BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 17, Day 4: Matthew 16:18-20

Summary of passage:  Jesus renames Simon “Peter”, which means “rock” for Jesus will build his church around Peter and Hell will not overcome it.  Jesus will give him the keys of the kingdom of heaven.  He told his disciples not to reveal his identity to anyone.

Questions:

6a)  Deuteronomy 32:4, 15, 18, 30-31:  God and/or Jesus

Matthew 16:23:  an impediment, an obstacle to overcome

Ephesians 2:20:  foundation would be the work and words or the apostles and prophets and the cornerstone is Jesus Christ

1 Peter 2:4-8:  Christ

b)  The rock is Christ and Jesus is blessing Peter with the authority to build his church.  Peter was the first rock amongst Jesus’ church/building with Christ as the cornerstone.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That the gates of Hades or the gates of death will be defeated.  Death and darkness will never prevail against the church, God, or His people.

8a)  Acts 2 records the Day of Pentecost after the Resurrection where the first believers converted (almost 3000) and the Christian church was born.  It is Peter who addresses these people; who speaks powerfully to convince them that they have just witnesses the most important event of all history:  the resurrection of Jesus. It is Peter who explains the Holy Spirit and the meaning of Jesus’ death.  God blessed Peter with this role.

In Acts 10, Peter is speaking to a crowd of friends and relatives in Cornelius’ (a Roman centurion or a Gentile) home.  Peter explains again Christ’s life and death and it’s meaning and if you keep reading (Acts 10:44-48) all those there were converted and blessed with the Holy Spirit and they were Gentiles.  Peter explains how Jesus came for all of mankind.

Hence, from these events, we see Peter as the one having been blessed by God to spread the word that He is for all mankind.  That all are welcome at His table.  And Peter becomes the Rock as he converts more and more people to begin the new church.  He opens the kingdom to all.

b)  Jews and Gentiles.

9a)  In John, Jesus gives this power to all of his disciples (the Eleven).  In Matthew, Jesus is speaking to his disciples as well.  However, I believe Matthew can be interpreted to extend to all believers once they have the Holy Spirit.  Hence, I would say all believers have this power to bring others to Jesus.

b)  Binding and loosing were legal terms in use in the Jewish law in first century AD that all Jews understood.  You were either “bound” or “loose” with regards to Jewish law.  To bind was to be subjugated to the law; to be put under it or to prohibit something.  To loose was to allow something under the law; to permit it.

Peter and the other apostles were given the authority by Jesus to set the terms of the New Covenant and “bind and loose” the Old Covenant.  They would set the rules for the early church and build its foundation.

To some extent, the Church still has this power today as long as it is from God.

Conclusions:  Admittedly, I groaned at question 8 and stopped working when I saw how much of Acts we had to read.  Another example of how it’s okay to stop for the day when you’re just not into it and come back when your heart is ready to hear from God.

End Notes:  Hades was the Ancient Greek god of the underworld (Roman name is Pluto).  Hades was the place the dead went and lived.  It wasn’t a place where only eternally damned people go. The Romans believed everyone went to Hades after death.  Thus, it’s meaning is different than hell, which is often incorrectly equated today.

Good, brief explanation of binding and loosing:  http://www.gotquestions.org/binding-loosing.html

Fun Facts:  This was the first use of the word church in all of the Bible and it is used by Jesus way before Acts and Pentecost.

Peter is always listed first in the listings of the disciples in the Bible.  There is no doubt he was specially blessed by God to spread the word.

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BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 17, Day 4: Genesis 21:8-21

Summary of passage:  Isaac grew and Abraham held a great feast for him on the day he was weaned.  Sarah saw Ishmael was mocking so she told Abraham to get rid of Hagar and Ishmael.  Abraham was distressed by God told him to do as Sarah says for it is Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.  He will also make Ishmael into a nation also.

So Abraham sent Hagar and Ishmael away.  They wandered in the desert of Beersheba. They ran out of water and Hagar and Ishmael began to cry.  An angel of the Lord appeared to Hagar and told her God had heard the boy crying.  Take him by the hand for God will make him into a great nation.

God provided water and was with the boy as he grew up.  He lived in the desert of Paran and became an archer.  His wife was Egyptian.

Questions:

9a)  Act haughty, despise their masters, be jealous of Isaac, be prideful and boastful of being Abraham’s son

b)  Because Ishmael is a slave, meaning he does not share in the freedom Christ brings believers, and he persecutes Isaac or believers.

c)  He provided them water in the desert and gave them assurance and peace about their path.  God was with Ishmael as he grew up and blessed him with 12 kids, each who were tribal rulers.  He gave them a place to settle and rule.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  1 Peter here doesn’t help me.  We’ve read it before this year.  It assures me in the fact that God cares for all of His children even those who are not liked by others and who bear a difficult life and who according to Galatians are not free and are of the flesh.  Thus, He cares for me as well.

Besides this, I’m not assured because I am a believer; whereas, Ishmael was not so the comparison is hard to make.

10a)  Ishmael wants to dominate and win over Isaac and receive God’s blessing.  Same with sin which wants to dominate the Spirit.  It’s the devil versus God and only you can decide who will win.

It is a conflict still raging today:  following God in the flesh versus following God in faith through the promise.

b)  The sinful nature has died in a believer so that the Spirit may rule.  Here, Ishmael was removed so Isaac could win.

There is no reconciliation with the flesh.  We must either trust in the Spirit or the flesh and the decision must be final.

11a)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Struggles we all have:  to do what is right versus what is wrong; to listen to God or to the world; to do the easy thing or the hard thing; to fight for our beliefs or let it slide; to do God’s work or to not even bother; to take up the sword and fight or to give in; to cut off others who are sapping our Spirit or to continue in a lackluster and drama-ridden relationship.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The Spirit and therefore I live and the sinful nature is put to death.  The Spirit leads me to do what is right against sin and to overcome it.  The Spirit wins.  It’s not always easy.  But my faith prevails.

Conclusions:  Maybe I’m just being lazy today but I cringed every time I was sent to another passage today.  I thought Ah, I don’t want to read anymore or look anything else up.  Especially 1 Peter.  I’m not for sure if this is a symptom of this year where it seems like we are constantly being sent elsewhere or what but today I was weary of it.

I liked how Ishmael is sin so he must be sent away in order for the Spirit (Isaac) to prosper.  I had never thought of it like this before.  A good lesson in how sin (the flesh) must be vanquished in order for us, the Spirit, to thrive.  We must make difficult decisions at times so we can accomplish God’s purpose for us here on earth.

End Note:  Here’s a map where people say the Desert of Paran is: http://bibleatlas.org/full/paran.htm

This makes sense to me because Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt through the wilderness of Paran in Numbers so it would be in the Sinai Peninsula.

However, some say Paran is in Saudia Arabia where Mecca was since Ishmael was an Arab it would make sense he would settle here where Islam began.

This could be true as well since no one knows how big the area called the Paran was.  It could be a whole desert area that encompasses both the Sinai and Arabia.

You make the call.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 17, Day 4: Acts 20:1-12

Summary of passage:  Paul heads out to Macedonia encouraging the people and then arrives in Greece where he stayed 3 months.  Intending to sail back home but having to change plans because of a plot against him by the Jews, Paul travels back through Macedonia overland.  He was accompanied by representatives of various churches since he was purportedly carrying a large amount of famine relief money with him.

Paul arrives in Troas where he speaks all night to a group of people before his final departure to Jerusalem.  A young man named Eutychus was seated in a window when he fell out of it during Paul’s long sermon and dies.  Paul then throws himself on the man, wraps his arms around him, and brings him back to life.  Then Paul continues with his sermon until daybreak.

Questions:

10)  God ultimately.  Then to encourage believers and the churches he had established and spread the Good News.

11a)  He sunk into a deep sleep and fell from a third story window and died.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Eyes on speaker.  Ears open for God to speak to you.  No outside distractions or speaking.

12)  Paul threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him and Eutychus was brought back to life. He continued on as if nothing odd had just happened.

Conclusions:  I completely disagree with the interpretation here on Question 11b.  I don’t blame the guy for falling asleep.  I probably would.  I don’t know many of us who can sit through a 6 hour sermon until midnight after having been up since daybreak working in the fields performing manual labor as we have to assume Eutychus was (that’s why Paul was preaching at night because everyone worked during that day).

We are also told there were many lamps.  Lamps in Paul’s time were oil lamps and gave off a lot of smoke and fumes (unhealthy to breath).  We’re not talking kerosene here.  The fuel was most likely olive oil.  We can also assume there’s a lot of people packed into a tiny space to hear Paul before he leaves (another reason Eutychus may have been sitting on the window).

So here’s Eutychus breathing in all these fumes, probably sweating from all the people and the heat from the lamps, being lulled to sleep by Paul because he’s exhausted, and he falls out the window.  I would have too!

Why wouldn’t Paul show compassion?  What’s he gonna do?  Blame the guy?  Doubt it.  Eutychus died because he was eager to hear the word of God and couldn’t overcome his exhaustion that was not caused by any fault of his own.  It was the times he lived in.  Naps were non-existent back then for most people.

In the end, God made humans and humans require sleep.  It’s not something we can go without.  Trust me, I’ve pulled enough all-nighters in my college days to know this is horrible for the body.

I see no fault here whatsoever with Eutychus falling asleep and I believe Luke told the story either as a diligent reporter who was recording Paul’s travels or to show the dedication of believers.  I don’t think he ever intended it as a warning that “If we fall asleep in church we’re doomed to Hell.”

I don’t like the word “motive” either in Question 10 merely because this word is used almost exclusively in the US when someone commits a crime or has a hidden agenda.  In actuality, it means according to Webster’s Dictionary “moving or tending to move to action.”  So Paul’s motive overall is God and then we can break this down into spreading the Good News and encouraging his churches.

Question 10 also makes it seem as if Paul’s motive has changed when it hasn’t.  This has always been his motive since he was first called by God.

Map of Paul’s Third Missionary Journey:

http://www.apostlepaulthefilm.com/paul/journey_03.htm

BSF Study Questions Isaiah Lesson 17, Day 4 Isaiah 40:21-26

Summary of passage:  Isaiah asks who doesn’t know about God who sits enthroned above the earth and stretches out the heavens like a canopy.  He reduces rulers and princes to nothing with a mere blow of his breath.  “To whom will you compare me?” says the Holy One.  To the heavens since he brings them all out and calls each by name.  None are ever missing.

Questions:

7) That God is the Creator of the Universe and Earth.  God is the one and only.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  People are wicked in general and will do wicked things or are elected by wicked people.  These rulers all serve God’s purpose (think King of Assyria) so they come to power by His will.  Maybe to teach people a lesson or about Him.  But God merely has to blow on them and they are gone.

9a) Look to the Heavens, the stars that God calls by name

b) Nothing or no one.

c) Personal Question.  My answer:  Looking at the stars at night reminds me how insignificant I am in comparison to infinite space.  So when life loses control, I can look at the stars and know God is in control of everything–the stars, the moon, and my life.  He can do any thing since He created everything.

Conclusions:  What I got out of this was my last line I wrote:  He can do anything since He created everything (another one to go up on my mirror).  But, I yearned for more here.  I yearned to study more.  I yearned for more of His word.  I yearned for more of Him.  I guess that’s one of the lasting legacies of a good bible study such as BSF:  making you yearn for more of Him.