Right before execution, Peter warns against false teachers | 2 Peter commentary

Peter constructed his second letter around 67-69 A.D., just before his execution. Peter gives stern warnings about false teachers in the church. Peter encourages believers also that good qualities will help believers avoid false teachings. He writes to them that have obtained precious faith through the righteousness of God and our savior, Jesus Christ.

Peter greets the readers, before talking about the Lord’s divine power given to us all things pertaining unto life and godliness. God has called us to glory and virtue. No additional knowledge or wisdom is needed to complete the sufficient Word of God, especially through salvation in Christ. Being partakers of the divine nature, believers have escaped the corruption of the world through lust. Virtue and knowledge shall also be added to believers’ faith. Therefore, Peter hopes that the calling and election of each believer should be sure, as so to never fall.

Next, Peter writes about the prophecy of Scripture, where he contrasts worldly ideas with God’s Word. God’s messages are free from error; His Word is true and reliable. Writers in the Bible did not write from their own interpretation, ideas, etc. – but it came from the Holy Ghost. Then, Peter talks about false teachers in the church. Teachers and leaders in the church and began to introduce heresies among God’s people. Through covetousness, false teachers commercialize the gospel. They also tell fake stories and other experiences to try to gain extra money from believers.

Peter explains that false teachers have destruction awaiting them. False teachers are described as natural, brute beasts that speak evil of the things they do not understand, and shall perish in corruption. They also receive the reward of unrighteousness and are blemishes. False teachers have eyes full of adultery, cannot cease from sin, who beguile unstable souls, who exercise covetousness, and are cursed children. False teachers, Peter explains, are willingly ignorant. Soon, the Lord will come back in the Day of Judgment, and false teachers will be destroyed by fire.

Peter writes next that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years is one day. In addition, that the Lord will keep His promise, so that no one should perish, but instead come to repentance. “The Day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” – to which the Heavens pass away, the elements will melt, and the earth and its things will burn up. Peter encourages believers to live holy until that day, and concludes the letter by warning them to be careful and grow in grace.

As much as Peter and Paul disliked heresy, it seems that Peter was just as intent on getting them to stop just as Paul did. What is troubling is that even today, we are still dealing with heresies and other false teachers. Nothing has changed, because people have a common craving and that is money. Where there is a craving for money, there is recklessness in decision-making that leads to these heresies, for example.

People naturally create their own “bible” or “truth” that people are so drawn to, because they have a hunger or need for money and know they can make it if they align with the desires of men instead of the desires of God. It is a common bait-and-switch situation. But, what needs to happen, whether people like it or not, is that Biblical truth needs to be ministered on a truthful, Spirit-led level – so that people can be properly furnished with the Word of God, instead of a false truth that this world system creates. People are sucked into the teaching that they miss important details. These apostles were intent on straightening men back to the truth and making sure they focus on the truth of the Word.

Lessons from Peter and other notes

What he means by “cunningly devised fables” is that he hasn’t been giving them some kind of theory from his own imagination, but that, he himself had an experience of God’s Power through Jesus’ transfiguration, by being an eyewitness of His Majesty.

Precious faith: Peter refers to the faith as “precious” in verse one, which seems to be the thought that this is precious because it’s of great value, for a great price was given that this faith might be ours. This priceless gift comes from the “righteousness” of our God and through His Son, Jesus Christ, who gave His Life – in that, we might have this treasure.

Power: The word “power” used in 1:3 is referring to “divine power” – which probably means some form of glory of the divine that is worth of note. He has given all of us this power of Divine Nature, to which, He does so for life and godliness – for He has called us to glory and virtue. He gives for us great and precious promises – we are partakers of the divine nature and we have escaped the corruption that is in the world of lust. We have everything we need to live lives of holiness in a world that is so corrupt of uncontrolled desires, to which, we must be keeping with the life that God has given us, for His Promises are the assurance of Him helping us!

Peter’s list of Christian virtues that he believes Christ taught in his parables and other messages:

  • Diligence: People need to apply determination and effort in their lives, especially in faith, for it will produce goodness.
  • Virtue: This refers to moral excellency, for virtue should be involved in how we minister. The development of good character.
  • Knowledge: We should have knowledge of God’s Will, especially in what we do for Him.
  • Temperance: We should have a form of self-control, and should be able to keep ourselves cool, especially as we minister to another. It’s important to keep ourselves sober, so that we don’t minister negativity from our heart.
  • Patience: There are many difficulties and exercises His People must endure, and should strive them in patience, so that they are not easily discouraged.
  • Godliness: Our internal exercise of the Fruit of the Spirit, expressed in everything that we do.
  • Kindness: Being kind to one another is a great way to be Christlike, just as love can be (see charity). Kindness involves doing nice things for others with delight and for their benefit.
  • Charity: We should be showing love to one another by acknowledging them as beloved by Christ, and making them feel connected in unity through kindness.

The marks of a false teacher:

  • They have no power to hold the flesh in check concerning the untruths they proclaim. (They proclaim things that are contrary to what Jesus taught, or minister in hypocrisy)
  • They secretly and often live in lust, uncleanness, and make excuses for their ungodly behavior. Or they attach God’s name with their evil. People like this seem to always find a way to involve God as a “helper” for influence by using His name to gain. It’s similar to people who commit violence in the name of God, as if God ordained such violence, even though He never does.
  • They despise authority and will not be subject to anyone (Law, government, mate, employer, etc.). These kind of people tend to be very prideful, and seems like they never learn from anyone else but themselves (and wallow in their folly – dung).
  • They are presumptuous. They are self-willed and determined to have their own way (even if against God), so they can gain a higher rank (and pride).

Strange sayings from Peter:

Natural brute beasts: Imitating wild animals that are void of any reason and following their own depraved lustful instincts. Not possessing intelligence and give way to their vicious appetites. Thus, Peter warns and reminds us “total” destruction awaits them.

Receive the reward of unrighteousness: They that count it pleasure to riot in the day time – spots they are and blemishes, who sport themselves with their own deceivings. (For the Lord is coming for a Church that doesn’t have a spot nor blemish.) These teachers of error mingle among the saints with their “spots” and “blemishes” marring and disturbing the fellowship of the Children of God.

Loved the wages of unrighteousness: Balaam, the son of Bosor, loved the wages of unrighteousness, but was rebuked for his iniquity. He forsook the right way and went astray, as many have in the world. They found pleasure to destroy God’s People morally and spiritually, because they desired personal gain (power and wealth, most likely).

Willingly Ignorant: Many people will become willingly ignorant for their own protection. They purposely would act dumb or do things contrary to what’s right, so a certain desire or reaping could be attained. Some people will hear truth, but not adhere to it, because they don’t want to follow it, they want to be rebellious, or they don’t think it’s true (because they don’t trust the speaker or the one who inspired the speaker).

The example of Balaam: He explained the example of Balaam, because like Balaam, false teachers would use and destroy His People, both morally and spiritually, because of their own desires for personal gain. Balaam was a false teacher, because he (falsely) announced God’s approval of the Israelites, and comforted himself with the idea that if Balak killed him, at least he could have “felt” like he did something right. Balaam tried not to see misfortune on Israel, but Balak told him to curse Israel – but since God was on Israel’s side, He defended the Israelites from Egypt. Balak then told Balaam to stop blessing them, and continued to try to get him to curse Israel – but he just kept speaking blessings over Israel as if nothing was wrong. He prophesied a victorious and prosperous time for Israel in the future, to which, never came, however. He failed to give them proper warnings, because he didn’t want to be cursed, and didn’t want the people to hate him.

Connecting thoughts

A good and sharp warning to false teachers is what usual writers would do, and Peter was not much different. He had good warnings to stay away from false teachers and anything that looks like them. Similar to Paul and other disciples, he made sure to mention the false teachers were lurking about, and he wanted to make sure other Christians knew about it, so they weren’t easily deceived.

At the time he was writing, it seemed that Peter was in prison in Rome, most likely in term of potential execution – and Peter was well aware of deceivers, for he had heard of their activities. He wanted to reassure Christians of certain truths and hoped they would remember His goodness. People taught gnostic heresies, and Christians needed to be far away from such so that they didn’t backslide.

Peter illustrated their tendencies and hopes that Christians would know the signs so they could avoid mimicking such liars, and hoped that they would only emulate Christ. If people would “think” they were false teachers, they could encounter even worse unwanted persecution or even judgment. Overall, his ministry was very helpful to me concerning God’s power at work in believers, his warning against false teachers, and his increased significance he placed on Christ’s return, which all provided good fuel for everything us “good teachers” do! We must keep to the faith in every way, and we can do this by growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord!

