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If You’re Left Behind After The Rapture Of The Church

If You’re Left Behind After The Rapture Of The Church: When I scoured my Bible for verses showing people who rejected the gospel of the grace of God in the Church Age, getting saved after the Rapture, unlike the Left Behind series I could not find it.

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12 (KJV)

Like most of Christian America, I was thrilled when the Left Behind book series came out back in December of 1995. It accurately showed that the Rapture of the Church must take place prior to the start of the time of Jacob’s trouble, commonly referred to as the Great Tribulation. It showed characters acting out Bible prophecy in a realistic and exciting fashion, and we rejoiced with them as one by one they came to get right with the Lord and become born again.

My King James Bible in a plethora of places shows me the events surround the Pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church. It shows up as early as chapter 2 in the Song of Solomon, is all throughout Paul’s writings, and has its main crescendo in chapter four of the book of Revelation. But when I scoured my Bible for verses showing people who rejected the gospel of the grace of God in the Church Age, getting saved after the Rapture, unlike the Left Behind series I could not find it.

What I did find, however, shook me to my core.

God sends a strong delusion on the heels of the rapture of the Church

The apostle Paul tells us that the two things that must take place in order for the Rapture of the Church to start are

1). The great falling away from gospel truth, and

2). The revealing of the Antichrist.

“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3,4 (KJV)

Now anyone with eyes and ears who is even mildly awake can tell you that the falling away has been in full swing for quite some time now. Nearly 100% of the preachers on television and radio are preaching lies to get money from people. Fakers like Rod Parsley, Paula White, Todd Bentley, Hillsong, Joel Osteen and all the others are nothing more than end times charlatans who make up the Laodicean Church from Revelation 3.

As far as when the Antichrist is revealed, it looks like that and the Rapture happen at very close to the same time. The rapture of the Church is shown in Revelation 4:1,2 (KJV), and the releasing of Antichrist by the Lord Jesus Christ happens in Revelation 6:

“And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” Revelation 6:1,2 (KJV)

John, a type of the Church, watches Antichrist let loose almost as soon as he arrives in Heaven. This shows you that very little time passes between the Rapture and the Antichrist. When we go back to 2 Thessalonians chapter 2 to pick up the action, we see something quite startling. We see that what accompanies the releasing of Antichrist on the Earth is a strong delusion, given to people who had rejected the preaching of the gospel before the Rapture.

“And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” 2 Thessalonians 2:8-12 (KJV)

You will note the following regarding the context of these verses:

  • Antichrist is revealed on the heels of the Rapture of the Church.
  • Antichrist comes with “signs and lying wonders”.
  • The people who rejected the gospel of the grace of God while the Church was still on the earth are rebuked.
  • Those same people are given a “strong delusion”.
  • Those same people are all damned.

What you don’t see anywhere is people being given a second chance like in the Left Behind series

All the seals that are opened in Revelation 6 match exactly with the action happening in Matthew 24, but we don’t see a whole lot of gentiles. What do we see? We see the Jews back in the spotlight now. And instead of an “end times revival” of the people who missed the Rapture of the Church, we see unsaved gentiles cowering in rocks and caves, begging for death rather than face King Jesus.

“And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains; And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:14-17 (KJV)

In chapter 7 of Revelation we see the marking and commissioning of the 144,000 servants of God, but not a gentile in the bunch. God’s entire focus has now shifted from dealing with the Church of Jesus Christ made up of Jews and gentiles, to once again dealing with His chosen people the Jews. But what about the unsaved gentiles who missed the Rapture? Sadly, it appears that the vast majority of these people wind up taking the Mark of the Beast and worshipping Antichrist. And just so you know, in the time of Jacob’s trouble, the unpardonable sin is taking the Mark. God offers zero forgiveness for those who accept it

“And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-11 (KJV)

As you march through chapter after chapter in Revelation, you see many amazing and terrible sights, but one thing you don’t see anywhere is the much ballyhooed “end times revival” of gentiles who missed the Rapture of the Church. No matter how much heat God applies to them, they refuse to repent.

“And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.”Revelation 16:8,9 (KJV)

Even when the Lord Jesus Christ finally makes his spectacular grand entrance, no one on the Earth seems overly happy. Why not?

“Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.” Revelation 1:7 (KJV)

For one reason, the Church who is very excited to see Jesus is not on the Earth, and we were very excited when we saw Him at the Rapture. Now we are on horseback with the Lord at His return as seen in Revelation 19. Secondly, the people who made it through the Tribulation realize the great price they paid by their refusal to get saved while they had the chance. The vast majority of the unsaved gentiles appear to have taken the Mark during the strong delusion, and have joined Antichrist in his satanic army to fight with Jesus at His return.

“And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. And the beast was taken, and with him the false prophet that wrought miracles before him, with which he deceived them that had received the mark of the beast, and them that worshipped his image. These both were cast alive into a lake of fire burning with brimstone.” Revelation 19:19,20 (KJV)

The gentiles who do get saved and refuse to take the Mark of the Beast pay for those decisions with their life by beheading! Hopefully there will a lot of those people, but in order to do it they must overcome God’s strong delusion, the revelation of Antichrist, the Mark of the Beast, and a never-ending barrage of supernatural and physical judgements falling down on them from above. Tribulation saints are not the same as Christians in the Church age. And because they’re not in the Church Age like we are now, they won’t have eternal security.

Whew…tall order that one.

Better to get saved now and not have to wonder if you would “make it through the Tribulation because billions will not.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 (KJV)



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Salvation Created by Faith or is Faith Created by Salvation

The offer of salvation was created when Jesus Christ died on the cross in our place – Jesus is the founder of our salvation. (Heb 2:10-11, Rev 19:1-3, 1 John 1:1-4, Titus 1:1-3) He made it possible for us to be delivered from slavery to sin, and instead be adopted as sons of God. (Is 46:13, Rom 7:6, Rom 8:1-4, I John 3:1-10).

Salvation is used in several different senses in scripture (deliverance from slavery to sin, deliverance from bondage to the law, etc) but primarily it refers to the salvation of our souls and eternal life that we will someday inherit. (1 Peter 1:3-9, Heb 1:14, Jude 1:20-23, Luke 20:24-38, Rom 8:18-25). The holy spirit is the down payment that God will indeed give us eternal life someday (II Cor 1:18-22).

God brought salvation through Christ, not through man (Heb 11:32-40, Isaiah 63:5, Titus 3:3-8). However, we do need faith to receive salvation (I Pet 1:3-9, John 3:14-17, II Tim 2:10-13, II Tim 3:10-17, I John 2:24-25, Rom 1:16-17, Gal 3:7-14, Rom 10:5-13). Faith itself does not ‘create’ salvation. [Indeed, faith is the persuasion that it is Christ who has the power to save us].

“He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.” Gal 3:14

Salvation did not create faith, either. Rather, the eternal plan of salvation was revealed in Christ, and it is in His revealed sacrifice that we must have faith (John 3:14-15, II Cor 5:14-15, I Pet 1:3-5, Rom 10:5-15)

Faith is our belief and trust that Jesus is who He says He is, and that therefore we should accept His sacrifice, follow Him as Lord, and hope for His promises. (Rom 10:5-13, Heb 11:1-6, John 6:28-29) Even many of the OT people had faith in the promises of God, including the promise of a Messiah (Heb 11).

By analogy:

“Bob” lives in a landlocked country and has never seen the ocean. Despite this, he firmly believes that the ocean is real (based on the testimony of neighbors who have visited, pictures in books, etc). He decides to sell his house and, sight unseen, buy a new house in another country by the beach. After a long journey, he arrives and now can confirm by sight that the ocean is real.

Did the ocean create Bob’s belief? No – though the testified existence of the ocean certainly was a factor to why he believed it was real. Conversely, did Bob’s belief in the ocean create the ocean? [Certainly not]. His belief was necessary, though, for him to leave the land he grew up in, take a long trip to a beach he had never seen, and take up residence in his new home.

In summary:

It is necessary to have abiding faith in Christ to receive salvation, but faith does not ‘create’ salvation. Neither does salvation create faith.Christ alone, by the mercy and grace of God, completed everything necessary for our deliverance from sin and adoption as sons of God by His death and Resurrection. God created this plan before time even began.

Romans 10:9 ” That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved”. Romans 10:10 ” For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” Romans 10:13 ” For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved”. Romans 10:14 ” How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?”. Romans 10:15 ” And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things”. Romans 10:16 ” But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? Romans 10:17 ” So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned”.

Ephesians 1:13 “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”. Ephesians 1:14 “Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory”. Ephesians 1:18 “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints”.

It is clear from scripture that the unregenerate, unsaved have no ability to comprehend much less believe the gospel message without the quickening or life giving power of the Holy Spirit first opening one’ s eyes to their fallen condition. So you see, salvation is the easy part once we truly realize we are lost. It is pure grace whereby we are saved. Faith is the vehicle that gives us the understanding.

I believe Ephesians 1:13 explains the sequence. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”.

1. We hear the saving gospel, the Word.
2. We put our trust in Christ’s vicarious sacrifice.
3. We believe in him with all our heart.
4. We are then sealed by the Holy Spirit.

Our faith does not sustain salvation. It is the faithfulness of the Lord God who keeps us secure. 2 Timothy 2:13 “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.”

Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”

A Light to bring Revelation to the GentilesHebrews 11:1 ” Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”.  Hebrews 12:2 ” Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

Like Jesus said on the cross: “It is finished”.

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True Wisdom

While I was a trades teacher in a shop, the opportunity arose to very naturally explain the essence of the gospel. Never before have I received the reaction I did that day from two men in particular. They found what I was saying incredibly stupid as, in a very distinct “New Joisey” twang, one carpenter exclaimed to the other, “Ain’t that somethin’ man? Ain’t that somethin’?” This man’s reaction to the gospel was far more honest than most, for a great many non-Christians feel exactly the same way about the gospel but are simply too polite, or too afraid, to say so. In the confines on that job, those two men could have cared less about what I thought of them, and so they very plainly expressed exactly what they thought of my religious beliefs.

In the first chapter of his first Epistle to the Corinthians, Paul exposes and then confronts the problem of divisions within in the church at Corinth. He renounces divisions as contrary to the gospel. Further, Paul implies that the underlying problem is pride. Individuals took pride in the one whom they chose to follow. As Paul later says, they have “become arrogant in behalf of one against the other” (4:6). In verses 18-31 of the first chapter, Paul argued that pride and the gospel are incompatible. The world will never esteem the gospel or those who embrace it because it is contradictory to all they highly esteem. The Jews, who are impressed by power, wanted signs (of power). A crucified Christ was certainly not a demonstration of power but of weakness. The Greeks were impressed by intellectualism, by wisdom. To them, there was nothing wise about the gospel. It was foolishness to believe that faith in a crucified criminal could save anyone from their sins.

Paul has challenged the Corinthian saints to look around the church and observe that those most esteemed by the world are strangely absent in the church. By and large, the church is not composed of wise men, scholars, and debaters of the day. The church is not made up of the cultural elite. In verses 26-31, Paul urges the saints to look around them in the church to see who is present. The church is not made up of the upper crust of society but rather the rejected and despised of society. Of course there are exceptions, but the rule is clear: “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are” (verses 27-28). This is so that no man may boast, but God may receive the glory for what He accomplishes through those most unlikely to succeed in this world.

One might conclude from what Paul has said that the gospel really is foolish and weak. Not at all! This is only the way the world perceives the gospel. In chapter 2, Paul reveals that weakness and simplicity are not the end of the story but the beginning. It is through the weakness of proclaiming the gospel that the wisdom and power of God are made manifest. The world regards God’s wisdom as foolish because it is incapable of comprehending or accepting its truths. God’s wisdom is a mystery which the unsaved cannot grasp, and no one would have known apart from divine revelation. Through His Spirit, God has revealed Himself to men. The Spirit who searches the depths of God has been given in a special way to the apostles. Through these inspired men, divine thoughts have been translated into divine words. Those who possess the Spirit by faith in Christ can appraise the spiritual truths of Scripture; those who are unsaved, and thus without the Spirit, cannot. No wonder they think God’s wisdom is foolish. They cannot understand it—or God. But we who have the Scriptures and the Spirit have the mind of Christ.

Paul’s Conduct at His First Coming

1 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. 2 For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. 4 And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.

The Corinthians now look upon Paul somewhat like a teenager views his or her parents. Paul is not wise but simplistic. He lacks the charm and charisma which makes his spiritual children proud of him, and thus they have begun to listen to others who have a higher level of esteem, especially by their peers. Paul seeks to correct their wayward thinking by reminding them that he is the same Paul who came to them at the beginning, preaching to them the gospel of Jesus Christ. It was through his simplistic message and methods that the Corinthians, once pagans, became saints. Paul now reminds them of his message and manner when he first came to them which resulted in their salvation.

When he came, Paul did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom. He did not come with “high fullutin” words or thoughts, nor did he employ oratorical embellishments which would draw attention to himself and to his methods. Paul came with a simple, straightforward approach which sought to make the message, not the messenger, primary. He came to them “proclaiming the testimony of God” (verse 1). That is, he came to them preaching the gospel in simple terms, without sensationalizing it.

In verse 3, Paul turns his attention from his message and method to his mind set. He describes the attitude with which he came to the Corinthians with the gospel. If the charlatans of that day had lived in our own time, they would have worn expensive clothing, had a recent face-lift, a self-assured manner, and an omnipresent smile. They would have exuded confidence and composure. But this would not be so with Paul. When Paul first came to Corinth, he worked as a blue collar laborer making tents with Aquila. His mind set was characterized by his threefold description: weakness, fear, and much trembling. He may have come with a physical weakness, for it does seem as though Paul suffered from some physical affliction (see 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). In addition, I believe Paul came to Corinth with a clear sense of his own limitations, knowing that the salvation and sanctification of men could only be accomplished by the miraculous intervention of God.

Paul also characterized his coming as “in fear and much trembling.” We know there were fears, as Luke indicates to us. After previous persecution in other cities, Paul came to Corinth where he again faced opposition. But the Lord appeared to Paul with these words of assurance: “Do not be afraid any longer, but go on speaking and do not be silent; 10 for I am with you, and no man will attack you in order to harm you, for I have many people in this city” (Acts 18:9b-10).

I have always thought of Paul as a kind of “pit bull” evangelist. Some dogs have no courage at all, while others may sound awesome but when threatened or harmed they protect themselves by backing off. Still other dogs—like the pit bull—will continue to fight until they are dead. How easy it is to think of Paul in this way, as invincible and undaunting. But Luke’s words indicate otherwise. Paul was a man of like passions with our own. He too had fears. But our Lord’s words of assurance enabled him to press on in spite of his fears.

The expression, “fear and trembling,” seems to mean more than just “fear” and “trembling” combined.

33 But the woman fearing and trembling, aware of what had happened to her, came and fell down before Him, and told Him the whole truth (Mark 5:33).

15 And his affection abounds all the more toward you, as he remembers the obedience of you all, how you received him with fear and trembling (2 Corinthians 7:15).

5 Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ (Ephesians 6:5).

12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13).

21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I am full of fear and trembling” (Hebrews 12:21).

The expression seems to convey the realization on the part of the person fearing and trembling that he or she is of a lower rank, a lower position than the one who is feared. The woman who had been healed by touching Jesus (Mark 5:33) seems to have realized not only that she had been healed, but in being thus healed, she came to recognize the greatness of the One who produced the healing. Slaves should submit to their masters with fear and trembling, recognizing that God has put them under the authority of their masters. We are told by Paul to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling,” knowing that it is ultimately not our working or even our willing, but God’s sovereign work in us which causes us to will and to work His good pleasure.

Pride was the underlying reason for the divisions in Corinth. People took pride in following the right leader, the leader who spoke words of wisdom with oratorical skill who also had status and esteem among the unbelievers. Paul speaks of himself as a humble man, a man with no confidence in his own abilities, in his own message or methods, but whose trust is in God alone. Paul proclaims Christ, knowing that apart from the working of God in the hearts of men, nothing eternal will happen.

Paul’s actions in Corinth were purposeful, not accidental or haphazard. It was not that Paul was ignorant or uneducated, nor was it that Paul only knew about Christ and Christ crucified (verse 2). Paul determined that this was all he would know while ministering in Corinth (or anywhere else). He chose to limit his knowledge to those truths which would save men from their sins and transfer them from the kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. Even though many would be impressed by his knowledge in areas which the unbelievers believed to be wisdom, Paul determined not to know such things and thus not to preach them.

