Acts 8:36

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 3: Acts 8:9-40

Summary of Acts 8:9-40:

A man named Simon had been practicing sorcery and amazing the people in Samaria.  He was boastful and loved the people’s attention.  They thought him divine.  But then Philip shows up, preaching the Good News, and performing real miracles.  So Simon follows Philip everywhere, trying to learn his secrets (not truly believing in miracles himself).

The apostles Peter and John traveled to Samaria to pray for the people to receive the Holy Spirit.  Simon, seeing this, offered to pay for the ability to give people the Holy Spirit as well.  Peter tells him to keep his money for his heart is wicked, to repent and pray for forgiveness.  Peter and John return to Jerusalem, stopping in many Samaritan towns along the way.

An angel tells Philip to follow the road to Gaza.  Along the way, he meets an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official to the Queen of Ethiopia.  He is reading the book of Isaiah.  Philip asks him if he understands and the eunuch said, “How can I unless someone explains it to me?”

He was reading Isaiah 53 where Isaiah is speaking about Jesus so Philip explained this to him.  Philip baptized the eunuch and the Spirit of the Lord whisked Philip away to Azotus where he continued preaching until he reached Caesarea.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 3: Acts 8:9-40

6) A man named Simon had been practicing sorcery and amazing the people in Samaria.  He was boastful and loved the people’s attention.  They thought him divine.  But then Philip shows up, preaching the Good News, and performing real miracles.  So Simon follows Philip everywhere, trying to learn his secrets (not truly believing in miracles himself). He followed Philip everywhere and even was baptized in Jesus’ name. Simon then saw how Peter and John were laying hands on people and giving them the Holy Spirit. Simon was impressed, so he asked them to give him this ability as well. He offered to pay for it. This is the indication that he never believed; he was only following Jesus for what Jesus could give to him and not vice versa.

Thus, I think Simon merely professed, looking still for attention. He is full of greed, manipulation, and self-aggrandizement.

7) Persoanl Question. My answer: God knows everyone’s heart. Peter calls out Simon and his hypocrisy and Simon then is worried about what will happen to him. we need more people to call out hypocrisy when they see it. One cannot deceive the Holy Spirit.  He knows your heart and your true motives.  Only those who are worthy will have the Holy Spirit within.  Those who are evil will not.  Simon was not struck down for his manipulation like Ananias and Sappira were but he was denied God’s gift.

8a) Jesus was all of those things that Isaiah describes:  pierced for our transgressions, despised and rejected by men, and crushed for our iniquities.  We, the sheep, had turned our own way so God laid on Jesus all of our sins.

b) Personal Question. My answer: My desire is what it always is: to live out God’s truth every day of my life the best I can to my abilities.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 3: Acts 8:9-40

Last go around, we had to read all of Isaiah 53 along with this passage. In the study of Isaiah, one whole week was spent on Isaiah 53, which should tell you something of its importance. You can see Isaiah’s lessons here: Click herehere, and here.

2011’s Study of Acts is here for this passage HERE

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 6, Day 3: Acts 8:9-40

Simon the Sorcerer

In the Bible sorcery is associated with occult, magical practices – and often with the taking of mind and mood altering drugs. Whatever real power Simon had, it was from Satan, not God.

i. The specific wording indicates that Simon was a magi. In the ancient world there was a class of astronomers and scientists known as magi (Matthew 2:1), but local wizards and sorcerers also took the title. They used it to prey on the ignorance and superstitions of the common people.

Up until Acts 8:13, there is nothing to indicate that Simon’s belief was false or insincere. Yet it will be tested by his conduct and response over time.

Often, the empowering and filling of the Holy Spirit is received as hands are laid on a person and prayer is offered for them (Acts 9:171 Timothy 4:142 Timothy 1:6). We should always be ready to receive whatever special graces and gifts God has to give us through the laying on of hands.

