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Christian saints according to the Bible

The word “saint” comes from the Greek word hagios, which means “consecrated to God, holy, sacred, pious.” It is almost always used in the plural, “saints.” “…Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he did to Your saints at Jerusalem” (Acts 9:13). “Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda” (Acts 9:32). “And this is just what I did in Jerusalem; not only did I lock up many of the saints in prisons …” (Acts 26:10). There is only one instance of the singular use, and that is “Greet every saint in Christ Jesus…” (Philippians 4:21). In Scripture there are 67 uses of the plural “saints” compared to only one use of the singular word “saint.” Even in that one instance, a plurality of saints is in view: “…every saint…” (Philippians 4:21).

The idea of the word “saints” is a group of people set apart for the Lord and His kingdom. There are three references referring to godly character of saints: “that you receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints …” (Romans 16:2). “For the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). “But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints” (Ephesians 5:3).

Therefore, scripturally speaking, the “saints” are the body of Christ, Christians, the church. All Christians are considered saints. All Christian are saints and at the same time are called to be saints. First Corinthians 1:2 states it clearly: “To the church of God in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus and called to be holy…” The words “sanctified” and “holy” come from the same Greek root as the word that is commonly translated “saints.” Christians are saints by virtue of their connection with Jesus Christ. Christians are called to be saints, to increasingly allow their daily life to more closely match their position in Christ. This is the biblical description and calling of the saints.

How does the Roman Catholic understanding of “saints” compare with the biblical teaching? Not very well. In Roman Catholic theology, the saints are in heaven. In the Bible, the saints are on earth. In Roman Catholic teaching, a person does not become a saint unless he/she is “beatified” or “canonized” by the Pope or prominent bishop. In the Bible, everyone who has received Jesus Christ by faith is a saint. In Roman Catholic practice, the saints are revered, prayed to, and in some instances, worshipped. In the Bible, saints are called to revere, worship, and pray to God alone.

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Do We Know that the Bible is the Word of God

Man has made three basic guidelines to determine which books should belong in the Bible.

Apostolic – Apostolic, that it came from one of the apostles or scribe of an apostle.

Orthodoxy – Orthodoxy, that it is of right doctrine.

Catholicity –  Catholicity, that it is used universally among the Catholic churches.

The question of which (if any) religious text is the true word of God is of utmost importance. To avoid circular reasoning, the first question we must ask is: how would we know if God communicated in the first place? Well, God would have to communicate in a manner that people could understand, but that also means that people could make up their own messages and simply claim that they came from God. So, it seems reasonable to think that if God wanted to authenticate His communication He would have to verify it in a manner that could not be duplicated by mere humans – in other words, by miracles. This narrows the field considerably.

Beyond the evidence for the Bible’s correctness (manuscript evidence) and its historicity (archaeological evidence), the most important evidence is that of its inspiration. The real determination of the Bible’s claim to absolute inspired truth is in its supernatural evidence, including prophecy. God used prophets to speak and write down His Word and God uses miracles like fulfilled prophecy to authenticate His messengers. For example, in Genesis 12:7, God promises that the land of Israel was to be for Abraham and his descendants. In 1948 Israel was returned back to the Jewish people for the second time in history. This may not seem so astonishing until you realize that no nation in the history of the world has been scattered from its homeland and returned! Israel has done it twice. The book of Daniel predicts with accuracy the coming of the four great kingdoms from Babylon, to Medo-Persia, to Greece, to Rome centuries before some of those kingdoms came on the scene (a time span of over 1,000 years!) with details concerning how they would rule and be broken. This includes the reigns of Alexander the Great and Antiochus Epiphanies.

In Ezekiel 26 we can see in astonishing detail how the city of Tyre was to be destroyed, how it would be torn down, and how its debris would be thrown into the sea. When Alexander the Great marched on that area, he encountered a group of people holed up in a tower on an island off the coast near there. He could not cross the sea, so he could not fight those in the tower. Rather than wait them out, the proud conqueror had his army throw stones into the sea to build a land bridge to the tower. It worked. His army crossed the sea and overthrew the occupants of the stronghold. But where did he get so much stone? The rocks that were used for the land bridge were the leftover rubble from the city of Tyre… its stones cast into the sea!

There are so many prophecies concerning Christ (over 270!) that it would take more than a few screens worth of space to list them all. Further, Jesus would have had no control over many of them such as His birthplace or time of birth. Second, the odds of one man accidentally fulfilling even 16 of these are 1 in 10^45. How many is that? For comparison, there are less than 10^82 atoms in the entire universe! And Jesus, who affirmed the Bible as the Word of God, proved His reliability and deity by His resurrection (an historical fact not easily ignored).

Now consider the Quran – its author, Muhammad, performed no miracles to back up his message (even when he was asked to by his followers – Sura 17:91-95; 29:47-51). Only in much later tradition (the Hadith) do any alleged miracles even show up and these are all quite fanciful (like Muhammad cutting the moon in half) and have zero reliable testimony to back them up. Further, the Quran makes clear historical errors. Muslims believe the Bible is inspired but with some errors from editing (Sura 2:136 as well as Suras 13, 16, 17, 20, 21, 23, 25). The question they cannot adequately answer is: “When was the Bible corrupted?” If they say before 600 A.D. then how can the Quran admonish believers to read it? If they claim it was after 600 A.D., then they have jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire, for we have absolutely no doubt as to the accuracy of biblical manuscripts from at least the 3rd century forward. Even if Christianity were false, the Quran still has an insurmountable problem because it makes judgments against Christians for believing things that they do not (nor have they ever) believed. For example, the Quran teaches that Christians believe the Trinity is the Father, the Mother (Mary), and the Son (Sura 5:73-75, 116), and the Quran also teaches that Christians believe that God had sex with Mary to have a son (Suras 2:116; 6:100-101; 10:68; 16:57; 19:35; 23:91; 37:149-151; 43:16-19). If the Quran is really from God, then it should at least be able to accurately report what Christians believe.