Paradoxically, Paul came to the Corinthians in weakness, fear, and much trembling so that the power of God might be demonstrated (verse 4). If Paul’s human skills were dominant in his preaching, Paul’s power would be displayed. But when Paul came in weakness proclaiming a message men deemed foolish and men were converted, it was evident it was the result of the supernatural power of God and not the merely human power of Paul. Paul has much more to say on this subject later, especially in 2 Corinthians 12, but for now we should note that Paul’s weakness was not a hindrance to the demonstration of God’s power but the means through which God’s power was displayed. God’s power is manifested through human weakness.

Paul did not want to make disciples; that is, Paul did not want people to be his followers. His goal was for men and women to trust in Jesus Christ for salvation and to become His followers, His disciples. If men were converted because of Paul’s wisdom and because of his persuasive skills, they could then be led astray by anyone who was wiser and more persuasive. Paul’s desire was that men would place their faith in God and in His power (verse 5).

God's WisdomGod’s Wisdom and the Wisdom of This Age

6 Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; 7 but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom, which God predestined before the ages to our glory; 8 the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; 9 but just as it is written, “Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard, And which have not entered the heart of man, All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

At verse 6, Paul changes from the first person singular (“I”) to the first person plural (“we”). Verses 1-6 spoke of Paul’s mind set, message, and methods when he first came to Corinth with the gospel. Now in verse 6, Paul speaks for more than just himself. I understand the “we” to refer principally to the apostles.30 As further developments in this epistle and 2 Corinthians will show, the real struggle was not with Corinthian cliques, each of which had chosen to follow a different apostle, but with those in Corinth who had turned from the apostles to other teachers, of which some will prove to be “false apostles” (2 Corinthians 11:12-15).

What characterizes Paul that is so offensive to some of the Corinthians, causing them to follow other leadership? It is Paul’s “simplistic” devotion to Christ crucified. Paul has chosen to be a kind of “Johnny-one-note,” and the note he continues to play is offensive to both Jews and Gentiles. Consequently, for a Corinthian Christian to identify with the apostle Paul is to embrace that which is foolish and weak to the unbelieving mind, whether Jew or Gentile. To identify with Paul and his preaching is to become a fool in the eyes of the world, which has no status. And so some are tempted to identify with new leaders whose methods and message are far more acceptable. Associating with them gives one a much higher status.

Paul does not deny that his message and methods are foolish; rather, he emphasizes this is so. But in moving to the first person plural (“we”), Paul links himself, his message, and his methods with all of the other apostles. Paul’s message and methods are no different from those of his fellow apostles. He speaks with and for all the apostles as he admonishes the Corinthians.

At verse 6, Paul makes another shift in his emphasis. Up to this point, Paul has granted the fact that his gospel is foolish and weak. Now he begins to clarify and expand his instruction. The apostolic gospel is foolish and weak to unbelievers, but it is neither foolish nor weak in the sight of God. Neither should it be regarded as foolish nor weak in the sight of the saints. In verse 6, Paul insists that the apostles do speak wisdom. This wisdom is not for all, however. There are two groups from whom apostolic wisdom is withheld. The first group is those who are immature (verse 6). In chapter 3, verse 1, Paul plainly tells the Corinthians they are “men of flesh,” “babes in Christ,” and in verse 3, he contends that they still remain in the same condition. Did the Corinthians chafe because Paul’s message was too simple? It was because the simple things were all they were able to grasp. The problem was not with Paul or his colleagues; the problem was with the Corinthians.

The second group from whom apostolic wisdom is withheld is those who are unbelievers (2:6). Paul says the wisdom the apostles preach is not of “this age.” Consequently, the rulers of “this age” are not able to grasp it. Even those who are the wisest and most powerful people of this age are unable to grasp it. This is evident at the cross of Calvary. There, at the cross, the rulers of this age rejected Jesus as the Messiah as God’s means of salvation. God’s “wisdom” was never more clearly manifested to men than in the person of Jesus Christ, but the best of this age were not able to see it. It is obvious that they did not receive this “Wisdom” because they crucified Him.

Paul’s words here help us to distinguish between God’s wisdom and worldly wisdom. God’s wisdom was revealed in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ at His first coming, but the world rejected Him and the wisdom He manifested. The wisdom of God is “eternal wisdom,” a wisdom established in eternity past yet to be fully implemented when Christ’s kingdom is established on the earth. The wisdom of this world is “empirical wisdom,” based upon that which can be seen and heard and touched. The wisdom of God is otherwise. It is not seen by the naked eye, it cannot be heard with the ears, it cannot be fathomed by the natural mind. It surpasses even man’s imagination. It is other worldly. This should not come as a surprise to the Christian, for the prophet Isaiah indicated as much in the citation which Paul includes in verse 9.

Let me pause to reflect further on this concept of the “other worldliness” of God’s wisdom. Do we not tend to think of heaven as an extension of earth’s joys? Most people who believe in heaven think of it as the place where they will be reunited with their family and friends. And yet, when Jesus spoke to the Sadducees, he chided them for their ignorance because they supposed marriage would continue on into eternity (Matthew 22:23-33; see also 1 Corinthians 7:25-35). Are we perplexed when we find prophecies which describe things of which we have never seen nor heard? For example, there are Ezekiel’s wheels (see 1:16, 19-21; 3:13; 10:2-19; 11:22), and there are the “living creatures” of the Book of Revelation (Revelation 4:6-9; 5:6-14; 6:6; 7:11; 14:3; 15:7; 19:4). Nothing in this life can be compared with such things. Heaven is not just an improved earth; it will be “a new heaven and a new earth” (Revelation 21:1) where there will be no sea (21:1), no temple (21:22), no need for sun or moon (21:23-25; 22:5). The streets, we are told, will be paved with gold. This may be a way of telling us that what we value most highly on earth will have little or no value in heaven. Heaven, that biblical “new age,” is nothing like the present age, and thus no mortal can conceive of what it will be like. The things of God are other worldly, and thus we cannot even guess as to what they will be like.

How God’s Wisdom is Revealed

10 For [But]31 to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man, which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God. 12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things freely given to us by God, 13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

Paul has just shown us why God’s wisdom, the wisdom which the apostles proclaimed, is rejected by the great but unbelieving men of this age. Men of this age are limited to temporal, human wisdom. They cannot grasp God’s eternal wisdom. They cannot see, hear, or comprehend the things of God. How then can mere mortals ever know God’s wisdom? The answer is found in verses 10-16. In verses 10-13, Paul expounds the doctrines of inspiration and revelation whereby God has made his wisdom known through the apostles who have inscripturated the “depths of God.” In verses 14-16, Paul turns to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer, enabling him to comprehend the things of God which He revealed in the Scriptures through the apostles.

How can men know of a God who cannot be seen and whose provisions are beyond human thought? The answer: through the Holy Spirit, who has imparted the knowledge of God to and through the apostles in the New Testament Scriptures. The Holy Spirit is theSpirit of God.” Just as man’s human spirit knows the deep thoughts of the man, so the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit, knows the intimate things of God. When the Lord Jesus was on the earth, He spoke many things to His disciples which they did not understand or even remember. Jesus told them that after His departure, He would send His Spirit. The Holy Spirit would not only call the things He had spoken to their remembrance, He would also enable them to understand them so that they could record them for others. In addition, the Spirit would reveal things to come, things of the coming age:

25 “These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:25-26).

12 “I have many more things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. 14 He shall glorify Me; for He shall take of Mine, and shall disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said, that He takes of Mine, and will disclose it to you” (John 16:12-15).

Paul has already spoken of the wisdom of God as a mystery (1 Corinthians 2:7). A mystery is something God reveals concerning the future, which is not fully grasped before its fulfillment because it is beyond human comprehension. The apostles played a unique role as “stewards of the mysteries of God” (1 Corinthians 4:1). After God has completed a work that was formerly a mystery, He fully discloses that mystery through one of His apostles. Paul was surely one of the great “mystery apostles” in that it was his privilege to speak of several mysteries. In the Book of Ephesians, Paul spoke of the privilege God had given him as an apostle to reveal some of these mysteries (Ephesians 1:3-14; 3:1-13; 5:32).

In 1 Corinthians 2:10-13, Paul describes the fulfillment of our Lord’s promise to His disciples (remember that Paul was divinely added as the twelfth apostle). Man, Paul is saying, could never know God on his own. But God has chosen to make Himself known through His Word and through His Spirit. His Spirit was given to the apostles in a special way so that the things of God might be inscripturated, divinely inspired and recorded as a part of the Bible. The apostles have been given the Spirit in this unique way so they “might know the things freely given to us by God” and might communicate them to us. The Spirit superintended this process by “combining spiritual thoughts (“the depths of God,” verse 10) with spiritual words” (the words of Holy Scripture).

Here is a very crucial difference between the apostles and the false apostles. The apostles claimed to speak for God, and they did! False apostles claimed to speak for God, and they did not! God can be known intimately because He has chosen to disclose His innermost thoughts and being to men by means of His Spirit working through the apostles, resulting in the New Testament Scriptures. To reject the apostles and their teaching as the “wisdom of God” is to reject God, for they are the only ones through whom God has chosen to disclose Himself. Is the gospel simplistic? It is because God’s way of salvation is simplistic—one way (see Matthew 7:13-14ff.; John 14:6). To reject the apostles’ teaching is thus to reject the God who disclosed Himself to men through them.

There may be a secondary interpretation of Paul’s words in verses 10-13, but, if so, it is surely secondary. Many interpret these verses as speaking of God’s direct disclosure of Himself to men, through His Spirit. I do not think so. I believe these words make sense only as interpreted above. This same thought is taught by Peter as well in 2 Peter 1:16-21. The work of God the Spirit in the lives of Christians in general is spoken of in the closing verses (14-16) of 1 Corinthians 2.

Spiritual Insight: The Haves and the Have-Nots

14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised. 15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no man. 16 For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:1-16).

God has disclosed Himself to men through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit knows the intimate things of God and, by inspiring the apostles, has translated spiritual thoughts about God into spiritual words—the New Testament. In the Old Testament period, God revealed His Word through the prophets. In the New Testament times, this revelation came through the apostles. Yet the unbeliever seems blinded to the truth contained in God’s Word. How can this be? How can some find in the Bible a rich source of revelation which enables them to know God more intimately, while others find the Scriptures a senseless mixture of writings which cannot even be understood? Why are some drawn to the Scriptures and others repulsed by them?

The difference may be summed up in terms of the presence or the absence of the Holy Spirit. We see in verses 10-13 that Paul speaks of the Spirit’s work in conveying God’s thoughts to men by inspiring the apostles to convey spiritual thoughts through spiritual words, the words of the New Testament. Now, in verses 14-16, Paul writes of the work of the Spirit, enabling men and women to understand the Scriptures and thus to know the mind of God.

Previously, Paul has divided mankind into two groups: (1) those who trust in the sacrificial work of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary for their eternal salvation and (2) those who do not. Another way of viewing these two groups would be: (1) those (unbelievers) who do not possess the Holy Spirit, who cannot understand the wisdom of God as revealed in the Scriptures, and (2) those who do possess the Holy Spirit, who therefore have the capacity to understand the Scriptures.

The first group Paul refers to as “the natural man” (verse 14). The “natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God.” The natural man, who is not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, cannot understand the Scriptures (“the things of the Spirit of God”). God the Holy Spirit conveyed the “deep things of God” to the apostles, who by the Spirit’s inspiration, recorded them as Scripture. The Scriptures are thus “the things of the Spirit of God,” the things which the Spirit of God has originated and communicated. How can one “devoid of the Spirit” (see Jude 19) grasp the things of the Spirit? No wonder the wisdom of God seems foolish to the unbeliever. They cannot fathom anything which falls within the realm of the Spirit.

More than a year ago, Dr. Jim Lopez visited while interviewing for a position at the University of Texas Medical School in Dallas. A part of his interview process involved making a presentation of his research. After Sunday dinner, he wanted to “run through” his presentation one last time, and so we set up the slide projector in the living room. I must confess I did not understand a word Jim said. It was completely over my head; it was a different world. Both of our cats perched on the coffee table beside the slide projector and were fascinated with the slides. Jim’s research was done with rats, and the cats found the slides of great interest.

True wisdom cannot be grasped by those who are unsaved, by those who do not have the Spirit of God dwelling within them illuminating the truth of the Scriptures so they can know the deep things of God. True wisdom speaks of things which pertain to a future age and of things which no man has ever seen, or heard, or is even able to imagine. The only way this kind of wisdom can be known is for men to trust in Jesus Christ so that their spiritual eyes may be opened to see the wonders of the wisdom of God and the world to come.

The Christian is the one who is called “spiritual” (verse 15) here by Paul. Most often, we understand the term “spiritual” to refer to those who are mature, who manifest the fruit of the Spirit in their lives. Paul seems to use it here to refer to those who possess the Spirit, who live in the realm of the Holy Spirit because they have trusted in Jesus Christ. The one who possesses the Holy Spirit is able to grasp and to appraise both temporal and eternal matters. The Book of Proverbs, for example, is divinely inspired and provided so that we may see life clearly from God’s point of view. The prophetic books have been given to us so that we may look at the eternal dimension of God’s plan. Thus, Paul can say that the Christian who possesses the Holy Spirit is able to “appraise all things,” things earthly and things eternal, things pertaining to this age, and things pertaining to the next.

While the Christian—“he who is spiritual”is able to appraise all things and thus to understand the beliefs and the behavior of the unsaved, the unsaved (“natural”) man is unable to understand the Christian (“he who is spiritual”). No wonder Christians are misunderstood and even persecuted. No wonder they are considered foolish and weak. This is the best the unaided mind of the natural man can do.

In verse 16, Paul closes our chapter with the words of Isaiah 40:13: “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:1-16). These words sum up the difference between the non-Christian and the Christian. God has revealed Himself to all men in the person of Christ and in the Scriptures (see verses 10-13 above). The Scriptures make no sense to the unbeliever. This is because it is impossible for the unbeliever to grasp the things of God apart from the Spirit of God. Who can know the mind of the Lord? No one can, apart from the ministry of the Holy Spirit in revealing the Word of God through the apostles and in illuminating the Scriptures to the individual believer. Note that the words of verse 16 indicate not only the natural man’s ignorance but also his arrogance. Who would think that any man could instruct God? But this is precisely what the unbeliever does think. This is why they think the Christian is foolish and weak.

In contrast to the unbeliever, who is oblivious to the mind of God, the Christian can say confidently, “We have the mind of Christ.” The “we” may refer either to the apostles, who alone can speak the “mind of Christ,” or more generally, of all the saints who possess the Holy Spirit and the Scriptures. It is through the Scriptures and the Holy Spirit that the “mind of Christ” is conveyed to the saints. The Christian has both the Word of God and the witness of His Spirit, the Author of that Word. What more can one ask for than this?

This final statement sums up the vast difference of opinion which exists between Christians and unbelievers over “wisdom.” The unbeliever is incapable of understanding God’s wisdom and so is confined to a very limited, distorted temporal wisdom. The Christian has the means for knowing the mind of God and thus has access to the wisdom of God. The Christian should not be surprised by the reaction of the unbeliever to the preaching of the gospel. And the Christian should not forsake the vast wisdom God has made available to us in order to pursue the wisdom which the world seeks.


What a blow this chapter strikes at human pride. Paul’s coming to the Corinthians was far from prestigious. He came in weakness, fear, and much trembling. He came with a message offensive to both Jews and Greeks. He refused to “know” anything other than the crucified Christ, for he came to bring the Message of Salvation. His message was not one of superior wisdom, one that would appeal to the intellectual curiosity or headiness of the Corinthians. His method of presentation was not one that would naturally draw a crowd or attract a following. From a merely human point of view, Paul did everything wrong when he went to Corinth. But what happened? A number of his readers came to faith in Jesus Christ because of Paul’s mind set, message, and method!

How could Paul do everything wrong (from a worldly point of view) and yet sinners be converted and a church born? In verses 1-5, Paul indicates that he purposed to come to the Corinthians as he did so that the Corinthians’ faith would “not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (2:5). How does this happen? How is the faith of men and women turned God-ward by a mind set of weakness and humility and by a message and method which runs contrary to human wisdom? The answer is implied here and clearly stated later by Paul:

9 And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may dwell in me. 10 Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

In God’s economy, divine wisdom is foolishness to the secular mind; divine power is weakness to the unbeliever. Paul’s weakness and simplicity were not obstacles to divine wisdom and power; they were the means through which God’s wisdom and power were demonstrated. Had Paul come with self-assurance and confidence preaching a “wisdom” applauded by the world, through a method which ranked with the best secular communicators, the best that could have happened was that men would place their confidence and trust in Paul. But when Paul came as he did, only God could convince and convert the Corinthians, and their faith must therefore be in God, not in Paul.