Salvation blessings come from new life in Christ Jesus | 1 Peter commentary

Peter wrote this letter as he worked in the church to help develop it. The first letter from Peter was written around 65 A.D. addressed to the strangers scattered through Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia. Much of this letter is just Peter presenting hope and joy toward believers to help them in their sufferings. The Romans persecuted the Christians around this time, so Peter writes to the Christians that God is still in control, and that they should rejoice because of Jesus Christ’s suffering bring Him unto glory.

Peter begins as he notes that believers should rejoice through the heaviness of temptations, and that the trial of their faith should purify the faith so it can result in praise, glory, and honor unto the Lord. Peter instructs them to be holy as God is holy. Therefore, this talk is about the previous trial of faith and about previous blood. Through the previous trial of faith, the precious blood of Christ redeems us.

Peter identifies many promises in the first couple of chapters: Jesus Christ has begot us, we are heirs subject to an inheritance, we are kept by the power of God, we have salvation, we have a great hope, we are not ashamed, we’re born again by His Word, and we’re a chosen people. Peter advises believers on how to live a godly life. He says to “gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end.” This seems to mean – to be more like Christ. He then tells them to love one another (possibly referring back to the great commandment). Soon, he instructs (chapter 2) to lay aside all wickedness by trusting that God can help you do so. When believers (become a believer), they are like newborn babes, as Peter describes it. As newborn babes, believers can have the milk of the Word (probably rejecting the meat because it is too strong).

Next, Peter calls Jesus a living stone that is rejected by men, but precious unto God. Therefore, believers are stones too… “A chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation…” (2:9). Peter then tells them to submit themselves to every ordinance of man, like kings or governors, for example. Believers should “honor all men.” Also, to fear God and honor the king. Servants are charges to be subject to their masters with fear.

Christ should serve as the great example of believers, because He suffered for us, not sinning, but bore our sins in His own body on the tree. Believers are declared to be dead to sins, therefore should – instead of sinning – live unto righteousness. By Jesus’ stripes, we were healed. Notice it says we “were” healed, which means our healing is already complete – we just need to wait for it to come to pass in full circle. As sheep that have went astray, Christ returns believers unto Himself. Christ is the Shepherd and Bishop of believers’ souls.

Next, Peter instructs husbands and wives. He tells wives to be subject to their own husbands, recognizing his own leadership to family. Wives must be gentle and respectful with a quiet spirit. She should attempt to win her husband more by her behavior than her words. Wives need to also remain loyal to the Lord and His Word. Husbands should dwell (in honor) with their wives according to knowledge, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life. Overall, husbands should be considerate and loving also, showing that the wife is a high treasure.

Now, Peter tells believers ways to conduct themselves as Christians: being all of one mind with compassion and love for one another, being pitiful and courteous. People should also not render evil for evil, refrain his tongue from evil, eschew evil, do good, and seek and ensue peace. They should act as such, because “the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil” (3:12).

Next, Peter talks about those who suffer for doing good, that they are happy, and should not be afraid of their terror or be troubled. Believers should be sanctifying the Lord God in their hearts. As Christ suffered for us in the flesh, believers should have the same mind as Christ, avoiding lusts, excess of wine, lasciviousness, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries.

Peter then warns that the end of all things is at hand, so believer should be sober and watch unto prayer. Believers need love and hospitality among themselves without grudging. Therefore, if God love us, we need to love one another. Also, Peter notes that it shouldn’t be strange when Christians go through fiery trials, because they are partakers of Christ’s sufferings.

When Christ’s glory is revealed, we can be glad with exceeding joy. Jesus allows us to share in His sufferings, which is great because His suffering led to great exaltation into Heaven. So, why not us believers? If believers are reproached for His name, Peter writes, happy are you. Christians should not be ashamed in sufferings, but rather glorify God.

We learn from Peter that we should feed the flock of God, and be examples to the flock. Younger believers should act unto elders as subjects with humility. Also, that believers are to humble themselves under the mighty hand of God so that He may exalt them in due time. By casting all cares upon God (because He cares), being sober, and being vigilant – we can resist the devil, who parades around like a roaring lion who seeks whom he may devour. God called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, making believers perfect and strengthened. Peter concludes the letter by wishing peace to the people.

Lessons and other notes from Peter

Through the death and resurrection of Christ, God gives Christians new life and promises eternal blessings. We can be assured of our inheritance when it comes, because it is incorruptible (or imperishable). We experience salvation at its fullest through the promised blessing of New Life in Christ. Overall, what inheritance incorruptible means is that there is an inheritance for us called Salvation in Christ, and it will never perish or go away.

Corruptible versus incorruptible seed: Corruptible seed is a seed that is corrupted that anything can grow out of it. Many times, a corruptible seed would be one that is buried in the earth, but quickly dies. Human seed is corrupt, and human nature comes from this corruptible seed – which causes an endless cycle of sin to pass from one to the next. Eventually, corruptible seed dies, especially when it completely weakens to not be able to survive.

Incorruptible seed, that is, God’s seed, is fully pure and can’t be corrupted. When it plants (in the hearts of men), out of it comes grace, love, joy, peace, and even more fruit. Incorruptible seed is imperishable, because there aren’t any vulnerabilities – it’s perfect!

Overall, things born of human origin die, however, things born of God live eternally.

Dealing with envy: Envy can be rooted in a grudge, where a person feels uneasy about the success or happiness of another. Holding a grudge or any other thing against a person – especially anger, can cause hate to flare up – however, we’re commanded in Mark 11:25, “And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.” Would we have forgiveness or assurance, if we held something against another?

We also see something directly related to the Great Commandment, however, this is in Leviticus 19:18, “Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself: I [am] the LORD.” Of course, how can you have love if you bear a grudge? How can you let hatred fusion in your heart, and have love dwell as well? Proverb 10:12 says, “Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.” Hatred contrasts love in this example, and therefore, we must not envy, for it breeds hatred in albeit mysterious ways.

One of the examples from Scripture is noted in Acts 7:8-10 (which references Joseph’s story in Genesis), “And he gave him the covenant of circumcision: and so Abraham begat Isaac, and circumcised him the eighth day; and Isaac begat Jacob; and Jacob begat the twelve patriarchs. And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him, And delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favour and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and he made him governor over Egypt and all his house.”

Peter’s spiritual transformation: Peter had always ministered to the Jews, especially as a Disciple (Matthew 10:2; Acts 1:15, 2:14); until one day that God had sent him to the Gentiles (Acts 10 vision, especially verse 45). Of course, in his normal attitude, he was disturbed by what the others might say about this, especially ministering outside of the Jewish Nation.

In the Gospels, he is impetuous (Matthew 14:28-31; 16:22-23; 19:27-28; Mark 9:5-7; Luke 5:4-5; John 13:6-11; 18:10-11; 21:7  — these could reflect other traits), courageous especially as a leader (Mark 1:36-37; 10:27-28; Luke 12:41; John 6:67-68; 13:24; 21:2-3; Acts 1:15-16  — these could reflect other traits), buoyant (Acts 4:13 is an example), quick to meet personal slight, and ambitious of Earthly power, however, in Peter’s Letters, we see him patient, restful, forbearing, trustful, loving, and with the old buoyancy and courage purified (we see that he preaches about the love of Christ in 1 Peter 1:22; and sought to glorify God before them in 2:12).

Peter experienced his own personal Pentecost, which came between the Gospel era and the writing of these letters, just as Jesus prophesied would come (this was in the Acts 10 vision account as well, especially verses 9-29). He already began showing transformation in the early days of the Church, to which, he took the lead when important issues came up (Acts 1:15; 5:3, 9). He was confident in the power of Christ (Acts 2:33; 3:6, 16; 4:10, 29-30). He was bold in his commitment to Jesus (Acts 4:8-13, 19-20; 5:18-21, 29-32, 40-42). He was a humble supporter of his fellow Apostles and Christians, especially Paul (as we see in Acts 15:7-11). The glorious Holy Ghost has renewed his mind, and helping him know how to think and act, so that he can preach and teach from a pure heart.

