My Passion

Several trends are apparent in many of our churches. A quick perusal of materials for studying Scripture reveals a tendency to focus upon either theological knowledge or spirituality while slighting the other.[1]

God created us to love him with all our hearts, souls, and minds and then to express that love with action (Matt 22:37–40; James 1:22–25; James 2:17–18). I designed this site to deliver rich theological insight and to help us put that information into practice.

Furthermore, people often study the Bible without examining its literary and cultural context. As a result, a large gap has emerged between the academic world of theologians and the sphere of the typical church member.

I desire to build a bridge between those two worlds. Consequently, I cite commentaries with the highest reviews from Bible scholars as well as academic journals.[2]  Yet, I present their conclusions in language which many lay people can understand.

By utilizing methods similar to scientific techniques, I investigate how the original recipients of the Bible would have understood what they were reading through the lenses of their Ancient Near Eastern, Jewish, and Greco-Roman cultures.

As a result, many passages in the Old and New Testaments which seem mystifying to us suddenly become clear.

You can follow my posts either directly through this site or via the Redemptive History page of Facebook.

As you explore the wonders of God’s Word, my hope and prayer is that you will grow to love Jesus more and more, for he is “the author and perfecter of our faith” (Heb 12:2).

Background image via Wikimedia Commons

 

[1]Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, S. Steve Kang, and Gary A. Parrett, A Many Colored Kingdom: Multicultural Dynamics for Spiritual Formation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2004), 36.

[2]John Dyer, “Best Commentaries: Reviews and Ratings of Biblical, Theological, and Practical Christian Works,” http://bestcommentaries.com/.

Restoration Complete in the CSER Structure

 

restoration complete cser (3)

 

This occurs after a one thousand-year period described in Rev 20:1–6. Overall, Rev 20–22 portrays the fulfillment of Isa 65:16–66:2.

 

25) Rev 21:1–5: The Apostle John presented this passage as a chiasm, placing the emphasis on verses 2–4:

a      new heaven and the new earth (v. 1a)

b    first earth, heaven, and sea passed away (v. 1b)

c      the sea no longer exists (v. 1b)

d    the new Jerusalem descends from heaven (v. 2)

d´   God dwells with his people (vv. 3–4a)

c´    death no longer exists (v. 4b)

b´   first things passed away (v. 4b)

a´    God makes everything new (v. 5a)[1]

Within the book of Revelation, the sea represents evil, rebellion, idolatry, and the abode of the dead (Rev 13:1–8; Rev 20:11–15). John was not referring to a literal ocean.[2]

 

a) What did John see? How does the absence of the sea signify the end of pain, mourning, and death? What will God do?

 

 

 

[Related posts include God Curses the Serpent (Gen 3:14); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); Satan Vanquished (Rom 16:20); and Victory over Death (1 Cor 15:53–55)]

 

b) Rev 21:6–8: Alpha and Omega represent the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Most likely, this phrase consists of a merism, in which God is all in all: the first, the last, and everything in between (Cf. Gen 1:1–2; John 1:1–3).[3]

According to Plato (427–347 BC), “God…holdeth the beginning, the end, and the center of all things that exist.”[4]

This points to the Lord as eternal and the source of all things (Phil 2:9–11; Eph 1:8b–10).[5]

How does knowing that God is the Alpha and the Omega impact you? What does he promise to those who hold firm in faith? What awaits those who persist in sin and unbelief?

 

 

 

[Related posts include In the Beginning of God’s Creating (Gen 1:1–2); In the Beginning Was the Word (John 1:1–2); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11); and The Summing up of All Things (Eph 1:9–11)]

 

c) Rev 21:22–26: Why won’t there be a temple in the new Jerusalem, nor a sun, nor a moon? What will those who enter bring into the city?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Let There Be Light (Gen 1:3–5); The Light Shines in Darkness (John 1:3–5); and The New Holy City (Rev 21:10–11)]

 

d) Rev 21:27: Who will be refused entry to the new Jerusalem?

 

 

e) Rev 22:1–2: How do this river and the trees evoke images of Eden (Cf. Gen 2:9–10) and fulfill Ezekiel’s vision of the end-time temple in Ezek 47:1–12?[6]

 

 

 

[Related posts include A Well-Watered Garden (Gen 2:8–14); A Return to Paradise (Rev 22:1–5, 20); and Set Free from the Slavery of Corruption (Rom 8:21–22)]

 

f) Rev 22:3–7: In ancient Israel, the high priest wore a gold flower across his forehead engraved with the words “Holy to the Lord.” This symbolized that God set him apart and graciously forgave him (Exod 28:36–8).[7]

 

What is the significance of all of God’s people having his name written upon our foreheads?

 

 

 

26) 1 John 3:1–2: When at last our hope of seeing Jesus face-to-face has been fulfilled, the “now and not yet” state in which we now exist shall have ended, and our exaltation with Christ shall begin (Rom 8:16–23).[8]

Anthony A. Hoekema describes it well:

In the life to come we shall see the image of God not only in its perfection but also in its completion. All of God’s people, from every age and every place, resurrected and glorified, will then be present on the new earth, with all the God-reflecting gifts that have been given them.

And all of these gifts, now completely purged of sin and imperfection, will be used by [humanity] for the first time in a perfect way. Then, throughout eternity, God will be glorified by the worship, service, and praise of his image-bearers in a…totally flawless reflection of his own marvelous virtues. And the purpose for which he created mankind will have been accomplished.[9]

a) Read 1 John 3:1–2. What is our hope?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include Made in the Image of God (Gen 1:26 cont.); and Stewards of the Earth (Gen 1:26 cont.)]

 

b) Conclude by reading 1 John 3:3. How do we who long to see Jesus conduct ourselves?

 

 

 

 

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

[Click here to return to CSER Table of Contents; or to begin Redemptive History: Gen 1–3 or Gen 4–11]

 

[1]David E. Aune, Revelation 17–22 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 1998), 1113–4.

[2]G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI; Carlisle, Cumbria: W.B. Eerdmans; Paternoster Press, 1999), 1041–2.

[3]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1126.

[4]Plato, “Laws,” in Plato in Twelve Volumes, Vol. 10. Translated by R. G. Bury. (LCL; Cambridge; London: Harvard University Press; William Heinemann, 1967), 4.715e, 293, https://archive.org/stream/b2900049x_0010#page/292/mode/2up.

[5]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 385.

[6] Craig S. Keener, Revelation, NIVAC (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1999), 499–500.

[7] John I. Durham, Exodus (WBC; Dallas: Word, 1998), 388–9.

[8] I. Howard Marshall, The Epistles of John (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1978), 172.

[9] Hoekema, Created in God’s Image, 101.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Exile in the CSER Structure Part 1

7) Daniel 2:31–45: Assyria took the northern kingdom of Israel into captivity in 722 BC (2 Ki 17:6–18). Approximately 150 years later, Babylon overthrew the southern kingdom of Judah in 586 BC (2 Ki 25:1–12).[1] However, Dan 1:1–3 indicates that the Babylonians captured Daniel in the first wave of Judean exiles deported to Babylon in 605 BC (2 Ki 24:1–4).[2]

Babylon (the head of gold) fell to Cyrus in 539 BC, inaugurating the Medo-Persian Empire (the breast and arms of silver) (Dan 5:30–31).[3] Alexander the Great extended the rule of Greece (the belly and thighs of bronze) from Egypt to Persia in a three-year campaign (334–331 BC).[4] That kingdom remained in power until the second century BC, when Rome (the mixture of iron and clay) assumed control of the entire region.[5] By the end of the 5th century AD, the Roman Empire came to an end.[6]

a) Read Dan 2:31–45. What did Daniel write about the kingdom of God?

