BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 24, Day 3: Romans 13:1-5

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


6)  God

7)  Glorify, remember, is great honor or praise.  When we obey authority, we are showing our faith in God and His Word.  Thus, we are obeying God when we obey authority, growing our faith, which honors Him.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  He’s not.  I was brought up with police officers in my family and with a healthy respect for those in authority.  I pay my taxes.  I follow the laws.  I respect all elected leaders.  I vote.  I pray for them to lead us in God’s ways.

Conclusions:  As you can see, I didn’t get much out of these questions.  We are coming up to the end of Romans with only 4 chapters left and 6 weeks so expect more of this drawing out phase.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


BSF Study Questions John Lesson 24, Day 3: John 18:1-12

Summary of passage: Jesus and his disciples left the upper room, crossed the Kidron Valley, and stopped in an olive grove. Judas shows up with officials and soldiers armed with weapons. They ask for Jesus who declares himself. Peter drew his sword to defend Jesus and cut off the ear of a servant named Malchus. Jesus chastises Peter, telling him this is his destiny.

Jesus was arrested and bound.


6)  He does everything he can to protect his disciples.  He calls attention to himself.  He stuns everyone with his declarative power.  He asks for his disciples to go free.  He stops Peter from defending him so he can fulfill God’s plan for us.  He reminds us this is the cup/plan the Father has given him.  He submits to the soldiers, not fighting or escaping.

7)  John leaves out the entire saga of Jesus asking God for the cup to be taken from him and the disciples falling asleep in the Garden.  He leaves out Judas’ betrayal with a kiss.  He leaves out some of Jesus’ words and how the disciples fled.  He leaves out the healing of the ear.  John keeps it very simple and focuses on Jesus protecting the disciples and fulfilling God’s plan for his life and humanity.

8 )  Personal Question.  My answer:  Jesus loves us so much to suffer and die for us and I need to love him as much–or at least as much as is humanly possible here on earth.  Seeing God’s plan being fulfilled helps me to know God will fulfill His plans for my life as well.

Conclusions:  Good to read the other accounts and see the differences.  I love how all taken together gives us the whole picture of that night.  It would have been amazing to have been there!

End Notes:  The Kidron was a small stream that was the drainage from the temple, and would be reddish from the blood of thousands of Passover lambs. This would have been a vivid reminder to Jesus of His soon sacrifice.  Info on Kidron Valley HERE  Cool maps of Jesus’ last 24 hours HERE and HERE

John did not name this as the Garden of Gethsemane, but the other Gospel writers did (Matthew 26:36 and Mark 14:32). Jesus often met there with His disciples, perhaps to sleep for the night under the shelter of the olive trees or in a nearby cave. Hence, why Judas knew Jesus would be there that night and why Jesus went–so Judas could easily find him knowing he was searching for him.

John does not go into detail in the Garden, leaving that to the other apostles to do so.

Judas came with many soldiers, expecting a struggle. How he didn’t know our Lord! Jesus could have wiped them out with a word. This harkens to the Garden of Eden. Man lost that round. He would win this round!

Jesus speaks first for 2 reasons: 1) He wanted any potential violence to be directed to Him and not to His disciples. 2) Jesus wanted Judas and the detachment of troops to announce their evil intention.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am: Jesus answered them with two words in both English and in the Greek (ego eimi). He did not say, “I am he”–that was added by translators and not in the original text. Jesus was consciously proclaiming himself God, just like he did throughout his testimony on earth (John 8:58; 6:48, 8:12, 9:5, 10:9, 10:11-14, 10:36, 11:25, 14:6).

This explains why all fell back. When Jesus proclaims himself “I am” the power and presence of God overwhelms the soldiers and they are afraid. We’re talking probably upwards of 500 soldiers sent to arrest Jesus and all were petrified. Jesus could have escaped then, but he didn’t. For our sakes.

Jesus asks them again who he is in order to shock them back to reality. He repeats I am but with less force. He willingly gives himself up and asks for his disciples to go free. Sacrificial love. The show of power was to protect them as well. This was a command to let them go. He promised the Father he would protect them (John 17:12). There would be no harm to his disciples as long as Jesus was there! This was also the signal for the disciples to slip away, which they did all except Peter and John.

John is the only writer to identify Peter as the one with the sword. Peter was fulfilling his promise to protect Jesus (Matthew 26:35).

Cutting off the right ear is significant. Scholars say this meant Peter, holding the sword in his right hand, must have attacked the high priest’s servant from behind, because it would be near impossible to cut off his right ear if he was facing the servant Malchus. It is entirely possible that Peter deliberately chose a non-solider, and attacked him from behind. This was not a shining display of courage. And given the fact we know Peter is about to deny Jesus 3 times, this was probably an impulsive display that was safe for him.

Why is the servant mentioned by name here? Scholars speculate that Malchus may have eventually become a Christian and would have been known to the early Christian community at the time of this writing. This is a pattern we see throughout the rest of the Gospels and Acts.

