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.
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.
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.
11:7 - This is the first reference in Revelation to the beast. He and his false prophet are paired against the two witnesses.
11:8 - The witnesses will generate such hatred that when they are killed by the beast, they will not be buried-something that Jewish law required immediately upon death, even for a criminal (Deut. 21:22, 23). To be refused burial was a sign of extreme shame and dishonor.
11:10 - It is sometimes hard to believe how deep human depravity runs but here it is seen in full force. Servants of God are killed and their deaths are turned into an occasion for celebration, especially in Jerusalem-the center of the Antichrist's activity.
11:11 - The bodies of the witnesses' are left lying in the street for three and a half days. This means they were genuinely dead for that time, yet they are not dead for all time, for God restores them to life. The witnesses' ascension to heaven is oberved by their enemies, wreaking fear and further disaster.
udes. The seventh trumpet will reveal God's final seven judgments upon the earth; the bowl judgments detailed in chapter 16.
11:15 - This is the preview of Jesus' coronation from a heavenly perspectice. The events of Revelation 12 - 18 describe
the transition of power to Jesus Christ as King of kings and Lord of lords. At this time, the kingdom and kingdoms of this world do not belong to Christ, Rather , they are under Satan's authority (John 12:31; 14:30; 16:11) - although God has ultimate authority over all that happens.
11:16,17 - Earlier the martyred saints of the Tribulation had cried out: "How long O Lord?" (6:10). Here the vengeance they sought is set in motion. The 24 elders in heaven recognize this as they fall on their faces in worship.
11:18 - This verse outlines what happens in the rest of the book: God's wrath against the nations will include judgment of the dead and the destruction of those who destroy the earth. He will also reward the prophets....saints.
11:19 - The ark of His covenant contain the tablets of the law, a pot of manna, and the rod of Aaron that budded. Amid the darkness of the Tribulation, these artifacts represent the certainty of God's Word, God's provision, and God's life.
12:1 - 9 - This final conflict in heaven reveals important insight into Satan's strategies. The key players are God and Satan, their angels, and the humans who carry out on earth the conflict being waged in the supernatural realm.
12:1, 2 - The first sign is that of a woman. This is not a real woman. Instead, she represents Israel, often described by the prophets as a woman in travail (Isa. 26:17; 66:6 - 9; Micah 4:9). Here she is trying to give birth to a child - the Lord Jesus Christ.
12:3 - Satan is described as having seven heads. The number seven is usually a symbol of totality in the Bible, and the heads in this context convey power and evil (13:1; 17:3, 7, 9). So the seven heads of this dragon indicate Satan's universal power and evil.
12:4 - In ages past, when Satan was expelled from heaven because of his rebellion, one third of the angelic hosts (the stars of heaven) fell with him (threw them to earth). However, the most important thing to notice about the dragon is that he stands ready to devour the Child. Satan's purpose has always been to destroy Christ (Matt. 2:16).
12:5 - Three significant events in Christ's life are summarized: His incarnation (she bore a male Child; Isa. 7:14; 9:6); His ascension (her Child was caught up to God and His throne; Luke 24:51; Acts 1:9 - 11); and His second coming (who was to rule all nations with a rod of iron; 2:27; 19:15).
12:7 - 9 - This war between God and Satan and their chief angels has been going on for ages (Dan. 10:13, 21; 12:1). Satan was cast out of heaven because he sought to rival the Most High God and receive the worship that rightfully belongs to God alone.
12:10 - 12 - Many believe the loud voice that is speaking belongs to one of the martyrs described in Revelation 6:9, 10.
12:10, 11 - The death and resurrection of Christ is the basis for all victory over Satan. Therefore, children of God need not fear the ultimate death - separation from Him (also referred to as "the second death"; 2:11; 20:6)-for their salvatiion is secure.
12:11 - Even in death, the martyrs overcame Satan by:(1) the blood of the Lamb, (2) their testimony, and (3) their unwavering devotion to God (to the death). This is the same way Christians must overcome Satan today.
12:13 - Satan's assault is anti-Semitic-he persecutes the woman, a symbol of Israel. Satan has persecuted Israel as God's chosen people throught their entire existence. (Zech. 3:1).
12:15 - Some interpret the water literally, suggesting there will be a massive flood in Israel during the Tribulation. However, it is more likely that the water symbolizes an aggressive assault by Satan to destroy the Jewish people through their enemies (Isa 59:19).
12:16, 17 - Satan's rage during the Tribulation is toward Israel (the woman) as the people of God and toward the remnant of Israel (the rest of her offspring) - 144,000 who refuse to take the mark of the beast. Along with an earlier verse (12:14), these verses detail how God will safeguard His own from Satan's attacks: by protecting them during the latter part of the Tribulation (the final three-and-a- half years; for a time and times and half a time). This is much like the way He prote4cted Israel from the Egyptians at the time of the Exodus.
13:1 - 10 - The beast that John saw come out of the sea is a composite of the four wild animals that Daniel saw (dAN. 7:2 - 8). These four creatures (leopard, bear, lion, dragon) represent the four kingdoms that would arise, one after another: Babylon, Greece, Persia, and Rome. This beast is the Antichrist (12:3; 17:3; Dan. 7:7,8).
13:1 - The sea is biblical imagery stands for the general mass of humanity or, more specifically, the Gentile nations. It also can symbolize chaos and evil. The Antichrist has power only because Almighty God allows it. As bad as the Tribulation is, it is never out of God's control.
13:2 - 8 - Satan (the dragon) originates all the evil of the Tribulation, and the Antichrist (the beast), along with his false prophet, are the conduits of his power. The term "antichrist" comes from two Greek words that literally mean "against" or "instead of" - thus Anti-Christ. True to his name, he will make war against Christ and His people, persecuting those who refuse to comply with his demands and deceiving people into worshipping him. As a false Christ, however, he will be an agent of Satan, and his words will marked by blasphemies against God.
13:3, 4 - Satan cannot create anything new in his efforts to deceive the world; he only counterfeits what the real Creator has accomplished. So to echo Christ's deat and resurrection the Antichrist will fake (as if) his death and then "rise again." And just as Christ's resurrection sparked rapid growth in the church, the so-called "resurrection" of the Antichrist will cause the world to follow him, except for those whose names have been written in the Lamb's Book of Life (2 Thess. 2:4).
13:5 - 8 - The Antichrist will be noted for his eloquence and ability to move the masses (Dan. 7:11, 20, 25). As a leader of a cult, he will not only capture the attention and admiration of the world but will accept the worship of its peoples (2 Thess. 2:4).
13:11 - 18 - John's vision includes something that Daniel never saw - another beast rising out of the earth. This beast is the false prophet, referred to in chapters 16, 19, and 20. He looks like a lamb - meek and mild. In reality, this leader possessed by Satan has the heart of a serpent, the voice of a dragon, and the authority of the Antichrist. His miracles (great signs) will cause the whole world to bow down to the Antichrist and his image (Matt. 7:15).
13:11 - 13 - God is a Trinity; Satan has a trinity - an unholy one. His system is a total counterfeit of God's (see note 13:3, 4 ), with the members of the holy Trinity represented this way: Satan himself as God the Father; the first beast, the Antichrist, as God the Son; and the second beast, the false prophet, as God the Spirit. At the end of the age, false religion will be one of Satan's means to unite the world under the leadership of the Antichrist. And standing next to the Antichrist will be his religous leader, the false prophet.
13:13 - By calling down fire...from heaven as Elijah did, the false prophet will try to pass himself off as the returned Elijah of the end times, as promised by the prophet Malachi (1 Kgs. 18:38), 39; Mal. 4:5). He will also imitate the miracle of the two witnesses, who will destroy their enemies by fire (11:5, 7). This has been Satan's method since the beginning: deception (Gen. 3).
13:14, 15 - The false prophet will convince people to build an image for worship of the Antichrist and will likely set it up in the most sacred area of the newly constructed Jewish temple. He will then cause the image to speak. Some think this will be done through some form of ventriloquism; others by electronic voice reproduction. Or he may do it by his delegated satanic power (2 Thess. 2:9).
13:16 - 18 - The Greek word for mark was always associated with the Roman emperor. It often contained the emperor's name, his effigy, and the year of the reign. It was necessary for trade, and it was required on documents to attest to their validity. The Antichrist's mark will serve the same purposes. Everyone who does not wear the number will be denied the ability to buy or sell (14:9 - 11). Without access to life's necessities, many of these people will die (15:2).
THE MARK OF THE BEAST 13:16 - 18
Ruling powers usually have an identifying insignia - Nazi Germany had its swastika; the Soviet Union its hammer and sickle. The idea itself goes back to early history. Babylon, the first Gentile power, was symbolized by a lion with eagle's wings (Dan. 7:4). The Empire of the Medes and Persians was represented by a bear rising up with three ribs between its teeth (Dan. 7:5).
Volumes have been filled with fanciful ideas that attempt to identify this mark. Some have identified it with credit cards, computer chips, barcodes, and even names of specific people (Adolf Hitler or Saddam Hussein). No one can say exactly what form the mark of the beast will take, but the number six seems to be important.
We cannot identify the exact significance of the mark of the Beast either. The number six is the number of man. Humanity was created on the six day and commanded to work six of seven days. The number 666 is man's number - tripled. Six is also short of the perfect number, seven. Perhaps the number of the Beast represents the ultimate opposition of God.
14:1 - 20 - These seven visions are not in chronological sequence; they are more like a panoramic view of the Tribulation period. In some respects, this chapter is like a table of contents for the rest of the Book of Revelation, chronicling the salvation of God's people, the fall of Babylon, the final battle, and God's judgment on unbelieving humanity.
14:1 - Mount Zion is very important in prophetic writings. (Ps. 2:2 - 8; 48:1 - 3; 132:12 - 14; Isa. 2:1 - 4). It Is was the capital city of David, the home of the royal palace and king. It is also where God has chosen to reign forever. The earthly Zion, or the earthly center of control during the Millennium - is indicated here as the 144,000 receive their reward for finishing their work.
14:2, 3 - The singers are redeemed Jews praising God for fulfilling His promise that they would be protected and redeemed throughout the entire Tribulation. This choir - 144,000 voices strong - is smaller than the heavenly choir John previously saw (5:8, 11). Nobody else could learn their song because these witnesses are unique: only they had walked through the teeth of the Tribulation.
14:4, 5 - There is no power like that of people who have kept themselves pure from the world and who have God's seal upon them, ready to stand apart and preach to a generation from ministry is to prepare the heart before God.
14:4 - Virgins is not a physical description but a spiritual one. Just as the church must be presented to Jesus as a chaste virgin (Jer. 14:17; 18:13; 31:4; 13, 21:2), the 144,000 must be pure in their ministry. One of the gross sins of the Tribulation will be apostasy - the spiritual adultery (17:1 - 8; James 4:4). But these witnesses will be undefiled by the world, have given themselves in pure devotion to the Lord.
14:5 - The Antichrist will come in the power of Satan with false wonders so that the multitudes will believe a lie (2 Thess. 2:9, 11; 1 John 2:22). These servants are different! They minister in an age of falsehood, yet in them is found no deceit. When they speak, it is simply the truth - nothing more, nothing less.
14:6 - 20 - These announcements connect the rest of the Book of Revelation with the seventh trumpet presented in chapter 11.
14:6 - The gospel is uniquely described here as everlasting, indicating that it is a word for all ages because it comes from the God who is eternal. Its wisdom applies in all times and situations, but especially in dark ages when humans blindly worship a false Christ.
14:8 -The first Babylon mention in the Bible was a city founded by a rebel named Nimrod (Gen. 10 - 11). It became the first great Gentile world power to persecute God's people and abuse the nations of the world. The mention of this Babylon serves as a preliminary announcement of the final overthrow of the false religious system of the end time (17 - 18).
14:8 - According to this prophecy, the city of Babylon will be violently overthrown. The repetition of the word fallen underscores the certainly of its destruction and judgment. Most scholars believe that Babylon refers not only to a place but also to the system of idolatrous worship that centers in Satan (17:2).
14:9 - 11 - This announcement putws the options of those dwelling on earth in concise form: worship the beast and be dfamned by God, or worship God and be damned by the beast and be damned by God, or worship God and be damnedd by the beast. There is no middle ground.
14:12 - Patience refers to endurance. These saints respond to the gospel during the Tribulation and remain faithful for the three and half year reign of the beast.
14:13 - The NT begins with Jesus beatitudes for the living - and it ends with this beatitude for the dying. This is the second of seven beatitude found in the Book of Revelation (1:3; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14).
14:13 - The Greek word for rest pictures sailors who spend their entire lives at sea and finally come to their home port. The word means refreshment, rejiuvenation, or the absence of struggle and persecution, not idle activity as some assume. So in heaven, God's people will be absorbed in serving, but without the tiredness that often accompanies their work on earth.
THE BEATITUDES IN MATTHEW AND REVELATION * 14
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this
of heaven (5:3) prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it: for the
time is near (1:3).
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, "Write:
comforted (5:4). "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on (14:13)
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth, Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches,
(5:5) and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see
his shame. (16:15)
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for rightous- The he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called
ness, for they shall be filled (5:6) to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me,
"These are the true sayings of God." (19:9)
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy Blessed and holy is he who has part in the first resurrection.
(5:7) Over such the second death has no power, but they shall be
priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with Him a
thousand years (20:6)
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Behold, I am quickly! Blessed is he who keeps the words of
(5:8) the prophecy of this book. (22:7)
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they
sons of God (5:9) may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through
the gates of the city. (22:14)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteous - Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer.
ness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:10) Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison,
that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days.
Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life
14:14 - 16 - A common biblical image for judgment is a grain harvest (Jer. 51:33; Matt 13:37 - 43). This final harvest occurs before the Lord triumphantly returns to earth at the end of the Tribulation. Jesus (One like the Son of Man) carefully gathers all the wheat, keeping it separate from the tares, and then thoroughly supervises the separation work done by the angel so that no believer is judge4d with the unbelievers. Unlike the next one (14:17 - 20), this is a harvest primarily of believers.
14:17 - 20 - The first angel comes from the temple... In heaven with a sharp sickle. The second angel is in charge of the mission, for he orders the first angel to cut the ripe clusters and throw them into the winepress of God's wrath (19:15; Isa. 63:2, 3; Joel 3:13). Unlike the grain harvest, there is no separation here. All in this vision are unbelievers destined for judgment.
14:18 - The description of the people of the earth as clusters that are attached to the vine of the earth may be another illustration of Satan's efforts to counterfeit God's work. Just as God has His vine (John 15), so Satan has his. This terrible judgment of God is prophesied by Joel (Joel 3:11 - 16) in terms that repeated here.
14:19, 20 - The final battle alluded to here is the Battle of Armageddon. Verse 20 presents some details that are hard to imagine. The blood that is shed at this last battle is said to have the proportion of a flood, covering a 200 mile area and reaching a depth of approximately four feet.
THE MARK OF THE BEAST
Ruling powers usually have an identifying insignia - Nazi Germany had its swastika; the Soviet Union its hammer and sickle. The idea itself goes back to early history. Babylon, the first Gentile power, was symbolized by a lion with eagle's wings (Dan. 7:4). The Empire of the Medes and Persians was represented by a bear rising up with three ribs between its teeth (Dan. 7:5).
Volumes have been filled with fanciful ideas that attempt to identify this mark. Some have identified it with credit cards, computer chips, barcodes, embedded computer chips and even names of specific people (Adolph Hitler or Saddam Hussein). No one can say exactly what form the mark of the beast will take, but the number six seems to be important.
We cannot identify the exact significance of the mark of the Beast either. The number six is the number of man. Humanity was created on the sixth day and commanded to work six out of seven days. The number 666 is man's number - tripled. Six is also short of the perfect number, seven. Perhaps the number of the Beast represents the ultimate opposition to God.
A Middle East site of the final battle between the forces of good and evil (Rev. 16:16). The word "Armageddon. appears once in Scripture and is not found in Hebrew literature. Translators transliterate the term from Greek into English in several ways: Armageddon (KJV); Har Magedon (NAS), and Harmageddon (Moffatt). The Greek is a transliteration of the Hebrew har megiddo, literally, "mountain of Megiddo." Revelation promises that in the face of defeat of God's saints by military forces from the east, south, and the north, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to defeat His enemies and deliver His people.
15:1 - Plague is translated elsewhere by the word wound. The Lord is about to wound the earth for the last time before the final judgment. These events will complete the wrath of God.
15:2 - Those who gain victory over the beast during the Tribulation are pictured. They triumph over the beast, his image, his mark, and the number of his name. This group - 144,000 saints of Revelation 7 and 14 - is one of three groups in heaven that are given harps from God. Harps are always instruments of joy and celebration in the Bible (Ps. 33:2).
15:3, 4 - This song is modeled after the Song of Moses that was sung after the Israelites crossed the Red Sea (Ex. 15:1 - 18) and the songs in Deuteronomy 32. Now the 144,000 stand by the sea and sing the song in heaven. Its words depict the retribution and justice God takes against His enemies and reveal the greatness of His works, His ways, His worth, and His worship (Rom. 11:33).
15:5 - 8 - In OT times, only the high priest could enter the Most Holy Place, but hjere seven angels exit this sacred place, each having one of seven plagues (16) and yet clothed in purity. In the Most Holy Place, judgment took place under the law; in this place, sacrifice for sin was made. The seven golden bowls are likely shaped like shallow pans, and each is filled with the wrath of God.
15:8 - Smoke is frequently a symbol of the presence and glory of the Lord. That everyone was prohibited from entering the temple until the bowls were emptied illustrates that individuals who refuse to drink the cup of God's salvation must drink from the bowls of His wrath (Ps. 75:8; 116:13).
16:1 - The seven seal judgments present the world ruined by man. The seven trumpet judgments present the world ruled by Satan. Now, the seven bowl judgments present the world reclaimed by God. One by one the angels will turn over their bowls, which recall some of the plagues God poured out on Egypt before the Exodus, and release the wrath of God on the earth for its wickedness and persecution of His people. The loud voice that speaks in this awful instant is that of God Himself.
16:2 - A sore is an outward sign of some inward corruption. The sores inflicted on these rebels - similar to the sixth plague in Egypt (Ex. 9:9; Deut. 28:27, 35) - symbolize their true nature in the worship of Satan. Just as the ancient Egyptians were unable to explain away the judgment from God's sovereign power, unbelievers in the Tribulation will likewise have no explanation for the bowl judgment.
16:3 - There is an interesting coincidence with the second trumpet and the second bowl. Previously, only one third of the sea was affected (8:8, 9), but when the second bowl is poured out, every ... creature in the sea dies. This echoes the Nile River judgment (Ex. 7:17 - 21) except that it is worldwide.
16:4 - 7 - The third bowl judgment extends to freshwater rivers and lakes, turning the bitter water (8:11) into bloody water (16:4). Once again, the altar is the focus of this message of retribution because the souls of the slain saints are held under the altar. The voice declares God's justice in judging His enemies, who have martyred His people. God has heard the cry of the martyrs for revenge (6:9 - 11). The picture is of a world out of control, with all the parts of the universe ceasing to function normally.
16:8, 9 - When God created the sun, He caused it to shine on both the godly and the ungodly. In the Tribulation, only the ungodly will feel the scorch of the sun, and its effects will be so intense that many will die. The picture is of a world out of control, with all the parts of the universe ceasing to function normally.
16:10, 11 - The fifth bowl, God centers His judgment on the place of Satan. This outer darkness - akin to the plague of darkness in Egypt (Ex. 10:21 - 29) - reflects the world's dark heart and soul.
16:12 - 16 - The sixth bowl judgment is similar to the sixth trumpet judgment: both battle the forces of a demonic army. The 200 million (9:16) will kill one-third of humankind (9:18), but this army will front God at Armageddon (the battle of that great day of God Almighty) and be destroyed (19:19 - 21).
16:13, 14 - John reports that Satan will empower the beast (the head of the reestablished Roman Empire) and the false prophet (the head of the new world religious system). This unholy trinity is committed to the destruction of Israel.
16:15 - Before God allows the last bowl to be poured out on the earth, there is one more warning, in the form of an interlude. The Lord will come to the world as a thief at the end of the Tribulation. The whole earth will mourn because of Him. Armageddon means "Mount of Megiddon," a mountain in the plain of Esdraelon. It was a well known battlefield in OT times (Judg. 5:19 - 21; 1 Kgs. 18:40; 2 Kgs. 23:29, 30). and is now the site of a more famous end-time battle.
Place name perhaps meaning, "place of troops". One of the most strategic cities of Canaan since it guarded the main pass through the Carmel mountain range. This range was obtacle along the international coastal highway which connected Egypt with Mesopotamia and even further destinations. Identified with current tell el-Mutesellim, Megiddo had approximately twenty-five different eras of occupation during its life from the fourth millenium to the time of the Persia Empire. The city was very active while under Eghptian authority from the time the patriarchs through to the judges (2000 - 1100 B.C.), but this golden age came to an end about 1125 B.C. when it was destroyed.
The city was allotted to Manasseh (Josh. 17:11; 1 Chron. 17:29) after the partial conquest of Joshua (Josh. 12:21), but neither it nor its surrounding villages were secured by the tribe. Due to its obvious strength, it was among many cities whose overthrow was delayed until later (Judg. 1:27). Deborah and Barak fought the Canaanites and their leaders King Jabin and Sisera near the "waters of Megiddo," possibly the wadi Qina running through the surrounding hills (Judg. 5:19).
When Megiddo was finally annexed to the nation Israel is not known. Probably by the time of David the city was serving Israel's defensive and security purposes.
In the New Testament, the Mount of Megiddo (har-Megiddon thus "Armageddon" will be where the kings of the world are gathered for that final battle in the Las day of the Lord. Where Israel was initially frustrated during their conques of Canaan is exactly where they will be victorious with Christ in the end.
"ARMAGEDDON"A Middle East site of the final battle between the forces of good and evil (Rev. 16:16). The word "Armageddon" appears once in Scripture and is not found in Hebrew literature. Translators transliterate the term from Greek into English in several ways Armageddon (KJV); Har Magedon (NAS); and Harmageddon (Moffatt). The Greek is a transliteration of the Hebrew har megiddo, literally, "mountain of Megiddo." Revelation promises that in the face of defeat of God's saints by military forces from the east, south, and the north, the Lord Jesus Christ will return to defeat His enemies and deliver His people.
16:17 - 21 - The seventh angel tips his bowl, and its outpouring is followed by thunder, lightning, and hailstone weighing up to 100 pounds (about the weight of a talent). This is the final destruction of every religious, political, and educational institution that humanity has built apart from God.
16:17 - Once before, the words "It is done!" were heard, spoken from the cross as God finished judging human sin (John 19:30). Now these words are again heard as earth's judgment is complete - the final act of juidgment before Christ returns. Next will be the eternal judgment that unrepentant humanity must face in the lakie of fire.
17:1 - The great harlot (porne) represents the devil's spiritually adulterous system of religion. Adherents of this counterfeit version of Christianity only appear to be joined to the true God; in reality, their hearets are far from Him.
HARLOT A prostitute. The most famous harlot in the Bible is Rahab of Jericho, who saved the Israelite spies sent by Joshua to scout out the Promised Land (Josh. 2). Israel spared her and her family when they conquered and destroyed Jericho. She continued to dwell with the Israelites (Josh. 6:23 - 25). She is listed in the genealogy of Jesus (Matt. 1:5). Her action on behalf of the Israelite spies won her a place in the roll call of the faithful (Heb. 11:31; compare Jas. 2:25).
The Bible gives few details of the ways in which harlots like Rahab practiced their trade. Evidently, harlots might solicit along the roadside (Gen. 38:14 - 15). Brothels, which often served as taverns and inns were also known ion the Ancient Near East. Rahab's house may have been one (Josh. 2:1). It is possible that the prostitute had a distinctive mark on her forehead (Jer. 3:3) and breasts (Hos. 2:2). She might attract attention by her clothing, jewelry and make-up (Jer. 4:30; Ezek. 23:40; Rev. 17:4). Flattering with words (Prov. 2:16) and making sweet music (Isa. 23:16) might be used to lure or soothe a client. Her payment might be in moneyt, or it could be in jewelry (Ezek.. 23:42) or other items of value (Gen. 38:15 - 18; compare Luke 15:30).
Although harlots were considered socially inferior, they did have legal rights, as is evident from the incident recorded in 1 King 3:16 - 22.
17:2 - The wording indicates that the harlot made the kings and the unhabitants of the earth drunk with power, pride, false worship, and material possessions - all of which will perish in the judgment. Fornication in this context means idolatry. Any worship besides the worship of God of the Bible is considered spiritual adultery and will be judged (Nah. 3:4).
Nahum 3:4 - Because of the mulitudes of harlotries of the seductive harlot,, The mistress of sorceries, Who sells nations through her harlotries, And famililes through her sorceries.
The Lord condemned the Assyrians for three sins: their cruel atrocities (3:1 - 3), their greedy exploitation of others (3:4 - 7; harlotries sorceries), and their delusion that they could insuilate themselves from destruction.
17:3 - The harlotry of the false religious system in the last days will be seen in her alliance iwth political powers of the world. The seven heads and 10 horns speak of the political system of the beast, the Antichrist.
17:4 - Though this great harlot is dressed like a queen, the cup she holds is full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. This is the way sin works; it comes covered in an attractive veneer that hides its evil and hideous consequences.
The Fall and Ruin of the Immoral City of the Beast (17:1 - 18:24) Chapter 17 retells the sixth cup, the fall of Babylon the Great, and chapter 18 gives a moving lament for the great city.
Revelation begins by clearly identifying the woman in this chapter as a "harlot" (vs. 1) "with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication" (vs. 2). This seems to refer to political intrigues in which the leaders of these nations collaborate with this "harlot" in spiritual misconduct, with each party seeking its own advantage. Similarly, God called Israel's disobedience to Him adultry and harlotry (Jeremiah 3:8 - 9; Jeremiah 5:7; Jeremiah 13:27; Ezekiel 16:32).
This fallen woman's influence was and is extensive. In addition to her influence over the kings of the earth, she holds sway over a large portion of the earth's population. The description of her as one "who sits on many waters" (Revelation 17:1) is later explained: "The waters which you saw, where the harlot sits, are people, multitudes, nations, and tongues" (vs. 15). In verse 2 she further described as making the inhabitants of the earth "drunk with the wine of her fornication."
The woman of this chapter is described as being "arrayed" (dressed) in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication" (vs. 4).
While modern implications of the color scarlet include infidelity, in the first century when the book of Revelation was written, clothing of a reddish-purple color was "much prized" and was "commonly worn by persons of rank and wealth, Mark 15:17, Mark 15:20, Luke 16:19. The purple color contains more blue than crimson, though the limits are not very accurately defined, and the words are sometimes interchanged. Thus the mock robe put on the Savior is called in Mark 15:17, Mark 15:20 , porphuran - 'purple,' and in Matthew 27:28, kokkinen - 'crimson'".
The point behind being dressed in purple and scarlet is that the woman appears to be a woman of wealth and authority. This color of clothing complements her also wearing gold, precious stones and pearls and her use of a golden cup. The contrast to this beautifully impressive exterior is that her cup is filled with "abominations and the filthiness of her fornication" (vs. 4). In other words, she deceives many by her appearance. Although she looks beautiful and has the trappings of wealth, luxury and authority, her actions are an abomination to God.
17:5 - The name on the woman's forehead recalls the place where idolatry began: the tower of Babel In Genesis 11, and then the ancient city of Babylon in Daniel. In the OT, Babylon was synonymous with idolatry, pride, and rebellion against God. In the end times. Babylon the Great is a city yet unknown. The system of idolatry that began in antiquity continues to this day.
In Judeo-Christian thought, Babylon the metropolis, like the tower of Babel, became symbolic of man's decadence and God's judgment. "Babylon" in Revelation 14:8, 16:19; 17:5; 18:2 and probably in 1 Peter 5;13 refers to Rome, the city which personified this idea for early Christians.
Babylon religion is the best known variant of a complex and highly polytheistic system of belief common throughout Mesopotamia. Of the thousands of recognized gods, only about twenty were important in actual practice.
A FEW EXAMPLES OF EARLY IDOLATRY:
Anu, Enlil, and Ea were patron deities of the oldest Sumerian cities and were each given a share of the Universe as their dominion. Anu, god of the heavens and patron god of Uruk (biblical Erech; Gen. 10:10) did not play a very active role. Enlil iof Nippur was god of the earth. The god of Eridu, Ea, was lord of the subterranean waters and god of craftmen.
The gods were thought of as residing in cosmic localities, but also as present in their image, or idol, and living in the temple as a king in his palace. The gilded wooden images were in human form, clothed in a variety of ritual garments, and given three meals a day. On occasion the images were carried in ceremonial processions or to visit one another in different sanctuaries. It is very difficult to know what meaning the images and temples of the various gods had for the average person, and even more difficult to ascertain what comfort or help he might expect through worship of them. It seems clear, however, that beyond the expectations of health and success in his earthly life, he was without eternal hope.
17:7, 8 - In these verses, an angel begins to interpret the mystery of John's vision, identifying the beast as the Antichrist who deceives the whole world (11:7; 13:3, 4). His deceptions include a contrived death and "resurrection" (the one you saw was, and is not, and will ascend).
Daniel saw four great beasts who represented four great kings arise out of the sea (Dan. 7:2 - 14). These four beast would threaten God's kingdom, but God's people would prevail over them (Dan. 7:18)
The Book of Revelation speaks of two beasts. The first beast arises out of the sea (13:1), is seven headed, and derives its authority from the dragon (Rev. 12:3; 13:4). This beast has severl of the characteristics of the four beasts of Dan. 7. The second beast arises out of the earth (Rev.13:11). It serves the first beast by seeking devotees for it and is referred to as the "false prophet" (Rev. 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). Both the beast and the false prophet persecute the church but are finally judged by Christ (Rev. 19:20).
17:9 - 11 - The woman is the harlot, the representative of the false religious system of the end times. The seven mountains are Rome (known as the "city built on seven hills") or its corresponding kingdoms. The eighth king, who is yet to come - the Antichrist will emerge from somewhere within the Roman Empire.
17:12 - 14 - The 10 horns are 10 kings who will be given authority to rule the world along with the Antichrist during the Tribulation. Their reign will end with the triumph of the Lamb, Jesus Christ (Dan. 7:20; 1 Tim. 6:15).
17:15 - 18 - These verses show the self-destructive nature of sin. The very people who rule with Rome (the harlot) now turn against her and destroy her. The evil world system marvels at the beast and follows him, but he will actually turn against it and destroy it. That God moves the kings to want to fulfill His purpose shows that He is still in control, and that His goodnessx still reigns - even in the midst of the evils of the end times! Chapter 17 concludes with Babylon, that great city, ruling over the kings of the earth.
John is amazed at the great personification and embodiment of evil in the woman and the beast. An interpreting angel begins to explain some of the features of the vision of John. The beast is a world empire as in Daniel 7. This world empire had a past existence but cease to exist. However, it will come back as a manifestation of Satan ("out of the Abyss"). The whole world will be amazed at the startling recovery of this empire.
In verses 9 and 10, the beast is connected to the city of Rome which sits upon seven hills. But the angel says that the seven hills are also seven kings. "Hills" or "mountains" are often symbols for kings and kingdoms (Dan. 2:35; Jer. 51:25; Isa. 2:2). Kings and their kingdoms are often interchanged in prophetic literature. So the beast seems to be the final form of past world empires. Five world empires were past, Rome was in existence then, and a final form wioll arise. If this is correct, the five world empires are Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece. Rome in John 's days (about A.D. 96) was the contemporary form of the beast's kingdom. A seventh kingdom will arise which will transmute into the eighth. The eighth will be Satan's masterwork with toatl domination of the world.
The horns are also interpreted by the angel (v. 12). They are ten kings anbd their kingdoms which are not yet in existence. But they will arise with the same satanic empowerment as the beast. These ten kingdoms will be united in purpose with the beast and make war against Jesus Christ, who is the Lamb. The angel assured John that the Lamb has complete sovereign power. He will be victorious and all His followers will shar ein that victory. The interpretation is very similar to Daneil's night vision of the Son of Man (7:13 - 14). Daniel also has an angel who interprets for him.
It is impossible to predict where and when these ten kingdoms (Dan. 7:24, 26) will come on the scene of world history. Most interpreters who venture a guess favor the nations in a revived Rome, that is, European. But they could come from anywhere in the Mediterranean are or the Middle East.
In verses 15 - 18, a satanic civil war takes place. The beast and the ten horns (ten kings and kingdoms) destroy the position and power of the great prostitute. Modern history has many examples of political alliances being formed to gain power only to result in betrayal and death once the power is achieved. Both Lenin and Hitler turned on their former allies and killed them. Something similar will happen between the beast and the prostitute. Again the prostitute is identified in language taken from Jeremiah 51:13 concerning Babylon and from John's contemporary history under the Roman Empire. In verse 18 the prostitute is the city of Rome. The anti-God spirit in ancient Babylon and in first century Rome is the woman. Her destruction is spelled out in terms taken from the book of Ezekiel 23:11 - 35.
17:16 - In a dramatic turn of events, the prostitute's allies turn on her and destroy her. This is how evil operates. Destructive by its very nature, it discards its own adherents when they cease to serve its purposes. An unholy alliance is an uneasy alliance because each partner puts its own interests first.
17:17 - No matter what happens, we must trust that God is still in charge, that God overrules all the plans and intrigues of the evil one, and that God's plans will happen just as he says. God even uses people opposed to him as tools to execute his will. Although he allows evil to permeate this present world, the new earth will never know sin.
In verses 15 - 18 , a satanic civil war takes place. The beast and the ten horns (ten kings or kingdoms) destroy the position and power of the great postitute. Modern history has many examples of political alliances being formed to gain power only to result in betrayal and death once the power is achieved. Both Lenin and Hitler turned on their former allies and killed them. Something similar will happen between the beast and the prostitute. Again the prostitute is identified in language taken from Jeremiah 51:13 concerning Babylon and from John's contemporary history under the Roman Empire. In verse 18 the prostitute is the city of Rome. The anti-God spirit in ancient Babylon and in first century Rome is the woman. Her destruction is spelled out in terms take from the book of Ezekiel (23:11 - 35).
18:1 - Satan's reign will not be long, but it will be horrendous. Chapter 18 records the end of the delusion of Satan and his host of worshipers, as well as the destruction of his earthly headquarters.
18:2 -Babylon - in all its religious, political, and economic glory- will be reduced to an ash heap by One with greater authority and glory. The Greek word translated fallen describes an instantanious action (14:8, 16:19). God will destroy the city decisively, in the course of one hour (18:10, 16, 17, 19).
18:3 - This verse echoes a prophecy from Jeremiah (Jer. 51:7). Babylon will be famous around the world as the most enlightened and liberated city on the planet, giving free rein to all forms of immorality and depravcity.
In Judeo - Christian thought, Babylon the metropolis, like the Tower of Babel, became symbolic of man's decadence and God's judgment. "Babylon" in Revelation 14:8; 16:19; 17:5; 18:2 and probably in 1 Peter 5:13 refers to Rome, the city which personified this idea for early Christians.
Religion - Babylonian religion is the best known variant of a complex and highly polytheistic system of belief common throughout Mesopotamia. Of the thousands of recognized gods, only about twenty were important in actual practice.
