Monday, April 27, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 2nd Chronicles 10-16

Readings for this week

Monday: 2nd Chronicles 10
Tuesday: 2nd Chronicles 11
Wednesday: 2nd Chronicles 12
Thursday: 2nd Chronicles 13
Friday: 2nd Chronicles 14
Saturday: 2nd Chronicles 15
Sunday: 2nd Chronicles 16

Introduction to 2nd Chronicles 10-16

Chapter 10 

Jeroboam and all Israel asked Rehoboam to reduce the labor demands. He refused. Rehoboam still ruled Judah but Israel rebelled. 

Chapter 11 

The LORD told Rehoboam not to attack Jeroboam. All the Levites came to Judah because Jeroboam set up idols. Rehoboam had sons. 

Chapter 12 

Rehoboam was unfaithful to the LORD so Shishak attacked Jerusalem. Rehoboam humbled himself and the anger of the LORD turned away. 

Chapter 13 

Abijah became king of Judah. He drew up battle lines against Jeroboam and said, "The LORD is our God". The LORD routed Jeroboam. 

Chapter 14 

Asa became king. He did right in the sight of the LORD. Zerah the Ethiopian brought an army against Judah but the LORD routed them. 

Chapter 15 

Azariah said to Asa, "The LORD is with you when you are with Him. Do not give up." The people made a covenant to seek the LORD. 

Chapter 16 

Baasha fortified Ramah so Asa made a treaty with Ben-hadad. Hanani said, "You relied on Aram not the LORD." Asa became ill and died.

Monday, April 20, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 2nd Chronicles 3-9

Readings for this week

Monday: 2nd Chronicles 3
Tuesday: 2nd Chronicles 4
Wednesday: 2nd Chronicles 5
Thursday: 2nd Chronicles 6
Friday: 2nd Chronicles 7
Saturday: 2nd Chronicles 8
Sunday: 2nd Chronicles 9

Introduction to 2nd Chronicles 3-9

Chapter 3

Solomon started work on the temple. He built the portico, the main hall, the Most Holy Place, two cherubim, the veil and two pillars.

Chapter 4

Solomon made an altar, the Sea, ten lavers, ten lampstands, ten tables and the courts for the temple. Huram made the furnishings.

Chapter 5

The priests brought the ark into the Most Holy Place. The singers praised the LORD and the glory of the LORD filled the temple.

Chapter 6

Solomon said, "The LORD has kept his promise." He prayed, "O LORD, if anyone prays toward this place then hear from heaven and act."

Chapter 7

Fire came from heaven and the Israelites worshipped. The LORD said to Solomon, "If you walk in my ways I will establish your throne."

Chapter 8

Solomon built cities. He did not make slaves of the Israelites. He appointed the divisions of priests and Levites to their duties.

Chapter 9

The queen of Sheba came to test Solomon and gave him gold and spices. Solomon excelled all the kings of the earth. Then he died.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 2nd Chronicles 1-2

Introduction to 2nd Chronicles 1-2

Originally a single work, Chronicles was divided into two in the Septuagint, a Greek translation produced in the 3rd and 2nd centuries BC. It has three broad divisions: 

The genealogies (1 Chronicles 1-9)
The reigns of David and Solomon (1 Chronicles 10 – 2 Chronicles 9)
The story of the divided kingdom (2 Chronicles 10-36) 

The Chronicles narrative begins with Adam and the story is then carried forward, almost entirely by genealogical lists, down to the founding of the first Kingdom of Israel (1 Chronicles 1–9). The bulk of the remainder of 1 Chronicles, after a brief account of Saul, is concerned with the reign of David (1 Chronicles 11–29). The next long section concerns David's son Solomon (2 Chronicles 1–9), and the final part is concerned with the Kingdom of Judah with occasional references to the second kingdom of Israel (2 Chronicles 10–36). In the last chapter Judah is destroyed and the people taken into exile in Babylon, and in the final verses the Persian king Cyrus the Great conquers the Neo-Babylonian Empire, and authorizes the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem, and the return of the exiles.

Within this broad structure there are signs that the author has used various other devices to structure his work, notably through drawing parallels between David and Solomon (the first becomes king, establishes the worship of Israel's God in Jerusalem, and fights the wars that will enable the Temple to be built, then Solomon becomes king, builds and dedicates the Temple, and reaps the benefits of prosperity and peace). 

Chapter 1 

Solomon made offerings. God said, "What shall I give you?" Solomon said, "Wisdom to rule this people." So Solomon ruled over Israel. 

