealous for God just as all of you are today. 22:4 I persecuted this Way even to the point of death, tying up both men and women and putting them in prison, 22:5 as both the high priest and the whole council of elders can testify about me. From them I also received letters to the brothers in Damascus, and I was on my way to make arrests there and bring the prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.

22:6 As I was en route and near Damascus, about noon a very bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 22:7 Then I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 22:8 I answered, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ He said to me, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, whom you are persecuting.’ 22:9 Those who were with me saw the light, but did not understand the voice of the one who was speaking to me.

22:10 So I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ The Lord said to me, ‘Get up and go to Damascus; there you will be told about everything that you have been designated to do.’ 22:11 Since I could not see because of the brilliance of that light, I came to Damascus led by the hand of those who were with me.

22:12 A man named Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well spoken of by all the Jews who live there, 22:13 came to me and stood beside me and said to me, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight!’ And at that very moment I looked up and saw him. 22:14 Then he said, ‘The God of our ancestors has already chosen you to know his will, to see the Righteous One, and to hear a command from his mouth, 22:15 because you will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. 22:16 And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized, and have your sins washed away, calling on his name.’

22:17 When I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, I fell into a trance 22:18 and saw the Lord saying to me, ‘Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about me.’ 22:19 I replied, ‘Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat those in the various synagogues who believed in you. 22:20 And when the blood of your witness Stephen was shed, I myself was standing nearby, approving, and guarding the cloaks of those who were killing him.’

22:21 Then he said to me, ‘Go, because I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”

The Roman Commander Questions Paul

22:22 The crowd was listening to him until he said this. Then they raised their voices and shouted, “Away with this man from the earth! For he should not be allowed to live!” 22:23 While they were screaming and throwing off their cloaks and tossing dust in the air,

22:24 the commanding officer ordered Paul to be brought back into the barracks. He told them to interrogate Paul by beating him with a lash so that he could find out the reason the crowd was shouting at Paul in this way. 22:25 When they had stretched him out for the lash, Paul said to the centurion standing nearby, “Is it legal for you to lash a man who is a Roman citizen without a proper trial?”

22:26 When the centurion heard this, he went to the commanding officer and reported it, saying, “What are you about to do? For this man is a Roman citizen.” 22:27 So the commanding officer came and asked Paul, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?” He replied, “Yes.” 22:28 The commanding officer answered, “I acquired this citizenship with a large sum of money.” “But I was even born a citizen,” Paul replied. 22:29 Then those who were about to interrogate him stayed away from him, and the commanding officer was frightened when he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had had him tied up.

Paul Before the Sanhedrin

22:30 The next day, because the commanding officer wanted to know the true reason Paul was being accused by the Jews, he released him and ordered the chief priests and the whole council to assemble. He then brought Paul down and had him stand before them.

Prayer

Lord, the apostle Paul confronted the people with Your truth and they hated him for it. May I remember that Jesus warned His followers that those who rejected Him would also reject us as His messengers.

Summary & Commentary

Paul’s defense began with a presentation of his mentoring and performance as a member of the religious leaders and their most aggressive persecutors of Christians.

He then shared the story of Jesus confronting him on the road to Damascus and how another man, respected by Jews-of-the-law, named Ananias delivered God’s healing of his sight and led him to be baptized.

Paul continued to share, noting that God spoke to him in the Temple, saying “get out of Jerusalem ... because they will not accept your testimony about Me.”

Paul protested to God that the Jews in Jerusalem knew of his zealotry against the Christians, even approving the murder of Stephen, but God declared that He was sending Paul to the Gentiles.

When Paul mentioned outreach to Gentiles the crowd burst into hysteria and Paul was returned to the barracks.

[Note: The Jews had been deceived by the religious leaders into believing that despite the clear Word of God they remained His unique people - to share God with Gentiles was considered the worst sort of betrayal to such a self-important people.]

The Roman commander ordered Paul lashed to force him to explain why the people were so angry. Paul informed them that he was born a Roman citizen and thus it was a crime against Rome to punish him without a trial. The next morning the commander brought him before the Sanhedrin.

Interaction
Consider

As long as he did not stray from the "brainwashed" narrative the religious leaders had imposed upon their followers they were silent but the moment Paul crossed the socio-religious line of outreach to the Gentiles they reacted with a mindless corporate rage.

Discuss

Does it trouble you that the Roman commander was more-reasoned than the Jews?

Reflect

The people seemed OK with Jesus as long as His message was directed only to Jews.

Share

When have you observed the same sort of blind emotional reaction, against certain culturally-uncomfortable truths, by people within the family of those who associate themselves with the name of Christ?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me an individual, a ministry, or a gathering of believers among a certain people-group who are oppressed for their faith and/or hindered in sharing Christ freely.

Action:

Today I will pray for a quick harvest of those who remain open to the truth as the enemies of truth multiply, seize power, and move to silence those who would preach and teach Christ.

I will pray specifically for the individual, ministry, or gathering of believers whom the Holy Spirit has revealed to me. [This latter population may be in China or Vietnam, most of the middle east, and increasingly (though less visible) in the west as well.]

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Acts 23)

23:1 Paul looked directly at the council and said, “Brothers, I have lived my life with a clear conscience before God to this day.” 23:2 At that the high priest Ananias ordered those standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 23:3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit there judging me according to the law, and in violation of the law you order me to be struck?” 23:4 Those standing near him said, “Do you dare insult God’s high priest?” 23:5 Paul replied, “I did not realize, brothers, that he was the high priest, for it is written, ‘You must not speak evil about a ruler of your people.’”

23:6 Then when Paul noticed that part of them were Sadducees and the others Pharisees, he shouted out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. I am on trial concerning the hope of the resurrection of the dead!” 23:7 When he said this, an argument began between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 23:8 (For the Sadducees say there is no resurrection, or angel, or spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all.) 23:9 There was a great commotion, and some experts in the law from the party of the Pharisees stood up and protested strongly, “We find nothing wrong with this man. What if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him?” 23:10 When the argument became so great the commanding officer feared that they would tear Paul to pieces, he ordered the detachment to go down, take him away from them by force, and bring him into the barracks.

23:11 The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Have courage, for just as you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

The Plot to Kill Paul

23:12 When morning came, the Jews formed a conspiracy and bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink anything until they had killed Paul. 23:13 There were more than forty of them who formed this conspiracy. 23:14 They went to the chief priests and the elders and said, “We have bound ourselves with a solemn oath not to partake of anything until we have killed Paul. 23:15 So now you and the council request the commanding officer to bring him down to you, as if you were going to determine his case by conducting a more thorough inquiry. We are ready to kill him before he comes near this place.”

23:16 But when the son of Paul’s sister heard about the ambush, he came and entered the barracks and told Paul. 23:17 Paul called one of the centurions and said, “Take this young man to the commanding officer, for he has something to report to him.” 23:18 So the centurion took him and brought him to the commanding officer and said, “The prisoner Paul called me and asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.” 23:19 The commanding officer took him by the hand, withdrew privately, and asked, “What is it that you want to report to me?” 23:20 He replied, “The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as if they were going to inquire more thoroughly about him. 23:21 So do not let them persuade you to do this, because more than forty of them are lying in ambush for him. They have bound themselves with an oath not to eat or drink anything until they have killed him, and now they are ready, waiting for you to agree to their request.” 23:22 Then the commanding officer sent the young man away, directing him, “Tell no one that you have reported these things to me.” 23:23 Then he summoned two of the centurions and said, “Make ready two hundred soldiers to go to Caesarea along with seventy horsemen and two hundred spearmen by nine o’clock tonight, 23:24 and provide mounts for Paul to ride so that he may be brought safely to Felix the governor.” 23:25 He wrote a letter that went like this:

23:26 Claudius Lysias to His Excellency Governor Felix, greetings. 23:27 This man was seized by the Jews and they were about to kill him, when I came up with the detachment and rescued him, because I had learned that he was a Roman citizen. 23:28 Since I wanted to know what charge they were accusing him of, I brought him down to their council. 23:29 I found he was accused with reference to controversial questions about their law, but no charge against him deserved death or imprisonment. 23:30 When I was informed there would be a plot against this man, I sent him to you at once, also ordering his accusers to state their charges against him before you.

23:31 So the soldiers, in accordance with their orders, took Paul and brought him to Antipatris during the night. 23:32 The next day they let the horsemen go on with him, and they returned to the barracks. 23:33 When the horsemen came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him. 23:34 When the governor had read the letter, he asked what province he was from. When he learned that he was from Cilicia, 23:35 he said, “I will give you a hearing when your accusers arrive too.” Then he ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

Prayer

Lord, You exposed the false teachers for the apostates that they were, and You protected Paul via the secular Roman authorities so that he could be Your instrument in Rome. May I rest in the truth that You preserve that which is necessary to Your great and perfect plan.

Summary & Commentary

When Paul declared a clear conscience before God the high priest Ananias [a common name] ordered those near Paul to strike him [because he had preached Christ and had done so to the Gentiles, therefore they thought him a liar and now a heretic]. Paul chastised them for violating the law, they replied that to say so insulted the high priest, and Paul apologized as he had not known that Ananias was “ruler of the people”. [Note: The leadership rotated because of the distrust and competition among the religious leaders; Paul had been away for several years and had lost touch with the powers-that-be.

Also, Paul referred to Exodus 22:28, which forbade disrespect for God or the leader of His chosen people. Paul was not respecting the apostate who held the office but the office itself - he would continue to call upon them all to turn away from their false teaching as had Jesus before him.]

Paul then played the Pharisees against the Sadducees on the matter of resurrection, on which he knew that they strongly disagreed, and the argument became so heated that the commander removed Paul again to the barracks. The night the Lord encouraged him that he would share the same testimony in Rome.

Some among the religious leaders plotted to kill Paul but his nephew heard of it and informed him, and he sent him to the commander who transferred him under heavy guard to the Roman Governor of the region, Felix, in Caesarea. Based on the letter from the commander in Jerusalem Felix had Paul confined and guarded in Herod’s palace until the religious leaders could arrive to present their charges against him.

Interaction
Consider

One must carefully separate respect for an office from an endorsement of a person or a policy. While the Bible teaches us to pay our taxes, to obey and respect secular and religious authority (so long as they do not demand that we disobey God), and to pray for our leaders it nowhere asks Christians to be silent about sin.

Discuss

Why would the Romans care if the Jews killed Paul?

Reflect

Paul’s history was of a zealous commitment to the truth, as he knew it at the time, first as a zealous “Pharisee of Pharisees” (as he put it) then sold-out to Christ when the blinders of tradition were removed.

Share

When have you observed people with power attempting to silence someone who was attemtping to expose the truth?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a secular or Christian leader for whom He wants you to pray that they listen to God.

Action:

Today I will search my own Christian walk for the kind of zealous commitment to Christ that empowered Paul to be so bold.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Acts” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Acts 24-28

Sunday (Acts 24:1-23)

The Accusations Against Paul

24:1 After five days the high priest Ananias came down with some elders and an attorney named Tertullus, and they brought formal charges against Paul to the governor. 24:2 When Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him, saying, “We have experienced a lengthy time of peace through your rule, and reforms are being made in this nation through your foresight. 24:3 Most excellent Felix, we acknowledge this everywhere and in every way with all gratitude. 24:4 But so that I may not delay you any further, I beg you to hear us briefly with your customary graciousness. 24:5 For we have found this man to be a troublemaker, one who stirs up riots among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. 24:6 He even tried to desecrate the temple, so we arrested him. 24:7 [[EMPTY]] 24:8 When you examine him yourself, you will be able to learn from him about all these things we are accusing him of doing.” 24:9 The Jews also joined in the verbal attack, claiming that these things were true.

Paul’s Defense Before Felix

24:10 When the governor gestured for him to speak, Paul replied, “Because I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years, I confidently make my defense. 24:11 As you can verify for yourself, not more than twelve days ago I went up to Jerusalem to worship. 24:12 They did not find me arguing with anyone or stirring up a crowd in the temple courts or in the synagogues or throughout the city, 24:13 nor can they prove to you the things they are accusing me of doing. 24:14 But I confess this to you, that I worship the God of our ancestors according to the Way (which they call a sect), believing everything that is according to the law and that is written in the prophets. 24:15 I have a hope in God (a hope that these men themselves accept too) that there is going to be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous. 24:16 This is the reason I do my best to always have a clear conscience toward God and toward people. 24:17 After several years I came to bring to my people gifts for the poor and to present offerings, 24:18 which I was doing when they found me in the temple, ritually purified, without a crowd or a disturbance. 24:19 But there are some Jews from the province of Asia who should be here before you and bring charges, if they have anything against me. 24:20 Or these men here should tell what crime they found me guilty of when I stood before the council, 24:21 other than this one thing I shouted out while I stood before them: ‘I am on trial before you today concerning the resurrection of the dead.’”

24:22 Then Felix, who understood the facts concerning the Way more accurately, adjourned their hearing, saying, “When Lysias the commanding officer comes down, I will decide your case.” 24:23 He ordered the centurion to guard Paul, but to let him have some freedom, and not to prevent any of his friends from meeting his needs.

Prayer

Lord, Your servant Paul was accused by the same type of apostate and dishonorable religious leaders as was out Lord Jesus, but it was not yet time for him to die — so he was protected by a corrupt but self-interested governor of Rome. May I be assured that as long as You choose to use me as Your instrument no power one heaven or earth may for long block my path or take my life.

Summary & Commentary

Accusations are brought by the religious leaders against Paul, primarily formulated by their attorney, Tertullus.

Paul, in his defense before Felix, noted that falsehoods in the accusations and the ease with which they could be proven so. Felix was more familiar with Christianity than the religious leaders knew and was therefore unpersuaded.

Felix has Paul confined as he delayed his decision for the arrival of “Lysias the commanding officer”. Felix allows Paul’s associates to visit and to bring him things.

Interaction
Consider

The same sort of unethical men, enemies of the truth, attacked the servants of Jesus just as they had attacked Him.

Discuss

How could these religious leaders continue to doubt Jesus after all of the proofs of the Old Testament prophesies about Jesus and all of the miracles through Him and His followers?

Reflect

The better-informed that people become about true Biblical Christianity the less prone they are to believe lies, this is true for the person next door and the person in power (religious or secular).

Share

When have you observed a consistent Biblical-Christian being trusted as truthful because of the witness of their life?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a misunderstanding, by a Christian or a non-Christian, of Biblical Christianity.

Action:

Today I will correct a misunderstanding about Biblical Christianity, perhaps in a conversation with a friend, perhaps online, perhaps in a letter-to-the editor. I will be polite, respectful, avoid the use of insider-religious terminology, and I will avoid being emotionally-argumentative but will stick to the facts.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Acts 24:24-25:12)

Paul Speaks Repeatedly to Felix

24:24 Some days later, when Felix arrived with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him speak about faith in Christ Jesus. 24:25 While Paul was discussing righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became frightened and said, “Go away for now, and when I have an opportunity, I will send for you.” 24:26 At the same time he was also hoping that Paul would give him money, and for this reason he sent for Paul as often as possible and talked with him. 24:27 After two years had passed, Porcius Festus succeeded Felix, and because he wanted to do the Jews a favor, Felix left Paul in prison.

Paul Appeals to Caesar

25:1 Now three days after Festus arrived in the province, he went up to Jerusalem from Caesarea. 25:2 So the chief priests and the most prominent men of the Jews brought formal charges against Paul to him. 25:3 Requesting him to do them a favor against Paul, they urged Festus to summon him to Jerusalem, planning an ambush to kill him along the way. 25:4 Then Festus replied that Paul was being kept at Caesarea, and he himself intended to go there shortly. 25:5 “So,” he said, “let your leaders go down there with me, and if this man has done anything wrong, they may bring charges against him.”

25:6 After Festus had stayed not more than eight or ten days among them, he went down to Caesarea, and the next day he sat on the judgment seat and ordered Paul to be brought. 25:7 When he arrived, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem stood around him, bringing many serious charges that they were not able to prove. 25:8 Paul said in his defense, “I have committed no offense against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.” 25:9 But Festus, wanting to do the Jews a favor, asked Paul, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and be tried before me there on these charges?” 25:10 Paul replied, “I am standing before Caesar’s judgment seat, where I should be tried. I have done nothing wrong to the Jews, as you also know very well. 25:11 If then I am in the wrong and have done anything that deserves death, I am not trying to escape dying, but if not one of their charges against me is true, no one can hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!” 25:12 Then, after conferring with his council, Festus replied, “You have appealed to Caesar; to Caesar you will go!”

Prayer

Lord, You used the foolishness and hatefulness of the Jewish religious leaders and the Roman political leaders to bring Paul into places where he would not otherwise be allowed to preach Christ. May I not fear speaking honestly when asked the reason for my hope because I am sure that You have opened that opportunity and allowed me to be Your instrument.

Summary & Commentary

Felix allowed Paul to visit him while he was his prisoner, hoping for a bribe, but Paul used those opportunities to evangelize Felix and those around him.

The religious leaders appeal to Festus to move Paul to Jerusalem, with a secret plan to ambush and murder him. Festus instructs them to present their charges at Caesarea - where Paul is and he is headed.

In Caesarea Paul again states his innocence and reminds Festus that he knows he is innocent. Festus wants to curry favor with the religious leader and asks Paul to return to Jerusalem - at which point Paul appeals to Caesar - guaranteeing he will be brought to Rome, as God prophesied - providing an opportunity to preach Christ there and also making his death probable.

Interaction
Consider

That Paul used every possible opportunity to evangelize, even the misguided motives of the man who kept him jailed.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing how the political process ground continuously forward, the players unaware of the greater spiritual battle raging all round them; the rules and traditions of man forcing them to act without caring or knowing what were the consequences?

Reflect

Contemplate the sacrificial commitment of Paul to the mission of evangelism.

Share

When have you observed political and religious authorities, both with their own personal agendas, thrashing about as the Lord God caused His purpose to be completed?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you faithful men and women of Christ for whom He wants you to pray.

Action:

Today I will pray for protection for faithful men and women of Christ from evil schemers, agents of the enemy, intentionally or unintentionally so; in particular someone I know who is under apparent attack from the enemy. I will also pray for the wisdom to understand the realities of the way that the world, apart from Christ, functions; to interact wisely and to not underestimate the impact of ignorance, greed, and evil.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Acts 25:13-27)

Festus Asks King Agrippa for Advice

25:13 After several days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice arrived at Caesarea to pay their respects to Festus.

25:14 While they were staying there many days, Festus explained Paul’s case to the king to get his opinion, saying, “There is a man left here as a prisoner by Felix. 25:15 When I was in Jerusalem, the chief priests and the elders of the Jews informed me about him, asking for a sentence of condemnation against him.

25:16 I answered them that it was not the custom of the Romans to hand over anyone before the accused had met his accusers face to face and had been given an opportunity to make a defense against the accusation. 25:17 So after they came back here with me, I did not postpone the case, but the next day I sat on the judgment seat and ordered the man to be brought.

25:18 When his accusers stood up, they did not charge him with any of the evil deeds I had suspected. 25:19 Rather they had several points of disagreement with him about their own religion and about a man named Jesus who was dead, whom Paul claimed to be alive.

25:20 Because I was at a loss how I could investigate these matters, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges.

25:21 But when Paul appealed to be kept in custody for the decision of His Majesty the Emperor, I ordered him to be kept under guard until I could send him to Caesar.” 25:22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I would also like to hear the man myself.” “Tomorrow,” he replied, “you will hear him.”

Paul Before King Agrippa and Bernice

25:23 So the next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience hall, along with the senior military officers and the prominent men of the city. When Festus gave the order, Paul was brought in. 25:24 Then Festus said, “King Agrippa, and all you who are present here with us, you see this man about whom the entire Jewish populace petitioned me both in Jerusalem and here, shouting loudly that he ought not to live any longer.

25:25 But I found that he had done nothing that deserved death, and when he appealed to His Majesty the Emperor, I decided to send him. 25:26 But I have nothing definite to write to my lord about him. Therefore I have brought him before you all, and especially before you, King Agrippa, so that after this preliminary hearing I may have something to write. 25:27 For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner without clearly indicating the charges against him.”

Prayer

Lord, You preserved the life of Paul, despite the efforts of the religious leaders to murder him. Your purpose to create an opportunity for him to tell Your story before increasingly higher-levels of Roman a officials and the members of their court. May I hold-tight to Your promise to provide for me a future (a purpose) and a hope (heaven) as I serve You with courage.

Summary & Commentary

Festus sought advice from King Agrippa as to the matter of Paul, who was transferred to his care and judgment when he assumed power following Felix.

King Agrippa heard Festus' report that the religious leaders failed to bring any charges that he felt equipped to evaluate so he asked Paul if he would return to Jerusalem for that purpose — at which time Paul appealed to Caesar — the right of any Roman citizen.

Agrippa decided that he wanted to hear from Paul.

Paul appeared before King Agrippa, Bernice, and many of power and society in Caesarea. Festus introduced Paul as a sort of celebrity, explaining that he did not know how to explain to Caesar the reason for sending Paul to him since there were no legitimate charges.

Interaction
Consider

It was Biblically-wrong of the religious leaders to bring Paul before secular authorities.

Discuss

Why would Festus concern himself with the quality of the charges against Paul when he passed him on to Caesar?

Reflect

Festus’s understanding of Paul and Jesus was so shallow that he merely thought of him as a celebrity whose fame had turned to infamy.

Share

When have you observed a Christian wrongfully bringing a fellow Christian before secular authorities when they should have first tried to find a solution within the Christian family?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a conflict among Christians that needs to be kept out of the secular court system.

Action:

Today I will pray for peace and wisdom as two Christians who are at-odds choose Christian conciliation over secular courtroom warfare.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Acts 26)

Paul Offers His Defense

26:1 So Agrippa said to Paul, “You have permission to speak for yourself.” Then Paul held out his hand and began his defense:

26:2 “Regarding all the things I have been accused of by the Jews, King Agrippa, I consider myself fortunate that I am about to make my defense before you today, 26:3 because you are especially familiar with all the customs and controversial issues of the Jews. Therefore I ask you to listen to me patiently.

26:4 Now all the Jews know the way I lived from my youth, spending my life from the beginning among my own people and in Jerusalem. 26:5 They know, because they have known me from time past, if they are willing to testify, that according to the strictest party of our religion, I lived as a Pharisee.

26:6 And now I stand here on trial because of my hope in the promise made by God to our ancestors, 26:7 a promise that our twelve tribes hope to attain as they earnestly serve God night and day. Concerning this hope the Jews are accusing me, Your Majesty! 26:8 Why do you people think it is unbelievable that God raises the dead?

26:9 Of course, I myself was convinced that it was necessary to do many things hostile to the name of Jesus the Nazarene. 26:10 And that is what I did in Jerusalem: Not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons by the authority I received from the chief priests, but I also cast my vote against them when they were sentenced to death. 26:11 I punished them often in all the synagogues and tried to force them to blaspheme. Because I was so furiously enraged at them, I went to persecute them even in foreign cities.

26:12 “While doing this very thing, as I was going to Damascus with authority and complete power from the chief priests, 26:13 about noon along the road, Your Majesty, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, shining everywhere around me and those traveling with me.

26:14 When we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? You are hurting yourself by kicking against the goads.’

26:15 So I said, ‘Who are you, Lord?’ And the Lord replied, ‘I am Jesus whom you are persecuting. 26:16 But get up and stand on your feet, for I have appeared to you for this reason, to designate you in advance as a servant and witness to the things you have seen and to the things in which I will appear to you. 26:17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you 26:18 to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’

26:19 “Therefore, King Agrippa, I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision, 26:20 but I declared to those in Damascus first, and then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds consistent with repentance.

26:21 For this reason the Jews seized me in the temple courts and were trying to kill me.

26:22 I have experienced help from God to this day, and so I stand testifying to both small and great, saying nothing except what the prophets and Moses said was going to happen: 26:23 that the Christ was to suffer and be the first to rise from the dead, to proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.”

26:24 As Paul was saying these things in his defense, Festus exclaimed loudly, “You have lost your mind, Paul! Your great learning is driving you insane!” 26:25 But Paul replied, “I have not lost my mind, most excellent Festus, but am speaking true and rational words. 26:26 For the king knows about these things, and I am speaking freely to him, because I cannot believe that any of these things has escaped his notice, for this was not done in a corner.

26:27 Do you believe the prophets, King Agrippa? I know that you believe.” 26:28 Agrippa said to Paul, “In such a short time are you persuading me to become a Christian?”

26:29 Paul replied, “I pray to God that whether in a short or a long time not only you but also all those who are listening to me today could become such as I am, except for these chains.”

26:30 So the king got up, and with him the governor and Bernice and those sitting with them, 26:31 and as they were leaving they said to one another, “This man is not doing anything deserving death or imprisonment.” 26:32 Agrippa said to Festus, “This man could have been released if he had not appealed to Caesar.”

Prayer

Lord, You consistently prophesied of the coming of Jesus and the purpose of His ministry, and when You confronted Paul with that truth he immediately surrendered his legalism to Your grace. Paul risked his life to tell Your story. May I be bold in sharing You as well.

Summary & Commentary

Paul offered his defense, noting that King Agrippa knew the culture and traditions of the Jews well. Paul began with his reputation as a “pharisee of pharisees. He then notes that all Jews look forward to “hope” based on the “promise” of God to send a redeemer.

He reviewed his experience with Jesus on the road to Damascus and the commission he was given by Jesus to preach both to Jews and to Gentiles.

Paul noted that he preached Christ as the fulfillment of the redeemer that Jews longed for and that he was being persecuted for that.

Festus exclaimed to Paul that he must have lost his mind, that his “great learning” has made him mad, but Paul replied that all was “true and rational”.

Paul then appealed to King Agrippa, affirming the awareness and knowledge of the King of both the prophets and the life of Christ, to which Agrippa protested that Paul was trying to convert him. Paul declared that such was his desire for all present.

Agrippa and Bernice and Festus departed, remarking that Paul could have been set free had he not appealed to Caesar.

Interaction
Consider

If Paul had not had a teachable spirit when confronted by Jesus he would have been as useless as the other religious leaders.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing how simple was Paul's message? God promised a redeemer and He fulfilled His promise. The next step is up to us; accept or reject His terms for redemption.

Reflect

It is very import that as many as possible have a true understanding of Biblical Christianity so that Christ is not misrepresented by cults and careless philosophers.

Share

When have you observed someone of great learning exhibit the maturity to remain teachable — even in those things for which he was recognized as exceptionally-knowledgeable?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit for an opportunity to clarify Biblical truth for someone who is confused or misled, or encourage family or friends to join me in a new Bible study.

Action:

Today I will rehearse my explanation of the story of Christ with a fellow believer and share feedback as to how well it matches the powerfully-simple telling of the Apostle Paul.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Acts 27:1-26)

Paul and Company Sail for Rome

27:1 When it was decided we would sail to Italy, they handed over Paul and some other prisoners to a centurion of the Augustan Cohort named Julius. 27:2 We went on board a ship from Adramyttium that was about to sail to various ports along the coast of the province of Asia and put out to sea, accompanied by Aristarchus, a Macedonian from Thessalonica. 27:3 The next day we put in at Sidon, and Julius, treating Paul kindly, allowed him to go to his friends so they could provide him with what he needed. 27:4 From there we put out to sea and sailed under the lee of Cyprus because the winds were against us. 27:5 After we had sailed across the open sea off Cilicia and Pamphylia, we put in at Myra in Lycia. 27:6 There the centurion found a ship from Alexandria sailing for Italy, and he put us aboard it. 27:7 We sailed slowly for many days and arrived with difficulty off Cnidus. Because the wind prevented us from going any farther, we sailed under the lee of Crete off Salmone. 27:8 With difficulty we sailed along the coast of Crete and came to a place called Fair Havens that was near the town of Lasea.

Caught in a Violent Storm

27:9 Since considerable time had passed and the voyage was now dangerous because the fast was already over, Paul advised them, 27:10 “Men, I can see the voyage is going to end in disaster and great loss not only of the cargo and the ship, but also of our lives.” 27:11 But the centurion was more convinced by the captain and the ship’s owner than by what Paul said. 27:12 Because the harbor was not suitable to spend the winter in, the majority decided to put out to sea from there. They hoped that somehow they could reach Phoenix, a harbor of Crete facing southwest and northwest, and spend the winter there. 27:13 When a gentle south wind sprang up, they thought they could carry out their purpose, so they weighed anchor and sailed close along the coast of Crete. 27:14 Not long after this, a hurricane-force wind called the northeaster blew down from the island. 27:15 When the ship was caught in it and could not head into the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along. 27:16 As we ran under the lee of a small island called Cauda, we were able with difficulty to get the ship’s boat under control. 27:17 After the crew had hoisted it aboard, they used supports to undergird the ship. Fearing they would run aground on the Syrtis, they lowered the sea anchor, thus letting themselves be driven along. 27:18 The next day, because we were violently battered by the storm, they began throwing the cargo overboard, 27:19 and on the third day they threw the ship’s gear overboard with their own hands. 27:20 When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and a violent storm continued to batter us, we finally abandoned all hope of being saved.

27:21 Since many of them had no desire to eat, Paul stood up among them and said, “Men, you should have listened to me and not put out to sea from Crete, thus avoiding this damage and loss. 27:22 And now I advise you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only the ship will be lost. 27:23 For last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve came to me 27:24 and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul! You must stand before Caesar, and God has graciously granted you the safety of all who are sailing with you.’ 27:25 Therefore keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will be just as I have been told. 27:26 But we must run aground on some island.”

Prayer

Lord, You blessed Paul's fellow travelers as a testimony to the truth of Paul's report about You. May I be faithful enough that You will choose to bless others in some small way through me.

Summary & Commentary

Paul was transferred to a prison ship bound for Italy. After slow travel due to difficulties with the wind, and several planned stops -including one where the Centurion allowed Paul’s friends to meet his needs - they sailed on.

Paul warned them that due to the winter season they faced shipwreck but they continued on.

They found themselves in a violent storm and after struggling for many days gave up hope of survival. Paul reminded them that he had warned them, then he shared that an angel of God had promised him than none of them would be lost but the ship and cargo would.

As they were about to be shipwrecked Paul calls to them to eat for strength.

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God protected Paul from murder, provided many ministry opportunities, told him he'd preach in Rome, and now protected him and his companions from harm on the way to Rome.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing how the Lord God either calms or manages storms as His great purposes require?

Reflect

When all others have given up hope God assured Paul then Paul in turn assured them.

Share

When have you observed a man of God being ignored, only to be the one people turn to when all else fails and they need a wise leader?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to show me someone, or a group, that is sailing into an avoidable storm due to arrogance and/or ignorance.

Action:

Today I will pray for protection, for ministry opportunities, and to be used by God to bring eternal hope into the lives of the hopeless.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Acts 27:27-28:10)

27:27 When the fourteenth night had come, while we were being driven across the Adriatic Sea, about midnight the sailors suspected they were approaching some land. 27:28 They took soundings and found the water was twenty fathoms deep; when they had sailed a little farther they took soundings again and found it was fifteen fathoms deep. 27:29 Because they were afraid that we would run aground on the rocky coast, they threw out four anchors from the stern and wished for day to appear.

27:30 Then when the sailors tried to escape from the ship and were lowering the ship’s boat into the sea, pretending that they were going to put out anchors from the bow, 27:31 Paul said to the centurion and the soldiers, “Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.” 27:32 Then the soldiers cut the ropes of the ship’s boat and let it drift away.

27:33 As day was about to dawn, Paul urged them all to take some food, saying, “Today is the fourteenth day you have been in suspense and have gone without food; you have eaten nothing. 27:34 Therefore I urge you to take some food, for this is important for your survival. For not one of you will lose a hair from his head.”

27:35 After he said this, Paul took bread and gave thanks to God in front of them all, broke it, and began to eat. 27:36 So all of them were encouraged and took food themselves. 27:37 (We were in all two hundred seventy-six persons on the ship.) 27:38 When they had eaten enough to be satisfied, they lightened the ship by throwing the wheat into the sea.

Paul is Shipwrecked

27:39 When day came, they did not recognize the land, but they noticed a bay with a beach, where they decided to run the ship aground if they could. 27:40 So they slipped the anchors and left them in the sea, at the same time loosening the linkage that bound the steering oars together. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and steered toward the beach. 27:41 But they encountered a patch of crosscurrents and ran the ship aground; the bow stuck fast and could not be moved, but the stern was being broken up by the force of the waves. 27:42 Now the soldiers’ plan was to kill the prisoners so that none of them would escape by swimming away. 27:43 But the centurion, wanting to save Paul’s life, prevented them from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land, 27:44 and the rest were to follow, some on planks and some on pieces of the ship. And in this way all were brought safely to land.

Paul on Malta

28:1 After we had safely reached shore, we learned that the island was called Malta. 28:2 The local inhabitants showed us extraordinary kindness, for they built a fire and welcomed us all because it had started to rain and was cold.

28:3 When Paul had gathered a bundle of brushwood and was putting it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself on his hand.

28:4 When the local people saw the creature hanging from Paul’s hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer! Although he has escaped from the sea, Justice herself has not allowed him to live!”

28:5 However, Paul shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 28:6 But they were expecting that he was going to swell up or suddenly drop dead. So after they had waited a long time and had seen nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

28:7 Now in the region around that place were fields belonging to the chief official of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us hospitably as guests for three days. 28:8 The father of Publius lay sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and after praying, placed his hands on him and healed him.

28:9 After this had happened, many of the people on the island who were sick also came and were healed.

28:10 They also bestowed many honors, and when we were preparing to sail, they gave us all the supplies we needed.

Prayer

Lord, the enemy attacked Paul via a snake (You said that a serpent would attack the Savior, and a serpent was the form the deceiver took when leading Adam & Eve astray) but the superstitious people of Malta thought it was a judgment of his sin. You turned the enemy's attack upon Paul to good. When I am attacked because of my faithfulness to You, may I trust that You will use your overcoming of the attack as a testimony of His presence and power in you.

Summary & Commentary

Paul warned the captain that everyone had to remain on the ship or none would be saved, and so the sailors who had schemed to sneak away in a small boat were stopped.

Paul encouraged them all to eat as it had been a long time in-crisis then gave thanks to God, broke-bread, and ate before them - they ate as well then discarded the rest of the wheat to lighten the ship. They grounded the ship in shallow water because the storm still threatened. They were successful and, as Paul had prophesied, all were safe.

The shipwrecked crew, including Paul, discovered that they had landed on the Island of Malta. The citizens there were friendly.

Paul was bitten by a viper and suddenly their superstition labeled him a murderer - but when he was not harmed they imagined him a god.

The Holy Spirit used Paul as His vessel of healing for the father of the chief official of the Island as well as many others. [Note: The text does not record Paul as having the opportunity to preach Christ, though he undoubtedly shared Christ with everyone he met, nor does it record any who accepted Christ at the time. It could be that the Holy Spirit used Paul to plant seeds for a future harvest there.]

Because of Paul's faithfulness to Christ the people were blessed by the Lord God and they sent he and his fellow travelers away with many gifts and supplies.

Interaction
Consider

Paul, despite being a prisoner, became a major leader on the ship and on the island.

Discuss

Isn’t it interesting that Paul was faithful as a vessel of God in healing and sharing on Malta despite the persistent confused-thinking of the people? Might one conclude that the Lord God discerned that they had teachable spirits and the Holy Spirit had prepared them to listen?

Reflect

Does this seem to be yet another case where pagans attempted to impose their views upon God's work, first the superstition that one bitten by a viper must be an unpunished murderer (interestingly that was true about Paul), and then that he must be a "god" since the viper had no effect on him?

Share

When have you observed a person in ministry first resisted then received?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any place where any pagan value system may affect you.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me to discern any place in my life where a pagan value system has gained foothold unnoticed and the strength and wisdom to excise it.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Acts 28:11-31)

Paul Finally Reaches Rome

28:11 After three months we put out to sea in an Alexandrian ship that had wintered at the island and had the “Heavenly Twins” as its figurehead. 28:12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days.

28:13 From there we cast off and arrived at Rhegium, and after one day a south wind sprang up and on the second day we came to Puteoli. 28:14 There we found some brothers and were invited to stay with them seven days. And in this way we came to Rome.

28:15 The brothers from there, when they heard about us, came as far as the Forum of Appius and Three Taverns to meet us. When he saw them, Paul thanked God and took courage.

28:16 When we entered Rome, Paul was allowed to live by himself, with the soldier who was guarding him.

Paul Addresses the Jewish Community in Rome

28:17 After three days Paul called the local Jewish leaders together. When they had assembled, he said to them, “Brothers, although I had done nothing against our people or the customs of our ancestors, from Jerusalem I was handed over as a prisoner to the Romans. 28:18 When they had heard my case, they wanted to release me, because there was no basis for a death sentence against me.

28:19 But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal to Caesar — not that I had some charge to bring against my own people. 28:20 So for this reason I have asked to see you and speak with you, for I am bound with this chain because of the hope of Israel.”

28:21 They replied, “We have received no letters from Judea about you, nor have any of the brothers come from there and reported or said anything bad about you. 28:22 But we would like to hear from you what you think, for regarding this sect we know that people everywhere speak against it.”

28:23 They set a day to meet with him, and they came to him where he was staying in even greater numbers. From morning until evening he explained things to them, testifying about the kingdom of God and trying to convince them about Jesus from both the law of Moses and the prophets.

28:24 Some were convinced by what he said, but others refused to believe. 28:25 So they began to leave, unable to agree among themselves, after Paul made one last statement: “The Holy Spirit spoke rightly to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah 28:26 when he said,

Go to this people and say,You will keep on hearing, but will never understand,and you will keep on looking, but will never perceive.

28:27 For the heart of this people has become dull,and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have closed their eyes, so that they would not see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.”’

28:28 “Therefore be advised that this salvation from God has been sent to the Gentiles; they will listen!”

28:29 [[EMPTY]]

28:30 Paul lived there two whole years in his own rented quarters and welcomed all who came to him, 28:31 proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with complete boldness and without restriction.

Prayer

Lord, You enabled Paul to survive murderous plots in order that he might be Your instrument to preach Christ in Rome. He did so and some received Your truth while others rejected it. May I be faithful, no matter the resistance, and know that I am in partnership with Your Holy Spirit and that the harvest is Yours.

Summary & Commentary

After many months of travel Paul reached Rome, met some brothers-in-Christ, and was allowed to reside outside of prison with his guard.

Paul addressed the Jewish leaders in Rome, explaining the false charges in Caesarea and Jerusalem and his need to appeal to Caesar to avoid their efforts to murder him. The locals replied that they had received no letters or visitors carrying any charges against Paul. They did note that there was a general negativity against Christianity and wanted to hear about it first-hand from Paul.

Paul preached Christ to the religious leaders and their followers, some believed but many refused, at which time Paul declared that he would also share Christ with the Gentiles because they were more likely to listen.

Paul preached and taught anyone who would listen, Jew or Gentile in Rome, for two years.

According to the NET Translator’s Notes verse 28:29 is omitted in many modern translations as better scholarship has determined that it has a high probability of being a scribal addition rather than of the earliest antique sources.

Interaction
Consider

No matter how he tried the enemy could not keep Paul from preaching in Rome.

Discuss

Why were the Gentiles more receptive than the Jews?

Reflect

Paul always started with the Jews by declaring his history of felicity to Jewish law and his service as a zealous religious leader, then he reminded them of the prophesies, and finally he showed them how it all led to Christ.

Share

When have you been surprised at the unexpected receptivity of a person or group instead of those whom you expected to be receptive to Biblical truth?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a person of group you have ignored but who are ready to hear.

Action:

Today I will reach out to that person or group whom the Holy Spirit has revealed and I will share with them the message of Christ.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Acts” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Romans

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections With a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Passage: 

Book Introduction

The Apostle Paul is the author of the Book of Romans. The overarching goal of Paul’s writing is to clarify several concepts critical to understanding the purpose of Christ’s mission on Earth; salvation-through-faith-alone, the value of righteous living in multiplying His family, and how it is that a sinner is redeemed-to-pre-Fall-purity to be able to stand before a perfect God.

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Romans”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Romans 1-6

Sunday (Romans 1:1-15)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God.

1:2 This gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, 1:3 concerning his Son who was a descendant of David with reference to the flesh,

1:4 who was appointed the Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.

1:5 Through him we have received grace and our apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles on behalf of his name. 1:6 You also are among them, called to belong to Jesus Christ. 1:7 To all those loved by God in Rome, called to be saints: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Paul’s Desire to Visit Rome

1:8 First of all, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is proclaimed throughout the whole world. 1:9 For God, whom I serve in my spirit by preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness that I continually remember you 1:10 and I always ask in my prayers, if perhaps now at last I may succeed in visiting you according to the will of God.

1:11 For I long to see you, so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, 1:12 that is, that we may be mutually comforted by one another’s faith, both yours and mine.

1:13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I often intended to come to you (and was prevented until now), so that I may have some fruit even among you, just as I already have among the rest of the Gentiles. 1:14 I am a debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. 1:15 Thus I am eager also to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome.

Prayer

Lord, Your ministry through Paul used his intellect to explain many complex concepts to believers of any background. May I humbly study Your truth, delivered through him, so that I may fully grasp Your discipleship for me.

Summary & Commentary

In Paul’s Salutation he identified himself as a “bondservant” of Christ [Note: Meaning that he had given up everything in this world, surrendered his free will, and surrendered everything to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit.]

He reminded them that Christ was prophesied in the past and that He had fulfilled those prophesies “... Son-of-God-in-power according to the Holy Spirit by the resurrection from the dead”.

Paul noted also that his ministry (and that of the other apostles) was to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles so that they would be saved by “... the obedience of faith”.

Paul addressed his letter, Romans, to believers; those who “belong to Jesus Christ”, “those loved by God in Rome”, and are “called to be saints”, who had been gifted with more than salvation but to live “ultrafidian” [beyond faith] lives.

Paul celebrated the faithfulness of the Roman Church (believers) for their reputation as Christians and notes that the Holy Spirit had him praying for them. He also expressed his long desire to visit Rome and to preach Christ there. [Note: Romans is not chronologically sequential to ACTS as the final text of ACTS places Paul in Rome.]

Interaction

Consider

Paul reminded them that Jesus the Christ had fulfilled all of the prophesies about the Messiah.

Discuss

How do you understand Paul's phrase that the “saints” had been gifted with more than salvation but to live "ultrafidian" [beyond faith] lives?

<http://bibleseven.com/ultrafidian.html>

Reflect

Paul described himself as a truly-saved believer— he had given up everything in this world, surrendered his free will, and surrendered everything to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Share

When have you given up something of the world because it interfered with your daily walk with Christ?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a way that you might live a more “ultrafidian”, beyond-faith, life.

Action:

Today I will pray for the strength and wisdom to set aside those things which prevent me from moving past salvation and safety to sacrifice and service.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Romans 1:16-31)

The Power of the Gospel

1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

1:17 For the righteousness of God is revealed in the gospel from faith to faith, just as it is written, “The righteous by faith will live.”

The Condemnation of the Unrighteous

1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth by their unrighteousness, 1:19 because what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.

1:20 For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse.

1:21 For although they knew God, they did not glorify him as God or give him thanks, but they became futile in their thoughts and their senseless hearts were darkened. 1:22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 1:23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for an image resembling mortal human beings or birds or four-footed animals or reptiles.

1:24 Therefore God gave them over in the desires of their hearts to impurity, to dishonor their bodies among themselves. 1:25 They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worshiped and served the creation rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

1:26 For this reason God gave them over to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged the natural sexual relations for unnatural ones, 1:27 and likewise the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed in their passions for one another. Men committed shameless acts with men and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

1:28 And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what should not be done. 1:29 They are filled with every kind of unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, malice. They are rife with envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility. They are gossips, 1:30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, contrivers of all sorts of evil, disobedient to parents, 1:31 senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.

1:32 Although they fully know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but also approve of those who practice them.

Prayer

Lord, You clearly tell us what You have done for us, the Gospel, and why those who reject You are in trouble. May I be intentional in growing toward You and away from unrighteousness.

Summary & Commentary

Paul then described the power of the Gospel

  • to save
  • everyone who believes
  • offered first to the Jews
  • then offered to everyone else

How?

  • the righteousness of God is revealed
  • as one hears the Gospel
  • “hears” because of ones faith-response (one’s initial child-like trusting faith)
  • Paul then moves on to describe the condemnation of the unrighteous:
  • All people are under the wrath of God
  • Because they have sufficient evidence all around them that He exists
  • Because there has been sufficient disclosure of His expectations
  • Because they deliberately do that which they know to offend God
  • Obvious, but not inclusive, sins are the worship of animal images, sexual depravity, covetousness, malice, envy, murder, strife, deceit, hostility, gossip, slander, haters of God, insolent, arrogant, boastful, connivers-of-evil, disobedient to parents, senseless, covenant-breakers, heartless, ruthless.
  • Therefore God has allowed people to reap the consequences of sin’s slavery
  • Death is the penalty for knowing “God’s righteous decree”, ignoring it, and “approve of those who practice them"

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God overcame the sin of the Fall in the Garden of Eden. He provided a way that we may be saved, He says that everyone who believes will be saved, He first offered salvation to the Jews, and then He offered it to everyone else (the “Gentiles”).

Discuss

Does Paul’s description of “the power of the Gospel” describe your salvation experience?

Reflect

Salvation is the result of a process, a series of God-ordained events; the righteousness of God is revealed, as one hears the Gospel, and it flows from the faith-response of the one being saved (one’s initial child-like trusting faith).

Share

When have you observed the process of salvation unfolding in someones life?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to you which of the elements of God’s “condemnation of the unrighteous” may be part of your life.

Action:

Today I will join with my prayer-partner to pray that I may quickly remove that which the Holy Spirit has revealed from my life. Permanently.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Romans 2)

The Condemnation of the Moralist

2:1 Therefore you are without excuse, whoever you are, when you judge someone else. For on whatever grounds you judge another, you condemn yourself, because you who judge practice the same things. 2:2 Now we know that God’s judgment is in accordance with truth against those who practice such things. 2:3 And do you think, whoever you are, when you judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself, that you will escape God’s judgment? 2:4 Or do you have contempt for the wealth of his kindness, forbearance, and patience, and yet do not know that God’s kindness leads you to repentance? 2:5 But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath for yourselves in the day of wrath, when God’s righteous judgment is revealed! 2:6 He will reward each one according to his works: 2:7 eternal life to those who by perseverance in good works seek glory and honor and immortality, 2:8 but wrath and anger to those who live in selfish ambition and do not obey the truth but follow unrighteousness. 2:9 There will be affliction and distress on everyone who does evil, on the Jew first and also the Greek, 2:10 but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, for the Jew first and also the Greek. 2:11 For there is no partiality with God. 2:12 For all who have sinned apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. 2:13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous before God, but those who do the law will be declared righteous. 2:14 For whenever the Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature the things required by the law, these who do not have the law are a law to themselves. 2:15 They show that the work of the law is written in their hearts, as their conscience bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or else defend them, 2:16 on the day when God will judge the secrets of human hearts, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus.

The Condemnation of the Jew

2:17 But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast of your relationship to God 2:18 and know his will and approve the superior things because you receive instruction from the law, 2:19 and if you are convinced that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, 2:20 an educator of the senseless, a teacher of little children, because you have in the law the essential features of knowledge and of the truth—2:21 therefore you who teach someone else, do you not teach yourself? You who preach against stealing, do you steal? 2:22 You who tell others not to commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? 2:23 You who boast in the law dishonor God by transgressing the law! 2:24 For just as it is written, “the name of God is being blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

2:25 For circumcision has its value if you practice the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision has become uncircumcision. 2:26 Therefore if the uncircumcised man obeys the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? 2:27 And will not the physically uncircumcised man who keeps the law judge you who, despite the written code and circumcision, transgress the law? 2:28 For a person is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something that is outward in the flesh, 2:29 but someone is a Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart by the Spirit and not by the written code. This person’s praise is not from people but from God.

Prayer

Lord, You have blessed us with Your divine kindness, forbearance, and patience. May I share Your gifts with others, being kind, refrain from reacting to difficult people, and patient.

Summary & Commentary

Paul described God's condemnation of the moralist, observing that all have fallen short of God’s righteousness so that all who judge and condemn others are judged and condemned by the same standard of righteousness. Only God is a sinless judge.

Paul provided a partial list of the unrighteous practices which condemn the moralist:

  • contempt for the wealth of God’s kindness
  • contempt for the wealth of God’s forbearance
  • contempt for the wealth of God’s patience

He observed that God’s kindness leads one to repentance [turning away from sin] and stubbornness and an unrepentant heart “stores up wrath” ... “in the day of wrath”.

In the day of wrath “God will reveal and reward each one according to his works”:

  • eternal life to the one who perseveres in good works
  • wrath and anger for those who live in selfish ambition and unrighteousness
  • affliction and distress will come to those who do evil
  • a legal standard of judgment will be applied to those who know the law (Jews)
  • a “conscience” standard will be applied to those unaware of the law (Gentiles)

Paul reminded the Jews that nothing they do for righteousness under the law will compensate for hypocritical violations of the law.

Paul used the term “circumcision of the heart” to describe Jew and Gentile alike who have surrendered to the Holy Spirit and who have been permanently changed, marked for Christ.

Interaction

Consider

The consequences of contempt for the wealth of God’s kindness, the wealth of God’s forbearance, or the wealth of God’s patience.

Discuss

What is the difference between "judging", pretending to be God and to know the spirit—and imagining that one does so without sin of their own, and “discernment”, which is the recognition of sin in others without holding oneself as better than others?

Reflect

Consider the imagery and practical application implied by Paul’s phrase “circumcision of the heart”.

Share

When have you found someone unusually difficult to bear, wanted to react badly, but were restrained by the Holy Spirit within?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me the difference between “judging” and “discerning” in my attitude toward others and one specific case where I practice more of a “judging” than a “discerning” attitude.

Action:

Today I will I will repent [turn away from] my non-Biblical “judging”, I will request and receive the Lord God's forgiveness, and then I will replace it as-is-appropriate with discernment.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Romans 3)

3:1 Therefore what advantage does the Jew have, or what is the value of circumcision? 3:2 Actually, there are many advantages. First of all, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. 3:3 What then? If some did not believe, does their unbelief nullify the faithfulness of God? 3:4 Absolutely not! Let God be proven true, and every human being shown up as a liar, just as it is written: “so that you will be justified in your words and will prevail when you are judged.”

3:5 But if our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God, what shall we say? The God who inflicts wrath is not unrighteous, is he? (I am speaking in human terms.) 3:6 Absolutely not! For otherwise how could God judge the world? 3:7 For if by my lie the truth of God enhances his glory, why am I still actually being judged as a sinner? 3:8 And why not say, “Let us do evil so that good may come of it”?—as some who slander us allege that we say. (Their condemnation is deserved!)

The Condemnation of the World

3:9 What then? Are we better off? Certainly not, for we have already charged that Jews and Greeks alike are all under sin, 3:10 just as it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one,

3:11 there is no one who understands, there is no one who seeks God.

3:12 All have turned away, together they have become worthless; there is no one who shows kindness, not even one.

3:13 “Their throats are open graves, they deceive with their tongues, the poison of asps is under their lips.

3:14 “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.

3:15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood,

3:16 ruin and misery are in their paths,

3:17 and the way of peace they have not known.

3:18 “There is no fear of God before their eyes.

3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 3:20 For no one is declared righteous before him by the works of the law, for through the law comes the knowledge of sin.

3:21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God (which is attested by the law and the prophets) has been disclosed—3:22 namely, the righteousness of God through the faithfulness of Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. 3:24 But they are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

3:25 God publicly displayed him at his death as the mercy seat accessible through faith. This was to demonstrate his righteousness, because God in his forbearance had passed over the sins previously committed. 3:26 This was also to demonstrate his righteousness in the present time, so that he would be just and the justifier of the one who lives because of Jesus’ faithfulness.

3:27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded! By what principle? Of works? No, but by the principle of faith!

3:28 For we consider that a person is declared righteous by faith apart from the works of the law.

3:29 Or is God the God of the Jews only? Is he not the God of the Gentiles too? Yes, of the Gentiles too!

3:30 Since God is one, he will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith.

3:31 Do we then nullify the law through faith? Absolutely not! Instead we uphold the law.

Prayer

Lord, You made a way just as You promised in the Garden of Eden, and You also opened the door of opportunity Jew and Gentile, male and female, old and young. May I be forever grateful for what You have done.

Summary & Commentary

Paul continued to challenge the Jews to understand that the failure of some Jews does not say anything about the righteousness of God Who entrusted them with “the oracles of God”; He is perfectly righteous and rebellion only defines the rebel.

Paul explained the condemnation of the fallen world, saying that the perfect law of God proves the imperfection of all before a perfect God. Through the faith of the believer God fulfills the law which requires absolute dependence upon God and nothing else.

All are convicted by the law.

All may be justified by the sacrifice of Christ.

Christ fulfilled the requirement of the law for a perfect and pure sacrifice.

Interaction

Consider

Observe the Grand Canyon-like chasm between fallen and God, man defined by imperfection and willful rebellion, God defined by His perfection.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing that the Lord God's love conquered all, even death, and that He chooses to pursue us for an eternal relationship with Him?

Reflect

How interesting to this perfect God Who provides a way through Christ for imperfect and rebellious man to accept His gift and to be restored to the original Edenic plan for eternal relationship.

Share

When have you stopped and reflected and prayed about the amazing gift of love from God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an opportunity to take some time to truly celebrate the amazing gift of the Lord God.

Action:

Today I will join a fellow believer in a heartfelt celebration of thankfulness for God's loving provision of a path to redemption.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Romans 4)

The Illustration of Justification

4:1 What then shall we say that Abraham, our ancestor according to the flesh, has discovered regarding this matter? 4:2 For if Abraham was declared righteous by the works of the law, he has something to boast about—but not before God. 4:3 For what does the scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4:4 Now to the one who works, his pay is not credited due to grace but due to obligation. 4:5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in the one who declares the ungodly righteous, his faith is credited as righteousness.

4:6 So even David himself speaks regarding the blessedness of the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

4:7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;

4:8 blessed is the one against whom the Lord will never count sin.

4:9 Is this blessedness then for the circumcision or also for the uncircumcision? For we say, “faith was credited to Abraham as righteousness.” 4:10 How then was it credited to him? Was he circumcised at the time, or not? No, he was not circumcised but uncircumcised! 4:11 And he received the sign of circumcision as a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised, so that he would become the father of all those who believe but have never been circumcised, that they too could have righteousness credited to them. 4:12 And he is also the father of the circumcised, who are not only circumcised, but who also walk in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham possessed when he was still uncircumcised.

4:13 For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would inherit the world was not fulfilled through the law, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 4:14 For if they become heirs by the law, faith is empty and the promise is nullified. 4:15 For the law brings wrath, because where there is no law there is no transgression either. 4:16 For this reason it is by faith so that it may be by grace, with the result that the promise may be certain to all the descendants—not only to those who are under the law, but also to those who have the faith of Abraham, who is the father of us all 4:17 (as it is written, “I have made you the father of many nations”). He is our father in the presence of God whom he believed—the God who makes the dead alive and summons the things that do not yet exist as though they already do. 4:18 Against hope Abraham believed in hope with the result that he became the father of many nations according to the pronouncement, “so will your descendants be.” 4:19 Without being weak in faith, he considered his own body as dead (because he was about one hundred years old) and the deadness of Sarah’s womb. 4:20 He did not waver in unbelief about the promise of God but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God. 4:21 He was fully convinced that what God promised he was also able to do. 4:22 So indeed it was credited to Abraham as righteousness.

4:23 But the statement it was credited to him was not written only for Abraham’s sake, 4:24 but also for our sake, to whom it will be credited, those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 4:25 He was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification.

Prayer

Lord, You inspired David to observe that it would be a blessing for one who behaved in a “lawless” manner and who sinned to be the beneficiary of Your grace, rather than the law. May I remember that it is Your mercy that has allowed me to not suffer eternal punishment for lawlessness and sin and to therefore seek righteousness and avoid lawlessness and sin.

