Saturday, December 18, 2010

Unit 10 - The Vocation of Freedom in the Daily Life of Congregations

I. Introduction

A. Last unit in our study of Galation
B. Covers Ch. 5:13 - 6:18
C. Paul transitions from discussing theology to practical implications of that theology.
D. Underlying theme in these verses is Freedom. Paul discusses Freedom in context of three areas of Christian Living

1. How we treat our neighbors
2. Works of the Flesh and Fruit of the Spirit
3. How we treat those who falter in sin

II. How we Treat Our Neighbors

A. Freedom to 'love your neighbor as yourself'
B. Freedom from succumbing to petty bickering

III. Works of the Flesh and Fruit of the Spirit

A. Christian freedom does not mean we can indulge in our human weaknesses with impunity but rather to walk in the life of the spirit (Barclay, p. 56)
B. Issue is not that the joys of the flesh are inherently evil but rather whether we let them control us, enslave us.
C. True freedom is not a matter of autonomy and absolute independence as many in our culture think (Saunders p.89)
D. True freedom comes from knowing, accepting, and reflecting God's love

IV. How We Treat Those Who Falter in Sin

A. Paul tells us not to look down our noses at those who sin
1. Danger is for those of us striving to live a Christian life to judge harshly those who falter. Element of hardness in good people (Barclay, p. 63)
B. Christian duty is to get these people on their feet again. Pick them up, dust them off, and set them on their way again.

V. Closing Thoughts

A. Why The Big Push to Convert to Judaism?
1. Freedom from persecution - Romans acknowledged and accepted Jewish religion
2. Trying to put on a show to win the favor of God
3. Jews wanted to boast about Galations as their latest 'conquest'

B. Overall Theme
1. Accepting God's gift of grace and living as he calls us to live gives us true Freedom
2. Freedom to escape the power of earthly desires
3. Freedom to experience true peace

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Unit 9 - New Life in Christ vs. Enslavement to the Powers

I. Introduction - Ch. 3:25 - 4:11, Three Themes to Consider this Week

A. Heirs and Children of God
B. "Elemental Spirits"
C. "Observing Special Days, and Months, and Seasons, and Years"

II. Heirs and Children of God

A. Paul continues where he left off in last weeks lesson
1. Earlier in Ch. 3 - described law as curse and disciplinarion
2. Continues in Ch. 4 - describing Jews as minor children, subject to the law and "elemental spirits"
3. Describes how minor children in those days were like slaves, they had no rights
a. were "heirs to the promise", but were subject to guardians and trustees (the Law)
b. by accepting Christ they became adults and were no longer subject to the law
B. Also describes baptism and putting on Christ
1. custom in those days were to shed old clothes prior to baptism
2. come out of baptismal waters clothed in new white robes
3. powerful imagery - regardless of what you were before, all emerge equal heirs (man/woman, jew/greek, slave/free)

III. "Elemental Spirits"

A. No clear definitive answer as to what Paul meant by this phrase
1. some believe he is referring to elemental (basic) knowledge
2. greek word used is stoicheia - originally meant line of things, came to mean basic knowledge like teaching children the alphabet
3. others believe he was referring to the greek followers of astrology
B. Typing "elemental spirits" into Google returns references to earth, wind, fire, and water.
C. Further clues as to what Paul meant might be found in v.8, "enslaved to things that by nature are not gods"

IV. "Observing Special Days, and Months, and Seasons, and Years"

A. Is Paul speaking out against organized religion?
1. What does this say about our following the liturgical calendar?
2. Think Paul is saying we shouldn't hide behind creation of special days
3. God wants to be with us everyday, not just on Sunday, or just on Christmas and Easter.
4. Too many people come to God on Sunday but then shut Him out of their lives on Monday - Saturday.

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Unit 8 - The Gospel, the Spirit, and Christian Identity

I. Introduction - very difficult scripture lesson today. It is Paul at his very best (or should I say his very worst).

A. The Experience of the Spirit
B. The Promise to Abraham
C. The Purpose of the Law

II. The Experience of the Spirit

A. Beginning in Chapter 3, Paul turns his attention from himself and his experiences to the Galations and their experiences
B. Doesn't mince words, is very direct and forceful..."You foolish Galations!"
C. What have they done? They have let themselves be led astray by zealous Jews who are saying they must become Jews first and adhere to The Law, before they can become part of God's family.
D. What is Paul's response? Having seen, felt, and experienced the power of the Holy Spirit how can you now believe you must go back to observing and keeping laws fo the flesh to be right with God.
E. Paul asks them if they received the Spirit as a result of doing the works of the law or rather because they heard the good news and believed.

III. The Promise to Abraham

A. Paul now uses experiences of Abraham and God's covenant with him to further show the folly in the Galations needing to revert back to following the law.
B. Paul points out Abraham received God's favor because of his faith, not because he followed a set of laws.
C. Paul also points out that Abraham predates The Law by 430 years.
D. Abraham had no need for The Law because he had faith in God
E. Paul then further bolsters his argument by showing the impossibility of following The Law as a way to becoming justified before God.
1. No one can keep all of The Law
2. To break The Law is to be cursed, "Cursed is everyone who does not observe and obey all the things written in the book of The Law."
3. Jesus removed the curse from us by dieing on the cross
F. Paul also speaks like a lawyer by saying God's 'covenant with Abraham' can not be superceded by The Law.
G. Paul also says that God's promise extended from Abraham to his 'offspring' (singular) not 'offsprings' (plural). He goes on to make the case that this 'offspring' is singularly Jesus, the Messiah. Paul is saying that the covenant with Abraham finds its fulfillment in Jesus.

IV. The Purpose of the Law

A. Paul sums up the purpose of the law in v.23, "Now before faith came, we were imprisoned and guarded under the law until faith would be revealed."
B. It seems to me God created the law to keep us safe until we were ready to accept his unconditional love through faith.
C. But what about Abraham's faith? Why was there no need for the law prior to the Hebrews leaving Egypt and becoming lost in the wilderness. After giving it some thought I think it was all part of God's master plan.
1. Abraham and his immediate descendants had faith, did not need the law to know right from wrong.
2. Joseph is sold into bondage and goes to Egypt.
3. Joseph's offspring become slaves of the Egyptians, lose their faith
4. God reaffirms His covenant with them and using Moses leads them out of Egypt.
5. Hebrews have lost their faith (recall the many times they complain to Moses and fear for their lives)
6. Lawlessness prevails, God sees they are too immature for faith, must have laws to guide them
7. Jews eventually pervert the purpose of The Law, God sends Jesus, the Messiah, to show them a better way. The way of faith.

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Unit 7 - Table Fellowship at Antioch (Gal. 2:11-21)

I. Introduction

A. Overarching theme - According to Paul the unity of the church is based on nothing other than the good news of God's grace.
B. Coursar - Fourfold Purpose of this Section

II. Coursar - Fourfold Purpose of this Section

A. One - Must understand dynamics at work in Antioch
B. Two - Why did Paul include the incident in this letter and at this point in his argument?
C. Three - What can be learned from the structure and logical flow of Paul's complicated response to Peter?
D. Four - Essential, must examine the phrases "works of the law" and "faith in Christ"

III. Dynamics at work in Antioch

A. Why did Peter, Barnabas and the other Jewish Christians stop eating with the Gentiles at Antioch?
1. Scripture tells us they stopped after "people came from James...for fear of the circumcision faction."
2. Coursar believes James sent word that strong Jewish nationalists (not even members of Jewish Christian church in Jerusalem) were demanding no contact with Gentiles.
3. Peter's eating with Gentiles at Antioch was causing difficulty for Jewish Christians in Jerusalem with these Jewish nationalist zeolets.

B. Why did Paul so vigorously appose that choice?
1. Paul does not believe Peter is changing his core beliefs. Rather, Peter is compromising in order to "keep the peace".
2. However, Paul believes Peter has failed to see the larger implications of his choice to compromise
a. Peter's separation from the table fellowship implies Gentile Christians can only be considered second-class citizens
b. Unity of the church would then be based on circumcision and adherence to the law rather than the gospel of grace.

IV. Why did Paul write about this incident to the Galations and why at this particular point in the letter?

A. Why tell the Galations about this incident in Antioch?
1. It further clarifies Paul's stance in relation to the Jerusalem apostles.
a. He serves only one master, Christ
b. He will not compromise his belief in the one gospel.
2. Reporting the incident serves to reiterate point made earlier in the letter - the gospel alone provides the bond for Christian unity.
B. The account provides a transition to the themes of justification by faith and dying with Christ (dominant in Ch. 3).

V. What can be learned from the structure and logical flow of Paul's complicated response to Peter?

A. Your guess is as good as mine. It's Paul, he talks in circles

VI. Examining the phrases "works of the law" and "faith in Christ"

A. Works of the law
1. 'Law' means Torah
2. Paul isn't condemming law for law's sake, rather is condemming belief that following law results in salvation.
3. Salvation comes exclusively by God's grace in Jesus Christ.

B. Faith in Christ OR Faith of Christ
1. RSV and most other new translations say "faith in Christ"
2. KJV says "faith of Christ"
3. Coursar outlines impact of each translation. Complex and difficult to understand.
4. Bottom line to me is this: It is because of my faith in God's grace (through Jessus Christ) that I choose to follow the law to the best of my ability.

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Unit 6

Timeline of Paul:

A Timeline:
Paul’s Conversion : Acts 9 -God chose Saul on the road to Damascus.
5 recorded visits by Paul/Saul:
(1) the visit after he left Damascus (Acts 9:26-30; Gal. 1:18-20);
(2) the famine visit (Acts 11:27-30); (Gal 2:1)
Acts 12:20-23 Herod’s death 44AD.
(3) the visit to attend the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15:1-30);
(4) the visit at the end of the second missionary journey (Acts 18:22);
(5) the final visit which resulted in Paul’s Caesarean imprisonment (Acts 21:15-23:35).