Simon the Sorcerer

Different Explanations for Why the Samaritans Had a Delay in the Holy Spirit

  • Some scholars say they were never truly born again (converted) under Philip’s preaching. When Peter and John came, they really trusted in Jesus and then received the Holy Spirit.
  • Some scholars say they were truly born again. Then, in a subsequent experience, they received the Holy Spirit in a pattern that believers should follow today.
  • Some scholars say they were converted in response to Philip’s preaching; yet God, in a unique move, withheld the gift of the Holy Spirit until Peter and John could bestow it on them. God’s purpose in this was to ensure continuity between the church in Jerusalem and the new church in Samaria, guarding against division.
  • Some scholars say they were really born again and did really receive the Holy Spirit at the time of conversion, but were given special gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit at the laying on of hands by Peter and John.
  • The best option seems to best explain what happened. Whatever the Samaritans experienced, it seems to have been more than the “regular” bestowal of the Holy Spirit at salvation. This is a filling of the Holy Spirit we should always desire and seek.

Fun Fact: Simony is the word for the sin of buying or selling church offices or privileges, because it is done in the same spirit as this Simon. This sin is sometimes practiced today; but more commonly people simply think that blessing follows money instead of money following blessing.

Simon’s Rebuke by Peter

Boice observed: “When Peter says, ‘You have no part or share in this ministry,’ it is interesting that he employs the same words Jesus used for him when Peter had objected to Jesus’ washing his feet in the Upper Room. Jesus said, ‘Unless I wash you, you have no part with me’ (John 13:8). Strong words. Still Peter was not an unbeliever; he was just out of the will of God.” (Boice)

Without doubt, Simon was headed in the wrong direction, so he needed this rebuke. We don’t know what happened to Simon, as he disappears from Scripture. We won’t know until we get to heaven if Simon ever did believe or not.

 

map of christianity

Phillip and the Ethiopian

Ethiopia in ancient times was much larger than modern-day Ethiopia. It was the land where the Queen of Sheba came from, who saw the glory of Solomon’s kingdom and professed faith in the God of Israel. It’s possible that pieces of the Jewish faith were passed on through the centuries to men like this servant of the queen. Candace was the title for certain female royalty in Ethiopia.

We can’t say if the Ethiopian found God in his visit to Jerusalem, but he certainly found the Word of God – and reading the Word of God would lead him to God.

The Ethiopian was a rich man, a man of power, and at least in some way a celebrity. Yet Philip knew he needed Jesus just a much as anyone else. We should never fear speaking to those who are considered to be important people about Jesus.

We often shrink back from speaking boldly about Jesus, and the world lets us know we shouldn’t talk about such things. But the world does not hesitate to impose its own message on us. We should be just as bold to the world about Jesus as the world is bold to us about sin.

It was common in the ancient world to read aloud. Philip knew what the Ethiopian was reading by listening as he read.

God Grants Open Doors

Philip knew at that moment that God had given him an open door, a prepared heart. Plainly, God had arranged this meeting between Philip and the Ethiopian; this is a wonderful example of how God opens doors for evangelism. God directed Philip because God had already arranged an open door.

  • One of our greatest jobs in preaching the gospel is to simply pray for open doors. Then, having prayed for open doors, we must keep alert to the opportunities God presents.

Sometimes we all need guidance to understand the Bible.

road from jeruslaem to gaza acts 8

Isaiah 53

  • Some thought the suffering servant was the nation of Israel itself, as Israel had suffered greatly in wars, exile, and persecution.
  • Some thought the suffering servant was Isaiah writing about himself.
  • Some thought the suffering servant was the Messiah, but they found this hard to accept, because they didn’t want to think of the Messiah suffering.

We really can begin at any Bible passage and find where it leads to Jesus.

Too many preachers today focus on what we must do for God, but the gospel begins with and is founded upon what God has done for us in Jesus Christ.

This shows that Philip started preaching not only to Samaritan cities, but also the Gentile cities – such as Caesarea. This is the very beginning of the gospel’s spread to the end of the earth – as Jesus commanded in Acts 1:8.

Fun Fact: Philip is the only one in the New Testament specifically given the title, “The Evangelist” (Acts 21:8). Acts 21:8  as we end this passage with him in Caesarea, doing his work of evangelism.

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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 3: Ruth 2

Image result for ruth 2

Summary of Ruth 2:

Now in Bethlehem, both Naomi and Ruth face reality: they need to eat. Ruth goes to glean grain in the fields and happens to find herself in Boaz’s fields, a relative of Naomi’s. Boaz returns from having been away (apparently unaware of Naomi’s return to Bethlehem) and notices Ruth. The foreman says she has been gathering behind them all day.

