Bible Study Fellowship, or BSF, is a bible study that is now global. It serves 400,000 class members on 6 continents in more than 120 nations.
The in-person classes are hosted by area churches that donate their space for BSF. BSF usually donates money back to the church to help pay for expenses, such as electricity and heat, while they are there.
Many people wonder what denomination Bible Study Fellowship (or BSF) is. This is important to some because they want to make sure beliefs that they don’t follow or agree with are taught, especially to their kids.
BSF is officially nondenominational and simply is a lay group offering a Bible study. It has grown due to its four-fold approach to studying the Bible, as well as its thoroughness. As the world changes, BSF has so far successfully adapted, offering online Bible studies and materials. This is great for rural communities and seniors who can’t make it to an in-person Bible study class.
Over the years, I’ve gotten this question, so I thought I would write a post and share with those who are new to BSF.
BSF stands for Bible Study Fellowship. It’s a free nondenominational bible study group founded in 1959 by A. Wetherell Johnson. It chooses a Bible Study every year to focus on that follows the school year, usually beginning the week following Labor Day and ending in mid-May. It uses a four-fold approach, which includes reading a Bible passage, answering questions on the passage, discussing the questions in a small group session, and then listening to a trainer speaker on the passage. It focuses solely on what God’s word says, not what others interpret it as.
There are BSF bible study groups all over the world and the country. These groups are divided into women, men, and young adults. There is a student program that follows the adult program that parents can bring their children to. Since the pandemic, BSF has expanded to online groups as well.
The Bible study changes every year and usually focuses on one book or topic. For 2022/2023, BSF will be launching People of the Promise: Kingdom Divided, a study of many books of the Bible. This will be my 10th year, and I’m SUPER excited for this study!
Jesus tells the parable of the hidden treasure and the pearl. He says that the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found the treasure, he hid it and then sold all he had to buy the field where the treasure lie. The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of great value, he sold everything he had to buy it.
BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 3: Matthew 13:44-46
6a) Similarities in two tales: Both times the man sold all he had to acquire what he wanted. Something extremely valuable is discovered, desired, and purchased. Differences: the man could have kept the treasure the first time without having to sell everything he owned to acquire it.
b) That the man would give up everything he had to have what he desired.
7a) In order to have the kingdom of heaven, you must be willing to give up everything you have. Philippians 3:8 says you must be willing to lose all things to know Christ. In Colossians 2:2-3, Paul says his purpose is to that all of us have complete understanding to know the mystery of God and Christ where all wisdom and knowledge are hidden. Psalms 16:5-6 says God has assigned us our portion and cup and made our lot secure as our inheritance. Romans 8:32 says that God gave up his own Son for us and give us all things.
b) That we must be willing to give all we have to follow Christ.
8 ) It’s encouraging to know that the more you give up in Christ’s name, the more you will know him. This is sacrificing time to study the Bible, tell others about the Bible, and grow deeper in your relationship with God.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 3: Matthew 13:44-46
It’s important to note the differences here. You must be willing to sell everything to follow Christ. However, do so smartly. For Christ, we are worth it. Is he worth it to you?
End Notes BSF Study Questions Matthew Lesson 14, Day 3: Matthew 13:44-46
In the parable of the hidden treasure, the man is Jesus and the field is the world. Jesus gave everything to purchase his treasure (believers). At the time, whoever owned the land would get the treasure; not the one who found it.
Consider how rare it is to find buried treasure. That shows how valuable we are to Jesus.
So we go from corruption to value added in Jesus’s parables.
In the parable of the pearl, Jesus is the buyer of the pearl, and the believer is the pearl that is so valuable to him that he would be happy to sell everything to have it. A pearl in ancient times was extremely valuable and desired. People would have instantly recognized this value. This shows you just how much Jesus values you.
Fun Fact: “Kingdom of heaven” appears more than 60 times in the Gospels.
Boaz tells Ruth to stay in his fields where she will be protected and have all of the wheat she will need, as well as water. No harm will come to her here. Ruth asks him why he is showing her kindness, and he replies that he has heard all that she has done for her mother-in-law. He asks the Lord to reward her richly for it.
Boaz called Ruth over at mealtime and gave her bread and wine vinegar, as well as roasted grain. Boaz ordered his men to leave her extra bundles of grain to glean.
QUESTIONS FOR RUTH 2:8-16
9 ) Boaz tells Ruth that he will protect her and for her to stay in his fields where he will ensure she will be provided for. He blesses her and tells her he is doing this because of everything she has done for her mother-in-law. Ruth thanks him, and he invites her to dinner. Boaz orders his men to take care of her and keep watch over her.
