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Intertestamental Period

The time between the last writings of the Old Testament and the appearance of Christ is known as the “intertestamental” (or “between the testaments”) period. Because there was no prophetic word from God during this period, some refer to it as the “400 silent years.” The political, religious, and social atmosphere of Palestine changed significantly during this period. Much of what happened was predicted by the prophet Daniel. (See Daniel chapters 2, 7, 8, and 11 and compare to historical events.)

Israel was under the control of the Persian Empire from about 532-332 B.C. The Persians allowed the Jews to practice their religion with little interference. They were even allowed to rebuild and worship at the temple (2 Chronicles 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-4). This period included the last 100 years of the Old Testament period and about the first 100 years of the intertestamental period. This time of relative peace and contentment was just the calm before the storm.

Alexander the Great defeated Darius of Persia, bringing Greek rule to the world. Alexander was a student of Aristotle and was well educated in Greek philosophy and politics. He required that Greek culture be promoted in every land that he conquered. As a result, the Hebrew Old Testament was translated into Greek, becoming the translation known as the Septuagint. Most of the New Testament references to Old Testament Scripture use the Septuagint phrasing. Alexander did allow religious freedom for the Jews, though he still strongly promoted Greek lifestyles. This was not a good turn of events for Israel since the Greek culture was very worldly, humanistic, and ungodly.

After Alexander died, Judea was ruled by a series of successors, culminating in Antiochus Epiphanes. Antiochus did far more than refuse religious freedom to the Jews. Around 167 B.C., he overthrew the rightful line of the priesthood and desecrated the temple, defiling it with unclean animals and a pagan altar (see Mark 13:14). This was the religious equivalent of rape. Eventually, Jewish resistance to Antiochus (Maccabees, The members or followers of the family of the Jewish leader Judas Maccabaeus.
four books of Jewish history and theology, of which the first and second are in the Apocrypha and feature Judas Maccabaeus.) restored the rightful priests and rescued the temple. The period that followed was one of war, violence, and infighting.

Around 63 B.C., Pompey of Rome conquered Palestine, putting all of Judea under control of the Caesars. This eventually led to Herod being made king of Judea by the Roman emperor and senate. This would be the nation that taxed and controlled the Jews, and eventually executed the Messiah on a Roman cross. Roman, Greek, and Hebrew cultures were now mixed together in Judea.

During the span of the Greek and Roman occupations, two important political/religious groups emerged in Palestine. The Pharisees added to the Law of Moses through oral tradition and eventually considered their own laws more important than God’s (see Mark 7:1-23). While Christ’s teachings often agreed with the Pharisees, He railed against their hollow legalism and lack of compassion. The Sadducees represented the aristocrats and the wealthy. The Sadducees, who wielded power through the Sanhedrin, rejected all but the Mosaic books of the Old Testament. They refused to believe in resurrection and were generally shadows of the Greeks, whom they greatly admired.

Romans 15:13This rush of events that set the stage for Christ had a profound impact on the Jewish people. Both Jews and pagans from other nations were becoming dissatisfied with religion. The pagans were beginning to question the validity of polytheism. Romans and Greeks were drawn from their mythologies towards Hebrew Scriptures, now easily readable in Greek or Latin. The Jews, however, were despondent. Once again, they were conquered, oppressed, and polluted. Hope was running low; faith was even lower. They were convinced that now the only thing that could save them and their faith was the appearance of the Messiah.

The New Testament tells the story of how hope came, not only for the Jews, but for the entire world. Christ’s fulfillment of prophecy was anticipated and recognized by many who sought Him out. The stories of the Roman centurion, the wise men, and the Pharisee Nicodemus show how Jesus was recognized as the Messiah by those who lived in His day. The “400 years of silence” were broken by “the greatest story ever told” the gospel of Jesus Christ!

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Introduction and Background to 1 Corinthians

Introduction

A number of years ago, one of the seminary students in our congregation left for a summer ministry in the South. During that week, we received word that his car had broken down on the way and that he was stranded. It was reported as a matter for prayer, but in jest, someone suggested the church send “Bob” to fix the car. My response was that, while I may be able to “heal the sick” (automotively speaking), I am not able to “raise the dead!”

While a student in seminary, I became friends with a student who was a veterinarian. I always teased him by telling him his ministry could be preaching in a church that was going to the dogs. I wonder just how one would feel about being sent to a church like the one in Corinth, as described in the two epistles of Paul to the Corinthians. Frankly, from a purely human point of view, the situation in Corinth appears to be hopeless.

And yet when we read these introductory verses to this epistle, Paul is positive, upbeat, and optimistic. His prayers concerning this church are filled with expressions of thanksgiving. How can this be? How can Paul be so positive and optimistic as he communicates with this church? One thing is certain—it is not because of the godly conduct of many of its members.

Paul’s first words to the Corinthians are not just a repetition of a standard form, a kind of “boiler plate” greeting, as though he were using a pre-packaged computer program which needed nothing else but to fill in the name of the church. The salutation of this epistle provides us not only with a demonstration of Paul’s optimism and enthusiasm in writing to these saints, it also indicates how he can be so positive about this troubled body of believers. More than this, it begins to lay a theological foundation for Paul’s ministry and teaching as it will be given throughout the epistle. This salutation tells us not only how Paul feels about this church, but why he feels as he does. Gordon Fee has this to say about the importance of these first nine verses of 1 Corinthians:

With the elaborations of this letter Paul begins a habit that will carry through to the end. In each case the elaborations reflect, either directly or subtly, many of the concerns about to be raised in the letter itself. Even as he formally addresses the church in the salutation, Paul’s mind is already at work on the critical behavioral and theological issues at hand.

The Founding of the Church at Corinth

At the end of Paul’s so-called first missionary journey with Barnabas, the Jerusalem Council met to decide just what should be required of Gentile converts (Acts 15:1-29). When Paul and Barnabas went their separate ways, Paul took Silas with him and set out on what was to be called the second missionary journey of Paul (Acts 15:36-41). They began by revisiting some of the churches that had been founded on the first journey, delivering to them the decision of the Jerusalem Council (16:4-5).

After being divinely prohibited from preaching in Asia (Acts 16:6) and Bithynia, Paul, Silas, and Timothy ended up at Troas, where Paul received the “Macedonian vision” (16:9-10), which brought them to Philippi where a number were saved and a church was established. From Philippi, Paul and his party went to Thessalonica, then to Berea, and finally to Athens (Acts 17). From Athens, Paul went to Corinth, an ancient city of Greece, the seat of government of the Roman province of Achaia. It was in Corinth that Paul first crossed paths with a Jew named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Like Paul, this man was a tent-maker. He and his wife had fled from Italy because of a command from Claudius that all Jews must leave Rome (Acts 18:1-3). Every Sabbath, Paul went to the synagogue, where he sought to evangelize Jews and Greeks (18:4). Eventually he was joined by Silas and Timothy, who had just arrived from Macedonia. Apparently they brought a gift from the Macedonians which enabled Paul to fully devote himself to the Word, so that he gave all of his efforts to preaching Christ (18:5).

As usual, Paul’s preaching prompted a reaction from the unbelieving Jews, so that he left the synagogue and began to concentrate on evangelizing Gentiles (18:6-7). Paul moved his headquarters to the house of a man named Titius Justus, a Gentile God-fearer who lived next door to the synagogue (18:5-7). Crispus, the leader of the synagogue, became a believer along with the rest of his household. Many other Corinthians were also being saved as well and were submitting to baptism (18:8). The Lord appeared to Paul in a vision, assuring him that there were many more souls to be saved in that city and that he was not to fear. He was to speak out boldly, rather than to hold back for fear of trouble (18:9-10). As a result, Paul extended his ministry in Corinth, staying a total of 18 months, a considerably longer period of ministry than usual.

Paul’s lengthy ministry was facilitated, in part, by Jewish litigation and by the precedent-setting ruling of Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (18:12-17). The Jews seized Paul and brought him up on charges before Gallio. They accused him of being neither a faithful Jew nor a good citizen. They accused him of speaking and acting against the law. Paul did not even get the opportunity to speak in his own defense. Before he could open his mouth, Gallio gave his ruling. This strife between Paul and the Jews was but another instance of the in-fighting which was so typical of the Jews. Gallio was fed up with it and with them and was not about to be used by these Jewish zealots to prevail over their Jewish rivals. This was not a matter for his judgment. He threw them and their case out of court.

From all we are told of him, Gallio was a pagan who cared nothing for the Jews, the gospel, or Paul. And yet his ruling was a landmark decision, officially legitimizing and protecting those who preached the gospel throughout the entire Roman Empire. Judaism was an official religion, recognized and sanctioned by the Roman government. The Jews were seeking to convince Gallio that Paul was really no Jew and that the preaching of the gospel was not the practice of Judaism. Thus, they inferred, Paul was a threat to the stability of Roman rule. They argued that neither Paul nor any other Christian should be allowed to preach the gospel under the permission and protection of the Roman law. When Gallio refused to rule on this matter, calling it a Jewish squabble, he was declaring Paul’s preaching of the gospel to be the practice of Judaism. Christianity, Gallio’s ruling indicated, was Jewish and thus protected by Roman law. Thus, Paul’s ministry was legal, and any Jewish opposition could not claim Rome as their ally.

Gallio drove them away from his judgment seat. The Jews were furious, and in retaliation they seized Sosthenes, the leader of the synagogue, and began to beat him in front of the proconsul. He looked on with disdain, not at all impressed or concerned. This Sosthenes seems to be the same person who is with Paul as he writes to the Corinthians (1:1).

