BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12

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Summary of Joshua 5:1-12:

Upon hearing of God’s bringing of His people across the Jordan River by stopping its flow, all the Amorite king and Canaanite kings lost courage to face the Israelites. God ordered the circumcision of His people at Gibeath Haaraloth. These were the sons of the the wandering Israelites who had not been circumcised on the journey. They remained in camp until they were healed.

The Israelites celebrated the Passover, eating the produce of the land (unleavened bread and roasted grain). The manna stopped after this since the Israelites were now able to produce their own food.

BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12:

11) To circumcise all the Israelites who had not been circumcised previously. God had commanded Abraham that all Israeli males be circumcised as a sign of the covenant made between Abraham and God, which was God’s promise to Abraham to make him into a great nation and receive the gift of the Promised Land. It was also a requirement to be circumcised to take part in the Passover, which is a celebration in remembrance of God sparing the Israelites in his judgment of Egypt, passing over the houses of the children of Israel when He killed the firstborn of man and beast in Egypt.

Deuteronomy tells us also that “God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”

12a) Passover. The passover signifies the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people.

b) God stopped giving manna. This signified to the Israelis that they now would be able to provide for themselves–something all of us wants.

13) Personal Question. My answer:  God has given me a new job, so my husband and I can start getting out of debt and getting on the right path for our lives. It’s a job that grows me and will serve me (and Him) forever in the future. I will thank Him by following Him, giving Him the credit, and loving Him.

Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12:

It’s important to remember our blessings each and every day, which can easily get distracted with our daily struggles and problems. God chose circumcision and Passover for His people. Now, you can choose whatever you wish as a remembrance: just make it something concrete, visible, and meaningful to you.

Watch VIDEO of book of Joshua if you haven’t had a chance yet.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12:

Related imageSeeing the miracle of the Jordan River parted is only part of the reason the kings cower before the Israelites. The other reason: the Israelites trust in God. Trust is powerful. Think of all the people you trust enough to cross a parted river. Maybe a handful?

Apparently, no one was circumcised in the 40 years of wanderings. It was time to show your outward obedience to God’s commands and get circumcised. Circumcision is a consecration of yourself to God. It’s renouncing yourself and living for God. This had to be done before the conquering began.

Obviously, this was suicidal from a military standpoint.  All the men of fighting age were made completely vulnerable and unable to fight for a period of several days.

If you remember back in Genesis 34:24-25, Simeon and Levi killed all the men in a city after tricking them into having them all circumcised. While the men were unable to fight, they were slaughtered in retaliation, because the prince of that city had raped Dinah, the sister of Simeon and Levi. This could have been the fate of Israel here in Joshua 5.

  • Israel crossed over the Jordan at a militarily undesirable place (right in front of Jericho, the strongest military outpost of the Canaanites),
  • Then the Israelites incapacitated their army for several days.

The Israelites were circumcised because they trusted God.

God, in His infinite compassion, only asked the Israelites to do this AFTER the miracle of the parting of the Jordan River. God gives us strength and courage before he pushes us again. Radical things happen when we trust wholeheartedly in God.

“Rolling away the reproach of Egypt” means the shame of being slaves in Egypt and the underlying sin and rebellion that had caused that punishment. The Israelites needed to stop seeing themselves as helpless slaves and sinners but as conquering warriors of God who were forgiven.

God did not want the Israelites to forget His deliverance of them. God never wants us to forget Jesus’ deliverance of us out of bondage and into freedom.

God didn’t want the Israelites to get lazy; they could provide for themselves. Again, they needed to trust in God’s provision–not in how it was provided.

Gilgal will become a base camp for the Israelites. After battles they will return here. They will remember God’s greatness with the stones and be strengthened and renewed.

Theme of Joshua 5: Trust in God.

Fun Biblical Fact: This is the only time Gibeath Haaraloth is mentioned in the Bible.