The gods were thought of as residing in cosmic localities, but also as present in their image, or idol, and living in the temple as a king in his palace. The gilded wooden images were in human form, clothed in a variety of ritual garments, and given three meals a day. On occasion the images were carried in ceremonial processions or to visit one another in different sanctuaries. It is very difficult to know what meaning the images and temples of the various gods had for the average person, and even more difficult to ascertain what comfort or help he might expect through worship of them. It seems clear, however, that beyond the expectations of health and success in his earthly life, he was with eternal hope.
18:5, 6 - The Greek word rendered reached in this passage literally means "to be glued or welded together." But in this context it means "to come in contact with, touch." The city's sins will be so vast that they "touch" the heavens, alikelyu allusion to the Tower of Babel.
Tower of Babel - Babel is a Hebrew word meaning "confusion," derived from a root which means "to mix." It was the name given to the city which the disobedient descendants of Noah built so they would not be scattered over all the earth (Gen. 11:4, 9 ). Babel is also the Hebrew word for Babylon.
The tower and the city which were built were intendede to be a monument of human pride, for they sought to "make a name" for themselves (Gen. 11:4). It was also a monument to mankind's continued disobedience. They had been commanded to fill up the earth but were seeking to avoid being scattered abroad (Gen. 9:1; 11:4). Futher, it was a monument to human engineering skills, for the techniques of its building described the use of fired clay bricks as a substitute for stone. Bitumen, found in relative abundance in the Mesopotamian Valley, was used to bind the bricks together.
Ruins of numerous temple towers, call ziggurats, have been found in the region of Babylon. It is possible that ruins of the great temple tower to Marduk found in the center of ancient Babylon is the focus of this narrative.
To bring the people's monumental task to an end, God confused their language. The inspired writer apparently considered this to be the basis for the origin of the different human languages. When the builders were no longer able to communicate with each other, they then fled from one another in fear. The city of Babylon became to the Old Testament writers the symbol of utter rebellion against God and remained so even into the New Testament (Rev. 17:1 - 5).
18:7 - In the end times, the pride of Nebuchadnezzar will live again in the ruler of the final Babylon, a city that will provide a platform for the most evil tyrant the world has ever known. Like that ancient monarch, this future ruler will also view himself as immortal and invincible. But his towering pride will be toppled as surely as Nimrod's tower was (Ps. 137:8; Prov. 16:18).
18:9, 10 - The loss of this capital of sin will cause the leaders of the world to weep as much for their loss as for hers. They have relied on Babylon for their success and well-being. Now it is gone. However, they will be standing at a distance for fear of her torment.
Satan sails a sinking ship. His doom is announced and will be carried out. Sin cannot win, and faith cannot fail. If you are a lover of Babylon, you are following a lost cause. Babylon will be destroyed by a devastating collapse. It will happen cataclysmically fast. And its destruction will be utterly complete.
Revelation 18:10 tells us that its destruction will come in one hour. It is believed that Babylon could be destroyed by an atomic blast, and the people who stand far off will see the mushroom cloud and fear the radiation. An angel illustrates this destruction in Revelation 18:21: "Then a mighty angel picked up a stone like a large millstone and threw it into the sea, saying: In this way Babylon the great city will be thrown down violently and never be founded again." If you throw a huge stone into the ocean, you would see shock waves emanating from the point of entry and sweeping everything in its path.
No one knows what will happen because this is symbolism, and many things we simply will not know until they are literally fulfilled. But whatever happens, it will be absolutely devastating. In an hour God will judge the sin of Babylon that has been piling up for centuries. His vengeance will come howling through the streets of Babylon.
18:11 - 19 - Because they benefit financially from Babylon's power, the merchants and the mariners of the earth will mourn when the economic hub of the world is gone. In the midst of the destruction, Babylon's inhumanity (merchandise of ... bodies and souls of men) is judged. This final system of commerce championed by the beast will dehumanize humankind, as ay system without God will do.
The wealthj of former ecclesiastical Babylon will belong to the beast because no one will be able to buy or sell without his mark on him or her. He will get his cut on every transaction and will control the world economy. Money, like a mighty Niagara, will flow into Babylon. But notice that a part of the merchandise will be the souls of men. There will be great trade in iniquity and sin.
U.S. News and World Report produced an investing guide. Inside was an article entitled "Stock Up on Sin," which contained an article for those who are worried about their investments: "A portfolio that panders to humankind's moral weaknesses might redeem investors' fortunes. Unseemly perhaps, but the fact is that in a year of exploding corporate scandal and retribution it has been good to be bad. Not legally bad, just a little sinful. Profit, so fleeting on much of Wall Street, has come easily to firms catering to humanity's weakness for fatty foods, strong drinks, wastrel ways, and carnal passions."
18:12, 13 - This catalog of 28 items forms the basis for end-time economic commerce. The list includes the various material possessions for which people have labored, schemed, and become enslaved throughout history, which makes it symbolic of humankind's perennial pursuit of extravagant wealth. Even though John lists commodities that were significant in his day, it is amazing to see how timeless they are, even to the end of the age.
There is coming an economic calamity and crash, an economic disaster that is going to make the depression of 1929 look like child's play. And the bible tells about it. We don't know how far we are from it, but we know that we know that it is going to be.
What on earth is Babylon? Babylon is the Bible's cryptic and descriptive name for the value system of the ungodly age and the kingdom of Anti-Christ. It is called Babylon. It is called Babylon because of it's system, it's ideas, it's philosphies, root all the way back to the book of Gensis. There was a man named Nimrod who built a tower and it was the tower of Babal and it the attempt at humanism, for man to establish a kingdom for man to establish his independence apart from God. Man was at the center and the circumference of all that was done there, the tower of Babal that God so judged.
Verses 12 - 13 list 29 items of value and wealth falling into 7 different categories: 1) precious metals and stones (gold, silver, jewels, pearls), 2) fabrics for expensive clothing (fine linen, purple cloth, silk, scarlet cloth), 3) all kinds of ornaments and decorations (scented woods, ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron, marble), 4) Fragrances (cinnamon, spice, inmcense, myrrh, frankincense, 5) foodstuffs (wine, oils, fine flour, wheat), 6) animals (cattle and sheep, horses and chariots) and 7) humans (slaves, that is human souls). It is estimated that there were as many as 60,000,000 slaves in the Roman Empire. There could be no clearer evidence of the depth of the utter depravity of man. Souls of men were viewed as nothing more than human livestock for service and even entertainment.
The fruit for which they longed and lived for, the return on their investment, gone! "All their delicacies and splendors, lost!" Indeed, all they have lived for is gone and lost, "never to be found again". Interestingly this is the first of 7 double negatives in the remainder of this chapter. This one is actually a double, double negative. It literally says, "no more never to be found."
Revelation 18:10 - 23 says:
They will stand far off in fear of torment, saying: Woe, woe, the great city of Babylon, the mighty city! For in a single hour your judgment has come. The merchants of the earth will also weep and mourn over her, because no one buys their merchandise there any more.
The wealth of former ecclesiastical Babylon will belong to the beast because no one will be able to buy or sell without his mark on him or her. He will get his cut on every transaction and will control the world economy. Money, like a mighty Niagara, will flow into Babylon. But notice that a part of the merchandise will be the souls of men. There will be great trade in iniquity and sin.
U.S. News and World Report produced an investing guide. Inside was an article entitled "Stock Up on Sin," which contained an article for those who are worried about their investments: "A portfolio that panders to humankind's moral weaknesses might redeem investors' fortunes. Unseemly perhaps, but the fact is that in a year of exploding corporate scandal and retribution it has been good to be bad. Not legally bad, just a little sinful. Profit, so fleeting on much on Wall Street, has come easily to firms catering to humanity's weakness for fatty foods, strong drinks, wastrel ways, and carnal passions.
And the article encourages investors to buy shares in cable companies, which make million of dollars from pay-per-view adult movies. It goes on to talk about the liquor and tobacco industries. Basically, it was saying: "Do you want to get rich? Invest in sin." Whether it is cable networks that bring pornography into "family" entertainment or politicians who promote state lotteries, they do it for one reason - money! They don't care about the families that spend their grocery money on lottery tickets. They say, "Just show us the money!"
Gamblers sit in their fine homes built by dishonest gain. Doctors rake in millions by killing babies. Liquor barons climb the ladder of success on the backs of broken homes. All this is driven by a love of money. First Timothy 6:10 says, "For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains." This is the kingdom of the Antichrist.
How the rulers of this world are going to weep! All of their resources and wealth will not be able to stay the judgment of Almighty God. They will stand in their executive suites and watch as the market craters and the controllers of the world's commerce dive into pools of panic. The after-effects will make the Great Depression seem like a Sunday school picnic.
18:21 - 23 - The word anymore is used six times. In Greek this the strongest term to express "not at all." Never again will human joys exist in Babylon. What a picture of final desolation! When God judges, His judgment is sure and swift and final.
The Bible teaches that the world is headed for a climax. Revelation 18:20 says, "Rejoice over her, heaven, and you saints, apostles, and prophets, because God has executed your judgment on her." Never let the devil get you to thinking negatively about God. We are on the winning side.
Those in heaven will see God's righteous judgment on sin and Satan's system. At last, at last ! Hallelujah! The hearts of all true saints have been bowed with sorrow and bruised by Satan. Now this sinful system has met its doom. It is gone forever. The saints are on the side that wins, and that calls for celebration. I think we can start this celebration early !
More and more the economic system of the world is being unified. Commerce, banking, and computers are tying the nations and companies together. Fewer and fewer individual compnies will be left. When the great consolidation takes place, a total economic stranglehold will occur - "no one (can) buy or sell" (13:17) without the mark of the beast. When the center of this system is suddenly destroyed, everyone plugged into the system will be left in total chaos. Commerce, banking, and computers will come to a halt. Today, with weapons of mass destruction, an entire city can be destroyed in an instant.
So, it will be with Babylon. The laments are self centered because they did not love the prostitute, but her judgment is their ruin. The list of cargo is similar to the judgment of Tyre (Ezek. 16:9 - 13; 27:5 - 24). Of particular interest is the cargo in "human beings" ("bodies and souls of men") or slaves.
Angels in the Bible are seen in many roles. The angels of God carry out His will in judgments; in the protection of His people (Isa. 37:36); in the worship of God (Rev. 5:11 - 12); and in revelation. The interpreting angel is often found in the Bible where he makes clear or makes known God's visions (Zech. 1 - 6; Rev. 17:7; 21:9 - 15). The book of Hebrews compares and contrasts Jesus with the angels (1:1 - 14).
Christians should have confidence as they look at history. While evil seems so powerful, appearances are not reality. The Lamb is all powerful and evil will be conquered. The evil kingdom is full of lies, hatred, and dissension. It will not stand.
The great tyrannies of the 20th century (Nazi Germany, Bolshevik Russia) are examples of empires using enslaved peoples. The final tyranny will be far worse.
QUESTIONS FOR REVIEW
1. WHAT DOES THE ANGEL ANNOUNCE IN VERSE 2 ?
Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen and has become a dwelling place for demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird!
2. ANOTHER VOICE CALLS TO GOD'S PEOPLE (V. 4). WHAT IS THE COMMAND ?
And I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you share her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.
3. WHO REACTS STRONGLY TO THE FALL OF BABYLON ?
The kings of the earth who committed fornication and lived luxuriously with her will weep and lament for her, when they see the smoke of her burning, standing at a distance for fear of her torment, saying "Alas, alas that great city of Babylon, that mighty city! For in one hour your judgment has come.
The merchants and the manners of the earth will mourn when the ecnomic hub of the world is gone. This final system of commerce championed by the beast will dehumanize humankind as any system wihtout God will do.
19:1 - 6 - The chapter opens with four allelulas, in contrast to the weeping that surrounds the fall of Babylon. Allelula is found 24 times in the Book of Psalms but only four times in the New Testament-all in this chapter. The term combines two words: the Hebrew halal ("praise, shine, boast, glory") and a shortened form of the name of the Lord, Yahweh, Hallelujah means "Praise the Lord!" In the Book of Psalms, as here, the word is often connected with the punishment of the ungodly (Ps. 104:35).
In Revelation 19 the great tribulation comes to a close, and the church comes to the most climatic time in all of its history. God chooses the picture of a marriage to illustrate that glorious moment when we become one with our Lord: "Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself" (Rev. 19:7). The bride, which is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, has made herself ready for the marriage of the Lamb.
One day Jesus told a parable about the marriage to the Lamb and gave this admonition: "I assure you (unbelievers): I do not know you!' Therefore be alert, because you don't know either the fay or the hour" (Matt 25:12 - 13, note added). Jesus may come at any moment. We are not waiting on any prophecies to be fulfilled. At any moment we could hear the shout, "Here's the groom! Come out to meet Him" (Matt. 25:6).
19:2, 3 - The punishment of sinners a cause of praise for God's people. Up until this time, the redeemed have been delivered from the power and penalty of sin, but now through God's righteous judgments, they are delivered from the very presence of sin.
19:5, 6 - The final shout of praisees from the whole host of the redeemed. At this moment every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God ther father (Phil. 2:11).
Revelation 19:1 - 6 says: After this I heard something like the loud voice of a vast multitude in heaven, saying: Hallelujah! Salvation, glory and power belong to our God, because His judgment are true and righteous, because He has judged the notorious prostitute who corrupted the earth with her sexual immorality; and He has avenged the bllood of His slaves that was on her hands. A second time they said: Hallelujah! Her smoke ascends forever and ever !
Then the 24 elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshipped God, who is seated on the throne, saying: Amen ! Hallelujah !
A voice came from the throne, saying: Praise our God, all His slaves, who fear Him, both small and great !
Then I heard something like the voice of a vast multitude, like the sound of cascading waters, and like the rumbling of loud thunder, saying: Hallelujah - because our Lord God, the Almighty, has begun to reign !
What do you think the wedding music is going to be? The "Hallelujah Chorus"! Revelation 19 is the basis of Handel's great composition that is known around the world. The word hallelujah is used four times in the six verses. What does the word hallelujah mean? It comes from two Hebrew words - halal meaning "praise" and Yahweh meaning "Jehovah." Praise the Lord!
In Revelation 19, we also find the word amen, which means "let it be." It is true, praise the Lord, let it be ! Did you know that the words hallelujah and amen are the same in every language " In many places around the world, those words are the same every where.
Two Christian men from two different countries were on a ship and decided they needed to get away from the crowd to meditate for a little while. Each man took his Bible and was walking on the deck. They saw each other and then saw the Word of God each held. At that moment they knew they were comrades in Christ. They didn't know how to communicate until one brother said, "Hallelujah," and the other said, "Amen." They embraced and knew that in the Lord Jesus Christ they were brethren.
19:1, 2 - The first praise is a response to the angel's command to rejoice (18:20) for the Lord's judgment of the great harlot in destroying Babylon, Christ has avenged...the blood of His servants.
19:2,3 - The punishment of sinners is a cause of praise for God's people. Up until the time, the redeemed have been delivered from the power and penalty of sin, but now through God;'s righteous judgments, they are delivered from the very presence of sin.
19:5, 6 - The final shout of praise comes from the whole host of the redeemed. At this moment every knee bows and every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:11).
In Revelation 19:1, the people are saying "hallelujah" because that which was begun at Calvary has now come to full consummation. As Phil. 1:6 says, "I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus." Also, we notice that a great multitude is giving praise to the Lamb. There will be millions and billions of people in heaven. Don't you be in hell when this "Hallelujah Chorus" is being sung.
Revelaton 19:2 - 3 tells us that the mulitudes are praising God because He has made things right, His justice has prevailed, and He has avenged those who have persecuted the church through the ages. If you look for judgment ion this world, you will not find it. If you look for justice in the courtrooms of America or any other tribunal on earth, you will not find it. But one of these days we will say "Hallelujah!" as God makes everything right.
Revelation 19:4 - 5 explains that God is our God, not just the God. Psalm 23:1 says, "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want". It doesn't say He is "good" shepherd or a "great" shepherd. It says He is "my" shepherd. What a song we can sing when we believe: I am His and He is mine! He is my God and I am His servant. Why shouldn't we shout hallelujah !
Revelation 19:6 tells us there was "the voice of a vast multitude." What do you picture when you think of that sound? Perhaps a football stadium filled with cheering fans when a winning touchdown is made in the last few seconds? In some stadiums that is a deafening roar - like the next descriptive phrase: "the sound of cascading waters." Have you ever been to Niagara Falls? It just keeps coming and coming. And there is a tunultuous sound as more than six million cubic feet of water rushes over the falls every minute."
Add lightning and thunder rolling up and down the heavens to the noise of the multitude and the falling waters, and one can only imagine how that will sound. Our God reigns! Every knee will bow to the One will ring through heaven. It will be wonderful !
"THE BRIDE WILL BE BEAUTIFUL"
The bride has prepared herself for the wedding. Revelation 19:7 - 8 says, "Let us be glad, rejoice, and give Him glory, because the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has prepared herself. She was given fine linen to wear, bright and pure. For the fine llinen represents the righteous acts of the saints.
We have learned that God will judge the false church, and now the true church will be presented to the Lord Jesus Christ. Right now the church is only betrothed to Jesus; we are not yet married to Him. The best is yet to come.
The apostle Paul said, "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy, because I have promised you in marriage to one husband - to present a pure virgin to Christ" (2 Cor. 11:2). The true church is the dearest object in the entire universe to our Lord and Savior.
Since you are a part of the bride of Christ, how are you getting ready? There are three steps each of us must take:
If we are not saved, we are not a part of the bride of Christ. When God saves us, we call that redemption. This is the first part of our beauty treatment as we receive the iunner nature of the Lord Jesus Christ. We become partakers of the divine nature.