 

 

 

b) Jer 31:31–34: This is the only place in the Old Testament (OT) where the term “new covenant” appears,[7] although allusions to this concept do appear elsewhere (e.g. Hos 2:18–23; Isa 55:1–11; Isa 61).

Who is included in the new covenant? How has this been fulfilled? What is still to come?

 

 

 

c) Ezek 36:22–28: The priest Ezekiel served as a prophet in Babylon during the exile (Ezek 1:3).

When would the nations know that God is the Lord? What does receiving a new heart and the presence of the Holy Spirit enable us to do?

 

 

d) Ezek 37:1–14: In Hebrew, the same word (ruakh) can be translated as, “wind,” breath,” and “Spirit.”[8] Consequently, this passage alludes to how the Lord animated Adam in Gen 2:7.

What did God promise? How did this vision picture what the Lord does in the lives of his people?

 

 

e) Dan 7:9–14: This passage occurs immediately after Dan 7:1–8 described the four kingdoms as various devouring beasts arising from the sea. For people living in the Ancient Near East, the sea represented chaos.[9]

In contrast to the creatures came one “like a Son of Man” to rule over those monstrous animals. While “son of God” in the OT often referred to all of Israel (Deut 14:1), after the Hebrew Bible was written, the term shifted to depict a holy and pure person of God, the ideal Israelite of the end time (Matt 5:9; Rom 8:12–19).[10]

According to the Psalms of Solomon, which were penned during the middle of the first century BC,[11] “[God] will gather a holy people whom he will lead in righteousness…And he will no longer permit injustice to dwell among them, and no person who sees wickedness will dwell with them. For he will know them, because all of them are sons of God.”[12]

Read Dan 7:9–14. In contrast to the phrase “son of God,” which referred to a perfect Israelite, when Jesus used the term “Son of Man” for himself, what was he claiming?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7); Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11); and Lord of the Sabbath (Matt 12:1–8)]

 

8) Neh 9:32–37: Levites led Israel in this prayer soon after Ezra read the Mosaic law at a public ceremony in Jerusalem in 445 BC (Neh 8:1–3, 18).[13] This occurred almost one hundred years after the proclamation on the Cyrus Cylinder allowed those held captive in Babylon to return to their homelands (2 Chr 36:22–23; Ezra 9:5–7).[14]

With the exception of the short-lived Hasmonean Dynasty (153–37 BC), from the time when Assyria overran the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC and Babylon overthrew the southern kingdom of Judah in 586BC, Israel never knew freedom from subservience to foreign powers until 1948.[15]

Read Neh 9:32–37. How does this prayer describe the people of Israel?

 

 

 

 

Go to Intertestamental History

Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

[Click here to return to CSER Table of Contents]

 

[1] Peter Machinist, “Palestine, Administration of,” ABD 5:69–81, 69.

[2]Tremper Longman III, Daniel (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 43.

[3] Jean-Claude Margueron, “Babylon (Place),” ABD 1:563–5, 563.

[4] John McRay, “Greece (Place),” ABD 2:1092–8, 1097.

[5] D. F. Watson, “Roman Empire,” DNTB 975–8, 975.

[6] Wells, Colin M., “Roman Empire,” ABD 5:802–6, 802.

[7]J. A. Thompson, The Book of Jeremiah (NICOT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1980), 579.

[8] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “רוּחַ” (ruakh), BDB, 924, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/924/mode/2up.

[9]Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Dan 7:3.

[10]Brendan Byrne, “Sons of God,” ABD 6:156–9, 157.

[11]Daniel Falk, “Psalms of Solomon,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (ed. D. A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid; Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001), 35–51, 35–6.

[12]Brannan et al., LES, Psalms of Solomon, 17:26–7, http://www.mycrandall.ca/courses/newtestament/hebrews/PrimReadPsSol.htm.

[13] Ralph W. Klein, “Ezra–Nehemiah, Books of,” ABD 2:731–42, 736.

[14] Matthews, Chavalas, and Walton, IVPBBCOT, Ezra 1:1.

[15]H. G. M. Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah (WBC; Dallas: Word, 1998), 318.

Intertestamental History

Between Two Testaments (2)

9) A great upheaval occurred in Israel during the Intertestamental Period, the time between when the final book of the Hebrew Bible was written (ca. 450 BC) and the birth of Christ (ca. 6–4 BC). After the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC, Greek-speaking kings known as the Seleucids took control of Palestine until 64 BC.[1]

The priestly line of Zadok remained in control from David’s reign (ca. 1005–965 BC) until the rule of Antiochus IV.[2]

Antiochus, who called himself “manifest [as a god]” (Epiphanes) usurped the Seleucid throne in 175 BC and ruled until 164 BC. Due to his tyrannical unpredictability, his detractors called himEpimanes,” which means “utterly mad.”[3]

A year after taking the throne, Antiochus IV sold the office of high priest to the highest bidder with a pro-Greek orientation,[4] first to the high priest’s brother and then to men with no relation to the office.[5] These included Menelaus, whom a Jewish historical book called “a cruel tyrant” (2 Maccabees 4:7–25).

After insurrectionists deposed Menelaus, Antiochus besieged Jerusalem and looted the temple (2 Macc 5:11–22). The king then forbade the observance of the Mosaic law, including circumcision and keeping the Sabbath. As a final insult, he desecrated the temple by sacrificing a pig to Zeus on the altar (2 Macc 6).

Refusing to participate in a pagan sacrifice, a warrior named Matthias and his five sons led the Maccabean Rebellion. This lasted seven years (167–160 BC), culminating in a declaration of peace from the king which Roman ambassadors confirmed (2 Macc 11:27–35).

The Festival of Dedication (Hanukkah) commemorates the re-consecration of the temple and its altar during this period (1 Macc 4:28–60; b. Shabbat 21b).[6] A few years later, the king’s successor, Antiochus V, reconquered Israel but permitted religious freedom.[7]

After years of military engagement and negotiations with Rome, Simon Maccabee established the independent Hasmonean Dynasty in 142 BC. Only two years later, he added the office of the high priest to his civil rule. Thus, the high priesthood accrued unprecedented power, becoming a highly-politicized office with both religious and civil authority.[8]

During this period, major parties and sects developed within Judaism.[9] Citizens concerned by the concentration of power asked the Roman general Pompey for help in 63 BC. Pompey responded by taking control, imposing Roman tribute, and enslaving many Israelites.[10]

After a brief revival of the Hasmonean Dynasty (40 BC),[11] Herod the Great (37–4BC) put an end to decades of civil warfare with the aid of Rome.[12]

He aligned himself with the aristocratic Jewish party called the Sadducees.[13] The Sadducees remained in control of the temple in Jerusalem until the Roman army destroyed it in 70 AD.[14]

Meanwhile, the Essene community condemned the Sadducees’ corruption and claimed that only their sect in Qumran upheld biblical tradition (1QH4).[15]

During this era the family of Annas attained prominence. Annas received his appointment as high priest in 6 AD, then his son-in-law Caiaphas (18–36 AD) began ruling three years after a Roman official deposed him. Overall, five of Annas’ sons held the office of high priest.[16]

In contrast to the Sadducees, in approximately 150 BC, the Pharisees created a lay movement which developed the view that members of God’s covenant people could be identified by their adherence to the Mishnah. This commentary on the five books attributed to Moses formed a hedge around the Mosaic law (m. Avot 1:1),[17] in violation of Deut 4:1–2 and Deut 12:32.