Unit 6 - The Power of the Gospel in Paul's Life (Galations 1:11-2:10)

I. Introduction

A. The Divine Origin of Paul's Gospel (Gal. 1:11-24)
B. Paul's Meeting with the Jerusalem Leaders (Gal. 2:1-10)

II. The Divine Origin of Paul's Gospel

A. Paul's intent here is to establish authority
1. Gospel did not come from other humans
2. Gospel was not taught to him
3. Gospel came to him as a revelation from God

B. Paul outlines who he was before, is now, and describes chronologically how he came to this point in his life.
1. A Pharisee - and a leading persecutor of the new church in Christ
2. Not just any Jew, but one held in high esteem; a zealot
3. Set aside before birth, called by God at the proper time
4. After his Damascus road experience, he did not consult with anyone
5. Rather, went to Arabia, then back to Damascus to stand before the very people he had been going to condemm.
6. Then after 3 years returned to Jerusalem to 'visit' Cephas (Peter)
7. Then went into Syria and Cilicia for 14 years

C. Three Questions Arise from this Section
1. Why does the issue of apostleship figure so prominently in Paul's letter to the Galations? According to Cousar, commentators generally hold three views:
a. He is responding to critics who contend he has not been commissioned by the Jerusalem authorities
b. Others say he is responding to critics who contend he is totally dependent on leaders in Jerusalem
c. Lastly others say Paul is not being attacked but is bringing it up himself to establish authority
d. Paul wants to establish authority to preach the one, true gospel as revealed to him by Christ on the road to Damascus
2. Why this extensive biographical material?
a. it shows he has in no way been dependent on other ecclesiastical authority
b. it shows how Paul's own life manifests the power of the gospel. God's grace is sufficient to change even the most committed zealot.
3. What is to be made of the statement that Paul received the Gospel "through a revelation of Jesus Christ?"
a. What he is not saying is that he received new information that no one else had (unlike Joseph Smith who created Mormonism)
b. Rather, according to Cousar, he is simply saying the veil which had hidden God's Son from him is removed and Paul sees him.

III. Paul's Meeting with the Jerusalem Leaders

A. Paul Goes Back to Jerusalem after 14 Years
1. Purpose of meeting was to establish Christian unity
2. Took with him Barnabus, and Titus, a greek
3. In attendance in addition to the Jerusalem leadership were a bunch of trouble-makers
a. Insisted Titus needed to be circumcized
b. Paul held his ground and won Jerusalem leaders over
c. Had Paul given in one of the key tenants of the gospel would have been lost - freedom from and being subject to the law
d. Paul and Jerusalem leaders agreed on the unity of the Gospel for both Jewish and Gentile converts alike.
e. Jerusalem leaders agreed their focus would be on Jewish converts while Paul would focus his ministry on the Gentiles.
f. Jerusalem leaders asked Paul to support the poor in Jerusalem

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Galations and Ephesians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2002
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Galations, Charles B. Cousar, John Knox Press, 1982

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Unit 4 - Participation with Paul in the Mission of God's Grace

Note: My apologies to any online readers of the blog. My preparation time was cut short last week and I did not have the opportunity to place my lesson notes here on the blog. We continue this week with Unit 4 covering Philippians Chapter 4.


A. Philippians Ch. 4 is filled with well known and cherished verses.
1. v.4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.
2. v.6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be known to God.
3. v.7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
4. v.8 Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
5. v.13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
B. Phil. 4:1-3 - Paul publicly calls out two women leaders encouraging them to settle their differences
C. Phil. 4:4-7 - The Peace of God vs. the Peace of Rome
D. Phil. 4:8-11 - Friendship in Christ and the Sharing of Financial Resources
E. Phil. 4:12-13 - Security and Partnership in Christ
F. Phil. 4:14-20 - Partnership in Christ and a Life of Integrity

II. Phil. 4:4-7 - The Peace of God vs. the Peace of Rome

A. v. 4-5 talk of joy and gentleness
1. Barclay - "Christian joy is independent of all things on earth because it has its source in the continual prescence of Christ."
2. Greek word used is Epiekeia. Barclay - "Epiekeia is the quality of someone who knows that regulations are not the last word and knows when not to apply the letter of the law."
B. Paul says take everything to God in prayer
1. Pray for ourselves
2. Pray for forgiveness for the past
3. Pray for things needed in the present
4. Pray for future guidance
C. Paul says pray with thanksgiving
D. Barclay says when we pray must remember 3 things
1. The love of God
2. The wisdom of God
3. The power of God
E. Barclay - "The way to peace is in prayer to entrust ourselves and all whom we hold dear to the loving hands of God."

III. Phil. 4:8-11 - Friendship in Christ and the Sharing of Financial Resources

A. Paul gives a lesson on Christian living and thinking
1. True - set our thoughts on things which will never let us down
2. Honorable (semnos)- Barclay - "that which has the dignity of holiness upon it."
3. Just (dikaios)- Giving to God and others what is their due
4. Pure (hagnos)- Morally uncontaminated
5. Pleasing (prosphiles)- That which calls forth love
6. Commendable (eophema) - Fair-spoken
7. Excellence (arete) - Virtue
B. Paul says if Philippians focus on these things the "God of peace" will be with them.
C. Paul acknowledges the Philippians gift
1. Some controversy about Paul's choice of words
2. However, real lesson in this section is about being content with whatever life hands you
3. Ties in well with Paul's earlier advice about Christian living and thinking
4. If you're focused on God and Godly living you can't help but be content
5. If you're focused on wordly things you will always be disappointed and without joy
6. Barclay contrasts Stoicism and Paul. He summed up the differences by saying, "For the Stoics, contentment was a human achievment, for Paul, it was a divine gift."

IV. Phil. 4:12-13 - Security and Partnership in Christ

A. Phil. 4:13 - One of my favorite verses.
B. Paul feels secure knowing God is with him
C. Paul knows nothing can defeat him as he goes about doing God's work

V. Phil. 4:14-20 - Partnership in Christ and a Life of Integrity

A. Paul acknowledges joy in receipt of Philippians gift. However, joy isn't because of how they feel about him, but rather how they feel about God.
B. Perhaps this is why Paul only accepted gifs from the church at Philippi and not any of the other churchs he established. He recognized that they were giving not because of their love for Paul but for their love of God.
C. This is a lesson we all need to learn. Perhaps more of us would experience the true joy of giving if we recognized to whom we are giving the gift.

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Philippians, Fred B. Craddock, John Knox Press, 1985

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Unit 2 - Shaping Christian Community Around the Story of Christ

I. Introduction

A. What the Lesson Writer Skipped Over
B. The Politics of Life in a Hostile City
C. The Politics of Christian Unity
D. The Politics of Grace

II. What the Lesson Writer Skipped Over (Ch. 1:12-26)

A. Concerning the Effect of Paul's Imprisonment on the Gospel

1. His imprisonment opened the way for preaching to the Praetorian Guard
2. His imprisonment generated new courage among others to "speak the word of God most fearlessly"
3. His imprisonment opened the way for others to preach the Gospel
a. those whose motives were not pure, nevertheless they proclaimed Christ
b. God worked through them; all that mattered was that Christ was preached

B. Concerning the Effect of Paul's Imprisonment upon the Church and Himself

1. Paul is torn between his desire to be with the Lord and to continue his ministry here on earth (and revisit the church at Philippi).
2. Sharing of his innermost thoughts shows his high regard for the people of Philippi

III. The Politics of Life in a Hostile City

A. Philippi was a Roman colony

1. People of Philippi understood what it meant to be Roman citizen
2. Paul calls them to a higher citizenship
a. Greek word "conversari" - to conduct oneself - Paul is saying 'Let your behavior be worthy of those who are pledged to Christ.'
b. Greek word "politeuesthai" - to be a citizen - Paul is saying 'remember that you have an even higher duty than that as a Roman citizen. You must live as befits a citizen of the Kingdom of God.'

IV. The Politics of Christian Unity

A. Paul affirms their faith and calls for progress and maturity

B. Clearly there was discord amongst the people in the church at Philippi

1. Don't know with certainty what was causing the discord.
2. However, do know what Paul regarded as inappropriate:
a. Selfish ambition - some people more interested in advancing themselves than advancing God's work
b. Personal Prestige - prestige for many people is an even greater temptation than wealth. We should do good deeds, not in order that others may glorify us, but that they may glorify God.
c. Concentration on Self - elimination of others, object of life becomes not to help others but to put them down.
3. Paul set down 5 considerations which ought to prevent disharmony:
a. No one can walk in disunity with other people and be in unity with Christ
b. Power of Christian love should keep us in unity.
c. The Holy Spirit binds individuals to God and to one another
d. The exiistence of human compassion should keep people from disunity
e. Personal plea from Paul - if they want to bring him personal joy, they must perfect their fellowship.

V. The Politics of Grace

A. Barclay - "Nowhere in the New Testament is the work of salvation more succinctly stated."

1. Greek word "katergazesthai" - conveys idea of bringing to completion. Paul is saying keep going until the work of salvation is fully achieved in you.
2. Greek word Paul uses for 'work' "energein" - always used to express the action of God and always used of effective action.