Summary & Commentary

Abraham was saved by faith, if he were saved by works God would have an obligation to him for having completed some sort of righteousness-earning task, but it was purely grace in return for his belief in God.

David noted that the Lord blesses by removing the eternal conviction-of-death-from-sin and Paul reminded the reader that this has nothing to do with religious ritual like circumcision since David was referring to Abraham and he was saved-by-faith before he was circumcised.

Paul also reminded that Abraham was promised that he would be the “father of many nations” while he and Sarah were still childless and he was elderly—indicating that everything involved with salvation would be unrelated to works, ritual, or any single nationality.

He concluded that saving-faith was for “... those who believe in the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. He was given over because of our transgressions and was raised for the sake of our justification.”

Interaction

Consider

What a tragedy that man's distortions of God's word had led to such a heresy as to believe in any form of works-righteousness.

Discuss

Isn’t freedom from works amazing? It does not come from membership in a man-made religious organization or nationality or race or gender. It liberates a person to simply love God and to receive His blessing and gifts and mission for life, undistorted by imperfect humans.

Reflect

Freedom comes from understanding that salvation is through faith-alone and not works.

Share

When have you experienced or observed confusion as to saved-by-faith-not-works versus saved-by-faith-plus-works?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any moments in your life where you doubt your salvation and that I turn to any form of works-righteousness to try to justify myself before God.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement to purge the lie of doubt and/or works-righteousness from my life so that I may trust and worship God-alone.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Romans 5)

The Expectation of Justification

5:1 Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 5:2 through whom we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in the hope of God’s glory.

5:3 Not only this, but we also rejoice in sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, 5:4 and endurance, character, and character, hope.

5:5 And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

5:6 For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.

5:7 (For rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person perhaps someone might possibly dare to die.)

5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

5:9 Much more then, because we have now been declared righteous by his blood, we will be saved through him from God’s wrath.

5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, since we have been reconciled, will we be saved by his life?

5:11 Not only this, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received this reconciliation.

The Amplification of Justification

5:12 So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned—5:13 for before the law was given, sin was in the world, but there is no accounting for sin when there is no law. 5:14 Yet death reigned from Adam until Moses even over those who did not sin in the same way that Adam (who is a type of the coming one) transgressed.

5:15 But the gracious gift is not like the transgression. For if the many died through the transgression of the one man, how much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one man Jesus Christ multiply to the many!

5:16 And the gift is not like the one who sinned. For judgment, resulting from the one transgression, led to condemnation, but the gracious gift from the many failures led to justification.

5:17 For if, by the transgression of the one man, death reigned through the one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one, Jesus Christ!

5:18 Consequently, just as condemnation for all people came through one transgression, so too through the one righteous act came righteousness leading to life for all people.

5:19 For just as through the disobedience of the one man many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of one man many will be made righteous.

5:20 Now the law came in so that the transgression may increase, but where sin increased, grace multiplied all the more, 5:21 so that just as sin reigned in death, so also grace will reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Prayer

Lord, You provided the Law so that humankind could see why there was a breach in our relationship with You and what it was costing us, so that we then could recognize why it was such an amazing miracle when You sacrificed to make salvation- powered-righteousness available to us. May I recognize that Your grace is already sufficient for every transgression, that every new transgression only testifies to the magnitude of Your Grace, and that righteousness rather than transgression is the best statement of gratitude.

Summary & Commentary

Paul explained that our expectation of justification is because through faith Jesus became our advocate so that at the Final Judgment the Enemy accuses and Jesus speaks up for us—declaring our justification for perfection because He “did our time”.

Paul also explained the power and purpose of the knowledge of our salvation:

  • We may rejoice when we suffer for our faith.
  • Because we know that in that suffering we learn endurance
  • Because we know that endurance builds character
  • Because we know that character testifies to hope
  • Because we know that hope, rightly focused on God-alone, never disappoints
  • And as a result God finds us useful vessels through which He pours out His love

Paul also addressed the amplification of justification, how how the sin of Adam spread to all of his descendants, and the grace from the sacrifice of Jesus multiplies back to believers beyond mere life but into eternity.

Interaction

Consider

There is a long list of reasons that God should never allow you into His perfect and forever sin-free Heaven. Contemplate how great is the love that set you free of that.

Discuss

How does understanding the power and purpose of the knowledge of our salvation give us something of value to which to we may cling when the challenges of life in a fallen world bring suffering?

Reflect

There is an important contrast between the Enemy and Jesus. The Enemy is Prince of this world (because of the Fall of Adam and Eve) and it will last for only a little while. His kingdom is also imperfect and temporary. The kingdom of Jesus is perfect and will be eternal, because He made it possible though His own grace and power.

Share

When have you felt overwhelmed by the world for a time and it was only your assurance of salvation that gave you the strength to remain hopeful and to make it through?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me any lie that may rest in a confused place in my heart that anything I have ever done, or that has been done to me, can ever overwhelm the God of all Creation—when He says I am free and I am promised Heaven.

Action:

Today I will share Paul's stages for understanding the power and purpose of the knowledge of our salvation with someone who is struggling with suffering and together we will pray for hope.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Romans 6)

The Believer’s Freedom from Sin’s Domination

6:1 What shall we say then? Are we to remain in sin so that grace may increase?

6:2 Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?

6:3 Or do you not know that as many as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?

6:4 Therefore we have been buried with him through baptism into death, in order that just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may live a new life.

6:5 For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will certainly also be united in the likeness of his resurrection.

6:6 We know that our old man was crucified with him so that the body of sin would no longer dominate us, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. 6:7 (For someone who has died has been freed from sin.)

6:8 Now if we died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.

6:9 We know that since Christ has been raised from the dead, he is never going to die again; death no longer has mastery over him.

6:10 For the death he died, he died to sin once for all, but the life he lives, he lives to God.

6:11 So you too consider yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

6:12 Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its desires, 6:13 and do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who are alive from the dead and your members to God as instruments to be used for righteousness.

6:14 For sin will have no mastery over you, because you are not under law but under grace.

The Believer’s Enslavement to God’s Righteousness

6:15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Absolutely not!

6:16 Do you not know that if you present yourselves as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or obedience resulting in righteousness?

6:17 But thanks be to God that though you were slaves to sin, you obeyed from the heart that pattern of teaching you were entrusted to, 6:18 and having been freed from sin, you became enslaved to righteousness.

6:19 (I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.

6:20 For when you were slaves of sin, you were free with regard to righteousness.

6:21 So what benefit did you then reap from those things that you are now ashamed of? For the end of those things is death.

6:22 But now, freed from sin and enslaved to God, you have your benefit leading to sanctification, and the end is eternal life.

6:23 For the payoff of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer

Lord, You made the way for our salvation, setting us free from the slavery of sin, liberating us into a freely-chosen slavery to righteousness. May I not allow my still-fallen flesh to pollute my eternally-saved spirit of righteousness.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reflected back on Romans 5 long enough to remind us that the grace of Jesus covers sins of all kinds.

He trusted us to remember the teaching of Solomon that there is “nothing new under the sun”, therefore, once-saved no sin we commit now is “new” to the entirety o sin for which Jesus the Christ died and therefore it cannot add anything to the grace-over-sin completed work of Christ Jesus.

The unsaved person not only cannot without-Christ overcome the power of sin which controls their lives, they also cannot without-Christ overcome the power of sin to control their eternity, they must accept His gift in order to be free.

Paul explained that the believer has freedom from sin’s domination, but he or she must recognize and then act upon that freedom—pressing away the things of this temporary world which try to drag us down—choosing instead to stay on the path toward ever-increasing righteousness.

The believer’s enslavement to God’s righteousness replaces their prior-to-salvation slavery to sin.

The believer has not only the power, through the indwelling Holy Spirit, to resist sin—they have an implicit obligation to partner with the Holy Spirit to resist sin.

Interaction

Consider

Paul's challenge was “... do not present your members to sin as instruments to be used for unrighteousness … now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.”

Discuss

What are some ways that you were enslaved by sin prior to salvation?

Reflect

There are many ways that the power of your salvation has set you free from the power of sin.

Share

When have you observed the external evidence of freedom-from-sin in the life of a new believer?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you at least one area of your life where you need to surrender more to His Lordship so that you may pursue righteousness rather than allow your still-fallen flesh to drag you into sin.

Action:

Today I will thank Jesus for setting me free. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me as I partner with God in breaking free in the flesh the same way that He set me free in my eternal spiritual self.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Romans”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Romans 7-10

Sunday (Romans 7)

The Believer’s Relationship to the Law

7:1 Or do you not know, brothers and sisters (for I am speaking to those who know the law), that the law is lord over a person as long as he lives?

7:2 For a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he lives, but if her husband dies, she is released from the law of the marriage.

7:3 So then, if she is joined to another man while her husband is alive, she will be called an adulteress. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she is joined to another man, she is not an adulteress.

7:4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you could be joined to another, to the one who was raised from the dead, to bear fruit to God.

7:5 For when we were in the flesh, the sinful desires, aroused by the law, were active in the members of our body to bear fruit for death.

7:6 But now we have been released from the law, because we have died to what controlled us, so that we may serve in the new life of the Spirit and not under the old written code.

7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Absolutely not! Certainly, I would not have known sin except through the law. For indeed I would not have known what it means to desire something belonging to someone else if the law had not said, “Do not covet.”

7:8 But sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, produced in me all kinds of wrong desires. For apart from the law, sin is dead.

7:9 And I was once alive apart from the law, but with the coming of the commandment sin became alive 7:10 and I died. So I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life brought death!

7:11 For sin, seizing the opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it I died.

7:12 So then, the law is holy, and the commandment is holy, righteous, and good.

7:13 Did that which is good, then, become death to me? Absolutely not! But sin, so that it would be shown to be sin, produced death in me through what is good, so that through the commandment sin would become utterly sinful.

7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual—but I am unspiritual, sold into slavery to sin.

7:15 For I don’t understand what I am doing. For I do not do what I want—instead, I do what I hate.

7:16 But if I do what I don’t want, I agree that the law is good.

7:17 But now it is no longer me doing it, but sin that lives in me.

7:18 For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it.

7:19 For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want!

7:20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.

7:21 So, I find the law that when I want to do good, evil is present with me.

7:22 For I delight in the law of God in my inner being.

7:23 But I see a different law in my members waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that is in my members.

7:24 Wretched man that I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?

7:25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.

Prayer

Lord, Your grace separates us from the deadly consequence of sin, yet You call us to a higher-standard—that of who we have become because of Whose we have become. May I honor Your grace with a life focused on You and not on my worldly flesh.

Summary & Commentary

Since the Fall in the Garden of Eden all of Creation, most-relevant to this study—humankind—dwells apart from relationship with the Lord God. All is doomed to an imperfect and meaningless death, together with the “prince of the earth”, Satan. This is because nothing imperfect may enter Heaven and the presence of the perfectly-holy Lord God, because all imperfection is sin, and because everything apart from the Lord is worthless.

The law did not create sin, it defined it more-clearly and it made its commission an unavoidably volitional rather than a somewhat non-volitional act, as well as a volitional act that is intentionally rebellious because it breaches the clear boundaries set by the Lord God.

Paul explained that the Law sets boundaries in our temporary earthly existence; he used the example of a married person who is—according to the law—not allowed to abandon their spouse and to marry another while that spouse is alive, for they were bonded together for life.

He then noted that our salvation sets us free from the bond we have to sin so that we may become the family of Christ in emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual harmony.

[Note: It was not Paul’s intent to teach in any comprehensive way the Biblical approach to marriage, divorce, and remarriage here any more than Jesus was teaching about fishing or gardening when He used those as teaching illustrations. He did not intend to teach that only a woman is bound by that law, nor did he intend that one abandoned by a spouse who remarries is bound to remain single. He was simply using an available illustration—and as is true of all such illustrations when extrapolated too-far apart from the intended purpose—it fails.]

Paul continued to teach that because sin no longer controls us [in an eternal sense] the Law is no longer necessary to convict us of sin to preserve us for salvation; however, our temporary bodies remain enslaved to sin and the Law becomes a tool of the Holy Spirit to convict us of that sin so that we may partner with the Holy Spirit to press it away.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God brought clarity to the ancient and primitive Israelites, and to us, so that we may plainly know when we are doing that which offends Him.

Discuss

What are some specific ways that the Law is used by the Holy Spirit to help us to discern when our temporary physical bodies are drifting into in, such as cheating, coveting, gossip, hatred, idolatry, jealousy, lying, stealing, etc?

Reflect

The law made it impossible for any to pretend that the boundary between good and evil and right and wrong could not be readily known.

Share

When have you been confronted with the challenge of worldly temptation and found the answer to where you must draw the line in the clear teaching of the law?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reminded you of the Lord God's Law "You shall not …" in some area where you are drifting into sin.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in-agreement with me as I press-away that fleshly desire in this world which is leading me away from righteousness as the law defines it.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Romans 8:1-30)

The Believer’s Relationship to the Holy Spirit

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

8:2 For the law of the life-giving Spirit in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and death.

8:3 For God achieved what the law could not do because it was weakened through the flesh. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and concerning sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 8:4 so that the righteous requirement of the law may be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

8:5 For those who live according to the flesh have their outlook shaped by the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit have their outlook shaped by the things of the Spirit.

8:6 For the outlook of the flesh is death, but the outlook of the Spirit is life and peace, 8:7 because the outlook of the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to the law of God, nor is it able to do so. 8:8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

8:9 You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, this person does not belong to him. 8:10 But if Christ is in you, your body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is your life because of righteousness. 8:11 Moreover if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.

8:12 So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh 8:13 (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.

8:14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. 8:15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.”

8:16 The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. 8:17 And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ)—if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.

8:18 For I consider that our present sufferings cannot even be compared to the glory that will be revealed to us.

8:19 For the creation eagerly waits for the revelation of the sons of God. 8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly but because of God who subjected it—in hope 8:21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.

8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers together until now.

8:23 Not only this, but we ourselves also, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we eagerly await our adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

8:24 For in hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope, because who hopes for what he sees? 8:25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with endurance.

8:26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.

8:27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes on behalf of the saints according to God’s will.

8:28 And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, 8:29 because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

8:30 And those he predestined, he also called; and those he called, he also justified; and those he justified, he also glorified.

Prayer

Lord, You made a way for us to be set free from the death of sin due to our fallen-flesh, You offered us this free gift, and when we accepted You indwelt us with Your Holy Spirit. May I be grateful beyond-measure for Your incredible gift and for Your indwelling assurance of my salvation.

Summary & Commentary

Paul revisited his teaching that a believer’s freedom from eternal condemnation for sin was necessary because their flesh was imperfect and prone to sin.

He noted that at-salvation the Holy Spirit indwelt every believer such that no-one is saved unless they have the indwelling Holy Spirit.

[Note: This is why “... the baptism of John” was insufficient.]

Paul then described the believer’s relationship to the Holy Spirit; where we once were fear-controlled slaves to sin we became joy-filled adopted-children of the eternal family of God.

Paul listed several specific ways that we are blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit:

  • The Holy Spirit intercedes as He hears the “groanings” of our hearts
  • The Holy Spirit replaces our former spirit of fear with one of hope
  • The Holy Spirit takes things that the Enemy means for evil and turns them to good
  • The Holy Spirit helps us to resist the temptations of the flesh
  • The Holy Spirit leads us towards righteous choices

Interaction

Consider

“... if the Spirit of the one who raised Jesus from the dead lives in you, the one who raised Christ from the dead will also make your mortal bodies alive through his Spirit who lives in you.”

Discuss

How do the elements of Paul’s list of the blessings of the indwelling Holy Spirit apply to your walk with God?

Reflect

The Lord God's consistency begins with the law that flesh-based sin means death. Jesus took the consequences of all flesh-based sin to Himself then overcame it with grace so that when we surrender and join Him we receive His redemption and flesh-based sin cannot cause us eternal death. Those who do not have Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit as His down-payment on Heaven, are still accountable to the law—their flesh-based sin will bring them death. This consistency builds trust in the Lord God.

Share

When have you found the courage to resist flesh-based sin in the assurance of your salvation by a loving and self-sacrificing Lord God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one way that He has impacted your life through one of the blessings of His presence as listed by Paul.

Action:

Today I will share the story and then celebrate in praise and worship what He has revealed to me—together with another believer.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Romans 8:31-39)

8:31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

8:32 Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things?

8:33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.

8:34 Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us.

8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword?

8:36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”

8:37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us!

8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Prayer

Lord, You are the cause and the power that makes the gift of salvation possible, and once we belong to You we are yours forever. May I not be confused by the many extra-Biblical doctrines and rather cling to Your Word.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reviewed God’s requirements for salvation and His power for righteous living:

  • Jesus, the Son of God, would be the first among many brothers and sisters
  • God predestined believers to be conformed to the image of Jesus [righteousness]
  • God, Who created time, knows the end from the beginning, knows who will be in His eternal family [Note: This is not intended to say that God caused what He knows, that would violate His declaration of a free will choice for Jesus. Knowing something does not make one the cause of it any more than God is the cause of sin because He knows—apart from the constraints of linear time—that sin will occur. Good scholarship requires that one be consistent in the application of principals in Bible study.]
  • Those who love God are called to His family and His ministry according to His purpose
  • God’s standard for salvation is unchanged, those who meet it are predestined to be saved
  • God justifies the saved, through Christ, to protect them from the judgment
  • God glorifies the saved upon admission to Heaven
  • Nothing in the spiritual or physical world can separate us from the love of Christ Jesus

[Note: Paul's purpose here is not to teach fatalism, that God predetermined who would be saved and not and then just timed their salvation with no regard for His commitment to free will, evidenced in the Garden, and repeated elsewhere. This is, instead, Paul reminding us that God's standards are high and His commitment to people of faith consistent. The One true God is never arbitrary or inconsistent.]

Interaction

Consider

Once we, through volitional acceptance of the gift of Christ—and our submission to His Lordship that comes with it—belong to Him, there is no power on earth or in heaven that can separate us from Him.

Discuss

The terms “elect” and “predestined” have been the source of great confusion and conflict but can you see where the Lord God says that the “elect” are those who accept the gift and are then transformed from the “non-elect” and once they are among the “elect” they are “predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus [righteousness] through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit?

Reflect

The victory of the believer is not over earthly enemies, it is not over worldly imperfections (e.g. disease, loss, troubles), but it is over death-itself. The focal purpose of salvation is on eternity and not our temporary existence here on earth.

Share

When have you contemplated the change in you from before your intentional surrender to Jesus and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who is confused about “elect” and “predestined”.

Action:

Today I will pray for the one to whom the Holy Spirit has directed me. I will respectfully offer to study these verses in Romans, and others in the B7-series, which clarify the matter of “elect”, “predestination”, and “free will” in a Biblically-consistent manner.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Romans 9:1-29)

9:1 Israel’s Rejection Considered

I am telling the truth in Christ (I am not lying!), for my conscience assures me in the Holy Spirit—9:2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. 9:3 For I could wish that I myself were accursed—cut off from Christ—for the sake of my people, my fellow countrymen, 9:4 who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption as sons, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the temple worship, and the promises. 9:5 To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.

9:6 It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, 9:7 nor are all the children Abraham’s true descendants; rather “through Isaac will your descendants be counted.”

9:8 This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants.

9:9 For this is what the promise declared: “About a year from now I will return and Sarah will have a son.” 9:10 Not only that, but when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our ancestor Isaac—9:11 even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God’s purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling)—9:12 it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger,” 9:13 just as it is written: “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”

9:14 What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not!

9:15 For he says to Moses: “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

9:16 So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy.

9:17 For the scripture says to Pharaoh: “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” 9:18 So then, God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.

9:19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who has ever resisted his will?”

9:20 But who indeed are you—a mere human being—to talk back to God? Does what is molded say to the molder,Why have you made me like this?” 9:21 Has the potter no right to make from the same lump of clay one vessel for special use and another for ordinary use?

9:22 But what if God, willing to demonstrate his wrath and to make known his power, has endured with much patience the objects of wrath prepared for destruction?

9:23 And what if he is willing to make known the wealth of his glory on the objects of mercy that he has prepared beforehand for glory—9:24 even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?

9:25 As he also says in Hosea: “I will call those who were not my people,My people,and I will call her who was unloved,My beloved.’”

9:26 “And in the very place where it was said to them,You are not my people,there they will be calledsons of the living God.’”

9:27 And Isaiah cries out on behalf of Israel, “Though the number of the children of Israel are as the sand of the sea, only the remnant will be saved, 9:28 for the Lord will execute his sentence on the earth completely and quickly.”

9:29 Just as Isaiah predicted, “If the Lord of armies had not left us descendants, we would have become like Sodom, and we would have resembled Gomorrah.”

Prayer

Lord, You provided the law to the Israelites, the subset of humankind descended from Isaac. The law convicted them of sin and provided a ritual-covering for them but it was never possible for them to earn salvation in their fallen-flesh through works but only through faith—as had Abraham—prior to the law. May I be grateful to be free from the law, to be in-Christ through faith, and be found grateful through thankfulness and righteous living.

Summary & Commentary

This section of Romans 9 describes the Lord God’s relationship with humankind under the law. the final few verses of Romans 9 (discussed in the next section of this Study) addresses the sovereignly-altered realationship under the grace of the Cross.

Paul explains God’s rejection of Israel, because God’s promise to God was not inclusive of all in the tribes of Israel but only a remnant—for faith not tribe—Jew and Gentile alike.

Israel’s repeated rejection of the God made both the nation and individuals culpable.

God chooses, based on the standard described in Romans 8, whom He will bless and whom He will not and no man or tribe may correct Him.

God testifies to His sovereignty from the enforcement of His holy decrees, mercy as He sees fit, hardening the already hard also as He sees fit, all according to His perfect plan.

Interaction

Consider

Those who were born Israelites were blessed with a unique relationship with the Lord God, yet because of their generations of rebellion only a remnant was preserved, and their special earthly-relationship lost.

Discuss

Isn’t it amazing how God's standard of a faithful-surrender to His Lordship has never changed?

Reflect

The descendants of Israel have always shared access to a faith-based salvation with the “gentiles” but they lost sight of that due to their unique earthly relationship in the past.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a person imagining that their membership in a unique job, religious organization, or social circle makes them more valuable to the Lord God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your fellowship, or one one elsewhere in your community (perhaps a cult of some sort) where some may be confusing membership and performance/works with salvation through faith-alone.

Action:

Today I will pray in-earnest for those who are confused, and if the Holy Spirit provides an opportunity, I will gently, patiently, and respectfully share with them the truth of salvation through faith-alone.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Romans 9:30-33)

Israel’s Rejection Culpable

9:30 What shall we say then?—that the Gentiles who did not pursue righteousness obtained it, that is, a righteousness that is by faith, 9:31 but Israel even though pursuing a law of righteousness did not attain it.

9:32 Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but (as if it were possible) by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, 9:33 just as it is written,

Look, I am laying in Zion a stone that will cause people to stumble and a rock that will make them fall, yet the one who believes in him will not be put to shame.

Prayer

Lord, You gave the law to show the way to grace, and under grace the law serves to point the way to righteousness. May I be faithful, under grace, in the pursuit of righteousness.

Summary & Commentary

Paul asked if the Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness—via the law—still obtained it?

He also asked if Israel, who did (at least in theory) pursue righteousness—via the law—did not?

Paul explained that the difference that Israel attempted works-righteousness, salvation without faith, rather only by legalistic-works, whereas the Gentiles sought a faith-based salvation without pre-salvation works.

He further explained that Israel had become so invested in their legalism that it because a stumbling-block which distracted them from the faith that saved Abraham.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God wanted Israel to choose a saving-relationship with Him through faith-alone, but Israel was like those in the time of the Tower of Babel, they wanted to access the Lord God though their own “power”.

Discuss

God's standard for salvation and righteous living reflects that which is necessary to set-apart those whose genuine surrender will make them sinless occupants of "the new heaven and new earth" to come.

Reflect

The Lord God was consistent, from the Garden of Eden to Paul's time of teaching, restoration was always a matter of faith.

Share

When did you first truly understand the meaning of salvation through faith-alone?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where a religious habit or ritual or tradition has displaced genuine relationship with the Lord God.

Action:

Today I will praise the Lord God for His consistency, sharing with another believer how that has built confidence in my relationship with Him and in my daily walk.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Romans 10:1-13)

10:1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of my fellow Israelites is for their salvation.

10:2 For I can testify that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth.

10:3 For ignoring the righteousness that comes from God, and seeking instead to establish their own righteousness, they did not submit to God’s righteousness.

10:4 For Christ is the end of the law, with the result that there is righteousness for everyone who believes.

10:5 For Moses writes about the righteousness that is by the law: “The one who does these things will live by them.”

10:6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 10:7 or “Who will descend into the abyss?” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead).

10:8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we preach), 10:9 because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

10:10 For with the heart one believes and thus has righteousness and with the mouth one confesses and thus has salvation.

10:11 For the scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

10:12 For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him.

10:13 For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

Prayer

Lord, so many have been frustrated by works-righteousness, and as a result have been difficult to reach with Your message of grace. May I be faithful in praying for those who need you and in sharing Your message of grace.

Summary & Commentary

Paul lamented that the Jews “... are zealous for God”.

He explained that they were zealous for a religion that ritually honored the name of the Lord God but not one that truly surrendered to Him as Lord of their lives.

Paul lamented that they failed to be zealous for “... the righteousness that comes from God” but were “... seeking instead their own righteousness”.

He explained that they were trapped in an idolatry of works-righteousness under the law, to which they had added many human rules and regulations, so that it had all become a crusing and hopeless burden.

Paul declared “Christ is the end of the Law ... there is righteousness for everyone who believes” and then he reminded them that those who would seek righteousness in only the law would be trapped in the hopeless pursuit of works-righteousness.

He instructed that righteousness by faith does not look for Christ and His salvation in heaven or hell but instead right where they stood—through a repentant heart and surrendered spirit when they declare Christ to be their Lord and Savior.

Paul reminded them that with Christ via faith all of humankind was granted equal access to salvation, without regard to Jew or Gentile.

Interaction

Consider

Trying to earn the right to enter heaven when the standard is perfection is a fools-errand.

Discuss

What are some of the ways that the Jews may have sought their own righteousness, despite their zealousness for God?

Reflect

Does it seem that there are many ways that many people of many cultures still engage in works-righteousness today?

Share

When have you imagined that the Lord God was far away when it was your choices that was making it hard for you to recognize that He was right beside you; actually, in your heart.

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me any way in which I may still seeking my own righteousness, Jesus plus my performance.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully reflect upon my commitment to Christ; and I will intentionally seek a path of maturity that leads to a more-complete surrender.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Romans 10:14-21)

10:14 How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them?

10:15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.”

10:16 But not all have obeyed the good news, for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?”

10:17 Consequently faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the preached word of Christ.

10:18 But I ask, have they not heard? Yes, they have: Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.

10:19 But again I ask, didn’t Israel understand? First Moses says, “I will make you jealous by those who are not a nation; with a senseless nation I will provoke you to anger.”

10:20 And Isaiah is even bold enough to say, “I was found by those who did not seek me; I became well known to those who did not ask for me.”

10:21 But about Israel he says, “All day long I held out my hands to this disobedient and stubborn people!

Prayer

Lord, You send your children who have responded to Your call to be evangelists and missionaries, and they share Your message with the unsaved. The unsaved choose to believe or not to believe. Salvation is a gift, offered to all, but is one which must be accepted. May I be grateful to those who surrendered to You not only for their salvation but to be Your instruments so that I could hear and receive.

Summary & Commentary

Paul explained that before one may believe one must first hear of the gospel of Christ.

He then noted that the ones who are doing the telling are those who have been sent by the Lord God.

He emphasized that "... the preached Word of Christ" is very important so that those who hear have an opportunity to make an informed choice.

Paul reaches back to Isaiah to demonstrate how long the Lord God has been telling His story and how long many have refused to respond in faith.

He answered the question of the Israelites “.. have they not heard” as they tried to understand why the Israelites were not Christians with “ Yes, they have ...”

Paul then reminded them of the warning of Moses that it would be non-Israelites who would first respond and that would make them jealous enough to finally listen.

He clarified “I was found by those who did not seek me; I became well known to those who did not ask for me.” [Speaking of the Gentiles]

And finally Paul quoted Isaiah, in reference to Israel “All day long I held out my hands to this disobedient and stubborn people!”

Interaction

Consider

No matter how many times Moses or Isaiah or others tried to explain faith to the Israelites most refused to break-away from living in the flesh and/or works-righteousness in the law.

Discuss

What has been your experiences with those who have “preached”. Was what they preached the pure Word of God or was something added or deleted or distorted? How do you know?

Reflect

The Lord God has chosen to use humankind in the “preaching” and “teaching”—sharing—of the gospel in his great plan of salvation.

Share

When did you hear and how long did it take you to respond?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you n opportunity to be His instrument to bring the gospel to someone who has yet to understand and surrender.

Action:

Today I will courageously and respectfully share the gospel with the one who the Holy Spirit has prepared to receive it. I will be patient as they may take some time to absorb and accept before they repent and surrender.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Romans”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Romans 11-16

Sunday (Romans 11)

Israel’s Rejection not Complete nor Final

11:1 So I ask, God has not rejected his people, has he? Absolutely not! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.

11:2 God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew! Do you not know what the scripture says about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? 11:3 “Lord, they have killed your prophets, they have demolished your altars; I alone am left and they are seeking my life!

11:4 But what was the divine response to him? “I have kept for myself seven thousand people who have not bent the knee to Baal.”

11:5 So in the same way at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 11:6 And if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace.

11:7 What then? Israel failed to obtain what it was diligently seeking, but the elect obtained it. The rest were hardened, 11:8 as it is written,

God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that would not see and ears that would not hear, to this very day.”

11:9 And David says,

Let their table become a snare and trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them;

11:10 let their eyes be darkened so that they may not see, and make their backs bend continually.”

11:11 I ask then, they did not stumble into an irrevocable fall, did they? Absolutely not! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous. 11:12 Now if their transgression means riches for the world and their defeat means riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their full restoration bring?

11:13 Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Seeing that I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 11:14 if somehow I could provoke my people to jealousy and save some of them. 11:15 For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? 11:16 If the first portion of the dough offered is holy, then the whole batch is holy, and if the root is holy, so too are the branches.

11:17 Now if some of the branches were broken off, and you, a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among them and participated in the richness of the olive root, 11:18 do not boast over the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.

11:19 Then you will say, “The branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” 11:20 Granted! They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but fear! 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, perhaps he will not spare you.

11:22 Notice therefore the kindness and harshness of God—harshness toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

11:23 And even they—if they do not continue in their unbelief—will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. 11:24 For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?

11:25 For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. 11:26 And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob.

11:27 And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”

11:28 In regard to the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but in regard to election they are dearly loved for the sake of the fathers. 11:29 For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable. 11:30 Just as you were formerly disobedient to God, but have now received mercy due to their disobedience, 11:31 so they too have now been disobedient in order that, by the mercy shown to you, they too may now receive mercy. 11:32 For God has consigned all people to disobedience so that he may show mercy to them all.

11:33 Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how fathomless his ways!

11:34 For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?

11:35 Or who has first given to God, that God needs to repay him?

11:36 For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever! Amen.

Prayer

Lord, Your plan is unfolding, we need to honor and obey and to pray for those who still need to repent and surrender to You. May I be faithful in telling Your story to those who are still strangers to You and to disciple fellow-believers who need to become better servants of yours.

Summary & Commentary

“Israel ... 7,000 people who have not bent the knee to Baal… a remnant…” preserved by the Lord God because they did not rebel by worshiping the false god.

“... chosen by grace ... salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make Israel jealous ...” [Disobedience is against the Law, first the Jews and then the Gentiles are convicted by it, this then creates the opportunity for grace to bring unmerited mercy.]

Paul used the term “grace” as he had described earlier, a response to faith, not to works, and the “elect” as he previously described to be those who met the Roman 10 standard of belief and confession to receive salvation.

Paul noted that rebellious Israel had been further-hardened by God for a time so that the Gentiles could be “grafted in” but that later on Jews who repented of their rebellion would be “grafted back in”.

The Lord God did not cause them to be hardened, they chose to worship Baal, that was their initial “hardening”. Israel had, for a time, lost its status as a favored-nation.

The Lord God used Israel as His instrument to fulfill His prophesy at the time of the Fall in the Garden of Eden, so as-such, Israel was a necessary prior-step to the Gentile’s salvation—so Paul warned the Gentiles to not disrespect the Israelites.

Those among the Israelites who would repent of their rebellion and return to the Lord God would be welcomed back into the His family for eternity.

The grace-through-mercy of God, made possible by Jesus the Christ, cannot ever be earned or deserved by fallen man but is offered in exchange for our surrender of the hopelessness of slavery to a sin-controlled existence in a fallen world.

Interaction

Consider

The Israelites had a long and rocky relationship with the Lord God, often blessed, and often punished from terrible rebellion, yet the Lord God still loved them—the same as He did the very first man and woman and everything in His creation.

Discuss

Does the pattern of options and choices give you confidence in the Lord God's promise to allow humankind free will, even though it pains Him greatly to see us fail and suffer, and even though it cost His only Son?

Reflect

The sequence of events in God’s redemption of rebellious man:

  • God permits free will and man rebels in the Garden.
  • God “corrects the course” of man at the Tower of Babel, via the Flood, through the Exodus, and in and out of captivity as a result of continued rebellion.
  • God comes in the form of the man Jesus to be The Christ to provide a way home.
  • God calls preachers and teachers via disciples and apostles.
  • God causes His Holy Bible to be written and distributed that all may know and grow.
  • God returns, takes His own home and obliterates the rest.
  • God shares eternity with His family.
Share

When have you been reading your Bible and paused in amazement at the consistency and the persistent-patience and unending love of the Lord God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of the one most-appealing thing that drew me to Him.

Action:

Today I will reflect with a fellow believer upon the incredible expanse of HIS-story—a story where God has not allowed His children to all be destroyed, a story within which He has made corrections to the flow of human history without violating the individual free will choice of everyone to chose Him or not.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Romans 12)

Consecration of the Believer’s Life

12:1 Therefore I exhort you, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a sacrifice—alive, holy, and pleasing to God—which is your reasonable service.

12:2 Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God—what is good and well-pleasing and perfect.

Conduct in Humility

12:3 For by the grace given to me I say to every one of you not to think more highly of yourself than you ought to think, but to think with sober discernment, as God has distributed to each of you a measure of faith.

12:4 For just as in one body we have many members, and not all the members serve the same function, 12:5 so we who are many are one body in Christ, and individually we are members who belong to one another.

12:6 And we have different gifts according to the grace given to us. If the gift is prophecy, that individual must use it in proportion to his faith. 12:7 If it is service, he must serve; if it is teaching, he must teach; 12:8 if it is exhortation, he must exhort; if it is contributing, he must do so with sincerity; if it is leadership, he must do so with diligence; if it is showing mercy, he must do so with cheerfulness.

Conduct in Love

12:9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil, cling to what is good.

12:10 Be devoted to one another with mutual love, showing eagerness in honoring one another.

12:11 Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord. 12:12 Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer.

12:13 Contribute to the needs of the saints, pursue hospitality.

12:14 Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse.

12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.

12:16 Live in harmony with one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly. Do not be conceited.

12:17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people.

12:18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people.

12:19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 12:20 Rather, if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head.

12:21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Prayer

Lord, You teach us to not attempt to overcome evil with more evil (because we will then be overcome by evil and the enemy will have a double-victory) but rather to overcome evil with good. May I be faithful in that, even though it is contrary to my flesh, and very difficult to do—with Your indwelling Holy Spirit I am able—in Your righteous-strength.

Summary & Commentary

It “... is your reasonable service. Do not be conformed to this present world.” Be humble, honor one another through mutual love. “Rejoice in hope, endure in suffering, persist in prayer ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

Paul implored “... present your bodies as a sacrifice ... be transformed by the renewing of your mind” so that in knowing and applying the will [known via the Word] of God one may mature as a Christian.

Paul linked back to his discussion of “judging” to make the point that humility prevents the sin to “... think more highly of yourself than you ought to think”. He then goes on to note that the exercise of “gifts” are to be in proportion to “humility”, not to show off and not ritualistically. He specifically lists prophesy, service, teaching, exhortation, contributing, leadership, and mercy.

Paul qualifies each to show the linkage between humility (as modeled by Jesus and Paul) and the exercise of gifts:

Gift Description

Humility-Qualifier

Prophesy (mostly re-telling, rarely fore-telling)

In proportion to faith (not faked)

Service (assisting others in need)

Serve (remember foot-washing)

Teaching (the Word of God w/o changes)

Teach (tell HIS-story, not yours)

Exhortation (plead for salvation and righteousness)

Exhort (not manipulate, motivate)

Contributing (give from God’s bounty)

Sincerely (not Ananias & Sapphira)

Leadership (intentionally show the way)

Diligence (integrity & persistence)

Mercy (comfort, encourage, & forgive)

Cheerfully (not reluctantly)

Paul checked-off a list of what true Biblical love “looks like”:

  • Without hypocrisy
  • Abhorring what is evil
  • Clinging to what is good
  • Devoted to one another with mutual love
  • Eagerly honoring one another
  • Zealous & enthusiastic in spirit serving the Lord
  • Rejoicing in hope
  • Enduring in suffering
  • Persisting in prayer
  • Contributing to the needs of the saints
  • Pursuing hospitality
  • Blessing those who persecute you (not cursing them)
  • Rejoicing with those who rejoice
  • Weeping with those who weep
  • Living on harmony with one another
  • Playing no favorites for the rich over poor, pretty over ugly, easy over difficult
  • Never conceited
  • Never repaying evil with evil
  • Look for the good rather than the bad as people are watching
  • When you control relational circumstances choose to live peaceably with others
  • Never seek revenge, “‘Vengeance is mine” says the Lord’”
  • Feed a hungry enemy & give a thirsty enemy drink, heap the burning coals of warmth on his head [and conviction that you are a child of the one true Lord].

Interaction

Consider

Whenever we think of ourselves more-highly than we should we are then prone to “judge” others, but when we are humble we may be discerning about others without judging them.

Discuss

How do the items on the chart and the checklist from Paul and reflect upon your life and how do they apply to your walk?

Reflect

It is the righteousness of the Lord God that His Holy Spirit pours-out through us which accomplishes the things Paul listed.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a struggle with humility which then was reflected in the right application of and attitude toward gifts?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit reveal to your at least one item on Paul’s list where you need to partner with Him in order to grow.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for perseverance in that effort.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Romans 13)

Submission to Civil Government

13:1 Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God. 13:2 So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment 13:3 (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, 13:4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. 13:5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. 13:6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. 13:7 Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due.

Exhortation to Love Neighbors

13:8 Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. 13:9 For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 13:10 Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Motivation to Godly Conduct

13:11 And do this because we know the time, that it is already the hour for us to awake from sleep, for our salvation is now nearer than when we became believers. 13:12 The night has advanced toward dawn; the day is near. So then we must lay aside the works of darkness, and put on the weapons of light. 13:13 Let us live decently as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and sensuality, not in discord and jealousy. 13:14 Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.

Prayer

Lord, You teach us about our human nature and our spiritual nature in-You, then You teach us how to manage both. May I be a humble and teachable student.

Summary & Commentary

Jesus taught: “Then give to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22:21 [Paul was expanding on the practical application of that principle.]

Fallen humans, even believers, require the “container” or boundaries of organized systems for civilization lest we drift into Sodom and Gomorrah-like anarchy “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment ... if you do wrong, be in fear ...”

Paul was not teaching Christians to be debt-free, but to be balanced (because elsewhere the management of debt is discussed) “Pay everyone what is owed ... Owe no one anything ...” describes both immediate payments in-full and debt payments on-time.

He challenged Christians whose human nature caused them to seek their own best-interest and to think of themselves as valuable to look outside of themselves and to “Love your neighbor as yourself ...”

Paul echoed the call of Jesus to live righteously “Let us live decently as in the daytime ... put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.”

Paul reminded that authority “... does not bear the sword in vain.”, because authority by-definition includes the power to enforce boundaries and rules.

He provided a list of expectations for Christians in-community as guidance:

  • “... pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing.”
  • “Pay everyone what is owed: taxes ... revenue ... respect ... honor.
  • “Owe no one anything, except to love one another

Paul provided another list for us to successfully “... live decently as in the daytime” putting “... on the Lord Jesus Christ” making “... no provision for the flesh to arouse its desires.”

  • “... not in carousing”
  • “... not in ... drunkeness”
  • “... not in sexual immorality”
  • “... not in ... sensuality”
  • “... not in discord”
  • “... not in ... jealousy”

Interaction

Consider

The fallen nature of man results in a typical outcome when fallen humans are separated from a civilizing "container" for long.

Discuss

What is your understanding of the dividing line between “that which is Caesar’s” and “that which is God’s”? Reflect upon

Reflect

Paul’s list for putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (righteous living) is reflected elsewhere in the direct teaching of Jesus, that of other Biblical authors, and in the Old Testament. The Lord God is perfectly-consistent.

Share

When have you experience or observed the consequence of the absence of authority and a “container for civilization”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in Paul's list for putting on the Lord Jesus Christ (righteous living) and identify at least one area where you need to partner with the Holy Spirit to move toward greater maturity.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for perseverance in my effort, with the Holy Spirit, to move toward greater maturity. I will share the result of that effort with that prayer-partner and we will celebrate the praise the Lord together.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Romans 14)

Exhortation to Mutual Forbearance

14:1 Now receive the one who is weak in the faith, and do not have disputes over differing opinions.

14:2 One person believes in eating everything, but the weak person eats only vegetables. 14:3 The one who eats everything must not despise the one who does not, and the one who abstains must not judge the one who eats everything, for God has accepted him.

14:4 Who are you to pass judgment on another’s servant? Before his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand.

14:5 One person regards one day holier than other days, and another regards them all alike. Each must be fully convinced in his own mind.

14:6 The one who observes the day does it for the Lord. The one who eats, eats for the Lord because he gives thanks to God, and the one who abstains from eating abstains for the Lord, and he gives thanks to God.

14:7 For none of us lives for himself and none dies for himself.

14:8 If we live, we live for the Lord; if we die, we die for the Lord. Therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.

14:9 For this reason Christ died and returned to life, so that he may be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

14:10 But you who eat vegetables only—why do you judge your brother or sister? And you who eat everything—why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

14:11 For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to me, and every tongue will give praise to God.”

14:12 Therefore, each of us will give an account of himself to God.

Exhortation for the Strong not to Destroy the Weak

14:13 Therefore we must not pass judgment on one another, but rather determine never to place an obstacle or a trap before a brother or sister.

14:14 I know and am convinced in the Lord Jesus that there is nothing unclean in itself; still, it is unclean to the one who considers it unclean.

14:15 For if your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. Do not destroy by your food someone for whom Christ died. 14:16 Therefore do not let what you consider good be spoken of as evil. 14:17 For the kingdom of God does not consist of food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. 14:18 For the one who serves Christ in this way is pleasing to God and approved by people.

14:19 So then, let us pursue what makes for peace and for building up one another. 14:20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. For although all things are clean, it is wrong to cause anyone to stumble by what you eat. 14:21 It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything that causes your brother to stumble.

14:22 The faith you have, keep to yourself before God. Blessed is the one who does not judge himself by what he approves.

14:23 But the man who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not do so from faith, and whatever is not from faith is sin.

Prayer

Lord, You give us freedoms in our faith but we are expected to be careful that we do not exercise them selfishly so as to cause our brother to stumble. May I be intentional in all that I do—bring attention and honor and glory to You.

Summary & Commentary

“Now receive the one who is weak in the faith ...” Among truly saved believers whether one treats one day as “holier” than another or all the same, eats or fasts, lives or dies, because he or she belongs to the Lord all they do—and how they do it is also for the Lord and answers only to the Lord. The only things that are unclean are those which compromise ones relationship with God. “... whatever is not from faith is sin.”

Paul used the still-confused, spiritually immature, behavior of those who were “... weak in the faith” to demonstrate living-out grace toward fellow believers. Some still harbored superstitious beliefs about meat sacrificed to idols by pagans or sacrificed to God by Law-bound incomplete Jews which prevented them from eating meat “.. the weak person eats only vegetables”, He instructed the more mature who was free to eat anything to be patient with the weaker—allowing them to do as best honored God in their heart (the weak believer).

Interaction

Consider

Condemnation of a “weak” believer, about things not essential to salvation or righteous living, may drive them out of fellowship, slow their spiritual growth, or even cause them to reject Christ (even though—if their confession-conversion was genuine—their salvation cannot be “lost” they may choose to live for a long time as if it were).

Discuss

List examples where a wrongful attitude toward a “weak” believer was confronted and corrected. What was the outcome?

Reflect

Paul used the still-confused, spiritually immature, behavior of those who were “... weak in the faith” to demonstrate living-out grace toward fellow believers.

Share

When have you experienced confusion because someone was making choices that you did not understand as a new believer but later came to understand?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where I harbor any beliefs which limit my freedom where God has not limited it (not necessarily specific to ritualistically “clean” of “unclean” foods but perhaps denominations, human religious traditions, Bible translations, styles of music, styles of clothing, buildings, gender roles in leadership, race, etc.).

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me as I partner with the Holy Spirit to purge that immature belief from my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Romans 15:1-13)

Exhortation for the Strong to Help the Weak

15:1 But we who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak, and not just please ourselves.

15:2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up. 15:3 For even Christ did not please himself, but just as it is written, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”

15:4 For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.

15:5 Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, 15:6 so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Exhortation to Mutual Acceptance

15:7 Receive one another, then, just as Christ also received you, to God’s glory.

15:8 For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the circumcised on behalf of God’s truth to confirm the promises made to the fathers, 15:9 and thus the Gentiles glorify God for his mercy. As it is written, “Because of this I will confess you among the Gentiles, and I will sing praises to your name.”

15:10 And again it says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people.”

15:11 And again, “Praise the Lord all you Gentiles, and let all the peoples praise him.”

15:12 And again Isaiah says, “The root of Jesse will come, and the one who rises to rule over the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope.”

15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, You reminded us that we have responsibilities to others—especially fellow-believers—to be caring and considerate, sacrificing some of our comfort and convenience for their sakes. May I be careful to not impose personal preferences of style and personal freedoms of expression where such might discourage those considering-Christ or confuse or discourage new and/or less-mature fellow believers.

Summary & Commentary

“... bear with the failings of the weak ... Let each of us please his neighbor for his good to build him up ... may the God of encouragement and comfort give you unity with one another ... abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit …”

Paul continued his exhortation that we “make room for” the weaker believer, that the more mature not create an environment that made things unnecessarily confusing and/or uncomfortable for newer and/or weaker believers (and those considering-Christ).

He quoted “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” just as Jesus had challenged him on the road “Why do you persecute Me?”, it is all about Him.

He reminded that Psalms 69:9 described the provision of Christ, explaining that “... everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope.”

Paul called for unity among believers, Jew and Gentile alike, “... to God’s glory.”

Paul reminded the Romans that the OT foretold salvation for the Gentiles through the Messiah and that he was “... a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles ... to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles” so that “... those who have not [yet] heard will understand.”

And he reiterated that our hope must be found in the Lord God through the Holy Spirit.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God demonstrates an amazing continuity of the Bible over thousands of years and across nations and continents. God foretold and God accomplished. We merely acknowledge.

Discuss

Do we have essential unity based on what the Bible says is important or are we rebellious—dividing over that which is not essential and which God says to not divide?

Reflect

There is amazing diversity within the body of Christ, old and young, male and female, across cultures and nationalities and race. New believers, stuck believers, and maturing believers.

Share

When have you observed older believers, not necessarily more-mature (though they may think so), imposing preferences for a Bible translation, music, order of worship, style of building decoration, etc. on others—without regard for consequences?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me a place where I have contributed to division based upon something God has said I should not

Action:

Today I will repent of what the Holy Spirit has revealed to me, I will seek forgiveness and reconciliation, or I will come along side someone who needs to do so and walk with them through the process. In either case I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that all involved will accept the comfort, strength, and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Romans 15:14-30)

Paul’s Motivation for Writing the Letter

15:14 But I myself am fully convinced about you, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, and able to instruct one another.

15:15 But I have written more boldly to you on some points so as to remind you, because of the grace given to me by God 15:16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles. I serve the gospel of God like a priest, so that the Gentiles may become an acceptable offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.

15:17 So I boast in Christ Jesus about the things that pertain to God.

15:18 For I will not dare to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in order to bring about the obedience of the Gentiles, by word and deed, 15:19 in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit of God. So from Jerusalem even as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ. 15:20 And in this way I desire to preach where Christ has not been named, so as not to build on another person’s foundation, 15:21 but as it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

Paul’s Intention of Visiting the Romans

15:22 This is the reason I was often hindered from coming to you. 15:23 But now there is nothing more to keep me in these regions, and I have for many years desired to come to you 15:24 when I go to Spain. For I hope to visit you when I pass through and that you will help me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while.

15:25 But now I go to Jerusalem to minister to the saints. 15:26 For Macedonia and Achaia are pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem.

15:27 For they were pleased to do this, and indeed they are indebted to the Jerusalem saints. For if the Gentiles have shared in their spiritual things, they are obligated also to minister to them in material things.

15:28 Therefore after I have completed this and have safely delivered this bounty to them, I will set out for Spain by way of you, 15:29 and I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of Christ’s blessing.

15:30 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, through our Lord Jesus Christ and through the love of the Spirit, to join fervently with me in prayer to God on my behalf.

15:31 Pray that I may be rescued from those who are disobedient in Judea and that my ministry in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints, 15:32 so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.

15:33 Now may the God of peace be with all of you. Amen.

Prayer

Lord, you equipped and sent the apostle Paul on Your mission to the Gentiles, and he completed it despite terrible challenges. May I discover You mission or missions for me, and may I follow his example and persevere despite opposition.

Summary & Commentary

Paul encouraged the believers “... that you yourselves are full of [the Lord God's] goodness [through His indwelling Holy Spirit], filled with all [Word-imparted and spiritually-discerned] knowledge, and able to instruct one another.”

He quoted Isaiah 52:15 as a motivation for his ministry to new groups “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.”

Paul asked for prayers for protection from “... those who are disobedient in Judea and that my ministry in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints.”

He said that he was finally free to come to the Romans because he had shared the Word to those the Lord God wanted him to tell.

Interaction

Consider

The Holy Spirit brings to the believer “goodness”, “knowledge” and wisdom, and the capacity to share all of that with others.

Discuss

With all of the evidence of the Lord God’s work in and through Paul why would “the saints in Jerusalem” have any doubts about his ministry?

Reflect

Paul wanted to do the most-difficult work, confronting religious leaders who felt threatened by Christianity (as he had when he was one of them), and to reach-out to the unsaved Gentiles.

Share

When have you experienced or observed believers questioning the ministry of someone who was clearly doing the Lord's work?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a challenging new ministry.

Action:

Today I will courageously, humbly, and prayerfully go where the Lord leads and do as He directs.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Romans 16)

Personal Greetings

16:1 Now I commend to you our sister Phoebe, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, 16:2 so that you may welcome her in the Lord in a way worthy of the saints and provide her with whatever help she may need from you, for she has been a great help to many, including me.

16:3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 16:4 who risked their own necks for my life. Not only I, but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. 16:5 Also greet the church in their house. Greet my dear friend Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia. 16:6 Greet Mary, who has worked very hard for you. 16:7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, my compatriots and my fellow prisoners. They are well known to the apostles, and they were in Christ before me. 16:8 Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. 16:9 Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and my good friend Stachys. 16:10 Greet Apelles, who is approved in Christ. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus. 16:11 Greet Herodion, my compatriot. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. 16:12 Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, laborers in the Lord. Greet my dear friend Persis, who has worked hard in the Lord.

16:13 Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother who was also a mother to me.

16:14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters with them. 16:15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas, and all the believers who are with them.

16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.

16:17 Now I urge you, brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles contrary to the teaching that you learned. Avoid them! 16:18 For these are the kind who do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of the naive.

16:19 Your obedience is known to all and thus I rejoice over you. But I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.

16:20 The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.

16:21 Timothy, my fellow worker, greets you; so do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, my compatriots. 16:22 I, Tertius, who am writing this letter, greet you in the Lord. 16:23 Gaius, who is host to me and to the whole church, greets you. Erastus the city treasurer and our brother Quartus greet you.

16:24 [[EMPTY]] 16:25

Now to him who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that had been kept secret for long ages, 16:26 but now is disclosed, and through the prophetic scriptures has been made known to all the nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—16:27 to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever! Amen.

Prayer

Lord, You drew both men and women into fellowship and many went beyond mere membership to active and sacrificial service to one-another and to the cause of spreading Your gospel. May I be counted among their number.

Summary & Commentary

Paul shared a lengthy list of men and women whom he respected as faithful and mature servants of Christ and commended them to the believers in Rome.

In the case of Phoebe he identifies her as serving a ministry role in the fellowship at Cenchrea. [Note: There is some debate as to if her role was that of a Biblically defined “deacon”(ess) or some other significant role other than deacon(ess). In either case God decided that her ministry role was significant enough to be recorded in His Bible.]

From the Bible.org Greek/Hebrew translation notes Paul’s reference to Rufus as “chosen of God ...” 16:13 is worth a pause:

Εκλεκτον 1) picked out, chosen 1a) chosen by God, 1a1) to obtain salvation through Christ 1a1a) Christians are called “chosen or elect” of God 1a2) the Messiah in called “elect”, as appointed by God to the most exalted office conceivable 1a3) choice, select, i.e. the best of its kind or class, excellence preeminent: applied to certain individual Christians

This text and translation suggests that the term “chosen” or “elect”, the same in Greek, does not mean predestined but one of many who are saved who are for reasons of the Lord God elevated somehow within the family.

Paul warned “... watch out for those who create dissensions and obstacles contrary to the teaching that you have learned ... I want you to be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil.”

Paul noted that such people “... do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own appetites. By their smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of the naive.

Paul concluded this chapter, and the Book of Romans, with a word of encouragement in the spiritual battle; “The God of grace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.”

Interaction

Consider

Paul re-emphasized the parity between Jew and Gentile, a very touchy subject in his day.

Discuss

Could Paul’s warnings against smooth talkers, flatterers, those who create dissension and obstacles—defined as selfish and self-serving—to be resisted and avoided—apply to the fellowship of believers today?

Reflect upon the consistency of the message of God—here Paul, in the service of God paralleled the writing of Luke in intentionally citing the ministry role of a woman, thereby reinforcing again the teaching of Jesus that in His family there is no division between Jew or Gentile, male or female.

Share

When have you observed that the importance of grace to the Lord God resulted in His intervention to “crush Satan” when prayer was raised against his evil attacks?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a circumstance where “... smooth talkers, flatterers, those who create dissension and obstacles” may be harming a fellowship in your area.

Action:

Today I will pray for protection of the fellowship under siege and that the leadership will respond Biblically—in prayer and action.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Romans”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

1 and 2 Corinthians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections With a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

1 Corinthians 1-7

Sunday (1 Corinthians 1)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Sosthenes, our brother, 1:2 to the church of God that is in Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, and called to be saints, with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours. 1:3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thanksgiving

1:4 I always thank my God for you because of the grace of God that was given to you in Christ Jesus. 1:5 For you were made rich in every way in him, in all your speech and in every kind of knowledge—1:6 just as the testimony about Christ has been confirmed among you—1:7 so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:8 He will also strengthen you to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:9 God is faithful, by whom you were called into fellowship with his son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Divisions in the Church

1:10 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to agree together, to end your divisions, and to be united by the same mind and purpose.

1:11 For members of Chloe’s household have made it clear to me, my brothers and sisters, that there are quarrels among you. 1:12 Now I mean this, that each of you is saying, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” or “I am with Cephas,” or “I am with Christ.”

1:13 Is Christ divided? Paul wasn’t crucified for you, was he? Or were you in fact baptized in the name of Paul? 1:14 I thank God that I did not baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius, 1:15 so that no one can say that you were baptized in my name! 1:16 (I also baptized the household of Stephanus. Otherwise, I do not remember whether I baptized anyone else.)

1:17 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel—and not with clever speech, so that the cross of Christ would not become useless.

The Message of the Cross

1:18 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1:19 For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and I will thwart the cleverness of the intelligent.” 1:20 Where is the wise man? Where is the expert in the Mosaic law? Where is the debater of this age? Has God not made the wisdom of the world foolish?

1:21 For since in the wisdom of God the world by its wisdom did not know God, God was pleased to save those who believe by the foolishness of preaching.

1:22 For Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks ask for wisdom, 1:23 but we preach about a crucified Christ, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles.

1:24 But to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.

1:25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.

1:26 Think about the circumstances of your call, brothers and sisters. Not many were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were born to a privileged position.

1:27 But God chose what the world thinks foolish to shame the wise, and God chose what the world thinks weak to shame the strong.

1:28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, what is regarded as nothing, to set aside what is regarded as something, 1:29 so that no one can boast in his presence.

1:30 He is the reason you have a relationship with Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 1:31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

Prayer

Lord, Your gift to us may have been communicated through a fellow human but it is You-alone Whom we should worship. May I keep my eyes on You and not on human leaders.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reiterated one of the titles of Christians as “saints”, noting their parity “… with all those in every place who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”

Paul affirmed that the believers in Corinth had received the indwelling Holy Spirit of God and therefore “… were made rich in every way in Him”.

[Note: Paul didn’t list any special gifts, he merely celebrated that they were filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit and therefore had access to very gift God gives to all believers—in order to serve Him.]

Paul confronted them for their idolatry of leaders “I am with Paul, or I am with Apollos, or I am with Cephas, or I am with Christ”, challenging them “Is Christ divided?”

[Note: A letter of reference from an established leader, e.g. when Barnabas spoke on Paul’s behalf or Paul spoke on behalf of Cephas, may lend to one some degree of credibility, but when any Christian leader allows him or herself to be idolized in the same manner as Paul criticized they are clearly in rebellion against the Word of God.]

Paul reminded them that they were not saved as a result of a mere pagan-like emotional response to “miraculous signs”, as many of the Jews demanded, or clever-sounding human wisdom, as the Greeks sought. For those who accepted the invitation of the Lord “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”

Paul also reminded them that most Christians were not from clever or powerful or wealthy backgrounds, as one might expect of the traditional identity of persons in a royal family, but rather were children “adopted” based on their faith-response to the truth of God. After their faith-response they were “called” or ‘invited’ or ‘summoned’ to be His children for an eternity beyond-time.

In verse 1:24 Paul used the Greek term κλητοις which from the Greek/Hebrew reference at Bible.org means:

1) called, invited (to a banquet) 1a) invited (by God in the proclamation of the Gospel) to obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom through Christ 1b) called to (the discharge of) some office 1b1) divinely selected and appointed

Please note that the primary definition is “invited” and is not “compelled”. with a secondary
definition “divinely selected and appointed”, a lesser or weaker alternative yet one that still implies a standard-applied rather than a role imposed (as is the case with predestination).

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God levels the social boundaries and traditions, making all who are in His family peers, and providing gifts for ministry to all.

Discuss

How can Christ truly be preached and people still make idols of the preacher?

Reflect

The Enemy uses our worldly conditioning to create distractions and dissension inside of the family of believers; looking at mere humans as idols requires one to look away from God.

Share

When have you experienced or observed the idolatry of a religious leader?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone in the business, entertainment, religious, or political world at whom you tend to look at in awe and to whom you give too much power to influence choices that you make.

Action:

Today I will reconsider fashion choices I would not make were Jesus standing visibly before me, or entertainment choices, or language I know Jesus would find disagreeable, or political actions in opposition to Biblical teaching, or priority-given to the less-important to the detriment of the more-important (perhaps man’s traditions or buildings or religious institutions). I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I break free of any human influence that leads me away from Jesus as the only Lord of my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (1 Corinthians 2)

2:1 When I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come with superior eloquence or wisdom as I proclaimed the testimony of God.

2:2 For I decided to be concerned about nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and him crucified. 2:3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and with much trembling.

2:4 My conversation and my preaching were not with persuasive words of wisdom, but with a demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 2:5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.

Wisdom from God

2:6 Now we do speak wisdom among the mature, but not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are perishing.

2:7 Instead we speak the wisdom of God, hidden in a mystery, that God determined before the ages for our glory. 2:8 None of the rulers of this age understood it. If they had known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

2:9 But just as it is written, “Things that no eye has seen, or ear heard, or mind imagined, are the things God has prepared for those who love him.

2:10 God has revealed these to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.

2:11 For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.

2:12 Now we have not received the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things that are freely given to us by God.

2:13 And we speak about these things, not with words taught us by human wisdom, but with those taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual things to spiritual people.

2:14 The unbeliever does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him. And he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

2:15 The one who is spiritual discerns all things, yet he himself is understood by no one.

2:16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, so as to advise him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You have given to humankind a very simple and repeated Word of Your wisdom—to listen to and obey You and You will provide a way back—yet we have refused to listen and obey. May I listen and obey, not merely rest on Your assurance of my salvation, but to share with others Your Gospel.

Summary & Commentary

Paul avoided the use of human wisdom or clever persuasion but the pure Word of God, “… Jesus Christ, and Him crucified … so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on the power of God.”

[Note: Paul draws a clear line of delineation between what is taught to potential seekers and “baby” believers and what to “the mature”. A non-believer has no chance, without the indwelling Holy Spirit, of comprehending “wisdom” but only the simple saving message of power of God. The baby believer is capable of moving beyond that but few ever choose to do so.]

He taught that believers received the indwelling Spirit of God so that He may teach the things that have been hidden for a time, things that the unbeliever cannot comprehend or accept.

[Note: Paul affirms the “personhood” of the Holy Spirit in verses 2:10-11 “God has revealed these things to us by the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”]

Paul also explained the difference between a saved and unsaved person, the reason why he elsewhere teaches that a believer and unbeliever should never marry and never be joined in a business partnership, the unbeliever will never understand the reasons why a believer lives as he or she does.

[Note: There is no Biblical concept as “missionary dating” or “missionary dealing”.]

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God provides wisdom that cannot be found in any human source.

Discuss

What was the key difference, as Paul presented it, between expectations between the unsaved (perhaps those considering-Christ), baby/new believers, and more-mature believers?

Reflect

There are different perspectives and priorities between a saved versus an unsaved person and that has an impact on a business partnership or a marriage relationship.

Share

In the fellowships with which you have been familiar, was it clear that the leadership understood Paul’s teaching as to differences between unsaved people versus baby believers versus mature believers?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you anything about the way that you interact with "baby" believers, more-mature believers, and non-believers that needs to change. Are my expectations appropriate to what Paul taught about these three different populations? Do I choose my words and the nature of my interactions appropriately?

Action:

Today I will alter my interaction, as the Holy Spirit leads, so that I am a more-valuable instrument in His ministry.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (1 Corinthians 3)

Immaturity and Self-deception

3:1 So, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but instead as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. 3:2 I fed you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready. In fact, you are still not ready, 3:3 for you are still influenced by the flesh. For since there is still jealousy and dissension among you, are you not influenced by the flesh and behaving like unregenerate people? 3:4 For whenever someone says, “I am with Paul,” or “I am with Apollos,” are you not merely human?

3:5 What is Apollos, really? Or what is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, and each of us in the ministry the Lord gave us.

3:6 I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.

3:7 So neither the one who plants counts for anything, nor the one who waters, but God who causes the growth. 3:8 The one who plants and the one who waters work as one, but each will receive his reward according to his work.

3:9 We are coworkers belonging to God. You are God’s field, God’s building. 3:10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master-builder I laid a foundation, but someone else builds on it. And each one must be careful how he builds.

3:11 For no one can lay any foundation other than what is being laid, which is Jesus Christ.

3:12 If anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 3:13 each builder’s work will be plainly seen, for the Day will make it clear, because it will be revealed by fire. And the fire will test what kind of work each has done. 3:14 If what someone has built survives, he will receive a reward. 3:15 If someone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

3:16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 3:17 If someone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, which is what you are.

3:18 Guard against self-deception, each of you. If someone among you thinks he is wise in this age, let him become foolish so that he can become wise.

3:19 For the wisdom of this age is foolishness with God. As it is written, “He catches the wise in their craftiness.”

3:20 And again, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”

3:21 So then, no more boasting about mere mortals! For everything belongs to you, 3:22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future. Everything belongs to you, 3:23 and you belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.

Prayer

Lord, You teach through mere humans but the Word of truth is still from You alone. May I be watchful not to allow respect for a good teacher to take my eyes off of You-alone.

Summary & Commentary

Because the Corinthians had resisted separation from the world they had not grown—Paul expressed frustration that he could not lead them to greater maturity because they lacked a foundation upon which to build.

Paul used an agricultural illustration, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God caused it to grow.” The human servants are nothing, what is important comes from God alone. “So then, no more boasting about mere mortals!”

Paul called them to seek maturity “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?

Finally, Paul warned against self-deception, that baby-believers must never imagine themselves to be wise or mature or strong in-their-flesh, but only wise, mature, and strong becaue of what they have received from the Lord God.

Interaction
Consider

The reason so many who attend fellowships, mislabeled "churches", do not grow is because they look to other humans and their institutions to give growth instead of the Lord God.

Discuss

When you think about your early walk with Christ and some of the ways that you “got out ahead” of God, presuming maturity, strength, and/or wisdom you did not yet possess—and how the enemy used that to lead you into some difficult situations—what role did the support of fellow believers and the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit play in moving you to maturity?

Reflect

Spiritual growth is a voluntary partnership between the believer and the Holy Spirit.

Share

When have you observed the idolatry of human leaders in a religious context?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place your life where you are either looking too much to a human leader than directly to God, are resisting the Holy Spirit’s obvious efforts to lead you to greater maturity, or are presuming upon more maturity than you have yet received from the Lord God.

Action:

Today I will humbly acknowledge where I am repeatedly finding myself in overwhelming situations. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I reconcile myself to a more Biblical standing.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (1 Corinthians 4)

The Apostles’ Ministry

4:1 One should think about us this way—as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

4:2 Now what is sought in stewards is that one be found faithful. 4:3 So for me, it is a minor matter that I am judged by you or by any human court. In fact, I do not even judge myself. 4:4 For I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not acquitted because of this. The one who judges me is the Lord.

4:5 So then, do not judge anything before the time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the motives of hearts. Then each will receive recognition from God.

4:6 I have applied these things to myself and Apollos because of you, brothers and sisters, so that through us you may learn “not to go beyond what is written,” so that none of you will be puffed up in favor of the one against the other. 4:7 For who concedes you any superiority? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you received it, why do you boast as though you did not?

4:8 Already you are satisfied! Already you are rich! You have become kings without us! I wish you had become kings so that we could reign with you! 4:9 For, I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to die, because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to people.

4:10 We are fools for Christ, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, we are dishonored! 4:11 To the present hour we are hungry and thirsty, poorly clothed, brutally treated, and without a roof over our heads. 4:12 We do hard work, toiling with our own hands. When we are verbally abused, we respond with a blessing, when persecuted, we endure, 4:13 when people lie about us, we answer in a friendly manner. We are the world’s dirt and scum, even now.

A Father’s Warning

4:14 I am not writing these things to shame you, but to correct you as my dear children.

4:15 For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

4:16 I encourage you, then, be imitators of me.

4:17 For this reason, I have sent Timothy to you, who is my dear and faithful son in the Lord. He will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.

4:18 Some have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. 4:19 But I will come to you soon, if the Lord is willing, and I will find out not only the talk of these arrogant people, but also their power.

4:20 For the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power.

4:21 What do you want? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline or with love and a spirit of gentleness?

Prayer

Lord, You expect anyone in leadership to be as humble as those whom they are entrusted to lead. May I always remember my complete reliance upon You for everything of value in my life.

Summary & Commentary

Paul taught that “… what is sought in stewards is that one be found faithful.”

He rejected those who condemned him for some worldly reason, saying “The one who judges me is the Lord …”

Paul warned teachers to “… learn not to go beyond what is written.”

He challenged them to avoid pride since nothing they had of eternal value came from their own resources “… What do you have that you did not receive?”

Paul explained his authority to oversee them “… I became your Father in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”

He offered to serve as a role model of one who was himself humbled by the Lord God “… I have sent Timothy to you… He will remind you of my ways in Christ… I encourage you, then, be imitators of me. ”

Paul cautioned them that Jesus did not come to start a debating-society or a religious institution but rather came with the power to set the captives of sin free and to transform people from meaningless pawns of Satan to purposeful instruments of hope “… the kingdom of God is demonstrated not in idle talk but with power.”

He warned that none should presume to judge the eternal standing of another but to wait and allow the Lord to do so at the Final Judgment.

Paul noted that he and Apollos held themselves to the same standard of humility that they asked of others.

Interaction
Consider

Faithfulness to the Word, nothing added or subtracted, is a high priority.

Discuss

What is the evidence, or lack of evidence, in your current fellowship of a powerful call to all believers to emphasize growth in faithfulness to God and to the priorities of Christ?

Reflect

Among the religious leaders whom you have observed, do they show the level of humility modeled by Paul or have they fallen prey to a temptation-to-pride?

Share

When have you observed a humble and Biblically-faithful leader—what impact did that have on the health of the fellowship?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your walk with the Lord God where your faithfulness is weak and that you instead turn to worldly sources for provision and ‘wisdom’.

Action:

Today I will humbly ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for greater surrender to the Lordship of Christ through the Holy Spirit.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday

1 Corinthians 5

Church Discipline

5:1 It is actually reported that sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles, so that someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife.

5:2 And you are proud! Shouldn’t you have been deeply sorrowful instead and removed the one who did this from among you?

5:3 For even though I am absent physically, I am present in spirit. And I have already judged the one who did this, just as though I were present.

5:4 When you gather together in the name of our Lord Jesus, and I am with you in spirit, along with the power of our Lord Jesus, 5:5 turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.

5:6 Your boasting is not good. Don’t you know that a little yeast affects the whole batch of dough? 5:7 Clean out the old yeast so that you may be a new batch of dough—you are, in fact, without yeast. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

5:8 So then, let us celebrate the festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of vice and evil, but with the bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

5:9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people. 5:10 In no way did I mean the immoral people of this world, or the greedy and swindlers and idolaters, since you would then have to go out of the world.

5:11 But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person.

5:12 For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside?

5:13 But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.

Prayer

Lord, You offered us salvation for the same reason that You set-apart Israel, to draw us into an intimate and righteous relationship with You. May I be watchful that I hold myself and fellow-believers accountable for right-relationship rather than pointing fingers at the unsaved.

Summary & Commentary

Paul expressed shock and disappointment that “… sexual immorality exists among you, the kind of immorality that is not permitted even among the Gentiles … someone is cohabiting with his father’s wife”

He challenged them for and attitude of pride rather than of deep sorrow. Their attitude was much like that of Israel when they criticized their pagan neighbors, or the Pharisees when they prayed pridefully that they were glad not to be like “those others”.

Paul instructed them to “ … turn this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord”

He warned them that … a little yeast affects the whole batch” so they needed to remove him from the fellowship, that allowing unrepentant believers, actively engaged in behaviors offensive to God, will poison the spiritual well-being of the entire fellowship.

Paul instructed them do “ … not associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler … judge those inside … Remove the evil person from among you”, to expel an unrepentant member for sexual misbehavior.

Paul challenged the institutional arrogance of a local fellowship that was more proud of their numbers and their vaunted-tolerance than of their maturity and righteousness.

Paul called for discipline to be exercised by the local fellowship as a warning to others that the same discipline faced them if they were engaged in unrepentant sin.

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God wants us to make two connected-choices, first to repent and to accept His restorative-gift of salvation, and second to surrender to His active Lordship.

Discuss

What is likely to happen in a situation where an unrepentant believer, actively engaged in behaviors offensive to God, is offered loving reconciliation but refuses and is expelled. Will others decide to break-away from their sin, confess and seek forgiveness, and be reconciled?

Reflect

How can one criticize the sin of the unsaved, who lack the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and then engage in (or tolerate in other believers) the very same sin?

Share

When have you observed a situation where an unrepentant believer, actively engaged in behaviors offensive to God, was not expelled but allowed to remain. What was the result?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a member of your fellowship who is resisting God’s call to repent of their evil conduct.

Action:

Today I will pray for a member of my fellowship who is resisting God’s call to repent of their evil conduct, who has been disciplined, and who is therefore also resisting the opportunity to be reconciled and restored to full fellowship. Or, I will pray for leaders to accept God’s wisdom and that they will deal appropriately with an unrepentant believer-in-sin who is poisoning the fellowship.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (1 Corinthians 6)

Lawsuits

6:1 When any of you has a legal dispute with another, does he dare go to court before the unrighteous rather than before the saints?

6:2 Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you not competent to settle trivial suits?

6:3 Do you not know that we will judge angels? Why not ordinary matters!

6:4 So if you have ordinary lawsuits, do you appoint as judges those who have no standing in the church?

6:5 I say this to your shame! Is there no one among you wise enough to settle disputes between fellow Christians? 6:6 Instead, does a Christian sue a Christian, and do this before unbelievers?

6:7 The fact that you have lawsuits among yourselves demonstrates that you have already been defeated. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be cheated? 6:8 But you yourselves wrong and cheat, and you do this to your brothers and sisters!

6:9 Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived! The sexually immoral, idolaters, adulterers, passive homosexual partners, practicing homosexuals, 6:10 thieves, the greedy, drunkards, the verbally abusive, and swindlers will not inherit the kingdom of God.

6:11 Some of you once lived this way. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Flee Sexual Immorality

6:12 “All things are lawful for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “All things are lawful for me”—but I will not be controlled by anything.

6:13 “Food is for the stomach and the stomach is for food, but God will do away with both.” The body is not for sexual immorality, but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body.

6:14 Now God indeed raised the Lord and he will raise us by his power.

6:15 Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never!

6:16 Or do you not know that anyone who is united with a prostitute is one body with her? For it is said, “The two will become one flesh.”

6:17 But the one united with the Lord is one spirit with him. 6:18 Flee sexual immorality! “Every sin a person commits is outside of the body”—but the immoral person sins against his own body.

6:19 Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? 6:20 For you were bought at a price. Therefore glorify God with your body.

Prayer

Lord, because Your Holy Spirit dwells in every believer, we have each become “… the temple of the Holy Spirit”. May I be mindful that there are many things that I choose which offend Him and some places He will not go with me.

Summary & Commentary

Paul chastised the Corinthians for the absence of Christian conciliation, reconciliation, remediation and arbitration but for instead taking one another before a non-Christian authority for the judgment of disputes.

He reminded them that those who are unrepentant in their sin would not be allowed into Heaven.

Paul reminded them that the repentance of believers is a testimony to their salvation, so the corollary was also true, the absence of repentance testified to the absence of salvation.

Paul again challenged them to live righteously as the children of God, and dwelling-place of the Holy Spirit of God, honoring rather than dishonoring their bodies.

Interaction
Consider

The very Holy Spirit of the Lord God dwells in every believer.

Discuss

How does knowing that the Holy Spirit of God dwells in you help you to make more God-honoring choices?

Reflect

There is power from viewing every decision with a true sense of the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God—in the context that they see you as already sanctified and made holy in Heaven.

Share

When have you experienced of observed believers taking fellow believers to court? What was the consequence to the fellowship, or fellowships, involved? What was the context of the perceptions of the community?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a bad choice you made because you forgot that the Holy Spirit lives in you and desires that you not take Him into unrighteousness.

Action:

Today I will revisit a bad choice that I have been making from the prayerfully-considered perspective that Jesus and the Holy Spirit of God see me as already sanctified and made holy in Heaven. I will describe that experience with a fellow believer and ask them to pray in agreement that I will bring all of my decisions into the same context.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (1 Corinthians 7)

Celibacy and Marriage

7:1 Now with regard to the issues you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.”

7:2 But because of immoralities, each man should have relations with his own wife and each woman with her own husband.

7:3 A husband should give to his wife her sexual rights, and likewise a wife to her husband.

7:4 It is not the wife who has the rights to her own body, but the husband. In the same way, it is not the husband who has the rights to his own body, but the wife.

7:5 Do not deprive each other, except by mutual agreement for a specified time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then resume your relationship, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

7:6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7:7 I wish that everyone was as I am. But each has his own gift from God, one this way, another that.

7:8 To the unmarried and widows I say that it is best for them to remain as I am.

7:9 But if they do not have self-control, let them get married. For it is better to marry than to burn with sexual desire.

7:10 To the married I give this command—not I, but the Lord—a wife should not divorce a husband 7:11 (but if she does, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband), and a husband should not divorce his wife.

7:12 To the rest I say—I, not the Lord—if a brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is happy to live with him, he should not divorce her.

7:13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is happy to live with her, she should not divorce him.

7:14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified because of the wife, and the unbelieving wife because of her husband. Otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

7:15 But if the unbeliever wants a divorce, let it take place. In these circumstances the brother or sister is not bound. God has called you in peace.

7:16 For how do you know, wife, whether you will bring your husband to salvation? Or how do you know, husband, whether you will bring your wife to salvation?

The Circumstances of Your Calling

7:17 Nevertheless, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each person, so must he live. I give this sort of direction in all the churches. 7:18 Was anyone called after he had been circumcised? He should not try to undo his circumcision. Was anyone called who is uncircumcised? He should not get circumcised. 7:19 Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing. Instead, keeping God’s commandments is what counts.

7:20 Let each one remain in that situation in life in which he was called. 7:21 Were you called as a slave? Do not worry about it. But if indeed you are able to be free, make the most of the opportunity.

7:22 For the one who was called in the Lord as a slave is the Lord’s freedman. In the same way, the one who was called as a free person is Christ’s slave. 7:23 You were bought with a price. Do not become slaves of men.

7:24 In whatever situation someone was called, brothers and sisters, let him remain in it with God.

Remaining Unmarried

7:25 With regard to the question about people who have never married, I have no command from the Lord, but I give my opinion as one shown mercy by the Lord to be trustworthy.

7:26 Because of the impending crisis I think it best for you to remain as you are.

7:27 The one bound to a wife should not seek divorce. The one released from a wife should not seek marriage.

7:28 But if you marry, you have not sinned. And if a virgin marries, she has not sinned. But those who marry will face difficult circumstances, and I am trying to spare you such problems.

7:29 And I say this, brothers and sisters: The time is short. So then those who have wives should be as those who have none, 7:30 those with tears like those not weeping, those who rejoice like those not rejoicing, those who buy like those without possessions, 7:31 those who use the world as though they were not using it to the full. For the present shape of this world is passing away.

7:32 And I want you to be free from concern. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.

7:33 But a married man is concerned about the things of the world, how to please his wife, 7:34 and he is divided. An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the things of the Lord, to be holy both in body and spirit. But a married woman is concerned about the things of the world, how to please her husband.

7:35 I am saying this for your benefit, not to place a limitation on you, but so that without distraction you may give notable and constant service to the Lord.

7:36 If anyone thinks he is acting inappropriately toward his virgin, if she is past the bloom of youth and it seems necessary, he should do what he wishes; he does not sin. Let them marry.

7:37 But the man who is firm in his commitment, and is under no necessity but has control over his will, and has decided in his own mind to keep his own virgin, does well.

7:38 So then, the one who marries his own virgin does well, but the one who does not, does better.

7:39 A wife is bound as long as her husband is living. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes (only someone in the Lord). 7:40 But in my opinion, she will be happier if she remains as she is—and I think that I too have the Spirit of God!

Prayer

Lord, Your greatest desire is that we be in the most-intimate relationship with You, but You will share us with a peer-believer in marriage. May I always has as my first love the Lord God.

Summary & Commentary

Paul calls each to serve God as best they can as He found and saved them “… as God has called each person, so must he [or she] live”, slave or free, married or single, to not be obsessed with altering their worldly condition but to focus on how to best serve the Lord.

He reiterates that the Lord God does not want people to be divorced but that He does allow for divorce, in two illustrations in the case of the unbeliever choosing to leave the believing spouse, and the other the one who divorces a believing-spouse may not marry another so long as the spouse lives—but they may re-marry their spouse.

[Note: Deuteronomy describes a limitation to marrying a former spouse who has been married to another since the divorce. It does not describe “marriage” such that one may consider a ‘marriage-equivalent’ relationship as fitting the limitation. There is no language describing if the restriction of marriage to another exists if the former spouse marries another.]

Paul explains that his recommendation of singleness is “Because of the impending crisis … I want you to be free from concern …”, that he wants them to be undistracted by a spouse or children, and less vulnerable to threats against their loved ones.

[Note: Paul’s reference to getting married is not intended to suggest that people with a lust problem rush into marriage, as that would continue within the marriage and likely tear it apart. He was speaking mostly to engaged couples who - in those times - were all-but married and were highly tempted. Thus his reference to “his virgin” in verse 7:38]

Interaction
Consider

There is potential for a healthier new perspective in the lives of believers if they will place the Lord God ahead of romantic relationships.

Discuss

How are romantic relationships, both as youth and adults, distracting from spiritual maturity and how does that remain even in a Biblical-Christian marriage?

Reflect upon the

Reflect

It is important for a couple in marital conflict to engage more-mature members of the fellowship to assist them in an intentional process of reconciliation with a limited time of separation—to prevent a third-party romance from interfering while they are weak and apart.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a romantic relationship interfering with a healthy relationship with the Lord God?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a current, or past, circumstance where a romantic relationship interfered with your relationship with the Lord God.

Action:

Today I will pray that I will place God first, in my marriage, or if single in every relationship—that I will desperately seek God instead of a fellow human.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “1 Corinthians” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

1 Corinthians 8 - 14

Sunday (1 Corinthians 8)

Food Sacrificed to Idols

8:1 With regard to food sacrificed to idols, we know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.

8:2 If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know.

8:3 But if someone loves God, he is known by God.

8:4 With regard then to eating food sacrificed to idols, we know that “an idol in this world is nothing,” and that “there is no God but one.”

8:5 If after all there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),

8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live.

8:7 But this knowledge is not shared by all. And some, by being accustomed to idols in former times, eat this food as an idol sacrifice, and their conscience, because it is weak, is defiled.

8:8 Now food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do.

8:9 But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak.

8:10 For if someone weak sees you who possess knowledge dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience be “strengthened” to eat food offered to idols?

8:11 So by your knowledge the weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed.

8:12 If you sin against your brothers or sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.

8:13 For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.

Prayer

Lord, You are the only True God, all other claims to “god” are false and are of the Enemy, the devil. May I be careful to never give-away power to any sort of an idol nor to confuse a brother or sister through carelessness in the use of things that they still associate with idols.

Summary & Commentary

Idols are nothing in reality but to the unsaved and the immature believer some are confused by the things associated with them.

Paul challenged the more mature believers to be alert to the potential that their conduct may have, thought not necessarily bad in and of itself, to the easily confused unsaved person or immature believer.

It is better to avoid being observed or known to engage in some activities if they may be used by the Enemy to harm the vulnerable—it is a voluntary sacrifice as an act of caring about others.

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God is the only True God and all others are deceivers.

Discuss

How could actions, places, and words be used by the Enemy to confuse potential believers about Christ or His power to bring freedom from sin?

Reflect

How might an immature believer or a potential believer be confused watching you yelling at a clerk in a store or at a referee at a ball game, behaving disrespectfully toward your spouse, mistreating your children, asking someone to help you to cheat on your taxes, downloading entertainment or other computer-base software illegally, observing you drunk in a bar room or wasting God’s money in a casino or on lottery tickets, boasting, gossiping, lying. or threatening a brother or a non-believer with legal or physical or social violence?

Share

When have you observed a believer being careless in their choices? Did it confuse you or someone else about the Lord God or about the nature of that person’s faith?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where your “witness for Christ” needs some help.

Action:

Today I promise to partner with Him to repent (turn away) and mature. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement and to walk with me to greater maturity.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (1 Corinthians 9)

The Rights of an Apostle

9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?

9:2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the confirming sign of my apostleship in the Lord.

9:3 This is my defense to those who examine me. 9:4 Do we not have the right to financial support?

9:5 Do we not have the right to the company of a believing wife, like the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?

9:6 Or do only Barnabas and I lack the right not to work? 9:7 Who ever serves in the army at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Who tends a flock and does not consume its milk?

9:8 Am I saying these things only on the basis of common sense, or does the law not say this as well? 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” God is not concerned here about oxen, is he? 9:10 Or is he not surely speaking for our benefit? It was written for us, because the one plowing and threshing ought to work in hope of enjoying the harvest. 9:11 If we sowed spiritual blessings among you, is it too much to reap material things from you?

9:12 If others receive this right from you, are we not more deserving? But we have not made use of this right. Instead we endure everything so that we may not be a hindrance to the gospel of Christ.

9:13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar receive a part of the offerings? 9:14 In the same way the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel.

9:15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing these things so that something will be done for me. In fact, it would be better for me to die than—no one will deprive me of my reason for boasting! 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward. But if I do it unwillingly, I am entrusted with a responsibility. 9:18 What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel I may offer the gospel free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights in the gospel.

9:19 For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people.

9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) to gain those under the law.

9:21 To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law.

9:22 To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some.

9:23 I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it.

9:24 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win.

9:25 Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.

9:26 So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. 9:27 Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.

Prayer

Lord, You call a few to a higher-level of sacrificial ministry, though You call every believer to a lifetime of daily ministry. May I be watchful for faithful servants who may have needs, in addition encouragement and prayer, which You wish me to help meet.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded them that the true Christian is “compelled” to preach Christ.

He observed that among the apostles, the Lord’s [biological/legal] brothers, and Cephas only he and Barnabas were without “the company of a believing wife.”

Paul addressed the reasonable and Biblical expectation that the members of a fellowship provide for the needs of those sent by God to lead them.

Paul concluded that he chose not to accept regular support [he did accept occasional gifts, especially when imprisoned] so that he was unencumbered by human expectations.

Interaction
Consider

If ministry were simplified to parallel the apostle Paul’s, "preaching nothing but Christ and Him crucified" (to the unsaved) and challenging the saved to a Biblical standard of maturity, perhaps the opportunities for manipulation might be reduced.

Discuss

How might a pastor, or others in ministry leadership be supported so that they are not distracted by unmet physical needs, yet are protected from institutional manipulation?

Reflect

The sacrifices made by all of the early leaders called by Jesus are a stark contrast to the way that many of us complain of the least inconvenience.

Share

When have you observed a highly-structured religious organization, with salaried pastors and staff, begins to misuse the pastor and staff’s financial and organizational dependence to manipulate how they functioned as leaders?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a leader or leader to whom I should give special support for their ministry for the Lord God.

Action:

Today I will consider how I support the spiritual leaders of my fellowship. If I believe that they were called to leadership and are being Biblically-faithful in their teaching then I will invest in their effectiveness for Christ. If I am a leader I will reflect upon the stewardship of the support God has led His children to provide and be certain that my choices do not impose unnecessary burdens upon those whom I serve.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (1 Corinthians 10)

Learning from Israel’s Failures

10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, 10:2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 10:3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.

10:5 But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were cut down in the wilderness.

10:6 These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did.

10:7 So do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”

10:8 And let us not be immoral, as some of them were, and twenty-three thousand died in a single day.

10:9 And let us not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes.

10:10 And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel.

10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come.

10:12 So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall.

10:13 No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.

Avoid Idol Feasts

10:14 So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 10:15 I am speaking to thoughtful people. Consider what I say. 10:16 Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all share the one bread. 10:18 Look at the people of Israel. Are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?

10:19 Am I saying that idols or food sacrificed to them amount to anything? 10:20 No, I mean that what the pagans sacrifice is to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot take part in the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 10:22 Or are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we really stronger than he is?

Live to Glorify God

10:23 “Everything is lawful,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful,” but not everything builds others up.

10:24 Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person.

10:25 Eat anything that is sold in the marketplace without questions of conscience, 10:26 for the earth and its abundance are the Lord’s.

10:27 If an unbeliever invites you to dinner and you want to go, eat whatever is served without asking questions of conscience.

10:28 But if someone says to you, “This is from a sacrifice,” do not eat, because of the one who told you and because of conscience—10:29 I do not mean yours but the other person’s. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?

10:30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I blamed for the food that I give thanks for? 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.

10:32 Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, 10:33 just as I also try to please everyone in all things. I do not seek my own benefit, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved.

Prayer

Lord, You gave Adam and Eve freedom to make choices in the Garden and they chose wrongly, and continuously over history You did so with humankind. May I learn from history and make an intentional effort to not repeat the errors of the past.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded the believers that Christ was the “rock” from which the people who followed the leadership of Moses “drank the water of life”, but many were rebellious and the consequence was death.

In 1Cor10:9 he identified Numbers 21:5-9 as a direct reference to Christ, a testimony to the pre-existence of Christ that also occurs in Jude 5.

Paul explained the purpose of the Lord God allowing choices and consequences in the Old Testament times “These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction …”

He gave them a word of wisdom to prevent them both from arrogant or careless failure “No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 13

Paul warned them to not participate in activities honoring evil, while the mere physical elements (food and drink) may be harmless, the sociological and spiritual elements are not.

He reinforced the teaching of freedom-with-responsibility for Christians; one may freely “Eat anything that is sold in the marketplace without questions of conscience …” and may also eat freely when the guest of an unbeliever, but should an immature believer raise a concern that the food had been sacrificed to idols one should refrain from eating in their presence. [Note: Paul is not intending to say that everything in the marketplace is equally healthy, as relates to “taking care of the Temple”, but is clearly restricting his meaning to spiritual matters or “conscience”.]

Interaction
Consider

There is nothing new about the ways that we "set ourselves up to fail" through choices that are clearly not God-honoring and/or are carelessly made without pausing to consult God though His indwelling Holy Spirit.

Discuss

How does a believer separate the "tests" or faithfulness to which Paul referred from the day-to-day challenges of life in a fallen world? Isn’t there a difficult balance between freedom and responsibility?

Reflect

There is great value in the assurance and strength-for-endurance-in-righteousness which flows from the promise of God in 1 Cor. 10:13.

Share

When have you found the Lord God’s assurance in 1 Cor. 10:13 just what you needed to endure a difficult life-challenge?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one area of your life where you all-too-often repeat a poor decision and set yourself up to fail as a good witness to Christ and as a more-mature believer pursuing an intentionally-righteous life.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I recognize the gift of discernment which is promised by the Holy Spirit for those who need it, and for the courage to repent and to mature.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (1 Corinthians 11)

11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.

Women’s Head Coverings

11:2 I praise you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I passed them on to you.

11:3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.

11:4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head.

11:5 But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head.

11:6 For if a woman will not cover her head, she should cut off her hair. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should cover her head.

11:7 For a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. 11:8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man.

11:9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for man.

11:10 For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

11:11 In any case, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 11:12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman. But all things come from God.

11:13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?

11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace for him, 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.

11:16 If anyone intends to quarrel about this, we have no other practice, nor do the churches of God.

The Lord’s Supper

11:17 Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 11:18 For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 11:19 For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident. 11:20 Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. 11:21 For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. 11:22 Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this!

11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 11:24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 11:25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

11:26 For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

11:27 For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

11:28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. 11:29 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself.

11:30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.

11:31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 1

1:32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.

11:33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 11:34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you assemble it does not lead to judgment. I will give directions about other matters when I come.

Prayer

Lord, You value men and women equally, but assign to them differing roles within Your fellowship. You also desire that we honor one-another and that we do not dishonor times set-apart for special worship of You. May I be careful to respect and to teach respect.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed a local conflict, but one with meaning to all of the churches [fellowships of believers]; how to manage the relationship of (believing) husbands and wives within the church [fellowship of believers].

He noted that those who chose to be joined in [Biblical Christian] marriage agreed that the male would be the spiritual leader of the home and within the church [fellowship of believers] the wife would not act without consultation with him.

[Note 1: Paul carefully qualifies this instruction in three ways; it appears to be confined to married couples - extrapolating to all males and females in the church is awkward and not required by the text, verse 11:3 demands that the husband be submitted to Christ as a condition of his authority, and verses 11:11-12 that the husband and wife recognize their interdependence from both the order of Creation and the process of physical birth.]

[Note 2: Paul’s instructions re. the “covering” of the head appears to be illustrative rather than regulatory else he would have included instructions to define the type of covering. Given Paul’s repeated emphasis upon “freedom” from legalism such a regulation would clearly have been contradictory.]

Paul addressed another local conflict; when believers gathered in fellowship some arrived hungry without food or drink, others brought and hoarded their food and/or drink, in this way there were “haves” and “have-nots”, hungry and gorged, sober and drunk believers in the midst of a gathering Jesus had commanded for the worship of God.

Paul instructed that people eat prior to arriving for fellowship so that “the Lord’s Supper” [perhaps a euphemism here for worship] be the focus and not mere human dining.

[Note: Even if Paul were not using “the Lord’s Supper” here as a euphemism for worship he was still instructing them as to how they might remove a terrible distraction which was compromising the quality of their fellowship with one another and with God.]

Interaction
Consider

Paul gives a good example of the distractions people brought to a time of worship for the gathered believers - similar distractions still happen today.

Discuss

What are some ways that the verses about men and women can be misunderstood and misapplied out of their full Biblical context?

Reflect

There is a Biblical context of marriage and understanding that is critical for potential married couples. The “elders” must be involved in a process of prayer and teaching prior to any decision to seek marriage to avoid allowing emotions to overwhelm good judgment.

Share

When have you experienced or observed couples so overwhelmed by romantic thoughts that they failed to consult the Lord God—and the pastor, “elders”, and their peers all failed to counsel them to slow down and seek His wisdom?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His desire for you in respectful worship, honoring one-another, and/or responsible choices in romantic relationship.

Action:

Today I will, if I am a single person involved in any sort of romantic or potentially romantic relationship, ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I will consult one or more persons who meet the Biblical qualification of “elder” prior to making any decisions to consider engagement and marriage.

Today, if I am married I will prayerfully reflect upon God’s teaching to discover the following:

If I am the husband my life is increasingly submitted to Christ such as to earn the right to be trusted as the spiritual leader of my home;

If I am the wife that I honor Christ in the way that I honor my husband.

Today I will also look closely to discover if there is anything about my attitude, clothing, or participation in our fellowship which may create a distraction—and repent of it.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (1 Corinthians 12)

Spiritual Gifts

12:1 With regard to spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 12:2 You know that when you were pagans you were often led astray by speechless idols, however you were led. 12:3 So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

12:4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit.

12:5 And there are different ministries, but the same Lord.

12:6 And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.

12:7 To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all.

12:8 For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 12:10 to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.

12:11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.

Different Members in One Body

12:12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ.

12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 12:14 For in fact the body is not a single member, but many.

12:15 If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that.

12:16 And if the ear says, “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that.

12:17 If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell?

12:18 But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided.

12:19 If they were all the same member, where would the body be? 12:20 So now there are many members, but one body. 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor in turn can the head say to the foot, “I do not need you.” 12:22 On the contrary, those members that seem to be weaker are essential, 12:23 and those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity, 12:24 but our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member, 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another.

12:26 If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a member is honored, all rejoice with it.

12:27 Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it.

12:28 And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. 12:29 Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform miracles, do they? 12:30 Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they?

12:31 But you should be eager for the greater gifts.

And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.

Prayer

Lord, You give us gifts because You have chosen to do Your work through us as a blessing to others (and to us in passing). May I always remember that Your gifts are for others, they do not make me special, and are not intended to bring any fame or glory to me.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the matter of spiritual gifts, beginning with the reminder that many had been “led astray” by “speechless idols” when they “were pagans” and that he did not want them to again be led astray a believers.

Paul noted that all gifts are given by God “for the benefit of all”, the different gifts come from the same Spirit, and the different ministries with different results belong to one Lord.

Paul lists several gifts:

  • “… the message of wisdom
  • “… the message of knowledge
  • “… faith”
  • “… gifts of healing”
  • “… performance of miracles”
  • “… prophesy”
  • “… discernment of spirits”
  • “… different kinds of tongues”
  • “… interpretation of tongues”

Paul noted that the Holy Spirit was the distributing source “… as He decides to each person, Who produces all these things.” and that every part of the “body” of believers was equally valuable and to be equally honored and valued.

Paul also provided a chronology of God’s provision to the fellowship; apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. Note: This is not intended to be a hierarchy of value.]

Paul then noted that no one received all of the gifts and no gift was common to all, that that they should seek after “the greater gifts” [defined in chapter 14 as those which “instruct others” such as prophesy rather than the more self-focused gift of tongues].

[Note: This is the first place in the NT where a form of the general gift of tongues is referenced that is in need of “interpretation”, in this case because it is a private communication with God not usually intended for public utterance.]

Interaction
Consider

The Lord God’s often-repeated priority is that all that we do, including the use of the gifts He provides, is that they be used by Him to serve others through us.

Discuss

How have the various gifts the Lord God has given you, and how He has used them to mature you, been an encouragement to you to then teach others?

Reflect

Paul upon accountability, through independent interpretation and balance, to keep “experiential emotionalism” and “show-boat boasting” away from the fellowship.

Share

When have you observed the misuse of gifts, displayed as a way to draw attention to the person, rather than to bless others and to bring glory to the Lord God?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any way that your use of His gifts has somehow drifted into a self-serving and/or attention-getting tool.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully reflect on the gifts God has given me and with the help of the Holy Spirit discern if my use of those gifts mostly serves others and brings glory to God or tends to be more self-serving and/or draw attention to me. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I persevere in realigning my priorities as necessary.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (1 Corinthians 13)

The Way of Love

13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.

13:2 And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.

13:3 If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.

13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.

13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.

13:6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.

13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.

13:8 Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside.

13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 13:10 but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside.

13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.

13:12 For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.

13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Prayer

Lord, You have chosen to use us in Your great plan and give to us gifts and talents and opportunity. May I be alert to opportunity, generous with talents, and careful to give You all-glory for gifts.

Summary & Commentary

At the conclusion of Chapter 12 Paul wrote “12:31 But you should be eager for the greater gifts. And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.”

Having just explained the purpose and value of the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” he then placed them in proper Biblical perspective.

He concluded that by comparison none of the gifts have any implicit value, the only things of lasting and implicit-value are “… faith, hope, and love” … “But the greatest of these is love.”

Paul further explained that where love was absent in the exercise of spiritual gifts a wrong heart-attitude poisoned and nullified the value of the gifts—because the expression and impact of love was their purpose.

He listed examples of what love looked like in practice; “patient … kind … not envious … does not brag … not puffed-up … not rude … not self-serving … not easily angered or resentful … not glad about injustice … rejoices in the truth … bears all things [without complaining based on 1 Cor. 10:13], believes all things [of the Lord], hopes all things [promised by God], endures all things [that come from life in this fallen world and additional specific attacks because one is a Christian].

Paul noted that all things but love will come to an end as they only have temporary value outside of Heaven, that as maturity grows so does our ability to love well, and though we are limited in our vision and comprehension now - in Heaven we will “know fully”.

Interaction
Consider

Gifts are only given as a tool of the Lord God’s expression of love through saving-grace.

Discuss

Study some examples of individuals and circumstances with fellowships where believers have demonstrated right and loving and wrong and unloving attitudes.

Reflect

The attribute of love in our lives is blessed by the Lord God.

Share

When have you observed the misuse of gifts?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a wrong attitude in you with a love-attitude.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully seek an opportunity to replace a wrong attitude in me with a love-attitude. I will share the experience and the result with a fellow believer.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (1 Corinthians 14)

Prophecy and Tongues

14:1 Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

14:2 For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit.

14:3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation.

14:4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.

14:5 I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened.

14:6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I help you unless I speak to you with a revelation or with knowledge or prophecy or teaching?

14:7 It is similar for lifeless things that make a sound, like a flute or harp. Unless they make a distinction in the notes, how can what is played on the flute or harp be understood? 14:8 If, for example, the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will get ready for battle? 14:9 It is the same for you. If you do not speak clearly with your tongue, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air.

14:10 There are probably many kinds of languages in the world, and none is without meaning.

14:11 If then I do not know the meaning of a language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.

14:12 It is the same with you. Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, seek to abound in order to strengthen the church.

14:13 So then, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.

14:14 If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive.

14:15 What should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind.

14:16 Otherwise, if you are praising God with your spirit, how can someone without the gift say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 14:17 For you are certainly giving thanks well, but the other person is not strengthened.

14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 14:19 but in the church I want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

14:20 Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

14:21 It is written in the law: “By people with strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, yet not even in this way will they listen to me,” says the Lord.

14:22 So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.

14:23 So if the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and unbelievers or uninformed people enter, will they not say that you have lost your minds?

14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called to account by all.

14:25 The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.”

Church Order

14:26 What should you do then, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church.

14:27 If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two, or at the most three, one after the other, and someone must interpret.

14:28 But if there is no interpreter, he should be silent in the church. Let him speak to himself and to God.

14:29 Two or three prophets should speak and the others should evaluate what is said.

14:30 And if someone sitting down receives a revelation, the person who is speaking should conclude.

14:31 For you can all prophesy one after another, so all can learn and be encouraged.

14:32 Indeed, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, 14:33 for God is not characterized by disorder but by peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 14:34 the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says.

14:35 If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.

14:36 Did the word of God begin with you, or did it come to you alone?

14:37 If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command. 14:38 If someone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.

14:39 So then, brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues.

14:40 And do everything in a decent and orderly manner.

Prayer

Lord, You give most gifts so that You may bless others through us, and You give a few rare gifts that are primarily for our communication with You. May I always seek what is best for others and what matures my relationship with You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul explained that the form of tongues where people spoke “by the Spirit” to God was good for them (in their private communications with Him) but was not a blessing to others; however, the gift of prophesy was given to bless others, so while the gift of private-tongues was good - prophesy was preferred. [Note: The form of tongues described in Acts was different in nature as it was a known language and given for the benefit of others.]

He allowed that with an interpreter one may communicate “… with a revelation, with knowledge, with prophesy, or with teaching” [using the spiritual form of tongues] but that “…in the church [among gathered believers—he specified] I [Paul] want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

Paul noted that a gathering of believers all speaking in spirit-tongues, visited by non-believers or the “uninformed” [immature/incompletely discipled believers], would not be edifying for believers; however, such an activity may be a sign of power, albeit confusing, to unbelievers.

He said that the same gathering filled with prophesy would “convict” the uninformed and the unbeliever, calling them “to account”. Paul explained “The secrets of his heart [the listener] are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.”“

Paul called for order, peace, and priorities in the gatherings of believers; a song and a lesson, very few [if any] speaking in spirit-tongues (and only when an interpreter is present), at most two or three prophets [if any] (with what they say evaluated by fellow believers), and if a revelation comes to someone they are to be heard. The goal is learning and encouragement.

He addressed the conduct of wives in fellowship gatherings, re-emphasizing his prior teaching as to wives not challenging or displacing their husbands in a public gathering but inquiring of them in privacy at home.

Paul noted that once submitted to the headship of their Christ-honoring husband [this is not about husbands in rebellion or unsaved husbands] a wife must not then presume to have headship-knowledge or unique knowledge from the Lord God.

He concluded with the reminder that his teaching would only be affirmed and understood by “a prophet or spiritual person”.

Interaction
Consider

Paul communicated the Lord God’s emphasis upon what is most valuable to others and on the need for accountability for the right-use of gifts among believers.

Discuss

What are the keys to Paul’s guidelines for the expression of the spiritual gifts in a fellowship gathering?

Reflect

Paul’s emphasized that during fellowship gatherings the wife of a leader respect her husband and reserve comments and questions for home. He also noted that a husband who is deserving of submission must himself first be submitted to Christ.

Share

When have you observed the misuse of spiritual gifts?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me any place in my public worship where my practice of spiritual gifts may disrupt order and/or serve me more than others, This may include teaching where someone else has been appointed to teach, forcing myself into a role in worship music where others are meeting the need and are doing so in a more culturally-relevant way, etc.

Action:

Today I will be more-certain that my gifts are never exercised in public without accountability and evaluation. I will celebrate where God has used those gifts to bless others and mature where I may have misused the gifts in any way.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “1 Corinthians” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

1 Corinthians 15-16 and 2 Corinthians 1 - 5

Sunday (1 Corinthians 15)

Christ’s Resurrection

15:1 Now I want to make clear for you, brothers and sisters, the gospel that I preached to you, that you received and on which you stand, 15:2 and by which you are being saved, if you hold firmly to the message I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

15:3 For I passed on to you as of first importance what I also received—that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures, 15:4 and that he was buried, and that he was raised on the third day according to the scriptures, 15:5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 15:6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles.

15:8 Last of all, as though to one born at the wrong time, he appeared to me also. 15:9 For I am the least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. 15:10 But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me has not been in vain. In fact, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God with me. 15:11 Whether then it was I or they, this is the way we preach and this is the way you believed.

No Resurrection?

15:12 Now if Christ is being preached as raised from the dead, how can some of you say there is no resurrection of the dead? 15:13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 15:14 And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is futile and your faith is empty.

15:15 Also, we are found to be false witnesses about God, because we have testified against God that he raised Christ from the dead, when in reality he did not raise him, if indeed the dead are not raised. 15:16 For if the dead are not raised, then not even Christ has been raised.

15:17 And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is useless; you are still in your sins.

15:18 Furthermore, those who have fallen asleep in Christ have also perished.

15:19 For if only in this life we have hope in Christ, we should be pitied more than anyone.

15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

15:21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also came through a man.

15:22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.

15:23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; then when Christ comes, those who belong to him.

15:24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he has brought to an end all rule and all authority and power. 15:25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

15:26 The last enemy to be eliminated is death.

15:27 For he has put everything in subjection under his feet. But when it says “everything” has been put in subjection, it is clear that this does not include the one who put everything in subjection to him.

15:28 And when all things are subjected to him, then the Son himself will be subjected to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.

15:29 Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are they baptized for them?

15:30 Why too are we in danger every hour? 15:31 Every day I am in danger of death! This is as sure as my boasting in you, which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord.

15:32 If from a human point of view I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what did it benefit me? If the dead are not raised, let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.

15:33 Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 15:34 Sober up as you should, and stop sinning! For some have no knowledge of God—I say this to your shame!

The Resurrection Body

15:35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?” 15:36 Fool! What you sow will not come to life unless it dies. 15:37 And what you sow is not the body that is to be, but a bare seed—perhaps of wheat or something else. 15:38 But God gives it a body just as he planned, and to each of the seeds a body of its own.

15:39 All flesh is not the same: People have one flesh, animals have another, birds and fish another.

15:40 And there are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. The glory of the heavenly body is one sort and the earthly another.

15:41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon and another glory of the stars, for star differs from star in glory.

15:42 It is the same with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable, what is raised is imperishable.

15:43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power; 15:44 it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.

15:45 So also it is written, “The first man, Adam, became a living person”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.

15:46 However, the spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and then the spiritual.

15:47 The first man is from the earth, made of dust; the second man is from heaven.

15:48 Like the one made of dust, so too are those made of dust, and like the one from heaven, so too those who are heavenly.

15:49 And just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, let us also bear the image of the man of heaven.

15:50 Now this is what I am saying, brothers and sisters: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.

15:51 Listen, I will tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—15:52 in a moment, in the blinking of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.

15:53 For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality.

15:54 Now when this perishable puts on the imperishable, and this mortal puts on immortality, then the saying that is written will happen,

Death has been swallowed up in victory.

15:55 “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?

15:56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

15:57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ!

15:58 So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Prayer

Lord, Your gift of salvation is both necessary and unique. May I not question Your means but rather celebrate Your grace.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded his readers that they must hold fast to his teaching that Christ not only came as the Biblically-prophesied redeemer but He both died and was resurrected - for without the resurrection He accomplished nothing that could alter their eternal destinies as sinners hopelessly condemned.

Paul continued his argument by using two illustrations; the first is that Jesus will return as the One Who conquered death and will then remove the Enemy and finally turn His “Church” over to the Father, in this Paul wants them to see that the resurrection is critical to the power of Christ to save.

The second illustration is the odd practice of some in Corinth who practiced substitutionary—baptisms for the dead—to publicly affirm their confessions of faith while living.

[Note: One may not be baptized for another as a substitutionary act of obedience nor may one do so to cause the retroactive salvation of another. Such an absurd notion is reportedly part of the Mormon cult practices.]

In this second case Paul again notes that baptism merely symbolizes the death and resurrection of Christ and the saved persons agreement to themselves die to the world and surrender to the Lordship of Christ here and in Heaven.

Paul reminded them that without the resurrection the Christian faith is empty and everything sacrificed due to it is wasted - people may as well have partied until they died as they had not and could not be redeemed from their sins.

Paul addressed a point of confusion about the resurrection as it applied to the physical body; first he noted the fundamental difference between humans and the rest of “fleshy” creation, humans are unique, animals are unique, birds and fish are unique, second he noted that our human form will be replaced with an immortal and imperishable spiritual form.

Death is powerless.

Interaction
Consider

There is an obvious silliness to the practice of “baptism in place on behalf of the dead” —it displays the eccentricities some people impose upon the clear and simple message of Christ.

Discuss

Would it not be folly to surrendering ones worldly-life for the sacrificial-life of a genuine Christian faith unless one was assured of the saving power of the resurrection?

Reflect

The bodies of humankind (beginning with Adam and Eve) came first and then the Lord God added a spirit. At the resurrection our spirits will be preserved but our bodies will be replaced.

Share

Describe your baptism and your voluntary surrender, death-like, to everything of this fallen- world in exchange for Christ-alone.

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of one especially powerful moment where the He touched you and reminded you of His presence.

Action:

Today I will share my faith-testimony with one or more other Christians, including my baptism experience and highlights of my early walk with Christ.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (1 Corinthians 16)

A Collection to Aid Jewish Christians

16:1 With regard to the collection for the saints, please follow the directions that I gave to the churches of Galatia: 16:2 On the first day of the week, each of you should set aside some income and save it to the extent that God has blessed you, so that a collection will not have to be made when I come. 16:3 Then, when I arrive, I will send those whom you approve with letters of explanation to carry your gift to Jerusalem. 16:4 And if it seems advisable that I should go also, they will go with me.

Paul’s Plans to Visit

16:5 But I will come to you after I have gone through Macedonia—for I will be going through Macedonia—16:6 and perhaps I will stay with you, or even spend the winter, so that you can send me on my journey, wherever I go. 16:7 For I do not want to see you now in passing, since I hope to spend some time with you, if the Lord allows. 16:8 But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, 16:9 because a door of great opportunity stands wide open for me, but there are many opponents.

16:10 Now if Timothy comes, see that he has nothing to fear among you, for he is doing the Lord’s work, as I am too. 16:11 So then, let no one treat him with contempt. But send him on his way in peace so that he may come to me. For I am expecting him with the brothers.

16:12 With regard to our brother Apollos: I strongly encouraged him to visit you with the other brothers, but it was simply not his intention to come now. He will come when he has the opportunity.

Final Challenge and Blessing

16:13 Stay alert, stand firm in the faith, show courage, be strong. 16:14 Everything you do should be done in love.

16:15 Now, brothers and sisters, you know about the household of Stephanus, that as the first converts of Achaia, they devoted themselves to ministry for the saints. I urge you 16:16 also to submit to people like this, and to everyone who cooperates in the work and labors hard.

16:17 I was glad about the arrival of Stephanus, Fortunatus, and Achaicus because they have supplied the fellowship with you that I lacked. 16:18 For they refreshed my spirit and yours. So then, recognize people like this.

16:19 The churches in the province of Asia send greetings to you. Aquila and Prisca greet you warmly in the Lord, with the church that meets in their house. 16:20 All the brothers and sisters send greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.

16:21 I, Paul, send this greeting with my own hand.

16:22 Let anyone who has no love for the Lord be accursed. Our Lord, come!

16:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you.

16:24 My love be with all of you in Christ Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, You send Your instruments of the gospel where You choose them to labor, and You bless obedience while You do not bless disobedience. May I be ready to serve, careful to pursue obedience, and receive the Holy Spirit’s wisdom to recognize the difference.

Summary & Commentary

Paul referenced a voluntary collection for the fellowship at Jerusalem. [Note: This is gift-giving, not tithe-related.]