Chapter 2 

Solomon sent to King Hiram: "Send me cedars and a craftsman for the temple." Hiram replied, "The LORD has given David a wise son." 

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 2nd Peter

Introduction to 2nd Peter

Context of 2nd Peter 

The letter’s main intent – to reestablish the apostolic view of the Parousia – shows that the writer is addressing a group that lived long enough after the original apostles’ day to have given up on believing that Christ would return soon. The author’s opponents deny the Parousia doctrine because the promised Second Coming has not materialized even though the “fathers” have long since passed away. In addition, the writer makes use of Jude, itself an early second-century document, incorporating most of it into his work. The work also refers to Paul’s letters as Scripture, a status they did not achieve until well into the second century. Many leaders of the early church doubted 2 Peter’s apostolic origins, resulting in the epistle’s absence from numerous lists of “approved” books. Not only was 2 Peter one of the last works to gain entrance into the New Testament, but scholars believe that it was also the last canonical book written, sometime between AD 100-140. 

Chapter 1 

The letter begins with a salutation and claims to be written by "Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ." It is written to "those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours." A blessing is given: "Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord." 

Peter first discusses the certainty of the believers’ salvation as it is the work of God. He begins by discussing what God has done in the past, saying, “It has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” And he talks about how God’s divine nature dwells in believers. He says, “We have his promises, by which we participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

He then talks about what believers should do in the present time. First, he discusses the use of God’s resources, saying, “Add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love.”

He then discusses the results of using God’s resources, saying, “If you have these, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of Jesus. If you don’t have them, you will be nearsighted and blind, forgetting that your sins are cleansed.” He then talks about what believers will receive in the future. First, he discusses temporal results such as the certainty of salvation, saying, “Try hard to confirm your calling and election so you won’t stumble.” He then discusses eternal results such as the inheritance of the kingdom, saying, “You will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of Jesus.”

Peter sees his testimony as a constant reminder of salvation, saying, “I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them firmly.” And he points out that the necessity of the reminder is his own pending death, saying, “I’ll remind you as long as I live in the tent of this body, because I know that I will soon put it aside, as Jesus made clear to me.” And he offers his written record as the promise of the reminder, saying, “I’ll do my best to make sure you remember after I’m gone.”

He then gives his defense of the truth of the message, starting with the apostolic eyewitnesses. He says, “We didn’t just repeat a clever story someone made up about Jesus coming in power. We were eyewitnesses of his majesty. We ourselves saw him on the sacred mountain and we heard the voice when He received honor and glory from God the Father who said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’”

He then points to the prophets of the Hebrew Bible and their value, saying, saying, “We also have the reliable prophetic message, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.”

He also points to the source of Hebrew prophecy, saying, “No prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 

Chapter 2 

He then discusses the deception of the false teachers’ message starting with their heresy of antinomianism along with the problem of the coming of the false teachers. He says, “Like the past, the future will also have false prophets who introduce heresies, denying the Lord who bought them to their own swift destruction. Many will follow them and give the way of truth a bad reputation, only to be exploited by their made-up stories.”

He then talks about the sure condemnation of the false teachers, saying, “Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.”

He then points to the precedent found in the Hebrew Bible, saying, “God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell (Greek: Tartarus), putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment.”

In this case the word “hell” is translated from the word “Tartarus” – a place in Hellenistic mythology, recorded by Plato in 400BC, there the judged dead are imprisoned. This reference comes from The Book of Enoch, an ancient Jewish mythological work also quoted by Jude, and (as noted by Peter) it was a place for imprisoning fallen angels, not human souls.

Peters says, “God destroyed the ancient world with a flood, but spared righteous Noah and seven others. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah with fire as an example of future judgment of the ungodly, but rescued righteous Lot.”

He then discusses the coming Judgment, saying, “The Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials and to hold the unrighteous for punishment on the day of judgment.”

He the describes the characteristics of the false teachers, starting with their rejection of authority, saying, “They follow the corrupt desire of the flesh and despise authority. They are bold and arrogant. They are not afraid to heap abuse on celestial beings; yet even angels, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not heap abuse on such beings when bringing judgment on them from the Lord. These people blaspheme in matters they do not understand. They are like unreasoning animals, creatures of instinct, born only to be caught and destroyed, and like animals they too will perish.”