For example, the Mishnah contains twenty four chapters dedicated to Sabbath regulations alone (m. Shabbat).

An easy example to remember consists of the Jewish prohibition upon eating a cheeseburger, which derives from the command, “You shall not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk (Exod 23:19).

Although the Pharisees did not descend from a priestly lineage, the members of this sect strictly maintained the Mishnah’s tradition of oral laws regarding purity, tithing, and the Sabbath intended for those serving in the temple.[18]

The Pharisees took great care to separate from the impure “people of the land” who failed to avoid contaminating themselves (Matt 9:10–11; Luke 7:36–39).[19]

They sought to practice Judaism in every area of life while remaining in their communities. Thus, they did not form an exclusive community, as the Essenes did in Qumran.[20]

However, like the Essenes, they believed the messiah would come to usher in the kingdom of God only when every Israelite fully obeyed all of the Mishnah’s interpretation of the law of Moses.[21]

Consequently, Jesus’s teachings and behavior enraged them (Cf. Matt 12:1–8; Mark 7:1–15). They concluded that Christ not only prevented Israel’s messiah from coming to rescue them, his popularity would result in more oppressive Roman domination (John 11:38–53).[22]

During this intertestamental era, which is also called the Second Temple period, the study of prophecies concerning the end times flourished. Religious Jews asserted that God already reigned as King.

Nevertheless, after centuries of foreign domination, they yearned for the coming of the messiah, the Lord’s anointed one who would save God’s people.[23]

They saw themselves as the persecuted elect, and ached for their vindication, when the Lord would judge the kingdoms of this world and reestablish paradise on earth.[24]

Image via Wikimedia Commons

Why did the Maccabees rebel? What scandals engulfed the office of the high priest? How would you characterize the Sadducees? Why did rabbis write the Mishnah? What were the Pharisees trying to accomplish? Why did Jesus infuriate them?

 

 

 

 

 

Go to Exile in the CSER Structure Part 2

 

[Click here to return to CSER Table of Contents]

 

[1] John Whitehorne, “Seleucus (Person),” ABD 5:1076–7, 1076.

[2] George W. Ramsey, “Zadok (Person),” ABD 6:1034–6, 1036.

[3]Polybius, Histories (trans. Evelyn S. Shuckburgh; London. New York: MacMillan, 1889), 26.1, 352, https://archive.org/stream/historiespolybi00hultgoog#page/n369/mode/2up.

[4] John Whitehorne, “Antiochus (Person),” ABD 1:269–72, 270.

[5] Uriel Rappaport, “Maccabean Revolt,” ABD 4:433–9, 434.

[6] James C. VanderKam, “Dedication, Feast of,” ABD 2:123–5, 123.

[7] Whitehorne, “Antiochus (Person),” ABD 1: 271.

[8]Uriel Rappaport, “Simon (Person),” ABD 2:28–29, 29.

[9]Joshua Schwartz, “Lessons from Inter-Communal Conflict During the Second Temple Period,” Jewish Political Studies Review 12, no. 3–4 (9 January 2000): 39–52, 40–1, http://jcpa.org/wp-content/uploads/2000/10/lessons-from-inter-communal-conflict1.pdf.

[10] Rajak, “Hasmonean Dynasty,” ABD 3:67, 76.

[11] L. I. Levine, “Herod the Great,” ABD 3:161–9, 161.

[12] Rajak, “Hasmonean Dynasty,” ABD 3:67, 76.

[13] H. W. Basser, “Priests and Priesthood, Jewish,” DNTB 824–7, 825–6.

[14]Gary G. Porton, “Sadducees.,” ABD 5:894–5, 894.

[15] Lawrence H. Schiffman, “Zadokite Fragments (Damascus Document),” ABD 6:1037–8, 1037, https://archive.org/stream/pdfy-Uy_BZ_QGsaLiJ4Zs/The%20Dead%20Sea%20Scrolls%20%5BComplete%20English%20Translation%5D#page/n297/mode/2up.

[16] Bruce Chilton, “Caiaphas (Person),” ABD 1:803–6, 804.

[17] Stephen Westerholm, “Pharisees,” DJG 609–14, 609.

[18] Anthony J. Saldarini, “Pharisees.” ABD 5:289–303, 300.

[19] Anthony J. Saldarini, “Pharisees.” ABD 5:289–303, 300.

[20]Roland Deines, “The Pharisees Between ‘Judaisms’ and ‘Common Judaism’,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (ed. D. A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid; Tübingen; Grand Rapids: Mohr Siebeck; Baker Academic, 2001), 443–504, 498.

[21]Philip S. Alexander, “Torah and Salvation in Tannaitic Literature,” in Justification and Variegated Nomism, Vol. 1: The Complexities of Second Temple Judaism (ed. D. A. Carson, Peter T. O’Brien, and Mark A. Seifrid; Tübingen; Grand Rapids: Mohr Siebeck; Baker Academic, 2001), 35–51, 35–6.

[22] Marinus De Jonge, “Messiah,” ABD 783–8, 783.

[23] Burge, John, 71–2.

[24] Dennis C. Duling “Kingdom of God, Kingdom of Heaven: OT, Early Judaism, and Hellenistic Usage,” ABD 4:49–56, 51.

Exile in the CSER Structure Part 2

10) John 1:19–23: According to Mal 4:5, the prophet Elijah would return from heaven to precede the coming messiah at the end of the age (2 Ki 2:11–12).[1]

In response to questions by the Jewish leaders, John quoted a portion of Isa 40:1–5. That chapter of the Old Testament (OT) concerned God’s promise that he would bring Israel back from exile.

a) Why did John the Baptist’s assertion that he came to fulfill v. 3 of Isaiah’s prophecy indicate that Israel’s time of exile had not yet ended?

 

 

b) John 1:24–34: John the Baptist was born several months earlier than his cousin Jesus (Luke 1:24–27).

What is the significance of John’s description of Jesus?

 

 

[Related posts include In the Beginning Was the Word (John 1:1–2); The Firstborn of All Creation (Col 1:15–18); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); and Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7)]

 

11) John 8:12: In this verse, Jesus addressed those who gathered in Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:1–16).

This celebration commemorated Israel’s deliverance from Egypt (Lev 23:1–2, 39–44). The people also expressed their hope for a second exodus, when the pillar of fire would guide them to the promised land of the age to come (Cf. Exod 13:20–22).[2]

The Babylonian Talmud gives this depiction of the celebration:

At the conclusion of the first festival day of Tabernacles…they had made a great enactment. There were there golden candlesticks with four golden bowls on the top of each of them and four ladders to each, and four youths drawn from the priestly stock in whose hands were held jars of oil containing [almost ten gallons] which they poured into the bowls…

There was not a courtyard in Jerusalem that was not illuminated by the light…Men of piety and good deeds used to dance before them (b. Sukkah 51a 39–47).[3]

a) Read John 8:12. Why did Jesus describe himself as “the light of the world” during this festival? How is he similar to the pillar of fire for those who belong to him?

 

 

[Related posts are Ancient Literature; and The Light Shines in Darkness (John 1:3–5)]

 

b) John 8:23–30: Here Jesus continued his discourse during the Feast of Tabernacles. In v. 28, he said, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I AM” (Cf. Dan 7:13–14; Exod 3:14).

Here the word, “lift up” (hypsoō) merges two events: Christ’s crucifixion and his post-resurrection exaltation (John 3:14–16; John 12:32–34; John 17:1–5). Faith involves both believing that something is true and delivering our loyalty to the object of our belief.[4]

What would prevent the people from dying in their sins? Why can we trust what he says?