How does this happen? How can human weakness be transformed into divine power? How can human foolishness become divine wisdom and pagan sinners become saints? The answer: The Word of God and the Spirit of God. The gospel is the means by which men are saved: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16). And how can the gospel become the “power of God for salvation?” Again, the Spirit of God:

7 “But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper shall not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you. 8 And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin, and righteousness, and judgment; 9 concerning sin, because they do not believe in Me; 10 and concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you no longer behold Me; 11 and concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world has been judged” (John 16:7-11).

The Corinthians had become mesmerized by men and by human wisdom. They were wrong. What had saved them was the Word of God and the Spirit of God, working through humble men who proclaimed a straightforward, simple message of Christ crucified, even though their message and their methods were unappealing to unsaved men.

If the Word of God and the Spirit of God were sufficient to save the Corinthians, Paul makes it clear to them that the teaching of the apostles does convey wisdom, but a wisdom of a different order (verses 6-9). It is a wisdom which even the cultural elite (“the rulers of this age,” verses 6, 8) could not comprehend. Indeed, when wisdom was personified in the person of Jesus Christ, they crucified Him. Why would the Corinthians be so enamored with secular, human wisdom? It cannot lead us to God; indeed, it will turn us from God. Human wisdom cannot comprehend God or the things which He has for men. Human wisdom is of no eternal value, and its temporal value is limited.

At verse 10, Paul turns us once again to the Word of God and the Spirit of God. What men could never have known about God (see verse 9), God has chosen to reveal to men. This He has done through His Spirit. His Spirit knows what no man can know about God. His Spirit took these spiritual thoughts, spiritual realities, and translated them into spiritual words, the words of Scripture. This He did by His Spirit, who inspired the apostles who were the human authors of the New Testament.

Men can come to know God in only one way—through His Word and through His Spirit. There are many different beliefs about God, but there is only one true God. This is the God who has revealed Himself to us in the Bible. All views of God which originate with men, rather than with God, are false. All views of God which come from some other source than the Bible are false. How often I hear people say something like, “Well, I like to think of God as… .” It does not matter how you would like to think of God. Paul’s words inform us that the way we think about God is certain to be wrong, for true wisdom comes from above, not from below. True wisdom flows from God to men, not from men God-ward. The Bible reveals to us a God that we would not have imagined, a God whom we would not have wanted, a God whom we would not have received. Apart from the Spirit of God and the Word of God, we could never have come to know God.

If anyone can appreciate this truth Paul is teaching, it is the teacher. Think about Paul. He was a devout Jew, deeply religious, committed, and sincere. But he was dead wrong. When God revealed Himself to Paul (it is always God who initiates a relationship with man and who initiates the revelation of Himself to man), everything suddenly changed. Indeed, all was reversed. The things he once prized, thinking they won him favor with God, Paul now counted as “dung” (Philippians 3:1-11). Now Paul is a new man in Christ. Now he has come to know God through His Word and through His Spirit. That is what Paul wants for each one of us.

If you have never trusted in Jesus Christ, you do not know God. You cannot know God apart from Christ, and you cannot know Christ apart from His Word and His Spirit. Hell will be populated with countless souls who served a “god” of their own making, and such “gods” are not God at all but only idols of our mind. We cannot know God through our own wisdom or insight. We cannot see, hear, or touch Him. But He has revealed Himself through His Word, the Bible. By the ministry of His Spirit, we can come to know God personally as the One who has provided for the forgiveness of our sins and for eternal life. God has revealed Himself in His Son, who died on the cross of Calvary, bearing the penalty for our sins. He has raised Him from the dead, as proof of His satisfaction with the work of Christ. All we need do is to believe the One whom God sent, that we are sinners, deserving eternal punishment, and that through the death of Christ, we have been punished and raised to newness of life. I urge you to view God through the pages of Holy Scripture and to trust in His provision for salvation in Jesus Christ.

My Christian friend, do you believe wisdom comes only from God, through the Scriptures, by means of the Spirit? If so, where are you seeking daily wisdom, the wisdom to understand the events and crises of daily living? Where are you seeking a knowledge of God and of His “mind”? Where do you go to learn of the glories of the coming age and of His promised kingdom? Do you read the Bible, or books about the Bible, or do you read “Christian books,” sparse with references to the Word of God or the Spirit of God? God has revealed Himself through His Word and through His Spirit, and we do well to take heed:

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world (Hebrews 1:1-2).

1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard, 4 God also bearing witness with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will (Hebrews 2:1-4).

1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all guile and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babes, long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord (1 Peter 2:1-3).

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God (2 Peter 1:16-21).

Thank you!

30 Would the Corinthians segment themselves into factions; would they distinguish their groups by individual leaders? Paul speaks of and for the apostles as a group, with no distinction. There may be divisions in the church concerning apostles, but there is no dissention among the apostles.

31 It is baffling to see the translation “for,” chosen as the reading of preference by the translators of the NASB. The KJV, NKJV, NIV, and Berkeley versions, and even J. B. Phillips’ paraphrase all begin verse 10 with “But.” The editors of the NASB do indicate in a marginal note that some Greek manuscripts read “but.” The fact is that most all of them do so with very sparse support for the reading they have selected. In addition, the context calls for a more decisive break here, indicating the beginning of a new paragraph.

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Filed under Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul, Studies in The Book of 1 Corinthians

The Saints of the Great Tribulation

In contrast to chapter 6 which seems to give the chronological sequence of major events of the great tribulation, chapter 7 does not advance the narrative but directs attention to two major groups of saints in the tribulation. The opening portion of the chapter pictures the 144,000 representative of the godly remnant of Israel on earth in the great tribulation. The latter part of the chapter describes a great multitude of martyred dead in heaven, those who died as a testimony to their faith from every kindred, tongue, and nation.

The question has often been asked, Will anyone be saved after the rapture? The Scriptures clearly indicate that a great multitude of both Jews and Gentiles will trust in the Lord after the church is caught up to glory. Though the children of God living on earth at the time will be translated when Christ comes for His church, immediately a testimony will be raised up to the name of Christ through new converts among Jews and Gentiles. Though these are never described by the term “church,” they are constantly called saints, that is, those set apart as holy to God and saved through the sacrifice of Christ.

The presence of saved people in the world after the rapture has puzzled some because according to 2 Thessalonians 2:7 the one who now restrains sin, often identified as the Holy Spirit, is pictured as being removed from the world. The question then is how can people be saved in the tribulation if the Holy Spirit is taken out of the world? The answer, of course, is that the Holy Spirit is removed from the world in the same sense in which He came on the day of Pentecost. People were saved before the day of Pentecost when the Spirit of God came to indwell the church, and it should be clear from other Scriptures that the Holy Spirit is always omnipresent. He has always been in the world and always will be, in keeping with the divine attribute of omnipresence. Though the special ministries which are characteristic of the present dispensation may cease, there will be the continued ministry of the Spirit in a similar way to that which existed before Pentecost.

There is a parallel in the fact of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Throughout the Old Testament, Christ was present in the world, but it was not His particular field of operation though He ministered as the Angel of Jehovah. In due time, according to the plan of God, Christ was born in Bethlehem and ministered as God’s unique revelation of Himself to mankind. Then He ascended into heaven, yet at the same time He told His disciples, “Lo, I am with you alway” (Matt. 28:20). In other words while His special earthly work was completed with His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection, He nevertheless continued to work in the world in His omnipresence as God.

Likewise the Holy Spirit is resident in the world now just as Christ was resident in the world between His birth and ascension. When the present age ends and the Holy Spirit is caught up with the church, the situation will return to that which was true before the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit will continue to be working in the world, but in some particulars in a different way. There is good reason to believe, however, that the Holy Spirit will lead people to Christ, and many will be saved during the tribulation time. A description of this is given in the seventh chapter of the book of Revelation, which is so plain that no one should question whether people will be saved after the rapture.

The Vision of the Four Angels (7:1-3)

7:1-3 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw



another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

In the order of the vision as given to John, he sees in the opening verses of chapter 7 four angels controlling the four winds of the earth. An angel which is described as ascending from the east and possessing the seal of the living God commands the four angels not to hurt the earth and the sea until the servants of God are sealed in their foreheads. The implication is that the judgment of God is impending and that prior to its infliction on the earth, God wants to set apart and protect His servants. In the verses which follow, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel are protected by the angelic seal. It is implied that these who are thus sealed have been saved in the time of trouble pictured in the book of Revelation and by this means are being set apart as a special divine remnant to be a testimony to God’s grace and mercy during this time of judgment.

There are many precedents in Scripture for such a protection of God’s own. When God sent the flood upon the earth, He separated Noah and his family from the rest of the human race and the flood did not hurt them. When God destroyed Jericho, He protected Rahab and her household. Wicked though she was, she had put her trust in God, and God protected her from the judgment that fell upon Jericho. In a similar way in the time of great tribulation protection will be given to this group of 144,000 Israelites. The matter is so significant to God that the names of the tribes and the number to be saved from each are given in detail.

The Sealing of the Twelve Tribes (7:4-8)

7:4-8 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad sealed1were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.

A number of significant details are mentioned in connection with the sealing of the 144,000 in Israel. This Scripture makes plain that there are twelve tribes in Israel still in existence, as the names of the different tribes are given. There are, however, some omissions. In some lists of the twelve tribes both of the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, are numbered as separate tribes.

In this list Manasseh is mentioned but Ephraim is not, and in place of Ephraim the name of Joseph his father is given in verse 8. No explanation is made concerning this substitution. There is also no mention of the tribe of Dan, and the Bible does not tell us why Dan should be omitted. As Alford points out, ancient interpreters accounted for this on the theory that the Antichrist would come from the tribe of Dan (cf. Gen. 49:17). A more common explanation is that the tribe of Dan was one of the first to go into idolatry, was small in number, and probably was thereafter classified with the tribe of Naphtali, another son of Jacob born to the same mother as Dan.

In commenting on the twelve tribes, Walter Scott writes:

In the enumeration of the tribes throughout Scripture, of which there are about eighteen, the full representative number twelve is always given; but as Jacob has thirteen sons, one or other is always omitted. Levi is more generally omitted than any other. In the apocalyptic enumeration, Dan and Ephraim are omitted. Both these tribes were remarkable as being connected with idolatry in Israel, the probable reason for blotting out of their names here (Deut. 29:18-21). But in the end grace triumphs, and Dan is named first in the future distribution of the land amongst the tribe (Ezek. 48:2), but, while first named, it is the farthest removed from the temple, being situated in the extreme north.

H. B. Swete notes:

Lists of the patriarchs or of the tribes occur in Gen. 35:22 ff., 46:8 ff., 49, Exod. 1:1 ff., Num. 1, 2, 13:4 ff., 26., 34, Deut. 27:11 ff., 33:6 ff., Josh, 13-22, Judg. 5, 1 Chron. 2-8, 12:24 ff., 27:16 ff., Ezek. 48.

J. B. Smith observes,

There are no fewer than 29 lists of the tribes of Israel throughout the Scriptures, thus showing the prominence accorded them in the sacred page.

listThough a full answer does not present itself for these omissions, it is most important that Israel is here divided into the twelve tribes. Though Israelites today do not normally know what tribe they belong to, in the mind of God there is no question. Here representatives for each of the twelve tribes are selected for the signal honor of being sealed by the angel.

The fact that the twelve tribes of Israel are singled out for special reference in the tribulation time is another evidence that the term “Israel” as used in the Bible is invariably a reference to the descendants of Jacob who was first given the name Israel. Galatians 6:16 is no exception. The prevalent idea that the church is the true Israel is not sustained by any explicit reference in the Bible, and the word Israel is never used of Gentiles and refers only to those who are racially descendants of Israel or Jacob.

William Kelly, in defense of the literal interpretation of the tribes of Israel, states:

On the other hand, I conceive that the specification of the tribe is inconsistent with any sense but the literal. Then again the contradistinction is as plain and positive as words can make it, between the sealed number out of Israel and the innumerable multitude from all nations and kindreds and peoples and tongues. So that the mystical theory, when closely examined, cannot escape the charge of absurdity} for it identifies the sealed Israelites with the palm-bearing Gentiles, in spite of the evident and expressed contrasts on the face of the chapter.

This literal interpretation is held not only by the premillenarians but by representative postmillenarians such as Charles Hodge, nineteenth century theologian, and amillenarians such as Hendriksen, twentieth century expositor. The decision as to who are included in the term “Israel” should be reached on the basis of exegesis and usage.

Though the Bible distinguishes true Israelites from those who have forsaken their heritage, the term “Israel” is never used outside the descendants of Jacob himself. The remnant of Israel as portrayed here in the book of Revelation should not therefore be taken as meaning the church. It would be rather ridiculous to carry the typology of Israel representing the church to the extent of dividing them up into twelve tribes as was done here, if it was the intent of the writer to describe the church. It is rather a clear indication of God’s continued purpose for the nation Israel and their preservation through this awful time of trouble.

The mention of the twelve tribes of Israel is likewise a refutation of the idea that the tribes of Israel are lost, as well as of the theory that the lost tribes are perpetuated in the English-speaking people of the world. Obviously none of the tribes are lost as far as God is concerned. Though genealogies have been lost, a modern Jew can be assured that he belongs to the seed of Abraham; and God knows into which tribe he should be classified. In the book of James there is reference to the twelve tribes of Israel as being in existence at the time our Lord was upon earth (James 1:1; cf. 1 Peter 1:1). This vision given to John, therefore, is prophetic of the fact that God has a future purpose for Israel and that in spite of satanic persecution a godly remnant will be preserved to be on earth when Christ returns.

The question has also been raised whether the “12,000” in each tribe means literally 12,000. There seems to be indication that more than 12,000 from each tribe actually will be saved. The point of this Scripture is that in any event 12,000 in each tribe are made secure. There will be other Israelites saved besides these 144,000, but many of these will die martyrs’ deaths and give up their lives for their faith. The 144,000 are those who are delivered from their persecutors and brought safely through this terrible time of tribulation. In chapter 14 they are seen triumphant at the end of the tribulation when Christ returns.

The Martyred Dead Of The Great Tribulation Seen In Heaven (7:9-10)

7:9-10 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, domed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

The second half of chapter 7 of Revelation demonstrates that not only will many be saved in Israel but also many Gentiles will come to Christ in the great tribulation. In his vision John sees a great multitude sealbeyond human computation coming from all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues standing before the throne, clothed with white robes, with palms in their hands, ascribing salvation to God and to the Lamb. In contrast to those coming from the twelve tribes as pictured earlier in the chapter, this throng comes from all nations. The white robes mentioned seem to refer to 6:11, and the palms indicate their triumph. This great multitude is heard by John in a great symphony of praise as they ascribe salvation to God. The fact that they are martyrs is stated later in the chapter (vv. 13-14).

The Praise of the Heavenly Host (7:11-12)

7:11-12 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

Joining the multitude of the saints, the angels and all those in heaven are described as falling down before the throne to worship God in a sevenfold ascription of praise similar to that in Revelation 5. The point of this introduction, however, is to identify the presence in glory of the great multitude coming from all nations.

The Martyred Dead Identified as Tribulation Saints (7:13-14)

7:13-14 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

One of the twenty-four elders is quoted in verse 13 as asking the questions “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” It is clear from these questions that the twenty-four elders are representative of a group different from those who are here pictured as the great multitude in white robes. If the elders represent the church, the multitude represents a different body of saints. In answer to the elder, John confesses that he does not know; whereupon John is informed, “These are they which came out of great tribulation.” In the Greek the expression is far more specific. Literally it could be translated, “These are those who came out of the tribulation, the great one.” It is undoubtedly a reference to the specific period of the great tribulation of which Christ spoke (Matt. 24:21).

The common tendency to ignore the definite terminology of the prophecies in the book of Revelation is illustrated in the interpretation which would make this throng refer to all the elect of all ages and the great tribulation as “the whole sum of the trials of the saints of God, viewed by the Elder as now complete.” One must not read into a passage something that is foreign to its express statement. The group here described is a particular group coming from a particular time.

Larkin attempts to explain away the reference to “great tribulation” (7:14) in order to place this company in the first half of Daniel’s seventieth week. His explanation is beside the point as this seventh chapter is not necessarily in chronological order, and further, there is no reason why the great tribulation should not have already begun at this time.

Ottman, because of his opposition to the view that the saints of all ages are in view here, also insists that the prophetic narrative is a projection forward to the time of the millennium itself. He bases his conclusion largely on the fact that neither death nor resurrection is mentioned regarding the Gentile multitude. He does not explain, however, the reference to the throne (7:9-13) that is clearly parallel to the throne in heaven in chapters 4-5. His objection is unnecessary, as the throng are not saints of all ages but only saints of the tribulation time who are martyred. The saints, then, who are before the throne coming from every kindred, tongue, and nation, are those who have come out of the great tribulation.

This passage clearly teaches that many Gentiles will be saved during the tribulation. The command to preach the gospel to every nation throughout the world (Matt. 24:14; 28:19-20) will have its ultimate fulfillment in this way before Christ comes back to establish His millennial kingdom. The concept sometimes advanced that the rapture cannot occur because all the world has not heard the gospel is a faulty conclusion. The requirement that all the world hear the gospel pertains not to the rapture but to the coming of Christ to set up His kingdom. Though the church should press on with all zeal in presenting the gospel to every creature, it is not necessary for the rapture to wait until this task be completed. In spite of the difficulties, there will be worldwide preaching of the gospel during the tribulation time.

The question has been raised concerning the time pictured in this vision. Two explanations are possible; the first is that this chapter is a preview of the beginning of the millennium. Under this interpretation John is considered to be carried beyond the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom and is chronologically already in the millennial kingdom. Jennings considers this chapter a foreview of the millennial earth rather than a picture of heaven, with the passage teaching that in the millennium both Jews and Gentiles will be blessed. The difficulty with this view, however, is that the only throne and temple introduced thus far are those in heaven, seen in chapters 4 and 5; and there is little justification for arbitrarily putting this chapter in the millennium. The scene here obviously is in heaven, rather than on earth, and the living tribulation saints are not caught up to heaven.

Another interpretation is therefore preferred. This view understands the passage to teach that those here described are martyrs who have sealed their testimony with their own blood. Some believe that the majority of saints in the tribulation will die as martyrs. Many will be killed by earthquakes, war, and pestilence. Others will be the object of special persecution by the world ruler. They will be hounded to death much as the Jews were in World War II. Because they will not worship the beast, they will be under a death sentence (Rev. 13:15). Those who accept Christ in that time may be faced with the solemn alternative of either renouncing their faith in Christ and worshiping the beast or being slain. The result will be multiplied thousands of martyrs.

The scene before us, then, is not earth but heaven, not the millennium but the time of the tribulation. The martyrs are before the throne and before the Lamb. The picture is similar to chapters 5 and 6. The “great multitude” represents an important portion of those mentioned in 6:9-11 who are given white robes as faithful witnesses to the Word of God and to the testimony of the Lamb. The main facts in the case are clear regardless of which interpretation is followed. During the tribulation, countless people of all nations will come to know Christ. It will be a time of salvation for them in spite of persecution and even martyrdom.

In verse 14 the significant detail is given that the martyrs have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Normally one cannot make anything white with blood. The passage is talking, however, of spiritual purity. The only way sins can be washed away is through the precious blood of Christ and because of His death and sacrifice.

The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments speak often of blood as the symbol of life, as in Leviticus 17:14: “The life of all flesh is the blood thereof.” The spiritual significance of shed blood is given prominence in both the Old and New Testaments with hundreds of references to it. According to Hebrews 9:22, “without shedding of blood is no remission.” According to Acts 20:28, the church has been purchased by the blood of Christ. In Romans 3:25 Christ is declared to be the propitiation for our sins through “faith in his blood.” In Romans 5:9 we are “justified by his blood,” and therefore “shall be saved from wrath through him.” Ephesians 1:7 states that “we have redemption through his blood.” According to Colossians 1:20, Christ has “made peace through the blood of his cross.”

The Apostle Peter adds his testimony in I Peter 1:18-19 when he writes, “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” The frequent references to blood in the book of Revelation itself begin in chapter 1:5: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” In the second advent itself in Revelation 19:13, Christ is described as “clothed with a vesture dipped in blood.”

The emphasis in the Scripture upon the shed blood of sacrifice whether in the Mosaic law of the Old Testament or the sacrifice of Christ in the New Testament points to the necessity of His substitutionary death for the believer’s redemption. Though a modern world is offended by substitutionary sacrifice and especially by the reference to sacrificial blood, from God’s viewpoint, like the children of Israel in Egypt, there is no safety except for those under the blood. God promised Israel in Exodus 12:13, “When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.”

Accordingly, though not suited to the sophistication of twentieth century aesthetics, the blood of Christ is exceedingly precious in the sight of the Lord and is the only cleansing agent for sin. The blood of the Lamb is the assurance of cleansing and forgiveness for these who have been martyred for their faith in Christ. Even their own sacrificial death could not atone for their sins. They, like all others, must rest alone in that sacrifice which Christ provided for them. What is true for them is true for the saints of all ages; only the blood of Christ avails to wash away sin.

The Heavenly Bliss of the Martyred Saints (7:15-17)

7:15-17 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

The wonderful blessing of the martyred saints in the presence of the Lord is spelled out in these verses. They are described as being before the throne of God, that is, in a place of prominence and honor. Their special privilege is further defined as serving the Lord day and night in His temple. This expression is highly significant, for it indicates that Tribulation Saintsheaven is not only a place of rest from earthly toil but also a place of privileged service. Those who have served well on earth will have a ministry in heaven. The fact that they are declared to serve “day and night” has been taken by some as an indication that this is a millennial scene rather than heaven since there is never any night in the temple of God in heaven. The expression, however, can be understood as meaning simply that they will continually serve the Lord, that is, they will not need sleep or restoration as is necessary in earthly toil. They are delivered from the limitations of this life. Their service is said to occur in the temple of God, a reference to the immediate presence of the Lord, not to any earthly temple. Further, they shall be honored by the fact that the One sitting on the throne will dwell among them; that is, they will be in wonderful fellowship with their blessed Lord.

Verse 16 reveals that they will be delivered from the afflictions of life such as hunger, thirst, and the heat of the sun. This may be an oblique reference to some of their sufferings which they endured in the tribulation. According to Revelation 13:17 it may be that they had gone hungry rather than buying food and submitting to the worship of the beast. Thirst is another form of suffering common in times of persecution. The glaring sun and burning heat and the trials which may have attended them as they fled from their enemies are far behind them in glory. Instead of such severe trials, verse 17 pictures the Lamb of God as feeding them and leading them to living fountains of water. The abundant provision of the heavenly scene is evident in this description.

The concluding statement in the chapter is that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.” In other words they will have the tender comfort and care of the Saviour, and the tears that once were theirs shall be wiped away. Some have attempted to draw from this passage that there will be actual tears in heaven and have implied that saints will be shedding tears because of grief over wasted lives and unconfessed sin while on earth. This passage, however, does not even suggest such a situation. The point is that the grief and tears of the past, speaking of their trials in the tribulation, will be over when they get to heaven. The saints in glory will be occupied with the beauty and wonder of heaven and the worship of the Saviour. They will not have time for repentance of that which can no longer be changed. Instead, God will wipe away all tears resulting from their suffering on earth. In the glory of heaven whatever burdens and cares may have been laid upon the saints in earthly life, there will be no sorrow, no tears, and no death.

The juxtaposition of the 144,000 in the first half of this chapter immediately preceding the description of the multitude of martyred dead from among the Gentiles would seem to imply that there is a causal relationship between these two groups. The 144,000 on earth are preserved in safety through the tribulation, as a testimony to the power and grace of God and as a channel through which the gospel could come to the earth. The result of their ministry had its fruit among the Gentiles even as was true in the apostolic age with the result that great multitudes of the Gentiles were saved from whom the martyred throng in heaven were separated by death. The use of the 144,000 of Israel as a channel of witness to the earth is in keeping with the general purposes of God in relation to the Jewish nation.

Chapter 7 of the book of Revelation serves as a review of the situation described in the previous chapters and emphasizes two important facts. First, God is going to judge Israel in the period of great trial, and 12,000 from each tribe, totaling 144,000, will be protected and sealed from the judgments which will fall upon the world in general. Second, a great multitude of Gentiles will also be saved, but many of these will be martyred, and a multitude of the martyred dead are found in heaven rejoicing in the presence of the Lamb and representing every tongue and nation. It is an indication that even in the tragic closing hours prior to the second coming of Christ to the earth, countless souls will find Christ as Saviour and be saved by His grace.

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Additions to Esther Chapters 10:4-16:24

Additions to Esther

Additions to Esther

Additions to Esther

Additions to the Book of Esther. The Greek version in the Septuagint is considerably longer than the one
found in the Hebrew Bible. This has perplexed a lot of scholars. Some think the additions were an attempt to
“improve” the book as found in the Hebrew Bible – most notably in the sense that it does not mention God at
all. (The six additions include prayers to God and heighten His role.) Others think there might simply have
been two different versions from the beginning.

Additions to Esther

The Book of Esther is best described as historical fiction. Its setting is in the Persian court in the capital of
Susa during the fifth century BCE. Whoever wrote this book was familiar with Persian customs and wrote
favorably of the Persian king – at least as long as he wasn’t persecuting Jews. The Greek version of this story
contains an additional six sections, placed throughout the book. With these additions, the Book of Esther
becomes a religious tale whose characters adhere to Jewish traditions, such as praying to God, following the
Torah, praying, fasting, and giving alms. These additions also give a fuller glimpse of ancient life with its
decrees and edicts. Finally, these additions highlight the tension that probably existed between Jews and
Gentiles, and they include some solutions for this tension. It’s as though the author of the additions had time
to reflect on the events described in the Book of Esther.

Despite these “improvements,” Jerome relegated all six of the additions to the end of the book. So his bible
had additional chapters – 10:4-16:24. Reading it this way is very confusing, however, as the first addition
predates the beginning of the Hebrew story and the others are dispersed throughout. Modern bibles that
include these verses now place them within the story as their author intended.

The story is simple. A beautiful Jewish maiden, who was living in the Jewish Diaspora, became the wife of
Xerxes, king of Persia, through the conniving and guidance of her uncle/guardian. Not long after she was
chosen to be queen, events happened that threatened the very existence of the Jewish people. Given her
position as queen, Esther risked her life to intercede before the king. She was not only able to save her
people, but also to bring about the destruction of their enemy. There are several main themes running through
this story. The most important is to show how God was working behind the scenes to save Israel from being
annihilated. It also explains the institution of the Jewish feast of Purim that the Jews celebrate about a month
before Passover.

Nonetheless, there are some major issues involving the chronology of the additions. The first one (A)
introduces Mordecai as serving in the court under Artaxerxes. It also reports that he was among those taken
to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. If Mordecai came in that first deportation under Jehoiachin, as the text
states, it would have happened in 597 BCE. Artaxerxes reigned from 465-424 BCE. That would make
Mordecai well over one hundred years old. Clearly, the author was not concerned with such historical facts.

In addition, in this first section Mordecai tells about a dream that he had. In the dream, two dragons come to
fight in the midst of chaos – thunderings, earthquakes, voices. Soon every nation is prepared to do battle
against “the righteous nation.” That nation “cries out to God” who then sends a spring that becomes a river.
The light returns, and the humbled are vindicated by devouring those who had been honored. It is obvious to
Mordecai, that all of this was in accordance with God’s plan. Lastly, in this section, Mordecai overhears a plot
against the king and promptly reports it.

The second addition (B) is comprised of the text written by Haman, who has conspired to rid the nation of all
Jewish people. Lest anyone question his motives, Haman is careful to point out how this will be beneficial to
all since the Jews were a “subversive element.” In other words, he is doing the kingdom a big favor by getting
rid of them.

The third addition (C) relates two prayers, one by Mordecai, the other by Esther. Mordecai offers an
explanation as to why he didn’t bow down before Haman. It had nothing to do with arrogance; indeed it was
borne out of a desire to only worship the One God. In her prayer, Esther affirms God’s judgment and His
justice in handing over disobedient Judah into the hands of other nations. That has resulted, however, in
considerable tension between Jew and Gentile, deriving in part from the disparity between the Living God of
the Jews and the lifeless idols of pagans. She also prays that God will soon deliver Israel and that his rivals
will be defeated. Finally, she affirms that she has kept the traditions of the Jews, even in the king’s palace.

The fourth addition (D) describes her appearance before the king, who is on his throne. She is so distraught
that she faints, whereupon the king pledges his heartfelt devotion to her and offers her whatever she wants up
to half of his kingdom. God, however, gets the credit for softening the king’s heart.

Addition (E) is a copy of the decree, written by the king, revoking the earlier decree put forth by Haman (even
though it was written in the king’s name). The king accuses Haman of being disloyal, unscrupulous, and
deceitful. He was ungrateful for the king’s favors and reacted by plotting against him. Artaxerxes is convinced
that Haman’s whole plan was to weaken the king so that the kingdom would be given to the Macedonians
(Haman’s native people). The well-being of the Jews seemed to be a great threat to Haman’s plan. Their
adherence to their own customs and laws was seen as subversive for the unity of the kingdom. At least, that
was the gist of Haman’s argument. The king came close to apologizing for believing him, for not checking
things out on his own. Then he promised he would do better next time. He also cleared the Jews from any
subversive activities and asked his subjects not to act on his previous orders. The Jews, however, were given
permission to defend themselves if they were attacked.

The last addition (F) rounds out the story and returns to Mordecai’s dream. He interprets the symbols and
defines the origin of Purim. Its name is derived from the “casting of lots” by Haman when he was trying to
determine what date all the Jews would be killed. Pur comes from the word “lots” and was instituted to be an
annual celebration in honor of the deliverance of God’s people.

The additions improve the story in several ways. The dream, found in the first and last additions, provides a
framework for the entire story and clearly makes the point that everything that happens is part of God’s divine
plan. The right outcome was never in doubt. Likewise, the two edicts form another parallel. The first one
creates a problem that has to be addressed; the second resolves that situation by addressing the problem. In
the middle are the prayers of Mordecai and Esther as well as the moment of her uninvited entrance before the

Mostly, though, these are important upgrades in the Hebrew story. Just as the author of the additions was not
troubled by chronological discrepancies, the author of Esther was not troubled by ignoring the inviolate
traditions of Jews. This would include the basic Jewish tenets of Law, Covenant, prayer, salvation, Jerusalem,
or the temple. The only Jewish practice mentioned in Esther is that of fasting. Nonetheless, Esther was
included among the canonized writings, though not without controversy. Most scholars think the additions
were originally written in Greek (Esther was written in Hebrew), though they may not have been written at the
same time or by the same author(s). It is likely that the main reason for the book of Esther was to present the
characters as role models for Jews living in the Diaspora centuries later. It highlights the rising tensions
between Jews and Gentiles as well as the contributions made by Jews to the stability of the government.
Exactly when Esther and the additions became a normative part of Jewish worship is unknown. None of the
documents found at Qumran include any references to Esther, nor were there any recorded celebrations of
Purim there. That community flourished until 68 CE.

There are six additions to the Book of Esther: Addition A – Mordecai’s Dream; Addition B – Haman’s Edict,
Written in the King’s Name; Addition C – The Prayers of Mordecai and Esther; Addition D – Esther Goes to
the Royal Court; Addition E – The Decree that Rescinds the First Decree; Addition F – Mordecai’s Second

I — Addition A – Mordecai’s Dream

This is placed prior to the beginning of the story in the Hebrew Bible
The setting is a year earlier than that described in the Hebrew story and five years before Esther would be
chosen as queen
Mordecai had a dream on New Year’s Day
At this time he was living in Susa, the Persian capital
He had been captured by Nebuchadnezzar and taken to Babylon where he served in the court of the king
The world of his dream was filled with chaos, not order – symbolic of the disorder of the day
Two dragons came together and all the nations tried to wage war against the “righteous nation”
That nation could only be Israel
In their terror, the nation cried out to God
The prayer was answered by a tiny spring that became a raging river
The result will be that the lowly will be exalted and will devour those who had honor
Later on (Addition F), readers will find out that the two dragons represent Haman and Mordecai and the
spring/river is Esther
The purpose of the dream was to reveal what God intended to do
Mordecai overheard a plot against the king
This plot was conceived by two eunuchs
As a loyal servant, Mordecai immediately reported them to the king, who interrogated the eunuchs
When they confessed, they were executed by the king
The king, then, recorded Mordecai’s loyalty and rewarded him in his court
After reading about Mordecai’s success, the story is ready to begin
King Artaxerxes holds a great banquet (for six months!)
At the end of that time, he sends for his wife, Queen Vashti
When she refuses to show up, he decides she must be replaced and the search for a new queen begins
Esther is brought into the palace and finds favor with the king
She keeps her Jewish heritage a secret
Shortly thereafter, Haman is introduced and highly favored by the king
He becomes furious when Mordecai refuses to show him obeisance
As a result, Haman decides to destroy all the Jews
A date is set, and the king signs the order
II – Addition B – Haman’s Edict, Written in the King’s Name
This is inserted between verses 13 and 14 in Chapter 3 of the Hebrew version
Artaxerxes declared that he desired to keep his subjects safe from disturbance
He asked Haman (trusted advisor) how to achieve this goal
Haman had good judgment, goodwill, and steadfast loyalty
He was also raised to second place at the king’s court
Haman pointed out the disaffected “scattered” people, who opposed all the laws throughout the nation
They also ignored the royal ordinances (like showing obeisance to Haman)
These acts of disobedience do not promote the unity of the empire
Therefore, all the men, wives, and children shall be destroyed by the sword on the thirteenth day of Adar
All shall meet a violent death so that the government may be stable and untroubled
Copies of this document were posted in every province, including the city of Susa
Haman and the King celebrated while the nation was thrown into confusion
When Mordecai heard it, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and ashes, and sat at the king’s gate
When the queen’s maids saw him, they sent new clothes for him to put on
Finally, Esther sent her eunuch to find out what was going on
Mordecai gave him a copy of the decree and asked Esther to go to the King on behalf of all Jews
Esther was reluctant since the King had not asked for her
Mordecai assured her that she would not be exempt from this decree
She agreed to do so and asked him to gather all Jews and fast for three days

III –Addition C – The Prayers of Mordecai and Esther
This is found after Chapter 4
Mordecai prayed to God
He acknowledged that God ruled over everyone
No one could stand against His will
He prayed, saying it was not arrogance that kept him from doing obeisance
(This is helpful information because the Hebrew version suggests this might have been the reason)
It was only that he would not elevate a human above God
This motive is in accord with the traditional Israelite value of only worshiping one God
He vowed to only bow before God
But now he asked God for help because their enemies were about to destroy the nation of Israel
He knows that they had been looking for a way to do this all along
He asks the God who saved them from Egypt not to disdain His possession
He praises God
And all Israel cried out to God
Esther prayed to God
Esther removed her queenly garb and put on sackcloth and ashes
She asked God to help her since she was truly alone
In reviewing what she was taught about God, Esther knows God chose them
In His choosing of them, God has been faithful to His promises to them
They, as a people, however, have sinned
As a result, they had been handed over to their enemies
It wasn’t enough to humiliate them, their enemies now wanted to kill them all
In so doing, they would silence all those who praise the Lord
She prayed that God would help them and help her
She asked for the words to say when she entered the “lion’s den”
She asked God to save all His people
Despite her position in the palace, she recalls that she had refused to participate in many events, including
eating with the king and celebrating their festivals She asked God to rescue her

IV — Addition D – Esther Goes to the Royal Court
This follows Addition C and comes before Chapter 5
After three days, Esther’s prayers came to an end
She dressed as queen and took two maids with her
Slowly she walked towards the royal presence
The King was on his throne
Upon seeing Esther, his face glowered in anger
Esther fainted on one of her maids
Then the King’s countenance changed, and he ran to assist her
He cradled her in his arms, telling her not to fear him
Those decrees were only for their subjects, not for her
After kissing her, he gave her permission to speak
She said he looked like an angel and she looks upon him with wonder
Then she fainted again
The King asked what she wanted, offering her half of his kingdom
She said it was a special day and she wondered if he and Haman could come for a banquet that she hoped to
He immediately sent for Haman and they joined the queen for a banquet
During that meal, the King again asked what she wanted
She replied that she wanted them to come back the next day for another banquet
Needless to say, Haman was filled with joy
Upon leaving, he saw Mordecai sitting in ashes and was filled with rage
He bragged to his wife and friends about his good fortune with the king and queen
Nonetheless, he couldn’t get the ugly sight of Mordecai out of his mind
His wife suggested he build a gallows and talk to the king about having Mordecai hung on it the following
That night, however, the king couldn’t sleep and asked for his court chronicles
There he found the record of Mordecai’s information
He asked what they had given Mordecai; the answer was “nothing”
The next morning he asked Haman how to honor someone
Thinking the King was talking about him, Haman suggested fine clothes and a horse from the King’s stable
The honored man could be taken around the city
Haman was told to do all this for Mordecai. He did
Afterwards he rushed home to tell his wife about this turn of events
The King and Haman went to the second banquet
The King asked what she wanted and she told him about Haman’s decree
Haman stood dumbfounded while the King went out to collect his thoughts
While he was gone, Haman threw himself on the queen hoping to get her support
The King walked in and accused Haman of assaulting the queen
Haman was hanged on the gallows he had prepared for Mordecai
Then the King properly rewarded Mordecai, elevating him to Haman’s position
Esther begged the King to change the decree that Haman had written
The King ordered Mordecai to make those changes
The provisions of the new orders were that the Jews could follow their own ordinances and defend themselves
from attack
V — Addition E – King Artaxerxes’ Second Edict that Rescinds the First
This is inserted between verses 12 and 13 of Chapter 8
Artaxerxes sends greetings to all his subjects
In reference to Haman, he states that some people who have been honored have grown arrogant
In their arrogance, they attempted to ill-treat our subjects
Sometimes they even schemed against their benefactors
(This is a possible reference to the king’s accusation against Haman for assaulting the queen)
And they expected to get away with their evil-doing
In misusing the good will of their rulers, they have caused major havoc
Artaxerxes promised to be more alert in the future
It’s a way of him proclaiming his innocence
He was duped by a trusted and personal advisor
He mentioned Haman, a Macedonian without any Persian blood
He enjoyed the king’s benevolence and was second only to the king
Nonetheless, he conspired to destroy both empire and life
He sought the destruction of Mordecai and Esther
His presumed goal was to transfer hegemony of the Persians to the Macedonians
(There is little evidence for this, however)
Jews, however, were not guilty of that which he accused them
They are governed by just laws and are sons of the living God
Therefore, the people are advised not to act upon the earlier decree – sent by Haman
Haman had since been hanged
The king ordered that the decree be posted in every public place with undue haste
He allowed the Jews to practice their traditions and to defend themselves against those who might attack
In so doing, the thirteenth day of Adar will be a day of joy instead of destruction
It should be celebrated as a commemorative festival marking this day of deliverance for Jews and sympathetic
Persians as well as a day of destruction for their enemies
Any city or province that does not heed this decree will be devastated by spear and fire
The contents of the edict were published far and wide
Mordecai was elevated within the king’s service – people cheered for him
Many pagans said they were Jews because they were afraid of them
On the day in question, the Jews defeated all their enemies
Since one day of violence was not enough, the king acquiesced to extend the pogrom for one more day.
Tens of thousands of pagans were killed
Mordecai sent a notice enjoining people to celebrate this event annually
Haman and his sons were dead
They had cast lots (pur) against the Jews
That is why the feast is called Purim
Mordecai was now second to the king
He was influential among the Jews and sought their best interests

VI — Addition F – Mordecai’s Second Dream
This comes at the end of Chapter 10 in the Hebrew version
Now Mordecai remembered his original vision and realized it had all been fulfilled
The river was Esther whom the king married
The two dragons were Haman and himself
The nations were all those sent to destroy the name of the Jews
“My” nation was the one that cried out to God and was saved
Once again, God had saved them from their enemies
He remembered His people and acquitted His inheritance
Final postscript
In the fourth year of Ptolemy, Dositheus – a priest and levite – brought the book of Purim that had been
translated by a Ptolemy’s son – a member of the Jewish community
This is intended to verify the truth of what has been spoken
This might have been ca 77 BCE.

With the additions, the book of Esther begins and ends with a dream that gives cosmic significance to the
sufferings and tribulations of Israel. Esther acknowledges that their current problems were a result of their
many sins, but like so many of the prophets before her, she lamented that those enemies may have gone too
far. Yet, the prayers of Mordecai and Esther reveal their trust in God in spite of all circumstances. And of
course, the bottom line is that God rescued the Jews from annihilation at the hands of evil men. Some might
argue that the Jewish response might have “gone too far” as well in their wreaking of vengeance on Haman
and his sons. The book, however, does not address that issue.

Additions to Esther Chapter 10:4-13

4 Then Mardocheus said, God hath done these things.

5 For I remember a dream which I saw concerning these matters, and nothing thereof hath failed.

6 A little fountain became a river, and there was light, and the sun, and much water: this river is Esther, whom the king married, and made queen:

7 And the two dragons are I and Aman.

8 And the nations were those that were assembled to destroy the name of the Jews:

9 And my nation is this Israel, which cried to God, and were saved: for the Lord hath saved his people, and the Lord hath delivered us from all those evils, and God hath wrought signs and great wonders, which have not been done among the Gentiles.

10 Therefore hath he made two lots, one for the people of God, and another for all the Gentiles.

11 And these two lots came at the hour, and time, and day of judgment, before God among all nations.

12 So God remembered his people, and justified his inheritance.

13 Therefore those days shall be unto them in the month Adar, the fourteenth and fifteenth day of the same month, with an assembly, and joy, and with gladness before God, according to the generations for ever among his people.
Additions to Esther Chapter 11:1-12

1 In the fourth year of the reign of Ptolemeus and Cleopatra, Dositheus, who said he was a priest and Levite, and Ptolemeus his son, brought this epistle of Phurim, which they said was the same, and that Lysimachus the son of Ptolemeus, that was in Jerusalem, had interpreted it.

2 In the second year of the reign of Artexerxes the great, in the first day of the month Nisan, Mardocheus the son of Jairus, the son of Semei, the son of Cisai, of the tribe of Benjamin, had a dream;

3 Who was a Jew, and dwelt in the city of Susa, a great man, being a servitor in the king’s court.

4 He was also one of the captives, which Nabuchodonosor the king of Babylon carried from Jerusalem with Jechonias king of Judea; and this was his dream:

5 Behold a noise of a tumult, with thunder, and earthquakes, and uproar in the land:

6 And, behold, two great dragons came forth ready to fight, and their cry was great.

7 And at their cry all nations were prepared to battle, that they might fight against the righteous people.

8 And lo a day of darkness and obscurity, tribulation and anguish, affliction and great uproar, upon earth.

9 And the whole righteous nation was troubled, fearing their own evils, and were ready to perish.

10 Then they cried unto God, and upon their cry, as it were from a little fountain, was made a great flood, even much water.

11 The light and the sun rose up, and the lowly were exalted, and devoured the glorious.

12 Now when Mardocheus, who had seen this dream, and what God had determined to do, was awake, he bare this dream in mind, and until night by all means was desirous to know it.
Additions to Esther Chapter 12:1-6

Additions to Esther Chapter 10-13

Additions to Esther Chapter 10-13

1 And Mardocheus took his rest in the court with Gabatha and Tharra, the two eunuchs of the king, and keepers of the palace.

2 And he heard their devices, and searched out their purposes, and learned that they were about to lay hands upon Artexerxes the king; and so he certified the king of them.

3 Then the king examined the two eunuchs, and after that they had confessed it, they were strangled.

4 And the king made a record of these things, and Mardocheus also wrote thereof.

5 So the king commanded, Mardocheus to serve in the court, and for this he rewarded him.

6 Howbeit Aman the son of Amadathus the Agagite, who was in great honour with the king, sought to molest Mardocheus and his people because of the two eunuchs of the king.
Additions to Esther Chapter 13:1-18

1 The copy of the letters was this: The great king Artexerxes writeth these things to the princes and governours that are under him from India unto Ethiopia in an hundred and seven and twenty provinces.

2 After that I became lord over many nations and had dominion over the whole world, not lifted up with presumption of my authority, but carrying myself always with equity and mildness, I purposed to settle my subjects continually in a quiet life, and making my kingdom peaceable, and open for passage to the utmost coasts, to renew peace, which is desired of all men.

3 Now when I asked my counsellors how this might be brought to pass, Aman, that excelled in wisdom among us, and was approved for his constant good will and steadfast fidelity, and had the honour of the second place in the kingdom,

4 Declared unto us, that in all nations throughout the world there was scattered a certain malicious people, that had laws contrary to all nations, and continually despised the commandments of kings, so as the uniting of our kingdoms, honourably intended by us cannot go forward.

5 Seeing then we understand that this people alone is continually in opposition unto all men, differing in the strange manner of their laws, and evil affected to our state, working all the mischief they can that our kingdom may not be firmly established:

6 Therefore have we commanded, that all they that are signified in writing unto you by Aman, who is ordained over the affairs, and is next unto us, shall all, with their wives and children, be utterly destroyed by the sword of their enemies, without all mercy and pity, the fourteenth day of the twelfth month Adar of this present year:

7 That they, who of old and now also are malicious, may in one day with violence go into the grave, and so ever hereafter cause our affairs to be well settled, and without trouble.

8 Then Mardocheus thought upon all the works of the Lord, and made his prayer unto him,

9 Saying, O Lord, Lord, the King Almighty: for the whole world is in thy power, and if thou hast appointed to save Israel, there is no man that can gainsay thee:

10 For thou hast made heaven and earth, and all the wondrous things under the heaven.

11 Thou art Lord of all things, and and there is no man that can resist thee, which art the Lord.

12 Thou knowest all things, and thou knowest, Lord, that it was neither in contempt nor pride, nor for any desire of glory, that I did not bow down to proud Aman.

13 For I could have been content with good will for the salvation of Israel to kiss the soles of his feet.

14 But I did this, that I might not prefer the glory of man above the glory of God: neither will I worship any but thee, O God, neither will I do it in pride.

15 And now, O Lord God and King, spare thy people: for their eyes are upon us to bring us to nought; yea, they desire to destroy the inheritance, that hath been thine from the beginning.

16 Despise not the portion, which thou hast delivered out of Egypt for thine own self.

17 Hear my prayer, and be merciful unto thine inheritance: turn our sorrow into joy, that we may live, O Lord, and praise thy name: and destroy not the mouths of them that praise thee, O Lord.

18 All Israel in like manner cried most earnestly unto the Lord, because their death was before their eyes.
Additions to Esther Chapter 14:1-19

1 Queen Esther also, being in fear of death, resorted unto the Lord:

2 And laid away her glorious apparel, and put on the garments of anguish and mourning: and instead of precious ointments, she covered her head with ashes and dung, and she humbled her body greatly, and all the places of her joy she filled with her torn hair.

3 And she prayed unto the Lord God of Israel, saying, O my Lord, thou only art our King: help me, desolate woman, which have no helper but thee:

4 For my danger is in mine hand.

5 From my youth up I have heard in the tribe of my family that thou, O Lord, tookest Israel from among all people, and our fathers from all their predecessors, for a perpetual inheritance, and thou hast performed whatsoever thou didst promise them.

6 And now we have sinned before thee: therefore hast thou given us into the hands of our enemies,

7 Because we worshipped their gods: O Lord, thou art righteous.

8 Nevertheless it satisfieth them not, that we are in bitter captivity: but they have stricken hands with their idols,

9 That they will abolish the thing that thou with thy mouth hast ordained, and destroy thine inheritance, and stop the mouth of them that praise thee, and quench the glory of thy house, and of thine altar,

10 And open the mouths of the heathen to set forth the praises of the idols, and to magnify a fleshly king for ever.

11 O Lord, give not thy sceptre unto them that be nothing, and let them not laugh at our fall; but turn their device upon themselves, and make him an example, that hath begun this against us.

12 Remember, O Lord, make thyself known in time of our affliction, and give me boldness, O King of the nations, and Lord of all power.

13 Give me eloquent speech in my mouth before the lion: turn his heart to hate him that fighteth against us, that there may be an end of him, and of all that are likeminded to him:

14 But deliver us with thine hand, and help me that am desolate, and which have no other help but thee.

15 Thou knowest all things, O Lord; thou knowest that I hate the glory of the unrighteous, and abhor the bed of the uncircumcised, and of all the heathen.