What Peter labels Jesus in his writings:

  • The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world – God foreordained the redeemer for us, because if we were chosen before the foundation of the world, then Christ was destined to be our redeemer after all. He was thinking about me before He made the world – and that is special, just like all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
  • The Chief Cornerstone – as Peter explains, that He is our chosen leader, savior, and helper.
  • The Rock of offense – Christ was the object of the people’s stumbling, but not the cause of it, to which, they are just offended at Christ. This is likely brought on by envy of Christ and His Spirituality (see above on envy).
  • The Example – Christ is the best example for us, because He was perfect in every way and representative of the Father.
  • The Chief Shepherd – He knows how to shepherd people back to the Lord (and He demonstrates the entirety of Psalm 23).
  • The Bishop of Souls – Sin has no power over me, because sin’s power was broken on the Cross. We are cleansed, given new life, and are under His Loving care, to which, He helps us learn, think, grow, and love as He does.
  • The Suffering Savior – Christ suffered for us, left us an example, and showed us that He suffered for us so that we would have new life. He purposely suffered for us, to which, we didn’t have to suffer as hard. He even made a way for us to learn how to love, even in the midst of a chaotic world.

Peter’s Exhortations to living a spiritual life:

  1. Gird up the loins of your mind: When you do this, you take courage in the face of a fiery trial. The loin is the center of our being and the area of procreation. Keep the creative area of your mind intact to produce fruit for the Kingdom of God.
  2. Don’t pattern after your former sin life: We must be in obedience to the revealed Word and live a new life in Him, not as we once did in ignorance. We have been transformed from slavery in sin, to sonship and love in Christ.
  3. Pattern after God – Be holy: We are “called” unto Holiness, which should be in all manner of life, including conversation. Being holy involves knowing that He is holy and taking after His Example! (See just above of Jesus Christ being the Example).
  4. Fervently love one another with a pure heart: Love out of a pure heart, and do it with all that is within you! I love God and people from all that is within me, to which, I declare daily and practice daily!

Peter speaks to Christians as “strangers and Pilgrims,” because he realizes that Christians are no longer of this world, but are Heavenly Citizens – to which, we all belong to the Heavenly Kingdom as well. God’s People then and now are part of His Kingdom, not this world. Therefore, in this verse, we are admonished to flee from worldly lusts.

We use the liberty that we are given as the servants of God for good and love, and not for evil. We have the perfect Law of Liberty upon us that we should be fulfilling in loving our neighbor as ourselves. We do not transgress the Law of Moses, but we should do as we should to not transgress the Law of Liberty by doing evil and other things that are antithesis of love. What we do shall be done in love, for we should only do what’s good unto our neighbor.

The qualities of being hospitable and other instructions:

  • People should have love for each other, for it covers a multitude of sins, meaning, it helps to prevent many sins we might commit against each other.
  • People grumble when offering hospitality to a guest, because they may lack love for others, lack compassion, are lazy, or don’t have the means to offer hospitality (be it money or ability to function). The characteristics to display wisdom in hospitality involve being peaceable, gentle, easily intreated (persuadable), full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
  • On verses 10-11 (of 1 Peter 4), we see that those that are given the gift should use their God-given abilities with diligence, whether teaching the Bible or helping others. However, above all, people must work in a way that brings praise and glory unto God (and by all means, do it in love). Referencing Romans 12:6-8, we see that all should be diligent in carrying out the task for which God has assigned for them, no matter where they work – and to do it cheerfully.

We must be sober and vigilant, because our adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour. (See 1 Peter 5:8)

Sober defined: 1. Temperate in the use of spiritous liquors; habitually temperate; as a sober man. Live a sober, righteous and godly life. 2. Not intoxicated or overpowered by spiritous liquors; not drunken. The sot may at times be sober. 3. Not mad or insane; not wild, visionary or heated with passion; having the regular exercise of cool dispassionate reason. 4. Regular; calm; not under the influence of passion; as sober judgment; a man in his sober senses. 5. Serious; solemn; grave; as the sober livery of autumn.

Vigilant defined: Watchful; circumspect; attentive to discover and avoid danger, or to provide for safety.

Listen would be Elders: Church elders should be sincere, understanding, and hard-working in overseeing the Church that God’s placed in their care, for they too are shepherds who should be interested in the welfare of their flock, and not because they want to make money. Their authority shouldn’t be used to force people to do something, but rather, it should be an example on how Christians should act. Elders should model Christ’s example, and then show that same example, so others can learn how to be more like Christ. They are answerable to the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ, to which, they will have their work reviewed one day upon His Return!

These exhortations apply to our day, because this was how Peter (and albeit Paul and James, among others) modeled the Church for us. This is how we should act, because they were models of Christ’s work, and therefore, we too should be modeling after Christ’s work. We need to pass on the heritage of love upon each generation; doing it in a Christlike way. These great men of God showed us, and now we’re to do it and keep passing it on to further generations!

The Perspective in light of all this

Peter, just as James did, showed us a great way to be more like Christ, and to model after Him. He showed us so many different things that are remarkable to know about the Church and how it should operate. This was a man who truly knew what persecution was, similarly to Paul, and knew that people were tired and worn – and needed some encouragement and strength. He was also interested in ministering to so many scattered people, and hoping that everyone would be more in unity.

God gives believers new life through the death and resurrection of Christ, and this brings eternal blessings. We are awaiting and assured at the day of the return of the Lord, in hope to enjoy the promised blessings – and this is Peter’s exhortation, is for people to begin budding love between each other, and don’t limit our faith. We are cleansed and given new life through Christ, and therefore, we should live and walk in what Christ has prepared and given to us!

His People are God’s Living Temple, and Christ is the Chief Cornerstone, and we should know that God has chosen us for such a time as this, that we have God’s mercy and grace to tell people about how great He is – and to do it for His glory only! It’s not for our personal gain or achievement that matters, but it is for His Glory that matters in everything that we do. Our sinful ways and others acts in treating each other should be changed and we should repent of things we shouldn’t be doing, and do that things that we are called to do and express love the best.

He taught us that a bad attitude makes no difference, because God can help transform our attitudes, thoughts, and mind overall – especially in budding upon us love, peace, joy, and uprightness. We are part of His Kingdom, and He is giving us all that He desires to give us. We may desire sin, worldly things, or other things – but God desires for us to have love, righteousness, peace, and joy – which are part of the Kingdom of God. He wants to make us love, because we are in His Image and He is love, so we become love as well!

James believed in a real relationship with God | James commentary

James, the brother of Jesus, wrote his letter around 60 A.D. or earlier, which aims to encourage Jewish believers outside of Jerusalem (“the tribes scattered abroad”), especially those who have suffered through persecution, as well as to provide instruction so they can work out their faith in righteousness and godly living. Therefore, James wants believers to view trials as an opportunity for spiritual growth. James provides practical wisdom for the Christian life, and shows how we can do well unto others.

Now, James starts out introducing himself as a servant of God and Jesus, and gives his first encouragement in the next verse to “count it all joy when ye fall in divers temptations,” and then, “…the trying of your faith worketh patience.” Believers should have a right relationship with God – one that bears fruit and that is full of love. Then, we learn that if one lacks wisdom – to ask of God – and God will give it. In addition, those believers should ask in faith without doubt, and that “a double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.”

Next, James talks about temptation. For starters, temptation is not of God, but that man “is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.” When lust occurs and is conceived, it brings forth sin. Moreover, when sin finishes, it brings forth death. James also teaches that every good and perfect gift is from the Father, who gives us the Word of Truth so believers are made first fruits. James moves on in his instruction that believers should be quick to listen and slow to speak (as the proverb instructs). In addition, those believers should be doers of the Word, not just hearers.

In chapter 2, James goes on to talk about faith. For those that say they have faith, but do not have works – then the faith is dead. Therefore, there is no evidence of devotion to Christ, if you do not have faith with works. True faith must be able to be endured. By works, a man is justified. Therefore, faith is true when works evidence it. Then, James talks about the tongue and how it can get believers in trouble and cause strife and confusion. Now, James warns about a slew of problems that believers can face. One of them is greed, which is stated as lusts. Lust is equivalent to a strong desire, so this type of greed is more about general lusts, not just money or sexual desires.

Another problem he warns about is being friends with the world. Instead, believers should draw nigh to God, cleanse their hands, purify their hearts, and humble themselves before God. Next, he warns about speaking evil (slander), before talking about depending only on God. Finally, he warns against rich men, whose riches are corrupted. Also, that those who are rich have a lustful attitude, and don’t use it for the glory of God or to help people. They just live in pleasure. James moves on to give them final encouragement and instructions. He tells the believers to have patience when they suffer in persecution, to pray for the sick and afflicted with the prayer of faith. Lastly, James states if anyone errs, then believers should do what they can to turn the erred person back to God.

James encompasses a perspective that believers should be wholly focused on God, without lust and confusion. People should follow God’s direction by depending on Him and walking in faith. If people do this, they can begin to do His Will for their lives.

