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.

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BSF Study Questions John Lesson 29, Day 2: John 21:1-14

Summary of passage:  While on an unsuccessful fishing trip, the disciples saw Jesus again.  He told them where to cast their net for fish.  John recognizes Jesus and impulsive Peter swims to him.  They all have a fish bake for breakfast on the shore, celebrating the 3rd time Jesus appeared to them.

Questions:

3)  John recognizes Jesus.  Peter is impulsive and enthusiastic.  Peter perhaps doesn’t want John to beat him again to Jesus like at the tomb so he throws himself overboard.  Or perhaps he thought he’d walk on water.  Peter is competitive.  Jesus’ power is unlimited and he uses it for specific purposes–here to encourage and fellowship.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus shows up when the disciples are discouraged on an unsuccessful fishing trip.  He provides them food when they need it.  Jesus meets their every day needs daily.  All of them do.  Jesus is there always in my little moments, which frequently are the moments I need him most.  He provides.  He encourages.  He walks with me and has breakfast and coffee!  Great stuff!

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Encourages me to always seek and ask him.

Conclusions:  I love this fish bake!  Jesus is amazing, isn’t he?  He cares about us in the daily struggles of life as much as he cares about our spiritual health.  He encourages us when we are discouraged and seeks to fellowship with us.  Jesus can have a cup of coffee with you.  Make a cup and open his word and he’ll speak!

This is my favorite scene in the whole book of John.  You can just see the enthusiasm of Peter as he jumps in the sea to swim to his Lord.  He’s gotta be on cloud 9.  This is a moment of pure pleasure and relaxation for all of them as they refuel in preparation for a hard road ahead.  I love how Jesus gives us these moments in our lives of pure fun to recharge before the grind of His work.  All are sitting around the fire, enjoying an incredible meal in fellowship.  Encouraging one another.  Laughing.  Having a good time.  Telling stories.  Great, great life stuff!

End Notes:  Now the disciples are back in Galilee near the Sea of Tiberias.  Peter’s name is listed first again amongst the 7 disciples there.  2 were unnamed and scholars say these represent the majority of the saints whose works do go unrecognized except by Jesus.

Jesus told them to return to Galilee in Matthew 28:7, 10.  Previously, the disciples had their food provided for them by donors of followers of Jesus.  Now, they must return to their previous occupation to earn a living.  This could also show their uncertainty as to their next move so they retreated to what they knew best (fishing) while awaiting clarity from prayer.

Perhaps it was hard to see Jesus on the shore so they didn’t recognize him.  It could have been foggy or too far.

“Friends” would better be translated “lads”.  The Greek word is a common greeting.

Jesus’ request was small and strange but still a test of faith in stranger’s fishing advice.  He rewards workers.

This story shows us the results of activity with Divine guidance and without.

The word for garment is the only time it appears in the New Testament.  Jews regarded a greeting as a religious act that could be done only when one was clothed.  Peter was preparing himself to greet the Lord.

Jesus is a servant again, having food already prepared for his disciples.  Peter drags up a net probably weighing close to 300 pounds by himself, the exactitude of the numbers is eyewitness detail.

Scholars have debated what the number 153 means.  However, it’s just a number.  Be wary of those trying to find hidden meanings in God’s word.

Jesus probably appeared different since John writes how none questioned Jesus’ identity.  Perhaps his scars never went away.  Jesus eats with them and fellowships with them.

This is the 3rd time John has recorded Jesus’ appearance after the resurrection to the group of disciples–not the 3rd time in order Jesus has appeared.

The Apostle Peter (taken from Zondervan Illustrated Bible Dictionary by JD Douglas and Merrill C Tenney):  “The personality of Peter is one of the most vividly drawn and charming in the New Testament.  His sheer humanness has made him one of the most beloved and winsome members of the apostolic band.  He was eager, impulsive, energetic, self-confident, aggressive, and daring, but also unstable, fickle, weak, and cowardly.  He was guided more by quick impulse than logical reasoning, and he readily swayed from one extreme to the other.  He was preeminently a man of action.  His life exhibits the defects of his character as well as his tremendous capacities for good.  He was forward and often rash, liable to instability and inconsistency, but his love for and associations with Christ molded him into a man of stability, humility, and courageous service for God.  In the power of the Holy Spirit eh became one of the noble pillars of the church (Galatians 2:9).”