Joseph Smith, the author of the Book of Mormon, tried to do some miracles such as prophecy (a test for a true prophet in Deuteronomy 18:21-22) but failed several times. He foretold of Christ’s second coming in History of the Church (HC) 2:382. Joseph Smith preached that the coming of the Lord would be in 56 years (about 1891). The second coming did not occur in 1891, and the Mormon Church does not claim that it did. Nor has it occurred since. He also prophesied that several cities would be destroyed in Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 84:114-115. New York, Albany and Boston were to be destroyed if they rejected the gospel according to Smith. Joseph Smith himself went to New York, Albany, and Boston and preached there. These cities did not accept his gospel, yet they have not been destroyed. Another famous false prophecy of Joseph Smith was his “END OF ALL NATIONS” in D&C 87 concerning the rebellion of South Carolina in the war between the states. The South was supposed to call on Great Britain for aid, and as a result war would be poured out upon all nations; slaves would revolt; the inhabitants of the earth would mourn; famine, plague, earthquake, thunder, lightning, and a full end of all nations would result. The South finally did revolt in 1861, but the slaves did not rise up, war was not poured out upon all nations, there was no worldwide famine, plague, earthquake, etc., and there was no resulting “end of all nations.”

We PrayThe collection of writings that Protestants call the Apocrypha (hidden writings), Roman Catholics call the deuterocanonical (later or second canon) books. These books were written between 300 B.C. and 100 A.D., the Intertestamental Period between the inspired writings of God’s Prophets in the Old Testament and those of the Apostles and their contemporaries in the New Testament. These were “infallibly” accepted into the Bible by the Roman Catholic Church in 1546 at the Council of Trent.

The Bible so far outshines every competing source for being God’s revelation that if it is not God’s Word, it would seem impossible to choose among the leftovers. If the Bible is not God’s Word, then we have been left with no clear criteria by which to know what might be.

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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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Top 10 Most Influential Jews, In History

The Jewish people have a long and colorful history. They are the source of some of the greatest thinking in history – religious and scientific. They have suffered many tribulations and have been the cause of a few as well. They have been central figures in much of the unrest in the middle east where the nation of Israel was recreated by the United Nations in the 20th century. This is a list of the greatest Jews – those who have (for good or bad) influenced the world.

10david-ben-gurion-whatshotn

David Ben-Gurion
16 October 1886 – 1 December 1973
David Ben-Gurion was the first Prime Minister of Israel. Ben-Gurion’s passion for Zionism, which began early in life, culminated in his instrumental role in the founding of the state of Israel. After leading Israel to victory in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, Ben-Gurion helped build the state institutions and oversaw the absorption of vast numbers of Jews from all over the world. Upon retiring from political life in 1970, he moved to Sde Boker, where he lived until his death. Posthumously, Ben-Gurion was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Important People of the Century.
9

Niels Bohrniels-bohr-whatshotn
7 October 1885 – 18 November 1962
Niels Henrik David Bohr was a Danish physicist who made fundamental contributions to understanding atomic structure and quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1922. Bohr mentored and collaborated with many of the top physicists of the century at his institute in Copenhagen. He was also part of the team of physicists working on the Manhattan Project. Bohr married Margrethe Nørlund in 1912, and one of their sons, Aage Niels Bohr, grew up to be an important physicist who, like his father, received the Nobel prize, in 1975. Bohr has been described as one of the most influential physicists of the 20th century.
8

Gustav Mahlergustav-mahler-whatshotn
7 July 1860 – 18 May 1911
Gustav Mahler was a composer and conductor, born in Bohemia (formerly part of the Austrian Empire, currently located in the Czech Republic), and identified throughout his life as a German-speaking Austrian. Mahler was best known during his own lifetime as one of the leading orchestral and operatic conductors of the day. He has since come to be acknowledged as among the most important late-romantic composers, although his music was never completely accepted by the musical establishment of Vienna while he was still alive. Mahler composed primarily symphonies and songs; however, his approach to genre often blurred the lines between orchestral song, symphony, and symphonic poem.
7

Baruch de Spinozaspinoza-whatshotn
November 24, 1632 – February 21, 1677
Baruch or Benedict de Spinoza was a Dutch philosopher of Portuguese Jewish origin. Revealing considerable scientific aptitude, the breadth and importance of Spinoza’s work was not fully realized until years after his death. Today, he is considered one of the great rationalists of 17th-century philosophy, laying the groundwork for the 18th century Enlightenment and modern biblical criticism. By virtue of his magnum opus, the posthumous Ethics, in which he opposed Descartes’ mind–body dualism, Spinoza is considered to be one of Western philosophy’s most important philosophers.
6

Sigmund Freudfreud-whatshotn
May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939
Sigmund Freud, born Sigismund Shlomo Freud, was an Austrian psychiatrist who founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology. Freud is best known for his theories of the unconscious mind and the defense mechanism of repression and for creating the clinical practice of psychoanalysis for curing psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst. Freud is also renowned for his redefinition of sexual desire as the primary motivational energy of human life, as well as his therapeutic techniques, including the use of free association, his theory of transference in the therapeutic relationship, and the interpretation of dreams as sources of insight into unconscious desires.
5
Maimonidesmaimonides-whatshotn
March 30, 1135 – December 13, 1204
Moses Maimonides, also known as the Rambam, was a rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Spain, Morocco and Egypt during the Middle Ages. He was the preeminent medieval Jewish philosopher whose ideas also influenced the non-Jewish world. One of the central tenets of Maimonides’s philosophy is that it is impossible for the truths arrived at by human intellect to contradict those revealed by God. Although his copious works on Jewish law and ethics were initially met with opposition during his lifetime, he was posthumously acknowledged to be one of the foremost rabbinical arbiters and philosophers in Jewish history. Today, his works and his views are considered a cornerstone of Jewish thought and study.
4

