Acts 10 atozmomm

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

Summary Acts 10:

A Roman Centurion (a very important man whom all Jews resented and despised) named Cornelius was living in Caesarea.  He was God-fearing and gave generously to the poor.  One day he had a vision of the angel of God.  The angel told Cornelius to send to Joppa for Simon who is called Peter, which he did.

Peter had a vision that same day of a large sheet being let down from heaven with all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds on it.  A voice told Peter to kill and eat these animals.

Peter freaked out.  He couldn’t possibly eat anything unclean (as the laws for centuries have been).  The voice corrected him, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”

While Peter was pondering this vision, Cornelius’ men arrived and the voice said to go with these men, which he did.

The next day when Peter arrived, Cornelius had invited all of his relatives and close friends to hear what Peter had to say.  Peter reminds everyone it is against Jewish law for Jews to associate with Gentiles but God has said otherwise through this vision.

Cornelius repeats his vision to Peter.  Peter finally understands his dream:  God now accepts every man into His kingdom; the Jews are no longer singled out as God’s chosen people.  With Jesus’ death, everyone is eligible for Salvation.

Peter explains how God chose people to be witnesses to Jesus’ death and resurrection and to preach to the people and testify that God is the one and only judge of the living and the dead.

The Holy Spirit then came upon all who were listening, much to the astonishment of the Jews present with Peter.  Then they were baptized.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

6) He was a devout, God-fearing man and gave generously to those in need. He was respected by all the Jewish people. He prayed to God regularly.  He was a strong man, authoritative, and loyal to be a Roman Centurion (commander in the Roman army).  He must have been respected, admired, and a good leader.  He obeyed God and yearned to know Him more.

7a) God told Peter to get up and kill and eat, which is against Jewish law. Peter’s objection was just that — that these animals were impure and unclean so he couldn’t possibly eat or kill them. God told Peter not to call anything impure that He has made clean.

b) God confirmed His words by having Peter sent for by Cornelius and taken to Cornelius’ house.

8 ) Personal Question. My answer: Jesus’s death. All barriers.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

Profound passage as Peter finally realizes that all people are made clean through the blood of Jesus Christ. Now all will be preached to.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 7, Day 3: Acts 10

Caesarea was a predominately Roman city on the shores of the Mediterranean in Judea. It was the headquarters of the Roman governor of the province of Judea. Archaeologists have discovered a stone from a building in Caesarea inscribed with the name Pontus Pilate.

Who Was Cornelius?

  • Cornelius was an officer in the Roman Army. A Jew of that day would naturally dislike or even hate him.
  • Cornelius was a God-fearer. These were Gentiles who loved the God of Israel; they were sympathetic to and supportive of the Jewish faith. Yet they stopped short of becoming full Jews in lifestyle and in circumcision. Jewish people of that time respected and appreciated these God-fearing Gentiles, but they could not really share their life and homes and food with them, because they were still in fact Gentiles and not full Jewish converts.
  • Cornelius gave generously to the poor, prayed often, sought God, and obeyed. How many of us can say the same?

It is significant that God spoke to Cornelius directly, even calling him by name. It is also significant that Cornelius responded with a healthy fear of the heavenly and holy (he was afraid). This shows that Cornelius had a real relationship with God.

Angels have limited abilities. They are primarily messengers. Note that an angel came to Cornelius to deliver a message, not convert him.

Typically, this is how God operates. He speaks to several people about a matter, not just one. Then confirmation is provided, and out of the mouth of two or three witnesses a word is established.

map of caesarea and joppa atozmomm

Fun Fact:  It is rare in the Bible for God to speak in an audible voice.

Peter had a bad habit of telling Jesus “no” (Matthew 16:22John 13:8). Compare Peter’s response to God (Not so, Lord!) with Cornelius’ response to God (What is it, Lord?). On that day, it seemed that Cornelius was more responsive to God than Peter was.

God repeated this vision three times. Peter was to regard this as important.

When the vision ended, Peter did not have it all figured out. That came in time. And so it is with us.

Previously, in Acts 10:13 and 10:15, it was simply said that a voice spoke to Peter. Now, we are told that the Spirit spoke to Peter. This was God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, speaking to Peter.

At this point, God has not told Peter that his visitors were Gentiles. Normally, a godly Jew like Peter would not associate in this manner with Gentiles. Knowing this, and knowing Peter’s previous resistance (Not so, Lord!), God simply surprised Peter with the knowledge that these men were Gentiles.

The idea that God could send and use Gentiles was entirely new to Peter. God was expanding Peter’s mind and heart.

Peter didn’t just coldly give these Gentiles visitors a room; he entertained them as welcomed guests, and he did this against every custom of the Jewish people of that day. No orthodox Jew would have invited Gentiles into his house. He would not have sat down at the same table with them. He would not have had fellowship with them. It was forbidden.

God flooded Peter’s heart with an understanding that though the Old Testament said God’s people were not to become like their pagan neighbors, it also said God wanted His people to become a light to their neighbors who didn’t know the true God.