City of CorinthThe City of Corinth

Secular history only verifies and clarifies the impression of the city of Corinth which we gain from the pens of Luke (Acts) and Paul (1 and 2 Corinthians). It was a great city in many ways. Politically, Corinth was the capital city of the Roman province of Achaia, a territory including nearly all of Greece. That is why Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia, was in Corinth and heard the charge against Paul. Geographically, Corinth was so strategically located it could hardly do other than prosper. The city was situated on a plateau overlooking the Isthmus of Corinth, two miles distant from the Gulf. Nearby was the Acrocorinth, a 1900-foot mountain that was perfectly suited as a citadel for the city. This fortress was so secure it was never taken by force until the invention of gun-powder. It also contained an inexhaustible water supply in the fountain of Peirene. At the summit of Acrocorinth was the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love. At the base of the citadel stood the temple of Melicertes, the patron of seafarers.

Located on an isthmus, Corinth became a crossroads for both land and sea trade. By looking at a map, one can quickly see that Corinth is situated between two large bodies of water and two land areas, and these are virtually surrounded by the Mediterranean Sea. Were it not for the isthmus on which Corinth was founded, the southern part of Greece would be an island in the Mediterranean Sea. Goods exchanged between the north and south would normally be shipped by land through Corinth.

Much of the sea trade of the Mediterranean from east to west also passed through Corinth. To the west of Corinth was the port city of Lechaeum on the Gulf of Corinth. On her east was the port of Cenchrae on the Saronic Gulf. These were ports of call for ships that sailed the seas. Travel across the isthmus and through Corinth was generally considered safer than the 200-mile voyage around Cape Malea, the most dangerous cape in the Mediterranean. So dangerous was this journey by sea that the Greeks had two sayings well known to sailors in those days: “Let him who sails round Malea forget his home,” and, “Let him who sails round Malea first make his will.

To avoid the distance and danger of the journey around the Cape of Malea (now called Cape Matapan), goods would be unloaded at one port, transported across the four-mile strip of land (through Corinth), and reloaded on the other side. Smaller ships were actually transported with their cargo over the isthmus by means of rollers. Consequently, the isthmus was named the Diolkos, “the place of dragging across.” Nero had planned a canal to join the Aegean and Ionian seas, and he even began construction in A.D. 66. The three and one-half mile canal was finished in 1893.

Corinth thus became a great commercial center. Luxuries from all over the world were available, and the vices of the world were also to be found there. These evils did not all have to be imported, however, for the temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was nearby with 1,000 cult prostitutes who sold themselves in the name of religion. The Greeks had a proverb about the city which tells a great deal about its moral decay: “It is not every man who can afford a journey to Corinth.” Those who were worldly wise used the verb “corinthianize” to describe an act of immorality. “Corinthian girl” was known to be a synonym for prostitute.

Estimates of the population of Corinth range from 100,000 to 600,000. The diversity of peoples who lived in this city is explained by her history. In Paul’s day, Corinth was a very old and yet a very new city. “Signs of habitation date back to the fourth millennium B.C.” Alexander made Corinth the center of a new Hellenic League as he prepared for war with Persia. In 146 B.C., the city was destroyed by Roman soldiers because it led the Greek resistance to Roman rule. All the males of the city were exterminated, and the women and children were sold for slaves. The city was rebuilt by Julius Caesar 100 years later, and it eventually became the capital of the province of Achaia. Many of those who settled in Corinth were not Greeks. A large number of Roman soldiers settled there after retiring, having received their freedom and Roman citizenship in addition to grants of land. A variety of nationalities settled in Corinth, enticed by the prospects of economic prosperity. A good number of the immigrants were Jews.

Being a relatively recent city with newly acquired wealth brought problems, for there was the absence of an established aristocracy which would have provided a much more stable society. Farrar spoke of Corinth in this way:

… this mongrel and heterogeneous population of Greek adventurers and Roman bourgeois, with a tainting infusion of Phoenicians; this mass of Jews, ex-soldiers, philosophers, merchants, sailors, freedmen, slaves, trades-people, hucksters and agents of every form of vice … without aristocracy, without traditions and without well-established citizens.

Every two years Corinth presided over the Isthmian Games, a contest in which all the Greek city-states took part. At these games, the sea-god Poseidon was specially honored.

The Occasion for Writing 1 Corinthians

After Paul had completed his 18-month ministry in Corinth, he set out for Syria with Priscilla and Aquila. On reaching Ephesus, Paul ministered for a short time, promising to return if the Lord willed (18:19-21). He left Priscilla and Aquila there and journeyed on to Caesarea, Jerusalem and Antioch (Acts 18:18-22). After strengthening the churches in Asia Minor, Paul returned to Ephesus for a much more extensive ministry. He stayed in Ephesus, teaching in the school of Tyrannus for two years. While in Ephesus, he seems to have received unfavorable reports about the Corinthian church which prompted him to write his first letter to this church, a letter which was not preserved as a part of the New Testament canon (1 Corinthians 5:9-11).

Later, while Paul was still ministering the Word in Ephesus, he heard from some of “Chloe’s people” that divisions were beginning to emerge among the Corinthian saints. In addition, Paul was informed of a case of gross immorality in the church, one with which the church had not dealt. Instead of feeling shame and sorrow over this sin, at least some of the saints were proud of their tolerance (chapter 5). He heard also of Christians taking their fellow-believers to court, seeking to have pagans pass judgment on spiritual matters (chapter 6). Paul was also told of unbecoming conduct at the Lord’s Supper (chapter 11) and of doctrinal error concerning the resurrection (chapter 15). A three-man delegation consisting of Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus also arrived from Corinth (16:17) bringing a letter which inquired of Paul about marriage (7:1), virgins (7:25), food sacrificed to idols (8:1), spiritual gifts (12:1), the collection for the saints (16:1), and Apollos (16:12). It was while he was in Ephesus that Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in response to the reports and questions he received there.

Paul’s Preamble
(1:1-3)

1 Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, 2 to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours: 3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

That Paul should write such a letter as this should come as no surprise to us and certainly not to the Corinthians. After all, Paul had already written one epistle which was not preserved for us. Paul was the one who first came to Corinth with the gospel. Many of the members of the church in Corinth were the fruit of his ministry (1 Corinthians 9:2; 2 Corinthians 3:1-4). Paul wrote with apostolic authority. By the will of God, he was chosen and called as an apostle. He wrote with full authority. His words were not to be ignored.

Paul addresses his epistle to the church at Corinth and then proceeds to define the church. This is a very important definition to which we should give our full attention. First, Paul wants us to be assured that the church belongs to God. How often we hear churches identified in terms of who the pastor is. That is ______’s church, and we fill in the blank with the pastor’s name. When we do so, we indicate our deep and fundamental difference with Paul who believed that the church belongs to God. God is the One who brought the church into existence through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. God is the One who sustains His church. It is God’s church.

Generally speaking, the term “church” is defined in terms of two categories: (a) the local church and (b) the church universal. The local church is understood as that body of believers who gather regularly in one place. The “universal church” consists of all believers in every place and in the whole course of church history.

I do not wish to differ with these two definitions of the church. They are probably useful ways of considering groups of believers. But the “local church” and the “universal church” are not entirely consistent with Paul’s use of the term as he employs it in the New Testament. Here, the church is defined as (a) “those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling,” and (b) “all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (verse 2).

We might be inclined to think of this first category as “the local church.” In a sense, it is. But when Paul speaks of the church, he simply refers to a group of believers. Sometimes this group is a “house church,” a group of believers meeting in a certain person’s home (Romans 16:5, 19; Colossians 4:15; Philemon 1:2). These “house churches” may have met in a larger gathering, as did the saints in Jerusalem (see Acts 2:46). Then, Paul referred to the “city church,” that is, the group of all believers in a particular city (see Revelation 2 and 3), or the church at a particular city (Acts 11:22; 13:1; 18:22; Romans 16:1). This is the way Paul referred to the Corinthian church, the “church of God which is at Corinth” (1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 1:1). Finally, Paul speaks of the church as all those living at one time, who have trusted in Jesus Christ for salvation.

I fear our view of the church is either too narrow (the local church—our church) or too broad (all those who have ever lived and trusted in Christ for salvation). We pray for our missionaries, the missionaries we have sent out from our local church, or more broadly, from our denominational group. A few churches share with those in need within their own fellowship or local church. When the new believers (the church) at Antioch heard a famine was coming upon the world, they enthusiastically began to prepare to give to their brethren in Judea. They understood, even at this early stage in their growth and maturity, that the church is bigger than the local church.

When we hear of disasters taking place around the world, do we immediately begin to consider the impact on our brethren, our fellow members of the world-wide church, and act accordingly? I fear we do not, at least to the degree we should. With such rapid communications in our time, we could easily and quickly learn of the trials and tribulations of fellow believers, no matter where they are in the world. And our ability to respond is also significantly easier than it was for the saints of Antioch. Let us begin to think of the church in Paul’s terms, rather than in the narrower terms to which we are accustomed.

In this broader sense of the church, we see that Paul’s epistle, though addressed to the saints at Corinth, was also written to the church at large. Look once again at the first two verses of Paul’s salutation: “Paul, called as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother, to the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours.”

