BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 5: Romans 2:25-29

Summary of passage:  Paul says what matters is keeping the law and what’s in your heart, not outward conformity. Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit is what matters.

Questions:

12a)  Circumcision is the cutting of the foreskin from a boy’s penis as an outward sign (sign of the covenant God gave to Abraham) that boy belongs to God.  It would show how that person belongs to God and has been chosen out of all the people on the earth for God’s plan.  Pride by definition is “the quality or state of being proud as in inordinate self-esteem or conceit.”  Pride is excessive.  We are all equal in God’s eyes.

b)  Going to church, taking communion, volunteering, mission trips, tithing, doing what Jesus would do, praying, etc.

13)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Circumcision of the heart by the Spirit (the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit within Titus 3:5).  It means God cares about what kind of person I am, how I’m following Him, and my intentions behind what I do.  I fail. We all do.  As long as my intent was out of love and kindness, God forgives.

Conclusions:  Love how Paul lays it all out and says it is about the heart and being a hypocrite will get you nowhere with God.  Faith in Jesus trumps all.  Always.  You can walk about and think you’re the best thing on this planet and you won’t get into heaven.  Instead, walk around, seeking ways to listen to God, obey God, and open your heart to others.

End Notes:  Again, in first century AD Jews believed that circumcision guaranteed salvation. He might be punished in the world to come, but could never be lost.

In Paul’s day, some Rabbis taught that God will measure the Gentiles one way and the Jews another.

Circumcision (or baptism – or any ritual in itself) doesn’t save anyone.  In the ancient world the Egyptians also circumcised their boys but it did not make them followers of the true God.  Even in Abraham’s day Ishmael (the son of the flesh) was circumcised, but it did not make him a son of the covenant.

Deuteronomy 10:16 says that it’s the heart that matters.  Another example of God’s people taking His word and twisting it to fit what they wanted it to fit.

Having the law is not enough. God requires righteousness (acting in accord with divine law), obeying His law.

This answers the question of “what about the Pygmy in Africa who has never heard about Jesus?”.  He would be guilty because no one is perfect.  He needs forgiveness for sins and only Jesus’s blood grants that.

More importantly, if you’re one of those who is concerned about the Pygmy, ask yourself this:

  1.  What about you who hear the gospel, but reject it? What excuse is there for you?
  2.  What about you, who are commanded to take the gospel to that Pygmy in Africa (Matthew 28:19), but refuse to do it?

What matters is God’s praise, not man’s (John 5:41, 44: 12:43; 1 Cor 4:3-5).  Evidence of our salvation and rightness with God is found in our hearts and we see it in the fruit we leave behind.

William Newell summarizes Romans 2 with Seven Great Principles of God’s Judgment:

– God’s judgment is according to truth (Romans 2:2)

– God’s judgment is according to accumulated guilt (Romans 2:5)

– God’s judgment is according to works (Romans 2:6)

– God’s judgment is without partiality (Romans 2:11)

– God’s judgment is according to performance, not knowledge (Romans 2:13)

– God’s judgment reaches the secrets of the heart (Romans 2:16)

– God’s judgment is according to reality, not religious profession (Romans 2:17-29)

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BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 4: Romans 2:17-24

Summary of passage:  Paul calls out Jews who are hypocritical and believe themselves above others because of their beliefs.  He asks them if they do the very things they preach against:  steal, commit adultery, worship idols, etc.  They are the ones blaspheming God’s name amongst the Gentiles because of their behavior (giving God a bad name).

Questions:

9a)  God chose the Jews as the ones to receive His law, abide by it, and teach it and in return receive blessings.  It seems they have become lackadaisical and flippant, disregarding the law themselves but expecting everyone else to abide by it.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I can be hypocritical with my kids, using the fact I’m an adult as an excuse.  I have begun to catch myself lately and reverse this however.  Work in progress, as always!

10)  Idol worship, stealing, committing adultery, and breaking God’s law.  All of us say one thing and do another at some point in some way.  Basically, every commandment God or Jesus says to do in the Bible is broken by man.  We don’t love others; we’re not kind or compassionate; we don’t care for those in need; we do steal and lie and cheat and covet and commit adultery.  We blasphemy God’s name.  We puts things above Him.  We all sin.  Luckily, Jesus forgives.

11)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God judges.  They stain Christianity and make it harder for non-Christians to come to God.  I think we all violate God’s standards cause we sin.  Our job is to shrink the number of times we sin, walking more and more towards the light, admitting our failures and faults, giving it to God, and rising tomorrow a better person.  That’s all we poor sinners can do.

Conclusions:  Good lesson, reminding us how we are being watched, how what we say and do does matter, how we do represent Christianity by default, and how God does hold us to higher standards.  If we do nothing else in this world but live to His standards, we will convert others just by our examples even without evangelizing per se.  We must diminish our desire to sin and be hypocrites and live by God’s ways.  In the end, that’s all we can do and why God is the loving, forgiving God that He is.

End Notes:  In first century AD, Jews looked upon themselves as special, chosen by God, given His law, and guaranteed salvation (as long as your heart was God’s).  This was true (before Jesus).  Once Jesus came you have to believe in Him to gain salvation.  That’s not Paul’s point, however.  His point is that this “specialness” belief has turned to boastfulness, pride, and superiority over others and is no guarantee of anything.

This presentation takes the form of a dialogue.  Paul knew how a self-righteous Jew thought, for he had been one himself (who better to speak to this?).  He cites on advantage after another that Jews regarded as unqualified assets.  But those assets became liabilities when there was no correspondence between profession and practice.  Paul applied to the Jews the principles of judgment laid out in verse 1-16.

Jesus explained in Matthew 5:19-48 that knowing the law does not justify anyone.  The law applies to both our actions and our heart.

Paul implies that some Jews may have been profiting from idolatry.

Paul reminds the Jews how God said in the Old Testament that the failure of the Jew to obey the law causes Gentiles to blaspheme God (Isaiah 52:5; Ezekiel 36:22).

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 3: Romans 5-16

Summary of passage:  When you don’t repent, you are storing up wrath on the day of judgment.  God will give to each person according to what he has done.  Eternal life, honor, peace, and glory to those who do good.  Wrath and anger, trouble and distress to evil-doers.  All will be judged.  Those who obey the law will be declared righteous on the Day of Judgment by Christ.

Questions:

6)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  God’s wrath.  Good and treasures in heaven I hope.

7a) Eternal life, honor, peace, and glory to those who do good.  Wrath and anger, trouble and distress to evil-doers.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I hope goodness.

8 )  Jesus Christ.

Conclusions:  Terse answers on the personal questions.  It’s hard to judge oneself.  In my eyes and from my limited perspective, I’m doing good.  I’m sure I’m failing though in places in God’s eyes.  The questions would better be worded, “What would a friend say about your heart attitude and storing up for God?”  Or even better if we were asked to pray about what God sees in us and have Him reveal it to us.

End Notes:  Those who condemn sinners are storing up the wrath of God, not merits.  God is the only one who can grant eternal life because none of us are good all the time.  Sin stains us.

Jews are first in line for the gospel (Romans 1:16), first in line for reward (Romans 2:10), and first in line for judgment.

The word indignation comes from the idea of “boiling up,” thus having the sense of a passionate outburst. The word wrath comes from the idea of a swelling which eventually bursts, and applies more to an anger that proceeds from one’s settled nature.

Paul is emphasizing how people are saved by faith not by deeds and if one “persists in doing good” this is proof of genuine faith.

All are equal in God’s eyes.  The word translated partiality in some translations comes from two ancient Greek words put together – to receive and face. It means to judge things on the basis of externals or preconceived notions.

“All who sin apart from the law” refers to the Gentiles.  God judges according to the light available to them.  Gentiles will not be condemned for not obeying a law they did not possess.  Their judgement will be on other grounds.

Some ancient rabbis taught that God favored the Jews.  Paul refutes this.

All that matters is if you’ve obeyed the law.  Hearing the law or knowing the law is not good enough.

Paul clarifies that even if you haven’t heard the law per se, you can be condemned unless you follow the law written on your heart (law for themselves or conscience, which is the law abiding in their hearts).  By nature, man has morals.  But this is not a substitute for God’s laws.

Your conscious is your morals but everyone’s conscious is different and it can become corrupted.  You still need to follow the law to gain righteousness.  Conscious (like God) can still be ignored.

You still will be judged since all of us have a conscious.  No one escapes.  Ignorance is not an excuse.  Jesus is the judge to whom we will all be accountable.  The Jews believe God is the one who will deliver final judgement on the world.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 3, Day 2: Romans 2:1-4

Summary of passage:  We have no right to pass judgement on others cause we do the same things (hypocrites). God judges us based on Truth and He’ll judge us as well.  His kindness leads us towards repentance.

Questions:

3)  We have no excuse to pass judgment on others because we commit the same sins.  God bases His judgement on Truth (facts).