Albert Einsteinalbert-einstein-1947-whatshotn
14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955
Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. He is best known for his theory of relativity and specifically mass–energy equivalence, E = mc², the most famous equation of the twentieth century. Einstein received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect.” Einstein published over 300 scientific works and over 150 non-scientific works. Einstein is revered by the physics community, and in 1999 Time magazine named him the “Person of the Century”. In wider culture the name “Einstein” has become synonymous with genius. (Oh and by all accounts, Yes he was also a Christian!)
3

Abram/Abrahamabram-abraham-isaac-whatshotn
2000 BC to 1825 BC
Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions regard Abraham as the founding patriarch of the Israelites, Ishmaelites and Edomite peoples. He is widely regarded as the patriarch of Judaism and monotheism. Abraham means “High Father”, coming from the Aramaic words “Aba Rama”. Judaism, Christianity and Islam are sometimes referred to as the “Abrahamic religions”, because of the progenitor role Abraham plays in their holy books. According to Genesis, Abraham was brought by God from Mesopotamia to the land of Canaan. There Abraham entered into a covenant: in exchange for sole recognition of God as supreme universal deity and authority, Abraham will be blessed with innumerable progeny.
2

Mosesmoses-whatshotn
1393 BC – 1273
Moses is a Biblical Hebrew religious leader, lawgiver, a Levi, prophet, and military leader, who wrote the Torah. He is the most important prophet in Judaism. According to the book of Exodus, Moses was born to a Hebrew mother, Jochebed, who hid him when a Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed, and he ended up being adopted into the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slave-master, Moses fled and became a shepherd, and was later commanded by God to deliver the Hebrews from slavery. After the Ten Plagues were unleashed on Egypt, he led the Hebrew slaves out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, where they wandered in the desert for 40 years, during which time, according to the Bible, Moses received the Ten Commandments.
2 (Yes I know but I want to add him)
BenjaminBibiNetanyahu  Benjamin Netanyahu
Born 21 October 1949
Born in Tel Aviv to secular Jewish parents, Netanyahu is the first Israeli prime minister born in Israel after the establishment of the state. Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Forces shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967 and became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit. He took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), Operation Gift (1968) and Operation Isotope (1972), during which he was shot in the shoulder. He fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory. He achieved the rank of captain before being discharged. After graduating from MIT with SB and SM degrees, he was recruited as an economic consultant for the Boston Consulting Group. He returned to Israel in 1978 to found the Yonatan Netanyahu Anti-Terror Institute, named after his brother Yonatan Netanyahu, who died leading Operation Entebbe. Netanyahu served as the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations from 1984 to 1988.
1

Jesus Christ of NazarethPrepare for Rapture
7–2 BC — 26–36 AD
Jesus of Nazareth is the founding figure of Christianity and Christianity is the religion that shaped Europe, and much of the world as a consequence. As the largest religion in the world, there is no doubt that Christianity is still making an impact to this day. The principal sources of information regarding Jesus’ life and teachings are the four canonical gospels. Most critical scholars in the fields of history and biblical studies believe that ancient texts on Jesus’ life are at least partially accurate, agreeing that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was regarded as a teacher and healer. They also generally accept that he was baptized by John the Baptist, and was crucified in Jerusalem on orders of the Roman Prefect of Judaea Pontius Pilate, on the charge of sedition against the Roman Empire.
There you have it!

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Greetings Friends, Romans 16, Final Chapter

This will conclude our biblical studies of “Romans” 16…”Greetings…Friends”…

“In the last chapter of Romans, Paul greets a large number of people and gives a few closing exhortations. These greetings reveal a lot about the early church…

…”Paul writes, “I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in
Cenchrea.” Paul’s emissary”…
In Romans 16:1…Paul writes, I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church in Cenchrea. Although some older translations say that Phoebe is a “servant,” this is unlikely because all believers are servants, and Romans 16:2…indicates that she was a person of some importance. The phrase “of the church” also suggests an official role…

“Unfortunately, we do not know what deacons did in the church in Cenchrea near Corinth. A comparison of Paul’s letters shows that the “organizational chart” could vary quite a bit from one church to another; the description of deacons in 1 Tim. 3.. may not tell us much about what a deacon did in Corinth or Cenchrea…

…”Phoebe is apparently the person who carried Paul’s letter to Rome. As the letter-carrier, she probably also read the letter out loud, answered questions about it and the author, and conveyed some verbal news and greetings…

“Paul then asks the Roman church to serve her needs: I ask you to receive her in the Lord in a way worthy of God’s people and to give her any help she may need from you, for she has been the benefactor of many people, including me…Romans16:2…

…”The word “benefactor” is just one of many suggested English translations of the Greek word prostasis. Literally, it means a person placed in front. In the Greek Old Testament, it was used for officials; in ordinary Greek it was used for patrons and wealthy people who assisted others. Phoebe had helped Paul, and although she probably would not need financial help, Paul asks the Roman Christians to help her in other ways…

…”Notable women and men”…
“Paul then greets a number of people in Rome, some of them Jewish, most of them Gentiles, often with names commonly used for slaves and freedmen. For a city he has never been to, he knows a surprising number of people who have moved to Rome. He probably begins with his closest friends……

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my co-workers in Christ-Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them…..Romans 16:3-4… Acts 18 tells us that Priscilla and Aquila were originally from Rome. Paul met them in Corinth and worked in their tentmaking business. They became part of Paul’s ministry team, went to Ephesus with him, and were instrumental in teaching Apollos about Christianity…

…”Paul does not call ordinary Christians “co-workers” this term indicates a person who works “in Christ-Jesus”, that is, full-time work in the gospel. He used the term for himself, Timothy, Titus, Epaphroditus, Philemon, Mark, Luke, and a few others. Priscilla and Aquila had played an important role in the evangelization of the Gentiles; now they were back in Rome, leading a house church, as Paul notes: Greet also the church that meets at their house…Romans 16:5…

“Paul then greets my “dear friend” Epenetus, who was the first convert to Christ in the province of Asia…Romans16:5…We do not know anything else about Epenetus. Nor do we know anything about Mary, who worked very hard for you…Romans 16:6…We do not know what kind of work she did, or how Paul learned about it…..

