The New Testament: as it was written
JAMES (50 A.D.)
- 1 – Your desire should be God’s desire. DO, as the active reflection of God that you are. We are His image and glory (I Corinthians 11:7). Ask yourself, “Would you rather have the marks of Jesus or the marks of the world?” Then keep yourself unstained by the world.
- 2 – Show no partiality. This happened to be the prayer of the young man Elihu when he talked with Job (Job 32:21). It’s a matter of faith in Christ and holding on to it. Showing partiality is sin.
Abraham’s faith and actions resulted in his salvation, the saving of his son, and the offer of salvation to all men through Christ. Likewise, and yet in contrast, Rahab’s faith and actions resulted in her salvation, the saving of the sons of Israel, and of all men (in Christ). Faith in Christ saves the good, bad, and ugly – and their actions show it.
- 3 – Be the man of faith (I Corinthians 16:13-14). It’s all you can and must be. Guard yourself against jealousy and selfish ambition. Make peace and reap righteousness.
- 4 – Again, stand firm and act like a man of God (I Corinthians 16:13-14). What you do: Resist the devil and humble yourself before God. What Satan does: He will run away. What God does: He will lift you up.
- 5 – James speaks of Job. And as he often has in his letter, he brings up the matters of showing partiality, judging others, and flattery. Look again at Elihu’s prayer in Job 32:21. He’s on to something here in his prayer life.
Confess sin, and weakness, to one another and pray for one another. Lean on each other as Godly men. This presupposes that real, Godly men will respond with mercy, compassion, gentleness, honesty, brotherly love, and humility. They will not show partiality, they will not judge or shame, and they will not speak flattering, false words. These three things James and Elihu seem to have in common. For men, I think that James drives home these points.
FIRST THESSALONIANS (52-52 A.D.)
- 1 – Remember three things about fellow believers, especially as you pray: work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope. Notice that Paul was emphatic that these three things last forever… and the greatest of these is love.
- 2 – Please God, not men. As Ben Witherington said, “Our job is to please God and help people, not please people and help God out.”
A Godly father does these things for his children: exhort each one or plead with them about Godly matters, encourage each one, and exemplify and teach each one to walk in a worthy way before God. At the same time, we are to be as gentle with our children as a nursing mother is with hers.
- 3 – Reach out and keep in touch with your sons in the faith (those you mentor, disciples, bring to faith, etc.), etc.). Keep them encouraged. Supply (provide or fill up) what is missing in their faith.
- 4 – Control your body in holiness and honor. Don’t be impure like the world (or, like the world wants you to). Paul reiterates: Please God. Do for God, not for man. To quote Ben Witherington again, “The Gospel is about resurrection, not about dying and going to heaven.”
- 5 – Respect those who labor among you (i.e., pastors). Lift up the weak, idle, and fainthearted. Be patient with them. Ben Witherington (again!) said, “(Y)ou cannot work with people where you want them to be. You must work with them where they are, and work the Gospel into their lives so they will move to where they need to be in Christ.”
Paul offers a great summary statement when he states that the will of God is to uplift people, always rejoice, pray constantly, and always be thankful. Guard the good and avoid the evil.
SECOND THESSALONIANS (52-53 A.D.)
- 1 – Be thankful for a brother-in-Christ whose faith is growing and love increasing.
Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire. Where else in the Bible are angels associated with flaming fire?
- 2 – The lawless one of the rebellion will be, or perhaps already is, one who claims he is God; one whose coming is satanic; one whose activity will be marked by false signs and wonders and deception; one who is (or was/will be) believed by the faithless perishing ones; and one evidenced by the perishing ones having pleasure in unrighteousness.
It is okay to hold to good tradition – tradition that honors and brings glory to God.
- 3 – Have nothing to do with an idle/lazy brother, that he may be ashamed. You can recognize that one by his not holding to the traditions of Paul’s example (of hard work, faith, love, hope, etc.). Note I Corinthians 5:9-13, where Paul admonishes to not have anything to do with one who calls himself a brother while at the same time he is involved in sexual immorality, greed, idolatry, reviling, drunkenness, and swindling or cheating. Could these things be the defining characteristics of a brother who is idle? The one who is idle fills his life with things of the world, not with the things of God.
GALATIANS (55 A.D.)
- 1 – What is “the present evil age?”
What does it mean to be accursed for teaching a contrary Gospel? Teaching a contrary Gospel means that one is seeking approval of man, not of God. Approval is the key word here – note what Paul said in his mentoring of Timothy: Be diligent to present yourself approved to God… (II Timothy 2:15).
- 2 – Jews spied on Paul’s fellowship with those who were uncircumcised. How did the Jews know that Paul’s friends were uncircumcised? And, how did Paul presume they knew that Titus and others were uncircumcised? In other words, was the setting one in which uncircumcised features were perhaps seen or whispered?
Another key word/phrase when discussing faith and works is: “works of the law.” Believers show their faith by their works, that is, the works of faith (or works of love, as Paul would later call it), not works of the law (James 2:18). Really, both Paul and James teach faith and works of faith (or, works of love), and that works of the law do not lead to justification, that is, do not lead saving faith.
- 3 – Paul continues his defense of faith vs. works of the law. The law was a guardian until Christ (who is the offspring of Abraham) came. We are now under Christ, not the law.
Works of the law do not equal works of faith. These are different and should be read in context.
- 5 – Only faith working through love counts, not works of the law.
- 6 – The value of teaching and equipping is that the one who is taught should share all good things with the one who teaches.
FIRST CORINTHIANS (57 A.D.)
- 1 – God gives grace, and enriches our speech and knowledge. What does it mean to be enriched in speech and knowledge? Note that God called (and calls) people everywhere into fellowship with followers of Jesus. Here, God calls the church (into fellowship); and calls people everywhere who call upon Jesus (into fellowship).
Paul said that each of the Corinthians claimed to follow someone. Do believers do that today? How? (How about Calvinism, Armenianism, religious orthodoxy instituted by man and not God, etc.?).
- 2 – Nothing is as important as proclaiming Jesus and Him crucified (and, as Paul would later argue, Jesus resurrected – see note in ch. 15 below). These “nothings” include wisdom, lofty speech, etc.
The glory of men rests in the hidden, eternal wisdom of God.
- 3 – To follow someone else is to be merely human (see note above in ch. 1). Don’t boast in men. Boast in Jesus.
- 4 – We are not to act like guides but like a father to new believers, younger believers, and others struggling in the faith. What is the difference between a guide and a father, Biblically speaking?
Don’t talk a good game. Does talking a good game make one a false teacher? Jesus’ warning in Matthew 7:15-16 (about wolves in sheep’s clothing) wasn’t so much about teachers proclaiming false things as much as it was about false teachers making believable claims.
Live in the power and might of the Spirit. God’s kingdom consists in and of power.
- 5 – Why does God have the expectation of believers associating with the world? We are not to associate with believers whose so-called works of faith show them to be worldly and opposing to real works of faith done for the kingdom. What does Paul mean when he says to not associate with these believers? And what are we to do with them?
- 6 – Live like you will judge the world – do not show partiality. Remember in Job 32:21, the young man Elihu prayed that he would not show partiality to any man, nor flatter any man.
When Paul says that the saints will judge the world, he means everything that God created and set before man and commanded man to have dominion over – including angels (Genesis 1:26-28).
- 7 – Christ bought us at a hefty price (His life). Do not become a bondservant of men. At home, in the world, in public service, or anywhere else, do not become bound to the unbiblical, ungodly laws of man. As said before, don’t follow man. Serve Christ, not man. We do not lay down or surrender our followership of Christ at any time, for any one, in any place, or for any purpose.
- 9 – The Biblical ideal for athletes is that they keep their bodies under self-control in all things. This is a spiritual ideal, of course, but moral as well. There’s a Biblical expectation of discipline for the body.
- 10 – Paul makes it clear that Christ was with Israel in the wilderness (Old Testament). He was their escape from temptation but the Israelites rejected Him. Christ is our way of escape from temptation, too. Run to Jesus!