This broader element in Paul’s salutation is important because it reminds us that “church truth” is “church truth.” That is, Paul’s teaching to the saints at Corinth is just as applicable and just as authoritative for the church at Philippi, or Ephesus, or Dallas. Too many have tried to avoid Paul’s teaching in his Corinthians Epistles by insisting he is speaking to a very special and unique problem found only in Corinth. This simply does not square with Paul’s words. His instructions to the Corinthians apply to every other saint:

16 I exhort you therefore, be imitators of me. 17 For this reason I have sent to you Timothy, who is my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, and he will remind you of my ways which are in Christ, just as I teach everywhere in every church (1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says (1 Corinthians 14:33-34).

It has also been pointed out that in addressing the church at Corinth, Paul does not distinguish any one believer or group of believers from any other. We shall soon see that the Corinthian church was plagued with the dilemma of divisions. Here, Paul does not address the church other than as one group of believers, equally lost as unbelievers, and now equally saved through the person and work of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, Paul is careful to emphasize that the standing of the saints in Corinth and elsewhere is solely the result of the grace of God manifested through the Lord Jesus Christ. There are no grounds for boasting, except in the person and work of Christ.

Paul’s Thanksgiving
(1:4-9)

4 I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, 5 that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 8 who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Somehow, an expression of thanksgiving is not what I would have expected from Paul at this point in time. Here is a church that has begun to listen to false teachers and who is challenging Paul’s authority. Here is a church which condones immorality and “unconditionally accepts” a man whose sin shocks the unbelieving pagans of that city. Here is a church whose personal conflicts are being aired out before unbelieving eyes in secular courts. How can Paul possibly give thanks?

Paul does not give thanks for the sins and failures of these saints. Paul gives thanks to God for what He has done and for what He will ultimately do for His children. Paul first gives thanks for the “grace of God,” which He has given the saints in Christ Jesus (verse 4). Grace is unmerited favor, and we must surely agree that these saints—not to mention ourselves—are unworthy. The good things which have already been accomplished, and all those good things yet to be accomplished, are manifestations of God’s infinite grace, bestowed upon those who are unworthy.

Paul gives thanks for the sufficiency of God’s grace to the saints as articulated in verses 5-7.

5 That in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, 6 even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, 7 so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God’s grace to the saints in Corinth and everywhere was boundless. He enriched them in everything. They were enriched in all speech and all knowledge. This was achieved through the preaching of the “testimony of Christ,” as it was confirmed in each and every believer. The Corinthians had no critical need for which God had not made provision through the apostolic preaching of Christ. Were there false teachers who indicated the Corinthians were lacking and that they needed more of something? They were liars! God had already provided all that was necessary for “life and godliness” in Christ (see 2 Peter 1:2-4). No gift was lacking in the church. God had provided just the right gifts for the growth and maturity and ministry of the saints in Corinth. If the church at Corinth was failing, it was not due to any failure on God’s part to provide for their needs, but rather a failure on their part to appropriate these means.

Finally, Paul expressed his thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God and the resulting assurance that He would complete that which He had begun in the Corinthian saints (verses 7-9). Elsewhere, Paul put it this way:

6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6).

12 For this reason I also suffer these things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day (2 Timothy 1:12).

These saints were eagerly awaiting the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ (7a). Their salvation had not only the past and present benefits, referred to earlier, but a future hope. As motley a crew as this Corinthian church proved to be, their salvation and security were God’s doing. Consequently, Paul had great confidence concerning this church and the future of each saint. Paul thanked God because He would confirm these saints to the end. What God had started, He would finish. They were secure, and their hope was certain, just as Peter also writes:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:3-5).

While these Corinthian saints may not consistently be faithful, God is faithful. It is through His faithfulness that each believer has been called to salvation. It is because of His faithfulness that we will persevere and enter into His kingdom, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

No wonder Paul is thankful. In spite of the stumbling and sin which is evident in the Corinthian church, God has saved the saints there. He has sufficiently provided for their every spiritual need. He has purposed to present them faultless when He establishes His kingdom. Paul therefore is assured that his ministry is not in vain, because the salvation and sanctification of the saints in Corinth and elsewhere are the work of God. The God who called these saints and destined them for glory is the God who called Paul to be an apostle and to minister to these saints. Paul’s work is not in vain, for his work is ultimately God’s work.

1 CorinthiansConclusion

Paul is writing to a very troubled church, a church which exists in the midst of a very corrupt city and culture. In spite of this, Paul has a very confident mood as he addresses the saints at Corinth and around the world of his day and ours. I notice that in spite of the weaknesses and willful sins of these saints, Paul does not begin by questioning the reality of their conversion, but by affirming the present and future benefits. There are texts which do question the reality of the faith of persistently wayward professing believers, but this is not one of them. These saints need to be reminded of the certainty of their salvation. The certainty of their salvation rests not within themselves, but in the One who called them and the One who will complete all that He has begun. This certainty also assures Paul that his continued ministry to this church is not in vain.

This book of 1 Corinthians should cause us to reject the myth of the perfect New Testament church. We often refer to ourselves at The House of The Nazarene as a “New Testament church.” We are that in the sense that our church is patterned after the principles set down in the New Testament. We have no one “pastor,” who is the head of the church, but we recognize that Christ is the only Head of the church. We are governed by a plurality of elders. We have a weekly observance of the Lord’s Supper, and we encourage believers to exercise their spiritual gifts in a way that edifies the whole body. We do not wish to imply by the expression “New Testament church” that we are a perfect church or even that we are a good church at all times.

So often Christians look back to the New Testament times as though the church in those days was nearly perfect. If you read the Book of Acts the way I do, there is a wonderful period of bliss in the infancy of the church, but this lasts only from late in chapter 2 to the end of chapter 4. In chapter 5, a couple is struck dead for lying to the Holy Spirit. In chapter 6, there is strife between two groups of Jews over the care of their widows. And by the time we get to the Corinthian church, it is far from perfect and hardly what could be called good. The final words of our Lord to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation 2 and 3 are not complimentary either. The church was not perfect in New Testament times, and neither is it perfect today. The same sins which Paul exposes in 1 and 2 Corinthians are present and evident in evangelical churches today. And so Paul’s words of admonition and correction are just as applicable to us today as they were to the saints of his day.

We deceive ourselves if we think we can retreat within the church walls to escape the evils of the world. The Corinthians Epistles inform us that the world too easily and quickly finds its way into the church. The church is not the place where we go to escape from sin; it is the place where we go to confront our sin and to stimulate each other to love and good deeds. The church is not a Christian “clean room” where we can get away from sin; it is a hospital, where we can find help and healing through the ministry of the Word and prayer.

The church is not the place which is kept holy by keeping sinners away. It is the place where newly born sinners are brought, so that they can learn the Scriptures and grow in their faith. All too often, new believers feel unwelcomed by the church. The church is afraid of newly saved sinners because they do not really understand holiness or sanctification. Let us not strive to preserve the purity of the church by keeping out the newly saved pagans. Let us strive to preserve the purity of the church by throwing out some of the professing saints who boast only of the time they have put in at the church but whose profession of faith is hypocritical (see 1 Corinthians 5).

If there was hope for the Corinthians, then there is hope for anyone. The first nine verses of this epistle are saturated with reason for hope. Do you know someone who is hopelessly lost, who is not just disinterested in the gospel but adamantly opposed to it? Then take hope from the two men from whom this letter is sent. The apostle Paul was once Saul, the Saul who stood by and held the garments for those who stoned Stephen, the Paul who went from city to city seeking to find Christians whom he could arrest and even put to death. This man is now willing to give his life for the sake of the gospel.

If I understand the text correctly, Sosthenes is another Saul. In Acts 18, we are told that Crispus, the synagogue leader in Corinth, came to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. It appears that Sosthenes is his replacement. I understand him to be the leader of the opposition to Paul and the church in Corinth. At his instigation, it would seem, charges were brought against Christianity before Gallio, the proconsul of Achaia (Acts 18:12-17). When Gallio refuses to hear this case, it is clear that Paul and the church have won. In frustration and anger, the unbelieving Jews turn on Sosthenes, their leader, beating him as Gallio watched, unmoved. Now, Sosthenes is a traveling companion of Paul’s, a brother in the Lord. Two of the most hostile unbelievers are now brothers in the Lord. Is there hope for the lost? There most certainly is!

If there is hope for the lost, there is also hope for those who are saved but whose life falls far short of the standard set by the Scriptures. Here is a church that seems almost beyond hope. There are divisions, immorality, and opposition to the apostle Paul and to apostolic teaching. Is Paul discouraged? Does Paul give up hope? No! Paul’s first words to this church are those of hope and confidence. Paul’s confidence and hope are not in the Corinthians, in their good intentions, or in their diligent efforts. His hope is in the One who called him and who called the Corinthian saints as well. His hope is in the fact that God has abundantly provided for every spiritual need in that church. His hope is in the faithfulness of the God who started the good work in these believers and who is committed to bring it to completion.

Have you ever felt that a loved one or a friend were hopeless? They may be a believer, but their life is a mess. This epistle reminds us that there is hope for such a saint. Have you ever felt that you were beyond help, beyond hope? This epistle is for you. Its first words to you remind you of the character and the work of God in the saints, through the work of His Son, Jesus Christ. Cease trusting in yourself, in your good intentions, in your efforts, and once again place your trust in the One who alone can save and sanctify. Heed Paul’s words of warning and of instruction. If there is hope for Saul and Sosthenes and for saints at Corinth, there is hope for anyone.

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Purim

Shalom,
Tonight and tomorrow, we celebrate one of the most joyous and fun-filled holidays on the Jewish calendarPurim (Feast of Lots).
This festive day commemorates God’s victory and deliverance of the Jewish People from their enemies in ancient Persia.
“This [victory] happened on the thirteenth day of the month of Adar, and on the fourteenth they rested and made it a day of feasting and joy.”  (Esther 9:17)

Hamantaschen, the traditional filled pastry of Purim, are a reference to
Haman, the villain of the Book of Esther.  The cookie’s triangular shape is
thought to resemble Haman’s three-cornered hat.  The groggers
(noisemakers) are for drowning out any reference to his name.
Before the Purim feast tonight, we fast.
Ta’anit Esther (the fast of Esther) is held in honor of Queen Esther’s three-day fast before pleading with the king to spare the lives of her people.  She told her cousin and adopted father, Mordecai:
“Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Shushan, and fast for me.  Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day.  I and my attendants will fast as you do.  When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.” (Esther 4:16)
This fast traditionally falls on Adar 13, the day before Purim, which was the day Haman set aside for the destruction of the Jewish People.
Today’s fast begins an hour before sunrise and ends at nightfall.  Because this fast is not one of the four public fasts called by the Prophets, its observance is more lenient.  Women who are pregnant or nursing, as well as the weak, are not required to fully observe it.

A Purim parade in Israel
The Fast of Joy
While most fasts have an element of mourning, this fast (tzom) is one of joy.  It affirms that Israel’s strength is not found in its military might, but in the Lord.  Our victory comes by keeping our eyes on the Lord through prayer and by God’s Divine mercy.
“‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”(Zechariah 4:6)
Although the Jewish People did take up arms and fight their enemies, that victory was only possible because courageous people prayed before taking action.
Rabbi Shraga Simmons writes that Ta’anit Esther is not a fast involving sadness (as is the commemoration of the destruction of the Temple on Tisha B’Av or on Yom Kippur when we repent for our sins of the prior year) but one of “elevation and inspiration.”
He compares it with the Torah injunction that soldiers should fast on the day prior to battle, thus recognizing that victory does not come through our own strength but from God.  (Aish)

Israeli Orthodox Jewish men read the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther).
Purim: A Day of Merrymaking
“Celebrate annually … observe the days as days of feasting and joy and giving presents of food to one another and gifts to the poor.”  (Esther 9:21–22)
The Book of Esther describes Purim as a time of “light, gladness, joy and honor for the Jewish people.”  (Esther 8:16)
One indispensable way of spreading joy on Purim is the giving of Purim baskets filled with delicious goodies to family and friends, as well as gifts to the poor.
Purim is such a festive celebration that it is marked by wearing costumes, feasting at elaborate meals, and the reading of the Scroll of Esther (Megillat Esther).
As we listen to the story of Purim read in the synagogue, we grind our groggers (noisemakers) to block out the hated name of Haman whenever it is mentioned during the reading.  With equal enthusiasm, cheering ensueswhen Mordecai’s name is spoken.
This is a reminder that throughout history, there have been Hamans that have tried to wipe out the Jewish nation as a people, but in every generation, God has protected us from complete destruction.

The importance of unity and friendship is emphasized on Purim by
sending gifts of food to friends called mishloach manot.  As well, it is
considered a special mitzvah (good deed) to give to the needy (Matanot
L’Evyonim) on Purim.  It is traditional to give to (at minimum) two poor
individuals on Purim day.
Another custom practiced by some to blot out the name of Haman is to drink until we are not able to discern between “cursed is Haman” and “blessed is Mordecai.”
This is one time of the year in which being drunk might be acceptable in Judaism.
Perhaps the rabbis encouraged such behavior because this is to be a joyous holiday, one in which we recall how God protected His People from total annihilation at the hands of an evil adversary. 
A more compelling reason, though, may be that God installed a Jewish queen on a Persian throne as a result of excessive drinking.
Of course, the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant) encourages Believers not to drink excessively:
And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord.”  (Ephesians 5:18–19)
The Book of Esther, however, begins with a drinking spree sanctioned by the Persian king.

The Megillat Esther (Scroll of Esther)
The Story of Purim
“By the king’s command each guest was allowed to drink with no restrictions, for the king instructed all the wine stewards to serve each man what he wished.”  (Esther 1:8)
In the Book of Esther, King Ahasuerus of Persia, who probably can be identified as Xerxes I who reigned during the fifth century BC, holds a drinking fest that lasts 180 days.
After months of excess, celebrating with his army, government officials, and the people of Shushan, he orders his queen, Vashti, to appear before the guests so that he can show off her beauty.
Vashti refuses, so Ahasuerus has her banished (executed, according to traditional Jewish accounts) at the urging of Persia’s seven nobles, who are concerned that women would follow her example.
“Then when the king’s edict is proclaimed throughout all his vast realm, all the women will respect their husbands, from the least to the greatest.”  (Esther 1:20)

A child wears a Purim costume as he listens to the reading of Esther
in a synagogue in Ofra, Israel.
To replace the queen, the king orders a kind of beauty contest featuring the most beautiful young women of his kingdom.
One of those was the Jewish orphan Esther, who is being raised by her cousin Mordecai, a Benjamite “who had been carried into exile from Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, among those taken captive with Jehoiachina king of Judah.”  (Esther 2:6)
Each of the women completes 12 months of beauty treatments and eats special food before they are taken in to the king.
Esther, who had not revealed her identity as a Jew, is most favored by him.
“So he set a royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.  And the king gave a great banquet, Esther’s banquet, for all his nobles and officials.  He proclaimed a holiday throughout the provinces and distributed gifts with royal liberality.”  (Esther 2:17–18)

A little girl dressed as Queen Esther for Purim places
hamantaschen in a basket.
While Esther is serving as queen, Mordecai uncovers a plot to kill Ahasuerus, saving the king’s life.
Yet, this loyalty does not earn him favor with the king’s chief minister, Haman, who is appointed after this event.
Mordecai, who sits daily at the palace gate, refuses to bow to Haman.
In retaliation, Haman plots his death, as well as the deaths of all of the Jews living in the empire.
With the king’s permission, he casts lots (purim) to determine the best date on which to carry out the massacre.  It falls on Adar 13.

Two Jewish men wear tefillin (phylacteries) for
morning prayer on Purim.
Celebrate Purim with the Jewish People, Bill, by making a difference in Israel today
Hearing of the plot, Mordecai instructs Esther, through the king’s eunuch, to approach the king in order to plead with him on behalf of her people.
In her reply to him, she reminds Mordecai that to enter the inner court without being summoned by the king would likely result in her death.
Mordecai reasons with her, “Do not imagine that you in the king’s palace can escape any more than all the Jews.  For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place and you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not attained royalty for such a time as this?”  (Esther 4:13–14)
Esther realizes the wisdom in her cousin’s words and calls for a three-day fast, saying, “I will go in to the king, which is not according to the law; and if I perish, I perish,” (Esther 4:16) — which is to say, “God’s will be done.”

Esther before Ahasuerus, by Giovanni Andrea Sirani
With much united prayer, therefore, Esther approaches the king and reveals Haman’s plans to destroy her people.
Realizing that even Esther would be killed, Ahasuerus hangs Haman on the same pole Haman designed for Mordecai.
The king also allows the Jews to defend themselves against the evil edict, resulting in the deaths of 75,000 enemies on Adar 13, in addition to 800 deaths in the king’s citadel of Shushan on the 13th and 14th.  (Esther 9:6, 15–16)

An Israeli father and son deliver a mishloach manot, the traditional Purim
gift of treats.
Where Was God?
Much has been made of the fact that God’s name is not mentioned in the Book of Esther.
Many say that this was intentional — to teach us that what may seem to berandom events, such as the ten plagues in Egypt, in fact are not.
Even when God seems “hidden,” He is still in control.  Nothing happens by chance.
The rabbis even link this apparent hiddenness of God to Esther’s name, as in “I will surely hide [as-tir] My face on that day.…”  (Deuteronomy 31:18)
This idea of hiddenness in Esther, including her hidden identity as a Jew, explains why costumes and masks are worn by children and adults alike on Purim.  The message of such masks is that though God may be hidden, He is there.

Part of the traditional Purim festivities is the Purim spiel, a comic,
informal dramatization of the events that transpire in the Book of Esther.
Purim and Modern-Day Hamans
Purim reminds us that a “Haman” seeking to destroy Israel arises in every generation.
To find our Haman today, we need look no further than modern-day Persia — Iran — where leaders openly call for Israel’s destruction.  As well, tens of thousands of Hezbollah and Hamas “freedom fighters” surround Israel ready to carry out Israel’s ruin.
Whether Haman is supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei of Iran or Germany’s Hitler, who orchestrated the Holocaust, the Bible plainly states that those who curse Israel are doomed to destruction and those who bless Israel will forever be blessed.  (Genesis 12:3)
The true message of Purim is that God does not break His promises to the Jewish People.  They will survive and prosper in the homeland that He is bringing them back to in these tumultuous end times.
Even in what might seem to be random events today, God’s presence is constant and His hand is evident.
“He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it.  He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors.”  (Deuteronomy 30:5)
 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and
his wife Sara bring a little joy to sick children
in honor of Purim.
Like Esther, there are times God is calling us to act on His behalf for the Jewish People.
We may not supernaturally hear a voice from Heaven commanding us to do this or that; instead, He might speak to us through a trusted family member, spiritual leader, or friend.
Most often, however, we will come to understand His will through reading the Word of God.
For instance, in Mark 16:15, Yeshua (Jesus) told His Talmudim (Disciples),”Go into all the world and preach the Good News to all creation.”
And in Isaiah 58:10, we read: “You must actively help the hungry and feed the oppressed.”