…”He then sends his greetings to another couple: Greet Andronicus and Junia, my fellow Jews who have been in prison with me. They are outstanding among the apostles, and they were in Christ before I was…Romans 16:7…Junia is a woman’s name, but in some translations she is given a man’s name: Junias, suggested as a possible short form of the name Junianus. But no one has ever found this form used, and Junia is used hundreds of times for a woman, so Junia is probably correct…

“Andronicus and Junia were a Jewish couple who believed in Christ before Paul did and that was very early; perhaps they were part of the Pentecost crowd. They were in prison with Paul, probably because they were preaching the gospel along with him. In what way were they “outstanding among the apostles”? It is possible that Paul meant that the apostles thought highly of them, but Paul does not refer to the opinion of the apostles anywhere else in his writings. It is more likely that Paul is commending them for their own work……

…”However”…since Andronicus and Junia have not left any further trace in church history, they probably were not apostles in the same sense that Paul and the Twelve were. Since the word apostle can also refer to an official messenger…2 Cor. 8:23…it is possible that Andronicus and Junia served in that way”…

“Greet Ampliatus, my dear friend in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our “co-worker” in Christ, and my dear friend Stachys. Greet Apelles, whose fidelity to Christ has stood the test..apparently in some severe trial.. Greet those who belong to the household of Aristobulus…Romans 16:8-10…

…”Paul does not greet Aristobulus, but only those in his household which would include slaves and servants as well as family members. This Arisobulus may have been the grandson of Herod and friend of Claudius Caesar; such a person would have had a very large household, many of them Jewish. “Paul knew” that his household formed the core of another house church…

“Greet Herodion, my fellow Jew. Greet those in the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Tryphena and Tryphosa, those women who work hard in the Lord …Romans 16:11-12…The phrase “in the Lord” suggests that these women were involved in “evangelistic” work of some sort. Narcissus may refer to another wealthy friend of Claudius who would have had a large “household,” some of whom had become “believers”…

…”Greet my dear friend Persis, another woman who has worked very hard in the Lord. Greet Rufus possibly the son of Simon of Cyrene…Mark 15:21…chosen in the Lord, and his mother, who has been a mother to me, too. Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas and the other brothers and sisters with them. Greet Philologus, Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympas and all the believers with them”…Romans 16:12-15…Here, Paul may be referring to two other house churches, and people he does not necessarily know, but he knows enough about the churches in Rome to know the names of the most prominent members”…

“The early church” apparently had an effective although probably informal system of communication. As people moved from city to city, churches stayed in touch and were aware of the doctrines taught in other churches. That helped maintain the “unity of the faith”…

…”Greet one another with a “holy kiss”, most of the times I do that too… as Paul concludes. All the churches of Christ in Paul’s region, that is send “greetings”… Romans16:16…Greet one another as dear friends, he says and Christians kissed one another for centuries, and still do in some cultures…with a big bear hug!

“But the purpose of Paul’s command would be thwarted if we insisted on taking him literally in American culture today. Instead of being a sign of welcome,………”a congregational kiss would not be welcomed by most today”. Paul’s instructions in this case are limited by culture, by his culture and ours. There is no requirement for us today to greet one another with a kiss…

…”Plea for peace”…
“Paul then turns to one last, presumably important, exhortation: I urge you, my brothers and sisters, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way that are contrary to the teaching you have learned. Keep away from them…Romans 16:17…Paul had experience with divisive people who taught rules that the gospel did not have. The solution is simple:…”Don’t listen to them”. If they say, You have to keep our rules to be saved, then they are contrary to the gospel of Jesus-Christ and You should get out of that kind of church!!!…Beware of them!!!…

…”For such people are “not serving our Lord Jesus-Christ”…but their own appetites it could be an appetite for money, fame, or just a sense of personal importance. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people…Romans 16:18… “They make a good argument, but they are dead wrong!!! They are not yet causing a problem in Rome, but Paul knows that it won’t be long before they try to influence the Roman churches. And since the Roman churches already have different practices about meat and days, for example, they are vulnerable to divisive teachings…

“Everyone has heard about your obedience, that is, you are already obeying enough rules, so I rejoice because of you; but I want you to be “wise” about what is good, and innocent about what is evil. That is why Paul urges them to be alert. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet…Romans 16:19-20…God is a God of peace, not division, and when we focus on the good, on grace, the adversary will be powerless…Gen. 3:15…

…”May the grace of our Lord Jesus-Christ be with you…Romans 1:7…“Gaius, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings.”…Paul’s companions send greetings…

“Paul closes, as many ancient letter-writers did, with greetings from the people with him: Timothy, my co-worker, sends his greetings to you, as do Lucius, Jason and Sosipater, my fellow Jews…Romans 16:21…Why did Paul mention that these men were Jewish? Perhaps he was trying to remind the Jewish readers that many Jews supported Paul in his mission to the Gentiles, and they supported his message of grace. Luke may refer to the same men in Acts 13:1; 17:5; 20:4…

…”I, Tertius, who wrote down this letter, greet you in the Lord…Romans 16:22… Since it was difficult to write on papyrus, most letters were written by professional secretaries. Here, the secretary sends his own greetings, noting that he is also a believer…

…”Gaius”, whose hospitality I and the whole church here enjoy, sends you his greetings…Romans 16:23…Paul is staying at the home of Gaius, and the church meets at his house…1 Cor. 1:14…Erastus, who is the city’s director of public works, and our brother Quartus send you their greetings. Here Paul makes special mention of a government official, the Roman Christians might be encouraged to know that an “official has accepted the gospel”. They are likely to know Quartus, too, but we do not…

…”Paul closes with a benediction”…
“Now to him who is able to establish you in accordance with my gospel, the message I proclaim

Greetings Friends!

