Daily Bible Reading

(VERSES EXPLAINED)

 

BOOK OF 1 CORINTHIANS

 

Paul addressed at least six identifiable themes in this first letter to the believers in Corinth:

 

Wisdom:  In no other epistle does Paul so eloquently compare the shortcomings of human wisdom in light of divine wisdom (1:18 - 2:16).

 

Rewards:  Paul mentions the coming Judgment Seat of Christ by name twice in his letters - briefly in Romans 14:10 and 2 Corinthians 5:10.  But in 3:11 - 15, he connects the forthcoming rewards for Christians to Christ 's judgment.

 

Spiritual Gifts in the Church:  These gifts are discussed four times in the NT:  Romans 12, Ephesians 4, and 1 Corinthians 12 - 14.  The longest instruction on the topic (3 chapters) is directed at the Corinthians because of their abuse of the gifts and their failure to submit their gifts to the priority of love (12 - 14).

 

Resurrection:  The greatest presentation of human resurrection-both Christ's and the coming resurrection of believers-is found in 15:1 - 58.  Paul solidifies Christ's resurrection as both the linchpin of Christian theology and the basis of the believer's hope for eternal life.

 

Christian Living:  Paul addresses practical problems that would be confronted by any group of Christians coming out of a pagan background like that of Corinth: immorality (5:1 - 12; 6:12 - 20),k settling disputes between believers (6:1 - 11), Christian marraige (7:1 - 40), the tension between liberty and license (8:1 - 13; 10:23 - 11:1), and separating pagan feastsw from the Lord's Supper (11:17 - 22).

 

Love:  Following 12 chapters of patient, apostolic teaching, correction, and problem solving, it is as though a shaft of resplendent light suddenly knifes through an overcast sky.  Paul writes, "I show you a more excellent way," and then, under anointing and inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he launches into one of the most moving transcendent treatises on love in all of human literature, First Corinthians 13 is like a perfect flower pushing its way up through the common mud of church struggles and petty human divisions.

 

What It Means For YOU- The Forgotten Priority

 

Where does one begin with a contentious, undisciplined, out-of-balance, problem filled church?  Deep into his letter, Paul seems to set aside his long list of church problems and headaches to write about...agape love.

 

Whenever there are problems-in a church or a marriage, or any significant relationship-the first thing to slip out the back door is the steady, timeless, selfless, sacrificial love that Jesus modeled.  When Jesus wrote His own letter to the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:1 - 5), He complimented them on their hard work and their accurate doctrine, but He also brought a serious charge against them:  They had lost their love.  As a result, they were about to lose everything else.

 

Maybe the place to start with our relational problem-solving efforts is to first ask the Lord of the church to restore the selfless love that only He can give, maintain, and ultimately perfect.

 

Asign of spiritual immaturity within a congregation is quarreling over personalities instead of focusing on loylty to Christ.  Paul describes how the different factions in the church took off in four different directions-some devoting themselves to Paul, some to Apollos, some to Cephas, and some arrogantly claiming they had transcended earthly teachers.  In the early church, the people called their great teachers theoe anthropoe: God-men.  The Corinthians had polarized around these various teachers, whom they had placed  on pedestals (1:14, 15; 2:2).  By doing so, they had lost sight of the One who should be receiving the glory-not the one speaking, but the One of whom that teacher was speaking! 

 

1:10,11 - Paul pleads as a brother rather than commanding as an apostle.  The word "contentions" (strife) is also found in Romans 1:29, bookended by "murder" and "deceit".  Unity doesnot mean that believers agree all the time, but a great difference stands between caring, concerned question and a contentious, strife-ridden comment (Eph. 4:3).

 

1:11 - Note that Paul did not respond to an anonymous tip; the report came from a credible source: those of Chloe's household.  Anonymous attacks and idle gossip are not worth the breath required to repeat them.  A substantiated report of discord disgracing the church deserves follow up.

 

1:10 - The Greek word for divisions is schismata, from which comes the word schism.  It is used in the NT to describe the tear in a garment (Matt. 9:16), a difference of opinion (John 7:43), or a feeling of alienation or inward separation.

 

1:13 - 17 - Paul sarcastically rebukes those who cause division by reminding them of the essentials of the faith:  Christ and Him crucifiedc (2:2).  To elevate any many or woman is to distort the cross of Christ and the hope provided through His resurrection. Any time the focus shifts to the human messenger, God is robbed of His glory (4:1).

 

1:17 - Baptism has an important place in the life of the church, but Paul's intent was to focus the Corinthians' minds on the One whose name they were baptized.

 

1:18, 19 - Paul quotes Isaiah 29:14 to illustrate the message of the cross.  The cross is a simple word-basic enough that everyone can understand its essence, yet powerful enough to radically transform a life.  It is also a separating word, for whenever the cross is preached, it causes division: those who reject it are perishing; those who receive it are being saved.

 

1:18 - Paradoxically, the cross both divides and unifies.  It set believers apart from the unbelieving world while uniting them with all the children of God (Gal. 6:18).

 

1:20 - The wise, the scribe, and the disputer of this age collectively describe the intelligentsia of ancient culture.  God's plan and action throughout history demonstrates how foolish the wisdom of this world is .  Only the truth of God endures  through every situation and culture (3:19; Jer. 8:9)

 

1:21 - 2:16 -  Apart from divine revelation, man can never through his own wisdom come to knowledge of God.  Salvation requires belief in the crucified One, not worldly understanding or signs (1:22, 23).  The mind of Christ is the true discerner of truth (2:16).

 

1:22 - 25 - The two groups of the day (Greeks, or Gentiles, and Jews) looked for two diffferent proofs of truth.  One desired a miraculous sign; the other sought proof through reason and logic.  Paul did not care to cater to their worldly desires for verification; for Paul, Christ crucified was all the proof needed.

 

1:23, 24 - To the Jews, a crucified Savior made no sense, because they were looking for a victorious king.  To the Greeks, such a Savior made no sense because crucifixion was a symbol of weakness and defeat.  Yet the message of the crucified One is exactly what provides those who are called with the power and wisdom of God.  In the Savior those people rejected were the very things they longed for.

 

1:26 -  The wise, the mighty, and the noble are in the minority (not many) of those whom God chooses to serve Him.  God will use some influential figures, but seldom.

 

1:27, 28 - God uses five things to accomplish His work:  (1) foolish things, (2) weak things (3) base things (4) despised things, and (5) things which are not.  The word weak can be translated "sickly, feeble, impotent" (Acts 4:9).  The base things are ignoble.  The word despised here means "contemptible," like the way Goliah looked upon David and God (1 Sam.17).

 

1:29 - 31 - Salvation is not earned through one's own strength but given by the grace of God (Eph. 1:8, 9). God wants two things fom His servants:  that they not glory in themselves, and that they give glory to Him.  God makes the nobodies of this world into somebodies in His kingdom.

 

 

2:1 - Paul's program in ministry was simply declaring the gospel.  He was not a preacher because he enjoyed preaching or because he was a brilliant orator (2:4).  He was a preacher because he simply could not be anything else and still be in the will of God.

 

2:2 - The priority in Paul's ministry was to know...Christ and Him crucified, plus or minus nothing-a strategy that is still valid today.  The great missionary to the Native Americans, David Brainerd, wrote in his dairy at the end of his ministry: "I never got away from Jesus and Him crucified.  I found that when my people were gripped by great evangelical doctrine...I had no need to give them instructions about morality...One followed as the sure and inevitable fuit of the other."

 

2:3 - 5 - Paul admits that he came to the Corinthians.  In weakness, in fear, and in much trembling.  This is a healthy attitude in preparation for ministry.  Only the power of God can fill the Christian's heart and life with what is needed for effectiveness.

 

2:4 - The power Paul had in ministry was not found in his words but in his Spirit-filled life.  The word demonstration means "the most rigorous proof."  The Holy Spirit produces supernatural results in gospel preaching, in witnessing, and in the Christian life that prove the validity and authenticity of the message.

 

2:7 - 8  - The natural self cannot discern the things of Godf through its own resources; spirtiual things are a hidden wisdom (Job 11:7).  In the language of the NT, mystery means a truth that can be known only as God reveals it.  No one can reason his or her way to Jesus.  Evangelism and apologetics are valuable, but the work of the Spirit is what regenerates the heart and ushers unbelievers into the kingdom.

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2:8 - The cross is the proof that God's wisdom is not understood.  That the most prominent people in Jesus' day crucified the Lord of glory blatantly issustrates thed foolishness and ignorance of humanity.  They took the Wisdom of God and nailed him to the tree.

 

2:9 - 16 - God's Spirit reveals,k inspires, and illuminates Scripture, teaching those who read it (2 Pet. 1:21).  The Spirit indwelt community of faith (Heb. 10:24, 25) also helps to illumin ate what was revealed through divine inspiration.

 

2:9, 10 - This quotation from Isaiah 64:4 does not refer to what Christians will experience in heaven but to what the Spirit has already revealed to those who love God.  Through the inspired Scriptures, the Spirit introduces God's children to something beyond their ability to see, hear, or imagine-the glories of God!

 

2:11 - 13 - Paul uses humans as an analogy-no one can truly know another person's thoughts: only the individual knows his or her own thoughts.  Similarly, because the Holy Spirit is fully God  Therefore, He is able to teach believers the truth of God.  An unbeliever can study the Scriptures and learn certain facts about the Almighty, but only through the illumination of the Spirit does true understanding come.

 

2:14 - The natural man is a person who does not have the Spirit of God living within him or her and thus does not benefit from hearing the Word of God.  Receive means "to welcome, to embrace, to make something one's own."  The natural self cannot take in the things that are revealed by the Spirit.

 

2:15,16 - The one who is spiritual is indwelt and empowered by the Holy Spirit and can thus discern and comprehend spiritual things.  The unspiritual (those who dwel in the flesh, or their sin nature) cannot judge believers regarding spiritual things, but believers regarding spiritual things, but believers can certainly sharpen their brothers and sisters in Christ (5:9 - 12; 12:3).

 

2:16 - The quotation from Isaiah 40:13 explains how believers can be discerning and yet avoid assuming God's place as jusdge.  They possess that which the world can never acquire on its own -illumination of truth from the Holy Spirit, which gives them the mind of Christ.

 

3:1 - A new Christian who has just been born into the family of God is of the flesh (carnal) in the sense that he or she has not yet had the opportunity to mature spiritually.  Paul is not finding fault with them.  He simply says that when he came to them the first time, there was much to teach, but they could not yet bear that teaching because they were mere babes.

 

3:2 - 4 - Paul taught these new Christians the basics-the milk of faith - on his first visit (reminiscent of Jesus in John 16:12).  By now, the Corinthians should have moved on to the meat of spiritual maturity (Heb. 5:12 - 14), yet their behavior was till fleshly, marked by envy, strife, and division.

 

3:6,7 - For the Corinthians to elevate and celebrate Paul or Apollos as the center of their faith was ridiculous.  These men were merely instruments of the Spirit.

 

3:6 - Just as Paul planted and Apollos watered, so too can every believer serve. Some may preach, some may assist others in their serice; but it is God who gives the increase.  He can and will use the gifts of every one of His servants for His purposes and His glory.

 

3:9 - 11 -  The first reason that churches fail is because they violate their commitment to Jesus Christ as their foundation Churches must be built on Christ; then a community of believers can glorify Him through social justice or outreach or service.  To establish a church on any other foundation - even one comprised of seemingly virtuous causes - will not succeed.

 

3:12 - Wood, hay and straw are perishable; gold, silver, and precious stones are permanent.  The framework of the church must be carefully chosen for endurance.

 

3:13 -  Paul explains that the Day will declare the validityy of each person's work.  This is the Great White Throne Judgment were God will condemn unbelievers.  It is the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Cor. 5:10), where believers will be evaluated.  Test each one's work means that God will see His children as they really are - all their motivations, desires, and reasons for serving Him.

 

3:14, 15 - Believers will be given rewards based on the quality of their service.  Notice that it is not their service that saves.  Both the rewarded believer and the believer who suffers loss are saved.  Works can never earn salvation.  Faithfulness in service, however, will earn the right to give God even greater glory as the faithful lay their rewards at His feet (Rev. 4:10).

 

3:16 - In 6:19, Paul teaches that the believer's physical body is the temple, or dwelling place, of the Holy Spirit.  Here, Paul explains that the local church is the temple of God.

 

3:17 - This is God's harsh warning against people who try to tear down His church.  It is one thing to disagree if one's desire is what is best for a community of believers.  But those who are motivated to block or ruin what God wants to do - actions that marked the church in Corinth (1:10, 11)-are sinning.

 

3:21 - 22 - There are no limits to the believer's possessions in Christ (1:7; Eph. 1:3).  Pastors and teachers are fellow servants ministering the things of God.  How foolish to fight over an Apollos versus Paul versus a Cephas when they all, like every member within the church, are part of God's purpose for the body of Christ.

 

4:2 - 5 - The only valid judgment comes from the Lord, and He has said that the only thing for which a steward is responsible is to be faithful.  Fidelity is what matters.

 

4:3 -  Public criticism is fickle, feeble, uncertain, and should not tbe overvalued, thus Paul was not motivated by anyone's frown or favor.l  He also understood that self-judgment is too partial to be fair, too blind to be accurate, and too indulgent to be helpful.  Self-examination is important (11:13), but dwelling inordinately on one's identity, actions, and motives must be avoided.

 

4:4,5 - When Christians judge themselves, they either spiral down into self-lathing or climb to self-exaltation.  Either condition unsurps the authority that is reserved for Christ on the Day of judgment (2 Cor. 5:10).

 

4:5 - It is impossible to know the hidden things that others do wh en nobody is watching (Eccl. 12:14; Heb. 4:13), as well as the counsels (motivations) of the hearts.  The time to judge will be the day when God judges.  Anyone who tries to judgte others in the meantime will cause great hurt because they will be doing something God never intended for them to do.

 

4:6 - Pride leads people to think they know more than what has been given to them.  If no one is qualified to evaluate even him or herself completely, how dare a person self righteously judge anyone else?  Jesus alone is the Righteous One, capable of judging, yet He willingly became like a servant (Phil. 2:6 - 8).

 

4:7 - Everything a person has - their natural gifts and the ability to develop those gifts - is from God (John 3:27; James 1:17) so why...boast?  Pride steals from the glory that rightly belongs to the Creator.

 

4:8 - In an attempt to get the Corinthians to understand their problem, Paul resorts to sarcasm: You are already full!  You are already rich!  The Corinthian Christians were filled with smug satisfaction and self-sufficiency.  They were reigning with snobbish superiority, thinking they had arrived spiritually.

 

4:9 - Paul uses a rare phrase-condemned to death, referring to convicted criminals - in describing himself and the other apostles.  In antiquity , criminals would be paraded before the public as objects of derision.  While the Corinthians were boasting and living in complacency.  the apostles were living under the sword of persecution.

 

4:10 - The Corinthians claimed to be wise, strong, and distinguished, while the apostles were dishonored and treated as fools who were weak.  By drawing this sharp contrast, Paul sought to show the Corinthians how twisted their perspective was regarding their position.

 

4:11 - 13 -  In their pride, the church at Corinth forgot that honor in the Christian life comes from service and sacrifice, not knowledge or power.  Paul's expression of his Christian experience echoes Jesus' teaching that whoever wants to be the greatest of all must become the least of all (Luke 22:25 - 27).

 

4:14 - 17 -  Paul switches from a tone of severity to one of pleading.  As their spiritual father (I have begotten you through the gospel), he reminds the Corinthians of how they entered into God's family:by a humble profession of faith, admitting that they were sinners in need of God's deliverance.  Humility is a prerequisite for salvation.

 

4:16 - 20 - Paul urges his spiritual children to recall his performance.  Not only is he their spiritual father, he is their spiritual example.  Although he was a man of outstanding intellect and ability, he declared himself the least of all the apostles (15:9), the least of all the saints (Eph. 3:8), and the chief of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) thoughout his ministry.  No one had cause to be puffed up if he was not.

 

 

5:1 - Here, the phrase his father's wife refers to a stepmother.  In addition, the man's father-the one who suffered wrong-was still alive.  This is not someone who fell into sin and had a repentant heart; this man was openly living in sin.  He had been approached repeatedly and told to repent, yet he refused.

 

5:2 - The central problem in the church is pride.  To openly condone sexual immorality without concern-to see oneself beyond the moral law (Rom. 6:15; Jude 4)-is pride.  Such deep-rooted sin should drop the mature believer to his or her knees in mourning, with a prayer for the restoration of the unrepentant brother.

 

5:5 - The shocking phrase to deliver one to Satan means to deny the unrepentant one fellowship.  What is the purpose of this?  The church does not send that individual out to die but sends him or her away so that the person's flesh, which is deeply corrupted by sin, might be destroyed.  This is another way of describing the process of sanctification-putting the flesh to death.

 

5:6 - 13 - Although churches rarely practice corporate discipline today, it was common practice in the early church to withdraw from the fellowship of evildoers.

 

5:6 - 8 -  By allowing a little immorality to go unchecked in the church, the entire commnity was tainted by this sin.  By pursuing discipline, the church both retards the contamination of sin in the assembly and demonstrates its sincerity in pursuing godly living.

 

5:8 - Bread without leaven represents a life of sincerity and truth.  When sin in the church is handled as God instructs, joy is restored.

 

 

5:9 - 11 - This epistle mentioned here has been lost to history, which serves as a reminder that not everything Paul wote was under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  However, Paul's point here was divinely inspired:  Christians must not stand in judgment over the unbelieving world while ignoring sin in their midst.  Their goal is to be in fellowship for the sake of the gospel before the unbelieving world but to refuse fellowship with an unrepentant believer (anyone named a brother) for the purpose of restoration.

 

5:12, 13 - God judges those outside the fellowship.  Although believers should do everything they can to raise the moral consciousness of the world at large, their primary role is to promote godliness within the church.

 

6:2, 3 - Because the saints will one day judge the world with Christ they should be able to settle small squabbles among themselves.

 

6:5,6 - When believers take each other to court, they tarnish the reputation of the church before a watching world.  Paul is not teaching that Christians should never go before a court-he appealed  to a court (Acts 25:11).  His point is that believers should not take other believers to an unbelieving court (Matt. 18:15 - 20).

 

6:7 - 10 - Two things shocked Paul.  First, the Corinthians were unwilling to accept wrong or endure being cheated.  Second, these believers did these things to fellow believers!  It is far better to endure being wronged than to wrong another person.

 

 

6:11 - Praise God that He can cleanse His people from the wretchedness of their sin (1 John 1:9).  No Christian should take for granted the past from which he or she has been save and the future hope that he or she has been promised.

 

6: 12, 13 - These two verses should be read as an imaginary conversation between Paul and the Corinthian church.  Paul seeks to set the Corinthians straight by reminding them that the pleasures of this world are corruptible and will pass away.  The Christian life is informed by that which is incorruptible and glorifies God (Romans 15:6).

 

6:15 - 17 - With this sobering reminder of the consequences of sin, believers must consider the implications of their actions for they are in Christ (12:27).  Adultery twists what marriage was created to be.  Christian couples are joined to the Lord (Gen. 2:24).  How dare they corrupt this mystical union for a moment of destructive pleasure (Heb. 13:4).

 

6:18 -  When Paul says to flee sexual immorality, he means, "Run for your life!" (2 Tim. 2:22).  Following the model of Joseph with Potiphar's wife (Gen. 39), the servant of God should not entertain sexual immorality for even a moment and must make no provision for the flesh (Rom. 13:4).

 

6:19, 20 - To permit anything to enter one's body outside of the boundaries God has established becomes a form of idolatry that defies the temple of the Holy Spirit.

 

 

7:1 - 9 - Paul answers a question posed to him in a letter by affirming that the celibate life is good - but it is not the only good.

 

7:1,2 - Verse 2 is not Paul conceding on the point of verse 1.  It is not better to be single and to marry only if you cannot handle the higher calling!  Paul's point in verse 2 is that monogamy is God's plan for marriage.  Both the celibate life and married life are equally viable paths.  And they both require fidelity.

 

7:3 - 5 -  Sex in marriage is a beautiful thing.  Because of the highly sexual aspect of pagan worship in Corinth, some in the church may have thought they should abstain from sex even with marriage.  Paul reassures the Corinthians of the necessity and divine beauty of sexual union with a godly marriage.