And he describes their fleshly indulgence, saying, “They will be paid back with harm for the harm they have done. Their idea of pleasure is to carouse in broad daylight. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their pleasures while they feast with you. With eyes full of adultery, they never stop sinning. They seduce the unstable. They are experts in greed—an accursed brood! They have left the straight way and wandered off to follow the way of Balaam. Balaam loved the wages of wickedness, but he was rebuked for his wrongdoing by a donkey who restrained the prophet’s madness.”

And he describes how they are slaves to sin, saying:

“These people are springs without water. They are mists driven by a storm. Blackest darkness is reserved for them. They mouth empty, boastful words and they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error by appealing to the lustful desires of the flesh. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them.’ If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and are overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: ‘A dog returns to its vomit,’ and, ‘A sow that is washed returns to her wallowing in the mud.’”

Chapter 3 

He then goes on to discuss their denial of the Lord’s return, saying, “This is now my second letter to you. Both letters are reminders to stimulate you to wholesome thinking. I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.”

And he repudiates the false teachers’ denial, saying, saying:

“In the last days scoffers will say, ‘Where is this “coming” he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’ But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.”

He then speaks about the revelation of the Day of the Lord, saying:

“Don’t forget, with the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.”

And he concludes:

“Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, where righteousness dwells.”

And he adds an appeal, saying “Since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him. Our Lord’s patience means salvation.”

And he mentions the writing of Paul which apparently were already considered to be Scripture at the time this letter was written, saying, “Our dear brother Paul also wrote about this exact same thing to you with the wisdom that God gave him. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction.”

We then come the conclusion of the letter and he summarizes, saying, “Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position.”

And he finishes with a benediction:

“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.”

Monday, April 13, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Peter 4-5

Readings for this week

Monday: 1st Peter 4
Tuesday: 1st Peter 5
Wednesday: 2nd Peter 1
Thursday: 2nd Peter 2
Friday: 2nd Peter 3
Saturday: 2nd Chronicles 1
Sunday: 2nd Chronicles 2

Introduction to 1st Peter 4-5

Chapter 4 

He then talks about living for the promise and the example of Christ, saying, “Christ suffered in his body. Be like Christ in your attitude toward suffering. If you can endure suffering for Christ then you can endure temptation. Christians who suffer for Christ don’t sin anymore.”

And he talks about the former lifestyle and the future judgment, saying, “You used to live as pagans, sinning all the time in every way. Those who are still pagans are surprised by your holy lives and feel threatened by your holiness – that’s why they abuse you. But one day they will answer to the one who judges the living and the dead. The Gospel was even preached to those who have already died so that a just judgment would be given to all – so that all might live by the Spirit and not by flesh alone.”

He then talks about how the key to Christian community in the end times is mutual love. He poses, “Why should you live holy lives of sobriety and prayer? …Because the end of all things is near.” And he says, “Love is greater than sin – so love each other! Don’t whine about having to give to others – give because you truly love them! God has given different gifts to everybody – so use what God gave you! Speakers should speak with the voice of God. Servants should serve with the strength of God. In this way, all things that we do will bring praise to God through Christ at work in us. All glory and power go to him forever! Amen!”

With this letter is an unusual reference to Jesus’ descent into the Underworld. Only the Book of Acts describes Jesus’ postresurrection ascent into heaven (Acts 1:10-11), and only the Petrine epistles explicitly refer to a tradition about Jesus’ postmortem descent into the Underworld. According to a common interpretation, the “imprisoned spirits” are the “sons of God” (presumably angels) who “fell” from heaven when they trespassed divinely set boundaries by mating with the fair “daughters of men,” thus producing “the heroes of old, men of renown” (Gen:1-4). Although Genesis says nothing about the divine “sons” subsequent fate, extrabiblical tradition states that God had confined these rebels in a dark and fiery prison, where they awaited the final judgment (1 Enoch 6-10). The author of 2 Peter apparently adopts that tradition, declaring that “God did not spare the angels who sinned, but consigned them to the dark pit of hell” (2:4). The word here translated as “hell” is Tartarus, which in Greek myth is the subterranean dungeon housing fallen gods. In some views, 1 Peter’s cryptic allusion to preaching “the Gospel” to “the dead” (4:6) refers to Jesus’ “harrowing of hell,” when he descended into the Underworld to offer a message of redemption to persons who had perished before his death and resurrection had made salvation possible.

After this, Peter discusses the responsibilities of a church and its elders in the midst of trials. First, he talks about suffering and glory, saying, “Don’t be surprised by the fiery trial surrounding you. Rejoice that you can suffer as Christ suffered and experience his glory more fully when he is revealed. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.”