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BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3:1-4:24

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Summary of Joshua 3:

After three days, the Israelites set out from Shittim, following the ark of the covenant as it leads the way to the Promised Land, careful to leave space behind the Ark. The priests went ahead of the people with the Ark of the Covenant. On God’s orders, the priests stood in the waters of the Jordan, damming up the water and allowing the people to cross the Jordan River. This was God’s way of showing the people He is with Joshua.Image result for gods people looking over jordan river

Summary of Joshua 4:

God told Joshua to have 12 men, one from each Israelite tribe, pick up a stone from the Jordan River and carry it over to their encampment for the night. The stones are to serve as a remembrance for the Lord cutting off the flow of the River Jordan before the Ark of the Covenant.

The priests stayed in the River until all the Israelites, including the men of Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh had crossed. 40,000 fighting men in all. Afterwards, the priests were commanded to leave the River Jordan and as soon as they did, the waters returned to flood stage.

The people camped at Gilgal on the eastern border of Jericho. Joshua took the stones with him so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the Lord is powerful and that the Israelites might always fear the Lord.

BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3:1-4:24:

9a) The people had to wait three days on the banks of the Jordan River. The priests are to go first into the Promised Land, carrying the Ark of the Covenant. The people need to stay at least 1000 yards behind the Ark. The people were told to consecrate themselves before entering the Promised Land. The priests stopped the Jordan River, so the people could cross.

b) Joshua told the people that the Ark of the Covenant would go ahead of them into the Promised Land carried by the Levites, or the priests. The priests were represented by 12 men, one from each tribe. As soon as the priests’ feet touch the Jordan River, its water will stop flowing downstream and stand up in a heap. This is indeed what happened.

10) The Ark of the Covenant is, also known as the Ark of the Testimony, is a gold-covered wooden chest with lid cover described in Exodus 25:10-22 as containing the two stone Ten Commandment tablets given to Moses by God. Hebrews 9:4 tells us it contains “the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant.” Later, when Solomon would build the temple (which we get to read about as well!), the Ark will be housed behind the second curtain in the Most Holy Place where God dwelled.

The Ark of the Covenant is symbolically where God dwelled. Hence, it symbolizes God going before the people and leading them into the Promised Land.

Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3-4:

Love all of the allusions and throwbacks to Egypt! God goes before the people with the Ark (like He did in the cloud). God stops the Jordan River (like He did the Red Sea). God is omnipotent. God does things for our benefit.

Watch VIDEO of the Book of Joshua if you haven’t had a chance yet.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 3:

In 1927, and earthquake caused the 40-foot clay banks of the Jordan River to collapse, totally damming the Jordan for 21 hours.

Sitting by the swollen Jordan River for three days must have produced anxiety and doubt in the Israelites’ minds: how would they cross?

Theme of Joshua 3: God’s people are utterly helpless without Him.

Image result for gods people looking over jordan riverEverything God does is deliberate. Having the people wait three days would build their faith as they no doubt were growing restless and agitated.

Why stay 1000 yards behind the Ark of the Covenant?

  1. Respect of the holy nature of the Ark of the Covenant
  2. So all could see. After all, the Ark of the Covenant was leading the way to a land none of them have been to before. It was important to not get lost and to maintain order with millions of people.

Sanctifying themselves helped them keep a clear focus on God.

In faith, Joshua followed God’s commands. God in turn encourages Joshua.

Faith leads us into greater victories than law ever could.

The step of faith of the priests in the water happens to us all every day, every moment of our lives. The moment can be short or long. Regardless, take that first step!

Note: God begins the journey into the Promised Land with a supernatural miracle: the stopping of the Jordan. Out of Egypt (old life) with a miracle and into a new life with a miracle. God leaves no room for doubt.

Fun Biblical Fact:  The ark is referred to 14 times in these 17 verses.

Theme of Joshua 3:

To face the impossible in our lives, look to Jesus, our Joshua. He is the fulfillment of the Ark.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 4: Joshua 4

Theme of Joshua 4: Trust – The Israelites knew they had to trust God with everything they had, because the challenges only got bigger in the Promised Land – but so did the blessings.

Remembering what God has done for you is huge. Most of us forget very easily God’s faithfulness in our lives when something bad happens. Using something concrete (here in Joshua 4 stones) as a visual reminder of God’s faithfulness in your life is one of the best things you can do. It not only reminds you, but it also serves as a reminder to your children about God’s greatness.

The priests stood in the Jordan River throughout the entire crossing, representing God’s presence and strength.

Gilgal will become the Israelites base of operations for the conquest of the entire Promised Land. Therefore, the first step is to set up a memorial to God’s great works.

Fun Biblical Fact: Gilgal is mentioned 39 times in the Bible, primarily here, in the book of Joshua.

BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24

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Summary of Joshua 2:1-24:

Joshua sends out two men to spy the land especially Jericho. The king of Jericho discovers this and know the men went to the house of Rahab, the prostitute. The king’s men go to Rahab’s house to arrest the men. Rahab protects the men, lying for them, and telling the soldiers the men left her house and to go and chase them.

The soldiers leave. Rahab tells the spies that she has heard of God and what He has done for His people and that everyone in the land is afraid of the Israelites. She begs the men to show mercy to her and her family when the Israelites invade as she has shown mercy to them.

The men agreed and Rahab lowered the men out of her house, using a rope, as her house was part of the city wall. The spies tell her to tie a scarlet cord in the window so all will know to spare that home. She must bring her family inside her home and not leave to be spared and not betray them to the king. Rahab agrees.

The spies hide for three days, giving the soldiers plenty of time to search and not find them. The spies return to Joshua, reporting all that happened with Rahab and how the people are afraid of them.

BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:

6a) Joshua sent two men to spy out Jericho.

b)  Rahab heard about the Lord’s deeds: how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea so the Israelites could escape out of Egypt and about the destruction of Sihon and Og and their two kings. By her actions (saving the men), she herself was saved by God.  That would increase her faith.

7) Personal Question. My answer:  God is faithful. He will guide you and not lead you astray. I trust He puts me where He wants me with jobs and life.

8 )  Part Personal Question. My answer: He spared her and her family when the Israelites invaded, and allowed her and her family to live amongst the Israelites even though they were Gentiles. She was rewarded a unique place in Jewish history as becoming a direct ancestor of Jesus Christ and has been held up in the Bible as an example of faith. God has rewarded me with a rich life. I often feel undeserving and that I’m not doing enough for Him and His kingdom.

Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:

I love this story. It shows how doing a good deed for others often blesses you ten fold. By saving the two men’s lives, Rahab saved her and gained a new home with the Israelites. Plus, she got to be a direct ancestor of Jesus. How cool is that! Great lesson about faith and doing the right thing.

Watch VIDEO of Book of Joshua if you didn’t yesterday.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions Lesson 1, Day 3: Joshua 2:1-24:

Forty years before, as the Israelites poised to take the Promised Land, the 12 spies brought back entirely different news (Numbers 13:31-33): they didn’t believe the land could be taken. Fast forward 40 years and with hand-picked reconnaissance team, these two spies come back and confidently say, Yes! The Promised Land is ours for the taking!

Theme of Joshua 2:

God honors true faith from anyone, regardless of race or religious background. Rahab, a prostitute (so someone very low on the totem pole) shows faith in God and is rewarded as Christ’s ancestor.

Image result for banks of jordan river todayRemember, the Israelites are literally standing on the banks of the Jordan River, awaiting Joshua’s command to re-take the Promised Land. He sends out spies to survey the land, not because Joshua lacks faith God will do what He says He will do, but because he’s taking action in faith by being prepared.

We aren’t told who the two spies are, but Jewish tradition – speculation, really – says they were Caleb and the High Priest Eliezer.