 

 

[A related post is Conversion of an Executioner (Matt 27:54)]

 

c) John 8:31–47: Why didn’t the Pharisees recognize that Jesus was speaking of what he had seen in his Father’s presence? How did Christ describe the devil? What event does this bring to your mind?

 

 

 

[Related posts are Serpents in the Ancient Near East (Gen 3:1); A World-Altering Conversation (Gen 3:2–5); The First Good News (Gen 3:15); A Murderer from the Beginning (John 8:42–44); Falling for Deception (2 Cor 11:3–4); and An Angel of Light (2 Cor 11:13–15)]

 

d) John 8:48–59: What astounding claim did Jesus make which incited the Pharisees to try to stone him for blasphemy (Cf. Gen 12:1–3; Exod 3:13–15)?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); Perishable Flesh and Blood (1 Cor 15:50); We Shall Be Changed (1 Cor 15:51–52); and Victory over Death (1 Cor 15:53–55)]

 

12) John 11:47–53: Immediately after Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the religious leaders met in Jerusalem. They discussed their concerns about the number of people who began to follow Christ as the messiah, fearing that Rome would step in to crush any sign of rebellion.

a) What did the high priest mean by saying, “It is advantageous for you that one man die for the people and not that the whole nation be destroyed.”? How did the Apostle John interpret and expand that prophetic statement?

 

 

 

[A related post is Betrayed (Luke 22:1–6)]

 

13) Mark 14:60–65: This occurred soon after the temple guards arrested Jesus. In response to Caiaphas asking whether he was the messiah, Christ quoted part of Dan 7:13–14.

a) Why did the high priest accuse Jesus of blasphemy?

 

 

[Related posts include In the Beginning Was the Word (John 1:1–2); Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7); Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); and The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11)]

 

b) Mark 15:1–14: What did Pilate recognize about Jesus’s accusers? Why didn’t he release Christ, even though he knew the arrest was unwarranted?

 

 

 

c) Mark 15:15–32: Scourging a convicted man with several leather straps to which sharp items had been attached was a standard practice prior to crucifixion.[5]

The Jewish historian Josephus (37–100 AD) described a man who was “whipped till his bones were laid bare.”[6]

As the most extreme form of execution, Roman officials reserved crucifixion for mutinous soldiers, conquered peoples, inhabitants of rebellious cities, and slaves.[7]

Typically pious women prepared a narcotic solution of myrrh and wine to relieve the sufferer’s pain (Prov 31:6–7). However, Jesus refused to drink it.[8]

Those who taunted Christ referred to his statement after he cleansed the temple of its desecration and to the many miracles he performed (John 2:18–22; Luke 7:18–23). [9]

Read Mark 15:15–32. What did those who mocked Jesus misunderstand about his suffering? How did these events fulfill Gen 3:15 and Ps 22:1–18?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include The First Good News (Gen 3:15); A Most Cruel and Ignominious Punishment (Matt 27:26–37); and Our Certificate of Debt (Col 2:13–14)]

 

d) Mark 15:33–41: In contrast to the Jewish meaning of a “son of God”—which denoted a person who kept the law of Moses perfectly—for Romans the term referred to a semi-divine hero or the son of a deity. Beginning with the reign of Augustus (27 BC–14AD), Roman emperors claimed this title for themselves.[10]

Who witnessed Jesus’s death? Why do you think his executioner recognized that “Truly, this man was the Son of God!”?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Forsaken (Matt 27:38–49); The Death of God (John 19:28–30); God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51); and Conversion of an Executioner (Matt 27:54)]

 

e) Mark 15:42–47: Tacitus, a 1st century AD Roman historian noted that officials refused burial to those they executed,[11] unless the condemned person received permission by a magistrate.

Thus, those crucified usually remained upon the cross to rot or to be eaten by birds and wild animals.[12]

Pilate was surprised because crucified people often languished for two or three days before death came.

By asking for the corpse of a person executed for treason, Joseph risked the same fate for himself. Yet, as a member of the council which had asked Pilate to execute Jesus, this threat was likely reduced.[13]

In addition to seeking to honor Christ, Joseph acted in light of Deut 21:22–23.

Read Mark 15:42–47. Why do you think Pilate granted Joseph’s request? How did Joseph’s actions exalt the Lord?

 

 

 

 

Go to Resurrection/Restoration Begins in the CSER Structure

 Image via Wikimedia Commons

 

[Click here to return to CSER Table of Contents]

 

[1] Burge, John, 72.

[2] Beasley-Murray, 127–8.

[3]Talmudist, “English Babylonian Talmud,” in English Babylonian Talmud, https://archive.org/stream/babyloniantalmud07unknuoft#page/n181/mode/2up.

[4]Matthew W. Bates, Salvation by Allegiance Alone: Rethinking Faith, Works, and the Gospel of Jesus the King (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2017), 95–6.

[5]Craig A. Evans, Mark 8:27–16:20 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 2001), 483–4.

[6] Josephus, The Wars of the Jews, 6.5.3, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.01.0148%3Abook%3D6%3Awhiston+chapter%3D5%3Awhiston+section%3D3.

[7] O’Collins, “Crucifixion,” ABD 1:1207–10, 1207–8.

[8] Keener, IVPBBCNT, Mark 15:23.

[9] Beasley-Murray, John, 39.

[10] Keener, IVPBBCNT, Matt 27:54.

[11]Cornelius Tacitus, Annals, in Complete Works of Tacitus (ed. William Jackson Brodribb and Sara Bryant; trans. Alfred John Church; New York: Random House, 1942), 6.29, Http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/hopper/text?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.02.0078%3Abook%3D6%3Achapter%3D29.

[12]William L. Lane, The Gospel of Mark (NICNT; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974), 577–8.

[13]Garland, Luke, 597.

Resurrection/Restoration Begins in the CSER Structure

14) Luke 24:1–12: Why were the women who took spices to anoint Jesus’s body prevented from completing their mission?

 

 

b) Luke 24:13–32: When some religious authorities confronted Christ early in his ministry, he asserted, “If you believed in Moses, you would believe in me, for about me he wrote” (John 5:46).

After his resurrection from the dead, Jesus encountered two of his followers as they traveled to Emmaus. Since his identity was hidden from them, they expressed their grief over his crucifixion.

“Jesus said to them, ‘You are such foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted by the prophets that the messiah would have to suffer all of these things before entering his time of glory?’

Then Jesus quoted passages from the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining what all of the Scriptures said about himself.”

 

Reflecting upon the earlier sections of this study, what do you think Jesus said to them? Imagine the act of breaking a piece of matzo in half. Why do you think these disciples finally recognized Christ?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Sin in the CSER StructureCovenant in the CSER Structure; and Exile in the CSER Structure Part 1; and Christ’s Resurrected Body (Luke 24:31, 35–44)]

 

b) John 20:19: This event occurred on the day of Christ’s resurrection.

Why were the disciples hiding?

 

 

c) John 20:20–23: In the opening of the book of Acts, Luke described his gospel as “about all which Jesus began to do and teach” (Acts 1:1). This implies that Acts depicts what Jesus continued to do through the Holy Spirit acting in human agents.[1]

At this point in John’s gospel, the disciples became the apostles: highly honored believers whom God sent as his envoys.[2] Apostolos derives from the verb meaning “to send” (apostellō).

As with the Hebrew word ruakh,[3] a single Greek word means “wind,” “breath,” and “spirit” (pneuma).[4]

Read John 20:20–23. How did Jesus commission the apostles to carry on his work? Compare this passage with the way God animated Adam in Gen 2:7.