He then talks about suffering in general as a Christian, saying, “If you do suffer, it better not be because you are a criminal, or even an obnoxious person. And if you suffer as a Christian (a derogatory term back then), don’t be ashamed, because you are wearing the name of Christ. God is bringing judgment on his house, this world, and that judgment starts with us. If it’s hard for the righteous to be saved, then do you think it’s easy for sinners? God hasn’t given up, so don’t you give up.” 

Chapter 5 

Peter continues to discuss the responsibilities of a Church in the midst of trials. First, he addresses the elders. Here, the text refers directly to the Apostle Peter’s witnessing of Christ’s suffering, hinting that those in the church whose memories go farther back ought not to forget what they and the Apostles witnessed. The elders of the church are called to be “shepherds of the flock” just as Christ called Peter to “feed his sheep.” He says, “Take care of church because you love the church – not because you have to do it. When Christ, the Chief Shepherd, appears you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.”

He then addresses the rest of the Church, saying that younger people should also submit to the elders and be humble and trust God, saying, “Humble yourselves under God’s mighty hand, and he will lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”

He then discusses the topic of warfare against the devil, saying, “Be on the alert! The devil is out to get you! He’s like a prowling lion waiting to eat you! You can resist him and stand firm in faith because you know that your brothers and sisters around the world are also suffering.”

He then offers a closing Benediction:

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”

He also makes some concluding remarks, explaining first the purpose of his letter, and noting that Silas helped write it. This letter was meant to encourage the believers.

And he offers his final Greetings, saying, “She who is in Babylon (Rome), chosen together with you, sends you her greetings, and so does my son Mark. Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ.”

Friday, April 10, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Peter 1-3

Introduction to 1st Peter 1-3

Did Peter write the Petrine epistles? 

According to 1 Peter, at this time believers are being punished merely for bearing Christ’s name, a situation that does not seem to have characterized the time of Peter’s ministry under the Emperor Nero’s era but that does accord with the policies of his successors. 

Letters exchanged between the emperor Trajan and Pliny the Younger, his appointed governor of Bithynia, one of the provinces of Asia Minor to which 1 Peter is addressed, seem to reflect the same conditions the epistle describes. For that reason, many scholars favor a date in the early second century for the epistle, though scholars do not yet fully agree. 

A date after AD 70 is indicated by the author’s greetings from “her who dwells in Babylon.” “Her” refers to the writer’s church, and “Babylon” became the Christian code name for Rome after Titus destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, thus duplicating the Babylonian Empire’s infamous desecration of the holy city (587 BC). 

As an archetype of the of the ungodly nation, “Babylon” is also Revelation’s symbol of Rome. 

Most critics assume that 1 Peter originated in the capital, the traditional site of Peter’s martyrdom. So while the letter itself may have not been written down by Peter himself, it did originate in the church that Peter led in Rome, who preserved his legacy in writing after Nero murdered him. 

Themes of 1st Peter 


Whether or not Peter wrote this epistle, the early church recognized its ethical value by adopting it into its canon.

The author’s purpose is to encourage believers to hold fast to their integrity (as Christians like Peter did in Nero’s time) and to promote Christian ethics.

He urges the faithful to live so blamelessly that outsiders can never accuse them of anything illegal or morally reprehensible. If one endures legal prosecution, it should only be “as a Christian.” 


Often, 1 Peter has been described as a baptismal sermon, and indeed, the author structures his work to outline both the privileges and the dangers involved in adopting the Christian way of life – you will die in order to live.

1 Peter specifically uses the story of Noah’s Flood as a symbol of baptism, as well as lesser known Christian narratives about Christ’s descent into Hades to bring people from death to life. 

Chapter 1 

The opening of the sermon gives attribution to “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” It is addressed to persecuted Christians who have been scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia. The author states that these exiles were chosen by God the Father to be sanctified through God the Holy Spirit and to be obedient and cleansed by the blood of God the Son, Jesus Christ. He prays that they may they be blessed with abundant grace and peace.

Peter then discusses the identity of the people of God and salvation as hope, joy, and privilege.

He praises God for…

His mercy
Our new birth
Our living hope
The resurrection of Christ
Our indestructible inheritance
God’s shield of protection
The ultimate revelation of salvation in the end times

And he says that their future eternal hope causes them to rejoice in their temporary suffering, and that trials prove the genuineness of their faith.

Faith = gold
Trial = fire
Gold survives the fire

He says that their faith despite trials will bring about glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. He says that even though they never saw Jesus, they love him, and even though they don’t see him now, they still believe in him and are filled with joy. And he says that the end result of their faith has already arrived – salvation!