Joshua also shows wisdom by sending them secretly. The last spies that went out publicly turned out badly for Israel, when a majority of the spies came back with a discouraging report (Numbers 13).

Why did the spies go to a prostitute’s house? It was the perfect place to hide out.

In the culture of that day, there was a strong tradition of hospitality. If someone was a guest in your house, you had a strong duty to protect and care for them. However, Rahab went much further than the respect of cultural traditions regarding hospitality. She put her own life on the line for these men.

The Bible simply reports Rahab’s lie; it does not praise it or excuse it. Rahab’s lie is not justified, but it does show courage. Remember, she is not being held to our standards as Christians. She was a pagan in a city where morality didn’t exist and had no clue really who God was. Thus, we cannot judge her.

This surprising outburst of faith shows how God had a plan in bringing Rahab and the spies together. It is the same kind of thing we see when God supernaturally brings us to people who are believers or open to the gospel.

Rahab’s declaration that “God is God in heaven above and on the earth below” was proof of her faith. It was not strong faith, but her faith good enough to save her and her family and be remembered by Biblical writers of the day (Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25).

Note the color of the cord that ultimately saves Rahab: scarlet.  As early as the first century, commentators such as Clement of Rome, Justin Martyr, Ireneaus, and Origen saw this scarlet cord as a symbol of the blood of Jesus.

Outcome of the Spies’ Mission to Jericho

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Banks of Jordan River Today

What was the outcome of the spies’ mission to Jericho? It failed as a reconnaissance mission. The spies brought back no news of how heavily fortified the city was or how to penetrate it. Instead, all they brought back was news it could be defeated. The purpose of the mission was to encourage and fortify the people that Jericho could be taken–and that was exactly what the spies did.

The second outcome of the spies’ mission to Jericho was the salvation of Rahab and her family. God will go to great lengths to save people–to bring them to Him. Here, He saved an ancestor of Jesus.

God will save those in your life as well if you have faith and pray for them. No one is truly lost and nothing is impossible with God.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 1, Day 5: Romans 1:16-17

Summary of passage:  The gospel saves those who believe, first the Jew and then the Gentile, bringing righteousness through faith.

Questions:

12)  “It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.”  It reveals “a righteousness from God” through faith.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m never ashamed.  However, I do live a cushy life in the United States so I’m sure some of you have a very different experience.  The gospel is for everyone.  All you need is faith.

14)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  I’ve always had faith so it’s hard to me to imagine a life without God by my side. I’ve been blessed indeed.  It’s simple:  with Christ you have life.  Without him you have nothing.  For Paul, realizing that faith in Christ gets him to God changed everything.  He put Christ first.  To him, everything else is garbage.  Christ alone.  That simple.

Conclusions:  You could say this is the crux of the Christian faith, boiled down to two verses.  I love how it’s a faith that has always been there and will always be there.  Awesome!

End Notes:  Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because it is the gospel that saves.  It is power from God.  To have that power all one has to do is believe.

Greeks used here is anyone non-Jewish.

Righteousness is God treating the sinner like he’s not a sinner.  It’s a gift given to those who believe in Christ as God’s Son and Savior.  God’s righteousness, which is the state of being in a right relationship with God.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 1, Day 4: Romans 1:11-15

Summary of passage:  Paul tells the Romans how he has longed to see them for a while now but has been prevented from doing so as he has many commitments (as we all do!).  He wants to encourage them.

Questions:

9)  He wants to see the Romans to impart a spiritual gift of encouragement in their faith to them, but he has been prevented from doing do due to his other duties and the timing of God has not been right (the harvest time).

10)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Paul doesn’t forget the Romans.  He touches base with them.  He lets them know he is thinking about them and praying for them and is with them in spirit.  He tells them he is coming in God’s time.  Same with us.  We are all busy people.  But not forgetting commitments to others (and God) is important.  Trust in God to open the doors when He’s ready.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Paul was called by God to preach to all.  He embraces it and is eager to perform his duty.  What we don’t read in Acts (Acts 26:19-23) is Paul doing exactly what God tells him to do.  He obeys unquestioningly.  I would say my attitude is similar to Paul’s.  It’s just something I do ambivalently.  I do His will.  Accept it and move on.

Conclusions:  I think it is important to honor our commitment to God and to others.  Here, in this passage, I believe it’s more of an emphasis of Paul’s to the Romans.  Acknowledge people.  Don’t keep them hanging or guessing.  Be honest and open.  Tell them why it’s not a good time right now but give them a time when it is.  I think people today appreciate forth righteousness more than flimsy excuses.

End Notes:  Note how Paul says he needs encouragement from the Romans!  This is something we often forget.  Our pastors need us to pray for them and journey alongside of them in their spiritual growth.

Paul realized he had an obligation to the Romans.  Remember in history this is the time of the Pax Romana, a time of unseen economic prosperity and growth for the first time in history.  It is in such an environment that Christianity could grow without being overwhelmed by the basic needs of mankind (like food and such).  Paul felt a duty to bring the gospel to those who enabled the gospel to spread.

Greeks here then are those who followed the Greek way of life.  Non-Greeks are the other Gentiles or barbarians in the eye of the Greeks.

Paul is ready to go–with only Christ by his side.  I’m sure Paul had a vision of sailing the calm Mediterranean, taking in the smell and sun of the sea, and landing on the coast of Italy.  Instead, he came as a shipwrecked prisoner (Acts 27-28).  However, he still fulfills God’s plan for his life.

2 Lessons to us:

1)  Pray for and encourage your pastor!

2)  Embrace God’s path, not yours.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 1, Day 3: Romans 1:8-10

Summary of passage:  Paul thanks God for the Romans’ faithfulness.  He says how he prays for them constantly and he prays God will allow him to visit them.

Questions:

6)  God through Jesus.  He was grateful for the faith of the Romans.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Serving goes hand-in-hand with prayer.  Prayer should be in the forefront of all of our lives and the decisions we make.

8a)  He prays to be able to visit them by God’s will.  Paul does visit them although as a prisoner.

b)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God answers prayers and it may not be in the way we envision but it’s in His way.  I always ask.  No matter what.  If you don’t ask, God doesn’t answer (Matthew 7:7).  I pray for the impossible and expect the impossible but am not disappointed if it doesn’t happen cause it is in God’s will.  I have faith He’ll do His work through me.

Conclusions:  Great lesson on prayer and gratitude.  Paul is grateful and thankful.  He prays for the prayers answered, people, and prayers he wants answers.  Great prayer model!

End Notes:  Paul is especially grateful because of the visibility of the Roman church.  Rome remember is the most powerful place on the planet.  A strong Christian community goes a long way toward the spread of the good news.  In Rome, where the pagan Roman gods ruled, the Christians were strongly persecuted especially under Nero.  They needed Paul’s prayers!

A lesson to us:  remember to pray for your church as well!

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 1, Day 2: Romans 1:1-7

Summary of passage:  Paul greets the people of the early Roman church, identifying himself as a servant of Jesus and an apostle of God’s Word, which was promised long ago.  Jesus is the Son of God as declared by his resurrection.  Through Jesus Paul and others call the Gentiles to Jesus.  You (the early Christian church in Rome made up mostly of Jewish converts) are called to Jesus as well.

Questions:

3)  He’s “a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, and set apart for the gospel of God.”  In Acts is the story of Paul’s conversion.  Jesus appeared to him and called him to convert the Gentiles as Jesus told Ananias.  Paul preached in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God.  Paul explains to Timothy that he was the worst of sinners, but through God’s mercy and grace Paul was given the task to save sinners.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus is the Son of God and we are called to belong to him.  It is good cause we are forever granted eternal life by God’s side.  Just being a Christian is goodness defined no matter your circumstances.  Living in the dark is a terrible place to be.  Having Jesus by my side every second of every day is a blessing with no words.  In all aspects of my life, good and bad, He is good.  I am blessed beyond words.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  They are called to belong to Jesus through grace and are called to apostleship as well.  They are loved by God and called to be saints.  He offered them grace and peace.  We are all loved and called by God’s grace alone to be His.  We are also called to tell others the good news.  It reminds me I am loved and cherished and I need to show grace and mercy and Him to others.