Paul reminded them to do all things in love, as he had previously described in his letter, and to welcome those who come to serve them.

He encouraged them to “Stay alert” to threats to the true teaching [a warning he had previously given in greater detail], to “stand firm in the faith”, to “show courage” [a step beyond having courage is to demonstrate evidence of it], and to be strong.

In verse 16:19 Paul made specific reference to Aquila and Prisca and “the church” [fellowship of believers] “that meets in their house”.

[Note: To this point there has been no positive reference in the NT to fellowship resources such as buildings, staff, or to elaborate local or associational/denominational dogma.]

Interaction
Consider

Paul challenged us to "do all things in love". What would that look like in your life? What might it change?

Discuss

There are threats to Biblical truth that we have all experienced or observed in fellowships, or in books and media represented as “Christian”, but which are not Biblical-Christian. How does that bad teaching cause confusion and conflict?

Reflect

There are examples of “standing firm” (e.g. against pressures to go along to get along with the world instead of living as God teaches), showing the courage which we receive from the Holy Spirit (e.g. speaking boldly for Christ, in an appropriate context, even when it may make some people uncomfortable), and being strong (even when others panic).

Share

When have you experienced a small group and/or a home-based fellowship? How did that increased-level of intimacy contribute to your growth as a mature believer and deepen your ability to know and to be known, to care and to be cared for by fellow believers?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you struggle to "do all things in love".

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me to change. It may be my attitude toward a certain person, the way I approach politics or sports, a tendency to hold people at a distance, a too-shy or too-bold style which keeps me from speaking truth when I should (which is unloving as it allows people to remain in darkness) or prompts me to cross boundaries and bully or displace others inappropriately, or some other unloving characteristic or habit.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (2 Corinthians 1)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is in Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia. 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thanksgiving for God’s Comfort

1:3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 1:4 who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.

1:5 For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you.

1:6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer.

1:7 And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort.

1:8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, regarding the affliction that happened to us in the province of Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of living. 1:9 Indeed we felt as if the sentence of death had been passed against us, so that we would not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead.

1:10 He delivered us from so great a risk of death, and he will deliver us. We have set our hope on him that he will deliver us yet again, 1:11 as you also join in helping us by prayer, so that many people may give thanks to God on our behalf for the gracious gift given to us through the help of many.

Paul Defends His Changed Plans

1:12 For our reason for confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience, that with pure motives and sincerity which are from God—not by human wisdom but by the grace of God—we conducted ourselves in the world, and all the more toward you.

1:13 For we do not write you anything other than what you can read and also understand. But I hope that you will understand completely 1:14 just as also you have partly understood us, that we are your source of pride just as you also are ours in the day of the Lord Jesus.

1:15 And with this confidence I intended to come to you first so that you would get a second opportunity to see us, 1:16 and through your help to go on into Macedonia and then from Macedonia to come back to you and be helped on our way into Judea by you. 1:17 Therefore when I was planning to do this, I did not do so without thinking about what I was doing, did I? Or do I make my plans according to mere human standards so that I would be saying both “Yes, yes” and “No, no” at the same time?

1:18 But as God is faithful, our message to you is not “Yes” and “No.” 1:19 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, the one who was proclaimed among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not “Yes” and “No,” but it has always been “Yes” in him. 1:20 For every one of God’s promises are “Yes” in him; therefore also through him the “Amen” is spoken, to the glory we give to God.

1:21 But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, 1:22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment.

Why Paul Postponed His Visit

1:23 Now I appeal to God as my witness, that to spare you I did not come again to Corinth. 1:24 I do not mean that we rule over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy, because by faith you stand firm.

Prayer

Lord, You are the one true God and You give us comfort, deliverance from danger, and purpose in Your service. May I rest in Your comfort, be bold knowing that You are with me, and encouraged that You choose to use me—in my obedience—for Your good purposes.

Summary & Commentary

Paul celebrated the blessedness of the Lord Who comforts those who suffer - for His name - so that they may in turn comfort others who suffer.

He illustrated with his own experience —reaching the point where he “despaired even of living” but that God comforted and delivered him -- he then solicited their prayers that God would again deliver him.

Paul emphasized that it was he-alone (not the Lord God) who had communicated an intention to come to them but that he found his course altered by God. [He wanted to leave no opportunity for the Enemy to misrepresent the facts and thereby create doubt as to the perfect record of God’s promise-keeping.]

Paul appealed to God to assure them in the Spirit that he was being fully honest with them about his desire to visit and his valid reason to postpone that visit.

Interaction
Consider

The pure heart of Paul. He was intentionally-careful to assure that nothing imperfect in him could be imposed upon the perfection of God in the minds of those over whom God had given him spiritual authority.

Discuss

How many times can you recall, in the Bible and reported by people whom you know, that the Lord God has comforted His children in times of trouble?

Reflect

Paul’s certainty was remarkable - that the Lord God Who had comforted and delivered Him in the past would do so again and his intentional-request for the believers in Corinth to pray in-agreement - so they might share in God’s miracle for Paul.

Share

When have you, or someone you know well, experienced God’s comfort and delivery from a time of trouble?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of His provision of comfort and deliverance in your life.

Action:

Today I will share the story of God’s comfort and delivery in my life with a fellow believer as a means of celebration and encouragement.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (2 Corinthians 2)

2:1 So I made up my own mind not to pay you another painful visit. 2:2 For if I make you sad, who would be left to make me glad but the one I caused to be sad?

2:3 And I wrote this very thing to you, so that when I came I would not have sadness from those who ought to make me rejoice, since I am confident in you all that my joy would be yours.

2:4 For out of great distress and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not to make you sad, but to let you know the love that I have especially for you.

2:5 But if anyone has caused sadness, he has not saddened me alone, but to some extent (not to exaggerate) he has saddened all of you as well.

2:6 This punishment on such an individual by the majority is enough for him, 2:7 so that now instead you should rather forgive and comfort him. This will keep him from being overwhelmed by excessive grief to the point of despair.

2:8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love for him.

2:9 For this reason also I wrote you: to test you to see if you are obedient in everything.

2:10 If you forgive anyone for anything, I also forgive him—for indeed what I have forgiven (if I have forgiven anything) I did so for you in the presence of Christ, 2:11 so that we may not be exploited by Satan (for we are not ignorant of his schemes).

2:12 Now when I arrived in Troas to proclaim the gospel of Christ, even though the Lord had opened a door of opportunity for me,

2:13 I had no relief in my spirit, because I did not find my brother Titus there. So I said good-bye to them and set out for Macedonia.

Apostolic Ministry

2:14 But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place.

2:15 For we are a sweet aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing—2:16 to the latter an odor from death to death, but to the former a fragrance from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?

2:17 For we are not like so many others, hucksters who peddle the word of God for profit, but we are speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God.

Prayer

Lord, You walked with Adam and Eve, spoke to Noah and Jacob, gave the Law to Israel via Moses, proclaimed the coming of the Messiah via Isaiah and John the Baptist, came in human form as Jesus the Christ, and when He returned Home You indwelt believes as the Holy Spirit. It has always been You showing us the way Home from the Fall, You empowering human leaders to exhort and to teach, and You Who transforms us from death to life. May I gift You all of the glory and all of myself.

Summary & Commentary

Paul further explained that he wanted to avoid a second visit where his need to challenge them to deal with extreme sin in their fellowship might harm their sense of joy in the Lord and damage his relationship with them.

Paul reminded them that their obedience “in everything” required them to offer forgiveness to the member who had sinned so blatantly so as to not cause him grief which could lead to “despair”.

Paul added an odd and incompletely explained parenthetical in 2:12-13 where he acknowledges a provision from the Lord of “a door of opportunity” in Troas “to proclaim the gospel of Christ” yet due to the absence of Titus he “had no relief in his spirit” and thus moved on to Macedonia. [It is reasonable to speculate that he may have been paralleling his experience of longing for the positive encouragement of a brother (for affirmation) to that of the fellowship in Corinth struggling due to the failed visit of Paul. It may also be that there was some cultural affirmation of his call to minister in Troas that could come through Titus and not directly to Paul alone. Recall Jesus’ instruction to the disciples that should they not be welcomed in a town they should move on as the Holy Spirit had not yet prepared it.]

Paul concluded with a celebration that those who are “speaking in Christ before God as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God” are a “sweet aroma of Christ to God” in the midst of the saved and the unsaved alike.

Interaction
Consider

The challenge of Paul was to be obedient to God in all things, not just the comfortable or convenient, but in all things.

Discuss

Isn’t it an amazing presence of the Lord God through His Holy Spirit that when a person speaks so purely from the Word of God, not in style but in integrity of content and life-example, that they are a "sweet aroma of Christ to God"?

Reflect

How would you decide when discipline and "putting-out" an unrepentant sinner had been concluded and you would deliver forgiveness without any confusion that about the intent of the fellowship; that it was in no way downplaying or endorsing the seriousness of unrepentant sin?

Share

When have you had an experience where you’d planned a challenging ministry outreach, and believed that God had prepared it, but the absence of a partner in that ministry caused you to hesitate and/or postpone?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one area where you have chosen comfort or convenience over obedience to God

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for the strength and persistence to take a new step toward maturity in my walk.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (2 Corinthians 3)

A Living Letter

3:1 Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? We don’t need letters of recommendation to you or from you as some other people do, do we?

3:2 You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone, 3:3 revealing that you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts.

3:4 Now we have such confidence in God through Christ.

3:5 Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as if it were coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, 3:6 who made us adequate to be servants of a new covenant not based on the letter but on the Spirit, for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

The Greater Glory of the Spirit’s Ministry

3:7 But if the ministry that produced death—carved in letters on stone tablets—came with glory, so that the Israelites could not keep their eyes fixed on the face of Moses because of the glory of his face (a glory which was made ineffective), 3:8 how much more glorious will the ministry of the Spirit be?

3:9 For if there was glory in the ministry that produced condemnation, how much more does the ministry that produces righteousness excel in glory!

3:10 For indeed, what had been glorious now has no glory because of the tremendously greater glory of what replaced it.

3:11 For if what was made ineffective came with glory, how much more has what remains come in glory!

3:12 Therefore, since we have such a hope, we behave with great boldness, 3:13 and not like Moses who used to put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from staring at the result of the glory that was made ineffective.

3:14 But their minds were closed. For to this very day, the same veil remains when they hear the old covenant read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away.

3:15 But until this very day whenever Moses is read, a veil lies over their minds, 3:16 but when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed.

3:17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is present, there is freedom.

3:18 And we all, with unveiled faces reflecting the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another, which is from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, You replace he Law with Grace. May I praise You with my life for that freedom.

Summary & Commentary

Paul observed that he no longer required a letter of reference since the very existence of a fellowship of believers in Corinth, the fruits of his faithful service to God, was his living reference. [The Net translator’s Notes speculate that this was in response to some apparent challenge to his credentials.]

The “new covenant” was not, Paul reminded them, a new law (“for the letter kills”) it was of “the Spirit [Who] brings life”.

Paul reminded them that Moses bore a shadow of the glory of God when he returned from the mountain and his ministry, the bringing of the Law, also possessed Glory. He elaborated that such glory faded as it was associated with the conviction of the Law—which none but Jesus could ever have kept perfectly. Paul then compared it to the “ministry of the Spirit” —which replaced the ineffectiveness of the Law with “the ministry that produces righteousness”.

He observed that the same veil that Moses bore to keep the Israelites from staring at his shining face, rather to focus them on the Law, is like the veil on the hearts of those who hear the words of Moses yet fail to see Christ in them.

Paul concluded, noting that the presence of the Spirit [in every true believer] transformed one from the glory of the promise given to Moses into the fulfillment of that promise in Christ.

Interaction
Consider

The credentials of Paul are found in the testimony of those whom God had drawn near in salvation and discipleship as a result of his faithful service.

Discuss

How do you explain to someone considering-Christ, or a new (or stuck at new) believer the amazing transition from pre-resurrection to post-resurrection where God delivered His new covenant of grace - displacing the old covenant of law?

Reflect

Freedom from the convicting and impossible-to-achieve challenge of the Law into the completing and freedom-bringing blessing of grace is an incredible gift of the Lord God.

Share

Your experience of being "veiled" from a full appreciation of, and empowerment by, the Lord God—which comes only from salvation and the indwelling Holy Spirit. What happened when you finally surrendered and received the gift of salvation?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of your experience of transition from “veiled” to “seeing clearly” as a result of your salvation.

Action:

Today I will share with a potential believer, via E-mail (or other electronic communication), letter, phone call, or face-to-face conversation, my experience of transition from "veiled" to "seeing clearly" as a result of my salvation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (2 Corinthians 4)

Paul’s Perseverance in Ministry

4:1 Therefore, since we have this ministry, just as God has shown us mercy, we do not become discouraged.

4:2 But we have rejected shameful hidden deeds, not behaving with deceptiveness or distorting the word of God, but by open proclamation of the truth we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience before God.

4:3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled only to those who are perishing, 4:4 among whom the god of this age has blinded the minds of those who do not believe so they would not see the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God.

4:5 For we do not proclaim ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake.

4:6 For God, who said “Let light shine out of darkness,” is the one who shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.

An Eternal Weight of Glory

4:7 But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.

4:8 We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed; we are perplexed, but not driven to despair; 4:9 we are persecuted, but not abandoned; we are knocked down, but not destroyed, 4:10 always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our body.

4:11 For we who are alive are constantly being handed over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our mortal body.

4:12 As a result, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.

4:13 But since we have the same spirit of faith as that shown in what has been written, “I believed; therefore I spoke,” we also believe, therefore we also speak.

4:14 We do so because we know that the one who raised up Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus and will bring us with you into his presence.

4:15 For all these things are for your sake, so that the grace that is including more and more people may cause thanksgiving to increase to the glory of God.

4:16 Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day.

4:17 For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison

4:18 because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal.

Prayer

Lord, You give so much to use and ask that we be careful to tell Your story truthfully, and that we be humble at all times. May I be found faithful in both.

Summary & Commentary

Paul contrasted the positive virtue of faithfulness to the Word against the sin of those who engage in “shameful hidden deeds … behaving with deceptiveness … distorting the Word of God”.

He reminded them that those who are unable to perceive “the light of the glorious gospel” are those “who do not believe”, that it is God Who said “Let light shine out of darkness” Who “shined in our hearts to give us the light of the glorious knowledge of God in the face of Christ.”

Paul re-emphasized the need for humility, using the illustration of “clay jars” to describe believers [especially those who dedicate themselves to preaching and teaching Christ], and noted that “the extraordinary power belongs to God”.

Paul provided a checklist of struggles and of the Lord God’s power:

  • “We are experiencing trouble on every side, but are not crushed”
  • “we are perplexed, but not driven to despair”
  • “we are persecuted, but not abandoned”
  • “we are knocked down, but not destroyed”
  • “always carrying around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be visible in our body”

Paul observed two final things; that many more are joining in “thanksgiving … to the glory of God”, and that “our momentary, light suffering, is producing for us an eternal weight of glory”

Interaction
Consider

It is an amazing truth that, despite our humble standing as like the simple clay jar of Paul’s time, God chooses to pour Himself out through us. We have a responsibility to remain humble as none of it is from us.

Discuss

How should believers respond to the problem of people claiming the name of Christ and then engaging in “shameful hidden deeds … behaving with deceptiveness … distorting the Word of God”?

Reflect

It is humbling to read the list Paul provided of struggles faced by serious Christians and of the provision of God.

Share

When have you experienced the Lord God causing "light [to] shine out of darkness" through you for the benefit of another?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an example in your life from the list Paul provided of struggles faced by Christians

Action:

Today I will celebrate together with a fellow believer the awesome God who makes provision for me.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (2 Corinthians 5)

Living by Faith, Not by Sight

5:1 For we know that if our earthly house, the tent we live in, is dismantled, we have a building from God, a house not built by human hands, that is eternal in the heavens.

5:2 For in this earthly house we groan, because we desire to put on our heavenly dwelling, 5:3 if indeed, after we have put on our heavenly house, we will not be found naked.

5:4 For we groan while we are in this tent, since we are weighed down, because we do not want to be unclothed, but clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

5:5 Now the one who prepared us for this very purpose is God, who gave us the Spirit as a down payment.

5:6 Therefore we are always full of courage, and we know that as long as we are alive here on earth we are absent from the Lord—5:7 for we live by faith, not by sight.

5:8 Thus we are full of courage and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord.

5:9 So then whether we are alive or away, we make it our ambition to please him.

5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be paid back according to what he has done while in the body, whether good or evil.

The Message of Reconciliation

5:11 Therefore, because we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade people, but we are well known to God, and I hope we are well known to your consciences too. 5:12 We are not trying to commend ourselves to you again, but are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us, so that you may be able to answer those who take pride in outward appearance and not in what is in the heart.

5:13 For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you.

5:14 For the love of Christ controls us, since we have concluded this, that Christ died for all; therefore all have died.

5:15 And he died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised.

5:16 So then from now on we acknowledge no one from an outward human point of view. Even though we have known Christ from such a human point of view, now we do not know him in that way any longer.

5:17 So then, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; what is old has passed away—look, what is new has come!

5:18 And all these things are from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and who has given us the ministry of reconciliation.

5:19 In other words, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s trespasses against them, and he has given us the message of reconciliation.

5:20 Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His plea through us. We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God!”

5:21 God made the one who did not know sin to be sin for us, so that in him we would become the righteousness of God.

Prayer

Lord, You created us to dwell in the Garden of Eden, and after the Fall destroyed that in the new Heaven and the new Earth where there is no sin and there is no temptation. May I remember that I was not made for the imperfect place and that it is right that I never feel quite at home here.

Summary & Commentary

Paul challenges his readers to acknowledge their temporary physical condition in fallen bodies in a fallen world and our natural groaning for Heaven.

He reminds them that the indwelling Holy Spirit of God is a “down payment” from God upon our guaranteed place in Heaven.

He notes that once we are saved we are eternal citizens of Heaven and while here we are “absent from the Lord”, therefore we live “by faith” [in the Lord Who awaits our arrival] “not by sight” [because we cannot see Him].

He challenges his readers to “make it our ambition to please Him”, whether on earth or in Heaven, and to chose carefully what we do “while in the body”.

[Note: Paul used himself as an example in these verses and stood as a role model for those who would follow. He said as much in his instructions to the Corinthians about singleness and also when writing to Timothy and Titus.]

Paul notes that the world judges by human appearance and that he had seen Christ on the road to Damascus, but that now all believers must join him in seeing Christ and fellow believers through the eternal perspective of Heaven.

Paul wrote the following series of steps to understanding:

  • “… if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation;
  • “what is old has passed away -- look, what is new has come!”
  • “… all these things are from God Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ”
  • “… Who has given us the ministry of reconciliation”
  • “… not counting people’s trespasses against them”
  • “He has given us the message of reconciliation”
  • “… we are ambassadors of Christ”
  • “as though God were making His plea through us”
Interaction
Consider

Paul challenged us to "make it our ambition to please Him", whether on earth or in Heaven, and to chose carefully what we do "while in the body".

Discuss

How do Paul’s steps to understanding help you?

Reflect

Paul’s words are encouraging—it is appropriate that we “groan” for Heaven as the new person-in-Christ that we are no longer belongs to this world, that we live by faith having not seen Christ but knowing Him through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, and that we be intentional about seeing everything through the lens of Heaven and not earth.

Share

When have you had an experience where viewing things here on earth through the lens of Heaven brought comfort and understanding where before there was fear and confusion?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a particularly challenging relationship in your life to which He wants me to apply this subset of Paul’s steps to understanding; “… the ministry of reconciliation … not counting people’s trespasses against them … the message of reconciliation”.

Action:

Today I will submit to the Holy Spirit as He walks with me through the process of reconciliation. I will share the result with a fellow believer, whom I will also ask (in advance), to pray for courage and wisdom as I do this.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “1-2 Corinthians” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

2 Corinthians 6-13

Sunday (2 Corinthians 6)

God’s Suffering Servants

6:1 Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 6:2 For he says, “I heard you at the acceptable time, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” Look, now is the acceptable time; look, now is the day of salvation!

6:3 We do not give anyone an occasion for taking an offense in anything, so that no fault may be found with our ministry. 6:4 But as God’s servants, we have commended ourselves in every way, with great endurance, in persecutions, in difficulties, in distresses, 6:5 in beatings, in imprisonments, in riots, in troubles, in sleepless nights, in hunger, 6:6 by purity, by knowledge, by patience, by benevolence, by the Holy Spirit, by genuine love, 6:7 by truthful teaching, by the power of God, with weapons of righteousness both for the right hand and for the left, 6:8 through glory and dishonor, through slander and praise; regarded as impostors, and yet true; 6:9 as unknown, and yet well-known; as dying and yet—see!—we continue to live; as those who are scourged and yet not executed; 6:10 as sorrowful, but always rejoicing, as poor, but making many rich, as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

6:11 We have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart has been opened wide to you.

6:12 Our affection for you is not restricted, but you are restricted in your affections for us.

6:13 Now as a fair exchange—I speak as to my children—open wide your hearts to us also.

Unequal Partners

6:14 Do not become partners with those who do not believe, for what partnership is there between righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship does light have with darkness?

6:15 And what agreement does Christ have with Beliar? Or what does a believer share in common with an unbeliever?

6:16 And what mutual agreement does the temple of God have with idols? For we are the temple of the living God, just as God said, “I will live in them and will walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

6:17 Therefore “come out from their midst, and be separate,” says the Lord, “and touch no unclean thing, and I will welcome you, 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters,” says the All-Powerful Lord.

Prayer

Lord, You have drawn us near to You and indwell us through Your Holy Spirit, and so we have become eternally-separated from the world and it’s temporary Prince, Satan. May I avoid “partnerships” with unbelievers, as they cannot comprehend why I make many of the decisions that I do, and avoid “partnership” with anything that is sinful.

Summary & Commentary

Paul described the sacrifices he had made to be certain that nothing in him could give cause for anyone to question his preaching and teaching of Christ.

He challenged them “… not to receive the grace of God in vain” but to accept and live in the freedom of grace and making sacrifices—so that they neither squander the gift through unrighteous living or fail to make it attractive to others.

He also challenged them “Do not become partners with those who do not believe…” because they cannot comprehend the reasons that a believer chooses righteous and sacrificial living in the absence of the Holy Spirit and His inspiration of the Word of God.

Interaction
Consider

Paul ascribes great importance to an intentionally faithful witness for the presence and power of the Lord God through His Holy Spirit in a believer’s daily walk.

Discuss

How might one not “…receive the grace of God in vain”? List some ways that a believer may live in grace and avoid drifting into life choices which misrepresent Christ.

Reflect

Paul’s challenge was to “… not become partners with those who do not believe”, which refers to both business and romance.

Share

When have you had an experience "partnered" with a non-believer where they simply could not comprehend your Holy Spirit-guided choices for righteousness over profit or fame or pleasure.

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you drift into non-Christlike choices

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me that I accept the wisdom and strength of the Holy Spirit to repent and move toward maturity through more righteous living.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (2 Corinthians 7)

Self-Purification

7:1 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and the spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God.

7:2 Make room for us in your hearts; we have wronged no one, we have ruined no one, we have exploited no one. 7:3 I do not say this to condemn you, for I told you before that you are in our hearts so that we die together and live together with you.

A Letter That Caused Sadness

7:4 I have great confidence in you; I take great pride on your behalf. I am filled with encouragement; I am overflowing with joy in the midst of all our suffering.

7:5 For even when we came into Macedonia, our body had no rest at all, but we were troubled in every way—struggles from the outside, fears from within. 7:6 But God, who encourages the downhearted, encouraged us by the arrival of Titus.

7:7 We were encouraged not only by his arrival, but also by the encouragement you gave him, as he reported to us your longing, your mourning, your deep concern for me, so that I rejoiced more than ever.

7:8 For even if I made you sad by my letter, I do not regret having written it (even though I did regret it, for I see that my letter made you sad, though only for a short time).

7:9 Now I rejoice, not because you were made sad, but because you were made sad to the point of repentance. For you were made sad as God intended, so that you were not harmed in any way by us.

7:10 For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death.

7:11 For see what this very thing, this sadness as God intended, has produced in you: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, what indignation, what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, what punishment! In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.

7:12 So then, even though I wrote to you, it was not on account of the one who did wrong, or on account of the one who was wronged, but to reveal to you your eagerness on our behalf before God.

7:13 Therefore we have been encouraged. And in addition to our own encouragement, we rejoiced even more at the joy of Titus, because all of you have refreshed his spirit. 7:14 For if I have boasted to him about anything concerning you, I have not been embarrassed by you, but just as everything we said to you was true, so our boasting to Titus about you has proved true as well.

7:15 And his affection for you is much greater when he remembers the obedience of you all, how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 7:16 I rejoice because in everything I am fully confident in you.

Prayer

Lord, You convict us of sin, which makes us sad due to the unease of the Holy Spirit within. May I respond with renewed vigor toward righteousness rather than sulking like Cain or Judas or even King David (before he repented because he had a teachable-heart).

Summary & Commentary

Paul issues yet another call to righteous living “… let us cleanse ourselves from everything that could defile the body and spirit, and thus accomplish holiness out of reverence for God.”

He notes that while in Macedonia he was “troubled in every way--struggles from the outside, fears from within” but that the arrival of Titus and word of caring from the fellowship in Corinth encouraged him.

He also notes that his letter of challenge brought them to repentance and therefore led to maturity rather than his fear that it might have caused them to withdraw.

He describes their treatment of Titus “… you have refreshed his spirit”, followed by “… you welcomed him with fear and trembling”, an indication that they were concerned that he would find them to be making an intentional effort to live rightly before God.

Interaction
Consider

Paul’s role model for leaders “… we have wronged no one, we have ruined no one, we have exploited no one.”

Discuss

What things “…could defile the body and spirit” and how may one may drift into them? How does one avoid and/or escape them?

Reflect

The is great power for good in the encouragement of fellow believers.

Share

When has a word of rebuke, though hard to hear, helped you to recognize a problem and to move toward repentance?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a fellow believer who needs a word of encouragement.

Action:

Today I will encourage a fellow believer. I will also thank a fellow believer who was, in the past, the Lord God’s messenger of rebuke—and as a result I repented and became a more mature believer.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (2 Corinthians 8—9)

Completing the Collection for the Saints

8:1 Now we make known to you, brothers and sisters, the grace of God given to the churches of Macedonia, 8:2 that during a severe ordeal of suffering, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in the wealth of their generosity. 8:3 For I testify, they gave according to their means and beyond their means. They did so voluntarily, 8:4 begging us with great earnestness for the blessing and fellowship of helping the saints.

8:5 And they did this not just as we had hoped, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and to us by the will of God.

8:6 Thus we urged Titus that, just as he had previously begun this work, so also he should complete this act of kindness for you. 8:7 But as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, and in all eagerness and in the love from us that is in you—make sure that you excel in this act of kindness too. 8:8 I am not saying this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love by comparison with the eagerness of others.

8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that although he was rich, he became poor for your sakes, so that you by his poverty could become rich.

8:10 So here is my opinion on this matter: It is to your advantage, since you made a good start last year both in your giving and your desire to give, 8:11 to finish what you started, so that just as you wanted to do it eagerly, you can also complete it according to your means. 8:12 For if the eagerness is present, the gift itself is acceptable according to whatever one has, not according to what he does not have. 8:13 For I do not say this so there would be relief for others and suffering for you, but as a matter of equality.

8:14 At the present time, your abundance will meet their need, so that one day their abundance may also meet your need, and thus there may be equality, 8:15 as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”

The Mission of Titus

8:16 But thanks be to God who put in the heart of Titus the same devotion I have for you, 8:17 because he not only accepted our request, but since he was very eager, he is coming to you of his own accord. 8:18 And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his work in spreading the gospel. 8:19 In addition, this brother has also been chosen by the churches as our traveling companion as we administer this generous gift to the glory of the Lord himself and to show our readiness to help. 8:20 We did this as a precaution so that no one should blame us in regard to this generous gift we are administering.

8:21 For we are concerned about what is right not only before the Lord but also before men.

8:22 And we are sending with them our brother whom we have tested many times and found eager in many matters, but who now is much more eager than ever because of the great confidence he has in you. 8:23 If there is any question about Titus, he is my partner and fellow worker among you; if there is any question about our brothers, they are messengers of the churches, a glory to Christ. 8:24 Therefore show them openly before the churches the proof of your love and of our pride in you.

Preparing the Gift

9:1 For it is not necessary for me to write you about this service to the saints, 9:2 because I know your eagerness to help. I keep boasting to the Macedonians about this eagerness of yours, that Achaia has been ready to give since last year, and your zeal to participate has stirred up most of them. 9:3 But I am sending these brothers so that our boasting about you may not be empty in this case, so that you may be ready just as I kept telling them.

9:4 For if any of the Macedonians should come with me and find that you are not ready to give, we would be humiliated (not to mention you) by this confidence we had in you. 9:5 Therefore I thought it necessary to urge these brothers to go to you in advance and to arrange ahead of time the generous contribution you had promised, so this may be ready as a generous gift and not as something you feel forced to do.

9:6 My point is this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously.

9:7 Each one of you should give just as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, because God loves a cheerful giver.

9:8 And God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work. 9:9 Just as it is written, “He has scattered widely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness remains forever.”

9:10 Now God who provides seed for the sower and bread for food will provide and multiply your supply of seed and will cause the harvest of your righteousness to grow. 9:11 You will be enriched in every way so that you may be generous on every occasion, which is producing through us thanksgiving to God, 9:12 because the service of this ministry is not only providing for the needs of the saints but is also overflowing with many thanks to God.

9:13 Through the evidence of this service they will glorify God because of your obedience to your confession in the gospel of Christ and the generosity of your sharing with them and with everyone. 9:14 And in their prayers on your behalf they long for you because of the extraordinary grace God has shown to you.

9:15 Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!

Prayer

Lord, You call upon believers to give from hearts of gratitude and love, not coerced by political or religious leaders. May I be found generous without coercion, seeking-out what are the needs, giving as Your blessing to others from the surplus You have given to me.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reports the generosity of the Macedonian fellowship, even as they were impoverished, and the past generosity of the Corinthian fellowship to the Macedonians. He asks that they “… complete it according to your means”.

One may observe in this chapter the origins of a couple of elements of philosophy in the vernacular of many cultures with a historic awareness of Paul’s writing; “What goes around comes around”, and caring for the poor.

Paul discusses “equity”, not in a political-socialist construct where it is forced upon an unwilling populace by a secular authority, but in a purely voluntary way and for those with whom they shared a Christian faith.

Paul reminds them that today they are generous toward the brothers in Macedonia during their financially troubled times and tomorrow the circumstances may be reversed.

Paul notes that he has delegated oversight of the distribution of their donated funds to someone generally held in high esteem for his independence and integrity so as to prevent any cause for distrust or false accusation that could undermine the primary mission of sharing Christ.

Paul observes that God wants them to give based on a loving response to the observed necessity among their brothers and sisters in Macedonia and not begrudgingly out of an artificial sense of duty so that God may bless them and provide also for them.

Interaction
Consider

A blessing comes to both the giver and the recipient when assistance is provided from a heart of love for brothers and sisters.

Discuss

In what ways has caring for others, with an expectation of returned-favors distorted Paul’s message, especially in the hands of non-believers and governments?

Reflect

In what ways may you and your fellowship support believers whom you know to be truly in need as you avoid diverting God’s resources to non-believers and causes that are not of Christ.

Share

When have you given sacrificially to assist a believer, not asking to be recognized and not anticipating any worldly blessing, and God blessed you in some way that was even more than you blessed another.

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a way to bless a fellow believer in need

Action:

Today I will assist a fellow-believer, asking for no recognition, seeking no reward. I will pray for them in their need that others will also come alongside.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (2 Corinthians 10)

Paul’s Authority from the Lord

10:1 Now I, Paul, appeal to you personally by the meekness and gentleness of Christ (I who am meek when present among you, but am full of courage toward you when away!)—10:2 now I ask that when I am present I may not have to be bold with the confidence that (I expect) I will dare to use against some who consider us to be behaving according to human standards.

10:3 For though we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards, 10:4 for the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons, but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds. We tear down arguments 10:5 and every arrogant obstacle that is raised up against the knowledge of God, and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ.

10:6 We are also ready to punish every act of disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete.

10:7 You are looking at outward appearances. If anyone is confident that he belongs to Christ, he should reflect on this again: Just as he himself belongs to Christ, so too do we.

10:8 For if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of doing so.

10:9 I do not want to seem as though I am trying to terrify you with my letters, 10:10 because some say, “His letters are weighty and forceful, but his physical presence is weak and his speech is of no account.” 10:11 Let such a person consider this: What we say by letters when we are absent, we also are in actions when we are present.

Paul’s Mission

10:12 For we would not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some of those who recommend themselves. But when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are without understanding.

10:13 But we will not boast beyond certain limits, but will confine our boasting according to the limits of the work to which God has appointed us, that reaches even as far as you. 10:14 For we were not overextending ourselves, as though we did not reach as far as you, because we were the first to reach as far as you with the gospel about Christ.

10:15 Nor do we boast beyond certain limits in the work done by others, but we hope that as your faith continues to grow, our work may be greatly expanded among you according to our limits, 10:16 so that we may preach the gospel in the regions that lie beyond you, and not boast of work already done in another person’s area.

10:17 But the one who boasts must boast in the Lord. 10:18 For it is not the person who commends himself who is approved, but the person the Lord commends.

Prayer

Lord, You call for unity and for a process of accountability and discipline among believers in fellowships, and that all is done with the recognition that You are the source of truth and the object of worship. May I encourage unity-in-truth and be unafraid to discipline those who refuse to be accountable, to confess, and to repent of sin.

Summary & Commentary

Paul asked them to recognize that he had been consistent in letters and when physically present—that he had challenged them about the same matters of righteousness—and that he had done so as God has commanded, intentionally avoiding any human-based alterations to His Word.

He explained that those he needed to discipline would only be effectively disciplined when the rest of the fellowship had completed their confession and repentance and were in-agreement with the discipline. [Constable’s Notes from bible.org observes that even today there is little point to a leader attempting discipline of a member of a fellowship unless the fellowship is in-agreement.]

Paul provided a checklist for them to evaluate his methods:

  • “…we live as human beings, we do not wage war according to human standards”
  • “…the weapons of our warfare are not human weapons”
  • “…but are made powerful by God for tearing down strongholds”
  • “We tear down arguments … raised up against the knowledge of God”
  • “…and every arrogant obstacle … raised up against the knowledge of God”
  • “…and we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ”
  • “We are also ready to punish every act of disobedience”
  • “… if I boast somewhat more about our authority that the Lord gave us for building you up and not for tearing you down, I will not be ashamed of doing so.”

Paul addressed an apparent problem with others who boasted about themselves and who were accountable only to themselves, saying “they are without understanding”.

He notes that within the area of influence assigned by God he had pressed to the edge and prayed that their maturity would result in further growth within that same area.

Paul concluded with a double challenge, that one boast only in the Lord, and that one is only approved by the Lord and never by his own claims about himself.

Interaction
Consider

Paul’s instruction that “… we take every thought captive to make it obey Christ”. Every sin begins with a thought, David on the roof of the castle, Peter reacting fearfully and denying Christ, Ananias and Sapphira lying about their gift to God’s ministry.

Discuss

In what ways may the Lord God use knowledge of Christ to tear down the strongholds of ignorance and arrogant human wisdom? Perhaps referring to non-Biblical religions, the zealotry of proponents of the theory of evolution, of people in fellowships who value man-made traditions over the truth of God?

Reflect

There is a perplexing problem when some in leadership are arrogant and boastful yet careless with the Word of God; not only does that cause them to fail those who trust them, it also brings confusion about and shame to the name of Christ.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a situation where a leader’s careful witness of an intentionally righteous life has reinforced their teaching of God’s Word? How that impacted your faith and walk in a positive way?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to “shine a light and reveal any dark place” in my life.

Action:

Today I will take a hard look at my thought life for any dark places—as the Holy Spirit guides—then I will repent (turn away) from it/them. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement for a fearless look and a courageous response. I share with them my victory through Christ.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (2 Corinthians 11)

Paul and His Opponents

11:1 I wish that you would be patient with me in a little foolishness, but indeed you are being patient with me! 11:2 For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy, because I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ.

11:3 But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

11:4 For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough!

11:5 For I consider myself not at all inferior to those “super-apostles.” 11:6 And even if I am unskilled in speaking, yet I am certainly not so in knowledge. Indeed, we have made this plain to you in everything in every way.

11:7 Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you could be exalted, because I proclaimed the gospel of God to you free of charge? 11:8 I robbed other churches by receiving support from them so that I could serve you! 11:9 When I was with you and was in need, I was not a burden to anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia fully supplied my needs. I kept myself from being a burden to you in any way, and will continue to do so.

11:10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11:11 Why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

11:12 And what I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may eliminate any opportunity for those who want a chance to be regarded as our equals in the things they boast about. 11:13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ.

11:14 And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 11:15 Therefore it is not surprising his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions.

Paul’s Sufferings for Christ

11:16 I say again, let no one think that I am a fool. But if you do, then at least accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. 11:17 What I am saying with this boastful confidence I do not say the way the Lord would. Instead it is, as it were, foolishness. 11:18 Since many are boasting according to human standards, I too will boast. 11:19 For since you are so wise, you put up with fools gladly.

11:20 For you put up with it if someone makes slaves of you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone behaves arrogantly toward you, if someone strikes you in the face. 11:21 (To my disgrace I must say that we were too weak for that!) But whatever anyone else dares to boast about (I am speaking foolishly), I also dare to boast about the same thing. 11:22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they descendants of Abraham? So am I. 11:23 Are they servants of Christ? (I am talking like I am out of my mind!) I am even more so: with much greater labors, with far more imprisonments, with more severe beatings, facing death many times. 11:24 Five times I received from the Jews forty lashes less one. 11:25 Three times I was beaten with a rod. Once I received a stoning. Three times I suffered shipwreck. A night and a day I spent adrift in the open sea. 11:26 I have been on journeys many times, in dangers from rivers, in dangers from robbers, in dangers from my own countrymen, in dangers from Gentiles, in dangers in the city, in dangers in the wilderness, in dangers at sea, in dangers from false brothers, 11:27 in hard work and toil, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, many times without food, in cold and without enough clothing. 11:28 Apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxious concern for all the churches. 11:29 Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is led into sin, and I do not burn with indignation? 11:30 If I must boast, I will boast about the things that show my weakness.

11:31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is blessed forever, knows I am not lying. 11:32 In Damascus, the governor under King Aretas was guarding the city of Damascus in order to arrest me, 11:33 but I was let down in a rope-basket through a window in the city wall, and escaped his hands.

Prayer

Lord, You gave us life with You in the Garden of Eden—Satan manipulated Eve (then Adam) into destroying that, You gave us Jesus and His saving truth—Satan manipulated many into lying about that to confuse people, and You gave us Your Word so that we could know the difference between truth and lies. May I be a good Berean and, in with the guidance of Your Holy Spirit, check the teaching of everyone against You whole Word.

Summary & Commentary

Paul took on the “false apostles”, sarcastically labeling them “super-apostles”. As he had previously warned them - believers must beware the deception of the Enemy, just as he had deceived Eve.

He noted, as he had previously, the skills of the “super-apostles” at speaking were not matched by their felicity to Christ; he declared that they taught “another Jesus … a different spirit … a different gospel” and he cautioned them to remember that “… even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.”

Paul wondered if maybe not requiring the Corinthians to contribute something to his support may have undermined his credibility with them, or perhaps their need for an investment in his teaching, since the “super-apostles” were accepting support and were being trusted by many. He refused to alter his no-support policy as it was a buffer against efforts to manipulate him.

He listed his many sacrifices for Christ, in order to neutralize the false worldly claims of the false apostles in their deceptive efforts to supplant him.

Interaction
Consider

Paul’s admonition that we beware deceivers and that we ask the Holy Spirit to give us the discernment to root-out the subtle deceptions of smooth-talking leaders whose representation of Christ may be careless or worse.

Discuss

What are some of the positives and negatives of giving - as it impacts your sense of investment in, and ownership of, the success of God’s ministry?

Reflect

When has a gifted orator captured your imagination but caused you to accept something you later discovered to be untrue? How might you have better defended yourself against that false teacher or teaching?

Share

When have you experienced a situation where someone who had sacrificed much for the ministry of Christ and was protected from false attack because of their history of faithful service?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a false teachers who needs to be exposed and expelled and a true teachers who needs to be recognized and supported.

Action:

Today I will pray for faithful leaders among believers and that the Lord God’s message will be received with new vigor. I will share a word of encouragement with one who has been especially faithful.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (2 Corinthians 12)

Paul’s Thorn in the Flesh

12:1 It is necessary to go on boasting. Though it is not profitable, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 12:2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago (whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows) was caught up to the third heaven. 12:3 And I know that this man (whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, God knows) 12:4 was caught up into paradise and heard things too sacred to be put into words, things that a person is not permitted to speak. 12:5 On behalf of such an individual I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except about my weaknesses.

12:6 For even if I wish to boast, I will not be a fool, for I would be telling the truth, but I refrain from this so that no one may regard me beyond what he sees in me or what he hears from me, 12:7 even because of the extraordinary character of the revelations. Therefore, so that I would not become arrogant, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to trouble me—so that I would not become arrogant. 12:8 I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is enough for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” So then, I will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me.

12:10 Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong.

The Signs of an Apostle

12:11 I have become a fool. You yourselves forced me to do it, for I should have been commended by you. For I lack nothing in comparison to those “super-apostles,” even though I am nothing.

12:12 Indeed, the signs of an apostle were performed among you with great perseverance by signs and wonders and powerful deeds.

12:13 For how were you treated worse than the other churches, except that I myself was not a burden to you? Forgive me this injustice!

12:14 Look, for the third time I am ready to come to you, and I will not be a burden to you, because I do not want your possessions, but you. For children should not have to save up for their parents, but parents for their children.

12:15 Now I will most gladly spend and be spent for your lives! If I love you more, am I to be loved less?

12:16 But be that as it may, I have not burdened you. Yet because I was a crafty person, I took you in by deceit!

12:17 I have not taken advantage of you through anyone I have sent to you, have I? 12:18 I urged Titus to visit you and I sent our brother along with him. Titus did not take advantage of you, did he? Did we not conduct ourselves in the same spirit? Did we not behave in the same way? 12:19 Have you been thinking all this time that we have been defending ourselves to you? We are speaking in Christ before God, and everything we do, dear friends, is to build you up.

12:20 For I am afraid that somehow when I come I will not find you what I wish, and you will find me not what you wish. I am afraid that somehow there may be quarreling, jealousy, intense anger, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorder.

12:21 I am afraid that when I come again, my God may humiliate me before you, and I will grieve for many of those who previously sinned and have not repented of the impurity, sexual immorality, and licentiousness that they have practiced.

Prayer

Lord, You called and equipped and sent the apostle Paul, yet the Corinthians preferred false teachers. May I always be careful to “test the Spirit” before trusting any leader.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reiterated that his boasting was only in Christ because there is no limit to the sacrifices any true Christian would make for the cause of Jesus.

He testified to the comfort and provision of God to those who trust Him - no matter what.

Paul reminded them in a third-person style that he could boast of having been taken up “to the third heaven” but noted that such would not benefit anyone and so, unlike the super-apostles, he would not.

He shared with them that God had allowed him to suffer “a thorn in the flesh … a messenger of Satan to trouble me--so I would not become arrogant” then shared “I asked the Lord three times about this, that it would depart from me. But He said to me, “My grace is perfect [or perfected] in weakness … Therefore I am content with weaknesses, with insults, with troubles, with persecutions, and difficulties for the sake of Christ”

Paul clarified for them that he had not been defending himself but “… speaking in Christ before God, and everything we do, dear friends is to build you up.”

He expressed a concern that upon his visit there may be disappointment and conflict because they were stuck in their sin, that the Lord God might “humiliate” him in order to teach them, and that it would be his duty to discipline them.

Interaction
Consider

The tension between Paul’s humility before Christ and his need to expose the false teachers though comparison of faith-walk credentials.

Discuss

Isn’t the challenge of confronting believers who are stuck in sin, with the hope that they will confess and repent, and the fear that they will defend and rebel what causes many in leadership to look the other way—to avoid conflict?

Reflect

Paul’s "thorn in the flesh from Satan" was not revealed in a specific form of the thorn so would remain a principle, humility, and not a distraction.

Share

When have you experienced a situation where a thorn in your flesh was used by God to keep you from arrogance? Perhaps a visible flaw, a flaw in your speech, a flaw in your ability to master some area of learning, or a limitation on your income.

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a thorn in your flesh, from which I have been pleading with God for relief, but which is your ‘humbleness-thorn’.

Action:

Today I will cease asking for relief and will instead thank Him for my ‘humbleness-thorn’. I will share this with a fellow believer.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (2 Corinthians 13)

Paul’s Third Visit to Corinth

13:1 This is the third time I am coming to visit you. By the testimony of two or three witnesses every matter will be established.

13:2 I said before when I was present the second time and now, though absent, I say again to those who sinned previously and to all the rest, that if I come again, I will not spare anyone, 13:3 since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me. He is not weak toward you but is powerful among you.

13:4 For indeed he was crucified by reason of weakness, but he lives because of God’s power. For we also are weak in him, but we will live together with him, because of God’s power toward you.

13:5 Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you—unless, indeed, you fail the test!

13:6 And I hope that you will realize that we have not failed the test! 13:7 Now we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong, not so that we may appear to have passed the test, but so that you may do what is right even if we may appear to have failed the test.

13:8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the sake of the truth.

13:9 For we rejoice whenever we are weak, but you are strong. And we pray for this: that you may become fully qualified.

13:10 Because of this I am writing these things while absent, so that when I arrive I may not have to deal harshly with you by using my authority—the Lord gave it to me for building up, not for tearing down!

Final Exhortations and Greetings

13:11 Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice, set things right, be encouraged, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.

13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. 13:13 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

13:14 [[EMPTY]]

Prayer

Lord, You are the arbiter of good and evil, right and wrong, You bless obedience and withhold blessing for disobedience, You encourage righteousness and punish unrighteousness. May I choose to live a Biblically-disciplined life so that I do not have to be-disciplined by You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul predicted that his third visit would be one in which they would be without excuse and one where “I will not spare anyone since you are demanding proof that Christ is speaking through me.”

He challenged them to test themselves as possessing the presence of God though the Holy Spirit and that His power was visible in their right-living.

Paul warned them to apply what he had told them in his letter and to get themselves right before the Lord God so that when he arrived he would not have to “deal harshly” with them using his “authority” because “… the Lord gave it to me for building up, not tearing down!”

Paul concluded the final chapter of his second letter to the Corinthians with several exhortations and greetings:

  • “Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice …”
  • “… set things right”
  • “… be encouraged”
  • “… agree with one another”
  • “… live in peace”
  • “… and the God of love and peace will be with you.”
  • “Greet one another with a holy kiss …”
  • “All the saints greet you.”

And finally a prayer of blessing or “benediction”:

“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”

Interaction
Consider

Paul’s desire that his authority from God be used to build up, yet his recognition that it may need to be used as a rod of discipline for the well-being of the fellowship. Discipline is part of the process of discipleship and if we do not discipline ourselves then the Lord God may choose to bring discipline upon us.

Discuss

Why would those who were under the leadership authority of one called by the Lord God constantly challenge his authority? Did they not understand that the Lord God had empowered Paul to chastise and discipline them as necessary?

Reflect

Paul’s exhortation was for them to rejoice, to set things right, to be encouraged, to agree with one another, and to live in peace.

Share

Share your heart-reaction to Paul’s closing prayer. Does the Holy Spirit stir your spirit when you read those words?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal, from my words and deeds and heart any evidence that once agreeing to submission to the leader under whose shepherding the Lord God has placed me I am then challenging his authority and/or teaching.

Action:

Today, unless I have a Biblical cause to raise such a challenge—and I am doing so respectfully and through the proper Biblical process—I will repent of any form of rebellion and I will seek forgiveness and reconciliation.

Be Specific _____________________________________________________
 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “1-2 Corinthians” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Galatians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (Galatians)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul, an apostle (not from men, nor by human agency, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised him from the dead) 1:2 and all the brothers with me, to the churches of Galatia.

1:3 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 1:4 who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from this present evil age according to the will of our God and Father, 1:5 to whom be glory forever and ever! Amen.

Occasion of the Letter

1:6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are following a different gospel—1:7 not that there really is another gospel, but there are some who are disturbing you and wanting to distort the gospel of Christ.

1:8 But even if we (or an angel from heaven) should preach a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be condemned to hell!

1:9 As we have said before, and now I say again, if any one is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, let him be condemned to hell!

1:10 Am I now trying to gain the approval of people, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a slave of Christ!

Paul’s Vindication of His Apostleship

1:11 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin.

1:12 For I did not receive it or learn it from any human source; instead I received it by a revelation of Jesus Christ.

1:13 For you have heard of my former way of life in Judaism, how I was savagely persecuting the church of God and trying to destroy it. 1:14 I was advancing in Judaism beyond many of my contemporaries in my nation, and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my ancestors.

1:15 But when the one who set me apart from birth and called me by his grace was pleased 1:16 to reveal his Son in me so that I could preach him among the Gentiles, I did not go to ask advice from any human being, 1:17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before me, but right away I departed to Arabia, and then returned to Damascus.

1:18 Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and get information from him, and I stayed with him fifteen days. 1:19 But I saw none of the other apostles except James the Lord’s brother.

1:20 I assure you that, before God, I am not lying about what I am writing to you!

1:21 Afterward I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 1:22 But I was personally unknown to the churches of Judea that are in Christ. 1:23 They were only hearing, “The one who once persecuted us is now proclaiming the good news of the faith he once tried to destroy.” 1:24 So they glorified God because of me.

Prayer

Lord, Yours is the one and only Gospel, all others are frauds designed by the enemy to deceive people to block their path to truth and to salvation. May I be faithful in sharing and teaching Your Gospel that many will be saved and then also equipped to “go forth”.

Summary & Commentary

Paul greeted the fellowship of believers in Galatia emphasizing that he spoke only from God, Who “raised (him) from the dead” [dead in sin], and that it was Jesus the Christ Who sacrificed to save them from “this present evil age”

[Note: This phrase is variously understood by some to refer to the “end times”, that period of history from the ascension of Jesus to His return, and by others to the larger time-span of alienation of humankind from the Lord God - beginning with the Fall in Eden and onward to the heavenly-admission of those whose names are written in “The Lamb’s Book of Life”.

Paul chastised them for tolerating false teachings since they knew what was right from him.

He declared that any being, man or angel, who preached a gospel other than the one God had given him to give to them, should be “condemned to hell”.

Paul reminded them of his former persecution of Christians, and of the Lord God’s call that he become an ally instead.

He also explained that he was not subservient to other apostles as the Lord God had sent him to preach, and that “... they Glorified God because of me” when they heard the reports of his [Paul’s] conversion and preaching.

[Note: Paul refers to “Arabia” in 1:17. The NET translator’s Notes explain “As a geographical region Arabia included the territory west of Mesopotamia, east and south of Syria and Palestine, extending to the isthmus of Suez. During the Roman occupation, some independent kingdoms arose like that of the Nabateans south of Damascus, and these could be called simply Arabia. In light of the proximity to Damascus, this may well be the territory Paul says he visited here.”]

Interaction

Consider

Why the relative ease with which believers may be lured into a faulty gospel by a clever orator?

Discuss

Can an individual believer, or a body of believers, best defend themselves against false teaching through the knowledge of the Word?

Reflect

The anger of the Lord God at false teachers must have been great to cause Him to instruct Paul to identify them as worthy of condemnation to hell.

Share

When have you observed an effort made by a clever speaker to “preach another gospel”? How was a fellowship, or an individual, either led astray or able to stand on truth and overcome the deception?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you, from among the sources you trust for Biblical counsel and teaching, any that are providing deliberately-false and/or carelessly-faulty content.

Action:

Today I will Biblically-challenge anyone who is deliberately distorting the gospel and if they prove unteachable when shown their error, I will make their error known to others and I will flee their influence.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Galatians 2)

Confirmation from the Jerusalem Apostles

2:1 Then after fourteen years I went up to Jerusalem again with Barnabas, taking Titus along too. 2:2 I went there because of a revelation and presented to them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did so only in a private meeting with the influential people, to make sure that I was not running—or had not run—in vain. 2:3 Yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, although he was a Greek. 2:4 Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves. 2:5 But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you.

2:6 But from those who were influential (whatever they were makes no difference to me; God shows no favoritism between people)—those influential leaders added nothing to my message. 2:7 On the contrary, when they saw that I was entrusted with the gospel to the uncircumcised just as Peter was to the circumcised 2:8 (for he who empowered Peter for his apostleship to the circumcised also empowered me for my apostleship to the Gentiles) 2:9 and when James, Cephas, and John, who had a reputation as pillars, recognized the grace that had been given to me, they gave to Barnabas and me the right hand of fellowship, agreeing that we would go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised. 2:10 They requested only that we remember the poor, the very thing I also was eager to do.

Paul Rebukes Peter

2:11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he had clearly done wrong.

2:12 Until certain people came from James, he had been eating with the Gentiles. But when they arrived, he stopped doing this and separated himself because he was afraid of those who were pro-circumcision. 2:13 And the rest of the Jews also joined with him in this hypocrisy, so that even Barnabas was led astray with them by their hypocrisy.

2:14 But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”

Jews and Gentiles are Justified by Faith

2:15 We are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners, 2:16 yet we know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by the faithfulness of Christ and not by the works of the law, because by the works of the law no one will be justified.

2:17 But if while seeking to be justified in Christ we ourselves have also been found to be sinners, is Christ then one who encourages sin? Absolutely not!

2:18 But if I build up again those things I once destroyed, I demonstrate that I am one who breaks God’s law.

2:19 For through the law I died to the law so that I may live to God.

2:20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

2:21 I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!

Prayer

Lord, You came in the form of the humankind—which You created and who rebelled against You in the Garden—in order to provide a way to reconciliation and restoration. May I remember that Your grace is offered to everyone who will repent and surrender, without regard to age, gender, national origin, race, or social status.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reported that after fourteen years of ministry he traveled to Jerusalem to deal with a threat from the “Judaisers” who were attempting to impose pre-Christian Jewish rituals upon Christians.

He observed that once the leaders there understood that he had been called to the non-Jews by the very same God Who had called Peter to the Jews they became supportive.

Paul later found it necessary to rebuke Peter in front of the other leaders for drifting into the camp of the Judaisers out of fear and the influence of James.

Paul instructed them all that one is justified in Christ alone, to add anything whatsoever to that is to question the faithfulness of Christ and makes one guilty again before the law.

Paul wrote “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So the life I now live in the body, I live because of the faithfulness of the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside God’s grace, because if righteousness could come through the law, then Christ died for nothing!”

Interaction

Consider

Peter suffered a chronic weakness, the fear of fellow man, which caused him to make bad choices as a leader. This was in contrast to the consistent strength of Paul who was steadfast in obedience to Christ no matter the cost.

Discuss

What are some attitudes, habits, and traditions in your fellowship that distract members from focus on Christ, or even worse, that directly contradict Biblical teaching? Who is promoting them and why are the leaders not intervening effectively?

Reflect

What do Paul's words "I have been crucified with Christ …" mean to you?

Share

When have you had the experience that your growth in Christ was blocked or slowed by non-Biblical attitudes, habits, and/or traditions in a family or fellowship? Once you were set free from those distractions how did the Holy Spirit bless you with growth?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to your a place where you are distracted or deceived into wrong thinking due to non-Biblical attitudes, habits, and/or traditions.

Action:

Today I will repent of any part I have had in tolerating those distractions and/or deceptions and if I cannot cause a change I will seek a more Biblically-faithful fellowship.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Galatians 3:1-22)

Justification by Law or by Faith?

3:1 You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you? Before your eyes Jesus Christ was vividly portrayed as crucified!

3:2 The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard?

3:3 Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? 3:4 Have you suffered so many things for nothing?—if indeed it was for nothing.

3:5 Does God then give you the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law or by your believing what you heard?