And to think:  Jesus chose one such as him.  And he chose one such as you and I.  Despite our character flaws, God has great plans for us.  We merely have to believe in ourselves and in our Lord.  We can’t do it on our own.  Only God can.

Peter recedes into the background after Jesus’ resurrection, almost unheard of until his letters from Rome.  Tradition asserts that Peter went to Rome, labored there and was crucified there under the Emperor Nero.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 29, Day 2: Revelation 22:6-11

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming and John falls at the feet of the angel to worship it (he did this in Revelation 19:10).  The angel told John to tell others of what he has seen and heard and to let them continue to do wrong or good as they are doing.

Questions:

3a)  God/Jesus/Holy Spirit says it’s true.  Furthermore, there are 3 witnesses to John’s testimony:  the angel, John himself, and Jesus, which was the legal requirement in ancient times for a trial (Deuteronomy 17:6; John 5:31-32).

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  All Scripture is God-breathed (2 Timothy 3:16), given to man through prophets or people as a gift from God.

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Prophecy gives us a word to keep, not merely material for interesting discussions and debates. The main purpose of prophecy is to lead us to trust and obey God, and apply His truth to the way we live.  Obviously, if we trust and obey God more, we live God’s life more, and we are further blessed.  As my faith grows, my life is better.  I was asked over the the weekend at church to name a time when I’ve been completely blessed in my life and one of my answers was now.  I am feeling truly happy, content, and blessed with God and my life.  And I think it’s because of my strengthened faith in Him.

5a)  He said to worship God alone not fellow servants or prophets.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Not for sure if I worship anything other than God.  I am prideful sometimes and put credence in things I shouldn’t but worship (definition: to honor or reverence as a divine being or supernatural power) is a strong word.  God is at my center.  He gets all the credit.  Pray all the time.  Stay in His word as much as possible.  Do His will in my life.

Conclusions:  Saw 3b before.  Good lesson on the truth of the Bible and how we are blessed by knowing prophecy and we grow in trust in Him.  The more we know, the more we grow!

End Notes:  Revelation opens with an angel and ends with one.

“Soon” in the Greek connotes suddenly to us.  Jesus will come suddenly and in his time.  We are to ready always.

No created being is ever to be worshiped.  Angels are servants of God who minister to us (Hebrews 1:13-14).

Revelation is in contrast to Daniel 8:26; 12:4 where Daniel is told to seal up his visions about the future.  Now is the time, the angel says.  Daniel was hundreds of years before Revelation.

The angel says there will be no more time to change when Jesus comes.  The wicked will still be wicked, the good still good.  Second (and third and fourth, etc) chances are over.  Furthermore, those doing wrong will have hardened hearts and will not heed the book of Revelation (Daniel 12:10).  Those with God’s heart will be affected and shall continue to do good.

This is encouragement to us who pray for the lost and the lost loved ones we know.  There is nothing we can do but share with an open and loving heart.  God will do the rest.  And if they don’t convert, that is no fault of ours.  It is their responsibility to let God into their hearts, not ours.

Here we see the 6th Beatitude of Revelation.

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 29, Day 2: Deuteronomy 33:1-5

Summary of passage:  Moses blesses the Israelites before dying.  He says God loves them and is with them.  The people bow before Him and receive the law.

Questions:

3)  Personal Question.  My answer:  My friend because through the tough times she still gives God the glory.

4a)  He came, dawned, and shone forth.  He loves the people.  They bow down.  He teaches them.  He is king.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He is king, Lord of all.  He is with you.  He teaches you.  He loves you.  He is always there.

Conclusions:  Didn’t see the point to this lesson with only one factual question.  What I got out of it was from the commentary I read online.  The questions did nothing to further my knowledge of this passage.

End Notes:  This reflects Jacob’s blessings on his 12 sons in Genesis 49.  Scholars believe since Moses was the one who recorded Jacob’s blessing that he modeled his blessing of the 12 tribes (note how instead of 12 individuals we have 12 groups from those individuals) after Jacob’s.

Verses 1-5 of this blessing speaks of the glorious majesty of God.

Note how “the man of God” is in the third person tense.  This indicates that Moses did not record this blessing.  Scholars believe Moses’s writing stops at Deuteronomy 31.

