Bible Journal: The Bible New Testament Made Simple Acts- Revelation
Containing commentaries on:
The Letter to the Romans- The Revelation of John
I have taken it upon myself, the task of writing a journal based on what I have read from the bible. Hopefully, by reading the bible I may find the encouragement and motivation to live up to my worldly responsibilities as well. The bible itself is the best counselor and self help book rolled into one. Therefore it certainly is not a waste of time to be reading the bible- which are the very words of God, our creator. In fact what could be more important?) I currently keep a small journal and index cards of my favorite verses for quick reference. But, reading the bible in a random and haphazard way will most likely result in missing important things that could certainly be of benefit. I enjoy reading the bible, as I find it filled with the most important advice and instruction that can be found. It represents the words of my best friend, embodying the perfect qualities that can be found in no one else. God is the God of perfect justice, mercy and love. Reading the bible has been a help to me whenever I have felt depressed, angry, revengeful, remorseful or lonely. It is far better than any worldly advice that may come from anyone else.
I will begin the task in this way: I will start with the letters of the New Testament first, starting with the book of Romans. After completing the letters, I will then proceed to the four gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke & John & Acts and then psalms and proverbs. Hopefully I will read each day and record my commentary in this journal.
I am beginning this journal with the letters written by the Apostle Paul. My journal/ commentary will be in the same order as the bible. Keep in mind, the beginning will start at Romans. I have not included the four gospels of Jesus’ life: Matthew, Mark, Luke, John or the book of Acts.
THE LETTERS BY PAUL THE APOSTLE
An Introduction to Paul’s letters and to Romans:
I have decided that the Book of Romans is a perfect place to start this journal. I have read it many times, and in fact most of my systematic reading of the New Testament books will actually be considered a re- reading. Yet, Romans in particular is a very good background providing some important basic essential information about God and God’s will for mankind. I would recommend anyone reading the bible for the first time to start with one of the gospels first, then proceed directly to the book of Romans. It addresses some very basic and universal questions. Even though the bible is written for everyone in general, the words are personally directed to each and every individual. The words of the bible will speak out to me, communicating the truth and thereby convicting me of anything false that I need to change. Hopefully, continued reading of the bible will create in me a desire and a motivation to do what is right and to have the peace of mind that can only come when one is following God’s will.
Chapter 1 No Excuses! The Spiral Towards Depravity.
Romans 1:16-17 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is God’s power for salvation to everyone who believes… For in it God’s righteousness is revealed from faith to faith. The righteous will live by faith.” This passage essentially sums up the purpose of reading the bible, otherwise known as the “gospel”. Firstly we should NOT be embarrassed by the bible as so many in today’s modern society are - because through reading the message of God, which is passed down to us in the form of the written word: the bible- we may be saved. Salvation means this- eternal life in heaven with God. God’s goodness is made evident, or clear to us, through his words in the bible. And we must accept these words of God by faith. Yet faith is not an abandonment of reason and common sense, because there are sufficient proofs of God’s existence evident within the created physical world which is obvious and may be perceived by all of mankind. No one has an excuse for denying God.
There is sufficient proof of God’s existence! It cannot be denied. Don’t believe event the most hardened of atheists or evolutionists. They are simply wrong and here is why: Romans 1:19, “since what can be known about God is evident among them, because God has shown it to them. From the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what he has made. As a result, people are without excuse.” Sometimes there may be that doubt in the back of our minds:”what if there is no God?”, but these passages should quell all doubts- because God’s existence is plain and clear to us. And, by denying the common sense reality, the truth of God, we in essence exchange truth for a lie. In doing so, our common sense and our minds become foggy and dulled to the point that we exchange the truth of the immortal and powerful true God for anything else that will satisfy that spiritual vacuum that is created. We lose our power for objectivity and reasonwhen we neglect to consider God. Next what follows is that we degenerate into a humanity which lacks morals and truths and objectivity.
In plain and simple English, the process towards sin and depravity are described in this first chapter of Romans! First, it consists of denial of an all powerful, good creator. Then without a moral standard- higher than ourselves, we fall into disarray- grasping at anything to fill that spiritual void. Deny it all you want, since the dawn of mankind, there can be no doubt that people have sought to believe in something greater than themselves. We are “religious” beings by nature, like it or not. Once God is removed from the picture a spiritual void is created- a spiritual Black Hole that seeks to be fulfilled. In its powerful vortex, anything and everything will be sucked up- and common sense, morals and goodness go out the window! Without God, people turn to depravity and debauchery of all sorts. Just look at television and movies if you don’t believe this. Though claiming to be wise, they are not, as their thinking became nonsense and their minds darkened. “Therefore God delivered them over in the cravings of their hearts to sexual impurity. Romans 1:24 And because they did not think it worthwhile to have God in their knowledge, God delivered them over to a worthless mind to do what is morally wrong. They are filled with all unrighteousness, evil, greed and wickedness. They are full of envy, murder, disputes deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, arrogant, proud, boastful, inventors of evil, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving and unmerciful…and they not only practice such things…but even applaud others who practice them. “Romans 1:28-32 What loathsome qualities, but think about it a second- are they rare or are they common? And which one of us can say we have never been guilty of any of these things. These traits describe us, they describe humanity!
Chapter 2: Say no to hypocrisy!
“When you judge another, you condemn yourself, since you the judge do the same things”. Romans 2:1 You may think you are a good example, telling others what to do, but what good is that when you do not even follow through? If you consider yourself to be an authority figure, a leader or a teacher then you must also act as one as well. Telling others what is right or wrong isn’t sufficient. You yourself must also practice what you preach. God’s mercy and love is for the purpose of leading us to remorse and repentance. Therefore we should not scoff when we perceives others to be less worthy as a result of their sins. If we choose to remain stubborn, unmerciful, judgmental and hard hearted we will bear the consequences of God’s just judgment. Regardless of how “religious” you perceive yourself to be- we our judged by God according to our hearts. Our conscious serves as a guideline as it convicts us as to whether we are right our wrong. But if we continue to ignore our conscious, our hearts will become hardened to the point where we really do not know right from wrong. It is because of so called religious and Christian hypocrites that, “The name of God is blasphemed”. Romans 2:24 The so called safety net of religion is worthless if you do not practice what you preach.
Chapter 3: God’s solution for sin & our salvation
Many deny the existence of God and mock those who place their faith in God. Sometimes, even we who have placed our faith in God have some moments of doubt. In fact even John the Baptist had a moment of doubt. But does this doubt nullify the objective truth about God? Certainly not! Just because we do not believe something is true, doesn’t make it false, does it? What we believe does not change the truth. In fact, “God must be true,” even if “everyone is a liar”. Romans 3:4 Furthermore, none of us can say we have never sinned. We all fall short of God’s perfect and just standards. We are all guilty before God’s eyes. No one truly understands God. We all at times have lied or have spoken careless words. At times we have all pursued our own selfish desires and interests at the expense of others. We can never, no matter how hard we try, meet God’s standards. Does that make God’s standards unreasonable because we cannot attain them? No, that doesn’t. It simply shows that through our own efforts it is impossible to be perfect and meet God’s standards. But, while we were still living in sin, God sent his only son, Jesus to die for our sins so that by believing in Jesus, we may be justified. What do we need to do? We need to simply admit we have sinned- in other words, admit that we have fallen short of God’s standards and accept the sacrifice of Jesus through faith. And as a result of our faith, righteousness shall be credited to us- not earned- but freely given to as a gift from God. Our faith in Jesus will result in the forgiveness of our sins and eternal life- which is salvation. We cannot be saved based on merit or good works! Therefore no one can boast. It is a gift from God that we receive from faith!
Chapter 4: Justified as righteous through faith
We are justified as righteous by God through our faith in Jesus. We can not merit or earn justification through our works. In fact in the Old Testament, King David and Abraham were justified by their faith in God, not by works or anything they did. God “credits” or gives the gift of righteousness by faith and not by works. In essence, what righteousness means can be summed up in this verse: “How happy those whose lawless acts are forgiven and whose sins are covered! How happy the man whom the Lord will never charge with sin.” Romans 4:8 Jesus “was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification”. Romans 4:25
Chapter 5: Faith results in justification which results in our hope and salvation
Remember it is through our faith in Jesus alone that we may be justified. While we were sinners, Jesus died for us so that we may be saved by believing in home. What a great act of love this is! Rarely will someone die even for a so-called good or deserving man, but to die for undeserving sinners, that is true love! To place our faith in anything else is meaningless because it is Jesus who died on the cross for our sins. Being declared righteous should give us peace, even in life’s tough times. This is because we can now receive God’s grace and hope for the future. The Holy Spirit within us, assures of and reminds us not only of God’s love but our future hope. Just as condemnation and death for all resulted from the sin of one man- Adam; the gift of justification and eternal life are available for all through Jesus. Justification means this- salvation, which is eternal life.
Chapter 6: Real life application of our faith
It is true that we can not merit our salvation by works, because it is a gift that we receive through our faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. But that does not mean we should go right on sinning- behaving as if our actions do not matter! When we place our faith in Jesus, and in Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins- we share not only in glory and salvation but in his death as well. Just as Jesus died for our sins, we too should symbolically put to death our former selves- our former ways of behavior. Baptism is used as an analogy for death and rebirth. Therefore when we place our faith in Jesus we are baptized into his death as well as our rebirth into eternal life. We put to death our sinful natures, and take on a new life. Therefore, even if we are not bound by the Laws of the old testament- otherwise known as the old covenant, we should still seek to please God in the spirit of love and willingness rather than as in an obligation or duty.
Chapter 7: Freedom From the Law
In order to explain the sovereignty or power of the law over the believer in Jesus, Paul uses an analogy of marriage. Prior to believing in Jesus, we were still subject to judgment in accordance with the law. (The law is the standard of perfection given by God which is written in the Old Testament.) Without a savior, we were required to pay the penalty for our own sins and that penalty was eternal separation from God- in other words, death. Yet when we accepted God’s gift of redemption or salvation through our faith and acceptance of Jesus’ sacrifice, we were not longer bound to the judgment of the law. Likewise when we are married, we are obligated or bound to our spouse. If our spouse is dead, we are freed from that obligation. In a sense when we accepted Jesus in our life, we put to death our former way of thinking. When we humbled ourselves and admitted to our sin and our need for a savior, we put to death our old sinful selves. Now we are not bound legally to the law, and instead we have the spirit. We are not required to fulfill the law for our salvation- which is impossible to do anyway. Instead, our spirit and faith is what gives us life.
Chapter 7 Continued: The struggle between goodness & sin
Our conscious recognizes the goodness of the law through the Holy Spirit or natural inclinations of our conscious. When we recognize we have done wrong, and when our conscious convicts us of our wrongdoing- that is the recognition of the goodness of God’s law. Yet, our bodies- our fleshly natures, struggle and fight against what is right. It as if there is an inner struggle between goodness and sin; between the Holy Spirit that lives in us, and the sin which reigns in our bodies.
It is obvious our flawed human natures cannot possibly overcome our inclination towards sin. No matter how hard we try and no matter how disciplined we think we are- can never meet God’s standards of perfection. What the law could not achieve for us, God achieved- through Jesus who was the “sin offering”. Therefore we no longer live according our natural human natures- the sinful flesh. Instead we live by the spirit which is this: we are justified as righteous through our faith. We are no longer condemned and under the reign of death. As a result, though our faith which gives us the spirit, we will receive life. But remember as living in the spirit and not under our former natural ways, we put to death our former ways. If we suffer from temptation, hardship, suffering or criticism as a result of our new lives, we need to remember it is only temporary because we have hope in eternal life. We are considered to be God’s children as a believer. Because of this we may eagerly await our eternal happiness. Where we may lack in willpower or in strength, the Holy Spirit will intercede to help us.
God loved us so much, he did not even spare his very own son- Jesus. It should be obvious therefore that God loves us very much. So why should it bother us when others do not like us, or if others who are simply human beings try to hurt us? If God is on our side, does it really matter what other people may say or do to us? Furthermore, there is absolutely nothing that can separate us from the love of God. Any suffering we must endure is nothing compared to the happiness and glory and satisfaction we will receive when we have eternal life with God.
Chapters 9,10 and 11: Faith is the greatest factor
Just because you come from a religious family, or you have a religious heritage, does not mean you have any advantage in entering God’s kingdom. It does not matter if you come from an entire line of rabbis, preachers or priests, that will not get you into heaven any quicker. You become a child of God by faith and not by your physical heritage descent or ancestry. Human efforts will get us no where- it depends on God’s mercy and compassion. God makes no distinction between race, religious or cultural background. That gives no advantage or disadvantage. What you believe and profess is what matters. Romans 10:9 If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord”, and believe with your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved. As you can read in the Old Testament, the Jews were entrusted with the prophets and the law and God’s covenant. Now, a relationship with God is available to all who accept and believe.
Chapter 12: The Qualities and Personality of a Believer
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing and perfect will of God.
Be careful to not be so full of pride- to think more highly of yourself than you should. All of us are important to God and we all have our purpose. God has endowed us with gifts- different from each other but essential nonetheless. Some of us teach, preach, encourage, serve, lead, donate etc. As believers in Christ, when we are together with other believers there is an expectation that we should act in accordance with God’s will. As God has shown love, we need to as well. Above all else, we must show love to one another and “outdo one another in showing honor”, love, mercy, patience and goodness. “Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud…. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil… do not avenge yourselves….do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.” Additionally, we need to submit to authority, whether it is Godly or worldly. For example, we must obey the laws of the state and government. We must pay taxes and whatever legal or financial obligations required of us when living in this world. Yet we should never forget that love is our biggest obligation. All the commandments are easily summed up by this: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Chapter 14 and 15: Don’t argue about doubtful issues. Romans 14:1
Perhaps you feel that you can eat whatever you want with a clear conscious, such as pork. Yet maybe there is a new believer in your church, perhaps a convert from Judaism or Islam that says he can not eat pork. Perhaps he may even go so far as condemning you when he sees you eating a piece of bacon. Don’t argue about it with him. Go ahead and eat bacon with a clear conscious. If he tells you it is wrong, simply explain that it isn’t but don’t get into a heated debate. Let the new convert who is weaker in his faith avoid bacon; don’t force him to eat it. But if you notice he becomes extremely disturbed by watching you eat bacon, then don’t eat it in front of him for the sake of his conscious. The same thing applies to anything else such as the observance of special days. As long as we act in a clear conscious convinced that what we do is the right thing and to the glory of God. Romans 14:5 Each one must be fully convinced in his own mind. At the same time, we should still be considerate of each others feelings.
Everything is declared clean by God. But even if your conscious is clear and you know you are right, that is not an excuse to make a weaker believer in the faith feel bad. “Do you have faith? Keep it to yourself before God. Blessed is the man who does not condemn himself by what he approves. But who ever doubts stands condemned if he eats, because his eating is not from faith, and everything that is not from faith is sin.” Romans 14: 22 This means that if you have a clear conscious, then go ahead- eat it, drink it or do it. But if your conscious bothers you, when you do something you believe is wrong, then you have sinned. Another thing to keep in mind is there are many cult like groups such as Mormons and Jehovah Witnesses who have many man made rules adding to the word of the bible. They say it is wrong to do things that God has not declared wrong. Do not listen to these people. They should keep their so called man made rules
Thos of us who are stronger in our faith have a greater obligation that we avoid fruitless disputes and debates. Rather we should try to lovingly address and bear the weakness of those weaker in their faith. We should accept one another as God has accepted us. We should act to the glory of God rather than stirring up dissention and arguments amongst each other.
Chapter 16: Paul’s closing remark- avoid arguments!
As in the tradition and format of Paul’s other letters, this letter closes with some encouraging remarks to some specific believers and members of the early church. Paul ends this letter with a stern warning against trouble makers who seek only to stir up arguments. This verse sums it up: “Now I implore you…watch out for those who cause dissentions and pitfalls contrary to the doctrine you have learned. Avoid them for such people do not serve our Lord Christ but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattering words they deceive the hearts of the unsuspecting” Romans 16:17
Although the names of Paul’s letters are named after the specific early Christian churches they represent, they are written to all Christian believers “called as saints… in every place who call on the name of Jesus Christ”. 1Cor1:2 Therefore every one who reads the bible, including these letters should read the words as if they are individually written to him or her .