3:6 Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness, 3:7 so then, understand that those who believe are the sons of Abraham.

3:8 And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, proclaimed the gospel to Abraham ahead of time, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.”

3:9 So then those who believe are blessed along with Abraham the believer.

3:10 For all who rely on doing the works of the law are under a curse, because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not keep on doing everything written in the book of the law.

3:11 Now it is clear no one is justified before God by the law, because the righteous one will live by faith.

3:12 But the law is not based on faith, but the one who does the works of the law will live by them.

3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”) 3:14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham would come to the Gentiles, so that we could receive the promise of the Spirit by faith.

Inheritance Comes from Promises and not Law

3:15 Brothers and sisters, I offer an example from everyday life: When a covenant has been ratified, even though it is only a human contract, no one can set it aside or add anything to it.

3:16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture does not say, “and to the descendants,” referring to many, but “and to your descendant,” referring to one, who is Christ.

3:17 What I am saying is this: The law that came four hundred thirty years later does not cancel a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to invalidate the promise. 3:18 For if the inheritance is based on the law, it is no longer based on the promise, but God graciously gave it to Abraham through the promise.

3:19 Why then was the law given? It was added because of transgressions, until the arrival of the descendant to whom the promise had been made. It was administered through angels by an intermediary.

3:20 Now an intermediary is not for one party alone, but God is one.

3:21 Is the law therefore opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that was able to give life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.

3:22 But the scripture imprisoned everything and everyone under sin so that the promise could be given—because of the faithfulness of Jesus Christ—to those who believe.

Prayer

Lord, You promised Adam and Eve a redeemer, and you promised the same to Abraham. You gave the law as a step to Your Redeemer, a convicting-tool, as You kept Your promise to Adam and Eve and Abraham.

Summary & Commentary

Paul chastised the Galatians further, challenging them to answer if they had received the Holy Spirit as a result of the law or grace.

He continued his challenge, asking “… you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort?”

Paul reminded them everyone who fails to complete every letter of the law without a single failure is condemned by the law, but Abraham was blessed because he believed, therefore all who believe are co-heirs to the blessing promised the “sons of Abraham”.

He reinforced his point by reminding them that “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (because it is written “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”).

Paul gave them a history lesson, noting that the law came 430 years after God’s promise and did not apply to the One [the promise specified a singular descendant—because He would keep it perfectly as the God-Man] and Who would thereby have the right to claim the promise on behalf of those who would believe, repent, and surrender.

He did note that the purpose of the law was to separate arrogant and rebellious people from any notion that they could earn their salvation nor that they possessed any special standing before the Lord God that could empower them to bypass His unyielding qualifications for entry into Heaven.

[Note: It was for relationship that the Lord God created mankind and while it was a “law” that Adam and Eve violated - the consequence was a breach of relationship due to their failure to “believe” the Lord God over the lies of the Serpent. Therefore, felicity to the law could not be sufficient to restore the broken relationship; only a genuine-belief that includes absolute surrender to the Lordship of Christ is necessary, which is what Jesus provided via the Cross, resurrection and ascension.]

Interaction

Consider

The purpose of the law and the folly of those who, because of fear and tradition, who tried to reinstate it after Jesus had granted them the grace of their salvation. [Could this be what was intended by “Blaspheming the Holy Spirit and/or “another gospel?”]

Discuss

Humankind has a long pattern of attempting to arrogantly declare parity with the Lord God, that was at the heart of the serpent’s deception in the Garden, it was the sin of the builders of the Tower of Babel, it was in the rebellion against Moses by the Israelites, and it was the sin of the religious leaders in Jesus’ time. Setting up “works” to earn salvation was a scheme to pretend to declare himself worthy though mere human effort.

Reflect

The Lord God’s longing has been to restore a right-relationship with His creation. One Lord God, one Redeemer, one path to salvation.

Share

When have you experienced a circumstance where someone in a fellowship attempted to impose a human “law” upon believers saved by grace. What was the result?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to search my attitudes and habits for any evidence that I am living as though my salvation depends upon anything other than belief in and submission to Jesus.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for complete repentance and to walk with me through reconciliation to a purely Biblical faith walk.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Galatians 3:23—4:7)

Sons of God Are Heirs of Promise

3:23 Now before faith came we were held in custody under the law, being kept as prisoners until the coming faith would be revealed.

3:24 Thus the law had become our guardian until Christ, so that we could be declared righteous by faith.

3:25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian.

3:26 For in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God through faith.

3:27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

3:29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.

4:1 Now I mean that the heir, as long as he is a minor, is no different from a slave, though he is the owner of everything. 4:2 But he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. 4:3 So also we, when we were minors, were enslaved under the basic forces of the world.

4:4 But when the appropriate time had come, God sent out his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 4:5 to redeem those who were under the law, so that we may be adopted as sons with full rights.

4:6 And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls “Abba! Father!”

4:7 So you are no longer a slave but a son, and if you are a son, then you are also an heir through God.

Prayer

Lord, You provided the 'container' of the Law to show us that we were dependent upon You and how we must live so that we could be in right-relationship with You, but Jesus the Christ came and brought us saving-grace and we are no longer law-keeping works-righteousness people but children of grace who obey in loving gratefulness. May my heart be continually-reminded that everything that has value comes from You and is a gift to me for which my right-choices are my thanks to You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul concluded Chapter 3 with a reiteration of the obliteration of worldly boundaries among believers “There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”

In the first seven verses of Chapter 4 Paul used the illustration of a minor child or a slave under the authority of another to describe God-sensitive people prior to their opportunity for salvation—they awaited the Lord God’s determination of the perfect time for Jesus to come.

He then concluded that we become “sons” into whom God sent “the Spirit of his Son into our hearts” so that we became “heirs through God”.

Interaction

Consider

Paul’s teaching that the Lord God watches over those who have hearts sensitive toward Him, hearts that respond to truth.

Discuss

How is your life different from what it was prior to salvation? What it was that the Lord God touched in you to prompt your acceptance of His lordship and your surrender of everything else?

Reflect

God's multiple repetitions through Jesus, Paul, and others of His obliteration of boundaries between Jews and non-Jews, slaves and free men, males and females as applies to His family of believers.

Share

What does it mean to you to be considered a “son” [or “child”] or God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a specific person who has been considering-Christ and whose heart He has prepared to repent of their sin, reject the things of this world, and to accept the Lordship of Christ.

Action:

Today I will pray earnestly for the one whom the Holy Spirit has identified, they will take the final step to eternity in perfection with God, and if-appropriate that He will allow me to be His instrument in leading them through a clear commitment and some of their early steps of discipleship (baptism, learning, participation).

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Galatians 4:8-31)

Heirs of Promise Are Not to Return to Law

4:8 Formerly when you did not know God, you were enslaved to beings that by nature are not gods at all.

4:9 But now that you have come to know God (or rather to be known by God), how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless basic forces? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again?

4:10 You are observing religious days and months and seasons and years. 4:11 I fear for you that my work for you may have been in vain. 4:12 I beg you, brothers and sisters, become like me, because I have become like you. You have done me no wrong!

Personal Appeal of Paul

4:13 But you know it was because of a physical illness that I first proclaimed the gospel to you, 4:14 and though my physical condition put you to the test, you did not despise or reject me. Instead, you welcomed me as though I were an angel of God, as though I were Christ Jesus himself!

4:15 Where then is your sense of happiness now? For I testify about you that if it were possible, you would have pulled out your eyes and given them to me!

4:16 So then, have I become your enemy by telling you the truth?

4:17 They court you eagerly, but for no good purpose; they want to exclude you, so that you would seek them eagerly. 4:18 However, it is good to be sought eagerly for a good purpose at all times, and not only when I am present with you.

4:19 My children—I am again undergoing birth pains until Christ is formed in you! 4:20 I wish I could be with you now and change my tone of voice, because I am perplexed about you.

An Appeal from Allegory

4:21 Tell me, you who want to be under the law, do you not understand the law?

4:22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and the other by the free woman. 4:23 But one, the son by the slave woman, was born by natural descent, while the other, the son by the free woman, was born through the promise.

4:24 These things may be treated as an allegory, for these women represent two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai bearing children for slavery; this is Hagar.

4:25 Now Hagar represents Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children.

4:26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 4:27 For it is written:

Rejoice, O barren woman who does not bear children; break forth and shout, you who have no birth pains, because the children of the desolate woman are more numerous than those of the woman who has a husband.”

4:28 But you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac.

4:29 But just as at that time the one born by natural descent persecuted the one born according to the Spirit, so it is now.

4:30 But what does the scripture say? “Throw out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman will not share the inheritance with the son” of the free woman.

4:31 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we are not children of the slave woman but of the free woman.

Prayer

Lord, You have made freedom from the enemy and the Law possible, and You have taught us all about that through Your Gospel. Only the gift of eternal spiritual salvation through Christ can save anyone. May I be faithful to Your Word and never accept anything but Your Gospel.

Summary & Commentary

Paul warned the Galatians to not drift back into the worship of, therefore slavery to, powerless idols.

He reminded them that he had become a child of the Lord God the same as they and appealed to them to not abandon the blessings of faithfulness to God.

Paul reminded them that he arrived with a physical impairment but rather than “despise or reject” him, they instead “welcomed me as though I were an angel of God”. [Verse 4:15b implies a vision problem.]

He noted that those who were trying to “recruit” the believers were doing so “for no good purpose”, that he was “again undergoing birth pains until Christ is formed” in them, and that he was “perplexed about” them.

Paul concluded with an allegory from the two women who bore Abraham children, Hagar the slave woman, and his wife, Sarah.

He asked them to view Hagar as representing those who are enslaved to the world and her naturally-conceived (she was young and fertile) and birthed son representing those who harass believers.

He asked them to view Sarah as representing those whose “son” (or children) was (were) born of a miracle of God (she was elderly and not fertile), as a promise-kept, and as the target of the persecution of the God-resistant natural world.

Interaction

Consider

The temptation for Christians to drift back into old patterns of bad choices and bad thinking is not new.

Discuss

What are some ways that believers may resist the temptation to back slide?

Reflect

Paul’s allegory is a valuable tool to help people to understand the fundamental gap between believers and non-believers.

Share

When have you experienced a situation where someone entered your fellowship and attempted to recruit believers into a non-Biblical doctrine and/or lifestyle. What happened?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a believer who needs to confessed to you, and Him, that they are struggling against the temptation to back slide in some area.

Action:

Today I will commit to pray in agreement with that believer that they will allow the Holy Spirit to be their strength.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Galatians 5)

Freedom of the Believer

5:1 For freedom Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not be subject again to the yoke of slavery.

5:2 Listen! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you at all! 5:3 And I testify again to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

5:4 You who are trying to be declared righteous by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace! 5:5 For through the Spirit, by faith, we wait expectantly for the hope of righteousness. 5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision carries any weight—the only thing that matters is faith working through love.

5:7 You were running well; who prevented you from obeying the truth?

5:8 This persuasion does not come from the one who calls you!

5:9 A little yeast makes the whole batch of dough rise!

5:10 I am confident in the Lord that you will accept no other view. But the one who is confusing you will pay the penalty, whoever he may be.

5:11 Now, brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been removed. 5:12 I wish those agitators would go so far as to castrate themselves!

Practice Love

5:13 For you were called to freedom, brothers and sisters; only do not use your freedom as an opportunity to indulge your flesh, but through love serve one another.

5:14 For the whole law can be summed up in a single commandment, namely, “You must love your neighbor as yourself.”

5:15 However, if you continually bite and devour one another, beware that you are not consumed by one another.

5:16 But I say, live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.

5:17 For the flesh has desires that are opposed to the Spirit, and the Spirit has desires that are opposed to the flesh, for these are in opposition to each other, so that you cannot do what you want.

5:18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

5:19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, 5:20 idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, 5:21 envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 5:23 gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

5:24 Now those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 5:25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also behave in accordance with the Spirit.

5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.

Prayer

Lord, You have given so much to us, yet we often look everywhere but You for value. May I be intentional in my daily pursuit of Your approval and to make myself a useful instrument of Your ministry in this lost ad dying world.

Summary & Commentary

“For freedom Christ has set us free.” In a phrase Paul defined his plea to the Galatians. He then warned those who choose the legalistic path of the Judaisers that their choice created an obligation on their part to keep the whole law and to live apart from the blessings of Christ.

Paul challenged them to recognize that those who had been trying to lead them away from the freedom of grace and back to the slavery of the law were agitators and were not sent from God.

He was so angry that he declared that those calling for the legalistic requirement of circumcision for new believers, especially applied to Gentiles, should castrate themselves [Paul was being sarcastic, since castration would have been a physiological amplification of circumcision, therefore should be what they should do as a works-righteousness gesture].

Paul calls upon the Galatians to turn instead toward loving one another and reminded them “... to live by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.”

[Note: The Bible elsewhere states that it is impossible for one to have the Holy Spirit and to not show “the fruit of the Spirit.”]

He declared that “... the works of the flesh are obvious”

  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • depravity
  • idolatry
  • sorcery
  • hostilities
  • strife
  • jealousy
  • outbursts of anger
  • selfish rivalries
  • dissensions
  • factions
  • envying
  • murder
  • drunkenness
  • carousing
  • and similar things

He reminded them that such unrepentant sinfulness defined them prior to salvation and that those who continued to be so defined were obviously not saved and “... will not inherit the kingdom of God!”

Paul then listed for them to corollary, those things that were evidence of the truly-saved person, one in whom the Holy Spirit indwelt:

“... the fruit of the Spirit is …

  • “love”
  • “joy”
  • peace”
  • “patience”
  • “kindness”
  • “goodness”
  • “faithfulness”
  • “gentleness”
  • “self-control”

He concluded with a warning against believers becoming “... conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another.”

Interaction

Consider

Compare and contrast, the list of “the works of the flesh” and “the fruit of the Spirit”.

Discuss

What is the power that “living in love” gives to believers to resist the efforts of evil-doers to lead astray?

Reflect

Why is there a problem within, or between, fellowships with believers becoming “... conceited, provoking one another, being jealous of one another”?

Share

When have you experienced “the works of the flesh” causing you to struggle? How has the Holy Spirit led you instead to be a vessel of positive “fruit”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify an item from "the works of the flesh" list which defines some part of your life.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me as I partner with the Holy Spirit to purge “the works of the flesh” from my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Galatians 6)

Support One Another

6:1 Brothers and sisters, if a person is discovered in some sin, you who are spiritual restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness. Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.

6:2 Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

6:3 For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

6:4 Let each one examine his own work. Then he can take pride in himself and not compare himself with someone else. 6:5 For each one will carry his own load.

6:6 Now the one who receives instruction in the word must share all good things with the one who teaches it.

6:7 Do not be deceived. God will not be made a fool. For a person will reap what he sows, 6:8 because the person who sows to his own flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows to the Spirit will reap eternal life from the Spirit. 6:9 So we must not grow weary in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not give up.

6:10 So then, whenever we have an opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.

Final Instructions and Benediction

6:11 See what big letters I make as I write to you with my own hand!

6:12 Those who want to make a good showing in external matters are trying to force you to be circumcised. They do so only to avoid being persecuted for the cross of Christ.

6:13 For those who are circumcised do not obey the law themselves, but they want you to be circumcised so that they can boast about your flesh.

6:14 But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

6:15 For neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything; the only thing that matters is a new creation! 6:16 And all who will behave in accordance with this rule, peace and mercy be on them, and on the Israel of God.

6:17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.

6:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. Amen.

Prayer

Lord, You call us into a believing community for accountability, discipleship, encouragement, and support—it is in our best interest in this world and for our right-relationship with You. May I invest in building a healthy community-relationship with fellow Biblical-Christians.

Summary & Commentary

Paul provided the Galatians with a Biblical philosophy to manage those “... discovered in some sin”, he provided a checklist:

  • you who are spiritual
  • Restore such a person
  • in a spirit of gentleness
  • Pay close attention to yourselves, so that you are not tempted too.
  • Carry one another’s burdens
  • If you think that you are something when you are nothing you are deceived
  • Examine your own work and take pride in yourself
  • Do not compare yourself with someone else
  • Each one carry his own load

Paul instructed them to “... share all good things” with the one who teaches [accurately] the Word of God.

He warned them that one who “... sows to his own flesh” is either selfish, or pretends to be a trustworthy teacher but who is more interested in money and prestige, therefore will be seen to only “... reap from the flesh”.

Paul contrasted that with one who “... sows to the Spirit receives eternal life”, then encouraged to not “grow weary” and to not “give up” doing good [as defined by the Bible, not man]

He included an odd parenthetical, not unique for Paul, where he observed that his handwriting forms “big letters”. He has made reference elsewhere to others writing for him. [Note: One may speculate that this comment may either underline the prior inference of poor vision or suggest another ailment as a result of beatings, illnesses, or age. There is nothing in the text that supports any hidden spiritual meaning.]

Paul returned to his warning against the Judaisers, noting that they demand circumcision for new believers so that they may brag about them [as a salesman brags of new sales] but that while these men are circumsized they fail to live according to the law [so how important could the law be to them after all.

Paul also observed a second motive, fear of persecution from the majority Judaisers.

Paul proclaimed again that circumcision or uncircumcision is nothing, that all that matters if the “new creation”.

He concluded his letter instructing them “no one cause me trouble, for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body”, and a prayer:

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters. “Amen.”

Interaction

Consider

No matter how Consider Paul's additional signposts for a false teacher; they are focused on money and prestige and their fruit is found in the flesh.

Discuss

What are some practical implementations of Paul’s checklist for dealing with a brother or sister in sin? What is the difference between the instruction to “6:2 Carry one another’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.” and “6:5 For each one will carry his own load.”?

Reflect

What does Paul’s admonition that we “not grown weary in doing good” mean to a Biblical Christian?

Share

When have you observed an example of a leader within a fellowship who was more concerned about numeric growth than spiritual growth, personal profit or prestige, and/or pleasing men to avoid criticism or other threats. What was the result?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify an area where You are feeling weary in need prayer and words of encouragement and someone whom He has prepared to walk alongside you for a time.

Action:

Today I will humbly allow a fellow believer to pray for and to encourage me from the Word and I will later share with them how it made a real difference.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study—Section 2 of the series, “Acts”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Ephesians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Passage: 

Book Introduction

According to one chronological list of New Testament book Ephesians appears after Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, James, Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans, Philemon, and Colossians and prior to 1Timothy, Titus, 1 Peter, Hebrews, 2 Timothy, Jude, 2, Peter, 1-3 John, and Revelation.

This is relevant because prior to the church in Ephesus receiving Paul’s letter there was significant awareness of texts preceding Ephesians, texts circulated by taking advantage of the Roman mails and traveling routes, and frequently passed from church (a gathering of Believers) to church and read aloud. The texts following Ephesians, yet to be authored and distributed, were built upon Old Testament prophesies and those of Jesus while in the flesh.

According to many Biblical scholars, the book of Ephesians appears not to have been uniquely written to the church in Ephesus. Ephesians gained it’s identification with Ephesus because theirs is believed to be the first church to receive this letter and because there were multiple copies found there (which indicates the intent of the church in Ephesus to distribute the letter). Regardless, the intended audience is clearly that of all believers everywhere.

Understanding some key definitions in the Bible helps in understanding the book of Ephesians:

  • Creation- bara (Heb.) ‘make something out of nothing’
  • Delegation- God’s contract with His created to manage His creation
  • Rebellion- Adam & Eve’s breach of contract
  • Curse- the consequences for breach of contract
  • Promise- “Christ” to come, providing redemption from the consequences
  • CHRISTmas- Jesus the Christ born in the flesh, first step in His provision realized
  • Easter- the culmination of propitiation, substitution, resurrection, ascension, intercession

Understanding key descriptive Biblical names and terms helps to understand Ephesians:

  • Trinity (Triune God) - God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Spirit
  • God the Father - Creator, Lord, and never-corporeal keeper of glory
  • God the Son - Jesus the man, sinless human of immaculate conception
  • Jesus the Christ, God’s son in the flesh, anointed as Savior (Acts 2:22-24)
  • Jesus our Lord, His God-glory restored, He Whom we worship and obey
  • God the Holy Spirit - Comforter of the living, restorer of the dead, empowerer of holiness
  • Spirit (human) - God’s unique essence placed in man to engage Him at the spiritual level

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Ephesians 1

Sunday (Ephesians 1:1-2)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, to the saints [in Ephesus], the faithful in Christ Jesus. 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Prayer

Lord, Your Word affirms itself, clarifying important concepts, reminding us of the reality of and reason for Your Gospel. May I never forget that You are the Lord God, that You call me a “saint” because You have redeemed me and will make me holy prior to Heaven, and that I owe it all to You.

Summary & Commentary

In the first chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul reminded the Church of the glory and promises of God and what that means to all Believers

Paul began by identifying himself as an “apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” then reminded his readers that they also are “saints ... the faithful” through the same blessing of God. [Note: His readers would have known the story of how Paul was converted from a destroyer of Christians to their most zealous advocate (Acts 9:-18), so the model of turning away from one belief system and accepting a new one unconditionally was not entirely new to them.]

Paul communicated a couple of interesting points that are easily overlooked; when he wrote “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

He intentionally wrote “grace” to remind the believers that they were no longer under the law as to eternal judgment and “peace” in order to clarify further that the war between their former rebellious selves and the Holy God is over.

Paul also added “... and the Lord Jesus Christ” in an apparent reminder of our subjection and debt to Jesus to make the “Grace and peace” possible.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God’s incredible gift—the truth that accepting God’s grace in the places of our lives where we’d be most ashamed to have Jesus in-the-flesh present is a first step to understanding grace—He already knows, and although we must never imagine that He endorses our sin, grace means that He still loves us!

Discuss

How do we meet the challenge of living here in our still-fallen flesh, assured of Heaven with bodies and minds made pure, yet struggling daily to press away the things that would drag us down?

Reflect

The Lord God’s love-name for us is “saints”, because we have chosen to be among the faithful, trusting His truth, and surrendering to His perfectly-loving Lordship.

Share

What is one example of the chasm of the person you were before Christ and the person you are now?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of one specific example where knowing that His truth empowered you to resist a former pattern of cycling down into depression or escalating up to worse sin—choosing instead confession, repentance (turning away), forgiveness, and restoration—freedom!

Action:

Today I will I will share with a fellow believer the amazing freedom that comes from knowing that despite my imperfections in the flesh I am loved by God and guaranteed freedom from imperfection and sin for eternity with Him in Heaven.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Ephesians 1:3-6)

Spiritual Blessings in Christ

1:3 Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ.

1:4 For he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world that we may be holy and unblemished in his sight in love.

1:5 He did this by predestining us to adoption as his sons through Jesus Christ, according to the pleasure of his will—1:6 to the praise of the glory of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son.

Prayer

Lord, You promised Adam and Eve, and later Abraham, that You would send a redeemer. You said that the Redeemer would make salvation possible for everyone. You taught through the Law that Your standard was a high one—absolute surrender—and Jesus taught that salvation through grace was an offered-gift to those who chose to accept it. May I never imagine that I have earned my salvation, nor that it has been imposed-upon me [there is no Biblical teaching that anyone is “born saved”], but that You reveal Yourself to every member of humankind and each must make an eternal choice.

Summary & Commentary

God blesses us by predestining (creating the conditions for) all who surrender this world and who accept the gift of Heaven through Christ—to an eternity freed from imperfection and restoration to the Edenic condition.

Paul emphasized that our standing before God in an “unblemished” state is a result of His loving provision through Christ whose sacrifice for us removed our imperfections.

He walk his readers through the following steps of understanding (first part):

vs. 1:4 He (the Lord God) chose us based on a pre-established set of conditions, “...in Christ”.

vs. 1:5 He (the Lord God) predestined us to adoption as His (God’s) “sons”—if we meet the conditions referenced in 1:4. [Note: This is more than legal standing as in His (God’s) family but would have been understood to mean for both male and female alike the full rights of a loved child and one who benefits from all of the blessings and rights thereof.]

Notes:

Fellowship between God and man is not described here, nor even in pre-Fall Eden (Gen. 1-3), all that is described is the provision of a redeemer and the boundaries for redemption set by Him.

Even as some New Testament texts address fellowship between God and man (e.g. 1 Cor. 1:9, 1 John 1:3) it is moreso of our fellowship with Christ via His provision of salvation and therefore certainty of joining Him in Heaven.

Even Eph. 1:5 where Paul described our status as “inheritors” he still did not mention affection or casual fellowship between man and God in Heaven.

When we look for a sense of how God loves us, and the intimacy which He seeks, we must look elsewhere—in the Word for “Father” used in the “Abba” (daddy) context rather than here in the ‘God the keeper of order’ context.

We will also want to look at the fellowship between Jesus and God the Father because we inherit that relationship through Jesus as our promised and fulfilled Christ.

The traditional interpretation of Gen. 3:8 is post-sin and pre-curse, but Adam and Eve are already in a state of rebellion and their standing before God has changed. Instead of implying a friendly “walking together in the cool of the day” this verse appears to describe the highly- offended Lord God looking to Adam and Eve like an approaching storm (something new to them but what we recognize in this fallen world) from where they were hiding.

Interaction

Consider

It was God’s pleasure to create a way to overcome “the sin of Adam” through the work of Jesus the Christ. Because the cost of creating “a way home” to Heaven for us was impossible through “works” He paid the price for us and only asks that we reject the things of this world-in- rebellion and surrender eternal allegiance (our free will) to our Lord the Perfect One, Jesus.

Discuss

Why is a clear understanding of the “steps” or “elements” of “predestination” so important?

First, He created the conditions for all who surrender this world and who accept the gift of Heaven through Christ,

Then, Second, He granted us adoption as His (God’s) “sons”, all of the blessings and rights as “family” in Christ.

Reflect

Our standing before God in an “unblemished” state is a result of His loving provision through Jesus the Christ whose sacrifice for us removed our imperfections.

Share

When have you heard “predestination” described? Compare and contrast that with the Word of God.

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one unsaved person for whom He would like you to pray.

Action:

Today I will pray for the person He has revealed to me and, if I have to earned the opportunity to do so, I will tell them about the incredible gift of Heaven through Jesus.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Ephesians 1:7-11)

1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace

1:8 that he lavished on us in all wisdom and insight.

1:9 He did this when he revealed to us the secret of his will, according to his good pleasure that he set forth in Christ,

1:10 toward the administration of the fullness of the times, to head up all things in Christ—the things in heaven and the things on earth.

1:11 In Christ we too have been claimed as God’s own possession, since we were predestined according to the one purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will

Prayer

Lord, You provided the way of freedom for us in Christ, and You provided us Your Gospel so that we would understand. May I receive Your gift of “all wisdom and insight” with a teachable heart.

Summary & Commentary

We have eternal redemption and daily forgiveness, as promised by God (Gen. 3:15), and because of the propitiation of Christ.

[Note: Propitiation is theologian’s shorthand for the work of Christ on the Cross where He, the only God-man, One without sin, took upon Himself our sin and through His sacrifice of death and His miracle of resurrection destroyed the power of death-for-sin for all who accept His Lordship.]

Paul refers to “the secret” of Christ, His salvation available to all and not only the Jew, and His plan to rescue man through Christ.

[Note: The coming of a Messiah was not a secret, the Messiah is prophesied at the Fall (Gen. 3:15) in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12:1-3), John 3:56 observes that “Abraham rejoiced for the day Messiah would come” the unique individual “one seed” (Gen. 13:15; 22:18, Gal. 3:16), “... until Shiloh comes” (Gen. 49:10-12), the sacrificial system was temporary (Rom. 3:25), the serpent of Numbers 21 is identified in John 3:14; 12:32 as an image of the Messiah, Moses is a type of Messiah (Deut. 18:15), in the Book of Ruth the kinsman redeemer/guardian is a type of Messiah (Ruth 4:14, Psa. 78:35, Deut. 25:5-10), in 1 Sam. 8:4-5 Israel is too obsessed with other nations and mis-applies Messiah as the demand a human king—a failure of understanding that followed them all of the way to time of Jesus, in 2 Sam. 7:11b-16 Messiah is clarified/restated, Messiah is often described generationally and rhetorically as “the son of David (Luke 1:32l 2:4; 18:38), all of the following describe the coming Messiah (Isa. 7:14-16; 9:6-7; 11:1-5; 49:5-7; 52, 53, Dan. 7:13-14, Zech. 3:8; 9:9, Mal. 3:1), “Out of Egypt I called My son,” -- Hos. 11:1 is misunderstood if taken to mean that the Messiah was an Egyptian. “called out” does not necessarily mean that He was an Egyptian but that He was a decendent of those called out of bondage—or that He fled persecution to Egypt (Mary & Joseph took him as a baby) then was “called out” to return home to grow up and do His work—Matthew (2:15) clarifies this, and finally one Bible scholar provided the following Messiah excerpts from Psalms:

Psalm 2 speaks of the Messiah as the One whom God will install as His King over Israel (v. 7). Messiah will be given the nations as His inheritance, and He will rule over those who seek to oppose Him (vss. 1-3, 8-9). The nations are thus urged to worship God now, or face the wrath of His coming King. In contrast, Psalm 22 portrays the suffering of Messiah on the cross of Calvary. It begins with the words which our Lord quoted upon the cross, “My God, my God, why has Thou forsaken me?” thus identifying the Savior with the One whose sufferings are described in this Psalm.

Psalm 45 is written for the celebration of the king’s marriage. It therefore focuses on the splendor and majesty of the coming King (vss. 3-6), and upon the fact that His throne is eternal (v. 6). The bride of the king loves righteousness and hates wickedness (the church?) and has been chosen by Him as His bride. The splendor and beauty of the bride is described as she has been prepared for her presentation to the King.

Psalm 72 depicts the reign of the Righteous King of Israel, who judges the people with righteousness and justice, and who vindicates the afflicted. He is the One who will answer the cries of the afflicted and will bring them deliverance.

Psalm 110 speaks of the installation of the Messiah at the right hand of God, who will rule over His enemies. Not only is He to rule as king, but He is also an eternal priest after the order of Melchizedek (v. 4). He will come to the earth to destroy His enemies.

“The Nestlé edition of the Greek NT lists “passages in bold which are direct quotations from the Old Testament.”

The list shows the NT as borrowing 224 separate passages from 103 different psalms, and with the same passages appearing in different places this gives a total of 280 psalm quotations in the NT. Approximately 50 of these deal with the sufferings, resurrection, ascension of Christ, and the spreading of the gospel to all nations.

The other quotations are more of a teaching or comforting nature.” Source:

http://www.ristosantala.com/rsla/OT/OT13.html]

Walking through the steps (second part):

1:9-10 He (the Lord God) made known to us His (God’s) will ... which He purposed in Him (God) ... with a view to the summing up of all things in Christ—this is the fulfillment of the promise of God after the Fall in the Garden (Gen. 3:15)

1:11 We are predestined according to His (God’s) purpose—when we meet the qualifications for predestination He (God) has a perfect plan for us (unlike the imperfect ones we invent every day) and upon our ‘qualification’ He initiates that plan.

Interaction

Consider

Dealing with sin in our lives is a challenge, we are much better at cover-ups and denials than we are at confession and repentance and we lie to ourselves even better than we lie to others.

Discuss

How does the clear linkage between the Old Testament Psalms, and the New Testament text that quotes from it, encourage your assurance of the integrity of God’s Word?

Reflect

Thank the Lord God that through Jesus the Christ He took our punishment on the Cross, that He as God-man was resurrected from the formerly inescapable bonds of death, that He walked and taught His-story and His promise, and that He sent His apostles to teach and write it to the new church (believers) that we might have His Word today. Thank Him also for daily forgiveness.

Share

When have you read something in the New Testament and realized that the writer was quoting from the OT?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a piece of His plan for your life.

Action:

Today I will praise the Lord God for His perfect plan for my life and I will humbly and trustingly follow where he leads.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Ephesians 1:12-14)

1:12 so that we, who were the first to set our hope on Christ, would be to the praise of his glory.

1:13 And when you heard the word of truth (the gospel of your salvation)—when you believed in Christ—you were marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit,

1:14 who is the down payment of our inheritance, until the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of his glory.

Prayer

Lord, You saved us and although we are already with You in your timeless-reality, we remain here for a while as we endure the time-bound reality of creation. May I keep my eyes always on You so that I never forget that I no longer belong here but rather with You in Heaven.

Summary & Commentary

We first set our hopes upon Christ when we “heard the Word of truth” and “believed in Christ.” Then we were “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.”

Walking through the steps (third part):

1:13a We hear the Word of God, HIS-story.

1:13b We choose to believe.

1:13c We are then saved.

1:13d We are given the indwelling Holy Spirit as Jesus promised (John 16)

There is a theological construct called “already, not yet”. This refers to the sovereign and unalterable declarations of God relative to His promises to His children; we are already seen as redeemed from the penalty of sin but we are not yet directly experiencing the fullness of the results of that redemption (Heaven), or as Jesus said to the repentant thief on the Cross “... today you will be with me in paradise”—Jesus was in the grave for three days and after His resurrection walked the earth for another forty, so, clearly he was speaking in the “already, not yet” linear time versus the timelessness of God and Heavenly/spiritual reality (Luke 23:39-43).

Thank God that the resurrected and glorified Jesus, Christ in the flesh, is our perfect hope and, like Him and because of Him, we also have been claimed by God as His! We first set our hopes upon Christ when we “heard the Word of truth” and “believed in Christ.” Then we were “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.”

Interaction

Consider

The amazing, incredible, surreal fact is that you have the indwelling Holy Spirit of God! What are you doing as a result of that incomparable gift? Are we, the body of Christ, partnering with Him to heal and mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually?

Discuss

How does the concept of “already, not yet,” help you to understand the difference between a human perspective of time-bound events and that of an outside-of-time God?

Reflect

The resurrected and glorified Jesus, Christ in the flesh, is our perfect hope and, like Him and because of Him, we also have been claimed by God as His! We first set our hopes upon Christ when we “heard the Word of truth” and “believed in Christ.” Then we were “marked with the seal of the promised Holy Spirit.”

Share

Share an example of how the Holy Spirit of God, working from within you, caused you to be used by God in a meaningful and positive way.

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal how He wants to work in your life to heal and mature you.

Action:

Today I choose to prayerfully partner with Him in His work so that while I am “not yet” in my new perfected body in Heaven I am “already” worshiping Him with my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Ephesians 1:15-16)

Prayer for Wisdom and Revelation

1:15 For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints,

1:16 I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers.

Prayer

Lord, You have given to us a right-model for obedient Biblical-Christian living. May I remember to reflect often upon this teaching, comparing and contrasting my walk with the guidance found here, and seeking to mature so that I may be-improved by Your Holy Spirit.

Summary & Commentary

Paul stated his motivation for offering up prayers on the Saints behalf: “For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints.” Because they are Believers “in the Lord,” and because the witness of their lives as well as their words told HIStory, Paul celebrated with, “I do not cease to give thanks for you when I remember you in my prayers.”

Following the sequence:

They were believers in the Lord.

They “ultrafidian” went beyond faith and ...

... obediently loved one another.

... obediently shared the Good News (like the Thessalonians 1:7-10)

therefore, Paul remembered them to God in his prayers.

Interaction
Consider

As you contemplate becoming an ultrafidian-Christian; do you find that exciting and scary at the same moment? Loving those sometimes hard-to-love brothers and sisters in Christ, even the one in the mirror right after doing something really dumb, can be an exciting challenge.

Discuss

In what ways can we be ultrafidian-Christians and go beyond faith to obediently love one another and obediently share the Good News because the Holy Spirit of God dwells in every one of us?

Reflect

We may call upon the Lord God Who honors us through the prayers of Apostles then and the intercession of Jesus in Heaven now.

Share

When have you been an ultrafidian-Christian and done something in-faith that you never thought you could do?

Faith in Action
Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a brother or sister whom you may encourage and one unsaved person you can tell about the Gospel of Jesus the Christ.

Action:

Today I am choosing to be an ultrafidian-Christian, loving my Christian brothers and sisters and obediently sharing the Good News every chance I get.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Ephesians 1:17-21)

1:17 I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you spiritual wisdom and revelation in your growing knowledge of him,

1:18—since the eyes of your heart have been enlightened—so that you may know what is the hope of his calling, what is the wealth of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

1:19 and what is the incomparable greatness of his power toward us who believe, as displayed in the exercise of his immense strength.

1:20 This power he exercised in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms 1:21 far above every rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.

Prayer

Lord, You are sovereign over life and death, even time itself. May I live in a proper awe of You Lord, an awe that produces an increased desire for growing spiritual maturity in my life.

Summary & Commentary

Paul strongly encouraged his readers to seek after knowledge of the Lord God and prayed that He would bless their willingness to learn with “spiritual wisdom and revelation.”

Wisdom was an attribute spoken of frequently in the Old Testament: “With God are wisdom and power; counsel and understanding are his” (Job 12:13); “Fearing the Lord is the beginning of moral knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7); “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding” (Prov. 2:6); “I will guide you in the way of wisdom and I will lead you in upright paths” (Prov. 4:11); “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom” (Prov. 11:2). Reflecting on these verses, it is clear we should desire wisdom as much as God desires it for us.

“Revelation” may have more than one meaning. In 1 Corinthians 1:7 the context refers to ‘knowledge’: at one level certainty of the revelation of Christ’s return in His full glory (“so that you do not lack any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ”) and, at another level, to insight or the discernment of truth from lies.

Some take Paul’s use of “spiritual” to refer to a Charismatic gift or experiential event but there is nothing in the larger context to support such an interpretation.

In the use of “revelation” an apparent iconicity has been noted between our “being enlightened to know” compared to “the working of His strength and might.”

In Genesis, the gift of “revelation” is promised as “the hope of His calling” cf. “raised Him from the dead” declared as “glory of His inheritance” cf. “seated Him in the Heavenly places” described as “greatness of His power” cf. “far above all rule and authority and power”

Interaction

Consider

It is not necessary for everyone to go to a Bible College or a seminary, some of those who have done so were not ready when they did, and others attended where they were taught bad doctrine; but somewhere—preferably in our fellowships, large or small—we all need to get more clued-in as to spiritual wisdom and revelation.

Discuss

What are some examples of the value of wisdom, acquired through the indwelling Holy Spirit, to equip us to discern and reject the many deceptions that the Enemy brings against us?

Reflect

How have you responded to the Lord God’s strong encouragement of us to seek after knowledge of Him, with the promise that He will bless our willingness to learn; specifically learning about spiritual wisdom and revelation.

Share

When have you experienced or observed an example where knowledge of the Word of God and possession of discernment of the Holy Spirit equipped you to discern and reject a deception, or to assist another believer in so doing?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an area of your knowledge of spiritual wisdom or revelation that wants you to explore.

Action:

Today I will invest more time in my knowledge of spiritual wisdom and revelation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Ephesians 1:22-23)

1:22 And God put all things under Christ’s feet, and he gave him to the church as head over all things.

1:23 Now the church is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.

Prayer

Lord, You have called us together in-You, and You have equipped us through Your Word. May I be faithful in encouraging fellowship that is centered upon You my Lord God.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded the church that everything, and every Believer, is “under Christ’s feet” and that “the church is his body”.

With “God put all things under Christ’s feet” Paul penned an interesting parallel to Psalm 8, where David praised the Lord God for giving His Creation to man. Adam and Eve rebelled, everything and everybody created was cursed because of them, and consequently Satan became the ruler or prince of the fallen world (see John 16:11). Yet we read in Daniel 12:1, “Michael the great prince [a type of Jesus the Christ] who protects your people will arise.”

Then Paul wrote, “He gave him to the church as head over all things.” [All Believers must choose to be, as they inherently are already, eternally submitted to Christ, as will also be “the new heaven and new earth” (Rev. 21:1).]

“Now the church is his body” reminds us that Believers, wherever they are, are a spiritual extension, or physical representation, on earth of Christ and that every member is obligated to Him for their salvation and therefore owes Him a love-debt of service.

Paul then declared how great is the reach of the presence of Christ, “the fullness of him who fills all in all.” He reminded his readers again that He is God, that He holds together all of creation (see Col. 1:15), and that He as the Holy Spirit is in every believer.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God is not pleased with careless Christians who attend a fellowship out of guilt or social obligation or superstition, or for entertainment or business or social networking. Believers must get serious about being teachable, about setting new God-directed priorities, and about making choices that are more intentionally-Biblical.

Discuss

What is an illustration of “submission to Christ” in such a way as to provide a “container” of love and value within which we live, and a sense of protection and purpose, as He is our One true and perfect King.

Reflect

The wonderful truth that Jesus is in charge and not mere humans, that “The Church” (Believers) report to Him and not to mere man, and the true “Church” is His earthly expression through us through the power and wisdom of the Holy Spirit and that every member has the privilege of giving back to Him a love-debt of service.

Share

When have you made a decision about a fellowship, or a level of participation in that fellowship, that was not based on your own discipleship, serving others, or shared worship but was instead due to some lesser flesh-motivated purpose: seeking clients, seeking a mate, seeking access to someone with money or power or prestige, seeking entertainment, seeking recognition, or other purpose. How did God show you your error? Or is He challenging your your heart-motivation right now?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you something in your calendar and/or checkbook that He wants you to submit more-intentionally to His priorities.

Action:

Today I will partner with His Holy Spirit in becoming more teachable in heart and in mind and I will be a more intentional member of the community of believers which is His Church.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Additional Resources: “Messiah” http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=660 {1}

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Ephesians 2

Chapter Introduction

The Apostle Paul, having reminded his readers of the glory and promises of God, as well as our need for His grace and provision, moves on to our new standing before God, both as individuals and, corporately, as a family of Believers.

When the daily challenges of life confront us, our fleshy nature tends to move us to anger or depression in response to fear.

In books and movies like Harry Potter, young people turn to witchcraft for magical powers. In the crass movie Wanted a young man, trapped in what he sees as a dead-end job as an “account manager” under the tyrannical supervision of an arbitrary and demanding boss, invents a persona of rebellion and re-creates the story of his life. In his fantasy he is the heir to the “magical” powers of his murdered father, is recruited by an organization supposedly directed by fate to execute bad people, is befriended by a beautiful and deadly woman, endures severe injuries as part of his training, is “magically” cured, and goes on to be the hero of the story. He then returns to his job, where he righteously exacts revenge on all who “deserve it.”

Which of us has not dreamed of such glorious “get-evens”? Of what are we afraid: Failure, pain, insignificance? In what or whom shall we trust: Government, magic, money, power, God?

In Wanted the gang of mercenaries is presented as a family with a home that looked like a castle. Each had power, privilege, and purpose. They were never alone, backed up one another, were provided with the best of everything, and acted in ways designed to change the world.

Are we not who we are as a result of Whose we are? Do we not therefore have exceptional power, privilege, and purpose? And are we ever really alone? Do we back up one another? Are we provided with what we truly need? Do we act in ways that change our world?

Sunday (Ephesians 2:1-3)

New Life Individually

2:1 And although you were dead in your transgressions and sins,

2:2 in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path, according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the ruler of the spirit that is now energizing the sons of disobedience,

2:3 among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives in the cravings of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath even as the rest…

Prayer

Lord, You have offered us rescue from destruction, because the enemies deception constantly leads humankind into sin. May I be careful to test every influence to be certain that it if of-You and not of-the enemy.

Summary & Commentary

Who we were is no longer who we are “in Christ”.

Paul began by setting up the context “... you were dead in your transgressions and sins ...”, the he paused a moment to let that sink in.

Paul continued with a checklist of their circumstances:

1. “... in which you formally [or previously] lived ...”

2. “... according to this world’s present path ...”

3. “... according to the ruler of the kingdom of the air ...” [Air is created, Satan temporarily rules due to the Fall.]

4. “... according to the ruler of the spirit ...” [Pre-salvation our spirit is accessible by Satan.]

5. “... that is now energizing the sons of disobedience ...” [From Adam and Eve on, all are sons—and daughters—of disobedience absent salvation.]

6. “... among whom all of us also formerly lived out our lives ...”

7. “... in the cravings of our flesh ...”

8. “... indulging the desires of the flesh and the mind ...”

9. “... and were by nature children of wrath ...” [God’s wrath for rebellion against Him.]

10. “... even as the rest ...”

Interaction

Consider

The nature of our pre-salvation selves was, eternally-spiritually dead.

Discuss

How enlightening is it for you to personalize the checklist of Paul with your life story?

Reflect

What are some obvious evidences of evil in modern society as listed by Paul?

Share

When have you been confronted by an unsaved person who is unwittingly enslaved as Paul described?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the opportunity to gently show these verses to an unsaved person whose respect and trust you have previously earned.

Action:

Today I will share as the Holy Spirit guides and ask if the person sees any parallels between their lives and what Paul described. I will do so humbly and respectfully, I will not condemn or pressure them, I will merely engage a conversation and allow the Holy Spirit to be in control.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Ephesians 2:4-9)

2:4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of his great love with which he loved us,

2:5 even though we were dead in transgressions, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you are saved!—

2:6 and he raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 2:7 to demonstrate in the coming ages the surpassing wealth of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

2:8 For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God;

2:9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast.

Prayer

Lord, You provided for our salvation even when not one was fit to be saved, and You ask for nothing but surrender-through-faith in return.

Summary & Commentary

We are “saved by grace” because we could never have been saved through Works alone. The Lord God “sees” us through eyes of grace—the eyes of Jesus Christ.

Paul continued his explanation of how and why God has acted to redeem us:

  • God is “... rich in mercy ...”
  • “... because of His great love ...”
  • “... with which He loved us ...”
  • “... even though we were dead in transgressions ...”
  • “... made us alive together with Christ ...”
  • “... by grace you are saved!”
  • “... and He raised us up with Him ...”
  • “... and seated us with Him ...”
  • “... in the Heavenly realms ...”
  • “... in Christ Jesus ...”
  • “... to demonstrate in the coming ages ...” [God allows imperfection, the result of rebellion, to continue because He knows that there remain many who can and will make a choice for faith and wants to give them that chance—He does not force the choice because then it is not genuine.]
  • “... the surpassing wealth of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”
  • Paul continued with a clarification of how saving faith is actualized:
  • “For by grace you are saved though faith ...” [Faith is an act of the will, a 100% surrender of free will.]
  • “... and this is not from yourselves ...”
  • “... it is the gift of God ...”
  • “... it is not from works ...”
  • “... so that no one can boast.”

Interaction

Consider

The amazing truth that the Lord God chooses to love us and chooses to show His love through the gift of grace that is our salvation.

Discuss

What does each element of Paul’s summary mean to you? Can you recall a parallel passage elsewhere in the Bible?

Reflect

“Works” cannot earn salvation, salvation was only made possible by the gift of God and may only be received by accepting the Lordship of Christ—surrendering everything else, the entire world and our free will.

Share

How did the absence of a demand for works-righteousness, by the Lord God, help to lead you to choose to surrender in faith?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone whom He has prepared to heat His Gospel.

Action:

Today I will share the truths of these verses with someone “considering Christ” and/or with a fellow believer who would be blessed and encouraged to revisit their salvation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Ephesians 2:10)

2:10 For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them.

Prayer

Lord, You rescued us from the eternal spiritual junkyard to which we were condenmed by our first ancestors, Adam and Eve. May we, as believers, celebrate Your rescue through lives sold-out to You.

Summary & Commentary

God has a purpose and a plan for each of us: We are to “partner” with Him and invite Him to do whatever He has to do to shape us into useful servants of His perfect will.

“For we are His workmanship ...” [God does not make anything imperfect—Adam and Eve made us into junk—Jesus will restore us to “design specs” in Heaven. Rom 5:15]

“... having been created in Christ Jesus ...” [Or, re-created, “made new”. 1Cor. 15:22]

“... for good works ...” [This is post-salvation.]

“... that God prepared beforehand ...” [He wanted Adam & Eve to stay clean and do this.

Rom. 5:12]

“... so that we may do them.” [We are allowed to choose to serve God well or poorly.]

Interaction

Consider

Despite the failure of Adam & Eve the Lord God provided a way that we might return to what He had planned for them before the Fall and to begin-again that relationship, this time “farming” and “fishing” for a spiritual harvest and catch.

Discuss

What are some teachings elsewhere in the Bible as to what “works” God expects of His children? (Hint: Fruits of the spirit, telling His-story, loving fellow believers, using our gifts fully.)

Reflect

There has been an amazing change in you before and after salvation, how your self-image was transformed (or should have been) from a slave to the world to a child of God in a love-relationship with the Creator-God of everything.

Share

What is an example of serving the Lord God through good works, as a believer, in your life?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone whom He has led to ‘consider-Christ’.

Action:

Today I will tell someone who is “considering Christ” my story of before and after salvation. I will not pressure them to make any sort of decision but will pray for them to choose Christ.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Ephesians 2:11–13)

New Life Corporately

2:11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh—who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands—

2:12 that you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You have made Your redemption of humankind available to anyone who surrenders to the Lordship of Christ, regardless of age, gender, national origin, or race. May I remember to refuse to treat people differently based on anything—other than the only thing that matters—their relationship with You.

Summary & Commentary

We have now become “aliens” in this fallen world, whose prince is Satan. We are instead guaranteed eternal citizenship in Heaven with our Lord and King!

Paul began by speaking to the Gentiles, reminding them that they lacked the Jewish hope of a Messiah, and were labeled “uncircumcised” by those who associated ritual circumcision with works-salvation.

Paul then reminded them that they also were strangers to the knowledge of God, something the Jews did possess.

The Paul concluded that although they had been “far away” they “... had now been brought near by the blood of Christ” and were “in Christ Jesus”—peers with all believers, Jew and Gentile alike.

Interaction

Consider

The double-gift of Christ to Gentiles, they (mostly “we”), not only gained the knowledge that a Messiah was needed and was coming, but the knowledge that He has come and He welcomes us now to His salvation-party as an honored guest—if we will but come in faith.

Discuss

What are some ways that you were clueless and hopeless, in your life, as a result of unawareness of the promise of a Messiah?

Reflect

What impact does the meaning of the Biblical phrases “brought near by the blood of Christ” and “in Christ Jesus” have upon you?

Share

How would you explain the Biblical phrases “brought near by the blood of Christ” and “in Christ Jesus” with someone to whom they would be very foreign expressions and perhaps even unpleasant expressions?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to a Biblically-accurate but less religious-sounding explanation of the Biblical phrases “brought near by the blood of Christ” and “in Christ Jesus”.

Action:

Today I will share my less “religious-sounding” explanation with someone who has not yet chosen Christ. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for wisdom and will share with that prayer-partner the outcome of my sharing.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Ephesians 2:14-16)

2:14 For he is our peace, the one who made both groups into one and who destroyed the middle wall of partition, the hostility,

2:15 when he nullified in his flesh the law of commandments in decrees.

He did this to create in himself one new man out of two, thus making peace,

2:16 and to reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by which the hostility has been killed.

Prayer

Lord, You chose in the Garden of Eden to make a way to reconcile Your creation to you—and despite our continued rebellion even since You have never waivered. May I be more like You every day, resolute in placing You first, resolved to draw nearer to You.

Summary & Commentary

Through Jesus the Christ, the Lord God has abolished the demands of the Law upon man and has instead taken them upon Himself. The “people of the Law” (Jews) and those not of the “chosen tribe” are now forever one in Christ.

Paul described Christ as “our peace” because He “... made both groups [Gentiles and Jews] into one ...”

“... He nullified in His flesh the law of commandments in decrees.” [Jesus took away the requirement of the Law that every person who ever sinned be condemned and replaced it with grace—which makes Him our righteousness instead of perfect Law-keeping.]

“He did this to create in Himself ...” [the body of believers; “The Church”, exists as an adopted part of the Lord’s family—a unique intimacy of ‘being’.]

“... one new man out of two ...” [Jew and Gentile, Law-keeper and Law-stranger.]

“... to reconcile them both in one body to God ...” [the body of believers; “The Church”.]

“... through the Cross ...” [Where the power of death was broken for all who surrendered in faith, dying to the world and the dominion of Satan, being born anew in Christ.]

“... by which the hostility has been killed.” [the curse at the Fall as recorded in Genesis.]

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God has given the incredible gift and sacrifice of Christ, taking our sins to the Cross and leaving them there—powerless—so that He might then offer us the perfect hope of salvation.

Discuss

How do you express the proper Biblical definition of “The Church” as the community of believers? How might you use that clarification to draw fellow Christians away from an obsession with buildings and organizations and instead to relationship (with God) and purpose (in Christ)?

Reflect

The dominion of Satan in the lives of the unsaved is broken and there is a new-found freedom experienced by children of God.

Share

What is an example of the way Jesus bridges the gap of Jew and Gentile, old and young, male and female, as all recognize that their common definition, purpose, and value comes from a common source?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a fellow believer who will be edified and encouraged to learn of the most-Biblical definition of “The Church”.

Action:

Today I will encourage a fellow believer to reconsider the Biblical meaning of “The Church” and ask them to then prayerfully consider where the Enemy may have caused distraction and diversion in their relationship with God as the result of a non-Biblical definition of “The Church”. I will commit to pray in agreement with them for wisdom as they walk through the process of adjusting their perspectives and priorities.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Ephesians 2:17-20)

2:17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near,

2:18 so that through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.

2:19 So then you are no longer foreigners and noncitizens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household,

2:20 because you have been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.

Prayer

Lord, You made a way for us to benefit from Your 'cross of grace'. May I celebrate Your gift with a life sold-out to You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded the people that Jesus arose and “preached peace” so that all are welcomed to accept His gift through the Holy Spirit. He is the cornerstone upon which the apostles and the prophets built His Church.

He also reminded them that Jesus came and “preached peace” to both Jew and Gentile in order to bring them together in faith and together in the Holy Spirit.

Paul used again the term “saints” to describe “fellow citizens” and “members of God’s household.”

He further explained that who they were as believers was because they “have been built on the foundations of the apostles and prophets ...”

Then, Paul used another construction metaphor “... with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.”

Interaction

Consider

The strong desire of Christ that His children be unified (based on Biblical Christian principles, not the invented parameters of man, such as "political correctness" or "speech censorship", which are intended to restrict the condemnation of sin).

Discuss

The apostles and the prophets taught what was necessary to an adequate knowledge-base, and they demonstrated the power of the Holy Spirit to equip believers to be unified in the love of Christ; how is that explained and practiced in your fellowship?

Reflect

Believers are blessed by a powerful sense of 'belonging' that comes from the Lord God calling us "saints" and "fellow citizens" and "members of God's household."

Share

When have you observed genuine unity among believers that overcame, and or is overcoming, worldly divisions and fears?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a new or troubled believer whom He desires to reach using you as His instrument of blessing.

Action:

Today I will share the Lord God's priority that we be united in the love of Christ. I agree to pray in-agreement that they will partner with the Holy Spirit to purge any fear or misunderstandings that may stand in opposition to their full fellowship with their fellow believers.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Ephesians 2:21-22)

2:21 In him the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, 2:22 in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Prayer

Lord, You have made every believer, and every fellowship of faithful believers a dwelling place where You make Your presence and Your plan known. May I seize every opportunity to “grow together” with like-minded intentional Biblical-Christians.

Summary & Commentary

The Lord God draws together those who are His, building us into a “holy temple” and a “dwelling place of God in the Spirit”.

Paul wrote “In Him ...”, reminding them of the centrality of Christ to everything in the world of the believer.

He continued his construction metaphor “... the whole building ...” [The corporate commonality of believers.]

“... being joined together ..” [Causing believers to live in Biblical unity is a process, not an event.]

“... grows into a holy temple ...” [Believers are purposed to worship God in everything that we think, say, and do.]

“... in the Lord ...” [The centrality of Christ again.]

“... in whom you are also being built together ...” [It is a community process.]

“... into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” [The Holy Spirit is our common bond.]

Interaction

Consider

It is critical to remember that Christ is in all and defines all and brings to all perspective and purpose and nothing we do as believers must ever be apart from Him as our center.

Discuss

Why is there such a major problem with worldly things displacing Christ in our gatherings and in our separate daily walks?

Reflect

The are many ways we can choose to enhance the centrality of Christ and to resist the distractions of the enemy.

