BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 13, Day 2: 1 Samuel 21 and Psalm 34

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Summary 1 Samuel 21:

David, now on the run, goes to Nob to the priest Ahimelech, asking for bread. He lies to obtain it since all the priestsImage result for 1 samuel 21 had was consecrated bread, which is bread reserved for the priests. But David is desperate. He is given the sword he killed Goliath with by the priest as well. One of Saul’s servants saw David at the priest’s place (which would later cost the priest his life).

David, desperate, flees to Achish, king of Gaul, who has heard of David. David pretends to be insane in order to stay.

Summary Psalm 34:

Written when David was with Achish and pretending to be insane, David is praising God for delivering him from evil, saving him from troubles, blessing him, and keeping him from want. David advises us to do good, seek peace, and don’t tell lies. He hears our cries and delivers us. He slays the wicked. He protects us and heals us.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 13, Day 2: 1 Samuel 21 and Psalm 34:

3) David is desperate, so he lies to the priest. God is always present, and Jesus as well.

4) The fact that they knew who he was. Word might get out to Saul where he was hiding. David pretended to be insane in order to stay. Psalm 56 tells us that the Philistines captured David and have no intentions of letting go the man who killed Goliath.

5a) David is grateful to God for taking care of him and providing all that he needs. He knows God will punish those who pursue him and do evil.

b) Personal Question. My answer: David is very positive and confident in God as he is on the run. He knows God is taking care of him and in His time, all will be as it is supposed to be. This is encouraging to stay upbeat and know God is in control and to let Him be in control.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 13, Day 2: 1 Samuel 21 and Psalm 34:

Unimpressed with the questions. I just felt they were cursory to say the least.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 13, Day 2: 1 Samuel 21 and Psalm 34:

Commentary 1 Samuel 21:

David flees to the right place — a priest. The priest, however, is confused on why such a prominent person would be alone. David lies about his situation, which he will regret later (1 Samuel 22:22).

Many of us would have lied in the same circumstances; but that does not excuse it.

What is holy bread?

The tabernacle of the Lord had a table that held twelve loaves of bread, symbolizing God’s continual fellowship with Israel.

  • Literally, consecrated bread means showbread or “bread of faces.” It is bread associated with and to be eaten Image result for 1 samuel 21before the face of God. F.B. Meyer calls the showbread“presence-bread.” To eat the showbread was to eat God’s bread in God’s house as a friend and a guest of the Lord, enjoying His hospitality. In that culture eating together formed a bond of friendship that was permanent and sacred.
  • The bread was always to be fresh. David receives the leftovers.
  • One must be clean to eat the holy bread.
  • It was to be eaten by the priests: And it shall be for Aaron and his sons, and they shall eat it in a holy place (Leviticus 24:9).

Why did the priest give the bread to David?

  • The priest understood human need was greater than customs, as Jesus pointed out in Matthew 12:1-8

POWERFUL LESSON FOR US:

We cannot add to God’s word. God never said the bread was “only” for priests. Human traditions are never more important than God’s word itself, but we must never elevate our extension or application of God’s Word to the same level as God’s word itself.

Doeg the Edomite: The word translated chief means mighty but can also be used to mean violent or obstinate. Doeg will show himself to be a violent and obstinate man. We shall meet him again.

David continues in his lies to get his sword. It appears David is now trusting in weapons over faith in God, as shown by his continued lies. To us, God’s word should be our “give it to me” cry.

Why did David flee to Gath?

David’s next move is confounding. David is now among the Philistines. He must be discouraged or deceived to think he could find peaceful refuge among these enemies of Israel.

  • It didn’t make sense for the man who carried Goliath’s sword to go to Goliath’s hometown (1 Samuel 17:4). It didn’t make sense for the man who was sustained by the sacred bread of God to find refuge among the pagans. It didn’t make sense for the man after God’s own heart to lie.

The Philistines of Gath recognized David as the king of the land of Israel. These ungodly men understood David’s destiny better than King Saul. Here, we see the price of fame (1 Samuel 18:6-7).

David is captured by the Philistines as Psalm 56 tells us.David thought he could find anonymity or sympathy among the ungodly Philistines in Gath and disappear, but he was wrong. Psalm 56 describes David’s journey from fear to praising as a prisoner in Gath.