Conclusions:  Great introduction by Paul, summing up who he is and pouring out love to the Romans.  Reading Paul’s conversion right off the bat reminds us all how Paul was the ultimate sinner until God called him.  He did terrible, terrible things and was on his way to do more terrible, terrible things when God intervened.  So there’s always hope.  For you or a loved one.  God knows.  His timing is perfect.  Trust in Him.

End Notes:  Background on the writing of Romans:  The life and ministry of Paul (previously known as Saul of Tarsus) is in Acts chapters 8 through 28, Galatians 1 and 2, and 2 Corinthians 11 and 12.

In ancient times writers put their names at the beginning of letters.  Almost all scholars agree Paul wrote Romans from the city of Corinth as he wintered there on his third missionary journey as described in Acts 20:2-3. This is based on Romans 16:1, 23 and 1 Corinthians 1:14.   The book is dated from 53 to 58 AD.

When Paul wrote the Book of Romans, he had been a Christian preacher for some 20 years. On his way to Jerusalem, he had three months in Corinth without any pressing duties. He perhaps thought this was a good time to write ahead to the Christians in Rome, a church he planned to visit after the trip to Jerusalem.

However, as Paul endeavored to go to Rome, the Holy Spirit warned him about the peril awaiting him in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10-14). What if he were unable to make it to Rome? Then he must write them a letter so comprehensive that the Christians in Rome had the gospel Paul preached, even if Paul himself were not able to visit them.

Because of all this, Romans is different than many of the other letters Paul wrote churches. Other New Testament letters focus more on the church and its challenges and problems. The Letter to the Romans focuses more on God and His great plan of redemption.

Romans 1:1-7:  Paul is first a servant of Jesus and then an apostle.  This order is important.  The Greek word used here is complete and utter devotion.  Next, Paul is an apostle or messenger of God, which means it’s God’s words, not his.

Romans is all about God.

Fun Fact:  The word “God” occurs 153 times in Romans; an average of once every 46 words – this is more frequent than any other New Testament book. In comparison, note the frequency of other words used in Romans: law (72), Christ (65), sin (48), Lord (43), and faith (40).  Romans deals with many different themes but as much as a book can be, it is a book about God.

The gospel is not new, Paul says.  It’s been around since the prophets.

Christianity centers on Jesus, who is both human and divine.  Period.

Our Lord signifies deity and God.

History of First Christian Church in Rome:  Paul had never been to Rome, and he did not found the Roman church.  Most of Paul’s letters were to churches he founded.  Acts 2:10 describes how there were people from Rome among the Jews present at the Day of Pentecost; so when they returned home, Christians needed a place to worship.  Furthermore, being the center of the known world at that time in history, Christians continually migrated to Rome from all parts of the Empire.  It shouldn’t surprise us that a church started there spontaneously, without being directly planted by an apostle.  Moreover, there is no Biblical or historical evidence that the Apostle Peter founded the church in Rome.

Even so, through mutual acquaintances or through his travels, Paul knew many of the Christians in Rome by name because he mentions them in Romans 16.  Hence, he knew two things about them and every true Christian:  they were beloved of God and saints.

The Christians became saints through the calling.  “to be” is added by translators.  All Christians are holy since they are set apart to God and have the Holy Spirit within.

This greeting is used by both Paul and Peter in all their letters.  It combines the traditional Greek greetings with Hebrew.  The greeting is echoed in the conclusions, serving as an apostolic benediction on those addressed.