 

 

 

[Related posts include In the Beginning of God’s Creating (Gen 1:1–2); and The Lord Breathes Life (Gen 2:7)]

 

15) 1 Cor 15:1–8: Years ago, my daughter and I were standing in our front yard. A group of teens came by, introduced themselves as from a local church, and asked if they could speak with us.

Curious about what my eight-year old would say, I asked them to direct their questions to her. One of them said, “If God were to ask you, ‘Why should I let you into My Heaven?’ what would you say?”[5]

She immediately responded, “Jesus died for me.” Speechless, after about a minute, they wished us a good evening and headed next door.

a) According to the Apostle Paul what are the core elements of the gospel? Did my daughter’s answer capture its essence? Why or why not?

 

 

 

[Thanks to my daughter for her permission to share this anecdote]

[Related posts include Confession and Belief (Rom 10:8–10); Future Vindication (Rom 10:11–12); Salvation for All Who Call (Rom 10:13); Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); Our Certificate of Debt (Col 2:13–14); and Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23)]

 

16) Acts 1:1–3: What did Jesus do while he remained on earth after his resurrection?

 

 

b) Acts 1:4–5: Why weren’t the apostles to leave Jerusalem to begin their mission right away?

 

 

c) Acts 1:6–8: Note that in Matt 24, Jesus spoke primarily about what are not the signs of his coming.

Instead, he described the tribulations which would precede the destruction of the temple in 70 AD and the way God’s people would live after that horrific event.[6]

The one exception occurs in v. 14, where he said, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole inhabited earth as a witness to all the people-groups, and then the end will come.”

When the Northern kingdom of Israel fell in 722 BC, the Assyrian emperor Sargon II deported the people living in Samaria and replaced them with the inhabitants of other exiled nations. The newcomers, called Samaritans, fused their own religious practices with those of Israel (2 Ki 17:6, 24–33).

In the NT era, religious Jewish people avoided entering Samaria, considering its people theologically impure. Early in Christ’s ministry, he instructed his twelve disciples to stay away from there (Matt 10:5–8).[7]

However, Jesus himself took his disciples through Samaria, where he spoke with a woman drawing water. Due to her testimony, many Samaritans placed their faith in Christ as the messiah, making them among the earliest converts (John 4:7–14, 27–30, 39–42).[8]

Read Acts 1:6–8. Why do you think that Jesus answered the apostles’ question the way he did? What places are equivalent to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and the remotest part of the earth for you? How can you answer this call?

 

 

 

d) Acts 1:9–11: Just as there were two angelic witnesses to the empty tomb (Luke 24:1–10), so here another pair of credible observers appeared (Deut 19:15).[9]

What promise did they make?

 

 

17) Acts 2:1–13: Fifty days after Jesus was crucified, the Holy Spirit began to reside within all of Christ’s disciples who had gathered together for prayer in Jerusalem.[10]

This coincided with the Feast of Weeks, a festival in which every Jewish person in Israel brought the first fruits of their harvest to the temple (Lev 23:15–16). At some point, this feast had also become a commemoration of the Lord giving the law to Moses on Mount Sinai (Exod 19:16–20; Exod 20–23).[11]

Concerning God’s delivery of the law to Moses, the Babylonian Talmud asserts, “Every single word that went forth from the Holy One…he split up into seventy languages” (b. Shabbat 88b).[12]

This corresponds to the seventy nations descended from Noah which scattered throughout the known world (Gen 10).

The Jewish historian Philo (30 BC–40 AD) wrote this about the Lord speaking to Moses:

And a voice sounded forth from out of the midst of the fire which had flowed from heaven, a most marvelous and awful voice, the flame being endowed with articulate speech in a language familiar to the hearers, which expressed its words with such clearness [sic] and distinctness that the people seemed rather to be seeing than hearing it.[13]

a) Read Acts 2:1-13. Why were the Jewish pilgrims in Jerusalem so astonished? How did this event begin to fulfill God’s promise to Abraham and to Ezekiel (Gen 12:1–3; Ezek 36:25–28)? What accusation did some of the people make to explain this event?

 

 

 

 

b) Acts 2:14–21: How did Peter respond to the allegation that the disciples were drunk? In what ways had the last days predicted by Joel 2:28–32 arrived?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include Women Praying and Prophesying (1 Cor 11:4–6 and 1 Cor 14:34–35); Confession and Belief (Rom 10:8–10); Future Vindication (Rom 10:11–12); and Salvation for All Who Call (Rom 10:13)]

 

c) Acts 2:22–36: Peter gave this sermon a few months after he denied even knowing Jesus (Matt 26:69–75). Based upon the OT, Peter attributed the arrival of the Holy Spirit to the risen Christ (Ps 16:8–11; Ps 132:11; and Ps 110:1).

 

What assertions did Peter make? How could someone who once vehemently disavowed Jesus testify so powerfully to those who could have him executed?

 

 

[Related posts include Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7); Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); and The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11)]

 

d) Acts 2:37–47: How did three thousand of the people who heard Peter’s message respond? What effect did their new way of living have on those around them?

 

 

 

 

18) Rom 5:12–21: In this passage, Paul discussed the relationship between the Covenant/Sin/Exile/ Restoration pattern begun with Moses to the Creation/Sin/Exile/Resurrection motif initiated with Adam (see diagram).

An important key to understanding this text involves the corporate solidarity of patrimonial headship within Ancient Near Eastern societies. The head of a family represented every member of his clan, both for good and for ill (Josh 7:20–26; 2 Sam 9:1–7; Dan 6:24).[14]

Read Rom 5:12–21. Why did death reign even before there was no law to break? How did Jesus succeed as the Second Adam where the first Adam failed? What three things result from the obedience of Christ?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts are Effects of the Fall Reversed (Rom 5:12–21 and Rom 16:1–12); A Day of Reckoning (Gen 3:9–13); A Return to the Ground (Gen 3:19); The Third Temptation (Matt 4:8–11); and Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23)]

 

19) Heb 9:11–22: Ever since his ascension into heaven, Christ has continued to minister in the heavenly tabernacle (Heb 8:1; 9:6, 24). There he mediates a covenant far superior to the earthly pact, which centered upon a sanctuary which was merely “a copy and a shadow” (Heb 8:5).[15]

In other words, Jesus is the true high priest, serving at the real temple.[16]

a) Read Heb 9:11–22. What does the shed blood of Christ accomplish on our behalf?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51); Our Great High Priest (Heb 2:14–18); Blood Given for You (Matt 26:26‒28); and Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8)]

 

b) Heb 9:23–28: Israel’s high priest entered the most holy part of the tabernacle each year on the Day of Atonement after making a sacrifice to cover his own sins. Only then could he mediate forgiveness for Israel’s people (Lev 16:11–15). In contrast, Jesus shed his blood exclusively to cover the sins of others, not his own (2 Cor 5:20–21; Heb 4:15–16).[17]

Read Heb 9:23–28. Why can we have confidence that all of our past, present, and future sins have been forgiven? How does this knowledge affect the way we view death and the return of Christ?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include Our Certificate of Debt (Col 2:13–14); New Creatures in Christ (2 Cor 5:17); and Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21)]

 

c) Heb 10:11–18: With an altar 4 1/2′ high, a priest could not offer sacrifices from a seated position (Exod 27:1).[18] That Jesus sits at the right hand of God indicates that he no longer needs to offer sacrifices and that he now wields all authority (Ps 110:1).[19]

Waiting “until his enemies might be laid as a footstool of his feet” refers to the practice of a conqueror stepping on the necks of his defeated foes (Josh 10:24–26).[20]

The Assyrian Emperor Assurbanipal (668–627 BC) praised the god who “had brought those not submissive to me in submission under my yoke, [and] with power and might had made me stand upon [the neck] of my foes.”[21] 

Egypt’s Pharaoh Tutankhamun (reigned 1345–1327 BC) did this figuratively. He possessed a wooden footstool bearing his name and prisoners of various races separated by nine bows, with each bow representing a traditional enemy of Egypt.[22]

Note the paradox in v. 14 between God seeing us as “having been made perfect for all time” and our experience as “the ones who are being made holy.”

