BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 3: Romans 16:17-20

Summary of passage:  Paul warns the Romans to be wary of and to stay away from those who will cause divisions or put obstacles in their way that is contrary to the Lord’s word.  These people deceive others and are serving only themselves.  Be wise and may the grace of Jesus be with them.

Questions:

7)  You yourself have to know the Word so you can make sure you are not being deceived by those who claim to be teaching the Lord’s Word.  Be careful of teachers who may be out for themselves.

8 )  These people teach contrary to the Lord’s Word.  Stay away from them.

9)  Being innocent is staying away from what you know to be evil such as anti-Christians, those doing evil things such as abusers or law-breakers, and those who encourage you to disobey God and His commandments and what you know to be right.  Basically, avoid amoral people.  Being wise about what is good is craving more of it, being near those who are leading a Godly-life, and following God’s commands and His purpose for you.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Satan will be destroyed.  I know God will win and I can overcome Satan and sin with God’s help.

Conclusions:  A lot here for such a short passage.  Great advice from Paul.  In essence, surround yourself with Godly-people who will support your calling on this side of heaven.

End Notes:  Paul is referring to those who will divide God’s people and those who will deceive God’s people.  We must guard ourselves against this and not tolerate it by being indifferent.

Morris speculates:  “It may well be that Paul took the pen and wrote these words himself . . . It is quite possible that Paul wrote these words, then passed the pen back to Tertius for a postscript. Something unusual happened at the end of this letter, and this is a very possible understanding of it.”

The smooth words and flattery is the weapon of deceivers.  They usually target the naive or those who do not know/understand God’s Word.  These people are selfish.

The Romans are doing a good job of avoiding these people, but Paul wants to emphasize it.

We see that God does the crushing, but Satan ends up under the feet of believers.

Satan will be crushed when he is bound and cast into the bottomless pit (Revelation 20:1-3).  Every victory God wins for us right now is a preview of that event.

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 2: Romans 16:1-16

Summary of passage:  Paul commends Phoebe to the Christians in Rome and sends individual greetings to others in the Roman church.

Questions:

3)  Such recommendations were important because there was both great legitimate need for this kind of assistance and there were many deceivers who wanted to take advantage of the generosity of Christians.

4)  This list includes prominent women in the church (Phoebe, Priscilla, Junias, Tryphaena, Tryphosa, Persis), common slave names (Amphiatus, Urbanus, Stachys, Apelles) and possibly royalty (the household of Aristobulus–probably the grandson of Herod the Great).  All the social strata is included.  This means Christ came for all!

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Some risked their lives for Paul.  Some went to prison with him.  Some have been a mother to him.  All were hard workers for the Lord.  For me, too many to list.  Being there to listen to me.  Support me in all I do.  Encourage me.  Opened doors of opportunity for me.  Helped me when I needed it.  God works through people all the time–even in the little things.

6)  All really.  They all were risking their lives by being among the first to convert to Christ.  Risk-takers all of them with a heart for God.  Exactly what I want to be.

Conclusions:  Wouldn’t it be cool to have been a name on this list in the Bible for all of posterity?  And to have been mentioned by the great apostle Paul as having helped him?  Pretty cool!

End Notes:  This is a list of Paul’s friends and co-workers, many of whom would be unknown apart from their mention here.  Remember Paul has not yet visited Rome but a community of Christians already exists there.  Paul was writing from Corinth, where his friends included the city’s director of public works.  At Corinth archaeologists have dug up a block of stone that may refer to this man.  It bears the Latin inscription “Erastus, commissioner of public works, bore the expense of this pavement.”

Phoebe was probably the carrier of this letter to the Romans.  Our sister is a fellow believer.  Deacon is one who serves or ministers in any way.  When church related, it probably refers to a specific office.

Phoebe is the feminine form of a title given to the pagan god Apollo, the title meaning “the bright one.” Christians, on their conversion, seemed to feel no need to change their names even if there was some pagan significance to their name.