Share

When have you experienced or observed a community of believers either emphasizing Christ or allowing themselves to be distracted by something else. What was the result?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you a place in your walk, alone and in community, where you have allowed other things to displace Christ as the indispensable and irreplaceable center.

Action:

Today I will cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He leads me back to a right place with Christ.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Ephesians 3

Chapter Introduction

Context from Ephesians 1 and 2

The Apostle Paul reminded his readers of the glory and promise of God, our need for His grace and provision, and our new standing before God, as both individuals and as a family of believers.

Overview of Ephesians 3

Paul revisited the magnificence of God, the plan for Christ to create a Church of all believers, that the fruits of grace are to be shared, that discouragement due to suffering may be evidence of doubts about God’s sovereignty, that faithfulness in suffering may be strong evidence of true salvation, and that we need to be in constant awe of the love and power and provision of God.

Sunday (Ephesians 3:1-4)

Paul’s Relationship to the Divine Mystery

3:1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—

3:2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you,

3:3 that by revelation the divine secret was made known to me, as I wrote before briefly.

3:4 When reading this, you will be able to understand my insight into this secret of Christ.

Prayer

Lord, Your revelation through Paul announced Your fulfillment of Your consistent promise to Adam and Eve, Abraham, and Moses.  May I be faithful to tell others.

Summary & Commentary

Paul’s revelation was that who you *were* is no longer who you are “in Christ”.”

He reminded his readers that his insight was a result of God’s calling and equipping—so that there was no confusion with the false teachers whose claim was to be wise in and of themselves.

Paul also wanted to be sure that his readers understood that unless they were “in Christ”, saved plus the indwelling Holy Spirit of God, so that they would be unable to understand his message well.

God forgives every sin that we (Christians) confess, and for which we are truly repentant (desire to turn away from), and He sets us free from judgment for that/those sins. God makes us new every morning.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God called and equipped Paul, once a “Jew of Jews”, a Pharisee who had no time for Gentiles and who attacked Christians, to be His emissary to Gentile-Christians.

Discuss

Why might a non-Christian have trouble understanding what Paul is teaching? Why was it important for Paul to remind the Gentile believers of the source of his authority versus that of some other preacher-teachers who had not been sent by God?

Reflect

The meaning of “Who you *were* is no longer who you are in-Christ” is important.

Share

When were you unable to comprehend a Biblical teaching prior to your salvation, but once indwelt by the Holy Spirit of God, you could understand?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you something new in the Bible to both equip and mature you and to remind you of His power to transform.

Action:

Today I will thank the Lord God that He forgives every sin that we confess, and for which we are truly repentant (desire to turn away from), and that He sets us free from judgment for that sin (makes us new every morning).

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Ephesians 3:5-6)

3:5 Now this secret was not disclosed to people in former generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,

3:6 namely, that through the gospel the Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus.

Prayer

Lord, You had a perfect plan from the beginning, and in Your perfect timing—following the work of Jesus the Christ on the Cross and Resurrection—You made it known through Your chosen spokesmen. May I worship Your perfection and share Your story.

Summary & Commentary

There was little point to revealing this “secret” until after the Gospel had been actualized through the events of the Cross and the Resurrection.

The Lord God’s timing was perfect as the Romans had created an exceptional system for travel which equipped His messengers to spread the Word quickly and effectively—before the enemies of truth could prevent it.

When Jesus was crucified the veil between man and God was torn away forever and with the resurrection of Christ all who accept His Lordship, and reject everything that is not of Him, are welcomed into His eternal family regardless of gender, race, or social status. (Galatians 3:28)

Recalling our discussion of Ephesians 1; the New Testament chronology tells us that Ephesians is preceded chronologically by Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, James, Galatians, Thessalonians, Corinthians, Romans, Philemon, and Colossians. Thus the members of the church (believers) at Ephesus would have been taught this concept. (Note: There are 24 cross references to this same concept from those Letters/Books.)

http://net.bible.org/verse.php?book=Gal&chapter=3&verse=28&tab=commentaries

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God abolished all of the worldly castes and classes, artificial social hierarchies and racial distinctions. All are equal in His family.

Discuss

What are some of the reason(s) why we must surrender our claims to everything in this fallen world, including our free will, in order to truly be saved?

Reflect

“... the veil between man and God was torn away forever.”

Share

When have you experienced or observed the way that an absence of artificial man-made walls, separating people into unequal sub-groups, impacted witnessing for Christ and/or encouraging fellow believers?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone “considering Christ” and/or a fellow believer whom He desires you to share His revealed secret.

Action:

Today I will share these truths with someone "considering Christ", and/or with a fellow believer, who would be blessed and encouraged to recognize and live in the freedom-from-man-made-walls that comes from being a member of the family of God.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Ephesians 3:7–9)

3:7 I became a servant of this gospel according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the exercise of his power.

3:8 To me—less than the least of all the saints—this grace was given, to proclaim to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ

3:9 and to enlighten everyone about God’s secret plan—a secret that has been hidden for ages in God who has created all things.

Prayer

Lord, You made salvation possible, and You have caused Your Gospel to be known far and wide. May I be faithful in gratefulness and bold in sharing Your story.

Summary & Commentary

The power of the Lord God was in His provision of salvation through Jesus the Christ.

The Lord God called Paul by appearing to him then empowered him by bringing others alongside to disciple him in order that Paul might effectively challenge the religious elite (as a former peer).

Paul became a “... servant of this gospel” because of the Lord God's calling and empowering and his right-response to tell others.

Paul wrote much of the New Testament so that we might better know God and what He asks of us.

Paul reminded his readers again that God’s saving grace is for all, regardless of gender, race, or social status.

Interaction

Consider

Paul, despite his history, was teachable in spirit and willing to go and to do whatever the Lord God asked, no matter the cost.

Discuss

What are some of the things that you have learned about the Lord God, and what He expects of you, as a result of reading the writings of Paul?

Reflect

Those whom God called to serve alongside of Paul, and those whom God calls today, have been used to faithfully teach His truths to generation after generation of new believers.

Share

When have you experienced a faithful teacher, rightly teaching the unchanging Word of God, helping you to grow in the knowledge of God and in your maturing personal walk with Him?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind me of a faithful teacher of His Word for whom He wants me to pray.

Action:

Today I will thank the Lord God for empowering Paul to challenge the religious elite and to write so much of the New Testament that we might better know Him and what He asks of us.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Ephesians 10–12)

3:10 The purpose of this enlightenment is that through the church the multifaceted wisdom of God should now be disclosed to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly realms.

3:11 This was according to the eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, 3:12 in whom we have boldness and confident access to God because of Christ’s faithfulness.

Prayer

Lord, You have allowed angels, demons, and humankind alike to make choices and to choose sides, and over history You promised a redeemer—while You kept the details to Yourself. As I learn from the apostles the Gospel story may I be enlightened and may I share Your story with others.

Summary & Commentary

Angels and demons alike were made aware of the complete meaning and purpose of the Gospel, and especially the role of The Church (the assembly of believers, physical and/or spiritual, as an eternal family), in the great plan of the Lord God’s redemption of humankind.

Through the work of Christ we may approach the Creator and all-powerful God of everything with the confidence of a dearly loved child that we will receive all of the needed affection and provision and training from the most-perfect One.

Interaction

Consider

“The Church”, the body of believers, “has become the revelation of the plan of redemption from the Lord God.

Discuss

How has the “enlightenment” of the Lord God, through His Bible, His Holy Spirit, and those whom He has sent to teach you, increased your maturity and your relationship with Him?

Reflect

How incredible is the love of the Lord God that we may approach Him with “... boldness and confident access”.

Share

When have you have approached the Lord God with “... boldness and confident access” and He has responded to you with comfort, encouragement, enlightenment, equipping, and/or healing?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where you have not been bringing a challenge to the Lord.

Action:

Today I will approach the Creator and all-powerful God of everything with the confidence of a dearly loved child in order to receive all of the needed affection and comfort and provision and training and wisdom from the most-perfect One.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Ephesians 3:13)

3:13 For this reason I ask you not to lose heart because of what I am suffering for you, which is your glory.

Prayer

Lord, You allowed Paul to demonstrate the depth of commitment that You ask of a true follower, just as You asked Your prophets of the OT to sometimes suffer to make a point. May I be a willing instrument, even when it is inconvenient, and even when it hurts.

Summary & Commentary

Because the Lord God has chosen to us The Church (believers) as His instrument of redemption in the world, we are not to “lose heart”.

No matter what happens in our time here in this fallen and foreign world God is our sufficiency, He is our comfort, He is our purpose, and He is never far from us. We must never lose hope!

Paul wanted them to understand that his suffering triggered two choices in the lives of his readers; the first was to bring them the Word of salvation—in which he prayed that they would trust—therefore resulting in the glory of their salvation; the second, that they remained strong “not to lose heart”, and thereby their faith and trust in the Lord God’s greater purpose would serve as both an evidence of their salvation and as an evidence of them “working out their salvation” in an intentionally “ultrafidian” (beyond faith) manner; itself also an expression of their “glory”—a beauty because of Him and reflected back to Him.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God provided the voluntary sacrifice of Christ which served as a model for that of the apostles.

Discuss

What does “... our time here in this fallen and foreign world” mean to you?

Reflect

The powerful truth is that the Lord God is our sufficiency, He is our comfort, He is our purpose, and He is never far from us.

Share

When have you experienced, in a certain circumstance, that trusting the Lord God brought you hope when all of the worldly evidence suggested that you were without hope?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you in His own special way that no matter what happens in our time here in this fallen and foreign world He is our sufficiency, He is our comfort, He is our purpose, and He is never far from us.

Action:

Today I will thank the Lord God and I will share that Biblical perspective with a fellow believer whom I believe will be blessed by that Word of encouragement.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Ephesians 3:14-19)

Prayer for Strengthened Love

3:14 For this reason I kneel before the Father,

3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named.

3:16 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner person,

3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, because you have been rooted and grounded in love,

3:18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth,

3:19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.

Prayer

Lord, You made it possible for me to be in Your eternal family, and You then fill me with Christ so that I may mature in-You. May I seek Your wisdom, surrender to Your Lordship, and be available as Your instrument.

Summary & Commentary

For this reason I kneel [“this reason” referred to salvation and their continued maturity] before the Father [We are called “the children of the Father”] from whom every family ... is named [Historically naming implied ownership, or at least a position of superiority. In the early Genesis account Adam named the animals over whom God gave him dominion.] according to the wealth of His glory He may grant [God’s glory is endless. God chooses to give from His resources, none may compel Him.] be strengthened [We acknowledge our weakness and then we set aside our pride and allow God to be our strength.]

Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith [Christ “dwells” in a rhetorical sense through our attitudes, and God is more literally represented in us via his indwelling Holy Spirit. Faith is the means through which we trust the truth of Christ, follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, and go beyond the essentials of salvation into “ultrafidian” beyond faith surrender and service.] rooted and grounded in love ... able to comprehend ... the love of Christ [A tree draws nutrition from and is strengthened against uprooting in storms by it’s roots, so it should be for us through the love of Christ. He also gives to we selfish and stubborn people the capacity to comprehend His unique love.] be filled up to all the fullness of God [It is God’s desire that we be filled to overflowing so that the overflow may bless others.]

Interaction

Consider

Incredible is the gift that we are claimed by the Lord God as His eternal-children.

Discuss

What are some of the blessings that the Lord God pours out to His children, and through them, overflowing to others?

Reflect

What is the impact of being “... rooted and grounded in ... the love of Christ”?

Share

When have you experienced the Lord God causing an overflow of His love in you so that you could then share the overflow with others?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you several times this day to reread and to reflect upon the prayer of Paul.

Action:

Today, as I read and reflect upon this prayer of Paul I will thank the Lord God for placing it upon his heart and for pouring it out through his letter to the Ephesians and others.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Ephesians 3:20-21)

3:20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think,

3:21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Prayer

Lord, You are the power for change for good, and You have chosen to work through Your children—The Church. May I be available and engaged as You disciple and equip me to be one of Your instruments of reconciliation to humankind in the world.

Summary & Commentary

The power of Him that is working in us is both our faith, which He is growing, and is the Holy Spirit—through Whom He is growing it.

The Lord God is without-limit, something that we finite humans are cannot fully comprehend.

Paul challenged the Ephesian believers, and believers everywhere, to be honest in their prayers to the Lord God—because He is able “...to do far beyond all that we ask or think”

The phrase “... in the church” refers to the believers—which is the only place on earth that the Lord God chooses to display His glory and through whom His glory is reflected—”... the church” existed before buildings and denominations and programs and it continues to exist apart from those things.

“... in Christ Jesus the glory of God is displayed generation after generation and forever.

Interaction

Consider

The meaning of a familial relationship with the God of endless power and timeless existence.

Discuss

What are some ways that we may partner with the Lord God in-faith to be conduits of His glory to others?

Reflect

Celebrate the Lord God’s reassurance, through Paul, that we need hold nothing back as He can and will do far more than “... all that we ask or think”

Share

When have you the Lord God going far beyond your prayer-request of Him?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to read Paul's prayer several times today.

Action:

Today I will say Amen & Amen! To Paul's prayer and I will share it with a fellow believer and together will celebrate the Lord God's loving-perfection.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Ephesians 4

Book Introduction

The Apostle Paul called upon the church (believers) to grow up. He implored them to learn the Word, to live the Word, and to press away the polluting influences of the sinful world to which they were formally emotional, intellectual, physical, and spiritual slaves.

Paul did not request, nor did he expect perfection any more than Jesus did; Jesus provided for confession, repentance, and forgiveness for good reason. Paul was clear in all of his writings that he had his own struggles and thus anticipated the same in the Christian walk of others.

Paul’s message was that we be intentional in the pursuit of holiness, that such be a major focus of our lives, because in so doing we honor God and we are continually moving away from potential temptation.

Sunday (Ephesians 4:1-6)

Live in Unity

4:1 I, therefore, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to live worthily of the calling with which you have been called, 4:2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,

4:3 making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

4:4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling,

4:5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism,

4:6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

Prayer

Lord, You ask us to be intentional in the pursuit of personal holiness, because You are Holy and we belong to You. May I make time for Bible study and reflection, find prayer and accountability partners, and be faithful in sacrificial service to others so that You make draw me every-nearer to You.

Summary & Commentary

“... live worthily of the calling”—We are children of God, “saints”, destined for eternity in Heaven, privileged to carry His name in this temporary world.

We rightly condemn sports stars and political leaders when they behave in anti-social ways because they bring shame upon the name of their team or their nation; therefore, we must also understand that the Lord God desires that we honor His name in our conduct.

Paul was a living example of humility. He confessed his own failings in several of his letters—we are never to think ourselves better than our peers—or the apostles.

No former enemy of the Lord God (that’s us), saved by God’s grace through faith in Him alone, has justification for arrogance.

Gentleness marks the maturing believer, patience with loving endurance of occasional immaturity toward those who are learning and growing as we had to learn and to grow—older “siblings” to younger “children in the faith”.

Paul reminded us to remember that the newly saved are “The Church” [believers] and we all have the same Holy Spirit; therefore, one does not war with oneself.

The Lord God is one, and we are one as His Church (believers), and our peace comes from our joy in the eternal promise of Heaven through our trust that He is in control.

There is no conflict inside “The Church” [among believers] so long as our eyes are on Him alone.

Interaction

Consider

Children often put-down their younger sibling, taunting them with “little baby” or take advantage of their lack of life experience and knowledge with tricks; sadly, many adults never mature out of this abusive, destructive, and ignorant behavior.

Discuss

Old-school parents may often chide their children as they head out the door “remember not to do anything that would bring shame to the family name”, so great was their traditional belief in the value of integrity before the watching world. This has been largely lost in a fragmented society where selfishness rules—God calls us to integrity in everything we do as the bearers of the name of Christ. How might we remind children, and peers, to take care how they present the Lord God to a watching world?

Reflect

Jesus and the apostles modeled humility, yet still there was a constant problem in the early church with arrogant and proud people assuming roles of leadership, the problem continues.

Share

When have you discovered that knowing that you are a “child of God” gave you the perspective and motivation to walk away from sin that otherwise may have ensnared you?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to find you teachable and guide you away from an old sin (or perhaps a new one) and toward righteousness instead.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement for this and will share with them what God does to honor our prayers. I will also thank the Lord God for the Holy Spirit who equips us to live worthy of God and in peace with fellow believers—doing so without Him is impossible.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Ephesians 4:7-10)

4:7 But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of the gift of Christ.

4:8 Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he captured captives; he gave gifts to men.”

4:9 Now what is the meaning of “he ascended,” except that he also descended to the lower regions, namely, the earth?

4:10 He, the very one who descended, is also the one who ascended above all the heavens, in order to fill all things.

Prayer

Lord, You came and rescued humankind—captives of sin in this fallen world—and incarnated in Jesus the Christ and Your Holy Spirit You completed Your plan to provide a path of redemption. May I understand that You love Your creation so dearly that You sacrificed on our behalf—and my response will be a grateful surrender to Your Lordship.

Summary & Commentary

One school of Biblical scholarship teaches that Jesus on the Cross carried our sin down to Hell, left it there, announced our freedom, and rose again. He then ascended back to His home in Heaven to prepare a place for “the captives” whom He had rescued via the Cross. Another suggests that we may read this as a reference to Jesus leaving Heaven for His earthly ministry to later return to His home in Heaven. In either case the most important element is that Jesus is our intercessor.

“... in order to fill all things.” echoes Paul’s prior reference to God’s promises.

Interaction

Consider

The US Secret Service protects the President and others. The job description of an Agent includes literally “taking a bullet” if such is necessary to defend the President from harm. Jesus “took the bullet” of sin’s eternal punishment for us.

Discuss

When you study the differing views of "descended", separating what the Bible says versus what are the fanciful extra-Biblical notions of classical fictional literature by Dante and modern fictional works of Hollywood, what do you conclude?

Reflect

“... in order to fill all things” is a reminder that God keeps all of his promises.

Share

When have you discovered that knowing that God keeps His promises provided the strength and trust to walk through an otherwise very difficult experience?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone "considering Christ" with whom He would like you to share this message.

Action:

Today I will Thank God that Jesus the Christ humbled Himself to come down to earth, took and dumped our sins in Hell, rose again to Heaven to make a way for us.

Thank God that Jesus took my punishment and made a way for me back to fellowship with God, the purpose for which mankind was originally designed.

Today I will share the amazing story of God's provision for salvation through Jesus—and His continuing provision to His children. It may be on an Internet discussion list (appropriate to the list parameters), a text message, a phone call, a letter, a personal conversation, or some other format—but I make a commitment to "just do it".

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Ephesians 4:11-13)

4:11 It was he who gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers,

4:12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, that is, to build up the body of Christ,

4:13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God—

a mature person, attaining to the measure of Christ’s full stature.

Prayer

Lord, You choose to use us as Your tools for building the quantity and quality of Your “Church” (believers) and You equip and sends those who will lead and train us in doing so. May I go and serve where I am sent and follow and learn when I need to be lead.

Summary & Commentary

Between the moment of of saving faith—our absolute surrender to Christ—and our arrival in Heaven for eternity (following the Great White Throne Judgment) we are all constantly in the process of maturing.

Jesus provided everything that we needed “... to build up the body of Christ”, that is, to grow His “Church” (believers) in both quality and quantity. Among those resources are apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers (some of whom are pastors)—their job is not to build buildings, gather adoring fans, create local doctrines, or to do “the work of ministry”—the text is clear that their job is to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”, which is, “to build up the body of Christ”.

This is very important because it means that every single “saint” (believer) is called to “the work of ministry” and that it cannot be delegated-away to apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers and/or pastors.

This is also very important because it means that every single saint must be constantly-maturing so that they become more and more valuable to the Lord God in His ministry of building up the body of Christ.

Paul elsewhere (1 Cor. 12, etc.) described the various roles of members of the “body” or family of believers that is “the Church”, with an emphasis on the importance that all are serving (and are serving as-called), that none is more important nor any capable of everything. Every part of the body is dependent on the others.

Here Paul emphasized the role of the leaders, from the founding of The Church (believers) until this very day, and until Jesus calls His children home. Apostles were called to establish the Church and to equip those who would sustain the Church once they departed. Prophets, then and now, remind us of Who God is, what He has done, and what He has promised to do. Once the “canon”, the trustworthy Word of the Bible, was closed by the Lord God there is “nothing new under the sun” (or the Son), Rev. 22:18-19 makes that profoundly clear.

Evangelists and teachers (some whom are pastors) tell His-story, feed His sheep, and protect His sheep.

Interaction

Consider

There is an “old school” religious tradition where all of “the work of ministry” is foisted upon the pastor-teacher. He is often expected to perform every function from prayer, teaching, caring, service, evangelism, even “church” property maintenance! This is despite the clear teaching of the Bible about the distributed responsibilities of “the body” and the instruction that the “elders” focus upon their duties as spiritual leaders and delegate overflow-tasks to “deacons”.

Discuss

In what ways may a pastor-teacher emphasize the “equip(ing) of the saints for the work of ministry”? How can he be protected from becoming too-busy doing their “work” for them.? How might the pastor, and certain hyper-active “saints”, may resist leaping to do most of the “work of the ministry”—because in so doing they deny the blessing of service to others? Is it not evidence of maturity and wisdom for them to learn to to wait a bit when a need arises to allow the Lord God, through His indwelling Holy Spirit, to make clear whom He has been preparing in the body to be blessed as a conduit of His blessing?

Reflect

What does the phrase “... to equip the saints for the work of ministry” mean to you?

Share

When have you experienced an example of a faithful teacher preparing you "for the work of ministry", showing you opportunities to serve, coaching and mentoring you, but then allowing you to do and to grow and then to multiply yourself as they multiplied themselves in you and others?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you some things you have been doing which you have not been called and/or have not been gifted to do?

Action:

Today I commit to partner with the Holy Spirit in “... equip[ing] the saints for the work of ministry” by teaching, coaching, equipping, and mentoring others to do what they have been called and/or have been gifted to do—so that I may focus on those things to which I have been called.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Ephesians 4:14-16)

4:14 So we are no longer to be children, tossed back and forth by waves and carried about by every wind of teaching by the trickery of people who craftily carry out their deceitful schemes.

4:15 But practicing the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into Christ, who is the head.

4:16 From him the whole body grows, fitted and held together through every supporting ligament. As each one does its part, the body grows in love.

Prayer

Lord, You draw us together for safety and strength and from that safe place we are able to discern falsehoods and to resist manipulation. May I invest in intimate fellowship with mature fellow believers.

Summary & Commentary

We are to be as teachable as children but not as gullible. Paul previously complimented the Bereans for their intentional-validation of all teaching by consulting the Word of God (as much as they had of it in their day).

We have the Word of God, the indwelling Holy Spirit, and are engaged in constant growth in maturity; therefore, we are without excuse for a lack of discernment and/or a lack of progress toward intentional-holiness.

Paul warned again that there would be people who would “craftily carry out their deceitful schemes” with the intent of creating non-Biblical fads “every wind of teaching” and that believers are not to be “tossed back and forth by waves and carried about”.

He concluded with the reminder that together, in unity from love, we may stand strong against deceivers and that the truth will be found in the atmosphere of God’s love and unity.

Interaction

Consider

There may be local “preachers” as well as radio and television “preachers” who promote all manner of magical thinking; the “prosperity gospel”, magical healing from a napkin touched by them (which one may receive for a “small donation”), legalism-equals-righteousness, tradition-equals-truth, etc. They were condemned in the most strident terms by Jesus and by the faithful apostles and prophets and teachers of the New Testament Bible as well.

Discuss

What is the result when people join fellowships as members, or as leaders, and then they attempt to “craftily carry out their deceitful schemes”?

Reflect

If the Holy Spirit is to use the Word to guide and to protect us from the charlatans the Word needs to be in our minds for Him to reference, and the Word needs to be authoritative so that we are willing to accept a hard teaching—no matter the circumstances. Walking together with others provides us with shared wisdom and strength.

Share

When have you shared Biblical knowledge and maturity within a fellowship and then together, in unity from love, you stood strong against deceivers. What was the result?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal new opportunities to study the Word, together with others, in order to be better equipped to discern and to resist deceivers.

Action:

Today I will ask another believer to join me in a brief topical study, in-person or online, of deceivers from the New Testament. (See http://bible.org/seriespage/instruction-concerning-false-teachers-church... )

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Ephesians 4:17-19)

Live in Holiness

4:17 So I say this, and insist in the Lord, that you no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.

4:18 They are darkened in their understanding, being alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardness of their hearts.

4:19 Because they are callous, they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.

Prayer

Lord, You rescued us from our Godless existence and You gave us purpose versus futility, understanding versus ignorance, adoption versus alienation toward You, sensitivity versus callousness, decency versus indecency, purity versus impurity, and generosity versus greediness. My I be grateful through a life surrendered to Your good works in and through me rather than the meaningless business of the world apart from You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul used the colloquial term “Gentiles”, which was a Jewish slur to refer to all non-Jews, and which carried the instant-meaning, even to Gentiles, of one who is apart from the Lord God. (In the context of “neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free” it still meant the same to Christians but no longer bore the racial epithet of “non-Jewish”.)

He reminded the Ephesians that without Christ, and therefore without the indwelling Holy Spirit, all people are clueless; trapped in the “futility of their thinking”, “darkened in their understanding”, “alienated from the life of God”, crippled by the “ignorance that is in them”, compromised by the “hardness of their hearts”, and desensitized because they were “callous”.

Paul also described the result “they have given themselves over to indecency for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.” Their lusts had no ending thus they were slaves to the hopeless pursuit of more and more of nothing that contained and true or lasting value.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God those who have surrendered to the Lordship of Christ as adults, and even teens, recall the sort of hopeless and senseless “chasing after the wind” that epitomized their choices and priorities; waking every morning desperate to prove-value in the eyes of others—who are themselves also desperate to prove their value to others who are desperate to prove their value to others ... all equally clueless about what is truly valuable.

Discuss

What is the practical daily-value of knowing the huge chasm between who we were and who we are, because of “Whose” we are, and how critical that is in our battle to successfully resist Satan’s manipulations?

Reflect

They “old man” Paul described earlier is a constant target of the Enemy, his evil scheming is designed to find any weakness by which he may draw us back into our pre-salvation confusion.

Share

How have you found a way to avoid the people and the places that are rife with temptation, never underestimating either our vulnerability or our enemy?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where the influence of the world poisons you to the freedom that is right-thinking and right-living in Christ.

Action:

Today I will confess and repent, seek and accept the forgiveness of the Lord God, and invest in the priorities and relationships that keep me focused on the Lord.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Ephesians 4:20-24)

4:20 But you did not learn about Christ like this,

4:21 if indeed you heard about him and were taught in him, just as the truth is in Jesus.

4:22 You were taught with reference to your former way of life to lay aside the old man who is being corrupted in accordance with deceitful desires,

4:23 to be renewed in the spirit of your mind,

4:24 and to put on the new man who has been created in God’s image—in righteousness and holiness that comes from truth.

Prayer

Lord, You have made me new—in Your existence outside of created-time You see me already made-new. May I see myself as You do, pressing-away the things that might soil my robes-of-righteousness, pressing-toward the things that draw me nearer to You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded the Ephesians that if they were truly saved then they would have been taught to “... lay aside the old man who is being corrupted” (as a part of their salvation-education).

He emphasized that the corruption of the temporal flesh was continual and that temptations of the flesh did not end at salvation.

“... the truth is in Jesus.” We are “... to be renewed in The Spirit of your mind”, which is to say that we are renewed by the Holy Spirit who dwells within and we are to have our spiritual-selves renewed; our thinking will thereby be radically changed. The change that comes to the way we think, heart-change, is the real-change. Change in our external conduct may or not be real as it may be evidence of internal change or merely something done to seek the approval of others.

Righteousness: ”the state of him who is such as he ought to be”http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Righteousness

Holiness: ”conformed in all things to the will of God”

http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Holiness

Truth: that which is opposed to falsehood”

http://net.bible.org/dictionary.php?word=Truth

(Truth is defined by Jesus and found in Him. Knowing Jesus is how we know truth.)

Interaction

Consider

While we move in the direction of holiness and righteousness we must be realistic that perfection can never be ours until we lose what Paul referred to as "this body of death" and are made completely new in Heaven.

Discuss

Picture yourself as the outline of a heart filled with squares; each square is a piece of you. Imagine that you are driving in rush-hour traffic and are stressed, or you are dealing with a difficult boss or co-worker or family member, or you are struggling with an addiction, bad habit, or an obsession. How do you surrender these things, one-by-one, to the Lordship of Christ through the indwelling Holy Spirit? How do you partner with The Lord God to keep them under His control as you move on to the next and the next, making incremental progress?

Reflect

It is folly to invest a great deal of energy in the non-Biblical philosophies of “positive mental attitude”, and it is misleading others and ourselves to believe that we can master our imperfections using only our own strength. Real and lasting change comes in partnership with the Lord God where we provide a willing heart and He provides the wisdom and strength.

Share

When have you experienced the Lord God causing change where the world's philosophies and politics have failed you?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to the next place where He wants to partner with you to “take captive” one more as-yet unmastered weakness.

Action:

Today I follow where the Holy Spirit leads. I will thank the Lord God for the truth that we may, with the help of the Holy Spirit. resist “deceitful desires”, have our minds are renewed to pre-Fall Eden clarity, and that we may live more-and-more holy and righteous.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Ephesians 4:25-32)

4:25 Therefore, having laid aside falsehood, each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.

4:26 Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger.

4:27 Do not give the devil an opportunity.

4:28 The one who steals must steal no longer; rather he must labor, doing good with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with the one who has need.

4:29 You must let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth, but only what is beneficial for the building up of the one in need, that it may give grace to those who hear.

4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

4:31 You must put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk.

4:32 Instead, be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you.

Prayer

Lord, You protect Your Church (believers) from sin through mutual-accountability and when we are faithful in enforcing Your love-based standard we will have a healthy and safe household of faith. May I seek accountability and warn others when they are without.

Summary & Commentary

Paul directed the Ephesians to always be honest with one another inside the church. He explained that righteous anger is appropriate but that one is never to sin in that anger. (e.g. one may be righteously-angry when someone misquotes the Bible in order to manipulate another for personal gain, but one does not curse at that person or physically-strike them.)

When he warned the Ephesians to not allow the sun to “go down on the cause of your anger” he was addressing the cause and not the symptom; righteous anger at sin inside of the Christian community, insisting that such sin must be immediately confronted “... do not let the sun go down on the cause”.

The NET Bible translator’s notes observe that this appears to be a reference to church discipline as a means of “preventing the devil from gaining a foothold” and furthermore and encouragement for church discipline that is timely and not delayed.

Paul reminded the Ephesians that the devil actively-sought opportunities to lead them into sin and to harm the fellowship—when they did not discipline themselves they created opportunities for the evil one rather than for the Lord God.

Discipline within our fellowship of believers is to be conducted in love (see Eph. 4:1-6) so that those administering the discipline are themselves not drawn into sin.

Paul described some of the sins that they were to avoid.

He warned them that while their salvation was secure, based on the “first downpayment of their salvation”, the indwelling-presence of the Holy Spirit—that same presence meant that every time they sinned they grieved Him.

Interaction

Consider

When our brother or sister sins we must confront that sin immediately and in love, treating them as we would want to be treated, with respect and with a common commitment to persevere along the path to confession, repentance, forgiveness, and restoration.

Discuss

Does it help to overcome our desire to avoid conflict if we remember that when we tolerate sin within our fellowship it festers and presents a poor model for others, especially the less spiritually mature, and it provides a spiritual point of entry for the Enemy?

Reflect

Paul’s list of stealing, laziness, crass talk, bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk are sins we must respond to immediately, bit they are not the only sins for which we must watch.

Share

When have you observed the Lord God calling upon a fellowship to respond decisively to sin; what was the result of an obedient response, or the consequences of a failure to respond?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a sin in your own walk that you are failing to address.

Action:

Today I will confess and repent, seek and accept the forgiveness of the Lord God, and I will ask a fellow believer to be my accountability and prayer-partner as I partner with the Holy Spirit to purge that sin from my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Ephesians 5

Book Introduction

The Apostle Paul, having reminded his readers of the glory and promise of God, our need for His grace and provision, our new standing before God, as both individuals and as a family of believers, the magnificence of God, a healthy perspective of suffering in the life of a believer, the love, power and provision of God, and His calling to a life of holiness, now described with greater specificity how one could live a life of holiness.

Ephesians Chapter 5 may be subdivided into seven subsections: 5:1-2 which describes what is to follow based on what Paul has just shared in the prior chapter, 5:3-5 where he provides a summary of some concerns, 5:6-14 includes a warning as to negative consequences, 5:15-17 promotes wisdom, 5:18-21 how we are to interact one to another, 5:22-31 Paul uses marriage as an illustration, 5:32-33 he closes with a clarification of the prior section.

Sunday (Ephesians 5:1-2)

Live in Love

5:1 Therefore, be imitators of God as dearly loved children

5:2 and live in love, just as Christ also loved us and gave himself for us, a sacrificial and fragrant offering to God.

Prayer

Lord, Your love transforms. May I be teachable so that You may love others through me.

Summary & Commentary

“Therefore” ... Paul described what was like to follow based on what he has just shared in the prior chapter; because we are called to lives of holiness (see Ephesians chapter 4) we are to “be imitators of God as dearly beloved children”, we are to live (walk) “in love” (out of hearts informed by Christ in us through the Holy Spirit of God).

It is generally easier to talk about theoretical holiness than it is to address the details of what that looks like in daily living. The Apostle Paul had to strike a balance between “legalism” and “license”, the error of his former thought-patterns as a legalistic “pharisee of pharisee’s” versus the devious efforts of the Enemy to constantly lure people back into immorality.

As was typical of Paul he again reminded his readers of their love-debt to Christ for His sacrifice before he brought the hard-Word of the Lord God’s challenge that they live as-Christ, rather than as as-worldly.

Interaction

Consider

The sacrifice of Jesus, and the love-debt we owe Him, motivates us to live a life dedicated to increasing holiness.

Discuss

What is the practical meaning of “... live in love”, as Paul described God’s desire for His children, in your life?

Reflect

The amazing and incredible truth is that the Lord God, through Paul, has said that we are His “dearly loved children”.

Share

When have you, or someone you know, been a successful-imitator of the Lord God (not continually or perfectly)—as expressed through a life that demonstrates an intentionally- sacrificial giving of self—to other believers—in love?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one sin, one obsession, or one act of rebellion which is blocking your progress toward more-holy living.

Action:

Today I will confess and repent, seek and accept the Lord God’s forgiveness, and surrender to the Holy Spirit as He leads me toward holiness. I will welcome a fellow believer whom He may bring to walk alongside me—ministering to me through prayer and encouragement.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Ephesians 5:3-5)

5:3 But among you there must not be either sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, or greed, as these are not fitting for the saints.

5:4 Neither should there be vulgar speech, foolish talk, or coarse jesting—all of which are out of character—but rather thanksgiving.

5:5 For you can be confident of this one thing: that no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy (such a person is an idolater) has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.

Prayer

Lord, You are holy and You are our model of perfection, the goal of our discipleship. May I keep my eyes on You, rather than doctrines and traditions, expectations and standards, created by mere humans.

Summary & Commentary

The Apostle Paul provided a summary of concerns; “sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, ... greed ... vulgar speech, foolish talk, ... coarse jesting ...”

He reminded his readers that who they were was because of who they had become because of Whose they were. He chose his phrases, contrasting the things of the world with the things of the faithful carefully “not fitting for the saints” and “all of which are out of character”.

As a visiting professor to a seminary once put it, “We are saints, children of God, viewed by God through the filter of Christ as cleansed, clothed in pure white, so we press away those things that would bring a stain.”

Paul provided an alternative mindset to the selfish obsessions of flesh and of the world, for the faithful believer—instead of all of those things “... rather thanksgiving”.

Interaction

Consider

Some of us are more fussy about matters of cleanliness and organization than others. We all have places in our lives where we prefer clean over dirty and order over chaos; it may be in the food we eat, the tools we use, or the clothes we wear. God asks that we be as attentive to “.. the temple of His Holy Spirit” as we are to these other things.

Discuss

Does the perspective that “We are saints, children of God, viewed by God through the filter of Christ as cleansed, clothed in pure white, so we press away those things that would bring a stain.” encourage you to take a stronger stand against sin in your life?

Reflect

There are many places and ways that the Enemy tries to draw us into “sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, ... greed ... vulgar speech, foolish talk, ... coarse jesting ...”

Share

When have you experienced the power of knowing your identity in God’s eyes and that empowered you to resist being drawn into “sexual immorality, impurity of any kind, ... greed ... vulgar speech, foolish talk, ... coarse jesting …”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an influence that threatens your purity before the Lord God.

Action:

Today I am choosing to have a heart of thanksgiving for the many gifts of the Lord God and I commit to partner with the Holy Spirit for victory in the test avoiding temptation, and if already a temptation, victory in resisting sin and in rolling-back the temptation to a test.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Ephesians 5:6-14)

Live in the Light

5:6 Let nobody deceive you with empty words, for because of these things God’s wrath comes on the sons of disobedience.

5:7 Therefore do not be partakers with them,

5:8 for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light—

5:9 for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth—

5:10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.

5:11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but rather expose them.

5:12 For the things they do in secret are shameful even to mention.

5:13 But all things being exposed by the light are made evident.

5:14 For everything made evident is light, and for this reason it says:

“Awake, O sleeper!

Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!”

Prayer

Lord, You rescued us from darkness, and You shine Your light in and through us. May I be faithfully alert to avoid drifting back into darkness and to make myself available to be Your light in this dark and dying world.

Summary & Commentary

Paul offered a clear and chilling warning as to the negative consequences should we fail to intentionally seek lives of holiness; “... no person who is immoral, impure, or greedy ... has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.”

His descriptive phrases included “disobedience ... darkness ... unfruitful deeds ... shameful even to mention …”, which described every Ephesian at one moment of their lives or another.

All was not hopeless because their hope was not in their purity but in that of Christ.

Their means to overcome those disqualifying attributes was the Holy Spirit.

Their perfected-purity would not come until the threshold of Heaven where they would receive a “new body” .

Paul’s choice of words was intentional “... such a person is an idolater”. An idolater is one who places something in their life in a higher position than God; the prohibition of such was the root of the first rebellion in Heaven, the rebellion in Eden, and was the first of the Ten Commandments of God “You shall have no Gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3).

He warned the Ephesians to be discerning “Let nobody deceive you with empty words ...”, echoing his plea for discernment in Eph. 4.

Paul, in vs 5:8-10, contrasted all of this with hope “... for you were at one time darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of the light—for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness, and truth—trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.”

He spoke of a process “trying to learn” rather than an expectation of instant holiness in this fallen world.

Paul also appeared to paraphrase from Isaiah “Awake, O sleeper! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you!” (Isa. 26:19, 51:17, 52:1, 60:1) Note here that we are “dead” IF we are without Christ and that we “Arise” with Him. Paul harkened back to Eph. 4:21 where he qualified his message to the church (believers) as intended for those who were listening but not yet saved “... if indeed you heard about Him [Christ] and were taught in Him [Christ], just as the truth is in Jesus.”

Interaction

Consider

There is an old saying "Be afraid, be very afraid!" Choices have consequences, the most important being our very salvation, all else orbits that one most-meaningful exercise of free will. A truly saved person shows "fruit" of the presence of the Holy Spirit of God and that fruit is multiplied in an intentionally obedient child of God.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to practice the Eph. 5:10 command that we be "... trying to learn"? (The phrase indicates that it will be challenging and tht it must be an intentional commitment—we make an investment in partnership with Christ to read His Book, to study His Book for understanding, to share His Book with others, and then to live-intentionally in accountability with others to better assure that our lives reflect His truth.)

Reflect

Once again comes the Lord God's warning to resist temptation (don't fail the test), to avoid drifting back into the old ways (so that you are source of purity), and the encouragement that His Holy Spirit walks with us throughout the process of our journey toward holiness.

Share

When have you, knowing the consequences and the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit within, been were successful in passing the test and so that you resisted temptation, or that if already tempted you resisted acting upon it?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a specific test, which could become a specific temptation for you, or a specific temptation which threatens to become an act of sin.

Action:

Today I am choosing to resist and to partner with the Holy Spirit in discerning and resisting the deceit of the Enemy who tries to drag me down.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Ephesians 5:15-17)

Live Wisely

5:15 Therefore be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise,

5:16 taking advantage of every opportunity, because the days are evil.

5:17 For this reason do not be foolish, but be wise by understanding what the Lord’s will is.

Prayer

Lord, You do not promise us more than today, and you instruct us to be wise in living according to Your perfect will. May I tale the time and make the effort to study and apply Your Word to my life.

Summary & Commentary

The Apostle Paul promoted the importance of wisdom; at that time he would have been cognizant that Proverbs 8:22-31 taught the Ephesians that wisdom existed prior to Creation, it was not a new concept and was sometimes personalized as “she” by Old Testament authors who led their listeners and readers to appreciate the personhood of the Godhead in every attribute.

He confronted the Ephesians with good and bad choices, alternatives and consequences, “... be very careful how you live—not as unwise but as wise ... taking advantage of every opportunity ... do not be foolish, but be wise ...”

Paul explained the importance of good stewardship of time “... for the days are evil.” meaning that one could never reclaim a day that had passed, once used unwisely it had been lost to the best service for God.

He instructed his readers how to “... become wise ...” which is “... by understanding what the Lord’s will is.” This brought-forward what he had been discussing about their relationship with God, and with one-another, and it foreshadows the text to follow.

Interaction

Consider

Every morning we awaken with choices to make about the usage of our resources and time and at the end of every day the wise will reflect on the quality of their choices.

Discuss

How has the leading of the Holy Spirit, Who guides us in the way of wisdom through the Bible and who challenges us to understand what is the will of God, made a difference in your life?

Reflect

Wisdom is bringing the knowledge we have of the Word of God to bear upon our choices. We continually seek greater understanding, as well as partnership with others, for accountability, caring, prayer, and support.

Share

When has Biblical wisdom led you to make a better decision than you typically made prior to your salvation and discipleship?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your life where He wants to help you to resist the distractions of the Enemy which are keeping you from your Bible study and application.

Action:

Today I commit to set aside time every day for you, Lord God, and I will follow the leading of Your Holy Spirit in removing and resisting the many schemes of the enemy to interfere.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Ephesians 5:18-21)

5:18 And do not get drunk with wine, which is debauchery, but be filled by the Spirit,

5:19 speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord,

5:20 always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

5:21 and submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You have given us words and music to fill and to guide our hearts with Your love, that we might drown-out the worldly intoxicants of temptation to sin. May I fill my life with Your music and words.

Summary & Commentary

Paul described for the Ephesians how they were to interact with one-another; beginning first with a warning to not “get drunk with wine”. (This was not necessarily exclusively a literal reference to alcohol-caused intoxication but another reminder of clear-thinking and good stewardship.)

He warned them against this “debauchery”. (The modern definition of debauchery refers to “sensual pleasures” but an archaic definition may be more on-target “seduction from duty” the fine art of manipulating one away from duty—the work of the Enemy to draw us away from faithful service to God.)

As always Paul offered a healthier and more God-honoring alternative to that debauchery, “... but be filled by the Spirit”. The context here makes it clear that he was continuing his theme of knowing and obeying God, the text does not indicate that he spoke of to so-called 'charismatic gifts’.

Note the text following “... speaking to one another in psalms” which are primarily wisdom literature, “... hymns” which are generally methodologies for memorization with the dual benefit of value in comfort and worship, and “... spiritual songs” (songs that are faithful to the Word of God but not literal repetitions which could easily degrade into the “vain repetitions of the pagans” (Mat. 6:7), or become ritualistic ranting.

Paul then switched mid-sentence from addressing corporate/interpersonal interactions to the heart-preparation of each of the individuals as they approach those interactions “... singing and making music in your hearts to the Lord.” He then added one more heart-condition qualifier “... always giving thanks to God the Father for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ”, again placing God first and humility toward others in the forefront.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God prepares us to speak love to one another by us first preparing ourselves "... singing and making music" in our hearts to You "... always giving thanks to God ...” then “... for each other in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ".

Discuss

How easy is it to get caught up in manipulating or being manipulated by the environment of a corporate gathering, be it a charismatic and a otherwise gifted speaker (1 Cor. 1:12-17), a talented dramatic and/or musical performer, a controversial or risk-taking leader or peer, or a cleverly sequenced series of activities, songs, and emotional appeals?

Reflect

When was there a time when you were desperate for relief from a troubling situation such as loneliness, depression, hopelessness, fear, and even boredom, and you looked for a 'magical' solution and you found it—only to later realize that it was not genuine. (There is an old country-western song called "Lie to Me" and more recently a television series by the same name which explores body language for clues to deception in solving criminal cases.)

Share

When have you experienced genuine worship which began with a thankful surrender to God, followed by placing others before yourself, and concluded in a desire for pure and undistracted worship. (If you cannot do this then you need to reconsider your understanding and practice of corporate, individual, and whole-life Biblical worship.)

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a brother or sister in-Christ for whom it will be difficult for me to pray but for whom He desires that I do so.

Action:

Today I am choosing to pray for at least one brother or sister and to encourage at least one brother or sister by sharing Your Word or a song of praise.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Ephesians 5:22-31)

Exhortations to Households

5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord,

5:23 because the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church—he himself being the savior of the body.

5:24 But as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

5:25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her

5:26 to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the word,

5:27 so that he may present the church to himself as glorious—not having a stain or wrinkle, or any such blemish, but holy and blameless.

5:28 In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

5:29 For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church,

5:30 for we are members of his body.

5:31 For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.

Prayer

Lord, You created and blessed, guide and love Your Church (believers) and You sacrificed for it so that You may one day gathering it (all believers) into intimate and eternal relationship with You. May I study what you have done for the Church as I apply and teach what that means to a couple's relationship with one-another in marriage.

Summary & Commentary

Paul used marriage as an illustration; he began with a reminder that Christ is the savior of the body (he taught elsewhere that every part of the body is equally important and valuable) thus competent scholarship does not allow one to read-in a greater value for a male over a female or a husband over a wife. This text is primarily about the responsibilities of the husband—whose role model must be Christ.

Read carefully Paul’s clarification of his primary purpose in Eph. 5:32b “... I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” He goes on in 5:33 to acknowledge that he has a dual-purpose for the understanding of marriage but the clarification of 5:32b should be a warning to those who attempt to proof-text in the defense of thuggish husbands.

Paul intentionally modified everything in his letter that preceded when he wrote “... --He Himself [Christ] being the savior of the body.”; therefore, when the Ephesians read “Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord” they were compelled to reflect upon why they had choose to submit to the Lord. (He was asking for the wife to make an obedient choice, but not an unconditional one, as her husband had obligations as well.) Some translations render the text “your husbands in the Lord”.

In Eph. 5:25-26 he amplified his qualification “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her to sanctify her by cleansing her with the washing of the water by the Word.” Note: There are several important elements; “loved” and “gave” are past-tense to emphasize that His work as “the Word” was predicated on His first loving the Church (believers) and that His work of giving Himself “for her” was finished. This is equivalent to the act of marriage where the husband, motivated by love, gives Himself to his wife—sacrificing his non-married lifestyle (everything related to his pre-marriage relational lifestyle must be surrendered). The wife “is sanctified”, set apart from single women, so that her husband may then be used of God to “cleanse her with the washing of the Word”. A husband serves his wife at the behest of the Lord.

Eph. 5:27 refined the ultimate purpose of Christ’s investment in the church “... so that He may present the church to Himself as glorious -- not having a stain or wrinkle, or other such blemish, but holy and blameless.” Jesus the Christ was to present The Church to Himself, our Lord God. (There have been sick men who have mistaken this to mean that their obsession should be the forced-legalistic perfection of their wives. In full-context this is clearly neither within the capacity nor responsibility of the husband -- holiness is less taught than caught, rather not imposed but chosen.)

Returning to 5:24 “But as the church [believers] submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” We have already learned that the husband is an agent of the Lord in his wife’s life, we know that nothing is of value to the Christian that is not of the Lord, therefore “everything” refers to the purpose for which the Lord called the two into marriage and the process of holiness that follows—sanctification—there is nothing in the text about only women washing dishes or wifely-obligations to submit to sinful-orders from a husband in rebellion against the Lord (such a man is spiritually-impotent and an enemy of God).

Paul promoted the fullest-stewardship of the gifts of the wife, as found in Proverbs 31:10-31, and he would have had that in-mind, together with the esteem of her husband “at the city gates” where the elders provided spiritual guidance to the people.

Note in 5:27 that the church is a kind of extension of Christ; in 5:28 “In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.” “Loves” is an action word, the action of giving himself for her in the process of holiness that follows her sanctification in marriage.

5:29a “For no one has ever hated his own body but feeds it and takes care of it ...”, Paul here addressed healthy people—not troubled ones who self-mutilate or who dwell in lies of the Enemy that they are somehow worthless—Jesus died on the Cross as the absolute and unchallengeable-in-all-of-Creation declaration of our value to God. Just as we eat and drink and wash and exercise and clothe and care for our bodies, Christ does this for “the body of Christ” the church (believers) and the husband is to do the same for his wife.

5:29b “... just as Christ also did for the church, for we are members of His body.” Paul reaffirmed the context of this discussion, we are all (male and female) members of the spiritual body of Christ, therefore we must seek after the same things for one another as He seeks for every member of His body.

Paul concluded by reminding his readers that this teaching is mostly about the duties of the husband and his sacrifice to facilitate the holiness of his wife. “The man will leave ...” and “... be joined to his wife ...” and “... the two will become one flesh.”; linking to the prior text Paul intended that the Ephesians would understand him to mean “... as Christ is joined to His church.”

Interaction

Consider

A Christian woman must never marry a non-Christian man, nor may a Christian man marry a non-Christian woman, such is contrary to the clear teaching of the Bible and is an act of rebellion which neither should not expect the Lord God to bless. There is no such thing as dating (the common concept of "dating" is itself fraught with fraud and temptation) or marriage for the purpose of evangelism (sometimes called "missionary dating or missionary marriage). It is even dubious if there is any wisdom in marrying anyone who is not somewhat close to oneself in spiritual maturity.

Discuss

What are some circumstances where some people become Christians after marriage (where they were both previously unsaved) and find themselves in the same conflict as a first century married Jew who was saved (“completed”)? Must they not consult the teaching of the Bible, to not force the unsaved mate to leave nor to not force them to remain, as the preferred goal is to be such a God-honoring witness that the spouse will also be saved (1 Cor. 7:12-16).

Reflect

Just as a woman needs to clearly understand the decision (when entering into marriage) that she is making is to follow the spiritual leadership of her husband, trusting him to be a faithful servant of God, so also the man needs to understand that he makes a solemn pledge before the Lord God to bless his wife as the Lord's agent in her process toward holiness.

Share

When have you been aware of someone making a romantic-decision, based on God's teaching, rather than based on lesser human tradition or on the lust of the flesh? Have you had the opportunity in a counseling/encouraging/mentoring context to encourage someone to do so?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of His love and sacrifice for you as you are part of ("the Church") and that marriage is your opportunity (if married) to emulate Him. Thank the Lord God also for teaching you how to serve others in marriage, expressing grace and humility as you build up your mate to God's glory and in God's service.

Action:

Today I am choosing to pray for marriage, my own if I am married and for others if not. I also pray that should the Lord lead me to marriage that I will be fully-faithful to His priorities from the first moment of the process leading to marriage and throughout my marriage. I commit to encourage and to lift up in prayer at least one specific married person right now.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Ephesians 5:32-33)

5:32 This mystery is great—but I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church.

5:33 Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Prayer

Lord, You gave Yourself in order to enable believers "The Church" to become "one flesh" with You. May I invest the same way in my marriage, if married, pray for all Christian marriages (whether I am married or not), and understand-fully the commitment I am making if I am single and considering marriage.

Summary & Commentary

Paul began this part of his letter to the Ephesians with a clarification of the prior section, using the phrase “This mystery ...”, because he was teaching them—using the illustration of human marriage—about the relationship between Christ and His Church (all believers).

The way that man and woman become “one flesh” was to be understood as the way that the Lord God was creating a one-flesh relationship with His “bride, The Church.

[Note: The term mystery generally refers to something that occurs in the unseen spiritual, rather in than the visible realm, yet it also may refer to something that is difficult to comprehend.]

Paul’s term “is great” acknowledged that humans will have to expend some time in prayerful study if they are to comprehend and honor it.

He made certain that he was not misunderstood, reemphasizing his primary purpose in Eph. 5:32b “... I am actually speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” As already stated earlier Paul goes on in 5:33 to acknowledge that he has a dual-purpose for the understanding of marriage but he offered the clarification of 5:32b as a warning to those who might attempt to proof-text his words in the defense of thuggish husbands.

Paul’s theme was that it was time for married Christians to step-up. Marriage was (and is) an act of sanctification—agreeing to be set apart for a special partnership in the process of holiness. Marriage is not for everyone because, as Paul remarks elsewhere, many practical aspects of marriage (and children) represent a distraction from the things of the Lord and also provided a pressure-point for the Enemy to extort cooperation.

Those who are contemplating marriage need to better understand the nature of Biblical marriage before they enter into courtship. This is one of many gross failures of church leaders for 2,000+ years and the evidence of that failure is in the broken homes all around us.

[Note: This Web site contains excerpts from a doctorate thesis which documents these practical matters http://bibleseven.com/thesis.html ]

Paul's last word to the Ephesians “... each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” bears careful contextual reflection. Paul was speaking to believers, not unbelievers; obedient believers, not believers in rebellion (the definition of rebellion requiring discipline is addressed elsewhere but would include volitional and unrepentant sin both physical and theological). He addressed the critical need for church discipline—and he was not addressing spiritually-divided households. [Note: Paul was always precise in defining his audience and we know from the first chapter of Ephesians that he was addressing believers. Were to have been addressing divided households, or unbelievers, in chapter 5 he would have stated such clearly.)

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God's challenge is that married Christians need to step-up to a standard of sacrificial-investment in one-another equal to that of His sacrificial investment in His Church.

Discuss

What are some ways that every Christian may support the "holy estate" of marriage? How might we do a better job of teaching this to children, youth, young adult and adult singles.

Reflect

The Lord God has sanctified the value of marriage and provided a stern warning that it is not something into which a Christian should enter lightly.

Share

When have you observed a couple, both believers who desired to intentionally honor God in their marriage, demonstrate the fruits of their faith-walk in the way that they encouraged and served one-another?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you at least one person who may benefit from this teaching.

Action:

Today I am choosing to pray that marriage will be seen through Your eyes rather than the silly and shallow eyes of the secular entertainment world, and I will pray for the health and protection of a specific marriage; if married I will add my own to those prayers.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Ephesians 6

Book Introduction

The Apostle Paul had reminded his readers of the glory and promise of God, our need for His grace and provision, our new standing before God—as both individuals and as a family of believers, the magnificence of God, a healthy perspective of suffering in the life of a believer, the love, power and provision of God, and His calling to a life of holiness, and greater specificity as to how one lived a life of holiness.

In Chapter 6 he addressed parent-child relationships, slave-master relationships, and spiritual warfare.

Sunday (Ephesians 6:1-4)

6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.

6:2 “Honor your father and mother,” which is the first commandment accompanied by a promise, namely,

6:3 “that it may go well with you and that you will live a long time on the earth.”

6:4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Prayer

Lord, Your blessings are conditional, they come in response to obedience. May I be salt and light in my family and community because of my obedience to You as Your devoted child.

Summary & Commentary

Paul begins with a paraphrase from the 10 Commandments “Children, obey your parents in the Lord for this is right. (Exo. 20:12, Deut. 5:16) then addresses parents “... do not provoke your children to anger.”

Only a few notes are in order as the verses, at least as translated in the NET Bible, are self-explanatory.

In 6:1 the phrase “... in the Lord” may be understood in one of three ways;

The first is to infer that Paul means Christian parents—this is reasonable since his primary audience throughout the Book of Ephesians is believers.

[Note: Paul does not specifically address the obedience of children toward non-Christian parents and the admonition to the parents to “raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” may be taken to affirm exclusivity in the text to Christian parents; however, Paul is not condoning the rebellion of children against a parent merely because they are not believers.]