B. The Signs of Salvation

1. Sign of effective action - continual progress - a journey towards God
2. Sign of 'fear and trembing' - comes from acknowledging our human helplessness
a. not running away from God in fear
b. rather, running towards God in acknowledging that without Him we can not effectively face life.
3. Sign of serenity and certainty
4. Sign of purity
5. Sign of missionary endeavor

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Philippians, Fred B. Craddock, John Knox Press, 1985

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Unit I - Joy and Thanksgiving for the Philippian Congregation

Philippians Chapter 1:1-11

I. A Provocative Salutation (v. 1-2)

A. Salution follows typical pattern

1. Signature - who is this from
a. Paul and Timothy
b. No need to establish authority, Philippians know Paul
2. Address - to whom is it written; "all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi"
3. Greeting - "Grace to you and peace from God..."

B. Timothy - why is he referenced?

1. Paul wants to convey that he and Timothy are a team
2. Later in Ch. 2 we learn Timothy will be going to Philippi
3. Thus, Paul is building Timothy up and establishing his authority

C. "Slaves"

1. Greek word Paul used is "doulos"
2. Paul in choosing this word is saying 3 things
a. He is an absolute possession of Jesus Christ - Christ loves him and paid the price for him. He can never belong to anyone else.
b. He owes absolute obedience to Christ
c. To be Christ's slave is to be a king

D. All the "Saints"

1. Is not referring to only the holiest of the Philippians
2. Rather, it is referring to God's claim on us. We are separate from other's who have not accepted Christ.
3. Greek word in "hagios" - holy, set apart
4. We have dedicated ourselves to service and worship

E. "Bishops" and "Deacons"

1. Not referring to specific titled people in the congregation
2. These roles as we think of them today didn't come about until a couple of generations later.
3. Rather, was referring to individuals in the congregation who lead the effort to provide financial assistance to him and his ministry.

F. "Grace" and "Peace"

1. Grace - Greek word is "charis"
2. Peace - Greek word is "eirene", Hebrew word is "shalom"
3. Paul bringing together best of two cultures Greek and Hebrew
4. Paul is praying that they should have the joy of knowing God as Father and the peace of being reconciled to God, to others, and to themselves.

II. A Joyous Prayer of Thanksgiving (v. 3-11)

A. Theme of Paul's prayer is one of Joy

B. Paul gives thanks for the past, present, and future (i.e., what God has done, is doing, and will do for the Philippians)

1. The Past - How it has been between Paul and the Philippians (v. 3-6)
a. Grateful for his rememberence of them
b. Grateful for their partnership in the gospel
c. v4 is paranthetical and gives us the first clue that all is not right between Paul and some members of the church at Philippi. Paul's emphasis of all is intentional.
2. The Present - How is it now between Paul and the Philippians (v. 7-8)
a. Paul expresses his love for all of the Philippians (again emphasis on all implies all is not right)
b. Paul asserts they are with him in his imprisonment and in his defense of the gospel (is he alluding to their gift of Epaphroditus?)
3. The Future - How Paul hopes it will be with the Philippians (v. 9-11)
a. Paul prays the Philippians will grow and mature in love
b. Paul also prays that on Judgement Day the Philippians will be pure and blameless, having not stumbled nor caused others to stumble.

Next Week: Unit II - Ch. 1:27 - 2:16

(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Philippians, Fred B. Craddock, John Knox Press, 1985

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Beginning Our New Study of Philippians & Galations

For the next 3 months we will journey through Paul's letters to the Philippians and the Galations. We will begin this Sunday with an overview of Philippians. Our study guide covers Philippians in 4 units. I will do my best to get us through one unit per week. We will then move on to Galations, again beginning with an overview, followed by 6 weeks of indepth study. The units in the study guide generally cover individual chapters but there are variances.

So let's begin! The overview will follow my usual custom of answering the 5 "W" questions; Who, What, When, Where, and Why.


A. Who is the author? Paul, the missionary church builder, originally from Tarsus.
B. Who is the intended audience? The early christian church in the city of Philippi.


A. What is Philippians? It is a letter from Paul to the church he founded in the city of Philippi.
B. Philippians is Paul's warmest letter. It reflects the close personal relationship he had with the church members in Philippi.
C. Philippians may actually be two letters.
1. First letter being 1:1 - 3:1 and 4:4 - 4:23
2. Second letter may have been inserted 3:2 - 4:3
D. It principally has to do with Epaphroditus, a person the Philippians have sent to be Paul's personal servant while he is in prison.


A. Paul first visisted Philippi in 52 AD during his second missionary journey.
1. Details about this visit are found in Acts 16.
2. Three main characters revealed in Acts 16 are (1) Lydia, a merchant, (2) a slave girl, and (3) the Roman jailor.
B. Letter is believed to have been written around AD 63-64 while in prison in Rome not long before his martyrdom at the hands of Nero.


A. Where is Philippi? Major cross-roads from Europe to Asia.
B. Philippi had 3 major claims to fame
1. It was a major commercial center having been built in the neighborhood of gold and silver mines. Mines were long since played out by the time of the Roman Empire
2. City was found and named after Philip, the father of Alexander the Great in 368 BC. City founded at the site of the ancient city of Krenides.
3. Philippi had status as an official Roman colony


A. Letter of Thanks - for sending Epaphroditus
B. Letter of Explanation - why he is sending Epaphroditus home
C. Letter of Encouragement to the Philippians - almost all of Paul's letters offer encouragement to his flock
D. Appeal for Unity - like most churches, it is not without conflict

NEXT WEEK - UNIT 1 of Study Guide Covering Philippians Ch. 1:1-11


(1) Interpretation Bible Studies: Philippians and Galations, Stanley P. Saunders, Westminster John Knox Press, 2001
(2) The Letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, William Barclay, Westminster John Knox Press, 2003
(3) Interpretation Bible Commentary: Philippians, Fred B. Craddock, John Knox Press, 1985

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Chap 3

Chap 3 Holiness -A new way of Life, alot of new choices

Peter extended the principles of respect and submission to authority, from Christian conduct in the world to Christian conduct in the family. He challenged his readers to new behavior as submissive wives and considerate husbands.

A. Wives-The word means being under authority and carries the force of a command. There is no room for misinterpretation. It is very important to note the context here. Peter commands this so that unbelieving hucbands may come to Christ by the woman's example. Powerful,

B.Beauty: the call to an inner strength and beauty. Verse 5 adorned themselves by being subject to their husbands.

C. Husbands:be considerate or lit. "live with understanding" of their emotional, spiritual and physical needs. Note the reference to co-heirs...that is to say equal and with honor. The admonishment that your prayers would be hindered if you did not.

II. Like Paul in Eph 5:28. Peter now exhorts all V. 8. to be different than before your knowledge of the Christ.

A. Change in all of your behavior, your tongue and your mind.

B. Persecution- do not fear (lit) terrified, but be ready
to answer about the HOPE you posess.

C. V17 "God wills it" suffering hmm.

VErse 19-20 has some unusual interpretations given over the years, we will discuss this in class.

D. Baptism v21 " the pledge of a good conscience.

Baptism does not save from sin, but from a bad conscience. Peter clearly taught that baptism was not merely a ceremonial act of physical purification, but (alla, making a strong contrast) the pledge (eperōtēma, also trans. “appeal”; cf. NASB) of a good conscience (syneidēseōs; cf. v. 16) toward God. Baptism is the symbol of what has already occurred in the heart and life of one who has trusted Christ as Savior (cf. Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27; Col. 2:12). To make the source of salvation perfectly clear Peter added, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Peter 1:3).

Next week. Chap 4

Saturday, August 7, 2010

1 Peter Chap 2


Peter is the Greek translation of the Aramaic Cephas, the name Jesus gave Simon when he was called to be a disciple (John 1:42).

Last week we talked about Peterine and Pauline christianity, I would remind you these are debatable issues. I believe without a doubt there is only one faith one christianity and one church. However, there are characteristics that each bring out in their letters and teachings.

Lets talk some more about Peter as we move into Chap 2:

Scriptures on Peter that come to mind:

Matt 16:15-20

15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” 16 Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” 17 And Jesus answered him, “You are blessed, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but my Father in heaven! 18 And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. 19 I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth will have been bound in heaven, and whatever you release on earth will have been released in heaven

Matt 17 The Transfiguration

Acts 2:14

But Peter stood up with the eleven, raised his voice, and addressed them: “You men of Judea and all you who live in Jerusalem, know this and listen carefully to what I say.

Peter's name was recognized throughout the young christian church. His authority was unquestioned and he taught and nutured the church from Rome to Jerusalem.

Now the Text:

Introduction: WE covered this last week but a couple of notes below

Note on 1:2 "foreknowledge" translation:

Peter elaborated on the descriptive term “God’s elect” (cf. 2:9) who have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God. God’s choice is part of His predetermined plan, and is not based on any merit in those who are elected, but solely on His grace and love for them before their creation.
As the Williams translation puts it, God’s choosing is “in accordance with” (kata) or in keeping with His foreknowledge. This seems preferable to the view that election follows or is based on foreknowledge. Moreover the word for foreknowledge (prognōsin) means more than a passive foresight; it contains the idea of “having regard for” or “centering one’s attention on” (cf. Kenneth S. Wuest, First Peter in the Greek New Testament for the English Reader, p. 15). The same word is used in 1:20 of Christ who was “chosen” by the Father before Creation. The Father did more than merely know about His Son ahead of time; He knew Him completely. Thus God chose all those on whom He focused His attention (by His grace, not because of their merit).

Verse 22: (which is where we went into the Peterine vs pauline teaching)

22 You have purified your souls by obeying the truth in order to show sincere mutual love. So love one another earnestly from a pure heart. 23 You have been born anew, not from perishable but from imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

24 For all flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of the grass;
the grass withers and the flower falls off,
25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.
And this is the word that was proclaimed to you.