- 12 – A person can confess JESUS IS LORD when the Holy Spirit comes upon him and, with that confession, indwells him. There is not a separate baptism of the Holy Spirit as a means or completion for the salvific experience. Salvation happens at once – in faith believing and in confession redeeming (Romans 10:9-10).
What is the more excellent way Paul mentioned which seems to imply that there is something above, or more than, apostleship? Could it be sonship with the Heavenly Father?
- 13 – The more excellent way is love. God loves us and gave His Son for us (John 3:16). And love brings us to the Father. We become His sons. Note that Paul mentions faith, hope, and love often and together in his letters.
- 14 – Paul gives us a great outline of worship for believers to follow when we get together. I think it applies across the board when it comes to nearly any assembly of believers (worship, Bible study, fellowship, event, etc.):
- A hymn: Sing (hymn, song, chorus, anthem, etc.).
- A lesson: Teach (Bible study or devotion).
- A revelation: Proclaim (preaching, proclamation of Bible truth).
- A tongue: Present (Gospel to unbelievers who may be present).
- An interpretation: Hear (testimony by a believer, then a challenge or application).
- 15 – Nothing good came from the cross until Jesus resurrected from the dead.
- 16 – Watch. Stand firm in the faith. Act like men. Be strong. Do everything in love. These are great words for Christian men and boys to live by.
SECOND CORINTHIANS (57 A.D.)
- 2 – A believer’s forgiveness of another person who has wronged him is a major action in defeating the designs (schemes) of Satan. Don’t ignore evil. Outwit it. Rise above it with the weapon of forgiveness.
- 3 – We are being transformed into the same image and glory of Jesus (from one degree of glory to another, as Paul put it), becoming immortal saints. Don’t miss this: At the moment of conversion, the transformation process begins in a believer’s life, and culminates with the heavenly body becoming the full image and glory of Christ.
Note that this transformation is an immediate and ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life, thus dismantling the argument that the Spirit comes upon someone at a later time (“baptism of the Holy Spirit,” as it is sometimes called). Paul elaborates on the transformation process in the next chapter, and early on in chapter 5.
- 8 – How can we test our brothers so as to find them earnest in the work for Christ and ready to be sent out? Brothers are to be messengers of the Church and loyal to her. So, one test is a believer’s (brother’s) loyalty to the Church, that is, the body of Christ.Ch. 12 – There is a hint of brothers having been tested for their trustworthiness.
- 13 – Paul discusses testing. There are some elements that tell us what testing is all about, gleaned from what he said:
- Inward test: Examine self
- Conclusive test: Know that you are a true believer
- Outward test: Demonstrate your faith
ROMANS (57-58 A.D.)
- 2 – Paul distinguishes between practicing-sin-and-presuming-upon-God’s-kindness, and true-repentance-and-patiently-seeking-God’s-riches.
What does it mean to seek glory? …To do good?
What does it mean to seek self? …To do evil?
- 3 – Paul discusses and clarifies the works of the Law vs. works of faith.
- 4 – Paul continues to discuss faith vs. works. The distinction Paul makes is between works of the Law vs. faith alone (which, as noted in an earlier Pauline letter, faith alone includes works of love).
Also get this: The letter to Christians in Rome was read aloud, probably numerous times. Paul’s (and others) constant discourse on circumcision and uncircumcision was a normal topic of conversation for that culture. I assume no one thought it an embarrassing or shameful subject, and that believers engaged the topics in non-sexual and non-sensual ways. While there is no need for that topic of conversation today, fathers should engage the subject with their sons in a holistic way.
- 5 – What is the meaning of “even over those whose sinning was not like the transgression of Adam who was a type of the one who was to come”? Note that Adam, the first man, had qualities seemingly different from men today. What might be those differences? Similarities?
Jesus reversed the Fall. It’s all about obedience.
- 6 – Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father and the power of the Holy Spirit. Is there a connection for us? Yes, we too are raised to eternal life by the Father, having been baptized into Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit… all glorious!
- 8 – The mind set on the flesh does not submit to God’s law – it cannot. There is a strong reminder that the resurrection included Jesus, the Spirit, and the Father. In other words, God, through the power of the Holy Spirit, raised His Son from being dead. And, of course, all Three were at the resurrection (as they were at the virgin birth).
- 9 – The adoption belongs to the Israelites. Then what belongs to the Gentiles?
- 10 – What is the Gospel? It is the word of faith that we proclaim: That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart the God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth confession is made resulting in being saved.
- 12 – Paul warns to be careful what you think about yourself, your self-will.
The three components of the will of God are:
- That which is good.
- That which is acceptable.
- That which is perfect.
Nonconformity to the world and transforming through mind-renewal are the TWO centerpieces of testing to discern God’s will.
- 13 – Love is the fulfilling of the law. Works of darkness include orgies, drunkenness, sexual immorality and sensuality, quarreling, and jealousy. Don’t gratify the desires of the flesh. Remember ch. 8: The mind set on the flesh cannot submit to God’s law. And love is the fulfilling of that law.
- 15 – Are you strong in your faith (or do you consider yourself strong)? Then bear with and lift up hurting brothers.
- 16 – Paul occasionally, but forcefully, mentions avoiding those who cause division and create trouble, or obstacles, which are contrary to the doctrine that is taught, by extension, by the church. This clearly applies to troublemakers in the church. He mentioned it in I Corinthians 5, that is, to not associate with anyone in the church who bears the name of brother yet is practicing any number of rebellious, sinful activities – not even to eat with them. This seems to imply that approving fellowship with sin-practicing, doctrinally incorrect believers is wrong, and that they should be avoided and disassociated from the church. The root meaning suggests NOT giving any form of approval or tolerance to practicing hypocrites. Of course, such people should be called out, with the goal to restore them to Christian fellowship.
PHILIPPIANS (62-63 A.D.)
- 1 – Although the letter is encouraging the whole church at Philippi, it also encourages individual, new believers to be active for Christ from the first day of their conversion. It dispenses with the idea of “saved then sit” until one is “ready,” but rather encourages “saved and start” your work and walk of faith for Jesus.
- 3 – Young or new believers do well to watch and even imitate mature, wise believers who are those whose lives are a reflection, or image, of Jesus. Paul again warns, as he has in other letters, to avoid false, errant brothers who are known by their works and/or love of the flesh (or worldly ways).
COLOSSIANS (62-63 A.D.)
- 2 – Paul uses the occasion for this letter to again encourage true believers to attain to all the riches, assurance, understanding, and knowledge of God’s mystery – Christ – because there are some (in the church) who would lead you astray.
Our record of debt, that is, record of sin, was held at bay until the death and resurrection of Jesus; that is, He nailed sin to the cross.
What stops the indulgence of the flesh? Not self or man-made regulations, but rather seeking after the things of Jesus. Paul continues this theme into ch. 3.
- 4 – Paul indicates that he had sent a letter to Laodicea and that it, too, should be read to the Colossian believers. The letter is lost.
PHILEMON (62-63 A.D.)
- Appeal to other brothers in love. Never demand, even if it seems “required” by tradition or “taught” by misinterpreted Scripture.
EPHESIANS (62-63 A.D.)
- 1 – The church, that is, the body of Christ, is made up of believers. He is the head. Let’s not forget that believers are created beings (men), made in the image and glory of God, and originally created to have dominion over all that God created. Now, with Christ as the head of that body, God’s purpose is renewed, this time with our will in line with His will through Jesus, His Son. Paul explains this in depth in ch. 2, that is, the two, the first man and the Second Man, united into one new man.
- 3 – The mystery of Christ, that is, the mystery of the Gospel, is that Gentiles (uncircumcised) are fellow heirs, and are included in this one new man, an unthinkable union in Jewish minds, especially in Paul’s day.
- 4 – Just as there is one new man, there are: one body, one Spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.
- 5 – We are to be imitators of God. As God is Three in One (Father, Son, and Spirit), so are we to be ONE, not just with God but bringing every facet of our own personhood into ONENESS, imitating God; in effect, bringing into this oneness our own individual personalities and characteristics (spiritual, emotional, physical, mental, sexual, etc.) under the headship of Jesus Christ, with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, in the sight of God the Father.