 

7:6, 7 - These verses are often misunderstood.  Paul's concession is not that one may marry; rather, it is that couples may agree to refrain from sex for a season (deprive one another...for a time) in order to devote themselves to prayer.  Celibacy is a gift from God, but not everyone has that gift  celibacy is for those God has giffted for the lifestyle.

 

7:10, 11 -  The Corinthians were confuse about marriage, and some were divorcing their mates because they thought the single celibate lifestyle was more spirtual.  But God designed marriage!  It is so precious in His sight that He allows this institution to be used as a picture of His relationship with the Church.

 

7:14 - Simply being married to a believer does not save the unbelieving spouse.  But that person is sanctified, that is , set apart as one who is privileged.  Because unbelieving spouses will be prayed for and are in the daily presence of a positive influence, they are more likely to be saved than if married to an unbeliever.

 

7:17 - Paul summarized the chapter thus far:  As you have been gifted, so .. walk.  If you are gifted to be celibate, do not covet marriage.  If you have been given a spouse, do not desire another or forsake the marriage for celibacy, either by divorce or denial.  Every Christian should live the life for which he or she has been equipped by God, and be content.

 

7:18 - 24 - Being a Christian is not about changing oneself externally to conform to the expectations of others; it is about being transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit into the image of the Son (2 Cor. 3:18).

 

7:25 - No commandment from the Lord is not an assault on inspiration.  Paul meant that this command was not one given by Jesus when He taught upon this earth.  Paul was offering it now.

 

7:26 - 28 - The precise nature of the present distress Paul mentions is uncertain.  It mayu have been a season of persecution or, more likely, an anticipation of the imminent return of Christ.  The bottom line is that marriage, whern entered into as God intended, honors God.

 

 

7:29 - 31 - Day to day life is but a blink in the eye of eternity.  Christians should live their lives and manage their priorities as though the Son's return could happen at any moment - because it can!  Every believer should live every moment fully for God.

 

7:32 - 35 - Those who are unmarried are freer to serve the Lord without distraction.  Those who are married must rightfully seek to please their spouse as well as the Lord.

 

7:36 - 38 - Here Paul presumably addresses certain fathers in his day who set ap,art their unmarried daughters (virgins) for celibacy.

 

7:39 - The Christian widow may remarry if she so chooses, but she must wed a believer (in the Lord).

 

8:1 - 3 - Mere knowledge of what is right and wrong can manifest itself as a sort of pride in the knowing that never makes the transition innto living.  Only the knowledge that is humbly applied and motivated by love makes any difference.  The Corinthians had knowledge, but was marked by arrogance and a lack of service.

 

8:6 - In this early creedal statement.  Paul beautifully asserts the  triune God as the only self-sufficient being upon whom all else depends.  As a people who have been given insight into this reality, why should Christians care about tin idols and the activity of pagan priests?  God is the Creator and Sustainer of all!

 

8:7,8 - Christians have a responsibility to look beyond what they know to be right and srong and examine how their exercise of freedom might influence the ministry and witness they have to hose around them.

 

8:9,10 -  There are two things to note about weaker brothers or sisters in Christ.  First, they are the ones who legalistically toe the line on doubtful things and judge those who do not follow the same rules (Rom. 14:2,3).  Second, they are exactly that brothers and sisters to fellow believers (Rom. 14:10).

 

8:11 - 13 -  Christian liberty must be tempered by love and concern for other believers.  The mature, or stronger, believers knows he or she has the freedom in Christ to do something-yet chooses not to for the sake of the one who has not yet found that freedom (Rom. 14:15).

 

 

9:1 - 3 - There were those who challenged Paul as an apostle.  The defense of his apostleship was two fold: he had seen the Lord, and the life change seen in the Corinthians as a result of his service (my work in the Lord) was undeniable (the seal).

 

9:4 - 6 - Speaking out against a spirit of entitlement, Paul had a right to exercise his spiritual freedom more than anyone.  But he relinquished the right to marry, and even to be paid for his service - all for the sake of Christ.

 

9:7 - 14 - In Paul's day, people did not vounteer to serve in the military; all soldiers were mercenariues.  When they went to battle, they were paid for it.  With these three illustrations - soldier, the farmer, and the sheperd - Paul argues that he has the right to give himself totally to the ministry of the gospel without having to work on the side.

 

9:8 - 10 - Following the three contemporary "witnesses," Paul cites a witness fom the Mosaic Law to support his point (Deut. 25:4; 1 Tim. 5:18).

 

9:11, 12 - Paul bolsters his defense by appealing to the witness of logic.  If the apostles give all their energy to minister to the church  spiritually and have no energy remaining to care for their own physical needs, is it not appropriate for those who benefit from their ministry to give materially?  As a body, believers meet one another's needs - physically and spiritually (2 Cor. 8:1 - 5).

 

9:13 - The next witness is the tradition of the Levites.  In the OT, God built into the system a way to care for the Levitical priests and those who ministered in the temple (Num. 18:8 - 24).

 

9:14 - The final witness is the Lord Himself (Luke 10:7).  This alone would be proof enough that the Corinthians should support Paul.  Clearly, believers should support their pastors and others who minister to their spiritual needs (Gal. 6:6).

 

 

9:15 - 19 - Although Paul had compellingly argued that he had every right to live off the gospel (9:7 - 14), he chose not to exercise that right.  Paul demonstrates that a art of leadership or maturity is the willingness to sacrifice one's rights for the well-being of others (8:13).

 

9:20 - 23 - The fact  that Paul varied his behavior depending on the audience does not make him a hypocrite.  On the contrary, he cdhose not to exercise certain freedoms in certain contexts in order to minister more effectiely to that community (Acts 16:3; 21:23 - 26).  Christians must be mindful of how their freedom (or perceived lack thereof)  might negatively color their witness for Christ.  Preferences should be set aside for the greater good - the receptivity of one's audience.

 

9:24 - Too often today, Christians are content to merely be in the race rather than diligently paying the price to win.  This was a foreign idea to Paul.  Every Christian should strive to win, just as the victor did in the Grecian games (Gal. 2:2).

 

9:25 - 27 - The price to be paid in the Christian life is that of disciplining one's mind, because the worldly war is for the dominion of the mind.  The victory is won in the study of the Word and the equipping of the Spirit through prayer (Rom. 6:18; 8:13; 2 Tim. 2:15).

 

10:1 - 4 - Paul's repetition of the word "ALL" is to drive home to the Corinthians that the entire community of  faith participated in the divine blessings of God.

 

 

10:2 - The phrase all were baptized into Moses simply means the people of Israel were identified with Moses through the Red Sea experience, just as Christians are identified with Christ in their own baptism (Ex. 14:21, 22, 29).

 

10:5 -  That God was not well pleased is a vast understatement.  How many Jews came out of Egypt?  Two million.  How many of the thousands of men of war who came out of Egypt entere the Promised Land?  Two, Joshua and Caleb.

 

10:6 - 12 - These verses elaborate on why God was not pleased.  The temptations of idolatry, immoraliity, infedelity, and disloyalty are as much a danger today as they were in the Sinai desert.  (Gal. 5:19 - 21).  God's people were disqualified and disciplined Christians do well to learn from history (Rom. 15:4).

 

10:11 - All that happened in the wilderness is the Christian's spiritual warning.  God has given the Isrtaelites as examples so that anyone who comes after them will not make the same mistakes (Heb. 4:1, 2).

 

10:23, 13 - Despite the many blessings, the Israelites became overconfident and commplacent, and they fell (Heb. 3:16, 17).  Christians are never impervious to temptation and sin.

 

10:13 - No Christian can use the excuse that a temptation is unique to him or her.  Even Jesus was tempted (Matt. 4:1 - 11); Heb. 4:15).  Thankfully, God does not allow His children to be tempted beyond borders of their limitations.  Unfortunately, people sometimes grow so enamored by sin that they become blind to the escape route the Spirit supplies.

 

10:16, 17 - The table of the Lord's Supper is central to the life of the church for so many reasons - in part, to identify believers with the Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 26:26 - 28; Acts 2:42).

 

10:19, 20 - Even though the Corinthians knew that idols were not actually gods, they still needed to treat idol worship seriously.  Behind the worship of every dead idol is a very real and living demonic influence (Deut. 32:15 - 17).

 

 

10:21 - No one can serve two masters.  A person is either in Christ of the world.  Every person must ask themselves:  From which cup do I take my spiritual nourishment?

 

10:23, 24 - Christians should try to protect one another from influences that would wound or impede their growth in Christ.  More than that, they actively build up, or edify, one another to add to the strength of the church (1Thess. 5:11).

 

10:25 - 30 - Although eating the meat was lawful, Paul would not eat it because it did not edify (1Tim.4:4).  This is the goal of Christian restraint: to strengthen believers and cultivate relationships with unbelievers (Rom. 14:21; 15:2).  There is no sense in being resolute about debatable things if those might drive the unsaved away (9:19).  

 

10:31, 32 - In summary, Christians should do all to the glory of God, for the welfare of others (Rom. 15:7 - 9).  These two principles enbrace all of the other principles for exercising liberty and echo the two great commands according to Jesus (Matt. 2:36 - 40).

 

10:33 - Paul lived his life unselfishly, for others, so that God might be glorified, and men might be saved (9:19 - 23).  All Christians should have this motivatiion.

 

 

11:1 - This verse should be read as the conclusion of the section Paul began in 8:1.  The goal of the Christian life is to glorify God and imitate Christ in every word and deed (Eph. 5:1; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Pet. 3:13).

 

11:4 - In Jewish culture, the covering of the head signified the sin, shame, and unworthiness of the individual in the presence of God.  But the Corinthian believers had been changed - they were now in Christ! So instead of their sin, shame, and unworthiness.  God now saw the righteousness of Christ.

 

11:5, 6 - The pastor today functions as a "prophet" in the forthtelling of the Word of God.  Some think the word head refers to a woman's own head, but the context indicates she dishonors her husband.  When she comes to worship and flaunts her disregard for the rules of headship, she also dishonors the principles of God.

 

11:7 -The woman is the glory of man simply means that in a woman, a man manifest his delight.  The glory of the woman is a private, intimate thing revealed in the intimacy of mariage, not outwardly and publicly.  In the Corinthinan culture, this privacy was symbolized by a veil voluntarily assumed by the woman.

 

11:8, 9 - The order of creation (Gen. 2:18; 22) supports Paul's statement that woman is not indpendent from man.  Both are created in the image of God and equally valued, so this is not an issue of equality but rather, of divine desgn and intention.

 

11:10 -  The angels were present at creation when headship was established (Job 38:7).  Throughout the NT are allusions to angels being involved in the worship of God (1 Pet. 1:12; Rev. 2 - 3).

 

 

 11:11, 12 - Paul is not trying to argue that men are superior to women-the divine order God has established has nothing to do with superiority.  Both men and women are from God and have interdependent roles (Eph. 5:21,; 1Tim. 2:15).

 

11:16 - Christians are to strive for order within and among the churches-this is essential.  Contention, chaos, and confusion are not God's desire for His people (Eph. 4:1-16).

 

 

11:17 - 22 - Tragically, during Communion (or the Lord's Supper)-an event meant to be at the very heart of worship-was one of the places where the divisions within the Crinthian church were most evident.

 

11:23 - 25 - The Corinthians had forgotten why they gathered for this meal.  They used it for evelry and political advancement, causing division.  The purpose of the Lord's Supper is to consciously call to mind what Jesus has done for His own in His death on the cross.  The focus needs to be on Him.

 

11:26 -When believers partake together of the elements at the Lord's Table (the bread and the cup), they proclaim.  This ritual meal should be the most eloquent sermon preached, as the body of believers look back at what Christ has done and look forward to His return.  This meal is a time of joyous unity, reflection, and anticipation until He comes (Matt. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18).  

 

11:27 - 29 - To come to the table in an unnworthy manner means to come in a spirit of disunity or division.  Christians should first examine themselves-not to beat themselves up over personal sin but to determine if they are holding something against a fellow believer that could cause disunity in the body (Ps. 139:23).

 

11:33, 34 -  Churches should not be marked by egp, personality, or power plays.  Instead, a heart of humility and service, combined with a sound understanding of doctrine, keeps preferences and opinions from turning into convictions (Rom 12:10; 14:22.

 

 

12:1  The Corinthians had an abundance of spiritual gifts (1:7), so their trouble came, not from a lack of exposure to the gifts but a failure to appropriately use them.  Knowing one's spirtual gifting is important, but the most important thing is knowing how to use the gift to build up the body (1 Pet. 4:10).

 

12:3 - The Corinthians may have been afraid that those speaking in tongues were blaspheming the Lord.  Paul reassured them that a person who was truly regenerated and indwelt by the Holy Spirit was incapable of cursing God.

 

12:4 - 7 - Note the explicit Trinitarian structure of these verses: diversities of gifts, one Spirit; differences of ministries, one Lord; diversities of activities; one God.  The doctrine of the Trinity is the bedrock upon which all other doctrines are built.  Paul here uses the beautiful mystery of the Trinity to demonstrate to the Corinthians that just as there is diversity within the Godhead (Father/Son/Spirit) yet only one God, there is also diversity in spiritual gifts but only one church.  The diversity of gifts should serve to promote unity within the church, not division and competition!

 

12:8 - 10 - Paul lists four broad categories of spiritual gifts, each with a specific purpose.  The special gifts are to equip God's people.  The speaking gifts are to explain God's truth.  The serving gifts are to enable God's work.  And the sign gifts are to establish God's authority.

 

12:9, 10 - In ancient times, before all of Scripture was written, God would give a sign gift - miracles, healings, tongues, or interpretation of tongues - to validate the word of His spokesmen (Heb. 2:3, 4).  But once the Word of God was completed, there was no further need for a word of revelation because God had said all that He intended to say.  So today, if someone announce "I have a word from God," ignore it; the canon of Scripture is closed. 

 

 

12:10 - The last chapter of Revelation pronounces a curse on anyone who would add to or subtract from Scripture.  People do receive further illumination about the word God has alreasdy given, but no one receives any additional, prophetic revelation.

 

12:14 - 19 -  Spirtual gifts come in many different forms.  The one who possessed a private gift or service.  Yet each gift is essential for the benefit of all believers.

 

12:20 - 24 - Throughout Paul's letter has been a theme of unity.  The Corinthian church had many issues, but their greatest problem was the lack of unity within the body.  In the previous section, th diversity of the body illustrated the diversity of gifts.  Here, attention is cast on the fact that many members are required to make up one body.l

 

12:25, 26 - One sign of unity is when all members equally care for one another.  Spiritual gifts are not just a matter of figuring out what one is good at so he or she can be satisfied in serving spiritual gifts are intended to promote unity.

 

12:28 - Prophets in the OT were those who proclaimed the very words of God before there was a written text.  A prophet today is one who proclaims the very words of God as revealed in the text of Scripture.  Paul listed apostles first and tongues last.  The Corinthians were putting tongues first and casting aspersion on the apostle!

 

12:31 - In light of what has gone before, Paul's exhortation to desire the best gifts may seem contrdictory.  But as the followning verses will reveal, what Paul considers the best gifts will be quite different than what the Corinthians had been pursuing.  The best gifts are those that edify the church the most.

 

 

13:1 - 13 - This entire chapter presents a comprehensive explanation of biblical love, which is the priority commandment (Matt. 22:36 -40), the perfect gift (12:31), the preeminent grace (Gal. 5:22), the permanent virtue (13:8), the proof of sonship and daughterhood (John 13:34, 35), the prerequisite to faith, the path upon which Christians must walk (Eph. 5:1, 2), and the prescription for a happy home (Eph. 5:25).

 

13:1 - 3 - The "more excellent way" of 12:31 that surpasses all other ways is now seen in detail - God's love.  Human love is but a shadow, tainted by selfishness.  At the heart of this highest kind of love is the concept of sacrifice.  Agape love gives itself completely with not thought of anything in return.  It is the reasoning, esteeming, willful tyupe of love.

 

13:4 - 7 -  The Greeks used four words to refer to love (1) Eros is the sensual relationship; (2) storge pertains to fasmily relationships and obligations: (3) phileo is the love among friends, as close as brothers or sisters; and (4) agape is a totally unselfish love that comes from God alone - the type of love that chooses to continue selflessly sacrifice and His love model what it means to choose to love.

 

13:4 - Agape love is one of the rarest words in the Greek language and is found almost nowhere in Greek literature apart from the NT.  But is one of the most common words with the NT.

 

13:8 - It is human nature to put one's confidence in that which will fail instead of investing in that which is eternal.  This verse reforcuses Christian confidence.  Prophecies, tongues, and knowledge will all vanish once they have served their purpose (3:10 - 15), but love never fails becsause God never fails, and God is love.

 

13:13 - Why is love the greates of these?  When Christ makes all things new and His followers are ushered into the eternal state, faith will no longer be necessary because the redeemed will see face to face.  Hope will no longer be necessary because their hope will have been perfectly realized.  But love will remain, and it will finally be known without the taint of sin.

 

 

14:1 - 3 - Prophecy (In modern times, preaching) is the first means by which the body Christ is built up, encouraged, and comforted.

 

14:6 - The four ministries listed here benefit the whole church, whereas tongues do not unless they are interpreted.  The gift of tongues in the NT was always a gift to be used in public ministry, not in private worship.  A sign gift only swerves its purpose if people can observe it.  Otherwise, it is like hoping to be brought to a place of confidence by a healing that cannot be witnessed.  The very nature of a sign gift is that it has to be observable.

 

14:13 - 17 - The purpose of the gifts is for the good of the church.  How is the church built up if even the one exercising the gift has no idea what is being said?  Without one to interpret the gift is ineffective.

 

14:20 - Paul says Christians should be naive (like babes) about evil but mature in spiritual knowledge and understanding.  Unfortunately, the opposite is often true.  God's children tend to know more about sin and the ways of the world than they do the ways of God.

 

14:21, 22 - By using this example from Isaiah 28:11, 12.  Paul points out that tongues were given for a specific purpose.  In Isaiah's day, it meant the judgment of the Lord was drawing nigh.  On the Day of Pentecost, it meant the fullness of the gospel had come.

 

14:23 - 25 - Some people assert that only these supernatural gifts give evidence of the Lord at work.  But Paul disagrees.  He says that if unbelievers, come into a service where they do not understand what is being said, the opportunity for the gospel may be lost.  But if prophecy (the exposition of the Word of God) is taking place, they will be convicted and realize the secrets of their heart, which will draw them to respond in humble worship.

 

14:27 - 33 -  The Christians at Corinth were so undisciplined in their exercise of spiritual gifts during worship that chaos abounded, reflecting poorly on the Giver of those gifts.  Confusion can jeopardize one's ability to live according to the spiritual laws of God's kingdom.  It leads to indecision, frustration, passivity, and a lack of progres things that go against God's will.  God wants peace.

 

 

14:34 - 40 - The command for  women to keep silent reflects Corinthian culture in which women were not allowed to confront men in public.

 

15: 1, 2 - Paul challenges the Corinthians to stand in the gospel and to hold fast that word.  The gospel should have absolute preeminence and priority in the life of the Christian and the life of the church.

 

15:3 - 7 - Here is the standard by which every definition of the gospel must be measured.  It must include four elements:  Christ's death, burial, and resurrection as well as the testimony of the witnesses to the Resurrection.  The gospel cannot be preached the way it should be without proclaiming all four truths.

 

15:9 -  Paul wrote this letter fairly early in his ministry, and his attitude about being the least of the apostles would change in a surprising way as he became more famous.  Yerars later, Paul would write,  I am "less than the least of all the saints'" (Eph.. 3:8),  and very late in life.  "I am the chief of sinners" (1 Tim. 1:15),  The more mature Paul became, the more he recognized his inadequacy before God.

 

15:10 -  Whatever Paul had become and accomplished for the cause of Christ, it was by the grace of God.  He is the same one who professed, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthen me"  (Phil. 4:13).  Everything the Christian does for Christ is through His power.

 

 

15:12 -Some people treat the Biblre arbitrarily, taking parts they like and rejecting others.  But if God's Word is the authority, one must believe all of it, even the stories and teachings that seem difficult to understand.

 

15:16, 17 - If Jesus Christ is in a grave somewhere in the Middle East, then Christians are still in their sins and the burden of their sin is no longer upon Him but on them.  Consequently, they would then someday have to stand before a righteous God and give an account for every sin that they have done - and they would be guilty of them all.  

 

15:18 - If the Ressurection is a lie, then Christ's promise for the future is a mockery.  If Christ is not raised, says Paul, then the believing who have died have perished, and all are eternally ruined (Acts 5:30, 31; Rom. 4:24, 25).