Peter’s thoughtless action may have erupted into violence and the disciples getting hurt. Jesus stops Peter for his own good and for the disciples. And so he could die on the cross. John leaves out how Jesus healed the man’s ear (Luke 22:51).

The cup signifies suffering and the wrath of God. It came from the Father. God is in control.

The captain was a Roman and the others were Jews. Both were complicit in Jesus’ death. Jesus consented to be bound. He could break those easily.

BSF Study Questions Genesis Lesson 24, Day 3: Genesis 32:3-23

Summary of passage:   Jacob sends messengers ahead to tell Esau that he is coming.  He calls himself Esau’s servant and asks to find favor in his eyes.

The messengers return, telling Jacob that Esau is coming to meet along with 400 men. Jacob is afraid and assumes Esau will attack him so he divides his band into 2 groups in hopes if one is attacked the other group will survive.

Then Jacob prays to God, praising him and beseeching him to save him and his family from the wrath of Esau, quoting God’s promises to him.

Jacob decides to give Esau gifts of hundreds of goats, camels, and donkeys from his flocks. He told the servants to care for these animals, to go ahead of him, and to keep the animals separate.  He tells the lead servant to tell Esau that these animals are his and are a gift to him and to say that Jacob is coming behind.

Jacob’s goal was to pacify Esau with the gifts so when he finally meets up with him Esau will not harm him and receive him instead.

Jacob and his family crosses the Jabbok along with his possessions.


5a)  Verse 3 Jacob calls himself “your servant”.  Jacob calls Esau “my lord” in verse 5.  Verse 7 “in great fear and distress” Jacob divides his group.

b)  In every way.  He had to leave so Esau wouldn’t kill him for Jacob’s treachery at stealing the blessing (in Esau’s eyes.  We all know the blessing was Jacob’s) in the way he did.

6)  Before, he was merely panicked and completely being subservient, humbling himself before Esau. He was fearful and full of unbelief.  He split his camps up, afraid Esau would attack and destroy at least one of them.  Then Jacob prays and the prayer is amazing!

Then he had a plan.  He offered animals to Esau as a peace offering.  But he is coming behind the procession.  Despite the fact Jacob offers up a prayer to God, he goes right back to relying on himself, not trusting God to protect him.  If he did, he would have been at the head of the procession and his gift might not have been so extravagant as he attempts to placate Esau.  He goes right back to relying on his own self and never surrendering himself to God.

7)  Yes.  He gave 580 (assuming every camel “with their young” had a baby) animals. That’s an incredible amount.  It’s hard to picture because most farms these days don’t have that many animals.  It takes an incredible amount of land to feed that many animals. And that’s just what Jacob gave!  Can you imagine how many he had?

Plus, note a lot were female.  These are more valuable in farmer’s eyes because they can produce young.  You only need a few males to have babies.

8a)  1)  He addresses God by his titles and names (verse 9)

2)  He quotes God’s orders and promises to Him (verse 9)

3)  Jacob says he is unworthy of God’s kindness and faithfulness.  He humbles himself before the Lord (verse 10)

4)  He lists the facts for God, saying what he had before and what he had now (verse 10)

5)  Then Jacob states the reason for his prayer and what he wants God to do, which is save him (verse 11)

6)  He lists the reasons why he is asking–because he is afraid of Esau and for the people with him (verse 11)

7)  Jacob ends by repeating God’s promise to him (verse 12)

Jacob used God’s word for thanksgiving and in faith.

Note:  Jacob is not only praying for himself (although that’s the primary reason) but he also states he is fearful for the women and children in his group.  Great example of praying for others as well as yourself.

b)  Although God knows our hearts and even what we will say (even if we can’t formulate the words), God likes to hear that we understand Him, that we know Him, that we acknowledge what He has done in our lives, that we know His promises and His character, and that we desire for Him to do His work in our lives.  That what we are asking for aligns with His will and not ours.  And that we are praying for others and not just ourselves.  That we are not just praying “to get things” but to have things done in our life in accordance with His purpose and will.  That we have faith in HIM and are surrendering it all to HIM.

Of course, we have to follow through.  Our actions will prove our words once the ‘Amens’ are over.

Conclusions:  Did anyone else think Jabbok sounded like a name out of Star Wars?

I was hoping BSF would ask about the prayer model because when I read the passage, I thought to myself “Isn’t this a great example of prayer?”  It’s amazing how your thoughts change when you ponder God’s words often.

We see Jacob changing as well, praying before acting (well, almost!).  But we didn’t see the follow through that is so important to God.  It’s almost as if such a beautiful prayer is wasted.  God finally had to wrestle with Jacob to make him GET IT!  I hope I learn a bit quicker!

Great lesson and passage to sink your teeth into!

Map Work:  Seir is another name for Edom: