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About the book

      T.O.D. taught from Hebrews and the general epistles at Paran Baptist Church on Highway 341 / Johnsonville Hwy in Lake City, South Carolina. This commentary is based on the notes he wrote in preparation for the lessons.

 

      The author was licensed to preach the Gospel by Paran on May 26, 1979. He has been a student of Scripture since 1972. He was an art teacher for over 30 years in Florence School District 3.

 

      Copyright Information:

      Johnston, T.O.D.

      A Layman's Commentary on Hebrews and the General Epistles/Religious Non-fiction

      1st Edition 2014

      This book is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

      http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/

 

      Feel free to contact us:

      Owen Johnston, Publisher

      E-Mail – email@biblestudylessonspdf.info

 

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      All of the author's Bible study lessons may be downloaded for free. Visit our website and click on the "Free Downloads" link.

      http://www.biblestudylessonspdf.info

 

      Dedication:

      Dedicated for knowledge, understanding, and inspiration as we seek to follow Our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

Preface

      After reading many scholarly commentaries on different books of Scripture, it became my mental habit to sift through the minute discussions of individual words and/or phrases, and the quoting of various scholars of the past of many differing opinions, and center on the most logical and inspirational truths that remained. Thus I relied on the studied scholarship of those who had learned the original languages and had read all the previous scholars that had written to get the best possible understanding of Scripture that I, as a non-scholar, could. It seemed that most church members would not attempt to read scholarly works - but would benefit from their knowledge if presented in a plain and straightforward manner, the truths they had perceived. The following commentary is my attempt to do this. May God bless my efforts to the extent that they increase the understanding and faith of the reader.

 

T.O.D. Johnston

2005

Hebrews – Lesson I

      The greatest, inclusive, and illustrated definition and explanation of all the doctrines of the Gospel are written in this epistle. It describes the whole plan and point of God's dispensations to and for man from the foundation for the world to the incarnation of Christ. The complete story of the Gospel, and the fulfillment of the Law: Christ is the End of the Law for righteousness to them that believe.

      The letter is addressed to the Jews, assuming a familiar knowledge of the Mosaic Law, the traditions of the elders, and the Mishna (written and oral law illustrated). Let us read the Scriptures.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 1.

 

God Has Spoken by His Son

1       God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,

2       hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

3       who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;

4       being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

 

The Son Superior to Angels

5       ¶ For unto which of the angels said he at any time,

      

Thou art my Son,

this day have I begotten thee?

And again,

I will be to him a Father,

and he shall be to me a Son?

6       And again, when he bringeth in the first-begotten into the world, he saith,

And let all the angels of God worship him.

7       And of the angels he saith,

Who maketh his angels spirits,

and his ministers a flame of fire.

8       But unto the Son he saith,

Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever:

a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.

9       Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity;

therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee

with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.

10       And,

Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth;

and the heavens are the works of thine hands.

11       They shall perish, but thou remainest:

and they all shall wax old as doth a garment;

12       and as a vesture shalt thou fold them up,

and they shall be changed: but thou art the same,

and thy years shall not fail.

13       But to which of the angels said he at any time,

Sit on my right hand,

until I make thine enemies thy footstool?

14       Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?

 

      Verse 1.

      God is mentioned at the first. In this particular context it is emphasized that God had communicated to the people and the prophets throughout history at different times and in diverse ways. He revealed His will to redeem man through the incarnation of His Son

 

      Verse 2.

      The Gospel dispensation takes place in the last days (the last time), the last dispensation or communication). The Jewish nation and its people face their coming devastation and destruction. This 'good news' was delivered by a Son, appointed heir of all things, and by whom all things were created.

 

      Verse 3.

      As the Father is the sun, source of all power, of the same essence is the Son as the outshining, the splendour of the Sun. The one is eternal with the other. Both, though distinct, are together and eternal. Christ showed forth the image of God to man in His life and ministry, His sacrificial love, grace and mercy toward humankind.

      The Christ is upholding all things by the Word of His power shows; the immensity of all-pervading power of God, eternal with the Father, both before the beginning of time and after its end.

      Christ alone purged mankind's sins, giving up His life. This placed Him above all the patriarchs from Abraham and Moses.

      The right hand is the place of greatest importance next to the throne of God the Father. Christ, after His ascension, sits there on the right hand of the Majesty on high, in glory everlasting, in governing of all things through time and eternity.

 

      Verse 4.

      He that is greater than the angels is the One they adore – He is God. He possessed or acquired, as God, shown forth in the flesh, through His perfect obedience, His suffering and sacrificial death, the more excellent name and position than the angels.

 

      Verse 5.

      'Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee' - Psalms 2:7, which was also quoted by Paul in Acts 13:33 as referring to Christ's resurrection. Also explained in Romans 1:4. The Resurrection proved the Sonship with power. Angels were and are God's created servants. Christ's resurrection unto eternal life was fullest proof. He was innocent and righteous. He had accomplished the purpose of His sacrifice. Also innocent in His miraculous conception by a virgin. These facts refute the blasphemies of the Jews who reject Him.

 

      Paul then refers to II Samuel 7:14 where God promised a seed to David who would sit upon his throne and it would be established forever. This emphasizes that the Old Testament recorded these promises concerning Christ, the Son of God.

 

      Verse 6.

      Again, by the resurrection, God brought the first begotten in to the world as One worthy of the worship of God's angels. This quotes Psalm 97:7.

 

      Verse 7.

      Quoting from Psalm 104:4 – this refers to angels in the divine administration as spirits and flames of fire, yet are inferior to the position of the Son. They minister or serve God in the form of wind and fire at God's bidding. This is in contrast with the eternal power of the Son.

 

      Verse 8.

      Paul quotes Psalm 45:6,7 - "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." Said to Jesus Christ – naming Him as God. This Psalm speaks of the Messiah as the Son of David. Ezekiel 34:24 - "And David my servant shall be a Prince over them forever." This states the Divinity of Christ. The sceptre was a staff of various forms that were an instrument of power and authority of a monarch. The Messiah's sceptre was one of righteousness as was His Kingdom to be ruled.

 

      Verse 9.

      A just ruler loves what is right and hates injustice and evil. So is Christ the righteous. Therefore God set Him apart, consecrated by anointing 'with the oil of gladness' above all others. This is the Messiah (the anointed one). No other was prophet, Priest, and King.

 

      Verse 10.

      This is addressed to the Son as Creator, in laying the foundation of the earth, and also the infinite wisdom and beauty of the heavens.

 

      Verses 11,12.

      This 'old' creation will perish, like an 'old' garment to be folded up and changed into a new heavens and a new earth. The Lord remains the same and His life is eternal. His years shall not fail. Note: the word 'world' is a contraction of 'wear old'. This expressed the idea of the earth wearing out over time.

 

      Verse 13.

      Paul continues to cite Old Testament Scripture to prove the deity of Christ as the Lord. Here is Psalms 11:1, where the Lord is to sit on God's right hand, until his enemies are his footstool. This places Him as equal to God, far above the angels who were messengers and servants, even His servants (to mankind).

 

      Verse 14.

      Clearly stated, angels are ministering spirits to Christians. They are never seated before God. Their service will continue until the 'heirs of salvation' receive their inheritance in heaven.

Hebrews – Lesson II

      Doctrine and the Greatness of Salvation.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 2.

 

So Great Salvation

1       Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.

2       For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward;

3       how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

4       God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

 

The Captain of Salvation Made Perfect through Suffering

5       ¶ For unto the angels hath he not put in subjection the world to come, whereof we speak.

6       But one in a certain place testified, saying,

What is man, that thou art mindful of him?

or the son of man, that thou visitest him?

7       Thou madest him a little lower than the angels;

thou crownedst him with glory and honor,

and didst set him over the works of thy hands:

8       thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.

For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing that is not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him.

9       But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

10       ¶ For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

11       For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

12       saying,

I will declare thy name unto my brethren,

in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee.

13       And again,

I will put my trust in him.

And again,

Behold I and the children which God hath given me.

14       ¶ Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;

15       and deliver them, who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.

16       For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

17       Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

18       For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

 

      Verse 1.

      Because God has spoken to us as His Son, the 2nd Person of the Trinity, of eternal things of the greatest import to man: 'Therefore' we must give the most earnest attention for our very souls. We must keep them close, continually, so no part slips away from our consciousness and memory.

 

      Verse 2.

      The Words from God as delivered by angels (see Acts 7:53; Galatians 3:19) were confirmed by divine authority. This was the law which 'transgression and disobedience' had prescribed a punishment. Compared to the Gospel this was strict, the punishment inescapable and severe for any and every infraction. In this dispensation, no one could actually earn their salvation through perfect obedience.

 

      Verse 3.

      If one in the present 'neglect so great salvation' offered by Christ, first spoken to the apostles, then how can anyone escape damnation? There is no other remedy to man's sinfulness. This Gospel was continually confirmed from Pentecost onward in the power of the Holy Spirit to the conversion of the Jews first who believed, and then unto Gentiles.

 

      Verse 4.

      This was confirmed by God with 'signs and wonders', gifts of the Holy Spirit. All these were above and beyond the ability of any person, and confirmed God's presence and blessing. They were clearly wrought by God according 'to His own will.'

 

      Verse 5.

      The world to come is what Paul is talking about. It relates to the new world order where Christ reigns at God's right hand. The angels will not have authority there as they did among the nations in the Old Testament times (Daniel 10:20,21; 12:1). The future is in the hands of Christ where all creation will be subject to Him.

 

      Verse 6.

      David in Psalm 8:4-6 - 'But one' assumes that any Hebrews reading this would recognize this quote as very familiar, thus shows reverence for the author. The point: that God would condescend to deal with this sinful creature of man and show such mercy. The son of man refers to Jesus taking on human nature to provide the way of salvation for fallen humanity. This was only accomplished by His sacrifice of His life for them: love and mercy eternal and unmerited.

 

      Verses 7,8.

      Paul is applying these words, not to be speaking of Adam (from Genesis 1:26), but of Christ. He was made, for a little while, lower than the angels (Psalms 8:5 in the Septuagint). The second part: He is, as the Son of Man (see Daniel 7:13). Jesus spoke of Himself as the Son of Man, thus identifying Himself as the head of a new creation and ruler of the world to come. He is crowned 'with glory and honor', with all things under His authority, nothing that is not under His feet. As the victorious Messiah, after His resurrection, He was exalted, all power given to Him in heaven and earth. The ultimate subject is not yet seen being now the period of grace, the 'Times of the Gentiles' when the Gospel is offered to all people. When that time is finished, He will reign over all creation.

 

      Verse 9.

      To redeem man, Jesus had to become a man, lower than the angels to suffer the penalty of death, because of man's sins. To 'taste' death apparently refers to the means used to carry out the death penalty by being forced to drink a cup of poison. This was commonly used in Greece in the time of Socrates as his recorded sentence and death (recorded by Plato). In Matthew 26:39, Christ prayed: "Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me?" But of this cup He did drink, by the grace of God, for every man. For this, He was crowned with the highest glory and honor.

 

      Verse 10.

      According to the magnificence of His mercy and grace toward His creation, God planned for and brought to pass our redemption. This was and is to bring 'many sons unto glory', through Christ the leader and Captain (and Prince) of their salvation. This path included extreme suffering, part of paying the price for the penalty of our sins, even death on the cruel and torturous cross. His sinless, perfect and righteous life was of such immeasurable value as to be perfect to pay for man's also immeasurable sins.

 

      Verse 11.

      He that makes holy atonement and reconciliation to God and those He redeemed are all one. Both as having the same human nature, Christ is not ashamed to call those that have accepted Him as brethren.

 

      Verse 12.

      Referring to Psalm 22:22 as Christ speaking to the Father: that He will declare God's glorious attributes to the believers in the Church. They will sing praises for God's mercy unto them. Christ states in John 1:18 that He has revealed God unto man, in praise of the Father.

 

      Verse 13.

      Here the writer refers to Psalms 18:2, the Messiah referring to trusting in God. 'I and the children' comes from Isaiah 8:18. All these introduce whole paragraphs of the cited Scriptures that all are prophecies of the Messiah fulfilled in Christ. Consider the last one: 'Behold, I and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which dwelleth in mount Zion.' All point to Scriptures fulfilled in Jesus Christ. This also includes the calling of the Gentiles especially to Paul, in his entire ministry.

 

      Verse 14.

      All offspring of Adam and Eve are children of the flesh, therefore fallen, sinners in need of a Savior. He had to partake of the same flesh, the incarnation, to become a man of flesh and blood. Only in this way could His death pay for the children of God (Jews and Gentiles alike). (John 11:51,52.) He became the propitiation for the sins of the whole world (I John 2:2). This also included the provision of the power of the Holy Spirit to render useless and without effect the power of the Devil over death. Isaiah 25:8 - "He will swallow up death in victory..."

 

      Verse 15.

      This appears to be principally referring to Gentiles, having no revelation, no promise of life after death. They preferred life, even in the worst circumstances, to death. They lived in fear of death, having no hope beyond the grave. Those that acknowledge God, being wicked, are afraid of death and eternity. This pervaded the lives and thoughts of those 'in bondage'. Some would do anything in their lives to preserve their lives, so great was their fear of death. To the Christian, death is not to be feared, but leads only to blessing and the eternal state, to be with God as His child.

 

      Verse 16.

      Christ did not take on the nature of angels, not intending to redeem angels. He did take on the nature of a man in the line of Abraham. Abraham was promised that from his seed all the nations of the earth should be blessed. In this Christ seized the falling humanity, preventing them from endless perdition. This was not done for the fallen angels for whom the outer darkness is prepared. Humans were endowed with the image of God uniquely.

 

      Verse 17.

      Christ had to take on all things of a man 'made like unto his brethren.' In this way to represent and suffer in his stead, to make atonement. In this way He experienced our infirmities and afflictions. He represented us before God, as our High Priest, to take our punishment in our stead for our sins. This brought 'reconciliation for the sins of the people.'

 

      Verse 18.

      As Christ suffered, He felt deep compassion for others who suffered. Because He was tempted (by satan, in fatigue, hunger, etc.). To them Christ offers strength and guidance in the Spirit, in prayer find mercy and grace, supplying what they need to endure and come through.

Hebrews – Lesson III

      Jesus, the High Priest.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 3.

 

Christ Superior to Moses

1       Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus;

2       who was faithful to him that appointed him, as also Moses was faithful in all his house.

3       For this man was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, inasmuch as he who hath builded the house hath more honor than the house.

4       For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.

5       And Moses verily was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken after;

6       but Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

 

A Rest for the People of God

7       ¶ Wherefore as the Holy Ghost saith,

Today if ye will hear his voice,

8       harden not your hearts, as in the provocation,

in the day of temptation in the wilderness:

9       when your fathers tempted me, proved me,

and saw my works forty years.

10       Wherefore I was grieved with that generation,

and said, They do always err in their heart;

and they have not known my ways.

11       So I sware in my wrath,

They shall not enter into my rest.

12       Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

13       But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

14       For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;

15       while it is said,

Today if ye will hear his voice,

harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

16       For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses.

17       But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness?

18       And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

19       So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief.

 

      Verse 1.

      What has gone before leads to this consideration. First Paul addresses the readers as 'holy brethren', those consecrated to God in heart, speech, and actions. This is also the heavenly calling, from sin to salvation.

      Consider our High Priest, Jesus Christ, Apostle of God. (As so thought of among the Jews – High Priest also thought of as Apostle of God.) Paul directs the Hebrews to recognize Jesus Christ in these offices. It is from this Jesus that the New Covenant comes – the priest and prophet, one to declare the will of God, the other to minister holy things to the people. Under the Old Testament, Moses was the Apostle, Aaron the High Priest. Now Jesus has declared the Father's will as Prophet. As Priest, He makes atonement for the people's sins – a Mediator between man and God.

 

      Verse 2.

      Referring to Numbers 12:7 where God testifies to Moses as being faithful to the home and family, to the whole congregation of Israel.

      So also and more so was Christ for His Church. And this even unto His death, revealing the promises of God and His great mercy and grace toward all men.

 

      Verse 3.

      Jesus Christ was counted more worthy of glory than Moses, Aaron, or the angels. He that builds the house (the Church as house, family, and body) is Christ. Moses was in the house of God built by Christ and under His authority, care, and maintenance.

 

      Verse 4.

      Men build houses, plan it for a specific function. To continue the metaphor, each family has a head. God built the universe, which includes the Church of Christ. Which Christ provided the foundation for.

 

      Verse 5.

      Moses was faithful as a servant of the house. Everything under Moses was a testimony to the things which were to follow: those things regarding Jesus Christ and His Gospel. John 5:46 – Jesus spoke: "If ye had believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me."

 

      Verse 6.

      Jesus was faithful as the first-born Son, over His own house. We as Christians are His Church and family and house. We shall continue as we maintain our profession and rejoice 'of the hope, firm unto the end.' The way to God was now open, with liberty of access, by the blood of Jesus.

 

      Verse 7.

      Wherefore as the Holy Spirit says, then a quote from Psalm of David 95:7 – the exhortation is to heed the voice of the Lord today, and persevere to hold firm to His mercy.

 

      Verse 8.

      To not heed His voice brings the result of the heart becoming hardened. This happened in the 'provocation' - where the Israelites provoked God in the wilderness. They murmured against their condition – having no bread. God provided manna. They again provoked God, complaining about no water. Later in the 3rd year from the Exodus from Egypt they again provoked God by making the golden calf. Again when they were to take possession of the land of Canaan they were afraid and were destined to all die in the wilderness for not believing and obeying God.

 

      Verse 9.

      The Israelites had tempted, and proved Him in the 40 years in the wilderness. They had seen God's miracles, yet tempted God by their refusal to trust and believe God for the remainder of their lives (that same 40 years in the wilderness).

 

      Verse 10.

      God as the Father of that great, set-apart Jewish family, who He had supported and given great blessings, yet that generation grieved Him. They continually set their affections on earthly comforts and values – not on being holy, good, or upright in their hearts. In spite of the miraculous deliverance from Egypt and the provisions for them in the wilderness. They erred in their hearts, not acknowledging His blessings, His power, and His tender-hearted goodness toward them.

 

      Verse 11.

      Because of their continued lack of faith, and grumbling against God, they brought God to wrath (Deuteronomy 11:2,5). That generation was not allowed to enter into His rest in the promised land. Their carcasses would drop in the wilderness (Numbers 14:29).

 

      Verse 12.

      The lesson of the Israelites is a warning to any 'brethren'. Christians have been brought from the bondage of sin, with the promise of everlasting life. Through unbelief and disobedience, they lost their rest. An evil heart of unbelief will lead to rejection of the living God. This heart of unbelief has 5 steps: 1. Consenting to sin, 2. hardening of the heart through sin, 3. unbelief from the previous sinning (to deny the truth of the Gospel), 4. causing them to speak evil of the Gospel, 5. apostasy, a seared conscience, and a reprobate mind.

 

      Verse 13.

      To exhort one another daily supposes that they met, have had close fellowship to be able to be contacted daily. The continually present 'now' is the proper and necessary time to cleave to the living Almighty God. This will prevent the hardening and selfishness and worldliness of those Israelites. Thus is the deceitfulness of sin.

 

      Verse 14.

      To have accepted Christ by faith includes the whole Gospel, its benefits, blessings, and promised eternal 'life' (unto the end). Perseverance is called for, to 'hold steadfast'.

 

      Verse 15.

      Quoting Psalm 95:7,8 – If you hear the Lord's voice, don't neglect so great a salvation and hold fast (harden not your hearts as they did in the wilderness).

 

      Verse 16.

      The majority did provoke God, even in the hundreds of thousands. Caleb and Joshua, Moses and the priests also were led out of Egypt by Moses and did not provoke God.

 

      Verse 17.

      The 40 years God was grieved with those who fell in the wilderness, those who sinned. God at the time of this epistle's writing was now a long time provoked by the generation rejecting the Messiah. Was not the destruction of Jerusalem and the nation of Israel God's judgment against them for unbelief?

 

      Verse 18.

      The height of the sin of those that were not allowed to enter into God's rest, again is emphasized as unbelief, their greatest sin. God swore it, so serious was their stubbornness and hard-heartedness.

 

      Verse 19.

      God had provided multiple miracles, as visible proof of His care and provision for them. He strengthened and led them every step of the way out from Egypt. And yet they stubbornly would not believe, but disobeyed Him, time after time, being willfully blind, bringing upon themselves the final judgment of God, their destruction.

 

      Finis.

Hebrews – Lesson IV

      Christian rest is by faith as was that promised to Israel.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 4.

 

1       Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

2       For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.

3       For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said,

As I have sworn in my wrath,

if they shall enter into my rest:

although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.

4       For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise,

And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.

5       And in this place again,

If they shall enter into my rest.

6       Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:

7       again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, Today, after so long a time; as it is said,

Today if ye will hear his voice,

harden not your hearts.

8       For if Jesus 1 had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day.

9       There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God.

10       For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his.

11       ¶ Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.

12       For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

13       Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

 

Jesus the Great High Priest

14       ¶ Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.

15       For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

16       Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

 

      Verse 1.     

      Since the Israelites lost the rest of Canaan, through stubbornness and unbelief, let us be afraid of the same outcome. Canaan was an allegory for the grand privileges of the Gospel, and eternal rest as its final reward. To come short alludes to physical contests where to be behind the winner is to lose the prize. One must run well and finish the race, cross the finish line (to persevere unto the end).

 

      Verse 2.

      Those had a great promise of entering an earthly rest, while we have an eternal one. They did not profit from the great promise, because they refused to believe God.

 

      Verse 3.

      By belief in Christ we receive great spiritual blessings, promises of eternal glory. These bring peace and joy, freedom from the guilt and power of sin, which provides a contentment and confidence in God (inward rest).

      When God in His wrath swore the Israelites would not enter into His rest (in Canaan), until believing Hebrews were in Canaan.

      The original rest, set from the foundation of the world, after the works were finished, was the Sabbath, the 7th Day of rest. Both of these typified and pointed to the rest to be experienced by believers in the finished work of Christ.

 

      Verse 4.

      Paul quotes Genesis 2:2. God spoke of the sixth day, the completion of creation, the setting apart of the next day (the 7th) as a day of rest for man, as it was for God, a type of the rest which would ultimately be fulfilled in eternity.

 

      Verse 5.

      In Psalm 95:3 (already quoted), a second rest was promised to the obedient, believing seed of Abraham. That rest was not the one which God intended, but a further one, one that centered on absolute trust and faith in God and His promised Redeemer.

 

      Verse 6.

      The ones first promised rest in God's promises of salvation and rest entered not because of their lack of faith. This rest was continued to be preached even after the Israelites were established in Canaan. Therefore a further rest was intended.

 

      Verse 7.

      The day (or time) of rest for the ancient Jews has long elapsed (those disobedient that died in the wilderness) and the days of David when true rest was also not enjoyed (as expressed in Psalm 95:7). God in His mercy has given dispensation of mercy and goodness by Christ Jesus. Now, today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts. Believe and you will enter into His promised rest.

 

      Verse 8.

      If Joshua (after entering the Promised Land) had given them true rest, then David would not later speak (in Psalm 95:7) of another rest to come.

 

      Verse 9.

      The conclusion that Paul reaches: therefore there remains a rest to the people of God. This is compared to the Sabbath rest of God after the completion of the creation. The new rest is for the people of God when their life of service is completed.

 

      Verse 10.

      The believer in Christ has ceased from his own works (as of the Law) for his justification, and there is in a state of rest, but will be in eternal rest at the end of his life.

 

      Verse 11.

      Paul calls upon all believers to exert every ability, body, mind, and spirit to enter that rest. This life, as a test, must be passed by perseverance to the very end. The danger is to fall after the same example of unbelief of the Jews in the wilderness. They had seen, experienced, and been richly blessed by God in deliverance and many miracles, yet rebelled, and died in unbelief.

 

      Verse 12.

      The word represents the revelation of God as active, living all-powerful, illuminating, condemning, discerning and penetrating persons, times, and conditions. The sacred Scriptures point out all the right and productive means of life. Also prescribes the means of healing. God's commandments are as sharp swords. This conforms with words from Isaiah 55:10,11 -

 

10       Day and night they go about it upon the walls thereof:

mischief also and sorrow are in the midst of it.

11       Wickedness is in the midst thereof:

deceit and guile depart not from her streets.

 

      The Word of God penetrates deeper than any sword entering the soul and spirit, into the heart, mind, thoughts. It measures secret intentions and sentiments. To divide between soul and spirit, the soul is inferior, including our thoughts and desires of our present welfare. The spirit is superior power, related to truth and justice, and things future and eternal. The joints and marrow describe the Word of God dividing even the finer or even basic physical parts to emphasize the divining power to the innermost parts of a person as is further expressed in the final clause of this verse - "a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart." There is no deeper place in a human than the intents of the heart. It is an instrument (as a two edged sword is) to be used by the heavenly workman and applied by the Holy Spirit.

 

      Verse 13.

      God, from Whom this Word comes, and by Whom it is effective, is infinitely wise. His design is to reach all hearts. It is given the infinite fullness of meaning to suit all cases (all creatures). All things are open to His omnipresent sight. It is to Him we are responsible to give an account.

 

      Verse 14.

      Now we have a great high priest, who made reconciliation for the sins of the people. Jesus is greater than all those that went before, including Aaron. Jesus has entered into heaven, into the presence of the Divine Almighty. This is our profession, upon which we must hold fast as above all others of all time.

 

      Verse 15.

      Through the Son of God, our high priest, in His human nature (equal to the Divine nature) experienced all human trials, temptations, and weaknesses. He was 'in all points tempted like as we  are, yet without sin.' In the likeness of human flesh, he was completely qualified to make atonement for the sins of all humanity.

 

      Verse 16.

      This is distinct from and far above the yearly approach of the high priest, who with fear and trembling, could enter the holy of holies, bearing the blood of the sacrifice to the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. Now, all may approach God with confidence (boldly) and obtain mercy. Mercy refers to the pardon of sins, being brought into God's favor. Grace supports after receiving mercy. Grace supports the soul, unto purity and righteousness, upheld in all trials and temptations. We are to cry for mercy and grace at the time of need, and we expect to receive these when we call. This is part of the confidence that includes boldness: God hears and dispenses His blessings.

Hebrews – Lesson V

      The High Priesthood of Christ.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 5.

 

1       For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

2       who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity.

3       And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins.

4       And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.

5       ¶ So also Christ glorified not himself to be made a high priest; but he that said unto him,

Thou art my Son,

today have I begotten thee.

6       As he saith also in another place,

Thou art a priest for ever

after the order of Melchiz'edek.

7       ¶ Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

8       though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;

9       and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

10       called of God a high priest after the order of Melchiz'edek.

 

The Danger of Slothfulness and Apostasy

11       ¶ Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

12       For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.

13       For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.

14       But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.

 

      Verse 1.

      Referring to Leviticus 21:10 – the high priest shall be taken from the tribe of Levi and of the family of Aaron. He is appointed to preside over the worship of God. Consider – God was the dispenser of all temporal good, and lawgiver and judge. His worship was two fold: 1. Offerings or gifts, and 2. Sacrifices. The offerings showed the acknowledgment of His providence in temporal blessings. The sacrifices were offered to atone for sin before the righteous lawgiver and judge.

      The high priest was the mediator between God and man. He offered both gifts and sacrifices to God on their behalf. Christ offered His own sacrifice, as our High Priest, so we may come with boldness to the throne of grace.

 

      Verse 2.

      Our High Priest has compassion on the ignorant, and those that have lost their way. He has experienced the weaknesses of the flesh and observed first hand the deplorable conditions and suffering of so many.

 

      Verse 3.

      Every human High Priest is also imperfect, a sinner himself, therefore he must offer sacrifices for his own sins as he does for the people – so he was aware of being like all other people.

 

      Verse 4.

      No man takes this honor (office) unto himself, but is appointed by God Himself, as was Aaron. So was Christ appointed by God as High Priest, for all mankind.

 

      Verse 5.

      Jesus Christ was appointed by God to this highest office of High Priest of the entire human race. He offered His own life. He arose from the dead, ascended to the right hand of God in heaven. He intercedes there for us, forever. God set Christ apart as His only begotten Son, chosen forever as His High Priest.

 

      Verse 6.

      Quoting from Psalm 110:4 – it predicts the birth, suffering, death, and triumphs of the Messiah. Jesus will continue to be a priest forever, even as He was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Melchizedek is from Genesis 14:18 etc. as not having beginning of days nor end of life recorded, yet was a priest of the Most High God.

 

      Verse 7.

      Christ, in His time of incarnation, experienced all the weaknesses of human nature, experienced the infirmities of the body and human soul as others did. He learned obedience by the things he suffered, but not because of any personal sinning but following the very spirit of God's law. Then by dying, as also innocent, He earned the right to be the Savior upon whom eternal salvation was offered to all them that obey Him (verse 9). Jesus offered up prayers with intense entreaties, and strong crying with tears, unto Him that was able to save Him from death. Consider Christ's prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, where He cried to let this cup pass, but that God's will was of the ultimate and utmost importance. Yet was Christ suffering in agony to bear the weight of all human sin in His body on the cross, to be forsaken by the Father in order to defeat death, that we might be forgiven and reconciled to God.

 

      Verse 8.

      Though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things He suffered. This is dealt with in greater detail in chapter 12:2-11, referring to Christ also.

 

      Verse 9.

      He died and rose again, having obtained the goal, He enjoyed the fruits of it. His labor, the cause of eternal salvation of all them that believe in Him. Christ was high priest, and pure sacrifice by His offering upon the cross.

 

      Verse 10.

      Quoting from Psalm 110, as David was inspired to write about the Messiah, the 4th verse - "Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchiz'edek." This happened in heaven, accepted as high priest, then His offering accepted as atonement for the sins of the world, then Christ was seated at God's right hand as Governor of the world.

 

      Verse 11.

      Paul has many things to say, concerning Jesus' endless priesthood, as paying the ransom for the whole world, satisfying the Divine justice, by His sacrifice. To be dull of hearing indicates a person walking with heavy steps with little speed – little exertion to come to the full knowledge of the truth (carnal Christians?)

 

      Verse 12.

      These people had heard the Word of Truth for a long period, they should have been able to teach others, but were not. But they had need to be retaught, a second time, the basic elements of the Christian faith. This points to the oracles of God in the Old Testament, specifically those prophecies in Psalm 110, and Isaiah 53. They must have forgotten or had not carefully retained what they had been taught that they required to begin with the first principles (the milk) of the Gospel. The oracles of God identify a declaration from God directly – the Old Testament in general.

 

      Verses 13,14.

      The contrast is described between the babe in Christ, and those of full age.

      The babe "is unskilful in the word of righteousness", dull of hearing, inexperienced, uses only milk.

      The adult is wise and prudent, sense of experience to "discern both good and evil", have need of solid food of the Word. By reason of use means the continual hearing, believing, praying, and living accordingly, in the grace of the Holy Spirit, which matures and grows that person into full stature. They have exercised their senses and therefore are able to discern, so the spiritually mature person can discern in spiritual things, good from evil, and false doctrine from God's truth.

 

      Finis.

Hebrews – Lesson VI

      On to perfection.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 6.

 

1       Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

2       of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

3       And this will we do, if God permit.

4       For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

5       and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

6       if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

7       For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

8       but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

9       ¶ But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

10       For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

11       And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

12       that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

13       ¶ For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

14       saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

15       And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

16       For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

17       Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

18       that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

19       which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

20       whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchiz'edek.

 

      Verse 1.

      Moving from the condition of new believers (babes in Christ), one must move to the highest doctrines of Christ. The goal is perfection, therefore all effort must be maintained toward that goal. From all the fundamental doctrines about Christ fulfilling the Law, the prophecies concerning the rites and sacrifices He fulfilled also. We must depend on God's spirit to carry us forward in light, love, cleansing and the power to turn away from sin.

      The foundation brought us from being dead in trespasses and sins, then being awakened by the Word and the Spirit to repent and turn in faith unto God and His mercy and grace. Recognizing our sins, we feel the necessity to repent, the need for God's mercy.

      By faith we find that mercy in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior.

 

      Verse 2.

      The doctrine of baptism, immersion of the body in water, the emblem of purity the Holy God requires in those who worship Him.

      The laying on of hands was frequent, especially concerning sacrifices. A person bringing a sacrifice would lay their hands upon it, confess their sins, then present it to the priest to be offered unto God to atone for that person's sins.

      The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment were partially revealed in the Old Testament.

 

Isaiah 26:19 -

Thy dead men shall live,

together with my dead body shall they arise.

Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust:

for thy dew is as the dew of herbs,

and the earth shall cast out the dead.

 

Daniel 2:2 -

And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

 

      With the Old Testament, it variously represented under the Law those things that would be proved and brought to pass in the Gospel. The Gospel therefore teaches them in their fullest Spirit and power.

 

      1. Repentance: unto life. 2. Faith in Christ our atonement for sin. 3. Baptism by water in the name of the Holy Trinity (including the baptism of the Holy Ghost). 4. The laying on of hands, the communication of various gifts of the Holy Spirit for the edification of the Church. 5. The resurrection of the dead, proved by the resurrection of Christ. 6. The final Judgment before Christ.

 

      Verse 3.

      Paul commits to teach the Jews from the Old Testament the sublime truths of the Gospel as typified by the Law and the sacrificial system.

 

      Verse 4.

      Paul here describes those who 'have tasted the heavenly gift'. They have heard the Gospel message of salvation, they were 'enlightened', they were witnessed to by the Holy Spirit of God's love and forgiveness.

 

      Verse 5.

      They have also 'tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.' Again the truth of the Gospel. The powers could refer to the many miracles wrought by Christ. If those who witness any of these turn from faith in Christ they openly reject Christ.

 

      Verse 6.

      Any who turn away from Christ, in substance and in effect deny that He died to pay for the sins of the world and their sins in particular. They label Him as an impostor, a troublemaker, justifiably crucified as a guilty criminal, even as the Jews did. This is described as shamefully crucifying Him a second time. If they had been with that crowd they also would have called for His crucifixion.

 

      Verse 7.

      Paul now turns to a natural illustration concerning the tilling of the soil. Men cultivate their field, as God provides the rain in its season, and the crops produce the fruit of their labor, which compensates the farmer's efforts, as blessings received from God.

 

      Verse 8.

      The opposite case: where a field is cultivated and receives the rain, but produces only thorns and briars, fruitless weeds; it is rejected as not improvable. Paul, very likely, but not openly, is referring to the rejection of Christ by the Jewish nation, which would be soon destroyed 'whose end is to be burned' by the Romans in 70 A.D. The Jewish nation had been 'cultivated' by the whole Old Testament as well as the seed planted by Christ Himself, but which was rejected, even cursed as he was. This field would be destroyed.

 

      Verse 9.

      After having given the most solemn warning against apostasy, he encourages the 'beloved' brethren. They are the good soil that will bear fruit from the seed of the Gospel: 'better things', 'that accompany salvation'. 'Though thus we speak' refers back to the wrath of God that was to bring destruction upon the Jewish nation for rejecting Christ.

 

      Verse 10.

      What God has promised He shall bring to pass. He will reward every good work (labor of love). The ministering to the saints is considered the offering sent to the poor Christians in Judea, which they have continued to do.

 

      Verse 11.

      The earnest wish of Paul and companions is that 'every one of you show the same diligence.' This would certainly show all observers their open and public pledge of their faithfulness in their acts of love. This witnesses to their 'full assurance of hope unto the end.'

 

      Verse 12.

      The opposite is to be slothful. They must be diligent. They are to follow those that went before, who kept the faith, patiently endured difficulty, and inherited God's promises. This includes the gifts of the Spirit to the Church, the rest and peace in Christ here and now, and the rest and peace of glory in eternity.

 

      Verse 13.

      The promise made to Abraham here happened when he had offered his son (Isaac) on the altar.

 

      Genesis 22:16-18 -

 

16       and said, By myself have I sworn, saith the LORD, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son,

17       that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies;

18       and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.

 

      That His promise was certain to be fulfilled was based upon His righteousness, immutable truth, and ultimate power.

 

      Verses 14,15.

      God said He would continue to bless and to multiply the descendants of Abraham. This would include Christians, the spiritual seed of Abraham, saved by faith, even as Abraham was.

 

      Verse 16.

      'Men verily swear by the greater' - by the one with the greatest authority who can recognize the obligation, and bring punishment to the one who breaks it.

      An oath was a promise of something a person has the power to do, when required by proper authority, if taken under God, are allowable for Christians, (as in court as a witness).

 

      Verse 17.

      'Unto the heirs of a promise', God was greatly willing to communicate His plan and purpose. The heirs include the believing posterity of Abraham, as well as believers from all nations. His counsel is His call to all people to salvation in Christ, and to bring believers to eternal glory. He confirmed it by an oath.

 

      Verse 18.

      Two immutable (unchangeable) things: Himself both all powerful and eternal. His Word as Truth. To swear by anything less might fail. As the accidental killing of a person, the guilty could sustain their life by reaching a city of refuge. Now consider a penitent sinner. He now has a better refuge, even the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which provides salvation, forgiveness, and everlasting life: 'to lay hold upon the hope set before us'. Believe the Savior. Take God's promise (word) and His oath.

 

      Verse 19.

      The image is changed to that of a ship, in great danger, in a tempest, in order to ride out the storm in safety, she lets down her anchor, by strong cable. Thus to remain safe (the anchor holds). This as comparing Christ as anchor of the soul, 'both sure and steadfast.' The believer's life is like a voyage over dangerous waters. Faith is as connecting cable from Christian to Christ. The soul's destination is 'within the veil' in heaven, by God's grace and mercy the safe haven of eternity.

 

      Verse 20.

      The 'forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus.' He went first, to show the way and to make the way. He was the first-fruits of them that slept. He entered for us.

      Paul continues here the explanation of Psalm 11:4 (in Hebrews 5:6,10) as proof of the permanent (forever) priesthood of Christ: 'after the order of Melchizedek.'

 

      Finis.

Hebrews – Lesson VII

      The Greatness of Melchizedek, precursor of Christ.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 7.

 

The Priestly Order of Melchizedek

1       For this Melchiz'edek, king of Salem, priest of the most high God, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings, and blessed him;

2       to whom also Abraham gave a tenth part of all; first being by interpretation King of righteousness, and after that also King of Salem, which is, King of peace;

3       without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days, nor end of life; but made like unto the Son of God; abideth a priest continually.

4       ¶ Now consider how great this man was, unto whom even the patriarch Abraham gave the tenth of the spoils.

5       And verily they that are of the sons of Levi, who receive the office of the priesthood, have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brethren, though they come out of the loins of Abraham:

6       but he whose descent is not counted from them received tithes of Abraham, and blessed him that had the promises.

7       And without all contradiction the less is blessed of the better.

8       And here men that die receive tithes; but there he receiveth them, of whom it is witnessed that he liveth.

9       And as I may so say, Levi also, who receiveth tithes, paid tithes in Abraham.

10       For he was yet in the loins of his father, when Melchiz'edek met him.

11       ¶ If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchiz'edek, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

12       For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.

13       For he of whom these things are spoken pertaineth to another tribe, of which no man gave attendance at the altar.

14       For it is evident that our Lord sprang out of Judah; of which tribe Moses spake nothing concerning priesthood.

15       ¶ And it is yet far more evident: for that after the similitude of Melchiz'edek there ariseth another priest,

16       who is made, not after the law of a carnal commandment, but after the power of an endless life.

17       For he testifieth,

Thou art a priest for ever

after the order of Melchiz'edek.

18       For there is verily a disannulling of the commandment going before for the weakness and unprofitableness thereof.

19       For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

20       ¶ And inasmuch as not without an oath he was made priest:

21       (for those priests were made without an oath; but this with an oath by him that said unto him,

The Lord sware and will not repent,

Thou art a priest for ever

after the order of Melchiz'edek:)

22       by so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament.

23       ¶ And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death:

24       but this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.

25       Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

26       ¶ For such a high priest became us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens;

27       who needeth not daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifice, first for his own sins, and then for the people's: for this he did once, when he offered up himself.

28       For the law maketh men high priests which have infirmity; but the word of the oath, which was since the law, maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore.

 

      Verse 1.

      Referring to the history recorded in Genesis 14, Melchizedek, translated as 'Justifier of those who dwell in him' as was true of Christ. He was priest of the Most High God, Who blessed Abraham, when he was returning from the 'slaughter of the kings.'

 

      Verse 2.

      The tithe was a custom of all ancient nations to set aside for their objects (or idols) of worship. Abraham voluntarily gave a tenth part to this king of righteousness, King of Salem, or King of Peace.

 

      Verse 3.

      That there is no record of his father or mother meant that his priesthood was not tied to his lineage. Even so, Christ's priesthood was not tied to his lineage or Aaron, according to Mosaic Law. Melchizedek was a man of Canaan. No record was known of his father or mother, nor when he was born, or when he died. This allows his priesthood no beginning or end, therefore it must be considered perpetual. This made him like unto Jesus Christ in his part of the Trinity – without beginning or ending, therefore everlasting also was His priesthood.

 

      Verse 4.

      This king of Salem, widely known as priest of the Most High God, unique, without equal, even to Abraham. He gave Melchizedek a tithe of his spoils out of reverence and respect of the God Who Melchizedek represented, even the Most High Who had called Abraham to leave his father's home, and had given unto him the great promises of a nation and great blessings.

 

      Verse 5.

      The sons of Levi, the priestly tribe according to the Mosaic Law were to receive tithes from the people. All the twelve tribes were descendants of Abraham.

 

      Verse 6.

      In one sense, the Levites, as Abraham's posterity, are represented as paying tithes to Melchizedek through Abraham. This was because of Melchizedek's office as high priest of that region.

      Melchizedek was the representative of the Promised Seed, the Messiah, and blessed Abraham. Abraham had the promise that all the nations were to be blessed through his seed.

 

      Verse 7.

      The one with greater power and authority may bless those of less standing. Melchizedek was authorized by God to declare to Abraham a blessing of God's good intentions toward him.

 

      Verse 8.

      Under Jewish law and tradition, Levites received tithes, generation after generation (men that die). The fact that there was no record of Melchizedek dying leaves it open to consider him as still living, his priesthood unchanging. Therefore, a type of Christ.

 

      Verse 9.

      It can be said that Levi, who much later received tithes, paid tithes to Melchizedek in Abraham.

 

      Verse 10.

      Levi was included as present in Abraham in that he was to be born of Abraham's seed, when Melchizedek met Abraham.

 

      Verse 11.

      Man's perfection was not possible according to the Levitical priesthood, or the Mosaic Law, or all the rites and ceremonies. It showed the righteousness of God and the sinful nature of man. All sacrifices were temporary, as a covering for a time. The priesthood was established to serve God, instruct the people, regulate, accept, and offer the people's sacrifices to God. The Law was given to bring awareness to God's righteousness and man's utter sinfulness, and thereby to show the absolute necessity of the sacrifice of the Savior.

 

      Verse 12.

      The priesthood under the order of Aaron was annulled to make way for that which preceded it, the order of Melchizedek. Also, a change of the law was necessary. No longer would there be any necessity of the priesthood. Jesus was the perfect and final sacrifice. Therefore the law was changed by Christ's sacrifice.

 

      Verse 13.

      Jesus the Messiah came from the tribe of Judah (Psalms 110:4), not the tribe of Levi, the only tribe that ministered at a Jewish altar.

 

      Verse 14.

      The Lord's descent from the tribe of Judah was incontrovertible. (The genealogies listed in Matthew and Luke establish this.) Moses never mentioned this tribe in any relation to priesthood.

 

      Verse 15.

      Christ was not a priest, after the flesh of the Levitical tribe of priests, but rather (as the oath in Psalm 110) - 'thou art a Priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek', both Priest and King, and prophet.

 

      Verse 16.

      This other priest is appointed by God Himself, not of the normal human line, according to Mosaic law, all of whom died. This new high priest is immortal, ever to make intercession for men. They who believe on Him have everlasting life in Him.

 

      Verse 17.

      Again quoting Psalm 110:4; chapter 5:6,10; 6:20 – Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. This includes the power of an endless life (verse 16), therefore endless priesthood.

 

      Verse 18.

      The former Levitical priesthood could not produce or communicate perfect obedience by its ministrations, nor assist spiritually. It actually provided no benefit, being weak. It pardoned no sin, changed no heart, reformed no life: therefore unprofitable.

 

      Verse 19.

      The better hope was brought by the priesthood and atonement of Christ; as high priest, he entered into the Holy of Holies with His own blood offering, once and for all (by which we draw nigh unto God). The Law had no power to make anyone perfect, to give strength for perfect obedience. It showed the human nature of selfishness in sin against God, and man's absolute need of a Savior: the better hope, which is Jesus Christ, to all who believe.

 

      Verse 20.

      An oath was the same as God's promise which He would certainly bring to pass. Thus had Christ been named a priest forever after the similitude of Melchizedek, and eternal priesthood.

 

      Verse 21.

      The Levitical priests were without oath or promise, therefore changeable, or dis-established. God the Almighty Father swore to the promised Messiah (Psalms 110:4) without possibility of change that He would be forever priest (after the order of Melchizedek).

 

      Verse 22.

      Jesus was made a mediator (a surety) of a better contract or covenant. The new Covenant or Testament, different and distinct from the Mosaic, was better than the old. Christ, Who liveth forever, established it. Salvation through forgiveness and infinite wisdom and power unto all those that believe, and this unto the eternal kingdom of heaven.

 

      Verse 23.

      Under the Mosaic Law, there had to be a succession of priests, from generation to generation, as the elders died, the younger taking their places over many centuries.

 

      Verse 24.

      Christ being eternal (immortal) has an unchangeable priesthood, eternal as He is.

 

      Verse 25.

      Therefor, by His eternal intercession, He is able 'to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by Him.' In and through all times. His intercession on their behalf includes praying for, defending or vindicating, commending, helping or assisting.

 

      Verse 26.

      It is such a high priest that fits the people's needs – in every respect suitable. He is holy, without any negative quality or weakness, no imperfection (without spot or blemish), totally separated unto God's service, never associated with sinners, unbelievers, heathens. Made higher than the heavens, His dignity above all creation: infinitely holy, merciful (giving His life for others), without sin at every point, never blameable, therefore exalted above even God's holy angels (they being created by Him, for Him and sustained by Him also).

 

      Verse 27.

      The earthly high priest offered the atonement once a year, as well as the other priests offering sacrifices daily for the people's sins as well as their own. Christ offered up the sacrifice of Himself once, and for all others. Being sinless, He had no need to offer a sacrifice for Himself. He tasted the punishment of death, because of sin for every one.

 

      Verse 28.

      The Mosaic Law made certain men high priests, who were imperfect, sinful men. But by the before quoted oath (Psalms 110:4) which came after the Law (by David nearly 500 years after the giving of the Law), the Son is consecrated a high priest for ever, eternal.

 

      Finis.

Hebrews – Lesson VIII

      The Excellence of the New Covenant.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 8.

 

The Mediator of a New Covenant

1       Now of the things which we have spoken this is the sum: We have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens;

2       a minister of the sanctuary, and of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched, and not man.

3       For every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this man have somewhat also to offer.

4       For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law:

5       who serve unto the example and shadow of heavenly things, as Moses was admonished of God when he was about to make the tabernacle: for, See, saith he, that thou make all things according to the pattern showed to thee in the mount.

6       But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.

7       For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.

8       ¶ For finding fault with them, he saith,

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,

when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

9       not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers,

in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt;

because they continued not in my covenant,

and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

10       For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel

after those days, saith the Lord;

I will put my laws into their mind,

and write them in their hearts:

and I will be to them a God,

and they shall be to me a people:

11       and they shall not teach every man his neighbor,

and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord:

for all shall know me,

from the least to the greatest.

12       For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness,

and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

13       In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

 

      Verse 1.

      The principle of the things spoken of: the high priest (Christ) is set on the right hand of the throne of the Majesty, God Almighty. He is higher than all the priests that ever lived. His sacrifice was sufficient to pay for the sins of the world, and accepted by God. Christ has all power in heaven and earth to save and defend to the uttermost all those that come to God through Him. He abides continually in behalf of those that come to Him at the right of God's throne.

 

      Verse 2.

      Christ performs (or transacts) as Priest and Mediator for man in the true Tabernacle or Sanctuary in Heaven. The Jewish one was the type on earth. The Lord made the heavenly one, in which the Divine presence dwells.

 

      Verse 3.

      Every high priest is set apart (ordained) to his specific office: to offer gifts and sacrifices. The gifts were in acknowledgment of His material blessings which provided for sustenance of life. Sacrifices were to atone for the destructive nature and acts of sin.

      If Christ is high priest, He must make an atonement offering. He is in the heavenly Tabernacle, and continues to offer and be the offering of atonement for all that are His.

 

      Verse 4.

      If He were on earth, He could not be a priest, being of the tribe of Judah, not Levi. Those priests continued to offer gifts according to Mosaic Law. (This epistle must have been written before the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D.)

 

      Verse 5.

      Their service was an example or shadow of or representation of heavenly things. God strictly admonished Moses to make the earthly tabernacle exactly to every specification or pattern given him on the mountain.

 

      Verse 6.

      But now Christ has 'more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.' Not on earthly things only, but even on heavenly things, spiritual and eternal blessings.

 

      Verse 7.

      If the first covenant had provision for forgiveness, not just a temporary covering. If it had conferred a power unto purity, or given guaranteed eternal life, then there would not have been a need for a second.

 

      Verse 8.

      This quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34. God promises the day of a new covenant with the descendants of the 12 tribes of Jews. They had broken the old covenant (God found fault with them) – both the Kingdom of Israel and of Judah.

 

      Verse 9.

      The new covenant of an entirely different nature than 'the covenant that I made with their fathers, in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt'. They did not continue in His covenant, and God disdained them. He took no further care of them. They were carried away into captivity.

 

      Verse 10.

      In the time of the Gospel, the time of the new covenant with the house of Israel, God will enlighten their minds with His words of Truth, and write them (the principles of righteousness) in their hearts, purified by love and forgiveness. Then God can be their God, they can be His people (Zechariah 8:8).

 

      Verse 11.

      The new covenant of the Gospel will greatly spread the Holy Scriptures and their message so that every brother or neighbor will not be driven to teach their neighbor brother about the Lord, this 'from the least to the greatest.' All persons are to be reached.

 

      Verse 12.

      For God to accept anyone, their iniquity must be pardoned. This was provided by the sacrifice of Jesus. This provided the remission of sins, which brings God to no longer remember their sins.

 

      Verse 13.

      Now that a new covenant has been made, the first is now old. The old is no longer in force, of use, or to continue. It is ready to vanish away. In Christ, all things are to become new – a new creation.

 

      The First Covenant in Detail.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 9.

 

1       Then verily the first covenant had also ordinances of divine service, and a worldly sanctuary.

2       For there was a tabernacle made; the first, wherein was the candlestick, and the table, and the showbread; which is called the sanctuary.

3       And after the second veil, the tabernacle which is called the holiest of all;

4       which had the golden censer, and the ark of the covenant overlaid round about with gold, wherein was the golden pot that had manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant;

5       and over it the cherubim of glory shadowing the mercy seat; of which we cannot now speak particularly.

6       ¶ Now when these things were thus ordained, the priests went always into the first tabernacle, accomplishing the service of God.

7       But into the second went the high priest alone once every year, not without blood, which he offered for himself, and for the errors of the people:

8       the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest, while as the first tabernacle was yet standing:

9       which was a figure for the time then present, in which were offered both gifts and sacrifices, that could not make him that did the service perfect, as pertaining to the conscience;

10       which stood only in meats and drinks, and divers washings, and carnal ordinances, imposed on them until the time of reformation.

11       ¶ But Christ being come a high priest of good things to come, by a greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this building;

12       neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

13       For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh;

14       how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

15       ¶ And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.

16       For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator.

17       For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.

18       Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood.

19       For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book and all the people,

20       saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you.

21       Moreover he sprinkled likewise with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry.

22       And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.

 

Sin Put Away by Christ's Sacrifice

23       ¶ It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.

24       For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:

25       nor yet that he should offer himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others;

26       for then must he often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath he appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

27       And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:

28       so Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation.

 

      Verse 1.

      Ordinances of Divine service: rites and ceremonies. These were held in the 'worldly sanctuary' (as opposed to the heavenly).

 

      Verse 2.

      The tabernacle was the first dwelling place of God among men. In the holy place were: the golden candlestick (7 branches) on the south, the golden altar or table of show-bread (12 loaves = 12 tribes) on the north.

      The lamps of the candlestick were lit every evening, and extinguished in the morning: light by night. The altar of incense, an offering of incense was made in a golden censer every morning and evening. The table of show-bread, covered with gold, every Sabbath 12 loaves, two rows of 6 were placed, for one week, then exchanged for 12 new loaves. (Exodus 35-40.) This was the holy place – sanctuary.

 

      Verse 3.

      The second veil separated the holy of holies from the holy place. The first separated the outside courtyard from the holy place, inside the tabernacle, later the temple.

 

      Verse 4.

      Within the holy of holies were the golden censer and the Ark of the Covenant. The ark was a sort of chest, covered with gold. Within were the two tablets of stone of the 10 Commandments, Aaron's rod, a golden pot of manna.

 

      Verse 5.

      Its top was the mercy seat. Two cherubs – one at each end, their faces inwardly facing each other, looking down on the cover: the mercy-seat, the glory signifies the shechinah or symbol of the Divine presence. Paul mentions that it is not his purpose to go into more detail about the ark at this point.

 

      Verse 6.

      He proceeds with his description of the priests' service. The Levites, as ordained, did all their service in the first 'tabernacle', the holy place.

 

      Verse 7.

      The second place, the holy of holies, was only entered by the high priest once a year, with the blood offering and the incense in the golden censer. The blood was sprinkled 7 times before the ark. This he offered for the people and also for himself for the past year's sins (even for sins for which they were not aware).

 

      Verse 8.

      Direct access to God was not possible under this, the first covenant with all its services. They were not inclusive of the Holy Spirit's message of that condition. This is what Paul is emphasizing as the greatest contrast with the direct approach to God that is now possible for any and every person through Christ (which he details in chapter 10, verses 19-22).

 

      Verse 9.

      All of these services (both gifts and sacrifices) could not cleanse their consciences (both priests and people). They couldn't take away guilt or purify the conscience. All was an earthly representation of a spiritual and more efficient and glorious service (again pointing to Christ).

 

      Verse 10.

      All the other ceremonial ordinances were of the same earthly significations, concerning the body. They represented the Gospel dispensation which contained the spiritual. That was the time of reformation.

 

      Verse 11.

      Christ was the high priest to come, of those good things, that were once and for all, in the heavenly temple (or tabernacle). This was the redemption by His own blood. He is our high priest, forever on our behalf.

 

      Verse 12.

      No longer the repeating sacrifice of bulls and goats, calves, as a temporary covering of sins. His offering was once – it stands forever, redemption for us.

 

      Verse 13.

      The animals' blood sanctified the purifying of the flesh, as a type of the coming sanctifying of the soul.

 

      Verse 14.

      It is Christ's blood, through the eternal Spirit offered from a sinless one to God. This effects the purifying of the consciences from the power of sin and the penalty of death, all to glorify God in our service to Him.

 

      Verse 15.

      For the above reasons, Jesus Christ is the Mediator of the new covenant (the new contract) between God and the whole human race. This is distinguished from the old covenant between God and the nation of Israel, Moses was the mediator.

      The death of Christ made atonement for all the transgressions committed under the old covenant. All the blood of sacrifices were not able to do this. And also His death made atonement to the end of the world. 'They which are called' refers to the Gentiles, who were brought into God's covenant, equal with the Jews. They receive the promise of eternal inheritance as Christians.

 

      Verse 16.

      For a covenant between God and man, God set the conditions. In the Old Testament, only by the shedding of blood_(the death of sacrificial animals) was the covenant made. This is recorded regarding the covenant with Noah after the Great Flood (Genesis 8:20; 9:9,10). Also with Abraham (Genesis 15:9,18; with Israel – Exodus 24:8).

 

      Verse 17.

      The covenant is only in force after expiation is made for sin, in the old covenant by animal sacrifice. The new covenant was based on the atonement for man's sin, by the sacrifice of Christ. It had no force while Christ was alive.

 

      Verse 18.

      A restatement – the blood (death) of a victim was essential.

 

      Verse 19.

      The example of Moses (from Exodus 24:4-8). After he read the Commandments of God to the people, and sacrificed calves and goats, he sprinkled the blood upon the people. This signified the ratification of the covenant of God with the people of Israel.

 

      Verse 20.

      By these words the covenant (testament) was settled. Jesus partly quotes the words of Moses at His Last Supper when He said: "This is the blood of the new covenant which is shed for many for the remission of sins" (Matthew 26:28).

 

      Verse 21.

      That Moses also sprinkled the blood on the tabernacle and everything within it showed that everything used by sinful man is polluted, and must be covered (sprinkled) by blood to be acceptable to the holy God.

 

      Verse 22.

      Every person is a sinner and earns the sentence of death. The Old Testament sacrifices (by the shedding of its blood) were substitutes for the life of the sinner, but only for a time. All of these typified the sacrifice of Christ, which was once and for all.

 

      Verse 23.

      The earthly things represented the heavenly. They were purified by the blood of animals. The heavenly ones were purified with a better sacrifice.

 

      Verse 24.

      Christ in heaven: into the holy place, in the presence of God for us, He entered with His own sacrifice.

 

      Verse 25.

      He was not to repeat this entrance or sacrifice as the high priest of the old covenant had to do once a year with the blood of animals.

 

      Verse 26.

      If that had been the case, then He would have had to suffer 'since the foundation of the world'. But now once: after the end of the Jewish dispensation, Christ appeared to supplant the sin offerings of the Mosaic economy, by His own sacrifice. This was prophesied by Daniel (9:24): to cancel the guilt, power, and desire of sin from believers.

 

      Verse 27.

      By Divine decree: all people will die but once, then judgment.

 

      Verse 28.

      So Christ was offered once for the sins of many (not all) and this is final and eternal. He shall appear a second time (not to repeat a sin offering) but unto the salvation of believers, to bring them transformed into His eternal glory.

 

      Amen!

Hebrews – Lesson IX

      Paul continues to extol the salvation and setting apart of believers in God's purpose and will.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 10.

 

1       For the law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with those sacrifices, which they offered year by year continually, make the comers thereunto perfect.

2       For then would they not have ceased to be offered? because that the worshipers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins.

3       But in those sacrifices there is a remembrance again made of sins every year.

4       For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.

5       ¶ Wherefore, when he cometh into the world, he saith,

Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not,

but a body hast thou prepared me:

6       in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure.

7       Then said I, Lo, I come

(in the volume of the book it is written of me)

to do thy will, O God.

8       Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin thou wouldest not, neither hadst pleasure therein; which are offered by the law;

9       then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second.

10       By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11       ¶ And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: Ex. 29.38

12       but this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;

13       from henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool.

14       For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

15       Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

16       This is the covenant that I will make with them

after those days, saith the Lord;

I will put my laws into their hearts,

and in their minds will I write them;

17       and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

18       Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

 

Let Us Draw Near and Hold Fast

19       ¶ Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,

20       by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh;

21       and having a high priest over the house of God;

22       let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

23       Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for he is faithful that promised;

24       and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:

25       not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

26       ¶ For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

27       but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

28       He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses:

29       of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

30       For we know him that hath said,

Vengeance belongeth unto me,

I will recompense, saith the Lord.

And again,

The Lord shall judge his people.

31       It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

32       ¶ But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;

33       partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.

34       For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance.

35       Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward.

36       For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.

37       For yet a little while,

and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.

38       Now the just shall live by faith:

but if any man draw back,

my soul shall have no pleasure in him.

39       But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

 

      Verse 1.

      The Law had a model or simple shadow (image) of the coming redemption. Those sacrifices were repeatedly offered every year as a covering, not actual forgiveness and justification. Such is the Law when compared to Christ: the Gospel compared to the Levitical offerings.

 

      Verse 2.

      It is obvious that if the offerings had been effective in reconciliation for sins, they would not need repeating. The conscience would be satisfied, believing its guilt having been taken away.

 

      Verse 3.

      Every Jew knew that even the annual atonement was temporary, a covering, not a canceling of sin. They were marking the time and pointing to the final and perfect sacrifice of the Lamb of God. Thus the yearly sacrifices reminded them of their continuing sin.

 

      Verse 4.

      That the sacrifice of animals could not take away sins before their holy God was part of the teaching and practice of all the Mosaic Laws, rites, ceremonies and sacrifices. A multitude of Scriptures point this out.

 

      Verse 5.

      Paul now quotes Psalm 40:6-8. This records the words of the Messiah speaking to God before His incarnation, sacrifice and offering. These only point to His incarnation and final sacrificial death. Therefore 'a body hast thou prepared me' (the seed of the woman).

 

      Verse 6.

      These offerings and sacrifices were not satisfying Divine Justice.

 

      Verse 7.

      The Scripture recorded the promise of the coming Redeemer, to come to the earth to fulfill the will of God to suffer and die for the sins of the world.

 

      Verse 8.

      Repeating again, all of the offering and sacrifice in the Law were not final, acceptable, or agreeable to God, but only a covering, continual, temporary.

 

      Verse 9.

      It is the Messiah Who comes to fulfill the will of God that also fulfills the Law, and is the perfect, innocent, final Sacrifice, to establish the new testament.

 

      Verse 10.

      Jesus Christ offered His body 'once for all' by which He sanctified (set apart as forgiven and without guilt) all those who are His. This was, and is the will of God, forever.

 

      Verse 11.

      The daily ministering and often offering of sacrifices make it obvious that these works, needing continual repetition, were never able or designed to 'take away sins.'

 

      Verse 12.

      Our High Priest offered Himself, once for all, and sat down at the right hand of God. His offering, was perfect, complete. Never needed to be repeated.

 

      Verse 13.

      He sits at the right hand of God until 'His enemies be made His footstool'. (Psalm 110:1.) Upon His rejection by the great majority of Jews, that led to the destruction of the nation and the Temple. This effectively canceled the sacrificial system, and the first covenant.

 

      Verse 14.

      His one offering brought redemption through His blood for the perfection (remission of sins and holiness) those that are saved (set apart).

 

      Verse 15.

      A quote from Jeremiah 31:33,34 – the Holy Spirit is a witness to the new covenant as previously promised.

 

      Verse 16.

      The new covenant, where the laws will be within the hearts and minds.

 

      Verse 17.

      Their iniquities will be forgiven and forgotten forever.

 

      Verse 18.

      Once sins are pardoned, there is no longer a need for a sin offering.

 

      Verse 19.

      Understanding the absolute effect of Christ having made reconciliation of man to God, that grants the believers the right and confidence to approach God (not like the high priest to go into the holy of holies) with fear and trembling, but boldly by the redeeming blood of Jesus. Now as God's forgiven, His children, we have the right to all the blessings of His kingdom.

 

      Verse 20.

      Christ was the new and living way. He entered the Temple in heaven through the veil of His flesh. Jesus with human flesh was the first. He is ever-living to intercede for us. Only through the veil in the holy place did the High Priest pass through the holy of holies. At Christ's crucifixion, the Temple veil was rent in two, thus opening the way to direct access to God by His sacrifice (His flesh).

 

      Verse 21.

      Christ is the high priest over the Church. This is God's house, His family. He is in charge of the worship: the offering, praise, and prayers of all true believers. He instructs, protects, guides, feeds, defends, and brings through all of His flock unto salvation and eternity. In Him we have all confidence.

 

      Verse 22.

      Our natural and correct response is to draw near, as those in need of a savior, in earnest to take hold of Him. Being fully persuaded to the absolute truth of the Gospel and God's acceptance of our profession, we come. Our hearts are sprinkled with the cleansing of our conscience by the blood of Christ; and bodies washed with the baptism unto purity of the new-born soul. The water is the sign of the Holy Spirit in the new birth.

 

      Verse 23.

      We are to hold fast to the hope of our faith which we have professed as members of the Church. We are to remain and maintain this faith. This keeps us certain that He Who redeemed us is faithful to bring us through to the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.

 

      Verse 24.

      Our high calling in Christ includes being attentive and diligent to recognize the trials and needs of others and to reach out and show them compassion and understanding, and help them in any way we are able to. We are to stir others up to have this mind of love, that brings with it the desire to be helpful: to do good works, the fruit of a giving heart.

 

      Verse 25.

      The continual meeting together of believers is always beneficial: to confirm the faith, encourage and lift up one another, with praise and thanksgiving. Apparently some had withdrawn (forsaken) this necessary practice. This was most likely because of the increasing persecution of Christians. Paul predicts this to continue as 'the day approaching' refers to the day of judgment on the Jewish nation (its destruction later happened in 70 A.D.). Also, the day of each individual's death, then the day of judgment. To continue meeting together keeps everyone ready to meet God, being in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

 

      Verse 26.

      The life and death seriousness of holding fast our faith is this dire warning. Paul describes a person who 'received the knowledge of the truth.' This means they heard the Gospel message of Christ, but denied and rejected it, in effect denying Christ's sacrifice for their sins, thereby there is no other sacrifice to pay for their sins, the death sentence remains. This does not refer to one who has been born again by the Holy Spirit unto life eternal.

 

      Verse 27.

      It is most likely that Paul is referring to the unbelieving Jews who have only the fearful expectation of judgment. They rejected Christ. A fiery judgment was soon coming. The city and temple were destroyed and burned to the ground. There remained no sacrifice for sin. They, the 'adversaries', were devoured by it.

 

      Verse 28.

      Under the Law of Moses, a person who committed a capital offense, with 2 or 3 witnesses against them, was put to death 'without mercy'. This criminal had no respect for the law and its Divine authority.

 

      Verse 29.

      The punishment must be much more severe for those that reject as worthless the Son of God in His sacrifice. To consider the blood of the New Covenant as unholy, or common, without value or purpose, seals their fate as without hope or mercy. Their rejection includes rejecting the Spirit of grace, His miracles of salvation and sanctification, even to the ascribing them to evil spirits was the height of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for which there is no forgiveness.

 

      Verse 30.

      From Deuteronomy 32:35, God is speaking against the idolatrous Gentiles, enemies of Israel. Those who are against Christ and Christians will be judged by God. Deuteronomy 32:36 – God judges His people for rejecting Christ. He destroyed them from being a nation. God said vengeance belongs to Him.

 

      Verse 31.

      The living, eternal God can punish forever. How fearful it is to fall under His wrath also for eternity.

 

      Verse 32.

      This seems to suggest that the first believers in Judea were greatly persecuted. Jesus was crucified. Stephen was stoned to death and the following persecution as recorded in Acts 8:1, Acts 12:1 – James was killed, then the various persecutions of Paul leading to him being sent to Rome and eventually to his death. The word fight describes combat, to contend for the faith, an honorable calling.

 

      Verse 33.

      This describes the public reproaches and persecutions of Christians in Judea (and Israel in general). They were made fun of (made a gazing stock as if they were senseless beasts). Those that were so used were bravely joined by their fellow believers to support them in the worst circumstances.

 

      Verse 34.

      This most likely refers to the time Paul was in bonds in Jerusalem and Caesarea. These Jewish believers had sympathy for him and helped him during that time. This had led to their being also persecuted – kicked out of their families, their possessions, confiscated, left destitute. Yet, they accepted that as God's children, the Holy Spirit bearing witness, then heirs, joint heirs with Christ, looked for their better portion in their heavenly home. This was more certain than what the world had to offer and also was eternal, not brief and transitory.

 

      Verse 35.

      They must hold onto their faith, even as a soldier holds on to his shield. They have free access to God and should remain supremely confident in God's truth, favor, mercy, forgiveness, love, and care for them through all things. These are your 'great recompense of reward'.

 

      Verse 36.

      The gift of patience comes from God in your following in His will, even or especially in sufferings. Patience brings perseverance. This is part of God's promise in Christ Jesus.

 

      Verse 37.

      In a short time, our Messiah shall come without tarrying. This warns of the coming judgment on Israel. The measure of their iniquity has been measured as full. (This refers to Habakkuk 2:3,4.)

 

      Verse 38.

      He who is justified by faith shall live and be preserved. Any who 'draw back' out of fear shall be opposed. This describes those who sneak away when any persecution is threatened, if true believers, grieving the Spirit. If unbeliever, this situation reveals their lack of true faith.

 

      Verse 39.

      We are the courageous, the faithful. Our faith is certain 'to the saving of the soul'. We do not sneak away but stand even if to meet destruction unto salvation.

Hebrews – Lesson X

      Faith, Its Meaning, and History in Scripture.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 11.

 

Faith

1       Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2       For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3       Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

4       ¶ By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

5       By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

6       But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

7       By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.

8       ¶ By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.

9       By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise:

10       for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.

11       Through faith also Sarah herself received strength to conceive seed, and was delivered of a child when she was past age, because she judged him faithful who had promised.

12       Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable.

13       ¶ These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

14       For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.

15       And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned.

16       But now they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

17       ¶ By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,

18       of whom it was said, That in Isaac shall thy seed be called:

19       accounting that God was able to raise him up, even from the dead; from whence also he received him in a figure.

20       By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come.

21       By faith Jacob, when he was a dying, blessed both the sons of Joseph; and worshipped, leaning upon the top of his staff.

22       By faith Joseph, when he died, made mention of the departing of the children of Israel; and gave commandment concerning his bones.

23       ¶ By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king's commandment.

24       By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;

25       choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

26       esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.

27       By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.

28       Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.

29       ¶ By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.

30       By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.

31       By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.

32       ¶ And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gideon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthah; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:

33       who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,

34       quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

35       Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

36       and others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:

37       they were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;

38       of whom the world was not worthy: they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.

39       ¶ And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:

40       God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

 

      Verse 1.

      Definition: faith is the basis or subsistence that becomes a foundation for another thing to stand on. This begets a conviction for another thing to stand on. This begets a conviction that there is no doubt about it. The effects of such faith include the peace of God, the love of God shed abroad in the heart by the Holy Spirit. Also, the witness of sins forgiven.

      The things hoped for would extend beyond those above described. Then to the Rapture, the Kingdom of God, the new heavens and new earth, into eternity.

      Things unseen included creation, the Great Flood, the incarnation, ministry, resurrection, and ascension to glory, mediation with God, of Christ. Also the complete trust in God's Fatherhood, providence, mercy, goodness, and grace.

 

      Verse 2.

      The elders would include all those, the patriarchs and prophets, who lived by faith in the Almighty from the earliest time. They were witnesses, and bore testimony to their faith as recorded in the Old Testament. This is God's good report of them.

 

      Verse 3.

      All of creation was made out of no pre-existing matter, but called into being out of nothing, by Christ, the Word of God.

 

      Verse 4.

      By faith, Abel made a sin-offering of one of his flock, which Cain did not. He only offered a peace offering of the fruits of the ground. Abel's offering was accepted, and Abel was accounted righteous thereby, by God. This is a serious lesson of the necessity of the shedding of blood for the atonement of sin. In this sense, though dead, Abel 'yet speaketh' of God's requirement.

 

      Verse 5.

      From Genesis 5:24, Enoch was translated directly to heaven: "Enoch walked with God...God took him." he did not die. His testimony was that he pleased God.

 

      Verse 6.

      First a person must believe in God, the infinite, omnipotent creator, whose power and energy supply the means of continued existence and life to His creation. Also, one must believe that He rewards those 'that diligently seek Him.' In Christ, we have the revelation of reconciliation, whereby we are accepted in Him.

 

      Verse 7.

      God warned Noah of the coming destruction and Noah believed the Divine oracle. With utmost serious reverence for the warning (again by faith in God's Word). The ark was built to save his family and the animals. The rest of the world was condemned by their unbelief. They rejected or ignored the words and example of Noah. He became the heir of righteousness by faith. His physical salvation in the ark was a pledge of his spiritual salvation.

 

      Verse 8.

      Abraham was called to go out where he knew not. The promise of an inheritance from God was enough. He trusted God and obeyed, leaving everything and everyone he had ever known (but his wife) to an unknown land. All he had was his faith in God. (Genesis 12:1-4.)

 

      Verse 9.

      Abraham lived in the land of promise but without acquiring any right of land but a place of burial. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob. It was the Promised Land, yet they had no fixed habitation. Again all the time by faith in God's promise.

 

      Verse 10.

      Spiritually, Abraham looked for the heavenly habitation, the eternal city created by God. The earth could not be but a temporary dwelling place. The foundation of the city was Christ and His apostles.

 

      Verse 11.

      Sara also had strong faith in God's promise. (Genesis 17:19 and 21:2.) This, though she first laughed at such a thing as being physically impossible. When she realized it was from God, she accepted it as what God could bring to pass. So did she deliver the promised child.

 

      Verse 12.

      Abraham was also beyond the age of child-conceiving. Yet, Isaac was supernaturally conceived. From then, the descendants continued to multiply unto the promised innumerable amount as stars and sand are uncountable.

 

      Verse 13.

      Even though they did not actually see the promise, they continued to believe for all their lives that God would bring all to pass. They saw themselves as strangers, out of their own home country, in a foreign land. They counted themselves as 'strangers' and pilgrims on the earth'. They 'all died in faith.' They believed God and accepted His word as absolute Truth.

 

      Verse 14.

      This refers to seeking a country beyond this earth where one has rights, citizenship, family, a home, a place of rest.

 

      Verse 15.

      God's call of Abraham was out of a country with the worship of false gods, idols, to the following and worship of the true God Almighty. They turned permanently away from that false worship and that country, choosing never to return to either.

 

      Verse 16.

      They chose the heavenly inheritance and God as their portion. God accepted their faith and promised them an eternal city.

 

      Verse 17.

      Abraham was told by God to offer up his son of promise, Isaac. He did so, by faith. He built an altar, found his son, and laid him upon it. He took the knife and would have killed him if he was not stopped by the same one who demanded the sacrifice. Isaac was his only-begotten by his wife, Sarah. Isaac was the heir of the promises of God. This proved his faith and obedience.

 

      Verse 18.

      God's promise of Isaac's descendants would be called his seed.

 

      Verse 19.

      This promise could only be fulfilled if Isaac lived and had offspring. As he was the miracle child of promise (concerning Abraham and Sarah's ages), so Abraham knew God could raise Isaac from the dead. Such a resurrection must have been a doctrine of the Godly line. And so he had received Isaac as if from the dead when he was stopped in the very motion of killing him by God's messenger.

 

      Verse 20.

      Isaac by faith blessed Jacob first as the Godly line of promise (Genesis 27:33), but a blessing was reserved for Esau even concerning things to come.

 

      Verse 21.

      Jacob, on his deathbed, blessed the two sons of Joseph, the greater blessing on the younger: Ephraim. The other was named Manasseh. He relied on the faithfulness of Almighty God, the God of Jacob. It appears that he sat on the edge of his bed, leaning on his staff, and was in the attitude of worshiping God.

 

      Verse 22.

      Joseph also, at the end of his life, showed his certain faith in God's promises. Here is mentioned the bringing of the people of Israel up out of Egypt to the Promised land as sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Joseph demanded that his bones would be buried there, even as Jacob had done.

 

      Verse 23.

      Faith was shown by the parents of Moses, even before his birth. The pharaoh's decree was to kill all male Israelite babies because of their increasing number. Moses' mother saw that he was a goodly child and hid him 3 months (Exodus 2:2). They did this in faith in their God, not obedient to the pharaoh's commandment, though their punishment would be severe.

 

      Verse 24.

      When Moses, an adult, brought up by pharaoh's daughter as an Egyptian, his faith in God he refused to be called son of Pharaoh's daughter. He, at about 40 years old, presented himself to his Israelite brothers as their champion.

 

      Verse 25.

      The Egyptian culture offered a great variety of what Moses saw as the pleasures of sin, but which were all only temporary, for a short period of time (a season). Moses chose to take part with the people of God, who had been given a promise of spiritual and eternal blessings. This even if he had to give up all his Egyptian advantages and suffer with God's people.

 

      Verse 26.

      The promised Messiah had been revealed to Moses (which he prophesied in Deuteronomy 18:15). He, along with the people of Israel, rejected the multitude of idols (gods and goddesses) of the Egyptians. In Christ were greater and eternal riches to be found.

 

      Verse 27.

      Moses believed God, not fearing the anger of Pharaoh. Their gods were man made (visible), and therefore worthless. Moses worshipped the Divine Being (invisible), as spiritual.

 

      Verse 28.

      Also by faith, Moses followed the passover sprinkling of blood to spare the first-born of Israel (Exodus 12).

 

      Verse 29.

      By faith the Israelites passed through the Red Sea as on dry land. The Egyptians tried to follow them but were all drowned. (Exodus 14:22.)

 

      Verse 30.

      The walls of Jericho fell down (Joshua 6:1). This was promised by God if they marched around the city for 7 days. By faith the Israelites did so and the promise was fulfilled.

 

      Verse 31.

      Also in Jericho the harlot Rahab was promised deliverance from destruction for her hiding the Israelite spies (Joshua 2:1,10,11). It was likely that she was only an innkeeper.

 

      Verse 32.

      Paul now lists others in the same category of believers of God whose faith he could further recount: evidence of their believing God – Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jepthah, David, and Samuel, and all of the prophets. But there was not enough time. Other points must be made.

 

      Verse 33.

      Joshua and David subdued kingdoms, by faith wrought righteousness. Obtained promises: Joshua and Caleb, through their faith, obtained the promised land. Also, David by faith and obedience obtained the kingdom of Israel, and that from his seed the Messiah would come. Daniel was preserved in a den of lions by God for his fidelity to God.

 

      Verse 34.

      Violent fire did no harm to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, for their faithful worship of only God Almighty. Several escaped being slain by the sword: Moses by that of Pharaoh, Elijah by the plot of Jezebel, David by that of Saul and so on.

      Hezekiah was restored to health from sickness.

      Gideon, Jonathan, David, and Samson were valiant in battle.

 

      Verse 35.

      Women received their dead back to life. Others were tortured rather than bow to false gods, remaining faithful to their true God 'to obtain a better resurrection.'

 

      Verse 36.

      Others of faith were beaten and mocked, put in chains and put in prison. Joseph and Jeremiah come to mind.

 

      Verse 37.

      Others were stoned (Zechariah, Naboth). Sawn asunder – a tradition - Isaiah was killed in this manner. Others were impaled or slain with the sword (the means of beheading). Some wandered about in sheep or goat's skins, the simplest clothing, not having the basic comforts and need of food, clothing, and shelter (destitute). They suffered from their lack of necessities. They were also harassed and prosecuted. These descriptions fit the condition of several prophets.

 

      Verse 38.

      The world was not worthy of these men. They were driven from society to find shelter and rest in deserts, mountains, holes and caves. Elijah and David, among others, experienced this.

 

      Verse 39.

      Through their faith these all obtained a good report of their stand for God. They did not receive the promise for a heavenly rest or the coming of the Messiah.

 

      Verse 40.

      We of the New Testament, the Gospel, have been provided 'some better thing', even forgiveness of sin and reconciliation with God. This includes all the attendant blessings and benefits.

      The Gospel dispensation is the last. All preceding believers cannot be transformed into eternal glory until the Church is taken up (the Rapture).

      The above passage is not specific enough to clearly understand the order and timing of what is described. Only the fulfillment will make it certain.

 

      End

Hebrews – Lesson XI

      Patience and Perseverance: Jesus the Example.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 12.

 

The Chastening of the Lord

1       Wherefore, seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,

2       looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

3       ¶ For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

4       Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.

5       And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children,

My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord,

nor faint when thou art rebuked of him:

6       for whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth,

and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

7       If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?

8       But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.

9       Furthermore, we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

10       For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.

11       Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless, afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

 

Warning against Rejecting God's Grace

12       ¶ Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;

13       and make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.

14       Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

15       looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

16       lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright.

17       For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.

18       ¶ For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest,

19       and the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard entreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more:

20       (for they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart:

21       and so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:)

22       but ye are come unto mount Zion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels,

23       to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

24       and to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

25       ¶ See that ye refuse not him that speaketh: for if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven:

26       whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.

27       And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.

28       Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:

29       for our God is a consuming fire.

 

      Verse 1.

      From all the examples delineated in the previous chapter, considered together, are described here as 'so great a cloud of witnesses'. As if they are the audience observing the present race of Christians. A cloud is an immeasurable amount of uncountable number. So the contestants are to set aside anything that would slow them down (weight of sin that hangs around, constantly tempting them, weaknesses). They must continue the race once started, ever forward to its finish, persevere with patience.

 

      Verse 2.

      We are to look from the world to Jesus and all the spiritual and eternal things connected to Him. He is the 'goal', at the finish line of our earthly journey, or 'race'. He is our example and our judge: 'author and finisher of our faith.' All began with Him and will be completed under Him. By His permission and direction we enter the race (the author); He judges and awards the prize at the end of the race (the Finisher).

      His joy was fulfilling the plan and purpose of God. For this promise He endured the shame and death on the cross as a criminal, 'despising the shame', that He then gained the seat at God's right hand. There He intercedes for us with the Father.

 

      Verse 3.

      We are to observe, with complete attention, everything He did. Thus are we to act, with the guidance and power of His Spirit. Note His endurance: of all the sinners against Him: in meekness and patience, He persevered. So we may also face serious opposition. We must not be wearied, or faint. Continue to look to Him and you will be encouraged to persevere and not faint.

 

      Verse 4.

      Those he is writing to, he describes as having had little serious prosecution – not yet having their blood shed. Striving against sin or fighting against those that oppose them (like a boxer).

 

      Verse 5.

      This is taken from Proverbs 3:11,12 – interpreted as from God to His child – the correction of the Lord, to direct the path. This exhorts every believer to recognize and accept 'the chastening of the Lord'. It is always for that person's good. Do not be downhearted or discouraged. Paul addresses the person (as in the proverb) as 'my son'. The reason follows.

 

      Verse 6.

      It is God's love and deep concern for those that are His that He chastens, or redirects to the correct path. It shows His desire for the best outcome for 'every son whom He receiveth'.

 

      Verse 7.

      To submit to God's chastening, you recognize and accept his authority as well as His loving care for your best benefit. You also realize that all this is done only for His sons. (His children in Christ.) You are part of His eternal family. A child who is not chastened is then not seriously cared for by his or her parent.

 

      Verse 8.

      Those who don't experience chastisement must be illegitimate children (bastards), not sons. To not be disciplined or punished means that their manners and education are purposefully neglected.

 

      Verse 9.

      Even our fleshly fathers corrected us according to their judgment or feelings. We revered them accordingly. It is much better to be subject to our Creator and Preserver, Who corrects for our benefit, to be made conformable to His standards and live to partake of His eternal blessings.

 

      Verse 10.

      Earthly fathers chastened their children for a short time and according to 'their own pleasure'. God does so unto the goal which it was sent: this is always for our profit, and growth, and maturity, unto holiness.

 

      Verse 11.

      Any present discipline seems harsh and troublesome, but afterward shows the results as beneficial to the individual and this to others as well. Paul describes the results as 'the peaceable fruit of righteousness'. As exercise prepares one to physical exertion in contests for prizes, so does God's training prepare a person for a Christian life of strong persevering faith and practice.

 

      Verse 12.

      With this encouragement, even the weary - with arms hanging down and knees wobbling - must take courage and proceed, to keep going.

 

      Verse 13.

      To keep on the straight path, not be sidetracked where injury and impediments can slow or stop progress, must be diligently watched out for. To stay on the straight path will also bring healing by moderation and careful exercise in righteousness. It will become a fruitful habit of daily living.

 

      Verse 14.

      Pursue peace with all people, in purity, showing values beyond worldly lusts and selfish attitudes. This is holiness that prepares a person to enjoy the presence of the Lord and His heaven.

 

      Verse 15.

      Keep careful watch to keep close this gift of God. Be aware of the many temptations and especially the 'root o bitterness', meaning anything that would poison you from staying settled on sound doctrine. To partake of this brings corruption and defilement even within the Church and in the world. Your guard must be diligent and constant to avoid any of these deceits which destroy attitudes, testimony, and example.

 

      Verse 16.

      Any profane person (fornicator) must be guarded against among believers in the Gospel of Christ. The example given of Esau regards his willingness of giving up the right of the first-born to the promises of God. And that he had so little regard for it that one meal (one morsel of meat) was what he sold his birthright for. The rights of the first-born were, in the ancient world, among the most honorable and spiritual, as well as the double portion of the father's wealth and property, and the leadership of the whole family.

 

      Verse 17.

      When he later realized his mistake and sought earnestly to inherit the blessing he was rejected. At that time his father perceived that God's will that Jacob inherit the blessing. Jacob could not reverse the blessing no matter how much Esau begged him (even carefully with tears). To reject the Gospel, a person rejects the only means of salvation.

 

      Verse 18.

      Paul is describing the physical mountain (that might be touched, from Exodus 19:12,13) where the law was instituted with fire and blackness, and winds which engendered fear. That is not how the Gospel is presented.

 

      Verse 19.

      Continuing the deliverance of the law: the 'trumpet and the voice of words' also brought terror. They asked that future communication would be through Moses.

 

      Verse 20.

      They could not endure the commandment. The touching of the Mount by an animal it became too holy to be touched, and must be killed from a distance (stoned).

 

      Verse 21.

      Also, Moses described his own experience as exceeding fear and trembling.

 

      Verse 22.

      Those who have come to God through the Gospel of Christ have a completely different experience. They have come to the spiritual Mt. Zion, the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, inhabited by uncountable numbers of angels. They have Christ as their mediator Who made the way for them into the New Covenant.

 

      Verse 23.

      They are the first-born assembly of the Church (which are written in heaven), the most excellent. To be written as citizens entitled them the rights and privileges of that city. God is the sovereign ruler (Judge of all). Every Christian is born-again unto God as cleansed (forgiven) and judged perfect through Christ (justified). Their spirits inhabit the city of God.

 

      Verse 24.

      Jesus is the mediator of the new covenant from now to the end of this world. Both covenant and Mediator are superior to the Jewish dispensation. Referring back to the blood of sprinkling under the Old Testament as in the Passover Lamb, the blood of Christ fulfilled all that those previous pointed to and represented. Christ's was once for all for the eternal forgiveness of sin.

      Christ's blood was better than even Abel's, whose sacrifice was acceptable unto God because it was in faith of the promise that it represented. Abel's was only for himself. Christ's was for the whole world, and also accepted once, for all, by God.

 

      Verse 25.

      Jesus now spoke from heaven through His Gospel, to both Jews and Gentiles. Listen to Him. Consider those that refused to listen to and heed the voice of Moses, who spoke on earth. They did not escape punishment. If you refuse to heed the call of Christ, your punishment will be much more. To reject so great a salvation is to choose eternity away from God, both light, love, peace, and joy, and have the opposite.

 

      Verse 26.

      At the giving of the law on Mt. Sinai, the earth was shaken by the voice of God (Christ spoke). He has promised to speak again, but to shake both earth and heaven. This most likely refers to the final renovation of old, the creation into the new heavens, and new earth.

 

      Verse 27.

      It will be a shaking to remove those things that pertain to the old earth. All that will remain will be those things that cannot be shaken. Eternal things will remain.

 

      Verse 28.

      This is our eternal inheritance: the kingdom of God 'which cannot be moved'. Our role is to serve God according to the grace we have received in Christ. This includes humility and deep reverence and godly fear.

 

      Verse 29.

      God is a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24). This is to remind all people of God's righteousness and His hate of sin, as well as His final judgment in total power over all of His creation.

 

      Finis

Hebrews – Lesson XII

      General Christian Guidelines.

 

The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Hebrews, chapter 13.

 

Service Well-pleasing to God

1       Let brotherly love continue.

2       Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.

3       Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.

4       Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.

5       Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said,

I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.

6       So that we may boldly say,

      

The Lord is my helper,

and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.

7       ¶ Remember them which have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.

8       Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.

9       Be not carried about with divers and strange doctrines: for it is a good thing that the heart be established with grace; not with meats, which have not profited them that have been occupied therein.

10       We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle.

11       For the bodies of those beasts, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned without the camp.

12       Wherefore Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered without the gate.

13       Let us go forth therefore unto him without the camp, bearing his reproach.

14       For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

15       By him therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to his name.

16       But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.

17       ¶ Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.

18       ¶ Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly.

19       But I beseech you the rather to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner.

 

Benediction and Final Greetings

20       ¶ Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant,

21       make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well-pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

22       ¶ And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words.

23       Know ye that our brother Timothy is set at liberty; with whom, if he come shortly, I will see you.

24       Salute all them that have the rule over you, and all the saints. They of Italy salute you.

25       Grace be with you all. Amen.

 

      Verse 1.

      Brotherly love must be maintained. To be considerate, ready to help, encourage, comfort, and support all in peace, unity, and joy in the Lord.

 

      Verse 2.

      Hospitality was necessary and essential to travelers. Strangers are to be welcomed and cared for. The Old Testament records Abraham and Lot did so unawares and obtained benefits thereby (Genesis 18:3; 29:2).

 

      Verse 3.

      Feel empathy for those in bonds for their faith as if it were you. So also those in adversity. At some point you may be in the same situation.

 

      Verse 4.

      God instituted marriage as honorable, the safe and productive place for children, the continuation of the race of mankind. One man true to one wife is God's requirement. Whoremongers and adulterers will be judged by God as guilty of great sin.

 

      Verse 5.

      Your conduct, both conversation and actions must be without desiring what others possess. Contentment is satisfaction with God's provision in any and every circumstance (present things). God has promised (Joshua 1:5) to neither fail or forsake His own. This means in any affliction, temptation, or adversity of any kind. Trust in the Lord with thy whole heart.

 

      Verse 6.

      Christians may boldly say what the Lord said to Joshua: "The Lord is my helper, I will not fear what man shall do". Man's power is limited and cannot interfere with or cancel the will of the Almighty.

 

      Verse 7.

      Remember those who went before you who spoke the Gospel to you. They are your examples to follow, as they were faithful even to the point of being killed for their faith. They were willing and empowered by God all the way. Follow their example for God is ever faithful to His own.

 

      Verse 8.

      Jesus Christ the same yesterday as promised in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the proper time. Today at God's right hand in heaven interceding for us unto the end of time. And then into eternity with us and the Father.

 

      Verse 9.

      Don't be turned around quickly, or carried away from the center, the true doctrine of Christ. The strange mixtures of law and grace, Levitical rites added, or foreign ideas with no authority. The heart is established with grace, God's gift, not with sacrifices or offerings, where the meat was eaten after the blood had been poured out before the Lord (Leviticus 7:15). This gave them no profit: neither justified them, cleansed the heart, nor gave power over sin.

 

      Verse 10.

      The altar of the Christian is the sacrifice of Christ Jesus, once for all with all its benefits. Not those who continue to offer the sacrifices of the Mosaic Law in the tabernacle.

 

      Verse 11.

      The sacrifices of the sin offering, when the blood was sprinkled before the holy place to make atonement for their sins, the bodies were carried without the camp and completely consumed by fire. They thereby received no material or any other real benefit from those sacrifices.

 

      Verse 12.

      Jesus, also without the gate of Jerusalem, made atonement for the sins of the people. This terminated the Levitical system of worship and sacrifices. His sacrifice set apart, or sanctified, those that would accept His gift, unto God.

 

      Verse 13.

      'Let us therefore' is the only possible next step for believers: to leave the city and its system, and go on to completely depend on Christ. This is in spite of rejection and hatred of those who also killed Him.

 

      Verse 14.

      This identifies us as not tied down to any city, especially Jerusalem, its people or system, now that its purposes have been fulfilled by the sacrifice of Christ. Both the city and the Temple would be dramatically destroyed, only about 7 or 8 years later.

 

      Verse 15.

      Our correct response and sacrifice is praise continually to God, in grateful thanksgiving for His mercy and grace in Christ. This certainly identifies Jesus as the promised Messiah (see Psalms 50:12-15; 141:2). This had been connected previously with the offering of animal sacrifices. The fruit of our lips' is thus considered an offering symbolically in offering all praise to God.

 

      Verse 16.

      Also, sacrifices (different from normal selfishness) are to both do good to others and so also communicate good will. These are correct praise, prayer, and response in grateful thanksgiving to God for what they have received in Christ. They become the fruit and evidence of their conversion. Thus God is well-pleased.

 

      Verse 17.

      Paul calls all believers to obey their present church leaders. The reason is that 'they watch for your souls'. They are responsible to give account of them to God with how well they met their role. To give a positive report will bring them joy. To do the opposite would bring them grief. They sought only the benefit and maturing of each believer.

 

      Verse 18.

      Prayers of the Church were essential even to the apostles. This was to maintain their focus and power in their ministry, evidenced by a good conscience. This also describes a life lived in all honesty.

 

      Verse 19.

      Paul beseeches them to continue to pray for him and his companions, that their work there would be completed according to God's will. The sooner this takes place, the sooner he will be able to visit them.

 

      Verse 20.

      Paul calls upon the God of peace Who provided our Savior Jesus and raised Him from the dead. In this He accepted Jesus' blood as that of the everlasting covenant. Christ is the great Shepherd of the sheep (Ezekiel 34:25; Zechariah 13:7). In John 10:11, Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd, Who lays down His life for the sheep.

 

      Verse 21.

      The thought continues: this Great Shepherd will continue to work in His own flock to mature and perfect every good work, which is the will of God. This covenant is everlasting – not temporary, like the previous. This implies an inner change – the Holy Spirit dwelling within each believer brings inward dedication, guidance, and power to do that which is pleasing in the Father's sight. All is possible only through Jesus Christ by the blood of His everlasting covenant. To Him must go the honor and glory for ever and ever – so be it.

 

      Verse 22.

      Paul entreats the brethren to take in and take seriously the call to Christ-like thoughts, speech, and behavior. This is the way to honor Christ and glorify the Father for all that He had done for them in and through Christ.

      Paul states that his letter is brief and that he is its composer.

 

      Verse 23.

      Timothy, our brother in Christ, has been sent into Macedonia (Philippians 2:19-24). If he comes shortly to Paul, they will together see those Hebrews addressed in this epistle, most likely in Judea.

 

      Verse 24.

      We salute the leaders, elders, preachers, teachers, rulers, and all the believers (saints). All those of the faith in Italy also send greetings. Among whom there were some amount of converted Jews. The Jewish population of the time was in the thousands. (Estimated at 30,000 to 90,000.)

 

      Verse 25.

      Paul wishes God's continual favor rest upon and among them all unto maturing and persevering to the end in the truth. So be it. May it be so.

 

      Subscription: various. Written in Italy, sent by Timothy.

 

      The end of the Epistles written by Paul.

The Epistle of James - Lesson I

      The first of the general Epistles was written by James who had become the accepted leader of the Jerusalem church. He presided over the Jerusalem Council Meeting of Acts 15. Paul reported to him in Acts 21:18-19.

      In Galatians 1:19 he is identified as one of he half-brothers of Jesus. He and his brothers were present with the apostles in the upper room with Mary on the day of Pentecost. This letter was written to the Christian Jews scattered around the Roman Empire (of the dispersion 'diaspora'). According to Josephus he was martyred in Jerusalem in 62 A.D. This letter was to be circulated wherever believers could be found.

      It is considered the first letter written, before the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15, most likely before any written by Paul. It was written to advise and guide the early Jews converted to Christianity – the beginning Church. He stresses the absolute necessity of good works as the best evidence of saving faith. He is also clear that works do not supply or earn salvation. He stresses the deity of Jesus, the new birth and the Second Coming of Christ.

 

      The Epistle of James 1:1-17.

 

1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,

¶ To the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad,

¶ Greeting.

2 ¶ My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;

3 knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.

4 But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

5 ¶ If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering: for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

7 For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.

8 A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways.

9 ¶ Let the brother of low degree rejoice in that he is exalted:

10 but the rich, in that he is made low: because as the flower of the grass he shall pass away.

11 For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth: so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.

12 ¶ Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

13 Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

14 but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin; and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.

16 ¶ Do not err, my beloved brethren.

17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

 

      James identifies himself as servant of his Lord, Jesus Christ. He is concerned about those Jewish believers who have returned to their home countries 'scattered abroad.' His use of the word 'greeting' is unique to this letter and his opening of the Jerusalem council as recorded in Acts 15:23.

      The persecutions have already worsened in Jerusalem. Stephen had been killed by an angry mob. James, brother of John (sons of Zebedee) had also been put to death (Acts 12:1-3). The Jewish historian, Josephus, records this James' death by execution in 62 A.D. He is warning and preparing his 'brethren' for this persecution to spread. The word 'temptations' means 'testings'.

      He says that the exercise of their faith brings strength, and brings patience. This should be received as a blessing and be counted all joy. To stand in such trials gives proof of sound belief – settled in one's own mind. This brings courage and patience to persevere.

 

      Verse 4.

      Patience continued produces a fruitful effect – one becomes fully instructed in every part of the knowledge of God and His will for each believer. The ideal is to become more Christ-like, to be complete, to be exercising every grace, nothing lacking. The whole heart, body, soul, and spirit are to be dedicated to the Lord, allowing the Holy Spirit to fill you.

 

      Verse 5.

      Biblical wisdom includes understanding of God, one's self, and our Savior. The only source of this wisdom is God, Himself, therefore He is the One to ask. He is always willing and giving without limit. It will always be given and never criticized.

      Knowing stimulates thought, understanding guides use and purpose, and will regulate choices through life.

 

      Verse 6.

      Asking in faith is essential – knowing God and that He has every desire to bless His children with their need. Not wavering – as a wave driven by the wind. A settled mind, opposite of agitated thoughts.

 

      Verse 7.

      Such confused thinkers – that don't believe that God will or can help them, or aren't sure about what to ask – they should not think they will receive anything of the Lord.

 

      Verse 8.

      Double minded – God or mammon – heaven or earth. He wants to enjoy all earthly pleasures, and yet wishes for eternal life. Progress in spiritual life and faith is impossible with such a person. 'Unstable' aptly describes this condition.

 

      Verse 9.

      'Low degree' means the poor. They should rejoice because their blessing in Christ are above all earthly value – they are all of love, forgiveness, and eternity.

 

      Verse 10.

      So also the rich, for all their earthly wealth will pass as the flower of the grass. This will not be held against them but they shall be made low in the sense of completely equal to all others in eternity.

 

      Verse 11.

      In a natural description of how quickly things change in the world around us, the fate of the rich is compared. All things of earth are transitory. The sun can nourish and bring growth, or burn and melt. Trust must be placed in the constant care of God, not the variableness of riches or fortune. What's the point of gaining the whole world if you lose your soul?!

 

      Verse 12.

      Jesus promises a crown of life to those that love Him. Everyone in this world is on trial – a candidate for eternal life. To endure is only possible through faith. The word 'temptation' can imply the one who tries to influence another to sin.

 

      Verse 13.

      This verse warns that no one has the right to say that they were tempted by God. God cannot be tempted to do evil, therefore He cannot tempt any man with evil.

 

      Verse 14.

      The truth of temptation is what is within every human – sin – specifically here called lust – as sinful desires (lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, the pride of life). The desire of the heart - when followed - brings action that completes the sin. Sin brings guilt, condemnation, judgment, and finally death.

 

      Verse 16.

      Carefully monitor your thinking, those of the brotherhood of love in Christ.

 

      Verse 17.

      All good things are gifts from our Creator, Who also created all lights – sun and stars, those that reflect the sun's light – the moon and planets. Though the sun can be blocked or obscured by clouds, or change in the rotation of the seasons, God is never affected by external things. His loving nature and purpose, His mercy and patience, cannot be interrupted or diminished.

The Epistle of James - Lesson II

      The Epistle of James 1:18-27.

 

18 Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

19 ¶ Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:

20 for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.

21 Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls.

22 ¶ But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

23 For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass:

24 for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was.

25 But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.

26 ¶ If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain.

27 Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

 

      Verse 18.

      This describes the new birth. The means is the Word of the Truth of the Gospel. Those converted are of the first fruits – first among the Jews, then among Gentiles. The harvest has continued from that time to this.

 

      Verse 19.

      Again he addresses the brethren as 'my beloved'. The advice – swift to hear, slow to speak. This is the opposite of the frivolous who run off at the mouth and never want to listen. They are willing to talk, especially if this gets them out of doing anything. Slow to speak suggests thinking carefully before answering. Slow to wrath – practice patience.

 

      Verse 20.

      The anger of man is kindled by sin and only brings evil consequences.

 

      Verse 21.

      Avoid impurity of body and mind – thoughts and affections. They pollute the soul. Also, do not allow wickedness to overflow – thus blinding the ability of the soul to take in any good, specifically the Word of God.

      The Word is described as engrafted, that brings salvation. The truth has been planted – receive its guidance with meekness.

 

      Verse 22.

      The Word has a purpose – to bring faith, growth, and maturity in each believer's life. This includes not just conversation, but also action. The goal is to become more like Jesus in every way. To do otherwise, you would only be fooling yourself.

 

      Verse 23, 24.

      A metaphor. The purpose – a person looks in a mirror to observe their own imperfections so that they may improve them as much as possible. Hair, cleanliness, beard, teeth. Once they leave the mirror, they soon forget what they had seen, and what they may have decided to do to improve their 'look'.

      The doctrines of God's Truth are like the mirror in showing us our imperfections, and what we lack in our character. The point is that one hears preaching, then goes his or her own way, and forgets what was learned and old worldly habits are repeated.

 

      Verse 25.

      The key is to continue in the perfect law of liberty. The 'perfect' means the inclusion of the whole teaching of the New Testament. We need continual reminding of the goals of our Christian walk. The one who obeys God from a loving and grateful heart will be blessed in what he or she does.

 

      Verse 26.

      Watch out for anyone who puts on a religious face, but whose conversation only relates to worldly things. This shows the condition of his heart – his religion is vain. Christianity is experienced, not something to play at or put on.

 

      Verse 27.

      The purity of Divine Truth in the soul of man will show itself in the talk and walk of each believer. So the actions must remain free from flaws. Works of charity and mercy are the good fruit of Christian faith. None need these considerations more than orphans and widows. The stress here is not charity – just giving to their relief – which can be done for selfish motives. Here one visits those in need, personally showing concern and sympathy. One should help in any way needed, as well as encouraging and sharing words of God's love and care for them. This keeps us unspotted from the world.

 

      The Epistle of James 2:1-13.

 

1 My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.

2 For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment;

3 and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, Sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, Stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool:

4 are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?

5 Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?

6 But ye have despised the poor. Do not rich men oppress you, and draw you before the judgment seats?

7 Do not they blaspheme that worthy name by the which ye are called?

8 ¶ If ye fulfil the royal law according to the Scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well:

9 but if ye have respect to persons, ye commit sin, and are convinced of the law as transgressors.

10 For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

11 For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law.

12 So speak ye, and so do, as they that shall be judged by the law of liberty.

13 For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath showed no mercy; and mercy rejoiceth against judgment.

 

      Verse 1.

      The faith of our Lord does not allow for the brethren to be respecters of persons – especially according to the world's standards. The Lord of glory accepted all that came to Him equally.

 

      Verses 2,3.

      A hypothetical example – observational judgment on what is visible on the outside only – the ring, the fancy coat of one man causes him to be well-treated – sit in a good place. The other obviously shabby, will stand or sit under a footstool – near the entrance, next to the usher's seat.

 

      Verse 4.

      Question your motives – are you not making a judgment according to your own advantage – to show favor to the rich man may lead to some favor or worldly advantage. The poor man has nothing to offer, and has no power to hurt us, so he can be treated rudely – or ignored altogether.

      Just as an evil judge would decide in favor of a rich man – judging him innocent, and therefore the poor man was the evil one.

 

      Verse 5.

      Listen carefully, beloved believers, God has chosen the poor of this world, rich in faith, to inherit the kingdom of heaven. God is no respecter of persons. He looks into the heart.

 

      Verse 6.

      Contrast this with the common worldly attitude to the poor – they are despised. A list of reasons can be easily made – some that even blame the poor for their condition. Ironically, think about those that take advantage of you, lord themselves over you, oppress you, and sue you. Are they not rich men?

 

      Verse 7.

      Do not these same wealthy ones (think of the Pharisees and Sadducees) blaspheme the name of Jesus!

 

      Verse 8.

      The royal law (law of the kingdom) gives the high standard of Christian conduct – Love they neighbor as thyself. The parable of the good Samaritan comes to mind.

 

      Verses 9,10.

      Any sin against the Law of God is guilty of death, even if only one transgression. Even one in effect casts off his allegiance (and obedience) to God. The rabbis observed that any single sin has the seeds of all others in it.

 

      Verse 11.

      He that gave one commandment, gave all the rest. It is very wrong to give heed to a certain one and ignore any other. Transgression is the result.

 

      Verse 12.

      The law of liberty is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What you say – forgiveness and reconciliation, love to God and man – so should you do. How well your actions show what you believe, so shall you be judged for reward.

 

      Verse 13.

      Those that show mercy shall obtain mercy. Only those that have received mercy in the Gospel of Christ can truly show mercy. Therefore they that show no mercy shall obtain no mercy. Mercy is greater than judgment. Through mercy, God triumphs over justice through Christ to bring into His glory those who through faith have acted mercifully.

The Epistle of James - Lesson III

      The Epistle of James 2:14-26.

 

14 ¶ What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

16 and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

18 ¶ Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.

19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.

20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?

21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?

22 Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?

23 And the Scripture was fulfilled which saith,

and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

24 Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

25 Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?

26 For as the body without the spirit 1 is dead, so faith without works is dead also.

 

      Verse 14.

      The key words show the essence of the argument: 'though a man say he hath faith' but his life does not show evidence of it (good works). This is the opposite problem from those (especially the Pharisaic tradition) who insisted that only works brought justification or righteousness before God. The true faith goes far beyond acceptance of God's existence, and goes on to show love, forgiveness, and sharing.

 

      Verses 15,16.

      Example: If one is confronted with a brother or sister with obvious and serious needs, kind words or warm wishes are not truly any help.

 

      Verse 17.

      James restates the case. Neither side is correct by itself. True faith will yield fruit – good works.

 

      Verse 18.

      A man may claim his works, another may claim his faith. James restates that the evidence of his true faith is his good works. The living faith resides within and therefore motivates a person's actions. Part of that living faith is the indwelling Holy Spirit, which energizes actions of love, charity, mercy – the recognized fruit of the Spirit.

 

      Verse 19.

      Belief in one God is not enough, even though it is true. Even demons acknowledge God's existence and rightly tremble. This separates the group from the heathen nations of the world – by this the Jews believed they inherited salvation if they tried to please God – they would earn their way to eternal life.

 

      Verse 20.

      Vain man, pay attention to the following examples from the beginning – Abraham.

 

      Verses 21,22.

      His faith was proved by his offering up his son to God. This act made his faith perfect – the spirit of obedience.

 

      Verse 23.

      His entire life of faith was active in what he did – therefore his faith was accounted to him for righteousness. The highest description of a person's character was given to him: he was called the friend of God.

 

      Verse 24.

      Abraham's faith believed God's promises, and he acted accordingly – his acts proved the genuineness of his faith – obedience to God proves and maintains faith. Both are essential – two sides of the whole.

 

      Verse 25.

      Another example: Rahab the harlot saved the Jewish messengers, because of her faith in God. She risked her life. She acted on her faith and was justified.

 

      Verse 26.

      A human body cannot live without a spirit. Just the same, true faith animates a life of good works. By their fruit you shall know what manner of tree produces it.

 

      Matthew 7:15-20.

 

15 ¶ Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.

16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?

17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.

18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

The Epistle of James - Lesson IV

      The Epistle of James 3:1-18.

 

1 My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

2 For in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.

3 Behold, we put bits in the horses' mouths, that they may obey us; and we turn about their whole body.

4 Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth.

5 Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!

6 ¶ And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.

7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind:

8 but the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

9 Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God.

10 Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

11 Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?

12 Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? either a vine, figs? so can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.

13 ¶ Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom.

14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth.

15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.

 

      Verse 1.

      Among the Jews, many teachers or rabbis claimed to have the truth and actively sought disciples to follow them. So also many claim to know the new 'way' and wish to be 'masters' or teachers. They seek their own high position though not called by God to this office. They will receive greater condemnation, not only for their insincerity and pride, but also for misleading and not nurturing those that they lorded it over.

      'Blockheads are common, and knaves and hypocrites may be found everywhere.' - Adam Clark, 1832.

 

      Verse 2.

      In our daily walk we all stumble or trip. It is the goal of every Christian to walk uprightly. As in verse 1, the warning continues – don't assume a role you are not worthy of or prepared for. Here he describes one who does not offend in word as a perfected man. He teaches what he knows as the whole truth of the Gospel. He is thoroughly instructed in the doctrines of the Gospel.

      If a person has control over their words – this is a very good indication that they have every passion or appetite also under control.

 

      Verses 3,4,5.

      Examples to follow. The tongue must be bridled as the horse, to be guided in the right path. Also the rudder on the ship – though small, it guides the whole ship. The tongue, though small, has great effects – whether for good or evil – to calm and encourage, or to work up a mob to violence.

 

      Verse 6.

      The little fire of a tongue can incite a great fire: a world of trouble, oppression, distress, fear. It is the danger of the unbridled tongue – that it defiles the whole body – as a person's speech is followed by their actions. To set on fire the wheel of life indicates an increase of the person's torments. The fire of hell indicates that evil or devilish lies, slanders, and malicious words (or tongues) can cause great destruction.

 

      Verse 7.

      Every kind of wild beast, whether those that fly or crawl or swim in the sea, men have tamed.

 

      Verse 8.

      Not so with a man's tongue. Many evils are carried out by loose tongues, as poisons to those that hear. Reputations are slandered, peace is destroyed.

 

      Verse 9.

      The same person may praise God, even the Father, and then calls down God's curse on those that have offended them. This should not be possible – especially since God's image was created in that man. Blessing and cursing should not come from the same mouth. Proverbs 18:21 - 'Death and life are in the power of the tongue...'

 

      Verses 11,12.

      Examples as questions – a fountain – sweet water and bitter at the same time, salt water or fresh. Fig trees grow olives – grape vines grow figs? All these are impossible in nature.

 

      Verse 13.

      Who can control his conversation – the wise one who understands the truth of what is right, good profitable. His works also should be good, without pride or bragging.

 

      Verse 14.

      If you have any envy and strife within, don't let it out. To do so would show your misunderstanding of the truth of God.

 

      Verses 15,16.

      To think otherwise shows your source of 'wisdom' to be not from above, but earthly, sensual, devilish. They lead only to confusion, back-biting, slanders, jealousy, anger, division, resentment, and grudges with no end. Churches have split over such things.

 

      Verse 17.

      The wisdom from God comes to us through the truthful Gospel of Jesus Christ, and the indwelling Holy Spirit. Purity comes first. Peaceful. Gentle – meek, modest. A yielding disposition – not obstinate and self-important. Full of mercy – ready to forgive. Good fruits (charity). Not being partial. Without hypocrisy (two-faced). Your talk equals your walk.

 

      Verse 18.

      The righteousness that resides within the heart of the true Christian is the source of all the virtues that are seen in the resulting fruits of that person's conversation and action. The peace of God is the source and inspiration to offer and share the Gospel of peace with God and man through accepting the gift of forgiveness and salvation of Christ's sacrifice.

The Epistle of James - Lesson V

      The Epistle of James 4:1-17.

 

1 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.

3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

5 Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?

6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith,

but giveth grace unto the humble.

7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double-minded.

9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness.

10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.

11 ¶ Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of his brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge.

12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

13 ¶ Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain:

14 whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.

15 For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.

16 But now ye rejoice in your boastings: all such rejoicing is evil.

17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.

 

      Verse 1.

      Wars and fightings. The Jews had carried out various insurrections against the Romans by this time. The stated purpose was to defend their religion, and gain their freedom from oppression, which they claimed as their right. The result was much bloodshed and misery. There were also factions among the Jews that sometimes became violent. There were massacres and plundering.

      In the provinces – Egypt, Syria, and others. Jews felt compelled to war against heathens, to wipe out idolatry, etc. There were massacres on both sides. James points out that the true motives were from very earthly desires: power, influence, plunder, covetousness. This is true on a world scale – one country or king wants more territory, the property of others. Any means are accounted as necessary and acceptable. This includes killing, burning, general destruction, until the enemy gives up and is taken over.

      At this time, Christians were not responsible for any violent confrontations. They had no power to raise resistance to their enemies, or to become aggressive themselves.

 

      Verse 2.

      He now describes the fruitlessness of such continual covetousness. These people are constantly wanting more, as others have. They keep doing things to try to get more – but gain no advantage. They should have realized that their luster and their actions to gain them are all wrong. The right way, for believers, is to pray to God for His blessings.

 

      Verse 3.

      There are those that may claim that they pray. Yet, they actually only pray that God help them to realize their selfish desires, to consume it upon their lusts.

 

      Verse 4.

      The covenant with God was represented as being married to God. Therefore their turning to idolatry or iniquity is described as adultery. They looked for worldly advantage, thereby becoming the enemy of God.

 

      Verse 5.

      Do you think concerning these things, that Scripture is false, or that the Holy Spirit causes envy? Never! Contentment with what God provides is more like it.

 

      Verse 6.

      But even more in the grace of God is the peace that cannot be experienced in envy or the pursuit of whatever one is envious of. Those that are proud think of their own power, popularity, influence, or worldly gain. They claim they have done this, regardless of God. The humble depend on God, and God therefore grants them grace.

 

      Verse 7.

      The best advice. Submit unto God. Resist the devil and he will flee. Jesus has overcome the world, the flesh, and the devil. Therefore we also are more than conquerors, through Him!

 

      Verse 8.

      We may approach God as our heavenly Father through Christ. He likewise draws near unto us. Your whole life must be changed. Cleanse your hands, purify your hearts. Separate yourselves from the world. Consecrate yourselves to God. This is the path of sanctification. Consecrated unto God's service. God does His part in the indwelling Holy Spirit to strengthen and guide the reborn heart and mind.

      Hands must be cleansed from worldly earthly works. Hearts must be set apart to one side – that of God. One can not serve both God and mammon.

 

      Verse 9.

      This description indicates that many of his intended audience had lived a 'very dissolute life'. What they had enjoyed and considered reasons for laughter were holding them in sin. They must rethink their values: mourn and weep, realize their sin.

 

      Verse 10.

      To seek forgiveness, humbly before God – God will lift them up.

 

      Verse 11.

      Cease from the all too common practice of speaking of others' faults or indiscretions, back-biting, or factions, divisions, etc. This must be especially true of fellow believers – all these are against God's law. To do otherwise is to judge against the Law and condemn to the Law. A doer of the law cannot do this.

 

      Verse 12.

      There is One lawgiver – God Almighty. No man has the right to take this role upon himself. Only God can rightly judge the heart of man.

 

      Verse 13.

      Come on now, you who say that you will do this or that thing, today or tomorrow. What presumption! You plan to stay a year, buy and sell, and make a good profit. This was a common practice of merchants in those days. But a wise person must keep in mind the shortness and unpredictable nature of human life.

 

      Verse 14.

      No one actually has any control over what will come in the future. Death is never acceptable. One's life will always appear to be too short. A human life appears like a cloud of smoke that lasts a little while and then disappears.

 

      Verse 15.

      Only God knows and controls the future. The Godly person should acknowledge this in making any plans. All plans are contingent on the will of the Lord.

 

      Verse 16.

      Rejoicing in boasting. This is the proud, the self-made, self-sufficient, mover and shaker. He calls all around to look at him and his great success. God is given no credit or even acknowledged. James calls such rejoicing pure evil.

 

      Verse 17.

      Now that I have warned you, you can no longer plead ignorance. He who expects God's direction and help must walk uprightly before Him. No one can expect God to be our friend if we work against Him.

The Epistle of James - Lesson VI

      The Epistle of James 5:1-20.

 

1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.

2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.

4 Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of Sab'a-oth.

5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

7 ¶ Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.

8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

9 Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door.

10 Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.

11 Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.

12 ¶ But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

13 ¶ Is any among you afflicted? let him pray. Is any merry? let him sing psalms.

14 Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord:

15 and the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.

16 Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

17 Eli'jah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months.

18 And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.

19 ¶ Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him;

20 let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins.

 

      Verse 1.

      James takes on the prophet's office, describing what fate awaits the rich in the coming destruction. The most emotional and upsetting thing to happen to a rich person is the taking away of the great power and prestige they enjoy when their assets are taken. 'They will weep and howl.'

 

      Verse 2.

      The produce of fields and flocks will putrify – the storing up of grain, wine, and oil, plus the amassed fancy clothing all had the quality of going bad.

 

      Verse 3.

      Heaping up of treasure, even silver and gold, will not serve you. They will only prove your selfishness in hoarding up everything. When you could have reached out and helped others, you didn't. This points to the love of money – loving the possession, not the respect and use money has, in doing good. These things will witness against them when the very nation of Israel will be destroyed.

      The things you have heaped up will serve as sources of the fire that will burn up the city, the temple, the nation.

 

      Verse 4.

      The day laborer was, by law, to be paid at the end of each day. (Deuteronomy 24:15.) To not do so was a sin, which God counted as fraud. God listens carefully to the cries of those laborers not paid daily. The Lord of Hosts, or Armies.

 

      Verse 5.

      You have lived luxuriously, pampering the flesh, self-indulgent. A fattened heart has no feeling for others and this is described as turning a festival occasion into riotous over-indulgence.

 

      Verse 6.

      The wealthy oppressive class brought the righteous to courts – have them condemned to death because they have no one to stand up for them. They have no defense.

 

      Verse 7.

      Believers must wait upon God. He will with certainty execute judgment on these wicked people of the Jewish nation. As sure as the farmer waits patiently for the crop he has planted – even long patience until harvest.

 

      Verse 11.

      So Jesus had said such people were blessed that endure for His sake. They will be counted happy. Remember also the example of the patience of Job who held fast to trust in God's promises. This includes what the Lord did for Job, in the end, and for eternity. The Lord has much sympathy, tender in mercies.

 

      Verse 12.

      To swear by anything indicates anxiety that one won't be believed by their word alone. This in turn indicates the rampant over use of swearing by Jews of that time. There were grades of oath that were more or less binding based on the thing sworn upon – body parts, heaven, earth, Jerusalem – (Matthew 5:33). Basically, this all tries to cover insincerity and outright lying. God can read your heart – so what you say must also reflect what truth resides therein. Otherwise you are - and can be condemned as – a hypocrite.

 

      Verse 13.

      Among the church, if anyone is having trials or problems, the best thing is always to pray. This would include calling upon others to pray also. On the opposite side, if any had reason to rejoice, sing songs that give praise to Him Who deserves the credit for all good things.

 

      Verse 14.

      Old Jewish saying – 'No healing is equal to that which comes from the Word of God and prayer.' Prayer lays the groundwork of bringing health first to the soul, then health to the body follows.

      Here James advises calling the elders (the most wise and spiritually mature) to come together to pray for the sick. The anointing with oil was an old Jewish custom. Olive oil was a common natural remedy for many conditions and had become a tradition. It was generally used as a public communication of setting aside the person for blessing. The instrument was the following prayer to God in Whose hand healing dwells. The essential part was the praying in the Name of the Lord.

 

      Verse 15.

      God often blesses the prayer of faith with recovery. If we consider that God's will seeks the very best result for everyone, then restored health is not always the best thing. Other possibilities include salvation or release from pain and suffering through death by which God calls a believer to His eternal home. The seal of approval is not tied to the elders – 'The Lord shall raise him up.'

      'Committed sins' points to what may have caused that person's specific ailment – first their sin will be forgiven as Jesus did and taught. The soul in condemnation unto eternal death must be forgiven first – a necessary healing of the soul first and most important (from death to life eternal), then the healing of the body. The forgiveness of the soul would also remove the motive to commit the sin that brought the illness.

 

      Verse 16.

      Confess your faults to one another. What! This is the last thing anyone wants to admit, much less voluntarily confess. It is against human nature – self-welfare is the most important activity. We want to be right 100% of the time. Good luck! This also builds walls, and pride wins – and we cannot grow closer to others.

      To admit our faults and transgressions is humbling and keeps us from arrogant and prideful attitudes, as if we are better than others. We must always be reminded that we remain sinners in need of our Savior. We should have no shame in admitting this. This also encourages us to behave better so that we don't continue to do things that we would need to confess. The response to confession is to pray for that person (pray one for another) to encourage and bring strength for healing of the soul (forgiveness and prayer). We must pray for each other, for we all need forgiveness.

      Effectual fervent prayer suggests the moving of the Spirit, that God has a purpose in mind to inspire this deeply heartfelt supplication. This should always be expressed in prayer, which affects the one who prays as well as the subject of the prayer. This in no way suggests 'long' prayers. The spiritual content, not length, brings the blessing.

 

      Verse 17.

      Great example: Elijah who had the same human nature and passions as we all do. He prayed earnestly (or fervently) that it would not rain in Judea – 3 years, 6 months.

 

      Verse 18.

      Not specifically stated in I Kings 17:42 is that he prayed for rain to come: it says – 'He cast himself down upon the earth, and put his face between his knees.' This pictures a prayerful position. The result was rain and renewed growth and fruit from the earth.

 

      Verse 19.

      When anyone strays from the life of faith in Christ - the moral life taught by churches – it is a blessed thing when a true believer reclaims him or her from their error and brings them back into the fold.

 

      Verse 20.

      This is called conversion here! This is to be greatly encouraged – he has saved a soul from eternal death, a body of destruction. This shall hide a multitude of sins in the normal sense of the mercy of God forgiving the sinner's sins through the sacrificial blood of Christ – the word 'hide' indicates the washing away of the sins of the forgiven sinner – which were a multitude – no number being too great to forgive because of the value of Christ's sacrifice. This has been misinterpreted as hiding a multitude of the sins of the one who converts the sinner. Not so.

 

      Abrupt ending: The epistle was first published after James' death. What was included was what was in the original.

The Epistle of I Peter – Lesson I

      Introduction

 

      There is universal agreement that both letters bearing Peter's name were written by him. They were addressed to all Christians living in the named places of the dispersion (out of Israel and Judea). This included both Jews (converted) and Gentiles (formerly idolaters), all called sojourners where they were.

      They were now, even in their home town or area, strangers to the rest of the population. They were now different as Christians, with a new allegiance, citizenship and destination. They are addressed as elect, saints, chosen ones, sojourners and strangers in that sense.

      The place of writing is named by Peter at the end of the first letter, where he writes: 'The Church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you.' At face value, this would be the ancient city on the Euphrates, once the capital of the great empire of that name. At this time, it was still inhabited to some extent (in and up to about 200 A.D., when it was deserted and desolate). There was some conjecture that Peter used the name Babylon to represent the city of Rome or Jerusalem because of their evil (in rejecting Christ). There is no evidence or other reference to back this up.

      The time of writing would have been before Peter was in Rome, around 63 A.D. How many years before this is impossible to narrow down. Between the Apostolic council meeting in 49 and his arrival at Rome are 14 years, of which we have no recorded history of Peter.

 

      The First Epistle General of Peter, chapter 1.

 

Salutation

1       Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,

¶ To the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappado'cia, Asia, and Bithyn'i-a,

2       elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ:

¶ Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.

 

The Christian's Hope and Salvation

3       ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

4       to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

5       who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

6       Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations:

7       that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

8       whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

9       receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.

10       ¶ Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you:

11       searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

12       Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

 

A Call to Holy Living

13       ¶ Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

14       as obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance:

15       but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation;

16       because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.

17       And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man's work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

18       forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers;

19       but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:

20       who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you,

21       who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.

22       ¶ Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:

23       being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

24       For all flesh is as grass,

and all the glory of man as the flower of grass.

The grass withereth,

and the flower thereof falleth away:

25       but the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

      And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

 

      Verse 1.

      Peter identifies himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. This letter is addressed to believers (strangers in the sense of those driven by persecution from their home areas, especially in Israel). The Roman provinces mentioned are in Asia Minor.

 

      Verse 2.

      These believers are the elect according to the foreknowledge of God, both Jews and Gentiles, called to be the visible Church. This was God's plan, as foretold by the prophets, now being brought to pass through the Gospel of Christ and the sanctification of the Spirit. This unto the setting apart unto obedience, and good works all for God's glory. The Father knows His own children (His chosen elect).

 

      Matthew 24:14 - "For many are called but few are chosen"

 

      Peter prays for grace and peace to be multiplied unto them.

 

      Verse 3.

      All praise be to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for His 'abundant mercy'. Thus hope has become alive again by Christ's resurrection and the new birth by the Holy Spirit. Every believer is now a child of God. The resurrection, the incontestable proofs, remove all doubt.

 

      Verse 4.

      This brings to each child of God an inheritance. This inheritance is pure and unchangeable, eternal. It is not of this earth or on this earth, but in heaven.

 

      Verse 5.

      Believers are watched over with great care, and kept or preserved by the power of God, ultimately to be revealed in eternal salvation. Preparation has been made and will certainly be delivered.

 

      Verse 6.

      All the previous things bring great rejoicing. But while still on earth there will be times of trial, temptations, persecution, or afflictions. This will make one sorrowful about earthly things, yet trusting and rejoicing in God.

 

      Verse 7.

      These trials of faith are compared to the purifying of gold by fire, where all the impurities or dross is burned away. However, gold itself is perishable. The faith of a believer is not perishable and may be pure and bright unto "praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ."

 

      Verse 8.

      These believers had not seen Jesus in the flesh. Yet, by faith, they had accepted His love, and they love Him in return. This has brought them a joy unable to be put into words, a joy beyond this earth, yet so strong and certain, spiritual, and eternal.

 

      Verse 9.

      Salvation of the soul had been experienced. The power of God set them free from the slavery to sin here and now, and set them apart for eternity in heaven.

 

      Verse 10.

      The prophets made all possible inquiry into this salvation, searched as for grains of gold in sand or rock, in the Scriptures, to find the details: the signs and the time when grace would replace the Law, when mercy would be provided to man by the Messiah.

 

      Verse 11.

      The Spirit of Christ in them, and those prophets that went before them, testified of "the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow."

      He would be glorified in His resurrection, and also the Church in eternity. (Psalms 22:6; Isaiah 53:3.)

 

      Verse 12.

      The prophets were not informed of the particular time or other details, but they trusted God that He would bring these things to pass at His appointed time. Now, the prophecies are revealed unto us as fulfilled in the Gospel. Thus, preachers, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, have spoken of prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Jesus had sent the Holy Spirit, to fill all believers for this purpose from heaven.

      Apparently the holy angels look down intently to observe the working out of God's plan for man's redemption.

 

      Verse 13.

      To 'gird up the loins' refers to preparing to do any physical labor. The long tunics were tucked in around the waist (in the girdle or belt). Here the mind must b e fortified, encouraged, by the hope of the promises of the God of all grace, given through His Son Jesus Christ. Being sober means not being distracted or tempted to get off the path of faith that will be consummated at the revelation of Christ when He calls all of His elect to Him.

 

      Verse 14.

      Be obedient children - have no habits that are according to the 'former lusts' or worldly fashions. Former ignorance of the Truth in Christ – they lived in conformity to the world.

 

      Verse 15.

      A change has taken place. He who called you is your example: holy. So are you called to be holy in all manners of daily life: thought, words, and actions.

 

      Verse 16.

      Quoting Leviticus 11:44 – God's word to man: "Be ye holy; for I am holy."

 

      Verse 17.

      To call on God as the Father must include reverent obedience as His children during your journey through this earthly life. God judges all equally, according to their work. God shows no partiality. He righteously judges the evidence, the testimony of a person's life.

 

      Verse 18.

      The price paid for your salvation as not by material of value, the usual temporary or corruptible things such as silver and gold. You were living in vain, foolish, empty and pointless lives even as the traditions passed down to you by those who went before you (your fathers). These would include ceremonies and ordinances set down as necessary to please God (for the Jews) or other gods (the Gentiles). All were vain, full of empty hopes, fears, or wishes for benefit.

 

      Verse 19.

      Your redemption was paid for by the precious blood of Christ, a sin offering to God as The Lamb of God, without spot or blemish (as the Passover Lamb was the type or figure).

 

      Verse 20.

      He was foreordained, appointed by Divine purpose to be sent into the world as the only way to provide for the redemption of man. This was decided 'before the foundation of the world'. Now it was brought to pass, shown forth, for those who have believed. Thus God did foresee the fall of man and appointed the cure or remedy for this condition. These last times names the Gospel dispensation as the final age before Christ's return to the earth.

 

      Verse 21.

      Those who now believe in God through Christ must refer to the Gentile believers. The Jews already knew the True God. It is this God, Almighty, Who raised Him from the dead, to His right hand as Prince and Savior (glory). Thus God fulfilled His promises wherein is the faith and hope in God, which is for eternity.

 

      Verse 22.

      Through the Holy Spirit, they have obeyed the truth. This has cleansed their souls to the outpouring of 'unfeigned love of the brethren'. This love from a pure heart is fervent – both intense and continuing.

 

      Verse 23.

      This rebirth is by no earthly means (corruptible seed), but by the Word of God (incorruptible). This Word is Living and Eternal!

 

      Verse 24.

      The great contrast to all living things of the earth: flesh, even as grass or the flower of grass. They have a brief time, then the flower falls away, the grass withers. So is a man's life, his glory, quickly gone, and forgotten.

 

      Verse 25.

      What does endure is the Word of the Lord, forever. This eternal Word is preached unto all who will listen, by the Gospel. By the Word they have believed unto eternal salvation in Christ Jesus our Lord. (This verse includes a quote from Isaiah 40:6-9.)

The Epistle of I Peter – Lesson II

      Put aside former things, begin to grow and mature as a child of God.

 

      I Peter, chapter 2.

 

The First Epistle General of Peter, chapter 2.

 

1       Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,

2       as newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

3       if so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious.

 

Christ the Living Stone

4       ¶ To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious,

5       ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.

6       Wherefore also it is contained in the Scripture,

Behold, I lay in Zion a chief corner stone, elect, precious:

and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.

7       Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient,

the stone which the builders disallowed,

the same is made the head of the corner,

8       and a stone of stumbling,

and a rock of offense,

even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.

 

God's Own People

9       ¶ But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:

10       which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.

 

Live as Servants of God

11       ¶ Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

12       having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.

13       ¶ Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

14       or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well.

15       For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men:

16       as free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

17       Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.

 

The Example of Christ's Suffering

18       ¶ Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.

19       For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.

20       For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.

21       For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

22       who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:

23       who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; Is. 53.7 but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:

24       who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

25       For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

 

      Verse 1.

      From all of the things mentioned in chapter one, this begins the proper response: 'Wherefore.' Believers are to put aside those former earthly sins, now listed: these include all manner of doing and wishing harm to others – lying envy, destructive thoughts and actions, dishonesty, and speaking any evil.

 

      Verse 2.

      The apostle mentioned the new birth in 1:23. Now new-born from above, believers require heavenly nourishment. He calls this a desire for the sincere milk of the Word of God. This is absolutely necessary for growth unto maturity which is unto salvation. This is the path to the ultimate destination in heaven. Not that any will become perfect or sinless, but that we strive as responsible children to honor and obey our Heavenly Father. Jesus is our example, our intercessor, head, and Savior.

 

      Verse 3.

      You have already tasted the forgiveness and love of the Lord (His grace), so you will continue to seek His nourishment in His Living Word.

 

      Verse 4.

      Referring to Isaiah 23:16 - "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation." Christ is the foundation of the Church. A foundation stone and a living stone. Through Him are all believers alive, occupying their proper place in the building.

      He was rejected by the majority of the Jews, from the prophecy of Psalm 118:22: "The stone which the builders refused is to become the head stone of the corner." Christ was God's chosen, both sufficient and effective unto salvation. He is precious, infinitely honorable, as are those that are united to Him, as stones in the building of which He is the foundation.

 

      Verse 5.

      Living stones, the composition of the building represents the family that lives within. House equals household (or family). The family made up of sons and daughters, in this case, of God Almighty. Therefore the living foundation stone is He Who is eternal and permanent. He supports the whole living spiritual house and household. They worship God as priests that offer up spiritual sacrifices in the Name of Christ are acceptable in His sight.

 

      Verse 6.

      Quoting Isaiah 28:16. The church was founded at Jerusalem. There Christ suffered, and there the preaching of the Gospel began. The church began at Pentecost. The chief cornerstone, in the foundation, from which all measure of succeeding stones are positioned. This may also suggest the inclusion of both Jews and Gentiles. This stone was chosen and of unique value. Those that believe on Him shall never be separated from Him (confounded).

 

      Verse 7.

      All those which believe have this honor of salvation through the blood of the Lamb (precious and eternal). But those that refused to believe (the disobedient) rejected this stone, which is made the head of the corner. This describes the majority of the Jews at that time.

 

      Verse 8.

      Jesus was a stone of stumbling because He was not the conquering hero Messiah they looked for. He was humble, poor, and sought no worldly power or position. He was a rock of offense in reaching out also to Gentiles, who the Jews deemed beyond and below them, (even calling them dogs). They could not accept 'the word' which they disobeyed. Because of their disobedience, they received the appointed consequences: stumbling, falling, being broken as God's judgment. Jesus spoke against the chief priests and elders in Matthew 21:44 in the same words of Isaiah 8:14.

 

      Verse 9.

      This title: a chosen generation, formerly only to the people of Israel, now given to all who believe in Christ. Exodus 9:6, Moses calls them a kingdom of priests, for all were called upon to sacrifice to God. A holy nation, a purchased people. (Deuteronomy 4:20; 7:6; 14:2; 26:18,19.) They were holy, as separated from all people, to worship the only true God. They were God's private property. Peter applies now to Christians in spirit and essence, even above and beyond what they described of the Hebrews in the Old Testament.

      But the Gospel has brought "His marvelous light", the Way and Truth and Life as Christ revealed the love of God, His wisdom, justice, mercy, and grace. The former now appears dark in contrast. Those that have answered His call should continually praise Him for all things they have received by the abundant and eternal blessings in the marvelous light of the glory of Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior.

 

      Verse 10.

      A quote from Hosea 1:9,10; 2:23 that foretold of the calling of the Gentiles by the preaching of the Gospel. These were not before, but are now the people of God, having obtained His mercy.

 

      Verse 11.

      These 'dearly beloved' brethren of the faith are most affectionately entreated to consider themselves as those on a journey, merely passing through this life on earth to an eternal home (strangers and pilgrims). They may also have been strangers literally as Jews away from Judea. The point: the soul is their spiritual calling in Christ. The worldly flesh and the lusts thereof must be avoided as enemies of the soul. All others do the opposite and are at home, building their kingdom on earthly values, always and only seeking their own benefit.

 

      Verse 12.

      These earliest Christians (having been formerly Jews) were spoken against quite generally by the Gentiles as troublemakers equally to those unconverted Jews. Christians are called to behave above reproach, and unto good works to set them as different from the Jews. 'The day of visitation' refers to a time of judgment. This may point to the time when the Jewish nation was to be destroyed, which did not destroy the Christians as well. In this way, God was glorified.

 

      Verses 13,14.

      Peter calls upon all believers to submit to any legitimate governing authority as unto the Lord – whether king, governor, or magistrate. Their jobs were to keep the peace and punish evildoers. Those that are law-abiding would be praised.

 

      Verse 15.

      This is God's will and produces the testimony of the true nature of believers as peaceful and seeking to be of benefit to others. This should silence those "foolish men" that deride Christians as different in a negative and seditious manner. Christians' good behavior would put a muzzle on their mouths.

 

      Verse 16.

      The Jews always maintained that they were only answerable to God and therefore justified their recurring rebellions against the Romans (a cloak of maliciousness). Christians were to be the opposite, serving God in peace and love.

 

      Verse 17.

      Honor all men, giving respect as neighbors. Love fellow-believers. Fear God as sovereign over all. Honor the king as delegated to authority also under God's direction.

 

      Verse 18.

      Servants are to be submissive and reverent towards their masters. And to do so whether the masters are fair or unreasonable and disagreeable.

 

      Verse 19.

      It is pleasing to God if a person conscientiously does their duty, yet endures grief or persecution for it. The persecutor is wrong before God.

 

      Verse 20.

      To patiently take punishment or abuse because of your faults deserves no praise. But if you do no wrong and suffer for it, patiently, God accepts it.

 

      Verse 21.

      Christians are called into a condition at odds with the world's systems. This leads to persecution and suffering. Christ is the example. He suffered the hatred and abuse of the world for us. We are to follow His example. He was meek, gentle, giving, loving, compassionate, and forgiving.

 

      Verse 22.

      His suffering was not based on any wrong, sin, or evil that He had done or even spoken. The word 'guile' suggests the normal way a criminal would automatically lie to avoid punishment.

 

      Verse 23.

      He committed judgment of His life to the righteous judge (God Almighty). He did not threaten or accuse those who persecuted Him. He was sorely tempted to anger by those who abuse Him. Instead He suffered in silence, but in great strength and peace: in the will of the Father.

 

      Verse 24.

      He Who was sinless bore our sins on the cross. Thereby our sins were forgiven and we were given a new life delivered out of the power and bondage of sin, being born again of the Spirit. By this power we should live, and follow in Christ's example unto righteousness.

      'By whose stripes we were healed' quotes from Isaiah 53:4-6. To contemplate Christ being violently beaten for our sins must deeply make us realize the serious results and punishment for our sins. This must heal us from any desire or temptation to sin. This is a cleansing and thankful response to Christ for what He has done for us, and thankful response to Christ for what He has done in us.

 

      Verse 25.

      Formerly wandering in the world, in ignorance and sin as lost sheep. But the Great Shepherd called us back into the fold of His love. He is also the Overseer of souls. Bishop of His Church. Both roles include leading, guiding, defending, and keeping safe in the Way, the Truth, and the Life, both now and unto eternity.

The Epistle of I Peter – Lesson III

      The First Epistle General of Peter, chapter 3. How to live unto God.

 

The Behavior of Wives and Husbands

1       Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;

2       while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3       Whose adorning, let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;

4       but let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5       For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:

6       even as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.

7       ¶ Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.

 

Suffer for Righteousness' Sake

8       ¶ Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous:

9       not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

10       For he that will love life,

and see good days,

let him refrain his tongue from evil,

and his lips that they speak no guile:

11       let him eschew evil, and do good;

let him seek peace, and ensue it.

12       For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous,

and his ears are open unto their prayers:

but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

13       ¶ And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?

14       But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;

15       but sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear:

16       having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

17       For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evildoing.

18       For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

19       by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

20       which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

21       The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us, (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

22       who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.

 

      Verse 1.

      Continuing his advice on Christian living, he turns to marriage. Wives are to be subject to their husbands as head of the household, under God's appointment from the beginning. This even if he is not a believer in the Gospel of Christ, the wife may win him over by her kind, loving, and faithful way of living before him. Preaching they would not listen to.

 

      Verse 2.

      The husband will observe your purity and modesty and reverent attitude.

 

      Verse 3.

      The outward appearance must not be showy or fancy - evidence of careful and expensive preparation. For women this included braiding of the hair and folding it about the head, often with gold and jewels in the braids. Also, the choice of apparel should not be to attract attention, especially of the wrong kind.

 

      Verse 4.

      It is the true person within that must be observed rather than only the outward appearance. It is the 'hidden' heart and soul that is incorruptible. This will show through as a meek and quiet spirit as the richest ornament of a person in God's sight. This is the opposite of being loud, provoking, complaining, irritating, all for attention (corruptible and corrupt).

 

      Verse 5.

      Since early times, simplicity was the norm. The holy women, trusting in God, used common sense and natural adornment, well-groomed and proper. Such women would not do anything to attract other men, but would honor their husbands in their practical and modest outward appearance and manner.

 

      Verse 6.

      From the father of the Jews, Abraham, we have the example of his wife, Sarah. She obeyed him, 'calling him lord'. Those women reading this letter could trace their heritage back to her. Peter calls upon these as 'daughters' as long as they follow her example. (See Genesis 18:12.) This requires their faith and obedience to God and their husbands. Thus you will live with no fear of being found out – you have done no wrong in the first place.

 

      Verse 7.

      Husbands be also careful to do nothing to cause distrust or loss of respect in your wife. This is to be open 'according to knowledge' in everything with each other. Show honor to the wife by supporting and protecting her (your experience of the world, and natural strength, being stronger). Both are equal before God, and heirs of the grace of life. By living honorably, and in accord, their united prayers would not be hindered.

 

      Verse 8.

      This unity in homes and in the Church is your calling before God, and in Christ. All are one family 'as brethren'. With love, compassion, pity, and courtesy – these must always be practiced.

 

      Verse 9.

      Never return evil for evil, or any evil speaking. Only good must be the response to any contrary words or actions – return blessing for cursing. This is every Christian's duty. It also insures your inheritance of everlasting life.

 

      Verse 10.

      A quote from Psalm 34:12-16. He who wished to live long and prosper must act as directed here: no evil speaking, lying or malicious slander.

 

      Verse 11.

      He must avoid all evil; he must do only good; he must live in peace with all people – seek it when it is present, restore it where it has been broken, pursue it when it seems far away.

 

      Verse 12.

      The Lord continually watches over those that are His. He hears all their prayers. His approval, watchful care and blessing are turned away from the evildoers. His judgment and justice are against them.

 

      Verse 13.

      If you practice doing what is good, the motive in your heart and soul to honor God, who can harm you? God will carry you through.

 

      Verse 14.

      Even if you 'suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye'. It is an honor to suffer for Christ, even as He suffered and died for you. They may hurt the body but they can not affect the eternal spirit. Don't be afraid or worried. They cannot separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

      Verse 15.

      Keep your thoughts upon God's promises, power, mercy, care, and love, as well as His truth and justice. Be ready to share your faith with anyone, at any time, who wants to hear. The hope is of eternal life through Christ. This must be done with gentleness and honor to the One you speak about. Be guided by this indwelling Spirit.

 

      Verse 16.

      Your conscience can be at peace, knowing that your conversation has been sincere and clear, honoring God before men. The common lot will speak evil of you, thinking you are rebels and troublemakers. Your Christian words and behavior will prove them to be false accusers and bring them to shame.

 

      Verse 17.

      To suffer for doing evil deeds is just and deserves no praise. It is better to suffer for good deeds, according to God's will. This honors God and shows the prejudice of the world.

 

      Verse 18.

      Christ made the ultimate sacrifice: as the One without sin, suffered for sinners. He did this to bring reconciliation with God. By being put to death in the flesh in our place, then resurrected by the Spirit unto life eternal, transformed and incorruptible.

 

      Verse 19.

      It has been suggested that this verse and the following one refer to Christ in the Spirit preached to the spirits of those killed in the Great Flood. They were shut up in a holding place or prison.

 

      Verse 20.

      All these were disobedient, against God, even the whole time Noah was building the ark. This was 120 years of preaching and warning (and the longsuffering of God) against their continual sinning and evil, and the coming judgment of destruction. All flesh was destroyed, except the eight – Noah and his family. It is also suggested that some, when the rains started, the ark was shut, and then they believed Noah's words, repented and begged God for mercy. They lost their lives, but God may have been merciful to their souls.

 

      Verse 21.

      In the sense of Noah as saved by water (in the ark). In a similar way, baptism represents the salvation provided by God in the Gospel of Christ. The water represents the washing away of the power of sin (leaving a good conscience) by the Holy Spirit unto new life toward God. It also represents the death (going under the water) and the resurrection (coming alive up out of the water) of Jesus Christ.

 

      Verse 22.

      Jesus ascended into heaven and is at God's right hand. All angels, authorities, and powers were made subject to Him. This is the place of highest power and authority, over all creatures in the heavens and the earth. This, coupled with His promises to those who believe in Him, must bring great trust, peace, joy, and gratefulness. He has promised to help us every step of the way through this life to the place He has prepared for us in heaven. There is no thing, person, or power that can prevent His will from being brought to pass in every detail. Period.

 

      Finis

The Epistle of I Peter – Lesson IV

      The First Epistle General of Peter, chapter 4. Follow the Example of Christ.

 

Good Stewards of God's Grace

1       Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

2       that he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

3       For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revelings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

4       wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

5       who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

6       For, for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

7       ¶ But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

8       And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

9       Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

10       As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

11       If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth; that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ: to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Suffering as a Christian

12       ¶ Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

13       but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

14       If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the Spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified.

15       But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters.

16       Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

17       For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

18       And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?

19       Wherefore, let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to him in well doing, as unto a faithful Creator.

 

      Verse 1.

      Consider seriously the suffering Christ endured for us in the flesh. Think about His forgiving spirit, meekness, gentleness, and complete self control. The person that has suffered in the flesh contemplates their past actions and resolves to cease from sin.

 

      Verse 2.

      On the positive side, turning away from the worldly values of pride, position, lust and sensual pleasures, he now turns to live unto God, in faith and purity, content and at peace.

 

      Verse 3.

      Peter here gives a clear and detailed description of the general state of the Gentile ways of living. Their daily activities included lasciviousness – every kind of sexual deviation and impurity, lusts – strong desires and appetites for sensual pleasures of every kind, excess of wine – to drink heavily, under the influence to excesses without normal inhibitions, reveling – celebrations, feasts with loudness and much drinking, banqueting – lavish meals, also to excess, and abominable idolatries – worshiping idols with rites and ceremonies, impure, obscene, and abominable.

 

      Verse 4.

      It is beyond their comprehension that you would stop going with them in their riotous excesses. They can only conclude that you have something wrong with you. You've lost your mind, and are possessed of some evil. And if they are aware that your God has called you to such a life, then they deride Him also. (Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die, comes to mind.) These people have a seared conscience, and no awareness or knowledge of the spiritual world.

 

      Verse 5.

      These people will have to stand for judgment of their works before He Who will judge all people, the dead and the living, the Jew and the Gentile. (Those Gentiles were considered as under a death sentence, living in trespasses and sins, therefore dead unto God, though alive in the flesh.) The Jews had a name to live under God by their religion and its profession.

 

      Verse 6.

      And yet the Gospel was preached to the Gentiles, that those who would believe, would be also born-again of the Holy Spirit to live unto God. They would be judged harshly by those who continued to live in the flesh, in sin.

 

      Verse 7.

      The end of all things is at hand. Peter is most likely to be referring to the soon coming (within a few years) of the destruction of the nation of Israel, Jerusalem, and the Temple. Peter may also be thinking that the coming devastation is similar to the message of Noah to the people before the Great Flood. Out of all world history, the destruction of Israel and its people stands out as one of the most violently dramatic, cruel and complete.

      Christians should be living moderate and prudent lives, pure and holy. Pray for God to sustain you and that you may escape the coming destruction.

 

      Verse 8.

      Have passionate unselfish love toward fellow believers. Such love will look past and forgive the imperfections (or sins) of others.

 

      Verse 9.

      Such love will also be hospitable, sharing with others your bread without grudge (or grumbling). This love is to honor God and be Christ-like to people.

 

      Verse 10.

      Whatever one has received from God, whether spiritual or material, one is to minister to others. These gifts are from God to be used for His work and glory ("as good stewards of the manifold grace of God").

 

      Verse 11.

      Speak only as inspired of the Holy Spirit, as the recorded Word of God in the Holy Scriptures, in Spirit and in Truth. To minister to those in need with whatever means are available, as means only provided by God. Thus God is to receive the praise and glory through Jesus Christ. Only God deserves praise, the only One Who can and does provide all blessings, He Who has dominion over all of His creation 'for ever and ever.' Amen.

 

      Verse 12.

      Beloved fellow followers of Christ, do not consider it unusual to be persecuted and suffer for your faith. As gold is purified by fire, so your faith is purified and made stronger by adversity.

 

      Verse 13.

      Be happy in that your suffering is as Christians, in His Name, even as He suffered for each of us. When His glory shall be revealed, these present afflictions will be swallowed up in 'exceeding joy' as if they never happened.

 

      Verse 14.

      If you are reproached as a Christian, you must be doing something Christ-like. It is an honor to be so recognized – therefore be happy. This is also evidence of the presence and power of the Holy Spirit being with you. They speak evil of He that is God (they speak blasphemy), while your life honors and rejoices in Him.

 

      Verse 15.

      All these things are true and valuable as they are pure and holy. To suffer for any crime or act of evil is just and with only blame and guilt before God and man. Listed are murder, robbery, anything evil, destructive, even being a busybody, especially in matters of the government and its officers. Do all the opposite, be at peace with all people, humble and gentle.

 

      Verse 16.

      To suffer as a Christian is not shameful, but brings glory to God, as one testifies what God had done for us in Christ Jesus, our Lord and Savior. The word 'Christian' is only used here and in Acts 11:26 and 26:28.

 

      Verse 17.

      That judgment must begin at the house of God refers to Ezekiel 9:1-7, where God orders the destroyer to begin slaying at His sanctuary. The persecution and slaying of Christians ('at us' meaning the converted Jews) would be but the beginning of destruction which will then be brought upon those who rejected Christ, the entire nation of the unrepentant Jews to their utter devastation. That shall be their end.

 

      Verse 18.

      With extreme danger will Christians escape from Jerusalem when the Roman armies come against it. That is where the ungodly and the sinners will be.

      This verse quotes Proverbs 11:31 - "if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?"

 

      Verse 19.

      Therefore the righteous suffer according to the will of God: their souls will be kept safe in Him, and by Him. These will be behaving according to the Truth, the Way, and the Life, seeking only to glorify God, their faithful Creator and Heavenly Father. "Well-doing" covers all of God's work in this world. These will God faithfully protect – they will always be safe.

The Epistle of I Peter – Lesson V

      The First Epistle General of Peter, chapter 5. Specific directions to both the Old and Young in the Church.

 

Tend the Flock of God

1       The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

2       Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;

3       neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.

4       And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.

5       Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

6       ¶ Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:

7       casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

8       Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

9       whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.

10       But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you.

11       To him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Final Greetings

12       ¶ By Silva'nus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand.

13       The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth my son.

14       Greet ye one another with a kiss of charity.

¶ Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen.


      Verse 1.

      The elders – the office of pastors or shepherds of God's flock, the Christians. This included the responsibilities of bishops, teachers, and deacons.

      Peter calls them forth by strong argument (exhort). He identifies himself as also an elder, and an eye-witness of the sufferings of Christ. Also, he had the promise of his Lord, the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, the earnest of 'the glory that shall be revealed' in heaven.

 

      Verse 2.

      This is their mission and necessary duty to those in their care: feed the flock of God. Not in the sense of a burden they would rather get out of (constraint). It must be by firm desire and choice. Never must money be any part of this office or the desire thereof. A ready mind is decided on serving Christ by unselfish care and nurturing His followers.

 

      Verse 3.

      They are not to boss them around like servants, not to fleece and work them. They must feed, guide, defend, encourage, and inspire the flock. They must speak and act as examples for the flock to follow in Christ-like lives.

      To mention that this has not been universally and continually done is known to every Christian from the beginning (as Paul mentions in his epistles).

 

      Verse 4.

      When the Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ comes, those that have built up His Church with every effort, they will be rewarded by an eternal crown of glory. Indeed, your ministry on earth, was a shining light of love to those you ministered to.

 

      Verse 5.

      All those under the leadership of the elders, the younger (in the Lord, not necessarily those younger in age), are to recognize and follow their directions as are for their benefit. Be considerate to one another, not pushy, but reserved, humble. The aim is service, to benefit others. To 'be clothed' is the visible outward conduct observed by others.

      The proud are clothed with fancy dress, calling attention to themselves, boasting and strutting. God sees through all this as sin. They receive nothing. The humble receive the very beautiful and eternal grace of God.

 

      Verse 6.

      To submit to God and His providence is to trust in His loving care. He is Almighty God. 'In due time' He may lift you up. Those who refuse to be humble before God will 'in due time' be humbled by God.

 

      Verse 7.

      Always remember that God cares for you, whatever affects or concerns you. Therefore, do not be anxious or worry about the outcome. He will bear thee and thy burden. This refers to Psalm 55:22, also.

 

      Verse 8.

      Sober – avoid all sensual intoxication, or over-indulgence and focus on the world and its values and concerns. Be vigilant – watchful – those against you are ever on their guard.

      The adversary, the devil, is ever active, seeking to do harm, distract, and devour any he can catch off-guard. He can use many temptations – sensual, false spiritual secrets with the appearance of truth, and by persecution, violence, even death. A parallel is suggested in the first and last part: a drunk swallows down his liquor; the devil swallows down the drunk.

 

      Verse 9.

      Stand fast against him; he can be overcome by those that believe in Jesus Christ, for He will stand with thee. At the same time, there will be persecution and afflictions by those of the world: the heathens and the Jews. The believing Jews, now Christian, were also hated and persecuted by those Jews that did not accept Christ.

 

      Verse 10.

      But above and beyond all this suffering in this world is God, Who in His bounteous grace has 'called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus'. His mercy, compassion, and goodness are infinite toward us. Our future is the time of firmly establishing you in your proper, perfect condition and position, the place of abiding in heaven.

 

      Verse 11.

      All honor, praise, worship, and glory be to Him Who governs all creation eternally. So be it – so it shall be!

 

      Verse 12.

      It is most likely that Silvanus was the proper name of Peter's faithful companion in travel (Acts 15:40; 16:19). They to whom Peter writes, he assumes are already acquainted with him as a 'faithful brother'. It is by this man: "Silas" as he was commonly known, that this letter will be taken to the various churches addressed. It would be read aloud to each congregation, a copy made to remain with them for ready reference.

      Though this letter is brief, it earnestly witnesses to the truth of God's grace and the Gospel of His Son. I call upon you to be faithful and continue to stand in its truth.

 

      Verse 13.

      Since there is no record of Peter's travels for a period of over 10 years, it is pointless to argue as to whether or not he actually went to the city of Babylon on the Euphrates. It is known that there was a population of Jews there during this time (60's A.D.).

      Peter acknowledges these believers as the elect of God even as those he is writing to. They salute their brethren in Christ. Peter acknowledges the salutation of his other companion Marcus, as his son in the faith. This is supposed to be the same person mentioned in Acts 12:12, named John Mark. He was the son of Barnabas' sister. He was the author of the Gospel of Mark. (See Acts 12:6-17.)

 

      Verse 14.

      The accepted greeting was a 'holy kiss' (mentioned in Romans 16:16 and I Corinthians 16:20 by Paul). Peter calls it a kiss of unselfish love (Christian love). He calls for peace to be with all believers in Christ Jesus. Unity and tranquility through Christ was the best temporal blessing.

 

      So be it, so let it be, so it shall be.

 

      Subscription: The end of the First Epistle of the Apostle Peter.

The Epistle of II Peter – Lesson I

      The Second Epistle General of Peter, chapter 1. Best Directions.

 

      Peter calls for these believers to continue to grow and mature in their living in Christ and to God's glory: to persevere and grow in grace and a ministry of love.

 

Salutation

1       Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

¶ To them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:

2       ¶ Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord.

 

Make Your Calling and Election Sure

3       ¶ According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

4       whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises; that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

5       And besides this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue, knowledge;

6       and to knowledge, temperance; and to temperance, patience; and to patience, godliness;

7       and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, charity.

8       For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9       But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

10       Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

11       for so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

12       ¶ Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things, though ye know them, and be established in the present truth.

13       Yea, I think it meet, as long as I am in this tabernacle, to stir you up by putting you in remembrance;

14       knowing that shortly I must put off this my tabernacle, even as our Lord Jesus Christ hath showed me.

15       Moreover I will endeavor that ye may be able after my decease to have these things always in remembrance.

 

Eyewitnesses of Christ's Glory

16       ¶ For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.

17       For he received from God the Father honor and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

18       And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

19       We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts:

20       knowing this first, that no prophecy of the Scripture is of any private interpretation.

21       For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

 

      Verse 1.

      The writer identifies himself as the Apostle Simon Peter, and servant of Jesus Christ. The letter is written to those of the same 'precious faith' as all other believers: provided by God and Savior Jesus Christ.

      An apostle, he was commissioned by Jesus to preach to the Gentiles, and to write these letters for the edification of the Church. This faith is 'precious' in the great cost, even the life of Jesus.

 

      Verse 2.

      May God's favor in spiritual and temporal blessings be 'multiplied to you'. This will certainly come through acknowledging God and Jesus our Lord in all your ways and He will direct your paths. To grow in knowledge of God and Jesus is part of this life.

 

      Verse 3.

      His Divine power has been given through the Holy Spirit: re-birth, power and guidance, and gifts. All are given for the new life of godliness. This includes: growing in knowledge of the Gospel, the power to share and defend its truth, direction in speech and behavior for all occasions, and to a variety of people. Always giving praise, honor, thankfulness, and glory to God and our Savior.

      The life of virtue here and now leads to the glory, the kingdom of heaven, unto eternity.

 

      Verse 4.

      'Exceeding great and precious promises' are given to believers. Redemption, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the resurrection, eternal life with God and Christ. This highest of purposes is to redeem man from sin: earthly, sensual, evil and destructive natures, condemned to decay and death. Now, partaking of the Divine nature, believers are freed from the bondage of corruption 'that is in the world through lust'.

 

      Verse 5.

      All this God has done for you, now your duty and responsibility unto the Father begins. You are to live with the greatest seriousness and activity; add to your faith in the Gospel of Christ, virtue, courage, and fortitude to stand for Christ in the world before others, no matter the consequence (persecution and rejection). Add also knowledge: study the Scriptures, seeking God's truth and will, which brings understanding (wisdom).

 

      Verse 6.

      To knowledge, add temperance, moderation in all things earthly, avoiding temptations to purely sensual indulgences. The spirit ruling over the flesh.

 

      Verse 7.

      To godliness, add brotherly kindness. This devotion to your closest family members, so to fellow Christians. All are members of the Body of Christ, equal, valuable, in union, with Him and each other. To this add the kind of unselfish love that reaches out also to all people (love they neighbor as thyself). This love is exemplified in the life and ministry of Jesus, His death, His gift in the Gospel.

 

      Verse 8.

      If you follow all the directions, to continue and grow to maturity, then your life will be fruitful in bearing witness, giving to those in need, great upbuilding and encouragement to fellow believers, and reach out to the lost with the message of the Salvation in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. To do otherwise equals barrenness, bearing no fruit, living only for yourself.

 

      Verse 9.

      be aware: if anyone claims to have accepted Christ's forgiveness and does not follow or even attempt 'these things' - they are blind. They have turned from the light and their understanding is darkened. This seems to have happened by choice. He chooses the dark, hardening his heart. This is grieving the Holy Spirit, their life having no value, thus there will be no reward for them before the Lamb.

 

      Verse 10.

      Brethren, the best way to make your calling from darkness into the marvelous light of the Gospel certain, firm, solid, and sure, is to be ever alert and paying close attention to your purpose as a child of God in a sinful world. All the things previously mentioned (verses 5-8) describe your acceptable service unto God wherein 'ye shall never fall'.

 

      Verse 11.

      This will prepare an honorable and triumphant entrance into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. This alludes to the way the Romans granted their generals who had heroic victories to be honored.

 

      Verse 12.

      Peter considered it a necessity to continue to remind Christians about these serious responsibilities of living to God's glory. The world is loud and demanding and the flesh is weak. Peter is aware that they know the truth and 'all these things'. Their foundation is laid, immovable and solid in Christ.

 

      Verse 13.

      Yes, Peter considers it his responsibility and best activity while he remains in this human body. 'He' being the inner soul, temporarily housed in a human body. He will continue to stir them up (exhort), encourage and remind them of their calling.

 

      Verse 14.

      Peter refers to the conversation between him and Jesus (in John 21:18,19) where our Lord told him that his death would take place when he was old. That was now the case. He was thinking that this was at hand. He now had a particular intimation of his death.

 

      Verse 15.

      Again the most important reason for these two letters: that these essential truths concerning Christ would be continually available and in their possession even after he is gone (deceased). Therefore, they will always keep them in their memory.

 

      Verse 16.

      Peter here refers to the devices of the heathens (especially the Greeks) in their mysteries of their gods in special mystic shows to deceive and impress the onlookers with noise and special effects. He only told them the absolute truth about the 'power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.' He and many others 'were eye witnesses of His majesty'.

 

      Verses 17,18.

      The greatest evidence was of God the Father's voice: heard, coming from 'the excellent glory'. This happened upon the holy mountain (the Mount of Transfiguration). The voice said, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He and James and John were there and heard these words.

 

      Verse 19.

      A more sure word of prophecy: the Old Testament, the law and the prophets spoke concerning Christ. Especially in Isaiah 43:1,7 - "My Chosen in Whom my Soul delighteth...' It is the promised light to those that shined in darkness, to open the blind eyes, as those in prison are brought out. They do well to give complete attention to that light which is Christ. This must be continued until the day they are converted when the day star arises in their hearts. The age of grace is the day of salvation offered to all people.

 

      Verse 20.

      Always keep in mind that all prophecies of Holy Scripture were not the product of any prophet's own ideas, invention or calculation; not from any impulse of his own mind.

 

      Verse 21.

      In any former time, prophecy did not come by any man's decision or desire. Only those dedicated in the Lord's service (holy men of God) were moved (or carried out of themselves) by the Holy Spirit to speak and write. Even those prophets search to find further details and understanding of when and how Christ would suffer and then be glorified (already mentioned in I Peter 1:10-12).

 

      End

The Epistle of II Peter – Lesson II

      The Second Epistle General of Peter, chapter 2. Warnings. The Multitudes of Lies to Distract from and Lead away from the Truth, the Way, and the Life.

 

False Prophets and Teachers

 

1       But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2       And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

3       And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

4       ¶ For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

5       and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

6       and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomor'rah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

7       and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

8       (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds:)

9       the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

10       but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.

¶ Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

11       Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

12       But these, as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

13       and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

14       having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

15       which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Ba'laam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

16       but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet.

17       ¶ These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

18       For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

19       While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

20       For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

21       For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

22       But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

 

      Verse 1.

      Yet there were also false prophets in Israel, who spoke from their own ideas and motives to draw many for their own benefit away from God's Truth.

      Even now there will be false teachers that will try to deceive you and deny the Truth of the Gospel of Christ. These are lies – damnable heresies that lead to destruction. They will deny the salvation paid for by the precious blood of the Lord. This only leads to a life of sin and a death sentence.

 

      Verse 2.

      But their 'pernicious ways' enticed many. These included indulgences in fleshly lusts and pampering, to having a community of wives (Antinomians and Nicoitans) etc. Since they retained the name of Christ, Christians were all spoken against as evil, as if those perversions represented Christianity everywhere.

 

      Verse 3.

      They will do whatever it takes to keep their followers' attention and get money from them. They will make up fabulous legends, lying miracles, and necessary entanglements to their continued authority and demands. Their punishment was long ago predicted. Their condemnation is alert. It is on its way and must soon overtake them.

 

      Verse 4.

      The sin of angels led them to be taken away from their first position. They were delivered into chains of darkness in Tartarus (hell) to be kept unto judgment.

 

      Verse 5.

      Because of sin, God destroyed the old world, saving only 8 people – Noah, his wife, 3 sons, and their wives. He was also a preacher of righteousness. The flood came and took all of the rest (the ungodly) away.

 

      Verse 6.

      The cities of Sodom and Gomorrah were so sinful – their sexual perversions. God overthrew them by fire, turning them into ashes. This was a judgment, a warning, and example of God's wrath against such continuous, willful sinning as the focus of their entire lives.

 

      Verse 7.

      Lot was delivered, having been greatly distressed by the gross, lawless, unclean manner of speech and actions of these lustful wicked people.

 

      Verse 8.

      After leaving from Abraham, Lot lived at Sodom around 20 years. He had a righteous soul. These abominations certainly tormented and repulsed him 'day to day'.

 

      Verse 9.

      This example (as well as Noah in the ark) shows God's plan and provision of deliverance of the godly. His justice destroyed; His goodness saved. The godly are not preserved from temptation; they are preserved in temptation; they will be delivered out of temptation.

 

      Verse 10.

      Foremost for judgment, the ungodly are those that live in fleshly lusts of the basest kinds, abominable and against nature. They hide from and speak evil of any laws and those enforcing them. They abhor any restraint. They are headstrong, only they are right, all others (even the highest civil authorities and laws) are wrong. They will go their own way and speak evil of those that oppose them.

 

      Verse 11.

      Angels, though far above those people in power and authority, bring accounts before the Lord, but only the simple facts – never exaggerating, or adding negative interpretations.

 

      Verse 12.

      These people follow only their natural lusts, even as 'brute beasts', are limited to their natural instincts. They have no consciousness or conscience, no reason or religion. The only way to stop them is that they are arrested, brought to judgment and sentenced to destruction. They have no understanding that their own corruption will bring them into their dissolution (perishing).

 

      Verse 13.

      Most of the unrighteous seek the night and the dark to hide their evil practices. But these go to the extreme and find pleasure to 'riot in the day time'. They have no shame. They disgrace the name of Christ as 'spots and blemishes'. They show off their license to misbehave (their own deceits) even when attending the Church's sacred festivals (or feasts). They are earning the reward of unrighteousness.

 

      Verse 14.

      Their motives are of the basest kind, even as an adulterer continually looks for their next conquest, they only think about their lustful desires. They look for the inexperienced, gullible, unwary ones, to beguile with their deceit and lead astray. They had done this so often that they were expert at it. They knew all the tricks and enticements. They are under God's curse here and now, and will receive its result hereafter.

 

      Verse 15.

      The right way was offered and shown to them, but they did not take it in, accept it, and keep it. They have gone astray to follow their own desires. The example of Balaam, son of Bosor, who knew God, but chose the reward offered him by Balak. This he deemed as more valuable (for his own pleasure) than the blessing and approval of God. The way Balaam counseled the Moabites to give their most beautiful young women to youthful Israelites and entice them to practice idolatry.

 

      Verse 16.

      It took his donkey speaking in a man's voice to get Balaam's attention, and rebuke him of the evil of his advice against Israel.

 

      Verse 17.

      On the outside, these people have an appearance of true faith, but on the inside, they are empty of the Spirit of life. As a well appears like a source, but has no water. Also like clouds that should bring rain which are blown away by a fierce wind. Their end is fitting to their nature – without love or light, into "the mist of darkness" or thick darkness, forever.

 

      Verse 18.

      The false teachers bragged about their great knowledge and wisdom about things above any others. Who ever followed them would share great privileges. They aroused curiosity and desire to participate in secret things, to be excited, have their senses stimulated, to be above the ordinary people. This distracts those who had been converted. They became drawn to this perversion. They had considered themselves escaped from "them who live in error." That being 'clean' they trusted those in the Church.

 

      Verse 19.

      They promise a higher spiritual life, above the normal, set traditions and Church practices. In fact, these people were slaves to their own corruption. Whoever or whatever has control over a person, that person is bound to. The worldly lusts are in control of these people.

 

      Verse 20.

      The knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ separates a person from superstition, idolatry, and lasciviousness (pollutions of the world). To be again entangled therein, and overcome, this leads to a worse condition. The knowledge of Christ does not directly state conversion. Some may have been drawn away from their former sins and practiced a cleaner life, yet not true believers.

      In both cases, the end is worse for both: one saved but without reward. The other, more sin, more punishment.

 

      Verse 21.

      To know the truth, the holy commandment of Christ, and then turn from it, openly rejects all that is good, helpful, just, and beneficial. Such a choice acknowledges all of the opposite values as more valuable and correct (basically total self-centered sin). This leaves no question, going full steam ahead in their destructive path.

 

      Verse 22.

      Quoting Proverbs 26:11 - "as the dog returneth to his vomit, so a fool repeateth his folly." Peter calls it a 'true proverb' observed in nature, adding that the swine when carefully washed, will as soon as possible return to wallow in the mire. The sinner having heard the Gospel was cleansed but then returned to their former sins according to their former nature. Both animal and person were cleansed on the outside, the surface, the inner nature remained the same.

The Epistle of II Peter – Lesson III

      The Second Epistle General of Peter, chapter 3. Heresies. God Will Judge the World. New heavens and New Earth. Live unto God's glory.

 

False Prophets and Teachers

 

1       But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2       And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

3       And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.

4       ¶ For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;

5       and spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

6       and turning the cities of Sodom and Gomor'rah into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

7       and delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

8       (for that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds:)

9       the Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptation, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:

10       but chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government.

¶ Presumptuous are they, self-willed, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.

11       Whereas angels, which are greater in power and might, bring not railing accusation against them before the Lord.

12       But these, as natural brute beasts made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;

13       and shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the daytime. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;

14       having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: a heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:

15       which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Ba'laam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness;

16       but was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man's voice forbade the madness of the prophet.

17       ¶ These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever.

18       For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.

19       While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.

20       For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

21       For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

22       But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.

 

      Verses 1,2.

      Both this 2nd letter and the former one were written to remind them of the doctrines in the Old Testament prophets, and the instructions of the apostles, to maintain their minds in the purity of God's Truth and Will in Christ. This is necessary, continually, because of the daily influences of the world.

 

      Verse 3.

      And consider this as a stronger temptation: false prophets who will denigrate and ridicule parts of the true doctrine to lead others to follow them only. Their motives remain pursuit of their own selfish and sinful ways. They are puffed-up, deluded, and greedy, looking for pleasure, not purity.

 

      Verse 4.

      These scoffers question the promise of His coming. This suggests the prophets that had predicted the destruction. Also, the apostles had foretold the second coming of Christ, and the end of the present order. These people's argument against believing any of these prophecies was based on their observations of the natural order of things that show no dramatic changes, or signs of decay or breakdown. From all recorded history, when the older generations had lived and died, everything continued as it had from the beginning of creation. Since they would acknowledge any changes in the past, they deny the possibility of any in the future. They left out God's power over all of His creation at all times, according to His perfect will.

 

      Verse 5.

      This ignorance was their choice. They are satisfied in their beliefs for their own selfish motives. Loving their darkness, they refuse to see the light and the truth. Peter describes the original creation of heaven and earth spoken into existence by the Word of God. The earth was first a fluid mass, then the land formed, with the atmosphere of water vapor over it.

 

      Verse 6.

      That world was destroyed because of the continual sinning of those people. God destroyed it with the water out of which it had been created. The waters of the great deep and the windows of heaven.

 

      Verse 7.

      The present heavens and earth are preserved by the same Word of God for judgment and destruction because of 'ungodly men'. This time, destruction will be by fire.

      The idea that all things continued from the creation is refuted by the Genesis account of the Great Flood. As that was judgment of evil men, so was the coming judgment. The world formed after the flood will continue until the proper time, but it will certainly be judged, as was the former. This final time, fire will destroy it.

 

      Verse 8.

      But beloved, consider carefully that to God, time is not measured like men do on earth. He is eternal, and a thousand years is as short to Him as a day is to us. His timing is not limited by any earthly concerns or time constraints. His purpose and power are constant and without limit. (See Psalms 90:4.)

 

      Verse 9.

      Peter points out that this promise of judgment is not forgotten or put off for some petty reason. His reason is a heart of love for us, to allow more time for the Gospel to be preached, that none 'should perish', that all would have adequate opportunity to 'come to repentance.'

 

      Verse 10.

      But the day of the Lord will be sudden and unexpected (like a thief in the night – see Matthew 24:43). The heavens shall pass away with great noise (as vast thunders), the waters, then the other elements will melt with intense 'fervent' heat. Whatever that can burn will be 'burned up'. This is not annihilation but dramatic change of the present form of the elements, from the corruptible into the incorruptible and eternal form: the new heavens and new earth, the eternal dwelling place of God, Christ, and the redeemed. The New Jerusalem will be the city and the temple. God and Christ will be the Light thereof.

 

      Verse 11.

      All the present things will be dissolved. Think about this change of all earthly and man-made things as temporary. The only path to eternity is through the plan of God in Christ. To be a part of that plan requires obeying His high-calling – all holy conversation (words and actions).

 

      Verse 12.

      This is our ultimate destination, which is our ultimate home; we should be earnestly looking for and desiring its coming. The day of God will bring this about as stated in verse 10. This again emphasizes what every person 'ought to be'.

 

      Verse 13.

      In the meanwhile we have His promise as reason to keep watch. Isaiah 65:17 - "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered, nor come into mind." Also, 66:22 - "For as the new heavens and the new earth which I shall make shall remain before Me, saith the Lord, so shall your seed..." (Also see Revelation 21:27; 22:14,15.) The new will be refined, purged from all natural and moral imperfections, the eternal abiding place of the blessed saints. This is after the Final Judgment. Time will be no more.

 

      Verse 14.

      For this reason, beloved fellow believers, it is your calling, duty, and honor to be diligently following the Way of Christ, without any spot or blemish. In this way you will be secure, at peace, completely trusting in God and His perfect will for everyone of His children.

 

      Verse 15.

      The long-suffering of our Lord is for the continuation of the Gospel of salvation to be offered to people, to every nation. Peter identifies Paul as his 'beloved brother', who had also written to these believers. The wisdom given to him also regarded the patience of God with sinners was also intended for their salvation. This included both Jews and Gentiles in the same churches that Peter was now writing to. The majority of these churches were founded by Paul. Peter also is acknowledging Paul's words as inspired by God.

 

      Verse 16.

      Peter is obviously well acquainted with Paul's Epistles and accepted them as scriptures. They included the same deep subjects that peter has included in his own Epistles. Some things are 'hard to be understood', especially to those that have no background in the Old Testament and need more teaching in the complete doctrines in the Gospel of Christ. Such things as the day of judgment and the resurrection of the dead, if taken by themselves can lead to false or mistaken ideas, attitudes, and actions. Also, if these people are unstable (mixed up or deluded). This has happened with 'the other Scriptures' as well. This also points out the absolute necessity for new converts and prospective converts to be taught by those who are mature and well-versed in Scriptural Truth. Otherwise, an individual could easily interpret Scripture according to their own desires, inclinations, or whim. All of which leave the Truth of God behind, therefore "unto their own destruction".

 

      Verse 17.

      Peter is thankful for these beloved brethren in the Lord, and that they have been taught "these things before". Both by apostles and Scripture they have the Truth and can be on guard, be aware, and watchful for any 'error of the wicked'. They can then not be led away by any false doctrines or false teachers. They can stand firm and without misstep – be steadfast in the Lord and His Truth.

 

      Verse 18.

      Your true duty is to continue to grow and mature in grace and knowledge of 'our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ'. Believe, love, learn, and obey unto the full stature of the mature child of God, to His glory and in His likeness.

 

      In closing, always keep before you the glory, honor, thankfulness, love, and devotion of Christ, 'both now and forever'. Amen: so be it. This is a continual life of awareness and prayer in presence of our Lord. So be it!

 

      Subscriptions

      The end of the Second Epistle of Peter the Apostle – universally accepted as authentic.

I John – Lesson I

      Introduction.

      Evidence of John's authorship. External: his 3 Epistles are mentioned by several early Christian authors as having been written by the same John who also wrote the Gospel account. Internal: comparisons have been made between the Gospel style and wording with the Epistles and many parallels have been observed. Enough to accept the same author wrote both. Also, John's name is attached, accepted as also authentic.

      Time written and where written: unknown. Time possibility: perhaps 68 or 69 A.D. (before the destruction of Jerusalem). To whom written: no address or mention of places within, or to whom. It is assumed the epistles were written to be circulated among a group of churches where the need for true doctrine and information was needed to correct some false teachings. Some who had professed Christianity had now left the church, and were spreading their errors. This could have been Judaizers or those who claimed that Jesus was only a spiritual manifestation (without human nature). John insists in accepting the facts, the correct doctrines, an intelligent faith in God's Son.

      John focuses on the love given and to be shared. And the attitudes and behavior necessary to honor God and follow the example of Christ as evidence and witness to being His.

 

      The First Epistle General of John, chapter 1. The Reality of the person and doctrine of Christ.

 

The Word of Life

1       That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;

2       (for the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and show unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)

3       that which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.

4       And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.

 

God Is Light

5       ¶ This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

6       If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

7       but if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

 

Sin, Its Reality and Remedy

8       ¶ If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.

9       If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

10       If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

 

      Verse 1.

      Jesus Christ the Lord was from the beginning of all creation. John and the other apostles heard Him speak, saw Him clearly, and continually looked upon Him; they even touched Him. Every sense experienced His physical presence over a long period of time (not once or twice or at a distance or in the dark). They were with the incarnate Word of life.

 

      Verse 2.

      That life was openly shown forth, they 'have seen it, and bear witness'. They testify of His resurrection unto eternal Life, 'which was with the Father'. This is the message the apostles witnessed and preached to all who would listen, which now included those believers who were reading this letter.

 

      Verse 3.

      Again, this is our experience with Jesus that we have spoken to you: that you may accept Him also as Savior, thereby becoming brothers and sisters in the Lord's family. Our closeness is equal, and complete, and eternal - 'our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.' We dwell in Him as well as He dwells in us through the Holy Spirit. This is the fellowship of the mercy, grace, peace, love and joy in our Lord.

 

      Verse 4.

      These truths are written to you for full assurance of all the blessings in Christ, that your happiness may be complete.

 

      Verse 5.

      The message upon which all depends came directly from Jesus, the only-begotten Son, who alone could declare the fullness of the true blessings to be received by those who believe on Him. God is light: the source of all creation, wisdom, power, holiness, happiness. In Him there is no darkness, nor imperfection, sin, ignorance, mistakes, or misery. Light in all of creation is the emblem of purity, perfection, and goodness of the Divine nature. Without Him there is no life, love, faith, or hope. With Him, in Christ are all things: life, love, faith, hope, trust, and certainty.

 

      Verse 6.

      Thus to claim to be a believer, yet live in a selfish and sinful way, gives evidence of deceit. To live in darkness and claim to possess the light is impossible. One cannot commune with God and Christ without being changed within, which brings about a change of conversation and behavior. A partaking of the Divine nature of light. This is walking in the light.

 

      Verse 7.

      By the forgiving, cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, His Son, we are cleansed. We have fellowship with other believers and God our Heavenly Father. This is a continuous intimate relationship both with God and others. We receive light, we share light, 'we walk in the light'.

 

      Verse 8.

      For anyone who claims to have no sin, to have been perfect, upright, without a single lie is the height of pride. That person can be correctly put in the category or deceiving themselves, of denying or not acknowledging the truth. They wish to be without any need of a savior.

 

      Verse 9.

      In Christ we have forgiveness of all our sins: past, present, and future. To stay in the closest communion with God we must confess our sins. We know that He is faithful by His grace and mercy, and just because Christ paid the penalty for our sins, and forgives us our sins. Also He cleanses and purifies our hearts unto righteousness as His beloved children.

 

      Verse 10.

      To deny that a person has sinned is also to deny the entire Bible: from Adam and Eve, the 10 Commandments, the atonement of Christ. That person is a liar, and their entire life is based on lies. "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23.)

 

      The First Epistle General of John, chapter 2, verses 1-8.

 

      Continue to Walk as Christ Walked.

 

1       My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

2       and he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

 

Tests of True Knowledge

3       ¶ And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

4       He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

5       But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

6       He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

7       ¶ Brethren, I write no new commandment unto you, but an old commandment which ye had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word which ye have heard from the beginning.

8       Again, a new commandment I write unto you, which thing is true in him and in you: because the darkness is past, and the true light now shineth.

 

      Verse 1.

      Addressed to his beloved children, from a loving father, in this case also as their spiritual father, he writes affectionately. His best advice and heartfelt wish for them is to be happy (for sin only brings misery). To be holy, to be in the will of God, brings peace, joy, and blessing.

      If any believer sins, through accident, ignorance, or temptation, there is no need to despair. We have an advocate with the Father: Jesus Christ Who makes intercession for us. The Righteous One pleads for us.

 

      Verse 2.

      The word rendered propitiation here is only found in one other place in the New Testament – 4:10 of this letter. Other words with the same essential meaning are frequently used. The proper meaning in the action of turning away anger, of appeasing, or reconciling, making now favorable.

      Therefore, Jesus in His sacrifice for our sins, turned away God's wrath for all sinners, 'of the whole world'. God's justice, law, and truth are honored. Thus God is free to offer pardon to all people.

 

      Verse 3.

      We can of a certainty know that we are His if we follow His plan for us, to live honoring Him by following the example of His Son, our Savior: loving Him and our neighbors. Thus we are free from the bondage of sin.

 

      Verse 4.

      Anyone, however, that continues to live selfishly, only for their own benefit (and glory) testifies with their way of living that they are not His. And this is absolutely true even if they speak about Christ. They are certainly false teachers, with false doctrine, full of deceit and deceiving themselves.

 

      Verse 5.

      To keep His Word is to know and follow in both letter and spirit. This exemplifies the love of God that sent Christ to make the Way for us to be His Children. We have received His Salvation, have communion with Him by the indwelling Holy Spirit, and walk in the light: 'hereby know we that we are in Him'.

 

      Verse 6.

      To abide in Him is to stay continually (as a branch in the True Vine). This ought to empower every believer to live their life following the example of Jesus. This includes devotion and obedience to God, sharing of labor, love, and fruit with others.

 

      Verse 7.

      John addresses his Christian brothers, reminding them of the Old Testament commandments (which they had from the beginning, having been Jewish). They included – to love the Lord thy God and thy neighbor as thyself.

 

      Verse 8.

      A new commandment came in Christ. He loved the world so much as to lay down His life for it. This love was passed on to His faithful followers who also were ready to lay down their lives for the testimony of Jesus. This is a renewal of the commandment to love God and each other. This is the true light shining forth, which dispels the darkness, which is passing away.

I John – Lesson II

      The First Epistle General of John, chapter 2, verses 9-29.

      Walk in the Light of the Truth.

 

9       He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now.

10       He that loveth his brother abideth in the light, and there is none occasion of stumbling in him.

11       But he that hateth his brother is in darkness, and walketh in darkness, and knoweth not whither he goeth, because that darkness hath blinded his eyes.

12       ¶ I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.

13       I write unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I write unto you, young men, because ye have overcome the wicked one. I write unto you, little children, because ye have known the Father.

14       I have written unto you, fathers, because ye have known him that is from the beginning. I have written unto you, young men, because ye are strong, and the word of God abideth in you, and ye have overcome the wicked one.

15       ¶ Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

16       For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

17       And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

 

The Antichrist

18       ¶ Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time.

19       They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

20       But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.

21       I have not written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and that no lie is of the truth.

22       Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son.

23       Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [but] he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also.

24       Let that therefore abide in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.

25       And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life.

26       ¶ These things have I written unto you concerning them that seduce you.

27       But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.

 

The Children of God and Righteousness

28       ¶ And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

29       If ye know that he is righteous, ye know that every one that doeth righteousness is born of him.

 

      Verse 9.

      Anyone who claims to be a Christian ('in the light') and hates his fellow Christian, and seeks to do him evil, proves that he is still in darkness. This proves that they have not received the knowledge and acceptance of the truth in Christ.

 

      Verse 10.

      The evidence of conversion to the light is shown forth in love of the brethren. He neither stumbles nor causes another to stumble, and neither gives nor receives offense.

 

      Verse 11.

      Again, to hate is sin and darkness. His behavior is proof of his ignorance, walking in darkness, as if blind – especially to the knowledge of God and spiritual things.

 

      Verse 12.

      John is writing to beloved children in the Lord (quite likely his own converts). They have been forgiven of their sins on account of Jesus their Savior.

 

      Verse 13.

      John addresses those eldest in the faith as fathers. They had most likely seen Christ in the flesh (from the beginning). Eyewitnesses, well-established in the Truths of the Gospel. They may also have realized that Jesus was from the beginning of creation.

      Then unto the young men, thoroughly exercised in the faith, without doubt, and strong enough to have 'overcome the wicked one'.

      Last, to the little children, new to the faith, with little experience, but recognizing God as their Heavenly Father, as indwelt by His Spirit.

 

      Verse 14.

      By beginning "I have written unto you", he expresses his past thinking of writing to them and what he so seriously wished to express to them. The reasons he writes I the present tense in verse 13: "I write". In this verse: some repeated for emphasis. He adds about the young men, their strength, and the abiding of the word of God. All these qualities have made them steadfast in defense of the faith when tested. They have overcome the wicked one. These two groups were the backbone of the church.

 

      Verse 15.

      A word of caution: watch out for the attraction of worldly things. Don't let them become more important or take up your attention or affections above necessity. May it not be said that you 'love them'. These truly become sinful, a turning back on God to the world. Then the love of God cannot dwell in you – no peace, no purity, no salvation.

 

      Verse 16.

      These lusts of the world promise satisfaction and gratification, but will not last to whatever extent it may begin. They will always disappoint and degrade.

 

      Three main categories of sin:

 

      The lust of the flesh – sensual, impure, sex, drink, gluttony, and so forth.

 

      The lust of the eyes – strong desire for colorful finery, entertainment, gaudy, flashy, fast-moving, everything pleasing to the eyes, including clothes, furniture, decorations, and stimulating and suggestive sights of every variety.

 

      The pride of life – seeking honors, titles, awards, high offices, acclamation, praise, power, prestige, fame, and so forth.

 

      None of these come from or lead to God. They begin, flourish, and end in this world. They distract, deceive, and divert the mind and soul from the spiritual: the Word of God and the Gospel of Christ.

 

      Verse 17.

      Not only these lusts, but this world itself, is passing from vanity to vanity. The vain pursuits, the popular pleasures, the latest trends, all pass away and are not long remembered.

      This is in complete contrast with all that is God. To be connected with God in Christ is to be connected with Life eternal. As a child of God, to do His will, keeps that person through this world and into eternity with Him.

 

      Verse 18.

      Little children, those still young in the faith. This is the last dispensation (the Times of the Gentiles, the period of Grace). There is no suggestion of the duration of this period (which at this writing has lasted about 2,000 years).

      They have heard that the antichrist will come. The prefix "anti" means either "against" or "takes the place of", or both. This would include false Christs (those who claimed to be Christ) and those who were against Christ, opposing Him, His Gospel, and His people. John wrote there had been many false prophets and teachers, heretics, and others that opposed the aims and doctrines of Christ.

      That there are many antichrists is proof that we are in the Final Dispensation, 'the last time'.

 

      Verse 19.

      The heretics had been a part of our assemblies. They expressed belief in Christ but had deceitful opinions, not the true doctrine. They mixed in rites and Jewish traditions. The proof of their falsehood was their leaving our fellowship to set up their own following and their false doctrines. Otherwise, if they had the same Holy Spirit, they would have the same beliefs and would have stayed with us. They left by their own choice.

 

      Verse 20.

      You, true believers, have a holy anointing by the Holy Spirit, that remains with you. The gifts of the Spirit with the indwelling. This was necessary to establish the true doctrines and history of the life, death, and resurrection, and ascension of the Lord. The Gospel of Salvation. All those things that have been passed down to us in the New Testament. These believers know all things necessary. They have no need or use for all the false things and are able to discern what is in others – whether false or true.

 

      Verse 21.

      Again, because John knows they have been given the truth, they can correctly judge all doctrine and perceive if it coincides in every point with what they have received or if any part deviates, which is false, a lie; to be rejected as well as those that teach it.

 

      Verse 22.

      Whosoever denies that Jesus is the Messiah (the Christ), he speaks against Christ, and denies the Father and the Son. Any who did so are correctly labeled antichrist. They denied the miraculous, the Divine birth, and works of God that He did. To them, He was no more than a common human man.

 

      Verse 23.

      Whoever denies Jesus to be the Son of God denies also the Father. A person can only be a child by faith in Jesus the Christ. Therefore the converse is true: he that does accept the Son acknowledges the Father Who sent Him, whose will He perfectly fulfilled.

 

      Verse 24.

      Continue, steadfast in all these doctrines. They were from the beginning preached by His apostles. As you keep them firmly in faith, you will continue in fellowship with the Son and the Father, in the bond of their love.

 

      Verse 25.

      The promise of this bond is eternal life. Therefore those who believe have eternal life. For what God has promised, He shall surely bring to pass.

 

      Verse 26.

      John has written to these brethren as a warning about those false teachers that tried to turn them from the truth.

 

      Verse 27.

      These brethren had received the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Who guided them into the truth of the Gospel, and will continue to illuminate the Truth, the Way, and the Life. This includes no falsehood and cannot be deceived. Remain in this light and no darkness can enter in.

 

      Verse 28.

      And now, beloved children of God, stay in communion with Christ, in His Word, and His Spirit. When He shall appear, we will not be ashamed. We who are faithful may have confidence at His coming.

 

      Verse 29.

      As Christ is righteous, so are those who follow Him that also do righteousness. This is only possible by the indwelling Spirit, as part of the new birth unto God.

I John – Lesson III

      The First Epistle General of John, chapter 3.

      The Love of God and the Holiness of His Children.

 

1       Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.

2       Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.

3       And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

4       ¶ Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.

5       And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

6       Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.

7       Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous.

8       He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.

9       Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10       In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

 

Love One Another

11       ¶ For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

12       Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother's righteous.

13       Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

14       We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.

15       Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

16       Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

17       But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

18       My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.

19       ¶ And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.

20       For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

21       Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.

22       And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

23       And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

24       And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

 

      Verse 1.

      Consider, contemplate, be awed by the love which God has bestowed upon mortal men: that love had adopted us to be called the sons of God. It cannot be measured: which love we had neither merit nor any claim to. Only mercy and grace, working by love, provided it.

      The world and those living according to its beliefs and values have no understanding or see any value in us, having no knowledge of Christ and what He came to accomplish to reveal the love of God toward humanity.

 

      Verse 2.

      Those that have received Jesus are now beloved brethren, sons of God. As such, we do not, yet humanly see what we shall be hereafter. When Christ appears the second time, in his glorified human form, then our corruptible bodies will be made like unto His. We shall see Him as He is, in His glorified and brilliant form.

 

      Verse 3.

      All who have this certain hope will desire and pursue holiness, being careful to avoid the weaknesses of the natural, fleshly appetites. The ideal and example is Jesus. It has come by the new birth, with the indwelling Spirit the earnest desire and intent to not sin, to continually strive for that purity.

 

      Verse 4.

      Sin is the transgression of the Law. The Law is to love God with all our powers and our neighbor as ourselves. All disobedience is contrary to love.

 

      Verse 5.

      Christ came to destroy the power, pardon the guilt and cleanse from the pollution of sin. That in Him was no sin. This made him qualified to pay the price of man's sin by His sacrifice on the cross. This was His purpose in coming.

 

      Verse 6.

      Whoever has faith in Him is born again a child of God that ceases the practice of sin. By faith, love, and obedience he lives in Christ unto God.

      Whoever continues in the practice of sin lives in darkness, neither seeing or recognizing the Light of the World.

 

      Verse 7.

      Young believers, watch out for those who spread lies. Any who do the right things, do so from the response to God's Spirit within them. His unlimited righteousness will influence their righteousness in their limited nature and ability to do so.

 

      Verse 8.

      The devil is and was from the beginning the rebel and deceiver, the sinner. All those who sin in effect follow his lead, living selfish, lustful and proud lives.

      The very purpose of the Son of God coming into the world was to break this bond of sin, its power, influence, and connection. This destroys the works of the devil.

 

      Verse 9.

      The new birth, born of God's Spirit - the Spirit remains within. As a child of God, he cannot sin habitually as formerly was done.

 

      Verse 12.

      Consider the example of Cain who killed his brother from jealousy and envy. His own works were evil: selfish and full of pride. He murdered his brother because his brother was righteous.

 

      Verse 13.

      Christians, do not be shocked if the world sees you as Cain saw Abel. Don't expect understanding, justice, or mercy from the enemies of God. They seek only their own benefit and hate those that are not like them.

 

      Verse 14.

      The evidence that we are no longer citizens of that kingdom (of sin and death) is our love for Christians. We are citizens of heaven (as now pilgrims), and have life eternal. The opposite is also true – he that doesn't love his brother remains in the kingdom of death.

 

      Verse 15.

      To harbor hatred against someone, holds within it the same principle of sin as Cain: that may lead to murder. No person having the indwelling Holy Spirit can do such a thing. Therefore no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.

 

      Verse 16.

      The love of God is clearly seen in the sacrifice of Jesus 'because He laid down His life for us'. The same mind ought to be in us in following His example. To be willing to risk our lives to save others as our loving service to God as His child.

 

      Verse 17.

      Another example: anyone that has plenty of this world's good things, when they see someone in need, but refuse to even consider giving them anything: what does this make plainly obvious? Can the love of God dwell in such a person? No!

 

      Verse 18.

      Again, young fellow believers, we must not just say nice things, or make empty promises. We must always speak and act according to truth.

 

      Verse 19.

      If, on the other hand, we are conscious that our love is but an outward act, our own conscience condemns us. We must realize that God is completely aware of what is in our innermost thoughts and feelings and justly condemns us of all things. Even things we are not aware of.

 

      Verse 21.

      If we, in our deepest desires, our conscience is sincere of our faith, then we can have confidence to appeal to our Heavenly Father for His mercy and grace to sustain us.

 

      Verse 22.

      By abiding in His love, we both speak and act accordingly, keeping His commands to love others. Our deeds will be pleasing in His sight. In that spirit, He will meet our needs: 'whatever we ask', being in His will, 'we receive of Him.'

 

      Verse 23.

      His commandment: believe on the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another. Thus we are born again of the Holy Spirit to live as an obedient child of God.

 

      Verse 24.

      Thus abiding in God, He abides in us. This we experience deeply within. The Holy Spirit, by our faith, works as love, light, power, and guidance by that Spirit. A conscience at peace, and with joy unfeigned is the evidence of that indwelling Holy Spirit. Thereby we act accordingly. Every true believer knows they are born again by the Spirit which God has given.

I John – Lesson IV

      The First Epistle General of John, chapter 4.

      Watch out for those that would deceive you and lead you into darkness.

 

The Spirit of God and the Spirit of Antichrist

1       Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.

2       Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

3       and every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

4       Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

5       They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them.

6       We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.

 

God Is Love

7       ¶ Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.

8       He that loveth not, knoweth not God; for God is love.

9       In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.

10       Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

11       Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.

12       No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

13       ¶ Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.

14       And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

15       Whosoever shall confess that Jesus is the Son of God, God dwelleth in him, and he in God.

16       And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.

17       Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

18       There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

19       We love him, because he first loved us.

20       If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

21       And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.

 

      Verse 1.

      To the beloved fellow Christians, John warns them about the presence of 'many false prophets' in the world. They claim to be inspired by the 'spirit', meaning the Holy Spirit, but are not. They must be tested.

 

      Verse 2.

      The clearest test is the confession that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. Thereby the Spirit speaks the truth of God and is the Holy Spirit, the man is of God.

 

      Verse 3.

      Every spirit that does not make that confession is not of God. This spirit opposes Christ and denies His passion, death, and resurrection, as well as the salvation of the Gospel. All such are 'antichrist'. These deceivers were warned about previously (see II Thessalonians 2:7) and were already working in the world (among both Jews and Gentiles).

 

      Verse 4.

      You are truly God's children. By the indwelling Holy Spirit you 'have overcome them'. Possessing the Truth the lie cannot touch or entice you: 'greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world'.

 

      Verse 5.

      They speak of the world, its contrary beliefs and values; being of the world, those also of the world readily listen to them.

 

      Verse 6.

      The opposite is also truth. Being of God, we speak of God; those who know God listen to us. Those who don't know God will not listen to us. The line is clear between the Spirit of Truth, and the spirit of lies.

 

      Verse 7.

      Again dearly loved ones, we must continually show love to one another. This unselfish love is from God. As God's children, we are born of God's love, know His love, and willingly share that love.

 

      Verse 8.

      Those that do not possess this unselfish love do not know God, for God is love.

 

      Verse 9.

      God has shown forth His love to the world by sending His Son into the world as a human while all were sinners, to die without sin, to redeem people, to save them from their sins, so they could inherit eternal life with Him.

 

      Verse 10.

      It was God's love, we neither knew or loved God. His love sent His Son to pay the price, to take our penalty of death, that we could be reconciled to God, forever.

 

      Verse 11.

      As God so loved us, we, having no merit, not deserving any favor, in like manner we must love others. In other words, to love those also that have no merit or deserve any favor. By sharing the love of God it is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit. As His children we continue to give, it continues to flow through us.

 

      Verse 12.

      No man has seen God (also written by John in his Gospel (John 1:18). This is not the way we can know God (by sight). The evidence and experience of God with us and in us is the unselfish love we have for one another. It is by this that His love accomplishes His will for us. His love is shed abroad in our hearts and will reach out and touch others.

 

      Verse 13.

      It is the Holy Spirit, as promised by Jesus, who came to indwell each believer. This is our permanent connection with God. As He is in us, we are in Him. This is experienced in the love, peace, and joy, and the other fruit of the Spirit.

 

      Verse 14.

      All those who were eyewitnesses of Jesus' life, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension: we all absolutely testify to His mission as the plan and will of God for His Son to be the Savior of the World.

 

      Verse 15.

      To sincerely state and affirm that Jesus is the Son of God is the certain faith in Christ that brings the forgiveness of sins and the rebirth by the Holy Spirit. Thereby the Spirit indwells them and they dwell in God as His children.

 

      Verse 16.

      In this way, we have experienced God's love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord. We return that love to God. We know God's love, for God is love. He is the source eternal, and therefore the bond of love is eternal. Again, God in us, and we in Him.

 

      Verse 17.

      It is as this spirit of love permeates our heart and mind. The carnal things are displaced and left behind, no longer having power or control over us. This is the life-struggle unto holiness and perfection as the greatest desire and goal. This is putting on the mind of Christ, as Paul would say (Philippians 2:5).

      Because we have been cleansed of all sin, and kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, 'we may have boldness in the day of judgment.' We represent Him (as His body) in this world.

 

      Verse 18.

      This perfect love casts out all fear. No more fear of judgment and condemnation. To still fear, in torment, means they have not experienced the love of God in Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

 

      Verse 19.

      God first loved us while we were yet sinners. His gift to us in the Gospel of His Son is the foundation and fountain of His love for us, which we accept and gratefully receive. This engenders the return of love to Him with thankfulness and devotion and a desire to please and follow His directions and example.

 

      Verse 20.

      To claim to believe and practice opposites is impossible. Only one is true. To claim to love God, while hating a brother, is a lie. How can one claim to love God, if one has not known or seen Him? This is like trying to serve two masters. Impossible!

 

      Verse 21.

      God's commandment to those who have accepted God's love is to return love to God, and also share it with others (their brothers). This is the evidence of God's love shed abroad in their hearts by the indwelling Holy Spirit. This love flows out unto love for all others (love your neighbor as yourself).

I John – Lesson V

      The First Epistle General of John, chapter 5.

      Every believer is a child of God.

 

Faith Is the Victory over the World

1       Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him.

2       By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

3       For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

4       For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

5       Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

 

The Witness concerning the Son

6       ¶ This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the Spirit that beareth witness, because the Spirit is truth.

7       For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.

8       And there are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one.

9       If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son.

10       He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

11       And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

12       He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

 

The Knowledge of Eternal Life

13       ¶ These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

14       And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

15       and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

16       If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

17       All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death.

18       ¶ We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.

19       ¶ And we know that we are of God, and the whole world lieth in wickedness.

20       ¶ And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true; and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.

21       My children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.

 

      Verse 1.

      Everyone that believes that Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) the Savior, is begotten of God. They have received and accepted His love and love Him in return. They also love all of God's children.

 

      Verse 2.

      These two go together, inseparably bound. That believers (God's children) love other believers is proof of their love of God: cause and effect. This is also a commandment of God, to keep it is to prove our love to Him.

 

      Verse 3.

      As His children, we honor and obey His will for us, as returning His love. This is no burden but a privilege and joy. We have His love for strong encouragement, and complete trust. His commandments are positive and uplifting.

 

      Verse 4.

      Thus, the born again believer can overcome the world. The world of the lust of the eyes, of the flesh, and the pride of life. Our faith in the Father and the Son sets us free from the bondage of sin. This is victory.

 

      Verse 5.

      Again, belief in God sending the Son, born of a virgin, to live a sinless life, and die for man's sins, overcomes the world.

 

      Verse 6.

      Jesus came by water: recognized as God's Son at His baptism, the Holy Spirit coming upon Him, the voice of the Father stating: 'This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.'

      By blood, in His sacrificial death, His resurrection, the seal of approval of His finished work. This was His mission accomplished.

      The Holy Spirit bears witness of the truth of the whole Gospel of Christ to every believer – guiding, teaching, empowering with spiritual gifts (the fruit of the spirit).

 

      Verse 7.

      The Trinity: the Father, the Son (the Word), and the Holy Spirit. Together in essence and testimony. Jesus came to lay down His life, to pay for the sins of the world, bringing salvation to man.

 

      Verse 8.

      On earth, 3 bear witness. 1. The Holy Spirit in conviction and conversion (the new birth). 2. The water of baptism of dedication to new life unto God, purified. 3. The blood of the cup of the Lord's Supper, to remind believers of Christ's sacrifice, to cleanse the conscience. All agree in one.

 

      Verse 9.

      The witness of God is certain, eternally true, without error or lack. Thus His testimony of His Son is Truth. The witness of men is less certain, fallible, and therefore of less value.

 

      Verse 10.

      The testimony of the Holy Spirit is in the heart and spirit of everyone that believes on the Son of God. This is God's seal of salvation unto everlasting life. Those that do not believe God in effect are labeling God as not telling the truth, and saying that He is a liar. They have rejected the record (what became the New Testament), that God gave of His Son.

 

      Verse 11.

      The record: the truth given testimony by the Spirit, the water, and the blood. God's gift of eternal life. This life comes by and through His Son, the author and purchaser; this life is in Christ.

 

      Verse 12.

      To have the Son is to have the life: both a title to it and preparation for it. Christ's Spirit indwells every believer. The opposite is also true. Not to have Christ, the Son of God, means also to not have eternal life, period. There is no in between or alternative.

 

      Verse 13.

      John has sincerely written to these believers in Jesus Christ (the Son of God) to keep them reminded and grounded in what their faith in Him includes: the effects, privileges, and blessings. They will experience the peace, joy, trust, forgiveness, and love within the heart. This will continue, more experienced as constant and practiced. The believer loves; the one who loves obeys. The Spirit in the heart, the hope of glory. A person of the Word, a witness, a person of prayer and worship.

 

      Verse 14.

      This relationship brings great confidence in Him. Our communication with Him and the Father is prayer. We have complete freedom to ask, knowing that He hears our prayers. We also know to ask according to His will, what He has revealed and promised in His Word. He will work all things together for the good of those that are His (Romans 8:28).

 

      Verse 15.

      As certain as His hearing our prayers, also as certain is that we can consider what we ask will be granted. When we need it, we are given it. We trust God for the perfect way and timing of the answer, for our greatest benefit as His child.

 

      Verse 16.

      A duty of every believer is to pray for others still living in sin: that God would bring them to repentance and forgiveness, and be saved. This person has been observed sinning, and is worth praying for, and can be forgiven. There is repeated mention of 'a sin unto death' and that no prayer must be offered for a person who is guilty of it. The only one sin is mentioned in the New Testament: Matthew 12:31,32 – speaking against the Holy Spirit, which is not forgiven in this life or in the next one to come.

 

      Verse 17.

      All things that don't conform to God's Holy Law are sins: unrighteousness. That all these are not unto death. This emphasizes that one should pray for all sinners. We will not know all of a person's sins – only those observed at one time or another. It is proper, therefore, to pray for every unsaved person – all have sinned.

 

      Verse 18.

      Those who have been born again of God no longer are in sin's bondage. They are cleansed from all unrighteousness and are living unto God as His children. The indwelling Holy Spirit is part of that new birth, giving power and guidance to the believer, who lives by faith, prayer, the reading of the Word of God being in Christ.

      That wicked one can now find no place to attack or tempt that one to commit former sins of the world or the flesh.

 

      Verse 19.

      The fullest proof that we are of God, that we have been forgiven and reconciled with the Father through the gift of His Son unto eternal life, is the love, peace, and joy we experience. And this is in stark contrast with the rest of the world, which 'lieth in wickedness', as ruled over by 'that wicked one'. We live in the light, the Way, the Truth, the Life.

 

      Verse 20.

      All these blessings came with the Son of God. He came in the flesh to die for man's sins for our redemption. God and His plan were revealed and explained to us as the eternal Truth by the Son. WE have believed and are brought into an eternal relationship with the Son Jesus Christ. We are joined to the True Vine, and produce its fruit. WE know the true God and Father, the Creator, His Son, His Word, and the Holy Spirit of Promise. In this Holy Trinity is all love, light, power, truth, and perfect plan, unto eternity.

 

      Verse 21.

      Again addressing the believers as beloved children shows John's affection for them. One final warning: b e careful not to consider any earthly thing as more or equal, or of any special importance other than God. This would include wealth, fame, possessions of social stature, and lucky charms, religious pictures, statues, or amulets. All prevent a person from seeking and finding his or her ALL in God.

A Lesson on II John and III John

      The Second Epistle of John.

      Addressed to a Christian mother and her children.

 

Salutation

1       The elder unto the elect lady and her children, whom I love in the truth; and not I only, but also all they that have known the truth;

2       for the truth's sake, which dwelleth in us, and shall be with us for ever.

3       ¶ Grace be with you, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.

 

Abide in the Doctrine of Christ

4       ¶ I rejoiced greatly that I found of thy children walking in truth, as we have received a commandment from the Father.

5       And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.

6       And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

7       For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.

8       Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.

9       Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

10       If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God-speed:

11       for he that biddeth him God-speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

 

Final Greetings

12       ¶ Having many things to write unto you, I would not write with paper and ink: but I trust to come unto you, and speak face to face, that our joy may be full.

13       ¶ The children of thy elect sister greet thee. Amen.

 

      Verse 1.

      From 'the elder', at this time, having out-lived all the other apostles, about 90 years old. And the only one who died a natural death.

      'Unto' a significant lady, who most likely had a Church at her home, where apostles and traveling evangelists have been welcome guests and speakers. It is thought that she lived near Ephesus. Her children are mentioned as part of her household of faith. John expresses Christian love towards her. Other believers also had given only good reports of fidelity and hospitality for her in the area.

 

      Verse 2.

      All these things have been brought about by the truth and 'for the truth's sake'. This truth dwells within us, even unto eternity.

 

      Verse 3.

      The traditional greeting to individuals and Churches: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father, the only-begotten Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in truth and Love.

 

      Verse 4.

      Since no husband is mentioned, it is assumed that the lady is a widow and active in the Church. John expresses his heartfelt joy that her children (both her own and others that were under her care) had been brought up in the truth of the Gospel. He may have observed this himself, as well as reports from others. Their faith was observable by their 'walking in the truth'. This is according to the will of the Father, indeed the best thing anyone can do for the greatest benefit of the child.

 

      Verse 5.

Again, addressing the 'lady', he entreats her to always keep the commandment to 'love one another' as the most important in all relationships. This, not as if something new, but central from the beginning. This must be the continual sharing, teaching, and practicing behavior among believers of every age, origin, and maturity.

 

      Verse 6.

      Love is to walk according to the absolute truths of God's Word, in God-honoring obedience and response to God's love for us in Christ.

 

      Verse 7.

      The importance of careful adherence to the truth was necessary because there were deceivers that were spreading heresies. The one mentioned here is known as Gnosticism: these people claim that Jesus did not come in the flesh. This negated His death and resurrection, and Salvation. John labels them as anti (against, taking the place of) Christ. They are liars, denying the Truth of God.

 

      Verse 8.

      Be watchful, be on your guard against any such deceivers. Keep carefully the precious Gospel that we (the apostles) delivered to you. We sincerely desire that you keep the faith and stay our spiritual children, to be celebrated in heaven. You will be a part of our reward there.

 

      Verse 9.

      Whoever has known the doctrine of Christ, and does not keep it, but continues to willfully sin, is not born-again of God. To be able to stay in the faith (the doctrine of Christ), one has to have experienced the new birth, and is now part of the Son's body (the Church), a child of the Father, indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

 

      Verse 10.

      Be wary of anyone that comes to you with any other doctrine. Refuse them entrance into your house (church). Do not even recognize them as any kindred, friends, or acquaintances by bidding them "God speed", religious or friendly greeting.

 

      Verse 11.

      To show them kindness or good wishes (God's blessing) is a show of approval, agreement, with them and their words and deeds. This may lead others to be deceived by them on your account.

 

      Verse 12.

      John has a great deal that he would write to them, but he trusts to be able to come to them soon. Therefore he doesn't take

]]]]' time now to write it all down on paper. He desires to speak 'face to face', a more personal and closer relationship which will be full of joy as he shares more of the blessings of the Gospel of Christ with them.

 

      Verse 13.

      Apparently the sister of the one addressed in the letter lives in Ephesus, and asked to be remembered (and her children) by this greeting, aware of John's writing to her. Amen.

 

The Third Epistle of John. Written to encourage and advise a dear beloved brother in the Truth.

 

Salutation

1       The elder unto the well-beloved whom I love in the truth.

2       ¶ Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth.

3       For I rejoiced greatly, when the brethren came and testified of the truth that is in thee, even as thou walkest in the truth.

4       I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth.

 

Gaius' Hospitality Commended

5       ¶ Beloved, thou doest faithfully whatsoever thou doest to the brethren, and to strangers;

6       which have borne witness of thy charity before the church: whom if thou bring forward on their journey after a godly sort, thou shalt do well:

7       because that for his name's sake they went forth, taking nothing of the Gentiles.

8       We therefore ought to receive such, that we might be fellow helpers to the truth.

 

The Opposition of Diotrephes

9       ¶ I wrote unto the church: but Diot're-phes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

10       Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.

 

The Good Report concerning Demetrius

11       ¶ Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.

12       Deme'tri-us hath good report of all men, and of the truth itself: yea, and we also bear record; and ye know that our record is true.

 

Final Greetings

13       ¶ I had many things to write, but I will not with ink and pen write unto thee:

14       but I trust I shall shortly see thee, and we shall speak face to face.

¶ Peace be to thee. Our friends salute thee. Greet the friends by name.

 

      Verse 1.

      Again, identifying himself as the 'old man', John addresses this to a beloved brother, Gaius. John expresses his love twice.

 

      Verse 2.

      Again, John addresses this man as 'beloved'. He has only the greatest desire for his health and prosperity to be equal to his prosperity in his spiritual life of faith 'soul'.

 

      Verse 3.

      John 'greatly rejoiced' when he received a good report from some traveling evangelists that had stopped by to visit him. They commented on Gaius' firm grasp of the Truth of the Gospel, and his manner of living. 'Thou walkest,' also according to that same Truth.

 

      Verse 4.

      John describes him as one of his children, converted by him or under his care as his pastor. His faithful life brings great joy to him.

 

      Verse 5.

      Again addressed as beloved, John describes this believer's faithful action towards both the local brethren, and to those who came to visit (strangers), in the same Christian manner of kindness and hospitality.

 

      Verse 6.

      These visitors have now told to the Church at Ephesus (where John is) of their generosity and kindness. It is a good thing and should be continued. This is as God would expect: to aid those traveling on their journey by providing the needed supplies.

 

      Verse 7.

      These went forth to spread the Gospel of God's grace to all who would listen. They made no demand of any recompense from unbelievers (Gentiles).

 

      Verse 8.

      We believers ought to take in and be of help to those who spread the Gospel, and those who are persecuted. In this way we also help support the Gospel as well.

 

      Verse 9.

      John recounts that if he wrote to the church, he knows Diotrephes would not accept John's authority as apostle, to interfere in the affairs of 'his' church. This man loves high position and would not receive him.

 

      Verse 10.

      This man had spoken with malicious words against John and his companions, not accepting him or any other Christians that accepted the Gospel of Christ. Only those that agreed with his doctrine (obviously not one of love and forgiveness) and recognized his own leadership above all others. He had even cast some out of the church for the above reasons. John will keep in mind this man's words and actions when he comes. This may have been a case of a Judaizing person who required the obedience to the Law, and Gentiles were not accepted in the Church.

 

      Verse 11.

      This John labels as clearly evil, against the goodness of God. To follow that way can only be seen as against God. They have not known God or received His Savior.

 

      Verse 12.

      Demetrius has a good reputation from all who know him. This includes his knowledge and understanding of the true Gospel. John and his companions also testify to his sincerity and veracity. John stands behind him also as one who always speaks the truth.

 

      Verse 13.

      John had many things on his mind that he could take the time to write out (with ink and pen). But he has chosen not to.

 

      Verse 14.

      Continuing the thought, since he trusts that he will come to see them, he would rather speak to them personally (face to face). He wishes them peace of heart, mind, and spirit. John's companions also send friendly greetings, to each individual 'greet by name', as if John had taken time to write out each name himself.

 

      This closes the Epistle of III John

 

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A Lesson on The Epistle of Jude

      Introduction.

 

      The general acceptance of this person's identity is that (as he claimed) is brother of 'James the Less' or 'James the Just', not the James whose brother was John the beloved the apostle. This James was brother of the Lord, and Jude being his brother identifies and designates him as having the right to compose this Epistle with authority for Christians. It was his brother that wrote the Epistle of James already considered.

      The Epistle was written to all Christians, not addressed to any individual or place or group. The time is not known. Its design was to maintain the true doctrine and avoid any false sects corrupting the purity of the faith in the Good News of the Gospel of Salvation through Jesus Christ. Those sects were sometime members in churches and denied Christ with their corrupt teaching.

     

      The General Epistle of Jude.

 

Salutation

1       Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James,

¶ To them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called:

2       ¶ Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied.

 

Judgment on False Teachers

3       ¶ Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

4       For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

5       ¶ I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not.

6       And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

7       Even as Sodom and Gomor'rah, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.

8       ¶ Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities.

9       Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.

10       But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves.

11       Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Ba'laam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Korah.

12       These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;

13       raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever.

14       ¶ And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,

15       to execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.

16       These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage.

 

Warnings and Exhortations

17       ¶ But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ;

18       how that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts.

19       These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

20       But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,

21       keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.

22       And of some have compassion, making a difference:

23       and others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

 

Concluding Doxology

24       ¶ Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy,

25       to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.

 

      Verse 1.

      Jude, identifying himself first, and foremost, as a servant of Jesus Christ. Second as brother of James the Less, eminent leader of the Jerusalem Church. Addressed to those set apart by God the Father, continuing steadfast in the union with Jesus Christ, thus called and preserved in Him.

 

      Verse 2.

      To all that have received these blessings through God's mercy: with also peace with God, and His love, may all be multiplied without measure to you.

 

      Verse 3.

      Beloved brethren, Jude has very earnestly been considering writing as an extreme necessity for their benefit. The central subject is the common salvation – so-called, being the Gospel freely offered to all people – Jew and Gentile like, equally. Since some serious false doctrines and deceitful teachers have been identified, it is essential that all true believers should be continually and firmly grounded in the message of Jesus as originally given to the apostles and earliest disciples.

 

      Verse 4.

      Plainly stated, these false ones got into churches, pretending to believe, they perverted the true doctrine, and justified their sinful beliefs and practices. God's grace, they claimed allowed for their impure sensual indulgences. The effect was to deny the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

      The identification of these persons openly lists their crimes and labels them guilty, thus condemned. The sentence is death.

 

      Verse 5.

      Jude now calls them to remember something they were thoroughly instructed in. The Lord delivered the people out of the land of Egypt. But later, because of the majority that neither believed His word, nor obeyed His commands, He destroyed them: their bodies fell in the wilderness.

 

      Verse 6.

      Another example of those that did not continue faithful in their appointed positions. They knew what was right and lawful, but they chose to go where they wanted to take over what belonged to others. This rebellion landed them in chains (everlasting) in a place of darkness (dungeon). They are held there until the Final Judgment when their sentence will be pronounced and carried out (their eternal doom).

 

      Verse 7.

      Another example: the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah and environs were destroyed by eternal fire, never again to be inhabited. The reason was also disobedience to God to the extreme in sexual perversions of every kind, with violence and abandon, only getting worse continually, and publicly. The burnt ground testified of God's judgment.

 

      Verse 8.

      These filthy dreamers (the false teachers and those who follow them) are in the same category. They practice fleshly pleasures, and believe their own way, rebelling against God and every other authority. They speak evil of those in government and hold them in contempt. They claim their right to live according to their own desires.

 

      Verse 9.

      Only one angel is designated as the head or chief of the host of angels: Michael (his name means "he who is like God"). The devil is identified as the head of the fallen ones.

      This dispute over the body of Moses may relate to the temptation to worship Moses, his known burial place, or an erected tomb if satan revealed the place of Moses' body. Michael was contending against this.

      The point: it was not the proper manner of angels, especially the archangel, to speak in an accusing or judgmental way before the Lord. It was deferred to the Lord to speak against satan, to rebuke him.

 

      Verse 10.

      The false teachers don't comprehend the origin and purpose of civil government. The point: it is to protect the citizens and their property, and maintain the peace and safety. They only follow their natural instincts, like non-rational animals, only going even further, doing things that are unnatural, beyond 'brute beasts'.

 

      Verse 11.

      They have followed the way of Cain: hating the brethren, seeking harm to them, desiring their murder. They deceive and destroy souls.

      They follow the 'error of Balaam'. They deceive for material gain and corrupt the word of God to practice sensual and immoral passions.

      Korah opposed the authority of Moses and Aaron. Woe to all those who will suffer the same fate as those that preceded them. Korah and his fellow rebels were 'swallowed up' in an earthquake and burned with fire from the Lord for their rebellion.

 

      Verse 12.

      These beasts boldly enjoy equal fellowship at the 'feasts of charity', yet take without giving and are of no benefit to the fellowship of true believers. They ate to satisfy the flesh, eating to excess. This kind of behavior led these meals to be discontinued.

      Clouds without rain give no benefit. Rain is compared to the doctrine of God (Deuteronomy 32:2). Thus are the false ones, appearing as teachers of truth, but have no rain – no spiritual benefit to pass on, as carried about by winds as clouds.

      Compared to fruit trees, whose fruit has no value: it is withered up, useless; as the tree also withers, its only end is to be plucked up by the roots. Its destruction is like that these false ones will eventually experience.

 

      Verse 13.

      The same metaphor as in Isaiah 57:20 – the wicked are like the troubled sea, restless, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. So are the proud arrogant boasters, leaving behind contention, confusion and destruction.

      Wandering stars - not real, created, and fixed in proper places, but like deceitful stars, flickering about in their own darkness. Utter darkness is their final reward (weeping and gnashing of teeth).

 

      Verses 14,15.

      Enoch – not the son of Cain but the 7th patriarch from Adam. He prophesied the Final Judgment. Look upon the Lord with 10,000 of His saints comes to 'execute judgment upon all that are ungodly'. They are guilty of continual sin against God: their every action and speech. They will be held accountable of each and every one. This was spoken against the people before the destruction of the Great Flood. But spoken here as a warning of those presently involved in constant sins against God, and they will finally suffer the same fate.

 

      Verse 16.

      These people continually find fault, complain, never satisfied. Their conduct only follows their own impure desires, not the clear teaching of Holy Scripture. These people are quick to flatter all those that they can get any benefit from (the rich, powerful, and those in high positions). They exaggerate in their praise to gain an advantage.

 

      Verses 17,18.

      Brethren, keep in mind that these kind of people were foretold by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. They foretold of those who would pervert the true doctrines. They would pretend to be of the faith but were not. They only sought their own advantage of the worldly lusts according to their own pleasure (popularity, position, filthy lucre, sensual experiences). The last time most likely refers to the time before the destruction of Israel in 70 A.D.

 

      Verse 19.

      Since they do not have the Holy Spirit, they separate themselves according to the worldly values and are only carnal, and are in no way spiritual.

 

      Verse 20.

      But you the beloved continue to mature in 'your most holy faith'. By the guidance of the Holy Spirit within you, pray for all spiritual blessings.

 

      Verse 21.

      By this continual communication with the Heavenly Father, you will 'keep yourselves in the love of God'. This is not work to earn salvation, but constant reminder of the mercy provided by our Lord Jesus Christ that gives us salvation unto life eternal.

 

      Verse 22.

      Have compassion on weaker believers who may have strayed. Bring them lovingly back into the fold of the faithful.

 

      Verse 23.

      Others must be snatched out of the fire of damnable heresies, soiled by fleshly sins as clothing that must be cleansed. These both also imply watching over yourselves carefully as you avoid becoming infected or tempted by what you are rescuing others from.

 

      Verse 24.

      A closing prayer to our Lord and Savior: that He 'keep you from falling', from spotting your garment. This He will do to present you faultless (without spot or blemish) before Him in His glory. This is His greatest joy and is eternal.

 

      Verse 25.

      A prayer to 'the only wise God', Who alone can reveal the Truth, in which you now stand, and our Savior by Whose blood our sins are washed away. To Him is all praise, honor, respect, power, authority, perfection, light, and truth over all of creation, both now, and for ever. So let it be, so it ought to be, so it shall be!

 

      The end!

Bibliography

      1. The New Testament KJV Text and Commentary Volume II

            Romans - Revelation

            by Adam Clark, LL.D, F.S.A., & c.

            Abingdon-Cokesbury Press, NY, 1832

      2. Notes on the New Testament: Hebrews
            by Albert Barnes
            Baker Book House, Grand Rapids MI
            12th Edition, 1976