The theme of ONENESS continues with mention of a man and a woman being one in the flesh, a very specific and clearly spelled-out Biblical doctrine of marriage between a man and a woman, which makes them one flesh in the sight of God. Marriage, therefore, is exclusively for a man and a woman, and in the sight of God it is truly holy matrimony.
LUKE (63 A.D.)
- 1 – In verses 61-63, people made signs to Zacharias; note that he was mute, not deaf! What’s with the signs?
- 3 – The Bible says of John the Baptizer, “And with many other exhortations he preached to the people” (v. 18). These were exhortations like brood of vipers, wrath to come, ax is laid to the root, thrown into the fire, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor by burning the chaff with fire. Tough words! Note, however, that when the people began to ask what they should do, he toned it down and counseled them like a father. It sounds like he had to get their attention first.
- 6 – Jesus referred to David eating the showbread and giving some to his men (I Samuel 21:1-6). It was not lawful for anyone but the priest to eat the showbread. David declared the holy bread as common, and they ate. This seems to me to be a type and shadow of eating bread (representing the holy body of Christ) in the Lord’s Supper, thus enabling us in our doctrine of priesthood of the believer.
- 8 – According to Jesus (v. 15), nobility and a good heart are inseparable qualities of men who, having heard the Word, keep it and bear fruit. And fruit-bearing is a matter of patience.
In verses 19-21, where is Jesus’ father, Joseph? People knew him and that he was a carpenter. But he’s not mentioned otherwise except at the birth of Jesus. Could it be that he had died by then?
Animals can be demon-possessed (verses 30-33)!
The spirit of a person is the life of a person (verses 54-55). The words that Jesus speaks are spirit and they are life (John 6:63).
- 9 – Are you waiting around for God to do something? In verse 13, Jesus commanded His disciples, “You give them something to eat.”
- 10 – The words, “after this” (v. 1), indicate that the need to proclaim the good news was apparent. People were non-committal or simply ignorant of the Lordship of Christ (ch. 8). Clearly, it was a plentiful harvest (v. 2).
No one and nowhere is safe outside the Gospel. Jesus even condemned His adopted hometown of Capernaum (v. 15).
Beware snake-handlers! Jesus is not talking about poisonous asps in verse 19; He’s talking about Satan and demons and the power of this type of enemy. So don’t celebrate by juggling adders. Celebrate and worship the Lordship of Jesus, and that our names are written in heaven (v. 20).
Note that Jesus said that He saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven (v. 18). And it is that same place, heaven, where the names of believers are now written. There is no room for both evil and good to coexist in the sight of God.
In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus said that the Samaritan would repay the innkeeper when he returns (v. 35). In like manner, Jesus will repay (reward) those who show mercy, that is, believers, when He returns. The merciful shall obtain mercy (Matthew 5:7).
- 11 – Here we go with snakes and scorpions again (verses 11-12)! While these are things over which we have authority, in addition to evil spirits, Jesus is talking about doing good verses doing evil.
Verse 36: Jesus isn’t just number one… He’s the only one. You are either full of light, that is, full of Him, or you are not. You cannot be partially illuminated, spiritually speaking. You cannot compare Jesus to anything in a list of priorities.
While Jesus cast out demons by the finger of God (v. 20, or in reality, just by speaking), the leaders then, like lawyers, didn’t even lift a finger to help people in any way (v. 46).
- 13 – Many people practice “convenient” church. They are false members eating and drinking in fellowship, hiding behind the church rather than the Cross (verses 23-30).
- 14 – In the parable of the great supper (verses 15-24), Jesus rates excuses: small (it only takes a few minutes to see a piece of ground, v. 18); medium (it probably takes a good part of a day to test several teams of stubborn oxen, v. 19); and large (a lifetime, as that’s how long a marriage should last, v. 20). In the parable, those who are hurting and in need didn’t offer an excuse. Those on the highways and hedges didn’t offer excuses. There is no excuse for not following Christ (v. 24).
- 15 – The parable of the lost son (verses 11-32) seems to have many lessons. One of those is: The older son was not looking for his brother’s return like the father was looking for him. He was not even expecting his younger brother’s return. He was more interested in partying with his friends. The father reminded him that he (the younger, prodigal son) is your brother. Look for him, honor him, welcome him, and celebrate his coming home, as we should likewise do for our own brothers, kin or not.
- 16 – What men highly esteem, God despises as an abomination in His sight.
- 18 – In verse 34, the Bible says that the truth was hidden from the disciples about the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus (as of then). A similar incident occurred on the Emmaus Road when two disciples talked to Jesus whom they did not recognize at that time, and just before Jesus’ ascension when He opened the disciples’ understanding of Scripture (Luke 24). Could it also be that God hides truth from the angels, more specifically, from Satan, especially about the character of people (like Job) and the demise of evil beings at the end of time? There’s no Biblical evidence that I’m aware of; I’m just speculating.
- 20 – Marriage is for mortals, it sustains the existence of humanity. There is no marriage for the immortal in heaven because the saints live eternally. They do not need to sustain themselves; Jesus does that. We are equal to the angels and are sons of God (verses 34-36). That begs the question, “Were the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, mortal or immortal, or both at some point (like believers are), or something beyond our comprehension?”
- 21 – When will the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled, or is it already?
- 22 – Christian men, when one of the faithful makes the world glad and agreeable, keep watch. Warning signs include a falling out, betrayal, greed, and cooperation with the world. The faithless one will also act this way in the absence of witnesses, like the church. And there will be a crowd that will follow him. It is their hour and the power of darkness (verses 5, 47-48, 53).
- 23 – Following up the previous observation, note the progression of unfaithful people: from one (Judas), to a few (leaders), to a crowd (mob), to a whole company (v. 1, and others).
Jesus didn’t stir up the crowd (v. 5). He healed, fed, had compassion on them, and forgave their sins. The only ones who got stirred up were the leaders and greedy, faithless men.
When Jesus last cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit My spirit” (v. 46), did He indeed save Himself, as the leaders mockingly said He couldn’t?
Some people didn’t consent to the execution of Jesus. Joseph of Arimathea was one (verses 50-51). He was good and just. Could there have been a small group of non-consenters, including Jesus’ own mother and a few other men and women?
ACTS (64 A.D.)
- 2 – Apparently, even new wine could intoxicate and make one drunk (verses 13-15). It kind of destroys the argument that “new wine” in the Bible was merely grape juice. There was some alcohol content to it. End of discussion.
- 3 – After Christ’s ascension and by the preaching of the Gospel to all people, there is a restoration coming that was spoken about by the prophets in the Old Testament, even since the world began (verses 19-21). Who are these ancient prophets? Are they unknown prophets who proclaimed the glory of God before and as the world was created? Are they prophets known to us in the Old Testament? What is the restoration that’s going to happen?
- 5 – Boldness and obedience will lead to the enforcers of worldly ways to be afraid and less violent (v. 26). This is also seen in Acts 24:24-25.
- 7 – One’s heart is where he is: It’s a matter of the heart. Are you for Christ or against Him? Is your heart set on heaven or do you want to go to hell? In verses 40-43, Stephen, in his last sermon, identified matters of the heart that unbelievers (and rejecters of the Gospel) turn to: idol worship, selfishness, scheming, rebellion, and partying. Mostly, it appears to be idol worship, which begs the question, “What is your god?” or, “Who is your god?” (See Acts 17:29, too.)
- 9 – From verse 39, why did the churches in all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria have peace? Note that Paul was no longer a threat; apparently, he was THE threat, although the Jews and Hellenists were still mean enough that they wanted to kill him.
- 10 – Satan oppresses (v. 38). That’s what he does. He oppresses.
- 14 – Nations (Gentiles), in bygone generations, walked in their own ways only because God allowed them to, not because He led them to or forced them to do so (verses 15-16).
- 15 – The James mentioned in verses 13-22 was the brother of Jesus.
- 16 – From verses 25-34, we note that it was midnight when Paul and Silas were freed from the Philippian jail, the depths of which were dark and unlit. The Philippian jailer had to bring a light so he could see what was going on. If Paul had a vision problem, it apparently didn’t affect his ability to see in the dark since he was able to stop the jailer from committing suicide. And how did Paul and Silas know that no prisoner had escaped through the miraculously opened doors? There was no light there… except Jesus.
- 17 – When was the times of ignorance that God overlooked (v. 30)?
- 18 – The church is full of people who need to hear the Gospel and believe (v. 4). And some of them can be mean and violent (v. 17).
Eighteen months: Can you defend the Gospel for 18 months and be especially outspoken for Jesus that entire length of time… or 18 years, or a lifetime? We need an 18 month spiritual warrior training camp that prepares men and boys in every aspect of life: physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, politically, economically, sexually, honorably, gentlemanly, financially, responsibly, and most of all totally Biblically. This would be a real MAN CAMP!
- 20 – There are dangers within, even within the flock of God, even within the church. Men, learn to identify these dangers and what to do when they are discovered (verses 25-32).
- 24 – People will listen to and engage in talk about faith in Christ mostly because many people think they are Christian since they believe in God, or were raised in church, or do good work, or are good or good enough (in their judgment). But ultimately, they will not want anything to do with righteousness, self-control, and judgment. Why? Because they are afraid of these things (verses 24-25).
- 27 – In verses 42-44, the sea was strong enough to wreck a ship and tear it into pieces, yet some men were able to swim to shore in that turbulence. Clearly, these were a different breed of men compared to “modern” men!
FIRST TIMOTHY (65 A.D.)
- 1 – The Law and the Gospel coexist, each for a purpose: The Law to judge the sinner; the Gospel to save the sinner (verses 9-11; see also Galatians 3:19).
- 2 – The Savior desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the Truth: ALL people (v. 4).
- 3 – Verse 16 reveals the great mystery of Godliness:
- God was manifested in the flesh
- Justified by the Spirit
- Seen by angels
- Preached among the Gentiles. (The mystery of the Gospel is that Gentiles should be fellow heirs of the same body, and partakers of His promises in Christ through the Gospel, Ephesians 3:6.)
- Believed on in the world
- Received up in glory
- 4 – What is exhortation (v. 13)? Verses 13-16 suggest a mentor’s advice to his mentee: Devote yourself to reading, to exhortation, to teaching. Don’t neglect your giftedness. Meditate on these things. Take heed to yourself (or, keep a close watch on yourself).
- 5 – Men, consider young men and boys your brothers or sons in the faith. Boys and young men, consider older guys your fathers in the faith and don’t talk back to them (v. 1).
On ministry to widows: Let the family take care of them (and learn to do so) so that the church is not burdened and can give attention to those widows who have no one else to help them (v. 16).
- 6 – Paul encourages a genteel nature as a Christian man but not a character of weakness. He should fight the good fight of faith. Be a Christian gentleman, but be tough and fierce when necessary (verses 11-12).
Paul concludes his letter to his son in the faith, Timothy, on the same note that he started the letter: Whatever is contrary to sound doctrine always leads to spiritual ruin (1:3-7 and 6:20-21).
TITUS (65 A.D.)
- 1 – An overseer (elder) must hold to the Truth as Biblically taught (v. 9). He must “get it” so that he can pass it on as well as rebuke those who deny the Truth (v. 13). As a matter of Biblical principle, this not only applies to overseers but to all Christian men.
Jewish fables and commandments of men (v.14) include perverse, deviant behavior (verses 15-16). There was also the matter of the stubborn Jewish requirement for all Gentile believers to be circumcised, a commandment of men that Paul disproved.
Verse 16 reads, “They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him…” What kind of works shows that a believer actually denies a true profession of faith in Christ?
- Chapters 2 & 3 – Paul urges young men to be self-controlled and disciplined in body, mind, and spirit. These are the faithful sayings Paul urged Titus to embrace in his living for Christ:
- Be sober.
- Have a good work ethic.
- Teach and learn with integrity and reverence.
- Speak with truth and sincerity.
- Guard yourself against ungodliness and lusts of this world.
- Be sober (drives the point home about not using alcohol).
- Live righteously and in a Godly, manly way.
- Be alert to how God is working around you.
- Speak, exhort, and rebuke with authority.
- Subject yourself to the rule of law.
- Be obedient in good works.
- Don’t speak evil of anyone.
- Live in peace with others.
- Be a gentleman, humble in your relationships with other men.
- Constantly affirm your faithfulness to Christ.
- Maintain good works.
- Avoid stupid and pointless arguments.
- Don’t bear the courage of others’ worldly convictions.
- Defend Truth.
- Have nothing to do with those who cause division.
SECOND TIMOTHY (66 A.D.)
- 1 – For what reason would Timothy have been crying (v. 4)? Likewise, what was it about Timothy that moved Paul?
God has given Christian men a spirit of power and of love and of a sound mind (v. 7).
Paul tells Timothy, as he did Titus, that God saved us not because of what we did but according to what He did (v. 9).
- 3 – Verses 10-15 reveal great qualities of a mentor:
- Exemplify good conduct.
- Be a gentle man.
- Achieve goals.
- Live by faith.
- Be patient.
- Be steady and sure.
- Show how to handle persecution and suffering.
- As Jesus said, “Be wise as serpents and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).
- Equip yourself with the Scriptures so you can do every good work.
- 4 – Evil men and impostors will continually grow worse, and will be recognized by their deceitfulness and tendency to be deceived themselves. But here are the ways to battle this demonic movement:
- Proclaim the Word, and always be ready in an instant to do so.
- Convince people of the Truth.
- Rebuke those who speak against the Truth.
- Carry out your spiritual duty with patience gained from what you’ve learned.
- Be on your guard in all things.
- Bear what the evil ones dish out.
- Keep on with the work of Christ, no matter what.
- Be faithful to complete your call.
66 A.D. – MARK
- 1 – Oppression is a work of Satan carried out by his demonic angels (verses 21- 32, and many more). It seems that demon-possessed people were often encountered in the synagogue. Christian men need to stand against demon-possessed/oppressed people who are in our churches.
- 2 – Was Jesus in His own house when the four men brought their paralyzed friend to Him, tearing up His house’s roof in the process (verses 1, 4)? Perhaps it was the family home. At any rate, He apparently sometimes lived there.
- 3 – In verse 5, Jesus was angered, in church, because of the hardness of people’s hearts. What other times was Jesus angry, and where? It seems like every time He was angry, it was in and regarding church.
Preach the Word. Exercise heavenly authority. Battle demonic forces. These appear to be the call-to-arms for every believer (verses 14-15).
In verses 31-35, where is Joseph, Jesus’ earthly father?
- 5 – Believers are “possessed,” or rather filled, by only one spirit: the Holy Spirit. There are numerous demonic spirits or unclean spirits that can possess, and regularly oppress, unbelievers (verses 1-2, and many more).
Unbound power, unending power, unstoppable power, unhidden power… this is the power of Jesus. In verse 31, Jesus asked, “Who touched Me?” If the clothing of God which clothes the saints is His righteousness, then who dares to touch His clothes, except those who want to be washed in the Blood of Jesus? Any other touch is a profane and ugly attempt to soil His Glory – an utterly vain attempt at that. See also Mark 6:56.
- 7 – What goes into the stomach has to do with Jesus having declared all food clean (v. 19). It has nothing to do with alcohol, drugs, gluttony, or other sinfully consumed vices.
- 8 – No one, no government, no thing can bring about blessings like Jesus does (v. 15). These cannot multiply a molecule (their leaven is powerless) but Jesus can multiply blessings beyond count. Note that the disciples had forgotten about His miracles of multiplication, having to be reminded by Jesus of the count of baskets left over, and even then it was unknown how many loaves were in each basket!
- 9 – Those people and governments who cause children to sin would be better off dead (v. 42). What should we do as Christian men to battle against those who lead children into sin? That, of course, is God’s business. Jesus did mention cutting them off like a bad hand or foot or eye (verses 42-50). Notice that these body parts represent the deeds people do (hand), the places people go (foot), and the things people view (eye). A severed body part will eventually rot away while the living body that remains can be saved.