 

15:19 -Paul says the Ressurection  is not merely a doctrine for the future, but it affects how Christians live presently.  If the message of Christ is for this life only, no life has purpose (4:9; 2 Tim. 3:12).  These are convicting words from one who endured so much for the sake of the gospel and sacrificed everything to follow his risen Lord.

 

15:20 - Praise God that Christ is risen from the dead, and every believer can have the same hope for future resurrection Jesus Christ as the firstfruits of those who fallen asleep means He is the first of many - more resurrections will come afrter Him (15:23; Acts 26:23; Rev. 1:5). 

 

 

15:21, 22 - There are two races in the world: the natural man and the spiritual man.  Adam is the federal head of the natural race, which comprises everyone who has ever been born.  Jesus is the federal head of the spiritual race - all those who have accepted Him.  To be in Adam is to be alive naturally (in the flesh), but to be in CDhrist is to be alive spiritually (Rom. 5:12 - 19).

 

15:24 - 28 - Then comes the end speaks of the time when Christ will take control of this earth.  Much will happen at this time: the millennial reign of Christ on earth, a terrible resurrection of the damned, and then the eternal kingdom delivered to the Father and the Son. 

 

15:26 - When the end comes, death will die.  No one escsapes death, but the resurected King will wrap the chains of eternity and the strength of His glorious power around death and He will cast it into the lake of fire (Dan. 2:44; 7:14, 27; Rev. 20:14).

 

 15:29 - Baptized could simply be referring to those who are saved.  Literally, Paul is asking:  If the dead are not raised, then why so many Christians being baptized because of the testimony of those who died?  The witness of the faithful, the resurrection of the dead, the hope of eternal life, and the certainty that Christ has come back from the grave all pave the way for bringing people to salvation.

 

15:34 - Those who do not have knowledtge of God refers to the faction (some) within the church who are wolves in sheep's  clothing, not the unreached people groujps of the world.  Pastors must be mindful of what is being said within their churches and guard the flock (1 Tim. 4:16) against those who would deceive.

 

 

15:37 - 41 - Paul attempts to answer questions about the bodies that the saints will have in the resurrection.  They will be the same yet fundmentally different.  People will be themselves, but as they should be, not as they are.  This clartified in the following verses.

 

15:42 - 44 - The bodies in which Christians now live are still marked by the Fall, and eventually they die.  The resurrected bodies of believers will be raised in incorruption!  The redeemed will still be human, but without the corruption of sin.

 

15:51,52 - Every Christian who has been born into the family of God during this church age will be changed and raised when the last trumpet sounds.  When Christ returns at the Rapture, the graves will be opened and believers will ascend to b e with the Lord.  That is the resurrection of this age.

 

15:58 - With the Resurrection as their confidence, Christians can conduct their service for the Lord with strength.  Ressurrection hope should inspire work and ministry rather than passivity.  The redeemed are truly a people with something to live for (Luke 10:1 - 3).

 

16:2 - Giving should be both a thoughtful process and one that is organized.  God's people should prayerfully consider what they have been given and how they in turn should give-and then follow His leading, for all that they have is His.  Christians worship God through their disciipline giving.

 

16:3, 4 - When one is entrusted with money on behalf of the church, he or she should build in accountability, not just for the protection of the funds but also of his or her reputation.  If impropriety, the name of the Lord is shamed and the church loses credibility-even if the accusation is false. Paul models wisdom in having others travel with the gift to Jerusalem (2 Cor. 8:4, 19).

 

16:5 - 9 - Paul let the Corinthians know his itinerary and when they could expect him.  By saying, I will come to you, Paul was instilling some accountability-they now knew he would come to see them and collect the money.  Paul's approach teaches much about ministry fundraising: it should be conducted responsibly and with oversight.

 

16:10 - 12 - Paul mentions two of his gifted young associates: Timothy and Apollos.  An excellent orator and teacher (Acts 18:24), Apollos was well-known to the Corinthiaqns (Acts 19:1) and had many supporters in the city (1:12; 3:4 - 6), but he probably would not return any time soon.  Timothy, however, was apparently new to the Corinthians.  So Paul introduced him, making sure the community of believers respected him as someone who does the work of ther Lord.

 

16:13,14 - The current situation within the contemporary church is not vastly different from that of Corinth.  The body is under atttack from the culture, from false teachers, and from the old sin nature of its membersl.  So Paul's admonition is for today!

 

16:22 - 24 - Paul concludes with a final warning to those who do not love the Lord Jesus Christ.  This letter would be read to the gathered assembly, and there was no place for insincere faith.  With his salutation, he in effects says, Love, Paul.

 

 

 

2 CORINTHIANS - BOOK INTRODUCTION

 

If you find yourself being lied about or slandered in today's world there are any number of ways to set the record straight-group e-mails, social media, blog posts, or video conference calls.  But in AD 55, the apostle Paul could not track down the leadrs of Corinthian church on their phones.  This was an era when all communication was either face-to-face or by letter, and to get anywhere you had to rely on four-legged transportation, a perilous sailing vessel, or your own two sandaled feet.  In the meantime, you enemies could have a field day portraying you in distorted, unflattering terms or attacking your character with outright lies.

 

In human terms, Paul was saddened and frustrated-bordering on indignant and angry-about what was happening at the church he had founded just four years before.  He was viciously slandered by a particularly arrogant group of adversaries, but what could he do?  He could write letters to the congregation making his defense, he could plan face-to-face visits to tackle the issues head on, and he could also give himself to prayer-the original "wireless communication."

 

His second letter to the Corinthians was essentially a document to prepare them for an imminent visit.  Would it be a happy reunion of brothers and sisters in Christ, or a tense standoff?  The answer was up to them.  One thing was for sure:  Paul could not let the situation continue as it was-not when his very authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ was being challenged.

 

Paul had first brought the gospel to Corinth on his second missionary journey, probably in AD 51.  After facing bitter opposition from the Jews of the city, he dramatically shook out his garments in their presence, declared that he was done with them, and turned to the Gentiles instead (Acts 18:6).  He stayed a year and a half in Corinth, teaching the gospel and establishing a church.  

 

 II CORINTHIANS

 

1:1 - Paul's claim to be an apostle of Jesus Christ carries special significance in this epistle where he defened himself against those who quesioned his authority.  Paul might have given up in the face of such extreme opposition had he not been sent by the will of God during his Damacus road experience (Acts 9).  His example encourages Christians to persevere according to their godly calling.

 

1:2, 3 - The idea of Father is significant here.  God is every believer's Father, God is Jesus' Father, and God is the Father of mercies and all comfort (Eph. 1:3; Col. 1:2; 1 Pet. 1:3).  God comforts like a Father!

 

1:3 - 7 - By giving thanks for God's comfort in affliction, Paul sets the stage for the theme of this epistle: God's glory shines in suffering (2 Tim. 2:10).

 

 

1:8,9 - Paul forgoes the details about the trouble he and his companions experienced in Asia, but it mmay have occurred when he stayed behind in the Lycus Valley or in Troas (2:12, 13; Acts 19:22).  Or he may be referring to the riot in Ephesus (Acts 19:23 - 41).  Rather than the details, what is important is the extent of the suffering that led Paul to such despair.

 

1:9, 10 - Through Paul's experience, which weighed on him like death, God provided a deliverance that lifted Paul like ressurrection!  His deliverance should remind fellow believers of their hope:  Death is not the end.  God's resurrection power is a reality.

 

1:10 - Delivered... from so great a death could also be translated "delivered from a deadly peril."  Paul no doubt intends both meanings in this verse.  God rescued him from the danger of death, but because of the work of Christ (justification), God also saved him from the curse of death itself (Rom. 8:28 - 39).  What's mmore, in transforming His children into the image of His Son (sanctification), God does deliver them from the power of sin day after day.  And just as He can deliver His own from suffering in this life (glorification), so will He ultimately (still) deliver every believer in the resurrection to come.

 

1:12 - Christians willl lean on God when communicating with the unbelieving world will discover, like Paul, that God's grace supplies uncommon strength and confidence beyond anything within themselves (1 Cor. 2:4).  Paul's sincerity and integrity in his dealings with the Corinthians were revealed in his writings and conduct.

 

 

1:15 - 18 - Paul intended to approach the Corinthians in the confidence of a true apostle whose integrity was beyond reproach.  His opponents used his unexpected change of plans to accuse him of being untrustworthy.  But just as God does not promise one thing while intending to do another (Yes and No), so Paul was not intentionally misleading the Corinthians when he said he planned to visit them.

 

1:18, 19 - Paul defends the integrity of his word, his message, and his Master: in Corinth (JActs 18:5), Paul and his companions preached the Son of God who never vacillates (James 1:17).  He then appeals to the hnighest authority in protesting the charge - a faithful God (1 Cor. 1:9).  Paul could not preach such a God and then be unfaithful in his own word.

 

1:19, 20 - It was through the teaching of aithful men like Paul, Silas and Timothy that the Corinthians claimed the promises (Yes, and...Amen) that were theirs in Christ.  Paul's opponents called him deceptive and insincere.  Could the words of a fraud and liar produce such life-changing work in the lives of the Corinthians?

 

1:22 - In antiquity, official seals pressed in wax secured information or property and authenticated ownbership.  God's seal of ownership for His people is the Holy Spirit, placed in believers' hearts as a guarantee of their future riches in Christ.  They are securely His!

 

1:23, 24 -  Paul's visit to Corinth would have been one of judgment (13:1 - 10) had his plans not changed.  This letter is a call to repentance, a voice of comfort, and a gift of mercy.  Sometimes mercy in the moment renders the need for future judgment unnecessary (10:8; 12:19 - 21; Cor. 4:21).

 

1:24 - The apostle was not a spiritual despot holding dominion over the Corinthians, as some of his accusers claimed; he was a fellow worker (1 Pet. 5:3).  All of God's people, regardless of their responsibilities, are in the Lord's work together and should move forward in the faith and for one another's joy.

 

2:1 - 4 - Some scholars suggest that as many as four letters to the Corinthians existed at this time.  The letter mentioned has been lost to history (it quite possibly came between 1 and 2 Corinthians), but Paul exemplified how to handle discipline in a godly manner: address the issues that cause sorrow hoping the result will be joy (Heb. 12:11).  Discipline may cause affliction and anguish of heart, but its purpose is always restoration (Matt. 18:15;2 Thess. 3:14, 15).  This is the goal that demonstrates love.

 

2:5 - 9 -  The one who had offended Paul had offended the entire church.  Yet once the church (the majority) had disciplineed the man, it was time to forgive and comfort him so that he would not be swallowed up with....sorrow.  As difficult as it may be to corporately discipline a brother or sister in Christ, it is often hard to welcome them back, despite their repentance.  Christian love is re3affirmed through the restoration that follows repentance (1 Tim. 5:20; Gal. 6:1).

 

2:10, 11 - The church must be diligent to forgive when godly sorrow is exhibited; the presence of Christ makes this possible.  Otherwise, Satan will neutralize their witness by sowing discord and allowing accusations to fester.

 

2:11 - Devices are schemes of devious tactics.  When God's people refuse restoration, church discipline becomes retributiion, and the enemy gains an advantage.

 

2:12, 13 - Even though the Lord opened a door (Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:19; Col. 4:3) for the spread of the gospel to Macedonia, Paul's concern for Titus and the church in Corinth was so great.

 

 

2:14 - 17 - Every person's life emits a scent that either repels or attracts.  For Christians, their fragrance should be that of Christ-the sweet, lingering aroma of His love and salvation.

 

2:17 - As living testimonies, Christians are responsible to present the Word of God with sincerity.  To speak out of pride or any motive other than the glory of God hinders the spread of the gospel.

 

 

3:1,2 - The false apostles likely carried with them letters of commendation from the church in Jerusalem (possibly from the Judaizing faction there).  Paul needed no such recommendation, for his epistle of credibility could be read (seen) in the hearts and lives of the faithful in Corinth (Matt. 7:20).

 

3:3 - The Law of God was carved into tablets of stone and hidden away in the ark of the covenant (Ex. 25:16; 40:20).  Christian hope is engraved on the heart (Ezek. 11:19; 36:26), marking each of God's children with the message of grace and love.  Believers are His craftsmanship (Eph. 2:10).

 

3:5, 6 - All believers struggle with feelings of inadequacy, but they should not doubt God's sufficiency.  He alone qualifies His people for Christian service (as ministers).  Their power comes not from within but from above (Eph. 3:7).

 

3:6 - The old adage about obeying the spirit of the law rather than the letter is not Paul's meaning here.  The law (letter) kills, in that it condemns all those who fall short of its requirements (Rom. 8:4; Gal. 3:10).  It was never intended to give life but rather to serve as a mirror, convicting sinners and showing them their need for a Savior.  Those who are saved find life for tody (Rom. 8:4; 1 Cor. 11:25) and for eternity (Rom. 8:11, 23) through the Spirit.

 

3:7 - 11 - The law merely hinted at the glories to come in Christ; He perfectly fulfilled it (Rom. 10:4).

 

3:12, 13 - The glory and permanence of the New Covenant is because of Jesus' once-for-all sacrifice.  Because nothing can replace or supersede His work, Christians can live with hope and testify with great boldness!

 

3:13 - 17 - Moses wroe a physical veil to shield the people of Israel from God's glory.  (Ex. 34:33).  Spiritually, that veil is now removed because of Christ's death on the cross; however,k each mind remains blinded and each heart veiled (unable to understand and believe the gospel) until a person turns to the Lord.

 

3:18 - Every day a war rages within-the Spirit versus the flesh, the old man versus the new.  The primary role of the Holy Spirit is to reproduce the life of Christ within His followers (transformed into His image).  It is not our work but His (3:5).

 

4:1, 2 - Truth that can be trusted is truth that transforms and and also testifies to others.  Like Paul, every believer has been entrusted as a minister of the gospel (3:5) to a lost world.

 

4:3 - 5 - Satan is a defeated foe; still, he is temporarily powerful.  Calling him the god of this age is a figure of speech, showing that Satan, though defeated, continues his grasp of this present world.  If he can deceive the world into thinking he is equal to God, he can blind people to the glorious gospel of.....Christ.

 

4:5 - To talk about (preach) ourselves is an unworthy topic, Jesus' name should always be on the lips of those who profess Him.  And their service in His name should confirm the integrity of their message. 

 

 

4:6 - God does not illuminate anyone's heart for his or her sake alone.  Just as God commanded light to shine out of darkness at the beginning of creation (Gen. 1:2, 3), so must every believer's knowledge.......of...God beam forth to a world that desperately needs Him.

 

4:7 - 18  The Lord shines brightest through those who have been broken and have given themselves to Hisw use.  

 

4:7 - The treasure of the gospel is currently contained within the frail, fragile, and fickle bodies of the redeemed.  When Christians allow themselves to be vessels prepared for service (2 Tim. 2:21), God's glory will shine through their humanity - and it will be recognized as His powerk not theirs.

 

4:8, 9 - Becoming a Christian does not mean trouble ends; indeed, trouble will intensify (Rom. 8:17).  But God faithfully preserves His own from ultimate defeat, securing them in eternal salvation through Christ.

 

4:10 - 12 -Paul, who bore on his body "the marks of the Lord Jesus" (Gal. 6:17) and His suffering, also manifested the resurrected life of Jesus in his body (Rom. 8:17).  Paul willingly suffered in order to produce spiritual gain in the lives of those he served.

 

4:14 - How did Paul maintain such joy and obedience in the face of so much suffering and the threat of death?  The answer is here for every believer:  Paul's hope was in the resurrection, not in the peace and secuirty of this life.  His confident expectsation of an eternity free of sin, death, and sadness (Rev. 21:3,4) sustained him.

 

4:16  18 - Temporary things help people appreciate eternal things.  When believers are outwardly perishing and in pain, the gleam of this life gives way to the glories of the next (Rom. 8:18; 1 Pet. 1:6).  Earthly suffering escalates inward growth.

 

5:1 - 8 -  As a tentmaker by trade, Paul naturally uses the metaphor of a tent (a temporary dwelling) to describe the physical body.  These bodies ache, age, and atrophy; but the glorified bodies of the redeemed are described as eternal.  Until that promised day comes, believers groan, acutely aware of the failures of this flesh.

 

5:2, 4 - Paul's longing here is not for the state between death and the Rapture, when the saints will be unclothed (absent from the body but present with the Lord).  He anticipates the day when all believers will be finally and fully clothed in their glorified bodies (Rom. 8:23; 1 Thess. 4:16).

 

5:9, 10 - Paul's desire to be well pleasing to God does not imply that works are the basis for salvation.  God's child naturally performs good works out of love and thanksgiving - these are a byproduct of faith and demonstrations of faithfulness.

 

5:10 - Although works will never justify anyone, what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:3 - 5 is in view.  The merciful God is till the Holy Judge and at the judgment seat of Christ.  He will bring to the light what every believer has done.  This not to judge the believer; the believer stands justified as a result of the work of Christ.  This judgment is of deed, not the doer-determine the size or extent of reward based on the good works each has done (11:15;Rom. 14:10, 12; 1 Cor. 3:12 - 15).

 

5:11 - 15 - Two things motivate God's people in anticipation of the final rewards judgment: the terror (reverent fear) of the Lord and the love of Christ.  Paul provides three ways Christians can prepare: (1) Live and serve with clean consciences.  (2) Live for God rather than human praise and approval.  (3)  Live with selflessness and zeal compelled by Christ's love, fully surrendered to Him and His service (Rom. 12:1).  The goal is to conduct one's life in a way that the believer looks forward to giving an account on that last day.

 

5:11 - By terror of the Lord, Paul means responding to God, not with fright or panic but with awe and utmost respect.

 

5:16 - 17 -  As a result of being a new creation the world's standard of judgment (according to the flesh) no longer applies.  The key phrase, in Christ, is a favorite of Paul's.  This passage does not mean that in the moment of regeneration a person's lusts, temptations, and carnal thoughts dissolve.  In Christ the old has gone; in us those struggles rage on.  but with the Spirit's help, the Christian's "practice" will align more with his or her position day by day (Phil. 1:6) until the Son returns and makes every believer whole (Rom. 8:23).

 

 

5:18, 19 -  God has no need to be reconciled to humanity, but humans have a desperate need to be reconciled to Him.  Imputing means "keeping track of, entering into the record."  Through the work of Christ, every believer's record of sin is blotted out and he or she is reconciled to the Father.  So instead of noting every believer's sins and failures, as sin deserves.  God throws out the ledger altogether.

 

5:20 - Since Jesus no longer walks this earth in the flesh, His people are His ambassadors, speaking and acting on His behalf for those who do not know Him.  Christians are His head (the mind of Christ), hands (the work of Christ), and heart (the love of Christ) of those who need Him.  And their messasge is this: be reconciled to God.

 

5:21 - The greatest transaction in the history of the world occurred when Jesus (who knew no sin)) exchange His righteousness for humanity's sin, taking it on Himself (becoming sin for us).  He received what every person really deserved-death on a cross; by faith, sinners receive what He deserved - God's acceptsnce and eternal life with Him.

 

6:1, 2 - Those who allow the grace of God to pass them by without a response receive it in vain.  Because life offers no guarantee of tomorrow, today is the only acceptable time for sinnerss to respond.  Similarly, God has given those who are saved the message of life (4:6, 7).  How can any believer be silent?

 

6:4, 5 - Suffering is typically perceived as negsative, perhaps even a punishment from God.  Paul saw it ass the seal of God's approval.  So with his authority under attack, Pau lists his hardships as his credentials.

 

 

6:6, 7 - Providing a beautiful countermelody to the sufferings in the previous verses, Paul now lists how he conducted himself in the midst of thse trials.  Weapons on the right hand are offensive, those on the left are defensive.  Christians can prepare for any battle by living virtuously and arming themselves with the word of truth and the power of God (Eph. 6:14 - 18), The Holy Spirit enables all of therse things.

 

6:8 - 10 -  This final part of Paul's list presents a model of Christlike character and negative circumstances.  The biblical paradozes can be confusing - strength through weakness, comfort through suffering, life through death, glory through shame.  But is God is Lord of the paradox too, bringing good out of evil (Gen. 50:20; Rom. 8:28).

 

6:11 - 13 - Paul addresses the church directly with the seldom used vocative 0 Corinthians as both an assurance of his love and an exhortation.  The Corinthians were Paul's children in the Lord (1 Cor. 4:14, 15), and he rightly desired affection and openness from them.