When the rapture comes, we will be changed in a moment into the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ. All the sinful tendencies of our old sinful flesh will be left behind. Thank God for that !4
We have been to the judgment seat of Christr, and we will receive according to the deeds we have done. The Bible says the white linen is thge righteous acts of the saints. This is a threefold beauty treatment.
"THE GUEST WILL BE GLAD"
More people than the bride will be present at the wedding of the Lamb. Revelation 19:9 says, "Then he said to me, 'Write: Those invited to the marriage feast of the Lamb are fortunate!' He also said to me, 'These words of God are true.'" Who are these guests? The redeemed of all ages who were saved beore or after the church age. The Old Testament saints will be there as guests.
John the Baptist called himself a friend of the bridegroom. He was a friend; he was not the bride, Jesus said, ":I assure you: Among those born of women no one greater than John the Baptist has appeared, but the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he" (Matt. 11:11).
There is a sense in which the church is especially privileged. What a celebration it will be. At the wedding feast of Cana, Jesus performed His first miracle by turning water to wine. The master of ceremonies said "Everybody sets out the fine wine first, then, after people have drunk freely, the inferior. But you have kept the fine wine until now" (John 2:10).
If you think that is something, wait until the marriage of the Lamb when Christ is both the bridegroom and the host. What a table He will set ! What a celebration that will be ! The evangelist Paul Rader said, "We are living so close to the second coming of Jesus Christ that I can hear the tinkling of the silverware as the angels are setting the table for the marriage supper of the Lamb." All of this is perhaps just a heartbeat or a trumpet sound away.
"THE GROOM WILL BE GLORIFIED"
This wedding doesn't center around the bride but on the Groom. Revelation 19:10 says, "Then I fell at his feet to worship him, but hje said to me, 'Don't do that ! I am a fellow slave with you and your bothers who have testimony about Jesus. Worship God, because the testimony about Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.'" John is not talking about Jesus; he is talking about an angel who is sent out to welcome the guests. If an angel appeared to you today, you would probably fall on your face because his appearance would be so glorious and majestic.
But did John do the right thing ? No. The angel let John know that he had made a breach of etiquette. It was as if the angel said, "Hey buddy, get up off your face, or we will both be in trouble. I will be in trouble for letting you worship me. You will be in trouble for doing it." The Bible tells us plainly that there is one God, and no one else is to be worshipped other than Jehovah God. If Jesus is not God, Jesus is guilty of aiding and abetting idolatry. This angel knew that. So the angel said, "Get up, worship God and Him only."
Do you know what the spirit of prophecy is ? Jesus Christ. So many people get overly concerned about the meaning of the "third toe on the left foot of some beast." Every detail is inspired and important, but on't miss the spirit of prophecy. If you read Revelation and don't come to know and love Jesus more, you have missed it all. This is the revelation of Jesus Christ; it is the unveiling of Jesus Christ.
How do we learn about Jesus Christ ? The Holy Spirit persuades us. In Genesis 24, we read the story of Abraham's plan to get a bride for his son Isaac. Abraham sent his chief servant to get a bride for Isaac. Abraham was immensely wealthy so he also gave his servant jewels and gold and silver to give to the bride.
But the servant said, "How will I know who is the right one?" The Holy Spirit brought Rebekah to him and confirmed that she was the one. His servant had to persuade Rebekah to leave her family and home to marry a man she had never met. That took some persuasion! And she went. Why? Genesis 24:50 - 51 says, "Laban and Bethuel answered, "This is from the Lord; we have no choice in the matter. Rebekah is here in front of you. Take her and go, and let her be a wife for your master's son, just as the Lord has spoken." There was no denying that God was in this.
When Rebekah made her decision, Abraham's servant gave her the trinkets and gifts. Imagine the scene. Abraham's entourage of travelers are on their way back to Canaan, and the servant looks over at Rebekah and sees her chin quivering a little and tears in her eyes. Maybe she is having second thoughts. The servant stops the train of travelers and opens the box of jewels to place a necklace around her neck. ":This is from Isaac" he says. "You will love him. He is wonderful." After a while the scene perhaps repeats itself. The servant puts a ring on her finger and says, "Isaac wants you to have this. Isaac is so great and so wonderful. You will love him."
Isaac is a picture of Jesus, Abraham is a picture of God the Father, and the chief servant is a picture of the Holy Spirit sent to bring the bride to the Lord Jesus Christ. When you give your heart to Christ, doubts, fears, and anxiety will inevitably come. But when they do, the Holy Spirit will take a jewel from Jesus and give it to you. "You are going to love Jesus," He will say. "He died for you to have an inheritance with Him in glory." First Peter 1:8 says, "You love Him, though you have not seen Him .And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy."
Do you kinow why I love Jesus? Because of the Holy Spirit of God. "In the early evening Isaac went out to walk in the field, and looking up he saw camels coming. Rebekah looked up, and when she saw Isaac, she got down from her camel" (Gen. 24:63 - 64).
When Rebecca finally arrived in Canaan, she had no difficulty recognizing her groom. And when Jesus comes, evey childf of His will have no difficulty recognizing Him. In 1873, Horatio Gates Spafford wrote these timeless words in the hymn "It Is Well With My Soul:;
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
We are not talking about fantasy here. Words and illustrations cannot sufficiently explain or begin to describe what will happen when Jesus comes for His bride. Are you ready ?
"OUR COMING KING"
At the end of a long, hard day, a salesman came back to his hotel room. It was late, and he was tired. He sat down on the edge of his bed and began to take off one of his shoes. It fell to the floor with a thud, and he thought to himself, That was so thoughtless of me. It is late at night, and my shoe probably disturbed the person in the room below. When he took the second shoe off, he put it down gently on the floor and went to bed. About thirty minutes later, he heard someone knocking at the door. He answered the door and saw a man with dark circles under his eyes. The man said, "Would you please drop the other shoe so I can get some sleep?" The world is waiting for the other shoe to drop.
The Christ who was born at Bethlehem, walked the dusty shores of Galilee, hung naked on the cross, was buried, and has ascended the high hills of glory is coming again. The incarnation without the coronation would be like East without West. It would be like an engagement without a marriage. This is another shoe "shoe" to fall.
We are on a collision course with destiny. Soon the King will come, and we cannot afford to be ignorant or indifferent. Many people all around us are perplexed, and they need to hear the good news. Sorrow looks backward, worry looks around, but faith looks upward. Are you setting the example for the world to see - hopeful and faithful to look for His return? The King, the Lord Jesus Christ, is coming.
We will learn three things about the return of Jesus that we discover from Revelation 19:11 - 15.
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithfuil and True, and He judges and make war in righteousness. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that with it He might strike the nations with it . He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty.
"JESUS IS COMING VISIBLY"
Some people tryu to spiritualize the second coming of Jesus Christ instead of understanding hat it will be a real event in history. Jesus ascended into heaven literally and visibly. And He is coming back literally and visibly. On the Mount of Ascension the disciples heard the angels say, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up into heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come in the same way that you have seen Him going to heaven" (Acts 1:11) .
John saw Him: "Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True" (Rev. 19:11). If John saw Jesus, will you see Him too? Revelation 17 says, "Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, including those who pierced Hium. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen." Yes ! You, along with every other soul on earth, will see Him. And all the families of the earth will mourn over Him. This is certain. Amen." Yes ! You, along with every other soul on earth, will see Him. Don't believe what you may have heard (and most will probably will continue to hear) from different cults, asserting that past events in history were the second coming of Christ. You will see Him ! Jesus is coming back visibly in power, glory, and majesty.
A lot of people get confused at this point about Christ's second coming because 1 Thess. 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10 teach us that Jesus' coming is mysterious - like a thief in the night. But when the Bible uses the word mystery, it doesn't mean like a mystery novel. It means a truth previousl unknown that is now revealed.
So is Christ coming in mystery, or is He coming in majesty ? There are two phases to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. First, there will be the rapture when He comes for His bride and we are taken out before the great tribulation. And then after the tribulation, we have the revelation when the Lord will come iwth His bride in power and great glory. The rapture will be a great mystery. The revelation will be gloriously majestic.
First Thessalonians 4:17 teaches us about the rapture. "Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air and so we will always be with the Lord." Jesus will return and rapture the church. Jesus is also coming with His church, as we see in Revelation 19:14: "The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen." Who are these armies ? They are the saints who will make up the bride of Christ. White linen represents the righteousness of the saints.
The Old Testament prophets didn't know anything about the rapture, so we don't find the rapture in the Old Testament. It was a mystery revealed in the New Testament. Paul said, "Listen ! I am telling you a mystery: We will not all fall asleep, but we will be changed, in a moment, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead wil be raised incorruptible, and we will be changed" (1 Cor. 15:51 - 52). I understand that the twinkling of an eye is the fastest moment of the human body.
He will return sweet;y like a bridegroom, Matthew 25:6 says, "In the middle of the night there was a shout: 'Here's the groom ! Come out to meet him."
Not only is He coming sweetly as a Bridegroom, but He is also coming sovereignly as sa King. Second Thessalonians 1:7 - 10 says:
"And to reward with rest you who are afflicted, along with us. This will take place at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with His powerful angels, taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don't know God and on those who don't obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will pay the penalty of eternal destriuction from the Lord's presence and from HIs glorious strength in that day when He comes to be glorified by His saints and to be admitted by all those who have believed because our testimony among you was believed.
What a day that will be ! We are not waiting on any signs to be fulfilled for the rapture. Jesus may come at any moment for His church. To deny that fact is heresy. Here is what the greatest prophesy preacher of all time had to say about Jesus' eminent and imminent coming. Jesus Himself said:
Now concerning that day and hour no one knows - neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son - except the Father only. As the days of Noah were, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. For in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day Noah boarded the ark. They didn't know until the flood came and swept them away. So this is the way the coming of the Son of Man will be: Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and one left. There be alert, since you don't know what day your Lord is coming. But know thius: If the homeowner had known what time the thief was coming, he would have stay alert and not let his hourse be broken into. This is why you also should get ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Matt. 24:326 - 44).
"SHOULD WE WAIT FOR THE TRIBULATION?"
Christian should not be waiting for the tribulation; we should be looking for Jesus. First Thessalonians 5:9 - 11 says, "For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep, we will live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up as you are already doing." The great tribulation will be a time when God will pour out His wrath on the unsaved.
God promise that He will keep you from this terrible time: "Becauise you have kept My command to endurek I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth" (Rev. 3:10). "But," you may say, "that was God speaking to the church of Philadelphia two thousand years ago." Yes, you're right, but looki at verse 13 of that same chapter: "Anyone who has an ear should listen to what the Spirit says to the churches." What God said to the church at Philadelphia, He is saying to us.
In the Old Testament we see examples of when God poured out His wrath upon the earth, but He spared a remnant of His people. God put Noah in the ark before the flood came (Gen. 6). God took Lot out of Sodom before the fire and brimstone fell (Gen. 19). Jesus will not beat up His bride in wrath.
Jesus is coming like a thief in the night to take the church out of this world.
JESUS IS COMING VICTORIOUSLY
Revelation 19:11 - 13 says, "Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God.
THE MASTERY OF HIS CONQUEST
Jesus will be riding a white horse when He comes with His raptured bride in victory. When Jesus entered Jerusalem just before His crucifixion, the crowds threw palm branches in front of Him and bowed down shouting, "Hail Him ! Hail Him ! Do you remember what Jesus was riding through the streets of Jerusalem ? A lowly donkey. But when He comes the second time. He will be riding a white charger, which is a symbol of victory, honor, and conquest.
THE MYSTERY OF HIS CHARACTER
Philippians 2:9 says, "For this reason God also highly exalted Him and gave Him the name that is above every name.' What is that name ? We know Him as Jesus, but there is a mystery about Him that we will never fathom, even in heaven. He is beyond our understanding. He is the highest of the high. And we will be like Him one of these days, but we will never be as Him.
"THE MAJESTY OF HIS CORONATION" AND "THE MINISTRY OF HIS CRUCIFIXION"
Jesus is wearing many crowns, which are not stephanos, the Greek word for a victor's crown, but the Greek word diadema, which means a regal crown that kings wear. And He doesn't have just one; He has many because He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. No longer does He wear a crown fromed from the briars of this world, but instead He wears the jewels of heaven.
"THE MINISTRY OF HIS CRUCIFIXION"
Revelation 19:13 says, "He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is called the Word of God.": Some Bible scholars think this is the blood from His enemies. Instead some Bible scholars thiniks this is a reminbder of His precious blood spilled at Calvary that He will wear forever as an emblem of His sacrifice. Thank God for the ministry of His crucifixion and His blood that gives uis the victory. Revelation 12:11 says "They conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they did not love their lives in the face of death." The victoryt Jesus will win over the Antichrist is based on His blood.
Where is our hope ? Not in science that has made the world a neighborhood instead of a brotherhood. Scientifically we are in graduate school; morally we are in kindergarten.
Hope is also not found in politics. No president or politician can deliver us. We win the wars and lose the peace. And these days it seems we can't even win the wars. What about social reform? That is not the answer either. All that social reform accomplishes, if it works at all, is to make the world a better place from which to go to hell. Social reform will not save this world.
It sounds very pessimistic but it is not. We must be glowing optimist because we know the only One who can save the world. We should be actively waiting for the Lord Jesus Christ to come again. The answer to this world's problems, beyond a shadow of any doubt, is the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is coming visibly. He is coming victoriously.
"THE LORD JESUS IS COMING VENGEFULLY"
Some people don't like the idea of vengeance or judgment because they think that would be unloving of God. I hear people say God is too good to punish sin. No! God is too good not to punish sin. God is a holy God. God said, "Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord" (Rom. 12:19). Revelation 19:14 - 16 says, "The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
God is a God of love. But if you preach the love of God to the exclusion of the wrath of God, you don't have the whole gospel. If you preach the wrath of God to the exclusion of the love of God, you don't have the whole gospel.
So many times things are not made right in this world. Justice is not done. Wrong seems to prevail. Wrong is on the throne, and truth is on the scaffold. It will not always be that way. "Taking vengeance with flaming fire on those who don't know God and on those who don't obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thess. 1:8). Jesus is coming vengefully to make things right.
We need to learn of Jesus' coming. We cannot afford to be ignorant of these things, and we need to teach others what we know about His second coming.
Second, we should look for His coming. If it is thought that you were going through the great tribulation, you probably wouldn't be looking for the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, you would be looking around waiting for something to happen. We should be living every day as if Jesus might come at any moment.
Third, we are to long for His coming. The last pray in the Bible is this: "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20). Have you prayed, "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10)? What a day that will be when we see Jesus!
Fourth, we need to live for His coming, Jesus said in Luke 19:13 that we are to "engage in business until I come back." John Corts of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association told the following story:
When I was a sixteen boy, I went with about eight of my cousins out to our grandfather's farm for a big celebration. The kids wanted to go out and work in the fields, but grandfather said that it was not a good idea. We said, "Please, Grandpa, please. We want to go out and work in the fields. Please let us go." My grandfather said, "All right. But you will not come in till the end of the day. John don't bring them back until the end of the day.
My cousins were happy. They were on the tractor pitching hay, and for about an hour it was wonderful. Then the sun came up, the hay went down their collars, and they began to get all gritty and grimy, and they asked me to take them in. But I told them, "Papa said we are going to stay out here all day .
At the end of the day, about five o'clock, I said, "All right, we are going in." They got in the wagon and left. When we got to the house, they got their baths and had their supper. They were so proud that they had stayed in the field all day long. And then grandfather gathered us at the supper table and said: "Children, I want to tell you something. God has blessed us. We have a fine farm here. We've got good heritage. Let me tell you why God has blessed us. There have been times when we were hot, tired, and grimy, and we wanted to come in, but we didn't. We stay in the fields. All that you see is because we learned the lesson of work. We learned what it means to stay in the field."
Do you know why some churches are thriving today? Because men and women have stayed in the field. It has not been easy, but they have been faithful to engage in business until He comes. Whe He comes, will you be found faithfully serving Him?
"THE SIGNPOSTS ON THE ROAD TO ARMAGEDDON"
A young man was learning to fly a single engine airplane, and it was time to do the landing phase of his instruction. The instructor said, "Are you ready to go down?" He said, "Let's do it." So the plane began to descend. The instructor looked over at the young man, and he was cool and calm. There wasn't a sign of nervousness about him - no sweaty palms or biting of his lip. The instructor thought this boy would make a great pilot.
The plane descended, and suddenly it hit the ground with a thud, bounced fifty feet in the air, hit the ground again, and bounced off the runway where it finally stopped. The instructor said, "Son, I have been teaching for a long time, and I believe that is the worst landing ever done by a student pilot." He replied, "Me ? I thought you were landing the airplane!"
I think a lot of times we wonder who is in control of this crazy world. God is in control, no matter what is happening or what we think.
If you look around and read the newspaper, you can see the storm clouds gathering. The dynamate is laid, the fuse is in place, and the match is ready to be struck. And we are running out of time. The battle of Armageddon is rushing upon us.
Armageddon, which literally means "Mount of Megiddon," includes a valley called the Valley of Jezreel and three mountains - Mount Carmel, Mount Tabor, and Mount Gilboa. Many leaders have fought battles here, including Napoleon, who said, "This is the greatest natural battlefield." Other leaders who have fought here include Titus, Pompey, Richard the Lionhearted, Nebuchadnezzar, and Rameses.
The Mount of Megiddo is soaked and drenched with blood. Why ? Because it is the ancient crossroads where trade caravans traveled back and forth. Whoever controlled Megiddo controlled the land, the trade, and the commerce of the day. The Bible says that the last great war will be fought there. And this war will end all wars.
The apostle John wrote about this war in Revelation 19:11 - 15"
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. His eyes were like a fiery flame, and many crowns were on His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. H will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty.