- 10 – In verse 18, Jesus asked, “Why do you call Me good?” That’s a strange question coming from the Lord. But Jesus’ follow-up statement, that God alone is good, seems to infer that the man should have called or confessed JESUS IS LORD. The man addressed Jesus twice but never as Lord.
The healed blind man’s way was to go the way of Jesus. He had a choice and chose well (v. 52).
- 11 – The fig tree with its fruit sustains physical life. But more is needed than temporary sustenance; the time for that type of tree was over. It was time for the stuff of eternal life, the stuff that only a tree like the Cross could provide. It was time to “Have faith in God,” through Jesus Christ His Son, the Redeemer of the world (verses 12-26).
- 12 – In the parable of the vineyard owner, a pit for the wine press was dug. It is not referenced again (except that to assume, in the parable, it meant that a complete wine-making enterprise was set up). The parables of Jesus are about the kingdom of God, that is, heaven. Does the pit reference hell having been created for the devil and his angels (Matthew 25:41)? Does the pit and wine press prophetically cite Jesus who, in the end, treads the wine press of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God (Revelation 19:15)?
Opinions of men don’t matter. God’s Word matters. Even the heathen and pagans know that Christians will “teach the way of God in truth” (v. 14). Christian men, teach the Truth.
- 13 – Jesus implores believers to pray that the end will not be in the winter (v. 18). We and He might not know when the end will come – only the Heavenly Father knows that – but since Jesus told us to pray that it does not happen in the winter, then perhaps we as Christian men can intercede or influence the timing of the end. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much (James 5:16).
And speaking of the end of time, what is the complete, underlying meaning of the command of Jesus to watch (v. 39)?
- 14 – Conception begins life, of course, and perhaps it also begins one’s spirit. Otherwise, Judas’ spirit would “exist” in some form prior to being born (v. 21). Is the “spark of life,” that is, when life begins, the “spirit of life?” Note that when the spirit departs, one is dead; when the spirit returns, one is alive (Luke 8:55).
The spirit and the flesh are interrelated (v. 38) but also fight against each other (Galatians 5:16-26).
- 16 – Why was Peter singled out separately from the other (10) disciples (v. 7)?
MATTHEW (67 A.D.)
- 1 – Jesus was not married and didn’t have children (v. 17); otherwise, we would have another set of 14 generations from Jesus to whomever. The generational sets ended with Jesus, thus everyone who confesses that He is Lord is in His family. We believers are the heirs and children of Jesus. No physical family member of His (offspring) can compare to that. We are His eternal generation.
- 2 – Herod instigated the search for the king, and counseled with the chief priests and scribes. Later, when he had all boys two years old and younger killed, I wonder if some of these kids were sons of the religious leaders, and if so, did this fuel the beginning of their hatred for Jesus (verse 1-18)?
- 3 – The fulfilling, or the completion, of God’s righteous works in man’s life (all righteousness, v. 15), was fulfilled by Jesus and John the Baptizer. John was the prophet (the single, most influential person for this role); Jesus was the fulfillment (the only begotten Son of God).
- 4 – The fishermen didn’t abandon their occupation; they fished throughout the Gospel accounts. But they did leave the security of their occupation to follow Jesus (verses 18-22).
- 8 – Jesus marveled, not that He was caught off guard but for the sake of the centurion and those around Him, Jesus expressed marvel at this type of faith (v. 10). It was a lesson for all about the love, mercy, compassion, humility, and intimacy of Jesus.
- 9 – In verses 3-4, Jesus draws a connection between men’s hearts and their thoughts (also 12:34). They are inseparable.
- 10 – Judas was listed as an apostle (v. 4).
- 17 – To what mountain was Jesus referring in verse 20? (Also in 21:21).
Faith as a mustard seed obviously compares to smallness, but also perhaps to the capability to become big and strong in spite of being insignificant and impossibly fit.
- 18 – Offenses, or temptations, must come (v. 7). Was this also a condition in Adam’s and Eve’s lives?
- 19 – In 18:2-14, Jesus had just taught about coming to Him as a child, as well as “child-care,” and now the disciples tried to disallow people from bringing their kids to Jesus (verses 13-15). They didn’t get the first lesson in ministry to children and families!
- 20 – Verse 13 (and 14) speaks of the Old Covenant between God and Israel: Did you not agree (or covenant) with the Master?
- 21 – Jesus sat upon and tread upon the clothes that cover people. These represent our righteousness, the stuff that we wrap around ourselves that we think makes us good, or at least good enough (verses 6-8). His righteousness is above all, over all, and in all who would shed their self-righteousness and follow Him, only then to be wrapped in His righteousness.
- 25 – “To each according to his own ability” (v. 15) – What does this mean?
Are those who go to hell like the demons (fallen angels) since those who resurrect to eternal life will be like the angels of God in heaven (22:30)? I think so since hell was prepared for the devil and his angels (v. 41).
- 26 – Peter earned a bad reputation (bad rap, v. 35), but all the disciples said the same thing and then fled when things got tough (v. 56).
HEBREWS (67 A.D.)
- 1 – The redundant question in verse 5, “To which of the angels did He ever say: You are My Son, today I have begotten you?” calls for an answer: none. Does this mean that the sons of God in Genesis 6 were not angels, as some have postulated? I think that answer is yes, they were not angels. The sons of God, then, must be ‘somebodies’ else, perhaps another race of man who was a fallen human as well. Besides, angels are spirits (verses 7 & 14) created by God to serve Him, not to procreate and fill the earth.
Verse 9 tells what is the opposite of righteousness: lawlessness, or wickedness.
- 4 – In verses 1-13, the words rest and day are used with reference to rest on the seventh day, rest on a certain day, and rest today. Throughout the chapter, the emphasis is on God’s rest, into which pre-Fall image-bearers of God must have entered (or enjoyed, having been created into it). He declared this rest His and holy from the time He finished the works of creation, which was completed from the foundation of the world (v. 3), whenever that was. The Fall, of course, cast and kept the disobedient out of that rest.
With restoration to God through the Blood of Jesus, the obedient, that is, believers, enter His rest which the disobedient were and are not allowed to enter. This rest is eternal. Is this the same rest declared by God and enjoyed by Him and pre-Fall image-bearers on the seventh day? If so, how can this rest be a 24 hour period of time (a day) rather than a rest that was, is, and will be? It reminds me of God naming Himself “I AM” (Exodus 3:14).
When God walked in the cool of the day calling for Adam (Genesis 3:8), was this particular day – and there are certain, designated days according to Hebrews 4:7 – part of the seventh day, the day of rest? If the six days of creation were 24 hour periods of time, would not the seventh day, the day of rest, be a 24 hour period of time, too?
After the seventh day of rest (if it was a fixed period of time), what did God do during the second set of six days leading up to resting again on the second seventh day of rest (if He rested that second time); and what did He do on the third set of six days, resting again on the third seventh day of rest (if He rested again that third time), and so on up until today? How many rests does God have or need (He needs none yet He declares one)? How many designated days of rest does He promise those who obey Him (one)? Which one do we believers enter – the first, second, hundredth, millionth… which one? Perhaps there’s only one, the only day of rest?
Is creation an instant period of time created from the foundation of the world, six 24 hour days, or an exponential period of time? Is God’s rest instant, literally 24 hours, exponential, or eternal?
These questions do not represent my views on creation, the length of a day, God’s rest, or heaven. They do represent my ignorance of the Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic, and any other language of the original manuscripts. I’m being serious here as I seek the eternal ambition of understanding the context of the rest I have entered, and not following the example of the disobedient away from God’s rest (v. 11).
- 5 – Learning discernment means distinguishing between good and evil (v. 14). Fast backward to Deuteronomy 1:39 where the children of the children of Israel had no knowledge of good and evil during the 40 years of the wilderness wandering. As a result, the kids as grown-ups were allowed to enter the Promised Land. Is this a holy metaphor for children who are not “of the age of accountability,” thus being allowed to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Discernment, maturity, and practicing good, or evil, seems to be a consideration for those who have no knowledge of good and evil. Let me be clear: This does not downplay, preclude, nor supplant the Cross of Christ and the Gospel. The death (according to the Scriptures), burial, and resurrection (according to the Scriptures, in I Corinthians 15:4) is the Good News of Jesus Christ, and must be believed, and He confessed as Lord, for the receiving of forgiveness of sin and eternal life. But as for children and the age of accountability (or, those not having the knowledge of good and evil), that is something our merciful and loving Savior massages with His own nail-pierced hands. It is not something we can relegate to the whims of predestinarian ideology or liberal interpretation.
