14) Luke 24:1–12: Why were the women who took spices to anoint Jesus’s body prevented from completing their mission?
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?
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.
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?”
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?
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).
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).
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?
What promise did they make?
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).
This corresponds to the seventy nations descended from Noah which scattered throughout the known world (Gen 10).
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.
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?
[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).
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).
In other words, Jesus is the true high priest, serving at the real temple.
a) Read Heb 9:11–22. What does the shed blood of Christ accomplish on our behalf?
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).
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?
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). 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).
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.”
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.
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.
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?
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).
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.
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?
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).
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?
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.
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).
“Works of the law” appears in ancient Hebrew only in 4QMMT. In contrast to ritual purity making us righteous, Paul argued, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, becoming on our behalf our curse.”
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). 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)]
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?
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.’”
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.
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?
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).
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, enabling us to live in a way which pleases God.
Fruit emerges as the product of the Holy Spirit, not by our efforts to practice godliness.
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. Thus we cannot claim, “I have all the fruit of the Spirit, except for this one….”
- Able to sin, able not to sin (Adam and Eve prior to the fall)
- Not able not to sin (those without Christ)
- Able not to sin (Christians living during the partial restoration of God’s kingdom)
- Not able to sin (believers who have been glorified after death/Christ’s return).
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?
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.
a) What do we already experience as a result of our union with Christ? What is yet to come?
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?
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.
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]
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).
[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.
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.
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) —
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?
These believers in Thessalonica expected Jesus to return soon. Therefore, they expressed concern about whether their fellow Christians who had already died would participate in the greeting party. Paul assured them that Christ’s resurrection ensured their own (1 Cor 15:20–23).
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).
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.
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?
Greco-Romans considered white steeds the most prized, appropriate for high-ranking officials and conquering kings. Within the ancient world, an emperor wore one crown to represent each city or nation he ruled.
People of that era believed that knowing the name of a god or demon enabled a person to exert power over it.
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.
However, these armies will not engage the enemy in battle. Instead, they provide testimony against oppressors for their unbelief (Matt 12:38–42). As a result of our union with Christ, we triumph through identification with our Lord (Rev 2:25–29).
Christ alone shall conquer the beast and his followers on behalf of those who accompany him, 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).
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)]
Image via Wikimedia Commons
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Danker, et al., “ἀποστολος” (apostolos), BDAG, 122.
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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.
 France, The Gospel of Matthew, 899.
Robert T. Anderson, “Samaritans,” ABD 5:940–7, 943.
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