The second understanding infers that Paul intends that the children remember that they are Christians and that they must view their parents through the eyes of the Lord, being obedient, patient, and prayerful.

There is nothing in the context or the literal text to justify the exclusion of either the first or second inference/understanding.

The third understanding would misrepresent the apostle Paul as he does not offer “raise them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” as a mere suggestion but as both a way to avoid “... provoking your children to anger” and as strong directive for a true Christian parent; therefore, one may not rightly-infer that avoiding conflict and avoiding discipline is a wise form of parenting.

[Note: Paul does not encourage parents to delegate this discipline and instruction to others but is telling them that it is their direct responsibility.]

[Note: The Biblical definition of anger, it’s sources, and the correct response were discussed earlier in the Ephesians study series, for our purposes here suffice to say that absent maturity in the Lord every child will be angry and hopeless.]

[Note: Our eternal and supreme ‘parent’ is the Lord God, therefore, a Christian child may find no parental-order to sin acceptable; though a child must be willing to accept the worldly-consequences of righteous-obedience (to God) when they take a stand for holiness. It is remarkable how often a child (or an adult) may be willing to risk and receive punishment for sinful rebellion but how rare it is that they will do so for righteousness, even in Christian homes. The influence of the Fall is powerful.]

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God knows what is best. God says that children are to obey their parents since there are few other sources of authority who care more or understand better; God gives parents to children for a reason. Raising a child in the discipline and instruction of the Lord helps them to be more emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually healthy and safe.

Discuss

What are practical examples of the meaning of “... do not provoke your children to anger.”?

Reflect

The Lord God knows that when we “raise them [children—literal and spiritual] up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” we equip them to be more emotionally, intellectually, physically, and spiritually healthy and safe.

Share

When have you observed the consequences of a parent’s failure to raise their child the way that the Bible teaches may cause them to drift into an angry relationship with the parent(s) and the world?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a child, be he or she a literal child or a child-in-faith, new to the family of God, for whom He would like you to pray and to minister in His Name.

Action:

Today I will offer to teach the discipline and instruction of the Lord the one whom the Holy Spirit has directed me. If I am that ‘child’ I choose to be obedient, patient, and prayerful as I humbly submit to the teaching of the one(s) whom God has sent to disciple me.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Ephesians 6:5-9)

6:5 Slaves, obey your human masters with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart as to Christ,

6:6 not like those who do their work only when someone is watching—as people-pleasers—but as slaves of Christ doing the will of God from the heart.

6:7 Obey with enthusiasm, as though serving the Lord and not people,

6:8 because you know that each person, whether slave or free, if he does something good, this will be rewarded by the Lord.

6:9 Masters, treat your slaves the same way, giving up the use of threats, because you know that both you and they have the same master in heaven, and there is no favoritism with him.

Prayer

Lord, You require that we give our best to every effort, no matter the circumstances. Our most important reward is with You and not here in this temporary world. May I remember this, especially when the task is dreary or unpleasant, and therefore be salt and light by example.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed an unfortunate condition of man since early in his existence, that of slavery, in which circumstance one man compels another to provide labor without freedom. "Master" could refer to "overseer" or "slave-owner". It is important to note that Paul is in no way condoning slavery.

[Note: Slavery is a heinous tool of greed and oppression, sometimes one of the ‘spoils’ of war, sometimes driven by the selfish pursuit of power, wealth, and worldly prestige, and sometimes an expression of some twisted demographic superiority. The use of the terms “master” and “slave in this case do not appear to refer to a context parallel to African slaves captured and sold by their peers to pre-Civil War American plantations or Caribbean and central/south American plantations, nor the slavery known in Africa, Asia, and elsewhere in the past and even today but to the more common “bond-servant” arrangement.]

A bond-servant is a Biblically-described sub-category of slavery entered into willingly to resolve debt and was generally protected with a limited 7-year maximum length and dismissal at 30 years of age. Physical abuse of a bond-servant was historically-uncommon. The other most common form of slavery was typically unlike the righteously-condemned brutal and heinous slavery, which has historically received the greatest attention, but rather was one in which slaves (however they fell into bondage) were allowed a great deal of freedom to earn money, own property, and to raise their families. Many bond-servants as well as many slaves, especially those captured in war, were educated and thus were used as care-givers and teachers to children.

In Paul’s address to “Masters” he warned them to treat their slaves “... as though serving the Lord ...”. The NET Bible transliteration of the text immediately following says “...because ... both you and they have the same master in Heaven ...” actually reads “... because of both they and you, the Lord is, in Heaven ...” which implies that Jesus is Lord of both because he is addressing Christians who are in slavery.

Interaction

Consider

In the Sudan today the children and parents of the Bahai, Christian and competing Muslim sect religious groups are kidnapped and forced into slavery by brutal and lawless militias. The ugliness of slavery, as but one visible evidence of fallen-nature of man, lives on.

Discuss

How do you handle the challenge that when we are as 'bond-servants' as a contractor or in a place of employment, we have agreed to perform a service in return for a benefit—within the rules of that organization; do you serve with the integrity you would if they were Jesus?

Reflect

When we are the equivalent of the master or the over-seer—do we treat the one(s) we supervise with the honor due a fellow, or potential, child of God?

Share

When have you observed an example of someone who handled authority in a Biblical manner. What was the result in the workplace?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a way that He wants you to change the way that you handle authority, whether as one humbled by it, or being humble in your use of it. Ask Him to identify a specific person with whom you have been interacting with a less-Biblical attitude than you should.

Action:

Today I will intentionally and prayerfully bring myself into alignment with the Word of God. Today I am choosing to ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me and will report back to them the results. I will thank the Lord God that as a bond-servant in a contract or a job I may be a positive witness to the truth of His promise and power as I serve my employer with the integrity I would were they Jesus. If I am in a role that is the equivalent of the master or the over-seer may my conduct honor your name as I treat the one I supervise with the honor due a fellow, or potential, child of God.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Ephesians 6:10–13)

Exhortations for Spiritual Warfare

6:10 Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power.

6:11 Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil.

6:12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.

6:13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand.

Prayer

Lord, You warn us that we are in the midst of spiritual warfare, and You provide us with the tools for victory. May I be wise in gathering and using those tools daily.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the threat of the “schemes” or craftiness of “... the devil ...” and the need to defend oneself through the power that comes from God “... be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of His power.”

The Apostle is not stuttering or repeating himself, he is saying two similar but different things; first, “... be strengthened in the Lord”; that is, to learn and to apply what the Lord God is teaching in order to mature, second “... be strengthened ... in the strength of His power.”; that is, to leverage His power as your power as a Child of God.

“Clothe yourself with the full armor of God ...” was how he addressed the how of leveraging God’s power, and “... so that you may be able to stand ...” addressed the why.

[Note: He used the word “may”, that is because one has to have done the first part of “... strengthening in the Lord”, so as to be discerning enough to know when, informed enough to know how, and strong enough to act despite ones fear, because “... our struggle” denotes the reality of the struggle, not that it may be avoided or ignored, and explains that “... is not against flesh and blood”; therefore, we must not be too distracted by the things in the visible world, “... but against the rulers, the powers ... of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.”. The battle is a spiritual battle and we are in it—like it or not.

Paul concluded with a summary; “... take up the full armor of God” to “... be able to stand your ground” “... on the evil day”. The “... evil day” is to come, and is now, both at once; every day is an “evil day” as we only get one chance to stand with Christ through the power of the Holy Spirit when tested, else we to surrender our position to the Enemy, which once gone means that we have failed “to stand” and it is not reclaimable. No do-overs. The “evil day” is also yet to come in the existential sense of the day when the chains are released and the Enemy and all of his desperately evil demons are allowed to mount a final attack. In that day we will need every shred of “in Him” and from Him” spiritual power which we should have been storing up and testing out all-along.

Interaction

Consider

We each have our struggles, usually more than one. The symptom of the substance abuser is their physiological addition but there is a back-story that has a spiritual element. The obsessive-compulsive seeks control due to the false belief that through a forced and artificial ordering of their environment they may create a bubble of safety in a challenging world, but there is something more to their fears. The one in slavery to gambling, money, pornography, power, prestige, or some other idol also does so out of a false need to compensate for something and is a casualty in need of reinforced armor in waging their part of the larger spiritual battle.

Discuss

What are some specific ways to practically apply Paul's teaching.

Reflect

Although we all have weaknesses in our imperfect flesh, because of grace, in and through Jesus we are made strong. Acknowledge that the battle is first spiritual and then physical and that we must have His full armor to have any hope of safety.

Share

When have you faced a challenge in your life where you have applied Paul's teaching?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a clearer understanding and implement of the disciplines necessary to prevail in spiritual warfare and where you most need strengthening.

Action:

Today I will humbly receive a better understanding of what are my weaknesses and what are the ways that the Enemy has been exploiting them. I will select one weakness and ask someone I trust to assist me with accountability, encouragement, and prayer as I partner with the Holy Spirit to overcome it.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Ephesians 6:14-17)

6:14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness,

6:15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace,

6:16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

6:17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Prayer

Lord, You equip us for battle because our choice for Jesus places us in opposition to the evil one, incurring his venal wrath. May I remember that the attacks are coming, both obvious and subtle, and therefore not be found unprepared and unarmed.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the how-to of the “... full armor of God ...” in defending oneself against the devil using the visual imagery of a Roman soldier. “Stand firm therefore, by”:

“... fastening, the belt of truth around your waist,” (This is to what most other elements of the armor would be attached—truth, God’s absolute truth, is the central connecting value.)

… and

“... by putting on the breastplate of righteousness,” (Clipped to the belt to keep it from moving the breastplate is defensive in purpose and is a result of applying God’s truth to our life through righteous living that keeps us safer from temptation.)

… and

“... by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace,” (The soldier’s feet were covered and protected, the believer is covered by positional standing as a child of God and protected by His power and the certainty of salvation through the peace that comes in accepting the propitiation of Christ which established our right-standing with God with whom we were formerly eternal enemies due to sin. Many of Satan’s lies go back to the Garden of Eden—certainty of Who God is and of His certain-promise to us as His eternal children is powerful protection indeed.)

“... and in all of this,”

“... by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (The shield was a defensive tool covered in metal as enemies would literally set the old wooden shields ablaze with flaming arrows, so also the believer needs the shield of faith which provides both salvation and the ‘ultrafidian’ (beyond faith) capacity to fearlessly serve God knowing that he is our defender.)

… and

“And take the helmet of salvation ...” (Another defensive tool in Paul’s illustration, looking back to Isaiah 59:17, refers to justice and righteousness.)

… and

“... the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God.” (The only tool primarily used for offense, though surely also defensive as well. In addition to the two foot long short-sword carried by a Roman soldier for close-in fighting Paul may have had in mind the sword carried by a “bystander” Mark 14:47 and used offensively to defend Jesus from capture, a machete-like sword used against wild animals, roadside attackers, and clearing bushes and branches during off-path travel. A sword is only as useful as the abilities of it’s owner, in the hands of an impulsive or inept person it could escalate an otherwise less-violent confrontation or be taken and turned against them. Similarly the Word of God is an effective and powerful tool in the hands of a “good Berean”, or one readily misquoted and used against the careless believer by the Enemy.)

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God’s absolute truth is the “belt” or anchor we need as a point of reference for stability in a chaotic world. If I view myself as a child of God, a saint, guaranteed Heaven for eternity how my certainty of salvation can help me to ward-off many of Satan’s lies about vulnerabilities that do not exist and fears that are irrational. God gives us, through the Holy Spirit, an “ultrafidian” (beyond faith) capacity to fearlessly serve God “and the very gates of Hell cannot prevail against it”. (Mat. 16:13, Gal. 10, Mal. 1:1-5)

Discuss

What are some non-legalistic righteous living-based boundaries that can help to keep us safer from temptation when we are tested?

Reflect

When perfect justice is defined by God, it is certain at the “End”, and it is not confused with a mere human definition of “fairness”. For the same reason, righteousness defines the way I view the world, thus my clear-thinking is protected. The Word of God is an effective and powerful tool in the battle for truth, and in warding-off the attacks of the Enemy; the better we learn to handle that tool the more valuable it will be.

Share

When have you experienced the enemy had been lying to you about something he wanted you to believe was an impossible-to-overcome weakness or vulnerability and a better understanding of the truth of God’s Word set you free?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you of His truth, His definition of righteous living, His assurance of salvation, His provision of opportunities for 'ultrafidian’ (beyond faith) service, and His standard for and provision of the last word about justice.

Action:

Today I am choosing to thank the Lord God for all of the tools that are in His “full armor”. I am choosing to put on that full armor at the beginning of the day and to walk through the process again later in the day as I feel myself weakening. I will seek an opportunity to encourage a fellow saint to do the same, or to affirm them if they are already doing so.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Ephesians 6:18)

6:18 With every prayer and petition, pray at all times in the Spirit, and to this end be alert, with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.

Prayer

Lord, You have given us Your presence through Your Holy Spirit, and You have instructed that we pray for others with the guidance, perspective, and power of the Spirit. May I remember to Whom I am praying, through Whom I am praying, and for whom I am to raise most of my prayers; others.

Summary & Commentary

Paul instructed the Ephesians to pray “... in the Spirit”, to “... be alert”, and to do so “... with all perseverance and requests for all the saints.”

His purpose to remind believers that their prayers are facilitated by the indwelling Holy Spirit, are motivated by Him, and are blessed. Our prayers are to be righteous, we are to be alert to deception and aware of needs, and as he noted elsewhere to “... pray without ceasing” (1Thess 5:17) for other the requests of other saints.

Paul’s instructions are tied to the preceding text as prayer is part of the “full armor”, it is necessary to wisely use the armor, and is what keeps us grounded in Christ.

Prayers are also designed to keep us constantly-close to the Lord God in conversation so that we remember Whose we are, we remember Who dwells within us, and we remember that we are to pray with hearts of loving-compassion.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God will bless and protect us if we exercise the discipline to remember to “put on the full armor” every morning there thereby we acknowledge the Holy Spirit.

Discuss

When you have prayed first thing in the morning did you discover that it got your daylong conversation started with the Lord God?

Reflect

When we activate the armor we become alert as a good spiritual soldier should be.

Share

Have you experienced that persevering in prayer, especially for others, kept you humble and focused on what was most important to the Lord God?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to remember to put on the full armor of God, to pray without ceasing all day, to be alert to the deception and trickery of the Enemy, and to pray for others so that you remain in a mindset of humble service

Action:

Today I am choosing to keep a simple journal of my day and share it with a friend—noting the difference that this spiritual discipline made in my day.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Ephesians 6:19-20)

6:19 Pray for me also, that I may be given the message when I begin to speak—that I may confidently make known the mystery of the gospel,

6:20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may be able to speak boldly as I ought to speak.

Prayer

Lord, it is Your message and not my own that I speak in Your Name, and my confidence comes from You and is because of You. May I be bold to share Your saving and maturing Word.

Summary & Commentary

Paul asked the Ephesians that they pray in-agreement with him for the challenges that he faced.

Even Paul valued the prayers “in the Spirit” of the saints, raised in-obedience to his prior teaching and with perseverance (without ceasing).

He wanted the Ephesians to understand that no mere human, not even Jesus in the temporary human shell He occupied (and without His full glory), walked without constant refreshment from the Lord God through prayer.

The Ephesian believers had to be far more alert, due to their desperate need for the Lord God’s presence, because their enemies (physical and spiritual) were actively opposing them.

Interaction

Consider

When we awake every morning and begin with a prayer of dependency on the Lord God He will bless that. When we remember fellow saints in prayer, in the morning, and all day—He honors that. When we maintain a continuous conversation with God all day He blesses us with comfort and discernment and wisdom in all that we think, say, and do.

Discuss

How would you develop a practical discipline to wake every morning and begin with a prayer of dependency on the Lord God, without it becoming like a pagan chant or a mindless ritual?

Reflect

We have active enemies in both the physical and spiritual realms.

Share

When have you tried maintaining a continuous conversation with God all day? How did He bless you with comfort and discernment and wisdom in all that you thought, said, and did? Compare and contrast that with a different day when you did not do so.

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to remind you to begin your day with a prayer of dependency on the Lord God, to remember a fellow saint or saints by name in the morning and all day in prayer, and that I will maintain a continuous conversation with Him.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to join me in this, and at the end of the day (or some time the following day), we will compare our experiences.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Ephesians 6:21-24)

Farewell Comments

6:21 Tychicus, my dear brother and faithful servant in the Lord, will make everything known to you, so that you too may know about my circumstances, how I am doing.

6:22 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.

6:23 Peace to the brothers and sisters, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

6:24 Grace be with all of those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.

Prayer

Lord, You provide grace and love and peace to Your children, and as we understand that better we experience it more profoundly. May I grow in understanding so that I may be better encouraged and equipped through Your grace and love and peace.

Summary & Commentary

Paul concluded his letter to the Ephesians with a letter-of-introduction for Tychicus and a blessing for all believers.

He promised them a report of praise and of need, from his ministry to them—with the assurance that what they hear about them will “... encourage your hearts”.

Paul commended to them peace and love with faith from “... God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ”.

He reminded them that grace is with all “... those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with an undying love.”

Paul once-again affirmed the divinity of Christ when he referred to Him as “Lord”.

The concluding words of Paul contained a believer-only qualification, and a powerful word of encouragement.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God’s desire is that though grace and love we will have peace with one another as brothers and sisters in Christ.

Discuss

Does our Christian-faith flow from an undying love for Jesus that provides the grace we need to live in peace with one-another?

Reflect

Give thanks to the Lord God that, if you choose the path of faithful-obedience, you will have peace and love with your brothers and sisters in Christ.

Share

When has grace flowed to you, and/or through you to another, as a result of your intentional love-relationship with Jesus?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a specific brother or sister in Christ, with whom a loving and peaceful relationship has been difficult, for whom He wants you to pray and to reconcile.

Action:

Today I am committing to pursue peace and love with a difficult brother or sister in-Christ, beginning in prayer and followed by communication and fellowship. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me for success in this reconciliation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Additional Resources:

Slavery http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=1499 

Slavery http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavery

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_slavery

 

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

 

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Ephesians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Philippians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (Philippians 1:1-19)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul and Timothy, slaves of Christ Jesus, to all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, with the overseers and deacons.

1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Prayer for the Church

1:3 I thank my God every time I remember you.

1:4 I always pray with joy in my every prayer for all of you

1:5 because of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.

1:6 For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.

1:7 For it is right for me to think this about all of you, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel all of you became partners in God’s grace together with me.

1:8 For God is my witness that I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus.

1:9 And I pray this, that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight

1:10 so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ,

1:11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ to the glory and praise of God.

Ministry as a Prisoner

1:12 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that my situation has actually turned out to advance the gospel:

1:13 The whole imperial guard and everyone else knows that I am in prison for the sake of Christ,

1:14 and most of the brothers and sisters, having confidence in the Lord because of my imprisonment, now more than ever dare to speak the word fearlessly.

1:15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from goodwill.

1:16 The latter do so from love because they know that I am placed here for the defense of the gospel.

1:17 The former proclaim Christ from selfish ambition, not sincerely, because they think they can cause trouble for me in my imprisonment.

1:18 What is the result? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is being proclaimed, and in this I rejoice.

Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 1:19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You began a good work in me at salvation, and You continue to perfect Your work in me day by day. May I be devoted to You with a teachable spirit; a faithful disciple.

Summary & Commentary

Paul began with a greeting that included role-descriptions of “overseers” and “deacons”.

[Note: The NET translator’s looked at similar usages of “overseers” (church leaders) in Titus 1:6-7 and Acts 20:17, 28, and “the parallels between Titus 1:6-7 and 1 Tim. 3:1-7 and concluded that the term is equivalent to an “elder”.]

[Note: It is unclear why Paul used a different word. One may speculate that he may have been using a local word more familiar or concise than “elder”, among the ancient Philippians, or perhaps the word for “elder” had a secondary meaning to the Philippians which Paul desired to avoid.]

[The term that Paul used for “deacon” is unchanged from the usage elsewhere.]

Paul celebrated of the faithfulness of the Philippians, since early in his ministry for Christ, and for their support of him in prayer and giving.

Paul’s phrase “... the One Who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” must have brought a powerful message of encouragement, perspective, and promise to the Philippian believers. It is the Lord God through the Holy Spirit, in partnership with the believer and with other believers whom He brings alongside, who are doing “the good work” of discipleship of the believer.

The “perfecting” of the believer is a process and not an event—it continues throughout the lifetime of every believer, more or less successfully due to the cooperation or resistance of the individual, and will only be fully-realized at the entrance to Heaven. The “... day of Christ Jesus is His return to take His Home to Heaven—thus we are reminded of that promise—and that it is a guarantee and not a moving target about which we must worry every day.

Paul used an interesting phrase “... that your love may abound even more and more in knowledge and every kind of insight ...”—indicating a strong linkage between the quality of our knowledge of God and our capacity to love and to have insight. He continued “... so that you can decide what is best, and thus be sincere and blameless for the day of Christ.”—again reinforcing the freedom of the believer, together with access to the wisdom of the Holy Spirit, to discern and choose according to the Lord God’s moral-will rather than the rebellious predisposition of the world.

Paul linked the quality of the God-infused insight of the Philip to their capacity to make well-informed choices, and he linked their practical-life choices to their moral standing “sincere and blameless” before Jesus when He eventually returned.

[Note: Paul was not teaching works-righteousness. He had previously written against legalism, and the limited capacity of a believer trapped in “this body of death”, he was, rather, teaching responsibility. Who wants to look into the eyes of a perfectly loving God and not hear the words “Well done, good and faithful servant”?

In verse 1:11 Paul reminded the Philippians, and us, that righteousness comes from Jesus Christ—again affirming that our salvation is not at-risk as He is the guarantor thereof.

Paul explained that the Lord God used his imprisonment to witness to the “imperial guard”, and others, for Christ and that the local believers were emboldened by his success in sharing Christ.

Paul remarked that some were actually “... preaching Christ” in order to irritate Paul’s accusers and captors in order to cause him trouble, while others were doing so from righteous motive, but that in either case God was sovereign and the cause of Christ was being advanced.

[Note: It is interesting to reflect upon which religious traditions and personalities—over history—may, despite distortions and wrong-hearts, still have been used by God to promote Christ.]

Paul concluded this section, in verse 1:19, by observing that his “deliverance” would come from their prayers and “... the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ”. One may reasonably speculate that he referred to freedom from momentary-imprisonment, or that he referred to freedom due to their prayers, and to his salvation through “... the Spirit of Jesus Christ”.

[Note: It is uncertain if by “Spirit of Jesus Christ” Paul intended to refer to the love and teaching of Jesus or if that phrase is a synonym for the Holy Spirit.]

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God perfects us a little at a time, we are asked to partner with Him, not to go it alone.

Discuss

How might you explain to a new or confused believer the linkage between the quality of our knowledge of the Lord God and our capacity to love and to have insight?

Reflect

The purpose of the Lord God’s provision for us to have insight is to enhance our capacity to make informed choices. Our responsibility to make choices that impact our moral standing as “sincere and blameless” before Christ when He returns.

Share

When have you observed that your increased-knowledge of the Word of God impacted your capacity to discern and to choose more righteously where you previously did not comprehend what was His moral will?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a specific area of your life where you lack clarity as to God’s moral will for you.

Action:

Today I will intentionally seek-out the Biblical texts, and as necessary commentaries and the counsel of “elders” (whom I have reason to trust), and to fill that gap in my knowledge-discernment foundation so as to be equipped to choose more wisely.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Philippians 1:20-30)

1:20 My confident hope is that I will in no way be ashamed but that with complete boldness, even now as always, Christ will be exalted in my body, whether I live or die.

1:21 For to me, living is Christ and dying is gain.

1:22 Now if I am to go on living in the body, this will mean productive work for me, yet I don’t know which I prefer:

1:23 I feel torn between the two, because I have a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far,

1:24 but it is more vital for your sake that I remain in the body.

1:25 And since I am sure of this, I know that I will remain and continue with all of you for the sake of your progress and joy in the faith,

1:26 so that what you can be proud of may increase because of me in Christ Jesus, when I come back to you.

1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that—whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent—I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel,

1:28 and by not being intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is a sign of their destruction, but of your salvation—a sign which is from God.

1:29 For it has been granted to you not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him,

1:30 since you are encountering the same conflict that you saw me face and now hear that I am facing.

Prayer

Lord, You give to Your children a longing for their true home with You in heaven, yet you ask us to remain here for a time in Your faithful service. May I never lose sight of Whose I am and for what place I am being “perfected” so that I may better resist selling-out to this temporary world.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the nature of his imprisonment, both from the perspective that he will not be coerced into “being ashamed” (renouncing his faith), or become embarrassed because he is in jail. He even declares that his life is willingly on the line.

Paul engaged in a rhetorical debate with himself as to his preferred state, dead in the body and present with Christ, or postponing his death so that Christ may continue to use him on earth. He concluded that although present with Christ is to be preferred—the obvious value to the Philippians from his remaining, as a servant of Christ to them, caused him to desire to stay.

Paul then challenged the Philippians to be likewise sacrificial in their submission to Christ, to be “... standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel.”

[Note: The one spirit may be viewed as a common attitude, inclined toward God, and as a reminder that they all share the same indwelling Holy Spirit. His phrase “... with one mind” suggests a common attitude and a common volitional and intentional desire to “contend ... for the faith of the gospel”. Also, “... contending side by side for the faith of the gospel.” is clearly an action-statement where they would “contend” with those who would preach “another gospel”, they would do so as a unified force for truth, and they would promote the saving and discipleship “faith” that is taught in the Gospels.

Paul noted that the perseverance of the believers in Philippi was testimony to the eternal destruction of the unbelievers who opposed them and to the certainty of the salvation of the believers.

He told them that they would be allowed to share a similar suffering for Christ as Paul, a privilege that was important in establishing the foundations of the Christian faith and the visible ‘church’ (fellowships of believers). Their privilege was that the Lord God would trust to them to remain faithful through the suffering and to thereby be living-testimonies to His power and truth.

Interaction

Consider

The struggle that was Paul’s is ours as well. Once we are saved it is painfully obvious that we were not made for this fallen world and that we are strangers and temporary travelers here, on our way “home” to be with our Lord and with our eternal brothers and sisters in Christ.

Discuss

How might you respond to the three-part challenge Paul placed before the Philippians; to challenge those who would alter the Gospel of Christ, to stand together through the struggle, and to teach both the salvation and discipleship message of the Gospel?

Reflect

The Lord God uses the steadfastness of believers to draw a clear line between the saved and unsaved, convicting some of their need for Christ, further hardening those whose hearts are hardened against Him.

Share

When have you observed a body of believers resisting false teaching, doing so in unity, and sharing the truth of Christ?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a circumstance where He wants you to respectfully “contend”, to seek-out others with whom you may stand in unity, and with whom you will share the genuine truth of “the faith of the gospels”.

Action:

Today I am choosing to stand with fellow believers where it is difficult to do so, be it a case of improper discrimination against a Bible-believing person, a wrong policy which promotes something that the Lord God clearly opposes (e.g. abortion, promiscuity, special rights for homosexuals, sin-promoting government-mandates), the invasion of the neighborhood by a quasi-Christian or non-Christian cult or other religion, and/or a practice or tradition within my fellowship which the Lord has shown me is non-Biblical and is harmful to “the faith of the gospels.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Philippians 2:1-18)

Christian Unity and Christ’s Humility

2:1 Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort provided by love, any fellowship in the Spirit, any affection or mercy,

2:2 complete my joy and be of the same mind, by having the same love, being united in spirit, and having one purpose.

2:3 Instead of being motivated by selfish ambition or vanity, each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.

2:4 Each of you should be concerned not only about your own interests, but about the interests of others as well.

2:5 You should have the same attitude toward one another that Christ Jesus had,

2:6 who though he existed in the form of God

did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped,

2:7 but emptied himself

by taking on the form of a slave,

by looking like other men,

and by sharing in human nature.

2:8 He humbled himself,

by becoming obedient to the point of death

– even death on a cross!

2:9 As a result God exalted him

and gave him the name

that is above every name,

2:10 so that at the name of Jesus

every knee will bow

– in heaven and on earth and under the earth –

2:11 and every tongue confess

that Jesus Christ is Lord

to the glory of God the Father.

Lights in the World

2:12 So then, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed, not only in my presence but even more in my absence, continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence,

2:13 for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of his good pleasure—is God.

2:14 Do everything without grumbling or arguing,

2:15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society, in which you shine as lights in the world

2:16 by holding on to the word of life so that on the day of Christ I will have a reason to boast that I did not run in vain nor labor in vain.

2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice together with all of you.

2:18 And in the same way you also should be glad and rejoice together with me.

Prayer

Lord, You are the Lord God Who left Your glory and throne behind and came to provide a way home for us and to teach us how to live in unity and humility, making us a positive witness for You. May I be humbled by Your loving-sacrifice and guided in all things by Your perfect wisdom.

Summary & Commentary

Paul began Chapter 2 with a rhetorical question, teasing the Philippians about encouragement in Christ, comfort from love, fellowship in the Spirit, and affection in mercy.

He then challenged them to live united in Christ, acting from love, emphasizing commonality of the Holy Spirit and of a Godly attitude, and to be of common purpose as Jesus instructed in His “great commandment and great commission”.

Paul illustrated his point using the “attitude” of Christ Jesus, described in vss. 2.6-10, including a reference to the deity of Christ “... though he existed in the form of God

He then reviewed the context of their right-living and the value of so-doing to a watching world.

Paul recognized the faithfulness of the Philippians, while he was with them, and even more-so when he was away.

He used the expression “... continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence” then qualified it with “for the one bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of His good pleasure—is God.” His goal was to remind them that the value of their salvation had already begun and that it looked like something very powerful and practical. [Note: There is nothing in the text which justifies any claim to works-righteousness nor of anything other than a secure salvation.]

He continued in order to further guide them “Do everything without grumbling or arguing”, then the righteousness-emphasis “so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God, without blemish though you live in a crooked and perverse society”, and finally the outreach value “in which you shine as lights in the world.”

Interaction

Consider

Paul again called us “children of God”, affirming the security of our salvation, and confirming the Holy Spirit as a critical unifying factor among all believers.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to “continue working out your salvation with awe and reverence”, “... without grumbling or arguing”? How can that make of us witnesses of God’s love in us (and in our fellowships) to a watching world? Does it help to be reminded that some people observing us may also be deciding to choose Christ, or not?

Reflect

“... the One bringing forth in you both the desire and the effort—for the sake of His good pleasure—is God”; therefore, it is neither us who initiate the positive movement toward righteous living nor is it of our own strength that we succeed. We agree to partner with the Lord God, not as disengaged tools but as active and energetic and willing co-laborers with Christ, through the Holy Spirit.

Share

When have you observed an individual or a Christian fellowship—living intentionally (albeit imperfectly) united in Christ, acting from love, emphasizing commonality of the Holy Spirit and of a Godly attitude, and of a common purpose—as Jesus instructed in His “great commandment and great commission”. What were the fruits of that?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you an area of your life where you are either not being intentional about moving toward righteous living (to pleasing the Lord God), or you have been trying to do so of your own strength.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to join me with prayers in agreement to address this area of need in my life, partnering with the Lord God, and allowing others in the fellowship to assist me.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Philippians 2:19-30)

Models for Ministry

2:19 Now I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I too may be encouraged by hearing news about you.

2:20 For there is no one here like him who will readily demonstrate his deep concern for you.

2:21 Others are busy with their own concerns, not those of Jesus Christ.

2:22 But you know his qualifications, that like a son working with his father, he served with me in advancing the gospel.

2:23 So I hope to send him as soon as I know more about my situation,

2:24 though I am confident in the Lord that I too will be coming to see you soon.

2:25 But for now I have considered it necessary to send Epaphroditus to you. For he is my brother, coworker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to me in my need.

2:26 Indeed, he greatly missed all of you and was distressed because you heard that he had been ill.

2:27 In fact he became so ill that he nearly died. But God showed mercy to him—and not to him only, but also to me—so that I would not have grief on top of grief.

2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you can rejoice and I can be free from anxiety.

2:29 So welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him,

2:30 since it was because of the work of Christ that he almost died. He risked his life so that he could make up for your inability to serve me.

Prayer

Lord, You have done so much for us and ask that we be attentive to that which You have assigned to us to accomplish; lives that show evidence of The Greatest Commandment—love, and outreach that implements The Great Commission. May I so construct my life that both of Your priorities are realized in my life.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the need for, and value of, Biblically-faithful models for ministry.

He reminded the Philippians that they had cause for confidence and trust in Timothy based on his history of faithfulness to the cause of Christ above self-promotion, and because they knew him to be as Paul, very concerned with their spiritual well-being.

Paul sent Epaphroditus to them, to bring the Letter, and to encourage them, noting that he had been very ill—to the point of near death—and that he was troubled that knowledge of that had saddened the Philippian believers. His visit was to be an opportunity for shared rejoicing for “... God showed mercy to him”.

Epaphroditus fell ill serving the cause of Christ by assisting Paul, covering for the Philippians who were distant, so Paul encouraged them to “... welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor people like him ...”

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God provides a role model for trusted leaders. His role models are men who demonstrate evidence of righteousness and sacrifice rather than mere worldly wealth and influence.

Discuss

What are some ways that Biblically-faithful fellowships may “... honor people like him ...” (e.g. Epaphroditus) without making of them celebrities or idols?

Reflect

The Lord God showed mercy on Epaphroditus, for his sake—that he might be blessed in service to Christ, and so that Paul would not be burdened with his death—especially as it would have been largely due to his service to Paul.

Share

What is a practical example of a Christian leader with a history of faithfulness to the cause of Christ above self-promotion. How were others blessed as God poured-out His blessings through that leader?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a leader who meets the standard of Timothy or Epaphroditus.

Action:

Today I will honor the leader whom the Holy Spirit has identified through encouragement, prayer, and a practical act which supports their ministry.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Philippians 3:1-11)

True and False Righteousness

3:1 Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! To write this again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.

3:2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of those who mutilate the flesh!

3:3 For we are the circumcision, the ones who worship by the Spirit of God, exult in Christ Jesus, and do not rely on human credentials

3:4 —though mine too are significant. If someone thinks he has good reasons to put confidence in human credentials, I have more:

3:5 I was circumcised on the eighth day, from the people of Israel and the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews. I lived according to the law as a Pharisee.

3:6 In my zeal for God I persecuted the church. According to the righteousness stipulated in the law I was blameless.

3:7 But these assets I have come to regard as liabilities because of Christ.

3:8 More than that, I now regard all things as liabilities compared to the far greater value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things—indeed, I regard them as dung!—that I may gain Christ,

3:9 and be found in him, not because I have my own righteousness derived from the law, but because I have the righteousness that comes by way of Christ’s faithfulness—a righteousness from God that is in fact based on Christ’s faithfulness.

3:10 My aim is to know him, to experience the power of his resurrection, to share in his sufferings, and to be like him in his death,

3:11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

Prayer

Lord, You have given to us Your righteousness because nothing we might try to earn through law-keeping would be adequate to save us. May I rejoice in the Lord again and again.

Summary & Commentary

Paul warned the Philippians again of the false teachers, whom he labeled as filthy dogs and evil workers, because there was nothing so bad as to lead people astray from Christ.

He noted that one of the key problems was the Judaisers, though he did not name them as such, but instead referred to the chronic bad doctrine of some who insisted upon the legalistic Old Testament requirement for circumcision as a condition of salvation when the “circumcision” God desired was a spiritual one—separating believers from the world.

Paul declared that those who asserted legitimacy for their false teaching through their worldly credentials fell well-short of his credentials—so even by that standard his teaching should be respected. He further declared that all of his credentials should mean nothing to believers because, in comparison to “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord”, he considered the rest as “dung”.

Paul concluded that his “aim” was to know Christ, to be empowered for eternity by His resurrection, to join His ministry by suffering to serve His cause, to die with certainty of purpose and promise then to be raised from the dead for eternity.

[Note: Paul used the phrase “... somehow to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”, not intending to suggest that he did not know how or why he would be resurrected but to observe that there was a certain God-only-comprehends-perfectly “mystery” at the heart of resurrection.]

Interaction

Consider

The problem of false teachers is and was not new, it began in the Garden, persisted throughout the OT, and continued into the New Testament. The Bible teaches that the enemy will come disguised as an “angel of light”—Paul warns us that some of those “angels” will falsely claim to be ministers of the Word.

Discuss

How might you explain Paul definition of all things that interfere with knowledge of Christ, or which compete with our relationship with Him in any way, are “dung”?

Reflect

Paul’s stated life-goal was to know Christ, to be empowered for eternity by His resurrection, to join His ministry by suffering to serve His cause, to die with certainty of purpose and promise, and then to be raised from the dead for eternity.

Share

When in your life have you “died” to the world in order to acquire a closer walk with Christ Jesus?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a place in your life where an attitude, belief, habit, or tradition interferes with your knowledge of Christ, or competes with you relationship with Him in some way.

Action:

Today I will Today I am choosing to assign comparative value of “dung” to anything that distracts me from the Lord God. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me to alter my priorities to make Christ Jesus first in all things and all ways.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Philippians 3:12-21)

Keep Going Forward

3:12 Not that I have already attained this—that is, I have not already been perfected—but I strive to lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus also laid hold of me.

3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself to have attained this. Instead I am single-minded: Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead,

3:14 with this goal in mind, I strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

3:15 Therefore let those of us who are “perfect” embrace this point of view. If you think otherwise, God will reveal to you the error of your ways.

3:16 Nevertheless, let us live up to the standard that we have already attained.

3:17 Be imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and watch carefully those who are living this way, just as you have us as an example.

3:18 For many live, about whom I have often told you, and now, with tears, I tell you that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ.

3:19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, they exult in their shame, and they think about earthly things.

3:20 But our citizenship is in heaven—and we also await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,

3:21 who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of his glorious body by means of that power by which he is able to subject all things to himself.

Prayer

Lord, You already see us made-perfect by Your grace and power, so You call upon us to strive toward that goal rather than be diminished by the things of this imperfect world. May I keep my eyes on You!

Summary & Commentary

Paul continued his description of Biblical priorities “... I am single-minded. Forgetting the things that are behind and reaching out for the things that are ahead ... strive toward the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”

[Note: This is not about works-righteousness but growth in spiritual maturity.]

Paul used the term “perfect” to describe those who are more mature and who continue to intentionally pursue greater spiritual maturity—as such is the “perfect” will of God for the lives of His children, not an expectation of completed perfection but adherence to God’s priority to grow and to go.

Paul implored the Philippians to “be imitators” of those who live “perfectly” before Christ Jesus, then warns again of the deceivers whose “... end is destruction”.

In contrast to the mature believer the false leader had their “belly” as a god, “exult in their shame”, and “think about earthly things”.

Paul concluded with the reminder that “... our citizenship is in heaven—and we await a savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform these humble bodies of ours into the likeness of His glorious body by means of that power by which He is able to subject all things to Himself.”

Interaction

Consider

The first step in the pursuit of spiritual maturity is “Forgetting the things that are behind ...” and then “... reaching out for the things that are ahead”.

Discuss

What are some practical disciplines which can help one to more effectively pursue spiritual maturity, e.g. the identification of “elders” who may serve as worthy role models?

Reflect

How does the meaning of the phrase “... our citizenship is in heaven” impact you?

Share

When have you observed specific examples of leaders to be avoided, and leaders to be emulated, and what was it that caused each to be assigned to one category or the other?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a mentor, someone whose walk shows solid evidence of spiritual maturity more advanced than your own.

Action:

Today I am choosing to pray for the mentor the Lord God has revealed to me and I will find opportunities to serve alongside that mentor, as the Lord provides, in order that the Holy Spirit may teach me the same disciplines He has taught them.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Philippians 4:1-23)

Christian Practices

4:1 So then, my brothers and sisters, dear friends whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand in the Lord in this way, my dear friends!

4:2 I appeal to Euodia and to Syntyche to agree in the Lord. 4:3 Yes, I say also to you, true companion, help them. They have struggled together in the gospel ministry along with me and Clement and my other coworkers, whose names are in the book of life.

4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice!

4:5 Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!

4:6 Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.

4:7 And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

4:8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.

4:9 And what you learned and received and heard and saw in me, do these things. And the God of peace will be with you.

Appreciation for Support

4:10 I have great joy in the Lord because now at last you have again expressed your concern for me. (Now I know you were concerned before but had no opportunity to do anything.)

4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content in any circumstance.

4:12 I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.

4:13 I am able to do all things through the one who strengthens me.

4:14 Nevertheless, you did well to share with me in my trouble.

4:15 And as you Philippians know, at the beginning of my gospel ministry, when I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in this matter of giving and receiving except you alone. 4:16 For even in Thessalonica on more than one occasion you sent something for my need. 4:17 I do not say this because I am seeking a gift. Rather, I seek the credit that abounds to your account. 4:18 For I have received everything, and I have plenty. I have all I need because I received from Epaphroditus what you sent—a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, very pleasing to God.

4:19 And my God will supply your every need according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.

4:20 May glory be given to God our Father forever and ever. Amen.

Final Greetings

4:21 Give greetings to all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers with me here send greetings. 4:22 All the saints greet you, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household.

4:23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Prayer

Lord, You meet our needs both physical and spiritual and, You strengthen us. May I give thanks, be bold, and be content.

Summary & Commentary

Paul concluded his letter to the Philippians with additional specific guidance, which we may extrapolate to our fellowships, in order to enhance the quality of our practices.

He asked that the pursuit of righteousness continue, that the brothers and sisters help those who are struggling, and that they be aware that believers have their names “... in the Book of Life.”

[Note: Once ones name has been recorded in the Book of Life ones salvation is guaranteed.]

Paul recommended a Biblical attitude toward life “Rejoice in the Lord always. Again, I say rejoice! Let everyone see your gentleness. The Lord is near!

Paul recommended this Biblical methodology for managing stress “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God.” He then explained the result “And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Paul recommended this Biblical methodology to remain pure in what he previously described as “... a crooked and perverse society”—”... whatever is true, whatever is worthy of respect, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if something is excellent or praiseworthy, think about these things.”

Paul recommended again that they emulate the more mature, including his example “I have learned to be content in any circumstance ... I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing. I am able to do all things through the One who strengthens me.”

Paul did pause to remind them that obedience to God in offering, and providing, assistance to brothers and sisters in Christ who are in need was (and is) an admirable action.

Paul concluded with a prayer “And my God will supply your every need according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus ... The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”

Explanation of the different Biblical meanings when the term “spirit” is used, from the NET Greek/Hebrew Translator’s Notes: “1) the third person of the triune God, the Holy Spirit, coequal, coeternal with the Father and the Son 1a) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his personality and character (the \\Holy\\ Spirit) 1b) sometimes referred to in a way which emphasises his work and power (the Spirit of \\Truth\\) 1c) never referred to as a depersonalised force 2) the spirit, i.e. the vital principal by which the body is animated 2a) the rational spirit, the power by which the human being feels, thinks, decides 2b) the soul 3) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting 3a) a life giving spirit 3b) a spirit, i.e. a simple essence, devoid of all or at least all grosser matter, and possessed of the power of knowing, desiring, deciding, and acting.”

Interaction

Consider

Paul’s counsel to not be anxious, to remain pure, to emulate the more mature in trust in God’s loving provision, and as a result to be “... content in any circumstance” is the key to growing in maturity.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to implement Paul’s methodologies in your life and within your fellowship?

Reflect

“I am able to do all things through the One who strengthens me.”

Share

When have you experienced the blessing of increased-maturity, and therefore an exceptional (ultrafidian) trust in the Lord God, equipped you to handle a difficult circumstance with a greater sense of contentment and confidence?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place in your live where you are anxious, struggle with purity, sometimes emulate the less-mature than the more-mature, and as a result you are often discontent.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me as I partner with the Holy Spirit to apply Paul’s counsel and move toward a greater degree of contentment—trusting in the Lord God’s loving provision.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “Philippians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

Colossians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (Colossians 1:1-14)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 1:2 to the saints, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, at Colossae. Grace and peace to you from God our Father!

Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Church

1:3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,

1:4 since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints.

1:5 Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel 1:6 that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.

1:7 You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave—a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf—1:8 who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

Paul’s Prayer for the Growth of the Church

1:9 For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

1:10 so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God,

1:11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully

1:12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.

1:13 He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves,

1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Prayer

Lord, You qualified us to share in the great inheritance of heaven, You present us as a testimony to the world, and You give us hope and strength. May I be more-available, more-faithful, and more-persistent in arranging my life to serve You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded the Colossians of their common “heritage” in Christ. He then celebrated their faith and their ‘ultrafidian’ (beyond faith) love “... for all of the saints” (believers).

Paul elaborated on their “faith and love”, noting that they “... have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you.”

He expanded the view “Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.”

Paul observed that they learned the gospel of from a faithful servant of Christ, Epaphras, someone sent from Paul’s network of disciple-evangelists, whom he notes “also told us of your love in the Spirit.”

[Note: The phrase “in the Spirit” is consistent with Paul’s prior usage, not referring to anything more than the promised work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer, and in-common among believers.]

Paul reported the prayers of his group “... asking God to fill you [the Colossian believers] with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please Him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints inheritance in the light.”

The Colossians would have been among those who received a copy of what became known as the letter to the Ephesians, so they would be familiar with Paul’s discussion of wisdom and understanding flowing from the Holy Spirit.

Living worthily of the Lord God was a repeated message of Paul, one he repeated here, along with his expectation that they bear fruit as they cared for one another (“every good deed”).

Being strengthened, demonstrating the “Fruits of the Spirit” via patience and steadfastness, and joyfully giving thanks were also echoes of prior exhortations from Paul.

The final phrase of this passage “... qualified you to share in the saints inheritance in the light.” was a reminder that all are not saved, that there is an evaluation of those who are accepted into salvation, and that “the saints” inherit as a common family of peers. “... in the light.” was a valuable word picture of the difference between saved and unsaved as the corollary is, of course, that all others were in the darkness —the absence of God—then and for eternity.

“... the power of darkness” is the intractable impact of sin, since the Fall in the Garden, and exacerbated by our rebellious decisions every day—but we have been “transferred”, which requires us to be removed from the old standing and relocated to the new—we are not the same.

Jesus is the One who made this possible, He is the only One who has the capacity to bring us redemption, and He is the One who provides for freedom from both the eternal consequences and temporal guilt of sin.

Interaction

Consider

How many of your fellow believers show fruits of the “faith and love” Jesus commanded us to live and to share “... have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel that has come to you.”?

Discuss

What are some ways that you and members of your fellowship may increase the degree to which you and they are “... living worthily of God”, bearing fruit as you care for one another (“every good deed”)?

Reflect

“He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son He loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins ... the power of darkness” is the intractable impact of sin, since the Fall in the Garden, and which has been exacerbated by our rebellious decisions every day—but we have been “transferred”, which requires us to be removed from the old standing and relocated to the new—we are not the same.

Share

When have you, or someone else in your fellowship, experienced “... growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully giving thanks to the Father”—with emphasis on the linkage between “... growing in the knowledge of God” and the rest?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you if the following is true or not true in your walk “Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.”

Action:

Today I will celebrate specific examples with a fellow believer if true, and if not true I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement with me as I partner with the Holy Spirit to gain additional knowledge of the Lord God and allow Him to transform me from the inside out, and to show me where this is already happening in the lives of others.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (Colossians 1:15-29)

1:15 The Supremacy of Christ
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,

1:16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created by him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him.

1:17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.

1:18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.

1:19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son

1:20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross—through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

Paul’s Goal in Ministry

1:21 And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, 1:22 but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him—1:23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.

1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body—for the sake of his body, the church—what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.

1:25 I became a servant of the church according to the stewardship from God—given to me for you—in order to complete the word of God, 1:26 that is, the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints.

1:27 God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

1:28 We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ.

1:29 Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.

Prayer

Lord, You are the eternal One, expressed as Father, Spirit, and Son; without beginning or end. May the incredible gift of Your undeserved love motivate me to live more-fully for You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed a right understanding of Christ as a member of the Trinity:

He is the image of the invisible God

He is the firstborn of all Creation

All things in Heaven and on Earth were created by Him

All things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through Him and for Him

He Himself is before all things

He Himself holds all things together

He is the head of the body

He is the head of the “Church”

He is the beginning

He is the firstborn from among the dead

He is first in all things

God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in the Son (2:9 defines this as “deity”)

God was pleased that through Him (Christ) all things, on earth and in heaven, are reconciled

God was pleased that He (Christ) made peace with the blood of the Cross

Verses 1:21-23 appear to create some conflict with Paul's prior teaching on the assurance (permanence) of salvation, once received.

[Note: The appearance is the result of translation ambiguity as the correctly-translated Word of God is never self-contradictory—any “error” is always on the part of the reader and/or the translator, God never errs. What Paul has said here is that “... by His physical body” (Jesus-the-man) He became the substitutionary sacrifice for man, despite our “evil deeds” which “expressed” our “minds” as “one time strangers and enemies”. This provision creates the potential to “... present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before Him”, which is necessary given that no imperfect being/no being capable of rebellion will ever be permitted in heaven again. In order to properly understand the first half of 1:23 one must understand the context of the second half “... from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.” Paul is speaking of evangelism and not concluded-salvation and/or discipleship of believers. He makes no presumption that everyone in his audience is saved, nor should that presumption ever be made—even in a gathering designed for believers. Only the Lord God knows for sure; therefore, “... if indeed you remain in the faith, established (this term means saved) and firm [doubt precludes salvation], without shifting from the hope of the gospel—it is no longer “hope” once one has been saved, it is a promise.]

Paul then explained that his ministry was to “... complete the Word of God”, which may be taken to refer to his writings and to his effort to evangelize all of the known world—as he had already been “to Judah and Samaria”. His message “... the glorious riches of this mystery (Christ’s salvation of the “saints”) among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Then Paul explained how this evangelistic mission will be accomplished “We proclaim Him by instructing (evangelizing) and teaching (discipling) all people with all the wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ.

He concluded “Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.”

Interaction

Consider

Christ Jesus contains the deity of God, created all things (“And God said ...”), all things are held together by Him, and all things exist for Him—does this not require that He be God?

Discuss

What is, to you, the practical meaning that Christ Jesus is the head of the body and of the “Church”?

Reflect

“... that through Him (Christ) all things, on earth and in heaven, are reconciled”. [Note that this “reconciliation has conditions” and that perhaps the translation should include the parenthetical note that this applies to believers only.]

Share

When have you observed that a right understanding of Christ Jesus, especially His “headship” over the body and the “Church” led to a healthier fellowship, or the alternative result when a wrong understanding led to conflict?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where in your life you have had a wrong understanding of Christ Jesus as the head of you, (you are both a member of the body and of the “Church”) and this has led to rebellion in one form or another.

Action:

Today I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, and with a fellow believer (as a prayer partner, accountability partner, coach, and as-is-appropriate as a mentor), to bring my heart, mind, and walk in-line with a right Biblical understanding of the authority of Christ in my entire life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (Colossians 2:1-5)

2:1 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you, and for those in Laodicea, and for those who have not met me face to face.

2:2 My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,

2:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

2:4 I say this so that no one will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable.

2:5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your morale and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You connect every Christian through Your indwelling Holy Spirit, and when we live and love in-agreement with Your Word we are safe from deception. May I pray for my fellow believers, and myself, that together we will be faithful to You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul celebrated the way that the Colossians and Laodiceans had been “knit together in love”.

He offered a hope-prayer that they be encouraged and that “... they may have all of the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the mystery of God, namely, in Christ.”

The “encouragement” of the “assurance” that is the eternal love of the Lord God flows from a right understanding of Christ, the “mystery” that is the willingness of God to come in human flesh and sacrifice Himself in the flesh on a cross as a propitiation (law-satisfying substitution) for fallen man.

A right understanding of Christ brings assurance of salvation, His “riches” bring the “ultrafidian” (beyond faith) power to live in the flesh in this fallen world—through steadily-maturing obedient righteousness, and in boldness—sharing His gospel of salvation “in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”.

We serve our fellow saints (believers) sacrificially (from love).

Paul warned them against those who “will deceive you through arguments that sound reasonable”.

[Note: The NET translator’s notes suggest “specious arguments” as an acceptable alternative. They also observe that this is not anti-intellectual but intends to warn against arguments that promote the uncritical acceptance of clearly anti-Biblical philosophies. This includes philosophies that presume to establish any parity between Christianity and another faith which claims to speak for God, that asserts that multiple faiths may lead to God’s truth (and salvation), or which subsume Christianity within and authoritatively below their primary faith (e.g. Islam).]

Paul concludes section 2:1-5 with another celebration of their “morale” (steadfastness) and “firmness of faith”.

He emphasized the deity of Christ, saying “... the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”

Interaction

Consider

How often have you experienced, in a modern fellowship, “... the way that the Colossians and Laodiceans have been “knit together in love”?

Discuss

What are some practical ways to increase the “encouragement” of the “assurance” that is the eternal love of God flows from a right understanding of Christ within your fellowship?

Reflect

The “riches” of a right-understanding of Christ can bring an “ultrafidian” (beyond faith) power to live righteously in the flesh in this fallen world, to speak boldly by sharing His gospel of salvation “in Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth”, and serving our fellow saints (believers) sacrificially (from love).

Share

When have you observed a right-understanding in Christ equip a fellowship to resist the persuasive speech of one who attempted to promote an non-Biblical doctrine. What happened?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify for you a way that a right-understanding of Christ may empower you to serve the Lord in a more “ultrafidian” (beyond faith) manner, perhaps in outreach to an un-saved or without-a-fellowship sub-population, perhaps in (or in support of) foreign missions, or reveal to you someone who needs encouragement in this area.

Action:

Today I will identify a mentor who will assist me with discipleship designed to build my knowledge and trust—or I will be that mentor to another.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (Colossians 2:6-23)

Warnings Against the Adoption of False Philosophies

2:6 Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,

2:7 rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

2:8 Be careful not to allow anyone to captivate you through an empty, deceitful philosophy that is according to human traditions and the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

2:9 For in him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form,

2:10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.

2:11 In him you also were circumcised—not, however, with a circumcision performed by human hands, but by the removal of the fleshly body, that is, through the circumcision done by Christ.

2:12 Having been buried with him in baptism, you also have been raised with him through your faith in the power of God who raised him from the dead.

2:13 And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he nevertheless made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions.

2:14 He has destroyed what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

2:15 Disarming the rulers and authorities, he has made a public disgrace of them, triumphing over them by the cross.

2:16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days—2:17 these are only the shadow of the things to come, but the reality is Christ!

2:18 Let no one who delights in humility and the worship of angels pass judgment on you. That person goes on at great lengths about what he has supposedly seen, but he is puffed up with empty notions by his fleshly mind. 2:19 He has not held fast to the head from whom the whole body, supported and knit together through its ligaments and sinews, grows with a growth that is from God.

2:20 If you have died with Christ to the elemental spirits of the world, why do you submit to them as though you lived in the world? 2:21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!” 2:22 These are all destined to perish with use, founded as they are on human commands and teachings. 2:23 Even though they have the appearance of wisdom with their self-imposed worship and false humility achieved by an unsparing treatment of the body—a wisdom with no true value—they in reality result in fleshly indulgence.

Prayer

Lord, You have set us free from old legalisms and new ones as well, rather we are to be centered on Jesus. May I avoid the social trap of going-along-to-get-along which is a form of slavery and focus on what You are teaching me and where You are sending me.

Summary & Commentary

Paul encouraged the Colossians to continue in their study of Christ so as to be “… rooted and built up in Him and firm in your faith ... overflowing with thankfulness.”

He twice warned them again against false teachings that promote the “elemental spirits”, things that will be gone after the Final Judgment and are temporary (temporal) in nature, but to instead focus on the things of God which are eternal.

Paul clarified a point of confusion; the “Son”—an eternal member of the Trinity—Christ was and is forever God but the Lord God chose to add an additional physical dimension at the “incarnation” (via the immaculate conception of Jesus in Mary).