Note how also “the people” does not include the Gentiles.  The Gentiles are not extended an olive branch until Jesus comes.  Every time we read “people” in the Old Testament, it is the Israelites, God’s first chosen people.

Moses does address himself in the third person in verse 4 (this part is quoted)–very unusual in the Hebrew language.

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 29, Day 2: Matthew 28:1-15

Summary of passage:  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to Jesus’ tomb after the Sabbath at dawn.  An angel of the Lord came down from heaven and rolled the stone back.  He appeared like lightning in all white.  The guards were afraid of him and fainted.

The angel told the women to not be afraid and that Jesus has risen.  Come and see and then go and tell the disciples that Jesus is in Galilee.  The women did as told and on the way Jesus met them.  They worshipped him and Jesus told the women the same message as the angels said.

The guards went into Jerusalem and told the chief priests what had happened.  The chief priests and elders bribed the guards to say that the disciples had come and stolen Jesus’ body and they would keep the soldiers from getting into trouble because of it.  The soldiers agreed.

Questions:

3a)  Three days after he was crucified on the Sabbath.  Mark 16:1 says when the Sabbath was over.  Luke and John both say the women arrived early on the first day of the week.

b)  Mary Magdalene and the other Mary.  Mark 16:1 says Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of Jesus and Salome.  Luke does not name them until verse 10, saying Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and others.  John just mentions Mary Magdalene.

c)  Jesus had already risen.

4a)  A violent earthquake had accompanied the angel.  His appearance was like lightning and he single-handedly opened the tomb.  Mark tells us that the tomb was already open and a young man dressed in a white robe was sitting in Jesus tomb.  They were afraid as well because Jesus’ body was missing.  Luke says that two men in clothes gleaming like lightning suddenly appeared beside the women in the tomb that had already been opened.  John says Mary Magdalene saw tow angels in the tomb seated where Jesus’ body had been.  She was crying and then Jesus himself appears to her.

[Fear is a natural human response to supernatural events and things the mind cannot comprehend nor understand.]

b)  They came to him, clasped his feet, and worshiped him.  The other gospels’ versions are too different here to compare.

c)  The same thing the angels told them to do:  “Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”  The other gospels’ versions are too different to compare.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  With Jesus, fear is masked by a hope and a knowledge of what is to come.  Everyone is afraid at times in their life especially as children since there is just so much we do not know yet.  We are afraid of people, of evil, of bad things happening, of death of ourselves or of loved ones, of the unknown, of circumstances that spiral out of control, etc.  But with Jesus we can be calm as the storm swirls around us and find comfort in him.

With the Holy Spirit, he is always present within so we don’t have to be alone when frightful things happen in this world.  Pray and he will be there–always.

5a)  Jesus’ friends:  With joy and worship.

The guards:  With fear.

The Jewish leaders:  With fear and denial and deception.

The Jewish people:  Not told in Matthew.  Luke leads us to believe confusion.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  The disciples didn’t understand themselves Jesus’ death and purpose yet so how could they invent such a story of resurrection?  Also, they doubted as well what they had seen until Jesus himself appeared to them.  Furthermore, they had no motivation to invent such a story.  They would only be persecuted more for saying such a thing.  Why bring that upon themselves?

Conclusions:  A better question for 5b would have been “Which group in part A could you identify with and how do you respond to Jesus’ Resurrection?”  Overall, liked this lesson.  Interesting how again the story and the details vary amongst the disciples.  Love how the priests are still trying to be in control of earthly events and to maintain their power.  But money cannot hide the Truth.

End Notes:  The women were headed to properly embalm and care for Jesus’ body.  Jewish law strictly forbade handling dead bodies during the Sabbath and since he died during a Sabbath celebration they had to wait for its conclusion.

Matthew is the only one who notes the earthquake.  The earth shook at Jesus’ death and at the announcement of his resurrection.

Jesus is the first one recorded in the Bible to be resurrected with a new body.  He is still resurrected in heaven.

Jesus had already left the tomb when the angel appeared.  The only reason the stone was rolled away was for the benefit of the witnesses to testify that Jesus was not there.  Note how it’s the same people who watched Jesus’ body being placed in the tomb who witnessed to its being gone.  This proves the truth of their words.

Jesus’ resurrection proved that he had paid our sins with the Father and that it was accepted.

If you are running towards Christ, it is likely he will meet you.  If you are moving slowly, there is more chance of failure along the way.  So run to him!