He says that the prophets of the past spoke about their salvation, and they longed to see the day of salvation made possible through the sufferings of the Messiah, Jesus. He says that these prophecies were written for them just as the apostles’ message to them was delivered by the Holy Spirit. And he adds that even angels long to look into these things.

He then discusses the new way of life in holiness, reverence, and love. He tells them to be alert and sober as they wait in hope for Christ and the grace he will give them when he comes. He says to be like obedient children – not submitting to evil desires like they did when they were still ignorant. He says that God has called them to holiness because he himself is holy.

He says that since they rely on a God who is fair to all people, they should be reverent, and live as though they were strangers in a strange land. He says they weren’t redeemed by gold that is destroyed but by the blood of the Lamb – Christ – who was chosen before the creation of the world but was revealed in these last times for their sake. Through him they believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so their faith and hope are in God.

He says that now that they have been purified by the truth, they should love each other from the heart! He says, “You have been born again – a living seed, not a dead seed. People are like grass and flowers who die and decay, but the word of the Lord is forever. That same word was preached to you.” 

Chapter 2 

Peter then talks about the “chosen priesthood.” He tells them to give up on all forms of evil and be like innocent babies who drink only pure milk, so that they can grow up strong in the salvation of our good God. He says that we are the stones that form God’s temple, and Jesus is the chief cornerstone. And he says that according to the prophets, we who believe love the cornerstone of God’s Temple – Christ. But those who don’t believe only see it only as that rock they keep tripping over. And he says, “You used to not be a people, living under God’s judgment in darkness. Now you are a holy kingdom of priests living in the light of God’s mercy.”

He then goes on to discuss the responsibilities of the people of God, and he summarizes the mission of God’s people in the world, saying, “Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.”

He then discusses the issue of respect and how it is the key to living in the world. He says that we should have respect for everyone, including respect for authorities, saying, “God wants you to submit to all human authorities who have been set in place to punish criminals and honor model citizens.” And he says that the result of this is the silencing of fools. He says, “God knows that your good deeds will make false accusations against you sound stupid.”

He then discusses the posture of living as a free person, saying, “Live in freedom, but don’t use freedom as a front for doing evil. You are slaves to God.”

And he summarizes by saying, “Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor.”

He then addresses those who are slaves and tells them to submit to their masters, saying, “Slaves who love God should submit to their masters whether they are kind or cruel. God sees you and doesn’t forget you when you suffer for him. God also sees you if you bring unnecessary suffering upon yourself through rebellion.”

He points to the example of Christ by reciting a hymn, saying:

“Christ suffered for you, so be like Christ
He never sinned
When Christ was abused, he never retaliated or made threats
He trusted in God
He died on the cross for us so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness
By his wounds you have been healed.
You used to be like lost sheep, but now you have returned to your Good Shepherd.” 

Chapter 3 

He then addresses the relationship between wives and husbands. First, he addresses the wives, telling them to submit to your husbands, saying, “Christian wives should submit to their non-Christian husbands in the hope that their husbands will be won over to Christ. Rather than impressing your husbands with jewelry and fancy clothes, impress them with your gentleness.” And he offers Sarah as an example of how the holy women of the past lived in that she submitted to Abraham.

Next, he addresses the husbands, telling them to honor their wives, saying, “Husbands should be considerate and respectful to their wives. Don’t treat them like men but treat them as equal heirs of God’s grace and life. Do this if you want God to listen to your prayers.”

He then repeats his theme telling them to have respect for everyone, saying, “Love everybody. Don’t get revenge. Repay evil with blessing.”

He then talks about suffering for doing good, saying, “Only crazy people will hurt you if you do good things to them… but even if that happens, don’t be afraid. Honor Christ in your hearts. Always be prepared to give an answer to those who ask you about this hope that you have. But when you tell people about Jesus, do it with respect. Don’t give them a reason to hate you.”

He then talks about the vindication of Christ, saying:

“Jesus knows what it’s like to suffer – he died for your sins after all. But he was also made alive by the Spirit. After being made alive, he went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits—to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to him.”

Thursday, April 9, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to Jude's Epistle

Introduction to Jude's Epistle


Jude was likely written between AD 100-125. The author refers to himself as Jude (Judas), a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James. Scholars believe that Jude is not the work of Jesus’ “brother” but rather is a pseudonymous work that entered the canon because of its presumed association with the Lord’s family. Jude shows no personal familiarity with Jesus and cites none of his characteristic teachings. He refers to Christianity as a fixed body of beliefs that the faithful already possess and to the apostles as prophets of a former age.