Servant is the same word translated deacon in other places. Phoebe seems to be a female deacon in the church, either by formal recognition or through her general service.  Paul gives Phoebe one of the best compliments anyone can give. This sort of practical help is essential in doing the business of the gospel.

Cenchreae was a port located about 6 miles east of Corinth on the Saronic Gulf.  Map of Cenchreae HERE

Priscilla and Aquila were close friends of Paul who worked in the same trade of tentmaking (Acts 18:2-3).  They are now back in the city of Rome.

In a city with a Christian community of any size, there would be several “congregations” meeting in different houses, since there were no “church” buildings at this time. Each house church probably had its own “pastor.”

Epaenetus was apparently among the very first converts of Achaia (where Corinth was and where Paul wrote the letter to the Romans). Epaenetus was also apparently dear to Paul; beloved isn’t a term Paul used cheaply.

Andronicus and Junia: These were apparently Jews (my kinsmen) and were imprisoned for the sake of the gospel (my fellow prisoners). They were well regarded among the apostles, having become Christians even before Paul did (sometime in the first 3 or 4 years after Pentecost).

Of note among the apostles has the idea that Andronicus and Junia are apostles themselves (though not of the twelve), and notable among other apostles. If there ever were women recognized as apostles – in the sense of being special emissaries of God, not in the sense of being of the twelve – this is the strongest Scriptural evidence. It isn’t very strong.

Amplias: There is a tomb dating from the late first or early second century in the earliest Christian catacomb of Rome which bears the name AMPLIAS. Some suggest that this is the same person mentioned in Romans 16:8.

Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus: The fact that the household of Aristobulus is greeted but not Aristobulus himself made Spurgeon think that Aristobulus was not converted but many in his household were. It made Spurgeon think of the unconverted who live with believers in their house.

Rufus may be the same man mentioned as a son of Simon the Cyrene in Mark 15:21. However, Rufus was a common name so this is merely speculation.

Chosen in the Lord has the idea that Rufus had some eminence among the Christians of Rome. It doesn’t refer to his election in Jesus.

Nereus: In 95 a.d. two distinguished Romans were condemned for being Christians. The husband was executed and the wife was banished. The name of their chief servant was Nereus – this may be the same Nereus mentioned here and he may be the one who brought the gospel to them.

Asyncritus . . . Phlegon . . . Patrobas . . . Hermes: Of the rest of these names, Paul finds something wonderful to say about almost every one of them – noting their labor, his special regard for them (beloved), their standing in the Lord (approved in Christ . . . in the Lord . . . chosen in the Lord).

This is a tremendous example. It shows Paul’s way of casting about uplifting words to build up God’s people. He was generous in paying compliments that were both sincere and wonderful.

The Holy Kiss was a regular part of the worship service in that time.  It is still a practice in some churches today.  See also 1 Corinthians 16:20; 2 Corinthians 13:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:26; 1 Peter 5:14

Luke 7:45 shows how common a greeting a kiss was. Jesus rebukes a Pharisee because he did not give Jesus a kiss when He came into his house.

It seems that this practice was later abused. Clement of Alexandria complained about churches where people made the church resound with kissing, and says that “the shameless use of a kiss occasions foul suspicions the evil reports.”

Those mentioned in verses 14-15 cannot be further identified except they were either slaves or freedmen in the Roman church.

Leon Morris explains that this section demonstrates that the Letter to the Romans “was a letter to real people and, as far as we can see, ordinary people; it was not written to professional theologians.”

Spurgeon says of this passage: “They were like the most of us, commonplace individuals; but they loved the Lord, and therefore as Paul recollected their names he sent them a message of love which has become embalmed in the Holy Scriptures. Do not let us think of the distinguished Christians exclusively so as to forget the rank and file of the Lord’s army. Do not let the eye rest exclusively upon the front rank, but let us love all whom Christ loves; let us value all Christ’s servants. It is better to be God’s dog than to be the devil’s darling.”

Notice the women mentioned in this chapter: Phoebe, Priscilla, Mary, Tryphena, Tryphosa, the mother of Rufus, and Julia. These are women who worked for the Lord.