The Lord’s declaration, “Their sins and their lawlessness, I shall remember no more” has the connotation of choosing not to give consideration to something. It does not mean actually forgetting.[23]

Read Heb 10:11–18. How do we know that the Old Testament sacrifices were insufficient to cover sins? What is the result of Jesus’s offering of himself?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); and The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11)]

 

d) Heb 10:19–25: The veil of the temple represented the place where the human and the divine met. It protected the ark of God’s presence from human sinfulness. Even the high priest could pass through the curtain only once a year after ritual cleansing. Still, his life was in jeopardy  (Lev 16:1–6, 15–16, 29–31).[24]

The Apostle John recorded that Jesus proclaimed with a loud cry “It is finished!” (John 19:30), indicating that he had accomplished his mission of redemption. Then he “gave up his spirit.”[25]

At that moment, the veil of the temple was torn from top to bottom (Mark 15:37–38). As a result, those who claim allegiance to Christ can approach God with “our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience” and “our bodies washed with pure water.” The cleansing of our bodies alludes to baptism.[26]

Read Heb 10:19–25. Why can we draw near to God? What effect does redemption have upon our hearts, consciences, and bodies? How does the Lord call us to relate to one another?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include The Death of God (John 19:28–30); and God Rends the Barrier (Matt 27:50–51)]

 

20) Gal 3:6–9: Paul wrote Galatians after people who claimed that true believers would keep the Mosaic law visited the churches he planted in that region (Gal 1:6–9; Gal 2:3–5). Those teachers insisted that gentile believers must accept circumcision, just as Abraham had (Gen 17:9–14; Lev 12:1–3; Deut 6:25).[27]

The verses which Paul quoted appear in Gen 12:3 and Gen 15:6, prior to Abraham’s circumcision (Gen 17:9–14) (see diagram).

a) Read Gal 3:6–9. What is the order of events in Abraham’s life? Why is that important? How was he reckoned as righteous?

 

 

 

b) Gal 3:10–14: Here Paul quoted from the “curses” section of the Pentateuch (Deut 27:26; Deut 21:23).

The Essenes in Qumran sent a letter of exhortation to the priests in Jerusalem in the second half of the 1st century BC. It outlined twenty sacrificial and purity regulations which the priests failed to uphold to the Essenes’ satisfaction.[28]

After the list of complaints and remedies, the author wrote, “And also we have written to you some of the precepts of the torah (works of the law) which we think are good for you and for your people…And it shall be reckoned to you as righteousness (tsedaqah) when you do what is upright and good before him, for your good and that of Israel” (4QMMT).[29]

“Works of the law” appears in ancient Hebrew only in 4QMMT. In contrast to ritual purity making us righteous,[30] Paul argued, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, becoming on our behalf our curse.”

Therefore, gentiles should not place themselves under the ceremonial aspects of the Mosaic law (Mark 7:1–8, 17–23; Gal 2:15–21).[31]

While such rituals no longer apply, the New Testament asserts that the moral regulations of the Old Testament remain in force (Matt 5:17–28).[32] God has replaced the old covenant with the new one promised in Jer 31:31–34.

Read Gal 3:10–14. What is the fate of anyone relying upon observance of ceremonial rituals for salvation? How did Christ redeem us from the curse of the law? How can Christians distinguish between the Old Testament laws which are no longer in force and those which God still calls us to observe?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); Receiving Christ’s Righteousness (2 Cor 5:21); Transcending the Law (Matt 5:21‒22); and Be Reconciled to Your Brother (Matt 5:23‒24)]

 

c) Gal 3:15–18: Look at the diagram of the CSER Structure.

Why doesn’t the Mosaic law invalidate the covenant God made with Abraham in Gen 15?

 

 

d) Gal 3:19–25: How did the law of Moses function in your life before you came to Christ? What relevance does it have for you now?

 

 

e) Gal 3:26–29: The Christian missionaries from a Jewish background urged these gentile believers to become “full converts” by accepting circumcision.[33]

Therefore, Paul employed Hos 1:10 to argue against the proselytizers. After Hosea’s wife committed adultery, the Lord told the prophet to name the illegitimate child, “Not my People,” for in the same way Israel embraced spiritual adultery and God no longer considered them his.

However, the Lord then said, “And it will be in the place in which it is said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said to them ‘[You are] sons of the living God.’”

Paul stressed that one becomes a descendant of Abraham by faith, not by ethnicity (Cf. Rom 9:6–8).[34] God now welcomes outsiders as sons (Eph 2:11–13).

In this passage, Paul alluded to the early Christian practice of stripping off one’s old clothing for baptism and afterward putting on a pure white robe. This symbolized the replacement of our sin with Christ’s virtues.[35]

Read Gal 3:26–29. How did Paul say that people become sons of God? What is the significance of having “been clothed with Christ?” Who can be included? What is the role of the Mosaic law in the lives of believers now as a result of what Christ has done?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Adopted as Sons (Eph 1:5–6); and Clothed with Christ (Gal 3:26–27)]

 

21) Gal 5:1–6: When Paul wrote this, Jewish people employed the imagery of the bonds used to control oxen as an analogy for their obligation to obey the law of Moses.[36]

A rabbi said, “Whoso receives upon him the yoke of the Law (ie. one who devotes himself wholly to study), the community removes from him the yoke of the government and the yoke of worldly cares; but a student who breaks from him the yoke of the Law, the community lays upon him the yoke of the government and the yoke of worldly cares” (b. Avoth 3:5).

In contrast, Paul equated seeking to gain God’s approval by keeping the law of Moses with wearing a yoke of slavery. Peter had attested that even scrupulous Jews had not been able to bear that yoke (Acts 15:5–11).[37]

Since Paul himself had been circumcised, he was asserting that legalism and faith in Christ cannot reside together,[38] not that the rite itself prevented salvation (Phil 3:2–7).

a) Read Gal 5:1–6. How would you define legalism? Why does it create bonds which are difficult to break? Why did Paul say that we must stand firm against seeking God’s favor by our obedience?

 

 

 

b) Gal 5:13–26: Paul quoted Lev 19:18 as a summary of the Mosaic law. He equated “flesh” with our natural way of living. This includes trying to obey God’s commands without the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

He embedded a chiasm in this passage (Gal 5:16–18), with the emphasis falling upon the conflict between flesh and Spirit. As we live by the Spirit, he sets us free from the flesh and the law,[39] enabling us to live in a way which pleases God.[40]

Fruit emerges as the product of the Holy Spirit, not by our efforts to practice godliness.[41]

Note that “fruit” is singular here: those who walk by the Spirit produce all nine qualities. Each of these character traits functions as one facet of a single gem shining forth, rather than arising from different jewels.[42] Thus we cannot claim, “I have all the fruit of the Spirit, except for this one….”

Since we have been crucified with Christ (Gal 2:20), the demise of our flesh occurred at conversion, when we died with him (Rom 8:10).[43]

According to Augustine, a 4th–5th century theologian, human existence occurs in one of four states:

  1. Able to sin, able not to sin (Adam and Eve prior to the fall)
  2. Not able not to sin (those without Christ)
  3. Able not to sin (Christians living during the partial restoration of God’s kingdom)
  4. Not able to sin (believers who have been glorified after death/Christ’s return).[44]

The way I live may look identical to that of someone seeking to earn salvation. Knowing how much I have been forgiven overflows into tremendous gratitude for the love of Jesus (Ps 119:1–7).