10) Boaz provides for Ruth based on what she has done for Naomi. He invites her to dinner even though she is a foreigner. He shows every kindness to her.
11) He blesses her for what she has done for others and for her reliance on God like God does. I can pray for those who have done good and gone unrecognized.
CONCLUSIONS TO WORDGO RUTH 2:8-16
I love how even back then people broke social norms in order to do the right thing. Ruth deserved to be taken care of. After all, she was caring for Naomi and her. She works hard and is God-fearing. Boaz goes out of his way to talk to her, include her, and provide for her, as he should as a kinsman-redeemer, even is she is a foreigner. Contact me today!
James warns us against boasting about tomorrow since we could be dead tomorrow. Instead, let God lead you every day to His will. Do the good you know you should do, or you sin.
QUESTIONS FOR JAMES 4:13-17:
7) People boast about anything and everything, from their ability to do something others can’t to the car they drive. They even boast about their special kids or pets.
8 ) The key is giving God the credit for everything we do and listening to His will for our lives. Planning is good and wise, but, as we all know, things don’t always go as planned, and that’s ok.
9) Keep in mind to do good always and for others. That’s all you can do really.
CONCLUSIONS TO WORDGO JAMES 4:13-17
Every talent, gift, and material possession is from God. Believers get in trouble when they forget that and think it’s all them. As long as you know how blessed you are to have the things you do and to do the things you can do, that is all God asks. Acknowledge Him in all things.
Joseph was Israel’s/Jacob’s favorite son, being the oldest son of Rachel. At age 17, he attended the flocks. He was given a rich robe as his father’s favorite, which made all of his brothers hate him. Joseph had a prophetic dream where his sheave of grain rose up and his brothers’ sheaves gathered around him and bowed down to it. This angered his brothers who understood the meaning and said he would never rule over them. Joseph had another dream where the sun, moon, and 11 stars bowed down to him. He told his brothers this dream and his father who rebuked him, saying that does he expect his mother, him and his brothers to bow down to him? His brothers again grew jealous, but Jacob knew it was from God and remembered it.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11
3) His dreams
4a) God planned for Joseph to be the leader of Egypt.
b) God is good and great.
5) Jacob knew this dream was from God.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11
Joseph is my absolute favorite person in the Bible (after Jesus, of course). I love this story!
Unsure why Joseph would tell his brothers his dreams, especially his second dream. Either 1) he was bragging or 2) he was utterly clueless how everyone hated him. Then again, he is a teenager. He has A LOT to learn about the world and how it works.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 23, Day 2: Genesis 37:1-11
We immediately notice that the family of Jacob is dysfunctional with kids from four different women, Jacob playing favorites amongst his kids and his wives, and the brothers murdering a whole town over the reputation of their sister. Yet, the story of Jospeh, Jacob, and Abraham is about God’s triumph over sin. He uses all of us despite our sins.
Joseph tattled on his brothers, which did not help his case.
The coat of many colors was probably not a work coat but one meant to show privilege.
Joseph’s First Dream
The first dream of Joseph conveyed the fact that he would rule over his brothers with the sheaves bowing down to him. Note the symbolism of the sheaves since Joseph will meet his brothers in Egypt when they come for grain during the famine.
Joseph’s Second Dream
Joseph’s second dream revealed that Joseph would be over his father and mother, as well as his brothers. This made everyone angry. This illustrates that sometimes keeping information to yourself, even if it’s from God, is best for all involved.
Note that here Rachel seems to still be alive Genesis 35:16-20,. This shows that Genesis is not in chronological order, probably to keep the story of Joseph as one whole here.
Note that most likely Jacob is ending his tale here and Joseph is picking it up so Joseph is telling his remembrances. Genesis 37:2: This is the genealogy of Jacob. You’ll see these transitions elsewhere in the book of Genesis Genesis 5:1, 6:9 and 25:19.
The sun, moon, and stars represents those from Jacob. We see this again in Revelation 12:1 as we Jesus coming from Israe.
Jacob sent his two wives, two maid servants, and 11 kids across the Jabbok River. He also sent all of his possessions as well. He then wrestled with God in his sleep. The man touched his hip socket, leaving Jacob with a permanent limp as a sign of this struggle with God and with men. Jacob called the place Peniel, or “he struggles with God.” God renames Jacob Israel, or “God rules” Jacob saw God face-to-face and lived. The Israelites do not eat the hip socket where Jacob was touched.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 21, Day 4: Genesis 32:22-32
10a) Jesus because Jesus is God in human form. No one can see God’s face and live, but they can see Jesus’s
Exodus 33:20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for noone may see me and live.”
