Our Foundation in Christ Jesus

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” – Hebrews 6:1-2.

Principles of our foundation according to the Bible:

  • One must become as a little child to enter the Kingdom of God (Matthew 18:3). This is the condition for entry, but not something people should be forever.
  • We should then go on to perfection, as in maturity (Hebrews 6:1-2).
  • We do this in the stature and fullness of Christ Jesus (Ephesians 4:13).
  • Putting away childish things is part of growing up (not only in life, but also the Kingdom)(1 Corinthians 13:11).
  • Christ gives us both the promise and the means to do just this. It does not mean we leave behind the doctrine of Christ, we just leave the constant study of the doctrine of Christ once we have digested it.
  • Peter in 1 Peter 2:2 called it that as newborn babes desire the milk (this involves the Gospel of Jesus Christ basics). However, Paul stated in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 that some cannot handle the meat of the Word of God. But after the milk, you are supposed to have the meat. When you let the Gospel of Christ in your life, it begins to change you and nourish your spirit (the milk). We always have the milk now. Since we have the milk, we must desire the meat. The meat involves letting your life change to how the Bible admonishes – practicing and applying to your life Biblical principles and promises. By letting your life change being governed by the Bible, you are consuming the meat. Some people cannot handle the truth, though, which is why Paul said some of them cannot handle it.

The foundation in Christ Jesus

“Therefore thus saith the Lord God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16).

“For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11).

Once we let the Word of God take root in our lives by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we must continue to grow as trees grow once their roots are digested/buried in the earth. For the Christian, everything is rooted and grounded in Christ Jesus. This comes first in the Person of Jesus Christ, and then in the teaching of Jesus. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. After the teachings, we follow the work of Jesus Christ, for He is our All in all, the Alpha and the Omega.

John the Baptist said in Matthew 3:10 that the axe must be laid to the tree. This is referring to the Garden of Eden incident where man chose to eat from the wrong tree. The work of Jesus Christ involves cutting us away from the wrong tree when we place our faith in Christ Jesus for Salvation. That Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is the Law – and God intends that we who are in Christ Jesus be cut off from that tree so we can be placed onto the Tree of Life just how He originally intended. We can only do this by trusting in Jesus Christ. We eat of the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ through Communion/Salvation with Him, and that means we eat of the Tree of Life and receive the seed that plants us. Jesus evidenced this in Matthew 13 when talking about the tilling of the ground, and how each believer is represented in their spiritual growth.

How do we honor the Person of Jesus Christ then? Look in 1 Corinthians 3:11 above. Paul wrote his statement about that to the Corinthian people, because others were trying to build onto the foundation of Jesus Christ, when that wasn’t necessary. Some found their work destroyed, as the people strayed off doing their own things instead of focusing on the Person of Jesus Christ. Anyone laying foundations other than Jesus Christ are false prophets or false teachers that seek to make their own kingdoms instead of relying on the Kingdom of God.

Isaiah prophesied this in 28:16 as we read above. Peter quoted that in 1 Peter 2:6. The Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the Chief Cornerstone. He is the first one to be laid as the foundation, and then all others line up with Him. Some preachers have called this, “Coming into alignment.” He is the precious stone, not made of any old material on Earth, but of the abundance of God. Better than a pearl of great price. We do read in the Book of Revelation that He is the Alpha and Omega. This tells us then that Jesus is not only the Chief Cornerstone, but also the Capstone. He lays the foundation, and covers all of us in His Love. How awesome that is!

Taking the Gospel to the World – From Jerusalem to the End (Journey the Word 10)

Pentecost and the Beginning of Ministry

Book of Acts

Acts was a book written by Luke around 63 A.D., addressed to a man named Theophilus. Acts appears to cover a lot of the history of the first church. Much of it is about the spread of the gospel throughout Jerusalem over to Rome. Luke also notes a lot about the Holy Spirit’s involvement and role in the early church. That is where Luke starts to note on in the beginning of Acts, that through the Holy Ghost, Jesus gave commandments to the chosen apostles. The believers, especially those addressed by Jesus in 1:8 are promised to receive power after the Holy Ghost comes upon them. The Holy Ghost shall come upon believers by baptism in the Holy Ghost, as stated in 1:5.

Soon, Luke writes about the disciples going into the upper room, in when the day of Pentecost comes, they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance (2:4). They were all amazed (as in shocked) when this happened and thought each other was drunk with new wine. However, Peter corrected them and then noted a prophecy that God will pour out His Spirit upon man in the last days, bringing gifts of the Spirit.

Next, Peter begins the first sermon for the church. Peter proclaimed in his sermon that Jesus is the Messiah, attributed to His resurrection from the cross. Peter brought a message of repentance (as he does with most of his teachings we see) to three-thousand people who were saved on the day of Pentecost. He blamed the people for crucifying Christ. When they questioned him about this, Peter answered them telling them to repent and be baptized. This could be so their sins are remitted, and then he fills them with the Holy Ghost. What was amazing is that the Lord added people to the church daily, the church had regular attendees, and the people gave regularly to support the church. The church’s mission was being actively fulfilled.

Soon (in chapter 3), Luke notes Peter healing a crippled man, who was apparently incurable. Jewish leaders were then outraged and started opposing the ministerial work they had done. Those that witnessed the healing were in awe and gathered around Peter. Peter then administered his second sermon, by telling them too that they crucified Christ and need to repent and be baptized. Jesus was the long-promised Messiah, which Peter claimed frequently. At about five-thousand total now preached to, John and Peter were arrested for their preaching about Jesus.

After Peter and John were released from their arrest, they came and spoke to the people. Soon, everyone there was filled with the Holy Ghost. They had many signs and wonders among the people, from healing the sick, casting out unclean spirits, etc. Soon, the apostles were arrested and put in the common prison. The angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and instructed them to speak in the temple. So, they did. Someone reported they were in the temple, so they were bound again. They claim to obey God, not men. The apostles were then beaten and warned. However, they did not cease to teach/preach.

Soon, they recruited seven men (of honest report). Stephen and Philip were appointed as the first two deacons. Over time, Stephen was arrested and then stoned, and then the disciples were witnessing in Judaea and Samaria – baptizing and filling people with the Holy Ghost. Philip converted an Ethiopian man and baptized him. After that, Paul (aka Saul) was found to be quite a persecutor toward the disciples. The Lord blinded Paul and questioned him. He told Paul to go meet Ananias, who would then restore his sight, after filling him with the Holy Ghost. Soon, Paul would begin preaching at Damascus before heading to Jerusalem. The Jews wanted him killed.