Greetings Friends!

about Jesus-Christ, in keeping with the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the Eternal God, so that all the Gentiles might come to the obedience that comes from faith to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus-Christ! Amen!…Romans 16:25-27…

…”And that my dear brothers and sisters in Christ-Jesus”, concludes our Biblical Studies on the book of Romans. We will be going to first and second Corinthians next! Until then may our Great Eternal God always bless You in your walk of Life…and Thank-You for your faithful dedications and staying with the commitment of exploring and studying the words of our Mighty God from the Scriptures…Book by book until we do it all…and then…explore it again for lost treasures, Amen!!!

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Attitudes That Please God, Romans 12

Let’s continue our biblical studies with “Romans 12″…Shall we?…..
“Attitudes That Please God”…

“In his letter to the Romans, Paul has presented the gospel from our need for divine rescue to the glorious future that Jesus-Christ offers us. In chapter 12, Paul explains that the gospel has implications for the way we should treat one another. He begins with attitudes and principles rather than specific actions”…

…”Living sacrifices”…
“Paul begins with the word therefore, indicating that he is “drawing a conclusion”…. Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship…Romans 12:1…Since God is giving us mercy, we should submit ourselves to him.

Now let me take a minute to clear up a misconception. Listen to what he said again, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, What he is saying here is ONLY God can make ANYTHING holy, you are not able to do this, you OFFER your bodies, or to make it more clear, you offer your Hearts, Minds, Bodies and Soul, everything you are! and God makes you Holy by covering you with the Blood of the Lamb! the Perfect sacrifice! Since God is giving us mercy, we should submit ourselves to him.

…”Not only do various members have different functions, they also belong to each other. Meaning two things, we are not all Pastors or Teachers and we are not seperate or islands, “We have duties to each other”, according to the way God has blessed us.
Our bodies are to be given to God in worship, not to be killed, but as a living and continuous response to God. We are set apart for him, to “serve him” and as we do his will, he is pleased…

………”A literal translation of the last clause says, “this is your reasonable service.” “Sensible people respond to God’s mercy by serving him”…

“What does this involve? Paul explains: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…Romans 12:2…Our standard of behavior is no longer the society around us. We do not just continue doing what we have always done. Rather, we are to change, and this change begins in the mind. It takes conscious effort thinking about how God’s way is different from the world around us. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is, his good, pleasing and perfect will…

…”After we stop looking to the world, we will see what God wants, and we will find that his way is better. His instructions are not arbitrary rules just to test our loyalty they are to help us avoid causing pain for ourselves and for others…

…”Serving with our gifts”…
“Paul first describes how the Roman Christians are to work together as a worship community: For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you..Romans 12:3…”By grace”, God authorized Paul to give commands, and this first command is a call to humility. Take a realistic look, Paul says. Whatever faith you have, has come from God. We have value only because God chooses to give us value; no one has any reason to boast”…

…”For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, “form one body”, and each member belongs to all the others…Romans 12:4-5…Not only do various members have different functions, they also belong to each other. We have duties to each other, according to the way God has blessed us…hummm…

“We have “different gifts”, according to the grace given to each of us. Let me get on my soapbox for a moment here, Facebook has been a wonderful thing or a blessing, but it also has been a curse, let me explain, Facebook has enabled any person to be whatever they wanted to be, and to say whatever they wanted to say, and most of the posts are making it to the four corners of the earth, making the world as small as a town, However no one is answering anyone else’s posts, everone is acting like a pastor or teacher whether they have been called to the ministry or not! Please Church, I Beg you let us get back to what the original Christians were, OF ONE ACCORD! OF ONE MIND! OF ONE BODY! WITH CHRIST AS THE HEAD NOT YOU!

Don’t be sooo busy posting just your own posts, if you see a good post from someone else, help them out and share theirs! Remember some day You Will answer for not only what you did here, but also for what you did NOT do here! I had to get that off my chest this has been bothering me in my spirit for awhile now and something had to be said, Christ is coming soon, within 15-20 years, and how is He going to find us? Bickering! Is that how you want Jesus to find us when He comes back? Please think about what I said! Now back to the Sermon, Thank you!

If your gift is prophesying, then prophesy in accordance with your faith; if it is “serving”, then “serve” if it is “teaching, then teach” if it is to “encourage” then “give encouragement” ..Romans 12:6-8..God has given us different abilities, so some people serve through words, and some through their hands. “Those who prophesy should stick to the faith”….”not their own opinions”…to strengthen, encourage, comfort and edify the church…1 Cor. 14:3-4…Each person should do what he or she does best…

…”For the next three gifts, Paul adds an adverb to emphasize the way we should serve: If it is “giving”, then “give generously”; if it is to “lead”, do it “diligently”; if it is to “show mercy”, do it “cheerfully”..Romans 12:8…Paul summarizes by saying, …”Love must be sincere”…Romans 12:9…”All service should be sincere”…gifts should be motivated by “generosity”; mercy should be given “joyfully”…

“Paul does not give these commands as requirements for salvation. Rather, these are what we should do after being saved, after God has shown us his mercy…

…”Harmony in the body of Christ”…
“In verse 9 Paul begins to list some qualities that should characterize Christian love. He begins with a general principle: “Hate what is evil”…..”cling to what is good”….. “Love is not a vague feeling, but it discerns the difference between good and bad”…

“Be “devoted” to one another in “love”….”Honor one another above yourselves”….
He is focusing on attitudes within the Christian community: Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves..Romans 12:10..Most people struggle to get more honor, but as we imitate our Saviour and our Lord Jesus-Christ …we should try to excel in “humility” and give more “honor”. Our status is secure in Christ, so we do not need to fight for it…

…”Never be lacking in zeal”, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord.Romans 12:11…Or as Paul says in Galatians 6:10..Do not grow weary in doing good. It’s not always easy or fun; we have to remember that we are “serving God not mammon”…

“Be joyful in hope”…”patient in affliction”…”faithful in prayer”…Romans 12:12…And when life is difficult, “don’t give up hope”…”be patient and keep on praying” looking to God for a way to deal with the problems…

…”Share with God’s people who are in need”..”Practice hospitality”..Romans 12:13.. “Our possessions, like other gifts”, should be used to serve others. Even if we don’t own a home, we can be hospitable. At church, for example, we can be hospitable by welcoming others, being easy to approach and willing to help…also talked and be a good listener too…hug them often…and tell them how much You enjoyed their company too!!!…

“Bless those who persecute you”…”bless and do not curse”…Romans 12:14…Most people want revenge, but that is a destructive approach. If we respond to people in the way that Christ has treated us, then we will respond with good rather than evil…

…”Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another…Romans 12:15-16…If other Christians are blessed, rejoice with them,”rather than being jealous”. If they are suffering, empathize with them rather than looking down on them……..

“Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited..Romans 12:16…Some Christians are in a high position; others are low that has not changed. But those external matters are not the basis of a person’s real value. If people are less fortunate than you, don’t think less of them for it. Count them as an equal”…

…”Responding to our enemies”…
“In Romans 12:17, Paul returns to the way that we should respond to persecution or injustice: Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. In other words, do not harbor grudges, and be sensitive to social values…

“If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone…Romans 12:18…”We should do our best to avoid offenses”…Sometimes that means accepting restrictions on what we can do…1 Cor. 9:20…”At other times”, it is “necessary to stand up for the truth of the gospel”…Gal. 2:11…

…”Do not take revenge”, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord…Romans 12:19…quoting Deut. 32:35…”Let God take care of whatever

Attitudes that Blesses THE ALMIGHTY GOD!

Attitudes that Blesses THE ALMIGHTY GOD!

punishment is needed” that will stop the cycle of violence”…

“Instead of vengeance”, Paul assigns us a different job: On the contrary, Paul says, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head…Romans 12:20…quoting Prov. 25:21-22…Various suggestions have been made about why it might be good to put burning coals on someone’s head, but the expression is probably figurative, meaning simply that if we treat our enemies well, they may blush with shame…

…”Paul concludes the discussion by saying, Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good…Romans 12:21…That is the way of Jesus-Christ. Evil cannot be beaten by more evil…it can be “conquered only by good”…

“And we will continue this biblical study on Romans tomorrow, Lord Willing!!! Thank-You all for your faithful dedications in your bible studies. May our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ always bless You too! Until then…have a great day!

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Acts Chapter 16, Part four with, What must I do to be saved?

And now let’s continue our biblical studies of the book of Acts of the Apostles …Chapter 16…Part four with…”What must I do to be saved?”…Acts 16:30-32…

“More important, from Luke’s perspective, is that the jailer rushes into the cell and falls down before Paul and Silas, in great fear. “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” he cries out…Acts 16:30…

…”It’s not clear what the jailer’s understanding of “being saved” is….Does he fear some kind of retribution from these two “magicians”? The jailer has probably heard about the exorcism of the demon from the slave girl. Perhaps he heard something of the gospel being preached in town. Aspects of the message of salvation may have been conveyed to the jailer in the prayers and songs of the imprisoned missionaries”

“In any case, he is soon educated as to what it means to be saved. Paul answers the jailer’s question by saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved you and your household”…Acts 16:31…Of course, there is more to being saved than simply uttering the words, “I believe in Jesus.” Jesus himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven”…Matthew 7:21…

…”Believe on the Lord Jesus-Christ, and you will be saved” is a summary confession of the Christian faith. “Believing on the Lord” is Luke’s shorthand statement for the faith as a whole. He has already used it several times…Acts 5:14; 9:42; 11:17…

“Paul summarizes the gospel to the church in Rome in the same way: “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved”..Romans 10:9.. This confessional précis implies that human works do not earn salvation. Since salvation comes through Jesus-Christ…Acts 4:12…one must believe in him as Saviour in order to experience him as salvation…

…”But faith in Jesus needs to be explained. Paul does this for the jailer and his family. The two missionaries speak “the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house”..Acts 16:32..No doubt they explain the gospel of salvation in terms the jailer and his household can understand. They also probably discuss something of what it means to have a new life in Christ. Further instruction will come later within a church of believers organized in Philippi…

…”Family baptized”…Acts 16:33-34…
“The jailer takes Paul and Silas into his quarters and washes their wounds. Then, he and his family are baptized as in the case of Cornelius. The jailer is then “filled with joy because he had come to believe in God he and his whole family”…Acts 16:34… Since Luke is speaking from hindsight and perhaps he even served as pastor for these people he knows that their conversion is real…

…”The gift offered to the jailer is also offered to his whole household. The New Testament takes the unity of the family seriously, and when salvation is offered to the head of the household, it is as a matter of course made available to the rest of the family group including dependents and servants as well…Acts 16:15…It is, however, offered to them on the same terms: they too “have to hear the Word”… Acts 16:31…”believe and be baptized” the jailer’s own faith does not cover them…

“Luke describes the conversion of the jailer in terms of believing in God. As a pagan Gentile, the jailer would be taught about the one true God. Paul has already told him that a person has to believe in Jesus to be saved. To believe in the one true God is to believe in Christ; to believe in Christ is to believe in God. As Jesus said, “When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me”…John 12:44…