Lessons from James and other facts

Two of the Apostles had the name, James. The less known one was James the son of Alphaeus (as we see in Matthew 10:3, “Philip, and Bartholomew; Thomas, and Matthew the publican; James the son of Alphaeus, and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus.”). Then, the other Apostle James was the elder brother of the Apostle John (as we see in Matthew 10:2, “Now the names of the twelve apostles are these; The first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother.”).

Next, there was James the brother of Jesus. This man was not an Apostle, but rather, he called himself a servant of God, as we see in his book, the Book of James. His relation with Jesus is obvious in Matthew 13:55-56, “Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?” This is also proof that Mary and Joseph had relations after Jesus was birthed, to produce more sons and daughters. However, Jesus was Mary’s first son, as we see in Matthew 1:18, “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost.” 1:20, “But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.” 1:25, “And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” In addition to note: Isaiah had prophesied this birth, and spoke that it would be a virgin who would birth the Messiah in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

The apostle James was humbling himself in Scripture, because he said that he is a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ – which is acknowledging that his own brother is of highest regard to him. To acknowledge himself as only a servant, and not the brother of Jesus Christ (even though he is) was a very humble move, because he could have used that “fame” to promote himself, but clearly chose not. There is no other info on him, either, which means that he was truly a humble servant at heart, hoping to relay the things of God!

Instead of teaching only the Law of Moses, the Scribes and Pharisees added a bunch of laws of their own. They seemed to have wanted to make a display of their religious devotion by wearing decorations large on their “long clothing” of God’s Law written on them. It seemed that they also wanted to be recognized and quickly took the most important seats, “the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts.” They would also try to appear even more religious with their long prayers, but yet, they took advantage of and oppressed the poor, “devour widows’ houses.” They will be in greater damnation, however. They seemed to focus on the minor details of the law, but ignored the most important teachings of it. Jesus had to have known that they were going about it all wrong.

What does James have to say about all this? Well, they fail his test of genuine faith badly, as we see in James 1:26-27, for he says, “If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” People are instructed to: 1. Have a bridled tongue, 2. Visit the fatherless and widows, and 3. Keep self unspotted from the world. The Scribes and Pharisees noted in Mark 12:38-40 go around speaking loudly with salutations, refuse to visit the widows (they take advantage of the poor), and they try to make themselves appear important by wearing long clothing with lots of writing of God’s Law, getting the best seat in the house, and praying loudly to get people to notice how “holy” they are. All of these things the Scribes and Pharisees do, Jesus did not like. Truly religious people are those who control their speech, and express their own faith in acts of kindness.

James warns his readers and the people that they shouldn’t be too hasty in being teachers, because if they instruct others and fail themselves, they will receive greater judgment – which places teachers in danger, because they can’t avoid such mistakes. However, if a person can control their tongue, they can control their whole self, and be able to teach well without envying and strife.

In Luke 12:48, we see that all are guilty of wrongdoing and will be punished, but the one who had more knowledge of his master’s will (God’s Will) will be punished more severely. Everyone shall be accountable to God, and He expects more of those who have more knowledge.

David would acknowledge his sin to God, and confess. He then had the assurance of forgiveness from God. He also prays that troubles would not come nigh unto him, and he is assured of the Lord’s safekeeping. David says to trust in the Lord, for many sorrows shall come, but He will lead us to rejoicing. James teaches that if you have committed sins, you shall be forgiven – just as David prayed and confessed his sins, he was forgiven. If you pray for others’ suffering, your prayer will avail, for the prayer shall save the sick and the Lord will raise him up.

It seems that James had a gift of love and teaching, that he could minister out of a servant heart, and therefore, do God’s Will. Christians were so devoted to the Law, that James wanted to unbind them and bring them to the truth of God’s grace and love, so they realize that love is the fulfilling of the Law. Loving your enemies is very important, as Jesus taught, and James was major teacher in this.

Through his teachings, James radically taught to love your enemies, and that includes being careful not to judge others, sticking to God’s Will, praying for others, and keep up the faith so it changes the thinking and behavior. Christians should live positively for God, even in an ungodly society, and be able to do His Will; sacrificing their own desires. James was so devoted to encouraging others in their trials and difficulties that God is with them and answering their prayers, that we can learn to put our faith into practice instead of going through the motions, to avoid worldly ambitions and to focus on God’s desires, and then a call to be patient and to pray.

James emphasizes what daily Christianity should look like, and that’s why many have called this a manual for Christians, because it packs so much wisdom into concise statements, and is catered to the early Christians who needed to learn how to be more Christlike and get away from the Law. He appears to talk a lot about OT wisdom, prophets, and other truths in the OT – but then, he bathes them in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount teachings to show people what was old, and that it has now become new.

The measure of a true Christian is by expressing love through everything that they do, and showing people, that God is real by setting an example. James advocated and demonstrated an example of love, and even poured out other examples to show us that love is the only way that works, and that is what Jesus has been saying all along.

Many people miss what Jesus has been saying all along, because they’re too focused on the OT teachings and worried about the wrath of God, instead of looking upon Jesus, who told us that we fulfill the Law through the Great Commandment. It is because of Him that we have peace, joy, love, and righteousness. These are all parts of the Kingdom of God, and we have inherited them because of the work of Christ. He reasonably provided a way for us to enter into the Kingdom of God, even though that we are imperfect.

James, Paul, and Peter were just a few of the many that have tried to pry new Christians away from the Jewish ways, and other blasphemies of God – and help transform them into new creatures in Christ. That is, ones that become lovers of God and of men, and actually serve from a genuine heart; putting faith into practice. What a marvelous revelation of His love, just through the Book of James. James pressed that people would pry their minds out of the world’s desires, and focus only on God’s desires and Will, because it is best. God’s Will is Jesus, and Jesus is the truest expression of love, no doubt about it!

Explanatory guide to the Gifts of the Holy Spirit

The first place in Scripture to see the existence of the Holy Spirit is in Genesis 1:1-2, where we see God speaking in the midst of the Spirit, who was present at the beginning of time. The usage of Spirit as it moved in Genesis 1:1-2 is “rachaph,” which means “to brood over.” The Holy Spirit brooded over and around God’s men and women. The usage of Ghost as it moved in 2 Peter 1:21 is “phero,” which means “to bear, bring forth, or carry.” I believe this New Testament usage means that the Holy Ghost carries, bears, and brings forth The Word of God, who is Christ.

An important prophecy: Joel 2:28-29 says, “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”

In life, you must find the fullness of the Holy Ghost, we follow Jeremiah 29:13, “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” Jesus called the Holy Spirit/Ghost four different titles, which include “Comforter,” “Teacher,” “Spirit of Truth,” and “Convictor.” The Holy Spirit comes and comforts me all the time, helping me through daily trials and teaching me about God’s Love. Whenever I hear lies, I consult the Lord, and He allows the Spirit of Truth to come and comfort me and tell me good things to build me back up. When I do wrong, He convicts me and tells me what I should be doing instead that would bring Him greater joy.

Jesus said that the Holy Ghost would come in power, as we see in Acts 1:8, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” We see the first time the Holy Ghost comes upon someone is in Jesus’ baptism, as we see in Matthew 3:16-17, “and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove…” Who shall receive it? To everyone, as we see in Acts 2:39, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.”

Personal benefits of the receiving of the baptism of the Holy Ghost include communication in worship, which involves praying directly to God in the Spirit. You also gain spiritual strength, which comes by knowing you’re a child of God. Intercessory prayer is also a benefit, which allows you to pray in a supernatural way so that the Spirit will pray through us the Will of God. It allows us also to have the mind of Christ when we pray. Another benefit is the boldness or spiritual power we gain, along with rest and refreshment. Another good benefit would be protection from the enemy, for we need protection from all forms of evil. We pray in the perfectness of the Spirit, which is in truth, and since the devil is a liar, we triumph over him with truth!

Spiritual gifts begin with the impartation of the Holy Ghost, so once you have received the Holy Ghost, you already have the start of them. Over time, you’ll understand each spiritual gift and be able to use them as the Holy Ghost helps. “The “Manifestation” of the Holy Spirit/Ghost is the VISIBLE evidence of Him dwelling with us – speaking in an unknown tongue.”