Psalm 56 shows that David turned back to the Lord here. Hence, the slide that had started since he left Jonathan to now stops. Saul never turned back on his path.

Why did David act like a madman?

Basically, David humiliated himself before the Philistines. The saliva on the beard was a sign of madness because men in that culture would consider this something only a man out of his right mind would allow.

David’s plan worked. Achish decided that this wasn’t David after all, or if it was he was such a pathetic specimen that he may as well let him go.

Was David walking in the Spirit or in the flesh when he pretended madness?

Some commentators believe that David was in the flesh and trusting in himself. But the change of Psalm 56 happened before David’s escape, and it made sense that the Lord would guide David into a path of escape that would humble him. When David tried to protect himself with lies and tried to find refuge among the ungodly, he really was acting crazy. Trusting in God was the only sane thing to do.

Commentary Psalm 34:

Psalm 34 is David’s declaration of joy when he escaped from Gath with his life. The title of Psalm 34 reads, A Psalm of David when he pretended madness before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he departed. Abimelech was probably a title given to rulers among the Philistines; the ruler’s proper name was Achish (1 Samuel 21:20).

A fugitive from Saul, David went to the Philistine city of Gath but found no refuge there and narrowly escaped (1 Samuel 21:10-22:1). Following that, David went to Adullam Cave where many desperate men joined him. This joyful and wise Psalm seems to have been written from that cave, and sung in the presence of those men.

The structure of this Psalm is acrostic, or nearly so. Each verse begins with another letter of the Hebrew alphabet, except for the letter waw. The purpose in this Psalm mainly seems to be as a device used to encourage learning and memorization.

Psalm 34 begins beautifully (Psalm 34:1-4) as David is full of gratitude to God who got him out of a mess he himself created.

Take away from 1 Samuel 21 and Psalm 34:

  • God’s amazing goodness is shown when He delivers us when we don’t really deserve it.

David was hiding in his heart from God. Paul, in his great passage on boasting, may have remembered this saying and this episode, and so recalled his own ignominious escape from another foreign king (2 Corinthians 11:30-33.

Glorify is magnify in Hebrew. David knew there was something magnetic about the true praise of God. When one genuinely praises God, he or she wants to draw others into the practice of praise.

Magnify means to make Him larger in one’s perception. Magnification does not actually make an object bigger, and we can’t make God bigger. But to magnify something or someone is to perceive it as bigger, and we must do that regarding God.

Keys to praying:

  1. David sought the Lord
  2. The Lord heard David
  3. The Lord delivered David

Commentators are divided as to if David sinned when he feigned madness among the Philistines or if he was obedient and guided by God.

“The more we can think upon our Lord, and the less upon ourselves, the better. Looking to him, as he is seated upon the right hand of the throne of God, will keep our heads, and especially our hearts, steady when going through the deep waters of affliction.” (Smith, cited in Spurgeon)

The idea is that they draw something from God’s own glory and radiance. Later, the Apostle Paul would explain much the same thought: But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. (2 Corinthians 3:18) This radiance is some evidence that one has truly looked to Him.

Radiant is a word found again in Isaiah 60:5, where it describes a mother’s face lighting up at the sight of her children, long given up for lost.” (Kidner)

What is a cry to the Lord?

  • A cry is short and not sweet.
  • A cry is brief and bitter.
  • A cry is the language of pain.
  • A cry is a natural sound.
  • A cry has much meaning and no music.

David is at a low point. A rag-tag group of desperate losers gathered to him at Adullam. David was still filled with praise and trust, even knowing that God had an angelic camp of protection all around him.

Image result for guardian angelDo guardian angels exist?

Many times in the Old Testament, the angel of the LORD is an actual material appearance of Yahweh Himself (as in Judges 13 and some other places). We don’t know if David meant that is an angelic being sent by God, or God Himself present with the believer. Both are true.

“The fugitive, in his rude shelter in the cave of Adullam, thinks of Jacob, who, in his hour of defenceless need, was heartened by the vision of the angel encampment surrounding his own little band.” (Maclaren)

David challenged the reader (or singer) of this Psalm to experience God’s goodness for himself or herself. It could only come through a personal encounter, in some ways similar to a taste or to see.

Taste and sight are physical senses, ways in which we interact with the material world. In some ways, faith is how we interact with the spiritual world. In this sense to taste and to see are trusting God, loving Him, seeking Him, looking unto Him.