- 7 – The whole of this chapter talks about “according to the order of Melchizedek.” This priest had “neither beginning of days nor of life, but made like the Son of God” (v. 3). Could Melchizedek be one of the sons of God (Genesis 6), and the only one who remained faithful to God during the fall of all humankind? If so, where does that place him during the Flood? Deep stuff, and since it is not mentioned in the Bible, it is merely dark matter. I just had to bring it up.
- 12 – God disciplines us so that we can, or will, be holy, or may be partakers of His holiness (v. 10). Without holiness, no one will see the Lord (v. 14).
- 13 – The sacrifices of praise, that is, “the fruit of our lips,” (v. 15) is the confession JESUS IS LORD. This acknowledges, praises, and glorifies His name; and His name represents the “all” of Him.
I PETER (67-68 A.D.)
- 1 – The elect (v. 2) are believers then and now whom God knew and knows, of whom the Holy Spirit sanctified and sanctifies, and for whom Jesus shed His blood and resurrected. The Three-in-One is not bound by time in the work of salvation.
Genuine belief in Jesus obtains the outcome of faith, the salvation of our souls (verses 6-9).
God judges impartially (v. 17). This reminds me of Elihu’s desire to speak impartially to Job (Job 32:21). Is impartiality a feature of being holy like God is holy (v. 16)? Yes.
If before the foundation of the world refers to before creation, as I believe it does, then Jesus, as One of the Three-in-One, had perfect, eternal knowledge of His salvific destiny:
- One was slain from the foundation of the world as the crucified Alpha (Revelation 13:8).
- One is made known to us as the “I AM” in the “and the” of His Lordship (Alpha and the Omega, (Revelation 22:13).
- One was, is, and forever will be glorified as the Eternal King and Bright and Morning Star Omega (Revelation 22:16).
In the spiritual realm then, all knowledge is eternal of things having occurred, occurring, and yet to occur, as if simultaneously known in the mind of this perfect knowledge.
At the creation of physical stuff, the matter that made up the human body of Jesus was spoken into existence as we know it. It was His way to come to us as one of us, and coming to us having divine knowledge of all things, because He is God. Think of it as at the moment of Holy conception, the scattered particles of Christ’s divine humanity merged (actually, had been merging) in the knowledge of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, and that holy knowing then becoming known to us as only we could know Him. Truly, He was before creation, of creation, and the new creation.
Were my particles also floating around in the universe since the day of creation, on a divine destiny to come together as a unique human being, a being whom God knew before creation (that is, before the foundations of the world) because He created my parts and knew exactly how they were going to move through His time and His space to become me and then become His again, whole, through a volition of my faith in Jesus (see Psalm 139)? And if so, and I think so, did this foreknowledge of the Three-in-One “move” them to prepare a place for believers like me to reside with them forever? Is this predestination of the elect and adopted sons of God – the spiritual knowing before the physical materializing? Is this perfect, eternal knowledge of what those parts and particles of all people become and the way the fully integrated ones choose to go? And subsequently having this divine knowledge from before creation, does Three-in-One create and direct each particle in the way of Their knowledge, which is perfect and cannot change (Psalm 33;1; Isaiah 46:10; Malachi 3:6; Philippians 1:6)? Have Three-in-One established the path of direction for each particle (person), whether or not coming to Him or going away from Him, direction which in Their knowing is perfect, though in our knowing it is for Them or against Them (positive or negative)?
- 2 – Unbelievers are destined to stumble because of their disobedience to the Word, not because God destined or destines them to stumble (v. 8).
Believers are called to be an example of suffering (v. 21).
- 4 – God’s judgment begins with His house, that is, believers, and we are scarcely saved (verses 17-18). If believers “barely make it in,” then unbelievers will completely and utterly be cast out. There is no middle ground in this. But any unbeliever can believe, yet Three-in-One knows who they were and are and will be.
- 5 – The crown of God’s glory does not fade (v. 10). Men (believing men) are the glory of God. We were created in His image to not fade away (I Corinthians 11:7). Because God’s glory never fades nor weakens, His glory is eternal (was, is, will be). He placed His glory in His dearest creation, men, to bear His glory into eternity to come; led by the Man of men Himself, Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son. God does not give His glory to another (Isaiah 42:8) and therefore His glory was borne into His likeness. His glory was not created, it was and is carried by those whom He knew and who knows loves, worships, and adores Him. This is wildly fantastic stuff.
II PETER (68 A.D.)
- 1 – Peter cites a progression of discipleship in verses 5-7 that begins with faith, followed by virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, Godliness, brotherly kindness, and finally love. While all of these are disciplines to be learned and practiced simultaneously, the believer would do well to intentionally learn each one in an orderly discipline as he grows in Christ.
Peter directly infers that these things are abundant, useful, fruitful, incorruptible, truths that pertain to life and Godliness (verses 3-13).
- 2 – We have among us today false teacher (v. 1) who sinfully covet to exploit people for selfish purposes.
Angels are capable of sinning against God, which is simply disobeying Him (v. 4); and, of course, they will be punished, too, as some have been already.
In verses 10-12, these false teachers and sinful indulgers speak evil of things they do not understand and will utterly perish in their own corruption. These people are among us practicing their acts in the open (v. 13). These are the type of people that are:
- Full of adultery (v. 14).
- Talking in evil, deceitful ways yet pompous and empty (verses 17-18).
- Lusting after fleshly things, as in homosexual, sexually perverted (v.18).
- Practicing lewdness, that is, in the sense of filthiness (v. 18).
- Lying about liberty while enslaving the innocent (v. 19).
- 3 – Peter states that God is not willing that any (person) should perish but that all should come to repentance (v. 9). Does His will and His knowledge conflict or complement?
How long is the day of God (v. 12)? Is it the same as forever (v. 18), which is also translated in other versions as the day of eternity?
JUDE (68 A.D.)
- 3 – Salvation is common. It is for all, but clearly not received by all.
- 4 – What does the Bible mean when speaking of men who were long ago marked (or appointed) for the purpose of turning the grace of God into lewdness? Are some men, indeed, “positioned” by God to do this, or are they doing this because of their position, the position of which God declares evil by its very nature, as well as all who embrace that position? (The same can be said of angels in the next few verses.)
What is lewdness?
- Verses 6-7 – Angels have a proper domain, much like humans have a proper domain (earth, or our world as we know it). Some angels left their own abode. The actions of these angels are compared to the Sodomites’ and Gomorrahites’ sexual immorality and pursuit of strange flesh. Did these angels pervert their own unique nature, in which God created them, by pursuing strange spirits? If so, how did they do this? They are spirits (Hebrews 1:7). Are spirits subject to engaging in immoral activity that is unique to their realm (acts of which are unknown or not understood by humans), and which would be known and judged by God to be immoral in their world? Can the angels have relationships with each other that can be perverted?
I believe that spirits cannot have sexual relations with humans, with the exception of the Holy Spirit by virtue of coming upon Mary, the mother of Jesus, and causing her to be pregnant with God’s Son, but this is hardly a sexual experience; and in fact, it is not at all a sensual one. It is a unique occurrence. No other spirit of any nature has ever done this nor can claim to have ever done this. If so, it would make the virgin birth of Jesus less than unique. Thus, angels having relations with humans, as some contend took place in Genesis, cannot have happened. (And if it did happen, what would prevent angels from still doing this today?). On the other hand, the Holy Spirit is not an angel or your regular spirit.
Perhaps one of the ways bad angels pervert themselves is by seeking after strange flesh, that is, possessing a human, thus contending with the Holy Spirit in doing so. While I believe that is true, I see no sexual reasoning in this. But do not some humans (bad people) seek after the strange flesh of spiritual wickedness? Yes.