Revelation 19: is only a snapshot of a panoramic drama that began earlier in oujr study of Revelation. Now we will get a look at the big picture of this drama with these signposts onm the road to Armageddon.
"DETAILED PROPHECIES THAT PREDICT ARMAGEDDON"
Many prophecies detail the future and our inevitable journey toward Armageddon. For instance, Revelation 16:16 says, "So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon." These are the signposts that tell us we may be living in the last days.
1. ISRAEL HAS REOCCUPIED THEIR LAND
The Republic of Israel was formed on May 14, 1948. After eighteen centuries Israel reutrned to her land. Now we see the hostilities of many nations being turned against her. It is a fulfillment of the end-time prophecies.
2 THERE IS A MOVEMENT TOWARD GLOBALISM,
These days you can travel throughout Europe without a passport, and there is one common currency - the euro. Currently "one-worlders" are advocating unrestricted immigration, along with the elimination of national borders. There is a push for the "greedy" nations of the worlds, such as the United States, to share their wealth and resources with the poorer countries and for the United Nations to be able to pass intentional laws that all countries must obey.
The signs are everywhere that many people want a one-world government. They long for a world that exists in John Lennon's song "Imagine":
Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace.
Their voices will not be silenced as we hear more and more as the end nears.
Here are the words to a song children are being taught in classrooms:
Come young citizens of the world,
We are one,
We are one.
Come young citizens of the world,
We are one,k
We are one.
We have one hope,
We have one dream,
And with one voice we sing;
Peace, prosperity and love for all mankind.
Doesn't that sound sweet ? But let me tell you, it is ominous if you will go back to Genesis 11:6 and the song the4 people sang at the Tower of Babel. "The Lord said, 'If they hgave begun to do this as one people all having the same language, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.'" The Tower of Babel was the beginning of the Babylonian Empire and religion.
The same move toward globalism is happening right now because of terrorism. People say the world needs to come together as one force to overcome terrorism. This movement is so strong that there is an effort underway to replace the letters "AD" that precedes the years after the virth of Jesus Christ with CE, meaning "Common Era." Anno Domini means "the year of our Lord." Why do world officials want to do this ? So we will have all things in common. The don't want the era since Christ's birth to be called "the Christian era." They want it to be "the common era."
3. THE FORMER SOVIET REPUBLIC AND ARAB NATIONS ARE COALESCING AGAINST ISRAEL"
Ezekiel 38 - 39 prophesies that Gog and Magog will come from "the remotest parts of the north," along with her allies, Persia, Cush, and Put, against the land of Israel in order to "seize, spoil, and carry off plunder." Signs will intensify as the Lord Jesus Chriust readies for His return. But when you see these events, does that only mean that Armageddon may be near ? No, it also may mean that the rapture is coming, when Jesus comes for His church.
"DEMONIC PASSIONS THAT PROVOKE ARMAGEDDON"
Revelation 16:13 - m16 says, "Then I saw three unclean spirits like frogs coming from the dragon's mouth, and from the mouth of the false prophet. For they are spirits of demons performing signs, who travel to the kings of the whole world to assemble them for the battle of the great day of God, the Almighty. 'Look, I am coming like a thief. The one is alert and remains clothed so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame is blessed.' So they assembled them at the place called in Hebrew, Armageddon."
Do you know that Satan is itching for a fight with God? How could Satan be so stupid? You have to know this about Satan: his wisdom is warped and corrupted. He is thinking that he will have a showdown at Megiddo with the Son of God. He is sending out his envoys to the nations ready, mesmerize the monarchs, mamipulate the kings, and bring them to Armageddon. In that day we will find out who has the ultimate power.
There are dark, devilish, demonic, malevolent powers working in the world today. And behind them and standing in the shadows is Satan. People say to me, "Do you believe in the conspiratorial theory of history? We should ,the little conspiracies that many people talk about are lightweight. We should be talking about a devilish conspiracy that goes beyond anything you may have imagined.
"SCRIPTURES SUPPORTING CONSPIRACIES OF DEMONIC FORCES/SATAN"
* "False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect" (Matt. 24:24). Satan has such unbelievable persuasive power he will make you think up is down, good is bad, and white is black.
**,"But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even deny the Master who bought them, and will bring swift destruction on themselves" (2 Pet. 2:1). Peter is talking about Armageddon.
*** "Now the Spirit explicitly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and the teaching of demons" (1 Tim. 4:1). Satan will have a heyday in the last days deceiving people.
**** "For false messiahs and false prophets will rise up and will perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect" (Mark 13:22). One day Satan may perform a miracle before your eyes, and you may say, "I saw with my own eyes a glorious sign and wonder. No one could do this but God." You'd better get a lock on the Word of God. Don't bring your intellect or intuition to this matter. Bring the Word of God.
***** "For this reason God sends them a strong delusion so that they will believe what is false" (2 Thess. 2:11). The demon forces of this world will work with Satan's new religion of neopaganism, which is the amalgamation of the corrupt sons of old Adam. And they will come together with demonic power to deceive the nations of the world.
"DETERMINED PEOPLE THAT PLOT ARMAGEDDON"
Who will come against the Lord ? Revelation 17:12 - 14 says, "The 10 horns (symbols of power) you saw are the 10 kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they will receive authority as kings with the beast (the Antichrist) for one hour. These have one purpose, and they give their power and authority to the beast. These will makie war against the Lamb (battle of Armageddon), but the Lamb will conquer them because He is Lord of lords and King of kings. Those with Him are called chosen, and faithful.
The phrase "one hour" doesn't mean sixty minutes. Instead, it means the same kind of hour to which Jesus referred when He said to His mother, "My hour has not yet come" (John 2:4). He meant His special time.
Who are "these" to whom Revelation 17 refers? They form a confederacy of ten kings or kingdoms that will be seduced by the beast and come against Christ at Armageddon. They have one mind and will give their power and strength to the beast. Why will they do that ? Because they will be drunk with the pride and power of the mighty beast.
"DEVILISH PRIDE THAT PRECIPITATES ARMAGEDDON"
In the book of Revelation the devil is called the dragon, and his ambition has always been to be like the Most High. In the great tribulation he gains this worship. Revelation 13:4 - 6 says, "They worshiped the dragon because he gave authority to the beast. And they worshiped the beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to wage war against him ? A mouth was given to him to speak boasts and blasphemies against God: to blaspheme His name and His dwelling - those who dwell in heaven."
In essence, the dragon (the devil) says to the Antichrist, "I will pour my power into you if you get the world to worship me." Do you see how arrogant he is ? The beast will be an incredible orator. He will have such persuasion that little children will speak his name with reverence, men will gladly die for him, and women will worship his shrine.
The forty-two months are three and half years, which form the second half of the great tribulation. At this point the beast will give the ultimate blasphemy. During the first part of the tribulation, he will carefully gathering strength and unifying the world. When the temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, his golden moment will arrive, and he will strided into the temple saying, "You built this temple in anticipation of worshipping God. Do you want to see God? I am God." He will declare himself to be God.
The scales will be removed fromm the eyes of the Jews, and they will wake up and say, "You two-legged devil; you are not God." They will see the arrogant pride that made Lucifer the devil. Notice Revelation 13:7: "And he was permitted to wage war against the saints and to conquer them. He was also given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation." Why would he make war with the saints? Because they will no longer worship him. Daniel prophesied it, and Jesus talked about it:
"So when you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those in Judea must flee to the mountains! A man on the housetop must not come down to get things out of his house. And a man in the field must not go back to get his clothes. Woe to pregnant women and nursing mothers in those days! Pray that your escape may not be in winter or on a Sabbath. For at that time there will be great tribulation, the kind that hasn't taken place from the beginning of the world until now and never will again! " (Matt. 24:15 - 21.
The honeymoon will be over when this happens. No longer will the sons and daughter of Abraham be deceived. Satan's pide will be wounded, and his rage will intensify. He will say, "I am going to solve this problem once and for all." Armageddon will be his vengeance on those who have refused to bow and worship him.
"DEVASTATING PLAGUES THAT PRECEDE ARMAGEDDON"
Revelation 16:8 - 11 says, "The fourth poured out his bowl on the sun. He was given the power to burn people with fire, and people were burned by intense heat. So they blasphemed the name of God, who had the power over these plagues, and they did not repent and give Him glory. The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was plunged into darkness. People gnawed their tongues because of their pain and blasphemed God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, yet they did not repent of their actions."
The party is over. The kingdom of the beast is unraveling before his eyes. Everything is going upside down. The beast who was sitting on the throne learns that he cannot control the forces of nature. Revelation 18:8 says, "For this reason her (Babylon the Great) plagues will come in one day - death and grief and famine. She will be burned up with fire, because the Lord God who judges her is mighty."
If you say that a calamity is a judgment of God, people will get angry with you. They don't like the idea of a God of judgment. If the Supreme Court of the United States could vote on it, they would outlaw hell as cruel and unusual punishment. Proverbs 28:5 says, "Evil men do not understand justice, but those who seek the Lord understand everything.
Do you think pain and judgment and plagues will bring people to God ? It will not. Do you think they are crying for mercy in hell ? No/ Do you know what they are doing in hell ? They are cursing God. They are gnashing their teeth against God. They hate God. In perpetuity they will hate God. If the love of God does not bring you to your knees, His punishment will not accomplish it either. Punishment is coming because God is righteous and just. The same sun that melts the ice hardens the clay. These hearts will be hardened.
"DIVINE POWER THAT PREVAILS AT ARMAGEDDON"
Revelation 19:11 says:
Then I saw heaven opened, and there was a white horse. Its rider is called Faithful and True, and He judges and makes war in righteousness. His eyes were like fiery flame, and many crowns wereon His head. He had a name written that no one knows except Himself. He wore a robe stained with blood, and His name is the Word of God. The armies that were in heaven followed Him on white horses, wearing pure white linen. A sharp sword came from His mouth, so that He might strike the nations with it. He will shepherd them with an iron scepter. He will also trample the winepress of the fierce anger of God, the Almighty. And He has a name written on His robe and on His thigh:KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Here is the scene that will prevail at the battle of Armageddon. The Antichrist will be gnawing his tongue and blaspheming God because his pride will be wounded and his power challenged. The demonic spirits will organize a confederacy of ten nations that will move against Jerusalem once and for all to solve the "Jewish problem." In the great valley of Jezreel. between these mountains, this confederacy will get ready to move against Jerusalem with their tanks, guns, napalm, lasers, jets, rockets, poisonous gas, and whatever else is in the mind of this insane. It is going to look dark.
"AN INVASION FROM OUTER SPACE?"
Here comes Jesus riding a snow-white horse (A symbol of a conquering general). He is followed by wave after wave of armies - not dressed in battle fatiques or carrying weapons but robed in white (the righteousness of saints). In His mouth will be a sharp two edged sword (the Word of God) to strike the nations. The Antichrist may have all of his weapons of war, but 2 Corinthians 10:4 sayts, "The weapons of our warfare are not worldly, but are powerful through God for the demolitions of strongholds."
All Jesus has to do is speak, and the battle is won. Have you ever thought of the power of the voice of our Lord? He spoke, and the universe came into existence. Hebrews11:3 says, "By faith we understand that the universe was created by God's command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible." He spoke everything in existence. What power resides in His Word!
The disciples were with Jesus in a boat when a storm arose on the Sea of Galilee. What was Jesus doing ? He was asleep ! Matthew 8:25 - 27 tells us what happened: "The disciples came and woke Him up, saying, ":Lord, save us! We're going to die !' But He said to them, 'Why are you fearful, you of little faith?' Then He got up and rebuked the winds and the sea. And there was great calm. The men were amazed and said, 'What kind of man is this? - even the winds and the sea obey Him!'"
Jesus spoke, and that raging sea became as calm as a millpond on a moonlight night. Those waves lay down at His feet like whipped puppies.
THE NIGHT BEFORE JESUS WAS CRUCIFIED"
The night before Jesus was crucified, He went to the Garden of Gethsemane with His disciples to pray. Within a few hours Judas arrived with a band of chief priests, officers, and Pharisees. Here is what happebed next, according to John's gospel: "Then Jesus, knowing everything that is about to happen to Him, went out and said to them, "Who is it you're looking for ?' 'Jesus the Nazarene, ' they answered. 'I am He,' Jesus told them. Judas, who betrayed Him, was also standing with them. When He told them, 'I am He, ' they stepped back and fell to the ground (John 18:4 - 6).
Jesus literally used the word "I AM," which is one of the most holy words for God in the Bible. This band of men collapsed from the sound of His voice. Would they have stayed on the ground? Absolutely. But Jesus allowed them to get up because He knew His capture by these men was part of His Father's plan.
When Jesus comes in power and great glory at the battle of Armageddon, how will the battle be won? Not by guns or weapons but by the sword that goes out of His mouth. The One who spoke this army into existence will speak them into oblivion. What is the lesson for us today ? Never be at war with God. A preacher once said: "Your arms are too short to box with God." Soon 777 will take care of 666, and the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord and His Christ.
Are you truly at peace with God, or are you at war with God ? Paul said, "For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross -- whether things on earth or things in heaven. Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds bercause of your evil actions. But now He has reconciled you" (Col. 1:19 - 22). You can sign a peace treaty with the Prince of Peace if you say yes to Calvary..
THE FINAL JUDGMENT OF THE UNSAVED DEAD
On the day of the final judgment, the unsaved dead will rise from their graves to stand and be judged before Almighty God. All that men have dreamed, schemed, and sold their souls for will turn to rust, dust, mold, and corruption. John described that day:
Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them. I also saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books. Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead; all were judged according to their works. Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire. (Rev. 20:11 - 15).
We come now to the great white throne judgment, where God settles the score and once and for all adjudicates the world with righteousness and justice. We learn four things from this day of holy judgment.
THE FEARFUL SETTING DESCRIBED
Notice the setting of this judgment in Revelation 20:11: "Then I saw a great white throne and One seated on it. Earth and heaven fled from His presence, and no place was found for them." The white throne is called "great" because of its awsome power and ultimate purpose, which is judgment. It is called "white" because of its unsullied purity.
The earth and heaven will flee. Everything we have known and depended on will be gone. There will be no place to run and no place to hide. Adam and Eve raninto the trees to hide themselves from the presence of the Lord, but there will be nowhere to hide when the unsaved stand before the Lord on judgment day.
Perhaps you have heard someone pray: "Lord grant that some day we might stand before Thy great white throne." Please don't pray that prayer for me, and don't pray it for yourself. Those who stand before the great white throne will stand to be judged by the Lord Jesus Christ. John 5:22 says, "The Father, in fact, judges no one but has given all judgment to the Son." Jesus Christ is not only Savior, but He is also Judge. The Lamb will become the Lion.
You are going to meet Jesus Christ. Every person who has ever lived is going to meet Jesus Christ. He is inescapable and unavoidable. And if you don't meet Him as Savior, you will meet Him as Judge. It doesn't matter how you treated Him when you were alive. In fact, you may have ignored Him, denied Him, and even cursed Him, but one day you will stand before Him.
How will you meet Him ?
"WHAT WILL IT BE LIKE TO MEET HIM FACE TO FACE"
What will it be like to meet Him face to face ? We were introduced to the Judge in Revelation 1:13 - 16: "And among the lampstands was the One like the Son of Man, dressed in a long robe and with a gold sash wrapped around His chest. His head and hair were white like wool - white as snow - and His eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and HIs voice like the sound of cascading waters. HJe had seven stars in His right hand; a sharp two-edged sword came from His mouth; and His face was shining like the sun at midday.
Jesus will be wearing the regal robes of a king and judge, and His white hair will speak of His unsullied purity. His eyes will be like a falme of fire, which tell us that He sees all and knows all. Hebrews 4:13 says, "No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account." He cannot be deceived. He cannot be disputed. He cannot be discredited. The Bible says His feet will be like bronze, which is a symbol of judgment. His voice will be like the sound of cascading waters. Can you imagine talking back to Niagara Falls? Judgment day will be a fearful setting !!
"THE FORCEFULL SUMMONS DELIVERED" 'THE PEOPLE WHO ARE CALLED '
Notice the people who are brought before the great white throne of judgment - the dead, the small, and the great. Revelation 20:12 says, "I also saw the dead, the great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books."
People from five categories of life will be there. See if you are in any of these categories.
1. Out-and-out sinners. These are the ones who hate God and His church. They boldly, braggingly, brazenly shake their fists in the face of Almighty God and say, "If there is a God, You are not big enough to make me serve You." They have denied Him and unrepentant.
2. Self-righteous people. These people think they are too good to be damned. They think the gospel is for the drunkard, murderer, pervert, harlot, child abuser, or blasphemer. They are nice people who live in nice homes and have nice manners. They are members of the PTA, give money to worthy causes, help the poor, teach the illiterate to read, volunteer at the local soup kitchen, and perhaps attend church every now and then.
3. Procrastinators. This group intended to be saved. They knew they were sinners. They weren't antagonistic to beh gospel, but they just never got around to giving their hearts to Jesus. Do you fit in this category? Proverbs 27:1 says"Don't boast about tomorrow, for you don't know what a day might bring.
If you are prcrastinating, in the name of Jesus, do not put away this day of salvation. Second Corinthians 6:2 says , "Look, now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation." Psalm 95:7 - 8 says, "Today, if you hear His voice: Do not harden your hearts.
Can you feel your heartbeat? That small beat is all that is between you and hell. Someone has called the heartbeat of an unsaved person "a muffled drum beating a funeral march to the grave." Your heart will stop beating one day; and when it does, if you don't know Jesus, you are going to hell. You may respond, "You are trying to frighten me." I would to God I could ! I would rather frighten you into heaven than lull you into hell.
4. Unsaved church members. These people are religious, but they have not crowned Jesus as Lord of their lives. They are not anti-God; they have simply been deceived. Somehow they are counting on their church attendance, service to the church, tithes, baptism, or the faith of their family to be saved. But religion never saved anybody. Jesus saves. It will be a great day when people stop enduring relgion and start enjoying salvation.
The devil would just as soon send you to hell from the pew as from the gutter. Many people are going to hell surrounded by baptismal certificates, receipts for tithes and offerings, and Sunday School attendance pins. That's the reason the Bible says, "Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine youselves to see if you are in the faith. Examine yourselves. Or do youselves not recognize that Jesus Christ is in you ? - unless you fail the test" (2 Cor. 13:5).
Are you a Christian? You are not being asked if you know the plan of salvation. You are not being asked if yiou are religious. You are not being asked if you are Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Church of Christ, or Pentecostal. You are being asked if you know that your are truly saved. Are you ?
5. Those wh have never heard the gospel. Some people may say, "Wait a minute. If a person has never heard the gospel, how can he be condemned?" He may not have enough light to save him, but he has enough sin to condemn him. Romans 3:23 says, "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."
The judgment, however, will not be as severe for those who have never heard as it will be for those who stubbornly refused the gospel.
If anyone hears the gospel and willfully and knowingly refuses the Lord Jesus Christ, he will stand before the great white throne in judgment. When Jesus sent out the disciples to preach the good news, He said, "If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, shake the dust off your feet when you leave that house or town. It will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town" (Matt. 10:14 - 15).
Those who have heard, yet did not repent and believe, may stand before Christ and plead for mercy, saying they didn't have a chance. But God will say, "Angel bring Exhibit A." What is this? It will be the dust on the shoes of the man or woman who shared the gospel with you. You had your opportunity.
Some people have never heard the gospel of Jesus Christ. God deals with them in a unique way. There will be degrees of judgment. Hell will not be the same for everybody. How is this known? Read Luke 12:47 - 48: "And that slave who knew his master's will and didn't prepare himself or do it will be severely beaten. But the one who did not know (he did not have the light) and did things deserving of blows (he sinned) will be beaten lightly. Much will be required of everyone who has been given much. And even more will be expected of the one who has been entrusted with more.
"THE PLACES FROM WHICH THEY ARE CALLED"
Revelation 20:13 says, "Then the sea gave up its dead, and Death and Hades gave up their dead." Death and Hades will deliver up the dead people who are in them. Earth will open its graves to give up the dead. Out of tombs the dead will rise. The depths of the sea will heave its bosom and swell to give up the dead. From the Artic waste they will come; from the desert sands they will come; from the tropical jungle they will come. Wherever people have died, they will be raised.
We need to understand at this point that Death has the body but Hades has the soul. When a child of God dies, he or she goes immediately to paradise. "So, we are always confident and know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord" (2 Cor. 5:6). Jesus said to the thief on the cross who repented and believed, "I assure you: Today you will be with Me in paradise" (Luke 23:43).
When a person dies without Jesus Christ as his Savior, his soul goes immediately to Hades. He will not be judged at that moment. In Luke 16, Christ gives us a picture of this when He describes what happened to the rich man and the beggar man named Lazarus who both died. The "And bering in torment in Hades, he (rich man) looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side. "Father Abraham!" he called out, "Have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this flame !" (Luke 16:23 - 24). In this passage the Greek word hades is different from the word that is translated "lake of fire." Hades is more like a jail where the indicted criminal is retained until judgment. The lake of fire is the penitentiary.
"THE POWER WITH WHICH THEY ARE CALLED"
Sometimes when a judge issues a summons, the criminal refuses to come. He may disguise himself, flee to another country seeking asylum, or he may even commit suicide to keep from coming to judgment. But on this judgment day, there will be no refusal and no escape. The resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees the judgment of the unsaved dead. Acts 17:31 says, "Because He has set a day on which He is going to judge the world in righteousness by the Man He has appointed. He has provided proof of this to everyone by raising Him from the dead." This man whom God has ordained is Jesus Christ. And He has been raised from the dead.
Jesus Christ walked out of the grave. You can't hold court if the judge is dead or the defendant is dead. The God who raised Jesus from the dead is the God who will raise the unsaved dead. No person will be able to pull the dirt over his face and hide from God. A forceful summons is coming.
"THE FATAL SECRETS DISPLAYED"
At this judgment there will come an indictment. Read Revelation 20:12: "I also saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened, which is the book of life, and the dead were judged according to their works by what was written in the books."
Did you know that God has your life recorded in His booki? Not a thing about your life has escaped His knowledge. And one of these days you will face His accounting of your life. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says "For God will bring every act to judgment, including every hidden thing, whether good or evil." Romans 2:16 says, "On the day when God judges what people have kept secret, according to my gospel through Christ Jesus."
God knows the secret things in your life that nobody else knows. If there were a glass window on our hearts, most of us would want that to a stained glass window with a heavy glaze on it. A preacher once said, "It never bothers me when anybody says something about me. I just say, "Thank God, they don't know any more.'"
On the day of judgment people will have to account for every careless word they speak. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned" (Matt. 12:36 - 37). God's candid camera is moving. God's recorder is playing.
Have you ever taken God's name in vain ? Maybe you've forgotten it, but God hasn't forgotten. You say, "I didn't mean anthing by it." Then you are twice condemned that you could take His name in vain and not mean anything by it. God says, "You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain" (Exod. 20:7).
Luke 12:2 says, "There ius nothing covered that won't be uncovered, nothing hidden that won't be made known." On judgment day skeletons will come out of closets. And things that your mother didn't know, your father didn't know, your wife didn't know, your husband didn't know, your child didn't know will be shouted from the rooftop. Think about it.
"THE FINAL SENTENCE DETERMINED"
*The Sureness of the Judgment
Revelation 20:14 - 15 says, "Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire," No one will be able to bribe the judge. No shrewd lawyer will be able to put a spin on your case. Romans 14:11 - 12 says, "For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee will bow to Me, and every tongue will give praise to God. So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God." God swears by Himself that judgment is coming.
**The Severity of the Judgment
God will judge according to our works, not according to His grace or mercy. If you want grace, you may have it. If you want mercy, you may have it. But you must have it in this day and in this life. You will not have it then.
Don't get the idea that you are going to throw youself on the mercy of the court on judgment day. There is no room for mercy in the courtroom of God on judgment day. Romans 10:13 says, "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."
"EVERY TRIAL HAS THREE PARTS"
Every trilal has three parts. First the evidence is presented. The books are opened. Everything will be known - every idles word, thought and deed. Every dishonest thing you did, every nickel you stole from you mother's dresser, every gray hair you gave your father, every winkle you pinched into the brow of your wife - all this evidence will be known. And not only will this evidence be things you have said, done, or thought; but these will be things you have left unsaid, unthought, and undone, James 4:17 says, "So it is a sin for the person who knows to do what is good and doesn't do it.
You will have an opportunity to make your defense. What will you say ? People can be heard saying, "Wait a minute LORD, don't judge my sin. I didn't know which church to join. There was a Baptist Church, a Methodist Church, a Presbyterian Church, a Church of God, a Church of Christ, a Church of God in Christ, an Episcopalian Church, a Catholic Church, and a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." God will respond, "I didn't say believe on the church. I said believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
And you might say, "Wait a minute, God. I didn't respond to your call to be saved because I didn't want to be like those hypocrites in the church. And I wasn't going to call myself a Christian in front of other people and not be able to live like one." God will respond, "I didn't say believe on yourself. I said believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.
What defense will you give if you are not saved? What can you possibly say in defense of your trampling beneath your feet the precious blood of the Lord Jesus and despising His spirit of grace ? What can you say on that judgment day when you know that you rejected His outstretched nail-pierced hands and His voice that invited you: "Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light" (Matt. 11:28 - 30)?
"THE VERDICT OF THE COURT"
Finally, the verdict of the court is handed down. The brokenhearted Judge will say, "But whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father in heaven" (Matt. 10:33). Jesus also said: "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord!' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, "Lord, Lord, didn't we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name ? Then I will announce to them, 'I never knew you ! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!"' (Matt. 7:21 - 23).
If you are not saved, your soul will drop down into hello at that moment. "And anyone not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire" (Rev. 20:15). You may say, "I don't believe in it. Either the Bible is true, or it is not true. There is a lake of liquid fire, and the sadness of it is this: You don't have to go.
C.S. Lewis said that everybody in the world is in two categories. One group is like Satan. They say to God the Father, "Not Your will, but mine is done." The second group is like God the Son. They say to God the Father, "Not my will, but Thine be done." Those in the first category will have lived a self-concerned, self-controlled life, and they will drop into hell as a brokenhearted God will say, "Not My will, but thine be done." God doesn't want you to go to hell.
Someone asked a preacher, "Do you really believe in hell ? If so, tell me where it is." The wise pastor said, "Hell is at the end of a Christless life." If you die outside the Lord, you will come to a judgment, and then you will know the Bible is indeed true.
Will you stand before the Great White Throne ? You can settle out of court. Jesus is your Savior when He died on the cross in agony and blood, and with His blood He paid the debt of your sin. Roman 8:33 - 34 says, "Who can bring an accusation againt God's elect ? God is the One who justifies. Who is the one who condemns ? Christ Jesus is the One who died, but even more, has been raised; He also is at the right hand of God and intercedes for us." Isn't that wonderful? Your sin can be buried in the grave of God's forgetfulness, never to be brought up against you again.
"THE GOLDEN AGE"
Did you know that a day is coming when the Garden of Eden will be restored? The prophet Isaiah explains what that mean: "The wilderness and the dry land will be glad; the desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose. It will blossom abundantly and will also rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon. They will see the glory of the LORD, the splendor of our God" (Isa. 35:1 - 2.
Can you imagine what the Garden of Eden must have been like?
Imagine a time when there will be no more poverty and every person will have all that his heart desires. Imagine that and more. There will be no prisons, no hospitals, no mental institutions, no army bases, no gambling dens, and no houses of prostitution. The bloom of youth will be on everyone's cheek. The wolf and the lamb, the calf and the lion, and the little child and the serpent will all play together. The implements of war will be relics of the past. Israel will be restored to her land. Jerusalem will be the world's capital. The resurrected saints will rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. The desert will blossom like a rose, and the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as waters covers the sea.
The glory of the Lord will be called the Golden Age (or millennium of Christ's reign on earth). The word Millennium means "one thousand years.." Mille means "thousand''; annum means "year." Just look at all the references to this thousand - year period in Revelation 20: The latter part of verse 2 says, "And bound him a thousand years." The middle part of verse 3 says, "Till the thousand years were finished." The last part of verse 4 says, "They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years." The first part of verse 5 says, "But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished." The second half of verse 6 says, "But they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." Verse 7 says, "Now when the thousand years have expired, Satan will be released from his prison" (Rev. 20:2 - 7).
Theologians are divided on whether there will be a thousand year Golden Age. There are basically three interpretations about the millennium: amillennialism, postmillennialism, and premillennialism. An amillennialist believes there will be a literal millennium. If you put the alpha prefix in front of a word, it simply negates the meaning of the word. For instance, the word "amuse" means "not to think." If you want to think, you go to a museum.
Amillenniialists interpret Revelation's prophecies about the millennium as pure symbolism. They do not look for a literal fulfillment of the Golden Age. Also, amillennialists take all the promises given by God to Israel in the Old Testament and apply them to the New Testament church. Generally, moderate theologians hold this view.
Next is the postmillennialist view. The prefix post means "after." These theologians believe Jesus is coming after the thousand years of peace on earth. The Golden Age to the postmillennialist is the age when the church fulfills its God given mandate to evangelize the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
There aren't many postmillenialist around todayt because their theory that the world is getting better and better is rapidly being disproved by the reality that our world is going deeper and deeper into sin (which is what the Bible teaches). If you are a postmillennialist, you do not believe in the imminent return of Jesus. Instead, you believe you need to wait a thousand years for Jesus to come again.
The premillennialist believes Jesus must come before the church can enjoy a thousand years of peace on earth. We believe Jesus will come in power and great glory and He will rule and reign from Jerusalem. We also believe God will give His nation Israel a second chance to repent and rise to politcal greatness. In this day and age, the premillennialist's goal is to prepare people for the second coming of Jesus Christ by preaching His glorious saving gospel.
"THE FOUR BASIC THINGS ABOUT THE GOLDEN AGE"
1 - "THE FORCEFUL RESTRAINT O. F SATAN"
John has a revelation: "Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven with the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan, and bound him for 1,000 years. He threw him into the abyss, closed it, and put a seal on it so that he would no longer deceive the nations until the 1,000 years were completed. After that, he must be released for a short time" (Rev. 20:1 - 3).
Where is Satan today? First Peter 5:8 says, "Be serious! Be alert ! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour." Today Satan is roaming the earth to find people he can deceive and destroy. How are you living, knowing he is on the loose ? Hopefully, you are living in a sober and vigilant spirit - just like you would be living if a real lion were on the loose in your neighborhood !
According to God's Word in Revelation 20, a time is coming when this roaring lion will be chained and cast into prison. The court will meet. The final gavel will fall. And the arch criminal, Satan, will be pronounced gulty for murder and every other conceivable evil committed in this world. And he will receive the longest prison sentence in history - one thousand years.
How do we know the judgment of the court? Because God's Word tells as that "the dragon, the ancient serpent who is the Devil and Satan" (Rev. 20:2) is evil incarnate. First, he will be sentenced for murder. He brings spiritual, physical, and eternal death to youth, hjappiness, purity, and holiness. When talking to unbelievers, Jesus said "You are of your father the Devil, and you want to carry out your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks from his own nature, becsause he is a liar and the father of liars" (John 8:44).
He will also be sentenced for being a thief. Since his fall from heaven, he has robbed men and women, boys and girls of joy, contentment, and peace in his mission to bring despair and discouragement. Jesus said, "A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy" (John 10:10).
The judge will also hand down a thousand year sentence for the crime of extortion. He has deceived the minds of millions with his false advertising of fulfillment and prosperity. Why do you think the Bible refers to him as a serpent? The word serpent in the Bible speaks of deception. Revelation 12:9 says, "So the great dragon was thrown out - the ancient serpent, who is called the Devil and Satan, the one who deceive the whole world. He was thrown to earth, and his angels with him."
Can there be any more crimes with which to charge the devil ? Yes ! Slander, Libel. Defamation of character. Blasphemy. The word devil means "accuser." God's Word calls him the "accuser of our brothers": "Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: The salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah have now come, because the accuser of our brothers has been thrown out: the one who accuses them before our God day and night'" (Rev. 12:10).
The final charge (if there can be just one final indictment) would be for high treason. Revelation 20:2 calls him Satan, and the word Satan means "adversary." Satan is charged with high treason against heaven's King. Behind every child molestation, rape, pillage, arson, hatefulness, and hellishness is Satan. He is an accomplice to every crime against God, and he is now judged guilty and cast into prison.
Actually, God's Word calls this prison a bottomless pit. That will not be Satan's final destination; it will be a holding tank until he is finally cast into the liquid lake of fire. In chapter 4, we learned that Satan was the original holder of that key. Do you remember that? In Revelation 9, we learned that Satan will open the bottomless pit and loose a demon horde upon the earth.
Isaiah 14:12 - 17 gives us a brief overview of Satan's biography and a prophecy of his end in the bottomless pit:
"Shining morning star, how you have fallen from the heavens ! You destroyer of nations, you have been cut down to the ground. You said to yourself: "I will ascend to the heavens; I will set up my throne above the stars of God. I will sit on the mount of the gods' assembly, in the remotest parts of the North. I will ascend above the highest clouds; I will make myself like the Most High." But you will be brought down to Sheol into the deepest regions of the Pit. Those who see you will stare at you: they will look closely at you: "Is this the man who turned the world into a wilderness, who destroyed its cities and would not release the prisoners to return home?"
Satan's arrogant desire to rise to the heavens to be like God will ultimately cause him to descend to the lowest part of creation. People will stare and say, "You mean that is Satan? That worm ? That is the one who wanted to exalt himself above God?" Yes, Satan may be loose on the earth today, but one day we will see his forceful restraint.
"THE FUTURE REIGN OF THE SAVIOR"
REVELATION 20:4 - 6
Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw the people who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of God's word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the 1,000 years were completed. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and the Messiah, and they reign with Him for 1,000 years.
After the great tribulation and the battle of Armageddon, Jesus Christ will literally reign on earth for a thousand years, and the saints will reign and ruile with Him. How do I know that ? Because Jesus taught us to pray: "Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" (Matt. 6:10). Has His will be done on earth as it is in heaven ? No. Will it be ? Yes, when He returns for His millennial reign.
"THE CHANGES THAT WILL TAKE PLACE"
When Jesus returns to rule and reign, many glorious, global, miraculous changes will take place.
The human kingdom will change. Isaiah, the prince of the Prophets, prophesied:
"In the last days the mountain of the Lord's house will be established at the top of the mountains and will be raised above the hills. All nations will stream to it, and many people will come and say, 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to th4e house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us about His ways so that we mayu walk in His paths.' For instruction will go out to Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He will settle disputes among the nations and provide arbitration for many people. They will turn their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will not take up the sword against other nations, and they will never again train for war (Isa. 2:2 - 4)."
The animal kingdom will change. Once again Isaiah propohesied: "The wolf will live with the lamb, and the leopard will lie down with the goat. The calf, the young lion, and the fatling will be together, and a child will lead them. The cow and the bear will graze, their young ones will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. An infant will play beside the cobra's pit, and a toddler will put his hand into a snake's den. None will harm or destrouy another on My entire holy mountain, for the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water" (Isa. 11:6 - 9).
The plant and mineral kingdoms will change. About the King's reign, Isaiah said, "The wilderness and the dry land will be glad; the desert will rejoice and blossom like a rose" (Isa. 35:1). The Sahara Desert will be a veritable garden abloom with every imaginable flowering plant.
"THE FIRST RESURRECTION"
Revelation 20 tells us there will be a first resurrection. This is not a general resurrection, as some believe. "Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection" (v. 6). What is the first resurrection? The Bibler givers the analogy that the first resurrection is like a harvest, which has three general aspects.
The "firstfruits". In the Old Testament, when the harvest ripened, the priest went into the field and gathered a sheath of first-ripened grain. Then he took that sheath into the temple and waved it before the Lord. It was called a wave offering. He would say something like: "Thank you, Lord, for this sheath of wheat, for we believe it is a promise of the harvest to come."
In the New Testament, Christ is called the firstfruits. First Corinthians 15:20 - 23 says, "But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man. For just as in Adam all die, so also inm Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at His coming, those who belong to Christ."
When Jesus arose from the grave, He became the firstfruits. His resurrection demonstrated that a harvest would come. As a matter of fact, Matthew tells us that when Jesus breathed His last on the cross and the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom, "the tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And the came out of the tombs after His resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many" (Matt. 27:52 - 53). These saints were also considered part of the firstfruits in the first resurrection.
"THE GENERAL HARVEST"
When Christ comes again, He will rapture the church. This is considered the general ingathering of the harvest. First Thessalonians tells us: "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel's voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord inm the air and so we will always be with the Lord" (1 Thess. 4:16 - 17).
The third phase of the harvest is the gleaning, which will be the resurrection of the tribulation saints - many of whom will be beheaded for Christ. These are the ones referred to in Revelation 20:4: "Then I saw thrones, and people seated on them who were given authority to judge. I also saw people who had been beheaded because of their testimonyi about Jesus and bercause of God's word, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and who had not accepted the mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with the Messiah for 1,000 years.
"THE RULERS WITH CHRIST"
Other than the Lord Jesus, who will rule during the millennium? Not angels. There is a world to come, but the angels are not in charge of it. Hebrews 2:5 tells us, "He has not subjected to angels the world to come that we are talking about."
Paul sai9d, "Don't you know that the saints will judge the world? Anmd if the world is judged by you, are you unworthy to judge the smallest cases? Don't you know that we will judge angels - not to mention ordinary matters ?" (1 Cor. 6:2 - 3). This passage not only has application in the reign and rule of Christ and His saints during the Golden Age, but it also has application for us today. If the church will have the future responsibility of judging angels, doesn't it make sense that we can resolve problems in the church today ?
Romans 16:20 promises: "The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet." Won't it be a wonderful day when the criminals is in prison. Israel is back in her land, the bride is with the Bridegroom, and the King is on His throne? That willo indeed be the Golden Age.
"THE FINAL REBELLION OF SINNERS"
Just when we think we have it made with Satan bound in the bottomless pit, he comes forth again. But it is not a jailbreak. He is released. God, who is always sovereign, allows Satan to have one final fling. Why? It is God's final test of mankind. Revelation 20:7 - 9 says "When the 1,000 years are completed, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations at the four corners of the earth. Gog and Magog, to gather them for battle. Their number is like the sand of the sea. They came up over the surface of the earth and surround the encampment of the saints, the beloved city of Jerusalem. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them".
You may ask at this point, "Won't everyone be saved during the millennium?" No. During the Golden Age, Jesus will rule the nations with a rod of iron, but something will happen. Hearts will turn, but it will not be because Satan will lead a rebellious uprising. But latent in the human heart, men will covet sin that has not been washed by the precious blood of the Lord.
People will have children during the millennium. And when they have children, many of these children will not repent and believe on Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. God has millions of children, but He has no grandchildren. Just because one generation is Christian doesn't mean the next generation will be.
When God lets Satan out of the bottomless pit, He is demonstrating to the world two great principles.
"TWO GREAT PRINCIPLES"
MAN'S SOLUTION IS NOT THE FINAL ANSWER. Punishment is not the answer. When God relases him, Satan will have been in the prison doing hard time for one thousand years. In His divine wisdom God knows that punishment is not the answer. Prisons are necessary, but they are not the final answer.
Changing the environment is not the answer. Many people think if you can change the environment, you can change the nature of man. Do you really believe that? If you do, let me tell you something. Man got into trouble in the first place in the Garden of Eden. Where will you find a more perfect environment that the Garden of Eden? Make your environment as good as you can, but after one thousand years of peace and righteousness, there will always be sin in the human heart.
The criminologist and his prisons are not the answer. The sociologist and his programs are not the answer. The educator and his philosophies will not solve the problem of sin. The statesman and his politics are not our hope either. Only Jesus is the answer.
ONLY JESUS IS THE ANSWER. Years ago excavators oopened the tomb of one of the Egyptians pharaohs who had been dead for thousands of years. Inside the tomb they found some wheat and decided to conduct an esperiment.
They put those grains of wheat into the right environment with moisture and warm sun, and those grains of wheat that had been lying there for thousands of years began to sprout ! Isn't that amazing? Thousands of years.
That is the way it is with sin in the human heart. Our salvation is never from within us because we have only the seeds of sin in our hearts. Our salvation can come only from without. "For God who said, 'Let light shine out of darkness' has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of God's glory in the face of Jesus Christ. Now we have this treasure of clay jars, so that extraordinary power may be from God and not from us (2 Cor. 4:6 - 7).
There is only one answer to sin, and it is the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. John 14:6 says, "Jesus told him, 'I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'"
"THE FIXED RESOLUTION OF SIN"
Many people may be asking at this point: "Can we ever say goodbye to sin?" Here is the answer: "They came up over the surface of the earth and surrounded the encampment of the saints, the beloved city. Then fire came down from heaven and consumed them. The devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and false prophet are, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever" (Rev. 20:9 - 10).
God lets Satan loose only for a season. Then God will end Satan's reign of terror by ultimately casting him and his demonic rebels into an eternal lake of fire. Jesus said that the everlasting fire is "prepared for the Devil and his angels" (Matt. 25:41). With compassion in my heart for your eternal destiny, let me say that if you reject Christ and follow Satan, the eternal lake of fire waits for you. Why follower a loser?
First Corinthians 15:24 - 25 says, "Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when He abolishes all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He puts all His enemies under His feet." What application can we make from this truth for our lives?
First, it should provide encouragement. The gospel has not failed. We are not postmillennialists who are trying to make the world better so Jesus can come. We are not rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. We are telling people about the lifeboat, whose name is Jesus.
Second, this truth brings anticipation. Jesus Christ can come at any moment. Jesus said, "This is whyt you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matt. 24:44). Over and over again the Bible tells us about the imminent return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Third, this truth puts our focus on evangelism. The great proof that you believe the words that has been written in this text but God's truth has taken root deep within your heart. Is there a passion in your heart to bring people to Jesus Christ so they might be saved? Do you have the heart of a soul winner? If not, ask God to give you one.
Finally, this truth challenges us to examine our lives. Do you know that you know that you are saved? Are you sure you are saved? You soul is too precious for you to play loosely with it. If you are not sure, there is good news - Jesus can save you today. There is nothing to buy, it is gift. There is nothing to earn: it is a gift. Ephesians 2:8 - 9 says, "For you are saved by grace through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is God's gift - not from works, so that no one can boast."
Grace is God reaching down to you and saying: "I love you. I sent My Son to die for you. I want to save you. Here is My hand of grace reaching down to you." Faith is your hand reaching back up to God. When you put your hand of faith in God's hand of grace, that is when you are saved.
Revelation 20 tells us that there will be a forceful restraint of Satan, a future reign of the Savior, a final rebellion of sinners, and a fixed resolution of sin. Are you ready for the future ?
"A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH HEAVEN"
Heaven is so much more than we can imagine. It is more than can be described in human terms - and certainly more than can be covered in one short chapter. It's like what happened when a woman visited Yosemite and asked one of the guides, "If you only had one hour to see Yosemite, what would you do?" The guide said, "Madam, if I had only one hour to see Yosemite, I would sit down on that rock and cry for an hour."
Has anyone ever made fun of you for believing in heaven? Perhaps they have said it is just "pie in the sky when you die." Some people sneer and say Christians are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good. I suggest that it is just the opposite more times than not. Many Christians are so earthly minded they are no good to heaven or earth.
We have much to learn about being heavenly minded. Colossians 3:1 - 2 says, "So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on earth." Jesus said, "Collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don't break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:20 - 21). God doesn't want your treasure. God doesn't need anything. Instead, God wants your heart.
John learned about that treasure in heaven when he received a guided tour from an angel. Let's eavesdrop on what he discovered: "Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: 'Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb.' He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God" (Rev. 21:9 - 10).
"THE GEOGRAPHY OF HEAVEN"
Heaven is a real place. Heaven is not some mysterious, atmospheric realm of smoke and mirrors. Jesus said, "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if not, I would have told you. I am going away to prepare a place for you. If I go away and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you to Myself, so that where I am you may be also" (John 14:2 - 3). Jesus did not say He was going to prepare a "state of mind."
Speaking of Abraham, the writer of Hebrews said, "By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God" (Heb. 11:10).
In addition to these things, we know heaven is a real place because the apostle Paul sojourned in heaven while he was still alive. This is the way he described it: "I know a man in Christ who was caught up into the third heaven 14 years ago. Whether he was in the body or out of the body, I don't know, God knows. I know this man - whether in the body or out of the body I don't know, God knows" (2 Cor. 12:2 - 3).
Paul said he was caught up to a third heaven, and he didn't know if he was in his body or his spirit. What does that tell you ? You can go to heaven in your spirit or you can go to heaven with a body. Jesus is in heaven right now in His resurrected body. And one day every child of God will also have a resurrected body. So there must be a place where our literal bodies will dwell for eternity in the presence of God. It is called heaven. And it is a real place. Actually, it is more real than the town where you live. And if you have loved ones who have gone before you into glory, you can expect to see them in a real place called heaven.
"A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH"
John said, "I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea no longer existed. I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:1 - 2).
Why did John see a "new" heaven and a "new" earth? Because this present earth and its atmosphere will be burned. Seocnd Peter 310 - 13 says:
"But the Day of the Lord will come like a thief; on that day the heavens will pass away with a loud nosie, the elements will burn and be dissolved, and the earth and the works on it will be disclosed. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, it is clear what sort of people you should be in holy conduct and godliness as you wait for and earnestly desire the coming of the day of God. The heavens will be on fire and be dissolved because of it, and the elements will melt with the heat. But based on His promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
God says that the earth is stored with fire. If you know much about the atomic nature of the universe, you know much about the atomic nature of the universe, you know that everything has molecular fire in it. The atmosphere is stored with fire. Paper is stored with fire. Clothes are stored with fire. Everything is packed with fire. Earth has a molten core much like the shell of an egg, packed with fire.
One of these days God will unleash the energy of the atom He holds together by His mighty power, and the atmospheric heavens and the earth will dissolve under great heat. But they will still remain. How can that be ? When God made the earth, He gave it eternality. What will happen is this: God will melt the heavens and earth and take that material to creat a new heaven and a new earth.
Think of this process as what happens to an old automobile when it goes to the junkyard. They compact it and put it in a furnace. Then from this recycled material comes a new automobile. Did you know that the new automobile you are driving could be part of an old automobile that has gone through the furnace?
In 2 Peter and Revelation, the Greek word for "new" is kainos. It is the same word used when Paul said, "Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come" (2 Cor. 5:17). I am the old made new. An old man did not evaporate and disappear, but he is transformed. My old nature has been purged by the blood of Jesus Christ, just as the old world and old heaven will be purged by fire and made new.
John said, "I also saw the Holy City, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared like a bride adorned for her husband" (Rev. 21:2). Is the Lord married to a city? No, let's illustrate. Normally when you talk of a city, you speak of the place or the people. But one may say, "Nashville is a beautiful city." In another context, it may be said, "Nashville is a friendly city." One time it is referencing a place, another time it is referencing about the people. that is what God is doing here in the book of Revelation.
"THE GOVERNMENT OF HEAVEN"
Heaven will be a majestic place because the king will rule there in majesty. In the Old Testament, God dwelt in a tabernacle, but now His dwelling place is with men. No longer do we pray, "Our Father in heaven" (Matt. 6:9). Instead, He is right here with us. Revelation 21:3 - 8 says,
Then I heard a loud voice from the throne: Look ! God's dwelling is with humanity, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. Death will no longer exist; grief, crying, and pain will exist no longer, because the previous things have passed away.
Then the One seated on the throne said, "Look ! I am makikng everything new." He also said, 'Write, because these words are faithful and true.' And He said to me, 'It is done! I am Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give water as a gift to the thirsty from the spring of life. The victor will inherit these things, and I will be his God, and he will be My son. But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars-their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."
"THE LORD WILL RULES IN MAJESTY"
When the Lord rules in majesty, there will be no more sorrow. No more tears, no more broken hearts, no more pain and no more heart-wrenching news.
A philosopher once said, "Man is the only creature that when he is born he can do nothing for himself except cry. We are born crying, we live crying, and we die crying." But a time is coming when God will turn every tear to a telescope, every hurt to a hallelujah, every Calvary to an Easter. There will be no more crying and no more dying. Thjere will be no more funerals and no more disease. These things will be gone.
Have you ever wondered why there will be no more sorrow? Because there will be no more sin. Revelation 21:27 says, "Nothing profane will ever enter it (the heavenly city): no one who does what is vile or false, but only those written in the Lamb's book of life." Sin is ultimately behind every sorrow, sickness, or pain. Don't misinterpret, that if you are sick, then you have unconfessed sin in your life. It may be true, or it may not be true. What is being said that we live in a world that has the curse of sin on it.
Whatever the experiences of pain, sorrows, tears, heart wrenching occasions, donit be bitter at God. Be bitter at Satan. Be a greater enemy of Satan because behind all the sickness, sorrow, pain, suffering, and death is sin.
THE GLORY OF HEAVEN
Revelation 21: 9 - 21 says: Then one of the seven angels, who had held the seven bowls filled with the seven last plagues, came and spoke with me: "Come, I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb." He then carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down from heaven from God, arrayed with God's glory. Her radiance was like a very precious stone, like a jasper stone, bright as crystal. The city had a massive high wall, with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates; the names of the 12 tribes of Israel's sons were inscribed on the gates. There were three gates on the east, three gates on the north, three gates on the south, and three gates on the west. The city wall had 12 foundations, and the 12 names of the Lamb's 12 apostles were on the foundations.
The one who spoke with me had a gold measuring rod to measure the city, its gates, and its wall. The city is laid out in a square; its length and width are trhe same. He measured the city with the rod at 12,000 stadia. Its length, width, and height are equal. Then he measured its wall, 144 cubits according to human measurement, which the angel used. The building material of its wall was jasper, and the city was pure gold like clear glass.
The foundations of the city wall were adorned with every kind of precious stone: the first foundation jasper, the second sapphire, thre third chalcedony, the fourth emerald, the fifth sardonyx, the sixth carnelian, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth chrysoprase, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The 12 gates are 12 pearls; each individual gate was made of a single pearl. The broad street of the city was pure gold, like transparent glass.
How does one describe the glory of heaven? It's impossible to do because of our limited understanding, but God goes through the lexicons of the world and takes the things we say are indescribably beautiful and uses them as symbolic prophecy of the greater glories of heaven.
"THE SOURCE OF THE CITY", "THE SIGHTS OF THE CITY" AND "THE SOUNDS OF THE CITY"
THE SOURCE OF THE CITY
The city will come down from God (Rev. 21: 9 - 10). If it is going to come down from God, the city is already in heaven. It is a place where, for example, the firstfruits of the resurrected dead are already present. Jesus said in John 14:2 that when He returned to the Father, He would prepare a place for His children. That place is now prepared in heaven.
THE SIGHTS OF THE CITY
There is no need for the sun, moon, and stars in the heavenly city because it shines with the glory of God. Imagine the brilliance and glow of the colored jewels of vibrant green, sky blue, crimson red, shining gold, deep violent, and more. The gold is so pure it is translucent.
The walls and gates in this city of gold are breathtakingly beautiful. "But why are there walls in the heavenly city? " you may ask. They are nopt there to keep us in because the gates are open. The walls are not there to keep the wicked out because they are in hell. The walls are for the glory of God. In a sense they are monumental walls engraved with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel and the twelve apostles (Rev. 21: 12 - 14). A time is coming when Jew and Gentile will be together. A time is coming when Jew and Gentile will be together. A time is coming when we will be one in the Lord Jesus Christ in a wonderful way.
THE SOUNDS OF THE CITY
If Jew and Gentile are together, what will be our song ? Revelation 15:3 says, "They sang the song of God's servant Moses and the song of the Lamb: Great and awe-inspiring are Your works, Lord God, The Almighty, righteous and true are Your ways, King of the Nations>" Our Jewish friends look to Moses, while Christians look to Jesus. But in heaven we will sing the song of redemption together.
Dr. R. G. Lee, former pastor of Bellevue Baptish Church, said. "Our best music here on earth will sound like a bumblebee in a bottle compared to the music that will be there. "Won't it be wonderful to praise the Lord forever and ever?
"THE SIZE OF THE CITY"
In Revelation 21:15 - 16 we learn that the city is foursquare and measures twelve thousand furlongs. Each furlong equals one-eighth of a mile, so the perimeter of New Jerusalem is fifteen hundred miles. Since Revelation tells us that the new Jerusalem is laid out like a square, then each side is approximately 375 miles long. So the New Jerusalem will have an area of about 140, 625 miles, or ninety million acres.
Another possibility is that each side of the city is approximately fifteen hundred miles long. You can be certain there will be sufficient space for all of the redeemed.
The foursquare is reminded of the holy of holies in the temple which measured twenty cubic square. The high priest did not need any more than that because when he went inside to worship the Lord and put the blood on the mercy seat, he was in there alone with God.