The nine types of “Manifestations,” which are found in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, include, The Word of Wisdom, The Word of Knowledge, Faith, Gifts of Healing, Working of miracles, Prophecy, Discerning of spirits, Divers kinds of tongues, and Interpretation of tongues. If an individual speaks in tongues in the Church in a solo manner, it is called, “a message in tongues,” and is in order if it is interpreted. An “interpretation,” involves making the meaning of the message in tongues known. Tongues used in our personal prayer life are for strengthening, empowering, edifying, and building up the Spirit within us. Tongues are a “sign” for the unbeliever, actually, as we see in 1 Corinthians 14:22, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”

The fruit of the Holy Spirit is a part of our salvation, which helps us in our everyday activities – including troubles and trials. Love is the first fruit of the Holy Spirit, and the most important, because everything must be done in love. Everything and everyone is rooted in love, and also God is Love. Everything that comes from God is rooted in Love! We see in 1 Corinthians 13 why love is the most important, especially the first few verses, “1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.”

Now, we read what the fruit of the Spirit is in Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.” They are listed: -Peace -Joy -Longsuffering -Gentleness -Goodness -Faith -Meekness -Temperance.

Before we get too far, let’s answer contradictions:

“Doesn’t the Bible say, “Tongues shall cease?”” – This would be a true statement based upon 1 Corinthians 13:12, where it says, “…then shall I know even as also I am known.” This refers to eternity, when we have entered into Heaven. With this, we would be known by each other and will know all things. This would be the perfect state, a more all-knowing position, because we would be like Him.

“I can’t find in Scripture where Jesus spoke in an unknown tongue” – This is because all tongues were known to Him, for He knew all things. He was given dominion and glory, and a kingdom that all languages should serve Him.

“The Baptism of the Holy Ghost was just for the early Church” – Acts 2:39 says, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” Ephesians 3:6 says, “That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel.”

“Tongues are of the devil” – This is not supported by Scripture or by experience. If it were true, the devil would use tongues, in opposition to Jesus, to curse Him. However, the Scriptures tell us this is impossible, and also the satan and his demons cannot understand tongues, as only the Holy Ghost has the gift of true interpretation.

“Tongues are the least of the Gifts” – Paul stresses the importance of sharing the Word, but he doesn’t demean the gift of tongues. His examples are in 1 Corinthians 14:5, 18, 39. In these verses, he says things such as, “I speak with tongues more than ye all…forbid not to speak with tongues…”

“It is emotionalism” – Emotion is very important, for God gave emotions to us. Love is the greatest of emotions. We are commanded to love God with all of our heart, soul, and mind. We even see Jesus have many emotions, as we see in Scripture.

“Sure tongues are Scriptural, but I don’t need them for assurance that I have the Holy Spirit/Ghost” – he one manifestation that had satisfied the apostles and other disciples that a person had received the Baptism was speaking in an unknown tongue. Paul felt that praying in an unknown tongue had went far beyond an assurance of having receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. It is a need in our lives. He will strengthen us.

More Gifts of the Spirit

The Word of Wisdom: This is a portion of the infinite Wisdom of God, made known through the instrumentality of a believer. Jesus promised His followers in Luke 21:15 that He would give them a mouth and wisdom, which adversaries can’t gainsay or resist. The reason for this is in Luke 12:12, where we see that the Holy Ghost shall teach what is needed to say.

The Word of Knowledge: This is the revelation of facts that an individual didn’t know beforehand. The Bible contains numerous examples where men received knowledge of facts that could only have come from a supernatural bestowing. We see much foreshadowing of this gift in the Old Testament, and see Jesus display this gift in His Earthly ministry. We see it was used many times in the early Church.

The Discerning of Spirits: This allows people to know if something is divine or not, but it is not a judgmental, nor a faultfinder. One example is seeing a wrong spirit in someone. The danger of deceiving spirits prior to the return of the Lord were increasingly great. We know through this gift which spirit is at work.

Faith: This gift is necessary to the operation of the Gifts of Healing and the working of Miracles. It is a gift of the Spirit, and we all have a measure of it. However, it is a special power given for special occasion.

The Working of Miracles: This is a gift of power, which cannot be comprehended by humanity, for a miracle is an event or effect in the physical world that deviates from the known laws of nature, or transcending our knowledge of those laws. God uses those humble enough for this gift to work miracles upon people.

Gifts of Healing: In His Church, there is the potential for healing the sick, and the purpose of these gifts is to relieve the suffering of the sick.

Prophecy: 1 Corinthians 14:22, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” Prophesying involves making known a future event that is to help build up the Church, so that the Church can prepare.

Divers kinds of Tongues: Tongues used in our personal prayer life are for strengthening, empowering, edifying, and building up the Spirit within us.

Interpretation of Tongues: If an individual speaks in tongues in the Church in a solo manner, it is called, “a message in tongues,” and is in order if it is interpreted. An “interpretation,” involves making the meaning of the message in tongues known.

Sins of the Spirit

Blasphemy is to utter abusive words against the Holy Spirit and to reject His conviction power of warning about your sins. (See more of the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost)

Believers can also sin against the Holy Ghost, though their sins are of a different nature. It grieves the Holy Spirit when we do something that brings a wrong reflection on the honor of God or Jesus, or when we are involved in things or conversations that harm our spiritual life. We would quench the Holy Spirit by being reserved or stifling His ability to move upon our lives. Quenching implies the illustration of fire, to which a fire is put out by taking away the fuel or by suffocation. When the Spirit finds no fuel of consecration and no atmosphere of prayer, worship, and praise, He cannot work for the fire goes out. The Holy Ghost came as tongues of fire and therefore wants our fuel.

Gifts of Ministry (Romans 12:3-8)

Teaching: The Holy Spirit will be my guide in wisdom so that I can understand the Bible more, and then distribute my knowledge out to people the same way He helped me.

Exhorting: He will help me proclaim the things of the Lord by instructing me, and providing me maybe Word of Wisdom or Word of Knowledge, for example, so I may exhort another.

Ruling: He will give us wisdom based on how His Kingdom is run, because He is interested in making things better through us.

Giving: We shall give with simplicity and as the Lord leads us to do so. He will direct us in how we give.

Showing mercy: He is gentle with us, and He teaches us to be gentle with others; therefore, showing mercy to them and helping them.

Helps: This allows us to learn hospitality from the way that Jesus may have been, or He will lead us on how to be hospitable to people better.

More Spiritual benefits

The Holy Ghost helps us pray as we see in Romans 8:26-27, by making intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. The intercession He makes for us is according to the Will of God, therefore, when we pray in tongues, it will be translated to God through His Will. When we pray to the Will of God, our prayers are much more effective!

The Holy Ghost is used as an instrument in praise and worship through praying, adoring, singing, and making melody in our hearts as we speak or sing to the Lord. Those that speak in unknown tongues speak not to men but unto God, as we see in 1 Corinthians 14:2.

The Sword of the Spirit is the word of God, as we see in Ephesians 6:17, “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

Paul warns the Church at Thessalonica of the Return of Jesus Christ | 1 Thessalonians commentary

On his second missionary journey (which we also see a lot of info in Acts 15-18 about it), Paul entered Europe for the first time when he went to Macedonia. The first churches that he established were in Philippi and Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first letter to the Thessalonian people only a few months after the establishment of the Church. Paul is glad of their development of character and the faith, love, and endurance that can be clearly seen. They have proved themselves to be God’s People. They look forward to the climax of their salvation at the return of Jesus Christ.

Paul admits that he preached so boldly that he endured bodily harm, but he didn’t want praise nor money. Therefore, he gave to them to help them. He worked at tent making to make an income for himself. Otherwise, he did his preaching as he could. He only wanted to bring God glory.

The Thessalonians knew they had a Word from God, and that Paul is who he said he is. The Jews were trying to prevent the message of Jesus from reaching the Gentiles, but all the while, they were preparing a big divine judgment unto themselves. Paul faced many difficulties, trials, etc. through trying to preach to the Gentiles, however, he desires to revisit them soon, and talks about how well they have progressed in their faith and love. He seems overjoyed about the love they’ve cultivated.

He talks to them about marriage and work, but they don’t need to be overly dependent on each other, but rather, be ready to help others. Faults must be corrected so that they can continue as a church, and so they don’t have non-Christians criticizing them. After this starts the info about the Return of Christ. Some were worried that those who’ve died would not experience Christ’s Return, and therefore, they want people that are alive to join them, so together, they could meet Christ.

Paul said that no one knows when He will return, however, He will come unexpectedly as a thief would. He talks more about what Christ will do once He arrives, and told them to be self-controlled, strong in faith and love, and be confident in their salvation. Having unity with Christ means that they would escape wrath and enjoy Salvation to its fullest. They need to live in a way that is pleasing to God and one that encourages others.

Lastly, he sees minor difficulties have occurred, and Church leaders had the responsibility to solve such problems. Paul reminds the members to respect those who are in leadership and don’t be offended when they need to correct you. All Christians should be helpful, joyful, prayerful, and thankful. God alone can give strength to put this advice into practice, and that God wants His People to constantly progress toward greater holiness. Paul ends it by telling them to read the letter to the Church to full understanding.

Philemon the master of Onesimus | Philemon book commentary

Scripture: Philemon

Commentary: Paul rejoices at what he heard of Philemon’s strong faith in God (for Paul is still in prison). This faith and love has strengthened the Colossian Church. He prays that Philemon would continue to share these blessings with others. Philemon was the master of Onesimus, and therefore, Paul wanted Philemon to welcome him home and forgive him. Onesimus was as a son to Paul, because he helped him so much in prison. Paul would like to keep Onesimus with him; however, he feels that Onesimus should go back to his master.

Onesimus had become useless to Philemon; however, Paul is confident that Onesimus is better and ready to come back. However, that’s Philemon’s decision to welcome him back. Whatever Philemon does, Paul wants him to do it decisively, and not because Paul has forced him to do so. If Onesimus stole or damaged anything in making his escape, Paul wants to pay the cost of it. Paul believes that Philemon would act with generosity, and give him complete freedom. To end the letter, Paul hopes to be released soon and visit Colossae. Meanwhile, he and his group send greetings to Philemon, and to the whole Church in the Colossian letter.

Comprehensive Outline of Paul’s Journeys | Acts 15-28

CHAPTER 15

·        Judaisers cause problems in the Church

o   They stated that unless a person is circumcised after the manner of Moses, they could not be saved.

§  Moses: A man called by God long ago, who was to do God’s Will in bring the people out of Egypt, and was the writer of the Pentateuch.

o   The trouble they caused spread through the Church.

o   They discussed the problem at Jerusalem.

§  The Church at Antioch appointed Paul, Barnabas, and other leaders to go to Jerusalem as representatives.

·        Paul: A man who helped persecute the Jews, before a blinding experience with God – with God instructing him to carry out His Will to preach and do missionary work.

·        Barnabas: A man that was called “The Son of Encouragement,” who was so generous, and quickly became quite a missionary with a strong will to work for the things of God.

§  They were excited along the way to talk about the Gentile conversion.

§  As soon as the meeting began, the Judaisers started their accusations.

§  After lengthy debate, Peter strongly opposed them, and defended the Gentiles.

o   Peter: This same hot-blooded man went on journeys with Jesus and did many works for the Lord. He continues in his pursuit to spread Jesus all around, and is willing to put his life on the line at all costs.

§  Jesus: The Son of God, sent to do His Will on the earth, before He ascended back to the Father at His Right Hand. He was accused of heresy, belittled, rejected, and crucified – and yet, He rose again.

·        He claimed they (the Gentiles) should not have to keep the Jewish Law.

·        The way of Salvation and entrance to the Church was by faith alone, and this was true for both Jews and Gentiles.

§  James agreed with Peter, Paul, and Barnabas.

o   James: This James is not the same that was martyred a few chapters ago. This is James, the Lord’s Brother, who had accompanied Jesus on his journey to Capernaum. This is the James that is the author of the book of James.

·        He added info on what he had witnessed with them and with Jesus.

·        James stated that the Gentiles should not have to be under Jewish Law.

·        Jews continued to see things different, though.

·        James considered that the Gentile Christians would improve relations if they were careful not to do things that Jews wouldn’t allow.

§  After acknowledging James, they took back with them two men from the Jerusalem Church, Judas and Silas, to create distinction between Jewish and Gentile groups.

§  When the group arrived in Antioch, they were glad on the outcome of the meeting.

o   Paul and Barnabas need a partner

§  They disagreed over Mark, and therefore, they split into teams.

o   John Mark: A man who had assisted Paul and Barnabas on a journey, but dropped out and went back to Jerusalem. Paul calls him unreliable and decides not to work with him. This is the same man who is the author of the book of Mark.

·        Barnabas going to Cyprus with Mark.

·        Paul going to Cilicia with Silas.

o   Silas: He was a man who had much wisdom and ability that Paul saw great potential in him to help, while they go into Gentile areas.

CHAPTER 16

·        Journey continues

o   After arriving in Lystra, Paul and Silas were joined by Timothy.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: A young man who was considered by the elders of the Galatian Church as well suited for this journey. He was half-Jewish, and Paul thought he should be circumcised. He was made an example of the Jews.

o   They passed through the Galatian areas, where the Missionaries delivered copies of the Jerusalem letter to the Churches.

o   They left Galatia and went to a certain area in Asia, where God didn’t allow them to preach.

o   After that, they went north towards Bithynia, but God prevented them there, too.

o   They traveled to Macedonia.

§  When they had left Troas, they added Luke to go with them.

·        Luke: A man who was a doctor and historic writer. He traveled with Paul quite a bit, and wrote the books of Luke and Acts.

o   They went to Philippi from Troas, where there were only a few Jews.

§  There was a group there who prayed. The Missionaries joined them.

§  A slave girl there who had an evil spirit and was a fortune teller was discovered.

·        She was probably converted, which probably prevented her ability.

o   When she couldn’t be used for money, they attacked the missionaries and rioted.

§  Paul and Silas were arrested, flogged, and thrown into prison without a trial.

§  In prison, they talked about Christ. The jailer was saved.

·        Christ: already mentioned.

§  Paul and Silas were released a bit later.

CHAPTER 17

·        Journey goes on

o   From Philippi, they moved to Thessalonica leaving Luke behind.

§  Luke: already mentioned.

§  Their preaching in the Synagogue yielded good results.

§  The Jews caused uproar in the house of Jason where Paul had been staying.

·        Paul: already mentioned.

·        Jason: A man not well known, just someone who Paul stayed with. The attackers accused him of helping a group of Jewish rebels.

o   More Jewish opposition occurred in Berea. Paul departed quickly, leaving Silas and Timothy behind.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: already mentioned.

o   Paul travels to Athens, where he sends a message to them to rejoin him soon.

§  Paul sent them back to Macedonia.

·        Timothy went to Thessalonica, Silas to Philippi, it seems.

§  Philosophers heard Paul preaching, and invited him to talk about his religion in a council of Philosophers.

·        He frequently talked about Jesus and the Resurrection close to each other, so the Philosophers thought he was talking on two gods, Jesus and Anastasis.

o   Anastasis: A Greek word used as a link between Jesus and the Resurrection.

o   Jesus: already mentioned.

·        Many different schools of thought were discussed in this meeting.

·        Paul announced that he would explain God, who is the creator and controller of the universe.

o   He also mentions more info on Jesus.

·        Many believed in what Paul was talking about, but some didn’t think Jesus’ resurrection was worth considering.

CHAPTER 18

·        Onward to Corinth

o   Paul planted a Church there.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   He met a Jewish married couple, Aquila and Priscilla.

§  Aquila and Priscilla: tent makers, like Paul, who became lifelong friends of him.

§  They, along with the other Jews, were forced to leave Rome at the command of the Emperor.

§  They likely went with Paul to the Synagogue where he preached.

·        Paul writes to the Thessalonians

o   Silas and Timothy had returned from Macedonia, bringing gifts for Paul.

§  Silas: already mentioned.

§  Timothy: already mentioned.

o   Paul was glad on the good news from Timothy on what happened in Thessalonica, that Paul wrote them.

o   Some had criticized Paul for leaving new believers in Thessalonica to face anti-Christian troubles.

o   He instructed them in their behaviors, especially being more Christlike.

§  He also cleared up issues about Jesus’ return so they would understand better.

§  He had to send an additional letter clearing up worries over his first letter to them on Christ’s return.

·        They were afraid when he said suddenly that it meant “immediately.” He wanted to handle their fears on that.

·        Eighteen months in Corinth

o   Paul was having issues with Jews.

§  They forced him from the Synagogue.

§  He then went to preach in the house of Titius Justus.

·        Titus Justus: A Gentile, God-fearing man who lived next door.

§  Crispus believed.

·        Crispus: ruler of the Synagogue.

§  Sosthenes believed later.

·        Sosthenes: new ruler of the Synagogue later.

§  Paul kept preaching, even if they opposed him.

§  Church growth continued.

§  The local people decided to beat up one of the Jewish leaders because of their anger toward the Jews.

·        Antioch return

o   Paul wanted to return home.

o   He stopped at Cenchreae, and fulfilled a vow that he took upon himself.

o   He sailed to Ephesus where he stayed shortly.

§  He may have started a Church here at this time, but it’s unclear.

o   He left Aquila and Priscilla in Ephesus.

o   He continued to try to get to Antioch.

·        He visited Churches in Galatia again.

o   He learned of a Jew named Apollos.