Apocalyptic Judgment:

Jude views the heretics’ misbehavior as fulfilling the apostles’ predictions about End time. 

Exhortation to the Faithful:

Jude counsels the believers to pray and live in anticipation of Jesus’ return. He conceded that some involved with the heretics deserve pity and can be helped. Others are pitiable but corrupted by sensuality. 

Use of Noncanonical Writings 

The book of Jude interestingly quotes two books from the Pseudepigrapha. Jude 6 refers to an angelic fall, drawing from 1 Enoch 6-12 while Jude 14-15 quotes directly from 1 Enoch 1:9. Jude seems to regard Enoch’s prophecy as inspired by God, but it is unlikely Jude saw 1 Enoch as canonical Scripture. Jude also references another book, the Assumption of Moses, by discussing the dispute over the body of Moses between the devil and the archangel Michael (Jude 9). The actual text of the Assumption of Moses is lost. We only have secondary sources revealing the content of this book. 

While most New Testament authors avoid material from the Pseudepigrapha due to its unreliable content, it is possible that some of its material is genuine. It is believed that Jude is able to draw out truth in the midst of falsehoods. We see Paul utilizing a similar technique when quoting pagan poets (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor 15:33; Titus 1:12). 

Chapter 1

The letter opens with a salutation, and claims to be written by Jude, “a servant of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.” It is written to “Those who have been called, who are loved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ.” 

A blessing is given: “Mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.”

The writer says that he really wanted to write about their common salvation, but he thought best to urge them to “contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people.”

He then gives the reason why… because of the infiltration of ungodly “Antinomians.” He says that certain individuals “whose condemnation was written about long ago” have secretly slipped in among them. He says that they are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ.

He then discusses the judgment of the ungodly, using the Hebrew Scriptures as precedent.

His first example is of unbelieving Israel, and he gives a quick reminder that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe.

His next example is of fallen angels. He says that the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling have been “kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains” for judgment on the “great Day.”

His next example is of Sodom and Gomorrah. He says that Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion and serve as an example of those who “suffer the punishment of eternal fire.”

And he draws a parallel between the character of the present “ungodly” and those of the past. He first exposes their slanderous speech, “On the strength of their dreams they pollute their own bodies, reject authority and heap abuse on celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’”

Jude is alluding to the Jewish Testament of Moses (written approximately the first century AD).

He says, “They slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct—as irrational animals do—will destroy them.”

He then portrays their ungodly character, saying:

“Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain.
They have rushed for profit into Balaam’s error.
They have been destroyed in Korah’s rebellion.
These people are blemishes at your love feasts,
eating with you without the slightest qualm.
They are shepherds who feed only themselves.
They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind.
They are autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted—twice dead.
They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame.
They are wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.”

He then prophecies the destruction of the ungodly. And he refers to the prophecy of Enoch, saying, “Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about them: ‘See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all of them of all the ungodly acts they have committed in their ungodliness, and of all the defiant words ungodly sinners have spoken against him.’”

This quote is from the Jewish First Book of Enoch (written approximately the first century BC).

He says, “These people are grumblers and faultfinders. They follow their own evil desires. They boast about themselves. They flatter others for their own advantage.”

He then refers to the prophecy of the Apostles, saying, “The Apostles foretold: ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’ These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.”

He then calls the believers to persevere, saying, “But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.”

He also calls on them to be merciful, saying, “Be merciful to those who doubt. Save others by snatching them from the fire. To others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.”

He then closes his letter with a doxology:

“To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Monday, April 6, 2020

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Chronicles 27-29

Readings for this week

Monday: 1st Chronicles 27
1st Chronicles 27
1st Chronicles 27
Thursday: Jude 1
Friday: 1st Peter 1
1st Peter 2
1st Peter 3

Introduction to 1st Chronicles 27-29

Chapter 27 

Within David's Kingdom, there were divisions of 24,000 men who were on duty month by month. There was a chief officer over each tribe. Joab was the commander of the army. 

Chapter 28 

David assembled the leaders and said, "The LORD has chosen Solomon to build his house." He gave Solomon, David's son, the plans for the temple. 

Chapter 29 

The leaders presented offerings to God. David prayed, "Yours is the kingdom, O LORD. We give back to what you have given to us." David died at an old age.

This takes us to the end of the first half of The Chronicles.