Verse 24 & 25 are from Isa. 40:6,8

I read this and BAM, there it was.

Verse 16 for it is written, “You shall be holy, because I am holy.”34

We have a sermon, styled in the old Levitical way in a sense, nothing extrodinary, I just didn't see it the first time.

So lets examine the sermon:

A Call to Holiness:

This is without a doubt an emphasis of Peter's, hence the Peterine/Pauline reference.

Now I am not sure what that means to you, but what it meant to the readers is important.

First, I believe their is a transition here. Peter is talking to both Jew and Gentile here dont forget that. We have a "post" apostolic age command.

Verse 16 is a ref.. from Lev 19:2
Verse 18: the inheiritance both Jew and Gentile?

The reason is Christ, you are bought and paid for, your life purchased, redeemed and fulfilled.

The new birth (23) a christian principle. Then the play on words in 2:2 spiritual milk, Gr Logikos.. a play on Logos, literaly that is the word of God.

Chap 2:

Holiness: continued

Peter then listed five sins of attitude and speech, which if harbored would drive wedges between believers. Malice (kakian) is wicked ill-will; deceit (dolon) is deliberate dishonesty; hypocrisy (hypokriseis), pretended piety and love; envy (phthonous), resentful discontent; and slander (katalalias), backbiting lies. None of these should have any place in those who are born again. Rather, in obedience to the Word, believers are to make decisive breaks with the past.

Holiness in Practice:


Your are chosen, so be Holy.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

The Book of Jude

I. Introduction

This week we will cover the Book of Jude; all 25 verses of it. Jude is the next to the last book found in the NT. As we normally do when starting a new study I will guide our study by answering the questions of Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

II. Who

A. Who wrote it? Two possibilities...

1. Jude, the apostle (not Judas Escariot)
2. Jude, the brother of Jesus
3. Most scholars believe it is the latter

B. To Whom Was it Written

1. It is not known to which church it was originally written

III. What

A. One of the shortest books of the bible, only 25 verses
B. It is written to warn congregants about false prophets living among them
C. False prophets may have been earliest of Gnostics

IV. When

A. Is likely one of the earliest books of the NT
B. Possibly was written around 65 AD

V. Where

A. One of the few NT books from the Palestinian Christian community

VI. Why

A. Written to warn Christians of false prophets in their midst
B. Appears to warn against early gnostics
1. Their philophy distinquishes matter as inherently evil and spirit as being good
2. The effect on Christian ethics was significant
a. antinomianism - belief that one is not under obligation to obey the moral law
b. a belief in abuse of the body to promote spirituality


(1) The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Second Thessalonians - Chapter 3


This week we are wrapping up our study of Second Thessalonians. Thus, we need to decide on what to study next. Given that we're in the summer season and many of us are away from church for a week or two on vacation or other travels I'd like to propose we stay in the New Testament and study some of the shorter letters which are easily covered in a week or two. This way anyone who misses a week or two will not feel lost returning in the middle of a larger multi-month study. Please bring your ideas with you to Sunday School tomorrow morning.

Now, let's proceed with wrapping up Second Thessalonians.

I. Introduction

A. A Request for Prayer and a Prayer for Them
B. A Charge to Discipline the Disorderly
C. Concluding Remarks

II. A Request for Prayer and a Prayer for Them

A. First Paul requests the Thessalonians pray for him and his work
1. Asks that they pray for God to facilitate the rapid and wide dissemination of the Gospel
2. Asks that they pray for Paul's deliverance from his enemies.
a. Dr. Constable believes Paul was referencing unbelieving Jews who were causing him difficulty in Corinth.
3. Imagine how the Thessalonians must have felt when they read that their leader was asking for them to pray for him!
4. Important to note Paul was not asking selfishly for prayers about wordly things. He was asking for prayers that God might intervene to help him further advance his ministry.
a. Read James 4:2 - James gives powerful instruction on how and what to pray for and that God wants us to pray and ask.
B. After expressing confidence in them he then prays that they might have a greater appreciation of God's love for them and the patience/steadfastness of Christ

III. A Charge to Discipline the Disorderly

A. Passage is mostly about how to treat "disorderly" christians. However, Paul does briefly address the offenders in v12.
B. Issue is about congregants who had stopped working and had begun living on the generosity of the other members.
C. Paul reminds them that he himself worked while he was among them specifically for the purpose of giving them an example to imitate.
D. Clearly this was a topic that had been discussed previously.
1. Paul mentions that he taught them about this while he was among them
2. Also wrote about same topic in his first letter (see First Thessalonians 4:11) - gently encouraging them.
E. Clearly some had not gotten the hint and now stronger, more direct language was needed.
F. Why had some of the congregants stopped working?
1. Believed Lord's return was imminent. Instead of believing the Lord COULD come soon, they had come to believe He WOULD come soon.
2. In anticipation of this event they had become excited and quit their jobs
G. Paul provides direct instruction to the offenders, in effect saying, "Calm yourself down and get back to work and provide for yourselves."
H. Paul also provides instruction on how to "discipline" those who do not heed his words.
1. Basically he tells them to shun them and in this way they will be shamed into admitting the error of their ways and will fall in line with God's teaching.
2. Also tells them to continue to love them as brothers not to treat them as enemies.

IV. Concluding Remarks

A. Another prayer for the Thessalonians
B. A confirmation of his authorship (he writes these sentences in his own handwriting instead of through a scribe)
C. Final benediction


(1) Notes on Second Thessalonians, 2010 Edition, Dr. Thomas L. Constable
(2) The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians, A Study Guide with Introductory Comments, Summaries, Outlines, and Review Questions by Mark A. Copeland
(3) The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary, The Iversen-Norman Associates, New York 1971

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Second Thessalonians - Chapter 2


I. Introduction

A. The Lord Has Not Come Yet (v. 1-2)

B. The Wicked Man Must Come First (v. 3-12)

C. Thanks to God for the Thessalonians (v. 13-15)

D. Prayer for the Thessalonians (v. 16-17)

II. The Lord Has Not Come Yet

A. False teachings have persuaded some of the Thessalonians that their persecution and affliction is a sign that "The Day of the Lord" had already begun.

B. Paul categorically denies this.

C. Cautions them not to be easily misguided by false teachings

D. Paul mentions three possible ways they may have been misled

1. By someone claiming a false prophecy, or

2. By someone claiming Paul had said or preached a sermon contrary to what he had already told them , or

3. By someone claiming to have a letter written by Paul on this subject

III. The Wicked Man Must Come First

A. Paul proclaims the day of the Lord will not come until two events occur

1. the rebellion, and

2. the lawless one is revealed

B. Greek word used for first event is "apostasy"

1. We don't know meaning of that word. However, similar word "Apostasia" usually means rebellion.

2. Wycliffe's bible commentary suggests rebellion could come in one of two forms, either in a political or religious sense.

3. Easy English bible commentary suggests it means religious and more specifically a 'falling away' or turning against God.

C. Wycliffe goes on to explain further that it will be a 'marshaling of the powers of evil against the people and purposes of God

D. Several other biblical references warn against this as well

1. Matthew 24:10

2. I Timothy 4:1-3

3. II Timothy 3:1-9

4. II Timothy 4:3

E. Lawless one will only be revealed at a time and place of God's choosing (God is always in charge!)

1. Lawless one is currently being held in check and can not reveal himself because of the power of God through the Holy Spirit - this position held by Dispensationalists (ex. Scofield)
2. Many other scholars (from Tertullian on c. 200 AD) believe Paul was referring loosely to the Roman empire (i.e., government in general). Government maintains law and order thus allowing the church to carry out its work.

F. Coming of the lawless one is obviously the work of Satan.
1. He will be able to perform great miracles
2. Many will be deceived because they have not known God's love, have not loved the truth

G. Lawless one (to whom John refers to as the antichrist) will oppose God and all other religions
1. Will declare himself to be a god
2. Will seat himself in the temple

IV. Thanks to God for the Thessalonians

A. Paul gives thanks to God for the faithful Thessalonians
B. Implores the Thessalonians to stand firm and hold fast to what he has taught them through his direct (in-person) teachings or by his letters.

V. Prayer for the Thessalonians

A. Prays that God may comfort their hearts and strengthen them in good work and word


(1) The New Testament and Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Iversen-Norman Associates, 1971

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Second Thessalonians - Chapter 1

I. Overview

A. Greetings

B. Thanksgiving & Encouragement

C. The Judgement at Christ's Coming

II. Greetings

A. Compare v. 1-2 to opening verses of First Thessalonians

1. Some use the fact that they are virtually identical to suggest someone else penned Second Thessalonians at a much later date, using Paul's name and his words to support authenticity.

2. However, also read opening verses of many other letters written by Paul. Almost all use very similar words.

III. Thanksgiving & Encouragement

A. Thanksgiving - always gives thanks to God for their growing faith

B. Offers Encouragement for them to continue to be faithful in the face of persecution by boasting of their faith to other churchs

III. Judgement at Christ's Coming

A. Thessalonicans had suffered through persecution

1. Paul says God's coming judgement is right

2. God will judge the Thessalonicans and they will be seen to have had faith

3. They will 'pass the test' and spend eternity with God and Jesus

B. God will Judge and Punish Evil

1. God's justice will ultimately prevail

2. Persecutors and unbelievers will face God's wrath

C. Jesus Coming from Heaven

1. Coming with powerful angels and fire

2. His followers will be reunited with him in the sky

3. Jesus will send unbelievers away from Him and God forever

D. Paul Expresses Confidence Thessalonicans will be Among those Called to Spend Eternity with Him

1. Believe the message and you will be among those who are saved.



Saturday, June 5, 2010

Introduction - Second Thessalonians

Next Sunday, June 13th, we will begin our study of Second Thessalonians. This week, to get us started I will be providing an overview of the book. As I've done in the past, I will accomplish this by answering the 5 'W' questions: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

I. Who

A. Who Wrote It?
1. As always there is a difference of opinion as to whether the letter was actually written by Paul.
2. However, most experts do believe it was written by Paul

B. To Whom was it Written?
1. No doubt here, it was written to the early Christians at Thessalonica
2. Primarily Gentiles, but some Jews

II. What - Three Key Topics Contained in the Letter

A. Encouragement in the face of continuing persecution
B. Clarify events concerning the day of the Lord
C. Instructed church on how to deal with lazy Christians

III. When

A. People who believe it wasn't written by Paul - suggest it was written late in the first century about the same time as Revelations.

B. People who believe it was written by Paul - suggest it was written within a year of when Paul wrote First Thessalonians.

IV. Where

A. Recall from our study of First Thessalonians that Thessalonica is located in present day Greece

1. Located at intersection of two major Roman roads
a. one leading from Italy eastward (Ignatia Way)
b. other from the Danube to the Aegean
2. Port city
3. Roman provincial capital of Macedonia

B. Like First Thessalonians - it is believed Paul wrote Second Thessalonians from Corinth

V. Why

A. To offer additional encouragement to the church who faced continued persecution
B. To dispel false teaching about the second coming of the Lord
C. To correct behavior resulting from this false teach - specifically people not working because they were sure Jesus was coming soon.



Saturday, May 29, 2010

1 Thessalonians Chapter 5

This week we will complete our study of First Thessalonians. Then it is on to Second Thessalonians. So let's get started.

I. Introduction

A. Chapter V - final chapter in letter

B. Divided into three main parts

1. First part continues topic from chapter 4 - The Coming of the Lord
2. Second part discusses life in a community of believers
3. Third part - Paul concludes remarks and gives benediction

II. The Coming of the Lord

A. Paul reminds them of what they already know - no one knows when God will send Jesus back to earth.

B. "Day of the Lord" does not literally mean a day.

1. Rather, means the entire period of the end times.
2. Time when God will set-up his Kingdom on earth.

C. Paul says that time will be like a "thief in the night."

1. Those who do not know the Lord and are walking in darkness will be totally taken offguard.
2. Paul also likens it to a woman going into labor - no warning, no stopping it

D. Paul reminds them they have nothing to fear because they are "children of the light."

1. They have heard God's message and accepted His gift
2. Light represents life and goodness. Children of the light are those who are living God's life.
3. Paul reminds them that because they are children of the light that they should not fall asleep, i.e., should guard against backsliding. They know the truth about how they ought to live
4. He also reminds them to remain in control of themselves. Do not be like the people of darkness who drink to excess and lose control of themselves.

E. Paul goes on to explain how Christian life is like a battle and how they must dress themselves accordingly. Faith, hope, and love are their battle dress

1. Battle helmet - hope of salvation
2. Clothes - guard their hearts and minds and keep them safe
3. Faith, hope, and love give Christians strength to overcome their troubles

III. Life in a Community of Believers

A. Respect and listen to your chosen leaders

1. Leaders have a hard task. Must admonish and correct those who go astray.
2. Must also keep the peace.
3. Paul asks the people to be considerate and respectful of people who are in leadership positions.
4. Be mindful of why they are correcting you. Love you and don't want you to fall away.

B. Various Christian Duties

1. Warn those who won't work
2. Encourage those who are weak in the spirit
3. Do not return evil for evil
4. Always be joyful - even in times of trouble
5. Pray without ceasing
a. means have an attitude of prayer
b. make it a regular part of your life
c. God wants to have a dialogue with you
6. Do not put out the fire of the Spirit
a. Be 'on fire' for the Lord
b. Use the gifts He gave you
7. Do not refuse to accept prophecies
1. Early christians did not have the benefit of having the new testament to guide them
2. While they knew to be wary of false prophets, Paul reminds them that this doesn't mean to dismiss all prophecy out of hand.
3. Must weigh what is being said in the prophecy against what the Lord has already said. No true prophecy will supercede what Jesus said.
4. True prophecy also will never hurt the church.

IV. Closing Remarks and Benediction

A. Paul prays that they may remain holy and free from sin
B. Closes by asking them to pray for him, to greet each other with a 'holy kiss'.
C. Asks that the letter be read to the entire church



Saturday, May 15, 2010

I Thessalonians - Chapter 4


It's been a couple of weeks since we've had a solid lesson so the plan for tomorrow is to briefly recap what Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians is all about then delve into Chapter 4.

Below is the lesson outline:

I. Overview

A. Recap book - (Who, what, when, where, and why)
B. Read and study Chapter 4
1. How you ought to live (v.1-8)
2. How you ought to love (v.9-12)
3. About those who have died (v.13-18)

II. Recap of First Thessalonians
A. Who
1. From Paul (with input from Timothy and Silas)
2. To Thessalonicans (mainly Greek gentile converts, some Jews)
B. What - short letter with more encouragement than teaching or correcting
C. When - between 50-54 AD (after Timothy returns from visiting Thessalonicans)
D. Where - written while Paul was in Corinth
E. Why - four main reasons for writing the letter
1. To express joy Paul felt after hearing Timothy's report on how the Thessalonicans were doing
2. To tell the Thessalonicans how much he loved and cared for them and to encourage them to continue to be faithful
3. To provide a rebuttal of the accusations others had made against him
4. To address questions about the status of people who died before Christ's return and to talk about how Christ would return.

III. Chapter 4

A. How You Ought to Live
1. Paul reminds them his instruction comes from the Lord and that God wants them to be holy
2. Passage primarily focuses on sex and God's expectations with regard to sexual conduct
3. Recall Thessalonica is under Roman rule in Greece. Neither the Romans or the Greeks had very high moral standards regarding sex. Fornication was openly practiced and accepted.
4. Paul reminds them God has a much higher standard.
5. Reminds them they have to rule their own bodies in a holy way (see also 1 Corinthians 6:19)

B. How You Ought to Love
1. Paul praises them for loving one another and those around them and encourages them to love even more, to continually strive for greater love
2. In v. 11 he changes course and encourages them to "live quietly, mind your own affairs, and work with your hands". This passage reminds me of the Quakers. They live quiet unassuming lives, mind their own business, and provide for themselves. What does this passage mean to us as mainline Christians today? How do we live out this instruction in this day and age?

C. About Those Who Have Died
1. Christians in Thessalonica were worried about those who already died before Christ's return. Would they share the same benefits as those who were alive when He returns?
2. The Greek word Paul uses for death means sleeping. Commentator I read said Paul is implying that this type of sleep is not a normal type of sleep (duh!). Rather, they are alive with the Lord Jesus in a different world. They have left their bodies and went to be with him.
3. When Jesus returns they (the dead) will awake to new life and will do so in a new body (see 1 Corinthians 15:35-49). Then those still living will rise to meet him and those just risen from the dead.
4. v.16 - Paul begins describing exactly what will happen in the moment of Christ's return.
a. Christ will begin to descend from heaven with a shout of command from an archangel, and a blast from the trumpet of God. The dead will be called from the grave and those who are still alive will join them in the clouds.
5. In the twinkling of an eye all will be given new bodies suitable for living with Jesus for eternity


(1) Free Bible Commentary -
(2) Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary -

Saturday, May 1, 2010

I Thessalonians Ch. 3


I changed my mind. You'll recall in my post last week I mentioned chapter 3 was relatively light in terms of study material. I had intended to read it but quickly move on to the meatier subjects covered in chapter 4. However, in re-reading it today I decided to spend more time on it. Specifically, two topics in the chapter caught my eye, (1) Timothy, and (2) Paul's reference t0 the 'tempter' in vs. 5.

I. Introduction - Two Different Topics

A. Timothy
B. The 'tempter'

II. Timothy

A. Who was Timothy?

1. Timothy was the son of a Jewish woman named Eunice (II Timothy 1:5)
2. We know his father was Greek but don't know his name. (Acts 16:1)
3. His maternal grandmother was named Lois (II Timothy 1:5)
4. Both his mother and grandmother were believers.
5. Timothy was young when he met Paul

B. Where was Timothy from?

1. Timothy was from a town called Lystra.
2. Lystra was located in what is now south-central Turkey.
3. It was located between Iconium (north) and Derbe (south)
4. It is thought Paul visited Lystra on all 3 of his missionary journeys. However, Lystra isn't sprecifically mentioned as having been visited on Paul's 3rd journey.
5. Paul was nearly stoned to death in Lystra during his 1st journey.

C. When did Paul meet Timothy?

1. Paul met Timothy during his second missionary journey
2. Early in the journey after starting from Antioch and traveling through Syria and Cilicia (Acts 15:41)
3. Probably around 49-50 AD
4. Paul had Timothy circumcised and Timothy then continued on the journey with Paul and Silas.
5. Timothy became one of Paul's most ardent, and faithful supporters.

D. Timothy's Work with Paul

1. Was frequently an emissary sent by Paul to various churches
a. sent into Macedonia (Acts 19:22)
b. sent to the Corinthians (I Corinthians 4:17)
c. sent to the Phillipians (Phillipians 2:19,23)
d. sent to the Thessalonians (I Thessalonians 3:2,6)

2. Was imprisoned with Paul in Rome (Phillipians 2:19-23, Philemon 1:1, Hebrews 13:23)

E. How did he die?

1. Unknown
2. However, historically said that he was stoned by pagans

III. The 'tempter' - could spend many hours discussing theology and what the Bible says about Satan. Today, want to focus on how you feel Satan works in the world today.