Chapters 1 and 2: Friends of God and the Problem of Worldly Wisdom
Through faith in Jesus we are called to fellowship with God. In other words, through Jesus Christ, we become friends with God. As friends, there is nothing we will lack for. Knowing this, there is no reason for believers to argue with one another. There is no reason that the body of believers should be divided. We all believe in the same Lord, so why should we be divided? It doesn’t matter specifically who does the preaching, teaching or baptism, it is the message, not the messenger that we should be concerned about- that is what brings unity. Don’t get overly pre-occupied with the messenger whether it be Paul, Cephas (Peter), Apollos or whoever! It doesn’t matter.
For those who are perishing the message of the cross is foolishness, but to us who are being saved it is God’s power. 1Cor1:18 Sums up the reason why non believers disregard the message of the Lord. The world’s wisdom and the world’s people: teachers, philosophers, scientists, politicians, writers, atheists, secularism, the media, communists…all of this means nothing to God. Such respected worldly individuals dismiss the wisdom and truths of God as foolishness. In turn, all of this worldly wisdom is simply worthless in God’s eyes. So therefore, when you hear the message of God’s good news, though it may not be delivered in the elegant words of an orator, the message itself through the Holy Spirit conveys the power and wisdom of God. The truths of God cannot be discerned through worldly wisdom but only through the Holy Spirit. How can anyone hope to understand the mysteries and the ways of the lord except through the Holy Spirit which is freely given to all believers. Just as a man’s own mind and conscious knows the mind of the man, the Holy Spirit of God is the only one that can comprehend the concerns of God. Natural man, otherwise known as worldly man, does not welcome the Holy Spirit of God, and rejects anything that is spiritual. He sees the ways of the Holy Spirit and God as foolishness. Therefore how can he hope to even understand the ways of God? On the other hand the spiritual person can understand the ways of God and evaluate God’s message through faith and the Holy Spirit which he receives as a believer by faith.
Chapters 3 and 4: The Importance of the Message and God’s Messengers
In his letter, Paul refers to the non believer as a natural, worldly, ordinary, typical or fleshly man. Whatever expression is used to describe the non believer, the meaning is the same. The non believer acts based on human nature: envy, revenge, greed, selfishness, immorality, pride and other fleshly desires rather than with faith and love. As discussed earlier, the message of God, and not the messenger is what is most important. When you concentrate on the messenger to the exclusion of God’s message, then you are acting based on the worldly, human nature. The messengers, also known as the servants of God simply deliver the message. The delivery of the message of God is considered to be an important task- an important work! This work of delivering the message of God is comparable to a builder who lays a foundation and then builds a building. The degree to which the messengers or servants of God obey and spread the word of God may vary: some put in their full efforts to evangelize and win souls for Christ, while others put minimal work into sharing the saving message of God. Eventually, each person’s work will come to light, there are no secrets before God. Such a believer who spends little to no effort in sharing the message of the good news may be summed up by the following verse: “If anyone’s work is burned up, it will be lost, but he himself will be saved; yet it will be like an escape through fire.” 1Cor3:15 In sum, the wisdom of this world is nothing but foolishness to God. No one, no matter how clever or crafty he may be, can get away with any sort of scheme or dishonesty. The Lord evaluates everyone! Put aside pride. “Nothing beyond what is written” matters. 1Cor4:6 What this means is this: the only important thing is the saving message of God. In fact those who are teachers and messengers of God should be even more humble than those who are the hearers of the message. They need to be extra prepared in this way, because frequently they are rejected by the world. Oftentimes the messengers are persecuted, and slandered. The messengers endure hardships as well, “like the world’s garbage”. In writing this letter, Paul includes himself as a messenger- in fact, succumbing to some of the worst of all hardships. Nevertheless Paul calls all believers in Christ to imitate his ways.
Chapters 5, 6 and 7: Expectations of Believers and Church Members
Deplorable and filthy behavior is not a problem that is exclusive to nonbelievers alone. Apparently at the church in Corinth, (as well as in other churches both ancient and modern), sexually immoral behavior was an ongoing problem which Paul felt the need to address and condemn. Furthermore, instead of being remorseful of such behaviors, the perpetrators were actually proud of it and flaunting it! In response, using the analogy that a little yeast can cause an entire loaf of bread to rise, Paul explains, that even a little bit of sin or wrong doing can permeate a Christian congregation and negatively affect the other believers. As a result, Paul tells the congregation of believers to “turn that one over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” in order to save his spirit. In other words, the hypocrite should be reprimanded and if he doesn’t change his ways, then he should be excluded from the congregation. The reason for this is that the other believers may also get caught up in the same actions if it is not properly rejected. A church and believers should not condone or put up with that sort of behavior.
If you have a problem with a fellow believer in your church, do not take it to court! In court, you are dragging out your problems to be settled by a non believer. It is better to approach the church, and perhaps there are some wise arbitrators within the congregation that may settle the matter in a more peaceful and just way. If all else fails, “why not rather put up with injustice? Why not rather be cheated? Instead, you act unjustly and cheat- and this to brothers1” which are your fellow believers within your church. 1Cor6:8
Respect for our Bodies:
Remember the behaviors that exclude people from the kingdom of God! We are no longer slaves to our sinful desires anymore because we have been justified in the name of Jesus. A common slogan that many people live by: “Everything is permissible for me”, is very dangerous to put into practice. In fact, Paul points out the folly of following such worldly advice. Not everything is helpful, and is it worth it to do anything you want and to be brought under the control of sinful and selfish desires? You should not believe it is permissible to act in any way you wish without concern or care. The body is not to be used for sexual immorality and other out of control, sinful, fleshly pursuits. Your body is part of the members of Christ, a sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, therefore take care with what you use your body for. “The person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body” 1Cor6:18 Therefore we must run away and take guard from sexual sin.
Sometimes the married life is more trouble than its worth. The married believer must be concerned about pleasing his or her spouse and other worldly concerns but the single believer can dedicate his or her life to the Lord. Its okay to get married, if you feel the calling of single-hood (as noble as it is), to be too difficult to follow. If you are so preoccupied with getting married then do it! Its better to marry than to be involved in sexual sin as a single person. If you are married, don’t get a divorce no matter what! Even if your spouse is not a believer, you should stay married. Consider this, even if your spouse is not a believer, your actions may sometimes be enough to win over your husband or wife to God. Therefore if you are married to a non believer don’t give up, and don’t despair. However, if your spouse divorces you, and it is beyond your control, you obviously have no choice. But no matter what, if you divorce, do not remarry. Reconcile with your estranged spouse if it is possible- if not, stay single.
No Need To Change:
If you became saved as a slave, then do not pre-occupy yourself in seeking freedom. If you were an uncircumcised gentile, there is no need for you to perform a ritual or a medical procedure to become circumcised. If you were a teacher, a lawyer, a doctor, salesperson, construction worker, ditch digger or a pauper, no need to change your profession or lifestyle if it has nothing to do with sin. If you wear glasses, have long hair, have warts etc… why change? If some one tries to get you to change something- why should you listen? God accepts you as you are.
Chapter 8: The Responsibility of Knowledge
Knowledge Vs. Love: While worldly knowledge often leads to worldly pride, the quality of love leads to more love and encouragement. If you think you know it all, then that in of itself shows you are ignorant of God’s will. If your knowledge of the word of God is great, that is in fact noble and pleasing- it’s a good start. But knowledge without love is just not good enough. What good is that knowledge if you use it in such a way as to offend one another? Knowledge is a powerful tool but without love to guide it, it can be harmful as well. Be careful not to take advantage of your stronger faith and cause your brother who may be weaker in faith to become hurt or offended.
There is only one true God, the creator of this world. Yet the people of this world do not acknowledge and honor God. Instead they pay honor to worldly “gods” or idols. In fact anything that comes before God, becomes an idol. But no matter what that idol or “god” is: fame, money, career, a relationship or whatever else- it is not as important as worship of the true God. In the ancient times whether men worshiped false Greek, Roman and Egyptian Gods, or whether it is in modern times when men worship movie stars, musicians, sports figures, wealth, health or materialism- its all the same- worthless. “For us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and one Lord Jesus Christ through whom are all things.” 1Cor8:6
Now in ancient times when Paul wrote this letter to the believers in Corinth, the worship of false Greek and Roman gods was a common practice condoned and encouraged by the government. On a trip to ancient Rome you would see so many temples, and statues dedicated to gods and ancestors. Idol and ancestor worship was as common as patriotism- and was often linked to patriotism. In fact the Roman Caesers were often deified upon death. The worship of these gods and ancestors was called idolatry. It was common practice to offer food to idols and then to consume the meat after words in a ritual. Oftentimes the excess meat would be sold in shops. But God has declared all food as acceptable to eat. Food is not unclean. What goes into your mouth cannot make a person unclean before God. We as believers and hearers of God’s word have this knowledge. But many new believers, who had converted from idolatry felt it was wrong to eat meat that they knew had been dedicated to idols. It would bother their conscious to eat such meat. Paul wanted to clarify that it was okay for a believer to eat any meat even if it had been part of a ritual. But he also told the believers stronger in their faith to not make a point of eating such meat in front of a weaker believer if it meant offending the conscious of that new believer. Above all else, even when we have knowledge of the truth, love and consideration for one another, especially other believers is of the most importance. If your faith causes trouble for the conscious of another weaker in faith then you have done a great disservice both for the Lord and the other believer.
Chapter 9: Paul’s Purpose as an Apostle
An apostle was a messenger of God’s word. His purpose was to deliver God’s message so as to create new believers and disciples. Paul was an apostle to preach the gospel. As an apostle, a believer in Christ with the added responsibility to deliver and spread the message, he was also entitled to the liberties of other believers and even more: food, clothing, material support, family. Yet Paul willingly chose not take advantage of this. He chose not to accept material and financial support from other believers- even though it would not have been wrong to do so. His first and foremost goal was to spread the gospel to the exclusion of seeking his own comfort. His purpose was to communicate and interact with each at his own level to win over believers for Christ.
Chapter 10: The Choice Between Good & Evil
Let us not temp Christ. 1Cor10:9 As believers we should avoid evil or sinful desires. Consider the Old Testament examples of God’s just punishments upon those who ignored the will of God and Godly morals. We are not immune from God’s judgment either. We should avoid idolatry which means putting other things or people before worship of God. We need to also avoid sexual immorality. Another thing, we must be careful even when we think we are strong in spirit and conviction. We are not immune to temptation and we must be on guard. “Whoever thinks he stands must be careful not to fall! No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with temptation He will also provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it.” 1Cor10: 12-13 If we are believers , why should we participate in immorality. We cannot have divided loyalties. We cannot serve goodness and evil at the same time. “Are we provoking the Lord to Jealousy?” 1Cor10:22
Again Paul addresses the common slogan that many erroneously believe and live by: “Everything is permissible.” While you may believe everything is okay to do, it really is not always okay. Sometimes what we do can cause harm to us and others as well. Furthermore we should put the well being of others above ourselves. As he discussed two chapters earlier, Paul uses the example of meat offered to idols. It is okay to eat anything sold in the meat market, but if your knowledge and liberties bothers the conscious of another then don’t do it in front of that person. You are also to set an example as well, not simply show off without care or concern. Whatever you do, make sure you do it for the glory of God and that you do not cause the offense of another who is weaker in the faith.
Chapter 11: Respect in Worship
The ancient cultural context of Paul’s passage on head covering must be considered. The general message is for today is this: we must act and dress in respect to God, especially in a worship service. Women are not demeaned or degraded as being inferior. This could not be further from the truth. In fact, Paul encourages the respect of women, and both men and women come from God. It is interesting to note how Paul also mentions that our physical signs of respect are observed not only by God but by the angels as well- to whom we are also examples.
The Lord’s Supper:
Think about how you celebrate communion or the Lord’s Supper at your church today. Have you ever wondered why the pastor or (master of ceremonies- whoever that may be)- passes around a bit of bread and wine/ juice to each individual. It is done in an orderly manner isn’t it? It is not exactly a re-enactment of the dinner served at the Last Supper celebrated by Jesus and his apostles as told in the New Testament gospels. It is not a full course meal as it was with Jesus and his apostles in the upper room. There is a reason for this, and Paul had to address this with the early Christian Church in Corinth. When we participate in the memorial of the Lord’s Supper together in Church, we must not consider it to be a party or a buffet to which we satiate our uncontrolled desires for food and drink. No! That is not the purpose. Eat and drink at home if you are that hungry- don’t expect to eat your dinner at the memorial service of the Lord’s Supper! Don’t eat the whole loaf of bread! Don’t you have homes where you can eat? Eat your dinner at home before you come to church. In the church at Corinth, apparently they used to pass out the bread and wine, and some members of the church would take more according to their appetites so that there would not be enough to go around. Instead of respectfully sharing in the memory of the Last Supper, they were simply fulfilling their hearty appetites. Paul had to condemn this, telling them as well as us to wait for one another and eat at home if you are hungry. Hence this is why in most modern churches the Last Supper is formally and orderly conducted that way it is so as to avoid the free for all, all you can eat- buffet effect. Jesus himself told us to remember Him in the practice of the Lord’s supper together- and as often as we do this, we are remembering his death and sacrifice.
Chapters 12, 13 and 14: Spiritual Gifts
There are different spiritual gifts. Each of these is important! They are simply different manifestations of the Holy Spirit working through the believer for the good of all. These include faith, helping, managing and knowledge. Individual members may be apostles or teachers. The thing to remember is that “one and the same spirit is active in all these, distributing to each as He wills”. 1Cor12:11. It is analogous to one human body having many different body parts: all are different but even the smallest is still important. Each body part has a specific purpose. Those parts of the body we see as less honorable, we must clothe with more honor- we must devote more attention to distribute honor. There should be unity therefore and not division among the members of the church. But, remember this- without love, our gifts are meaningless. It does not matter if we can prophesy or heal, if it is done without love then it does not matter! Without love, you have nothing because love is the only lasting spiritual gift- the others: prophesy, languages (speaking in foreign tongues: angelic and human), and knowledge will all eventually come to an end! The only enduring spiritual gifts are these: faith, hope and love with love being the greatest of the three.
An important thing to remember is that in the early apostolic times of the Church to whom Paul was speaking, some believers had supernatural gifts: healing, prophesy, languages (the ability to speak in angelic tongues and different human languages). But these gifts were considered inferior and transient in nature- meaning that eventually they would no longer be available- as in they would eventually pass away with the passage of time, when the more fulfilling spiritual gifts of faith, hope and love would come into play. For this reason, we do not see the supernatural gifts of healing, prophecy and languages.
Languages (a. k. a. tongues):
Paul discusses the proper use of the gift of languages within the context of the ancient Christian churches- which he sees as the lesser of the spiritual gifts. He explains that if someone has the so called gift of speaking in another language or tongues, but that there is no interpreter available, it is essentially useless. There is no point in it whatsoever- and not to bother! That is because no one else will understand what is being said. If no one can understand what is said, there is no point in saying it. There is no purpose at all unless there is an interpreter to explain what is being said to those who are listening.
Regardless of your spiritual gifts, above all there must be order. If everything is in disorder and disarray when you assemble together, what good will that do? How will anyone learn and be encouraged? As in the created world there is order and there should be order in the church as well. “As in all the churches of the saints the women should be silent in the churches”. 1Cor14:34 This is why you see men as pastors and not women.
Chapter 15: The Gospel Message and the Importance of Jesus’ Resurrection for all of us
Paul sums up the message of the gospel and its significance. “I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and…are also saved by it, if you hold to the message I proclaimed to you- unless you believed to no purpose.” 1Cor15:2-3 Jesus died for our sins and rose from the dead. After he rose from the dead he appeared to over 500 people at one time as well as to the apostles and others. Jesus’ resurrection cannot be denied. It really happened! In fact if he did not rise, then the apostles would be false witnesses- and how would they get away with falsifying that information without someone noticing? And if Jesus did not rise from the dead, our faith would be meaningless- not to mention we would still be in our sins because that would mean that our sins were not paid for.
But just as sin and death came from one man’s actions- Adam; forgiveness and eternal life come from Jesus. In fact, Jesus conquered death through his resurrection. If you do not believe in the resurrection, then we are simply no different from the nonbelievers who have no hope and therefore do whatever they wish regardless of whether it is right and wrong. Watch out for those people because their company can corrupt your good morals. And think about why there are people out there who are ignorant about God- it is because you are not doing your job and sharing the gospel message with them. You should be ashamed!
Remember, before we are resurrected, our physical body must die- just as a seed dies before it becomes a tree. Our physical body represents corruption, but our spiritual body represents incorruption. Our physical bodies cannot go to heaven, therefore we must be changed to an incorruptible body. Our mortal lives will become immortal as death and sin are swallowed up in the victory given to us through Jesus.
Chapter 16: Concluding Remarks
Paul encourages believers to put into the collection for the believers according to their ability. He follows up with a description of his travel plans and some encouraging words.
Paul felt the continued need to address some specific issues that threatened the early church in Corinth. Yet, the issues that threatened this early church are general enough to be applied to modern day churches and to individuals as well! The problem of false teachers and corrupt doctrine is evident even in today’s modern society as many believers and non believers alike are lured by the deceptions of false teachers who distort and disguise their messages. We must hold fast to the word of God or we will be susceptible to being swayed by false teachers. God’s word is like are yardstick to which we must measure whatever we hear. What we learn must be measured against God’s word and if it contradicts it must be discarded, regardless of the messenger. As believers we must continue to examine ourselves to make sure our doctrines are in accordance with the gospel and that our actions are in accordance with the Holy Spirit.
Chapters 1- 3: Comfort and Receive Comfort
Just as we receive comfort from God during the troubling moments in our lives, we should comfort one another. When we are rejected by the world as a result of our faith in God, we must remember that just as we share in the sufferings of Jesus, we shall also share the comfort and blessings. Think about it in this way: who can offer more comfort to us than our God who has the power to raise the dead? God, through his power can certainly use it to offer comfort. This message that is being written, the gospel message can be easily understood. Furthermore, God himself has given us the Holy Spirit “as a down payment in our hearts”. If others hurt you and cause you pain, do not let Satan use that to his advantage; Satan can use it to his advantage over you if you are not careful- instead offer comfort, forgive and show love.
Messengers Of The Gospel
As believers we are compared to an aroma or scent that permeates the air. For those who believe- the message is recognized as a message that leads to eternal life, but for those who reject God’s message, then the consequence is death. The abilities of the apostles (those who share the message of the gospel) receive their competence through God. The first covenant, which was the law given to the Israel through Moses in the Old Testament represented the Old Covenant. Since we could not even hope to meet God’s standards by following the law, that covenant led to death. We have a New Covenant now, based not on the letter of the law, but of the spirit, which based on mercy and grace leads to eternal life. The differences between the old and new covenants are clear when they are compared side by side:
Old Covenant Vs. New Covenant
Old Testament Vs. New Testament
The Letter of the law written on stone tablets Vs. The Spirit
The law given to Moses Vs. The redemption we receive through Jesus
Death Vs. Life
Works Vs. Faith & Grace
Fading Glory Vs. Eternal Glory
a veiled heart Vs. the veil is removed
Chapter 4: Stand Firm With Gods Message
Because of the mercy we have received, we should be more than willing to abandon anything shameful or deceitful. As a messenger we must never distort the message of God. Regardless of the reception we receive by our hearers- even if it is negative, we must never alter the gospel of God. So if our message is rejected, or criticized as being too hard to follow or too difficult to understand, we still must never concede to the pressures and change the gospel message to suit the tastes of those who listen. We must never compromise the truth of God! In fact, if the message of God is not easily understood by the hearers then it is for a reason. It is because the unbelieving people have been made blind by the corruption of this world. Their love of this world have calloused their hearts and veiled their minds so that they cannot begin to understand. They are as if they are blind and therefore they can not see or understand the message of the gospel or Jesus, the light of this world. The message of God, is compared to a treasure- which is contained in a worthless clay jar, so that the true value of the message may not be overshadowed by the either the container or messenger which is insignificant in comparison to the message. The believer of the message and the messenger of the gospel must never give up hope no matter what trials or opposition are faced. Even if our physical bodies are being worn, our spirits are being renewed. Any suffering is nothing at all compared to the eternal glory we will have. “For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of Glory. So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen; for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2Cor4:18
Chapters 5- 8
Mortal Life Vs. Eternal Life
Our physical bodies are comparable to a flimsy nylon tent. If that tent is frayed and destroyed- which it will certainly and eventually be- then we need not worry. We will have an eternal, permanent structure- a strong house from God in heaven! And while we exist- burdened and suffering- in our transient, earthly, imperfect, mortal bodies, we long for our new, eternal homes with God in heaven. Eventually, death will be swallowed up by life. And God has prepared us for this change by giving us the Holy Spirit “as a down payment”. Now that is God’s guarantee! So we consider our mortal lives, in our human bodies, to be a temporary parting from the Lord. And we recognize that when the time comes to part with our bodies- in other words, when our physical bodies experience death, we understand that will be when we finally go to our true home with the Lord. But no matter what- whether we still inhabit our fleshly bodies, or whether we have shed our fleshly bodies; whether we live or we die- we still strive to please God. Above all, don not forget this: we will all have to appear before the Lord, with an accounting of our lives.
Apostles and the Gospel Message:
With this knowledge, we recognize the importance and urgency in sharing the gospel message. The love of Jesus is a driving force in our lives and as a result we are a new creature, a new creation! God has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus who without sin became sin in order that through faith we may be considered righteous. In sum, “God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting the trespasses against us” 2Cor5:19. This is the message that believers/ apostles need to share. We are considered to be ambassadors for Christ when we spread the gospel message. There is no need to delay in spreading the message or in accepting the message of the gospel because “now is the day of salvation”. 2Cor6:2 Regardless of what hardships and suffering that messengers of God endure, the messenger of God shall remain true and pure to the end. In fact, the greater of degree of suffering and hardship received in this world, will be an exponentially higher degree of blessedness and glory received in the next world to come. The only limitations faced will simply be self imposed limitations. Don’t limit yourself by partnering up with an unbeliever. It is one thing to share the gospel message with an unbeliever as we are called to do- but to have close fellowship or to marry a non-believer is to mismatch goodness with darkness, or God’s sanctuary with idol worship. It is to defile the pure spirit of God with impurity. Furthermore, don’t confuse anything having to do with the world with God. There can be no union or airing of goodness with evil. “For Godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.” 2Cor7:9
Chapters 8 and 9: Generosity
Remember to be generous, even when you endure suffering and hardship, just as God poured out his grace on you. Jesus endured poverty and suffering so that you may become rich in grace and blessings. If you have more than others, then share with those who have less. Those who sow little will reap little in return, but those who sow generously will reap generously in return. Generosity may be applied in any aspect in life, not just with resources of money, but of time, service and love as well.
Chapters 10- 13: Distortion of the Gospel and the Danger of False Teachers
Those who oppose the message of the gospel and its messengers, as well as the false message which they seek to deliver, must be challenged against and held to the truth of God’s message. It doesn’t matter if as messengers, we are not as eloquent in the use of language as worldly philosophers or scholars. It is the saving message of the gospel that is of most importance. The true messenger of the Lord will not be boastful or prideful. If he is to boast, it shall be in the Lord alone and not himself. This is what Paul was trying to communicate to the early Christian church in Corinth. That is why the message of the gospel may be compared to valuable gold contained in clay jars. So that the message may be glorified, the vessel must be humbled.
Paul felt the need to respond to those false leaders and teachers who were critics of the way God’s true apostles delivered the true message. False teachers otherwise known as false apostles, were prevalent in the early church just as they are today. In fact Paul compared the message of the false teachers as a competing message to the true message of the gospel. To turn from the true message of the Lord to a false or distorted message would essentially a betrayal of Jesus- comparable to marital infidelity. The false message of the false teachers threatened to corrupt the worship of the church members in Corinth who were apparently naïve enough and weak in the faith, making them more likely to being swayed by false teachings and false teachers. Likewise in modern times among believers and nonbelievers alike- as well as in modern churches- many people are easily deceived by false teachings. False appearances will frequently sway people. Consider the attention people in today’s society devote to the media and the entertainment industry and to so- called “famous” entertainers. Also consider the attention and credibility that so-called authorities such as politicians and other “authority” figures receive. Physical appearances frequently play a large role when false teachers try to get attention. “For if a person comes and preaches another Jesus, whom we did not preach, or you receive a different spirit, which you have not received, or a different gospel, which you have not accepted, you put up with it splendidly” 2Cor10:4 What this means is that people show no discretion to what garbage they will swallow when it comes to beliefs and ideas, as long as it is wrapped up in a pretty package.
Satan: The Mastermind Behind False Teachers and the Distorted Gospel
Paul’s message may also be applied to any believer in Christ, as well as the church in Corinth- and anyone who chooses to share the gospel of Christ. Even though Paul had no formal training in public speaking, and he did not wear fancy or expensive clothes, that would not, or should not lessen the credibility of his message. In fact, his humility and humbleness all the more gave credit to the saving message of God. It should be the saving power of the message that draws people and not the distraction of the physical appearance of the messenger itself. Those false teachers, twist the message of the gospel for their own purpose and to boost their own pride, are false and deceitful, even though they disguise themselves as apostles of God’s message. This serves as Paul’s warning to all of us: Do not be fooled by their outward appearances! “For Satan himself is disguised as an angel of light!” 2Cor11:14 And if that is the case, if it is true that Satan can deceptively appear and disguise his evil, tainted message, then of course Satan’s messengers can disguise their evil ways as well in order to deceive unsuspecting and unwitting hearers. Consider how many people are lured by the message of cult groups such as the Jehovah’s witnesses, Mormons, new age movements, and witchcraft. These are all various distortions of the message of the bible. But don’t worry or despair, because these false teachers will eventually get what is coming to them. The sad thing is that so many people will put up not only with these false teachers, but with fools in general. So many willingly and needlessly discard the truth of God to put up with so much immorality, and nonsense! How many prefer to hear and follow foolish worldly “wisdom” instead of God’s wisdom? Well if you can do that, then why not put up with the wisdom of God, even if it is delivered through a so- called humbled fool.
The Purpose Behind the Humility and the Trials of God’s Messengers:
And furthermore, how dare anyone criticize messengers of the Lord with all they put up with- those false teachers have no ground to stand on when they criticize God’s apostles. Paul uses the hardships that he endured during his own ministry to illustrate what he endured in contrast to false teachers. In his humility, which should serve as an example for all of us, Paul refused to boast about himself- except with one exception- his weakness. Rather, Paul was more than willing to boast about others in order to boost others above himself. Likewise, we too should strive to consider others above ourselves. In fact, Paul had a chronic physical affliction or condition that caused him physical pain. Yet, Paul endured his physical illness so that he could boast in God who provided him strength and grace to promote the gospel message. Paul happily endured physical and emotional hardships because it actually made him and his faith stronger! Furthermore, he personally did not create any expectations or burdens on the hearers of his message whatsoever in order to build them up.
Christian and Apostolic Humility:
Concerning his own private revelations, if he indeed had any which is not the concern in this passage, Paul avoided sharing anything beyond what could be readily observed or proven so that what Paul shared would seen as God’s truth- and Paul’s testimony could not be questioned. About other “visions” by private individuals, that may have occurred in the early church, only God for sure could know its authenticity- therefore such revelations are of no concern to us. In fact people should never boast of their own revelations. Paul’s simple explanation, which he repeated twice is simply this: “I do not know, God knows” 2Cor12:2-3 Our responsibility is this: to walk in the spirit of God and to avoid the spirit of this world which is represented by these things: quarreling, jealousy, anger, selfishness, slander, gossip, arrogance, disorder, sexual immorality and promiscuity. Paul challenges all believers to avoid these sins! In fact we are told, “test yourselves to see if you are in faith” 2 Cor13:5 In fact when we examine ourselves and our hearts continuously we are likened as mature Christians. Paul’s final exhortation to all believers is this: “Be restored, be encouraged, be of the same mind (concerning the true gospel message), be at peace” 2Cor13:11 and God will be with us as well.
As with his other letters, Paul’s introduction is a shortened summary of the gospel: Paul, an apostle was sent by God to deliver this message: through Jesus we have been rescued from our sin. This letter in particular was written to the believers in Galatia in order to address some issues concerning false religious doctrines. Yet, as with the other letters, the lessons and instructions may be applied to all believers throughout all the generations of time.
Chapter 1: False Gospels
“I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ to a different gospel- not that there is another gospel, but there are some who are troubling you and want to change the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel other than what we have preached to you, a curse be on him! As we have said before, I now say again: if anyone preaches to you a gospel contrary to what you have received, a curse be on him!” Galations1:6-9
These stern words of Paul should not be taken lightly. Consider how many people of all ages, nations and generations have come to accept false visions and false gospels- despite the warning. Consider how many religions are started as a result of false visions proclaiming a new gospel. Mormonism is based on an “angelic” vision given to Joseph Smith who thereby proceeded to distort the gospel message. Islam was based on Muhamed’s false vision of the angel Gabriel who supposedly was delivering a message from God. The Jehovah’s Witnesses base their doctrines on the visions and private revelations received by their so called modern day prophets. Many Roman Catholics have been deceived by visions of Mary that have appeared to lay persons and clergy, deceiving many. The one common thing we see is that all these so called visitation, which are actually Satan and the evil demons or spirits, actually take away from the gospel message. These deceptive spirits disguise themselves as “angels of light” delivering a different message that isn’t from God. Often times these messages teach a different Jesus than the Jesus we learn about in the bible. For example, some religions teach that Jesus was simply a prophet or a teacher. The false religions, false prophets and false teachers attempt to undermine the credibility of the message of the gospel.
Most of the earliest believers were originally Jewish. But as the gospel message spread as a result of the mission work of the apostles, others came to also believe in the message. Even during Paul’s own lifetime, false teachers and false prophets sought to undermine Paul’s authority. More specifically, some Jewish converts to Christianity, referred to by Paul as the “circumcision party”, tried to make the claim that new believers in Christ were first required to convert to Judaism. In other words, these false teachers erroneously were teaching new believers that Christianity was a sect of Judaism and that it was required that they submit to all the Jewish laws and regulations such as circumcision and dietary restrictions. The error of this teaching caused confusion and dissention among the early Christian churches. In fact some of these false teachers of the circumcision party went so far as to send spies who would then later spread rumors against Paul and the non Jewish converts in an effort to discredit them among the other members of the early churches. In response, Paul addressed the issue, by using the example of Titus, a respected leader of the ancient Christian church. Titus was a Greek not a Jew, yet when he accepted the message, he felt no need to be circumcised or follow any Jewish traditions.
Even the apostle Peter, a.k.a. Cephas, was unduly influenced by these false teachers and subsequently began to disassociate himself from non Jewish converts. In fact other apostles fell prey to the beliefs of the influential circumcision party including Barnabas. Whereas Peter and Barnabas used to associate with any believer, and no longer themselves practiced Jewish traditions in a hypocritical fashion they suddenly turned around and said that all converts must become Jews first and practice Jewish tradition and laws. According to Paul, “When I saw they were deviating from the truth of the gospel I told Cephas in front of everyone, ‘If you, a Jew live like a Gentile and not a Jew, how can you compel Gentiles to live like Jews’.” Gal2:14
Justification by Faith Not the Works of the Law
Paul strongly condemned anyone who tried to make the claim that a believer must follow the works of the law. “We know that no one is justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ and we have believed in Jesus Christ so that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by the works of the law no human being will be justified.”. Gal2:16-17 As believers, we have died to the law and are reborn in Christ. “I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness came through the law then Christ died for nothing.” Gal2:21 If in fact we could be justified by our works, then what was the point in Jesus dying for our sins? “You foolish Galatians! Who has hypnotized you? .... Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit are you going to be made complete by the flesh?” Gal3: 2-3 In fact, if you rely on the law for your salvation you might as well consider yourself cursed because you never will be saved! It is Jesus alone who can redeem us from the curse of the law. Only through faith in Jesus can we be justified before God. Before Jesus we were subject and even imprisoned as slaves under the law, but through Jesus we have freedom from the law. The scriptures of the old testament for shadow the fact that God would justify people through faith. This is obvious when we consider the old testament heroes such as Abraham and Noah who had friendship with God as a result of their faith. Through our faith we are considered children and heirs of God.
Do Not Forfeit Your Freedom in Jesus
Once we have become reconciled through our faith, and are children of God, why should we turn towards our former sinful ways of life? Why should we reject our freedom we receive in Christ in favor of becoming once again slaves to sin under the law? In fact many believers, just as many of the Galatians, turned away from the message they received and turned back to their former ways. Why should we wish to return to the yoke of the law once we have been liberated it from Christ. If you decide that Christ’s sacrifice is not sufficient, and decide you must merit your way to justification by the works of the law, then you have subjected yourselves under the yoke of the law as slaves. If you try to merit your way to justification under the law, then you are obligated under the law apart from the saving redemption that can be found only through faith in Jesus’ sacrifice. Remember that one corrupt teacher and one corrupt teaching can permeate and spread corruption throughout. If anyone teaches that works lead to salvation then “the offense of the cross has been abolished.” Gal5:11 In fact, the dissemination of this false teaching of salvation through works is so repugnant to Paul that he goes so far as to say, “I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!” Gal5:12
Continue Life in the Spirit Not by the Works of the Flesh
But remember, do not take advantage of your freedom in Jesus as an opportunity to do whatever you want! It does not give you an excuse to sin. If we are truly believers in the message we have received through face, we will abandon the “works of the flesh” which is sin in favor of the works of the Spirit. “The works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar.” Gal5:19-20 “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self control.” Gal5:22 Remember to carry each other’s burdens but be very careful that you yourself do not become tempted another one’s sins. Never tire of doing what is good. Never boast of anything except of God.
Before I move on to the next letter written by Paul, I have become more aware that I could go on writing about every chapter and even every verse I read. There is so much wisdom contained in each and every passage of the bible. All of it is essential to life! I notice more than ever as I read, how important reading the bible is. There is no other book that can compare as this is the very word of God written to us, individually as well as to congregations of believers as well. The words of the bible, though they were written 2000 (or more) years ago, are as relevant today in the year 2009 as they were in the year 09. These words are directed to each and every believer- called by God to be apostles- ambassadors of the gospel message which is the good news for humankind. We are called to be apostles, and teachers through Jesus.
In writing this bible journal, simply for the sake of completion and efficiency I find I must limit some of my commentary. Most of the passages simply speak for themselves with no additional explanation being needed!
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians focuses on the life of a believer. Paul compares and contrasts the life of a believer to that of a nonbeliever and urges all of us to abandon our former way of life in favor of our new life in the Spirit.
Chapter 1: Many Blessings Through Faith in Jesus: Wisdom is Revealed!
As believers we are favored by God and deeply blessed. We are blessed with salvation, grace, forgiveness, wisdom and understanding. And to us, God has made known the “mystery of His will”. What this means is this: in contrast to the unbelievers as described by Paul in his letter to the Romans (as well as other letters too), where as the unbelievers have difficulty understanding due to their hardened hearts and conscious, we have the aid of the Holy Spirit which aids in our understanding of God’s will and message of salvation. To those who do not have faith, who do not believe and who are not saved- those who do not have the Holy Spirit, God’s wisdom is simply foolishness or nonsense. In other words to those who are perishing, it is a mystery or a puzzle- something that they cannot possibly understand. Keep in mind, this is a choice. Those who do not believe have consciously rejected God’s message of salvation. Those who refuse to believe have willfully rejected God as explained in the letter to the Romans. But to us, as believers, God’s mystery is unraveled or solved! We are enlightened. We can understand it- it is not concealed from our understanding! “In Him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation- in Him when you believed- were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit. He is the down payment of our inheritance, for the redemption of the possession, to the praise of His glory” Ephesians 1: 13-14 This is a short sum up of the purpose of the gospel message: the delivery of the message, which is God’s word, leads to belief and salvation. But not only this! We receive the Holy Spirit as well. The Holy Spirit acts as a guarantee or a deposit as proof of our future inheritance or salvation. In the future we will redeem what is coming to us- that is- we will redeem our salvation and the “glorious” spiritual riches and blessings that await. Once again, we must never forget Jesus is the reason for all of this! Jesus is our Savior- our Messiah! God has given complete power and authority to Jesus, through whom we are saved.
Chapters 2 and 3:
Life Through Jesus- Rejection of the Works of the Flesh; the Spirit of Disobedience
Before we placed our faith in Jesus, we were spiritually dead. In other words, we were essentially dead. We were dead in our sins, Prior to hearing and accepting the gospel message we were part of this world, living in our sins. The ruler of this sinful world, referred by Paul as the “atmospheric domain” is Satan. In contrast, as believers, we live according to the Heavenly domain where our hope and our sight is focused. Satan is the spirit which works and lives in those who do not believe. Those who are not believers live and walk in the spirit of disobedience in contrast to believers who walk in the Holy Spirit. Those who live and submit to the spirit of disobedience, live according to sinful fleshly desires and actions just like we used to before we accepted the gospel message. Those who walk in the spirit of this world, Satan’s world, with the spirit of disobedience are subject to God’s wrath. But for us, who believe in the gospel message, and have accepted the gift of redemption through Jesus, are saved from the wrath of God. We are no longer children under wrath, but children under God. “God, who is abundant in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in our trespasses. By grace you are saved!” Ephesians 2:4-5 And furthermore, in the future, God has in store for us, immeasurable blessings and spiritual riches. We cannot even comprehend what is in store for us in heaven! “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift- not from works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians2: 8-9 The salvation we receive is not dependent on what we do. It is not earned based on our works or accomplishments but based on God’s grace alone. In other words it is a gift from God, not something we have earned. But even though we can not work for our salvation, nor can earn it or pay for it, we still are saved for a purpose. We are to use this gift from God for good works. As a result of being saved we should desire to walk in the Holy Spirit and reject the worldly spirit of disobedience. We should exchange our fleshly desires and fleshly works for good desires and good works.
In sum, through Jesus, we who used to be spiritually, dead, who used to walk in the spirit of disobedience (regardless of whether we claimed to be a Jew or Gentile), we are saved. It does not matter what we used to be- without Jesus we were dead in our sins and through Jesus we have life. In contrast to the Old Testament, in which the Jews were distinct from the rest of the world (known as the Gentile world), through faith in Jesus, all are made the same- it does not matter what your heritage was. God reconciles us to Him through Jesus Christ.
Paul explains that in the time of the Old Testament, in other words, before the time of Jesus, the previous generations could not have known the good news of the gospel- the salvation, which was revealed and freely given through Jesus. Through the Holy Spirit, the apostles of the gospel message have revealed the mysteries of God. And furthermore, this saving message is intended for everyone, not just a select nation or a select group of people. Jesus is essentially God’s purpose for mankind. It is the means by which we can be saved.
Chapters 4,5 & 6: Our New Life
As believers in Jesus, Paul once again urges us to walk or live in a way that is worthy of our calling. In other words as he explained earlier, we must not walk or live as we used to when we were spiritually dead- when we used to live according to our fleshly desires under the yoke of the worldly spirit of disobedience. We are called for a better purpose and that is to walk in the Holy Spirit. The expression “walk” refers to a way of life. Our new way of life should be to seek the gifts of the Holy Spirit such as love, humility, gentleness, mercy and patience. And through the Holy Spirit, we may be called to serve through different gifts or different areas of service in accordance with God’s will. For example, some believers may be apostles, teachers or pastors. There are different tasks or ways that believers may be used to spread the message of the gospel and also in continuing the education of believers as well. But all belong to the body of Christ, which is the church of believers. We need these various specialties here in this world, which serves as a time of growth and maturity in the wisdom of the word of God, until the time comes when we all reach full wisdom and maturity. We still must be aware that false teaching and false teachers threaten to confuse us and distort the message, and to combat this, we must persist in the knowledge of the word of God. We must be continually educated in the word of God. And this is the reason we need believers to specialize in different services. As a whole, each specialty works toward a unified church.
Again, Paul repeats himself: we must abandon our previous fleshly way of life as we used to live. In other words, the life of the unbeliever is futile. The understanding of the unbeliever is limited and darkened. They are ignorant of God and their hearts are hardened. Remember the first chapters in the book of Romans! This is important and it is repeated again here: the unbelievers of this world willingly rejected God. Their hearts are hardened and calloused! They would not know what goodness was even if it hit them over their heads. And because of their hardened hearts and their willing rejection of God, they have willingly succumbed to the spirit of disobedience, the works of the flesh: impurity, promiscuity and all types of filth and sin. When we accepted the gospel message we were saved: we replaced our former corrupt lives for a new life in Christ. We became a new person, a new creation! We rejected the lie, and everything that is false in favor of Truth! And once again we are reminded to walk in the spirit. It means this: we must no longer live in the fleshly desires which is sin. We must no longer lie or become angry. And if we do become angry, we must not submit to the temptation to sin in our anger. “Do not let the sun go down on your anger, do not give the Devil an opportunity” Ephesians 4:26. If we had bad habits or sinful ways we must try to overcome them. We shouldn’t steal, lie, use bad language, insult or slander each other. We should not get drunk which leads to recklessness. “Sexual immorality and any impurity or greed should not even be heard of among you… And coarse and foolish talking or crude joking are not suitable, but rather giving thanks. For know and recognize this: no sexually immoral or impure or greedy person, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of the Messiah and of God.” Ephesians 5:3-5 These are bad things. We need to show love, kindness and compassion for one another in imitation of that which God has shown for us. We must give thanks to God and submit to each other. We must read the scriptures: psalms and hymns and discuss the bible with one another.
This is so important, that Paul cannot emphasis it enough “Pay careful attention, then, to how you walk” Ephesians 5:15 - as believers we must walk in the Holy Spirit or in the Light. We must reject the spirit of darkness which is the spirit of disobedience. Remember the qualities of the Holy Spirit and compare them with the qualities of darkness! Commit it to memory and reject the works of the flesh. Paul has described the fruits of the spirit as well as the works of darkness enough times. We know what they are and we know the difference. “Don’t participate in the fruitless works of darkness, but instead expose them.” Ephesians 5:10 To all nonbelievers, the message is this: “Get up sleeper and rise from the dead” Ephesians 5:14. To those who are spiritually dead, it is as they live in the darkness, it is as if they are asleep. They need to be woken up, and brought to life. Their dark and evil deeds will be brought to the light and exposed. Believers need to expose it here in this lifetime, and in the next lifetime, nothing whatsoever will remain secret or hidden as everything concealed will be revealed to the shame of those who rejected the message of the gospel.
Paul addresses different types of relationships that involve the potential for the abuses of power with suggestions of how to ensure these relationships are pleasing to God. He warns those who have the upper hand in a relationship to not abuse their authority or power. A man should love and respect his wife, parents and children must respect one another as well as slaves and masters. Essentially the message is this: in God’s eyes we are all equal and regardless of our position- whether we have authority over another or we submit to another in this world, neither have an advantage in God’s eyes and all have a responsibility to obey God’s will.
The Armor of God:
As believers we are in a constant battle with Satan a.k.a “the evil one” - the master of this world. Just as armor protects a soldier in battle, the armor of God will protect the believer against Satan (which is the Devil) “Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil” Ephesians 6:11 These qualities are analogous to armor which serve to protect us from false doctrines, false teachers and fleshly desires: truth, righteousness, readiness for evangelism, faith, the word of God (the bible), and the awareness of our salvation. These qualities protect us. The word of God is as effective and powerful as a sword, against the false teaching or “flaming arrows” of Satan. We should remain alert and pray at all times. We need to be always ready and always on guard.
Chapter 1: Paul’s purpose- the promotion, establishment and defense of the gospel.
“He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” Philippians 1:6 Believers will continue to grow in knowledge and discernment, knowing what really matters in contrast to what is really unimportant. Believers will bear fruit and in the end through God’s grace, be considered pure and blameless. Regardless of intent, the most important thing is that the gospel message is proclaimed and spread to everyone. Sure, it is possible that some spread the message who are not sincere, but do it out of rivalry or pride to get attention- but if the message they spread results in more believers, then that is what matters! Faced with two choices: life or death- each has its own purpose or benefits. “I have the desire to depart and be with Christ- which is far better- but to remain in the flesh is more necessary for you.” Philippians 1:23 Even though Paul would prefer the option of death, to fulfill his desire to be with the Lord, for the sake of the gospel, and of those who need to hear the message he has an important reason to remain alive.
Chapter 2: The Importance of Being Humble
Just as Jesus (in the form of God) was humbled when he came as a man submitting to death on the cross for our sake, we must also be humble; making sure to act as if we consider others more important than ourselves. Just as Jesus was glorified- we too will be blessed by our humility as well. ‘Hold firmly to the message of life”. Philippians 2:16, and remember that we are like bright starts in a dark, starless world. Therefore we must strive to live our lives according to God’s purpose. Seek the interests of Jesus Christ- not your own!
Chapter 3 and 4: Life in Faith and our Future Hope
Be on the look out for “evil workers” which are false teachers and hypocrites. In his earlier letters, Paul spoke about false teachers who twisted the gospel message and he also wrote about the “Circumcision party”, who required new believers to first convert to the Jewish religion and subsequently submit to the Jewish laws - including circumcision. Paul considers this simply to be a mutilation of the flesh- since it has no value in the purpose of salvation. We can not be saved by our works or by following the law, but by faith. The new circumcision is this: faith- it is a spiritual circumcision of the heart and spirit not of the flesh. So there is no point in boasting in your heritage or your works. Even though you may be disappointed that these do not count as an advantage- be sure of this- by placing your faith in God you gain so more which should more than compensate for your disappointment. Do not live as enemies of Christ as many do, who reject the gospel. They focus on worldly and earthly things. Their selfish desires and pursuits of the flesh control their lives. In this world there are many enemies of the gospel and just as we share in the glories of Christ, we will share in the sufferings too. “But our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for a savior, the Lord Jesus Christ”. Philippians 3:20. We must remember to persevere and not be discouraged, keeping our eyes on our future glory. We should always be encouraged by this and we have a reason to rejoice as well. “Don’t worry about anything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be known to God. “ Philippians4: 6 And finally, all believers must meditate on what is important to the Lord. We need to dwell on things that are just, pure, commendable and moral. Do not dwell or imitate the evils of the non believers - in this dark, faithless world- which are really the enemies of Christ because they rejected the message of the gospel. We need to concentrate on the fruits or manifestations of the Holy Spirit within us.
Our Hope in Heaven:
Believers in the gospel message look to heaven for their reservation of hope and happiness. The message of the gospel offers to all believers the hope of heaven. Heaven is our inheritance. Knowledge of God’s will through the Holy Spirit gives us the spiritual understanding and wisdom we need to live in a way worthy and pleasing to God. We were rescued from darkness into the kingdom of heaven. We must remember to “remain grounded and steadfast in the faith” and not shift “away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard”. Colossians 1:23
The Importance of Jesus:
As the image of the invisible God, creator of everything in heaven and earth, head of the church of all believers, Jesus is the means by which we are reconciled to God. Paul, the messenger of the gospel has done his part in making known to all, the gospel, its lessons so that believers may mature in their knowledge. Jesus Christ, often referred to the mystery of God, is where all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge may be discovered.
Chapter 2: Be Wary of False Teachings
We must be on guard against false teachings no matter how persuasive they appear to be. We must not be swayed by philosophies, theories and arguments which are based on human tradition and human reasoning. Through Jesus we are saved and it is not through worldly wisdom or works. While we were spiritually dead in our sins, Jesus’ death erased the debt that we would have been required to pay ourselves. The price that should have been ours to pay, was borne by Jesus when he died on the cross. Because of this, we should not be concerned about worldly teachings and traditions which are useless in attaining salvation. Therefore, when such worldly teachers and followers of manmade traditions criticize us and tell us what we as believers should do, we should ignore them. Those who believe in works and human traditions as they way, rely on ascetic practices- in order to give the outward appearance of authority and religion- when in actuality- they could not be farther from the truth. If anyone insists that you follow anything contrary to the message of the gospel- don’t believe it and don’t follow it. This includes when people try to tell you that you must worship angels or follow special rules. Also if anyone claims to have supernatural access to the spirit world or so called visions- don’t believe that either! We don’t have to follow special rules about food or any other tradition that is not found in the gospel message. These special rules to not compensate for your sins or fleshly indulgences. Don’t let false manmade practices and traditions and superstitions disqualify you from knowing the truth of the gospel message! Salvation can only be found in the gospel message alone- through God’s grace and not by what we do.
Chapter 3 and 4: Life as a Believer
When living your life as a believer, seek what is above: holiness, love, compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, thankfulness, gracious speech and patience and disregard your past sins which included the following: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desire, greed, anger, slander, filthy language, lying and malice. We are a new creation in Christ so we should act like it! Remember whatever good we do or say, it should be in the name of Jesus. In your personal and professional relationships, remember humility, compassion and honesty. And last, but not least, remember to pray that more may hear the message of Christ so they too may be saved. We should all pay attention to the ministry.
Chapters 1, 2 and 3: The Power of the Message
The gospel message is not simply words, but it represents the power of the Holy Spirit as well. This power gives of stronger faith, boldness and assurance- even in the face of persecution and hardship! It has the power to turn the spiritually dead from worship of false gods and idols, to the service of God: it is the power of salvation from death to eternal life, through Jesus. Paul, as an example, did not need special words to deliver the gospel- all that was needed came from the Holy Spirit. With humility, he shared the gospel, forsaking his personal needs. In imitation, we should forsake our own personal gain, seeking to comfort and encourage each other as well as those to whom we share the gospel message. Sure there will be those who persecute those who seek to share the message of the gospel, just as the ancient prophets and Jesus were also persecuted. But, to those who hinder the message of the gospel, the message of salvation, they had better watch out, because they will suffer the consequences! So remember, stand firm in your faith! When you are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel, remember you are in good company.
Chapter 4: Worthy Behavior
Remember to strive to please God, and do not be involved in sexual immorality or other offenses. Don’t you know you are called to live in a life worthy of the Holy Spirit that dwells within you! Heed these warnings and flee from transgressions and impurity. Other words of advice: mind your own business- don’t be a gossip or busy-body! That isn’t godly behavior either. Also it is good to be self sufficient and hold a job so as not to be a burden on others. In other words- don’t leech off of someone else’s hard work, get up and work- don’t be lazy!
Chapters 4 and 5: Death, resurrection & Jesus’ coming
Paul refers to death as “sleep”. Unlike those who don’t believe in God, and who don’t believe in the gospel message- death represents fear and the unknown. They are ignorant of death. To an atheist, death represent the end- the ceasing of life. To nonbelievers, death is met with grief and sorrow, because they have no hope whatsoever in eternal life and heaven. But we have hope. For us believers, death does not represent the end, but the beginning of eternal life! Just as we believe that Jesus rose from death, we too will rise from death. Even if we die, we will rise from the dead. And for those who are still alive, when Jesus returns, we will be caught up to meet with Jesus in the air as he descend to earth from heaven. “For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first”. 1Thesalonians:4:16. So why should we fear death? There is no reason for us to worry about dying- even if we know that death will come soon due to terminal illness or age. Paul says himself- in fact he commands us to “encourage one another with these words”. If this was not trustworthy and true, why would we be told to encourage each other with these very words. So remember, if you are feeling the weight of your mortality, if you are worried or depressed or fearful of your own death, read these words over and be encouraged!
Remember this: the day of the Lord- in other words, the day Jesus returns a.k.a the Second Coming of Christ, will come when we least expect it. We will not know in advance! It will come just as a thief in the night! So we must be alert of this and aware that it may happen when we least expect it. Keep this thought in the back of your mind. Remember the armor of God that was discussed in a previous letter of Paul? We must remember to wear the armor of our Lord. We must remember to live a life worthy of our faith. Weather we live or die it does not matter! Regardless we will be with the Jesus. Those who die are at no disadvantage. Remember that! Those who live have no advantage. Whether we live or die, we will live with the Lord. We should be encouraged by these words and we should encourage each other with these words as well.
In conclusion, live a life worthy of your calling and remain strong in your faith and hope. Pray and be thankful. Test anything you hear so as to make sure it is consistent with the word of the gospel. There is no need to fear death. When you feel discouraged or fearful, remind yourself of the gospel message.
Paul felt the need to write a second letter to the congregation in Thessalonica as a follow up. Apparently after writing the first letter, Paul got word that some members of the congregation were taking the message of the second coming of Christ to the extreme. Furthermore, many opportunistic false teachers were going about, scaring or troubling naive believers with stories of an imminent return.
Chapters 1,2 and 3: The End times
Remember this: those who reject the gospel will “pay the penalty of everlasting destruction away from the Lords presence” 2Thessalonians 1:9 But for those of us who place our faith in the message of the gospel, we will be considered worthy of God’s kingdom. Remember it was said that the return of Jesus will be unexpected, and we will not know when it will happen. Therefore we must be aware of this. But do not be paranoid or naïve either. This does not mean it is happening today or tomorrow either. If someone says with certainty that it is imminent- don’t believe it! On what basis should you believe someone who makes a claim that Jesus will return on a specific date? Furthermore, on what basis should you believe anyone’s claim that Jesus has already returned? Don’t let yourselves be troubled by such stories! (For example the Jehovah’s Witnesses not only claim that Jesus already returned- albeit invisibly and without the knowledge of believers- but they claim that the end of the world is imminent and have made many false prophecies to boot!) Therefore don’t quit your job! Don’t pack up and abandon your homes and families and responsibilities! “Do not grow weary in doing good” 2Thessalonians 3:13 There is no excuse to suddenly become irresponsible! Therefore if you see a fellow believer in faith acting this way, remind him of his priorities. Don’t follow in his footsteps!
Keep in mind, certain things will happen before Jesus returns. Before Jesus returns “the apostasy” and the “man of lawlessness” which is Satan will be revealed. More specifically, there will be a public figure- the antithesis of Jesus, the embodiment of evil and of Satan- who will falsely declare himself to be God. This evil figure will deceive many with miracles and “magical” tricks. He will use every “unrighteous deception” he can, to fool those who are already perishing. Remember the first chapter in Romans, where Paul explained that those who are perishing refused to believe in God, despite the proofs of God that are all around! Remember that the unbelievers willingly exchanged the truths of God, denying them, in favor of lies! As a consequence their conscious was dulled and they succumbed to every base and filthy desire. Well these same non-believers, the spiritually dead- will be the ones who are deceived by Satan. They will fall prey to Satan’s deception and believe his lies! But those of us who are believers, strong in our faith will not be deceived! We need to remember to hold faith to our faith and the gospel message.
Even though Paul’s letter was originally intended for Timothy, an early leader of the ancient Christian church, his words and message are directed to all believers in the gospel message, “according to the command of God our savior and of Jesus Christ, our hope”. 1Tim1:2 This letter is considered to be instructions for us, If we reject the message of the gospel and the instructions of Paul, we might “suffer the shipwreck” of our faith as others who reject instruction. 1Tim1:19
Chapter 1: Warnings against False Teachings
Paul warns believers concerning false doctrines, myths and genealogies, which “promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan”. 1Tim1:4 In other words, as believers we should know better than to believe in myths, superstition, old wife’s tales, racist ideologies or any other type of story or doctrine contrary to the gospel message. Even if there is a claim that it is God’s message- don’t believe it. For example, there are some false religious cults that promote certain races as others- considering some races to be God’s chosen people. For example, Hitler and the Nazis, as well as other subtle cults such as Armstrongism and Mormonism, claim that Anglo Saxon white races have an advantage in God’s favor over others. They will go to great lengths to trace their ancestry as if it gives them an advantage. But as Jesus himself said, God can turn a stone and make it an ancestor of Abraham if he wished to. An unhealthy focus on geneology or ancestry is contrary to God’s will. Furthermore, do not believe anyone who places an unhealthy emphasis on the observance of the law either. Many modern cult groups do this as well. But, we know we can only be saved by faith in God’s grace- not our own merits- lest we rob the cross of its power. And to further expand upon the erroneous idea that one may be saved by the law- Paul goes on to explain that those under the curse of the law are the nonbelievers! Not the believers! The law is not meant for the believer but the nonbeliever: the unholy, irreverent, murderers, sexual immoral, homosexuals, fornicators, liars, and perjurers to name a few. Yet there is hope for such filthy people- as there was hope for Paul, all of us who used to be apart from God because Jesus came to this world to save sinners. He saved Paul and he saved us who believe as well.
Chapters 2 and 3: The Source of Church Teaching and Traditions
If you ever wonder why in church prayers are offered on the behalf of presidents and world leaders, its because Paul suggests that we pray for anyone in authority and power. This is because God wants everyone to come to come to the truth and be saved. Women should dress modestly, so as to not call attention to either their wealth of physical attributes. “Good works” serve much better as a cloak, than do expensive materials and jewelry. Women should not preach over a mixed congregation that includes men- this is not to demean women, but a recognition of God’s natural order. An overseer or leader of the church must have certain qualifications. For example he must have only one wife- which is obvious. Also how he manages his household must be considered as well- if he can’t even manage his household in a moral and competent matter, how can he be trusted in managing am entire church? Common sense tells us he shouldn’t be a new convert either, and have a good reputation as well. Deacons, another position of authority in the church, must meet the same qualifications as well. In general, leaders must have qualities consistent with biblical principles: self control, faithfulness, respectful, and honest… to name a few.
God was manifest in the flesh as Jesus, this is considered to be God’s great mystery which has been made known to us as believers and preached everywhere.
Chapter 4: Hold Fast to the Gospel Message
A few more points to remember about false teachings: if anyone tells you it is against God’s wishes to marry and to avoid certain foods- don’t believe this. “Everything God created is good, and nothing should be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving”. 1Tim4: 4 We must train ourselves in increasing our faith rather than doing works of pointless “sacrifice”. Regardless of your age, continue in your faith and the teaching of the gospel message. “Be conscientious of your teaching… for by doing this you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1Tim4:16
Chapter 5: Interpersonal Relationship Advice
Paul offers practical advice in interpersonal relationships and church responsibilities: discipline, widows and elders are discussed. A warning is issued against the problem of favoritism and of the importance of avoiding the sins of others as well.
Chapter 6: Warnings Against False Teaching and Wealth
Once again, Paul places more emphasis concerning his disgust for false doctrine and pointless disputes from the first chapter. Concerning false teaching, Paul considers such individuals as “having a sick interest in disputes and arguments over words”. 1Tim6:4 And, furthermore, the consequences of these meaningless disputes which are encouraged by false doctrines and false teachers are quarreling, envy and evil suspicions, to name just a few! Furthermore Paul goes in to say that the individuals behind such arguments are “men whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth” 1Tim6:5
We should remember to be content with the necessities of life: food and clothing. After all when we die, we can not take our wealth and material possessions with us! “But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains”. 1Tim6:9-10 And furthermore, to those who are wealthy, Paul warns such people not to set their hope on wealth. Rather, he admonishes them to be generous with their wealth.
In closing, Paul emphasizes for the third time, to avoid “irreverent, empty speech” and false doctrines which are cleverly disguised as knowledge. Timothy, as well as every believer, is expected to seek righteousness and godliness. We are to “fight the good fight for the faith….to which you are called”. 1Tim6:12
Chapters 1and 2
Perseverance is Worth the Eternal Reward:
As in his first letter to Timothy, Paul emphasizes the same themes: enthusiasm for the gospel and warnings against false doctrines. “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness but one of power, love and sound judgment.” 2Tim1:7. Therefore just as he said in his letter to the Romans, we should not be ashamed of the gospel message. Despite our fears, we need not worry even when faced with persecution, because the Holy Spirit will give us the strength we need to share the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Just as Paul declares he was appointed as an apostle/ teacher, we are called to spread the good news of the gospel with the same fearlessness as well! With the Holy Spirit we can get the strength we need to remain loyal and strong. Paul’s purpose is that he may share the message of God so that all those who believe may obtain salvation. Our suffering will pale in comparison to our eternal reward in heaven. Any suffering we endure for the sake of the Lord’s message will be more than worth it, in the end!
Avoid False Teachings and Disputes:
One of the favored pastimes is debating and disputing. This can happen with family, friends, church members and even strangers in an internet chat room! Most of these debates are driven out of selfish pride. Paul cannot emphasis this enough- concerning the dangers of false teachings and the disputes that follow, In fact, empty speech, false teaching and arguments do much to encourage godlessness. Concerning false teachers and their false words, Paul explains “their word will spread like gangrene” 2Tim2:17. What this means is that false teachings and the evil fruits of false teaching have the potential for much damage! Not only are false teachings something to avoid- it is important to flee from “foolish and ignorant disputes, knowing they breed quarrels”. Many think it is good to engage in debates, they take pride in their so called abilities to exchange words, and to prove themselves right. But Christians should never ever do this! “The lord’s slave (Christians) must not quarrel, but must be gentle with everyone, able to teach, and patient, instructing his opponents with gentleness” 2Tim2:24-25. It is up to God to act on a person’s spirit- an argument will not do it, only God. So even if you feel you are justified in arguing or debating with others concerning the bible, or whatever the case may be- remember that is not the way to win souls for Christ!
Chapter 3: Bad Behavior and Phony Religion
In the last days, “people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, slanderers, without self control, brutal, without love for what is good, traitors, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the form of religion but denying its power. Avoid these people!” 2Tim3:1-5
False Christians Condemned!
In addition to a long list of negative, yet common deplorable qualities we see in the world today, listed by Paul in this passage, the final one “holding to the form of religion, but denying its power” is among the most deceptive and prevalent danger of modern day society. Many people today claim to be religious- and in fact they may claim to be Christian, to boot! But, how many of these same so called “Christians” actually believe the words of the bible- very few! They are just phony “Christians”. How many of these self proclaimed, counterfeit “Christians” believe the gospel message? In fact many deny the bible to be true- saying it is no more real than a book of fairy tales, or Greek myths. Many household have bibles in their homes but do not even read them. Their bibles collect dust on the book shelf, or in dresser draws, held in the same esteem as Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Many individuals and families attend church services, yet they place more regard for man made tradition and philosophies than the very word of God! They will even show shame when confronted with the true message of God. Yet, they will attend religious ceremonies and religious rituals, not advocated by God. And by attending such blasphemous, idolatrous rituals they will feel they have satisfied their religious quota, feeling smug and righteous just like a Pharisee! Their false pius rituals will not save them, their phony righteous sacrifices and good works will not save them, their tithes and their money will not save them either! Their religion is false and empty, and it is these individuals and churches that will say “Lord, Lord” and in return, Jesus will say to them “depart from me for I never knew you”.
False Teachers and Imposters on the Loose in the Last Days
With the passage of time, we draw closer to the “Last Days”. This is not to be considered the same as a superstitious urgency that the end of the world is going to happen tomorrow. In fact, Paul warned the Thessalonians about this problem. Instead, Paul’s message is just to serve as a warning of what will come at the end times. Remember since the time of Jesus and Paul and the early Christian church, over 2000 years have passed. That is quite a bit have time. And it is obvious that even within the past generation and furthermore - even within the past twenty years, societal moral standards have relaxed and indecency has become more celebrated and prevalent in modern society than ever before in history! There are so many people who are spiritually dead- they are spiritual vacuums just waiting to engulf anything that meets their fancy. Those who are dissatisfied, idle, bored or angry are prime targets. The ignorant and naïve, and those with hardened hearts and “burdened down with sins, led by a variety of passions” are empty receptacles waiting to be filled with false teachings and doctrines. Beware of what you fill your mind with. If you don’t fill yourself on the truth of God, watch out, and be warned. Be on the watch because so many are caught off guard and fall prey to false teachings. “Evil people and imposters will become worse, deceiving and being deceived”. 2Tim3:13. But what is the solution for this? The answer is this: “Continue in what you have learned and firmly believed…that you have known the sacred scriptures, which are able to instruct you for salvation through faith in Jesus”. 2Tim3: 14-15
In conclusion, Paul tells us:”proclaim the message: persist in it whether convenient or not”. He tells us that there will come a time, and that time is now, when people will not listen to the message of God, they will ignore sound doctrine in favor for whatever ridiculous teachings and popular ideas that suit their own selfish desires and needs.
Paul addressed this letter to Titus, another leader and teacher of the ancient Christian church. As with his other letters, this one too applies to all believers of the gospel message: paste and present who place their faith in the “hope of eternal life that God, who cannot lie, promised before time began and has in his own name revealed His message”. 1Titus:2 Just as Titus is a child of God, we too are children of God.
Chapter 1: False Teachings
As in his letter to Timothy, Paul describes the essential traits of an elder or any leader in the church. In contrast, those who do not teach true doctrine, but teach false doctrines opposing the gospel message are by no means legitimate teachers or leaders! In fact, such false teachers must be rebuked and stopped. Don’t pay any attention to man made teachings and philosophies. Ignore myths and man made rules! As he warned in the book of Romans (the first chapter), there will be non believers who reject the message of the Lord. They are dead in spirit- with a conscious that is defiled and corrupt. And a more subtle danger is this: those who claim to be religious, yet are spiritually dead. In other words, be on the watch for those who claim to be Christians or who claim to be religious, yet at the same time deny the words of the gospel message. Such people are nothing more than hypocrites or Pharisees, believing their man made rituals and traditions will save them, while denying God’s grace thereby robbing the cross of its power to save.
Chapter 2: Interpersonal relationships
Having had been forewarned about the dangers of straying from the gospel message, you should be all the more aware of sticking with the sound teaching of the gospel message. Do not stray from it! As a leader of the church and as a teacher you have that greater responsibility to stick with the truth. Furthermore, appropriate behavior must be encouraged within the members of the Christian community: women, wives, husbands, men, children and seniors as well must strive in maintaining dignity and integrity in their own lives and their relationships with others. We are all called to be submissive and loving with each other as we are to the Lord. Despite socio-economic background, despite one’s position or station in life; man, woman, freedman, slave, servant or master- in God’s eyes no one has any advantage over the other! “For the grace of God has appeared, with salvation for all people”. Titus2:11
Chapter 3: Life in Christ
As Christians we should strive to be pleasing to God. Make no mistake- this does not mean we can merit salvation by our works! This could not be farther from the truth. By grace alone we are save- lest anyone should boast and rob the cross of its power to save. But, as believers we should act in accordance with the Holy Spirit that dwells within us, seeking to abandon our former filthy ways and acting in humility and love towards one another. Furthermore, we need to respect the laws and authorities in power, because in doing so, we will be all the more ready to promote our gospel message. In this way, when we live as the Holy Spirit leads us- this is how we do “good works”. It is not based on our own desires or merits, but based on our faith in the Holy Spirit. So, remember this: avoid worthless debates, disputes and people who seek to cause fights and dissention.
In closing, we must remember this: God saved us- God is our Savior! It is His mercy that saved us, not our own works! Through Jesus we have been made justified. Through the Holy Sprit, which God gives to his believers, we can live for Christ here in this lifetime, as well as the eternal life to come. Paul tells us that we can trust this message. It is true!
This is a unique letter written by Paul to a fellow believer named Philemon concerning a slave owned by Philemon. Apparently, Philemon’s slave, named Onesimus, escaped from his master and made his way to Paul, in Rome. While in Rome, Onesimus became a believer in Christ. Not only that, he spent much time with Paul- essentially becoming like a companion to Paul while he himself was imprisoned in Rome. But doing the right thing, Onesimus goes back to his former master to face the consequences. In his letter, Paul asks Philemon to be lenient towards his slave, because Paul considers him to be a child of God, a brother in the faith. In fact, Paul makes a comparison: that we too are servants of Christ- Paul is a slave to Christ. Just as Christ showed us mercy, and more specifically, in imitation to the mercy that Philemon received from God when he was saved, Philemon himself should imitate this and give mercy to his slave Onesimus. Paul reminds him that if his slave owes him any debt, Paul himself will pay it off. Furthermore, Paul reminds him that Philemon owes his very life- his spiritual life to Paul, because without having heard the gospel message from Paul, he would not have been saved either. And eternal life is far more valuable then any monetary debt that Onesimus may have incurred. In subtle words, Paul hints that Philemon should take the extra step in freeing Onesimus from the bonds of physical slavery and treating him like the equal man that he actually is considered to be, under God.
With this final letter, is the conclusion of Paul’s letters in the New Testament.
This letter, by an unknown apostle of the ancient Christian church, was written to the Jewish people, otherwise known as the Hebrews. The intent of this letter was to illustrate how Jesus, who is greater than all the angels, prophets and priests, represents the new covenant thereby replacing the imperfect old covenant which simply consisted of the law and imperfect sacrifices. The old covenant could not save anyone, but through faith in Jesus, salvation finally becomes available.
Chapter 1: The True Identity of Jesus
No prophets after Jesus:
A long time ago, in the times of the Old Testament, over two thousand years ago, God used various prophets as messengers of his word. His message was delivered to the masses by means of a messenger, known as a prophet. Some of these prophets included the well known prophets such as Noah, Abraham and Moses. Also included are Isaiah, Solomon, and Daniel. In these days, God speaks to us through his Son, Jesus. And Jesus is considered to be the Word, and this message of salvation is the gospel message. There are no more prophets- we do not need any because we have the gospel message of Jesus. Therefore if anyone claims to be a modern day prophet of God- don’t believe it!
Jesus, reflective of God, is the creator:
Jesus is the rightful heir of everything in this world- seen and unseen; visible and invisible; physical and spiritual. The universe was created through Jesus. Jesus made the universe! Jesus sustains the world! Furthermore, Jesus is the expression and radiance of God’s glory and nature. This means that Jesus is the perfect reflection of God.
After Jesus died for our sins, He sat down at the right hand of God in glory and honor. Jesus is worthy of worship. In fact God commanded that we as well as all the angels worship Jesus! God said these things concerning Jesus: Jesus is referred to as God. (In fact, when speaking to Jesus, God calls him God by using Old Testament references in application to Jesus.) Jesus’ throne is everlasting for all eternity. Jesus’ Kingdom reflects justice. In other words all the attributes which describe God are used to describe Jesus! The significance is this: Jesus is not simply another angel, but considered to be equal with God and one with God!
Do Not Reject the Gospel Message:
The gospel message is very important. Do not take it lightly. Do not dismiss it an unimportant. Be careful not to drift from the message of salvation. Remember the angels that rebelled in heaven? Remember the rebellion led by Satan? Is it not true that God swiftly handled their punishment, banishing them forever from heaven? Consider that to be a warning for us. If the angels weren’t spared, neither will we be spared if we turn away the salvation of God.
The Significance and Benefits of Jesus and His Humanity:
Despite the true identity of Jesus that was discussed in the first chapter: the fact that Jesus is the expression and fullness of God, and that honor and glory rightfully belongs to Jesus - for a short time, Jesus was reduced to a lower level of subordination, beneath the angels, in order that He could die and fully bear our sins. Because we are made of flesh and blood (because we are human beings with human bodies), Jesus therefore had to put on a body just like us as well. Through Jesus we receive salvation. This makes perfect sense- that this very Jesus who was responsible for creating the world, should also be responsible for its salvation as well. Through Jesus’ death, and his sacrifice for our sins, he destroyed both the Devil and the power of death as well. Just like the high priests in the Old Testament, and much more so- he was merciful and faithful in the role he took on: to make amends for the sins of the people in this world!
Comparisons to the Old Testament:
As mentioned earlier, to aid as a help in understanding the role of Jesus; Jesus is compared to the role of the high priest of the Old Testament. Keep in mind that this letter was written to the Hebrews, hence its title. The term Hebrews is another name for the Jewish people, and they would have been very familiar with the Old Testament prophets and especially the role of the high priest. Therefore familiar positions and heroes to the Hebrew people of the ancient church were used as comparisons in the letter to aid in its understanding. Furthermore, Jesus was not only compared to well known heroes of the Old Testament such as Moses, but he was considered to worthy of more honor and glory. Old Testament passages and stories were used to emphasis the points that this writer wanted to make. Just as the Israelites were hardened in their hearts and full of disbelief despite God’s miracles, we are as well hardened in heart. During the time of Exodus, when Moses and the Jews were in the desert, the continued to complain despite the miracles they witnessed. We are warned as well, not to toughen up our hearts. And just as the Jews who wandered in the desert in disbelief and rebellion for 40 years never saw the promised land, nor will we if we if we disobey God and reject the gospel message of salvation. This should serve as a warning for us.
Chapters 4 and 5: Importance of Accepting the Message and Our Advocate, Jesus
Basically we should maintain our faith in the hope of God’s promise, yet not disregard God’s warning about rejecting the message of salvation. What good will it be for us to hear the message yet not accept it and follow it? Then we are no better off than those Israelites in the time of Exodus that wandered for years and yet never reached the promised land.
“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any two edged sword, penetrating as far as to divide the soul… it is the judge of ideas and thoughts of the heart. No creature is hidden from Him.” Hebrews 4:12,13 We must remember this, Jesus is our advocate, our very own high priest, yet without sin, who can sympathize with us perfectly. In obedience he suffered for our sake. Therefore through Jesus we may be bold and confident when we approach the throne of God- we will receive mercy and grace. In gentleness and mercy, he deals with us. Jesus is the source of eternal salvation,
Chapter 6: Keep the Pace With Your Faith & Education!
It is apparent, after listening to this gospel message, and the teachings of Paul, as well as the other apostles, that many are still ignorant and have even misunderstood the message of the gospel. There really is no excuse for this, but obviously many progress in the faith and in their obedience at a slow rate. It is if they have a lot of maturing to do. They are not yet ready for more intense doctrines, and still must be taught the basics. In other words, they need a remedial course in the basics of the faith and are not yet ready for more advanced teachings. Remember the foundation of your faith must be correct in the first place: the foundation must be based on faith and not worthless works. And keep in mind another important point, as we progress in our faith, try not to backslide. Move forward in your faith! Be diligent! “For it is impossible to renew repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions of the Holy Spirit…. And who have fallen away, because to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding him up to contempt.” Hebrews 6:5,6 What good does it do if you turn your back on the gospel message and of salvation? Don’t be lazy, don’t forget your faith, and most of all don’t turn your back on the hope and the message of salvation- persevere to the end! God’s promise is true and we can depend on it. Once again, Jesus is our hope and guarantee!
Chapters 7 and 8: A Priest & Covenant Like No Other!
Melchizedek was a high priest of the Old Testament. He was not just any, ordinary high priest- he was the most important one. He had a special place of honor. Because of this, comparisons are made with Jesus and the priesthood of Melchizedek. And the covenant that Jesus reflects, exceeds by far the covenant of Melchizedek. To the Hebrews of the first century, this was a powerful comparison. And unlike a human priest who will eventually die, Jesus holds his place forever! And furthermore, Jesus is holy, sinless and perfect.
Earthly priests serve a purpose, but they pale in comparison to the perfection and significance of Jesus. And just as the first covenant, also served its purpose, it was flawed in its ability to provide for our eternal salvation. Therefore, God made a new covenant, known as a superior covenant. In the Old Testament, which was available to the Jews even before the time of Jesus, it was prophesized that God would institute a new covenant to replace the old covenant. Under the new promised covenant, God promised mercy and forgiveness of sins.
Chapter 9: The New Covenant Replaces the Old
The first Covenant was based on rules and regulations. Its home base was an earthly sanctuary and an earthly tabernacle. The sacrifices offered by the priest were imperfect. But with Jesus, that all changed. God set into place a new covenant with Jesus as the high priest, the mediator. This new covenant was not based on rules and regulations or a physical tabernacle. Through Jesus we have a better hope than what the first covenant offered. Through Jesus we can have the hope of eternal life—a promise of eternal inheritance. More specifically, Jesus died for our sins- and after his death, the new covenant came into effect- much like a will that goes in effect only after its owner has died. And, when this new covenant came into effect, all the blessings, promises and hope came into effect as well! No longer are imperfect animal sacrifices used to imperfectly atone for sins; but a perfect sacrifice- Jesus is the atonement. Think about how much greater this perfect sacrifice is, for our sakes, than the imperfect method of sacrifice instituted by the old obsolete covenant of the Old Testament. The man made tabernacle has been replaced with the hope of heaven. Imperfect remission of sin has been replaced by mercy and forgiveness. Jesus’ death once and for all is the atonement for sin- continuous sacrifice is no longer needed. For those who accept the sacrifice, the reward of salvation- eternal life- awaits.
The Limits of the Old Covenant:
The law, as the first covenant, is imperfect and limited. It was simply a foreshadowing of what was to come. The animal sacrifices of the priest were not sufficient- they were never good enough, and they had to be continuously repeated! They were ineffective in removing sin completely and effectively! It is impossible for the blood of an animal to take away sin. Therefore, the body of Jesus was offered as the perfect sacrifice to take away sins once and for all. And those he has sanctified through his death, are in fact perfected! That means their sins have been removed and completely forgotten by God. Furthermore, after Jesus was sacrificed for our sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.
Our Life Must Reflect Our Assurance:
We must live a life to reflect our faith in the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. We should encourage and love each other and not neglect meting together. We should act as if we have confidence and assurances because God is faithful, and we can depend on the promise of eternal salvation. “For if we deliberately sin after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” Hebrews 10: 26 Therefore if we reject the sacrifice of Jesus, then how can we expect to be saved by the very sacrifice of Jesus that we rejected? Obviously we can not expect to be saved by Jesus if we reject Jesus. It is simply like throwing the gift of God’s mercy back into the face of God. It is the same as insulting and profaning the Holy Spirit, God and Jesus. And we already know we can never be saved by the works of the law. Therefore, we may as well be cursed and subjected to God’s judgment as payment for our own sins. And be assured of this, if Jesus’ sacrifice has not covered your sins, then you will be subjected to the punishment of God as a consequence of your sins which have not been otherwise atoned for. The righteous live by faith, but as for those who reject the mercy of God and His atonement of sins, for those who reject faith, they must pay for their own sin and suffer the consequence entailed. Such people will not have eternal life.
Chapter 11: Approved By Faith
What exactly is faith? “Faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen”. Hebrews 11:1. And what does having faith do for us? With faith we are “approved” by God, just as the ancient prophets were. Ancient prophets and believers of the Old Testament that displayed faith included: Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses as well as others. These people serve as great examples of this. Through faith, these believers were approved as righteous! It was not through works, but faith. Their actions simply were reflections of their faith, but they were approved by God as a result of their faith and not their works. “Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him” Hebrews 11:6. What this means is this, we must believe in the reality of what we actually hope for even if we do not see it! Even if we do not see God, we must believe in the reality of God’s existence. And not only that we must firmly believe that God will reward us who seek Him out. All of these Old Testament characters mentioned displayed this kind of faith. It was a result of their faith that they were accepted by God. As a result of their faith, they were rewarded by God. If you need to refresh your memory as to the authenticity of these claims just read the Old Testament stories them selves! “All these were approved through their faith” Hebrews 11:30
Chapters 12 and 13: Discipline and Persistence in the Faith
Knowing all this, we should keep our focus on Jesus and do our best to avoid sins. Remember, Jesus died for us, enduring a shameful death in order that we may have eternal life. If Jesus could do this for us, we should at least persist in our endurance and our faith. Think about it in this way: Jesus shed His blood for our sins so that we would not have to. Therefore, if Jesus died for us, our trials and suffering pale in comparison to the ordeal Jesus went through. Foregoing our wants is a small price to pay when we consider the goal ahead of us. And just as an earthly father disciplines his children that he loves, our Heavenly Father disciplines us as well. This should not discourage us, but rather encourage us in knowing that we are God’s children. This discipline is for our good- we need to remember that.
Keep your eye on what is important and don’t be consumed by petty or sinful desires. For example, remember the story of Esau, consumed with greed, he exchanged his birthright for a meal! How ridiculous this sounds to us, but anytime we pursue a selfish fleshly or material desire in rebellion of God’s will, then we essentially are doing something just as stupid as Esau! When we act immorally or sin then essentially we are throwing away the glories of God for a temporary, passing pleasure. How stupid and blinded we must actually be to throw away our reward for a fleshly desire! Do you want to be just like Esau neglecting salvation for a petty pleasure? Remember that we seek something greater and more permanent than what this material world has to offer. Remember the punishments of those who ignored the prophets who delivered God’s messages in the times of the Old Testaments? If those people that rejected the prophets were punished, then imagine how we will be punished, all the more for rejecting the message and salvation of God Himself!
In closing, remember what is right and live in a way consistent with your faith. Show love and hospitality. Pray and obey those in authority and leadership. Avoid immorality and the love of money. Make your priorities straight. Be satisfied with what you have. Do not deviate from the gospel message and watch out for false teachings! Jesus always remains the same and does not change. The message of salvation that you have heard and accepted will not change! Remember that God is always with you and you have nothing to fear.
Going Through Tough Times
“Consider it a great joy my brothers whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.” James 1:2 The byproduct of going through a trial is an increase in endurance and personal strength. That does not mean that it is right to say that God creates trials for this purpose- it simply is a statement that when we go through difficult times, then we grow in strength. Remember, just as God cannot be tempted or lured by sin and evil, he does not willingly tempt us. It is our own evil desires which lead to our downfall. So, don’t accuse God or hold Him responsible! It is our own weakness and tendency to sin that is the cause of our temptation and subsequent downfall. And remember this, don’t be puffed out with self praise just because you think you are better than anyone else. If obeying the Lord naturally comes easy for you, good for you! Keep your boasting to yourself, because remember, one day your life will end just as the autumn leaves which dry up al fall off the trees. And if you struggle daily to obey the word of God, don’t beat yourself up over it, praise God, because you are aware of your spiritual need. No matter what, keep this one thing in mind, when you do have the strength to endure hardships and tests in life, remember you will be blessed all the more when it is finally over! The message we have heard makes us a new life in Christ, we are totally different! If there is something we do not understand, or something we really feel that we need or that is important to us, we should ask God about it. And not only this, we should be confident in God’s willingness and ability to meet all of our needs!