§  Apollos: he had detailed knowledge as a teacher of the OT references to the Messiah. He lacked knowledge of certain teachings, where Aquila and Priscilla helped him understand.

o   He returned to Corinth, helping the Church there.

§  The Corinthian Church, however, divided into factions.

§  People made favorites of teachers, so Paul dealt with it.

CHAPTER 19

·        Arriving in Ephesus

o   He met a group of twelve people who had repented and been baptized.

§  They were baptized in John the Baptist ways.

§  Paul corrected them to use Jesus’ way of doing so.

§  After that, they received the Holy Ghost.

o   After Paul preached for a few months, the Jews forced him out.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   Healing ministry also continued.

o   Sorcery, magic, and other superstitions were widespread in Ephesus.

§  God’s Power was at work nonetheless, and people turned to Him.

o   Paul aimed to go to Rome, so he could establish Christianity better.

§  First, he wanted to go to Jerusalem.

§  He wanted to bring the Jewish and Gentile churches together.

§  He sends two fellow workers to Macedonia to promote the project.

o   Paul had preached in Ephesus for three years.

o   Angry at the loss of income, the silversmiths stirred up the people against Paul.

§  With this, a riot broke out.

§  People who did not worship Artemis were in danger.

§  The Jews tried to protect themselves by saying they weren’t associated with Christians.

·        The mob didn’t care.

§  The city’s chief official defended Paul and warned the people about the riot.

CHAPTER 20

·        Traveling to Macedonia

o   Paul traveled to Macedonia to meet up with Titus, and to write 2 Corinthians.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Titus: a young preacher, who was regarded by Paul, and was eventually appointed to run a church.

o   Returning to Macedonia and Troas

§  He heard of a Jewish plot to kill him as he was setting sail.

§  He changed routes to go to Macedonia. Luke rejoined.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  He sailed then to Troas, joining the representatives of the Gentile Churches.

·        These representatives or assistants were to go with Paul to Jerusalem.

·        Paul had a final meeting with Christians in Troas, when a young man falls out of the window to his death.

o   Paul went and restored this man to life.

·        Paul travels to Assos

o   He rejoins the group and sails to Miletus.

o   He called for the elders of the Ephesian church to meet with him, so he could give them final encouragement and warning.

o   Paul’s enemies in Asia were trying to turn Christians against him.

CHAPTER 21

·        Paul goes to Patara, where they changed ships and sailed to Phoenicia.

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   The group fellowshipped with the Christians at Tyre, Ptolemais, and Caesarea.

·        Paul finally reaches Jerusalem.

o   He stayed with Mnason.

§  Mnason: A Jewish Christian from Cyprus and early member of the Jerusalem Church. He was fully agreeing of the work of Paul.

o   Jerusalem rejects the Gospel.

§  Many Christians were found in Jerusalem to be back in legalistic ways.

§  The elders gladly received the offering from the Gentile Churches.

§  The Jews didn’t care about Paul’s teachings.

·        James and his friends suggested that Paul should prove to them that he was as religious as a Jew was.

o   James: already mentioned.

§  The crowd attacks Paul

·        A riot broke out; the mob seized Paul and tried to kill him.

·        The Roman troops swiftly prevented Paul’s death through riot control.

o   Lysias didn’t know Paul or what he had done to make the Jews angry.

§  Lysias: the military commander of the Roman troops.

§  Paul addresses the mob

·        Silencing the mob, Paul spoke unto them.

CHAPTER 22

·        Paul continues speaking to the crowd

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   He spoke about his Jewish upbringing, persecution of Christians, and Jesus calling him to do His Work.

o   He then spoke of his Gentile mission, which sparked further uproar.

o   The Roman commander wanted to know the truth, which might be through flogging.

§  Paul told the soldiers that he was a Roman citizen.

·        They untied him after hearing this.

§  He was brought before the Sanhedrin to examine him.

CHAPTER 23

·        He tricks the Sanhedrin

o   He originally is God’s Apostle to the Gentiles.

o   He actually addresses himself as a Jewish Pharisee.

o   He was condemned of his Pharisaic belief in the resurrection.

o   In an uproar that had followed, the Roman soldiers saved Paul again from death.

o   The Lord was still with Paul and would bring him to Rome.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   The Jews asked Lysias to send Paul for another trial.

§  They wanted to attack and kill Paul on the way. Lysias found out, though.

·        Lysias sends Paul to Caesarea to protect him from death.

§  Lysias: already mentioned.

o   Paul did not give up his fight against the Jews.

CHAPTER 24

·        Paul imprisoned in Caesarea for two years

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   Three accusations were made against Paul.

§  First, he created uprisings among the Jews.

§  Second, he was a leader of the Nazarenes.

§  Third, he defiled the Temple in Jerusalem.

o   He denied those accusations, saying no one could prove it.

o   Felix saw that Paul was not guilty, for the only thing they had against him was that he believed in the Resurrection.

§  Felix: the one who conducted the trial upon Paul. He was a fair judge, it seems.

§  He found out more about Paul’s beliefs.

§  Then, he offered a bribe that Paul could pay, but Paul refused.

§  Instead of accepting the bribe, he remained in prison until the next governor comes who could re-see the case.

CHAPTER 25

·        The New Governor arrives in Palestine.

o   Festus: the new governor of Palestine.

o   The Jews accused Paul quickly.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

o   A trial was conducted before Festus.

§  He didn’t know much about the whole situation.

§  He saw no point in imprisoning Paul further.

§  Paul was released then.

§  He told Paul to go to Jerusalem to have the case dealt with there before the Sanhedrin.

§  Festus said he would judge there.

§  Paul was angry at such injustice, because Felix and Festus did not find him guilty.

·        Felix: already mentioned.

§  He turned to the final court of appeal, to Caesar himself.

·        Caesar: This was a common name given to Roman emperors, which was after the order of Julius Caesar.

o   Here, the Caesar seems to be Nero.

·        Paul before Caesar

o   Caesar had good knowledge of the Jewish religion.

CHAPTER 26

·        Paul’s innocence

o   Paul: already mentioned.

o   Paul stated he believed in the Resurrection.

o   He also stated about the forgiveness of sins to all who believed.

o   He said that he could understand the Jews’ feelings, due to his persecution of Christians in the past.

o   God forgave all, though.

o   Herod Agrippa II had visited. He was there in the trial.

§  Herod Agrippa II: The son of Herod Agrippa I, and was Rome’s appointed ruler over certain aeas in the north. He knew Jewish affairs well.

§  He understood what Paul was saying and where he was coming from.

§  Paul appealed to him for support.

§  The Christians then, no longer appeared unlawful or rebellious.

o   They did not find any guilt in Paul, and an expert on Jewish affairs declared him innocent, as well.

CHAPTER 27

·        Traveling to Rome

o   Festus arranged for a centurion and a unit of Roman soldiers to take Paul and other prisoners to Rome.

§  Festus: already mentioned.

§  Paul: already mentioned.

§  Two Christians went with Paul – Luke and a church leader of Thessalonica.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  At the port of Fair Havens, Paul advised them not to sail further because of wintry conditions.

·        However, they moved forward rejecting his advice.

·        A fierce storm soon emerges, and it was certain the ship would sink.

·        Paul believed otherwise that they’d be saved, and Paul would reach Rome.

·        Paul instructed them further to save lives.

·        He guided them in survival and stopped the soldiers from killing the prisoners when the ship broke.

·        Everyone was saved and arrived on land.

CHAPTER 28

·        Continuing to Rome

o   The island they landed on was Malta.

§  The locals were helpful and kind to them.

§  Paul, legally a prisoner, spent time with the island’s chief.

·        Paul: already mentioned.

§  Paul and Luke attended to the medical needs that everyone had.

·        Luke: already mentioned.

§  Three months after landing on Malta, the winter was over and sailing should begin again.

§  Paul and everyone else boarded and sailed for Puteoli (in Italy).

·        From there, they went to Rome, meeting Christians along the way.

o   Arriving in Rome

§  Paul was continually guarded by a Roman soldier.

§  He invited the Jewish leaders in Rome to come see him.

·        He talked about the events that brought him there.

·        He pointed out he did nothing wrong in Jewish Law.

·        He had no accusation against the Jewish people.

·        He made an appeal to Caesar to prove his innocence – which was successful.

·        The Jewish leaders told him they heard no reports about “Paul.”

o   They stated that people everywhere were turning against Christians.

o   Paul felt that maybe the Jerusalem Jews thought they’d achieve their goal by pushing Paul out.

§  They may not have told Rome of the trouble.