A. Ch. 2:18 - Paul says "but Satan blocked our way"

B. Ch. 3:5 - Paul says "I was afraid that somehow the tempter had tempted you..."

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Continuing Study of Chapter 2


Last week we weren't able to get very far into Chapter 2 (surprise, surprise). We did have lots of good discussion about the first 6 verses though! This week we will cover the remainder of Chapter 2 and read Chapter 3 as time allows. Chapter 3 doesn't have a lot material to cover in a lesson so on Mother's Day, in our new classroom, I will begin a lesson on Chapter 4.

See y'all tomorrow...


Saturday, April 17, 2010

1 Thessalonians Chapter 2

I. Introduction

A. Manner of his preaching among them
B. Manner of his conversation among them
C. Success of his ministry and its effects on him and them
D. Apologizes for not being able to return and see them again

II. Manner of his preaching among them (v. 1-6)

A. Subject matter of his preaching was not vain, or empty, deceiptful, or treacherous
B. Rather, was sound, solid truth, from which his listeners could profit
C. Preached pure and uncorrupted gospel. Objective was not to set-up a new faction, or to draw men over to a new party.
D. Only objective was promoting 'pure religion', the gospel. Had no ulterior motives.
E. See II Corinthians 4:2 and Galations 1:10
F. He desired only to please God, not men.

G. Why did Paul mention this?

1. answering accusations from Jewish community

2. they may have been claiming he was misrepresenting the law and the prophets

3. they may have been claiming he had impure motives

4. they may have been claiming he was guilty of tricking his new followers.

III. Manner of his conversation among them (v. 7-12)

A. Showed great gentleness towards them (easier to win people over with honey instead of vinegar). See II Timothy 2:24
B. He cared about them, their spiritual and eternal welfare (salvation)
C. Didn't care about their physical goods or what he could gain from them
D. He didn't take wages from them, rather he practiced his business of tent making in order to make a living while among them.
E. Met with them individually as well as together in a congregation . See Acts 20:20. Taught them how to lead a life worthy of God

IV. Success of his ministry and its effects on him and them

A. People accepted Paul's preaching and ministry as words from God, not from men
B. Preachers' preached by divine inspiration, led by the spirit
C. Thessalonians suffered as the early churches in Judea suffered
1. Were widely persecuted by the Jews
2. Jews believed they only were 'God's people'
3. Paul's indictment of the Jews
a. 'they killed Jesus'
b. 'they killed their own prophets'
c. 'they hated the apostles'
d. 'they pleased not God'
e. 'they were contrary to all men'
f. 'implacable enmity to the gentiles'
D. Jews then, like groups of today who call themselves Christians, pervert the word of God to justify their own goals
1. hate filled crimes of the Christian militia
2. hateful venomous attacks of 'church' in Kansas at funerals of soldiers

V. Apologies for not being able to come see them again

A. Involuntarily forced to leave them. See Acts 17:10.

B. Says Satan has been successful in preventing his return. Believe Satan is continuously at work in the world trying to prevent to spread of the gospel and God's work.


(1) - Matthew Henry commentary

(2) - Bible Class on 1 Thessalonians Ch. 2

(3) - Sermons from 1996 on 1 Thessalonians

Saturday, April 10, 2010

I Thessalonians - Chapter 1

I. Recap from Last Week - Introducing I Thessalonians

A. I Thessalonians one of oldest books in New Testament; written between 50-54 AD
B. Thessalonica was the Roman provincial capital of Macedonia
C. Most of the early church members in Thessalonica were gentiles, who previously worshipped Greek idols
D. Paul, Timothy, and Silas traveled to Thessalonica after escaping prison in Phillipi during Paul's second missionary journey.
E. Paul's time in Thessalonica is described in Acts 17:1-9

II. Opening Verses

A. In opening verses Paul reveals a great deal of his heart
1. To quote Dr. Ray Pritchard (Baptist minister), "If you want to know what he (Paul) believed read Romans. If ou want to know what he was like as a person, read I Thessalonians.
2. Everything Paul writes is meant to lift their spirits

B. Word "Church" comes from the Greek word "ekklesia"
1. "ekklesia comes from two other words, "out from" and "called"
2. Thus "church" means a group of people called out from other people for a particular reason

C. How or why were these peopled called out?
1. Paul writes that they were "in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"
2. Thus they had received the Holy Spirit from God through Jesus the Christ

III. Conversion - Paul now recalls how Thessalonians came to be converted

A. In vs. 4 Paul describes what happened first - God CHOSE them
1. Theologically this is known as the Doctrine of Selection
2. Salvation begins with God's choice of us, not our choice of Him
3. Hard concept to comprehend, are we not all called?
4. What about Revelation 3:20, "Behold I stand at the door and knock, if any man hear my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and him with me."

B. In vs. 5 Paul describes how they were filled with the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the Word

IV. Evidence of the Conversion (vs. 6-8)

A. Thessalonians were so glad to be saved, even in the face of severe persecution
1. Think how it must have been...
a. small group of Greek converts
b. surrounded by unbelievers and all of their former Idol gods
2. not to mention the Jews, recall Acts 17:5, "But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city."

B. Living the Word
1. Not enough to believe, must also live the Word
2. Thessalonians did this as well
a. "and so you became a model to all believeers in Macedonia and Achaia"
b. "model" in Greek is "tupos". Literally refers to the impression made by metal when pressed into clay.

C. Speaking the Word
1. Thessalonians weren't just living the word, their actions were also speaking the word and spreading it throughout the land.

V. Three Tenses of the Christian Life

A. The Past
1. Old Testament - two words for repentance
a. "nacham" - turn around or change the mind
b. "sub" - used 600 times in OT, means "turn", "return", "seek", or "restore"
2. New Testament - "metanoia", "meta" means to change the mind

B. The Present
1. Change means serving a new God
2. Giving up old gods and serving Living God

C. The Future
1. Wait for Jesus to return

VI. Summary
A. God Calls
B. We respond
C. We turn
D. We serve
E. We wait



Friday, April 2, 2010

I Thessalonians - An Introduction

Well here we go folks. We're starting a new study. As you can see from the title we will be studying Paul's first letter to the Thessalonians for the next several weeks.

Before we get started on I Thessalonians I wanted to publicly thank Charlie for leading us in our study of Daniel. Daniel is a hard book to study but Charlie made it look easy. I learned a great deal and I'm sure y'all did as well. THANKS Charlie!


For this introduction I'm going to answer the good ol' 5 "W" questions, WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.


A. Who wrote the book? Paul is generally accepted as the principal author of the book. However, the opening versus suggest Silas and Timothy may also have had input or actually written part of the text.

B. Who is the intended audience? The book is written to the members of the church Paul founded in Thessalonica. According to Acts, Ch. 17 they were a mixture of Jews and Gentiles.


A. What is the book about? Here's an outline I obtained from the Easy English Bible Commentary web-site:

Chapter 1
Greetings from Paul, Silas and Timothy 1:1

Thanks and prayer to God 1:2-4

How the Thessalonians accepted the good news about Jesus 1:5-10

Chapter 2
How Paul and his friends came to Thessalonica 2:1-4

Their attitude to the people at Thessalonica 2:5-8

How they lived among them 2:9-12

Thanks to God for the *response of the people at Thessalonica 2:13-16

Desire to visit them again 2:17-20

Chapter 3
Why Paul and Silas sent Timothy 3:1-5

Joy at the news that Timothy brought 3:6-10

Prayer for the Christians at Thessalonica 3:11-13

Chapter 4
How you ought to live 4:1-8

How you should love each other 4:9-12

About those who have died 4:13-18

Chapter 5
When the *Lord will come 5:1-11

Respect those who lead you and work for your benefit 5:12-13

Various Christian duties 5:14-22

Prayer for the Christians at Thessalonica 5:23-24

Greeting and blessing 5:25-28


A. In what year was the book written?

1. Most bible scholars believe the book was written sometime between 50 - 54 AD, thus making it one of the earliest, if not the earliest book of the New Testament.

2. Some scholars believe Galations may have been written before First Thessalonians.

B. When in Paul's travels was it written? Based on information provided in Acts it can easily be placed as having been written during Paul's second missionary journey.


A. Where is Thessalonica? A picture is worth a thousand words so check out the image at the top of the page. As you can see Thessalonica was a port city on the Aegean Sea. It was located south and west of Phillippi and north and a little west of Athens.

1. Thessalonica was founded in 316 BC. By the time Paul arrived to preach the good news it was almost 400 years old.

2. Thessalonica was the Roman provincial capital of Macedonia in 51 AD

3. Thessalonica was about 1 square mile in size and had a population of around 40,000 people.

B. Where was Paul when he wrote First Thessalonians?

1. Some historians place Paul in Athens.

2. However, others place him in Corinth believing he had already left Athens and was practicing his trade in Corinth.


A. He wanted to encourage the new Christians in Thessalonica who were making good progress in their faith (Ch. 1:2-10)

B. He wanted to correct some misinformation about himself and his fellow missionaries that were being spread by some of his critics

C. He wanted to give additional instruction that would contribute to the Thessalonians spiritual growth



Saturday, March 20, 2010

Chap 12 -The Time of the End

We can review the the verses of Chap 11:36-12:4 and note that the first 4 verses of Chap 12 continue the vision that actually started in Chap 10.