6:14 - 7:1 - When oxen of different sizes are yoked together, they go in circles.  Similarly, an intimate, binding partnership between a believer and a nonbeliever cannot be productive.  Believers should be in relationships with nonbelievers, showing and sharing Christ (John 17:14, 15; Rom. 12:2), not exercising the filthiness of the flesh.  When a nonbeliever starts having the greater influence over a believer, something must change.

 

 

7:4 - Paul's boldness in correcting the Corinthians was equaled only by his  boasting about them to others, evidence that he harbored no ill will toward them but rather took joy in them.  This is a proper approach for any mature Christian who is raising up spiritual  children (6:13; 1 Cor. 4:14, 15).

 

7:5 - On the outside, Paul endured conflicts.  On the inside, Paul experienced fear that his letter would not be received well (2:12, 13; 11:28).

 

7:6 - 12 -  Motives matter when it comes to disciplining someone (see note on 2:1 - 4).  Paul's letter (most likely the lost letter mentioned in 2:1 - 4) had made the Crinthians sorry (lit., "caused pain or distress"), but for good cause.  The imperfect tense of the verb regret implies an extended period of unhappiness.  Regret turns to consolation and joy when such godly sorrow motivates life-giving, life-restoring repentance.

 

7:9 - 12 -  Paul's deep care, faithful perseverance, and boldness of speech in confronting his spiritual children moved them to repentance.  This should guide and encourage Christians in similar situations.

 

7:14 - 16 - Paul cdloses this first section of his epistle with a vote of confidence: he believed the Corinthians would remain worthy of his boasting, based on the maturity they had displayed in their repentance (7:10) and subsequent obedience.  They were a source of much joy and comfort in Paul's ministry (7:7).

 

 

8:1 - 15 - Here Paul introduces how beautiful it is to give under grace instead of under the law.  The idea of tithing to support the work of ministry seems legalistic until a person understand it as a grace - a gift God grants His children so they might abound in good works (9:8; 1 Cor. 15:10).

 

8:1 - 3 - Grace giving is sacrificial.  Paul used the example of the Macedonians (the Philippians, Thessionians, and Bereans) to motivate the Corinthians to give generously.  The Macedonians were in affliction and deep poverty, yet they gave joyfully and liberally.  The poor are often more generous than the rich, perhaps because, in relying on God for their daily bread, they learn that whatever is theirs is actually His (Mark 12:44; Acts 1:29).

 

8:3 - Grace giving is spontaneous; it is not done out of obligation or a sense of "oughtness" but as as natural outpouring of God's love in a person's heart.  Paul reiterates this 8:8, where he tells the Corinthians he is not commanding them to give but rather expecting that the sincerity of their love will prompt them to give freely and beyond their ability (9:7), just as the Macedonians had.

 

8:4, 5 - Grace giving is selfless.  Selflessness under girds the entire Christian life; it certainly ought to be a guiding principle for giving of the resources God entrusts to His people.  For experiencing the joy of giving and a heightened awareness of God's provision, the best is selfless giving.

 

8:6 - 7 - Grace giving is systematic.  Paul commands the Corinthians to abound in this grace, implying a framework in which to grow.  Giving can be spontaneous, but throughout the NT there are also instances of planned giving by the church and by individuals (Rom. 15:25, 26; 1 Cor. 16:1 - 4).  A system of giving begins with a commitment to give.  Those who wait to begin giving until they can afford to do so will never begin.

 

 

8:7 -  Grace giving is spirtual.  Paul knew that the Corinthians valed the virtues of faith, speech, knowledge, godly living, and love for the apostles.  Grace giving dhoulf join yhr lidy.  To Paul stewarship was a spiritual exercise just as faith is.

 

8:8, 9 - Grace giving is sincere, reflecting the believer's sincere love for God and desire to advancer the ministry of His Church.  God does not need the gifts of the faithful to accomplish His work, but does not need the gifts of the faithful to accomplish His work, but He does generously allow those gifts to be used toward that end.

 

8:10, 11 - Grace giving is steadfast.  Paul urged the Corinthians to not only start well but to finish with the same enthusiasm.

 

8:12 - 15 - Grace giving shares with others.  The purpose of God's wonderful pro0gram of stewardship is that the needs of the body and needs of the world might be met with equality.   The one who has much is able to share much; the one who has little is able to share that little.  But as God's people share in proportion to what God has entrusted them with, the needs of the whole body are met.

 

8:16 - 24 - Paul entrusted their financial gift to Titus and another brother, ensuring that everything was beyond reproach and that the money would be used for its designated purpose.  Providing a public accounting of the money kept it honorable in the sight of God and the people.  Believers live lives of integrity so that people will see their good works and glorify their Father in heaven (Matt. 5:16; 1 Pet. 2:12).

 

 

9:2 - 5 -The Corinthians were eager and read to give, but they had not actually completed the collection.  Their eagerness was not in question, but their perseverance and follow through was.  This was not just a problem for first century believers; many Christians today struggle in the same way when it comes to their giving.

 

9:2, 3- Corinth in the provinceof Achala.  Paul hoped to rekindle the Corinthians' enthusiasm by reminding them that their zeal and eagerness inspired (stirred up) the Macedonians to give so generously.

 

9:5 - The Greek word for generous gift is eulogia.  In Paul's day, eulogia was an act of blessing.  The Corinthians would be blessed for giving.  God would be blessed as the gift induced praise and thanksgiving, and the gift induced praise and thanksgiving, and the gift would bless those who were supported by it (9:12 - 14)..  In giving, Christians experience   When God's people give, they not only bestow grace, they receive it.

 

9:6 - 15 - Paul elaborates on God's harvest law (Gal. 6:7), outlining key principles that guide giving and the key blessings that result.  The concept of reaping and sowing is well known in Jewish wisdom literature (Job. 4:8, Prov. 22:8) and mirrored the teaching of Jesus (Luke 6:38).  Those who refuse to sow their God-given financial resources into the field of His work will reap no return.  But those who sow this seed experience the joy of a harvest that glorifies God and enriches both the giver and the one receiving the gift.  The blessings of God come from sowing what He has entrusted to each individual.  In the proportion that people give, so they will receive.

 

 

9:7, 8 - The greatest motivation to give is the dsire to be involved in what God is doing joy as they participate in the lofty and profound work of ministry and the abundant good works of God.

 

9:8 - 14 -  The God who supplies is also the one who multiplies.  This is His circle of grace:  He gives seed to the sowers, and as they give to provide for the needs of the saints.  He enriches both the sowers and the recipients beyond what was sown.  In the kingdom of God, grace given is grace multiplied (Prov. 11:24, 25).

 

9:8 - Remembering God's perfect and total provision is one way to displace the fear that often prevents giving.  The word translated sufficiency means "aall that is needed."  Christians can rest in the grace that multiplies resources and opportunities so that in all things they have all they need.

 

9:10, 11 - God has promised that, in His economy, those who trust Him with the investment of their resources will always reap more than they sow.  This may mean as immediate havest of earthly prosperity or a longer-term harvest of eternal reward.  In all cases, abundance in giving will increase one's righteousness, for the Spirit uses giving to continually transform the faithful into the image of Christ.

 

 

9:13 - 15 - Claiming to love God is easy.  But giving sacrificially to the Lord is proof of that love.  God sent His Son as evidence of His love; when believers give back to God as their first priority, they are responding to His great gift.

 

9:15 - Paul trumpets the grace Christians have been given by the divine Grace-Giver.  God the Father sowed His own Son-the Indescribable gift - into humanity (John 3:16; Rom 6:23; 8:32; Eph. 2:8).  God's people are a part of that harvest.

 

10:1 - Paul expressed his fatherly love for the Corinthians in chapters 1 - 9.  This chapter marks a change of tone for the rest of Paul's letter, he will now be bold toward the Corinthians, speaking as a father who must discipline a wayward chlod as he defends his authority as an apostle.

 

10:3 - 6 - The Christian is armed with spiritual weapons rather than worldly wealth, personal power, or strategic strength.  Warfare that successfully demolishes strongholds is conducted with faith and obedience, fortified by the work of Christ, and empowered by the Holy Spirit (6:7; Eph. 6:13; 1 Tim. 1:18).

 

 

10:5 - In every culture, God's soldiers will have to defend the truth against attacks, battling the arguments that deny or rejects the knowledge of God.  Christians must be sure that their measuring stick for the truth claims is the surety of divine revelation rather than the false security of human reason.  Any teaching that exalts itself against the knowledge of God must be cast down!

 

10:7 - 11 - The Corinthians, and especially Paul's detractors, placed too high a value on style, speaking ability, forcefulness, and demeanor.  But the truest test of any Christian is whether he or she belongs to the Lord.  One way to confirm this is whether a person's words align with their deeds.

 

10:8 - Again, Paul reminds his readers of his authority (3:1 -3, 1 Cor. 4:15).  HIs authority did not come from himself but was given to him by the Lord for a specific purpose: to edify, or build up, the body of Christ.  In a world where those in positions of authority often abuse their power.  Paul reminds readers that the godly will use their authority to benefit others.

 

10:12 - 18 - By measuring themselves only by themselves.  Paul's detractors played a dangerous comparison detractors played a dangerous comparison game that would never win the Lord's approval.  God has supplied His own standard.  No one else's will do.

 

 

10:17,18 - All boasting must be rooted in what the Lord has done.  Christians, like all people, used to fall short of the glory of God.  But now they can boast in the glory of God, praising Him for His transforming work in and through them (1 Cor. 1:31).

 

11:1 - With an irony that markis all of chapter 11, Paul asks the Corinthians to bear with him as he takes on the foolish position of his detractors.

 

11:3,4 - Promoting oneself is folly (11:1), but Paul recognized the necessity, for the Corinthians had become tolerant of and responsive to such speech.

 

11:5, 6 -  These so-called eminent apostles (often translated "super-apostles) came from outside Corinth to subvert the God given authority of Paul and the other true apostles.  This threat is alive and well today; only vigilance will enable Christians to hold fast to what is true (John 8:32, 33),

 

11:6 - Although these apostles were polished in the latest rhetorical techniques, they corrupted the truth.  In contrast, Paul admitted to being untyrained in speech, but he was grounded in the revelation of God, and He spoke with God's authority.  Christians can stand tall when when they stand firm in the Word of God and the work of Christ.

 

 

11:7 - 9 - While the false apostles burdend the Corinthians financially, Pau took no money from them for preaching the gospel.  Instead, he was supported by other churches, the Macedonians, and by his work as a tentmaker.  By saying he robbed other churches, Paul emphasizes that Macedonians' generosity enabled him to serve the Corinthians.

 

11:10, 11 - Paul was determined not to accept support from the Corinthains for his ministry, lest his opponents use that actions to negate his boasting (1 Cor. 9:15).  To keep the Corinthians from misunderstanding his refusal, he affirmed his love for them and then appealed to the highest authority for God knows!

 

11:12 - Another reason Paul would not accept support is because of the hypocrisy of false apostles who withheld teaching unless they were paid.  He challenged that if they wished to boast, they should follow his example and teach without the motivation of compensation.  The motivation for service should be the same as the motivation for giving: a joyful response to God's love.

 

11:13 - 15 - Paul warned that just as Satan masquerades as an angel of light, pretending to be one of God's good angels, he could empower fgalse apostles to masquerade as apostles of Christ.  It takes discernment to see beneath the mask of an imposter (Rev. 2:2).  Christians must cultivate that discernment by abiding in what they know to be true (Gal. 1:18).

 

11:16 - 18 - By saying that he does not speak according to the Lord, Paul is not implying that this portion of the epistle is any less divinely inspired than the rest of Scripture.  In fact, this "foolish" speech was directed by the Holy Spirit for the purpose of exposing the hypocrisy of the false apostles.

 

 

11:19 - 21 - Grace was beyond the understanding of these false apostles, so they sought to establish their authority by bringing works, legalism, and empty ritual back into the church.  They either missed or deliberately hid  the beautiful  simplicity of the gospel.  In this brutally ironic critique.  Paul chjides the Corinthians for thinking that the abuse they endured at the hands of those false teachers somehow made them wise (Gal. 2:4).  His sarcastic remark at the close of this passage suggests that Paul would have confronted such abuse head-on rather than submit to it.  

 

11:22 - 12:13 -  In this prolonged section, Paul boasts in his work and suffering in ministry (11:22 - 33), and the divine revelation he received as an apostle (12:1 - 10).

 

11:22,23 - The false teachers had been making much of their status as Hebrews, but they had nothing on Paul (Phil. 3:4 - 6).  He traces his lineage back to the seed of Abraham (Gal. 3:16).

 

11:24 - 27 - This was the mark of Paul's authenticity: "I have suffered for the gospel of Jesus Christ" (6:5; Acts 13:45; 14:19; 16:22, 23; 21:32).  The 39 lashes (stripes) were a Jewish punishment for false teaching, blasphemy, and serious law-breaking.  Beating with rods was the Gentile punishmentj for disturbing the peace.  In addition, the wounds his persecutors inflicted on Paul and the permanent scars that were left became for him the marks of Jesus in his body (Gal. 6:17).

 

11:28, 29 - Paul's pain did not end with physical suffering.  He cared so deeply for the churches that he was heartbroken when the body of Christ was wounded.  This is the climax of his trials; as a true shepherd he was burdened for the church (1 Cor. 9:22; Gal. 4:11; 1 Thess. 3:10).

 

 

11:30 - Paul reasserts his position on boasting: pride is unbecoming to the Christian, but the child of God has legitimate reason to boast.  In the Christian's weakness (infirmity), the power of Christ becomes apparent (12:9)

 

12:1 - 6- These verses describe a moment in Paul's life when he had heavenly experience.  Scripture does not provide many details.  In fact, Paul seemed reluctant to even mention his own name.  Instead saying, I know a man...Scholars agree, however, that Paul was talking about himself.  He was not even sure whether his experience was phyusical or spiritual (In...or out of body), but he does know he was given a unique privilege: to go to heaven and return to tell of it.

 

12:7 - 10 - Much debate has surrounded Paul's thron in the flesh.  The point is not the specific thorn but that it existed at all.  The flesh is still corrupt and corrupting, even in an apostle who was given divine revelation and visions.  But God is greater than Satan and greater than the flesh.  Through human brokenness, as God's servants are made humble, the power of Christ shines through their lives and ministries.

 

12:8, 9 - This thorn greatly pained Paul, but God's provision was and is sufficient.  The verb here is in the present tense.  God's grace for personal trials is ever and always able to meet the human need.

 

12:10 - In the face of the thron that remained, Paul did not bemoan his state.  Rather, he cultivated a new attitude, recognizing that what was weak in him served to magnify what was strong in God.  God always allows those who are weak to be channels of His great power.

 

 

12:11 - Paul has confirmed himself as a fool because of his boasting to the Corinthians.  Looking b ack, the Spirit's  intention can be seen.  Paul argued that he was in no way less than these super-apostles (11:5); indeed, he was greater because he was a servant of Christ (11:23).  But here Paul affirms himself to be nothing (3:5).  In a clever twist, Paul argues that these super-apostles were less than nothing.

 

12:13 - Paul's plea for forgiveness here is sarcastic; the wrong he "repented" of was ministering to the Corinthians without charging them, not being a burden of any kind.

 

12:14, 15 - Paul did not want to accept thje Corinthians' financial support because he thought of himself as their spiritual father, and a father does not take from his children but lays up treasure for them.  Paul loved them so deeplyu that he would gladly spend and be spent for their souls.

 

12:16 - 18 - Now that Paul had again affrirmed his love for the Corinthians and refused support from them, he needed  to address a significant accusation.  In case anyone accused Paul of craftily pretending not to take support and then sending his cohorts out to gather the collection "for Jerusalem," he appealed to Titus, whom the Corinthians had already seen in action and trusted.

 

 

13: 1 - 4 - Quoting Deuteronomy 19:15 about two or three witnesses, Paul says that this third visit is like a third visit is like qa third "witness," Paul warned the Corinthian believers that although he was weak, he would be coming in strength and authority, and he would not coddle (spare) the unrepentant.  Christians are not autonomous.  They are subject to the authority of Christ and the authorities He places over them (Rom. 6:18; 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:16).  (Rom. 6:18; 13:1; 1 Pet. 2:16). Those who humble themselves to receive correction will be transformed over time by the Spirit into the image of Christ.

 

13:5, 6 - In spite of all that the super-apostle had taught or required of the Corinthians, the only thing that mattered was if they had Christ in their lives.  Paul knew that he did.  His authority as an apostle was true.  

 

13:7 - In accord with Jesus' prayer for His own in John 17, Paul models how to pray sacrifically and selflessly for the good of others and the glory of God.  He was unconcerned iwth personal recognition.

 

13:9, 10 - Retiurning to the theme of weak and strong, Paul would gladly be meek with the Corinthians if they, in fact, would be strong in the faith.  He did not want to use sharpness with them by virtue of his authority as an apostle; his goal was their maturity.  May God's people ever pray for one another that every believer might become more like Christ.

 

13:11 - Paul's final words to the Corinthians include an exhortation to become complete.  Other translations capture the spirit of Paul's advice by saying: "Aim for perfection."  Each day, believers should grow more like Christ, who is perfect in every way.  Sinless perfection is not possible in this life, but with the Spirit's help, God's children can aim higher, trusting that Christ, who began His good work in them, will somedayu complete it (Phil. 1:6).

 

 

 

 THE FIRST EPISTLE OF JOHN

 

 

1:1,2 - The apostle John, the author of this book, was an eyewitness of Jesus and His works.  Because he heard, saw, looked upon, and handled Jesus.  John affirmed himself as a reliable source of truth about Him, contrary to the false teachers of that time (John 1:14; 21:24; Luke 24:39).

 

1:3 - The fellowship Christians have with each other is rooted in their fellowship with the Father and Jesus the Son.  The believers' shared salvation and eternal life with God gives them a commality that produces true unity (John 17:21; 1 Cor. 1:9)

 

1:4 - People can have knowledge about something but not the benefit of it.  Joy that rises above one's circumstances comes through fellowship with Christ (John 15:11; 16:24; 1 Pet. 1:8).

 

1:5 - 7 - John describes God as light, indicating that He is infinitely holy, utterly righteous, and morallyu pure (John 8:12).  Darkness is the absence of light.  When people stray from obedience to God and step into the darkness, they begin to act in ways that are inconsistent with His character.  Then they start avoiding light in every way possible (John 1:4, 5; 8:12; 1 Tim. 6:16).

 

1:6, 7 - When confronted with the truth, true believers will turn away from darkness to walk in the light (2:9 - 11).  They walk back toward the truth of who God is, and into restored fellowship.  That process is called repentance, and it is the process by which God forgives sand cleanses through Christ's blood (2 Cor. 6:14).

 

 

 

1:8 - In John's day, as it is today, some people falsely taught that when a poerson became a follower of Christ, that person's sin nature was eradicated and he or she could achieve sinless "perfection."  But people who say such things deceive themselves (Ps. 51:3; John 9:41; Rom. 3:23).  To have no sin is to have no Savior, which makes the Incarnation unnecessary.

 

1:9, 10 - Because everyone sins, those who say they have not sinned  reveal either their ignorance or pride, demonstrating that they do not belong to Christ.  Acknowledging the truth of the gospel is not enough-people must also confess their sin and walk in the light (Ps. 32:5; Prov. 28:13).

 

1:9 - Christians who do not regularly confess their sins weaken their fellowship with God, and their relationship with Him becomes distant and strained.  The false teachers would not admit their sin or their need of Jesus' cleansing.

 

2:1,2 - As the last living apostle, John was an old man when this letter was written, so he lovingly addresses his readers as his children.  He has juist highlighted the fact that everyone is a sinner-the bad news.  But now he gives the good news: believers' sins are forgiven because of Christ, and they are represented before the Father by their heavenly Advocate ("defense attorney")-Jesus Christ (Rom. 3:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb 7:25; 1 Tim. 2:5).

 

2:3, 4 - To know God does not depend on good works but is instead demonstrated by them.  Wjhen believers are born into God's family, they are united  with Him ihn an eternal relationship that cannot be broken.  Fellowship with God, however-communion with Him-can be disrupted by sin.  Obedience is a sign of relationship and fellowship with Him.

 

2:5 - God's people demonstrate their love for God not by words but actions.  This is not a matter of lip service but of life service.  Those who know and obey have God's love perfected or matured in them, so they have a desire to do what God has said (John 14:15, 21).