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Daniel 10-12

Daniel 10-12

Daniel 10

10:1-21 Vision by the great river

1 In the third year of Cyrus king of Persia a thing was revealed unto Daniel, whose name was called Belteshazzar; and the thing [was] true, but the time appointed [was] long: and he understood the thing, and had understanding of the vision. 2 In those days I Daniel was mourning three full weeks. 3 I ate no pleasant bread, neither came flesh nor wine in my mouth, neither did I anoint myself at all, till three whole weeks were fulfilled. 4 And in the four and twentieth day of the first month, as I was by the side of the great river, which [is] Hiddekel; 5 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins [were] girded with fine gold of Uphaz: 6 His body also [was] like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude. 7 And I Daniel alone saw the vision: for the men that were with me saw not the vision; but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. 8 Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. 9 Yet heard

his face as the appearance of lightning

his face as the appearance of lightning

I the voice of his words: and when I heard the voice of his words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground.

10 And, behold, an hand touched me, which set me upon my knees and [upon] the palms of my hands. 11 And he said unto me, O Daniel, a man greatly beloved, understand the words that I speak unto thee, and stand upright: for unto thee am I now sent. And when he had spoken this word unto me, I stood trembling. 12 Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words. 13 But the prince of the kingdom of Persia withstood me one

prince of the kingdom of Persia

prince of the kingdom of Persia

and twenty days: but, lo, Michael, one of the chief princes, came to help me; and I remained there with the kings of Persia. 14 Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision [is] for [many] days. 15 And when he had spoken such words unto me, I set my face toward the ground, and I became dumb. 16 And, behold, [one] like the similitude of the sons of men touched my lips: then I opened my mouth, and spake, and said unto him that stood before me, O my lord, by the vision my sorrows are turned upon me, and I have retained no strength. 17 For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me. 18 Then there came again and touched me [one] like the

Archangel Michael

Archangel Michael

appearance of a man, and he strengthened me, 19 And said, O man greatly beloved, fear not: peace [be] unto thee, be strong, yea, be strong. And when he had spoken unto me, I was strengthened, and said, Let my lord speak; for thou hast strengthened me. 20 Then said he, Knowest thou wherefore I come unto thee? and now will I return to fight with the prince of Persia: and when I am gone forth, lo, the prince of Grecia shall come. 21 But I will shew thee that which is noted in the scripture of truth: and [there is] none that holdeth with me in these things, but Michael your prince. (Daniel 10:1-21 AV)

Daniel 11

11:1-45 The king of the south and the king of the north

1 Also I in the first year of Darius the Mede, [even] I, stood to confirm and to strengthen him. 2 And now will I shew thee the truth. Behold, there shall stand up yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than [they] all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. 3 And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. 4 And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.

5 And the king of the south shall be strong, and [one] of his princes; and he shall be strong above him, and have dominion; his dominion [shall be] a great dominion. 6 And in the end of years they shall join themselves together; for the king’s daughter of the south shall come to the king of the north to make an agreement: but she shall not retain the power of the arm; neither shall he stand, nor his arm: but she shall be given up, and they that brought her, and he that begat her, and he that strengthened her in [these] times. 7 But out of a branch of her roots shall [one] stand up in his estate, which shall come with an army, and shall enter into the fortress of the king of the north, and shall deal against them, and shall prevail: 8 And shall also carry captives into Egypt their gods, with their princes, [and] with their precious vessels of silver and of gold; and he shall continue [more] years than the king of the north. 9 So the king of the south shall come into [his] kingdom, and shall return into his own land. 10 But his sons shall be stirred up, and shall assemble a multitude of great forces: and [one] shall certainly come, and overflow, and pass through: then shall he return, and be stirred up, [even] to his fortress. 11 And the king of the south shall be moved with choler, and shall come forth and fight with him, [even] with the king of the north: and he shall set forth a great multitude; but the multitude shall be given into his hand. 12 [And] when he hath taken away the multitude, his heart shall be lifted up; and he shall cast down [many] ten thousands: but he shall not be strengthened [by it].

13 For the king of the north shall return, and shall set forth a multitude greater than the former, and shall certainly come after certain years with a great army and with much riches. 14 And in those times there shall many stand up against the king of the south: also the robbers of thy people shall exalt themselves to establish the vision; but they shall fall. 15 So the king of the north shall come, and cast up a mount, and take the most fenced cities: and the arms of the south shall not withstand, neither his chosen people, neither [shall there be any] strength to withstand. 16 But he that cometh against him shall do according to his own will, and none shall stand before him: and he shall stand in the glorious land, which by his hand shall be consumed. 17 He shall also set his face to enter with the strength of his whole kingdom, and upright ones with him; thus shall he do: and he shall give him the daughter of women, corrupting her: but she shall not stand [on his side], neither be for him. 18 After this shall he turn his face unto the isles, and shall take many: but a prince for his own behalf shall cause the reproach offered by him to cease; without his own reproach he shall cause [it] to turn upon him. 19 Then he shall turn his face toward the fort of his own land: but he shall stumble and fall, and not be found. 20 Then shall stand up in his estate a raiser of taxes [in] the glory of the kingdom: but within few days he shall be destroyed, neither in anger, nor in battle.

21 And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries. 22 And with the arms of a flood shall they be overflown from before him, and shall be broken; yea, also the prince of the covenant. 23 And after the league [made] with him he shall work deceitfully: for he shall come up, and shall become strong with a small people. 24 He shall enter peaceably even upon the fattest places of the province; and he shall do [that] which his fathers have not done, nor his fathers’ fathers; he shall scatter among them the prey, and spoil, and riches: [yea], and he shall forecast his devices against the strong holds, even for a time. 25 And he shall stir up his power and his courage against the king of the south with a great army; and the king of the south shall be stirred up to battle with a very great and mighty army; but he shall not stand: for they shall forecast devices against him. 26 Yea, they that feed of the portion of his meat shall destroy him, and his army shall overflow: and many shall fall down slain. 27 And both these kings’ hearts [shall be] to do mischief, and they shall speak lies at one table; but it shall not prosper: for yet the end [shall be] at the time appointed. 28 Then shall he return into his land with great riches; and his heart [shall be] against the holy covenant; and he shall do [exploits], and return to his own land. 29 At the time appointed he shall return, and come toward the south; but it shall not be as the former, or as the latter. 30 For the

Seleucid Empire

Seleucid Empire

ships of Chittim shall come against him: therefore he shall be grieved, and return, and have indignation against the holy covenant: so shall he do; he shall even return, and have intelligence with them that forsake the holy covenant. 31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily [sacrifice], and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate. 32 And such as do wickedly against the covenant shall he corrupt by flatteries: but the people that do know their God shall be strong, and do [exploits]. 33 And they that understand among the people shall instruct many: yet they shall fall by the sword, and by flame, by captivity, and by spoil, [many] days. 34 Now when they shall fall, they shall be holpen with a little help: but many shall cleave to them with flatteries.

35 And [some] of them of understanding shall fall, to try them, and to purge, and to make [them] white, [even] to the time of the end: because [it is] yet for a time appointed. 36 And the king shall do according to his will; and he shall exalt himself, and magnify himself above every god, and shall speak marvellous things against the God of gods, and shall prosper till the indignation be accomplished: for that that is determined shall be done. 37 Neither shall he regard the God of his fathers, nor the desire of women, nor regard any god: for he shall magnify himself above all. 38 But in his estate shall he honour the God of forces: and a god whom his fathers knew not shall he honour with gold, and silver, and with precious stones, and pleasant things. 39 Thus shall he do in the most strong holds with a strange god, whom he shall acknowledge [and] increase with glory: and he shall cause them to rule over many, and shall divide the land for gain. 40 And at the time of the end shall the king of the south push at him: and the king of the north shall come against him like a whirlwind, with chariots, and with horsemen, and with many ships; and he shall enter into the countries, and shall overflow and pass over. 41 He shall enter also into the glorious land, and many [countries] shall be overthrown: but these shall escape out of his hand, [even] Edom, and Moab, and the chief of the children of Ammon. 42 He shall stretch forth his hand also upon the countries: and the land of Egypt shall not escape. 43 But he shall have power over the treasures of gold and of silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt: and the Libyans and the Ethiopians [shall be] at his steps. 44 But tidings out of the east and out of the north shall trouble him: therefore he shall go forth with great fury to destroy, and utterly to make away many. 45 And he shall plant the tabernacles of his palace between the seas in the glorious holy mountain; yet he shall come to his end, and none shall help him. (Daniel 11:1-45 AV)

Daniel 12

12:1-13 The time of the end

1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation [even] to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. 2 And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame [and] everlasting contempt. 3 And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars

The Time of the End

The Time of the End

for ever and ever. 4 But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, [even] to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.