I am continually astounded that Christ would die for me: someone who hated him and attacked his people. One who has been forgiven much, loves much (Luke 7:36–50).

When we fall in love, we naturally desire to find ways to please our beloved. This adoration, coupled by the power of the Holy Spirit, changes us from the inside out, effecting a transformation clearly visible to others.

Read Gal 5:13–26. How are we to use our freedom in Christ? What does it mean to “walk in the Spirit?” How can we tell if we’re doing that? What can we do to stimulate our spiritual lives?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Delivered from this Body of Death (Rom 7:14–25); and Set Free from Sin’s Dominion (Rom 8:1–14)]

 

22) 1 Pet 1:1–5: The cities named here are located in modern day Iran and Turkey. In this era between the first and second coming of Christ, we live in the tension of the “now and not yet.

We exist simultaneously in the old age of sin, resulting in death; and in the already inaugurated new age when God reckons us as righteous, which yields eternal life.[45]

a) What do we already experience as a result of our union with Christ? What is yet to come?

 

 

[Related posts include Blessings from the Father (Eph 1:3–4); Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8); and Passed from Death into Life (John 5:24–27)]

 

b) 1 Pet 1:6–9: What characterizes your life now? Where do you place your hope? What is the result of your trust in Christ?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Receiving the Crown of Life (Jas 1:12); and A Baited Trap (Jas 1:13–15)]

 

22) 1 Pet 2:4–8: When constructing a new building, how the builders set the cornerstone determines the alignment of the entire structure. Therefore, Peter insisted that Christ is the sure foundation upon which we must build our lives.[46]

The quotations here come from Isa 28:16 (v. 6), Ps 118:22 (v. 7), and Isa 8:14 (v. 8).

Regarding the verse in Isaiah, the same Greek word (kataischunō) means “dishonor, disgrace, put to shame, and disappoint.” This accounts for the variation between the Greek translation of the OT and English Bibles.

a) Read 1 Pet 2:4–8. How did Peter describe Jesus in these verses? What are we in relation to Christ?

 

 

[A related post is Greek Translation of the Old Testament]

 

b) 1 Pet 2:9–10: The terms Peter used for Christians in v. 9 derive from Isa 43:20–21, Exod 19:6, and Deut 7:6; while those in verse 10 arise from Hos 1:10 and Hos 2:23.

Hosea was an 8th century BC prophet who obeyed the Lord’s command to marry an adulterous woman because she typified the behavior of Israel’s people toward God (Hos 1:2).[47]

Read 1 Pet 2:9–10. Why is Peter’s use of Old Testament designations applied to gentile readers significant? What do they mean?

 

 

[A related post is The Light Shines in Darkness (John 1:3–5)]

 

c) 1 Pet 2:11–12: How are we to respond to the difficulties we face in this world? Why?

 

 

23) Rev 5:1–6: The events described in Revelation refer to one of the following: 1) incidents which took place when the Apostle John wrote this book during the reign of Domitian; 2) circumstances which are yet to occur; and 3) those which have already happened and shall be repeated in the future.[48]

This vision of heaven given to the Apostle John refers to a milestone yet to come. While those in heaven revere God as the creator in chapter 4, they turn their attention here to worshiping Christ the Lamb of God as our redeemer.[49]

a) What is the significance of the following titles?

The Lion from the tribe of Judah (Gen 49:8–12) —

 

The Root of David (Isa 11:1–12) —

 

A lamb standing as if slain (Exod 12:5–7, 13 and 1 Cor 5:7–8) —

 

 

[Related posts include Equality with God (Phil 2:5–6); A Summary of Trinitarian Creeds (Appendix to Phil 2:5–6); and Taking the Form of a Slave (Phil 2:7)]

 

b) Rev 5:7–10: Why is the lamb worthy to open the scroll? How do the elders describe the people in verses 9–10? What does the future hold for them? Who will participate in the song of praise to the Father and the Son?

 

 

 

[Related posts include Obedient to the Point of Death (Phil 2:8); The Name Above Every Name (Phil 2:9–11); and Redemption through Christ’s Blood (Eph 1:7–8)]

 

24) 1 Thess 4:13–18: “To be asleep” (koimaō) was a common euphemism for death in the Greco-Roman and Jewish milieus (1 Ki 2:10).[50]

These believers in Thessalonica expected Jesus to return soon.[51] Therefore, they expressed concern about whether their fellow Christians who had already died would participate in the greeting party.[52] Paul assured them that Christ’s resurrection ensured their own (1 Cor 15:20–23).[53]

A trumpet blast will announce the bodily resurrection of God’s people and the day of judgment (1 Cor 15:51–52; Joel 2:1). Heralds also blew trumpets to announce the arrival of a king (1 Ki 1:39).[54]

During Paul’s era, a “meeting” (apantēsis) referred to the practice of paying honor to an arriving dignitary by going out from the city to greet and then accompany him the rest of the way (Cf. Matt 25:1–13).[55]

Therefore, all of God’s people, both the newly-resurrected and the living, will rise to meet Jesus in the air and return with him to the earth.[56]

Read 1 Thess 4:13–18. What did the Christians in Thessalonica fear? Why will the sound of a trumpet be appropriate for this situation? How does the ancient practice of greeting an honored official affect your understanding of our destination?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include Dead in Adam but Alive in Christ (1 Cor 15:20–23); and We Shall Be Changed (1 Cor 15:51–52); One Will Be Left (Matt 24:40–41); and Continually Watch! (Matt 24:42–44)]

 

25) Rev 19:11–21: In his vision of the future, the Apostle John saw a white steed and its rider. White represents both purity and vindication in the book of Revelation (Rev 3:3–5; Rev 6:9–11).[57]

Greco-Romans considered white steeds the most prized, appropriate for high-ranking officials and conquering kings.[58] Within the ancient world, an emperor wore one crown to represent each city or nation he ruled.[59]

People of that era believed that knowing the name of a god or demon enabled a person to exert power over it.[60]

This spell appears in a Greek magic text:

You master Typhon, you who I call, who are the dreaded sovereign o’er the firmament. You who are fearful, awesome, threatening. You who’re obscure and irresistible and hater of the wicked, you I call, Typhon…I invoke you in prayer, I call, almighty one, that you perform for me whate’er I ask of you, and that you nod assent at once to me and grant that what I ask be mine…for I speak your true names.[61]

The image of a heavenly warrior with bloody clothing would have frightened John’s original readers.[62] By the time of Christ, Roman field commanders wore red garments into battle.[63]

Since the only other place in the NT where the title the Word appears is in John’s gospel (John 1:1),[64] that title provides another hint that the mysterious rider is Jesus.

Early Christians held that deceased believers joined the angels in these armies (Rev 17:14).[65]

For example, the Didache (ca. 100 AD) teaches, “The Lord shall come and all His saints with Him. Then shall the world see the Lord coming upon the clouds of heaven.”[66]

However, these armies will not engage the enemy in battle.[67] Instead, they provide testimony against oppressors for their unbelief (Matt 12:38–42).[68] As a result of our union with Christ, we triumph through identification with our Lord (Rev 2:25–29).[69]

Christ alone shall conquer the beast and his followers on behalf of those who accompany him,[70] slaying them with the lethal power of his decree. He will not require a physical sword (Isa 11:4; Hos 6:4–6; Rev 2:14–16; Heb 4:12).[71]

Read Rev 19:11–21. What does riding upon a white horse symbolize? How does wearing many crowns signify his sovereignty? What importance would the original audience have attached to Christ having a secret name? Why will Jesus be accompanied by the armies of heaven? What will destroy the beast and his followers? How does knowing that Jesus will judge justly make you feel?