…”Luke, in passing, gives two practical examples of the jailer’s new-found faith. He tends the prisoners’ wounds and brings them into his own house and feeds them. It’s doubtful that an army veteran would have shown compassion to prisoners in his prior life. We should also note that Paul has no hesitation at eating with Gentiles, something that would be impossible for a devout Jew to do…

…”We are Romans”…Acts 16:35-38…
“After the meal”, Paul and Silas “voluntarily return to their prison cell”…. The next morning the magistrates send the police officers to the prison with instructions to release the two missionaries. Paul and Silas have paid the penalty for their suspected disturbance of the peace by being beaten and imprisoned overnight. Now they can be freed, and perhaps commanded to leave town…

“But Paul surprises the officers by saying, “They beat us publicly without a trial, even though we are Roman citizens, and threw us into prison. And now do they want to get rid of us quietly? No! Let them come themselves and escort us out”..Acts 16:37..

…”When the magistrates learn that Paul and Silas are Roman citizens, they are alarmed…Acts 16:38…They come to the prison, escort the missionaries outside, and plead with them to leave the city peacefully. If any officials appreciate the value of Roman citizenship, it would be the magistrates of a Roman colony. The Valerian and Porcian laws, issued in bygone days, said a citizen could travel anywhere within Roman territory under the protection of Rome. It is illegal to punish or imprison a Roman citizen who appeals for a trial at Rome, rather than under local authorities…

“By the time of this incident at Philippi, the original laws regarding the rights of the arrested had been modified. A Roman citizen might under some circumstances be chained or beaten at the orders of a Roman magistrate..Roman Society and Roman Law in the New Testament. “However” under no circumstances can any punishment be given “without a trial”. This is the issue Paul brings up. He and Silas were beaten and imprisoned without first being tried…Acts 16:37…

…”We have little evidence of how this exercise of the rights of a citizen is normally made. Neither are we certain how an individual can support his claim of Roman citizenship on the spot. In the case of Paul, he is probably registered as a citizen in the provincial records of Tarsus, and a copy of the registration can be obtained, but that could take months. And we have no evidence that Paul is carrying such a document with him…

“Much of our information on a Roman citizen’s rights regarding trial and appeal actually comes from the book of Acts itself. These matters are touched on in the following verses:…Acts 16:37-39; 22:25-29; 25:9-12; 26:32; 27:1; 28:16…

…”One might wonder why Paul and Silas don’t appeal to their Roman citizenship before they are beaten and imprisoned. Perhaps they do, but in the heat of the moment no one pays any attention to them. Cicero cites a case in which a prisoner is beaten even as he shouts that he is a Roman citizen In Verrem Acts 5.62.. At a later time in Jerusalem, Paul will claim his citizenship rights before being beaten Acts 22:25.. But in that case he is about to be “scourged”, which is a more “deadly form of beating” than that administered by the officers’ rods…

“Paul insists on a “public apology from the magistrates” of Philippi. It serves notice that the missionaries had been wrongly disgraced, which is not so important for Paul, but very helpful for the believers who remain in the city. They will not stand for any arbitrary bad treatment either here or elsewhere in the empire…

…”Leave the city”…Acts 16:39-40…
“Paul and Silas do not leave the city immediately, even though they were requested to. This, too, makes a point with the authorities. Yes, Paul will leave,”but he will not scurry” out of town in “fear” as though he had been guilty of a crime….

What must I do to be saved?

What must I do to be saved?

“The missionaries return to Lydia’s home. There they meet with the believers and encourage them. After this, they leave with Timothy and travel westward toward Thessalonica. Luke may stay in Philippi. This is indicated by the fact that the “we” section ends. It does not begin again until Luke and the other missionaries sail from Philippi several years later…Acts 20:5…

…”During the interim, Luke may be the pastor for the small church in Philippi, which perhaps meets at Lydia’s house. The congregation presumably begins to grow in size, organization and faith. Paul later writes the church a letter, commending it for its continuing concern for him…Philippians 2:25-30; 4:10-19…

Tomorrow we will start on Chapter 17 of Acts…until then…rest in the peace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus-Christ and may God Bless You.

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Acts, Chapter 16, Part two with On to Bithynia Acts 16:7

This morning let’s continue our biblical studies of Acts of the Apostles…Chapter 16…Part two with…”On to Bithynia”…Acts 16:7…

“Paul and his party kept on traveling north. “When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia”…Acts 16:7-8…Paul is somewhere around the city of Dorylaeum, north of Pisidian Antioch. From Dorylaeum the missionaries could travel to such Bithynian cities as Nicaea and Nicomedia. It is natural for Paul to think that if the large province of Asia is not open to evangelism, then perhaps they should go northwest to the province of Bithynia. It is along the Black Sea coast of northwest Asia Minor, and has a number of civilized Greek cities as well as Jewish settlements”

…”Later, Peter writes to Christian communities in Bithynia..1 Peter 1:1.. Yet later, Pliny the Younger, the province’s governor under Trajan complained about the many Christians in the area……..