 

 

 

2:6 - Obedience is the secret of fellowship with God.  Jesus walked in total dependencer upon His father, and He was fully submissive to God's will.  So should believers (John 5:19, 30; 8:29; 15:4, 5, 7).  There is joy and blessing in following Christ's footsteps.

 

2:7, 8 - This commandment refers to teaching found in the Mosaic law (Deut. 6:5; 10:12).  Jesus viewed love for God and love for others as the two fundamental commands of the entire law (Matt. 5:43 - 48; Luke 10:25 - 37).  Through shared life and fellowship with Jesus, every Christian has the power to love like that.

 

2:9 - 11 - John states conretely that believers can measure their obedience by answering this simple question:  Do you love your Christian brothers and sisters?  It is important to remember that true obedience is not performance, and it does not come with reluctance.  Obedience is seeking God with one's whole heart.  What a tragedy that some Christians claim to liove God but cannot get along with other Christians (2:9, 3:15; 4:20).

 

2:12 - 14 - These words may refer to chronological age, but they are also about one's spiritual age.  The little children symbolize those who are newborns in Christ.  The young men represent more mature Christians who are strong and victorious in spiritual warfare (Eph. 6:10 - 18; 2 Tim. 2:22; James 4:7).  The fathers of those of any age and gender who have the depth and stability of ripe Christian experience.  These descriptive terms remind men and women, young and old, that the Christian life is never static.  God's people should always be growing.

 

 

2:13 - Fathers have walked with God for many years.  They have already been through the fights and have seen victories and defeats.  These experiences yield the confidence that God was and is always with them.

 

2:15 - Loving the system of this world prevents fellowship with God (Rom. 12:2; James 4:4).  Worse, it may be a sign that someone has never really experienced the love of the Father in the first place.

 

2:16, 17 - Lust represents desire, the inward part of temptation, or wanting one's own way.  These three lusts summarize all that is in the world.

 

2:16 - Lust of the flesh refers to physical temptations, especially sexual sin.  Lust of the eyes is greed, envy, and extravagance.  Pride of life is the arrogant desire to be recognized.  It is often associated with wealth or position and the desire to appear important so that others will be jealous.  Satan tempted Adam and Eve (Gen. 3) and Jesus (Luke 4:1 - 13) in these ways and he uses the same tactics in his attempts to turn every believer away from God.

 

2:18 - 23 -  John knew his readers were living in the last hour - meaning that their current time foreshadowed the final period of historyt before Christ's return.  Eventually the Antichrist will arise, claiming to be God, and yet opposing God and leading people astray.  The same counterfeit "spirit" was (and is) already present in many antichrists who were deceiving God's people through false teaching (4:3; 1 Tim. 4:1).

 

 

2:19 - The false teachers John speaks of had been active in local churches but they were not of us - and they proved it by leaving the church.

 

2:22 - 25 - The great difference between false teachers and true biblical teachers comes down to what the person believes about Jesus.  All false teachers deny that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God the Father (4:3; Acts 4:12; 2 John 7; Rev. 13; 19:20; 20:10).  God's true children recognize Jesus as both fully God and fully man and the only way to salvation.

 

2:27 - 29 - Abide is used in the Bible more than 100 times, and 19 of these references are in 1 John.  The word here means to continue or remain in relationship with Christ.  Those who do will believe and obey the truth and love Him and others (John 15).  John's instructions could be summarized as "like Father,, like son (or daughter). "If a person is truly born of God, he or she cannot help buty reflect His character.

 

2:27 - The phrase you do nopt need that anyone teach you does not deny the relevance of Bible teachers or preachers.  It simply means that the truth of the Word of God - which Christians already possess - is sufficient for wisdom and application in all things.  Godly teachers help people better understand the Bible, and the Holy Spirit reveals its truth, but anyone who contradicts what is in God's Word must not be heeded, for they are liars.

 

 

3:1 - The statement Behold what manner of love could be translated: "Behold, what peculiar out of this world kind of love the Father has bestowed upon us! "This agape love-which gives with nothing expected in return-seem strange to the world because it is so pure and holy (John 3:16; Eph 2:4 - 7).

 

3:2, 3 - Remembering that one day every one of God's children will be with Jesus and be like Him-resurrected and without sin (Rom. 8:23, 29; 1 Cor. 15:49) gives Christians hope.  These truths also help believers to live as their Father desires.

 

3:4 - Many people sin in ignorance, unaware of God's Word and will.  And while they are accountable for their sin because their conscience holds them accountable (Rom. 2:12 - 16), John is not speaking of them here.  Instead, he focuses on conscious, intentional violations of the will of God as revealed in His Word; this lawlessness- a consistent lifestyle of sin that shows contempt for God's commands.

 

3:5 - 9 - This is one of the more difficult sections of Scripture, primarily because every Christian struggles with sin daily.  John knows that too-he explains the process early in the letter (1:8 - 2:2).  But here John discusses the practice of sin, not the struggle of sin.  John is combating the false teachers (the gnostics) because they did not believe sin was a problem.

 

 

3:5, 6 - Jesus does more than save a person from punishment for sin.  He came to conquer sin at every level.  He conquered it personally by His sinlessness (Heb. 4:15).  He conquered the effects of sin and death through His death and resurrection (Heb. 2:14); and He conquers the power of sin in a believer's life through the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:13; Gal. 5:16).  One must not claim to be a Christian and then live a life of sin.

 

3:7 - Children are vulnerable to being led astray.  If John's readers are not careful, these false teachers might fool them into advocating wrong thinking - convinced that sin is not an important concern and that "goodness" is equivalent to Christ's righteousness.

 

3:8 - People who embrace sin are not simply misguided; they unwitting tools of the devil who uses them to sow destruction in this world (John 8:44).  But Christ has intervened to not only stop the devil's work but to save people, making them members of His family.

 

3:9 - How can John say that God's children do not and cannot sin?  The verb does not sin is in the present tense, denoting a continuous action.  It means that a Christian does not make a practice of sin.  A person who is born of God will not knowingly and continuously violate His law (2 Cor. 5:21).  Christians cannot practice sin because God is in them.  He gives each Christian a new nature, planting a seed that the Holy Spirit causes to grow and produce fruit (Eph. 4:17 - 24; Col. 3:10).

 

3:10 - God's children are distinguished from Satan's by their actions.  A child of God will live righteously, loving fellow believers.  Again, "Like Father, like children (2:29).

 

 

3:11 - 15 - Evidence that a person has passed from death to life is shown by that person's love for the brethen, even the difficult ones.  Those who do not love their fellow believers are wicked, like Cain (Gen. 4:1 - 15).  In fact, hatred of other believers is tantamount to murder in God's eyes (Matt. 5:21, 22).

 

3:16 - 18 - As Jesus exemplified, love always involves sacrifice, sometimes even unto death.  Claiming to love others is easy, but true love translat3es into actions (Deut. 15:7; James 2:15 - 17).  Christians who love others are willing to give of themselves in costly ways (John 15:13). (Ps. 37:5; Matt. 6:10; James 4:2,3), and they must be in right relationship with God, as evidence by their desire to do what pleases him.

 

 

3:19 - 24 -  John writes to assure.....hearts, provide confidence toward God, and help his spiritual children know that Christ abides in them.  Their lives are different because the Holy Spirit is working in and through them.

 

3:19 - With the words by this we know, John assures all believers that they undoubtedly belong to God and are bound for heaven.

 

3:22 - The Bible promises again and again that God answer prayer (Matt. 7:7; 18:19; 21:21; Mark 11:23; John 15:7).  However, the statement whatever we ask we receive does not imply that if people just pray hard enough, they can have whatever they want.  Their requests must be in line with God's will (Ps. 37:5; Matt. 6:10; James 4:2, 3), and they must be in right relationship with God, as evidenced by their desire to do what pleases him.

 

4:1 - 3 - Christians must not believe everyone who claims to have a message from God.  Rather, they must test the spirits (1 Cor. 12:3).  False teachers can be exposed by comparing how their lives and their words - especially their words about Christ - align with the Word of God.

 

4:2 - The false prophets of John's day, with their gnostic-type teaching, denied the incarnation-the truth that Jesus is eternal God who came to earth and was born as a baby.  He clothed His deity in a human body-conceived of the Holy Spirit and yet born in the flesh, fully divine and also fully man.  

 

 

4:3 - The false teachers who denied the incarnation were some of the early church's first heretics.  The spirit of the Antichrist was alive in them and is alive in this world.  Any view that attacks either Jesus' humanity or His deity is the work of antichrists (2:18, 22; 2 Thess. 2:3 - 7).

 

4:4 - What an amazing promise!  Regardless of the opposition - false teachers, worldly pressures, skeptics - believers can live confidently, assured of their status and victory (Rom. 8:31, 37).

 

4:5 - False teachers speak from the world's point of view.  The reject Christ's wisdom and shape their teaching according to world categories rather than biblical ones.

 

4:6 - In contrast to the false prophets within the church, John claims that his message is from God Himself-the author of all truth.  The hard reality, however, is that the world is deaf to this truth.  When God's children hear the truth, they respond with obedience (1 Cor. 2:14).

 

4:7 - Hate cannot characterize a true Christian.  Love is the new nature of a believer, because it is an attribute of God's nature.  But this is not an ordinary love, such as unbelievers have; it is a love like God's - holy, unconditional, passionate, and sacrificial.  Christians respond to the love of God by loving others.  This testifies that they are walking in the light and in the life of God (3:10, 11, 14).

 

 

4:8 - God is not just "loving," God is love.  All that anyone knows about real love is rooted in the character and nature of Almighty God, who is the origin, originator, and orchestrator of all true love.  The biblical concept of love means seeking the best for a person while asking nothing in return.  Only God can produce that kind of love in a person.

 

4:9, 10 - Jesus Christ is the expression of God's love and the heart of the gospel message.  Propitiation means "atoning sacrifice" (John 3:16, 18).

 

4:11 - Believers cannot love others in their own strength; they can love only out of the reservoir of God's love.  How can a Christian love someone who is unlovable?  By realizing how unlovable they were when God first loved them.  If God can love us, then He can love through us.

 

4:12 - Love for one another is critical to the church's survival and witness for the world sees God through the lives of His children.  When real love abides in believers, their loving acftions and attitudes make the invisible God visible to the world (John 1:18; 14:23; 1 Tim. 6:16).

 

4:13 - 15 - All three persons of the Godhead participate in the believer's witness.  The Spirit indwells, giving the person conviction and confidence.  The Father sent the Son, a te4stimony to God's love.  And the Son is the message the Savior of the world.  Anyone who denies Jesus' humanity of divinity is not a believer (Matt. 14:33; Rom. 10:9). 

 

 

4:17 - 19 - God's love at work within His people expels fear in the day of judgment, for they know Jesus is the Advocate (2:1).  Meanwhile, their confidence (born of true knowledge of God and His Word) in the face of judgment marks them as one of His own.  A mature believer will not be ashamed when Christ returns (2:28; John 15:9 - 17).

 

4:18 - A certain fear (commonly defined as reverential awe) of God is appropriate, but believers do not fear God's wrath, because Jesus bore God's wrath for them.  "It is finished" (John 19:30).  A Christian's reverence for God knows that God loves His children enough to correct them.  This love also knows God will always receive repentant believers again (Luke 15:11 - 31; Rom. 8:15; Gal. 4:6).

 

4:20, 21 - John summarizes this chapter and repeats this admonishment:  If people love God, they love their brother.  Because love is essential to the Christian faith, the one who does not love fellow believers probably does not love God either (Lev. 19:18; John 13:34).

 

 

5:1 - This verse couples two important tests that prove one is truly a child (born) of God: belief in Jesus as Christ (4:1 - 3); John 3:3) and love for God and for one another.  If a person truly believes in the Person of Jesus Christ, he or she will be characterized by love.  This only happens by experiencing the spiritual birth that comes from God.

 

5:2 - A believer shows evidence of loving the children of God by keeping God's commandments.  God's law is a product of His nature and expresses His will for His people.  Derfying His commands not only offends God but also corrupts the fabric of reality.  Society, family, and friendships all pay a price when people sin.

 

5:3 - Unbelievers find God's commands burdensome because they lack whatr every believer has - the Holy Spirit.  Through the Spirit, the believer finds obedience to be a source of peace (Matt. 11:28 - 30).  To keep involves watching over, carefully paying attention to,k and never forgetting (Eph. 4:2, 3; 1 Tim. 6:13, 14).

 

5:4, 5 - Those who know Christ have an overcoming spirit - and actual victory - despite the temptations and troubles of this world.  The world can do nothing to reclaim believers;  God has defeated the evil world system (2 Cor. 5:17) and taken loving ownership of His people (John 10:28, 29; 1 Cor. 15:57).

 

 

5:6 - 11 - John presents threre infallible witnesses to prove that Jesus uis God:  water - Jesus' baptism in the Jordan River, when the Father spoke from heaven (Matt. 3:13 - 17); the blood - the historical derath of Jesus on the cross for the sins of His people (John 12:28 - 33); and the Spirit - given to bear witness to Christ (John 15:26; 16:14).  Since the witness of humans is readily accepted, hows much more valid should the witness of God be?  People reject Jesus at their own peril.

 

5:13 - False teachers questioned whether John's readers were truly God's children.  John wrote this letter that God's people might know to whom they belong despite the persuasion of the wicked one.

 

5:14, 15 - Just as Christians can know that they have eternal life, they can have confidence that God hears and answers their prayers.  The Lord promises to grant their petitions, but many believers forget this important condition: prayer must be according to His will (Ps. 37:5; Matt. 6:10; James 4:2, 3).  If God  does not seem to be answering, then believers should examine their motives, not question God's character.  God loves His children, and denies them only what will harm them or others (Rom. 8:28).

 

 

5:16, 17 - Scholars debate the exact nature of the sin leading to death.  Most likely it refers to those who persist in sin and refuse to repent.  Rejecting God puts these people out of prayer's reach (Heb. 6:4 - 6).  Yet because no one casn know whether someone has committed that sin, Christians should pray for all their loved ones as well as their brothers nd sisters in the faith.

 

5:18, 19 - Everyone who is born of God is kept from the wicked one.  Satan has no power over the Christian (John 10:28, 29; 17:12).

 

5:20, 21 - John concludes on a note of assurance and hope, affirming that Jesus Christ is true and gracious - He has come so that people might know Him and experience eternal life.  The apostle closes with a strong exhortation to stay away from false gods - appropriate becausek, when people worship anything besides God and His Son, they become idolaters.

 

 

 

 

  THE SECOND EPISTLE OF JOHN

 

 

1 - 4 - False teachers, whom John calls deceivers and antichrists (7), were spreading error.  To keep walking in truth (1 John 2:18, 19; 4:1 - 6; 3 John 3, 4) was how John's readers would defend against such teaching.  Some people think that only the sincerity of one's beliefs is important, but the truth of those beliefs is what matters.  All truth is found in Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God (John 14:6).  

 

1 - John describes himself and his position with one word: Elder.  By this time, he was an older man with authority over several congregations in Asia Minor.  He was also an eyewitness to the life and teaching of Jesus.

 

2 - The truth that Christ is both God and man and Savior, is more than a set of propositions - it is living, and it abides....forever.

 

3 - John explicitly identifies Jesus as the Son of the Father to counter the claims of the false t3eachers, who denied that anticipates two important themes in the r3eswt of this letter.  Truth and love are intimately connected, not just in hospitality but in the Christian's everyday life, habits, and choices.

 

 

5, 6 - The phrase lovce one another occurs 13 times in the NT.  Jesus used it four times (John 13:34, 35; 15:12, 17) and said that believers' love for each other would show that they were His disciples (John 13:35).  The apostles Paul (Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:9), Peter (1 Pet. 1:22), and John (5; 1 John 3:11, 23, 4:7, 11, 12) reinforce this nine more times in their letters.

 

6 - Genuine love for God is shown through obedience (walk according to His commandments; 1 John 5:3).  Love and obedience are the result of the Holy Spirit's work in the life of a believer (John 14:15 - 17; Gal. 5:22, 23).

 

7 - John writes here of an antichrist - one of several false teachers who were trying to convert John's readers to their false beliefs - not the Antichrist.  These deceivers did not confess the incarnation of Christ, a fundamental heresy.

 

8 - 11  The key to opposing false teaching is for God's people to abide in the doctrine of Christ - the truth that Jesus was fully divine and fully human.  All who teach somethiing different should not be welcomed in a Christian's home or church; in fact, they should be shunned (do not receive.......nor greet him).  The church should be a place of grace, but it must never tolerate the undermining of the faith.

 

8 - The full reward is for loyal service.  Every believer will receive salvation, but those who live for selfish gain will lose those things they worked for, not receiving their fully heavenly reward (Matt. 7:21 - 23; Phil. 3:14; 4:1; Heb. 10:35).

 

 

9 - The doctrine of Christ refers to the teaching that Jesus was the Son of God who came in the flesh.  Those who hold to this have true fellowship with both the Father and Son.  The Holy Spirit goes unmentioned here, simply because the Spirit was not the issue with the false teachers; Christ's identity was.

 

10, 11 - Although Christians should open their homes to nonbelievers for the sake of evangelism.  Christians should not support false teachers in any way.  In John's day, traveling teachers needed a place to stay and people to teach.  To open ones home or church to a false teacher constituted an endorsement of his or her teaching (Rom. 16:17; Gal. 1:8, 9;2 Thess. 3:6, 14; Titus 3:10) and perpetuated his or her deception (shares in his evil deeds).  The only correct response for Christians is to reject false teachers.

 

12 - John expresses a similar sentiment to Galus in 3 John 13, 14.

 

 

THE THIRD EPISTLE OF JOHN

 

For nearly 2,000 years, Christians have universally affirmed that followiing Christr at times feels like :"hard work."  Satan exerts great effort to oppose the advance of the gospel.  And he often uses people - even Christians within the church - to do it.

 

John knew well the trouble that human beings cause, especially in the body of Christ.  For that reason, when problems arose, such as false teaching or division - John would not back down.  The truth of the gospel had to be preserved at all costs.

 

The last living apostle was a tiger for the truth.  In his Gospel and three epistles, he mentions "truth" 46 times.  He also declares that the test for discerning who is in Christ is to see who is walking in the truth (3; 1 John 2:6).  Is it any wonder, then, that he would be so indignant when Diotrephes, a leader in one of the churches he shepherded, was making it harder for those in that fellowsship to obey the truth.

 

From John we learn that those who selflessly support the Lord's worki are to be commended.  Likewise, those who infiltrate the church with Satan's agenda must be confronted.

 

"WHAT IT SAYS/TRUTH MUST BE TOLD"

 

It is interesting to compare 2 and 3 John.  Both are brief.  Both deal with the treatment of itinerant teachers.  Second John was written to instruct readers not to receive those who deny the incarnate Word of God.  Third John was written to instrudt geliefvers to receive those with a history of loving the truth and walking in it.  The positive instruction of the third letter complements the negative instruction of the second letter.  Both epistles are concerned with truth, love, and hospitality.  But John's third letter addresses a leading member of the local church, Gaius.

 

Gaius was a fairly common Latin (Roman) name.  At least four different men have that name in the NT (1; Acts 19:29; 20:4; Roman 16:23; 1 Cor. 1:14).  But we know more about John's Gaius than any of the others.  He was spiritually healthy and walked faithfully in the truth of Christ.  He was a selfless servant whose faith was evidenced by his actions.  And he was a dear friend of the apostle (1 - 6) who apparently knew of Diotrephjes and his arrogant refusal of hospitalityu for John's emissaries.

 

The apostles of the first century had two duties: to establish and pass on the truth as they received it from Christ (2 Tim. 2:1, 2), and to encourage those who were walking rightly in the faith.  So John wrote not only to commend Gaius for his faithfulness but also to alert him that Diotrephes was soon to be confronted about his self-serving ways.

 

1:1 - John calls himself The Elder here, just as he does in 2 John 1.  He is once again calling attention to his position of authority and influence.

 

1:1, 2 - Gaius was apparently a member of one of John's churches and a beloved friend to him.  Three of the first 11 Greek words that begin trhis epistle refer to love.  This is a stern letter, yet the accent is on love.  

 

1:2, 3 - Gaius had a vigorous walk with God that found expression in the way he served fellow Christians.  When any believer selflessly strives to prosper othersw who walk in the truth, God makes sure that his or her own soul prospers.

 

1:3 - The word truth appears seven times in this short letter.  The truth is not something to be intellectually assimilated; it is the knowledge that fills and clothes a Christian's life.  Gaius not only walked in the truth buit reached out with it by opening his home and meeting the needs of others.  All who walk in the truth know it, but not all who know the truth walk in it (John 8:42 - 47).