§  Paul then preaches his message to the Jews first.

·        He told them about the OT that the Gospel he preached was fulfillment of the religion of Israel.

·        Jews rejected his message, however.

§  He then preaches to the Gentiles successfully.

§  He dwelt two whole years in his own hired house.

·        He received all in hospitality that came to him.

·        He preached the Kingdom of God and taught on Jesus Christ.

He did this with great confidence, and no man forbade it.

Paul begins ministry, Antioch responds well | Acts 13-14

Scripture: Acts chapters 13-14

Commentary: The Church at Antioch is talked about first in Chapter 13, as we see it is the first Gentile Church – and it is also the first church to send off missionaries to distant places. They sent off two of the best leaders, Barnabas and Saul (now to be called Paul). They were committed to doing God’s work. Therefore, Barnabas and Paul took John Mark with them, who assisted them. They all sailed for Cyprus and immediately began preaching in the Synagogues. After this, they went west for Paphos, preaching the Gospel all around. Their preaching even resulted in the ruler of the Island to believe, even if the magician in the land persuaded him otherwise.

Then, they arrive at Perga, and John Mark left the other two and returned to Jerusalem. Paul saw failure in John Mark on this situation. However, from Perga, Paul and Barnabas went north to Galatia, and visited Antioch – some call this Pisidian Antioch, because it isn’t the same one as Antioch, Syria. They preached in the Synagogue, and the preaching was similar to Peter and Stephen’s. He outlined the history of Israel, and then showed them about the promised Savior who had come in the person of Jesus Christ. Even though the Jews in Jerusalem rejected and killed Jesus, God raised Him from the dead to show people that He truly was The Messiah, Son of David.

Those who repented and believed on Him would be forgiven. That next week, almost the entire population locally in Pisidian Antioch came to the Synagogue to hear them preach. The Jews boiled in anger about this and feared that the missionaries were taking their Gentile converts by offering them an easier religion – one promising Salvation through faith with no regard for Jewish Law.

Paul and Barnabas, however, stated that it was God’s Plan for Israel to carry out His Message of Salvation to the Gentiles. If the Jews didn’t accept Salvation, then they couldn’t preach it to the Gentiles or do God’s Will. Therefore, Paul and Barnabas turned from the Jews, and then offered Salvation to the Gentiles directly. Angering the Jews even more, they were driven away from the city. The converts, however, spread the Gospel through the nation and kept going with the work.

As we move on to chapter 14, we see Paul and Barnabas go to Iconium, where they did similar things as in Antioch. It was a similar situation, that once salvation grew/conversion grew, the Jewish people became angry and drove them away from the city. As they moved on, they healed a crippled man in Lystra, and people thought they were two of the Greek gods – therefore, the people prepared an offering for them. After doing some work in Lystra, the Jewish people stirred up trouble, and Paul was almost killed.

Then, they move to Derbe, where another Church was founded. They returned to cities where they were once persecuted, but they wanted to strengthen the churches, and therefore, they appointed elders. After a short time in Perga, they returned to the Church that sent them out. They gave thanks to God for the work He’d done through them for the Gentiles.

Peter was miraculously delivered by angels | Acts 12

Scripture: Acts chapter 12

Commentary: The fourth persecution began through Herod Agrippa I, the grandson of Herod the Great. He killed James, the brother of John with a sword. The Rabbis considered death by the sword disgraceful, and therefore, they were rather pleased at the death of James. The murderer of the Apostle was a relative of the Herod that killed John the Baptist. James was the first Apostle to be martyred. He was beheaded before the Jews.

Herod saw that the murder of James pleased the Jews. Herod had carried out one murder and was planning another, which was Peter’s murder. Peter’s arrest occurred during the time of “unleavened bread.” Herod was careful to avoid disturbing the Jews and shedding blood during the feast. Peter was then imprisoned in the town of Antonia where Paul was later imprisoned. Four quaternions of soldiers (being chained to two guards, with two shifts for each), which guarded him until after Easter (Passover) when they planned his death. Herod was careful to respect the Holy Days. Paul had been arrested twice before and once he had escaped.

The Angel of the Lord delivers Peter for the second time. He is sleeping chained to two guards when the Angel of the Lord awoke him and a light shined upon him. The Angel of the Lord smites Peter on the side (wake up). The Angel lifted Peter up and the chains had fallen off. Peter was told to gird up his self, bind on his sandals, cast his garment about, and follow him. Peter thought he was having a “vision.” The Angel led him through the first and second ward, the Iron Gate that lead to the city opened of its own accord before them, they came into the street of the city and the Angel had left Peter.

It would seem the Angels are doing the Father’s business, and when it’s completed, they just disappear. Peter seemed to have been in a state of stupor and not being fully aware of what was happening. The Scripture tells us some things, that Peter assured to himself that the Lord sent His Angel to deliver him from the hand of Herod, and from the expectation of the people of the Jews – to which, he means the anticipation of the Jews to see Peter killed as James.

Peter heads to John Mark’s house (the Church had met in homes, for there wasn’t a church building). They met in Mary’s home, who was the mother of Mark. They may have been travail, “desperate prayer” for Peter and the Church. Peter hurried over and knocked on the door. Rhoda came, and she often had heard Peter preach, so she recognized his voice, and ran to the others in joy that he had come. There was a lack of belief, but prayer continued. They thought she was “mad crazy” and said it must be an angel for they believed in guardian angels.

Peter still knocks. They were astonished at the sight of seeing Peter, and he beckons them with his hand and signals them to have peace. It seemed that he was quite hurried to get inside and explain the situation to them. Peter leaves them for a destination that he didn’t mention, and wanted to talk to them for a moment before he left. A brief conversation ensued, where he told them how the Lord delivered him out of prison. He wanted them to know it was the Lord and not some tall tale that the keepers of the prison would concoct. He admonished them to tell these things to James, the Lord’s brother, and to the rest of the brethren and he departed.

Herod’s wrath was vehement toward the jailers, for it was a matter of life and death to the soldiers when a prisoner was left in their charge. Herod then ordered an extensive search and finally the few guards were drilled and executed to save face for Herod. Herod then left Jerusalem and went to Caesarea where he stayed; the persecution seemed to subside for a season.

Usually, when a leader is over a team, whatever happened to the team or if they get in trouble, people then point to the leader for full responsibility. Herod had them executed so they didn’t try to put responsibility upon him for the escape. The Word of God “grew and multiplied.” Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem having fulfilled their mission. They had taken famine relief to the saints in Judea. John Mark joined them in this journey. Saul and Barnabas took Mark on their first missionary journey, but he got homesick and left the team. Saul and Barnabas separated over Mark at the beginning of the second missionary journey. Mark was a convert of Peter, and was then restored to Paul later.

The program began to gradually turn toward the Gentiles. It wasn’t that the Gospel had changed, but just began to move through the Gentiles because the Jews were quick to reject Christ. The Gospel Message began to “purge” out the demands of the Law of Moses. Quickly, Gentile Ministers came on the scene and Gentile Churches were formed. The Apostle’s council came to agreement for the program of the Gentile Church.

The hatred of the Jews toward the Christians during the Acts period | Acts 11

Scripture: Acts chapter 11

Commentary: We see in this chapter the intense hatred of the Jews toward the Christians and their complete rejection of the Gospel, forcing its teachings upon the Gentiles. The Gentiles open the door to receive the Holy Ghost and all the benefits of Salvation. The chapter can be summarized in three words broadly: 1. Persecution; 2. Prayer; and 3. Progress.

There was a group of people who contended with Peter over works-based Salvation problems, “those of the circumcision.” Another thing to note… The Church becomes satisfied at the preaching to the Gentiles (which could be a problem), as we see in 11:18, “When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life.”

Missionary work begins full scale, and they, which were scattered abroad in Phenice, Cyprus, and Antioch; they preached to the Jews only. Revival also comes to Antioch of Syria. Barnabas is the first missionary that is sent out from the Church.

This was a chapter of firsts:

  • Believers in Antioch are called Christians
  • Barnabas is the first missionary to be sent
  • The first team of missionaries was Paul and Barnabas
  • The first church prophet (Christian prophet) was Agabus (and there were others soon)
  • The first prophecy in verse 28b, “…there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar.”
  • Relief of the poor saints in Jerusalem

Barnabas went to Tarsus seeking Saul, so that they could go together to Antioch, as we see in 11:25-26. They wanted to deliver relief to the brethren who dwelt in Judaea. Just when people thought that the Church was on a decline, many firsts had occurred, which showed that God was not done making miracles, and that He wanted to continue demonstrating His Glory.