Notice their work for the Lord: some, like Tryphena and Tryphosa, labored in the Lord. Others, like Persis, labored much for the Lord.  Spurgeon says: “So there are distinctions and degrees in honor among believers, and these are graduated by the scale of service done. It is an honor to labor for Christ, it is a still greater honor to labor much. If, then, any, in joining the Christian church, desire place or position, honor or respect, the way to it is this – labor, and labor much.”

Of the 24 names here, 13 also appear in inscriptions or documents connected with the Emperor’s palace in Rome. We know that there were Christians among Caesar’s household (Philippians 4:22). Paul may be writing many of the servants who worked for Caesar who became Christians.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 2, Day 2: Revelation’s Themes

Summary of passages: Various passages for the day.

Questions:

3a)  Personal Question.  My answer:

Revelation 1:4-8;22:7:  Jesus is coming again.  Hope for a better world.

Revelation 2:9-10; 13:10b; 14:12:  God’s people are faithful and patient through suffering.  God knows those who are His and those who are not His.  This gives me encouragement for a better world and the good deeds I do are not in vain for He sees.

Revelation 12:10-17; 13:5-7:  There will be a time when the “beast” is allowed to reign but God will overcome.  Encouragement again.

Revelation 19:6-9, 11-16:  Christ will come again to judge and rule.  Hope again.

Revelation 21:1-4; 22:1-5:  Christ will usher in a new earth.  He will walk with us.  The curse will be lifted and we will dwell with God forever.  Eden will be once again.  Hope.  Faith.  Contentment.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The new earth.  It’s the overall theme of Revelation–Christ will come once again and bring us Eden where we are God’s best friend.  It’s so encouraging, hopeful, and wonderful to think about what it will be like.  I hope to learn more so I can keep this in mind when times on this side of heaven are tough.

Conclusions:  I enjoyed reading passages from Revelation.  Hope and faith is the central message here. John was trying to encourage the first century Christians with what was to come.  It’s an eternal perspective we sometimes lose in the daily grind.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 27, Day 5: Deuteronomy 30

Summary of passage:  If God’s people turn back to Him, He will bless them and gather them together and prosper them and curse their enemies.  God only desires love and obedience.

Questions:

10a)  “Take his commands to heart” that is obey Him and love Him.

b)  Circumcise them.

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  That God is always just one step away, one prayer away, one repentance away.  He is waiting to pick us up when we fall and He never tires of this no matter how many times we sin.  It is a great comfort because I sin all the time so knowing God loves me anyways gives me the faith to keep pursuing Him.

11a)  A choice of life or death

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life.  Through believe in Jesus Christ, you will have eternal life.

12)  If you read all of Galatians 3, you will see the whole answer here.  Paul’s argument is this:  Abraham who lived before the law was given merely believed in God and was considered righteous.  Then the law was given (and Paul says the reason the law was given was to lead the people to Christ.  Verse 19 has the answer:  The purpose of the law was added because of transgressions until the Seed (Jesus) had come.)  The law’s purpose was to show people that it is impossible to gain God’s acceptance and be with Him on our own–that we need a Savior to do it for us.  But once Jesus stepped foot on this planet, God required faith in Jesus who took our transgressions upon himself.

Therefore, the law was to show us our inadequacies and just how much we truly need God and a Savior.

The people needed the Law because Jesus hadn’t come yet.  They needed a way to be with God and the Old Covenant was it.  The problem:  as we’ve seen this year, the people were never cleansed enough to be with God.  The system of blood sacrifice was not enough.  The people needed to see that and to live that out.  It was to prepare people for the Truth and make them desperate for a Savior.

Conclusions:  LOVED the last question.  Perfect!  Sums up our whole study.

End Notes:  The modern state of Israel is the fulfillment of God’s promise here to regather His people that have been scattered for centuries all over the world.  Scholars say this promise was not fulfilled after their Babylonian exile because the Israelites were still being ruled over.  Now, the modern state of Israel is larger, stronger, and richer than any other time in history.  Israel needs our prayers.