Boaz welcomes Ruth and tells her to stay in his fields. He will make sure she is treated rightly and offers her water as well. He says he is helping her because of how she is helping Naomi. She later eats a meal with Boaz as well. Boaz instructs his men to leave extra grain behind for her.

Image result for ruth 2Ruth finishes for the day, returns to Naomi with money and food, and tells of her day. Naomi realizes Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer. Ruth continues to pick up grain for the rest of the harvest season in Boaz’s fields.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 6, Day 3: Ruth 2:

6) Boaz was of the same clan as Naomi’s husband, Elimelech. He is a relative by marriage of Naomi. He displays generosity, compassion, caring, rewarding for hard work, and a heart for others by helping them. Boaz’s mother was Rahab, a foreigner from Jericho. He probably intimately understood the hardships of being a foreigner in a foreign land, especially in ancient times and had pity for Ruth. Furthermore, God commanded others to help the poor by leaving some of the grain in the field for the poor to gather (Leviticus 19:9-10 & Deuteronomy 24:19-22).

7) Land is to stay in the family according to Leviticus and redeem it if necessary to keep it in the family if sold. Deuteronomy tells us a brother must marry his brother’s widow if he dies if they don’t have a son to carry on the name and the land.

8 ) Personal Question. My answer: It makes me more compassionate for those going through rough times and inspires me to help those more who are going through rough times as well all experience. When you’re blessed, bless others.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 3: Ruth 2:

I love how neither woman wallows in self-pity nor do they play the victim. They immediately set out to work to eat. Thanks to the generosity of the land-owners, they are able to take care of themselves. It’s not easy, but they are doing it. I also like how hard work is noticed.

Read my original posting on Ruth HERE

Amazing video on the entire book of Ruth HERE

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 6, Day 3: Ruth 2:

God had rewarded Boaz during the 10 years of famine, as he was a man of wealth.

To say that Boaz was a goel (the ancient Hebrew word meaning a kinsman) was more than saying he was a relative; it was saying that he was a special family representative. He was a chieftain in the family.

How does God provide?

We see God’s amazing provision at work here in Ruth 2.

Leviticus 19:9-10 commanded farmers in Israel to not completely harvest their fields. They were commanded to “cut corners” in harvesting and always leave some behind. If they dropped a bundle of grain, they were commanded to leave it on the ground and to not pick it up.

This was one of the social assistance programs in Israel. Farmers were not to completely harvest their fields, so the poor and needy could come and glean the remains for themselvesImage result for ruth 2

This is a wonderful way of helping the poor. It commanded the farmers to have a generous heart, and it commanded the poor to be active and work for their food – and a way for them to provide for their own needs with dignity.

God guided Ruth to Boaz’s field.

Boaz’s workers loved him, and he had a good relationship with them. You can often tell the real character of a man in authority by seeing how he relates to his staff and by how they think of him.

How does Ruth distinguish herself?

  • She asked for permission to glean and she worked hard. She got noticed. She was being watched as we all are in our behaviors.

Gleaning was humiliating and sometimes dangerous work.

Boaz’s servant girls were the female field workers who tied together the cut stalks of grain. They would take good care of Ruth.

Boaz is exceedingly king to Ruth. Dipping the bread with Boaz showed favor towards her. Ruth ate and was satisfied. We eat and are satisfied in Jesus.

Gleaning among the sheaves was more generous than the command in Leviticus 19:9-10. Pulling out stalks for her was also generous and  beautiful. Boaz wanted to bless Ruth, but he didn’t want to dishonor her dignity by making her a charity case. So, he allowed some grain to fall, supposedly on accident, so that she could pick it up.

What do we learn from Ruth’s hard work?

  • This is how we glean God’s Word: work hard, stoop to gather every grain one at a time and don’t drop it. The take it home, thresh it, winnow it, and use it to nourish you.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 6, Day 3: Romans 3:27-28

Summary of passage:  A man is justified by faith, not the law.

Questions:

6)  Faith by definition according to Webster’s Dictionary is “allegiance to duty or a person; belief and trust in and loyalty to God.”  Zondervan’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary defines faith as “a true commitment of self to God, an unwavering trust in his promises, and a persistent fidelity and obedience.”

Today a lot of people have loose definitions of faith.  They say they have faith until the bad times hit and then God is thrown under the bus.  I also think people have half-hearted faith.  They lie to themselves or others when asked.  They don’t have faith in anything.  They wander through their lives, looking for something besides God.  If only they realized He is right here.  Always and forever.

7a)  Faith is believing in the unseen and taking God’s word at face value.  Faith is blind obedience.  Faith is stepping forward even though you cannot see the ground in front of you.  Faith is relinquishing control to God and believing He will keep His promises.  It’s believing the Bible as God-breathed.  It’s undeniable love.  Abel offered God a better sacrifice than his brother, Cain.  Noah built an ark and brought 2 of every animal inside.  Abraham moved an incredible distance for Ancient Times and became a father.  He offered Isaac as a sacrifice.  Joseph predicted the Exodus.  God’s people followed Moses to the Promised Land (despite hiccups along the way).  The prophets spoke God’s words despite dangers.  Rahab hid the spies.  The walls of Jericho fell.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Quit my banking job.  But I’m still not convinced I’m on the right path.  I’m restless and when I get restless I know it’s God trying to correct my path.

Conclusions:  Study of Hebrews 11 day and faith.

End Notes:  We cannot boast of anything we do for saving grace.  That is all God.  All it takes if faith, not boasting.

Martin Luther said, “Sola Fide”.  Latin for Only Faith.  That is all that is required.

James did not argue against this fact.  He was describing how works prove to others the saving faith of God for Christians are expected by God to do and be more.

Fun Fact:  When Martin Luther translated this passage, he added “alone” after “by faith”, which although was not in the original Greek (and has been taken out of modern versions of the Bible) accurately reflects this passage.

Fun Fact:  The New Testament draws all of its examples of faith from the lives of Old Testament believers and Paul rests his doctrine of faith on Habbakkah 2:4 in Romans 1:17.  Please see my collorary post on Paul’s Doctrine of Faith HERE.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 6, Day 3: John 4:35-38

Summary of passage:  Jesus tells a parable to explain what he means by his food is doing the will of God and finishing his work.  Jesus’ disciples will reap the reward of his work:  eternal life.  The reaper works now for a harvest later when in truth his harvest is now since the work is the reward.

Questions:

5)  The harvest is all of the people the disciples are trying to reach to come to Jesus.  The reapers are the workers (disciples) for the harvest (people).  The harvest is now, not in 4 months.  Wages is the reward (eternal life).  Receptive hearts of the Samaritans are the fields and the crop.  The sower is Jesus in this case, spreading the gospel to the Samaritan woman who spread it further.

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God’s Kingdom is immediate.  We can have it now and not spend our entire lives waiting to get to heaven.  There is a heaven here on earth:  it’s with Jesus as the Holy Spirit inside of us.  If we listen close enough, the rewards are endless.

Conclusions:  A difficult proverb for us westerners today since most of us have never worked in a field before.  This ties in nicely with Lesson 1.  It is God’s work and grace, not ours, that we are saved.  We do none of the work.  It is all God.

End Notes:  The common amount of time from sowing the seeds until harvest is about 4 months.  The seed has already sprung up in the hearts of the people.  Traditionally, “ripe” is translated as “white”.  Grain seeds, when ripe, turn from green to a yellow to a white color, which indicates it’s time to harvest.

Scholars use this time frame to date this to the beginning of December since Christ has just come from Passover and flipping over the money lender’s tables.

1 Corinthians 3:6-9 uses a similar field analogy with the emphasis on God making things grow.

Growing together urges unity.  All share in the joy of the crop.

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 6, Day 3: Revelation 3:11-13

Summary of passage:  Jesus is coming soon to never leave again.  Those who overcome shall have written upon him God’s name, the new Jerusalem, and Jesus’ new name.

Questions:

7a)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  Hold onto what you have.  Jesus and hope.

b)  Faith, righteousness, life (eternal), victory.

8 )  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He will make believers into pillars in the temple of my God.  Means God will reign here on earth (or in the temple of my God–in God’s kingdom if we die before the Second Coming).  Never again will he (us) leave it–meaning we will have eternal life, reigning forever with God either in heaven or here on earth.

I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.  Means all those saved will be marked with the Holy Spirit (God’s name), given a new name in Christ, and dwell in the New Jerusalem.

I will be a new person in Him and with Him always.

9)  Personal Question.  My answer:  God is in control.  He has it.  One day it will come to pass. I am His.  He is mine.  Even when the immediacy is slow and overbearing, I know in my heart I’ll have it one day.

Conclusions:  Personal Question day it seems.  I enjoyed the whole image of the pillar (see End Notes). It’s such an iconic image, which fits perfectly with Jesus.  I can only hope to stand as strong as a temple pillar.

End Notes:  “Soon” here means when it comes, it will be quick.  NOT it is coming in the immediate future.

Remember the ancient Romans and Greeks invented the pillar–the tall stone columns that support the building, mostly temples.  Every important building and temple had pillars.  Often when we see pictures of ancient ruins, what is the only thing still standing?  Pillars.  They symbolized strength, stability, and beauty.

Jesus here is saying, “Even when the world around you is crumbling, stand strong like a pillar. Stand with me.”

Philadelphia had a lot of earthquakes.  Often the people would flee the city and then come back to it once the tremors stopped.  We are to stand strong in the Lord and never flee.

Pillars were often inscribed in the ancient world much like plaques today.  It was a great honor and privilege.  The fact God would inscribe us is so beyond it’s insane.

Picture of Roman Temples with Pillars HERE and HERE

BSF Study Questions The Life of Moses Lesson 6, Day 3: Exodus 12:31-13:16

Summary of passage:  During the night Pharaoh finally told the Egyptians to leave as the Egyptians were afraid they would all die.  Pharaoh also asks to be blessed by God.  So they were given clothing, silver, and gold and journeyed on foot.  They numbered 600,000 men, along with the women, children, livestock, and others.  They were in Egypt for 430 years.

The Lord said no uncircumcised males may partake of the Passover.  It must be eaten inside with no bones broken.

Exodus 13:  God ordered every firstborn male be consecrated to him, including the animals (this would later be replaced with the Levites in Numbers).  This day must forever be commemorated with a festival and with no bread with leaven in it for the generations to come and is to be told to every generation and remembered.  Every firstborn and sacrifice will be a sign of this remembrance.

Questions:

5a)  It would devastate it.

b)  When He struck down all the firstborn in Egypt (Passover).

c)  Israel is God’s firstborn son.

d)  Personal Question.  My answer:  By following God’s purpose for my life.  Living a godly life.  Doing what Jesus would do.  Repenting.  Asking for forgiveness for others.  Praying.  Faith.

6)  “The Lord made the Egyptians favorably disposed toward the people, and they gave them what they asked for; so they plundered the Egyptians.”

7)  Non-Israelites did go with the Israelites (verse 38) and God had to make sure they believed in Him and accepted His sacrifice for their sins.  It’s just like taking communion or the Eucharist today.  It has meaning and you must accept Him in order to be cleansed just like with Jesus.

Conclusions:  Try not to gloss over this section although it’s easy to do especially after yesterday which was a doozy. It is repetitive, yes, of what happened in Exodus 12 but it’s important enough to be repeated.  Note the emphasis of how God keeps stressing over and over the importance of remembering this day and what it means to His people.  The importance of passing this on to the next generations.  The importance of obeying these ordinances forever.

We must remember the Passover in the OT is the equivalent of Jesus dying on the cross–it was that important.  It accomplished the same thing–cleansing us of our sins.  Hence, the importance of it in these passages.

I love how Pharaoh says “Go but bless me too!”.  It’s still about him, yes.  But we see he has finally accepted that God is the One, True God.  He learned the hard way.  I pray we don’t learn that way.

End Notes:  Pharaoh was finally broken when his son died.  God does whatever it takes for His will.  Always justly.

We see the importance of the unleavened bread for the Israelites had to leave NOW.

Succoth means shelters to this may not be the town of Succoth.  There was probably was an air of celebration after the haste and the people were probably over the moon.

