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BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

Summary of James 2:1-13:

James tells believers bluntly not to show favoritism because Jesus didn’t. Favoritism is discriminating and passing judgment on others (Jesus’ job, not ours). God judges the heart, not appearances. God chose the poor to be rich in faith and yet the people (you) insult them. The rich often sin against you (the people) in their quest for money.

If you show favoritism you sin. Even if you stumble and break just one law you are guilty of breaking them all. We are not to choose which laws are more important. We are called simply to obey.

We are free to show favoritism or not but out of mercy we must choose not to for this mercy will then be shown to us on Judgment Day and mercy is greater than judgment.

BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

9) Basically when you are showing favoritism, you are discriminating against others and judging others, which is Jesus’ job. You have also insulted those whom you have not favored. You have sinned and broken the law.

10a) Similar to James’ example. By judging others on appearance, promoting people based off whether they like them rather than who’s the best for the job, and even favoring certain kids over others.

b) Then you will treat everyone the same.

11) Personal Question. My answer: He has shown me mercy in so many ways that it would take forever to recount. One, He has shown me mercy in still having a job in the coronavirus. He has shown me mercy with my intelligence, drive, and perseverance so we are financially better than others. I have a great, healthy family. That is merciful.

Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

Great lesson since not judging others by appearances and not showing favoritism is really hard in this world. Great reminders, too.

End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 28, Day 4: James 2:1-13

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James used strong words to refer to Jesus Christ: The Lord of glory. Moffatt comments: “The Christian religion [is here called] more explicitly belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the divine Glory – a striking term for Christ as the full manifestation of the divine presence and majesty. The Jews called this the shekinah.”

This is especially significant because James is widely (and properly) regarded as one of the first letters of the New Testament written (perhaps somewhere between AD 44 and 48). This means that the earliest Christians considered Jesus to be God, and said so in strong, unmistakable words.

James wrote to a very partial age, filled with prejudice and hatred based on class, ethnicity, nationality, and religious background. In the ancient world, people were routinely and permanently categorized because they were Jew or Gentile, slave or free, rich or poor, Greek or barbarian.

Jesus broke down these walls that divided humanity and brought forth one new race of mankind in Him (Ephesians 2:14-15).

In the ancient Greek, the word assembly is literally synagogue, the name of the meeting place for Jews. The fact that James calls a Christian meeting place a synagogue shows that he wrote before Gentiles were widely received into the church. At the time James wrote, most all Christians came from a Jewish heritage.

Fun Fact: This is the only place in the New Testament where an assembly of Christians is clearly called a synagogue.

“As Christians have no church-buildings at this period, their place of meeting was usually some large room in the house of a wealthy member or a hall hired for the purpose (Acts 19:9), where outsiders were free to attend the ordinary services… They were to be welcomed, but welcomed without any servility or snobbery.” (Moffatt)

“In Roman society the wealthy wore rings on their left hand in great profusion. A sign of wealth, rings were worn with great ostentation. There were even shops in Rome where rings could be rented for special occasions.” (Hiebert)

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The Dangers of Favoritism or Partiality

  • To show partiality shows that we care more for the outward appearance than we do upon the heart. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart (1 Samuel 16:7). God looks at the heart, and so should we.
  • To show partiality shows that we misunderstand who is important and blessed in the sight of God. When we assume that the rich man is more important to God or more blessed by God, we put too much value in material riches.
  • To show partiality shows a selfish streak in us. Usually we favor the rich man over the poor man because we believe we can get more from the rich man. He can do favors for us that the poor man can’t.

Since riches are an obstacle to the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24), there is a sense in which God specially blesses the poor of this world.

Remember that Judas appeared to be much better leadership material than Peter.

God also never calls for partiality against the rich. If one must judge in a dispute between a rich man and a poor man, they should let the law and the facts of the case decide the judgment instead of the economic class of those in the dispute.

Our King Jesus put special emphasis on this command (Matthew 22:36-40) from the Old Testament (Leviticus 19:18). James is reminding us that the poor man is just as much our neighbor as the rich man is.

James here guards us against a selective obedience, the sort that will pick and choose which commands of God should be obeyed and which can be safely disregarded.

The whole law must be kept if one will be justified by the law.

The mercy we show will be extended to us again on the day of judgment, and that mercy triumphs over judgment.

James is relating another principle of Jesus from the Sermon on the Mount: For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you (Matthew 7:2).

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 28, Day 5: Romans 15:30-33 with Acts 20:22-23

Summary of passages:  Romans 15:30-33:  Paul urges the Romans to pray for him, for his safety in Judea and for his service/offering to be accepted by the Jews in Jerusalem.

Acts 20:22-23:  On Paul’s journey to Jerusalem Paul knows hardships and prison await as the Holy Spirit as given him this premonition.

Questions

13)  Hardships, prison, unbelievers in Judea

14)  Prayer.  He believes in its power.

15)  He prayed to be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that his service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there so that he can come to the Roman church with joy and refreshment.

16)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  First century AD was a period of constant upheaval and wars in this region–both spiritual wars and physical wars.  God grants peace in all of this.  It’s hard to convert people to Christ when their lives are in upheavals and survival is the primary goal in mind.  When our worlds are peaceful, so are our minds and therefore our minds are more open to conversion.  Financial and peace with finding His will in my life.

Conclusions:  We all face dangers in our lives (just not so extreme as Paul’s).  What does he do?  He prays and asks others for prayer while walking through the danger, which is God’s calling for Him.  So must we.  We must pray and ask others to pray for us in all areas in our lives, especially the upheavals.  Only God can grant us peace as Paul says.

End Notes:  Sensing that danger awaited him in Jerusalem (having been warned several times as recorded in Acts 20:22-23 and Acts 21:10-14), Paul knew he needed the prayers of God’s people to see him through the difficulty promised him.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 5: John 20:24-31

Summary of passage:  Thomas who was absent the first time Jesus appeared to the disciples refused to believe Jesus had risen unless he sees Jesus.  So Jesus appears a week later in much the same manner when Thomas is present and he believes.  However, Jesus commends those who believe without seeing.

Questions:

12)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  He’s devoted to Jesus and follows him.  His faith is weak though when Jesus is not around.  He’s a skeptic but he questions honestly.  He was authentic:  he never pretended.  If he didn’t understand something, he said so.  If he felt discouraged, he acted like it.  I’m very much like Thomas–open book.  One who questions and doesn’t pretend “I’m good” when strangers ask when I’m not.  Once Thomas sees, his faith is 100%–never to leave again.  All in.  That’s me too.

13)  Jesus appearing before him.  He acknowledged Jesus as his Lord and God–the only disciple to do so.

14)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Truthfully, it hasn’t.

Conclusions:  Another weak lesson despite the fact I like Thomas.  Questioning leading to faith is the lesson here which should have been the focus of the questions instead of personalizing them.

End Notes:  “Thomas” is Aramaic and “Didymus” is Greek for twin, which could have been an epithet.  By not staying together as Jesus had said to do (John 15:17; 17:11), Thomas missed out on the first blessing of Jesus.  Hence, this recorded exchange earned Thomas the nickname “Doubting Thomas”, which is unfair to what he’ll become.  It wasn’t that he doubted; he refused to believe in the disciples’ testimony.  Thomas is slammed for this but he could be in shock still or mourning.  He was still with the disciples however.

Again, Jesus appears in the same way and says the same thing on the same day–a Sunday–evidence of the disciples gathering together on Sundays.  The doors are locked still, indicating the disciples still haven’t quite internalized the resurrection of Jesus yet.

Jesus gave Thomas what he asked for (his physical presence and proof) out of mercy and kindness.  He didn’t have to appear for Thomas’ sake but he did.  For Thomas, the implication of a risen Jesus was too great to take someone else’s word for.  Jesus orders him to stop doubting and have faith.  Despite all the previous faith Thomas had, without faith in the resurrection none of it mattered.  The same is for us.  Doubt is okay to a certain extent.  It moves us towards faith and deepens it.

Thomas quickly believes, calling Jesus Lord and God, titles Jesus does not refuse.  He calls Jesus my Lord and my God–titles of deity.  He also is not half-way in.  He’s all out (100% doubting) or all in (100% belief).  This is the high point of faith.

Fun Fact:  Thomas in fact is the only disciple that is recorded who directly addresses Jesus as God.

Scholars are divided on whether or not Thomas actually touched Jesus’ wounds.  Because Jesus points out only that Thomas has seen him that strengthens his faith, most say Thomas didn’t actually touch Jesus.  However, sight could have been what had convinced Thomas and not the physical touching.

Ironically, Jesus says those who believe without seeing are the blessed ones–that would be us!  Those who are satisfied with God’s gifts and not yearning for more.  This is another beatitude from Jesus to us.  If we demand a voice, a vision, or answers, our faith is diminished.

Some scholars say Thomas’ belief is the climax of the book of John.  Here, Jesus has conquered unbelief–more important than the miracle of sight or sorrow or sin.

Thomas’ questions led to faith because he expressed them sincerely and looked for answers.  We last see Thomas in the Bible in Acts 1:12-14 praying, waiting with the other disciples for the Holy Spirit to come.

Tradition has it Thomas went to Parthia and India to spread the Gospel.  Present-day Christians of St. Thomas of India claim spiritual descent from him and a place near Madras is called St. Thomas’s Mount.

John sums up this chapter with the whole point of the Gospels–the show the truth of Jesus’ Messiahship and to present him as the Son of God so that readers may believe in him– and to bring about faith that leads to life.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 4: John 20:19-23

Summary of passage:  Jesus appeared to the disciples as they huddled together, afraid of the Jewish authorities.  He showed them his hands and thighs and the disciples were overjoyed at seeing Jesus.  Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit and commissioned them to the world.

Questions:

9a)  He personally appears to them.  He gifts them with the Holy Spirit to guide them in his ways.  He shows them his wounds.  He blesses them with peace.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Above all, by choosing me to be a believer.  By giving me a purpose for my life and a means to achieve it through Him.

10)  He appears to Mary who clings to him physically.  He appears to the disciples and shows them his wounds physically.  Luke tells us he ate food with his disciples.  He appeared to the disciples and others over a period of 40 days and spoke of God’s kingdom.  He appeared to more than 500 of his brothers at the same time.  He appeared to James.  He appeared to Paul on the road to Damascus.  Jesus must rise again to conquer death so we can live forever with the Father.  It proves the Gnostics of the time wrong that he only died a spiritual death.

11)  Privilege:  They are the chosen ones to spread the Good News.

Authority:  Jesus personally commissioned them.

Power to accomplish the commission:  Jesus gave them the Holy Spirit to aid in their mission and peace as well.

Message:  If you forgive others, they are forgiven as Jesus has forgiven them of their sins.  If you don’t forgive them, they aren’t.

Conclusions:  Not a big fan of these questions.  Repetitive.

End Notes:  This is the same day that Mary saw Jesus at the empty tomb.  5 times Jesus appeared on Resurrection Day:

  1.  To Mary Magdalene (John 20:11-18)

2)  To the other women (Matthew 28:9-10)

3)  To the two on the road to Emmaus (Mark 16:12-13, Luke 24:13-32)

4)  To Peter (Luke 24:33-35, 1 Corinthians 15:5)

5)  To ten of the disciples, Thomas and Judas being absent (John 20:19-23)

Jesus prayed for them to stay together and they did (John 15:17)–all except Thomas, who we don’t know why he wasn’t there.

Jesus visits small groups of people (one exception in 1 Corinthians 15:6) in remote areas or closeted indoors.  By the garden tomb, in a locked room, on the road toe Emmaus, beside the Sea of Galilee, atop Mount Olives–such private encounters bolster the faith of people who already believed in Jesus.

Fun Fact:  As far as we know, not a single unbeliever sees Jesus after his death.

What would have happened if Jesus made a public spectacle and appeared before Pilate?  Would it have bolstered faith?  Jesus tells us no.  “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even is someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

Jesus appeared amongst them despite the locked doors.  Jesus did not rebuke his disciples for abandoning him at the cross.  Instead, he told them “peace” or all is well.  Jesus revealed himself and invited all present to touch him to prove he’s real (Luke 24:39-40).  Jesus came for us.  He was also calming the disciples at his sudden appearance.

Jesus commissions them to do his work on earth such as he prayed in John 17:18.  Luke tells us there are others there besides the disciples.  Jesus sends them as well!  We are sent in the same way–for Jesus!

Jesus gives the disciples the Holy Spirit as their guide, John purposefully connecting this with Genesis, saying Jesus breathed on them.  Cool!  I want Jesus to breathe on me!  This is re-creation or born again.  This is Jesus’ spirit as well.

This also creates the duty of the church to forgive and warn of the consequences of unforgiveness.  We are the messengers, announcing forgiveness according to God’s word.  In essence, if you repent of your sins and believe in Jesus as our Lord and Savior, you will receive God’s forgiveness.

BSF Study Questions John Lesson 28, Day 2: John 20:1-10

Summary of passage:  Mary Magdalene went to Jesus’ tomb and saw the stone to the entrance had been moved.  She ran and told Peter and John who came running to the tomb.  John got there first and looked in and saw no body.  Peter went in and saw the strips of linen lying there and the burial cloth, folded up separate.  John followed inside.  They left and still did not get it that Jesus had risen!

Questions:

3a)  John was the cautious one.  He had to stop and think.  Peter the reckless, impulsive, more courageous one.

b)  Personal Question.  My answer:  I’m unsure I expect anything of Jesus.  I hope for things–for him to work in my life and provide me the way and the strength to do His will–but I don’t think I expect anything from him.  His death was enough for me.  I’m in bible study to draw closer to God and Jesus.  Period.

4)  John saw the strips of linen and the burial cloth folded up separate from one another.  This wouldn’t have been done by tomb robbers who would have ripped the cloth and thrown it haphazardly about.

5)  Part personal Question.  My answer:  If Jesus doesn’t rise from the grave, none of us will rise either.  He was raised so we’d be justified before God and spend all of eternity together with Him.  Furthermore, it was in Scripture and thus the will of God.  It has made all the difference.

Conclusions:  Stock answer to “difference in life” question we’ve had many times in this study.  I think they saw and believed but still didn’t get it.  The Holy Spirit has yet to descend on them.  I believe this is where all the disciples finally get it.

End Notes:  Mary Magdalene was the first person to see Jesus risen from the dead and spread the word.  All we know about her was she came from Magdala, a city on the Sea of Galilee and Jesus drove 7 demons from her.  Afterwards, she dedicated her life to him and helped finance his ministry.  She was there at the crucifixion and went faithfully to care for his body.  As a second class citizen in ancient times, God chose her to be the first to witness Jesus’ work fulfilled.  Imagine:  Jewish courts did not even accept women’s testimony.  Take that, mankind!

Fun Fact:  Mary Magdalene is mentioned more often than most of the other believing women, and usually first.

Jesus was crucified on a Friday (or some say Thursday).  Afterwards, the tomb was guarded (Matthew 27:62-66) until today.  Other Gospel accounts say Mary was not the only woman to go to Jesus’ tomb.  She was just the one to run back and report her findings.  The women were probably going back to finish burial rites.  She immediately thinks the body is stolen.  No one was expecting a risen Jesus!

John was humble enough not to mention his name but prideful enough to say he outran Peter!  Peter is in his mid-40-50’s and John is in his mid-20’s.  Obviously, he outran Peter.

The Greek work blepei meant “seeing clearly.”  There was no doubt what John saw.  However, he didn’t enter either presuming the body was there since he saw the wrappings or out of fear of defilement of touching a dead body.  A rich man’s tomb would have been big enough to walk into but probably with some stooping.

Peter saw (Greek theorei meaning contemplate and scrutinize) the cloths as if the body has evaporated.  Remember the linens were lathered with ointments, aloes, and spices.  They would have hardened and would have had to have been cut off the body.  Think ancient Egyptian mummies and Howard Carter and King Tut.  The point here is something inhuman was at work here.

Some scholars point to the Shroud of Turin here.  However, would God allow the wrappings to be preserved so it could be worshipped?

John then saw (the Greek word eiden meaning, “to understand, to perceive the significance of”) and then believed.  The distinctive arrangement of the burial wrappings convinced him.  Note that John believed here but Peter did not.  He would not until he met the resurrected Jesus.  John believed on faith with his eyes only.  It is obvious they did not make up a story of a resurrection to fit  preconceived understanding of Scriptural prophecy when it was written about later.

Both Peter and John know the fact Jesus rose again.  They don’t understand the meaning behind it yet.  That Jesus is the Son of the One, True God.  That he died sinless for our sins so we can rise again and be with God.  It proves the gnostics of the day wrong that God does have a plan for our bodies, which is sacred (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

BSF Study Questions Revelation Lesson 28, Day 5: Various Passages for the Day

Summary of passages:  Various passages for the day.

Questions:

10)  Matthew 28:19-20:  “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”

(We had this EXACT SAME passage and question in Lesson 19 Day 3.  My answer hasn’t changed and neither has the passage.)

It challenges me to spread the word.  Duh.

John 13:31-36:  “Love one another.  As I have loved you, so you much love one another.”

It challenges me to love others.  Duh.

1 Thessalonians 5:16-22:  “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; do not treat prophecies with contempt.  Test everything.  Hold on to the good.  Avoid every kind of evil.”

This challenges me to remember my blessings, be grateful for all I have, to pray more, to be happy, to remember this is the life God has granted me, to challenge what I hear as Truth and see if it lines up with the Word, to hold onto God (the good), and to avoid evil.

Hebrews 12:28:  “Let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.”

This challenges me to be more worshipful.  I’m wondering what acceptably means here.  I don’t like it for it’s too subjective.  Your acceptable might not be my acceptable.

1 Peter 1:13-16; 2 Peter 3:10-14:  “Prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.  Do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  Be holy in all you do.”  “You ought to live holy and godly lives and look forward to a new heaven and a new earth.”

This challenges me to be more like Jesus and be holy and not be like the world around me.

11)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Be more like Jesus.  Every day.  Love others.  Do His will more.

Similar question:  Lesson 24 Day 5

Conclusions:  We’ve had question 10 before.  My attitude is so poor as you can tell.  I hope yours isn’t as bad as mine.

Conclusions to Lesson 28:  Complete and total filler lesson.  All were personal questions except for question 8 on day 4 (the only good question in my opinion).  All were ones we’ve had before on topics beaten to death.  Weak.  Can we just finish Revelation please?