However, Israel today is a secular society despite its Jewish heritage.  Only the ancient Israelites had a true theocracy.  Hence, this prophecy is only partially filled.  Furthermore, most Jews do not accept Jesus, which in essence is a rejection of God.  But God is faithful and He will keep His promise in these verses.

Ezekiel 37 says that first the Jews will gather together and then God will put His spirit in them.  God is not done with His people yet.

Under the Old Covenant, the Israelites had to obey the law, offer sacrifices, and believe in its power to atone and to understand another would come.  Under the New Covenant, we only have to believe in Jesus as the Savior; we don’t have to do anything.  How full of grace is our God!

We see God pleading with His people through Moses to choose Him.  We can see God pleading with His people through Jesus to believe in him.  We see God telling His people to love Him, listen to Him, and hold on to Him.  He is our life.

God makes it simple:  understand (mouth), believe (heart), and obey His word.  Paul says the same thing when he quotes this passage in Romans 10:6-10:  Confess Jesus is your Lord and believe in your heart he is the Savior.  And you will be saved.  Period.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 25 Day 4: Numbers 28-30

Summary of passages:  Numbers 28:  God tells Moses to review the offerings with the people:  the burnt offerings, the Sabbath offerings, the monthly offerings, the Passover offerings, and the Feast of Weeks offerings.

Numbers 29:  God reviews more laws and regulations with the people, this time the offerings for the Feast of Trumpets, The Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles.

Numbers 30:  Moses discusses vows made to God and when one vows to the Lord, one must stick by it unless it is made by a daughter and her father or husband forbids it then it is not binding.  Any vow made by a widow or a divorced woman stays.  If a husband says nothing, then the vow stays for the wife but the husband bears the guilt if she doesn’t stick to her vow and he didn’t nullify it.

Questions:

7a)  It’s always important to review so you don’t forget–it’s what happens in school all the time. Review before a test.  Here, God wants to make sure the new generation knows the offerings to the detail before they entered the Promised Land.  They needed to know the central place atonement has in their lives and without atonement they could not be with God.

b)  God expects His people to remember His laws and regulations and to follow them and abide by them exactly.  In doing so, this shows the people’s reverence for God.  Same for us.  When we worship, it is about Him and honoring Him.  God expects the same from all of His people no matter the point in time at which we live.

8 )  Making a vow before the Lord should be taken seriously.  It is interesting that the man has final say.  This shows protection of the woman just like God protects us.  I wish more women would accept protection of their man instead of fighting it.  Most men yearn to do nothing more than protect their wife, a role God has given them.

Conclusions:  Relatively easy lesson as it is all stuff we have covered before.  I like how God includes this as it’s an important lesson for us all how we must be reminded of things because we easily forget.  The Israelites are about to take the steps that they have been preparing for their entire lives; God wants to make sure they know what’s important (worshipping Him) before they get caught up in the hubbub of moving!

I liked the vows chapter.  Like I said, I wish more women would be receptive to men as their protector as God is our protector.  Someone has to be the final decision maker.  Two people can’t both have the final say.

End Notes:  Numbers 28:  God commands an animal be sacrificed for our sins every morning and night to remind the Israelites of who’s important in their lives.  Every Sabbath an additional lamb was sacrificed in the morning and at night.  The importance of atonement for our sins is here and omnipresent as it should be in our own lives.

Numbers 29:  The Feast of Tabernacles was a celebration of God’s rich provision for the Israelites.  It celebrated God’s faithfulness to His people during the Exodus.

Note the lamb is the most common sacrifice–anyone see Jesus here?  The sacrifices listed here and in Numbers 28 was immense (over 1000 animals) and these are just the sacrifices the priests made for the people.  This does not include the individual sacrifices the people offered.  Can you imagine the expense?  And yet it was never enough!  Only Jesus was/is enough!

I can just picture the priests as this being their primary job–to offer sacrifices for the people and make atonement.  Little time left would have been for the preaching of God’s Word.