Historically speaking, there is more evidence for Christ’s resurrection than most other events in history.  Doubters are those like the priests:  they know the truth but reject it.  And for that they will pay the price.

Fun Fact:  This is the first time Jesus calls his disciples “Brothers”.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 29, Day 2: Genesis 46:1-4

Summary of passage:  Israel/Jacob set out with all of his household and belongings for Egypt.  At Beersheba he offered sacrifices to God.  There God spoke to him, reassuring him to go to Egypt.

Questions:

3a)  Because last time God spoke to Jacob (Genesis 35:1), God had told him to go to Bethel, the Promised Land. Jacob may have had doubts if he was following God’s will or not to go to Egypt and as BSF pointed out in Genesis 26:2, God had previously said not to go to Egypt.  God was reassuring Jacob that this was His plan.

b)  Genesis 26:2 & 46:3:  God tells us where to go.

Proverbs 3:5-6:  God will guide you if you trust and know Him and His ways with all your heart.

James 1:5-7:  Ask God for what you desire and it will be given.  But you must believe and not doubt that it will be so and that God will accomplish it.

4a)  God will make Jacob into a great nation in Egypt.  God will go to Egypt with Jacob. God will bring Jacob back again.  Joseph’s own hand will close his eyes.

b)  Exodus 1:7 says how the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied and filled the land. God was with them in Egypt (Exodus 1:20; 3:8).  God commissions Moses to bring the Israelites back (Exodus 3:10; 6:8) and God will be with him (Exodus 3:12).  Exodus 12 is the Exodus from Egypt. Genesis 50:1 has Joseph throwing himself upon Jacob when he died and crying and kissing him so presumably he closed his eyes since that is what one normally does when one dies.

Conclusions:  Short and sweet.  Wish the rest of Genesis would be this way cause I don’t know about you but I’m ready to be done with this study.  It has definitely been a long one this year it seems.

Beersheba was one of the last towns in the Promised Land before reaching Egypt.  Many events have taken place in Beersheba in Genesis here with God so it probably held special significance as well to Jacob (Genesis 21:22; 21:33; 26:24-25; 22:19).

Jacob could also have been hesitant to go to Egypt because of the evil it brought upon Abraham with Hagar and Sarah.

I like the emphasis on prophecy being fulfilled.  Great example of how God is faithful to us always.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 29, Day 2: 1 Peter 3:1-7

Summary of passage:  Peter tells wives to submit to husbands in the same manner Christ submitted to God’s will so that the husband may be converted by her behavior and how she leads her life.  Women’s beauty should not come from outward adornment but from within, which never fades and is of greater word in God’s eyes.  Sarah submitted and was beautiful as she put her hope in God.  Do what is right and never fear.

Husbands be considerate and respect your wives who are weaker and heirs to God’s gracious gift of life so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

Questions:

3a)  In the same way Christ was submissive as Peter talked about in 1 Peter 2:21-25:  submissive to authority (God and government).

b)  So that if their husbands do not believe, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives. At this time in history, many women were being converted to Christianity before their husbands and the women wanted to know if they should leave their husband and how they should behave now that Christ was their head.

c)  No.  It means if you rely on outward beauty (such as braiding hair and wearing jewelry) for your beauty instead of allowing your beauty to come from the inside.  The source of beauty is from the heart.

Again, in these times, many women dyed their hair (much like today) and wigs were popular. Women would spend hours having slaves do their hair as certain hair styles were very popular back then (much like today).  It was important to be “cool” even in Ancient Times, meaning to be fashionable and trendy.

Other translations of this verse use the word merely.  If you read it this way, it makes perfect sense.

4)  Physically women are weaker.  God made us that way.  Husbands needed to be stronger to toil long hours in the field doing manual labor.  Women, on the other hand, stayed in the home where she needed much less brute strength generally.  Husbands should respect their wives because they are heirs with them of the gracious gift of life or part of God’s chosen people as well, equal spiritually.

Conclusions:  This echoes Paul’s words to the Ephesians (Ephesians 5:22-33) with the same message of submitting because God is our head.  I liked how Peter brings out not to fall into the trap of relying on physical beauty as so many women of today (and then) did. Great reminder and teaching (especially to our younger generation) of God’s truth and not the world’s lie that the heart is what matters to God, not the latest fashion trends.