“Both Hebrews 6:5 and 1 Peter 2:3 use this verse to describe the first venture into faith, and to urge that the tasting should be more than a casual sampling.” (Kidner)

Spurgeon: “There are some things, especially in the depths of the religious life, which can only be understood by being experienced, and which even then are incapable of being adequately embodied in words.”

David thought to fear the LORD was much like trusting Him and experiencing His goodness. This fear is the proper reverence and respect that man has for Deity. If you really experience God’s goodness, if you really experience the blessedness of trusting Him, you will also have an appropriate fear of the Lord.

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“The word ‘lions’ may be a metaphor for those who are strong, oppressive, and evil.” (VanGemeren)

“Were there lions prowling around the camp at Adullam, and did the psalmist take their growls as typical of all vain attempts to satisfy the soul?” (Maclaren)

Hiding in Caves

Many who were in distress, in debt, or in discontent gathered at Adullam cave (1 Samuel 22:1-2) with David. Here, David teaches them and offers advice.

  • Fear the Lord by doing right and obeying
  • Don’t speak evil
  • Don’t lie or deceit
  • Do good
  • Pursue peace with man and God
  • God listens
  • God rewards and punishes

Spurgeon on this passage:  “To teach men how to live and how to die is the aim of all useful religious instruction. The rewards of virtue are the baits with which the young are to be drawn to morality.”

Meyer on this passage:  “A bird with a broken wing, an animal with a broken leg, a woman with a broken heart, a man with a broken purpose in life – these seem to drop out of the main current of life into shadow. They go apart to suffer and droop. Life goes on without them. But God draws near.”

According to the Gospel of John, David spoke not only of his own experience, but also prophetically of the Messiah to come, Jesus Christ. John explained that the Roman soldiers that supervised the crucifixion of Jesus came to His body on the cross, expecting to hasten and guarantee His death in the traditional way – breaking the legs of the crucified victim. When they looked carefully, they learned that Jesus was already dead, and they pierced His side to confirm it. John wrote, these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken” (John 19:36).

The evil-doers own evil destroy himself or the evil-doer will be in misery.

There is no condemnation

Many centuries later the Apostle Paul would write, There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1). Even under the Old Covenant, David knew something of this freedom from condemnation.

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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23

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Summary Joshua 23:

Joshua, old himself, calls the Israelites together and reminds them of all God has done for them and tells them God will be with them to take the rest of the Promised Land. He tells them to be strong and obey all the laws written in the Book of the Law of Moses. He tells them to not associate with the nations that remain among them and not to serve their gods. Hold fast to God.

God fights for them and one of them is equal to 1000 enemies because of this so Love God. Joshua warns them not to intermarry with the pagans nor ally with them or God won’t drive them out. Instead, they will become snares, traps, whips, and thorns.

Joshua says he is to die soon. God has kept all his promises and God’s anger will burn against them and they will die if they forsake him and worship other gods.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23:

6) Joshua calls the Israelite leaders together and reminds them of all God has done for them and tells them God will be with them to take the rest of the Promised Land. He tells them to be strong and obey all the laws written in the Book of the Law of Moses. He tells them to not associate with the nations that remain among them and not to serve their gods. Hold fast to God.

7) God is faithful. God keeps His promises. God is with us. God does not forsake us. We are powerful in Him. God is just. God will punish us if we turn from him.

8 ) Joshua warns them not to intermarry with the pagans nor ally with them or God won’t drive them out. Instead, the Canaanites will become snares, traps, whips, and thorns. The Israelites are to love God and obey God.

Joshua says he is to die soon. God has kept all his promises and God’s anger will burn against them, and they will die if they forsake the Lord and worship other gods.Image result for obedience to god

9) Part personal Question. My answer:  Joshua addresses the leaders separately for two reasons: 1) Practical. There are simply too many Israelites nowadays to call them all together. 2) There are higher expectations placed on leaders of the people by God than others, so Joshua expects them to lead by example and convey the message to the Israelites. We need strong, Godly leaders to guide us. When you find them, you keep them.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23:

I’m always amazed at how simple it is to get to heaven: choose Jesus and obey. Here, the Israelites must obey God and love Him. Not hard one would think, but, in actuality, it is. Joshua also says to avoid those who sin because they may influence you to sin and turn from God. We as Christians needs to love sinners, but we don’t have to be best friends with them. which I think is where people mess this one up.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 5, Day 3: Joshua 23:

The Israelites number in the millions. It would be like getting the whole state of Delaware to a meeting! Thus, be effectively communicating to the leadership, Joshua can get his message across.