- 9 – Michael the archangel contended with Satan, the angel formerly known as Lucifer, over the body of Moses. This was one of many spiritual battles that took place on planet earth of which we are certain. But even Michael, perhaps the most powerful spirit next to the Trinitarian nature of God, did not speak evil of one of the order of dignitaries (angels). Michael understood. He knew how to handle pure evil; but as Jude observed, these evil men (v. 4) speak evil of everything, to their own destruction. They are “flirting with disaster.”
- Verses 12-13 – How do we recognize those who have sneaked in among us to turn God’s grace into lewdness? Jude gives us some strong hints:
- They are spots in our love feasts. First, what is the believers’ love feast? Second, in whatever feasts these are, these brute beasts will serve only themselves.
- They are clouds without water. As big and fluffy and magnificent, and beautiful, as they appear, they produce nothing. There is no spiritual hydrological cycle. These brute beasts do not invest in others with the intent of others being discipled to come full circle and spiritually investing in others.
- These brute beasts are fruitless trees, especially when you’d think that their fruit should be abundant. It’s all about them.
- They are raging waves of the sea. They churn up their own shame. With violence and chaos, these brute beasts rage and grumble and complain (v. 16). What is the nature of their shame? Lewdness perhaps? Self-aggrandizement?
- They are wandering stars to be eventually cast into eternal darkness. But what does a wandering star do? It gives off a spectacular “tail” that soon fades away and is easily blotted out by light.
Jude says that these brute beasts pervert God’s grace in three ways (v. 11): They act out of unholy character (Cain), they dash headlong to speak deceitfully for their own gain (Balaam), and they plunge headlong into rebelling against the Lordship of Jesus (Korah). These give us plenty of warning signs for knowing who these evil ones really are.
- 15 – If there are ungodly sinners, are there not then Godly sinners? Yes, those sinners saved by the grace of God, the grace that evil ones, brute beasts, desire to turn into lewdness.
- Verses 16-22 – The ungodly ones are those whose evil deeds are fleshly, self-centered, and worldly-focused. Believers are to keep themselves in the love of God, not in the love of worldly, fleshly contaminants.
85 A.D. – John
- 1 – Everything that exists was filtered through the Word of God: Jesus (verses 3 & 10).
Life was not in the molecular makeup of the universe. It was in Jesus (v. 4).
The Light of Jesus cannot be deflected from shining to each and every man. Light cannot be imparted selectively. It is for every man, although not everyone will want it shone upon themselves, nor much less receive it (verses 9+).
- 2 – Where was Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus (verses 1 & 12)? Since Jesus was also invited to the wedding, does this infer that He was now the patriarch of the home because Joseph was gone (having died)?
Jesus, the Second Adam, was the best of human men, the ultimate begotten Man, God’s best given after the first Adam failed (v. 10).
- 3 – Believers are born of the Holy Spirit (v. 8). We do not know where our spirit comes from nor do we fully understand where our spirit goes (no man has seen heaven, and cannot explain it). Because man has the capacity to begin life (and are so created and sanctioned by God to do so), might we also have the capacity to begin the spirit at the time of life, thus every man who is born of the flesh is born into sin?
- 4 – Why did not Jesus baptize but rather left it up to His disciples to do so (v. 2)?
How did the Samaritan woman know that Jesus was a Jew (v. 9)? Speech? Dialect? Attire? Behavior?
- 5 – To call God “Father” made Jesus equal with God (v. 18). Think of the implications this had between Jesus and His earthly father, Joseph. A son is the equal of his father; or, a man is the equal of the father-figure in his life. It is the duty of men to make boys our equal. How shall we be a father to boys on behalf of the Heavenly Father as He is Father to us? Points for fathers to consider, from verses 19-23:
- Boys do nothing of themselves – they do what their fathers do.
- Fathers love their sons and show them how to be men.
- Fathers show sons the meaning of life (eternal life).
- Fathers do not judge, but they teach their sons to discern and to apply the Scriptures fearlessly. Oswald Chambers said, “God never gives us discernment in order that we may criticize, but that we may intercede… to be keen in sensing the Scriptures which bring the truth straight home and to apply them fearlessly.”
- The honor of the father is the honor of the son.
In verses 39, and 46-47, we find Jesus affirming (of course) that which Paul wrote in I Corinthians 15:3-4, that is, that Jesus died for our sins, according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, and that He rose from the dead, according to the Scriptures.
- 6 – Where else did the Jews want to make someone king instead of just believing and obeying God (verses 15 & 29)? For that answer, see the story of the choosing of King Saul in the Old Testament.
Was Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, alive at this time since the people said they knew him (v. 42)? Was this a present knowledge or a memorial statement of a deceased Joseph? And were the Jews talking about Joseph in 8:19 & 27, and now didn’t know where he was, dead or alive?
Whoever believes in Jesus has eternal life and abides in His Word. Period (verse 47; 8:31).
- 8 – Who did Satan murder in the beginning (v. 44)?
- 9 – The blind man’s parents “threw him under the bus…” or what!
- 10 – The Jews lied. They wanted to kill Jesus because they didn’t like Him doing the good He did because it flew in the face of the Law. Now, in verses 31-33, they have a new excuse: He said He was God and for them that’s blasphemy worthy of death!
Verses 34-36 make reference to Gods and sons of gods (or, sons of God?). Who are the sons of God and daughters of men (Genesis 6:1-7)? Does Jesus provide a clue here in verses 34-36?
- 11 – Even the worst things that happen to believers can glorify God (v. 4).
Perhaps the greatest, strongest statement of faith found in the Scriptures was uttered by Martha in v. 27: “Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world.” Compare others, like the Ethiopian eunuch and the centurion at the foot of the Cross.
It is the nature of men to be more concerned about their status than their nation (v. 48; and 12:43). So we should be unnatural men by virtue of the supernatural way of the Savior.
- 12 – Not only were the Jews plotting to kill Jesus, notice that they had Lazarus in their sights, too, because he drew men to Jesus (verses 10-11). Lazarus single-handedly threatened the Jewish leaders, who were liberals of their day, and their positions in the nation and how they wanted the nation to lean. Lazarus is a great example for Christian men who need to be at the forefront of reducing, reversing, and totally undoing the unchristian liberal agenda in America and in the world.
- 14 – Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would cause (or remind) the disciples of everything He said to them (that is, everything He taught them, v. 26). Therefore, we have accurate accounts of the work of Christ because the Holy Spirit brought to the minds of disciples and apostles the very words and actions of Jesus.
- 16 – What does it mean: They will put you out of the synagogue, and he offers God service (verses 1-3)?
Believers have direct access to God, in the name of Jesus (or, through Jesus, v. 23).
- 17 – Twice in this chapter, Jesus mentions being with God the Father in pre-creation, in verses 5 and 24.
- 19 – From the personal encounter Pilate had with Jesus, what was it about Jesus that caused Pilate to exclaim, unwittingly albeit sarcastically, “Behold the Man!” (v. 5)?
Three Marys were near the Cross: Mary the mother of Jesus, her sister Mary (!), and Mary Magdalene (v. 25).
Presumably, John took Jesus’ mother, Mary, to his home to care for her after Jesus died (v. 27). Does this indicate that Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus, had died by now, and thus was not around to care for her himself?
Do we fully comprehend what it takes to break the leg bones of a man (v. 32)?
- 20 – A couple of things in verses 1-8:
- The falsehood that Jesus’ followers secretly took His body is merely that: It is extremely unlikely any of them would have defiled themselves that way, especially on the Sabbath, and a high Sabbath at that, that is, the holy day of the Passover; and this was probably the very reason that John, being the disciple whom Jesus loved, did not enter the tomb. Peter, however, didn’t hesitate to go in as he had nothing to lose by now (study the Law about contact or nearness to dead bodies).
- About the Shroud of Turin: another falsehood. The cloth that covered Jesus’ face lay separate from the linen that wrapped His body. I think that the Scripture here was intended to counter any future attempt to prove the death and resurrection of Jesus outside of the true testimony of the Cross and empty grave.
LETTERS OF JOHN (90-95 A.D.)