“But Paul is also prevented from doing missionary work in Bithynia. Luke writes that “the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to”…Acts 16:7…This is the only time that the expression “Spirit of Jesus” occurs in Acts. Luke may be trying to tell his readers that Jesus continues to take an active role in directing the preaching of the gospel…

“Jesus has already made his appearance in Acts as one who mandates the apostles’ work of preaching the gospel..Acts 1:3; 7:56; 9:5..The Holy-Spirit is called by his own name, or is referred to as “the Spirit of God”…Matthew 10:20…”the Spirit of Christ,” or “the Spirit of Jesus”…Romans 8:9; Galatians 4:6; Philippians 1:19; 1 Peter 1:11…But there is only one Holy-Spirit, of course…

…”God has again intervened in the plans of the missionaries. He is directing Paul and his associates to a “historic new phase of the work”. But for the moment, they are unaware of what is happening to them…

…”Stopping at Troas”…Acts 16:8…
“If they can’t preach in Asia, nor in Bithynia, the missionaries can at least get to the “coast of Asia Minor” and then decide what to do. Luke tells us “they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas”…Acts 16:8…They had to go through Mysia in order to reach coastal Troas. Mysia is a somewhat indefinite region in the northwest corner of Asia Minor. It is the land that abuts into the Aegean Sea, and its northern border is the Dardanelles the Hellespont. Mysia includes the historic seaport of Troas, and the site of “ancient Troy”, about ten miles inland…

“Troas is an important port, connecting the land masses of Europe Macedonia and Asia Minor as well being near the passageway between the Aegean and Black Seas. It is a regular port of call for trading vessels plying these waters, and it is an important hub for the Roman communication system…hummm…

…”What Paul does not yet realize is that God has “boxed him in”… He is in a coastal city with nowhere to go except west across the Aegean Sea to Macedonian Europe…

…”Man of Macedonia”…Acts 16:9-10…
“It is at Troas that the apostle Paul has a “strange vision”. During the night he sees the figure “of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, ‘Come over to Macedonia and help us’”…Acts 16:9…Luke doesn’t explain how Paul knows the person he sees in his vision is from Macedonia…

“This is a “pivotal event”, for Paul now understands that he is being given a divine call to evangelize Macedonia. This province lies west, across the Aegean Sea from Troas, which makes this seaport the ideal place jumping-off point for the mission. A “short boat ride” across the Aegean will bring Paul to Philippi, a chief port of Macedonia…

…”We got ready”…Acts 16:10…
“It is at Troas that the first of the “we” sections of Acts appears…Acts 16:10-17… Luke writes: “After Paul had seen the vision, “we got ready” at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them”…Acts 16:10…For the next several verses Luke unobtrusively inserts himself as the fourth member of the missionary team, including Paul, Silas and Timothy. This first “we” section ends in Philippi…Acts 16:17…

“The next “we” section begins when Paul revisits Philippi after the third journey.Acts 20:5-15..The other “we” sections are in 21:1-18 and 27:1-28:16…It’s reasonable to conclude, then, that Luke stays at Philippi after Paul, Silas and Timothy make their way across Macedonia, and then go south into Achaia. Perhaps Luke is left there to build and organize the church…

…”The gospel in Macedonia”…Acts 16:11-17:15…
“Sailing to Neapolis…The missionary foursome Paul, Silas, Timothy and Luke sail from Troas for the Macedonian port of Neapolis the port city of Philippi, passing by the island of Samothrace. Like many other captains, the captain anchors his vessel overnight at the island’s port. The entire crossing of 125 to 150 miles usually takes “two days”….However, the ship Paul is on for his later return trip from Neapolis to Troas encounters rough seas and contrary winds. Because of this, it takes the missionary company five days to cross the Aegean on that occasion..Acts 20:5…

…”Philippi, a chief colony”…Acts 16:12…
“Neapolis..the modern Kavalla..is the port city; Philippi itself lies 10 miles…16 kilometers…inland on the Via Egnatia. This important highway runs east to Byzantium and west across the Balkan peninsula to Dyrrhachium on the “Adriatic coast”. Travellers reaching Dyrrhachium can then cross the Adriatic to Brundisium, on the “Italian mainland”. Here they can connect with another important highway, the Appian Way, which leads to Rome. Perhaps the thought crosses Paul’s mind that he might preach in cities along the Via Egnatia and eventually make his way to Rome…

“There’s no indication that Paul preached at Neapolis. Luke hurries the missionaries to Philippi, which is a “Roman colony and the leading city of that district of Macedonia”…Acts 16:12…

…”The Greek of this verse is confused, but the reading adopted by the Good News Bible probably represents what Luke intended, namely, that Philippi was ‘a city of the first district of Macedonia.’ It was certainly not ‘the leading city of the district of Macedonia’ nor even of this particular subdivision. That distinction belonged to Amphipolis, and Thessalonica was the capital of the whole province”…

“Philippi had become part of the Roman Empire in 167 B.C. After the second civil war in 42 B.C., when Mark Anthony and Octavian..Augustus..defeated Brutus and Cassius assassins of Julius Caesar, many Roman army veterans were settled at Philippi, and the city became a Roman colony…

…”Colonies are governed by the emperor, rather than provincial officials. Roman colonies uses Roman law and have constitutions modeled on the city of Rome…

“Apart from the deployment of army units throughout the Empire, the Romans strengthened their hold on the provinces by the creation of ‘colonies.’ These were towns, strategically selected, whose inhabitants were given the rights of Roman citizenship, lived under Roman law and were governed by a Roman type of constitution; they were often used as settlements for retired soldiers of the Roman army, and thus were tantamount to garrison towns…

…”Although these colonies presented the normal architectural features of Greek civilization…they were veritable ‘little Italies’ transplanted overseas, with the Latin ethos and language much in evidence.”

On to Bithynia

On to Bithynia

“Philippi is the only city Luke names as a colony, though other cities appearing in Acts are also Roman colonies: Antioch of Pisidia…Acts 13:14…Iconium..Acts 14:1.. Lystra..Acts 14:6..Troas..Acts 16:8..and Corinth..Acts 18:1..Philippi is an especially important center for Paul’s European mission. The Philippian church generously supports him financially in his work…Philippians 4:15-18;..2 Corinthians 11:9…The church there has a “partnership in the gospel from the first day”…Philippians 1:5…

We will continue our biblical studies on the book of Acts of the Apostles tomorrow Lord Willing! may our Great Eternal God bless You and your friends and families in Jesus name I pray.Amen!

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