Keep a reign on your temper! If you have a short fuse, watch your mouth- and keep it shut. Put a muzzle on your mouth. If you want to hit someone, go lock yourself in a closet- restrain yourself! If you know you have a problem in this department, some anger management skills cannot hurt. Anger does nothing to help others come to God! And remember, don’t use “righteous anger” as an excuse to do or say whatever you want either. So think about it, your anger accomplishes nothing to promote the message of God. In fact it hinders others from understanding and accepting the good news of salvation. Do you think you are religious? Do you feel you have a gift? Well think twice- if you are consumed with anger, all the preaching in the world will not help your listeners or draw them closer to God. “Rid yourselves of all moral filth and evil excess.” James 1:21 Don’t just read the bible and listen to sermons. Do something about it! Put what you read and learn into practice as well. Remember to help one another in need.
Don’t play favorites! How unfair! Don’t be quick to judge others by their clothing and wealth. Remember that in God’s eyes, those who wear designer clothing, handbags & jewelry and who drive expensive have no advantage! Do you think they are better people because they have money? Then why do you act as if they are better by giving them preferential treatment and by acting nicer to them! What an injustice! Don’t you know that when you do that you are guilty of discrimination? Don’t you know that you are taking the liberty of being a judge! How dare you! And what good do the wealthy do anyway, but to flaunt their riches as if they are better, and to use their so called power for selfish ambition? Remember that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith. His message was delivered to the poor as well as the wealthy. God considers all to be equal and commands us all to love our neighbors- whether they are poor or rich! So stop being a stuck up snob- treat everyone with fairness.
Doing the Word; Bringing Your Faith to Life!
Bring your faith to life, by putting into practice what you read and what you learn. If you see someone in need, don’t just feel pity; don’t simply offer words of encouragement. Sure those are good things, but how much better is it, to actually go out of your way and help your brother or sister or neighbor who is in need. Empty words with no action is useless! What good is it to encourage a starving man, yet not even offer him a piece of bread? Go the extra step, don’t be lazy. Remember faith comes first and we cannot merit salvation based on works. But keep this in mind, faith without action is essentially useless- or dead. We need to put into practice what we learn in order to show love for one another and to carry out the purpose of why we believe. What good is it to retain all the knowledge of God, and to have faith but do nothing about it? Faith comes first of course. Secondly, live the word, and act! Sure this teaching is more advanced, than faith alone… but when we receive the good news, we should have in us a desire, or at least a responsibility to be doers of the word as well.
Chapter 3: Responsibility & Words
“Not many should become teachers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment” James 3:1 In other words, don’t be too hasty in rushing into a position of responsibility or leadership. Sure it is an ego booster to be a teacher over a class, or a leader or pastor. But with that role comes a grave responsibility before God. When you teach others, you are essentially taking into your own hands, the salvation of your hearers! What you teach affects not only yourself but others as well. Also be careful of what you say. Words can be very powerful; more so than you realize. What we say can have the power to harm others or to help, so take great care. “No man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison”. James 3: 7,8 And finally, keep this in mind, if you really think you are wise, the you should really show it by your actions. If you are envious and ambitious, then don’t pretend you are wise, and certainly don’t go around bragging that you are wise- because you are not! You are just lying to yourself, because there is no way you can fool God. He knows what is inside. Envy and ambition, though they are very common qualities and even praised by so many in society, are really evil and terrible qualities. Seek after humility, peace and fairness and reject favoritism, ambition and envy!
Chapter 4: Reject Selfishness and Greed
This world and the people in it care so much about wealth, favoritism, pleasure, selfish ambition and other greedy desires! These are the sick and useless things that cause so much distress, and make this world evil in the first place! We need to reject these things not embrace them! Don’t pursue your selfish ambitions or wealth! We must choose friendship with God or the world- we cannot choose both because they are in direct opposition to one another. This world, with its selfish evil priorities and desires- is really the enemy of God. Selfishness, ambition and the pursuit of pleasure pleases the Devil! Remember that! So you need to reject these things, even though you may not want to. Sure you may feel left out or deprived without worldly things. Maybe you will feel like a second class citizen. But, you need to overcome self pity and greed. You cannot make your Coach purse, your career, your technological gadgets, your Mustang or your bank account your priority. You can if you really want to, I suppose, but don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you are doing the will of God if you do. And on top of that, you presume to judge others who don’t have the same material possessions as you to be inferior? You think that you are luckier or better off because of your wealth or possessions! Then you are delusional! You place a lot of reliance of your bank accounts, your homes, cars and material possessions. Remember you are on shaky ground with God if you do. You boast in your travels, your vacation getaways, your cruises and your parties. You talk about your 401k plans and your stocks and your plans to retire early! Perhaps you plan your agenda months in advance. But remember this humbling fact- you do not even know you have a tomorrow, there are no guarantees in life. Instead you should say “If the Lord wills, we will do this or that. But as it is you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil”. James 4:15-17 “Cleanse your hands, sinners and purify your hearts, double minded people! Be miserable and mourn and weep….. Humble yourselves before the lord and He will exalt you.” James 4: 8-10 “Come now, you rich people! Weep and wail over the miseries that are coming on you. Your wealth is ruined: your clothes are moth-eaten; your silver and gold are corrupted, and their corrosion will be a witness against you… You stored up treasure.. you have lived luxuriously… and have indulged yourselves… you have fattened your hearts for the day of slaughter”. James 5:1-6 Don’t misplace your faith and happiness on wealth and worldly possessions.
Chapter 5: Persist in Prayer and Encouragement
Remember that Jesus will return. You can be assured of it, but be patient as well. We ready and be faithful. Keep your encouragement up as well. Remember what Job, of the Old Testament, went through? Who can say they went through the tough times he endured, yet he persevered in his faith and was blessed by God in the end. That should serve as an example to us all. Remember to be honest, and confess our sins and our troubles to one another. Pray if you suffer and praise God when you prosper as well. Prayers of a righteous faithful person, is especially powerful so remember to pray for one another. Remember to call upon the elders in the church as well as each other when you are in need. And if one of you should stray from the truth, that man who helps him in the right path will have saved him from so many sins!
This letter was written from the apostle Peter to the believers of the early Christian church. Obviously this letter applies just as much to the believers of toady as in the ancient times 2000 years ago.
Chapter 1: Faith and its Reward
As believers we have much to look forward to! We have a hope in Heaven for everlasting life. And for this we have to thank God, who in his mercy and grace gave us this gift through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus. This hope we have is eternal life- it will last forever: it won’t fade away or disappear- our faith is not misplaced when we depend on this. We have God’s guarantee. Therefore, rather than being discouraged, we have great reason to rejoice and be happy. Our hardships pale in comparison to what great things are in store for us. We are talking about something more important than wealth or money or gold- we are talking about eternal life! Even though we cannot see these things we can be assured that they are true. The goal; the result of our faith is eternal salvation! Even the old testament prophets which you do trust believed these things which you are learning now. Keep your eyes and your lives focused on your hope in heaven. When you live your life, in whatever you do and say, keep this in mind. Remember to consider God’s will in your life- you are called for holiness. Do not follow selfish ambitions and worldly desires. Treat life in this world as temporary. Our physical bodies and our lives on earth will not last forever. Get your priorities straight! You were redeemed by the blood of Christ, don’t waste it; live it as if you believe it! You have been born again so act in a way consistent with your rebirth.
Chapters 2, 3, 4 and 5: Christian Behavior
Put your former life behind you. Remove the wickedness, deceit, envy, hypocrisy and slander that you used to do! Remember the analogy of the stone in the Old Testament scriptures? The seemingly plain and simple stone, that was rejected by the construction worker, was chosen by God as the foundation for His Church. Consider yourselves to be these stones! You are the living stones, to boot. And as a stone causes some to stumble, the irony of your election, may cause others to stumble as well. Pay no attention to those who are acting like sour grapes and hecklers. They are just jealous. You are the beneficiaries of God’s mercy, rejoice and live as though you are! Avoid selfish and fleshly desires. Remember you should be an example not just to other believers but unbelievers as well! Don’t be hypocrites either, disguising your evil deeds beneath a cloak of “religion”. Even though obeying God comes first, that is no excuse to break the laws and disobey the authority of the government. If you are a slave or if you are an employee, obey your master, and obey your employer. Remember the suffering of Jesus. He did not deserve to suffer, yet he did- and so much more- for our sakes. So if Jesus- who did not deserve to suffer willingly did- then we must keep this in mind when we must suffer. He suffered for our sins. Therefore if we have consequences as a result of our sins, shouldn’t we just accept it? Husbands and wives should respect and love each other. Beauty is within- it has nothing to do with your physical appearance or your clothes or your jewelry! Everyone should have compassion and love for one another. Don’t be too hasty to get angry and seek revenge when others insult you or offend you. Do what you can in your power to seek peace at all costs. And if by chance your suffering is undeserved and you are persecuted for your faith, then consider yourselves blessed for you are in good company. It is better to suffer for what is right than to suffer the consequences for doing what is bad. Remember Jesus’ sacrifice. A clear conscious before the Lord is the best that you can strive for. Those who live their evil lives, rejecting the gospel will be judged by God. Don’t envy them for they will get what is coming; pay no attention when those evil doers make fun of you. No matter what continue in your faith and continue to please God. If you are an elder of your congregation or church, you are entrusted with a greater responsibility to oversee your congregation with willingness and humility, and without expectation of worldly recognition.
Chapter 6: Remain Alert
“Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary, the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him!” 1Peter5: 8,9 We are called to eternal glory with Jesus. But remain on the watch, don’t become lazy or complacent with the evil ways of this world or you will be caught off guard and become an easy target for the devil’s schemes.
Grow in Faith
Through God’s divine power, we have everything we need in line and everything there is to know in order to live a life of goodness. God has promised to us eternal life and a hope to look forward to so that may need not despair in the evils and corruption of the world that is around us. We need to “supplement” our faith with goodness, knowledge, endurance and self control. Not only that, we need to strengthen and train ourselves to increase in these good qualities. This will help us avoid stumbling when we are face to face with the temptations and evils of this world. We should not be stagnate, we need to continue to grow and learn! Remember that we want to enter into the kingdom of heaven. These words of Peter will remain true, long after his death because they reflect the eternal message and truth of God.
God’s Word is Truth!
Remember that the apostles delivering the message of the gospel: James, Peter and Paul as well as the others were eyewitnesses to these things. This isn’t a fairy tale. It is true beyond a doubt and it is proven by the testimony and witnesses of countless numbers of people. Consider the life of Jesus, and how many people that witnessed his teachings and miracles and resurrection! It is not made up. Pay attention to this gospel message. It is like a flashlight that shines brightly in the darkness. These messages are not derived from human minds and imaginations, but from the Holy Spirit.
False Teachers, Beware!
Be aware of false teachers as well as false prophets, who will subtly and secretly spread lies about God. Many people will be suckered into believing those lies, and countless others will simply condemn Christianity as a whole. These false leaders will use clever deception to exploit naïve people and believers! Don’t worry, their certain condemnation awaits. Think about this: If God did not even spare his beloved angels when they rebelled, or the wicked men in the time of Noah, or the ancient cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, then be assured the Lord will punish those false teachers as well. But don’t worry about yourselves- if God kept his faithful safe, such as Noah and Lot, he will keep his believers safe from judgment as well. God is an expert and is faithful in rescuing his faithful people from trails. He will not let his believers suffer the same fate as the deceivers and unbelievers.
Corrupt Evil Doers, Beware!
What nerve these arrogant unbelievers have! Who do they think they are? “Bold, arrogant people! They do not tremble when they blaspheme the glorious ones: however angels, who are greater in might and power, do not bring a slanderous charge against the Lord. But these people, like irrational animals- creatures of instinct…. speak blasphemies about the things they don’t understand, and in their destruction they too will be destroyed, suffering harm as the payment for unrighteousness”. 2Peter 2” 10-13 They critique and condemn God and the message of salvation. They throw it away in exchange for their own lies and deceptions. Anything that is filthy and evil, they not only do but approve of as well. They seek out sin. They see adultery as fun! They specialize in deception and lies, seducing the weak and the naïve. They may as well consider themselves cursed because they will be under the judgment of God. Their reward will be the eternal gloom of darkness which is well deserved. They go out of their way to tempt believers as well, trying with all their might to turn people away from the Lord. They claim to be open minded; they claim to offer freedom- but what they really peddle is death and destruction! Don’t be fooled! Don’t get caught up with these evil people. Don’t turn back from your faith. “For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after knowing it, to turn back.” 2Peter 2:21. Remember this, “a dog returns to its own vomit and a sow after washing itself wallows in the mud”. 2Peter2 :22 Those who are filthy and depraved, have a way of returning back to their filthy depravity.
Chapter 3: Jesus’ Return A.K.A the Lord’s Day
This is your reminder, recall everything you have been taught thus far. In the end days before Jesus returns, be aware that doubters and evil doers will increase in their number as well as in their depravities. Don’t be shocked or surprised. Ignore them when they make fun and place doubt in the fact that Jesus is returning. Don’t let their ignorant words and heckling discourage you. And as for yourselves, don’t get discouraged or impatient. The second coming of Jesus will come- but on God’s own time. To God there is no difference between a thousand years or one day. Sure, to us, even 100 years may as well seem like forever to us, but in God’s eyes, 1000 years is simply like a day. Its just that God’s conception of time, is not like our limited ideas about time. God does not back down on his promise but is patient knowing in His wisdom, that by allowing more time, he allows more people to come to salvation. The Day of the Lord, which is the second coming of Jesus, will come when we least expect it to come. It will “come like a thief” 2Peter3:10. When that happens, it will be obvious. With a loud noise, Heaven will pass away, and the earth will be consumed with fire. There will be a new heaven and a new earth! Not only that, just as miraculous, what we should be more concerned about is this: the works and motives of all men will be revealed. What has been hidden for ages, will be revealed to all! Therefore we should await this day in faith and confidence if we are believers.
Don’t forget that God’s patience provides an opportunity for salvation. Put it this way, what if the second coming happened 10 years before you accepted the message of salvation? Where would you be then? So just as you came to salvation, others who are not saved now, may come to salvation as well. Don’t be deceived or tempted by evil and be on guard always.
Chapter 1: The Purpose of the Message
The apostles, are unified in their purpose: to testify to the truthfulness of the gospel message which they have observed first hand. The invitation of eternal life offered by the gospel message is extended to believers everywhere so that in believing, they too may have fellowship with the Father, Son and each other as well. God represents goodness. There is no evil to be found within God, so if we claim we walk in fellowship with God, yet still behave as if we are evil, then we are lying and deceiving ourselves. The blood of Jesus has the power to cleanse us from our sin. If we confess our sins, God who is faithful and just will forgive us. But if we try to make the claim that we do not sin, then we may as well call God a liar. Be assured, that those who say they have no sin, and are not in need of forgiveness, are not in fellowship with God, but rather they are simply living in denial.
Chapter 2: A Faithful Life
God wants us to live a life consistent with our faith. If we have total disregard for God’s commands, then how can we claim we are in fellowship with God? We are nothing but liars. Remember the greatest commandment? That is to love one another; to love your neighbor as yourself? If we love, then we are in the light and living in fellowship with God and His commands. But if we hate our neighbor, or our fellow brother, then we live in darkness. We are forgiven and justified through Jesus. Through Jesus we can have fellowship with God. We can overcome the Devil which is the Evil One. Remember the best way to beat the Devil is to make sure God’s word remains within. Do not pursue worldly goals which include pride, selfish ambition and fleshly lust.
According to prophecy, the antichrist is supposed to come. But keep this in mind, anyone who opposes God can be considered an anti Christ, and we have already had many false teachers and false prophets who claim to be representing God’s message. Simply put, anyone who denies that Jesus is the Messiah, is the antichrist. Whoever denies the Son, Jesus, denies the Father as well. God’s promise to us is eternal life- a gift beyond comprehension. The least we can do is remain loyal.