Joshua begins by giving glory to God. He does not begin by listing all he’s done and his military accomplishments.

Each tribe must still fully possess what God has given them. There is still work to be done, and we all have a part to play.

How will Israel succeed?

  • With courage to have complete obedience to God.
  • Don’t even talk about the Canaanite gods. Stay as far away from sin as possible.
  • Love God.
  • Separate from ungodly influences and don’t compromise.

God is faithful.

Joshua repeats the principle of blessing for obedience and cursing for disobedience that was a part of Israel’s covenant with God (Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28). God will be just as faithful to judge as He had been to bless.

Jesus has redeemed us from the curse of the law (Galatians 3:10-14), so we no longer have to experience God’s curse. Instead, we are corrected (Hebrews 12:7) and will experience a lack of blessing if we do not abide in Jesus.

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BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34

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Summary of Joshua 20:

God told Joshua to pick sanctuary cities for those who accidentally killed others to flee to for refuge from the avenger until they could stand trial. The person was to state his or her case before the elders of the refuge city, and then he or she must be admitted and given shelter. He has to stay in that city until he has stood trial or the high priest dies. Then he or she may return home.

The chosen cities were: Kedesh, Shechem, Kiriath Arba (Hebron), Bezer, Ramoth, Golan.

Summary of Numbers 35:6-34:

48 towns were given to the Levites, which would serve as cities of refuge for those who accidentally killed someone. This does not apply to those who premeditate murder. Those shall be put to death. The one seeking shelter must stay at the city of refuge or be killed if he leaves if found by the avenger. Blood pollutes the land and thus must be paid for in blood if murder occurs.

BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34:

9) The sanctuary cities were for those who accidentally killed others to flee to for refuge from the avenger until they could stand trial. The purpose and intent was to protect the person who accidentally killed someone until they could stand trial, so like our guilty before found innocent procedure in the US.

10) These cities reveal how God cares about justice enough to protect His people since in ancient times the policy was an eye for an eye with no questions asked.

11)  Personal Question. My answer: It’s a comfort, knowing how God thinks of everything, knows everything, and provides for everything. Justice is one of God’s defining characteristics. It’s why He is slaughtering the pagans in Canaan–as punishment for their sins–justice. God’s justice applies to all without exception. All are equal in His eyes. God loves us. Period.

Conclusions: BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34:

God is just and cares about the individual as much as the whole population. All are equal. He provides. He shelters. He protects. God is good.

End Notes BSF Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1 Lesson 4, Day 4: Joshua 20 with Numbers 35:6-34:

This is the fulfillment of Numbers 35.

The Hebrew word is goel, and in ancient times a representative from the victim’s family was charged with making sure justice is carried out against the murderer of the family member. Murderers were held responsible and it was the goel (avenger of blood)’s job to do so.

Capital punishment goes back to Genesis 9:6Whoever sheds man’s blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made man. The state’s right to use the sword of execution is also stated in the New Testament (Romans 13:3-4). Unpunished murderers defile the land (Numbers 31-34).

The avenger of blood tracked down the murderer and would delivered him over to the authorities for execution if the testimony of two or three eyewitnesses could confirm the guilt of the murderer (Deuteronomy 17:6-7).

Israel’s legal system was much advanced for the times.

After being declared innocent of murder by the proper authorities AND after the death of the standing high priest, the slayer could go back to his home and be protected against the wrath of the avenger of blood

On a map, we see that the cities of refuge were well spaced throughout the country. No matter where you were in Israel, you were not very far from a city of refuge.Image result for map of cities of refuge

Deuteronomy 19:2 tells us that proper roads were to be built and maintained to these cities of refuge. The city was not much good to the slayer if they could not get to it quickly.

The Cities of Refuge as Jesus

The Bible applies this picture of the city of refuge to the believer finding refuge in God:

Psalm 46:1God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. More than 15 other times, the Psalms speak of God as our refuge.