Note: If vv. 36–45 continue the description of Antiochus Epiphanes, the account must be viewed as erroneous, since the details do not match what is known of Antiochus’ latter days. Most modern scholars take this view, concluding that this section was written just shortly before the death of Antiochus and that the writer erred on several key points as he tried to predict what would follow the events of his own day. Conservative scholars, however, usually understand the reference to shift at this point to an eschatological figure, viz., the Antichrist. The chronological gap that this would presuppose to be in the narrative is not necessarily a problem, since by all accounts there are many chronological gaps throughout the chapter, as the historical figures intended by such expressions as “king of the north” and “king of the south” repeatedly shift.

Note: The opening phrase of chapter 12, and at that time, makes clear that this passage is talking about the same period of time as the previous context, that is, “the time of the end” (11:40). The action here in verse 1 is not subsequent to the preceding events but coincides with them chronologically.

A. Daniel 12:1-4

I. The "Great" tribulation period. The Angel Michael will come to their aid: See Zech

14 A day of the LORD is about to come when your possessions will be divided as plunder in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to wage war; the city will be taken, its houses plundered, and the women raped. Then half of the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be taken away.
3 Then the LORD will go to battle and fight against those nations, just as he fought battles in ancient days. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, leaving a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward. 5 Then you will escape through my mountain valley, for the mountains will extend to Azal. Indeed, you will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come with all his holy ones with him. 6 On that day there will be no light - the sources of light in the heavens will congeal. 7 It will happen in one day (a day known to the LORD); not in the day or the night, but in the evening there will be light. 8 Moreover, on that day living waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it will happen both in summer and in winter.
9 The LORD will then be king over all the earth. In that day the LORD will be seen as one with a single name. 10 All the land will change and become like the Arabah from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem will be raised up and will stay in its own place from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate and on to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. 11 And people will settle there, and there will no longer be the threat of divine extermination - Jerusalem will dwell in security.

II. A huge important note here is that this is the only Old testament reference to a "final" resurrection. Verse 2 (Rev 20:4) and a different version of "hell" everlasting contempt. This is the only undisputed reference to this event. It is the most clear and written at least in the 2nd century BC(disputed).

III. The Seal and the End.

A. Let it be understood by those in the time of the end. Enough said.

B. Time, Times and 1/2 Time?


A time, times, and half a time (cf. Dan. 12:7; Rev. 12:14) refer to the three and one-half years of the Great Tribulation, with “a time” meaning one year, “times” two years, and “half a time” six months. This equals the 1,260 days in Revelation 12:6 and the 42 months in Revelation 11:2; 13:5. (Cf. comments on “times” in Dan. 4:16.)

C. 12:11 refer back to 9:27(seventy weeks) I can not explain the 30 days difference. It will be open for discussion.


The angel said that 1,290 days will be measured off from the time that the daily sacrifice is abolished (cf. 9:27, “he will put an end to sacrifice”) and the abomination that causes desolation is set up (cf. 9:27, “one who causes desolation will place abominations on a wing of the temple”). The last half of the 70th “seven” of years is “a time, times, and half a time” (7:25; Rev. 12:14), which is three and one-half years. It is also designated as 42 months (Rev. 11:2) or 1,260 days (Rev. 11:3). How then can the variance of 30 days (1,290 compared with 1,260) be explained? Some suggest that the 30 days will extend beyond the end of the Tribulation, allowing for the judgment of Israel and the judgment of the nations. Another possibility is that the 1,290 days will begin 30 days before the middle of the 70th “seven” of years when the world ruler will set up “the abomination that causes desolation” (Matt. 24:15). The 1,290 days could begin with an announcement (about the abomination) made 30 days before the abomination is introduced. This abomination, as stated earlier, will be an image of himself (Rev. 13:14-15) and will be the symbol of this religious system.

D. Dan 12:13

A. An additional 45 days?


Blessing is pronounced on one who waits for and lives to see the end of the 1,335 days. This is an additional 45 days beyond the 1,290 days (v. 11). Forty-five days after the end of the Tribulation Israel’s long-awaited blessings will be realized. This may mark the blessing of the Millennium; or it may be when Christ, who will have appeared in the heavens (Matt. 24:30) 45 days earlier, will actually descend to the earth, His feet touching down on the Mount of Olives (cf. Acts 1:11). For believers Christ’s coming is a blessing and a glorious hope.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Daniel 11:36-45

Charlie is going to be out of town this weekend so y'all will have to suffer through my limited knowledge. As you can see from the title I am leaving Chapter 12 for Charlie to cover upon his return.

We have an interesting but very challenging text this week. So let's get started.

I. Recap of last week (Ch. 11:1-35)

A. Historical Prophecy
1. Daniel has vision about near-term future (prior to birth of Jesus)
2. Thus, "historical" to us current day readers of Daniel
B. Focus is on continued persecution of the Jews
C. Vs. 35 acts as a transition from historical prophecy to eschatological
1. Key phrase, "for there is still an interval until the time appointed."

II. Four questions to be answered

A. What is the temporal setting of the passage?
B. What is the identity of the "willful king"?
C. What is the identity of the King of the North?
D. What is the identity of the "attacker" in 11:40-45?

II. The introduction of the Antichrist - vs. 36-39

A. Shall act as he pleases (will answer to noone)
B. Consider himself greater than any god (consider himself a deity)
C. Blasphemy against God
D. Will prosper until the period of wrath is completed (i.e., he will do well
until the one and only true God says otherwise.)
E. Shall pay no respect to the gods of his ancestors (atheist or believes he
truly is god)
F. ...or to the one beloved by women (some illogically believe this is a
reference that he will be gay)
G. He shall honor the god of fortresses (a reference to having and using strong
military power)
H. He will deal with the strongest of fortresses by the help of a foreign god
1. he will wage war against his enemies
2. this will market the middle of the 70th week (i.e., 3 1/2 years into the
period of tribulation)
I. Vs. 36-39 give us the answers to two of our four questions
1. The temporal setting as we already established is eschatological
2. The 'willful king' can be noone other than the Antichrist.

IV. The last 3 1/2 years (the beginning of the end)

A. Final years will be marked by unbelievable wars
1. First attack against the Antichrist will come from the south
2. Then north will attack
3. Antichrist forces defeat them both
B. Lots of speculation as to who is the king of the north
1. Some say Syria
2. Others say Turkey
3. Majority think it is Russia
4. I say who cares? The point is the world is at war and Armageddon
is right around the corner. We have no way of knowing when the Lord
will come again so it is not possible to know what countries will exist
in those final days.
C. Lots of confusion in vs. 41-45 as to whom is attacking whom.
1. Repeated use of the "He" pronoun causes the confusion
2. At the end of the day one has to believe the "He" in vs. 40 refers to
the king of the north
3. "He" in vs. 41-44 refer to the Antichrist
4. Antichrist destroys many, many Jews before his final defeat.
D. Answers to final two questions.
1. Who is the King of the North? He is the head of a
great power north of Israel which has wide geographical range and of
world political stature, probably Russia. (again pure speculation and
who cares)
2. Who is the "attacker" in 11:40-45? It is the King of the North and not
the Antichrist.

V. Conclusion
1. Lots of action packed into a few verses.
2. For complete picture of prophecy surrounding the tribulation must also
read many other related passages in Ezekiel, Revelations, and
Thessalonians. Jesus himself decribes the end times in Matthew.

Source Material:


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Chap 11 contd

I. The 4 Persian Kings:

Cambyses, Pseudo-Smerdis, and Darius Hystaspes. or

Cambyses II, son of Cyrus the Great, ruled 529-522 BCE
Smerdis (Bardiya), alleged son of Cyrus the Great, ruled 522 BCE (Possibly a usurper)
Darius I the Great, brother-in-law of Smerdis and grandson of Arsames, ruled 521-486 BCE
Xerxes I the Great, son of Darius I, ruled 485-465 BCE

Note on Xerxes:

Xerxes, whose riches were proverbial. Persia reached its climax and showed its greatest power in his invasion of Greece, 480 B.C. After his overthrow at Salamis, Persia is viewed as politically dead, though it had an existence. Therefore, Da 11:3, without noticing Xerxes’ successors, proceeds at once to Alexander, under whom, first, the third world kingdom, Grecia, reached its culmination, and assumed an importance as to the people of God.

II. Verse by Verse Commentary on North and South


A few years after Alexander’s death, his kingdom was divided among his four generals (cf. 8:22): Seleucus (over Syria and Mesopotamia), Ptolemy (over Egypt), Lysimacus (over Thrace and portions of Asia Minor), and Cassander (over Macedonia and Greece). This division was anticipated through the four heads of the leopard (7:6) and the four prominent horns on the goat (8:8). Alexander founded no dynasty of rulers; since he had no heirs, his kingdom was divided and the empire was marked by division and weakness.


The strong king of the South was Ptolemy I Soter, a general who served under Alexander. He was given authority over Egypt in 323 B.C. and proclaimed king of Egypt in 304. The commander referred to in verse 5 was Seleucus I Nicator, also a general under Alexander, who was given authority to rule in Babylon in 321. But in 316 when Babylon came under attack by Antigonus, another general, Seleucus sought help from Ptolemy I Soter in Egypt. After Antigonus’ defeat in 312, Seleucus returned to Babylon greatly strengthened. He ruled over Babylonia, Media, and Syria, and assumed the title of king in 305. Thus Seleucus I Nicator’s rule was over far more territory than Ptolemy I Soter’s.