5 Then I Daniel looked, and, behold, there stood other two, the one on this side of the bank of the river, and the other on that side of the bank of the river. 6 And [one] said to the man clothed in linen, which [was] upon the waters of the river, How long [shall it be to] the end of these wonders? 7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which [was] upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that [it shall be] for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these [things] shall be finished. 8 And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what [shall be] the end of these [things]? 9 And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words [are] closed up and sealed till the time of the end. 10 Many shall be purified, and made white, and tried; but the wicked shall do wickedly: and none of the wicked shall understand; but the wise shall understand. 11 And from the time [that] the daily [sacrifice] shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, [there shall be] a thousand two hundred and ninety days. 12 Blessed [is] he that waiteth, and cometh to the thousand three hundred and five and thirty days. 13 But go thou thy way till the end [be]: for thou shalt rest, and stand in thy lot at the end of the days. (Daniel 12:1-13 AV)

This is the end of Daniel

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Ezra 4-7

Ezra 4-7

Ezra 4

4:1-16 Adversaries seek to stop the work

1 Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the children of the captivity builded the temple unto the LORD God of Israel; 2 Then they came to Zerubbabel, and to the chief of the fathers, and said unto them, Let us build with you: for we seek your God, as ye [do]; and we do sacrifice unto him since the days of Esarhaddon king of Assur, which brought us up hither. 3 But Zerubbabel, and Jeshua, and the rest of the chief of the fathers of Israel, said unto them, Ye have nothing to do with us to build an house unto our God; but we ourselves together will build unto the LORD God of Israel, as king Cyrus the king of Persia hath commanded us. 4 Then the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah, and troubled them in building, 5 And hired counsellors against them, to frustrate their purpose, all the days of Cyrus king of Persia, even until the reign of Darius king of Persia.

6 And in the reign of Ahasuerus, in the beginning of his reign, wrote they [unto him] an accusation against the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. 7 And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter [was] written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue. 8 Rehum the chancellor and Shimshai the scribe wrote a letter against Jerusalem to Artaxerxes the king in this sort: 9 Then [wrote] Rehum the chancellor, and Shimshai the scribe, and the rest of their companions; the Dinaites, the Apharsathchites, the Tarpelites, the Apharsites, the Archevites, the Babylonians, the Susanchites, the Dehavites, [and] the Elamites, 10 And the rest of the nations whom the great and noble Asnappar brought over, and set in the cities of Samaria, and the rest [that are] on this side the river, and at such a time. 11 This [is] the copy of the letter that they sent unto him, [even] unto Artaxerxes the king; Thy servants the men on this side the river, and at such a time.

12 Be it known unto the king, that the Jews which came up from thee to us are come unto Jerusalem, building the rebellious and the bad city, and have set up the walls [thereof], and joined the foundations. 13 Be it known now unto the king, that, if this city be builded, and the walls set up [again, then] will they not pay toll, tribute, and custom, and [so] thou shalt endamage the revenue of the kings. 14 Now because we have maintenance from [the king’s] palace, and it was not meet for us to see the king’s dishonour, therefore have we sent and certified the king; 15 That search may be made in the book of the records of thy fathers: so shalt thou find in the book of the records, and know that this city [is] a rebellious city, and hurtful unto kings and provinces, and that they have moved sedition within the same of old time: for which cause was this city destroyed. 16 We certify the king that, if this city be builded [again], and the walls thereof set up, by this means thou shalt have no portion on this side the river.

4:17-24 The work suspended

17 [Then] sent the king an answer unto Rehum the chancellor, and [to] Shimshai the scribe, and [to] the rest of their companions that dwell in Samaria, and [unto] the rest beyond the river, Peace, and at such a time. 18 The letter which ye sent unto us hath been plainly read before me. 19 And I commanded, and search hath been made, and it is found that this city of old time hath made insurrection against kings, and [that] rebellion and sedition have been made therein. 20 There have been mighty kings also over Jerusalem, which have ruled over all [countries] beyond the river; and toll, tribute, and custom, was paid unto them. 21 Give ye now commandment to cause these men to cease, and that this city be not builded, until [another] commandment shall be given from me. 22 Take heed now that ye fail not to do this: why should damage grow to the hurt of the kings? 23 Now when the copy of king Artaxerxes’ letter [was] read before Rehum, and Shimshai the scribe, and their companions, they went up in haste to Jerusalem unto the Jews, and made them to cease by force and power. 24 Then ceased the work of the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. So it ceased unto the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia. (Ezra 4:1-24 AV)

Ezra 5

5:1-17 The temple rebuilt

1 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that [were] in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, [even] unto them. 2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which [is] at Jerusalem: and with them [were] the prophets of God helping them.

3 At the same time came to them Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and their companions, and said thus unto them, Who hath commanded you to build this house, and to make up this wall? 4 Then said we unto them after this manner, What are the names of the men that make this building? 5 But the eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews, that they could not cause them to cease, till the matter came to Darius: and then they returned answer by letter concerning this [matter]. 6 The copy of the letter that Tatnai, governor on this side the river, and Shetharboznai, and his companions the Apharsachites, which [were] on this side the river, sent unto Darius the king: 7 They sent a letter unto him, wherein was written thus; Unto Darius the king, all peace. 8 Be it known unto the king, that we went into the province of Judea, to the house of the great God, which is builded with great stones, and timber is laid in the walls, and this work goeth fast on, and prospereth in their hands. 9 Then asked we those elders, [and] said unto them thus, Who commanded you to build this house, and to make up these walls? 10 We asked their names also, to certify thee, that we might write the names of the men that [were] the chief of them. 11 And thus they returned us answer, saying, We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth, and build the house that was builded these many years ago, which a great king of Israel builded and set up.

12 But after that our fathers had provoked the God of heaven unto wrath, he gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this house, and carried the people away into Babylon. 13 But in the first year of Cyrus the king of Babylon [the same] king Cyrus made a decree to build this house of God. 14 And the vessels also of gold and silver of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took out of the temple that [was] in Jerusalem, and brought them into the temple of Babylon, those did Cyrus the king take out of the temple of Babylon, and they were delivered unto [one], whose name [was] Sheshbazzar, whom he had made governor; 15 And said unto him, Take these vessels, go, carry them into the temple that [is] in Jerusalem, and let the house of God be builded in his place. 16 Then came the same Sheshbazzar, [and] laid the foundation of the house of God which [is] in Jerusalem: and since that time even until now hath it been in building, and [yet] it is not finished. 17 Now therefore, if [it seem] good to the king, let there be search made in the king’s treasure house, which [is] there at Babylon, whether it be [so], that a decree was made of Cyrus the king to build this house of God at Jerusalem, and let the king send his pleasure to us concerning this matter. (Ezra 5:1-17 AV)

Ezra 6

6:1-12 Darius confirms the decree of Cyrus

1 Then Darius the king made a decree, and search was made in the house of the rolls, where the treasures were laid up in Babylon. 2 And there was found at Achmetha, in the palace that [is] in the province of the Medes, a roll, and therein [was] a record thus written: 3 In the first year of Cyrus the king [the same] Cyrus the king made a decree [concerning] the house of God at Jerusalem, Let the house be builded, the place where they offered sacrifices, and let the foundations thereof be strongly laid; the height thereof threescore cubits, [and] the breadth thereof threescore cubits; 4 [With] three rows of great stones, and a row of new timber: and let the expenses be given out of the king’s house: 5 And also let the golden and silver vessels of the house of God, which Nebuchadnezzar took forth out of the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, and brought unto Babylon, be restored, and brought again unto the temple which [is] at Jerusalem, [every one] to his place, and place [them] in the house of God. 6 Now [therefore], Tatnai, governor beyond the river, Shetharboznai, and your companions the Apharsachites, which [are] beyond the river, be ye far from thence:

7 Let the work of this house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews build this house of God in his place. 8 Moreover I make a decree what ye shall do to the elders of these Jews for the building of this house of God: that of the king’s goods, [even] of the tribute beyond the river, forthwith expenses be given unto these men, that they be not hindered. 9 And that which they have need of, both young bullocks, and rams, and lambs, for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the appointment of the priests which [are] at Jerusalem, let it be given them day by day without fail: 10 That they may offer sacrifices of sweet savours unto the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king, and of his sons. 11 Also I have made a decree, that whosoever shall alter this word, let timber be pulled down from his house, and being set up, let him be hanged thereon; and let his house be made a dunghill for this. 12 And the God that hath caused his name to dwell there destroy all kings and people, that shall put to their hand to alter [and] to destroy this house of God which [is] at Jerusalem. I Darius have made a decree; let it be done with speed.

6:13-15 The temple finished

13 Then Tatnai, governor on this side the river, Shetharboznai, and their companions, according to that which Darius the king had sent, so they did speedily. 14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished [it], according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia. 15 And this house was finished on the third day of the month Adar, which was in the sixth year of the reign of Darius the king.