Have you ever heard someone say there won't be room in heaven for all the people who have ever lived? Now that yuou have a better picture of the area of new Jerusalem, you can see that the ground floor in heaven will have room for a hundred billion, and everybody will have his own ranch. Heaven will be a magnificently glorious place.
"THE SANCTUARY OF THE CITY"
The Old Testament temple was a prophetic picture of the Lord Jesus Christ. It had a gate; Jesus is the door (John 10:7 - 9). It had an altar; Jesus shed His blood for us. It had a laver; we are now cleansed by His Word (Rev. 1:5). It had a table with bread on it; Jesus is the bread of life (John 6:35). It had a golden lampstand; Jesus is the light of the world (JOhn 8:12). Incense was burned; Jesus is our high priest (Heb. 4:4 - 15). He is the temple. Remember, this book is about the revelation of Jesus Christ.
What will we do when we reach those gates of gold? The same thing we do when we come home from a long trip and walk through the front door. Often we head for our bride. She is the one I want to see. I am grateful for the streets of gold and walls of jasper, but Jesus makes heaven the place I long to be. It will be worth it all when we see Jesus !
"THE GODLINESS OF HEAVEN"
Revelation 21:24 - 27 says, "The nations will walk in the light, and the kings of the earth will bring their glory into it. Each day its gates will never close because it will never be night there. They will bring the glory and honor of the nations into it. Nothing profane will ever enter it: no one who does what is vile or false, but only those written in the Lamb's book of life.:"
Who is going to populate heaven ? Every little aborted baby, the saints of all the ages, and believers from from every nation in the world. But no one is going to be there above the age of acountability who has not received Jesus Christ as his or her personal Savior and Lord. The old song says, "Everybody talking about heaven ain't going there." Heaven is a "made new," prepared place for a "made new," prepared people. Second Corinthians 5:17 says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away, and look, new things have come."
A man dreamed that he stood outside the gates of heaven and saw people trying to get inside. One man knocked at the gate, and a voice within asked, "Who seeks entrance into heaven?" And the man said, "I am a humanitarian," And the voice asked, "What is the password?" He replied, "The password is charity." The voice within said, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity; I never knew you."
Another man knocked. "Who seeks entrance into heaven?" He said, "I am a moral man." The voice asked, "What is the password?" He replied, "It is honesty." The voice said, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity; I never knew you."
Another knock, and the voice asked, "Who seek entrance into heaven?" He said, "I am a religious man." And the voice asked again, "What is the password?" The man answered, "ritual." The voice within said, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity; I never knew you."
The last man stepped up to the gate and knocked. The voice within asked, "Who seek entrance into heaven and what is the password?" And the man said, "In my hand no ;price I bring, simply to Thy cross I cling." And the voice within said,"Open wide the gate and let him, for of such is the kingdom of heaven."
Have you ever honestly trusted Jesus? Have you come to Him all alone - not trusting in your humanitariansim, charity, religion, or church membership but trusting only in His shed blood?
"THE GLADNESS OF HEAVEN"
Revelation 22:1 - 5 says:
Then he showed me the river of living water, sparkling like crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the broad street of the cityt. The tree of life was on both sides of the river, bearing 12 kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and His slaves will serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. Night will no longer exist, and people will not need lamplight, because the Lord Godf will give them light. And they will reign forever and ever.
"HEAVEN, A PLACE OF SATISFACTION"
What are we going to see when we go down the main street of heaven? Satisfied people - because they are drinking from the crystal river symbolizing where our deepest needs will be met. Revelation 22:7 says, "Both the Spirit and the bride say, 'Come!' Anyone who hears should say, 'Come' And the one who is thirsty should come. Whoever desires should take the living water as a gift." Every God given thirst will be satisfied in heaven.
Heaven is no figment of the imagination; nor is it a feeling, a state of mind, or the invention of man. Heaven is a literal place prepared by Christ for a prepared people. In John chapter 14, Jesus Himself leaves His disciiples with this promise.
"In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, IAnd if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (v. 2 - 3).
It is interesting to note that the Greek term translated "place" in this passage is the word topos, which refers to a physical place.
From this promise we can have full confidence that heaven is real, physical place - a place where believers will one day reside with their Savior!
"HOW MANY HEAVENS ARE DESCRIBED IN THE BIBLE?"
The Bible speaks of three distinct heavens:
1. The first heaven is described in Isaiah 55:9 - 10 and is the atmosphere surrounding the earth - the domain of the clouds and birds (Genesis 1:20).
2. The second heaven is spoken of in Genesis 1:14 - 17 as the domain of the heavenly bodies: the sun, moon, stars, planets, and galaxies.
3. Paul described in his second letter to the Corinthian being "caught up to the third heaven," which is beyond the first and second heavens and is the dwelling place of God - where we will one day join Christ.
"WHERE IS THE EXACT LOCATION OF HEAVEN?"
We do not know precisely, but we know that it is "up." In Ephesians 4:10 Paul says that Christ "ascended far above the heavens," meaning heaven is above us. However, ":up" is a different locale depending on where you are located on the earth. Satan, addressing God, said, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north," which would indicate that heaven is located in the north (Isaiah 14:13). Even though we do not know the exact location, we know that it is a specific place being prepared for God's people.
Both the Old and New Testament depict heaven as place that is high, lofty, and lifted up. The Old Testament world heaven is "shamayim" - which means "the heights." And in the New Testament, the Greek word "ouranos" refers to heaven as that which is "raised up or loftyt."
"HEAVEN, A PLACE OF SUFFICIENCY"
Trees in heaven have ever ripening fruit "for healing the nations." The Greek word for "healing" is theupeia, which is the word from we get our English word "therapeutic." The glow of health will be on everyone in heaven.
"HEAVEN, A PLACE OF SERVICE"
Revelation 22:3 reminds us that "His slaves will serve Him." You will serve God as you have never served Him before. Who knows what God has for us to do when we get to heave?
"HEAVEN, A PLACE OF SIGHT"
Revelation 22:4 tells us that we will see the face of Jesus. Our Lord prayed, "Father, I desire those You have given Me to be with Me where I am. Then they may see My glory, which You have given Me because You loved Me before the world's foundation (John 17:24).
"WHAT IS THE LAMB'S BOOK OF LIFE, AND WILL MY NAME BE IN IT?"
The Bible says that in heaven, there is a book, or a registry, called the Lamb's Book of Life (Revelation 21:27). And the names of all whoi will be in heaven are recorded in that one book.
William R. Newell, a great Bible scholar, said there are four things to be noted about the Book of Life:
1. It is the absence of one's name in the book, not the absence of one's good works, which dooms a person.
2. Evil workis are not the issue. Many of earth's greatest sinners' names are recorded in the Book of Life because they accepted God's offer of salvation.
3. Those whose names do not appear in the Book are cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15).
4. All names found in the Book were written before the Judgment Day. There is no record of names being recorded (decisions being madeon that day.
We cannot earn our passage to heaven simply by being "a good person" or by living a "good" life. Utimately, we will not be granted entrance to heaven unless we repent of our sin and accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior - then we can have full confidence that our name is recorded in the Book of Life.
"IS IT POSSIBLE FOR A CHRISTIAN'S NAME TO BE 'BLOTTED OUT' OF THE BOOI OF LIFE?"
In order to understand how the Book of Life works, it may be necessary for us to better understand the Roman and Greek practices of the first century.
Cities in John's day had a registry which contained the names of every person who lived within the confines of that city. But if a person defiled his citizenship, he could be called before the tribunal, and his name would be removed fromm the registry - literally "blotted out" of the city book as a penalty for his actions. He would no longer be considered a citizen of that particular metropolis, and he would be consigned to either live in anonymity or move elsewhere.
With that concept in mind, the Book of Life is believed to be a book originally containing the names of every person born into this world. But if a person dies having rejected God's offer of salvation, his name is blotted out of the Lamb's Book of Life.
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." John 14:6
"DO OUR SOULS 'SLEEP' UNTIL THE RESURRECTION AT THE RAPTURE?"
When a believer dies, his body goes in the grave and "falls asleep." But his soul does not sleep, his soul goes to Paradise (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23; Luke 23:43).
In Scripture, "falling asleep" is a softened term for the believer's death. For instance, when Paul wrote to the Thessalonians believers, he said: "I do not want you to be ignorant, brethen, concerning those who have fallen asleep, like we fall asleep at night. He was describing the death of Christians.
In the New Testament, the Greek word translated "to fall asleep" is koimao, which means "to recline." This same word was also used to describe someone who slept in a hotel for one night and the next day would get up and continue his or her journey. This is a beautiful image of what happens to believers' bodies when they die. Their body goes to sleep, awaiting the resurrection at the Rapture - while their soul goes to be with our Lord in heaven.
...this is a beautiful image of what
happens to believers' bodies when
they die. Their body goes to sleep,
awaiting the resurrection.
"DOES A PERSON'S EARTHLY STATUS AS FAR AS POSSESSIONS OR WEALTH AFFECT HIS ETERNAL RESTING PLACE?"
While on earth, the rich man described in Luke chapter 16 was clothed in purple and fine linen, had many servants, and ate sumptuous meals (v. 19 - 31). In contrast, the poor man Lazarus was covered with sores, subsisted on crumbs, and had only dogs to care for him. What a contrast ! And yet in heaven, we learn that Lazarus went to Paradise, a place of comfort, while the rich man was sent to a place of misery. Only our spiritual status before God determines our eternal resting place.
"IS THERE AN INTERMEDIATE HEAVEN?"
The Bible teaches that every believer who died prior to the Ascension of Christ went to an intermediate heaven called Paradise (Abraham's bosom; Luke 16:19 - 23).
But when Jesus ascended after His death, He went into Paradise and took all who were there - all the Old Testament saints, all who had died and believed in God before the Ascension - with Him to the third heaven (Ephesian 4:8 - 10).
This means that believers no longer go to the intermediate heaven upon death. The soul and spirit of today's believers go immediately to the third heaven, because Paradise is no longer an intermediate place; Paradise is now with God (2 Corinthians 12:2 - 4).
"IS THERE AN INTERMEDIATE HELL? WHAT ABOUT PURGATORY?"
Yes - there is an intermediate hell. When an unbeliever dies, his body goes into the grave and his spirit and soul go to Hades.
Revelation 20 tells us that "Death and Hades delivered up the dead" (v. 11 - 15). This passage indicates that Hades remains sn intermediate hell until the Great White Throne Judgment - when "Death and Hades (will be) cast into the lake of fire" - the permanent hell.
But Hades is not a place of decision. There is no such place as purgatory. The Bible teaches that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment" (Hebrew 9:27).
In Luke 16:26, Abraham describes a "great gulf fixed" between Hades and Paradise, "so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us."This passage illustrates the permanence of the gulf between heaven and hell. We won't be able to "cross" from one side to the other. Whatever decisions we make about eternity will be made in this life.
NEXT WEEK: "WHEN BELIEVERS DIE, HOW DO THEIR SOULS GET TO HEAVEN?" and "WHY DO ANGELS CARRY BELIEVERS TO HEAVEN?"
1 Make a joyful noise unto God, all ye lands:
2 Sing forth the honour of his name: make his praise glorious.
3 Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves unto thee.
4 All the earth shall worship thee, and shall sing unto thee; they shall sing to thy name. Selah.
5 Come and see the works of God: he is terrible in his doing toward the children of men.
6 He turned the sea into dry land: they went through the flood on foot: there did we rejoice in him.
7 He ruleth by his power for ever; his eyes behold the nations: let not the rebellious exalt themselves. Selah.
8 O bless our God, ye people, and make the voice of his praise to be heard:
9 Which holdeth our soul in life, and suffereth not our feet to be moved.
10 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried.
11 Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins.
12 Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place.
13 I will go into thy house with burnt offerings: I will pay thee my vows,
14 Which my lips have uttered, and my mouth hath spoken, when I was in trouble.
15 I will offer unto thee burnt sacrifices of fatlings, with the incense of rams; I will offer bullocks with goats. Selah.
16 Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what he hath done for my soul.
17 I cried unto him with my mouth, and he was extolled with my tongue.
18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:
19 But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer.
20 Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me.
1 God be merciful unto us, and bless us; and cause his face to shine upon us; Selah.
2 That thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving health among all nations.
3 Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
4 O let the nations be glad and sing for joy: for thou shalt judge the people righteously, and govern the nations upon earth. Selah.
5 Let the people praise thee, O God; let all the people praise thee.
6 Then shall the earth yield her increase; and God, even our own God, shall bless us.
7 God shall bless us; and all the ends of the earth shall fear him.
1 Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered: let them also that hate him flee before him.
2 As smoke is driven away, so drive them away: as wax melteth before the fire, so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.
3 But let the righteous be glad; let them rejoice before God: yea, let them exceedingly rejoice.
4 Sing unto God, sing praises to his name: extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him.
5 A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation.
6 God setteth the solitary in families: he bringeth out those which are bound with chains: but the rebellious dwell in a dry land.
7 O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; Selah:
8 The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God: even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.
9 Thou, O God, didst send a plentiful rain, whereby thou didst confirm thine inheritance, when it was weary.
10 Thy congregation hath dwelt therein: thou, O God, hast prepared of thy goodness for the poor.
11 The Lord gave the word: great was the company of those that published it.
12 Kings of armies did flee apace: and she that tarried at home divided the spoil.
13 Though ye have lien among the pots, yet shall ye be as the wings of a dove covered with silver, and her feathers with yellow gold.
14 When the Almighty scattered kings in it, it was white as snow in Salmon.
15 The hill of God is as the hill of Bashan; an high hill as the hill of Bashan.
16 Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it for ever.
17 The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels: the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.
18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
19 Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah.
20 He that is our God is the God of salvation; and unto GOD the Lord belong the issues from death.
21 But God shall wound the head of his enemies, and the hairy scalp of such an one as goeth on still in his trespasses.
22 The Lord said, I will bring again from Bashan, I will bring my people again from the depths of the sea:
23 That thy foot may be dipped in the blood of thine enemies, and the tongue of thy dogs in the same.
24 They have seen thy goings, O God; even the goings of my God, my King, in the sanctuary.
25 The singers went before, the players on instruments followed after; among them were the damsels playing with timbrels.
26 Bless ye God in the congregations, even the Lord, from the fountain of Israel.
27 There is little Benjamin with their ruler, the princes of Judah and their council, the princes of Zebulun, and the princes of Naphtali.
28 Thy God hath commanded thy strength: strengthen, O God, that which thou hast wrought for us.
29 Because of thy temple at Jerusalem shall kings bring presents unto thee.
30 Rebuke the company of spearmen, the multitude of the bulls, with the calves of the people, till every one submit himself with pieces of silver: scatter thou the people that delight in war.
31 Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.
32 Sing unto God, ye kingdoms of the earth; O sing praises unto the Lord; Selah:
33 To him that rideth upon the heavens of heavens, which were of old; lo, he doth send out his voice, and that a mighty voice.
34 Ascribe ye strength unto God: his excellency is over Israel, and his strength is in the clouds.
35 O God, thou art terrible out of thy holy places: the God of Israel is he that giveth strength and power unto his people. Blessed be God.
1 Save me, O God; for the waters are come in unto my soul.
2 I sink in deep mire, where there is no standing: I am come into deep waters, where the floods overflow me.
3 I am weary of my crying: my throat is dried: mine eyes fail while I wait for my God.
4 They that hate me without a cause are more than the hairs of mine head: they that would destroy me, being mine enemies wrongfully, are mighty: then I restored that which I took not away.
5 O God, thou knowest my foolishness; and my sins are not hid from thee.
6 Let not them that wait on thee, O Lord GOD of hosts, be ashamed for my sake: let not those that seek thee be confounded for my sake, O God of Israel.
7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; shame hath covered my face.
8 I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and an alien unto my mother's children.
9 For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.
10 When I wept, and chastened my soul with fasting, that was to my reproach.
11 I made sackcloth also my garment; and I became a proverb to them.
12 They that sit in the gate speak against me; and I was the song of the drunkards.
13 But as for me, my prayer is unto thee, O LORD, in an acceptable time: O God, in the multitude of thy mercy hear me, in the truth of thy salvation.
14 Deliver me out of the mire, and let me not sink: let me be delivered from them that hate me, and out of the deep waters.
15 Let not the waterflood overflow me, neither let the deep swallow me up, and let not the pit shut her mouth upon me.
16 Hear me, O LORD; for thy lovingkindness is good: turn unto me according to the multitude of thy tender mercies.
17 And hide not thy face from thy servant; for I am in trouble: hear me speedily.
18 Draw nigh unto my soul, and redeem it: deliver me because of mine enemies.
19 Thou hast known my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonour: mine adversaries are all before thee.
20 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none.
21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.
22 Let their table become a snare before them: and that which should have been for their welfare, let it become a trap.
23 Let their eyes be darkened, that they see not; and make their loins continually to shake.
24 Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.
25 Let their habitation be desolate; and let none dwell in their tents.
26 For they persecute him whom thou hast smitten; and they talk to the grief of those whom thou hast wounded.
27 Add iniquity unto their iniquity: and let them not come into thy righteousness.
28 Let them be blotted out of the book of the living, and not be written with the righteous.
29 But I am poor and sorrowful: let thy salvation, O God, set me up on high.
30 I will praise the name of God with a song, and will magnify him with thanksgiving.
31 This also shall please the LORD better than an ox or bullock that hath horns and hoofs.
32 The humble shall see this, and be glad: and your heart shall live that seek God.
33 For the LORD heareth the poor, and despiseth not his prisoners.
34 Let the heaven and earth praise him, the seas, and every thing that moveth therein.
35 For God will save Zion, and will build the cities of Judah: that they may dwell there, and have it in possession.
36 The seed also of his servants shall inherit it: and they that love his name shall dwell therein.