Ptolemy I Soter died in 285 B.C. and Ptolemy II Philadelphus, Ptolemy’s son, ruled in Egypt (285-246). Meanwhile Seleucus was murdered in 281 and his son Antiochus I Soter ruled till 262. Then Seleucus’ grandson Antiochus II Theos ruled in Syria (262-246). Ptolemy II and Antiochus II were bitter enemies but finally (after some years) they entered into an alliance in about 250. This alliance was sealed by the marriage of Ptolemy II’s daughter Berenice to Antiochus II. This marriage, however, did not last, for Laodice, whom Antiochus had divorced in order to marry Berenice, had Berenice killed (she was handed over). Laodice then poisoned Antiochus II and made her son, Seleucus II Callinicus, king (246-227).


Berenice’s brother, Ptolemy III Euergetes (246-221), succeeded his father and set out to avenge the death of his sister Berenice. He was victorious over the Syrian army (the king of the North), put Laodice to death, and returned to Egypt with many spoils.


After this humiliating defeat, Seleucus II Callinicus (the king of the North) sought to invade Egypt but was unsuccessful. After his death (by a fall from his horse) he was succeeded by his son, Seleucus II Soter (227-223 B.C.), who was killed by conspirators while on a military campaign in Asia Minor. Seleucus III’s brother, Antiochus III the Great, became the ruler in 223 at 18 years of age and reigned for 36 years (till 187).
The two sons (Seleucus III and Antiochus III) had sought to restore Syria’s lost prestige by military conquest, the older son by invading Asia Minor and the younger son by attacking Egypt. Egypt had controlled all the territory north to the borders of Syria which included the land of Israel. Antiochus III succeeded in driving the Egyptians back to the southern borders of Israel in his campaign in 219-217.


The king of the South in this verse was Ptolemy IV Philopator (221-204 B.C.). He was the one driven back by Antiochus III the Great (cf. comments on v. 10). Ptolemy IV came to meet Antiochus III at the southern borders of Israel. Ptolemy IV was initially successful in delaying the invasion of Antiochus (Ptolemy slaughtered many thousands). But after a brief interruption Antiochus returned with another army (much larger) and turned back the king of the South.


yria was not Egypt’s only enemy, for Philip V of Macedonia joined with Antiochus III against Egypt. Many Jews (your own people, i.e., Daniel’s people, the Jews; cf. “your people” in 9:24; 10:14) also joined Antiochus against Egypt. Perhaps the Jews hoped to gain independence from both Egypt and Syria by joining the conflict, but their hopes were not realized.
Antiochus then sought to consolidate control over Israel from which he had expelled the Egyptians. The fortified city seems to refer to Sidon which Antiochus captured in 203 B.C. Antiochus III continued his occupation and by 199 had established himself in the Beautiful Land (cf. 8:9; 11:41). Antiochus sought to bring peace between Egypt and Syria by giving his daughter to marry Ptolemy V Epiphanes of Egypt. But this attempt to bring a peaceful alliance between the two nations did not succeed (v. 17).


Antiochus III then turned his attention to Asia Minor in 197 B.C. and Greece in 192. However, Antiochus did not succeed because Cornelius Scipio (a commander) was dispatched from Rome to turn Antiochus back. Antiochus returned to his own country in 188 and died a year later. Antiochus III the Great had carried on the most vigorous military campaigns of any of Alexander’s successors, but his dream of reuniting Alexander’s empire under his authority was never realized.


Antiochus III’s son Seleucus IV Philopator (187-176 B.C.) heavily taxed his people to pay Rome, but he was poisoned (destroyed … not in … battle) by his treasurer Heliodorus.

(3) Invasion by Antiochus IV Epiphanes (11:21-35). These verses describe Antiochus IV Epiphanes, a son of Antiochus III the Great. This one Seleucid who ruled from 175-163 B.C. is given as much attention as all the others before him combined. He is the little horn of Daniel 8:9-12, 23-25. A long section (11:21-35) is devoted to him not only because of the effects of his invasion on the land of Israel, but more so because he foreshadows the little horn (king) of 7:8 who in a future day will desecrate and destroy the land of Israel.


Antiochus IV is introduced as a contemptible person. He took to himself the name Epiphanes which means “the Illustrious One.” But he was considered so untrustworthy that he was nicknamed Epimanes which means “the Madman.” The throne rightly belonged to Demetrius Soter, a son of Seleucus IV Philopator, but Antiochus IV Epiphanes seized the throne and had himself proclaimed king. Thus he did not come to the throne by rightful succession; he seized it through intrigue. He was accepted as ruler because he was able to turn aside an invading army, perhaps the Egyptians. He also deposed Onias III, the high priest, called here a prince of the covenant.


After his military victories, Antiochus Epiphanes’ prestige and power rose with the help of a comparatively small number of people. He evidently sought to bring peace to his realm by redistributing wealth, taking from the rich and giving to his followers.


After Antiochus consolidated his kingdom, he moved against Egypt, the king of the South, in 170. Antiochus was able to move his army from his homeland to the very border of Egypt before he was met by the Egyptian army at Pelusium near the Nile Delta. In this battle the Egyptians had a large … army but were defeated and Antiochus professed friendship with Egypt. The victor and the vanquished sat at a table together as though friendship had been established, but the goal of both to establish peace was never realized for they both were deceptive.


Antiochus carried great wealth back to his homeland from his conquest. On his return he passed through the land of Israel. After his disappointment in Egypt (he had hoped to take all of Egypt but failed) he took out his frustrations on the Jews by desecrating the temple in Jerusalem. Evidently he opposed (set his heart … against) the entire Mosaic system (the holy covenant). After desecrating the temple, he returned to his own country.


Two years later (in 168) Antiochus moved against Egypt (the South) again. As he moved into Egypt, he was opposed by the Romans who had come to Egypt in ships from the western coastlands (lit., “ships of Kittim”; cf. NIV marg., i.e., Cyprus). From the Roman senate Popillius Laenas took to Antiochus a letter forbidding him to engage in war with Egypt. When Antiochus asked for time to consider, the emissary drew a circle in the sand around Antiochus and demanded that he give his answer before he stepped out of the circle. Antiochus submitted to Rome’s demands for to resist would be to declare war on Rome. This was a humiliating defeat for Antiochus Epiphanes (he will lose heart) but he had no alternative but to return to his own land.


For a second time (cf. v. 28) Antiochus took out his frustration on the Jews, the city of Jerusalem, and their temple. He vented his fury against the holy covenant, the entire Mosaic system (cf. v. 28), favoring any renegade Jews who turned to help him (cf. v. 32). He desecrated the temple and abolished the daily sacrifice. Antiochus sent his general Apollonius with 22,000 soldiers into Jerusalem on what was purported to be a peace mission. But they attacked Jerusalem on the Sabbath, killed many people, took many women and children as slaves, and plundered and burned the city.
In seeking to exterminate Judaism and to Hellenize the Jews, he forbade the Jews to follow their religious practices (including their festivals and circumcision), and commanded that copies of the Law be burned. Then he set up the abomination that causes desolation. In this culminating act he erected on December 16, 167 B.C. an altar to Zeus on the altar of burnt offering outside the temple, and had a pig offered on the altar. The Jews were compelled to offer a pig on the 25th of each month to celebrate Antiochus Epiphanes’ birthday. Antiochus promised apostate Jews (those who … violated the covenant; cf. v. 30) great reward if they would set aside the God of Israel and worship Zeus, the god of Greece. Many in Israel were persuaded by his promises (flattery) and worshiped the false god. However, a small remnant remained faithful to God, refusing to engage in those abominable practices. Antiochus IV died insane in Persia in 163 B.C. (Cf. comments on this Antiochus in 8:23-25.)


The Jews who refused to submit to Antiochus’ false religious system were persecuted and martyred for their faith. The word fall (vv. 33-34), literally “stumble” (kāšal), refers to severe suffering on the part of many and death for others. This has in view the rise of the Maccabean revolt. Mattathias, a priest, was the father of five sons. (One of them, Judas, became well known for refurbishing and restoring the temple in late 164 B.C. He was called Judas Maccabeus, “the Hammerer.”) In 166, Mattathias refused to submit to this false religious system. He and his sons fled from Jerusalem to the mountains and began the Maccabean revolt. At first only a few Jews joined them. But as their movement became popular, many joined them, some out of sincere motives and some from false motives. The suffering that the faithful endured served to refine and purify them. This time of persecution was of short duration. It had previously been revealed to Daniel that the temple would be desecrated for 1,150 days (8:14; see comments on 8:23-25). Here Daniel was assured that this persecution would run its course and then be lifted, for its end will still come at the appointed time.

III. Future or Not

A. The King is ?

All the events described thus far in chapter 11 are past. The intricate details of the conflicts between the Seleucids and the Ptolemies were fulfilled literally, exactly as Daniel had predicted. So detailed are the facts that skeptics have denied that the book was written by Daniel in the sixth century B.C. They conclude that the book must have been written during the time of the Maccabees (168-134 B.C.) after the events took place. However, the God who knows the end from the beginning, was able to reveal details of forthcoming history to Daniel.
In verses 36-45 a leader is described who is introduced simply as “the king.” Some suggest that this is Antiochus IV Epiphanes and that the verses describe additional incursions of his into Israel. However, the details given in these verses were not fulfilled by Antiochus. True, Antiochus was a foreshadowing of a king who will come (cf. comments on 8:25). But the two are not the same. One is past and the other is future. The coming king (the little “horn” of 7:8 and “the ruler” of 9:26) will be the final ruler in the Roman world. His rise to prominence by satanic power is described in Revelation 13:1-8 where he is called a “beast.” According to John (Rev. 17:12-13), he will gain authority not by military conquest but by the consent of the 10 kings who will submit to him. Starting with Daniel 11:36 the prophecy moves from the “near” to the “far.”

The events recorded in verses 36-45 will occur during the final seven years of the 70 sevens (9:24).

11:36-45 and 12:1-13 discussion will be Next Week