Peter did a few other miracles, such as healing Aeneas and raising Tabitha from the dead. Later, foreign missions would begin for Paul and Barnabas, who departed from Antioch to first Seleucia and then to Cyprus. Soon, they moved to preach in other areas, such as Perga and back to Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and once again back to Antioch. Paul was stoned, but not killed.

Next, Judas (aka Barsabas) and Silas were sent to help Paul and Barnabas. Barnabas soon requested that John (aka Mark) would come along, but Paul thought otherwise. Therefore, Paul and Barnabas separated. John went with Barnabas to Cyrpus, while Silas went with Paul to Cyprus. Then, eventually, Paul selected Timotheus for work. Later, Paul and Silas were imprisoned, where they converted a fearful, suicidal guard. Soon, the magistrates let the two of them go.

Now, Paul and Silas went on another missionary journey to Thessalonica, Berea, Athens, Corinth, and back to Antioch. A Jew named Apollos began preaching at Ephesus and then to Corinth, before John’s disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost. Miracles were done in Ephesus by Paul, before an uproar broke out. This caused Paul to have to break up this uproar, before he went to Caesarea and then to Jerusalem. Once he went there, he was arrested again. The Jews plotted to kill Paul, and he was tried before a few rulers before it was decided he done nothing wrong.

Paul would then sail for Rome. While on his journey, he came upon stormy seas and a shipwreck before he was finally able to reach Rome. Once there, he continued to preach, heal, and rebuke unclean spirits as he had always done. This ends the book of Acts by Luke, where Luke ends it without conclusion.

Timeline of events in the Book of Acts

  • Jesus ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:1-11).

  • Matthias was chosen to be an apostle in place of Judas Iscariot (Acts 1:12-26). Peter cited Psalms 69:25 and 109:8 as the reasons for selecting this apostle.

  • Pentecost: The Holy Spirit filled disciples and 3,000 were saved (Acts 2). Jesus promised the Comforter would come and be with His People forever, in that the Disciples would be baptized with the Holy Spirit (John 14:16; Acts 1:5). This also fulfilled Joel’s prophecy that God would pour out His Spirit on all people (Joel 2:28-32).

  • Peter and John performed miracles and faced persecution (Acts 3-5).

  • 32 AD – First Christian Martyr: Stephen is killed in Jerusalem (Acts 6-7).

  • Persecution caused believers to disperse (Acts 8:1-4). The disciples become witnesses in Judea and Samaria just as Jesus said (Acts 1:8).

  • Philip preaches in Samaria and baptized an Ethiopian man (Acts 8:5-40).

  • 37 AD – Conversion of Saul (Paul)(Acts 9:1-19).

  • Saul’s early travels (Acts 9:20-31; Galatians 1:15-18).

  • Peter took the Gospel to Cornelius; Gentiles are filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 10-11). Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be a light for the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6; Luke 2:32).

  • Herod Agrippa had James put to death and imprisoned Peter (Acts 12:1-19).

  • 44 AD – Herod Agrippa died (Acts 12:20-24).

  • 47-49 AD – First Missionary Journey: Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13-14).

  • James wrote his epistle.

  • Jerusalem council: Gentiles are not required to obey Jewish religious laws (Acts 15). During the Council, James cited Amos 9:11-12 about the Gentiles being included in God’s Plan. Paul wrote Galatians.

  • 49-51 AD – Second Missionary Journey: Paul, Silas, and a few others (Acts 16-18). Paul wrote 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

  • 52-57 AD – Third Missionary Journey: Paul, Timothy, and a few others (Acts 19-21). Paul wrote 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Romans.

  • Paul is arrested and appeared before Felix. He was sentenced to two years in prison for preaching the Gospel (Acts 21-24).

  • 59-60 AD – Journey to Rome: Paul was sent to Rome to stand trial (Acts 27-28). While imprisoned, Paul received Word from the Lord that Paul would testify about Christ Jesus in Rome (Acts 23:11).

  • 60-62 AD – Paul spent two years under house arrest in Rome and shared the Gospel (Acts 28:30-31). Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Paul wrote Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon.

1 & 2 Timothy

1st Timothy

Paul begins the letter by addressing Timothy, his own son in the faith (meaning Paul was his spiritual father and leader). Right away, Paul warns against false doctrine, telling Timothy to “teach no other doctrine.” We find out that the O.T. Law is for the lawless and unrighteous people (unsaved, probably), rather than the righteous man (saved, probably). Too many times, Jewish leaders, false teachers, Pharisees – for example – tried to push the Old Testament Law onto believers, causing them to be led astray. Paul then instructs that prayer, thanksgiving, etc. be made for all men, including kings and those in authority, and for ourselves to lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.

Next, Paul talks about how women should conduct themselves in the church. Women should have modesty, especially in apparel, and sober. Women should also not have braided hair with gold or pearls, or other costly things in it. Additionally, women should not interrupt in the church while the teacher is talking, and should let the church leader be a leader over her. She should not take authority over the church (unless she is appointed to do so).

Now, Paul beings in chapter three by talking about the qualifications for overseers in the church. A bishop, Paul states, should be blameless, married to one wife, vigilant, sober, well behaved, hospitable, and able to teach. They should also not be given to wine, nor greedy, but rather patient, not a brawler or covetous. Bishops should rule well their own home, with children in subjection. The bishop should not be a novice and have a good report among men of being righteous. A deacon, as Paul writes, should be grave, not double-tongued, not given to much wine, not greedy, be able to hold revelations of faith or God in their mind, blameless, have grave wives, not slanderous, sober, and faithful in all things. Additionally, deacons should be married to one wife, rule their children and house well, and be bold in the faith of Jesus Christ. Overall, the standards listed for both bishops and deacons ensure they live good moral and spiritual lives.