6:16-22 The passover restored

16 And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication of this house of God with joy, 17 And offered at the dedication of this house of God an hundred bullocks, two hundred rams, four hundred lambs; and for a sin offering for all Israel, twelve he goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. 18 And they set the priests in their divisions, and the Levites in their courses, for the service of God, which [is] at Jerusalem; as it is written in the book of Moses. 19 And the children of the captivity kept the passover upon the fourteenth [day] of the first month. 20 For the priests and the Levites were purified together, all of them [were] pure, and killed the passover for all the children of the captivity, and for their brethren the priests, and for themselves. 21 And the children of Israel, which were come again out of captivity, and all such as had separated themselves unto them from the filthiness of the heathen of the land, to seek the LORD God of Israel, did eat, 22 And kept the feast of unleavened bread seven days with joy: for the LORD had made them joyful, and turned the heart of the king of Assyria unto them, to strengthen their hands in the work of the house of God, the God of Israel. (Ezra 6:1-22 AV)

Ezra 7

7:1-10 Ezra goes to Jerusalem

1 Now after these things, in the reign of Artaxerxes king of Persia, Ezra the son of Seraiah, the son of Azariah, the son of Hilkiah, 2 The son of Shallum, the son of Zadok, the son of Ahitub, 3 The son of Amariah, the son of Azariah, the son of Meraioth, 4 The son of Zerahiah, the son of Uzzi, the son of Bukki, 5 The son of Abishua, the son of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the chief priest: 6 This Ezra went up from Babylon; and he [was] a ready scribe in the law of Moses, which the LORD God of Israel had given: and the king granted him all his request, according to the hand of the LORD his God upon him. 7 And there went up [some] of the children of Israel, and of the priests, and the Levites, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, unto Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king. 8 And he came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which [was] in the seventh year of the king. 9 For upon the first [day] of the first month began he to go up from Babylon, and on the first [day] of the fifth month came he to Jerusalem, according to the good hand of his God upon him. 10 For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do [it], and to teach in Israel statutes and judgments.

7:11-26 Commission of Artaxerxes

11 Now this [is] the copy of the letter that the king Artaxerxes gave unto Ezra the priest, the scribe, [even] a scribe of the words of the commandments of the LORD, and of his statutes to Israel. 12 Artaxerxes, king of kings, unto Ezra the priest, a scribe of the law of the God of heaven, perfect [peace], and at such a time. 13 I make a decree, that all they of the people of Israel, and [of] his priests and Levites, in my realm, which are minded of their own freewill to go up to Jerusalem, go with thee. 14 Forasmuch as thou art sent of the king, and of his seven counsellors, to enquire concerning Judah and Jerusalem, according to the law of thy God which [is] in thine hand; 15 And to carry the silver and gold, which the king and his counsellors have freely offered unto the God of Israel, whose habitation [is] in Jerusalem, 16 And all the silver and gold that thou canst find in all the province of Babylon, with the freewill offering of the people, and of the priests, offering willingly for the house of their God which [is] in Jerusalem: 17 That thou mayest buy speedily with this money bullocks, rams, lambs, with their meat offerings and their drink offerings, and offer them upon the altar of the house of your God which [is] in Jerusalem. 18 And whatsoever shall seem good to thee, and to thy brethren, to do with the rest of the silver and the gold, that do after the will of your God. 19 The vessels also that are given thee for the service of the house of thy God, [those] deliver thou before the God of Jerusalem.

20 And whatsoever more shall be needful for the house of thy God, which thou shalt have occasion to bestow, bestow [it] out of the king’s treasure house. 21

Ezra 4

Ezra 4

And I, [even] I Artaxerxes the king, do make a decree to all the treasurers which [are] beyond the river, that whatsoever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the law of the God of heaven, shall require of you, it be done speedily, 22 Unto an hundred talents of silver, and to an hundred measures of wheat, and to an hundred baths of wine, and to an hundred baths of oil, and salt without prescribing [how much]. 23 Whatsoever is commanded by the God of heaven, let it be diligently done for the house of the God of heaven: for why should there be wrath against the realm of the king and his sons? 24 Also we certify you, that touching any of the priests and Levites, singers, porters, Nethinims, or ministers of this house of God, it shall not be lawful to impose toll, tribute, or custom, upon them. 25 And thou, Ezra, after the wisdom of thy God, that [is] in thine hand, set magistrates and judges, which may judge all the people that [are] beyond the river, all such as know the laws of thy God; and teach ye them that know [them] not. 26 And whosoever will not do the law of thy God, and the law of the king, let judgment be executed speedily upon him, whether [it be] unto death, or to banishment, or to confiscation of goods, or to imprisonment.

7:27-28 Thanksgiving

27 Blessed [be] the LORD God of our fathers, which hath put [such a thing] as this in the king’s heart, to beautify the house of the LORD which [is] in Jerusalem: 28 And hath extended mercy unto me before the king, and his counsellors, and before all the king’s mighty princes. And I was strengthened as the hand of the LORD my God [was] upon me, and I gathered together out of Israel chief men to go up with me. (Ezra 7:1-28 AV)

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Esther 1-5

Esther 1-5

The Book of Esther is about the marriage of its Jewish heroine with a Gentile King. The account is set in Shushan, the winter capital of Persia, not Israel. The book never mentions the word God or His Name, however, His sovereignty and providence are evident throughout. The origins of the Feast of Purim (2 Maccabees 15:36) when Jews celebrate the deliverance from Haman are revealed in this account. Many ancient commentators attribute the author of the book as Mordecai. Some have even suggested that Ezra or Nehemiah wrote the account, however there is no evidence to support this. Most scholars generally agree that the author is anonymous.

The Book of Esther is about the marriage of its Jewish heroine with a Gentile King

The Book of Esther is about the marriage of its Jewish heroine with a Gentile King

Esther 1

1:1-9 Ahasuerus makes a royal feast

1 Now it came to pass in the days of Ahasuerus, (this [is] Ahasuerus which reigned, from India even unto Ethiopia, [over] an hundred and seven and twenty provinces:) 2 [That] in those days, when the king Ahasuerus sat on the throne of his kingdom, which [was] in Shushan the palace, 3 In the third year of his reign, he made a feast unto all his princes and his servants; the power of Persia and Media, the nobles and princes of the provinces, [being] before him: 4 When he shewed the riches of his glorious kingdom and the honour of his excellent majesty many days, [even] an hundred and fourscore days. 5 And when these days were expired, the king made a feast unto all the people that were present in Shushan the palace, both unto great and small, seven days, in the court of the garden of the king’s palace;

6 [Where were] white, green, and blue, [hangings], fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds [were of] gold and silver, upon a pavement of red, and blue, and white, and black, marble. 7 And they gave [them] drink in vessels of gold, (the vessels being diverse one from another,) and royal wine in abundance, according to the state of the king. 8 And the drinking [was] according to the law; none did compel: for so the king had appointed to all the officers of his house, that they should do according to every man’s pleasure. 9 Also Vashti the queen made a feast for the women [in] the royal house which [belonged] to king Ahasuerus.

1:10-12 Vashti refuses to obey the king

10 On the seventh day, when the heart of the king was merry with wine, he commanded Mehuman, Biztha, Harbona, Bigtha, and Abagtha, Zethar, and Carcas, the seven chamberlains that served in the presence of Ahasuerus the king, 11 To bring Vashti the queen before the king with the crown royal, to shew the people and the princes her beauty: for she [was] fair to look on. 12 But the queen Vashti refused to come at the king’s commandment by [his] chamberlains: therefore was the king very wroth, and his anger burned in him.

1:13-22 Queen Vashti’s punishment

13 Then the king said to the wise men, which knew the times, (for so [was] the king’s manner toward all that knew law and judgment: 14 And the next unto him [was] Carshena, Shethar, Admatha, Tarshish, Meres, Marsena, [and] Memucan, the seven princes of Persia and Media, which saw the king’s face, [and] which sat the first in the kingdom;) 15 What shall we do unto the queen Vashti according to law, because she hath not performed the commandment of the king Ahasuerus by the chamberlains? 16 And Memucan answered before the king and the princes, Vashti the queen hath not done wrong to the king only, but also to all the princes, and to all the people that [are] in all the provinces of the king Ahasuerus. 17 For [this] deed of the queen shall come abroad unto all women, so that they shall despise their husbands in their eyes, when it shall be reported, The king Ahasuerus commanded Vashti the queen to be brought in before him, but she came not. 18 [Likewise] shall the ladies of Persia and Media say this day unto all the king’s princes, which have heard of the deed of the queen. Thus [shall there arise] too much contempt and wrath.

19 If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered, That Vashti come no more before king Ahasuerus; and let the king give her royal estate unto another that is better than she. 20 And when the king’s decree which he shall make shall be published throughout all his empire, (for it is great,) all the wives shall give to their husbands honour, both to great and small. 21 And the saying pleased the king and the princes; and the king did according to the word of Memucan: 22 For he sent letters into all the king’s provinces, into every province according to the writing thereof, and to every people after their language, that every man should bear rule in his own house, and that [it] should be published according to the language of every people. (Esther 1:1-22 AV)

Esther 2

2:1-18 Esther made queen

1 After these things, when the wrath of king Ahasuerus was appeased, he remembered Vashti, and what she had done, and what was decreed against her. 2 Then said the king’s servants that ministered unto him, Let there be fair young virgins sought for the king: 3 And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom, that they may gather together all the fair young virgins unto Shushan the palace, to the house of the women, unto the custody of Hege the king’s chamberlain, keeper of the women; and let their things for purification be given [them]: 4 And let the maiden which pleaseth the king be queen instead of Vashti. And the thing pleased the king; and he did so. 5 [Now] in Shushan the palace there was a certain Jew, whose name [was] Mordecai, the son of Jair, the son of Shimei, the son of Kish, a Benjamite;

6 Who had been carried away from Jerusalem with the captivity which had been carried away with Jeconiah king of Judah, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away. 7 And he brought up Hadassah, that [is], Esther, his uncle’s daughter: for she had neither father nor mother, and the maid [was] fair and beautiful; whom Mordecai, when her father and mother were dead, took for his own daughter. 8 So it came to pass, when the king’s commandment and his decree was heard, and when many maidens were gathered together unto Shushan the palace, to the custody of Hegai, that Esther was brought also unto the king’s house, to the custody of Hegai, keeper of the women. 9 And the maiden pleased him, and she obtained kindness of him; and he speedily gave her her things for purification, with such things as belonged to her, and seven maidens, [which were] meet to be given her, out of the king’s house: and he preferred her and her maids unto the best [place] of the house of the women.