John 1:18No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.
Exodus 33:23 Then I will remove my hand and you will see my back; but my face must not be seen.”
b) To depend on him alone and to give up himself.
11) The man touched his hip socket, leaving Jacob with a permanent limp as a sign of this struggle with God and with men. It was to remind Jacob of God’s centrality in his life. Jacob responded with humble blessings and knew he only survived because of God’s infinite grace.
12) The fact my life could be and has been worse. The fact I know I am a mere human and that the world does not revolve around me. God is the one and only.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 21, Day 4: Genesis 32:22-32
I love this physical representation of surrendering to God. God uses any means to have all of us, including sending Jesus to wrestle. This gives me faith that God won’t let go of me, either.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 21, Day 4: Genesis 32:22-32
Jacob sent his family over the river to protect them in case there was an attack. Jacob was alone with God, which would be his very last on the east side of the Jordan River. He prayed.
Note that a man wrestled with Jacob, not Jacob with the man. God was working on Jacob still. God wanted all of Jacob’s heart, and He had come to take it.
Jacob pleas to be let go, to surrender, to end it. We all must come to this same place with God, with force if necessary or circumstances that bring us to our knees.
Jacob is not making any demand here. He is asking God to bless him out of desperation Hosea 12:3-5
Jacob Wrestles with God/Jesus
All Jacob had was God, and that is all Jacob held on to. This is God’s answer to his previous prayer. He was being rescued from himself.
Israel is a compound word of two Hebrew words, one meaning fight or struggle and one meaning God. It correctly means God rules, not he struggles with God as most Bibles will tell you.
Note that the Bible will still refer to Jacob as Jacob at least twice as often as Israel. This indicates that Jacob is still human and will make mistakes.
Jacob overcame because he knew he was defeated. He also know exactly who defeated him. The new name is the blessing Jacob is asking for.
Jacob knew he should have been killed for wrestling for God, but in God’s mercy, he was allowed to live. As a reminder, he’d have a limp. And what a reminder!
Jacob prayed to God to save him from Esau. He praises God and admits how unworthy he is. Jacob then reminds God of His promise and covenant to preserve him and his family. He sent gifts of animals ahead to meet Esau in an effort to pacify him.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 21, Day 3: Genesis 32:9-21
6) He calls God the God of Abraham and Isaac. He praises God and admits how unworthy he is. Jacob then reminds God of His promise and covenant to preserve him and his family. I love reminding God of His promises in prayer.
7) He sent gifts of animals ahead to meet Esau in an effort to pacify him.
8 ) His prayer to God praises God, admits how unworthy he is, admits his fears, and reminds God of His promises to him. He also is giving Esau many gifts as well
9) Fear of the unknown. Praying and reading my Bible helps.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 21, Day 3: Genesis 32:9-21
I love Jacob’s prayer here. It’s an example for all of us to follow:
Humbly call upon God
Tell God how unworthy you are
Ask him for what you want in faith He will answer
Remind Him of his promises. Powerful stuff here.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 21, Day 3: Genesis 32:9-21
Jacob’s gifts can be seen as ways to earn favor or to bribe his brother not to harm him. Still, it’s a big improvement from stealing his brother’s birthright. Jacob is still trying to use human means to save himself here when it is always God who saves us. Instead of going out ahead to meet his brother, he waits, hoping his gifts will placate.
Laban’s sons were jealous of Jacob’s wealth. The Lord told Jacob it was time to return to his homeland. Jacob called Rachel and Leah to him and told them how he has worked for Laban despite the wages being constantly changed but God has been with him and has blessed him with their father’s livestock.
Jacob recounts a dream where God acknowledged Laban’s treachery and told Jacob to leave for home at once. Rachel and Leah agree and say all Jacob has gained from their father should be theirs anyways as an inheritance. Jacob and his family left Paddan Aram along with all of his livestock and goods for Canaan. Rachel stole all of her father’s household gods and Jacob left without telling Laban. They crossed the Euphrates.
Laban found out after three days that Jacob had fled. He pursued him and caught up with him in Gilead. God came to Laban in a dream, warning him not to speak to Jacob. Laban, in his infinite wisdom, speaks to Jacob anyways, and asks him why he had fled without saying good bye and why he has stolen the idols.
Jacob replies that he was afraid Laban would take his daughters from him (can’t blame him here) and that if someone has stolen the idols, may they die.
Laban searched and found nothing for Rachel was sitting on them and said she was having her period so she couldn’t stand to greet him. Laban found nothing.