The number 600,000 has been debated.  Some say this was about 2 million people in total who left Egypt.  Regardless, it was a lot of people to be moving all at once out of the country.

Note the magnitude of God:  to the exact day of 430 years did the Israelites leave.

If you were part of God’s people, you had to celebrate the Passover.  If you wanted in,  you had to be circumcised and celebrate Passover.

God also required the dedication of the firstborn to Him because God always requires our best and the firstborn was considered the best in Ancient Times.

Phylactery boxes began with these instructions of which priests corrupted back in Jesus’ day.  This passage is not meant to be literal.

This is the simpliest and easiest Map of Exodus I could find with Rameses and Succoth clearly marked:  http://dedicatedchristfollower.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/exodus-map.gif

Fun Fact:  “Out of Egypt” occurs 56 times from this passage in the Bible.  Important, wouldn’t you say?

BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 6, Day 3: Matthew 5:21-26; 1 John 2:7-11, 3:10-24

Summary of passages:  Matthew 5:21-26:  Jesus says if you murder you will be judged.  And if you are angry with your brother you will be judged.  Jesus says to reconcile with your brother first and then offer a gift at the altar.  Then settle matters with your enemy before you end up in court.

1 John 2:7-11, 3:10-24:  You are not in the light if you hate your brother.  If you hate your brother, you are in the darkness.  You are a child of God if you do what is right and if you love your brother.  Thus, love your brother even though the world may hate you because of it.  If you do not love, you remain in death and will have no eternal life.

Since Jesus laid down his life for us, we ought to do the same for our brothers.  We must love with actions and truth, helping those in need.  We must believe in Christ and love one another so that we live in him and he in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Questions:

5a)  Deuteronomy 5:17

b)  Jews applied it literally to anyone who physically murdered someone.  Here, Jesus says we commit murder when we do not love.  We also commit murder when we do so in our hearts.  When we are so angry towards someone, we do things to hurt them over and over again.  Thus, we need to love our brothers.

6)  Personal Question.  My answer:  1 John 3:15:  Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer and thus will not receive eternal life.  This shows us just how powerful Jesus’ command is to love one another.

7)  Personal Question.  My answer:  We should reach out to those whom we have differences with in order to reconcile those differences.  Do not grievances or anger fester.

8 )  The overarching theme is forgiveness and reconciliation.  Your disagreements imprison you.  You are a slave to hatred, contempt, anger, and bitterness that your whole life is affected to the point you are doing no good for His kingdom.  Your life becomes jaded and you are no longer able to perform God’s purpose for your life here on earth.

Talk to those whom you have differences with before it gets to the point where a judge must decide because in the end this will only cost you more.  Think of divorce settlements that go to arbitration.  Anytime you let someone else have control you give up something.  Take it upon yourselves to forgive and reconcile with people before it’s too late.  It may cost you more than money like a relationship as well.

Matthew 5:7:  “Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.”

Conclusions:  Great emphasis on the importance of love and forgiveness in our lives.  1 Corinthians 13:13:  “And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love.  But the greatest of these if love.”  The bible repeatedly talks about loving others (especially the New Testament) and it’s so easy not to in this world full of self-seekers out for themselves.

If you don’t love others, you might as well be murdering them.  That is my interpretation at least.  Nurture, forgive, and reconcile.  For life is too short to hold grudges and be a Scrooge.  Engage with others and you shall be rewarded.

End Note:  As we embark upon Jesus’ teachings, try to keep in mind Jesus is not against Moses here.  Jesus is against the Pharisees and scribes and their interpretations and limitations they placed on the law.  He is, in essence, re-establishing the law as God meant it; not as man has meant it.

We must remember that 99% of the population of the ancient world could not read.  All they knew was what they were told by the priests and they had to take that as God’s word.  Thus, the possibility for corruption was rampant here.  Hence, Jesus is now teaching them himself what God’s word truly says.  (If you are reading Killing Jesus, this is explained in much the same way on page 157).

Raca, again, another word lost in translation.  Here, it really means the attitude behind the word.  Where you are so angry at someone you despise them and wish them dead.  My study bible describes it as contempt.