Next, Paul gives more warnings about false teachers and those that will depart from the faith. Many teachers are liars and fakes, he warns. Timothy is instructed to teach the Word of God. After that, Paul gives advice about widows, and how they should be treated. Elders should be treated with double-honor, especially if they work hard in the Word. He also notes on respect to be given to servants. Soon, Paul writes about false teachers again, talking about their personality before warning about the love of money. Paul then encourages Timothy to fight the good fight of faith, following after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, and meekness. In addition, those that are rich should not be high-minded or trustful in uncertain riches, but that they give freely. Paul finishes the letter with final words to Timothy.

2nd Timothy

Paul begins the letter with the usual greeting before telling about desiring to see Timothy. Paul begs Timothy to stay faithful and continue the good work, encouraging him to have no fear, but power, love, and a sound mind. He then instructs Timothy to guard the gospel, holding fast to the original writings and teachings of it. Timothy must keep faithful to legitimate doctrine, and stay away from false teachers. Timothy should stay close to faithful men, endure hardness, and remember that Jesus is the seed of David – raised from the dead, so he shall endure all things for Christ’s sake.

Next, Timothy is instructed to study to show himself approved unto God, as a worker who rightly divides the Word of Truth without shame. Then, Paul warns him of the coming departing of the faith by men, and that men will take part in many unrighteous acts as a result. Paul then instructs Timothy that all Scripture is God-breathed, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness. This is given so that the man of God may be perfect and throughly furnished unto all good works.

Then, Paul commands Timothy again to preach the Word of God. He writes to let Timothy know that men will not endure sound doctrine, so the word needs preached in season, out of season, to reprove, rebuke, and exhort. Finally, Paul claims he has fought the good fight of faith and finished his course. He knows of his crown of righteousness that the Lord shall give himself and to all them that love his appearing. After his final greetings, Paul states that the Lord shall deliver him from every evil work, so that he will be preserved unto His Heavenly kingdom. He then does his farewell to end the letter.

Paul had many thoughts overall in prison, and this letter was no different. Paul knew that in his own suffering, he would benefit one day no matter what in the kingdom of God. However, Paul was very intent on the destruction of false teachers and their fake doctrines. This letter serves as just one of them that warn strictly against false teachings. Seems like Paul wanted to encourage his spiritual son Timothy to persevere in the faith, to stay true to God’s Word, to have good diligence in his work, and to avoid confusing doctrines. Paul’s sufferings made his own will stronger to tell Timothy to be strong in the faith and guard against false teachings. Paul was getting ready for execution soon, it seems, so he was intent on letting his companion Timothy know his last feelings and instructions.

Jesus spoke that Scripture is the inspired Word of God, which means that it should be taught with all accuracy and detail to the text. When someone perverts the text and causes confusion, they are insulting the wisdom and knowledge of God. We must (as Christians) safeguard the good and true Word of God to full accuracy.

Titus

Starting the letter, Paul greets Titus, before talking about the qualifications of elders. Therefore, Titus was to appoint elders in every city. The elders needed to be blameless, married to one wife, and have faithful children who are not unruly. For bishops, they had to be blameless, not self-willed, meek, not given to wine, not a brawler (or striker like other texts), and not given to lucre (money). In addition, bishops should be hospitable, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate, steadfast in the faithful Word, and a teacher.

Next, Paul instructs how to deal with false teachers. Paul wants their mouths to be stopped, and that they should be sharply rebuked. After that, Paul teaches that Titus should speak sound doctrine. Also, that the aged men and women (elders probably), should be sober, grave, temperate, and sound in faith and love and patience. Aged women should especially behave in holiness, not accuse falsely, not given to much wine, and teach good things. They should also teach young women to be sober, to love their husbands and children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, and obedient to their own husbands. Young men should be like the young women in the same way. All should have a pattern of good works, as well as other things. Paul also instructs concerning servants, which usually centers on the topic of respect.

Next, Paul teaches Titus to make the people obedient to higher authority, to be good overall, and without sin and unrighteous acts. Paul finishes the letter emphasizing good works that the members of the church should learn to maintain good works for necessary uses. After that, Paul does his quick farewell to end the letter to Titus.

The pastoral letters to Titus and Timothy emphasize good, sound doctrine, without false teaching. Both pastors were very much warned against false teachers and Paul made it very clear to watch out for them. Titus was left in Crete to set elders in order, so Paul wanted things to be done right. With an emphasis commonly in Paul’s letters of faith, hope, and love – we see the same type of teachings here. Seemed like a lot of Paul’s ministry work centered on faith, hope, and love. This brought a good, solid foundation for the church – that sadly, has rarely been adopted. Even with the foundation in place, people still planted churches in future generations centered on legalism and Old Testament Law, rather than God’s grace and love through Jesus Christ and the beautiful blessings that each of His people acquire. God plants His grace on people, because He loves them.

1, 2, & 3 John

1 John

John begins the letter by talking about the Word of Life being made to manifest eternal life into God’s people. He also explains, “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” He first addresses an issue in verse 8, where he says, “if we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” He goes on to say, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” Next, John declares that Jesus Christ is our advocate, and that we should keep His commandments. That is, we should love one another, but not the world. We should not love the world, because the spirit of the antichrist dwells in the world. John warns the audience of those who deny the Son, Jesus Christ, and for His people to not be ashamed before Him at His coming.

Now, in chapter three, John puts out a couple ways Christians can classify themselves as children. To be children of God, it is important to be saved, as His people are under the “Spirit of adoption,” according to Romans 8:15. Also, in Romans 8:16, it says “the spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.” After this, John identifies the children of Satan as those who disobey or transgress the law. It says in verse 8 that those who commit sin are of the devil, since the devil sinned from the beginning. The Father sent the Son to destroy the works of the devil. Now, John speaks again of the children of God and who they are. They are ones who practice righteousness, do not commit sin, and that they love one another.

Next, we learn several valuable things from John. One of them is that if you hate your brother, you’re a murderer – and no murderer has eternal life. In addition, whatever we ask, we shall receive from Him, because of keeping His commandments. We learn in the next chapter that “greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” Next, John instructs that love be of God, because God is love. If we love on another, God dwells in us. We learn several other things about love. “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casteth out fear” (4:18a). We learn throughout 1 John that God loved us before we loved Him. Also, that it’s because God loved us that we love Him.

In chapter five, John instructs about faith being so important, that the victory we have being born of God, we use to overcome the world by faith. It is because of our faith in Jesus Christ that we overcome the world. John acknowledges the trinity in verse 7 and 8, before stating that we have life through God’s Son. John then declares why he wrote this letter in verse 13, “that ye may know that ye have eternal life.” He then gives his audience assurance that “if we ask anything according to His Will, He heareth us.” John then gives his final testimonies and instructions. We can be sure that we are of God, and we know the Son of God is come and given us understanding that we are in Him. He testifies in 5:20b, “this is the true God, and eternal life.” His final warning is to “keep yourselves from idols.” A lot of what John was hitting at is that the world is a slave to evil and wickedness, and that we must remain in Him, if we have hopes of surviving spiritually and being children of God.

2 John

John once again warns against false teaching as he did in 1 John. We learn also in this letter that truth and love are inseparable. We should walk in truth, not just admire it. We should also love one another, a genuine love. Therefore, John starts the letter with his greeting before talking about walking in truth, and that we had a commandment from the beginning to love one another. The love we have, we should walk in it. Next, John talks about the deceivers who have entered the world who do not confess Jesus as Christ. These deceivers are an antichrist. John warns next that those who transgress and abide not in the doctrine of Christ do not have God. However, those that do abide in His doctrine do have both the Father and the Son. The warning right after that is if these deceivers come to your house with this kind of (false) doctrine, do not receive him or help him out. That is how this second letter ended.

False teaching is a major problem in the body of Christ today, because people are focused on their own will, instead of humbling to God’s Will. John points out that even in his day, false teaching is prevalent. He also speaks to keep an eye out for those that practice unrighteousness and do not hold true to the apostolic truth. This can be reflected to a contemporary principle of watching out for false teachers (and prophets), especially in the last days before the Lord’s coming. John seemed to have some kind of apostolic love toward the “elect lady,” as he spoke that he loved in truth. John seemed to end the letter early, because he expected to see the “elect lady” soon. So, John’s letter, in a quick summary, went like this: He encourages the people to persevere in love and belief in God, to have nothing to do with false teachers – not even to support or give them hospitality, and then a hope to see them soon.

It also seems that John has a strong will against those who deny Christ, as in verse 9, we also see this in 1 John 2:23. This is to be expected by someone who loves Christ so much. John was a very faithful disciple, so seeing his love manifest into feelings of discontentment against those who do evil, speak falsely, and deny Christ. John is a good example of a disciple who was well trained in the beautiful teachings of Jesus Christ. John teaches this audience these things, because he is setting the example that the Lord crafted in him to make other people more like disciples of Jesus.

3 John

John starts the letter addressing Gaius and wishing him prosperity. He praises Gaius’ faithfulness and charity unto the church. This is because he helps missionaries faithfully. This sets a good example of other Christians, which is why John praises it. It also allows other audiences to realize the importance of helping missionaries. Now, missionaries are not beggars, they are simple people doing God’s work by carrying the gospel of Jesus Christ around the world. Therefore, it is important to support their endeavors. Next, John comments on another leader, Diotrephes, who is like an opposite of Gaius. Diotrephes was someone who did not receive John well, thus firing malicious words, and not being content with himself enough to help people in the church. Lastly, he comments on Demetrius, another leader, who had good reports from all men. People loved Demetrius. John claimed that Demetrius does well. John ends the letter letting Gaius know he would see him face-to-face soon (which is probably why the letter was short).

When it comes to walking in the truth, as John wrote in verse 3, this literally means to be good in your faith so much that people observe and testify of you. Gaius was a man that John thought mentionable as walking in the truth. Of course, Diotrephes was rebuked, mainly for undermining an office in the church and preventing people from being hospitable. Moreover, it is only right to not imitate evil (but rather to do good of God). Demetrius was another good example just like Gaius, which is why he was also mentioned.

It is important in the body of Christ, that God’s people do not mock the example of Diotrephes, but rather take on a better approach like Gaius and Demetrius. Therefore, we, as Christians, should support missionaries and help those who are in need. While doing this, we heed John’s warning in 2 John, where he warns about false teachers. If we heed those warnings, and give faithfully – then we will also walk in the truth, prosper, and be in good health. By supporting the Great Commission, we are doing the Will of God for all His people. We can expect to be blessed in this degree as stated, if we do God’s Will.

As such, we can put labels on these three men. Then, we can know what people would follow as an example. Gaius was a dependable leader in the church, who helped people. Diotrephes was the dominating or controlling official. Last, Demetrius is the kind messenger, who seems to have a good heart like Gaius. These are great examples.

Revelation

Jesus speaks unto John initially telling him that He is the Alpha and Omega, beginning and the ending. The Lord directs John to a vision and tells him to write down all he sees and then to send it to the seven churches in Asia: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea. When John saw the glory of the Lord Jesus before him so magnificent, he fell at His feet. The Lord told him not to fear. The Lord had seven stars and seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars represent angels who were assigned to each church, while the seven golden candlesticks are the actual churches. Next, Jesus addresses each church, telling of what good or bad things they have done, how they can improve, and the rewards and consequences of their further action. This seems to be in hopes to improve the churches and strengthen believers to prepare them for the end times.

Soon, John sees a door open in Heaven, to which a voice calling him in. He saw God on His throne, with a rainbow surrounding it. Twenty-four elders were sitting around the throne with white robes and crowns of gold worshiping the Lord. There were also four beasts surrounding the throne as well, worshiping the Lord God at all times. Next, God is seen holding the book with the seven seals and asks who is worthy to open it. The only one found to be able to open it was the lamb that was slain. The Lamb (Jesus presumably), came and took the book. The Lamb was then worshiped.

Then, the Lamb began opening the seals, the first six actually. The first revealed a white horse ready to conquer, the second a red horse that was to rake peace from the earth (and was armed with a sword), the third a black horse that had scales in his hand, the fourth a pale horse that was Death sent to kill the fourth part of the earth, the fifth were martyrs crying out for vengeance to the killers of themselves; which they were given rest and told to wait, and the sixth revealed a great earthquake, black sun, blood red moon, starts falling from the sky, and mountains moved. High-ranking men, such as kings and wealthy people hid themselves. These men requested that mountains and rocks fall on them so they did not have to see the face of God or partake in the wrath of the Lamb.

Before the seventh seal was opened, 144,000 people were sealed on their foreheads declaring ownership from God, which was done by four angels at the four corners of the earth. Then, a great multitude of people came to salvation in Christ. Soon, an event begins called the great tribulation. Next, the Lamb opens the seventh seal, and silence was in Heaven for half an hour. Seven angels with seven trumpets lined before God. Each began blowing their trumpet. After the first trumpet blew, hail, fire, and blood rained on the earth. After the second blew, the sea turned to blood. After the third blew, the waters were polluted by a great star from Heaven (star was called Wormwood). Then, the fourth blew, the sun, moon, and stars were darkened. Now, after the fifth trumpet was blown, a bottomless pit of locusts was opened in the earth, and swarms of locusts came out to torment non-believers. The locusts were instructed to not bother believers in the faith.

After the sixth trumpet blew, four angels were released to kill one-third of the population of earth. In addition, 200 million horsemen were released to kill one-third of the earth as well. Still people would not repent and come to believe in the Lord. An angel then came giving John a scroll to eat, so that he may prophesy before people. People were still in unbelief and unrepentant. Two witnesses were sent to preach, which were two candlesticks. A beast that came up from the bottomless pit destroyed them. The two candlesticks arose a few days later and flew up to the heavens, and an earthquake was released upon the earth killing 7,000 men. The seventh trumpet finally sounded that the world has become the kingdom of Christ to which he reigns forever.

Next, a story began about the woman (people of Israel) and the dragon, who was Satan. This tells of Satan’s fall from Heaven probably, which included taking a third of the angels with him, after warring with Michael and his angels. The dragon was cast out of Heaven, and then became an accuser of the believers. Soon, the dragon begins war on earth, persecuting Israel (for the woman brought forth the child, who was Jesus). A beast then rose up out of the sea, which was wounded eventually then brought back to life, thus mocking the power of Christ (probably the beast is the antichrist). He seeks, after regenerating, to make war with the saints. The beast then commands worship. Another beast soon appeared which would direct people to worship the first beast. They would then mark those of worshipers with the number 666 on their right hand or forehead.

Now, the next two chapters, 14-15, introduce judgments that will occur in chapters 16-18. In chapter 14, 144,000 outstanding believers in Heaven are shown next to the Lamb. The last half of the tribulation, an angel proclaims the gospel of Jesus, to call people to fear God. Those are warned if they worship the beast, they will meet their doom, which was permanent. The angel also warns the saints to stay faithful, as they will probably die. Next, in chapter 15, seven angels had the seven last plagues. These were final judgments. Many believers were noticed to have had victor over the beast, and so they worshiped.

In chapter 16, the seven vials of the wrath of God were set to be unleashed. The first one poured out was sores upon men, the second was that the sea became blood, the third poured out blood becoming of rivers and fountains, the fourth activated fierce hear from the sun that would scorch men, the fifth poured out darkness upon the seat of the beast, the sixth poured out over the river Euphrates would dry the waters to prepare for kings to come. This prepare for them to come to Armageddon, before the seventh poured out a great earthquake – to which also hail and stones the weight of talents fell upon them.

Next, a great whore appears, which represents Babylon (a kingdom of false religions). The whore was then explained, before it was to be destroyed. This brought the doom of Babylon, and those who loved Babylon mourned over its death, while heaven rejoices. Praise was brought before God for His judgment, before a marriage supper was held for the Lamb. Soon, Heaven opened to bring forth Christ, Faithful and True He was called, to which He came to make war. The war will end swiftly as the beast and the ungodly are destroyed.

An angel then came from Heaven with the key to the bottomless pit. He took the dragon, and bound him for a thousand years. He was to be there, without deceiving the nations, for one-thousand years before being released for a while. Meanwhile, those who stayed faithful to Christ will reign with Christ for a thousand years. When the thousand years finish, Satan is loosed, and goes and deceives the nations – Gog and Magog – to gather them for battle. Fire came down from Heaven and devoured them. Satan, along with the beast and the false prophet, are cast into the lake for fire to be tormented night and day forever.

Next came the great white throne judgment, where people were judged according to their works. Death and hell were cast into the lake of fire, which was second death. Those not found in the book of life were cast into the lake of fire, as well. In chapter 21, John notes the new Heaven and new earth, as the first heaven and earth are passed away. There is no sea. Soon, a New Jerusalem descended out of Heaven, which was magnificent in every way. The Lord and the Lamb was the temple of the New Jerusalem, and there was no need for the sun or the moon, because God’s glory was so bright to have lit up the city completely. There were more glorious things about it, as well.

The Lord declares that He shall come quickly. John then fell down in worship before the feet of the angel that showed him these things. The Lord spoke more declaring who He is, what He will do, etc. An invite to come to the Lord was after this, which mentions that the Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Then, a warning is given for those who modify anything in the book. The book then concludes with the assurance that the Lord Jesus will surely come quickly.

Timeline from the Pastoral Epistles to Revelation

  • 62 AD – James the brother of Jesus was martyred. Paul was released from house arrest in Rome. Paul then travels through the Mediterranean visiting churches. Paul wrote 1 Timothy and Titus, and Peter wrote 1 and 2 Peter.

  • 64 AD – Emperor Nero began persecuting Christians. Paul and Peter are soon imprisoned in Rome. Paul wrote his last epistle, 2 Timothy.

  • 66 AD – Jewish uprising began in Jerusalem against the Romans.

  • 66-68 AD – Paul and Peter were martyred in Rome. The books of Hebrews and Jude were written.

  • 70 AD – Romans plundered and fired the Temple in Jerusalem causing great destruction.

  • 80 AD – Domitian was made emperor and carried on persecuting Christians.

  • John wrote the Gospel of John, and 1, 2, and 3 John.

  • 92-94 AD – John is exiled to the Island of Patmos. John also wrote the Book of Revelation.

  • 100 AD – John died in Ephesus.

Jesus teaches on character – Part 2

Mark 8:31 says, “And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.”

It seems that Peter was commonly lacking of faith and understanding, and indeed in need of the Lord’s wisdom imputed upon him. His lack of faith and understanding led him to many problems (some may think it is ridicule), but Jesus helped Peter understand what is best by correcting him. Thankfully, Peter was teachable enough to “stick around” for Jesus’ admonitions, to which, since he was willing to endure, it appears Jesus trusted Peter, especially when Peter finally admitted that Jesus is “Thou art Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Therefore, Jesus said to Peter, “Thou art Peter… upon this rock I will build my church.” Peter sees the truth and through Spiritual eyes, and this is what brings Peter though his failure.

It is good to note that Peter is not the foundation, but Peter would have a big part in the Church. We see the shakiness of the Church just as the shakiness of Peter’s life. This was likely Jesus teaching us that there is a weakness of the flesh, and that the Church would become strong and solid, but also shaky. Peter was simply a man that lacked understanding and faith, much like what we were before becoming a Christian – to which, Jesus helps to transform and renew so that we may be pleasing unto Him!

Now, John the Beloved caught the soft side of Jesus, the side that longs for our Love (to which, John’s personality must be a loving kind), and he shares is in John 6:68-69, “Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Responses to Jesus’ activities

Transfiguration

The Transfiguration was a literal event that happened to the Disciples in a vision (Peter, James, and John), to which, Jesus had taken them to a high mountain after a time of teaching and after the confession of Peter that Jesus was the Son of the Living God (the Christ). Luke 9:33, “And it came to pass, as they departed from him, Peter said unto Jesus, Master, it is good for us to be here: and let us make three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias: not knowing what he said.”

Foot Washing

Peter’s reaction is noted in John 13:8, “Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.” From foot washing, we can learn that Jesus is teaching us Humility and cleansing of the inner man, to which, wiping the feet is a very humble act and involves service to another individual. When we do this, we are showing that we “servants” are not greater than our Lord, therefore, we should humble ourselves as equals one to another and serve each other.

But Master, what shall we have?

We see this recorded in Matthew 19:27-30, “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life. But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.”

Peter here seems to have a bit of self-centeredness, to which, Jesus answers him anyway by addressing all of them at one time who were there. Peter wants to know what they will have if they decide to follow Him then (abandoning everything). Jesus noted that those who make sacrifices for the sake of Jesus will find that what they receive in eternity is far greater than anything lost in the present world; sacrifices such as wealth, status, family or friends, however, in the age to come, they will reign with Christ!

Jesus is Alive!

Matthew records that Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to the sepulchre at the end of the Sabbath around dawn. The Angelic guard that met them at the tomb gave them a message, “Go quickly, and tell his Disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.” After this, there is an account of the women meeting Jesus – note that they are able to touch Him, for they hold Him by the feet and worship Him. Matthew then records that the “eleven” went away into Galilee unto the mountain where Jesus appointed to meet them. Therefore, they meet Him there and worshipped Him – however, some had doubted. The special message for Peter is noted in Mark, as there is an addition in the statement the Angelic guard said to them, “But go your way, tell his Disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.”

Jesus and Peter’s final meeting

The conversation around the fire between Peter and Jesus involved Jesus asking Peter, “Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these?” Peter replied then, “Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee,” (Jesus is re-establishing His relationship with Peter, returning Peter unto Himself). After Jesus asked him this a few times, Peter replied and was grieved, “Lord, thou knowest all things: thou knowest that I love thee.” Then, Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.”

It seems that because Peter denied Jesus thrice, Jesus is requiring a triple confession of Love from Peter. Original calling was “fishers of men.” This current calling is “lambs and sheep.” The teaching technique of Jesus is usually first physical, and then Spiritual. First, there was the involvement of reeling people into Jesus, and then the second was feeding His flock. The third confession was what seemed the Lord was looking for from Peter, to which, Peter was filled with uneasiness and grief. He was then sure that He loved the Lord.

Peter asked how many times Jesus’ followers should forgive other before taking action. Jesus replied and said that action was not to be done for an alternative for forgiveness. That is, believers do not take action against offenders, and that forgiveness shall be issued no matter how many times offenders do them wrong. We need to accept this view that no matter how much people do us wrong, we should forgive (and even forget). Matthew 18:21-22, “Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.”

Jesus teaches disciples character – Part 1

1 Peter 1:7 says, “That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”

We talk about Peter’s character growth in this first part of a few part series. We will be discussing the different ways Peter grew in spiritual character in Christ Jesus. Here in this part, we will talk about the background of Peter.

Peter’s background

Peter’s names:

  • Simon: who people knew him to be and who he though he was.
  • Peter: who he was as a Christian – somewhat still carnal.
  • Cephas: who God desired him to be: stable, steadfast, and reliable.

Lessons from his naming:

  • We have an idea of who we think we are.
  • We are a person that others know us to be.
  • We can become that which God desires us to be.

Peter appeared to be interested in becoming a fisher of men, instead of being a fisherman as he was – to which, this was a calling from God to use his skills of fishing in ministry, so that he may help transform people and distribute His Word. He received in-person training from Jesus Himself, which had to not only be humbling, but also rigorous (positive kind of rigorous, but rough nonetheless). This showed that Peter was drawn to God’s Call through Jesus.

He learned to trust Jesus in several accounts:We see in Luke 5:4-11, Jesus was telling Peter to drop his net(s) in, and he protested that they were fishing all night, however, Peter trusted anyway – and by doing so, they reaped a bountiful harvest. In addition, in Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus is seen walking on the water. The water was tossing the ship the Disciples were on, and they became fearful when they saw Jesus. Peter wondered if he should come to Jesus, and Jesus allowed him and gave him the power to walk on the water, but then the wind became boisterous, and Peter lost his faith as he thought he would fall in. Jesus said to him, “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” Through this, it caused the Disciples to worship Him, exalting Him as truly the Son of God.

In the former, Peter is the impetuous, courageous, restless, flamboyant, ambitious of challenges and power; and in the latter, we see him patient, restful, forbearing, trustful, loving, and with the old buoyancy and courage purified, and the different it makes in his ways. Simon Peter, in the former, saw his Lord transfigured; and in the latter, Cephas, is transfigured by the boundless grace of God. The crude, tactless, ill mannered, brash, brassy, stumbling, disobedient, and offending Disciple was retrained through Jesus’ lessons, in that he held Jesus as precious to him.

Simon was the one that needed a lesson of faith (as in the ship incident), because it didn’t seem as if James and John had any problems believing Jesus, however, Peter did, as he questioned Jesus when He said drop in the nets. When Jesus chose us to be His Disciples, He stepped in to our ship, and taught us how to have faith, and that through simple acts of faith, we will reap a bountiful harvest – and though we may toil all night, joy shall arise in the morning!

It seems that through some of the different ways of Jesus teaching him to have faith; it seems Peter continually needs to be brought under subjection, because of his carnal ways. Jesus teaches him, however, to be more firm, to which, is done through the marvelous works of Jesus. At first, he didn’t trust Jesus’ word, because he claimed that they toiled all night for fish but to no avail. Through risking it, Peter cast the net anyway, and reaped a harvest. Dropped to his knees before Jesus, saying that he was a sinful man, for he is astonished at the Lord’s power (to which, he could not believe). Peter has fear, but Jesus calms him, telling him his call from God to be fishers of men.

Later, Peter is called Cephas, which means, “a stone.” This is prophesying his call further from God. His soul would be strong, unyielding, and firm in purpose. Cephas is defined as, “strong, bold, stable, grounded, converted.” Later, in his writings, we see Peter learning many different lessons in his journey of “discipleship” – to which, he calls the trial of our faith more precious than gold that perishes even when tried by fire (1 Peter 1:7), acknowledges Jesus as the precious cornerstone over all of us lively stones (1 Peter 2:4-7), and recognizing the problems of the lust of the world and being converted away from them (2 Peter 1:4). Lastly, he was concerned for his faith, and prayed for it that it would not fail (1 Peter 5:10-11).

Beginning the Major and Minor Prophet work studies | Introductory post

Non-Writing Prophets are prophets that are mentioned but have not written a book in the Bible – versus a Writing Prophet who has written a book in the Bible. There are major and minor ones of each, however, the more prominent Major and Minor Prophets are the ones who are Writing Prophets. A Major Prophet is described as one who contains a large amount of material. A Minor Prophet, though they are not less than the Major Prophets, they usually contain less or are shorter in length for information. All prophets, Writing and Non-Writing; Major and Minor, mattered in the development of God’s Will for His People and other lands.

Elijah was an especially prominent and important Non-Writing Prophet. He was brought into the text suddenly as Melchizedek was, and there is no mention of a father, mother, or any beginning of his days. Little is known of Elijah, and some think he was dropped out of the clouds as if a messiah would be. He grew quickly into a witness of God as a prophet, and would change a good part of history within a fraction of time, and then bestow a royal blessing before being whisked off into Heaven by a chariot of fire.

An outline of Elijah’s prophecy:

  • In 1 Kings 17:1-4, we see his first prophecy – to which, he foretells of a great drought to Ahab, so Ahab is sent to Cherith, where the ravens would feed him.
    • This would be fulfilled shortly after with a terrible famine, which revealed Elijah to be a true prophet of God
  • Another prophecy is recorded in 17:14, which relates to God’s provision during the famine for both Elijah and the poor widow who fed him. God would provide food, and then it was fulfilled (As Elijah blessed the woman’s oil and flour) by the continual provision of food out of the same container for many days.
  • Elijah helped deal with idolatrous activity, especially in 1 Kings 18-22. Elijah’s final act before his ascension to Heaven by chariot of fire was handing the mantle over to Elisha. He desired that Elisha prepare himself, being modest and humble and to hold peace. Honor would be placed on Elisha so suddenly, and Elijah sought to comfort him and bestow the magnificent blessing from God upon him.

Miriam, from the Old Testament, was a prophetess and sister of Aaron; an instructor of praise and service of God to other women. She had the Spirit of prophecy upon her, and showed it through song and dance.

  • In Exodus 15:20-21, we see her with a timbrel in hand leading other women in the same with dances, and she said to sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously – the horse and his rider are thrown into the sea.
    • She was speaking here things that she saw, and declared the glory of the Lord as a result of victory.

Elisabeth, from the New Testament, was barren, until God had chosen her to bear a child of prophecy (John the Baptist). Not much is known about her, except that she was friends with Mary, who would bear The Child of Prophecy (Jesus). One time is recorded when she met with Mary that the child (John) leapt in her womb – to which, Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. Outline of her prophecy in Luke 1:42-43: She spoke out with a loud voice to Mary saying that she was blessed among women and blessed is the fruit of her womb. In this altogether, she acknowledges the incarnation of Christ, and for Mary to be His mother.

satan is a false prophet who seeks to mislead people away from the truth. He began in Genesis in the Garden of Eden, as we see in Chapter 3. We also see much of “satan” in Job, as he is used as an accuser of Job. The object of satan is a tool of accusation to speak into people’s lives lies about them, to attempt to mislead and challenge them. That is the role of satan in everyday culture is false but prophetic devices used to lead people astray. If people are reluctant, however, to be led astray, they overcome the satan and such devices.

Moses is definitely one prophet to note. He was raised in the court of the Pharaoh of Egypt, and then led the Hebrews out of Egypt. God spoke to him in a burning bush instructing him to persuade the Pharaoh in releasing the Hebrew people. (More about Moses to come soon!)

Outline of a prophecy, found mainly in Deuteronomy 28:49-52:

  • This prophecy is given after conditions of the Covenant were listed (blessings and curses). The curses involved diseases and plagues upon the Israelites’ families, flocks, herds, and crops. If problems continued, the whole nation would go into humiliating captivity.
  • The foreign invaders would be so cruel as to make people desperate for food so much as to eat their own children. Eventually, as prophesied, the nation would be destroyed and the people would be taken captive into foreign countries.
  • When in foreign countries, they would be treated worse than animals, and would die horribly. Many would be shipped as slaves to Egypt.

John the Baptist was a good Non-Writing Prophet from the New Testament, who was a messenger and a prophet. Prophets foretold the Messiah, and John was a herald to announce Him. John was miraculously born and was the subject of prophecy – to which, he was humble and pointed people to Christ. Jesus spoke of him as well, “For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he” (Luke 7:28).

Peter’s admonitions on identifying the attributes of Prophets are in 2 Peter 1:20-21 and 2 Peter 3:2: “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour.”

Biblical Prophets should be uncompromising, which means they are not bound by the opinions of others. For they are conscious of a divine call and realize that they must speak only the Prophetic Word of God – to which, the divine compulsion must be obeyed. They stay on task no matter what and know that they have the privilege to speak, which is by access to the inner counsel of Yahweh. They have immediate contact with God, and He is the bearer of such precious secrets. They have an intense passion for truth, especially in proclaiming it. They know that God is the authority and they trust in Him to provide sound wisdom through them, in hopes that people would be admonished. They are individuals of prayer and communion, to which they must be clean and lead consecrated lives (especially good character). They are outspoken critics of evil and act as God’s agent to correct, reprove, exhort, and reveal the future to the people of God.