 

 

 

1:4 - John had no greater pleasure than knowing that other Christians were faithfully following the Lord.  In fact, in each of his letters, John links his joy to the obedience of his spiritual children (3, 4; 1 John 1:4; 2 John 4).

 

1:5 - 8 - When Gaius generously offered hospitality to the itinerant preachers of the gospel, he accomplished much more than providing a bed and breakfast for visitors; he paved the way for the spread of the gospel.

 

1:5 -  The two occurrences of the word do emphasize the fact that Gaius repeatedly and continuously engaged in caring for the needs of missionaries and evangelists (brethen and ...strangers).  Gaius' open door liferstyle pleased the Lord and was recognized by others.

 

1:6 - To send our brothers sisters forward on their journey in a manner worthy of  God (Col. 1:10) is the ultimate expression of biblical hospitality, providing for them even when they have moved on.  This wording signifies treating one's guestws as the Lord would treat them.

 

1:7 - In John's day, itinerant preachers of the gospel took nothing from the Gentiles to avoid the accusation that they were motivated by money.  Today, most missionaries have surrendered opportunities for careers, material possessions, and a comfortable lifestyle to serve God.  He uses men and women liker Gaius to support them.

 

1:8 - Those who minister to those who are ministering participate in something greater than themselves: they become allies - fellow workers for the truth who share in the joy and reward of bringing people to faith (Matt. 10:41; 1 Cor. 10:41; 1 Cor. 3:9; 2 Cor. 6:1).

 

1:9, 10 - Whereas Gaius is an example of loving hospitality (1 - 5) - one who gladly received and encouraged others - Diotrephes demonstrates how hostility and a thirst for power can threaten the church. 

 

 

1:11, 12 - Sometimes the simplest test is the best for determining who to imitate: just examine a person's life.  Diotrephes focused on himself; Gaius focused on serving others.  It is obvious which example John wants us to follow.

 

1:12 - Little is known about Demetrius, except that he had a good reputation with everyone and upheld the truth.

 

1:13, 14 - In the first century, a letter was a substitute for the personal presence of the writer with his readers.  John desired not simply to write an instruction manual but to come and strengthen his spirtual brothers and sisters in person.

 

 

 

THE BOOK OF JUDE

 

For Jude, family was not everything.  He was the brother of James - the well-known leader of the early church - and the son of Mary and Joseph.  Jude and James were half-brothers of Jesus.  Yet Jude did not come not come to saving faith until after Jesus resurrection.

 

Still, once Judge signed on as a believer, he was committed.  He knew the meaning and purpose of the faith that Jesus had introduced to the world and he would rebuke anyone who maligned it - or its Founder.  That is exactly what he did in this brief epistle.

 

Apparently , as Jude was planning to write a longer letter "concerning our common salvation," he received reports of false teachers who had infiltrated local congregations.  So Jude addressed the crsis at hand with a letter equivalent to a modern day e-mail with a red exclamation mark (3).  His vigorous memo urges God's people to stay alert, to contendc for the truth, to stay strong in the Lord, to protect the vulnerable, and to remain certain that God would judge false teachers.

 

The salutation reads, "To those who are called, santified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ" (1).  At first glance, Jude's letter seems to be generally addressed - a letter perhaps written for circulation among regional churches.  One factor argues against a general audience, however, is Jude's description of those creating havoc in the church: "Certain men have crept in unnoticed" (4).  This may suggest that false teachers had infiltrated a particular church or a close group of churches.

 

The stealthy nature of the troublemakers recalls both Paul's warning to the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:29 and Jesus' warning about false prophets in Matthew 7:15.  False teaching does not always announce its presence.  It often comes cleverly disguised, containing just enough of the truth to captivate the unwary Christian.  Such deception calls for an urgent response.  It was an urgency that Jude took seriously.

 

Whether Jude's readership is the endangered first-century church or the twenty-first-century church, the message is the same: be on guard.

 

Jude's brief letter divides naturally into three parts.  In the first section (3, 4), he gives his reason for writing:  God's people must contend for the faith!  In the second section (5 - 19),  Jude warns against a new group of devious, destructive teachers who are attempting to undermine the Christian faith from within.  In the third section (20 - 23), he urges believers to stand firm, to resist whatever is not true, to persevere by building each other up, and to take responsibility for those who have been misled by false teaching.  Jude then closes his letter by refocusing his reader his or her own effort; the only wasy to stand firm is through the power that God provides.

 

Jude reminds God's people that they have two vital responsibilities when they hear the Good News being slandered, distorted, or misrepresented.  First, they are to explain and defend the gospel to bhe best of their ability; then they must stay strong, confident, and humbly rooted in the knowledge and practice of the gospel.

 

In today's world, just as in the first century, people present lies and misleading messages about the gospel and about Jesus.  Even so, Christians must be careful to follow both Jude's call to "contend earnestly for the faith' and Paul's reminder that the Lord's servant "must not quarel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition )2 Tim. 2:24, 25).

 

In a world that prizes tolerance and claims that standing for truth is unacceptable, Jude demonstrates that tolerance has its limits.  When the truth of the gospel is challenged,  God's people must take a stand - all while remembering to act with love and mercy.

 

 

 

1, 2 - Jude's passion to protect his readers from false teaching is evident from his first words as he recalls God's saving work on their behalf.  Called and sanctified refer to being selected and set apaart as His holy people at salvation (Rom. 1:17); preserved means salvation secured for eternity (John 6:37 - 44; 17:11, 12: Rom. 8:29 - 39).  The truth is a believer's best defense: to stand firm in one's identity as God's child and His ability to safeguard one's soul is strength indeed.

 

1 - Although Jude was Jesus' half brother, he was skeptical at first of Christ's divinity (Mark 3:21).  Years later, however, he calls himself a bondservant of Jesus Christ.  Servant (or slave) is one of the most commonly used titles in Scripture for those who submitted their lives to the Lord.  Paul, Peter, James, and John all humbly adopted the title (Rom. 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; Rev. 1:1).

 

2 - Jude wants mercy, peace, and love to characterize his readers rather than the selfishness, slander, and division of the of the false teachers (4).

 

3, 4 -Here is the context and main ipoint of Jude's letter: ungodly men, whose words and deeds deny the truths of the faith, have infiltrated the church.  Believers must contend (exert intensze effort) for the purity of the gospel by preserving it as it was once and for all delivered by the apostles (Phil. 1:27).

 

4 - These false teachers abused grace to justify immorality and denied the deity of Christ to control the church.  The voice here indicates that their willful sins marked themselves for condemnation; God did not single them out for punishment.  

 

 

5 - 7- Referring to three epic accounts from Scripture as examples - Israel's rebellion in the desert (Num. 25:9; 1 Cor. 10:5 - 10; Heb. 3:16), the insurrection of Satan and his angels (2 Pet. 2:4), and Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 19:24; 2 Pet. 2:6) - Jude reminds his readers that God consistently punishes idolaters, heretics, and rebels.

 

8 - False teaching is not justr incorrect doctrine; it also produces incorrect living.  These teachers defile the flesh by satisfying their own immoral desires.  When Jude calls them dreamers, he may mean either that they relied on dreams and visions or that they were out of touch with reality.  They even dared to reject authority and slader angelic beings (dinitaries).

 

9 - The title archangel means the angel who is "first, principal, chief," Unlike the false teachers, Michael never spoke evil, even against Satan.  God's people must reject and correct false doctrine but resist the temptation to revile their opponents.  Judgment is in Godf's hands (Rom. 12:19; 

 

 

 

10 - 13 - Earlier, Jude referred to large-scale examples of God's judgment (5 - 7).  In this passage, he cites three individual OT figuresw who received judgment: Cain not only killed his brother but rejected God's command about sacrifices (Gen. 4:1 - 15; Heb. 11:4); Balaam plotted against Israel for his own personal gain, encouraging sensuality and sin (Num. 22:5 - 24:25; 2 Pet. 2:15; Rev. 2:14); Korah led a rebellion against God's appointed auithority - Moses (Num. 16:1 - 35).

 

12 - The love feast were meals that members of the early church shared when they gathered.  These concluded with the Lord's supper (1 Cor. 11:17 - 34).

 

12,13 - By serving only themselves end promising a spiritual harvest that yields only barrenness, shame, and eternal punishment, false teachers prove their hyposcrisy (Phil. 3:19; 2 Pet. 2:17).

 

14 - Enoch lived before the Flood and was taken to heaven without seeing death (Gen. 5:24).

 

14, 15 -  The false teacdhers claimed that God would not condemn anyone.  Jude quotes a prophecy from Enoch (found in a non-biblical text of that era) to drive home the biblical truth that the Lord will one day return to judge the ungodly deeds and words that have been spoken against Him.  Although God is a God of love, His holiness will not allow Him to ignore sin.

 

 

16 - 19 -Jude highlights the speech of the wicked: they use their lips to grumble and complain about their circumstances and to flatter others (2 Pet. 2:18).  Both their self-serving words and their sinful deeds (ungodly lusts) pose a danger to the body of Christ.  Jesus' apostles warned against wicked people like this (Acts 20:29 - 31; 2 Tim. 3:1 - 8; 2 Pet. 2:1 - 3).

 

20 - 21 -The real work of contending for the faith requires Christians to keep themselves in the love of God (John 14:15, 21 - 24).  Keep is the central command here, and the other action items in the list describe how this is accomplished.  God will never stop loving His people (Rom. 8:31 - 39), but they are to be actively involved in maintaining that relationship (John 15:9, 10; 1 John 4:16).

 

20 - Christians need each other if they are to combat false teachers and false doers with in the church.  Building ........up has both a collective and a private component: it is done in fellowship with other believers and in the personal discipline of keeping a daily appointment with God (Col. 2:7; 1 Thess. 5:11).  Praying in the Holy Spirit means to be guided and empowered by the Spirit when Christians talk to God (Rom. 8:26; 1 Cor. 14:15; 16; Eph 6:18); this phrase does not suggest a special kind of prayer.

 

22, 23 - Not everyone who causes trouble can be dealt with in the same way.  Jude urges believers to approach each person individually (making a distinction).  Some need to be treated with compassion, lovingly urged to follow Jesus.  Others need to be saved with fear, pictured here as snatching them from the fire of hell (Amos 4:11; 1 Cor. 3:15).  In both cases, grace is the benchmark of a Christian's conduct.

 

24 - 25 -  The book ends as it begins: with God's enabling power.  This is one of the great benedictions of the Bible, poignanty reminding readers that their ability to live holy lives and resist apostasy ultimately depends on the One who can present them faultless before God (Eph. 3:20; Col. 1:22).

 

 

 

 

BOOK OF REVELATION

 

Sometimes during the apostle John's lonely exile on the tiny island of Patmos, the rise, glorified Jesus Christ appeared to His beloved disciple in all His glory: white head and hair, eyes of fire, feet of brass, a voice "as the sound of many waters....and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength" (1:14 - 16).  John's reaction was understandable.  He wrote: "And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead" (1:17).  The Lord's assignment for John sounded simple enough:  "Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this" (1:19).  The apostle could not have imagined, however, the impact those "things" would have every Christian's understanding the future.  These were "words of....prophecy" (1:3; 22:7), meaning they foretold the future and offered exhortations about those events - what Jesus described as "the things which will take place after this."

 

The apocalypic imagery of Revelation much have utterly overwhelmed John at times, based as it was on fantastic symbols and images.  John was compelled to use words to write down the revelation, but he received it primarily in pictures - we can only imagine a sky - size three - dimensional, high definition viewing.

 

WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU/END OF THE STORY

 

The Book of Revelation promises a special blessing for those who take the time to peer into the future with the apostle John (1:3).  If they do, they will see that God wins.  Christ triumphs.  Righteousness prevails.  Satan loses.  Sorrow, sickness, and death disappear.  A new heaven and earth emerge from the ashes of the old.  And God Himself wipes away the tears from every eye.

 

Regardless of what happens in this life - no matter how depressing the world news or how difficult or dark the season we might be enduring - life in Christ has a happy ending....and nothing in earth, heaven, or hell can ever take that away.  When the heartarche of this present world weighs heavily on us, we have only to look up and look ahead at the radiant end of one story and the joyous beginning of a new story that will never end of one story and the joyous beginnings of a new story that will never end.  An eternal story with one central theme:  "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!" (5:12).

 

Revelation 1:4 - 3:22 - These letters must first be understood as real correspondence writtren to seven literal churches at the end of the first century AD.  Each letter begins with the same opening (I know your works), and each has a promise to him who overcomes, yet every message is tailored to the specific recipients.  Their value to believers beyond the first century is that they identify the kinds of Christians who compose the church in every age.

 

1:4 - 3:22 -  These letters must first be understood as real correspondence written to seven literal churches at the end of the first century AD.  Each letter begins with the same opening (I know your works), and each has a promise to him who overcomes, yet every message is tailored to the specific recipients.  Their value to believers beyond the first century is that they identify the kinds of Christians who compose the church in every age.

 

1:1 - Revelation is the translation of the Greek word apokalupsis.  It means "to reveal, to disclose, to uncover."  This is not a puzzle or an enigma, but a book that seeks to make manifest Jesus Christ.  The phrase must shortly take place describe an event that will occur suddenly, not necessarily one that may occur soon.

 

1:2 - This book is written not just in words but also in pictures (things that he saw).  The message is communicated in symbols and images.

 

1:3 - John clarifies that this purpose for writing the booki is blessing.  Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a blessing to those who read it, a detail John repeats at both its beginning and end (22:6, 7).  A person can be blessed just by reading Revelation or cursed for tampering with it.  But the greatest blessing comes when a person obeys it.  The road to true success, according to Revelation, is found in submitting one's life to God's Word (Luke 11:28).

 

1:4, 5 -  All three members of the Trinity - Father (Him who is and who was and who is to come), Son (Jesus Christ), and Holy Spirit (seven Spirits) - were involved in creating this book.

 

1:4 - Although each of the seven churches received a special letter from Christ through John, each congregation could read what was written to the others because everything was contained in this one, larger letter.  God's people have the same advantage today.  To have the perspective of the divine Head of the church is convicting.  Modern churches could solve some of the problems they face by reading the Lord's recommendations to these NT congregations.

 

1:5, 6 - Jesus Christ is described as the one who loved (Rom. 5:8), loosed (from sins), and lifted His people up (made us kings and priests; 1 Pet. 2:9).  Washed could more literally be translated "loosed" or "freed."  John 11:44 describes Lazarus as being loosed from his grave clothes.  The word also recalls that the Israelites were freed from slavery in Egypt.  Jesus has likewise freed believers from their sin!

 

1:5 - Only in Revelation is Christ given the title faithful witness.  He was a genuine martyr, faithful unto death (Prov. 14:5; John 8:14).  The phrase ruler over the kings of the earth refers to Christ's present reign, not His future one.  He is now the King of kings.

 

 

1:7, 8 - These verses present the theme of the entire book; the return of the King (22:20) and establishment of his rule over the kingdom.  Coming translate the Greek work parousia - the word that most often espresses the return of Jesus.  It describes the arrival of the King and the changes in the situoation that His arrival produces (Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; Matt. 24:29, 30).

 

1:8 - Alpha and omega are the first and loast letters of the Greek alphabet.  Here they point to the eternity of Christ and to His all-inclusive power (Dan. 7:13, 14).  Jesus is the boundless Alpha and Omega),  timeless (Who is, and was, and is to come)), and powerful One (the Almighty).

 

1:9 - 20 - In these verses, Jesus is not pictured as the lowly Galilean of the Gospels but the glorified and risen Christr.  He is not seen as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world but the exalted Son of Man whose eyes are as a flame of fire.

 

1:9 - Three key phrases in John's statement all go together:  he is a companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.  Whether in times of suffering triumph, or trouble, John and his readers can endure because God is at work as a sovereign, establishing His kingdom for them and through them.  His kingdom will prevail.

 

1:10 - When John was in the spirit, the physical limits of time and space were temporarily set aside.  In this condition, he moved in two directions: upward to heaven and forward in time to the Day of the Lord (4:2; 17:3; 21:10).

 

 

1:12 - The seven lampstands represent all Christian churches, not just those of Revelation.  A lampstand is not a light but a bearer of light.  When Jesus walked the earth, He was the Light of the World (John 8:12).  Now that Christ has returned to heaven, the church is responsible to shine His light into the darkness on earth (Matt. 5:14; John 9:4, 5).

 

11:13, 14 - On one occasion, Jesus girded Himself with a towel and washed the disciple's feet (John 13:4, 5), but here He is clothed in majesty, not as a servant.

 

1:13 - The phrase Son of Man is used about 100 times of Ezekiel; it is also used once of Daniel (8:17) and once to describe a heavenly, exalted figure who receives authority (Dan. 7:13, 14).  The NT uses this title for Christ over 80 times to express His dominion.  The lampstands encircling the Son of Man present a true picture of the relationship of Christ to His church.

 

1:14 - The snowy white hair of His head does not indicate advanced age but absolute holiness and wisdom, like that of a judge (Dan. 7:9 - 13).  His fiery eyes pierce the depths of the soul, seering everything (Ps. 11:4; 4:13), right down to the motives of nations and individuals.  The Lord will judge them for what they really are...not for how they hope their masks of hyupocrisy will make them appear!

 

1:15 - The feet of brass speak of the time when Jesus will put all His enemies and every evil power beneath His feet.  The foes of Jesus will be utterly crushed (Dan. 10:65; 1 Cor. 15:24, 25).

 

 

 

1:16 - Jesus instrument of warfare is the two edge sword that proceeds from His mouth.  This is the Word of God that judges all humanity (2:16; 19:15, 21; Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12)

 

1:17, 18 - Both the Lord's touch and His words were used to encourage John in the midst of his paralyzing fear.  To the timid believer, Jesus says: Fear not, for I am the Eternal God!  Fear not, for I am the resurrected Christ!  Fear not, for I have the keys of death and hell!.

 

1:19 - Here is the Spirit-inspired outline of the book:  The things which you have seen (1); the things that are (2 - 3); the things which will take place after this (4 - 22).

 

2:1 -  Jesus reminds the church that He is always with them, and regardless of their problems, His authoritative right hand has the power to meet their needs.  But His presence also means that He is aware of their shortcomings.

 

2:1 - Jesus reminds the church that He is always with them, and regardless of their problem, His authoriatative right hand has the power to meet their needs.  But His presence also means that He is aware of their shortcoming.

 

 

2:2 - Before Christ deals with their faults, He praises the churches for what they are doing right (Gal. 6:9).  The Ephesian church was a busy congregation.  Christians often de-emphasize the importance of works, because they do not want to diminish the priority of grace in salvation.  But whatever a clear messge of grace is preached, there is a working church (1 Cor. 15:10; 2 Cor. 9:8).

 

2:2, 3 - The word patience is used twice to describe the church at Ephesus (2:2, 3).  This body of believers could be summed up as a determinjed church (Rom. 5:3; Gal. 6:9), a disciplined church, and a discerning church.  They were patrient when it came to service and suffering but not when it came to sinning (Eph. 4:14; 5:11) or receiving false teachers were possibly tempting believers to compromise with the world and worship the Roman emperor rather than Christ.

 

2:4 - Fervent, personal, uninhibited, openly displayed first love is the devotion to Christ that often characterizes the new believer and is manifested in relationships with fellow Christians and the lost (Eph. 5:2; 1 Pet. 1:22).

 

2:8 - Because the Lord found no complaint with the churches at Smyrna and Philadelphia, every sentence He speaks to these suffering congregations offers encouragement and comfort.

 

2:9 - Tribulation in the Greek denotes serious trouble or a burden that crushes.  Poverty means "beggarly", destritrute" and describes one who is not able to put food on the table.  Blasphemy might be more literally translated by the English word slander.  The believers in Smyrna suffered from pressure, poverty, and persecution.

 

2:10 - To the suffering church at Smyrna, Jesus gives two commandments: be fearless (2 Tim. 1:7; Ps. 56:11; Matt. 10:28) and be faithful.  The intent of His words is to prepare the church for a brief poeriod of suffering.  (It is brief in contrast to eternity).  Ten days is also the length of time that Daniel and his three friends were tested (Dan.l 1:12). 

 

 

 

2:12 - Pergamos was the most northern of the seven cities.  When the Book of Revelation was written, Pergamos had been the capital of foreign empires, first Greek, then Roman for almost 400 years.  The city was a cultural center famous for its library second in gradeur only to the library in Alexandria.  The sword is drawn, sharp, and read for work - a symbol of judgment (19:15; Heb. 4:12).  Christ comes to the church of Pergamos in judgment, and He will wield His sword appropriately.

 

2:13 - As residents of a wicked city - Satan's city - the Christians in Pergamos were persecuted and threatened, yet they held fast to the faith, unwilling to surrender even one doctrine of faith.l  Antipas may have shephered the Pergamum church.  His name means "against all" and like Christ, he was a faithful witness unto death (1:5).

 

2:14 - The believers in Pergamos were devoted to the truth and even willing to die for it!  But they were also guilty of compromising with those in the church who contradicted the ethical implications of the very gospel they followed.  The doctrine of Balaam is this: "If you cannot curse them, corrupt them" (Num. 22 - 25; 2 Pet. 2:15; Jude 11).

 

2:15 - The Nicolaitans sought to persuade Christians that there was nothing wrong with prudent conformity to the world's standards.  But the most common word for the Christrians is the word holy, which means "different" or "separate".

 

2:17 - When the children of Israel had no food in the desert, God gave them manna to eat (Ex. 16:11 - 15).  A pot of manna was put into the ark of the covenant and laid before God in the Most Holy Place in the tabernacle and in the temple (Ex. 16:33, 34; Heb. 9:4).  Some Jewish works describe the manna as hidden until the end of the age.  The manna as hidden until the end of the age.  The manna is Jesus Himself (John 6:31 - 51).

 

2:17 - The final promise of Christ to the faithful in Pergamos is that He will give them a white stone with a new name on it (Isa. 62:2).  This stone could signify a number of things in the ancient world, including: (1) a verdict of "not guilty" in a court or (2) an "all-access pass" for freedom from impjrisonment.

 

2:17 - As commentator John Philips notes: "Three things marked the heresy at Pergamos: idolatry, immorality, and infidelity.  The overcomer kept himself from all three, and the reward (was) commensurate with his conduct.  To those who kept to themselves from idolatry and refused to eat things sacrificed to idols, the Lord gave hidden manna to eat.  To those who kept themselves from immorality, the Lord gave a white stone, a symbol of changeless purity.  And to those who kept themselves from infidelity, the Lord (gave) a new name - knowledge of Himself that no one else can share.

 

 

 

2:18 - Thyatira, a bustling trade center with many organized trade union, was located in a valley between two cities.  It had no natural fortifications but was protected by a Roman garrison.  This church receives the longest letter of the seven, even though it was located in the least important city among them.

 

2:19 - Despite being plagued with serious problems, the church at Thyatira still receives a commendation from Jesus for the good it was doing.  The word "works" appears twice in this verse.  This was a laboring church (1 Thess. 1:3) that was also loving, faithful, and patient (Rom. `12:12; Heb. 12:1; 1 Pet. 4:8).

 

2:20 - The word nevertheless indicates a move from Christ's approval to disapproval.  Thyatira had everything but holiness.  Sexual immorality and...things sacrificed to idols recall the practices of Queen Jezebel, Ahab's wife (1 Kgs. 16:29 - 33; 2 Kgs. 9).  By the time of Christ's message to the church in Thatira, this woman had been dead for nearly 1,000 years, but the spirit that moved Jezebel now empowers someone else, causing the believers to indulge in immoral practices.

 

2:21 - 29 - The Lord presents His message to this church in three parts.  One part of the letter is addressed to the cult of Jezebel (2:21 - 23).  The second part is addressed to the remnant of Christians who were still in the church (2:24, 25).  The final part was added for those who would be overcomes (2:26 0 29).

 

2:21 - 23 - The Lord promises to transform Jezebel's bed, where she had committed her sin, into a place of pain.  In His omniscience, the Lord alone knew those who had shared in her sin (Isa. 29:15; Heb. 4:13), and they would also share in her suffering.

 

 

 

 

2:24 - No other burden clearly refers to a statement published by the council of Jerusalem (Acts 15).  This council concluded that a Gentile convert did not have to be circumcised but must abstain from things offered to idols and put off all sexual immorality.

 

2:26, 27 - Everyone who keeps Christ's works to the end will be given a responsible position of judgment over the nations (1 Cor. 6:2).  The Greek word translated rule literally means "to shepherd."

 

2:26 - This is the mention of Christ's millennial reign in Revelation.

 

2:28 - The faithful overcomers are given the promise of the morning star, Jesus Christ, Himself (22:16) - a promise of His presence.  It apparently refers to Christ as the returning One who will rapture the church before the dark hours of the Tribulation. 

 

 

3:1 - 6 - This letter marks a change from the previous letters.  For the poor rich church in Smyrna, the Lord had nothing but praise.  For the churches of Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira.  He had some words of praise.  But to the church of Sardis, He had no good thing to say.  The church had a good reputation but was dead (Matt. 23:27, 28).

 

3:1 - Sardis means "escaping ones" or "those who came out."  The seven Spirits represent the completeness of the Holy Spirit's ministry (5:6; Isa. 11:2 - 5).  The church in Sardis died because the people did not let the Holy Spirit control their assembly.

 

3:2 -  Christ does not just call the church to wake up from its death sleep.  He calls the congregation to remain awake, keeping watcfh as a sentry responsible for the safety of a sleeping army (Rom. 8:11 - 14; Eph. 5:14).

 

3:3 - When Christ challenges the members of the church to remember how they received and heard, it is to remind them of the Holy Spirit's importance.  Every believer receives and hears the same way - through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  The instruction to "hold fast" is a call to return to obedience to the Word of God.

 

3:3 - While many would interpret "come upon you as a thief" as a reference to the Rapture, it is most probably a warning against the sudden judgment that God would bring on the church at Smyrna if it did not watch and repent.

 

 

 

3:4, 5 - Although this church was near death, a few of its members had not defiled their garments with sin and would walk....In white.  In Scripture, the clothing of believers usually refers to their service and character.  Elsewhere in the Book of Revelation,(see especially Revelation 7), the white robes of the multitude represent the righteousness of the saints.

 

3:5 - To the faithful in Sardis, the Lord emphatically states that He will never erase their names from the heavenly register.  Literally, the text says: "I will never by any means blot out his name."  Those who are not ashamed of Christ during their earthly lives will be acknowledged by Christ before the Father and before the angels (Luke 12:8).

 

3:6 - John Walvoord writes:  "The letter to Sardis is a searching message to churches today that are full of activity and housed in beautiful buildings but are so often lackiing in evidence of eternal life.  Christ's word today is to 'remember,' 'repent,' and 'obey', just as it was to the church in Sardis."

 

3:7, 8 - The one who has the key of David alludes to Eliakim, a king in the line of David who held the key to all the king's treasure (Isa. 22:22).  When he opened the door, it was open.  And when he closed the door, it was closed.  In the same way, Jesus possesses the key to the kingdom of God and entrance into eternal life (open door).

 

 

 

3:7 - The OT often describes God as holy (Job 6:10; Ps. 22:3; 71:22; Isa. 6:3; 43:15), while Jesus is declared holy in the NT (Mark 1:24; Luke 1:35;  4:34; John 6:69; Acts 27 - 30) - evidence that Jesus is indeed God.  Before someone can require us to live a life of holiness, He Himself must be holy.  So the Lord establishes His holiness at the outset of the letter to the Philadelphians (1 Pet. 1:15).  True is a reference to Jesus' genuineness or reality; He is the real thing, the essence of deity.

 

3:8 - The church of Philadelphia had but little strength in itself; its source of power was ultimately the Lord (2 Cor. 12:9; James 4:6).  Whenever people rely on their own might, they are in trouble.  

 

3:10 - Hour of trial can be translated "hour of testing" and refers to the Tribulation period.  Here, the Lord promises to deliver the church from this time of trouble.

 

3:14 - 22 - John Scott writes: "Perhaps none of the seven letters is more appropriate to the twentieth-century church than this.  It describe vivdly the respectable, sentimental, nominal, skin-deep religiosity which is so widespread among us today.  Our Christianity is flabby and anemic.  We appear to have taken a lukewarm bath of religion.

 

3:14 -  As the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, Jesus exposesz the deceit and superficiality that characterize the assembly in Laodicea.  The city was known for its wealth and industry.  The Laodiceans claimed to be rich, needing nothing.  In reality, they were wretched, miserable, poor blind, and naked.  With His blazing, penetrating eyes of fire, the Lord strips away the outward shell and exposes the emptiness within.  Beginning could also be translated "source."  Jesus was not created; He is the Source of creation (John 1:3; Heb. 1:2). 

 

 

 

3:15, 16 - The water at Laodicea was not drinkable, so the city had its water pumped in from surrounding cities - hot water from Hierapolis and cold water from Colossae.  However, by the time it reached Laodicea, it was lukewarm, just like the faith of the church their.  To the Lord, their lukewarm ways were so disgusting that they could not be stomached.

 

3:15 - In this verse, both hot and cold are good things.  To first century readers, they were not measures of spiritual temperature but of vitality and usefulness.  The water from the hot springs of Hierapolis was useful for healing and restoration.  The cold water at Colossae was refreshing to drink and quenched people's thirst.  But the water that reached Laodicea was distasteful and unsatisfying.

 

3:20 - Although some churches grow vast congregations, increase programs, and build larger buildings.  Christ may be pushed outside and left knocking at the door.  What a tragic picture of the church at Laodicea!  Christ's invitation here is to anyone who hears Jesus' voice - evidently because this church had even fewer faithful ones than Sardis.

 

 

4:1 - 11 -  A new section in the book begins here, revealing the terrible events of the Tribulation and God's purpose in bringing the judgments.  When John allows readers a glimpse through the door of heaven, and worship is what they see - all of heaven's inhabitants gathered around the throne of God.  This is the worship of the glorified Christ and Creator, who judgment (symbolized by lightnings, thunderings, and voices) is about to fall on the earth.

 

4:2, 3 - The one sitting on the throne is God the Father.  God the Son stands before the throne (5,6), and God the Spirit is pictured before the throne (4,5).  The description of God is possible only by comparison.  Jasper is a clear gem like a diamond.  Sardius is a red stone comparable to the ruby.  These stones point to God's glorious presence.

 

4:2 - Throne, a key word in Revelation, is found at the very beginning and the very end of the book (1:4; 22:3).  It occurs more than 45 times throughout the book and 14 times in this chapter alone.  The throne of God depicts the majesty of God, the King of the universe (Dan. 7:9; Ps. 9:7, 8; 103:19).

 

4:3 -  This rainbow is of different shades of emerald green.  It is a complete circle and not an arc as rainbows are seen on earth.  Usually the rainbow appears after the storm; here, it appears before the storm, speaking to John of God's mercy and faithfulness, perhaps recalling God's preservation of Noah through the Flood (Gen. 9:13 - 16).

 

 

 

4:4 - The twenty four elders seated upon the thrones probably represent the church age saints, as evidence by the clothes on their bodies, the crowns on their heads, and the praise on their lips (5:8 - 10).

 

4:5 - When the Lord met with the Israelites on Mount Sinai to give them His law.  His presence was accompanied by lightning, thunder, and a voice from heaven (Ex. 20:18).  Today, because of Jesus, the throne of judgment has become the throne of grace for believers (Heb. 4:16).  But here, because the church has already been raptured, the throne in heaven again represents judgment - the judgment that is about to break forth on earth.

 

4:6 - The sea of glass is a common description of the area in heaven that surrounds God's throne (Ex. 24:10).  It is possible that this is the same material with which the streets of the heavenly city are paved (21:21).

 

4:6 - 11 - The four living creatures are angels that execute judgment and lead in worship (Ezek. 1:5 - 14; 10:14, 15).  They are involved in one of the great scenes in heaven: singing to the One on the throne.  John is also privileged to hear the voices of a heavenly choir.  The theme of their praise is that the Creator of all things is worthy of all worship.

 

 

5:1 - 7 - Both the inside and the back of the scroll contain writing, indicating that nothing more could be added.  This scroll sits in the hand of the One on the throne and is the title deed to the earth.  As it is gradually unsealed and unrolled - symbolizing the progressive judgments on earth - the earth is ultimately delivered into the hands of the King of kings, its rightful owner.

 

5:1 - And opens this chapter and ties together chapters 4 and 5.  The previous chapter provided the setting for the action that will begin to unfold in this one.

 

5:2 - 6 -Who is worthy....?  This is the main question that this chapter answers - and the one that caused John to weep.  No one in heaven, on earth, or under the earth was excellent enough to open the scroll or powerful enough to vanquish an evil and unrighteous world and establish God's kingdom.  In a moment of relief, however, John hears the identity of the One who is worth: the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:8 - 10), the Root of David (Isa. 11:1, 10); the Passover Lamb who was slain (Isa. 52:13 - 53:12; John 1:29).  All three names for Jesus come from the OT.

 

5:7 - 10 -This is wthe focus and climax of the entire vision.  When the Lamb (Jesus Christ) took the scroll, the weeping ended and praise erupted in the form of a new song, celebrating what He had done (providing redemption through His death) and what He was about to do (reclaim authority over the earth.

 

 

 

5:11, 12 -  Here are new worshipers - angels, ten thousand times ten thousands, thousands of thousands.  This is an extravagant way of saying a number beyond measure.  The Bible never says how many angels there are in the universe; apparently, they are innumerable.

 

5:13 - Notice that the praise has broadened in ever-increasing circles - just as throwing a stone in a pond creates spreading ripples.  It began with the praise of the four living creatures and the 24 elders (4:8 - 11), who were then joined by a host of angels (5:12).  Finally, every creature lifts its voice!

 

5:14 - The worship ends in John's vision ass the four living creatures add their approval to this great doxology (Amen!).  The infinite majesty and glory of the triune God will now move into action to judge the earth.

 

6:1 - 17 - The seals follow a 4 + 3 pattern.  The first four seals are general judgments upon the earth; the last three seals present an even more ominous picture as God begins to intervene personally in the affairs of people on the earth.  This pattern of four and three will also be found in the trumpet and bowl judgments.  In each case, the last three judgments are more severe than the first four.

 

6:1 - Worship is the theme of Revelation 4 and 5, but wrath is the subject of Revelation 6 - 19.  The God who has been worshiped now pours out His judgment.  Come and see is directed to the rider on the white horse, not to John.  The best way to understand the meaning of the command is to observe what happens when one of the four living creatures (angels) gives the command.  In each instance, a rider and a horse proceed across the stage of history.

 

 

6:2 - 8 - In the OT, the horse represented conquest, battle, war, and attack (Job 39:19 - 25; Zech: 6:1 - 8).  Here the horses represent God's conquest of evil on earth and the forces He uses to accomplish His divine purpose.

 

6:2 - The rider on the white horse is the Antichrist.  He arrives in the world at the beginning of the Tribulation period.  His bow is a picture of his ability to conquer.  Although this image is similar to one later in the book (19:11 - 16), the two should not be confused; it has always been Satan's purpose to counterfeit the work of the Christ.

 

6:3, 4 - The great sword is the assassin's sword, used to cut the throats of animals or humans.  The fiery red horseman represents not only nations rising against nations but individuals fighting each other.  War, muirder, and bloodshed are on the horizon (Matt. 24:6, 21).

 

6:5,6 - Black is often connected with famine in the Bible (Jer.14:1, 2; Lam. 5:10).  A denarius was the standard daily wage for ancient laborers.  In the early days of the Tribulation period, food will be in short supply; so people will have to work all day just to get enough food to eat.  Yet the luxuries of ther wealthy (oil and wine) will remain untouched.

 

6:9 - 11 -  As the fifth seal is opened, the scene shifts from earth back to heaven.  This seal is different from the others.  Rather than presenting the action, it protrays the result of the action; John sees the souls of those who have already be slain (a sacrificial word that means "slaughter, butcher, murder").  Although readers are left to imagine the method by which they were martyred and the suffering they must have endured, it is important to understand that they were put to death, just as Christ was (1:5).

 

 

 

6:9, 10 - In the Tribulation period, martiydom will be common everywhere, uinlike today.  On the Mount of Olives, Jesus foretold the persecution to come (Matt. 24:8 - 10).  Zechariah the prophet spoke of the day of tribulation as a time when two-thirds of the entire Jewish population would be killed (Zech. 13:8).  Yet Zechariah also gives his promise: "I will bring the one-third through the fire, will refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested (Zech. 13:9).  Those who trust in God in that time will be called upon to demonstrate their faith - often with their lives.  And yet they will ultimately overcome the enemy (12:11).

 

6:9 - The martyrs of Revelation are described as being under the altar because OT priests poured the blood of the sacrifices there (Ex. 29:12; Lev. 4:7).  These faithful ones will be slain in the early years of the Tribulation for the same reason that John was exiled, their devotion to God and their testimony (1:9).  Testimony likely refers to the word of judgment they will preach.

 

6:10, 11 - These believers will cry out to God, asking Him to render justice for all the devot4ed who have been murdered during the Tribulation.  Their cries will signal the beginning of an even more severe judgment to come.  Those who dwell on earth describes unbelievers who are hostile to God (3:10; 8:13, 11:10; 13:8; 17:2).

 

6:12 - 17 - There are five basic elements in this epic judgment from God: the shaking of the earth, the darkening of the sky, the falling of the stars, the rolling back of the heavens, and the moving of the mountains and the island.

 

 

 

 

6:12 - EARTHQUAKE translates the Greek word seismos.  Through out the OT, the prophets consistently connect the shaking of the earth with final judgment of the Lord (eZEK. 38:19; Joel 2:10; Amos 8:8; Hag. 2:6).  Jesus prophesies that the event described here will precede the Day of the Lord (Matt. 24:7; Mark 13:8; Luke 21:11).  Similarly, the prohets declare that mid-day darkness would again fall over the earth at the beginning of the Tribulation (Joel 2:30, 31; Zeph. 1:15; Isa. 13:9, 10; Ezek. 32:7), just as it did when Jesus died on the cross, when Egypt was judged, and when the Lord came down at Mount Sinai.

 

6:17 - The chapter ends with a question:  Who is able to stand in the day of the Lord, the day of God's judgment?  The answer will be given in the next chapter - the 144,000 whom God has sealed.

 

7:1 - 17 - Between the sixth and seventh seals is this parenthesis, which gives important information for understanding this hour of divine judgment.  The chapter records two visions, each separated by the phrase after these things I saw.  The first vision (7:1 - 8) reveals 144,000 Jews from the remnant of Israel.  The second vision (7:9 - 17) portrays a great multitude of Gentiles who have been martyred for their faith in Christ.  The first vision shows the sealing of the servants on earth; the second, the glory of the saints in heaven.

 

7:2, 3 - In Scripture, winds are often providential agents that God employs to execute His purposes.  Until God's elect are safe, the four destructive winds of earth will not be allowed to blow.  The sealed are servants of God.  They have not bowed to the Antichrist.

 

7:3 - 8 - The 144,000 are Jews - 12,000 descendants from each of Israel's tribes.  John actually names the tribes and the number of their members so that there will be no doubt.  The Lord will preserve them through the Tribulation period so that they will be alive when the Millenium begins, thus fulfilling God's covenant promises to His people.

 

 

7:3, 4 - Although it is death to be without the mark of the beast (666) during the Tribulation, these sealed (elect) servants of God will instead prominently and proudly display the Father's name on their foreheads.  Yet they will not be killed.  The seal of the Living God will not be merely an external mark; it will also be a source of mercy.

 

7:3 - It was common in John's day for masters to seal or brand their slaves on the forehead or the hand to declare ownership.  This mark also granted them protection from those who would steal or misuse them.  In future days - when the seal of the Antichrist signifies death or life (13)-Satan will have marked his followers, but God's witnesses will be sealed as well, with name of the Father on their foreheads (14:1).

 

7:5 - 8 - One notable omission from the 144,000 is Dan.  Even though he was the son of Bilhah, Rachel's handmaid (Gen. 30:6), some scholars have thought that the Antichrist would come from this tribe, perhaps because of their history of idolatry; when golden calves were set up for worship in Israel, they were located in Dan and in Bethel (Lev. 24:10, 11; Judg. 17 - 18, 1 Kgs. 12:28 - 30; 2 Kgs. 10:29).  Scripture reders to Dan as a serpent (Gen. 49:17) and a lion (Deut. 33:22).  The only other being who is associated with both animals is Satan.

 

7:5 - As the oldest son of Jacob, Reuben should be listed first.  But Reuben forfeited his birthright because of his sin with his father's concubine (1 Chron. 5:1, 2).  Judah is first because Jesus came from His tribe (Gen. 49:10).