- I John, Ch. 1 – Jesus is from the beginning (v. 1). Does this mean the beginning of time or the beginning of His introduction by John the Baptizer, or what?
- I John, Ch. 2 – Jesus is the propitiation for our sins (v. 2), and not just ours, but for the sins of the whole world. That means everyone. Apparently, there is no divine choosing or selecting (predestination?). God’s forgiveness is for everyone.
Verses 12-14 give another Biblical outline for a lesson in fatherhood. If we as Christian men are to be like God, that is, Christ-like, then we have this to follow:
- Know Christ. Fathers, confess Him as Lord. Learn everything you can about Jesus. That means living in and by the Eternal Word, Jesus.
- Overcome Satan. Young men, live for Jesus, not like the devil. Be strong. That means living in and by the Eternal Word, Jesus.
- Be intimate with your dad. Sons, adore and admire fatherhood, even if your dad is dead or deadbeat. Your Christian father or father-figure, or at least the knowledge of Biblical fatherhood, can help you overcome the wicked one. Dads, be aware of your Godly responsibility to your son.
Verses 15-17 appear to elaborate more on Godly manhood, both fatherhood and sonship.
Verses 18-19 tell that many antichrists have gone out from “us.” Are these the “disciples” who turned back, no more to follow Jesus (John 6:66)? Whoever they are, they have been plainly known (manifest, v. 19). How do we recognize them?
- I John, Ch. 3 – When Jesus comes again and believers see Him as He is, we will be like Him. What is Jesus like now, post-resurrection and post-ascension? What will He be like at His next coming.
Jesus not only forgives our sin (and has already) but He also takes it away (v. 2). How does He take it away?
Satan sinned from the beginning (v. 5). Was that before creation? Jesus must – and has – destroyed the works of Satan. He’s the only One who can (or did). What were and are the works of Satan? How much does Satan even know about his ultimate demise?
Satan has children (v. 10)? Who is a son of Satan? Cain is the example (v. 12). He is a murderer, that is, he lacks love for life. The son of Satan has works of evil and lacks love for life.
- I John, Ch. 4 – The test for an antichrist (verses 1-3):
- He denies that Jesus is God.
- He denies that Jesus is from God.
- He denies that Jesus came in the flesh.
An antichrist cannot know God at all under these denials. Those who deny are deceivers (II John 7). They are ungodly and worldly. These include “religious” people like Jews, Muslims, theists, etc.
Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God (v. 15). The confessional statement is “Jesus is Lord.” This equates to confessing that Jesus is born of God (I John 5:1).
- I John, Ch. 5 – How to overcome the world: Believe that Jesus is the Son of God (v. 5).
- II John – Do not compromise Biblical doctrine (verses 10-11). Be spiritually pure. Have nothing to do with false and opposing doctrines (but see I Corinthians 5:8-13).
- III John – The greatest joy a man has is in knowing that his children walk in the truth (v. 4). These include his own children and his children-in-the-faith.
REVELATION (95 A.D.)
- 1 – How long is shortly (v. 1)? Does that mean it will happen soon or will happen quickly?
Does reading Revelation out loud bring blessing to only the orator or must a hearer be present (v. 3)? Perhaps to claim this blessing, we (believers) should read Revelation to each other AND commit to keep that which is written in it.
What does it mean to have pierced Jesus (v. 7)? That obviously doesn’t just mean the soldiers who crucified Him. Who, then, are those who pierced Him, and is the piercing spiritual or physical?
What does the “sound” of the Word, the voice of Jesus, sound like (v. 15)? That is, what is the sound of many waters?
- Chapters 2 & 3 – The Manly Response to the Seven Letters of the Asian Churches:
- The Ephesus Letter: Men, lead your church to repent of walking away from her first love, that of loving Christ. He knows your works and how well you have done, but works do not mean that you love Him. Return to loving Him (2:1-7).
- The Smyrna Letter: Men, lead your church to not fear the works of Satan. Model how to endure suffering, testing, and tribulation with your faith still intact, and with a conquering and overcoming spirit. You never know… (2:8-11).
- The Pergamos Letter: Men, lead your church to repent of following and falling for false doctrine. Return your church to the Truth. Hate evil. Jesus hated it (2:12-17).
- The Thyatira Letter: Men, lead your church to turn away from sexual immorality. There are some who do not know the depth of the depravity Satan has unleashed on the world. Protect them (2:18-29).
- The Sardis Letter: Men, wake up! Strengthen the things which are on the verge of dying: purity and honor (3:1-6).
- The Philadelphia Letter: Men, you have an open door for ministry. Only God can close it. No one and nothing else can do so. Go through it. Keep the Word. Do not deny the name of Jesus. Others will learn the hard way that I love you. Just hang in there. Do not lose hope (3:7-13)!
- The Laodicea Letter: Men, lead your church to repent of her puffed up, boastful ways. Get on fire for Jesus before it’s too late. Listen to Him. Walk through the open door and meet with Him. Eat with Him. This is more valuable than gold, more appealing than fine garments, and more healing than the best medicine. Lead your church to be rich in His mercy, clothed in His righteousness, and healed by the washing away of sin by the Blood of Jesus. Oswald Chambers said, “Beware of posing as a profound person; God became a baby.”
- 4 – Note that all things exist and were created (v. 11). However, the tense here is that all things existed. Has time ended by now? Are things in a suspended time? Has creation and existence of things come to an end or are they in the process of coming to an end at this point in Revelation, or is the timeline not as we would think?
- 5 – Prayers of the saints do not vanish or go unheeded. They are collected and kept in at least 28 golden bowls which are presented before Jesus when He opens the un-openable scroll at the end of days (v. 8).
- 6 – Wild animals on the earth will take the lives of many people at the end of days (v. 8).
- 7 – Saints in heaven are innumerable (v. 9). They come out of the great tribulation (v. 14). When does this tribulation occur?
- 9 – Those who are sealed, Christians, are not harmed during the events (or at least during some of the events) at the end of days (v. 4).
Time is apparently still ongoing when the end of days is drawn to a close. Note that there is an exact time for end of days’ events, known only by God for He is the one who prepared and will release the four angels who will kill a third of mankind (v. 15).
- 10 – When the seventh trumpet sounds (see 11:15), then the mystery of God will be fulfilled (v. 7). Is this the final end of days? What is the mystery of God?
The mystery of God is that the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, of the same body, and partakers of His promise in Christ through the Gospel (Ephesians 3:6). Paul elaborates on this mystery in Romans 10:24-25, specifically: “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”. Other Scriptures mention this mystery:
- Mark 4:11
- Romans 16:2
- I Corinthians 15:51
- Ephesians 1:9; 3:1-13; 5: 32; 6:19
- Colossians 1:26-27; 2:2; 4:3
- I Timothy 3:9, 16
- 12 – If this birth is Jesus, and the woman is Mary, where is Joseph (the earthly father of Jesus) in this story (verses 1-6, 13-17)? Is the earth (v. 16) a reference to the earthly fatherhood of Joseph over his Son, Jesus, perhaps being the only man who was man enough (and the only man equipped by God) to protect the Christ-fetus/Christ-baby/Christ-child? (At least until John was charged by Jesus from the cross to take care of Mary – after all, where was Joseph then?)
- 13 – That which has been set in motion from the beginning, that is, from the foundation of the world, cannot be changed, except by God (verses 8-10).
- 14 – About those 144,000… Could Melchizedek be of this order (v. 4)?
- 18 – Note throughout the judgment on the great city Babylon that it is said that the devastating downfall will occur in a single hour (verses 10, 17, 19). Is there still the telling of time at this point? The great city Babylon deceives everyone by sorcery, that is, somehow by use of drugs (v. 23).
- 21 – Men, note the seven types of evils that God calls out (closely related to 22:15):
- abominable ones
- sexually immoral ones
- drug users/abusers/dealers (sorcerers)
A cubit is the measurement system used by angels. One cubit was measured from the tip of the middle finger to the end of the elbow. What significance is there in this, from an angel’s perspective (v. 17)?
- 22 – Just as in the beginning God created all things (Genesis 1:1), Jesus’ grace is to all (v. 21).