4)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Passing judgment in condemning others for sins when that is God’s job.  We should teach God’s standards instead of judging.  Our standards in judging is different than God’s standards.  I struggle with those who do things that to me is outrageous that I’d never do.

5)  Personal Question.  My answer:  He has given me all I have including my family.  He sticks by me when I’m stubborn and do dumb things.  He waits on me to figure out how dumb I’m being.  He forgives me for that and loves me anyways.  I try to be patient with others and kind.  I try not to judge because that is God’s job.

Conclusions:  This teaching is everywhere in our folklore:  It takes one to know one.  The pot calling the kettle black.  Paul is warning us to not be hypocrites as we all sin (often it’s the same sins) and then we criticize others for it.  God will handle it.  Let it be.  You insult God by trying to do His job.

End Notes:  Paul is going to set forth principles that govern God’s judgment.  God judges according to:

  1. Truth (verse 2)
  2. Deeds (verse 6-11)
  3. Light a person has (verse 12-15)

This will lay the groundwork for Paul’s discussion of the guilt of the Jews (verses 17-29).

Having pointed out some of the worst crimes in Romans 1, Paul doesn’t excuse those who may be thinking they are better than those in Chapter 1.  Man is not so different from each other.  We are all the same:  sinners.  We all deserve God’s judgment/wrath upon us.

We should repent and not have a superior attitude.

This teaching is in accordance with Jesus’s teaching who in Matthew 7:1 condemns hypocritical judging, not judging per se.  This is a warning for Jews who were inclined to look down on the Gentiles because of their ignorance of the Old Testament and their immoral lives.

God has been good to us because He has not judged us yet.  He tolerates our present sin.  He has patience knowing we will sin again and again–every day of our lives.  These riches show God’s mercy upon us.

God’s goodness and kindness towards the wicked (and us) is to lead us to repentance.  We choose.  He doesn’t make us.  Everything He gives us we don’t deserve.  For that alone, we must repent and lead a new life in Christ.  The Jews have misconstrued this patience to be a lack of intent to judge.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 5: John 2:23-25

Summary of passage:  Many people saw Jesus’ miracles and believed in him.  However, Jesus knew the heart of all men and would not entrust himself to them.

Questions:

11a)  The disciples knew truly in their hearts who Jesus was.  The Passover believers believed with their minds and not their hearts.  They believed in the spectacular miracles, not in the person who did the miracles.

b)  Those who go through the motions of belief in Jesus but don’t actually have the heart for him.  You see this everywhere from church to work to schools to vacations and every day life events.

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus knows these are the very people who are gonna kill him later.  He also is not fooled by their half-hearted belief.  I think Jesus entrusts himself to us every day when he gives us the Holy Spirit and we are his representatives here on earth for others to see.  It is our responsibility to live the life he wants for us, to live His life.

Conclusions:  Great emphasis on the importance of true belief and the depth of Jesus’ love for Fallen mankind.

End Notes:  Superficial belief is a start and better than nothing.  However, it’s not enough for Jesus.  We must always strive to know him better and deeper.

He doesn’t put too much faith in his followers for he knows us.  He is not misled.

Isn’t it amazing how God still loves us even though he knows man?  From here on out, John tells us Jesus is letting us know he knows everything about us.  He is the One.  There can be no doubt.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 4: John 2:18-22

Summary of passage:  After the turning over the moneylenders’ tables, Jesus was asked for a sign by the Jews of his authority.  Jesus told them to destroy this temple and he would raise it again in 3 days.  The Jews thought he meant the Temple in Jerusalem but Jesus meant his body as a temple and that he would rise again in 3 days.  Only after his death was Jesus’ words understood.

Questions:

9a)  Jesus just proved he had the authority to drive the moneylenders out of the temple by doing it.  Here, the people demanded a sign, they didn’t ask for one.  Only prophets could do so; hence, they doubted Jesus as the Messiah.  The proof was in the act itself.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’ve asked for a sign in terms of making a decision but never a sign to confirm His authority over me.

10a)  Jesus points to his resurrection as proof of his authority, which the people did not understand until after the fact.    They believe he is speaking of the physical temple in Jerusalem where God dwells.  He completely ignored their request and instead offered a challenge:  Destroy me and I’ll rise again.  In essence telling them they can’t destroy him for he is God.

b)  Witnesses claimed Jesus had said, “I am able to destroy the temple of God and rebuild it in 3 days.”  Jesus actually said was if you destroy the temple (himself), he will rise again in 3 days.  They twisted the usage of the word temple and added the pronoun “I”.  Jesus would not destroy anything; the people themselves are the destroyers.

Conclusions:  Good dissection of the passage.  Not much to add except in 9a.  No one knew Jesus because this is at the beginning of his ministry.  It’s not wrong to ask for a sign nor is it rebellious.  I think Jews were genuinely confused by Jesus’ behavior, given only the magistrates had such authority to drive people from the temple.  It’s right to question those who claim they are prophets.  What went wrong here is 1) they demanded a sign instead of asked for one  2) the people missed the fact that by Jesus doing what he did (something incredible and the mere execution of it proved he had a divine commission) he had just proved himself with this miracle.  So the people are asking for a miracle on top of a miracle.  That is where the rebellion piece kicks in.  They are doubting Jesus as the Messiah.

End Notes:  Jesus claimed the power to raise Himself from the dead, and He repeated the claim in John 10:18.  The New Testament also claims that God the Father raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 6:4 and Galatians 1:1), and that the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead (Romans 1:4 and 8:11).  The resurrection of Jesus Christ was a work of each Person of the Trinity, each working together as One–The Triune God.  Cool!

Jesus purposely avoids answering the question and instead answers with another statement which he explains to his disciples is frequent in the book of John.  It’s also classic rhetoric in ancient Greek society to answer a question with a question made popular by the ancient philosophers such as Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato.

“The Scripture” the disciples believed is Psalm 16:10:  “…because you will not abandon me to the grave nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

After Jesus’ death, it became clear how the physical body is a temple when inhabited by the Holy Spirit.  We see this in Ephesians 2:19-22, 1 Peter 2:5, and 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.  Another example of how God reveals us things when He is ready, and how there are things we do not and cannot understand–only God does.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 3, Day 3: John 2:13-17

Summary of passage:  Jesus heads to Jerusalem for Passover.  He sees in the temple courts non-Jews or merchants who were not allowed in the temple selling their wares.  He freaks out, overturning their tables, scattering their money everywhere, and whipping their animals out of the temple.

Questions:

6)  Passover to remember when the Lord passed over the courses of the Israelites when they were enslaved in Egypt when he struck down the first-born of the Egyptians but not the Israelites.  The animals were there to serve as the required sacrifices every Jewish person must make to atone for their sins.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Sometimes anger is justified when God has been disrespected and his temple has been defiled.  We must stand up for God in a righteous, just, and loving way.  Furthermore, note Jesus made the whip of cords.  He thought about his actions before letting anger take over.  This was calculated and planned.  It was not a burst of passion.  This is how we should act as well–not in the heat of the moment but after the inciting incident has passed.

8a)  “Zeal for your house will consume me.”  Psalm 69:9 which reads in full:  “For zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me.”

b)  Part-personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus will come to prepare the way for the Lord, to purify the people and become the acceptable sacrifice for our sins.  The abundance of his sacrifice is immeasurable.

Conclusions:  Good lesson on justifiable anger and the consequences of blatant disobedience.  We also see the importance of being pure and clean before the Lord and gain a deeper understanding of why Jesus’ sacrifice was so very important.

End Notes:  Almost 2 1/2 million Jews descended on Jerusalem for Passover, a festival where all Jewish men were required to celebrate in Jerusalem (Exodus 12).  Think about that in ancient times.  That’s a ton of people.  With this many people in one place, it attracts those who wish to sell their services as well as some unsavory individuals hoping to make a quick buck.  The moneylenders or moneychangers were there to help Jews pay the temple tax (Exodus 30:11-16) which had to be paid in special coin.  Coins in ancient times were often clipped and made of insufficient metals designed to cheat people.  Hence, the coin had to be a certain type.  The amount was the equivalent of about 2 days wages.

You will see “Passover of the Jews” or “Jewish” used a lot by John.  This was for clarity to Gentiles reading this so they would understand the festivals.

Jesus is displaying authority with the whip, not violence here.

The temple courts was the only place Gentiles could come and worship.

Note this is a different scene than what Matthew, Mark, and Luke describe.  This is at Passover near the beginning of Jesus’ ministry.  The other time is when Jesus enters Jerusalem on the eve of his death.

We can be sure the money lenders returned after Jesus left.  However, Jesus’ point was clear:  don’t defile the house of the Lord.

First we see Jesus converting water to wine and now cleansing of the temple.  This is how Jesus works:  convert and then cleanse.