Numbers 30:  God takes our vows seriously so we need to be careful what we swear by.  God himself made vows (Luke 1:73, Acts 2:30, Hebrews 3:18, 6:13, 17) as did Jesus (Matthew 26:63-64).

The man was accountable for the woman’s fulfillment of her vow.  Authority always comes with accountability.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 9, Day 5: Exodus 24

Summary of passage:  God summons Moses to come to the top of Mt Sinai.  The others must not approach God.  Moses told the people what God had said and wrote it all down in the Book of the Covenant.  Then he built an altar to God and offered sacrifices to Him.  Then he sprinkled the blood of the covenant over God’s people.  Moses and others went up and saw God and ate and drank.

The Lord called Moses up to receive the laws and commands on stone.  Moses went up further with Aaron.  Then Moses went alone and the cloud covered him and the glory of the Lord settled on the mountain.  Then Moses entered the cloud and remained for 40 days and nights.

Questions:

11a)  Jesus because he gave himself as a ransom for all men (1 Timothy 2:6) through his blood and Jesus’ covenant is superior to the Old Covenant with better promises

b)  Before

c)  It is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

d)  Trusting that Jesus’ death has freed us from all sins committed and cleansed our consciousnesses from acts that lead to death we should be able to serve the living God better without worry that we may not be offered forgiveness for our sins.  We are free; thus, we are free to obey.

12a)  They were allowed to worship God at a distance (closer than the rest of the Israelites) verse 1 and they saw the God of Israel (verse 9 & 11).

b)  Cloud, glory of the Lord or consuming fire, the smoke, and the stone tablets

c)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is tangible and personal.  He is light.  He is compassionate on His people.  He is awesome.

Conclusions:  Lots of cross references to Jesus here.  Too many in my opinion.  Wished we would have focused more on what this Old Covenant to us (but a new covenant to the Israelites back then) meant for them as this single act in Exodus 24 is/was one of the most important acts in the Bible.  This chapter is the basis for God’s people to live for hundreds of years.  The profundity of this chapter should not be ignored nor glossed over.

I just don’t understand how having seen the glory of the Lord you could then turn around and worship a golden calf.  I just don’t get it.  I say this because I fear I’d be just as stupid and do the same thing.

We are seeing over and over again (and it only goes downhill from here) how even God’s presence does not make people believe in Him.  This is human nature (which makes me wonder why God created us with this dilemma).  However, the consistent failure of the human race to obey God (as Paul argues in Galatians) was the reason we needed a New Covenant.  And aren’t we all glad of that?  As always, God’s ways are not our own and we only have limited understanding of His.

“So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.” Galatians 3:24

God called to Moses “Come near!”  Can you imagine?  What a pleasure that must be!  Still, this is a promise to us all.  God calls us.  How do you respond?

End Notes:  The Old Covenant here in this chapter is Israel’s constitution, birth certificate, and marriage certificate all wrapped up in some stone tablets and Moses’ writings.  Here is recorded 613 commands on how to live your life as God’s chosen people, as His nation, and as a relationship to Him like a marriage full of love between God and His people.

God spoke to Moses alone Exodus 20:22-23. Then God speaks to others here in Exodus 24.

There is Four Steps to the Covenant:

1) The word of God must be written

2)  There must be a blood (life) sacrifice to be cleansed of sin

3)  There must be a response to the covenant

4)  The blood must be received and accepted to be binding and sealed.

These are true for both the Old and the New Covenant.

It is impossible to say what exactly the elders saw.  Some scholars say they merely saw the footstool of God, which is said to be made of sapphire (Revelation 4:6 & Ezekiel 1:26).  Some say it wasn’t God but a form of God.

The shared meal was a common way of sealing a deal in ancient times.  Hence, the face they ate and drank in God’s presence was normal and gave them renewed strength to trust Moses.

This is the same Joshua as the Book of Joshua.

So on Mt. Sinai, you have the 70 elders and Aaron and his brothers half-way up the mountain. Then Moses and Joshua went further up and there Joshua was left up by himself and only Moses continued on to the top to meet with God to receive the Ten Commandments.  Aaron and his brothers were supposed to be supervising the people.  We find out later how that turned out.

Though the people could not see God nor Moses they could not doubt His presence in the physical signs God left. How stupid are we?

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 3, Day 2: Exodus 3:1-10

Summary of passage:  Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock when he came to Horeb, the mountain of God.  In the bush, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire but the bush did not burn.  When God saw that Moses had investigated, God called out to Moses and told him to remove his sandals for he was standing on holy ground.  When God spoke, Moses his is face because he was afraid to look at God.

God told Moses how he has seen and heard his people cry out to Him and seen their suffering.  So He is going to rescue them from Egypt and send them to a land flowing with milk and honey.  He sends Moses to  Pharaoh to bring his people out of Egypt.

Questions:

3a)  To get Moses to investigate the bush closer so God could speak to him.  Otherwise, I’m wondering if Moses would have ignored the bush (how you could with an angel in the bush I’m not for sure.  I would think it would be the angel that attracted Moses but the Bible says it’s the bush).  Hence, we must assume a burning bush in the desert is no big deal.  It’s the fact the bush was not consumed that was the big deal.

b)  God.

c)  “For the place where you [Moses] are standing is holy ground”  Moses was now in the presence of God.  Taking off one’s shoes shows humility as servants often went barefoot in ancient times.  It was a symbol of taking off your sins to be close to God.  Note only close:  we can never be equal with God as God is holy and man is sinful.

d)  God in the person of Jesus.

4a)  Go to Egypt and bring my people out.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God cares about His people’s suffering and oppression and wants to rescue them.

Conclusions:  Right away, here’s God in week 3!  Funny how it’s known as the “Burning Bush” but it never burned.  I wonder why man is instinctively afraid to look upon God.  I know I’d love to see God but I’m wondering if God’s greatness is such that we are afraid of it since man himself is so evil.  I’m wondering if all of our sins flash before us in God’s presence and out of shame we hide.

Interesting how time is nothing to God and it is a lot to us.  Here’s Moses at the age of 40 where his life suddenly changes and he has to flee his old life.  Next thing we know, 40 years have passed and Moses is an old man who is now called to do God’s work.  Nothing is recorded about those 40 years except for God’s concern for His people.  This should encourage us:  nothing will be recorded about my life but God is watching me with concern!  Awesome!

For such a meaty passage, I expected much more meatier questions.

End Notes:  Note how Midian here is described as desert (BSF Lesson 2, Day 3 Question 6).  I picture this as Moses leading a completely obscure life in the middle of nowhere–as far from Egypt and his calling as could be.  In 40 years, he doesn’t even have his own flock of sheep (it’s his father-in-law’s) so Moses is as far from riches and nobility as anyone could be as well.

The mountain of Horeb is later called Mount Sinai where Moses receives the Ten Commandments.  So same place; different points in time.

Some say the burning bush represents Israel:  afflicted but not destroyed.  Some also say it represents the cross as well.

God does not speak to Moses until he has Moses’ attention.  How often do we miss God cause we aren’t paying attention?

God’s first words to Moses:  Moses’ name.  God knows Moses.  He knows his name.  He is important in God’s world even though he’s a nobody in our world.

Note also how God doesn’t just say Moses’ name once.  He calls him twice.  This shows the urgency of God’s plans.  God calls Abraham (Genesis 22:11), Samuel (1 Samuel 3:10), Simon (Luke 22:31), Martha (Luke 10:41), and Saul (Acts 9:4) all in the same manner.

God then said he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  He is the One, True God, the God of the covenant.  He has not forgotten His promise to His people.  He was reminding Moses of this.

God chooses Moses as His instrument to rescue His people.  God could do all of it himself.  But instead He chooses people.  (2 Corinthians 6:1:  we work with God).  I think God does this to increase our faith in Him and in other people.

Other places Jesus appears in Old Testament:  Genesis 16:7-13, Judges 2:1-5, Judges 6:11-24, Judges 13:3-22