Chapter 3: Gods Command- Belief in Jesus and to Love One Another
God has loved us so much that we can be called God’s children. We should have confidence and not shame. Consider that the world doesn’t know us, because we are no longer part of this world but part of God. Maybe we have some questions as to the particular details and that is okay as well. The future in its entirety has not yet been revealed. All we know is this: when Jesus returns, we will somehow be like Him and with Him. That is our hope. There is no sin in God. Remember that sin is associated with the Devil! It is God’s intent to eventually destroy sin. As children of God, we are no longer under the curse of sin, because the penalty for our sin has been paid. But that does not mean we should sin. After all, to sin is to break the law. Remember what God’s greatest commandment is: to love one another and to love our neighbor as our self? We have no excuse to not follow this commandment. The world does not follow this commandment and that is why the world is in opposition with God’s children. Remember Cain hated his brother and murdered him. Therefore if we hate our brother we are no better than Cain who was a murderer! Murderers will not inherit eternal life. Just as Jesus sacrificed his life for us, we should learn from the example of Jesus and show love for one another. We should act on our faith and live our faith! To emphasis it again, this is the command of God: to believe in the name of Jesus and to love one another. If we do this our hearts and conscious will be clear. But if we don’t do this, our hearts and conscious will condemn us. When we keep this command, we remain in God and God will remain in us. Love is considered to be the ultimate test of our faith and of our sincerity in the truth. The reason is this: it is not always to love our brother or our neighbor as we love ourselves. We tend to be greedy, selfish, envious and competitive. Oftentimes to truly love our brother, neighbor and especially our enemies, we have to overcome our natural inclinations of selfishness.
Chapter 4: The Truth Vs Lies about Jesus
“Dear friends do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. This is how you know the Spirit of God: Every Spirit who confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God. But every spirit who does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist; you have heard he is coming and he is already in the world now.” 1John 4: 1-3 What this means is this: when you hear a new teaching, pay attention to what is said about Jesus. If it is not consistent with what you have learned, then it is not from the Holy Spirit at all, but from the devil. In fact, even now, many are deceived into believing lies about Jesus. Countless people are drawn into false religions and false teachings that distort who Jesus really is. Don’t be just another statistic. Make sure what you hear is consistent with the bible message! Don’t be discouraged, we who are from God, have no part in this world. We can discern the true spirit of truth from the spirit of lies.
The testimony of God
Repeating what we have taught so far: If we truly love God, we will love one another as well. God remains in us when we love one another and when we testify that the Father sent the son to be our savior and that Jesus is the Son of God. God’s love has the power to conquer the evil of this world. God testifies on behalf of Jesus. The Spirit of God, The blood of Jesus and the water, testify in unison to the truth about Jesus Christ. They are all in agreement that God has given us eternal life through His Son. Now that is assurance. Anyone who denies this, essentially calls God a liar. Without the Son, you will not have eternal life! If you deny this truth that God Himself testifies to, then you are calling God a liar.
Prayer is not just a waste of time. We can have the utmost confidence that our prayers will be heard by God. And even greater is that God will provide whatever we ask for in accordance with His will. Also remember to pray for one another including sins. Keep as far away as you can from idols, idol worship or any worldly thing that comes in between you and your faith in God. When we place our faith in God, we are under God’s protection- safe from the Evil One. Through Jesus we may have eternal life. “We are in the true One- that is, in His Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.” 1John 5:20
The apostle John follows up with the theme of his first letter: the command to love one another. Although this letter is mainly addressed to a specific woman, in John’s own words, it may be applied to all believers as well.
The Command to Love:
Remember to follow the command to love one another. When you do this, you affirm your faith in God. Remember in all areas of your life and your actions to so this.
Thos who do not teach that Jesus came to this world as a man of flesh in order to die for our sins is an anti- Christ. He is a false teacher who is deceiving others. Don’t believe these false teachers! You know better by now. And furthermore, if anyone adds to the teachings of God, he does not have God either. God does not approve of adding to the message. Do not aid in the dissemination of lies. If a false teacher asks you for your support in delivering and promoting his phony message, do not give him a donation and do not provide for him any other aid otherwise you are helping him to spread his lies about Jesus! Hold fast to your truth, don’t risk everything all the efforts you have made so far!
The Apostle John wrote this letter to Gaius, to encourage and commend him for his faith.
Whatever you do for your fellow believer, testifies on behalf of your faith and love for God. Think about the self sufficiency of our teachers in the faith- they do not taint themselves or compromise themselves by accepting support from heathens and pagans. Therefore we should do what we can to help them out and to support each other so that we too may be co-workers in the truth. If any of you are simply out for glory and recognition, then forget it! Your priorities could not be further from the will of God. Do not hinder those who are actually spreading the message of the Lord. Remember do not imitate evil. Rather, you should imitate what is good.
Jude wrote this letter as a warning about false teachers and their deceptions.
There are some men, false teachers who are distorting the truth and teaching lies. They advocate promiscuity and deny Jesus! Don’t worry, they will receive the judgment and punishment that is in store for them. Remember the examples of how God has handled other evil people in the past. Remember how the Egyptians were destroyed and how Sodom and Gomorah were destroyed because of their evil perversions. Consider the angels who were expelled from heaven and to this very day await their eternal punishment for having disobeyed God. They will all suffer eternal punishment in eternal fire! How dare these sick and depraved people who commit sexual immorality dare to presume they have any knowledge. They are like stupid animals, blaspheming anything that their puny little minds can’t understand. How dare they reject God’s authority and dismiss his gospel message. “Woe to them” Jude 1: 11 Even the angels themselves know better than to question God’s authority.
Remember these filthy perverted people are not far from you at all. Keep an eye out for them! You will even find them at church, sitting in the pews next to you, muttering hymns and maybe even partaking in the ceremony of the Lord’s supper! They are hypocrites. Don’t be fooled by their outwardly religious façade. They are counterfeit Christians. They are unholy and perverted, driven by selfish desire and ambition. They will flatter people just to exploit them and use them and take advantage. These people are spiritually dead! Remember what you were told countless times by the other apostles as well. In the end times, these filthy people, these hypocrites and false teachers will increase in number. They will have their evil influences within churches even to the point of creating divisions and dissention! Keep your hopes and faith in God, and do not waiver. Remember love your enemies: hate the sin but love the sinner, but be careful that you too do not get caught up in or tempted by the sins of others.
Remember that God has the power to protect you . through Jesus you are made blameless. “To the only God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, power and authority before all time, now and forever”. Jude 1:25
John, being filled with the Spirit of God, on a Sunday, on the island of Patmos, received the Revelation of Jesus Christ from an angel in order to write what he saw so it would be available to all. “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophesy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Revelation 1:3
In the letters to the seven churches, Jesus urges all people to trust in the Good News and to live by their faith in Jesus. In general, do we ever find it easy to worship the Lord? We are in the end times right now! We should not be paranoid, of course, but setting aside ridiculous and outrageous conspiracy theories, we can tell by the signs that the Day of the Lord is drawing near. Countless phony Christians and hypocrites succumb to worldly pressures and temptations. Think about how many people profess to be believers but their actions tell another story. Countless numbers claim to be Christians, but in actuality, they are ashamed of the gospel message of Christ. False teachers and phony prophets are everywhere, teaching a phony Christ and spreading lies to the naïve. These anti-Christs and anti churches are reaping in hoards of new members, even stealing from Jesus’ own flock. To these counterfeit Christians and false churches, Jesus himself will tell them “depart… for I never knew you.”
Memos to Seven Ancient Christian Churches: John begins with a series of memos, directed to specific ancient churches addressing specific issues. Keep in mind that these words are as applicable today as they were in ancient times.
Memo #1 To Ephesus: You were once courageous and strong in your love & faith, but what happened? You have fallen- turn back to your former dedication! Its not too late now, but if you wait forever, you never know. It could be worse- at least you don’t tolerate the evils of the Nicolaitions.
Memo #2 To Smyrna: Persevere during the tough times and don’t give up. Don’t let the poverty and hardships get you discouraged. The most important thing is this: built up your treasures in Heaven. Your spiritual wealth is greater than you think, and when the Devil tempts you and tests you, keep up your faith and don’t succumb. Keep your eyes on heaven!
Memo #3 To Pergamum: You are right in the midst of Satan’s dominion- you are surrounded by false religion- specifically Balaam worship. God is well aware of this, and you have done well in standing your ground and maintaining your faith. But that is still not an excuse, you can do better. Don’t put up with any false worship or false teachers or idols whatsoever. Don’t compromise or taint your faith just to please others!
Memo #4 To Thyatria: Keep up the good work, God is very pleased with your faith, and service. But watch out for false teachers and prophets that teach lies and lead others astray. Specifically, you need to stop tolerating the false prophet Jezebel. She is destroying the church and faith of many with her lies and immoral ways. To the rest of you, who are aware and discouraged, maintain your faith and hope because false prophets and teachers will get what is coming to them. Those who remain faithful will have their reward in heaven.
Memo #5 To Sardis: You are nothing but hypocrites, and while you may fool men, you are not fooling God. Your phony works won’t save you. Watch out, because if you don’t return to the original message of faith you will be caught off guard when the Lord returns. To any of you who do believe and are faithful, do not fear, your faith will save you.
Memo #6 To Philadelphia: You are spiritually weak, that is true. But you aren’t lost altogether. Though it would be better for you to work on your faith and strength, at least during difficult times, you did not out right deny the Lord. But to those of you who are hypocrites and phonies, you are not fooling the Lord! For the rest of you, hold on to your faith no matter what. Don’t waiver or let fear get the better of you. The Lord will be patient with you.
Memo #7 To Ladocia: There is nothing special about you. You are not pure evil but you really aren’t faithful either. It is as if you couldn’t care less. You are indifferent. You are basically stagnant. You are simply lukewarm. You brag about your material wealth and ignore those who are impoverished and ill. Do you think the Lord is pleased? Not at all. You are sickening in the eyes of the Lord. Its not too late to change your ways. If you do, the Lord will welcome you. In fact, the Lord invites you.
The following description include a lot of symbolism that may have been understood by the contemporary people of 2000 years ago.
A Brief Outline Of What Is To Come
(This commentary on Revelation is older than my other writings. But I have included it here in order to complete my NT letter commentary)
The Seven Seals of the Scroll opened by the lamb
The first seal: Horsemen on white horse sent to conquer man
The second seal: Horsemen on fiery red horse sent to take away peace by causing men to kill each other.
The third seal: Horsemen on black horse holding scales in his hand which stand for the greed of man.
The fourth seal: Horsemen called Death on pale horse followed by Hades and given the power to kill 1/4 human population by hunger, swords, and beasts.
The fifth seal: Martyrs told they must wait until their number is completed.
The sixth seal: Earthquake occurs, sun becomes black, moon becomes like blood, stars fall from heavy winds, sky recedes, mountains and islands moved .
pre-seventh: Four angels waiting at the four corners of the earth are told not to do anything until God’s people are sealed.. God’s people receive God’s seal on their foreheads. (144,000 people from the 12 tribes of Judah presently at that time alive on earth.).
The seventh seal: Silence in heaven for 1/2 hour. An angel throws a bowl (Censer) filled with fire to the earth causing thunder and lightening and an earthquake.
The Seven Angels With Seven Trumpets
The first trumpet: Hail, fire, blood and the burning of 1/3 grass and 1/3 of the trees.
The second trumpet: Great burning mountain thrown into the sea, 1/3 sea becomes blood, killing 1/3 sea creatures and destroying 1/3 ships.
The third trumpet: Star called Wormwood falls onto 1/3 rivers and springs turning 1/3 of water into wormwood causing the deaths of men
The fourth trumpet: 1/3 sun struck, 1/3 moon struck and 1/3 stars struck causing 1/3 day and 1/3 night not to shine.
The fifth trumpet: Star, with the key to the bottomless pit, thrown down from heaven. Bottomless pit opened, blackening the earth with smoke, and releasing locusts (whose king in Hebrew is Abado, and Apolyon in Greek), tormented those without God’s seal for 5 months.
The sixth trumpet: The four angels from the Euphrates river areunbound. With an army of 200 million horsemen, they kill 1/3 of the population. Those not killed did not repent to God but continued to sin by the worship idols, stealing, lying, immorality, and others...
Pre-seventh: Angel with a little book spoke with a voice of seven thunders which John was told he could not write down since it contained the mystery of God and how the mystery would be completed. John was told to eat the book which tasted sweet in his mouth and bitter in his stomach. He was then told to measure the temple of God, not including the court where the gentiles (those not of God)will be.
God’s two witnesses and the Three Woes
God sends two witnesses of his Word, and gives them great authority and power to preach the Good News. Man does not accept them, and hates them. As a result they endure the wrath of God they deserve. The Beast, arises from the Bottomless Pit, kills the two witnesses and leaves their bodies to decay in full view for 3 1/2 days in Sodom and Egypt (the spot where Jesus was crucified). Everyone regards the Beast as a hero, and they are joyful. After the 3 1/2 days, the two witnesses are resurrected and they ascend into heaven. An earthquake then occurs causing 1/10 of the city to fall, and killing 7,000 people. The rest give glory to God.
The Seventh trumpet or the third woe: The nations of nonbelievers of the earth are enraged at God’s wrath. It is time for the (first) Judgment. God’s temple is opened and the ark of the covenant is revealed. There is hail thunder lightening and earthquake.
A woman has a male child. The Dragon wants to eat the child who is to rule all the nations. God takes the child to his throne and prepares a place of safer for the woman from the Dragon for 1,260 days in the desert. Michael fights the dragon sending the Devil and his agents to torment the people of earth for a short time. Dragon continues to pursue the woman. The woman is given wings to escape. The Dragon becomes very angry and decides to torment the God’s people who are on earth.
A Beast (with seven horns, seven crowns and blasphemous name) is given authority and power by the Dragon. The Beast who had a mortally wounded, but healed head amazed and received praise from the people. People followed and worshipped the Dragon who gave authority to the Beast, because the Beast seemed to be so great. Many began to blaspheme God. This Beast ruled for 42 months waging war with those few who still followed God, who were written in the Book Of Life, while the others worshipped the Beast.
The Second Beast
Then there came a second Beast who exercised the authority of the first Beast in the presence of the first Beast. The second Beast made people worship the first Beast, while performing many miracles ignored to deceive many people. Then an image is made of the first beast, and the second Beast tells people to worship the image. The second Beast gives life to the image of the first Beast, and the image kills those who do not worship the first Beast. The second Beast gives the mark 666, on the forehead of all who worship the first beast. Unless one has this mark, he can not buy or sell anything.
Jesus Reaps the Harvest
On Mount Zion, the 144,000, given God’s seal, are told to preach the news of God to all. A second angel proclaims that Babylon has fallen and a third angel declares that anyone who worships the beast, who has the 666 mark will suffer the same torment as that of the Beast/Devil. The harvest is ready for Jesus to reap. With the help of angels, the people of God will be separated from the people who are not of God. The temple of the tabernacle of God is opened. Those who have not believed and accepted Jesus, those who do not have the Word of Jesus in their hearts, will suffer God’s just wrath.
The seven Bowls of the seven plagues
“Behold, I come as a thief!” Revelation 16:15 The people of God are prepared, yet, those not of God are not.
The first bowl: All who have the mark of the Beast will become covered with sores.
The second bowl: The sea becomes blood; all sea creatures die.
The third bowl: Springs of water become blood.
The fourth bowl: Men are scorched with fire; still they do not repent and they continue to blaspheme God.
The fifth bowl: The Beast, its kingdom and its worshippers exposed to darkness and pain, still do not repent
The sixth bowl: Euphrates, the river, is dried up in order to prepare way for three kings. Three bad spirits come forth from the mouths of the False Profit, the Dragon and the Beast (the evil trinity).
The seventh bowl: God’s people are rewarded while the Beast’s follower are punished. “It is done”, declares a loud voice from the temple’s throne. There is lightening, thunder, Earthquakes the great city is split into three parts, mountains and islands fall and men blaspheme God.
Babylon destroys and overcome by God. The followers of evil are punished. People lose their riches and the economic markets are destroyed. Many lament the loss of their wealth due to their greed. The city of great importance to material wealth is destroyed.
Praise is given to God. The Blessed are rewarded. Jesus is exalted. Those who follow God are part of the marriage of the Lamb and the Bride. The Beast is punished and so are all whom have received his mark. They are killed or thrown into the Lake of Fire. Satan/devil/dragon is bound for 1,000 years in the abyss.
The first resurrection and the 1,000 year reign of Christ
Martyrs and those of God are the first to be resurrected and they reign with Christ for 1,000 years. These are the blessed in which the Second Death has no power.
The second Resurrection
After being bound Saran is released to deceive the nations. Then he is thrown into the Lake of Fire with the Beast and the false profit forever! The rest of the dead, after the 1,000 year reign of Christ is resurrected. All the dead stand before God, books are opened, one book is the Book of Life. Those whose names are written in the book of life are not judged. Those not in the book of life are judged according to their deeds. Anyone not in the book of life is thrown with death and Hades into the Lake of Fire, and this is called the Second Death.
And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and be their God.” Revelation 21:3
Then there is a new heaven and a new earth. All of the old things have passed away. God will be with his people. There will be no more sadness or death.
Patricia Janes July 4, 2009