10 Esther had not shewed her people nor her kindred: for Mordecai had charged her that she should not shew [it]. 11 And Mordecai walked every day before the court of the women’s house, to know how Esther did, and what should become of her. 12 Now when every maid’s turn was come to go in to king Ahasuerus, after that she had been twelve months, according to the manner of the women, (for so were the days of their purifications accomplished, [to wit], six months with oil of myrrh, and six months with sweet odours, and with [other] things for the purifying of the women;) 13 Then thus came [every] maiden unto the king; whatsoever she desired was given her to go with her out of the house of the women unto the king’s house. 14 In the evening she went, and on the morrow she returned into the second house of the women, to the custody of Shaashgaz, the king’s chamberlain, which kept the concubines: she came in unto the king no more, except the king delighted in her, and that she were called by name.

15 Now when the turn of Esther, the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her for his daughter, was come to go in unto the king, she required nothing but what Hegai the king’s chamberlain, the keeper of the women, appointed. And Esther obtained favour in the sight of all them that looked upon her. 16 So Esther was taken unto king Ahasuerus into his house royal in the tenth month, which [is] the month Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign. 17 And the king loved Esther above all the women, and she obtained grace and favour in his sight more than all the virgins; so that he set the royal crown upon her head, and made her queen instead of Vashti. 18 Then the king made a great feast unto all his princes and his servants, [even] Esther’s feast; and he made a release to the provinces, and gave gifts, according to the state of the king.

2:19-23 Mordecai saves the king’s life

19 And when the virgins were gathered together the second time, then Mordecai sat in the king’s gate. 20 Esther had not [yet] shewed her kindred nor her people; as Mordecai had charged her: for Esther did the commandment of Mordecai, like as when she was brought up with him.

21 In those days, while Mordecai sat in the king’s gate, two of the king’s chamberlains, Bigthan and Teresh, of those which kept the door, were wroth, and sought to lay hand on the king Ahasuerus. 22 And the thing was known to Mordecai, who told [it] unto Esther the queen; and Esther certified the king [thereof] in Mordecai’s name. 23 And when inquisition was made of the matter, it was found out; therefore they were both hanged on a tree: and it was written in the book of the chronicles before the king. (Esther 2:1-23 AV)

Esther 3

3:1-15 Haman’s plot to destroy the Jews

1 After these things did king Ahasuerus promote Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him, and set his seat above all the princes that [were] with him. 2 And all the king’s servants, that [were] in the king’s gate, bowed, and reverenced Haman: for the king had so commanded concerning him. But Mordecai bowed not, nor did [him] reverence. 3 Then the king’s servants, which [were] in the king’s gate, said unto Mordecai, Why transgressest thou the king’s commandment? 4 Now it came to pass, when they spake daily unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand: for he had told them that he [was] a Jew. 5 And when Haman saw that Mordecai bowed not, nor did him reverence, then was Haman full of wrath. 6 And he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had shewed him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that [were] throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, [even] the people of Mordecai.

7 In the first month, that [is], the month Nisan, in the twelfth year of king Ahasuerus, they cast Pur, that [is], the lot, before Haman from day to day, and from month to month, [to] the twelfth [month], that [is], the month Adar. 8 And Haman said unto king Ahasuerus, There is a certain people scattered abroad and dispersed among the people in all the provinces of thy kingdom; and their laws [are] diverse from all people; neither keep they the king’s laws: therefore it [is] not for the king’s profit to suffer them. 9 If it please the king, let it be written that they may be destroyed: and I will pay ten thousand talents of silver to the hands of those that have the charge of the business, to bring [it] into the king’s treasuries.

10 And the king took his ring from his hand, and gave it unto Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the Jews’ enemy. 11 And the king said unto Haman, The silver [is] given to thee, the people also, to do with them as it seemeth good to thee. 12 Then were the king’s scribes called on the thirteenth day of the first month, and there was written according to all that Haman had commanded unto the king’s lieutenants, and to the governors that [were] over every province, and to the rulers of every people of every province according to the writing thereof, and [to] every people after their language; in the name of king Ahasuerus was it written, and sealed with the king’s ring. 13 And the letters were sent by posts into all the king’s provinces, to destroy, to kill, and to cause to perish, all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day, [even] upon the thirteenth [day] of the twelfth month, which is the month Adar, and [to take] the spoil of them for a prey. 14 The copy of the writing for a commandment to be given in every province was published unto all people, that they should be ready against that day. 15 The posts went out, being hastened by the king’s commandment, and the decree was given in Shushan the palace. And the king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city Shushan was perplexed. (Esther 3:1-15 AV)

Esther 4

4:1-14 Fasting among the Jews

1 When Mordecai perceived all that was done, Mordecai rent his clothes, and put on sackcloth with ashes, and went out into the midst of the city, and cried with a loud and a bitter cry; 2 And came even before the king’s gate: for none [might] enter into the king’s gate clothed with sackcloth. 3 And in every province, whithersoever the king’s commandment and his decree came, [there was] great mourning among the Jews, and fasting, and weeping, and wailing; and many lay in sackcloth and ashes. 4 So Esther’s maids and her chamberlains came and told [it] her. Then was the queen exceedingly grieved; and she sent raiment to clothe Mordecai, and to take away his sackcloth from him: but he received [it] not.

5 Then called Esther for Hatach, [one] of the king’s chamberlains, whom he had appointed to attend upon her, and gave him a commandment to Mordecai, to know what it [was], and why it [was]. 6 So Hatach went forth to Mordecai unto the street of the city, which [was] before the king’s gate. 7 And Mordecai told him of all that had happened unto him, and of the sum of the money that Haman had promised to pay to the king’s treasuries for the Jews, to destroy them. 8 Also he gave him the copy of the writing of the decree that was given at Shushan to destroy them, to shew [it] unto Esther, and to declare [it] unto her, and to charge her that she should go in unto the king, to make supplication unto him, and to make request before him for her people. 9 And Hatach came and told Esther the words of Mordecai. 10 Again Esther spake unto Hatach, and gave him commandment unto Mordecai;

11 All the king’s servants, and the people of the king’s provinces, do know, that whosoever, whether man or woman, shall come unto the king into the inner court, who is not called, [there is] one law of his to put [him] to death, except such to whom the king shall hold out the golden sceptre, that he may live: but I have not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days. 12 And they told to Mordecai Esther’s words. 13 Then Mordecai commanded to answer Esther, Think not with thyself that thou shalt escape in the king’s house, more than all the Jews. 14 For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, [then] shall there enlargement and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place; but thou and thy father’s house shall be destroyed: and who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for [such] a time as this?

4:15-17 Esther promises to intercede for her people

15 Then Esther bade [them] return Mordecai [this answer], 16 Go, gather together all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast ye for me, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: I also and my maidens will fast likewise; and so will I go in unto the king, which [is] not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish. 17 So Mordecai went his way, and did according to all that Esther had commanded him. (Esther 4:1-17 AV)

Esther 5

5:1-8 The courage of Esther

1 Now it came to pass on the third day, that Esther put on [her] royal [apparel], and stood in the inner court of the king’s house, over against the king’s house: and the king sat upon his royal throne in the royal house, over against the gate of the house. 2 And it was so, when the king saw Esther the queen standing in the court, [that] she obtained favour in his sight: and the king held out to Esther the golden sceptre that [was] in his hand. So Esther drew near, and touched the top of the sceptre. 3 Then said the king unto her, What wilt thou, queen Esther? and what [is] thy request? it shall be even given thee to the half of the kingdom. 4 And Esther answered, If [it seem] good unto the king, let the king and Haman come this day unto the banquet that I have prepared for him. 5 Then the king said, Cause Haman to make haste, that he may do as Esther hath said. So the king and Haman came to the banquet that Esther had prepared. 6 And the king said unto Esther at the banquet of wine, What [is] thy petition? and it shall be granted thee: and what [is] thy request?

Esther made Queen to a Gentile King

Esther made Queen to a Gentile King

even to the half of the kingdom it shall be performed. 7 Then answered Esther, and said, My petition and my request [is]; 8 If I have found favour in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my petition, and to perform my request, let the king and Haman come to the banquet that I shall prepare for them, and I will do to morrow as the king hath said.

5:9-14 Haman boasts of his advancement

9 Then went Haman forth that day joyful and with a glad heart: but when Haman saw Mordecai in the king’s gate, that he stood not up, nor moved for him, he was full of indignation against Mordecai. 10 Nevertheless Haman refrained himself: and when he came home, he sent and called for his friends, and Zeresh his wife. 11 And Haman told them of the glory of his riches, and the multitude of his children, and all [the things] wherein the king had promoted him, and how he had advanced him above the princes and servants of the king. 12 Haman said moreover, Yea, Esther the queen did let no man come in with the king unto the banquet that she had prepared but myself; and to morrow am I invited unto her also with the king. 13 Yet all this availeth me nothing, so long as I see Mordecai the Jew sitting at the king’s gate. 14 Then said Zeresh his wife and all his friends unto him, Let a gallows be made of fifty cubits high, and to morrow speak thou unto the king that Mordecai may be hanged thereon: then go thou in merrily with the king unto the banquet. And the thing pleased Haman; and he caused the gallows to be made. (Esther 5:1-14 AV)

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