 

 

 

 

[Related posts include Faithful and True (Rev 19:11); Ruler of All Nations (Rev 19:12–13); The Armies in Heaven (Rev 19:14); Striking the Nations (Rev 19:15); King of Kings and Lord of Lords (Rev 19:16); The Great Supper of God (Rev 19:17–19); Cast into the Inferno (Rev 19:20–21); and In the Beginning Was the Word (John 1:1–2)]

 

 

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[1]Ajith Fernando, Acts (NIVAC; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 50.

[2]Danker, et al., “ἀποστολος” (apostolos), BDAG, 122.

[3] Brown, Driver, and Briggs, “רוּחַ” (ruakh), BDB, 924, https://archive.org/stream/hebrewenglishlex00browuoft#page/924/mode/2up.

[4]Danker, et al., “πνεῦμα” (pneuma), BDAG, 832.

[5]Evangelism Explosion International, “Step One. Do You Know?” http://evangelismexplosion.org/resources/steps-to-life/step-1-do-you-know/. Thanks to my daughter for her permission to share this anecdote.

[6] France, The Gospel of Matthew, 899.

[7]Robert T. Anderson, “Samaritans,” ABD 5:940–7, 943.

[8]J. Ramsey Michaels, The Gospel of John, NICNT (Grand Rapids; Cambridge: Eerdmans, 2010), 268.

[9] Bruce, The Book of the Acts, 38.

[10] Mark J. Olson, “Pentecost,” ABD 5:222–3, 222.

[11]Ben Witherington III, The Acts of the Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998), 130–1.

[12]Talmudist, “English Babylonian Talmud,” in English Babylonian Talmudb. Shabbat 88b, http://halakhah.com/shabbath/shabbath_88.html#PARTb.

[13]Philo, “On the Decalogue,” in The Works of Philo Judaeus, Vol. 3 (trans. Charles Duke Yonge; London: Bohn, 1855), 11, 146, https://archive.org/stream/worksphilojudaeu03philuoft#page/146/mode/2up.

[14] Niehaus, Ancient Near Eastern Themes in Biblical Theology, 138.

[15] Lane, Hebrews 1–8, 206.

[16] Berkhof, Systematic Theology, 400.

[17] Guthrie, Hebrews, 315.

[18] Keener, IVPBBCNT, Heb 10:11–14.

[19]Cockerill, The Epistle to the Hebrews, 450.

[20]Danker, et al., “′υποποδιον” (hypopodion), BDAG, 1040.

[21]Assurbanipal II, “The Rassam Cylinder,” in ARAB, section 833, 2:320, https://archive.org/stream/LuckenbillAncientRecordsAssyria02/Luckenbill_Ancient_Records_Assyria02#page/n327/mode/2up.

[22]The Global Egyptian Museum, “Footstool Carved with Figures of Prisoners,” http://www.globalegyptianmuseum.org/detail.aspx?id=15108.

[23]Danker, et al., “μιμνησκομαι” (mimnēskomai), BDAG, 652.

[24] Carol Meyers “Veil of the Temple,” ABD 6:785–6, 785.

[25] Carson, The Gospel According to John, 621.

[26] Ellingworth, The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 523.

[27]T. David Gordon, “Abraham and Sinai Contrasted in Galatians 3:6–14,” in The Law is not of Faith: Essays on Works and Grace in the Mosaic Covenant (ed. Bryan Estelle and J. VanDrunen Fesko David; Phillipsburg, NJ: P & R, 2009), 240–58, 240.

[28] Lawrence H. Schiffman, “Legal Texts at Qumran.” DNTB 636–9, 637.

[29]Garcia Martinez, “Some of the Fragments of 4QMMT,” http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/rak/courses/427/texts/4QMMT.htm. Italics mine. Words in quotation marks are alternate translations from the Hebrew text.

[30]Martin G. Abegg Jr., “4QMMT C27, 31 and ‘Works Righteousness’,” DSD 6.2 (1 July 1999): 139–47, 139, https://www.jstor.org/stable/4193122?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents.

[31] Longenecker, Galatians, 122.

[32]Jonathan F. Bayes, The Threefold Division of the Law (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK: The Christian Institute, 2012), 12–3, http://www.christian.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/the-threefold-division-of-the-law.pdf.

[33] McKnight, Galatians, 197.

[34] Keener, IVPBBCNT, Gal 3:26.

[35] McKnight, Galatians, 198.

[36] Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, 216–7.

[37]Murray J. Harris, Slave of Christ: A New Testament Metaphor for Total Devotion to Christ (ed. D. A. Carson; New Studies in Biblical Theology; Downers Grove, IL; Nottingham, England: InterVarsity Press; Apollos, 1999), 93–4.

[38] Longenecker, Galatians, 228.

[39] McKnight, Galatians, 269.

[40]Thomas R. Schreiner, Galatians (ZECNT; Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2010), 345.

[41] Longenecker, Galatians, 259.

[42] Fung, The Epistle to the Galatians, 262.

[43] Schreiner, Galatians, 351.

[44]Augustine, The City of God, 22.30.3.

[45]N. T. Wright, Justification: God’s Plan and Paul’s Vision (London: Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, 2009), 80.

[46] Chrys C. Caragounis, “Stone, Cornerstone,” DLNT, 1126–9, 1128.

[47]Douglas Stuart, Hosea–Jonah, ed. Bruce M. Metzger, et al., WBC (Dallas: Word, 1987), 26.

[48]David E. Aune, Revelation 1–5 (WBC; Dallas: Word, 1998), lxv.

[49] Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 128–9.

[50]F. F. Bruce, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, ed. Bruce M. Metzger, et al., WBC (Dallas: Word, 1982), 95–6.

[51]Gordon D. Fee, The First and Second Letters to the Thessalonians, NICNT (Grand Rapids; Cambridge, UK: Eerdmans, 2009), 167.

[52]Ben Witherington III, 1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2006), 133.

[53]Michael W. Holmes, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, NIVAC (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1998), 149.

[54]Witherington III, 1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 138.

[55]Gary S. Shogren, 1 and 2 Thessalonians, ed. Clinton E. Arnold, ZECNT (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 189.

[56]Witherington III, 1 and 2 Thessalonians: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary, 138.

[57]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 950.

[58]Keener, Revelation, 453.

[59]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1054.

[60]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 353.

[61]Hans Dieter Betz, ed., The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Including the Demotic Spells, 2nd Ed (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1992), 4:264–80, 43, https://fewarethemystaidotcom.files.wordpress.com/2016/02/hans_dieter_betz__greek_magical_papyri_in_translabookos-org.pdf. Italics mine.

[62]Keener, Revelation, 453.

[63]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1057.

[64]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1058.

[65]Aune, Revelation 17–22, 1059–60.

[66]Roberts, et al. (eds.), “The Didache: The Lord’s Teaching Through the Twelve Apostles to the Nations,” 16:7, Http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html.

[67]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 354–5.

[68]Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, 960.

[69]Bradley G. Green, Covenant and Commandment: Works, Obedience, and Faithfulness in the Christian Life (ed. D. A. Carson; New Studies in Biblical Theology; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2014), 158.

[70]Beale and McDonough, “Revelation,” Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, 1143.

[71]Mounce, The Book of Revelation, 355.