We see Peter talking about the presence of the Spirit in the Old Testament Prophets in 1 Peter 1:10-12, “Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.”

Peter speaks that they were filled with the Holy Ghost to speak such things, and then points that into our direction, as we now preach the gospel. We have the Spirit of Prophecy available to us, as he says, and this ensures that God can continue to communicate to His People overall.

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!

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.

Teaching Peter a lesson | Acts 10

Scripture: Acts chapter 10

Commentary: God wanted to teach Peter a lesson, so He gave him a vision to show him that the old Jewish food laws were of no use any further, and there was no distinction between the two. Therefore, Peter was free to eat all foods. God tells him to go to Caesarea to meet with Cornelius. He compared the issues of clean and unclean foods with the way that people are – that they are clean and shall not be called unclean. Peter then summarizes the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and then concluded by repeating that forgiveness was available to people of any nationality. Cornelius and his household then received the gift of the Holy Ghost from God. Peter then saw that He clearly accepts Gentiles, and was also willing to baptize them.

Acts 10:38, “How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.”

Peter is in prayer on the housetop and becomes hungry – and then falls into a trance. A sheet knit at four corners was let down from Heaven containing every kind of beast, bird, and more – Clean and unclean (four footed animals, wild beasts, creeping things and fowls of the air). A voice speaks to Peter; “arise, kill, and eat.” Peter replied, “Not, so Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean.” This happens once and twice more. The next time the Lord speaks to Peter, he says, “What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common.” Upon the third time, the sheet is received back into Heaven. Peter mused upon this with some doubt, Scripture tells us that behold, the messengers that Cornelius were not at the gate. While Peter thought on the vision, he was told by the Spirit, “Behold three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and get thee down, and go with them, doubting nothing: for I have sent them.”

Cornelius’ messengers arrive, and Peter invites them into the house and suggests that they spend the night and in the morning, he will go with them. Meanwhile, Cornelius has called in his friends and a kindred with great anticipation of Peter’s coming. Peter takes a trip to Caesarea, and reluctantly enters the house of Cornelius. Cornelius is quick to fall prostrate before him. He has been brought up in a pagan culture and did not know any better. Peter responded by lifting him up and speaking to him; “Stand up, I myself also am a man” meaning I am not a god to be worshipped. Peter already knew why they had sent for him – for “God had showed him.” He was not to call any man common or unclean. Peter asks what Cornelius’ intent was in sending for him then.

This time of the Holy Ghost falling upon the Gentiles was their own “Gentiles Pentecost” – Peter and his men are astonished, that the Gentiles also receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. They speak with other tongues just as it was in the Upper Room experience on the Day of Pentecost – to which, they praise God. God would save them and baptize the Gentiles in the Holy Ghost.

Peter & John released: Provision is here! | Acts 4:15-37

“But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”

Commentary: The apostles were not taught in law schools of the Jews; rather, Jesus taught them. Members of the Sanhedrin were aware that Peter and John were ignorant of the Jewish standards, and were not aware that they were not allowed to speak about Christ in the temple. Information of Jesus had always been viral since He began ministry; therefore, to keep that viral information from spreading further, gag orders were given. Nonetheless, the healed man is proof that Jesus is still alive and at work making miracles.

The Jewish leaders did not want to punish the apostles; instead, they were given the usual gag order to keep them from speaking of Christ. The apostles, however, refused to obey, but this did not fume the leaders any further. The opposition continued just as people of the Old Testament had done, such as David opposing the adversity of his day. The apostles are to be leaders of change; therefore, some sacrifices are being made to achieve God’s Will. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, the apostles continue their ministry of Jesus’ Messianic Work.

Other notes: Jews do not believe Jesus is the Messiah, because there are a few prophecies that are unfulfilled, in which case Jesus promised to fulfill in the future. Nonetheless, the Jews do not have faith that Jesus was the Messiah, and He will complete the work (as they were expecting Him to already have done it). The prophecies of note are in Isaiah 2:4 (because let’s face it, the world is still at war), the lack of evidence that Jesus came from Judah and directly descended from David and Solomon (2 Samuel 7:12-14; 1 Chronicles 22:9-10), ingathering of the Jewish exiles (see Isaiah 11:11-12; Jeremiah 30:3, 32:37; Ezekiel 11:17, 36:24), etc.

Peter and John arrested and questioned | Acts 4:1-14

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”

Commentary: After hearing of Peter’s speech by witness of the people in the temple, the priests, the temple captain, and the Sadducees took Peter and John in for arrest and questioning. This group of temple leaders were concerned with why the people marveled so much at their healing of the lame man, and what made that moment so special. Anyone causing a stir in the temple was already to be questioned, because unusual activity can be seriously detrimental to temple life, especially if there are many people praying or doing spiritual things (interruptions during prayer can be angering).

The Jews failed to accept Jesus as the Messiah (Psalm 118:22 => Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7). In addition, the failings of the temple service-members shows their immaturity spiritually. Around 5,000 were saved during this experience, and that means the temple will likely lose many attendees. This was the appointed time for this occurrence. Peter left them speechless, for they could not deny Jesus’ healing of the lame man.

When asked by the priests what name the miracle was done, Peter unashamedly testified that it was Jesus Christ (of Nazareth) whom the Jews killed, and He is the One who is risen and made His People whole (healthy, well). Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone (a cornerstone is the main foundation stone, in that it is set first, and then all the other foundation is measured based on it). Therefore, Jesus is the prime example of Salvation, and He is our foundation – He sets the standard for how our lives are lived. He is the only One by which man can be saved.

Historical notes: The Pharisees had derived from the common people who attempted the preservation of the Jewish way of life, to keep it from foreign or political plans and other forms of corruption (today, we call these “activists”). The Sadducees derived from wealthy classes of people, and were more focused on exercising power and control in the Jewish society. The core difference in beliefs between the two was that the Pharisees actually believed in a physical resurrection of the dead; however, the Sadducees did not believe it (see Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8). Overall, the Pharisees were quite fond of luring political leaders into their web of deceit.