Jacob is mad at Laban for accusing him of stealing. He points out how he has worked 20 years for him, 14 for his daughters and 6 for his flocks even though Laban has changed his wages on him 10 times, and God Himself even rebuked Laban for his behavior.
So Laban and Jacob made a covenant, asking Jacob not to mistreat his daughters or take any more wives and neither will cross the other’s “side” to harm each other. They offered a sacrifice, spent the night, and the next day Laban bid his daughters farewell and left.
Summary of Hebrews 12:3-15:
The Lord disciplines those He loves and punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline for God is treating you as a son. For if you are not disciplines then you are not sons of God. Everyone is disciplined. God disciplines us for our good so we may share in His holiness.
Discipline is never pleasant, but it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace. Make every effort to live in peace and be holy; without holiness, no one sees the Lord. Do not be bitter.
BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
11) Jacob had noticed that Laban’s sons believed he had stolen Laban’s wealth, and Laban’s attitude towards Jacob had changed, too. But it was God who told Jacob to return.
12a) ) Verse 7 “God has not allowed him (Laban) to harm me.” verse 9 “God has taken away your father’s livestock and has given them to me.” Verse 11-13 “I am the God of Bethel” and God made the animals born spotted. verse 42 “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you (Laban) would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you.” They made a covenant together that resolved the bitterness.
b) Pray and thank God.
13) Verse 3 “And I will be with you.” Verse 42: But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you. It encourages me that all my work is worth it, and God is with me.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
Unsure whey we read Hebrews here since we weren’t asked about it. Rachel is most definitely smart in hiding the idols. However, taking them? Not so smart. She has God. She needs nothing else.
End Notes BSF Study Questions Genesis: Lesson 20, Day 5: Genesis 31 and Hebrews 12:3-15
Just as Rachel is jealous of Leah, Laban’s sons are jealous of Jacob’s wealth. Love does not envy (1 Corinthians 13:4). Envy is bad; it killed Jesus. (Matthew 27:18).
God is nudging Jacob back home (Genesis 30:25) and encouraging him, too.
God reminds Jacob of his Bethel (Genesis 28:10), where God has spurred him on to find Rachel. It’s good for all of us to remember times and places where God has shown up. This strengthens us and encourages us in times we feel God is far away.
It was important for Jacob to have the support of his wives. After all, they would be leaving their family for the first time ever, taking their kids with them, to an unknown land. Both women agreed for once and were ready to help in any way they could.
One cool detail you might have missed is that Jacob’s entire family road camels. This is like saying everyone drove their own car here in the US. It’s a sign of Jacob’s immense wealth.
Jacob snuck away when he did not need to. God had already told him to go. It’s evident he would be protected. Perhaps Jacob is so mad at Laban at this point he just wanted to leave.
Rachel Steals her Father’s Idols
We are not told why Rachel stole the idols. Obviously, you should not steal, especially from your mother and father (she broke two of God’s ten commandments here yet to be given to Moses). Scholars debate the reasons:
She herself secretly worshipped these idols
She didn’t want her father to worship these idols
She didn’t want her father to catch them through divination
Idols were traditionally used as deeds to property
She didn’t like her father, so she took something of his to anger him
She wanted protection on the long journey
The reason didn’t matter. She stole; this is wrong.
They left Paddan Aram and Haran for Gilead, which is about 300 miles away and close to the sea of Galilee. Since it took 3 days for Laban to notice, the families must have lived a considerable distance away from one another. Note that God cautions Laban to deal fairly with Jacob. Laban was probably angry and did intend to harm him. God’s warning meant “you touch him and you will pay.”
Jacob and Home
Jacob is close to home when Laban catches up. It took Laban 7 days to catch up to Jacob who is now near the Jordan River and very close to home. Laban tried to shame him with a celebration and a chance to say good bye to his family. He threatens harm as well. Jacob fervently denies he stole the idols, not knowing Rachel had.
Jacob let Laban have it, citing all he had done for him in 20 years and showing him how ungrateful he was being. He was angry over it all, maybe even remembering the trickery of Leah. He helped Laban. Jacob replaced any lost animal of Laban’s with his own and tells him that God sent him away.
Note that Jacob does not claim God as his own, only Abraham and Isaac’s.
Mizpah meant God is watching and He will repay you if you sin. Laban still claims everything is his, but says he’ll let Jacob have it. The pillar was a sign of their separation. It appears they still left with much animosity between them. From here on out, Jacob’s family will be separated from everyone else.
Laban will never see his daughters or grandchildren again. He now disappears from Bible history, presumably returning home and living out his life as he always had. The separation between Laban and Jacob had to happen. Like this example shows us, it is not always pretty.