Hebrews 6:18That by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are within easy reach of the needy person; they were of no use unless Image result for joshua 20someone could get to the place of refuge.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are open to all, not just the Israelite; no one needs to fear that they would be turned away from their place of refuge in their time of need.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge became a place where the one in need would live.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge are the only alternative for the one in need; without this specific protection, they will be destroyed.
  • Both Jesus and the cities of refuge provide protection only within their boundaries; to go outside means death.
  • With both Jesus and the cities of refuge, full freedom comes with the death of the High Priest.

How are the Cities of Refuge different from Jesus?

  • The cities of refuge only helped the innocent, but the guilty can come to Jesus and find refuge.
  • Atoning grace (Old Testament) versus saving grace (New Testament).
  • Temporary and now permanent.

BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12

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Summary of Joshua 5:1-12:

Upon hearing of God’s bringing of His people across the Jordan River by stopping its flow, all the Amorite king and Canaanite kings lost courage to face the Israelites. God ordered the circumcision of His people at Gibeath Haaraloth. These were the sons of the the wandering Israelites who had not been circumcised on the journey. They remained in camp until they were healed.

The Israelites celebrated the Passover, eating the produce of the land (unleavened bread and roasted grain). The manna stopped after this since the Israelites were now able to produce their own food.

BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12:

11) To circumcise all the Israelites who had not been circumcised previously. God had commanded Abraham that all Israeli males be circumcised as a sign of the covenant made between Abraham and God, which was God’s promise to Abraham to make him into a great nation and receive the gift of the Promised Land. It was also a requirement to be circumcised to take part in the Passover, which is a celebration in remembrance of God sparing the Israelites in his judgment of Egypt, passing over the houses of the children of Israel when He killed the firstborn of man and beast in Egypt.

Deuteronomy tells us also that “God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”

12a) Passover. The passover signifies the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people.

b) God stopped giving manna. This signified to the Israelis that they now would be able to provide for themselves–something all of us wants.

13) Personal Question. My answer:  God has given me a new job, so my husband and I can start getting out of debt and getting on the right path for our lives. It’s a job that grows me and will serve me (and Him) forever in the future. I will thank Him by following Him, giving Him the credit, and loving Him.

Conclusions to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12:

It’s important to remember our blessings each and every day, which can easily get distracted with our daily struggles and problems. God chose circumcision and Passover for His people. Now, you can choose whatever you wish as a remembrance: just make it something concrete, visible, and meaningful to you.

Watch VIDEO of book of Joshua if you haven’t had a chance yet.

End Notes to BSF’s Study Questions People of the Promised Land 1: Lesson 1, Day 5: Joshua 5:1-12:

Related imageSeeing the miracle of the Jordan River parted is only part of the reason the kings cower before the Israelites. The other reason: the Israelites trust in God. Trust is powerful. Think of all the people you trust enough to cross a parted river. Maybe a handful?

Apparently, no one was circumcised in the 40 years of wanderings. It was time to show your outward obedience to God’s commands and get circumcised. Circumcision is a consecration of yourself to God. It’s renouncing yourself and living for God. This had to be done before the conquering began.

Obviously, this was suicidal from a military standpoint.  All the men of fighting age were made completely vulnerable and unable to fight for a period of several days.

If you remember back in Genesis 34:24-25, Simeon and Levi killed all the men in a city after tricking them into having them all circumcised. While the men were unable to fight, they were slaughtered in retaliation, because the prince of that city had raped Dinah, the sister of Simeon and Levi. This could have been the fate of Israel here in Joshua 5.

  • Israel crossed over the Jordan at a militarily undesirable place (right in front of Jericho, the strongest military outpost of the Canaanites),
  • Then the Israelites incapacitated their army for several days.

The Israelites were circumcised because they trusted God.

God, in His infinite compassion, only asked the Israelites to do this AFTER the miracle of the parting of the Jordan River. God gives us strength and courage before he pushes us again. Radical things happen when we trust wholeheartedly in God.

“Rolling away the reproach of Egypt” means the shame of being slaves in Egypt and the underlying sin and rebellion that had caused that punishment. The Israelites needed to stop seeing themselves as helpless slaves and sinners but as conquering warriors of God who were forgiven.

God did not want the Israelites to forget His deliverance of them. God never wants us to forget Jesus’ deliverance of us out of bondage and into freedom.

God didn’t want the Israelites to get lazy; they could provide for themselves. Again, they needed to trust in God’s provision–not in how it was provided.