“Centuries ago another Jew had come to Joppa with a solemn message from his God, which he was commissioned to bear far hence to the Gentiles. Jonah, the prophet, took a ship from Joppa and refused obedience to the divine call.” (Gaebelein)

Significantly, whenever in the Bible worship is offered to men or to angels (as in Revelation 19:10), it is refused. But Jesus received such worship freely (Matthew 8:29:1814:3315:2528:9). This proves that Jesus is more than a man, and greater than any angel (Luke 4:8).

Acts 10:38 atozmommConversion of Paul

Peter actually entered the house of a Gentile, something that Jewish customs and traditions strictly prohibited. By entering a Gentile’s home, Peter showed that his heart and mind had changed, and that he had learned the lesson of the vision of the great sheet.

“The principle subject of this chapter is not so much the conversion of Cornelius as the conversion of Peter.” (Stott)

Cornelius was not a Christian in the sense that he was not yet regenerated or born again, yet in this case God heard his prayers and remembered his generosity to others.

This is the foundation for Peter’s understanding that the gospel should now go forth to Gentiles. This statement goes completely against the prevailing Jewish thought at that time that God certainly did show partiality, towards the Jews and against the Gentiles. In essence, many Jews of Peter’s day thought that God loved the Jews while hating the Gentiles.

The Prejudice Against Gentiles

According to William Barclay, it was common for a Jewish man to begin the day with a prayer thanking God that he was not a slave, a Gentile, or a woman. A basic part of the Jewish religion in the days of the New Testament was an oath that promised that one would never help a Gentile under any circumstances, such as giving directions if they were asked. But it went even as far as refusing to help a Gentile woman at the time of her greatest need – when she was giving birth – because the result would only be to bring another Gentile into the world.

If a Jew married a Gentile, the Jewish community would have a funeral for the Jew and consider them dead. It was thought that to even enter the house of a Gentile made a Jew unclean before God.

Christianity was the first religion to disregard racial, cultural and national limitations.

When the Jews showed this kind of partiality they were not being faithful to God’s heart as revealed in the Old Testament. The idea that God shows no partiality is also stated in Deuteronomy 10:17 and 2 Chronicles 19:7For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe (Deuteronomy 10:17).

Notably, Peter’s preaching to the Gentiles was essentially the same as his preaching to the Jews. He presented the person and work of Jesus Christ, with an emphasis on the resurrection of Jesus and our responsibility before God in light of these things.

Peter didn’t have one sermon for one group and another sermon for another. All people needed to be saved by coming to a living faith in a living Jesus Christ.

Peter’s sermon was a wonderful (if brief and perhaps condensed by Luke) explanation of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth:

  • Jesus was baptized to identify with humanity.
  • Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power.
  • Jesus was crucified.
  • Jesus was raised from the dead, resurrected in view of many witnesses.
  • Jesus commanded His followers to preach the message of who He is and what He did.

The moment of a person’s salvation isn’t necessarily when they raise a hand or come forward at an evangelistic invitation. It is more likely at the moment they surrender to God and embrace with trust Jesus in the sincerity of their hearts.

Peter allowed the Holy Spirit to interrupt his sermon. The Holy Spirit was doing the greater work in the hearts of those listening, and Peter went with the flow. He stopped and called for their baptism.

Acts 10 summary atozmomm

The First Gentile Converts to Christianity

These were likely not the first Gentiles to trust in Jesus and be born again. Gentiles had probably received salvation in the eight years since Pentecost (Acts 2). But those Gentiles were saved as they embraced Judaism as well as Christianity. Gentiles may have received salvation before this, but they were saved as Jews, not as Gentiles.

Their filling with the Holy Spirit was accompanied by the demonstration of spiritual gifts. This was a filling with the Holy Spirit in two senses: First, in the sense that He indwells and abides in every believer; second, in the sense of a special empowering with gifts and graces from the Holy Spirit.

This was unique. It was not common in the Book of Acts or in subsequent Christian experience for those who were not previously converted (born again) to instantly be born again and receive such evident spiritual gifts. Yet it was good and even necessary on this occasion, to show that they received the exact same Spirit, the exact same blessing as the apostles and first followers of Jesus did on the morning of Pentecost (Acts 2).

God would fill Gentiles with the Holy Spirit in the same manner and degree as the Jews.

God loved and blessed the Gentiles just as He loved and blessed the Jews, and He did it while they were still Gentiles.

The Old Testament looked for the day when a light would shine in the darkness of the Gentile world: Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of the LORD is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the LORD will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you. The Gentiles shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising. (Isaiah 60:1-3)

God promised Abraham and his descendants that the blessing that came through him would extend to all nations (Genesis 12:1-4). Here, we see Jesus – the greatest blessing from Abraham – extended to the nations.

Remember Jesus’ promise of other sheep, not of this fold in John 10:16. Jesus also promised, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself (John 12:32).

The first Gentile Jesus dealt with in His public ministry was a Roman centurion from Capernaum. When Jesus healed that centurion’s servant, He declared that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 8:5-13).

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 11, Day 2: Psalm 139

Image result for psalm 139

Summary of Psalm 139:

David prays/sings to God, saying how God knows everything about him and where he’ll go and what he’ll say. God is everywhere, guiding him. God made David in the womb and knew what he’d do on earth. David prays for God to slay his enemies who speak evil of God’s name. He hates them for it. He prays to be tested for evil and to be lead in everything.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 11, Day 2: Psalm 139:

3) God is omniscient. He has everything planned ahead of time and everyone’s life planned ahead of time. Darkness is as light to God. He is omnipotent.

4) David hates those who hate God. He cannot stand those who speak evil of God. He calls those who hate God his enemies. He requests for God to be in control of his destiny and all that he does. Most people today do not actively oppose God; they just dislike him. We are to love on those who don’t like God but not tolerate perpetual sin around us. We don’t have to be with unrepentant sinners; we can just pray for them. The balance comes in condoning or not condoning sin.

5) Personal Question. My answer: This Psalm reminds me how God does have my life planned out, and I merely have to be close to Him to follow it. It reminds me He knows everything and cares about knowing everything in my life. If I pray for God to lead me, He will. His will will be done in my life if I allow Him to do it.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 11, Day 2: Psalm 139:

Reading the Psalms gives us an insight into David’s mind during this trying time in his life. We see his highs, his lows, and all his questions, doubts, and waverings as to what God is doing in his life. This gives us hope when we do the same thing. The power of prayer cannot be stated enough.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 11, Day 2: Psalm 139:

This magnificent Psalm is titled, For the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. It does not surprise us that such a significant Psalm came from David’s pen, who was “the sweet psalmist of Israel” (2 Samuel 23:1). The Chief Musician is thought by some to be the LORD God Himself, and others suppose him to be a leader of choirs or musicians in David’s time, such as Heman the Singer or Asaph (1 Chronicles 6:3316:17, and 25:6).

David prayed to Yahweh, understanding that He had personal knowledge of him. Pagans often thought that their gods were hostile or indifferent to men and women; David knew the true God cared to search and know all of us.

What does God know about me?Image result for psalm 139

  • God knows me.
  • He is everywhere with me.
  • He created me.
  • God knows all my thoughts.
  • God knows all my words.
  • God knows me better than I know myself.
  • God is everywhere.
  • God knows me in the womb.
  • God sees me at all times.

As Jesus would later say, God knows the number of hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30).

In the Hebrew grammar, You know (139:2) and You covered (139:13) the emphasis is on You. God is involved in everything we do.

The normal sense of a hedge in the Bible is of a protective barrier. God hedged David on every side, so that nothing could come to David unless it first passed through God’s permission. What was true for David is true for all who trust in the LORD.

The Psalmist speaks of God as a Person everywhere present in creation, yet distinct from creation. God is everywhere, but he is not everything.

God is present in Hell

David did not describe what we normally think of as hell – Gehenna (Matthew 10:2818:9), the lake of fire (Revelation 20:14-15). The Hebrew word here is sheol, which has the sense of the grave or by implication the afterlife.

Even in hell, God will be present because there is no place where God cannot be. Yet God’s presence in hell will radiate none of His love and grace; only His righteous judgment.

“Wings of the dawn” may well refer to the spread and speed of light as it fills the morning sky from the east to the west. Light itself can not outrun God’s presence and knowledge.

Death and the grave cannot separate David from God’s love – as Paul would later write in Romans 8:38-39. In fact, God’s right hand – His hand of skill and strength – would hold David no matter what would come.

God’s constant presence with David was like a constant light in the darkness. As the pillar of cloud illuminated Israel in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21), so with God’s presence the night shines as the day.

Image result for psalm 139Skillfully wrought: “Hebrew embroidered; exquisitely composed of bones, and muscles, and sinews, and veins, and arteries, and other parts, all framed with such wonderful skill, that even heathens, upon the contemplation of all the parts of man’s body, and how excellently they were framed, both for beauty and use, have broken forth into pangs of admiration and adoration of the Creator of man, as Galen particularly did.” (Poole)

If God made us, why did He make birth defects?

The  “The root meaning of the word rendered ‘precious’ is weighty. The singer would weigh God’s thoughts towards him, and finds that they weigh down his scales.” (Maclaren)work of God in fashioning the body of the individual has made some wonder about the presence of birth defects, and what that may mean regarding God’s work. We should regard such birth defects as injuries to God’s original design, and even as a person may be injured out of the womb, so they can be injured while still in the womb and in the process of formation. Such injuries are the result of the fall and the corruption it introduced into the world, yet still the eye of faith can see the hand of God at work in what defects or injuries He would allow in His providence.

“The Lord’s writing in the book (cf. Psalm 51:1Psalm 69:28) refers to God’s knowledge and blessing of his child ‘all the days’ of his life (cf. Ephesians 2:10).

“That God should think upon us is the believer’s treasure and pleasure.” (Spurgeon)

Discovering our own sin

  • We do not hate the person; we hate the sin.
  • “It is easier to glow with indignation against evildoers than to keep oneself from doing evil. Many secret sins may hide under a cloak of zeal for the Lord.” (Maclaren)
  • We often don’t know our own evil ways. Praying for God to flush them out is powerful.

David ended this majestic psalm by declaring his destination – the way everlasting. Trusting the God of complete knowledge and constant presence would bring David to everlasting life.

“The final words could be translated ‘the ancient way’ as in Jeremiah 6:16; but the majority of translators would appear to be right in rendering them the way everlasting, in contrast to the way of the wicked, which will perish.” (Kidner)

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 9, Day 2: 1 Samuel 9-10

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Summary 1 Samuel 9:

Saul, a tall young man, was sent by his father, Kish, to find their donkeys. Saul’s servant suggests they go ask a man of God where the donkeys are because they couldn’t find the donkeys. The man of God is Samuel, and God had told Samuel the day before to anoint a man from Benjamin as the leader of the Israelites. God tells Samuel Saul is the one once Saul meets Samuel. Saul and Samuel ate together.

Summary 1 Samuel 10:

Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul’s head, anointing him leader. Samuel instructs Saul, telling him hes’ going to meet 2 men near Rachel’s tomb, 3 men at the tree of Tabor who will give you bread, and then you’ll be changed into a different person when you meet a procession of prophets and prophecy with them. Then Saul is to wait for Samuel at Gilgal. All of this occurred and the Spirit of God descended upon Saul and changed him.

Image result for 1 samuel 10Samuel gathered the people of Israel at Mizpah to present Saul as king. Saul at first hid and had to be brought out. Samuel told the people the regulations of being king and wrote them down. Some were not happy with God’s choice of Saul as king.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 9, Day 2: 1 Samuel 9-10:

3) Directly. God told Samuel the day ahead of time of the circumstances of meeting Saul and that he was a Benjamite and then when Samuel actually met Saul, God spoke again to make it clear His choice. This had to be important for God to be so directly involved.

4) Samuel instructs Saul, telling him hes’ going to meet 2 men near Rachel’s tomb, 3 men at the tree of Tabor who will give you bread, and then you’ll be changed into a different person when you meet a procession of prophets and prophecy with them. Then Saul is to wait for Samuel at Gilgal. All of this occurred and the Spirit of God descended upon Saul and changed him. The king was to be commanded and directed by God and obey God. The prophets such as Samuel were to reveal God’s will to the king. The king, however, can prophesy as well.

5) Part personal Question. My answer:  God speaks directly sometimes, and we should obey. God has a ton of work for me to do from raising my kids to serving Him to my jobs, my writings, and my testimony of my life.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 9, Day 2: 1 Samuel 9-10:

I love God’s directness here in choosing Saul and re-iterating his choice with Samuel. I love how Saul at first shirks his duties and then embraces them, probably out of fear. I think we all are hesitant when called by God to do His work. It’s good to know this is a natural human reaction.

I love how unassuming Saul is as we all are. We all can be called and used by God.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 9, Day 2: 1 Samuel 9-10:

1 Samuel 9:

Saul means “asked of God”. He came from a wealthy family and was good-looking and tall.

What do we learn from Saul and the donkeys?

  1. Not every event in our life holds great meaning from God.
  2. God uses situations to guide us.

Image result for saul and donkeysBible scholar Clarke explains seer: “The word seerroeh, occurs for the first time in this place; it literally signifies a person who SEES; particularly preternatural [supernatural] sights. A seer and a prophet were the same in most cases; only with this difference, the seer was always a prophet, but the prophet was not always a seer.”

When consulting a prophet, it was common courtesy to bring a gift (Amos 7:12), whether modest (1 Kings 14:3) or lavish (2 Kings 8:8-9).

Saul had no relationship with the LORD, so God spoke to Saul through lost donkeys. But Samuel knew and loved the LORD, so God spoke to Samuel in his ear.

In his ear is literally, “had uncovered his ear.” The same phrase is used in Ruth 4:4. “The phrase is taken from the pushing aside of the headdress in order to whisper, and therefore means that Jehovah had secretly told Samuel” (Smith, Pulpit Commentary). It doesn’t mean Samuel heard an audible voice from God.

God gave the prophet Samuel specific guidance regarding future events. Samuel received this guidance wisely and looked for the fulfillment of the words to confirm God’s choice of a king. But Samuel also wisely refused to manipulate circumstances to “make” what God said come to pass. Samuel felt that if this was God’s word, He was able to make it happen.

Though there were many problems with the reign of Saul, no one should think it was a total disaster. Saul led Israel to many military victories and greater independence from the Philistines.

God confirms his words to Samuel twice. This is something we should look for in our lives: a confirmation of God’s Word.

When Samuel spoke to Saul, he prove to Saul that he was a true prophet from God. He showed Saul he knew things that he probably could not have known unless it was revealed to him supernaturally.

What does the seating arrangement at supper between Samuel and Saul tell us?

  • The seat of honor was always on a particular side next to the host. It was a great honor to be seated in this place next to the prophet Samuel.
  • Saul was also given the special portion. In that culture every meal had a special portion to be given to the one the host wanted to honor. Saul was specially honored at this meal.

1 Samuel 10:

The word “anoint” means to rub or sprinkle on; apply an ointment or oily liquid to. The Holy Spirit was poured out onto Saul.

Fun Fact: This is one of the earliest references to prophets in the Bible.

How are Christians anointed?

As Christians under the New Covenant we also have an anointing: But you have an anointing from the Holy One (1 John 2:20). In the New Testament sense, anointing has the idea of being filled with and blessed by the Holy Spirit.

Kissing was a sign of Samuel’s support of Saul.

It was a secret anointing because it was not yet time to reveal Saul as king to the nation. As Christians, our anointing often comes in just such a private way.

3 Signs Saul knew he was anointed by God:Image result for saul and donkeys

  1. If there were no men by Rachel’s tomb, or if there was only one man and not two, then Saul would know that Samuel did not really speak from God.
  2. If the men by Rachel’s tomb didn’t tell Saul about finding the donkeys, Saul could know Samuel was not a true prophet. God gave Saul this sign to build confidence in the work of the LORD.
  3. The third confirmation: It would be unusual for men to simply give a stranger like Saul loaves of bread.

Prophesying isn’t necessarily predicting the future, but that they all spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

What does the group of prophets tell us?

The Holy Spirit was the real anointing.  “Will come upon you” is literally “will leap or rush upon thee, to wit [namely], for a season. So, it may be opposed to the Spirit’s resting upon a man, as in Numbers 11:25Isaiah 11:2.”

What do we learn from Saul:

God always confirms His anointing.

Saul had to wait for Samuel because Saul had to show that even though he was a king he was submitted to the LORD and the LORD’s prophet. We’ll see later on that when Saul doesn’t wait for Samuel, disaster strikes.

God’s heart:Image result for 1 samuel 10

We also can have another heart from the LORD, but we must receive it from Him. We can’t receive a new heart from anyone except from God, and we can never make a new heart in anyone else.

The LORD, speaking through Samuel, showed Israel how their rejection of Him made so little sense. It makes no sense to reject the one who saves you out of all your adversities and your tribulations. Yet so many of us do.

The choosing by lot simply confirmed the word of the LORD through Samuel.

God gave the Israelites what they wanted: a king who looked like a king.

Samuel taught the Israelites God’s guidelines for both rulers and subjects, probably using Deuteronomy 17:14-20.

It doesn’t seem that this book Samuel wrote is contained in any of the books of the Bible. This doesn’t mean that there is something missing from our Bibles. It simply means God did not want this book preserved in His eternal Word.

Saul had men to support him.

Bible scholar Meyer on Saul’s ignoring criticism:  “It is a great power when a man can act as though he were deaf to slander, deaf to detraction, deaf to unkind and uncharitable speeches, and treat them as though they had not been spoken, turning from man to God, leaving with God his vindication, believing God that sooner or later will give him a chance… of vindicating the true prowess and temper of his soul.”

Saul had great promise:

  • Saul was chosen and anointed by God.
  • Saul was filled with the Holy Spirit.
  • Saul was supported by a great man of God.
  • Saul was given gifts appropriate to royalty.
  • Saul was enthusiastically supported by most all the nation.
  • Saul was surrounded by valiant men, men whose hearts God had touched.
  • Saul was wise enough to not regard every doubter or critic as an enemy

Despite all these great advantages, Saul could still end badly. Saul had so many advantages, yet it all comes down to choice. He had to choose to walk in the advantages God gave him and choose to not go his own way. The rest of the book of 1 Samuel shows how Saul dealt with that choice.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 28, Day 2: Romans 15:14-16

Summary of passage:  Paul says he believes the Jews are full of goodness and competent to instruct each other.  He is writing to remind them of God’s word and as a minister to the Gentiles to bring them the Good News so that they too may be sanctified by God.

Questions:

3)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  “Full of goodness, complete in knowledge, and competent to instruct one another.”  I will encourage them with my presence, be a listening ear, offer up advice when needed, and support them in their dreams and God’s desire for their lives.

4)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We all need reminders of God’s Word, how to live, and what God desires for our lives especially in today’s society because it’s so easy to get caught up in the lies of Satan and the evils of this world.  Paul is reminding the Jews that he is preaching to them as a reminder and he has confidence in them to follow God’s Word.  He is also preaching for the sake of the Gentiles as well.

5)  Paul says his priestly duty is “to proclaim the gospel of God so that the Gentiles might become an offering acceptable to God, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.”

In the Old Testament, the priest was our intermediary to God.  He was the only one who could approach God and cleanse the Jews of their sins.  Then Jesus came and became our high priest, our intermediary, eliminating the need for a formal priest to intercede for us.

According to Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary, “the term is applied primarily to those authorized to perform the rites of the Israelite religion, but it can also be used with reference to pagan priests.

The formal priesthood in Israel began with the time of Exodus.  In the patriarchal times the heads of families offered sacrifices and intercessory prayers and performed general religious functions, but there seems to have been no specialization and no separate priestly office.  God appoints Aaron the tribe of the Levites to be the priests for the people in Exodus 28-29 and Leviticus 8.

The Lord Jesus Christ is the one and only New Covenant priest, described in detail in Hebrews.  Traditionally, Christ has three offices:  prophet, priest, and king.  With Christ’s death, the atonement was finishes, essentially eliminating the traditional role of priest. Now, priests are teachers, not atoners.  When Christ gave up his life on the cross, the atonement was finished once and for all with absolutely nothing more for God or man to add to it.  We are saved!

Conclusions:  Loved reading about the history of the priesthood in my Bible Dictionary!  Love knowing Christ once again is the end all.  Praise God for His almighty goodness to us sinners!

End Notes:  Paul’s whole point of writing the book of Romans is encouragement as he says in this passage.  He is also writing proclaiming the Gentiles as an offering to God as well.

Romans 15:16 is filled with the language of priesthood. Paul says he serves as a “ministering priest” of Jesus Christ presenting the gospel as a “priestly service” so Gentile converts would be an acceptable sacrifice to God.

Scholar Murry explains:  “When Paul defines his ministry as ministering the gospel of God the apostle uses a word occurring nowhere else in the New Testament which may properly be rendered ‘acting as a priest.’ So the ministry of the gospel is conceived of after the pattern of priestly offering.”

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 27, Day 4: Romans 15:7-13

Summary of passage:  Paul is still urging unity and urging the Roman Jews to accept the Gentiles, which were always in God’s plan to believe in Him and Jesus which Paul backs up with Old Testament passages.  This will glorify God and is the reason Christ came.  Paul prays that God fills them with joy and peace as they trust in Him through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Questions:

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  It brings praise to God.  It humbles me because none of us deserve acceptance, but if God can do it, I am inspired to as well.

11)  2 Samuel 22:50; Psalm 18:49; Deuteronomy 32:43; Psalm 117:1; Isaiah 11:10.  Everyone (including the Gentiles) will praise God and were all meant to praise Him as part of his plan for humanity.

12a)  It confirms to the Jews that the Gentiles were always part of God’s plan.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God wants all of us despite our differences.  So must we.  Most of our differences are petty.  Have a unity of Spirit.  It’s all for Him.

Conclusions:  Paul brings in the Old Testament to confirm his urgings that the Gentiles are to be accepted as God’s children since they are a part of God’s plan.  In essence, it all comes down to love.  Jesus’s command to love one another as yourself (Matthew 22:39).

End Notes:  We are to give others the grace God has given us fallen humans.  Acceptance and love.  Christ covered our faults and welcomed us; in the same way we do to others.

15:9:  From the beginning, God’s redemptive work in and for Israel had in view the redemption of the Gentiles (Genesis 12:2-3).  They would both see God’s mighty and gracious acts for his people and hear the praises of God’s people as they celebrated what God had done for them (a common theme in Psalms).  Thus they would come to know the true God and glorify him for his mercy.  God greatest and climactic act for Israel’s salvation was the sending of the Messiah to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs and so to gather in the great harvest of the Gentiles.

We are to unite in Jesus over the common ground of praise to God.  As God blesses us, so we are equipped to live in unity with others.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 26, Day 5: Romans 14:19-23

Summary of passage:  Paul reiterates getting along with others.  Don’t destroy someone’s belief over petty issues like food.  Avoid causing your brother to fail.  Keep your beliefs to yourself and don’t shame others into your beliefs.

Questions:

13)  It could cause others to stumble, feel shame and guilt and begin to doubt God and potentially sin.

14)  “Make every effort to do what leads to peace and mutual edification.”  “Keep your beliefs about these issues between yourself and God.”

15)  “It is better for the stronger believer to not eat meat or drink wine or do anything else that will cause your brother to fall.”  The weaker believer should not “condemn himself by what he approves.”

16)  Personal Question.  My answer:  This has nothing to do with straying from God but the one thing I can think of is having candy in the house.  My kids eat candy and I don’t but my husband, who is trying to lose weight, can’t resist it. I’m becoming more cognizant of what I’m buying so he won’t stumble.

Conclusions:  Important passage.  We need to put others’ needs first.  Whether it’s not drink around those who struggle with drunkenness or not eat certain foods around those struggling with their weight/health.  It’s being considerate of others at its foundation.

End Notes:  Paul is not talking about catering to legalism here such as eating certain foods.

Keep your faith between yourself and God. You don’t have to parade it around weak Christians.  You can keep your standards and convictions.  However, you’re not permitted to flaunt it around others.

There are things God may challenge us to give up, but we go on approving them in our life – thus we condemn ourselves. It may not be that the thing itself is clearly good or bad, but it is enough that God speaks to us about the matter.

Each of us must ask: “God, what is there in my life hindering a closer walk with You? I want to know the happiness that comes from not condemning myself by what I approve in my life.” This takes faith, because we often cling to hindering things because we think they make us happy. Real happiness is found being closer and closer to Jesus, and by not being condemned by what we approve.

If we are troubled by something, it is likely sin, not faith.  We can check ourselves when we tend to justify things we permit this way.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 26, Day 3: Romans 14:9-12

Summary of passage:  It is God’s job to judge and we are only accountable to Him.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Any that would be asked of me if it’s a stumbling block.

7)  It is God’s job to judge, not ours.

8 )  Each of us will give an account of himself to God.  If we judge others, we are accountable to God for that as well.

Conclusions:  No comment.

End Notes:  We live for God alone.  Stop worrying about your brother.  You have enough to answer for on your own.

Smith explains the Judgment seat:  “This is the bema seat, equivalent to the judge’s seat in the Olympic Games. After each game, the winners came before the judge’s seat to receive crowns for first, second, and third places. Likewise, the Christian’s works will be tested by fire, and he’ll be rewarded for those which remain . . . The judgment seat of Christ is only concerned with a Christian’s rewards and position in the kingdom, not with his salvation.”  All Christians will be judged and the judgement will be based on works (2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

The quotation from Isaiah 45:23 emphasizes the fact that all will have to appear before God in humility, and give account of himself before God.  Since this is the case, we should let God deal with our brother.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 5: Romans 13:6-7

Summary of passage:  Pay taxes to the authorities who should be paid for governing.  Give everyone what you owe such as taxes, revenue, respect and honor.

Questions:

12)  In essence, Jesus said the same thing as this passage:  Give to those what you owe them.  Pay your taxes and pay God.

13)  Today, there are many purposes for taxes and many different kinds of taxes (like in ancient times as well but in a different way).  Here, it says pay taxes so that the officials may be paid for their time in running the government.  Taxes also go for the public good and items and services we consume collectively like roads, police, etc.  We should have an attitude of gratitude towards taxes that pays for the military and police who keep us safe, roads we travel on to visit loved ones, and so many other things we don’t think of.  Taxes are a part of life.  Accept it.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:

Exodus 20:12:  Father and Mother.  Honoring their wishes and what they’ve done for you.  Being there for them in their old age.  Loving them.
Leviticus 19:32:  The elderly and God.  Volunteer to help the elderly.  Care for them in their old age.  Visit them.  Care about them and their lives.
1 Timothy 5:17:  “the elders who direct the affairs of the church especially those who preach and teach”  Pastors and church leaders.  Pray for them.  Care for them.  Do random acts of kindness for them.  Give to them when they don’t expect it.
1 Timothy 6:15b-16:  God.  There is no limit to honoring God.  Prayer, obedience, evangelism, being kind to others, worship, etc.
1 Peter 2:13-17:  Governing authorities, rulers, respect everyone, respect believers, fear God, honor your king.  Obey laws, don’t bad-mouth leaders, pray for leaders and rulers, treat others as you want to be treated, obey God.

15)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Pray for them.  Pray for them to follow God’s will.  Honor their choices in life.  Give it to God.  It’s none of your business when it’s friends and families and acquaintances.  Treat them as you want to be treated.  Love them.

Conclusions:  The theme of Lesson 24 is honor and respect authority (both human authority and God’s authority).  Obey both human laws and God’s laws.  Overall, be good citizens and people.

End Notes:  We pay taxes so the officials can do their job in keeping an orderly society–not to enrich them.  But also so they can eat as well.  Paying taxes is supporting God’s work since He gave the government to help us.

Good question to ponder:  Is rebellion against government ever justified? If a citizen has a choice between two governments, it is right to choose and to promote the one that is most legitimate in God’s eyes – the one which will best fulfill God’s purpose for governments.  However, knowing which is right in God’s eyes is the challenge.  The Communists believe they are right. So do democracies.

These verses are easy for those of us living in a democracies.  We are the government; therefore, we are supporting ourselves when we pay taxes as the money goes for public good.

In ancient times, this would have been much more difficult when rulers were oftentimes evil.  The first generation of Christians benefited from the same freedom of worship and legal protection as the Jews.  But soon emperors such as Nero turned on Christians, torturing and murdering thousands.  History shows that most of them followed Paul’s difficult advice in this passage, refusing to revolt against the government no matter how hostile it had become.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 2: Romans 13:1-5

Summary of passage:  You must submit to government authorities because God is the one who has given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.  If you rebel against the government, you are rebelling against God and are therefore subject to judgment.  Do what is right and you have nothing to fear.  The ruler is God’s servant ready to punish the wrongdoer.  Thus, submit to authorities so you’re not punished and because of conscience.

Questions:

3)  The definition of submit according to Webster’s Dictionary is “to yield to governance or authority; to subject to a condition, treatment, or operation; to yield oneself to the authority or will of another”.  Everyone must submit to governing authorities because God is the one who had given them authority so in essence you are submitting to God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  The same reasons people struggle with submitting to God (which in this passage Paul says is the same thing i.e. God and authorities are the same):  people want to do what they want to do (selfishness) and not what others tell them to do.  Human nature is inherently evil and if a person wants to be able to kill another, that’s what he wants to do.  Man wants power and to lord over others.  God established rules/government so there would not be anarchy in this world.  I’m fine with following the government (when you’re brought up in society it’s relatively easy to obey).  It’s the daily selfishness I struggle with such as when I’m driving being nice to others or putting others needs before mine or giving up my time for others.

5)  When man/human authority asks us to go against God and His Word.  Daniel ignores the decree by King Darius to not pray to God.  This is against God.  When you’re asked to do something that goes against your conscience or that you know is wrong.  Then you can disobey.  Killing others, persecuting others, causing physical harm to others, etc.

Conclusions:  Great passage by Paul and very important today when people are so against governing authorities.  You may not like who is in office, but God put them there so respect them and the laws of your country.

End Notes:  Connecting Romans 12, people are not to take vengeance but the government can punish wrongdoers since God gave them the authority to do so.  Paul is speaking to some Jews who refused to acknowledge the authority of the rulers and thus paid no taxes.

“Be subject to” is a significant theme for Romans 13:1-7.  The civil rulers, all of whom were probably pagans at the time Paul was writing.  Christians may have been tempted not to submit to them and to claim allegiance only to Christ.  Even the possibility of a persecuting state did not shake Paul’s conviction that civil government is ordained by God (1 Peter 2:13-17).

Government authorities serve a purpose for God.  God appoints a nation’s leaders, but not always to bless the people. Sometimes it is to judge the people like we read in Daniel and how God used the Babylonian empire to judge His people.

Paul wrote this during the reign of the Roman Empire. It was no democracy, and no special friend to Christians – yet he still saw their legitimate authority.

“Your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His Apostle denied or reviled the ‘authority!’ ” (Newell)

Since governments have authority from God, we are bound to obey them – unless, of course, they order us to do something in contradiction to God’s law. Then, we are commanded to obey God before man (as in Acts 4:19).  Paul is describing the ideal rulers here.  Obviously, man is fallen so this is not always the case the rulers will do what is right.

God uses governing authorities as a check upon man’s sinful desires and tendencies. Government can be an effective tool in resisting the effects of man’s fallenness.

Paul’s idea is that Christians should be the best citizens of all. Even though they are loyal to God before they are loyal to the state, Christians are good citizens because they are honest, give no trouble to the state, pay their taxes, and – most importantly – pray for the state and the rulers.

Paul describes government officials as God’s minister. They have a ministry in the plan and administration of God, just as much as church leaders do.

If the state’s rulers are God’s minister (servant), they should remember that they are only servants, and not gods themselves.

It is through the just punishment of evil that government serves its function in God’s plan of holding man’s sinful tendencies in check. When a government fails to do this consistently, it opens itself up to God’s judgment and correction.

The sword is a reference to capital punishment. In the Roman Empire, criminals were typically executed by beheading with a sword (crucifixion was reserved for the worst criminals of the lowest classes). Paul, speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, has no doubt that the state has the legitimate authority to execute criminals.

We must be subject to government; not only because we fear punishment, but because we know it is right before God to do so.  Christian obedience to the state is never blind – it obeys with the eyes of conscience wide open.  Christians must duly honor the government in order to maintain a good conscience.

Fun Fact (taken from Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary):  The Bible, by exhortation and commandment, requires submission and obedience to six principal authorities:

  1.  Parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; 1 Timothy 3:4)
  2.  Teachers (Proverbs 5:12-13)
  3.  Husbands (Ephesians 5:21-22, 24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5-6)
  4.  Masters–or today, employers (Ephesians 6:4, Colossians 3:22, Titus 2:9, 1 Peter 2:18)
  5.  Government (Romans 13:1-2, 5: Titus 3:1, 1 Peter 2:13)
  6.  God (Genesis 26:5, Ephesians 5:24, Hebrews 5:9; 12:9, James 4:7)

The supreme test of faith is obedience (1 Samuel 28:18).  The Bible often links obedience to faith (Genesis 22:18; Romans 1:5; 1 Peter 1:14).  Jesus obedience to the Father is the supreme example for Christians.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 23, Day 4: Romans 12:14-16

Summary of passage:  Bless your enemies.  Be happy with others and sad with others.  Be humble and mindful of others.

Questions:

9)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Pray for them.  Forgive them.  Treat them with kindness and compassion–as you would anyone else.  Keep in mind there are different levels of persecution which simply means hostility and ill-treatment of others especially because of religious or political beliefs.  Basically, you don’t have to be stoned to be persecuted.  This is a hard question because I can’t think of anyone who is persecuting me right now.  People probably don’t like me, but it doesn’t affect me daily.

10)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Basically, care about what others are going through and be there for them.  Get along with others.  Put your needs aside.  Be humble.  Every day I have opportunities to do this.  From being courteous to strangers at the grocery store and letting drivers in on the highways.  Every interaction with another person is an opportunity to put yourself aside and do for them.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Pride by its nature is all about you and selfish.  You take the credit for your accomplishments and sometimes throw it in others’ faces.  None of us does anything on our own.  You can destroy another person by taking all the credit. Being the bigger person, saying sorry first, acting like Jesus will restore relationships.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I haven’t lost anyone close to me besides my dogs.  It’s comforting just to be the shoulder to cry on.

Conclusions:  All personal again.  Paul’s words echo the previous verses.  Again, put others first.  It will change this world.

End Notes:  We are not to hate anyone, even our persecutors.  Matthew 5:46For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? Persecution can be from inside the church as well.  Jesus told us the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service (John 16:2).  Inquisition anyone?  Holocaust?

Be considerate of the feelings of others instead of waiting on them to be considerate towards you.

Conceited here is pride again.  Other translations say “Do not be wise in your own opinion”, which is thinking you are always right.  Again, reminders from Paul to step outside of ourselves and see others before ourselves.