16 Thou knowest my necessity: for I abhor the sign of my high estate, which is upon mine head in the days wherein I shew myself, and that I abhor it as a menstruous rag, and that I wear it not when I am private by myself.

17 And that thine handmaid hath not eaten at Aman’s table, and that I have not greatly esteemed the king’s feast, nor drunk the wine of the drink offerings.

18 Neither had thine handmaid any joy since the day that I was brought hither to this present, but in thee, O Lord God of Abraham.

19 O thou mighty God above all, hear the voice of the forlorn and deliver us out of the hands of the mischievous, and deliver me out of my fear.
Additions to Esther Chapter 15:1-16

1 And upon the third day, when she had ended her prayers, she laid away her mourning garments, and put on her glorious apparel.

2 And being gloriously adorned, after she had called upon God, who is the beholder and saviour of all things, she took two maids with her:

3 And upon the one she leaned, as carrying herself daintily;

4 And the other followed, bearing up her train.

5 And she was ruddy through the perfection of her beauty, and her countenance was cheerful and very amiable: but her heart was in anguish for fear.

6 Then having passed through all the doors, she stood before the king, who sat upon his royal throne, and was clothed with all his robes of majesty, all glittering with gold and precious stones; and he was very dreadful.

7 Then lifting up his countenance that shone with majesty, he looked very fiercely upon her: and the queen fell down, and was pale, and fainted, and bowed herself upon the head of the maid that went before her.

8 Then God changed the spirit of the king into mildness, who in a fear leaped from his throne, and took her in his arms, till she came to herself again, and comforted her with loving words and said unto her,

9 Esther, what is the matter? I am thy brother, be of good cheer:

10 Thou shalt not die, though our our commandment be general: come near.

11 And so he held up his golden sceptre, and laid it upon her neck,

12 And embraced her, and said, Speak unto me.

13 Then said she unto him, I saw thee, my lord, as an angel of God, and my heart was troubled for fear of thy majesty.

14 For wonderful art thou, lord, and thy countenance is full of grace.

15 And as she was speaking, she fell down for faintness.

16 Then the king was troubled, and all his servants comforted her.
Additions to Esther Chapter 16:1-24

1 The great king Artexerxes unto the princes and governors of an hundred and seven and twenty provinces from India unto Ethiopia, and unto all our faithful subjects, greeting.

2 Many, the more often they are honoured with the great bounty of their gracious princes, the more proud they are waxen,

3 And endeavour to hurt not our subjects only, but not being able to bear abundance, do take in hand to practise also against those that do them good:

4 And take not only thankfulness away from among men, but also lifted up with the glorious words of lewd persons, that were never good, they think to escape the justice of God, that seeth all things and hateth evil.

5 Oftentimes also fair speech of those, that are put in trust to manage their friends’ affairs, hath caused many that are in authority to be partakers of innocent blood, and hath enwrapped them in remediless calamities:

6 Beguiling with the falsehood and deceit of their lewd disposition the innocency and goodness of princes.

7 Now ye may see this, as we have declared, not so much by ancient histories, as ye may, if ye search what hath been wickedly done of late through the pestilent behaviour of them that are unworthily placed in authority.

8 And we must take care for the time to come, that our kingdom may be quiet and peaceable for all men,

9 Both by changing our purposes, and always judging things that are evident with more equal proceeding.

10 For Aman, a Macedonian, the son of Amadatha, being indeed a stranger from the Persian blood, and far distant from our goodness, and as a stranger received of us,

11 Had so far forth obtained the favour that we shew toward every nation, as that he was called our father, and was continually honoured of all the next person unto the king.

12 But he, not bearing his great dignity, went about to deprive us of our kingdom and life:

13 Having by manifold and cunning deceits sought of us the destruction, as well of Mardocheus, who saved our life, and continually procured our good, as also of blameless Esther, partaker of our kingdom, with their whole nation.

14 For by these means he thought, finding us destitute of friends to have translated the kingdom of the Persians to the Macedonians.

15 But we find that the Jews, whom this wicked wretch hath delivered to utter destruction, are no evildoers, but live by most just laws:

16 And that they be children of the most high and most mighty, living God, who hath ordered the kingdom both unto us and to our progenitors in the most excellent manner.

17 Wherefore ye shall do well not to put in execution the letters sent unto you by Aman the son of Amadatha.

18 For he that was the worker of these things, is hanged at the gates of Susa with all his family: God, who ruleth all things, speedily rendering vengeance to him according to his deserts.

19 Therefore ye shall publish the copy of this letter in all places, that the Jews may freely live after their own laws.

20 And ye shall aid them, that even the same day, being the thirteenth day of the twelfth month Adar, they may be avenged on them, who in the time of their affliction shall set upon them.

21 For Almighty God hath turned to joy unto them the day, wherein the chosen people should have perished.

22 Ye shall therefore among your solemn feasts keep it an high day with all feasting:

23 That both now and hereafter there may be safety to us and the well affected Persians; but to those which do conspire against us a memorial of destruction.

24 Therefore every city and country whatsoever, which shall not do according to these things, shall be destroyed without mercy with fire and sword, and shall be made not only unpassable for men, but also most hateful to wild beasts and fowls for ever.

This is the end of Additions to Esther.

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Jews and Gentiles Together… our study of Romans 15

Let’s continue our biblical studies on Romans…”Jews and Gentiles Together”… our study of Romans 15…

“In Romans 15, Paul completes his discussion of how Christians who are strong in the faith should help those whose faith is weak. He reminds his readers that God is calling the Gentiles to salvation, and that they are the focus of Paul’s ministry. Paul shares his plan to visit Jerusalem with an offering from the Gentiles to give to the Jewish believers…

…”The strong should help the weak”…
“In chapter 14, Paul explained that Christians who were strong in the faith believed that everything was clean and could be eaten. Those who were weak in faith were cautious about their diet and observed certain days as special. This difference of opinion was a serious problem for the Roman churches, so Paul took a considerable portion of his letter to address it. The cautious Christians should not condemn the more permissive ones, and those who feel free should not cause the weak to sin by pressuring them to do things that their conscience did not yet allow”…

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves…Romans 15:1…The people who are confident of their salvation in Christ need to be tolerant of the doctrinal mistakes that others have. Their faith is already weak; we should not challenge them more than they can bear. “Paul taught that “all foods are now clean” but he sometimes restrained his freedom…1 Cor. 8:13; 9:20…

…” Paul then gives the general principle: Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up..Romans 15:2…He uses Jesus-Christ as the model we should follow: For even Christ did not please himself… Paul supports his point by quoting Psalm 69:9, a messianic psalm: “As it is written: ‘The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me’..Romans 15:3..Christ was willing to accept persecution so the strong should be willing to accept a little inconvenience…

“Some people might wonder why Paul is using the Old Testament. He has already used it dozens of times, but now he explains: For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope…Romans 15:4…Paul isolates two lessons we can draw from the Old Testament: endurance and encouragement…”We need to endure difficulties, and God is faithful to us”…

…”Gentiles praising God”…
“Paul includes a brief prayer: May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus-Christ…Romans 15:5-6…That is, may God give you the attitude of service that leads to “worship together”…

…”Paul concludes: Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God…Romans 15:7…Just as Jesus gave up his privileges to serve us, we should be willing to give up some of ours, so people will praise God…… “Reconciliation with God should lead us toward reconciliation with other people”…

“For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth…Romans 15:8…Paul mentions this because of the situation in Rome: He is asking the strong primarily Gentiles to restrain their freedom when with the weak primarily Jews. He now begins to defend his ministry to the Gentiles…

…”Why did Christ serve the Jews? Paul explains: So that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy..Romans15:8-9..It is only through Christ that people may be forgiven and thereby receive the patriarchal blessings. But Christ’s purpose extends beyond the physical descendants of Abraham, he also wants Gentiles to bring glory to God”

“Paul now presents a series of Old Testament prophecies about Gentiles joining the Jews in worshipping God. He begins with Psalm 18:49: Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name. Then he moves to the Gentile response to the good news: Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people…Rom. 15:10… Deut. 32:43…

…”Then the Gentiles join in the praise: Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples..Rom.15:11; Ps. 117:1…Paul concludes with a quote from Isaiah 11:10, showing that this praise comes through the nations accepting the Messiah, the descendant of David and Jesse: The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope…Rom.15:12…

“Then Paul gives another short prayer, a benediction good for believers everywhere: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy-Spirit…Romans 15:13…Through faith in Jesus-Christ, we have tremendous hope…

…”Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles”…
“With tact, Paul explains why he wrote to the Roman church: I myself am convinced, my brothers and sisters, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with knowledge and competent to instruct one another. Yet I have written you quite boldly on some points to remind you of them again, because of the grace God gave me to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles…Romans 15:14-16…Since Christ appointed Paul to serve the Gentiles, he felt that he could remind them that basic Christian principles would help them deal with the doctrinal differences they had”…

…”He gave me the priestly duty of “proclaiming the gospel of God”, so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy-Spirit …Romans 15:16…Paul uses special terms here to call his mission a work of worship. He is zealous in this mission…Therefore I glory in Christ-Jesus in my service to God. I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done…Romans 15:17-18…”Paul is giving the credit to God, not himself”…

“The results of Paul’s ministry can be seen in the fact that Gentiles are obeying God. This does not mean circumcision, food laws or Sabbaths the Gentiles are considered obedient without keeping such laws…

…”How has Christ achieved this result through Paul?….By the power of signs and wonders, through the power of the Spirit of God…Romans 15:19…Although Acts describes several miracles done through Paul, Paul rarely mentions them. His readers needed to follow him not by doing miracles, but in humility and enduring difficulties…

“So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum..modern day Albania,I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ…Romans 15:19…Paul did not preach in every city, but everywhere he preached, he proclaimed all the gospel. He preached in a few cities, and after he left, his converts could then take the gospel to surrounding towns…..

…”It has always been my ambition to preach the gospel where Christ was not known, so that I would not be building on someone else’s foundation …Romans 15:20…At some point in his life Paul decided that his mission was to go to new areas. He saw his work as a fulfillment of Isa. 52:15: As it is written: “Those who were not told about him will see, and those who have not heard will understand.” This is why I have often been hindered from coming to you..Romans15:21-22..This verse does not apply to every missionary, but it described what Paul was doing…

“Although Paul had wanted to visit Rome earlier, there was a greater need for the gospel in Asia Minor and Greece. Now, Paul sets his sights farther west, Spain and that will give him an opportunity to visit Rome. But he had a more important mission to take care of first…

…”Paul’s travel plans”…
“Greek letters often mentioned the writer’s travel plans, and this letter does as well. Paul begins with an almost humorous exaggeration: But now that there is no more place for me to work in these regions, and since I have been longing for many years to visit you, I plan to do so when I go to Spain. I hope to see you while passing through and to have you assist me on my journey there, after I have enjoyed your company for a while…Romans 15:23-24…

…”Paul would “never live long enough” to take the gospel to all the empire, so he wanted to make a decisive leap westward. He not only invited himself to Rome, he also invited them to support his mission, perhaps even provide some assistants…

“But other plans were more immediate, the churches in Greece were sending an offering to the believers in Judea. Paul had urged them to do it, for he felt it was very important to send this token of unity from the Gentiles to the Jews. Now, however, I am on my way to Jerusalem in the service of the Lord’s people there. For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the saints in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings…Romans 15:25-27…

…”The Greek Christians had a debt to pay. But what could the Roman Christians do? It was too late for them to join in the offering being sent to Jerusalem. Paul is hinting that the Gentile Christians in Rome should help the Jewish Christians in Rome. Paul wants peace between Jews and Gentiles, whether it is in Rome or in Jerusalem…

“So after I have completed this task and have made sure that they have received this contribution, I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. I know that when I come to you, I will come in the full measure of the blessing of Christ..Romans 15:28-29… Paul viewed this offering as a symbol of the spiritual fruit produced by the gospel among the Gentiles…

…”The message he wanted to send to the Jerusalem church was this: “See how many Gentiles are now praising God because of the mission you began. They are thankful that your Messiah is also their Messiah, and as the Scriptures predicted..Isa. 60:5; 66:20…they are sending gifts to Jerusalem as a firstfruits offering to sanctify the rest of the harvest among the Gentiles.”

“Paul was confident that after he had delivered this offering, that Christ would bless his mission

Until then...may our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ bless You all! And keep up your faithful dedications in studying the words of our God from the scriptures!!!

Until then…may our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ bless You all! And keep up your faithful dedications in studying the words of our God from the scriptures!!!

to Rome and Spain. He asks them to help him in his difficult mission by praying for him: I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus-Christ and by the love of the Holy-Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me. Pray that I may be kept safe from the unbelievers in Judea and that the contribution I take to Jerusalem may be favorably received by the believers there…Romans 15:30-31…

…”As Acts 21 confirms, the most dangerous part of the trip was not the voyage, but the disobedient Jews..an ironic contrast to the obedient Gentiles.. Paul did not assume that the believers would be glad to see him, either, he wanted prayer that they might accept the offering he was bringing. Some did not want to accept the fact that Gentiles were now in the family of faith…

“And after the offering, Paul wanted them to pray so that I may come to you with joy, by God’s will, and in your company be refreshed. The God of peace be with you all. Amen…Romans 15:32-33…Paul concludes with a benediction of peace what the Roman churches needed most. He says “amen,” but he is not yet done. In our next and last chapter, Lord Willing we will discuss the greetings and exhortations of chapter 16…

…”Until then…may our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ bless You all! And keep up your faithful dedications in studying the words of our God from the scriptures!!!


Filed under Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul

Romans, From Guilt to Grace, A Study of Romans 3

Let’s now continue our biblical studies on the book of Romans …”From Guilt to Grace”…A Study of Romans 3…

“In Romans 2, Paul explains that both Jews and Gentiles need the gospel, everyone needs salvation. Although some Jews claimed to have an advantage in salvation, Paul explains that Jews are not immune to sin and judgment. Everyone is saved in the same way. So how do people become right with God? Paul explains it in chapter 3…but first he has to answer some objections…

…”Any advantage for Jews?”…
“Paul had preached in many cities, and he knew how people responded to his message. Jewish people often responded by saying: “We are God’s chosen people. We must have some sort of advantage in the judgment, but you are saying that our own law condemns us.” So Paul asks, What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision?.Rom.3:1..What’s the point of being a Jew?…

“And Paul answers in verse 2: Much in every way! First of all, they have been entrusted with the very words of God. The Jews have the Scriptures. That is an advantage, but there is a downside to it, those who sin under the law will be judged by the law..Rom.2:12.. The law reveals requirements that the people do not meet…

…”So what’s the advantage? Paul will say more about that in chapter 9. But here in chapter 3 his goal is not to explain how special the Jews are, but to explain that they, just like everybody else, need to be saved through Jesus-Christ. He’s not going to elaborate on their privileges until he has explained their need for salvation, they haven’t kept the law that they boast about…hummm…

“So Paul asks: What if some Jews were unfaithful? Will their unfaithfulness nullify God’s faithfulness?…Romans 3:3…Will the fact that some Jews sinned by being unfaithful cause God to back out of his promises?”…

…”Not at all! Let God be true, and every human being a liar verse 4 God is always true to his word, and even though we are unfaithful, he is not. He won’t let our actions turn him into a liar. He created humans for a reason, and even if we all fall short of what he wants, his plan will succeed. God chose the Jews as his people, and they fell short, but God has a way to solve the problem, and the good news is that the rescue plan applies not only to Jews, but to everyone who falls short. God is more than faithful…

“Paul then quotes a scripture about God being true: As it is written: “So that you may be proved right when you speak and prevail when you judge”…Rom.3:4..This is quoted from Ps. 51:4, where David says that if God punishes him, it is because God is right. When God judges us guilty, it is because we are guilty. His covenant said that there would be unpleasant consequences for failure, and indeed there had been many times in Israel’s checkered history. God had done what he said he would…

…”Reason to sin?”…
“Paul deals with another objection in verse 5: But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us? I am using a human argument. Here is the argument: If we sin, we give God an opportunity to show that he is right. We are doing God a favor, so he shouldn’t punish us. It’s a silly argument…but Paul deals with it. Is God unjust?… Certainly not! he says in verse 6. If that were so, how could God judge the world? God said he would judge the world, and he is right in doing so…