Gilgal will become a base camp for the Israelites. After battles they will return here. They will remember God’s greatness with the stones and be strengthened and renewed.

Theme of Joshua 5: Trust in God.

Fun Biblical Fact: This is the only time Gibeath Haaraloth is mentioned in the Bible.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 5: Romans 16:25-27

Summary of passage:  Paul finishes this letter to the Romans with a shout out to God and Jesus, the ones who are responsible for their belief and obedience through the gospel and proclamation of Jesus who has finally been revealed after all this time.

Questions:

14)  Paul finishes this letter to the Romans with a shout out to God and Jesus, the ones who are responsible for their belief and obedience through the gospel and proclamation of Jesus who has finally been revealed after all this time.

15)  He is the Son of God who died for our sins and rose again so that we may be forgiven for our sins by God forever and may have eternal life with God.

16)  Through God’s grace, we all share together in the promise of Jesus Christ as our redeemer, our living sacrifice, our Lord.  This is the gift of the Holy Spirit, available to Gentiles and Jews, and our share in the promises of God to His children that we will be justified and sanctified by the body and blood of Christ Jesus forever.

17)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Living every day for Him.  Striving every day to be closer to Him and to fulfill His purpose for our life here on earth.  Praising Him.  Worshipping Him.  Giving Him the credit for everything in my life.  Putting Him at the center of my life.  Obeying Him.  This is what God wants:  us.

Conclusions:  I love how the first sentence and the last sentence of Romans is about Jesus and praising him.  Gratitude.  Humility.  Grace.  Mercy.  Awesome!

End Notes:  Paul means the whole plan of redemption through Jesus Christ. Though God announced much of the plan previously through prophecy, its final outworking wasn’t evident until revealed by God through Jesus.  And He calls all nations to faith and obedience.

My gospel:  not a gospel different from that preached by others but a gospel Paul received by direct revelation (Galatians 1:12)

In this conclusion Paul reflects on the wisdom of God’s plan in the gospel and the fact that such wisdom is beyond man. God had a plan no man would come up with, but the wisdom and glory of the plan is evident.

The Book of Romans explains from beginning to end the greatness and glory of this plan of God that Paul preached as a gospel – as good news. It’s entirely fitting that Paul concludes this letter praising the God of such a gospel.

The good news Paul devoted his life to: God chose to glorify Himself through the person and work of Jesus Christ, and who will glorify Himself that way forever. Amen!  The ultimate purpose of all things.

Final Thoughts on the Study of Romans: What an amazing book and gift from God.  What an amazing person Paul was and an amazing gift to us as well all these centuries later.  Definitely an anchor book in the New Testament.  I learned so much and grew so much with God over the past year.  My gratitude and faith are deeper.  My worship is better.  My humbleness as well.  With God all things are possible.  With God I am possible.

BSF Study Questions Romans Lesson 29, Day 4: Romans 16:20-25

Summary of passage:  Timothy, Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, Tertius, Gaius, Erastus, and Quartus send their greetings to the Roman church.

Questions:

11)  Timothy is Paul’s fellow worker.  Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater are relatives.  Tertius wrote this letter down to the Romans.  Gaius is hosting Paul.  Erastus is the city’s director of public works in Corinth.

12)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Husband, kids, mom, sister, relatives, friends, other family members, church members, strangers even.  I encourage all of them to win the race for the Lord.  The little daily encouragements and the overarching goals.

13)  Personal Question.  My answer:  Life is all about relationships.  We were created so we wouldn’t be alone.  None of us could survive without each other.  We need to build each other up and treat each other as family.

Conclusions:  Wouldn’t it be cool to be mentioned in the Bible for all of eternity?  Help one another.  Enjoy one another.  Be with others.  Love others.  People is what makes life meaningful (along with God).

End Notes:  Timothy rightly rates a first mention, being one of Paul’s closest and most trusted associates.

Tertius was Paul’s writer as the apostle dictated the letter. This was Paul’s normal practice in writing letters to churches, but this is the only letter where Paul’s secretary is mentioned by name.

Gaius had such a reputation for hospitality that Paul can say he was regarded as the host of the whole church.

Jason is possibly the Jason mentioned in Acts 17:5-9.

Sosipater is probably Sopater, son of Pyrrhus from Berea (Acts 20:4).

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.