He reminded them that Christ is above “every ruler and authority” and that the “circumcision” of the Christian is a separation from slavery to our “fleshy body”, not an artificial “mutilation” of our temporary body as part of a ritual no longer required by God.

Paul reminded them of the intended word-picture that is Biblical baptism, “... buried with Him” then “... raised with Him in faith in the power of God Who raised Him from the dead.”

He reminded them of their need for salvation; “.. even though you were dead in your transgressions ... He nevertheless made you alive with Him, having forgiven all your transgressions.”

Paul reminded them of the absolute freedom they have from their pre-salvation selves: “He has destroyed what was against us ... by nailing it to the Cross.”

He expanded on the freedom of the believer “... do not let anyone judge you with respect to food or drink, or in the matter of a feast, new moon, or Sabbath days—these are only the shadow of things to come, but the reality is in Christ!”

In verses 2:18-20 Paul warned against those who brag about their supposed spiritual experiences and presume to condemn or lecture others—he said they are “puffed up with empty notions by his fleshy mind”.

Interaction

Consider

The amazing choice of the Lord God that Christ, forever God-in-the-Trinity, chose to add an additional physical dimension at the “incarnation” (via the immaculate conception of Jesus in Mary). Remembering from the Gospels that even after His resurrection, and the partial restoration of His heavenly glory (the rest had to wait for His ascension as fallen man cannot survive in the presence of God’s full glory), He retained His scarred physical body.

[Note: There is no record of anyone physically-touching Jesus post-resurrection. Thomas was invited to do so but was not recorded as having actually accepted the challenge. That is discussed in the Gospels study.]

Discuss

How have false teachings that promote the “elemental spirits”, things that will be gone after the Final Judgment and are temporary (temporal) in nature, find their way into your current fellowship (or one from your past or in another fellowship)?

Reflect

The nature of our salvation is a separation from slavery to our “fleshy body”. A Biblical-baptism symbolizes that we are “... buried with Him” then “... raised with Him in faith in the power of God Who raised Him from the dead.”

Share

When have you observed a practical example of a Biblical understanding of baptism through the way that it is presented in your fellowship?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a place where you are not yet living in the absolute freedom you have from your pre-salvation self: “He has destroyed what was against us ... by nailing it to the Cross.”

Action:

Today I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, supported by prayers in agreement from a fellow believer, as I grow in spiritual maturity and reject any claim the enemy asserts to my past (pre-Christ) over my present (made new in Christ).

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (Colossians 3:1-17)

Exhortations to Seek the Things Above

3:1 Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

3:2 Keep thinking about things above, not things on the earth, 3:3 for you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

3:4 When Christ (who is your life) appears, then you too will be revealed in glory with him.

3:5 So put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth: sexual immorality, impurity, shameful passion, evil desire, and greed which is idolatry.

3:6 Because of these things the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience.

3:7 You also lived your lives in this way at one time, when you used to live among them.

3:8 But now, put off all such things as anger, rage, malice, slander, abusive language from your mouth.

3:9 Do not lie to one another since you have put off the old man with its practices

3:10 and have been clothed with the new man that is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of the one who created it.

3:11 Here there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all and in all.

Exhortation to Unity and Love

3:12 Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,

3:13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if someone happens to have a complaint against anyone else. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also forgive others.

3:14 And to all these virtues add love, which is the perfect bond.

3:15 Let the peace of Christ be in control in your heart (for you were in fact called as one body to this peace), and be thankful.

3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.

3:17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Prayer

Lord, You have set us free from the slavery to sin, which is the darkness of this world. May I have nothing in my life that I value more than You.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded the Colossians to seek heavenly things because they were of-Christ and not of-the-world, “Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ...” because when Christ returns to bring us home the glory is His will be shared with us and we will stand with Him.

Based on our eternally-intimate standing with Christ Paul then concluded that our response must be to “... put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth”:

  • sexual immorality
  • impurity
  • shameful passion
  • evil desire
  • greed (which is idolatry)

Paul warned that those who indulged in those things were among the “sons of disobedience” (unsaved) who would experience the post-tribulation, post-rapture, “wrath of God”.

He instructed them, and us, to put off such things as:

  • anger (unrighteous anger)
  • rage (mindless anger)
  • malice
  • slander
  • abusive language from our mouths
  • lying to one-another

Paul reiterated the abolition of every worldly distinction among men and women, leaving only the eternal distinction between those who were saved and those who were unsaved.

He again used the term “elect” as one label for Christians as “... holy and dearly loved”, to “clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if someone happens to have a complaint against someone else.”

[Note: As described in a prior Study “elect” does not refer to a fatalistic pagan notion of predestination but is a label for one who meets God’s requirements for salvation and who has his/her name written in the “Lamb’s Book of Life”. Also, the matter of a “complaint against someone else” is addressed only to believers.]

He reminds us to add love to the list of virtues (things we are to avoid and their corollary to be sought) as love is “the perfect bond”—we were called through love into a perfect bond of peace.

He exhorts us to “Let the word of Christ dwell ... richly” [Note: This likely refers to the fruits of the indwelling Holy Spirit as well as a the loving nature of Christ.] “teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Interaction

Consider

Our right-response to what Christ has done for us must be to “... put to death whatever in your nature belongs to the earth”.

Discuss

In what ways are members of your fellowship intentionally “teaching and exhorting one another with all wisdom, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, all with grace in your hearts to God.” without spawning human rituals and traditions which overwhelm the intent of this teaching?

Reflect

Do you find Paul’s two checklists of sin challenging to elements of your walk?

Share

When have you observed a fellowship (the larger local believer-community “Church” or a sub-group) where you experienced “clothe yourselves with a heart of mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another if someone happens to have a complaint against someone else.”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit reveal to you, from Paul’s two checklists, the items where you are still struggling.

Action:

Today I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, and with the encouragement of someone praying in-agreement, I will intentionally move toward removing the sin from my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (Colossians 3:18-4:1)

Exhortation to Households

3:18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this is pleasing in the Lord.

3:21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, so they will not become disheartened. 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in every respect, not only when they are watching—like those who are strictly people-pleasers—but with a sincere heart, fearing the Lord.

3:23 Whatever you are doing, work at it with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not for people,

3:24 because you know that you will receive your inheritance from the Lord as the reward. Serve the Lord Christ.

3:25 For the one who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there are no exceptions.

4:1 Masters, treat your slaves with justice and fairness, because you know that you also have a master in heaven.

Prayer

Lord, You have instructed us over and over again to keep our eyes on You, the perfect One so that we might have right perspectives and priorities. May I do so and the result be a life that “... is pleasing to the Lord.”

Summary & Commentary

Paul provided the Colossian believers a summary instruction of matters he had previously addressed via letters shared among the local fellowships. These instructions addressed marriage, children, parenting, slaves, and masters.

He reminded women that “as is fitting in the Lord” they were to submit to their husbands in-the-Lord.

[Note: Paul was addressing believers and never asked wives to submit to sinful dictates.]

He reminded husbands “love your wives and do not be embittered against them”. Husbands were to not turn away from their wives because they were imperfect, growing older, or less-appealing than some other women.

He reminded children that if they were to be pleasing to the Lord they were to obey their parents.

He reminded parents to not “provoke” [set them up to fail] their children [through abuse or neglect].

He reminded slaves to serve ethically “as to the Lord”.

[Note: Nowhere did Paul endorse slavery, but as did the Lord Jesus, he encouraged those who fould themselves as slaves to continue to conduct themselves as they would as free believers. They were to do all things as if they were doing them for the Lord.]

He reminded masters that they were fellow saints with their believing-slaves so to treat them as peers.

He reminded everyone that there were consequences for disobedience to God.

Interaction

Consider

The various “Churches” (local fellowships of believers) in Paul’s time would have a high level of awareness of the content of Paul’s letters (including ones specifically addressed to other fellowships), either like the letter to the Ephesians (which was literally copied to the other groups), or via those that Paul sent out to communicate the Lord God’s teaching to them in their own local context.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to effectively disciple parents, couples, prospective couples, and children in Paul’s teachings?

Reflect

How well, or poorly, have you experienced, expressed, and/or observed Paul’s specific instructions for the expectations for different roles in-practice within your current or past fellowship?

Share

When have you observed examples of employee-boss or student-teacher relationships where Paul’s instructions have been obeyed or disobeyed and the differing consequences?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you where Paul’s instructions apply to your specific circumstances and at least one area where you may improve.

Action:

Today I agree to study the Word, perhaps with a peer-disciple or a mentor, in order to better understand Paul’s instructions [see earlier NT Study materials] and to partner with the Holy Spirit to bring my walk in line with His Word.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (Colossians 4:2-18)

Exhortation to Pray for the Success of Paul’s Mission

4:2 Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.

4:3 At the same time pray for us too, that God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.

4:4 Pray that I may make it known as I should.

4:5 Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of the opportunities.

4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.

Personal Greetings and Instructions

4:7 Tychicus, a dear brother, faithful minister, and fellow slave in the Lord, will tell you all the news about me. 4:8 I sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are doing and that he may encourage your hearts. 4:9 I sent him with Onesimus, the faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you about everything here.

4:10 Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner, sends you greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions; if he comes to you, welcome him). 4:11 And Jesus who is called Justus also sends greetings. In terms of Jewish converts, these are the only fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me.

4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a slave of Christ, greets you. He is always struggling in prayer on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 4:13 For I can testify that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and Hierapolis.

4:14 Our dear friend Luke the physician and Demas greet you.

4:15 Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters who are in Laodicea and to Nympha and the church that meets in her house.

4:16 And after you have read this letter, have it read to the church of Laodicea. In turn, read the letter from Laodicea as well.

4:17 And tell Archippus, “See to it that you complete the ministry you received in the Lord.”

4:18 I, Paul, write this greeting by my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

Prayer

Lord, You expect us to submit to the discipleship of Your Holy Spirit so that our ‘walk’ matches our ‘talk’ and in that way those to whom You send us to evangelize will trust us. May I partner with the Holy Spirit to drive the careless-worldliness and hypocrisy out of my life.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded the Colossians to “Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.”

[Note: Paul had, in other letters to other churches, implored all to “pray without ceasing” because prayer keeps a believer alert to God; and with a mindset of thanksgiving rather than one of demandingness.]

He requested prayer, a model for all who are in leadership, so that “God may open a door for the message so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ ...”—there is no greater purpose.

Paul provided a model for responsible leaders, especially preachers and teachers, asking that they pray specifically “... that I may make it known as I should.”

[Note: He refers to clarity, courage, and faithfulness to God’s message.]

He exhorted them “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of opportunities. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.”

[Note: Paul was coaching them (and us) to embed in our conduct and our languages the deeds and words of faith—so that opportunities to “evangelize” flow from our conduct—or at least are not blocked by our conduct—and that when we have an opportunity to share it sounds natural rather than artificial.]

Paul concluded with greetings from those with him and reminded them to share the letter with the Laodiceans and to read the letter he sent to the Laodiceans.

Interaction

Consider

Paul’s admonition “Be devoted to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving.”

Discuss

What are some ways that believers may train themselves to “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of opportunities. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you should answer everyone.” ?

Reflect

How much conflict and error could be avoided if all leaders were as humble as Paul’s model for responsible leaders, especially preachers and teachers, asking that the local body of believers pray specifically “... that I may make it known as I should.” ?

Share

When have you observed an example of a fellow believer who in intentional in their obedience to the call to “Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders, making the most of opportunities. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a Christian preacher or teacher for whom He wants you to pray.

Action:

Today am committing to pray that the leader He has chosen will make the message of Christ know as they should, without alteration, distortion, or distraction.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated—http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study—“Colossians”—prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in October of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

1 Thessalonians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (1 Thessalonians 1)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace and peace to you!

Thanksgiving for Response to the Gospel

1:2 We thank God always for all of you as we mention you constantly in our prayers,

1:3 because we recall in the presence of our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.

1:4 We know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you,

1:5 in that our gospel did not come to you merely in words, but in power and in the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction (surely you recall the character we displayed when we came among you to help you).

1:6 And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit, despite great affliction.

1:7 As a result you became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia. 1:8 For from you the message of the Lord has echoed forth not just in Macedonia and Achaia, but in every place reports of your faith in God have spread, so that we do not need to say anything.

1:9 For people everywhere report how you welcomed us and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God 1:10 and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus our deliverer from the coming wrath.

Prayer

Lord, You have told the story of Creation, the history of humankind in relationship with You, have given us examples of right and wrong living through characters in the old and new testaments, humbled Yourself to come in mere human form to set us free, and have given us the apostles and early believers as role models. May I be found as faithful as the Thessalonians in sharing Your truth with others.

Summary & Commentary

Paul offered a praise report for the Thessalonians, noting that when he brought the Lord God’s message of Christ to them they responded “... despite great affliction”.

He had delivered the gospel “... with deep conviction” he also performed miracles “power” and the presence of the Holy Spirit was made obvious.

[Note: Paul does not provide any detail but from his earlier writings this reference could suggest prophesy and tongues, it could suggest that the Holy Spirit had “prepared the harvest” as Jesus explained to His disciples, or both.]

Paul commended them “And you became imitators of us and of the Lord, when you received the message with joy that comes from the Holy Spirit …”. Once saved they accepted the mission and lived in the promise that God confirms via His indwelling Holy Spirit - as a result they “... became an example to all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia.”

He celebrated their “ultrafidian” (beyond saving-faith) response, one that was so profound that everywhere Paul and his associates traveled word of their faith and faithfulness preceded.

Interaction

Consider

The Holy Spirit of God partners with those whom He sends as His emissaries, we are never alone as believers engaged in sharing the gospel.

Discuss

What are some practical ways that you, and members of your fellowship, may become better imitators of the apostle Paul and of the Lord?

Reflect

The boldness of the Thessalonians, discerning the truth in Paul’s earnest presentation of the gospel and immediately acting to separate themselves from their old lives and to begin living in the new.

Share

When have you observed an example of a population of people who responded to the gospel in a similarly radical way? What was the impact within their immediate community and perhaps a wider population - directly or via media coverage?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a specific area where you have not been a good imitator of Paul and Jesus (and the Thessalonians).

Action:

Today I agree to partner with the Holy Spirit, and an accountability/prayer partner, as I explore and implement disciplines to enhance my spiritual maturity in practical ways.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (1 Thessalonians 2:1-16)

Paul’s Ministry in Thessalonica

2:1 For you yourselves know, brothers and sisters, about our coming to you – it has not proven to be purposeless. 2:2 But although we suffered earlier and were mistreated in Philippi, as you know, we had the courage in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in spite of much opposition.

2:3 For the appeal we make does not come from error or impurity or with deceit,

2:4 but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we declare it, not to please people but God, who examines our hearts.

2:5 For we never appeared with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed – God is our witness –

2:6 nor to seek glory from people, either from you or from others,

2:7 although we could have imposed our weight as apostles of Christ; instead we became little children among you. Like a nursing mother caring for her own children,

2:8 with such affection for you we were happy to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

2:9 For you recall, brothers and sisters, our toil and drudgery: By working night and day so as not to impose a burden on any of you, we preached to you the gospel of God.

2:10 You are witnesses, and so is God, as to how holy and righteous and blameless our conduct was toward you who believe.

2:11 As you know, we treated each one of you as a father treats his own children,

2:12 exhorting and encouraging you and insisting that you live in a way worthy of God who calls you to his own kingdom and his glory.

2:13 And so we too constantly thank God that when you received God’s message that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human message, but as it truly is, God’s message, which is at work among you who believe.

2:14 For you became imitators, brothers and sisters, of God’s churches in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, because you too suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they in fact did from the Jews,

2:15 who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets and persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God and are opposed to all people,

2:16 because they hinder us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. Thus they constantly fill up their measure of sins, but wrath has come upon them completely.

Prayer

Lord, You tested the heart – the motives of Paul – as he promoted Your Gospel. You found him without greed or lust. May I examine my own motives to that will also be found free of the same and therefore a worthy instrument to share Your saving-truth.

Summary & Commentary

Paul greeted the Thessalonians again, reminding them that his only motive was to please God by rightly delivering His Word.

He could have misused his authority as an apostle but chose instead to emulate Jesus, coming to them as humble as a child and as loving as a mother to her children; images evoked by Jesus of Himself.

In Verse 2:9 Paul reminded them that to prevent any false-comparison of his motives with those of others who had come with “... a pretext for greed” he chose to be “... working night and day” then to preach “the gospel of God”.

He celebrated that they received the message not as one from men but from God, which it truly was.

Paul reflected upon the way that the Thessalonians were mistreated by their peers, similar to the mistreatment of believers in Judea by theirs, yet they stood with Christ.

Interaction

Consider

The growth in maturity and numbers of the Thessalonians came despite fierce resistance from the unbelievers all around them.

Discuss

In what other circumstances might a Christian leader choose to set-aside a “right” for the sake of his or her ministry?

Reflect

Paul chose to allow the Lord God’s Word to speak authoritatively, he was it’s humble messenger who served them from genuine love, therefore he modeled Jesus before them.

Share

When have you observed examples of both the right and the wrong way to lead? (The right way is Paul’s model. The wrong to make the momentary human leader the focus of authority and trust rather than the Lord God and His Word.)

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you, and to affirm His direction through at least one fellow believer whose spiritual maturity whom you have Biblical-cause to trust, where you need to sacrifice a “right” in order to become a more effective servant of Christ.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully pursue the necessary steps to actualize the sacrifice the Holy Spirit has asked of me for the sake of the Gospel.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (1 Thessalonians 2:17 – 3:13)

Forced Absence from Thessalonica

2:17 But when we were separated from you, brothers and sisters, for a short time (in presence, not in affection) we became all the more fervent in our great desire to see you in person.

2:18 For we wanted to come to you (I, Paul, in fact tried again and again) but Satan thwarted us.

2:19 For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you?

2:20 For you are our glory and joy!

3:1 So when we could bear it no longer, we decided to stay on in Athens alone. 3:2 We sent Timothy, our brother and fellow worker for God in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen you and encourage you about your faith, 3:3 so that no one would be shaken by these afflictions. For you yourselves know that we are destined for this.

3:4 For in fact when we were with you, we were telling you in advance that we would suffer affliction, and so it has happened, as you well know. 3:5 So when I could bear it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith, for fear that the tempter somehow tempted you and our toil had proven useless.

3:6 But now Timothy has come to us from you and given us the good news of your faith and love and that you always think of us with affection and long to see us just as we also long to see you! 3:7 So in all our distress and affliction, we were reassured about you, brothers and sisters, through your faith.

3:8 For now we are alive again, if you stand firm in the Lord. 3:9 For how can we thank God enough for you, for all the joy we feel because of you before our God?

3:10 We pray earnestly night and day to see you in person and make up what may be lacking in your faith.

3:11 Now may God our Father himself and our Lord Jesus direct our way to you.

3:12 And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you,

3:13 so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.

Prayer

Lord, You allow Satan to be active in the world over which he is the temporary prince, but You limit his impact on Your children and/or their mission for You. May I be fearless, knowing that You have the ultimate power, and that Your will shall be done no matter what Satan does.

Summary & Commentary

Paul reminded them of his effort to return to Thessalonica, along with a report that Satan had actively blocked him several times.

[Note: The NET Translator’s notes include Greek and Hebrew which affirm that the original text intended to communicate a being called Satan as intentionally keeping Paul from the Thessalonians, rather than a generic human opposition rhetorically labeled as “Satan”. The Lord God provided Paul a way around the opposition but otherwise permitted it.]

He celebrated that they were his “... hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming”.

Paul sent Timothy in his stead to “... encourage you about your faith, so that no one would be shaken by their afflictions.” He celebrated the good news of their faithfulness despite “affliction”.

He concluded with a prayer “... may the Lord direct our way to you. And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all, just as we do for you, so that your hearts are strengthened in holiness to be blameless before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”

Interaction

Consider

The active interference of Satan versus Paul is evidence that the enemy is still active. Did you put on your “full armor of God” today?

Discuss

What are some practical ways to strengthen your faith so that when trouble comes you may stand - like the Thessalonians?

Reflect

Could Paul’s prayer be the Lord God’s prayer for every fellowship?

Share

When have you observed an example of someone who faced challenges that might have shaken their faith but who stood strong because of their knowledge of an love for God, and their trust that He would sustain them?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a person, group, or fellowship for whom He wants you to pray Paul’s prayer.

Action:

Today I will pray Paul’s prayer for one revealed to me and I will ask others to join me

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (1 Thessalonians 4:1-12)

A Life Pleasing to God

4:1 Finally then, brothers and sisters, we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received instruction from us about how you must live and please God (as you are in fact living) that you do so more and more.

4:2 For you know what commands we gave you through the Lord Jesus.

4:3 For this is God’s will: that you become holy, that you keep away from sexual immorality,

4:4 that each of you know how to possess his own body in holiness and honor,

4:5 not in lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God.

4:6 In this matter no one should violate the rights of his brother or take advantage of him, because the Lord is the avenger in all these cases, as we also told you earlier and warned you solemnly.

4:7 For God did not call us to impurity but in holiness.

4:8 Consequently the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.

4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another.

4:10 And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,

4:11 to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.

4:12 In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.

Prayer

Lord, You see us – through Christ – as cleansed and made-holy in heaven, and You ask us to conduct ourselves in such a way as to grow toward that goal. May I be found pressing-away sin, seeking-after righteousness, and maturing in my daily walk.

Summary & Commentary

Paul challenged the Thessalonians to increase the degree to which they “... live and please God.”

He listed the elements of right living before God, to

“...become holy”:

“... keep away from immorality”

“... each ... possess his own body in holiness and honor”

“... not ... lustful passion like the Gentiles who do not know God”

“... no one should violate the rights of his brother, or take advantage of him, because the Lord is the avenger in these cases”

He summarized his admonitions “For God did not call us in impurity but in holiness ... the one who rejects this is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives His Holy Spirit to you.”

Paul celebrated their brotherly love “... toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia.” but still challenged them to do so even more.

He challenged them to “... aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands”

Paul’s goal for them was integrity and self-sufficiency, for the sake of a positive witness to a watching and not-yet-saved world, and to prevent dependency upon that world.

Interaction

Consider

The challenge of Paul, one he applied to himself, that in holy and righteous living before God good is to be celebrated - but better is to be sought.

Discuss

Jesus and Paul both condemned sloth. What are some ways that you could lead a more quiet/peaceful life and also be self-sufficient - not dependent on an unbelieving world or becoming an unnecessary (due to sloth) burden upon believers?

Reflect

Do you need to address any of Paul’s list of elements of right living before God, to “...become holy” in your life?

Share

When have you observed a practical example of someone who violated the rights of a brother (or sister, in the faith) or took advantage of them? How did God avenge that misdeed?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal an element of Paul’s list for holiness in your life upon which you need to work, or identify an area of brotherly love and/or peaceful and self-sufficient living where you are doing well.

Action:

Today I will address the area(s) needing work and seek ways to do even better in those where I am doing well. I will ask a fellow believer for accountability and prayer support.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18)

The Lord Returns for Believers

4:13 Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope.

4:14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.

4:15 For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep.

4:16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

4:17 Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.

4:18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

Prayer

Lord, You will return, You will restore those who have been “asleep” and unaware of the passage of time, and You will gather with them those who are alive in the flesh – because that is why You endured the Cross and empowered Easter. May my faith be renewed every time I remember what You have done and what You will do.

Summary & Commentary

Paul explained that the dead in-Christ would be raised first to Christ, the living would then be raptured to join them, and that both will enjoy eternity with Him.

He cautioned them to understand that the dead in Christ are “asleep” in an eternal sense - so they must not “... grieve like the rest who have no hope.” because their hope is in a risen Lord Who is God.

He reminded them that “... we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians.” - reconciliation has always been the plan of the Lord God.

Paul declared “... we tell you this by the word of the Lord” that the living will wait for the dead to be resurrected before they are raptured. He gave no reason for the sequence.

He wrote “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God”, then will come the resurrection of the dead followed by the rapture of the living - “... together ... in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord.”

He concluded “therefore encourage one another with these words.”

Interaction

Consider

Physical death is similar to sleep for a saved person, they are unawares until resurrected by God, and they have not died spiritually.

[Note: Linear time, as we know it, did not exist prior to Creation and will cease to exist after the Great White Throne Judgment. Where one reads Biblical text that suggests immediate presence with God at death one must understand that such is written from a heavenly rather than earthly perspective.]

Discuss

Imagining the return of Christ, how incredible will be your awe at His appearance, the resurrection of the dead, and the rapture of His children (including you)?

Reflect

There is a peace-bringing perspective from knowing that the death of those whom we love (who are also fellow believers, the most-true family of a Christian) is only a temporary place of waiting for His return to bring them (and us) to a perfect eternity with Him.

Share

When have you observed an example of a celebration of the life of a believer, who has died, where those gathered truly celebrated both their life and the promise of eternity together with them and Jesus?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to bring you to a more-Biblical understanding of death and the resurrection

Action:

Today I will prayerfully contemplate what I have been taught and share it with a fellow believer and look at the Word together, in-person or electronically.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

The Day of the Lord

5:1 Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you.

5:2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.

5:3 Now when they are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction comes on them, like labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will surely not escape.

5:4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in the darkness for the day to overtake you like a thief would.

5:5 For you all are sons of the light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of the darkness.

5:6 So then we must not sleep as the rest, but must stay alert and sober.

5:7 For those who sleep, sleep at night and those who get drunk are drunk at night.

5:8 But since we are of the day, we must stay sober by putting on the breastplate of faith and love and as a helmet our hope for salvation.

5:9 For God did not destine us for wrath but for gaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:10 He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep we will come to life together with him.

5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, just as you are in fact doing.

Prayer

Lord, we are to be at peace about our salvation, and assured of Your return – not worrying about the day but invested in right-living. May I build-up fellow believers, invest my time wisely in the things that You value, and tell Your story to the lost.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the problem of speculation about the “... times and seasons” as to when Jesus will return. He told them to forget about it as Jesus will return “... the same way as a thief in the night”, without warning, and with negative consequences for those who are not under protection.

[Note: For those whose sense of security comes from the world - the confrontation with Christ will be shocking, for those who know Him as their savior the moment will be exhilarating.]

Paul then revisited elements of an earlier teaching about the “armor of God” as tools to

“... stay alert and sober ... because we are of the day” ...

“... by putting on the breastplate of faith and love”

“... and as a helmet our hope for salvation.”

He reiterated his central message about the return of Christ “He died for us so that whether we are alert or asleep [meaning saved people physically alive or dead, or living rightly or in rebellion] we will come together with Him” [via resurrection or rapture].

Paul concluded this section by again celebrating their faithfulness and encouraging them to continue.

Interaction

Consider

We have the Lord God’s promise in-hand, so we are not to worry about the return of Christ - unbelievers should - as that is the end of the line for them.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to “... stay alert and sober”?

Reflect

There is an uncertain but impending deadline faced by the unsaved - and our commission is to reach them first!

Share

What are some examples of people you know who are entirely invested in the world for their sense of purpose and value and who will face a devastating and eternal shock at the return of Christ? Do you remember when that was you?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one person who faces eternal separation from the Lord God for whom He wants you to pray.

Action:

Today I will pray for them to hear and to respond to His gospel of salvation. I do not presume to know how and through whom the Lord God will work - I will simply pray for their salvation.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (1 Thessalonians 5:12-28)

Final Instructions

5:12 Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you,

5:13 and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves. 5:14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined, comfort the discouraged, help the weak, be patient toward all.

5:15 See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

5:16 Always rejoice,

5:17 constantly pray,

5:18 in everything give thanks. For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

5:19 Do not extinguish the Spirit.

5:20 Do not treat prophecies with contempt.

5:21 But examine all things; hold fast to what is good.

5:22 Stay away from every form of evil.

Conclusion

5:23 Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5:24 He who calls you is trustworthy, and he will in fact do this.

5:25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us too.

5:26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.

5:27 I call on you solemnly in the Lord to have this letter read to all the brothers and sisters.

5:28 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.

Prayer

Lord, You bring peace and stand ready to commune with us through prayer; asking that we remember to pray, to avoid evil, and to honor one-another. May I be found frequently-faithful and less-frequently unfaithful as I grow in spiritual maturity.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the right-treatment of spiritual leaders (elders) among the fellowship of believers “... acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.”

He reminded them once-again to “Be at peace among yourselves.”, followed by a series of summary instructions:

“... admonish the undisciplined”

“... comfort the discouraged”

“... help the weak”

“... be patient toward all”

“See that no one pays back evil for evil to anyone”

“... Always pursue what is good for one another and for all.”

“Always rejoice”

“... constantly pray”

“... in everything give thanks.”

Paul paused to cite his authority for his instruction “For this is God’s will for you.” He wanted them to be clear in the understanding that these were not suggestions.

Then he exhorted them “Do not extinguish the Spirit.”, which would be the consequence of failing to pray, failing to be in the Word (as they had it at that time), failing to be in fellowship, failing to worship, and failing to cooperate with the Holy Spirit as He led them forward in maturity and service.

Paul warned them “Do not treat prophesies with contempt.” as they were evidence of the Lord God’s perfection from the past and His guiding lighthouses to the future.

He counseled them “But examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil.”, meaning that they were responsible for their choices and the consequences; to partner with the Lord God or with the enemy, in every choice they made.

Interaction

Consider

A fellowship of believers may “Be at peace among yourselves.” if they make the right choices.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to “... acknowledge those who labor among you and preside over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them most highly in love because of their work.” without displacing our sovereign Lord through a form of idolatry toward a mere human servant-leaders of His?

Reflect

How have you experienced the practical working-out of Paul’s instruction “... examine all things; hold fast to what is good. Stay away from every form of evil.”?

Share

When have you experienced obedience blessing your fellowship, and/or disobedience causing discord.? Has the former been celebrated and the latter addressed appropriately and promptly?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a spiritual leader (preferably within your local fellowship or community) whom He wishes you to “esteem”, and also one element of Paul’s summary instruction where you excel and one where you struggle with a compromise in your life where you are failing to “Stay away from every form of evil.”

Action:

Today I am committing to “esteem” the identified spiritual leader through prayer and a more-mature walk with Christ built upon His teaching of the Word. I will celebrate where I excel and partner with the Holy Spirit to address where I struggle. I will immediately and intentionally act to purge that “dark place” (as King David phrased it) from my life.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – Section 1 of the series, “Thessalonians” – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in March of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

2 Thessalonians

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (2 Thessalonian 1:1-4)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul and Silvanus and Timothy, to the church of the Thessalonians in God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:2 Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Thanksgiving

1:3 We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith flourishes more and more and the love of each one of you all for one another is ever greater.

1:4 As a result we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God for your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and afflictions you are enduring.

Prayer

Lord, Your impact upon faithful believers is increased-maturity, increased-love, and an increased-witness of Your saving grace and power. May I be found increasingly-surrendered to You as Lord of all of my life so that I may also be Your instrument of salt and light in this world.

Summary & Commentary

Paul began with his customary salutation (in this case specifically referencing Silvanus and Timothy as joining him in the salutation), reminding his readers of their common fellowship due to their relationship with God through Jesus the Christ.

He included a message from “God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” which read “Grace and peace to you …”

[Note: Since the believers had already received the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit it would not have been appropriate for Paul to bring greetings from that member of the Trinity.]

Paul then praised them for their love for one another and observed that he, and those with him, “... ought to thank God always for you” because of the choice of the Thessalonians to obey the Lord God and in loving one another.

He continued “As a result we ourselves boast about you in the churches of God” [local gatherings of believers where Paul preached and taught during his travels and through his letters].

Paul concluded “... for your perseverance and faith in all persecutions and afflictions you are enduring.”, to emphasize that they were not remarkable for faithfulness in-ease but under-duress.

Interaction

Consider

The Lord God was sending His message “Grace and peace to you ...” to the Thessalonians because they were living obediently - with love for one another.

Discuss

What are some practical ways that your fellowship may improve the degree to which they love one another, and as a result also earn a blessing from the Lord God that is “Grace and peace …”?

Reflect

There is an apparent linkage between the common challenge of “persecutions and afflictions” challenging the members of the Thessalonian fellowship of believers (The Church) – because of their faith - and the quality of their love for one another.

Share

What is an example of a small group of believers, or of a larger fellowship, whom you reference as a positive example, one worthy of praise and emulation (boasting), within the Christian family elsewhere? What is it specifically about them that earned them that standing?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a way that your fellowship may enhance the way that you love one another.

Action:

Today whether I have a role in leadership, or am a member, I will pray for and practice ways that we may love one another -- either by refraining from an action or tradition that interferes - or introducing some previously ignored piece of Biblical teaching.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (2 Thessalonians 1:5-12)

Encouragement in Persecution

1:5 This is evidence of God’s righteous judgment, to make you worthy of the kingdom of God, for which in fact you are suffering.

1:6 For it is right for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you,

1:7 and to you who are being afflicted to give rest together with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.

1:8 With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

1:9 They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his strength,

1:10 when he comes to be glorified among his saints and admired on that day among all who have believed – and you did in fact believe our testimony.

1:11 And in this regard we pray for you always, that our God will make you worthy of his calling and fulfill by his power your every desire for goodness and every work of faith,

1:12 that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You will enforce perfect justice upon those who have chosen the world over the Truth, and you promise to encourage and equip us as we make ourselves available instruments to You work in this world. May I find joy in the promise of eternity without imperfection and every opportunity to be Your hands and feet while I remain here.

Summary & Commentary

Paul’s context for the Thessalonians was to assure them that upon the return of Christ the enemies of Christ who had afflicted Christians would themselves be afflicted.

He provided motivation for evangelistic missions, as no one filled with love would want this to happen to anyone “With flaming fire he will mete out punishment on those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will undergo the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His might.”

When he wrote “... when He comes to be glorified among His saints and admired on that day” he wanted them to remember the Lord God’s title for believers and His desire that we give-glory to Christ.

When he wrote “...among all who have believed -- and you did in fact believe our testimony.”, he was teaching that only some are saved, that some hear and turn away, and that some hear and believe and surrender to the truth.

Paul then prayed that the Lord God would bless their desire for “... goodness and the work of faith”, so that they would know they were not expected to do His ministry without His blessing and provision.

He concluded with the purpose of an ultrafidian, beyond saving-faith, walk “... that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in Him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Interaction

Consider

At the return of Jesus He will bear His glory to those who have believed in Him and have admired and glorified Him as He brings us home to Heaven.

Discuss

Why would there be affliction and destruction for those who have rejected Christ and who have afflicted His family (saints, believers)?

Reflect

The Lord God’s promise is to bless to those who desire “... goodness and the work of faith”.

Share

When have you observed an example of God’s blessing upon someone whose desire was “... goodness and the work of faith”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to lead you to desire “... goodness and the work of faith”.

Action:

Today I will ask a fellow believer pray in agreement with me for a new-found desire from the Holy Spirit, opportunities to express that desire in practical ministry, and to share in thankful-celebration the Lord God’s answer.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Tuesday (2 Thessalonians 2:1-12)

The Day of the Lord

2:1 Now regarding the arrival of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to be with him, we ask you, brothers and sisters,

2:2 not to be easily shaken from your composure or disturbed by any kind of spirit or message or letter allegedly from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here.

2:3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.

2:4 He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God.

2:5 Surely you recall that I used to tell you these things while I was still with you.

2:6 And so you know what holds him back, so that he will be revealed in his own time.

2:7 For the hidden power of lawlessness is already at work. However, the one who holds him back will do so until he is taken out of the way,

2:8 and then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy by the breath of his mouth and wipe out by the manifestation of his arrival.

2:9 The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders,

2:10 and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved.

2:11 Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false.

2:12 And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned.

Prayer

Lord, You have given us a promise and a hope, peace and the indwelling presence of Your Holy Spirit. May I be among those who faithfully-cling to You when trouble comes.

Summary & Commentary

Paul warned against accepting the false claim that the Lord had already returned and he provided a critical-checkpoint or test for those who wished to know when the return of the Lord would be imminent rather than merely speculative:

“For that day will not arrive until the rebellion comes and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, and as a result he takes his seat in God’s temple, displaying himself as God.”

Paul explained that “... the hidden power of lawlessness” was already active in the world, and that it was deceiving people but was restrained by the Lord God.

[Note: Paul elsewhere had warned that in the later days of the End Times the deception would be so powerful and sophisticated that “... the very elect” would be vulnerable - but for the protection of the Lord through the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit].

He noted that the time would come when “... the one of lawlessness will be revealed, whom the Lord will destroy”. The lawless one is a tool of Satan [not Satan himself] but on behalf of Satan will use “... all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, with every kind of evil deception.”

Paul identifies the target of Satan’s agent (the “lawless one”) as “... those who are perishing because they found no place in their hearts for the truth”. God allows, indeed enhances, their vulnerability to the fullest deception so as to complete the path of condemnation they have chosen for themselves.

[Note: This fits the Biblical pattern where God “... hardened the heart” of Pharaoh, a heart that was already hardened against truth, believing himself to be a god.]

Interaction

Consider

The vulnerability of the unsaved versus the safety of the saved, even as the saved may be deceived to a considerable degree, not so far that their salvation is lost.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to recognize deceivers, despite their clever deceit, aided by Satan’s use of “... all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, with every kind of evil deception” (in order to bring them false credibility) – so that members of your family and fellowship would not be vulnerable to that deceit?

Reflect

The Lord God’s consistent practice, from the early days of Old Testament history through the present, has been “... giving them over to the lust of their flesh” - referring to those who find “... no place in their hearts for the truth”.

Share

When have you witnessed an example of someone who came into a fellowship or other community where believers and non-believers gathered and used clever deception to draw believers away from righteous living, or non-believers away from the truth that could lead them to salvation. What happened?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to direct and empower you to pray for discernment among believers within a specific fellowship so that they may defend themselves, and non-believers who visit, from deceivers - predecessors of “the lawless one” who represent “... the hidden power of lawlessness” or perhaps even “the lawless one” himself when he arrives.

Action:

Today, to the degree to which I am able I will encourage, equip, and serve in a ministry within my fellowship which teaches the Word with a special emphasis upon the essential truths of the Lord, spiritual discernment, and Biblical spiritual warfare.

[Note: “Biblical spiritual warfare” has been specified as there is much teaching about spiritual warfare that is not Biblical.]

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Wednesday (2 Thessalonians 2:13-17)

Call to Stand Firm

2:13 But we ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.

2:14 He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2:15 Therefore, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold on to the traditions that we taught you, whether by speech or by letter.

2:16 Now may our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope,

2:17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.

Prayer

Lord, You used Your Gospel to call humankind to salvation, and You sanctify those who respond. May I humbly surrender daily to Your sanctifying process.

Summary & Commentary

Paul repeated his recognition of the Thessalonians as “... loved by the Lord”.

He reminded them that they were saved “... through our gospel” the means of salvation that God had chosen “... from the beginning”.

[Note: They were saved through the Gospel, which was communicated to them through fellow humans, per the choice of the Lord God. They had to choose to respond to the invitation of the Gospel, surrendering everything, submitting their all. Then they were saved]

Paul celebrated again that “... we ought to give thanks for you always” because of their faithfulness yet challenged them once again to “... stand firm and hold onto the traditions that we taught you”.

He concluded with a prayer:

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father, who loved us and by grace gave us eternal comfort and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good thing you do or say.”

Interaction

Consider

The relationship between the elements of the Lord God’s plan for salvation;

He would provide the elements of the gospel story (Jesus comes, Jesus lives without sin, Jesus calls together His disciples - and among them His Apostles, Jesus teaches, Jesus sacrifices Himself for us, Jesus rises from the dead, Jesus walks and teaches, Jesus ascends home to heaven, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit),

… and His choice to save those who hear the gospel and respond in faith to His invitation to surrender their meaningless life and doomed eternity to His Lordship and the gift of and eternity

... and being made perfect for heaven.

Discuss

What are some ways that you, and your fellowship, may “... stand firm and hold onto the traditions that we taught you” - without the traditions of man displacing those of the Lord God?

Reflect

Paul, and those closest to him, celebrated fellowships characterized by faithfulness.

Share

When have you observed a practical example of an individual, sub-group, or fellowship who have earned celebration for their intentional faithfulness to the teachings of the Bible?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to identify a place where the traditions of man have, in your life or that of your fellowship, displaced those of the Lord God – even in subtle ways.

Action:

Today I will prayerfully partner with the Holy Spirit to discard the human traditions and to restore the Biblical teachings of Paul and the other New Testament writers.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Thursday (2 Thessalonians 3:1-5)

Request for Prayer

3:1 Finally, pray for us, brothers and sisters, that the Lord’s message may spread quickly and be honored as in fact it was among you,

3:2 and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil people. For not all have faith.

3:3 But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.

3:4 And we are confident about you in the Lord that you are both doing – and will do – what we are commanding.

3:5 Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God and the endurance of Christ.

Prayer

Lord, You use us to spread Your Word, You ask us to pray for one-another, and You strengthen and protect us for the task You have set before us. May I be found faithful in directing my heart toward You my Lord and Savior.

Summary & Commentary

Paul requested prayer that “The Lord’s message [essentially, the Gospel] may spread quickly and be honored as in fact was among you.”

He continued with what was both a personal request and one he shared in-common with the Thessalonian believers “... and that we may be delivered from perverse and evil people. For not all have faith.”

[Note: It is clear in Paul’s next sentence that he intends that this prayer be for himself, as well as for those gathered with him, but also to include the Thessalonians by his use of “But ...” and of “... you”.]

Paul encouraged them “... But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

He complimented and reassured them “And we are confident about you in the Lord that you are both doing -- and will do -- what we are commanding.”

Paul then closed with a prayer “Now may the Lord direct your hearts toward the love of God, and the endurance of Christ.”

Interaction

Consider

Paul the Apostle and the believers in Thessalonica shared a common challenge, harassment from unbelievers.

Discuss

What are some practical the ways that “The Lord’s message [essentially, the Gospel] may spread quickly [to believers and the not-yet-saved] and be honored ...” within your fellowship?

Reflect

Paul’s promise was that “... the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one.”

Share

When have you observed an example of “... perverse and evil people ... [who do] not all have faith” coming into a fellowship, or the life of an individual, and trying to undermine their faith.? What happened?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to show you ways that “The Lord’s message [essentially, the Gospel] may spread quickly [to believers and the not-yet-saved] and be honored ...” within your fellowship, and in your personal ministry activities, to a greater degree than is now occurring.

Action:

Today I will make myself available as a more-intentional instrument of the Holy Spirit in His evangelizing and discipleship work.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Friday (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15)

Response to the Undisciplined

3:6 But we command you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from any brother who lives an undisciplined life and not according to the tradition they received from us.

3:7 For you know yourselves how you must imitate us, because we did not behave without discipline among you,

3:8 and we did not eat anyone’s food without paying. Instead, in toil and drudgery we worked night and day in order not to burden any of you.

3:9 It was not because we do not have that right, but to give ourselves as an example for you to imitate.

3:10 For even when we were with you, we used to give you this command: “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.”

3:11 For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their own work but meddling in the work of others.

3:12 Now such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to work quietly and so provide their own food to eat.

3:13 But you, brothers and sisters, do not grow weary in doing what is right.

3:14 But if anyone does not obey our message through this letter, take note of him and do not associate closely with him, so that he may be ashamed.

3:15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

Prayer

Lord, You have warned that we are influenced and perceived by the company we regularly keep, and so we are wise to fellowship with believers. May I be salt and light among the unsaved but still be intentional about investing significant time with my believing peers.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed the need for accountability to protect the well-being of individual believers and of the larger fellowship “... keep away from any brother who lives an undisciplined life”.

He reminded them that he chose bi-vocational ministry so that he might bring a hard-word without any hint of compromise or of hypocrisy, though he noted once-again that he had a right to accept and to expect support.

Because a correct teaching of a critical Biblical message might be undermined by the failure of a leader to choose sacrifice over truth Paul felt that his compromise was necessary as an example.

Paul’s message was “If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.” This was directed at lazy and selfish believers who were taking advantage of the Thessalonians commitment to care for their own.

He continued “For we hear that some among you are living an undisciplined life, not doing their work but meddling in the work of others.”, implying that if one wants to voice an opinion one needed to earn the right through service to the fellowship.

Paul’s message to the slacker “... we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ ... work quietly and so provide ... own food to eat.”

To prevent this matter from escalating into one of division he counseled a low-level of social ostracizing, yet added the boundary “... do not regard him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.”

Paul included an encouragement to the more mature believer to remain above the fray “... do not grow weary in doing what is right.”

Interaction

Consider

Sloth and the abuse of the good will of others is not only a recent problem in society.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to promote a positive work-ethic within the body of believers, to implement some accountability, and to do both without un-loving legalism and/or rigidity?

Reflect

Do you see that in your own life, in the lives of the leaders of your fellowship, and/or in the lives of others in the larger “Church” (body of believers) a Pauline-willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the Lord God’s truth?

Share

When have you observed examples of abuse of financial support in the fellowship where the intervention of accountability and discipleship produced a healthier attitude and conduct on the part of the offender?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a place in your life where you have been spiritually slothful, leaving it to others to do the work of ministry or the work of spiritual warfare, content to write a check, delegate to “the professional ministers”, and/or to merely warm a seat on Sunday.

Action:

Today I have decided to finally listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and step-up into the ministry for which the Lord God has prepared me.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Saturday (2 Thessalonians 3:16-18)

Conclusion

3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with you all.

3:17 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, which is how I write in every letter.

3:18 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.

Prayer

Lord, You are with us all through Your Holy Spirit, and You give us a peace that passes all understanding – given this fallen world and the harassment of the enemy. May I rest from the challenges of this world in Your peace and may I share the reason for my peace with others.

Summary & Commentary

Paul concluded 2 Thessalonians with a simple yet profound prayer “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.”

He wrote “The Lord be with you all.”

[Note: Paul was not intending to suggest that the Lord was not always with them, of course He was as they all had His indwelling Holy Spirit. In keeping with his earlier writing he intended that the teachings of the Lord be found in everything that they said and did so that it would be as though He was literally walking alongside them.]

Paul added an interesting parenthetical remark “I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand, which is how I write every letter.”

[Note: The NET translator’s notes observe that Paul’s letters were dictated and physically transcribed by others but that he added some longhand text at the end of each as a sort of certificate of authenticity.]

His final words of this letter “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.” underlined his awareness that they faced many challenges and that His grace empowered them to have peace in the storm and peace among themselves.

Interaction

Consider

Paul made an extra effort to protect the integrity of the true message of God from the many false ones that the Enemy continuously-promoted. Even though Paul suffered from troubles with his hands, likely as the result of strenuous manual labor making tents and many violent assaults, he still penned some text to signify the authenticity of his letters.

Discuss

What are some practical ways to walk more closely with the Lord? Perhaps a regular reminder of some sort that He sees everything that you do and hears everything that you say? The goal being to steadily grow to where He is in more and more of whatever you do no matter where you may be.

Reflect

Does Paul’s prayer “Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.” comfort you?

Share

What is an example of someone who lives as if they truly believe that “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.”?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to make you more profoundly aware that He sees everything that you do and hears everything that you say.

Action:

Today I am committing to seek practical ways to walk more closely with the Lord in order to steadily grow to where He is in more and more of whatever I do wherever I may be.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org

Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.

Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.

Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.

Copyright © 2012 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study – The series, “2 Thessalonians” – prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in March of 2012. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.

Passage: 

1 Timothy

A Daily Bible Study in 7-Day Sections with a Summary-Commentary, Discussion Questions, and Daily Application

Sunday (1 Timothy 1)

Salutation

1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope, 1:2 to Timothy, my genuine child in the faith. Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!

Timothy’s Task in Ephesus

1:3 As I urged you when I was leaving for Macedonia, stay on in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to spread false teachings,

1:4 nor to occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith.

1:5 But the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.

1:6 Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion.

1:7 They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently.

1:8 But we know that the law is good if someone uses it legitimately,

1:9 realizing that law is not intended for a righteous person, but for lawless and rebellious people, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers,

1:10 sexually immoral people, practicing homosexuals, kidnappers, liars, perjurers – in fact, for any who live contrary to sound teaching.

1:11 This accords with the glorious gospel of the blessed God that was entrusted to me.

1:12 I am grateful to the one who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me faithful in putting me into ministry,

1:13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I was treated with mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief,

1:14 and our Lord’s grace was abundant, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus.

1:15 This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” – and I am the worst of them!

1:16 But here is why I was treated with mercy: so that in me as the worst, Christ Jesus could demonstrate his utmost patience, as an example for those who are going to believe in him for eternal life.

1:17 Now to the eternal king, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever! Amen.

1:18 I put this charge before you, Timothy my child, in keeping with the prophecies once spoken about you, in order that with such encouragement you may fight the good fight.

1:19 To do this you must hold firmly to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith.

1:20 Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme.

Prayer

Lord, You had mercy on me to demonstrate Your patience, and to use my story to illustrate the redemptive power of Your Gospel. May I cling to You to persevere and tell Your story wherever I go.

Summary & Commentary

Paul was writing to Timothy in Ephesus, whom he labeled as “... my genuine child in the faith”. He asked him to combat false teachings and “... useless speculations”.

He specifically addressed those who “... occupy themselves with myths and interminable genealogies. Such things promote useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith.”

[Note: The obsession with genealogy fed a desire of some to assert a right to speak with greater authority or to claim special standing before God (because they claimed to be related to a famous descendant), was distracting from the Gospel which taught salvation through grace by faith—without regard to any other variable.]

Paul amplified the importance of evaluating those who teach based on their character and knowledge “... the aim of our instruction is love that comes from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”

He defined the failures of the opposition “Some have strayed from these and turned away to empty discussion. They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not understand what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently.”

Paul noted that the legitimate purpose of the law is to convict the unsaved, “... any who live contrary to sound teaching” of their sin.

He reminded them that he had, prior to salvation “... acted ignorantly in unbelief, and our Lord’s grace was abundant, bringing faith and love in Christ Jesus.” God’s purpose was to take “... the worst of them” [Paul] and through grace “... demonstrated His utmost patience”.

Paul reminded Timothy that he was called to ministry as a fulfillment of God’s prophesy to work through men to “... fight the good fight” by holding “... firmly to faith and a good conscience”.

He further noted “some have rejected”, failed in, (“... holding “... firmly to faith and a good conscience”) “... and so have suffered shipwreck in regard to the faith. Among these are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I handed over to Satan, to be taught not to blaspheme.”

[Note: Paul does not appear to be suggesting the loss of salvation but the loss of the Lord God’s blessings, including protection, and also fellowship. This may be seen in his use of “... taught not to blaspheme” since there would be no point in teaching a permanently-lost person.]

Interaction

Consider

The contrast between Timothy bringing the true gospel with a right heart versus those who had “... strayed from the faith” and were promoting distracting and empty teachings.

Discuss

What are some practical ways that one may earn a reputation like that of Timothy for “... a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.”?

Reflect

Paul’s reminded that that the legitimate purpose of the law is to convict the unsaved, “... any who live contrary to sound teaching” of their sin.

Share

What is an example of your prior-to-salvation life where you “... acted ignorantly in unbelief” but God’s grace washed that away once you received salvation from faith?

Faith in Action

Prayer:

Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you someone who has drifted into the teaching of “... useless speculations rather than God’s redemptive plan that operates by faith ... not understand(ing) what they are saying or the things they insist on so confidently.” so that they do not “... suffer shipwreck in regard to the faith ...” and irk God to the point of being “... handed over to Satan, to be taught not to blaspheme.”

Action:

Today I am choosing to pray for th eone whom the Holy Spirit has identified and I will, in confidence, ask at least one other believer to add their prayers in-agreement with mine.

Be Specific ______________________________________________________

Monday (1 Timothy 2)

Prayer for All People

2:1 First of all, then, I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people,

2:2 even for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.

2:3 Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior,

2:4 since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

2:5 For there is one God and one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human,

2:6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time.

2:7 For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle – I am telling the truth; I am not lying – and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

2:8 So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute.

Conduct of Women

2:9 Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control. Their adornment must not be with braided hair and gold or pearls or expensive clothing,

2:10 but with good deeds, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God.

2:11 A woman must learn quietly with all submissiveness.

2:12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet.

2:13 For Adam was formed first and then Eve.

2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression.

2:15 But she will be delivered through childbearing, if she continues in faith and love and holiness with self-control.

Prayer

Lord, You ask us to pray for others – including leaders – because we want them to choose You and therefore be our brothers and sisters. May I be wise in my prayers to desire the blessing of salvation rather than the curse of trouble upon those who trouble me.

Summary & Commentary

Paul addressed prayer “I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanks be offered on behalf of all people ... since he wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”

He added “... even for kings and all who are in authority ... since he wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”

And so “... that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.”

Then “Such prayer for all is good and welcomed before God our Savior, since he wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

Paul then reviewed the unique work of Christ “For there is one intermediary between God and humanity, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as a ransom for all, revealing God’s purpose at his appointed time.”

He reviewed his personal role and credibility “For this I was appointed a preacher and apostle—I am telling the truth; I am not lying—and a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.”

Paul summarized his teaching on prayer “So I want the men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands, without anger or dispute.”

[Note: There are two keys necessary to unlocking Paul’s context and intent. First, his use of “Likewise” could imply that he had addressed the matter of men’s conduct, and that text is missing—or that, he was referring to his instruction “... I want men to pray in every place, lifting up holy hands without anger or dispute”—his emphasis on “... without anger or dispute”, also a topic of self-control. Second, that he was using “So,” to link back to “... since he wants all people to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth.”]

He then addressed the sensitive matter of women within the Christian fellowship “Likewise the women are to dress in suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control,”

Paul offered an example of simple versus excessive “adornment” and of drawing attention to oneself, specifically one’s appearance, versus intentional “... good deeds, as is proper for women who profess reverence for God”

[Note: Paul could have used the same phraseology for men, and given his use of “likewise”, essentially did so—“... without anger or dispute as is proper for men who profess reverence for God.”

It appears plausible to understand “... suitable apparel, with modesty and self-control” as layered on top of a common instruction to men and women. Or, “Likewise” could mean that he was now giving a discrete/separate instruction to the women about public interaction.

[Note: Paul (and Jesus) breached the existing cultural subjugation of women by allowing them to learn the Bible, to participate fully in commerce, and to serve in certain forms of leadership (to minor children and other women) within a fellowship.]

He encouraged the participation of women in learning about God, something not allowed by the traditional patriarchal and legalistic authorities (common to both Jewish and Gentile cultures) “A woman must learn ...” then he added “... quietly with all submissiveness.”

[Note: The implication here is of a local problem with women in the fellowship becoming argumentative. Paul elsewhere instructed the older men to teach the younger men and the older women the younger women, so clearly he did not intend to bar women from learning. One may observe elsewhere in the Word circumstances of cross-gender discipleship (e.g. Timothy was discipled by two female family members). Some have speculated that Paul’s phrase “... quietly with all submissiveness.” applied specifically to women when they were learning from men. (There is an inference in the text immediately-following that this is his possible intent.)]

Paul addressed the relationship of men and women in both Christian discipleship and in Christian life “But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man. She must remain quiet.”

[Note: This is culturally-controversial in modern times, and some have speculated that it may have been an accommodation to cultural norms of his time; however, Paul did not seem to avoid challenging local traditions where they violated the teachings of Christ and the text following does not appear to support that view. “She must remain quiet.” does appear to modify a woman’s relationship to a man in authority, especially in circumstances where a matter of Biblical teaching and Biblical authority were involved. Elsewhere, Paul narrowed a similar phrase to public gatherings and to married women interacting with their husband in public.]

He provided the reason for his submission of a woman to a man in matters of learning and teaching, “For Adam was formed first and then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman, because she was fully deceived, fell into transgression.”

[Note: This is even more culturally-controversial in the modern cultural than is his teaching about silence and submission. Paul appears to not only denote a hierarchy based on the ancient order of Creation (of Adam and Eve) but also one based on the circumstances of the Fall; Eve chose to accept the accusation of Satan against God and to directly disobey the Lord God by eating of the forbidden fruit—thus already breaching the law and triggering the consequences—at least upon herself. Eve then multiplied her violation by recruiting Adam to repeat her rebellion. (There is no evidence in the Biblical text that Adam