 

7:6, 8 - In some lists of the 12 tribes, both of Joseph's sons - Ephraim and Manasseh - are named.  Here Manasseh is mentioned and Joseph takes Ephraim's place.  Like Dan, Ephraim was also guilty of idolatry (Hos. 4:17).  Perhaps Joseph is listed here to show that all the tribes are reunited.  In the future distribution of the land, all 13 - including Levi, Dan, Ephraim and Manasseh - will have a portion (Ezek. 48:1 - 29).

 

 

7:7 -  Originally, Levi's descendants were assigned no territory in the Promised Land; instead, they were given particular cities in the various tribal areas.  Because of this, the name of Levi does not typically appear in lists of the 12 tribes.  But this time, Levi is mentioned perhaps taking the place of Dan.  Because this list names servants of God who have been sealed for ministry, who would belong on it more than Levi?

 

7:9 - 17 -  This priceless picture of the final state of the blessed dead has comforted millions in the face of suffering and death.

 

7:9 - The multitude consist of those who have been saved during the Tribulation.  They are the harvest of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses (Matt. 14:14; 28:19, 20).  The church is seated before the throne, but this group is standing, made white in the blood of the Lamb, clothed in the righteousness of Christ (7:13, 14; 19:8).  Their outer garment is worn for dignity, beauty, and distinction.  Palms were a part of celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40).  The Jewish people sat in booths and carried palm branches to recall the joy of God's complete deliverance from slaveryi in Egypt (Neh. 8:15 - 17; John 12:12, 13).

 

7:11, 12 - The posture of falling before the throne in worshiip is customary for the angelic host in heaven.  By saying Amen!  the angels agree with the praise of the multitudes and then add their own anthem of praise.

 

7:13, 14 - The ones who will be saved during the great tribulation will not be individuals who had a chance to be saved during their lifetime;  they will be those who heard and received the gospel message for the first time within this seven-year period and then were martyred for their faith.  The Tribulation will be a time of both unparalleled affliction and unprecendented grace.

 

 

 

7:15 - In the OT , the privilege of serving God day and night was reserved for the Levites and the priests (1 Chron. 9:33).  Most Israelites were excluded and no Gentiles were ever allowed to serve in the temple.  But in the temple, the way to the presence of God is open to every people group.

 

7:16, 17 - God's Son is both a Lamb and a shepherd (Ps. 23; Isa. 49:10).  The statement God will wipe away every tear from their eyes is very exact.  The tears are not just wiped, they are wiped completely from the eyes so that nothing is left but joy and abundant life in Christ (21:3, 4).

 

8:1 - 9:21 - The parenthesis of chapter 7 is over.  Now the world ruined by humans under the judgments of the seal, is about to become a world ruled by Satan under the judgements of the trumpet.  As the various trumpets sound in this chapter, the planet is handed over to the Beast, and the devil's false messiah - the man of sin - begins to take control.  But even this is done only under the soveregnty of God.

 

8:1 - To this point, the heavens have been filled with the sounds of worship, but with the breaking of the seventh seal comes the silence that precedes earth's most awesome and ominous storm.

 

8:2 - In the OT, the trumpet summoned people to worship (Num. 10:232; 1 Chron. 16) and prepared people for war (Num. 10; Judges 3, Neh. 4).  The seven trumpets declare the Lord's final intervation, bringing judgment on the earth.

 

 

8:3 - 5 - The angel stands before God with priestly prerogatives, presenting the prayers of the saints (saved ones) to God.  As soon as their pleas for God's vindication ascend (6:9, 10), the judgment descends - their prayers are answered.

 

8:7 - The beginning of the judgments of the trumpets is the last section of the Book of Revelation just before Christ comes to this earth to establish His kingdom (11:15).  At the sounding of the first trumpet, the earth will undergo terrible ecological devastation; one third of all vegetation will be destroyed.

 

8:8, 9 - Since the oceans occupy about three-fourth of the earth's surface, the extent of this judgment will be staggering.  The pollution and the deaths of so many sea creatures will vastly affect the balance of life in the ocean.  This will happen to one-third of the world's saltwater bodies.

 

8:10, 11 - The third trumpet concerns earth's freshwater supply.  One-third of the waters will become wormwood, killing many.  Wormwood is a plant with a very bitter taste.  In the Bible, it symbolize the bitterness that comes from sorrow and calamity (Jer. 9:15).

 

8:12,13 - The fourth judgment will darken one-third of the heavens (Matt. 24:29; Luke 21:25), causing drastic atmospheric changes, including an extreme decrease in temperature.  The sounding of the trumpet warns of those that are yet to sound.  The fifth, sixth, and seventh trumpets will usher in a greater degree of divine displeasure and consequent disaster.

 

 

 

9:1 - 21 - The Bible presents hell as a literal place designed to punish those who rebelled against God while on earth.  It is not a state of mind or a myth, as many modern religious claim.  This chapter presents a preview of the horrors of hell on earing during the Great Tribulation.  As horrible as it will be, it is only temporary.  Hell itself is worse, not in the least because it never ends.

 

9:1 - 12 - When the fifth trumpet blows, it will be as if every prison on earth threw open its doors and set the vilest offenders free - only these doors will belong to hell, and the offenders will be demonic instead of human.

 

9:1, 2 - The star is a metaphor for a supernaturnal being (him, he), not a celestrial body.  This unnamed being, who fallls to earth during the judgment of the fifth trumpet, is undoubtedly Satan (12:7 - 9; Isa. 14:12, 15; Luke 10:18).

 

9:2, 3 - With the smoke that rises from the pit, hell is depicted as a place where the fires never go out (Mark 9:48; Luke 3:17).  The locusts are not real locusts because they do not harm the vegetation (9:4), they have a king (9:11; Prov. 30:27), and God promised never to release swarms of locusts in judgment again after that particular plague in Egypt (Ex. 10:14).  Rather, they are an image of demons swarming over the earth.

 

9:3 - 11 - John's metaphor are meant to describe strength, aggression, fewar, fierce oppression, and destructive directed power.

 

 

 

9:4 - The locusts will attack those who are not sealed by God.  The 144,000 Jewish evangelists will be protected, along with the Jews and Gentiles they have won to Christ.

 

9:6 - Many will long for death as an escape from the torment of the demons but will be unable to die.

 

9:10 - The torment the demons inflict will be both painful and protracted - like the sting of a scorpion - yet it will not lead to death.  The demon's power will last five months (9:5) - the average life cycle of a locust.

 

9:11 - Both the king of the demons and all the demons themselves are fallen angels.  The angel of the bottomless pit is the devil.  The Hebrew and Greek titles, Abaddon and Apollyon, mean the same thing: "destroyer."

 

9:13, 14 - The command to judge comes from the horns of the golden altar.  The altar's position (before the throne of God) shows that the judgment of the sixth trumpet answers the prayers of the Tribulationm martiyrs in 6:9 - 11.

 

 

 

9:14 - These four angels are not to be confused with the four good angels mentioned earlier (7:1).  The are most likely high ranking fallen angels - perhaps the invisible  powers behind the nations in the Tribulation (Dan. 10; Ezek. 29=8).  The Euphrates, the most frequently mentioned river in the Bible, is always associated with God's judgment.  It originated in the Garden of Eden (Gen. 2:14) and flowed south for 1,780 miles through Mesopotamia.  The first sin, the first murder, the tower of Babel, Babylon itself - all were near this river.

 

9:15 - The place of the four evil angels in the plan of God is precise.  The only thing missing is the specific time of their release, which is known only to God (Matt. 24:36).  If people knew the hour and day and month and year, they would orient their lives around this date rather than around God, so He has not revealed it.

 

9:18 - Revelation 6:8 began with 25 percent of the world's population being killed.  Now, a third of the remaining 75 percent will be killed.  So with the completion of this judgment, nearly half the world's population will have perished.

 

9:20, 21 - Worship always dictates works.  If people worship God, they will do good works; if they worship anything or anyone else they will eventually do the works of the flesh.  John describes four works of those who worship idols in the Tribulation: murders (including all devaluation of human life), sourceries (drug use), sexual immorality (all sexual activity outside the bonds of marriage),  and theft (dishonesty).  And twice John tells us that, rather than falling to their knees and crying out for God's mercy, the people in this vision - like Pharaoh after the plagues in Egypt - did not repent.

 

 

9:21 - The word sorceries translate the Greek word pharmakon, from which we get our word pharmacy.  Ancient drug-based occult practices such as astrology, witchcraft, divination were a gateway to demonic possession.  The use of mind-altering substances-doubtless with the approval of the government-will be associated with false religions in the end tiimes.  Honesty and conscience will die without the sanctifying presence and restraining influence of the Holy Spirit.  In the end times, there will be no moral order to guide individual behavior.

 

10:1 - 11 -These verses provide relief and hope for every believer.  Many have heralded this vision as one of the most magnificently glorious pictures in all the writings of human history.
 

10:1 - This angel has appeared twice before: first as a prophet (7:2), then as the priest (8:4).  Here, he is the king.  Clouds symbolize the presence of God (1:7; Ex. 16:10; 19:9; 24:15; 34:5; Acts 1:9) - are this mighty angel's clothes.

 

10:2 - This is the same book that is described as a scroll in 5:5.  However, it is unsealed here.  All the judgments have been released, and the Lord holds the open book as proof that His wrath has been fulfilled.

 

10:3, 4 - For the first and only time in this book, John is forbidden to reveal the content of the revelation he receives.  Although the Bible frequently compares the voice of the Lord's judgment to thunder (Job 26:14; 37:5; Ps. 29:3 - 9), the meaning of these seven thunders will only be known when God decides to make them known - a reminder that "The secret things belong to the Lord our God" (Deut. 29:29).

 

 

10:7 - Sin has apparently gone unchecked and evil has been unbridled, but the mystery of God's final judgment and triumph will be revealed at the end of the Tribulation.

 

10:8, 9 - This is  the first time that John has been asked to participate in one of these scenes.  He is told to eat the book that is in the angel's hand (Ezek. 2:8 - 3:3).

 

10:9, 10 - John was to take in so much of God's Word that it would literally become a part of him.  This is the kind of spiritual involvement that all preachers should have with the text before they open their mouths to declare God's truth.

 

10:10, 11 - The forthcoming judgment represented by this book would be sweet to the taste but bitter in the belly.  For John, there would be joy in proclaiming God's truth but sorrow in contemplating its rejection by those who would not hear.  Preaching prophetic truth is a bittersweet experience.

 

 

11:1 - 19 - Many scholars consider this chapter among the most difficult in the NT to interpret.  But we can read it with understanding by keeping these presuppositions in mind:  (1)  This chapter is essentially a "Jewish" chapter of Scripture.  It focuses on Jerusalem, the temple, and the place of the Jews in the activities of the end time.  (2)  This is a prophetic chapter and does not describe historical events.  The temple had been destroyed in AD 70, berfore John wrote Revelation.  (3) This chapter is to be interpreted literally - people, numbers, places, and events.

 

11:1, 2 - The temple will be rebuilt by the Jews who have been gathered again sometime during the Tribulation period.  They will build in the name of God without knowing Him at all.  Here the Antichrist will ultimately set himself up as God (2 Thess. 2:3,4).  Measuring the temple has nothing to do with determining its size; rather, it describes God's pending judgment against the idolatrous worship taking place there.

 

11:1 - Here the rod signifies God's judgment, as it often does in Scripture, as well as His protection and preservation of the true worshipers.

 

11:3, 4 - The two witnesses are real human beings (believed to be Elijah and Moses).  They wear sackcloth because they are mourning the spiritual condition of Israel.  In images drawn from the OT, they are called olive trees and lampstands to signify their ministry of light in the power of the Holy Spirit (Zech. 4: 2 - 4, 11, 12).

 

11:5 - 7 - If people are following the will of God, doing what He has called them to do, they are immortal until God deems them finished.  Until they finish denoucing wickedness and proclaiming Christ as Lord and Judge (testimony), these two witnesses will be protected.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Ezra 1

1 Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom, and put it also in writing, saying,

2 Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia, The LORD God of heaven hath given me all the kingdoms of the earth; and he hath charged me to build him an house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah.

3 Who is there among you of all his people? his God be with him, and let him go up to Jerusalem, which is in Judah, and build the house of the LORD God of Israel, (he is the God,) which is in Jerusalem.

4 And whosoever remaineth in any place where he sojourneth, let the men of his place help him with silver, and with gold, and with goods, and with beasts, beside the freewill offering for the house of God that is in Jerusalem.

5 Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites, with all them whose spirit God had raised, to go up to build the house of the LORD which is in Jerusalem.

6 And all they that were about them strengthened their hands with vessels of silver, with gold, with goods, and with beasts, and with precious things, beside all that was willingly offered.

7 Also Cyrus the king brought forth the vessels of the house of the LORD, which Nebuchadnezzar had brought forth out of Jerusalem, and had put them in the house of his gods;

8 Even those did Cyrus king of Persia bring forth by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer, and numbered them unto Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah.

9 And this is the number of them: thirty chargers of gold, a thousand chargers of silver, nine and twenty knives,

10 Thirty basins of gold, silver basins of a second sort four hundred and ten, and other vessels a thousand.

11 All the vessels of gold and of silver were five thousand and four hundred. All these did Sheshbazzar bring up with them of the captivity that were brought up from Babylon unto Jerusalem.


Ezra 2

1 Now these are the children of the province that went up out of the captivity, of those which had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away unto Babylon, and came again unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city;

2 Which came with Zerubbabel: Jeshua, Nehemiah, Seraiah, Reelaiah, Mordecai, Bilshan, Mizpar, Bigvai, Rehum, Baanah. The number of the men of the people of Israel:

3 The children of Parosh, two thousand an hundred seventy and two.

4 The children of Shephatiah, three hundred seventy and two.

5 The children of Arah, seven hundred seventy and five.

6 The children of Pahathmoab, of the children of Jeshua and Joab, two thousand eight hundred and twelve.

7 The children of Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.

8 The children of Zattu, nine hundred forty and five.

9 The children of Zaccai, seven hundred and threescore.

10 The children of Bani, six hundred forty and two.

11 The children of Bebai, six hundred twenty and three.

12 The children of Azgad, a thousand two hundred twenty and two.

13 The children of Adonikam, six hundred sixty and six.

14 The children of Bigvai, two thousand fifty and six.

15 The children of Adin, four hundred fifty and four.

16 The children of Ater of Hezekiah, ninety and eight.

17 The children of Bezai, three hundred twenty and three.

18 The children of Jorah, an hundred and twelve.

19 The children of Hashum, two hundred twenty and three.

20 The children of Gibbar, ninety and five.

21 The children of Bethlehem, an hundred twenty and three.

22 The men of Netophah, fifty and six.

23 The men of Anathoth, an hundred twenty and eight.

24 The children of Azmaveth, forty and two.

25 The children of Kirjatharim, Chephirah, and Beeroth, seven hundred and forty and three.

26 The children of Ramah and Gaba, six hundred twenty and one.

27 The men of Michmas, an hundred twenty and two.

28 The men of Bethel and Ai, two hundred twenty and three.

29 The children of Nebo, fifty and two.

30 The children of Magbish, an hundred fifty and six.

31 The children of the other Elam, a thousand two hundred fifty and four.

32 The children of Harim, three hundred and twenty.

33 The children of Lod, Hadid, and Ono, seven hundred twenty and five.

34 The children of Jericho, three hundred forty and five.

35 The children of Senaah, three thousand and six hundred and thirty.

36 The priests: the children of Jedaiah, of the house of Jeshua, nine hundred seventy and three.

37 The children of Immer, a thousand fifty and two.

38 The children of Pashur, a thousand two hundred forty and seven.

39 The children of Harim, a thousand and seventeen.

40 The Levites: the children of Jeshua and Kadmiel, of the children of Hodaviah, seventy and four.

41 The singers: the children of Asaph, an hundred twenty and eight.

42 The children of the porters: the children of Shallum, the children of Ater, the children of Talmon, the children of Akkub, the children of Hatita, the children of Shobai, in all an hundred thirty and nine.

43 The Nethinims: the children of Ziha, the children of Hasupha, the children of Tabbaoth,

44 The children of Keros, the children of Siaha, the children of Padon,

45 The children of Lebanah, the children of Hagabah, the children of Akkub,

46 The children of Hagab, the children of Shalmai, the children of Hanan,

47 The children of Giddel, the children of Gahar, the children of Reaiah,

48 The children of Rezin, the children of Nekoda, the children of Gazzam,

49 The children of Uzza, the children of Paseah, the children of Besai,

50 The children of Asnah, the children of Mehunim, the children of Nephusim,

51 The children of Bakbuk, the children of Hakupha, the children of Harhur,

52 The children of Bazluth, the children of Mehida, the children of Harsha,

53 The children of Barkos, the children of Sisera, the children of Thamah,

54 The children of Neziah, the children of Hatipha.

55 The children of Solomon's servants: the children of Sotai, the children of Sophereth, the children of Peruda,

56 The children of Jaalah, the children of Darkon, the children of Giddel,

57 The children of Shephatiah, the children of Hattil, the children of Pochereth of Zebaim, the children of Ami.

58 All the Nethinims, and the children of Solomon's servants, were three hundred ninety and two.

59 And these were they which went up from Telmelah, Telharsa, Cherub, Addan, and Immer: but they could not shew their father's house, and their seed, whether they were of Israel:

60 The children of Delaiah, the children of Tobiah, the children of Nekoda, six hundred fifty and two.

61 And of the children of the priests: the children of Habaiah, the children of Koz, the children of Barzillai; which took a wife of the daughters of Barzillai the Gileadite, and was called after their name:

62 These sought their register among those that were reckoned by genealogy, but they were not found: therefore were they, as polluted, put from the priesthood.

63 And the Tirshatha said unto them, that they should not eat of the most holy things, till there stood up a priest with Urim and with Thummim.

64 The whole congregation together was forty and two thousand three hundred and threescore,

65 Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty and seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.

66 Their horses were seven hundred thirty and six; their mules, two hundred forty and five;

67 Their camels, four hundred thirty and five; their asses, six thousand seven hundred and twenty.

68 And some of the chief of the fathers, when they came to the house of the LORD which is at Jerusalem, offered freely for the house of God to set it up in his place:

69 They gave after their ability unto the treasure of the work threescore and one thousand drams of gold, and five thousand pound of silver, and one hundred priests' garments.

70 So the priests, and the Levites, and some of the people, and the singers, and the porters, and the Nethinims, dwelt in their cities, and all Israel in their cities.


Ezra 3

1 And when the seventh month was come, and the children of Israel were in the cities, the people gathered themselves together as one man to Jerusalem.

2 Then stood up Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and his brethren the priests, and Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and his brethren, and builded the altar of the God of Israel, to offer burnt offerings thereon, as it is written in the law of Moses the man of God.

3 And they set the altar upon his bases; for fear was upon them because of the people of those countries: and they offered burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD, even burnt offerings morning and evening.

4 They kept also the feast of tabernacles, as it is written, and offered the daily burnt offerings by number, according to the custom, as the duty of every day required;

5 And afterward offered the continual burnt offering, both of the new moons, and of all the set feasts of the LORD that were consecrated, and of every one that willingly offered a freewill offering unto the LORD.

6 From the first day of the seventh month began they to offer burnt offerings unto the LORD. But the foundation of the temple of the LORD was not yet laid.

7 They gave money also unto the masons, and to the carpenters; and meat, and drink, and oil, unto them of Zidon, and to them of Tyre, to bring cedar trees from Lebanon to the sea of Joppa, according to the grant that they had of Cyrus king of Persia.

8 Now in the second year of their coming unto the house of God at Jerusalem, in the second month, began Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and the remnant of their brethren the priests and the Levites, and all they that were come out of the captivity unto Jerusalem; and appointed the Levites, from twenty years old and upward, to set forward the work of the house of the LORD.

9 Then stood Jeshua with his sons and his brethren, Kadmiel and his sons, the sons of Judah, together, to set forward the workmen in the house of God: the sons of Henadad, with their sons and their brethren the Levites.

10 And when the builders laid the foundation of the temple of the LORD, they set the priests in their apparel with trumpets, and the Levites the sons of Asaph with cymbals, to praise the LORD, after the ordinance of David king of Israel.

11 And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid.

12 But many of the priests and Levites and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice; and many shouted aloud for joy:

13 So that the people could not discern the noise of the shout of joy from the noise of the weeping of the people: for the people shouted with a loud shout, and the noise was heard afar off.