…”Paul paraphrases the argument a little in verse 7: Someone might argue, “If my falsehood enhances God’s truthfulness and so increases his glory, why am I still condemned as a sinner?” If my sin shows how good God is, why should he punish me? In verse 8 Paul gives another version of the argument: Why not say as some slanderously claim that we say “Let us do evil that good may result”? Paul stops dealing with the argument and repeats his conclusion by saying, Their condemnation is just! These arguments are wrong. When God judges us as sinners, he is right…because…we all have sinned…

…”All have sinned!”…
“In verse 9 Paul returns to his discussion: What shall we conclude then? Do we have any advantage? Are we Jews better off than others? Not at all! For we have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under the power of sin. Jews have no advantage here, because we are all sinners — we are all under an evil spiritual force called sin. God does not play favorites, and he does not give salvation advantages to anyone…

“In a rapid-fire conclusion, Paul quotes in verses 10 to 18 a series of scriptures to support his point that everyone is a sinner….These verses mention various body parts: mind, mouth, throat, tongue, lips, feet and eyes. The picture is that people are thoroughly evil…

…There is no one righteous, not even one…Eccl. 7:20…
…There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God…
…All have turned away, they have together become worthless;…

…There is no one who does good, not even one…Ps. 14:1-3; 53:1-3…
…Their throats are open graves; their tongues practice deceit…Ps. 5:9…
…The poison of vipers is on their lips…Ps. 140:3…

…Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness…Ps. 10:7…

…Their feet are swift to shed blood; ruin and misery mark their ways, and…
…The way of peace they do not know…Isaiah 57:8-9…
…There is no fear of God before their eyes…Ps. 36:1…

“Those scriptures are true about Gentiles, some Jews might say, but not about us. So Paul answers them in verse 19: Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law. These Scriptures the law in a larger sense apply to people who are under the law…the Jews. They are sinners. Gentiles are, too, but Paul doesn’t have to prove that his audience already knew it…

…”Why do the scriptures apply to the Jews? So that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. Humanity will stand before the judgment seat of God, and the result is in verse 20: Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by the works of the law. By the standard of the law, “we all fall short”…

“What does the law do instead? Paul says: Rather…through the law we become conscious of our sin. The law sets a standard of righteousness, but because we sin, the law can never tell us that we are righteous. It tells us that we are sinners. According to the law, we are guilty…

…”A righteousness from God”…
Paul introduces the good news in verse 21 with the important words “But now.” He’s making a contrast: We can’t be declared righteous by the law, but there is a way that we can be declared righteous: But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. Here Paul gets back to what he announced in Romans 1:17, that the gospel reveals a righteousness from God…

“Since we are sinners”, we “cannot be declared righteous by observing the law”….. Therefore, it must be through some other means. God will declare us righteous in a way other than through the law. And although the law does not make us righteous, it does give evidence about another means of righteousness: This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus-Christ to all who believe……There is no difference between Jew and Gentile…Rom.3:22…We can be accounted righteous because of what Jesus has done for us. This pathway to righteousness gives no advantage to the Jew all are counted righteous in the same way…

…”There is no difference, Paul says, for all have sinned both Jews and Gentiles have sinned and everyone falls short of the glory of God. By the law, we all fall short, and no one deserves the salvation that God has designed for us. But our weakness will not stop God’s plan!!!…

“All are justified..declared righteous..freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ-Jesus..Rom.3:24..Because of what Jesus did, we can be made right by God’s “grace”. We are not made sinless and perfect, but in the courtroom of God, we are declared righteous instead of guilty, we are accounted as acceptable to God and as faithful to the covenant. Whether we feel forgiven or not, we are forgiven because Christ has paid our debt in full…

…”What permits God to change the verdict?…Paul uses a variety of metaphors or word-pictures to explain this. Jesus has paid a price to “rescue us from slavery”. He has bought us back; that is what “redemption” means. That is one way to look at it, in financial terms. Courtroom terms have also been used, and in the next verse Paul uses words from Jewish worship…

“God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood to be received by faith. God himself provided the payment, the sacrifice that sets aside our sin. For “sacrifice of atonement,” Paul uses the Greek word hilasterion, the word used for the mercy seat on top of the ark of the covenant, a place where Israel’s sins were atoned every year on the Day of Atonement…

…”God, because of his love and mercy, provided Jesus as the means by which we can be set “at one” with him. That atonement is received by us through faith; we believe that his death did something that allows us to be saved. Paul is talking about three aspects of salvation: The cause of our salvation is what Jesus did; the means by which it is offered to us is grace; and the way we receive it is faith…

“God provided Jesus as an atonement, verse 25 says, to demonstrate his righteousness to show that he is faithful to his promises because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished. Normally, a judge who let criminals go free would be called unjust…Ex. 23:7; Deut. 25:1…But isn’t God doing that? No, God is not unjust when he justifies the wicked because he has provided Jesus as a means of atonement…

…”He is within his legal rights, to use a human analogy, in letting people “escape” because their sins have already been compensated for in the death of Jesus-Christ. Even for people who lived before Christ, the payment was as good as done. In one sense, that applies to everyone, to the whole world. But it applies in a fuller sense to those who trust in Christ. When we are united with him in faith, then we have died with him, and we have suffered what our sins deserved…Romans 6:5-6…

“Romans 3:26…says that God did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. In the sacrifice of Jesus-Christ, God demonstrates that he is just even when he declares sinners to be just…

…”All are equal”…
“Where, then, is boasting? Paul asks in Rom.3:27..Can the Jew boast about other advantages over Gentiles? When it comes to salvation, there’s nothing to boast about. We can’t even boast about faith. Faith does not make us better than other people, we are only receiving what God gives. We can’t take credit for that, or brag about it…

…”Boasting is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No…. because of the law that requires faith..Rom.3:27..If people were saved by keeping the law, then they could brag about how well they did. But when salvation is by grace and faith, no one can boast. Paul is making “two points” that reinforce each other: That no one can boast, and that righteousness is by faith rather than by the law or by works…

“In Romans 3:28, he says it again: For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. Being counted right with God on the day of judgment can never be on the basis of the law. The law can’t do anything except point out where we fall short. If we are going to be accepted by God, it will not be on the basis of the law, but because of the righteousness of Jesus-Christ…

…”Or is God the God of Jews only? Paul asks. Is he not the God of Gentiles too?

Let God be true, and every human being a liar

Let God be true, and every human being a liar

Yes, of Gentiles too, since there is only one God…Romans 3:29-30…”God is not the exclusive possession of the Jews”. And according to the gospel, God will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. He makes Jews righteous in the same way that he makes Gentiles righteous, and that is through “faith”, not through the law….hummmmm…

“Do we … nullify the law by this faith? Of course not, Paul says in verse 31. Rather, we uphold the law. The gospel does not contradict the law, but it puts law in its proper place. The law was never designed as a means of salvation. But the salvation it hinted at is now available to all through Jesus-Christ….

…”Tomorrow we will start our Study of Romans Chapter 4, Lord Willing! until then,God bless You forevermore and may our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ be constantly in your walk of life!!!


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Acts, Chapter Fifteen, Final Part, The whole church.

This will concludes Chapter fifteen of the book of Acts of the Apostles in our daily biblical studies of the bible…”The whole church”…Acts 15:22…

“James’ proposal is accepted by the apostles, the elders and “the whole church”… Acts 15:22…That is an important point. Now, almost everyone is on the same page regarding the matter of Jewish beliefs and practices…

…”The “extremist” Jews lose the argument, and the church embarks on a more liberal policy. It makes a fundamental statement about the Hebrew Scriptures as well:….The church is released from following a strictly literal interpretation of Scripture. Its own experience with God is a more vital element in determining its policy. In the right circumstance, experience can interpret Scripture instead of the Scripture always determining church policy…

“The meeting allows Luke to legitimate in formal fashion the Gentile mission: the human church now catches up with the divine initiative, and formally declares itself on the side of God’s plan to save all humanity. Second, the debate enables Luke to define more precisely the basis for this legitimacy, by establishing faith as the basis of salvation and of inclusion within God’s people for all, both Gentiles and Jews.”

…”Also, Paul’s mission and person are now “publicly legitimated” in the church. Though Paul insists that he received the gospel by revelation and does not need human vindication..Galatians 1:11-12.. church members in general have no way of being convinced of this. A formal agreement by the leading apostles gives comfort to both Jews and Gentiles that the path the church is choosing is within God’s will…

“James’ ruling marginalizes a “hard-core group” of Jewish Christians who are permanently opposed to Paul. They will continue to be a source of friction in the church for “decades to come….This too…..is an important part of the story of the apostolic church…

…”Judas and Silas”…Acts 15:22…
“A letter regarding James’ decision is drafted and sent to the churches in Antioch, as well as the provinces of Syria and Cilicia..Acts 15:22-23.. Two leading members of the Jerusalem congregation, Judas Barsabbas and Silas, are appointed to take the letter and read it to the various congregations. They do more than carry the letter: They give personal witness that the letter is “authentic”, and as “authorized” representatives of the apostles, they can answer whatever questions arise…

“We are introduced to Judas and Silas as “some of their own men”..Acts 15:22..who are prophets..Acts 15:32..These leaders represent the viewpoint of the apostles and the Jerusalem church, lest anyone think that Paul was “twisting” the decision of the church. The Jerusalem church wisely had Judas and Silas, not Paul, read James letter………

………”We know nothing of Judas Barsabbas, though some have speculated he may have been the brother of Joseph Barsabbas..Acts 1:23..Joseph was one of two men selected to possibly “replace Judas Iscariot” Neither Judas nor Joseph appears again in Luke’s story………

…”On the other hand, Silas plays a key role as Paul’s future partner in missionary work…Acts 15:40-41; 16:19, 25, 29; 17:4, 10; 14-15…Like Paul, he is a Roman citizen…Acts 16:37…Silas is generally identified with Silvanus..a Latin name.. a co-worker Paul mentions several times in his letters…2 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Thessalonians 1:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:1…Peter also mentions a Silas, who may be the same individual…1 Peter 5:12…

…”A letter to believers”…Acts 15:23-29…
“Luke reproduces, at least in summary, the letter crafted by the council regarding circumcision. It is addressed to the Gentile Christians in Antioch, the church that serves as a kind of headquarters for the Gentile mission. It is also addressed to the churches in the provinces of Syria and Cilicia, who presumably were the most affected by the controversy. Syria-Cilicia was the double province of which Antioch was the capital….

“James’ letter”… apparently is not sent to the entire church. However, as Paul later travels from town to town in Galatia, he delivers “the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey”…Acts 16:4…

…”The letter begins by acknowledging that the extremist Christian Jews who stirred up the controversy over circumcision came from Jerusalem. But they did so “without our authorization”…Acts 15:24…Thus, “the letter rebukes the Judaizers” for overstepping their authority in laying down requirements Jerusalem had not agreed to”…

“Barnabas and Paul..the letter mentions Paul in second place..are called “our dear friends”..Acts 15:25..and “men who have risked their lives” for the gospel…Acts 15:26…Paul, the letter is saying, is held in the warmest regards by Jerusalem. Thus, James, Peter and the Jerusalem church make it clear that they “stand together” with Paul and Barnabas in what they have been teaching. The church presents itself as unified against the Judaizers”…

…”The letter next appeals to divine guidance in the circumcision matter by saying, “It seemed good to the Holy-Spirit and to us…”Acts 15:28..The Holy-Spirit is called the author of Jerusalem’s decision. The council is claiming that it reached its decision under the guidance of God through the Holy-Spirit. The letter ends with a restatement of the four requirements. The decrees were the same ones given in verse 20, except for a slight change in order…

“The final statement in James’ letter tells the Gentile Christians: “You will do well to avoid these things”…Acts 15:29…It does not even say that people must avoid these things in order to be saved; it just says that it is good to avoid these things…

…”Luke gives us evidence of the letter being read in three localities where a Gentile mission occurred: Antioch of Syria..Acts 15:30-35..Syria and Cilicia..Acts 15:46-41.. and the southern part of Galatia…Acts 16:1-4…

“Judas and Silas read the decision in Antioch, and their message is warmly received. After encouraging everyone in the church, they return to Jerusalem…Acts 15:33… Paul and Barnabas remain in Antioch, “teaching the church” and “preaching the gospel to everyone”…

…”Luke’s story now takes a “decisive turn”. Paul and his associates will dominate the account from now on. Peter and the rest of the Twelve disappear. James and the Jerusalem church appear only once more, in…Acts 21:17-26…and then only in the context of Paul’s trip to the city…

…”Further Preaching in Asia Minor”…Acts 15:36-16:10…
“Visit the brothers”…Acts 15:36…
After the Jerusalem Council, Luke begins to narrate Paul’s “second major journey”. Paul’s original objective on this trip seems to be more pastoral than missionary. Paul says to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing”…Acts 15:36…

“Paul apparently wants to deliver the Jerusalem “decrees” to these churches personally. He is encouraged to have the support of the other apostles, especially Peter and James. He knows that the Judaizers have created problems among the believers in Galatia , problems that he addresses in his letter to the Galatians, which may have been written before the Council. Now he wants to see how the churches in the region have responded to his letter…

…”Controversy about Mark”…Acts 15:37-39…
“Barnabas agrees that another trip through Galatia is in order. However, he wants to take Mark as an assistant. Paul refuses, and their disagreement over Mark is so bitter “that they parted company”…Acts 15:39…

“The story of the disagreement between Paul and Barnabas does not make pleasant reading” but Luke’s realism in recording it helps us to remember that the two men, as they themselves said to the people of Lystra, were ‘human beings with feelings like’ any other……
Paul believes that Mark’s refusal to go with the missionaries into Galatia during the first missionary trip amounted to desertion..Acts 15:38.. Perhaps Mark has some defect in his character that makes him unreliable…….

…”On the contrary, Barnabas, the “Son of Encouragement,” sees some promising qualities in Mark and wants to give him experience and training. Mark is his cousin, and Barnabas knows the family traits…Colossians 4:10…Or perhaps family loyalty was more important to Barnabas than commitment to the work…hummm…

In the end, Mark proved Barnabas right, and perhaps Paul was being too hard-nosed Colossians 4:10; Philemon 23.. Years later, Paul would say to Timothy of the young man he had once rejected: “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry”…2 Timothy 4:11…Actually, both Paul and Barnabas may be right: Mark would do poorly under Paul’s leadership, but would grow while helping Barnabas…

…”Barnabas has occupied a central part in Luke’s story as a trusted representative of the Jerusalem church…Acts 11:22-24…He has been vital to Paul’s work and his relationship to the church as his associate on the first missionary tour..13:1-14:28.. for intervening on his behalf with Jerusalem..9:27.. in recruiting him for missionary work at Antioch..11:25-26.. and in supporting his Gentile mission at the Jerusalem conference…Acts 15:12…

“But after “separating” from Paul, Barnabas is not again mentioned in Acts. Luke’s story is about Paul, not anyone else. Barnabas is referred to in passing in only three other places in the New Testament…1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1, 9, 13; and Colossians 4:10…In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of his and Barnabas’ need to get jobs in order to support themselves while doing missionary work. Since this epistle was written after the split between the two men, it indicates that they “worked together again”, or at least had buried their differences…

Paul's Second Missionary Journey

Paul’s Second Missionary Journey

…”Paul chooses Silas”…Acts 15:40-41…
“Barnabas takes Mark and sails for Cyprus, presumably to visit the churches on that island…Acts 15:39…Luke doesn’t tell us anything about this mission, probably because it isn’t a trip that “advances the gospel” toward Rome…

“Paul chooses Silas as his missionary partner and sets out on a tour of the churches in eastern Asia Minor. Silas or Silvanus is a good choice as an associate. He was a leader in the Jerusalem church, and can speak with authority on its behalf…Acts 15:12, 27…He is a prophet…Acts 15:32…and a Roman citizen..Acts 16:27.. He is respected in the church as well as in the wider Roman society…

…”With Silas, Paul begins his trip by traveling through Syria and Cilicia, and also strengthening the churches in these provinces…Acts 15:41…But what begins as a “pastoral visit” turns into an “extensive missionary journey” through large parts of Asia Minor, as well as Macedonia and Greece. It is on this missionary tour that the gospel reaches the Eastern Frontier of Europe.


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Acts, Chapter 15, Part one, The council at Jerusalem, Some men came down, Acts 15:1

While Paul and Barnabas are teaching at Antioch, some people come from Judea and demand that the Gentiles should become practicing Jews before being regarded as real believers. Luke summarizes their claim in a sentence:…..”Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved”…Acts 15:1…hummmm…

…”These “hard-line Jewish Christians” are confronted by Paul and Barnabas, who get ” into sharp dispute and debate with them”..Acts 15:2.. This is a key moment in the conflict about Gentile conversion. As Luke tells the story, “he will also address some doctrinal arguments” but before we get to that, let us see how Paul deals with the question in his letter to the Galatians…shall we?…

“Apparently, the extremists took their legalistic message to other churches, including those in Galatia, which Paul had recently evangelized. The controversy broadened so that Jewish Christians were not even allowed to eat with Gentile believers. At some point Barnabas, and even Peter, seemed to side with the extreme position..Galatians 2:11-13…

…”At this point, the crisis is threatening the unity of the church. It is also striking a blow at the heart of the gospel of salvation by grace. Paul writes: “This matter arose because some “false brothers” had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ-Jesus and to make us slaves….We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you”…Galatians 2:4-5…

“Peter probably thinks that it is a centrist position: Gentiles can be part of the church, and Jews can continue to be scrupulous about table fellowship if they wish. Doesn’t everyone get what they want? No, says Paul. He cannot accept a church in which Jews and Gentiles have to eat….at separate tables…as if the Gentiles are unclean, unacceptable, not even part of the same family…

…”If the Jewish rigorists have their way insisting on strict observance of Mosaic rituals the church will eventually “split”…like we see in the world today…At best, two separate churches will form, one Gentile and the other Jewish. Or Gentile Christians will be forced to place their faith in Jewish regulations rather than the work of Jesus-Christ…

“The people from Jerusalem consider themselves to be representatives of James, not renegade teachers. But James did not authorize them…Acts 15:24…Paul refers to them as “certain men who came from James”..Galatians 2:12.. But they claimed more authority than James had given them…Acts 15:24…

…”As we shall see….James, Paul and Peter will eventually agree. The rigorous view implies that a Gentile must become a Jew in order to be saved, and the apostles do not want this “false message” preached in the church…

…”Unless you are circumcised”…Acts 15:1…
“Luke presents the “hard-line argument” as one that stresses the need for Gentile converts to be circumcised. But he soon shows that the circumcisers want Gentile converts to practice the entire “law of Moses.” Basically, they are teaching that a person cannot be saved unless they become proselytes, converts to Judaism…

“The conflict exists because there are people in the church from sharply varying cultural backgrounds. At one end are devout Jerusalem Jews who continue to worship at the Temple. They scrupulously observe all the cultic practices that define the Jewish way of life..all the laws found in the covenant God made with the Jews at Mt. Sinai. Circumcision is a crucial point. From the time of Abraham, circumcision helped define a person’s faith in God and being part of the people of God…Genesis 17:10-14, 23-27; 21:4; 34:15-24; Exodus 12:44, 48; Leviticus 12:3; Joshua 5:2-8..

…”But now an increasing number of “formerly pagan Gentiles” are entering the church. Their religious life had been centered around “pagan temples” and their culture had been that of the wider Greek and Roman world. They had been idolaters with little interest in the Jewish way of life. And they do not want to undergo the painful circumcision process since it has no cultural meaning for them…

“However”…Jewish Christians fear that the Gentiles entering the church will change the nature of the church. In Judea, the religious leaders tolerate the Jewish Christians because they keep the law they are faithful to the covenant of Moses, even if they do happen to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Their messianic beliefs are merely a harmless superstition, as long as they continue keeping Jewish customs. But now, if Gentiles come into the church without keeping Jewish laws, that will encourage Jewish believers to be “less zealous” about the laws as well, thereby bringing persecution from the Jewish leaders…hummm…

…”The Jewish Christians are afraid that many Gentiles have grown up in a culture of “loose morals”. Their “easy entrance into the church” might “weaken the moral” standards. Thus, the circumcisers want Gentiles to become like Jews in lifestyle as evidence of their conversion, if nothing else…

“Many Jewish Christians consider themselves to be part of the righteous remnant of Judaism. God has given them salvation, but as their part of the bargain, as evidence that they are part of the covenant, they must keep its laws…

…”The mental background of the Jew was founded on the fact that he belonged to the chosen people. In effect they believed that not only were the Jews the peculiar possession of God but also that God was the peculiar possession of the Jews.”

“And circumcision is one of the proofs of this exclusive relationship with God. No doubt many Jews of the time, like Philo, believe that circumcision is more than a ritual. It is a symbol of religious commitment. The rigorists, like other Jews, see the physical act of circumcision as proof of one’s allegiance to God…

…”Zealous Jews believe that a man must be circumcised in order to enter the nation of Israel and to be part of its righteous remnant. A failure to circumcise is regarded as a sign of apostasy. Gentiles who are not circumcised and who do not practice the Jewish religious life are considered “unclean”…

“It was the “age-old horror” of the strict Jew, based on the Law of Moses, of contamination with those who were technically not within the covenant relationship outwardly signalized by circumcision and who ate food not permitted by the Law from utensils which had not been ceremonially cleansed. Thus the issue was more than that of admission to membership of the church. It involved also the question whether Jewish Christians ought to mix socially with uncircumcised Gentile Christians, to eat…at the same table, and to share… in the same eucharistic celebration”……..

…”You cannot be saved”…Acts 15:1…
“It’s important to look at circumcision and the Law of Moses from the point of view of conservative Christian Jews. As far as they know, the entire Torah is still in force. There had been no clear teaching from Jesus to the contrary. In fact, he even seemed to teach the continuance of circumcision and various other rituals…Matthew 5:18; 23:1-2, 23;…Luke 2:21-24; 5:14…He certainly lived as a Jew…

“They..the “Judaizers”..found it hard to believe that Gentiles “could be saved” and become members of the people of God without accepting the obligations of the Jewish law. One can sympathize with their position; after all, what evidence was there that the law, which represented the will of God for his covenant people, had been repealed? This was the point which was pressed by some Jewish visitors to Antioch.”

…”Peter’s experience with Cornelius..Acts 10..shows that any effort to distinguish between “clean” and “unclean” people has “no relevance” as far as salvation is concerned. Peter explained this to the Jerusalem church. At the time, the Jewish Christians swallowed their concerns and accepted the fact that God is giving salvation to Gentiles…Acts 11:18…

“The Jewish extremists accept the idea that the gospel is going to Gentiles; they know that the covenant of blessing extends to all nations…Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 26:4…The Scriptures say that the Gentiles will be saved in the last days…Isaiah 2:2; 11:10; 25:8-9; 49:6; 55:5-7; 56:7; 60:3-22; Zephaniah 3:9-10; Zechariah 8:23…

…”So what’s the problem?”…..They do not want to exclude the Gentiles, but they insist on certain requirements for how inclusion is possible: The Gentiles should be proselytized in the context of Jewish faith, and not apart from it. Hence, they call for Gentile circumcision, for Gentiles to become Jews. That is why these people are commonly called Judaizers…hummmm….

“For these over scrupulous Christians in Jerusalem, the outreach to Gentiles was to come from within their group and to follow a proselyte model, not to come from outside their group and be apart from the law. In the last days, they said all nations are to flow to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem…not depart from it.”

…”The Judaizers see Israel or at least the righteous people within it as God’s agent in bringing the blessings of salvation to the Gentiles. They can be saved only through Jewish customs, the methods God approved to keep the remnant righteous, or within the covenant of salvation…

Paul and Barnabas are teaching at Antioch, Thus, the stage is set for a fundamental showdown between the Judaizers and people like Paul, who say that Gentiles are grafted into the church through faith alone.

Paul and Barnabas are teaching at Antioch, Thus, the stage is set for a fundamental showdown between the Judaizers and people like Paul, who say that Gentiles are grafted into the church through faith alone.

“Thus, the conclusion about Jewish observances is obvious to the Judaizers…Yes, God is giving salvation to the Gentiles. But if they want salvation, they must begin observing the Jewish ritual laws. Before they can be accepted as first-class Christians they must begin living like the Jewish Christians do. In short, the Judaizers say that Gentiles have to become Jews before they can be Christians…

…”The rapid influx of Gentiles into the church in both Antioch and the cities of southern Galatia had raised again the whole question of Gentile admission or, more precisely, the terms on which they should be admitted. It was one thing to accept the occasional God-fearer into the church, someone already in sympathy with Jewish ways; it was quite another to welcome large numbers of Gentiles who had no regard for the law and no intention of keeping it”…

“Thus, the stage is set for a fundamental showdown between the Judaizers and people like Paul, who say that Gentiles are grafted into the church through faith alone.

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Acts, Chapter 14, Paul takes the gospel to Asia Minor, Missionaries at Iconium, Acts 14:1-3

And now let’s continue our biblical studies by “Exploring the Book of Acts”…Chapter 14…Paul takes the gospel to Asia Minor..”Missionaries at “Iconium”…Acts 14:1-3…

“ICONIUM”…modern Konya is the next city in which Paul and Barnabas carry on missionary work. The city is on the Sebaste Road about 90 miles 145 kilometers east-southeast of Pisidian Antioch. Following their usual procedure, the two missionaries enter the Jewish synagogue to preach..Acts 14:1.. Luke tells us that Paul and Barnabas speak so effectively that large numbers of Jews and Gentiles believe the gospel…

…”But as usual, the nonbelieving Jews embark on a smear campaign that eventually poisons the minds of the Gentiles “against the brothers”…Acts 14:2…This probably entails a sustained campaign to discredit the teaching of Paul and Barnabas, perhaps ridiculing their claim that Jesus is the Messiah. In spite of the persecution, the two missionaries “spent considerable time” in Iconium..Acts 14:3.. Luke gives few details of their “preaching” here, and compresses the work of several months into a few sentences…

“The missionaries preach the “message of his grace”..Acts 13:3.. Luke has already used the phrase to describe the gospel, and he will do so again..Acts 23:43; 20:24, 32.. The idea of “grace” is prominent in Paul’s letters, and Luke’s use of it in his messages may reflect Paul’s emphasis..Romans 3:24; 6:14-15;..Galatians 2:21; and Ephesians 2:8…

…”The preaching of Paul and Barnabas is accompanied by “miraculous signs and wonders”..Acts 3:3.. Paul later refers to “these miracles” in a letter to the churches in the province of Galatia. He appeals to the miracles as evidence that the good news he preaches is “approved by God”…Galatians 3:5…

…”Plot against the apostles”…Acts 14:4-6…
“Paul and Barnabas preach effectively in “Iconium” and God “performs miraculous” wonders through them. Nonetheless, the population of the city remains divided about them. “Some sided with the Jews,others with the apostles”..Acts 14:4…Because of the support Paul and Barnabas receive, it takes a long time for any serious opposition to develop. But eventually the Jews are able to hatch a plot with some of the townsfolk and political leaders of Iconium. Apparently, the Jews intend to “gather a mob”…”beat up Paul and Barnabas”, and “stone them to death”…Acts 13:5…

“The missionaries are “informed of the plot” perhaps by sympathetic Jews who accept the gospel. The apostles leave the city before the plotters can capture them..Acts 14:4.. Verses 4 and 14 contain the only reference in Acts to Paul being an apostle. This may seem odd in view of the fact that Paul often stresses his apostleship. See the first verse of many of his letters:…..Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus…

…”Apparently”, Luke restricts his use of the term “apostle” as a special “office” to the Twelve. They are the ones who were with Jesus from the beginning of his ministry and who are witnesses of his resurrection..Acts 1:21-25; 10:39-42.. Luke probably thinks of Paul and Barnabas as “apostles” only in a general sense, as “special emissaries”, “envoys”, or “messengers” commissioned by the church at Antioch..Acts 13:3-4..and in this sense were apostles, or people “sent out.”

“Paul himself”… uses the word apostle in a broad sense of a person who is given the responsibility of being a messenger, but who doesn’t hold a special office. He says that Epaphroditus, a co-worker, was, “My brother, fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger”…Philippians 2:25…

…”Flee to Lystra”…Acts 14:6-7…
“The Jewish plot against Paul and Barnabas is about to be put into “operation”. Having learned of it, and to avoid stoning, Paul and Barnabas travel to “the Lycaonian cities of Lystra and Derbe”..Acts 14:6.. Here, they continue to preach the gospel. By mentioning that Lystra and Derbe are in the region of Lycaonia, Luke is implying that Iconium is in a different political realm. At this time, it is apparently part of Phrygia, a separate region…

“The first city in Lycaonia to which Barnabas and Paul come is Lystra, about 20 miles ..32 kilometers..south-southwest of Iconium…

…”Apostle Paul…”Healing a crippled man”…Acts 14:8-10…
“Luke limits himself to narrating a single event in Lystra, which begins with the healing of a crippled man lame from birth..Acts 14:8.. Paul is speaking to what is probably a crowd of Gentiles in a public place. From Luke’s account, we have no indication that Lystra has a synagogue…

“Apparently, Paul is drawn to this man, somehow perceiving that he has faith to be healed. Paul interrupts his speech and says to the cripple: “Stand up on your feet!”… Acts 14:10…At Paul’s words, the man “jumps up and begins to walk”…

…”This story portrays Paul as an authentic messenger of God in the tradition of Peter, who also healed a lame man..Acts 3:1-10..Luke uses parallel expressions in the two accounts: “lame from birth,” “looked directly at him,” “jumped up and began to walk.” Both Peter and Paul are shown to be using the “same power as did Jesus”, who also healed a crippled person…Luke 5:17-26…

“This incident”, selected by Luke for detailed description from among the “signs and wonders” of the Galatian mission..verse 3..parallels the similar cure by Peter in chapter 3, and doubtless was chosen for this reason. In opposition to those who would challenge Paul’s claim to apostolic authority based on his direct commission from the risen Christ, Luke is concerned to show that his hero shares with the chief apostle the healing power vested in his disciples by the Lord himself…

…”Gods in human form”…Acts 14:11-13…
“When the beggar jumps up and walks, something unexpected happened. Seeing the healed beggar, the crowd shouts in their own language, “The gods have come down to us in human form!”…Acts 14:11… Barnabas is called “Zeus”, and Paul is thought to be “Hermes”, because he is the main speaker….Hermes is called the messenger of Zeus and the patron of “orators”…

…”Barnabas and Paul refuse worship in Lystra”…

“The people of Lystra, as in other towns of Asia Minor, probably use or are acquainted to some degree with three languages. “Latin” is the “official language” of the Roman administration. Greek, the lingua franca of the Eastern Roman empire, is understood by most of the Lystrans. The third language in use is the native vernacular … “the Lycaonian language.”

…”Almost certainly, Paul preaches in Greek, which the people understand. “However”, it’s doubtful that Barnabas and Paul understand Lycaonian. Therefore they don’t know at first what the shouting is all about even the names of the gods may have been in the local dialect…

“The Lystrans think that they are experiencing a “divine visitation”. The idea of gods coming to earth in human form is familiar in this region because of a “legend”… The existence of this ancient legend may explain the wildly emotional response of the Lystrans to the healing of the cripple by Paul and Barnabas….hummmm…

…”According to the legend”, Zeus and Hermes..to use their Greek names..came to earth in the neighboring district of Phrygia disguised as human beings. They seek lodging, but no one shows them hospitality and takes them in. Finally, an “old peasant couple” Philemon and his wife Baucis,”welcome them as house guests”, even though it depletes their meager resources. The gods are angry and destroy the whole population for their lack of hospitality, except for the gracious Philemon and Baucis. The couple’s humble cottage is transformed into a temple, of which they are given the charge until their death……..

Missionaries at Iconium

Missionaries at Iconium

“This legend” is preserved in a Latin story-poem by Ovid…Metamorphoses, “The Story of Baucis and Philemon” 620-724.. He tells the ancient legend about half a century before Paul’s first missionary journey. Ovid called them by their Latin names, Jupiter and Mercury. This ancient legend is well known in southern Galatia, and it may explain why Paul and Barnabas become the objects of such a wild celebration. Paul’s healing of the crippled man make the Lystrans think he and Barnabas are the gods Zeus and Hermes once again come down in human form….hummmm…

…”If the people of ancient times failed to pay homage to the gods on their previous visit, the Lystrans are determined not to make the same mistake and incur their wrath again. Thus, the priest at the local temple arranges for a sacrifice to honor the presence of Paul and Barnabas. Luke says he “brought bulls and wreaths to the city gates because he and the crowd wanted to offer sacrifices to them”…Acts 14:13…

…”We will continue our “Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul”…Tomorrow…Until then…Thank-You for your dedications in keeping-up with me in our studying the
words of God from the bible together…May God bless You all!!!

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Filed under Daily Biblical Studies for the Soul