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Bible Study at Home: A Simple How-To

Do you have a Bible study you attend regularly? Either at a church, a group, or online? If not, you are not alone.

There are many reasons why a person hungry to learn more about God’s word cannot attend a Bible study, one of the most likely being that they cannot find one or the ones available to them meet at the wrong time or the wrong place. This doesn’t mean that you cannot learn the Bible–you can! I’m going to give you a simple way to begin studying at home. It is called a Word Study or Topical Study.

1. Pray.

Always pray and ask God to help you know him more and to help you obey and apply what he shows you. All teaching from God begins and ends and is through the Holy Spirit. Without the Holy Spirit, God himself, breathing his life into his word as he shows it to you inside your heart, the best knowledge of God’s word will only be dead knowledge.

Pray that God will lead you to the right Bible for you at this time in your life.

Pray that God will direct you to the right verses that he wants you to study.

Pray that God will help you to understand and apply what you read.

2. Second, buy yourself a reference Bible. 

You may have one already. What is a reference Bible? A reference Bible is not necessarily a study Bible. A reference Bible is a Bible that simply has a list of other verses in a center column, or a side column, or at the foot of the page.

Center Reference Bible

You can see from the example above that the text on the left has verse numbers that correspond to a list of verse numbers running down the middle of the page between the two columns of scripture.

Verse 33 at the top of the page, for example, has a small, italicized letter a before the word “teach.” “Teach me, O Lord, the way of your statutes.” That’s what the Lord is doing right now. He is teaching you how to study Scripture.

The center column has the number “33” corresponding to the verse you just read. There is a small letter “a” followed by “Ps 119.5, 12.” This means that if you turn to Psalm 119 verses 5 and then 12, you will find more verses that use the word “teach.”

Psalm 119:12 Blessed art Thou, O LORD; Teach me Thy statutes.

Verse 36, which is underlined, has the small letter “a” before the word “incline.”

Psalm 119:36 Incline my heart to Thy testimonies, And not to dishonest gain.

Turning to the center column, the number “36” is followed by a small “a” and the reference “1Ki 8:58.” Looking up that verse we see:

1 Kings 8:58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

When we read the above verse, we see that it begins half way through a sentence. To get the full meaning, we need to go up a verse to the beginning of the sentence, and we read:

1 Kings 8:57 The LORD our God be with us, as he was with our fathers. May he not leave us or forsake us, 58 that he may incline our hearts to him, to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments, his statutes, and his rules, which he commanded our fathers.

Perhaps a small desk dictionary might be useful here to understand the meaning of “incline” in this sentence. This is from Merriam-Webster.

1 :to cause to stoop or bow :bend

2 :to have influence on :persuade

  • his love of books inclined him toward a literary career
3 :to give a bend or slant to

Putting this together, we see that the psalmist in Psalm 119:36 is asking the Lord in prayer to “incline” or bend, that is, to persuade his heart to prefer obedience to the Lord’s way rather than preferring to spend his time trying to get rich. 1 Kings tells us that when God is with us, he does just that. The psalmist is praying to God, asking God to influence his heart to prefer the Lord’s way above the way of the materialistic world. This tells us that we are not alone, that God is the one who influences us to desire him and his word.

How might a reader apply this verse to her own life? Does she sense that her heart is growing cold towards the Lord? She should turn to the Lord and ask him to help her. Do someone else find that worldly interests of career and money are drawing their attention away from God? They should turn to him, just as the psalmist does, and ask God to help them, to influence their heart and the things their heart desires.

3. Summary

What I have showed today is very simple. The more you practice looking up the little verses in the reference column, the better you will become at it. 

Also, you will soon see that the Bible is a unified whole. It connects and teaches the same message in each of its individual parts. Each part repeats in a different setting what the other parts are also saying.

Further, you will be studying topics, such as love, light, truth, life, faith and any of the other Christian words you can think of.

Your beginning point will be a single verse. For example, 

John 3:16 “For God so (a) loved the world, that He (b) gave His (1)(c) only begotten Son, that whoever (d)believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. 

Looking up the verses in the reference column for each one of the letters in parentheses gives us the following list:

(a) loved the world Rom 5:8; Eph 2:4; 2Th 2:16; 1Jo 4:10; Rev 1:5

(b) gave Rom 8:32; 1Jo 4:9

(c) only begotten Son Joh 1:18; Joh 3:18; 1Jo 4:9

(d) believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life Joh 3:36; Joh 6:40; Joh 11:25f. (The letter “f” here means “forward.” That is, read John 11:25 and keep reading, since there are more verses that continue on the same topic.)

(1) While letters refer to verses, numbers refer to notes by the editors or translators of the particular Bible you may have. Here the (1) says the following, “unique, only one of His kind.” That is what the translators or editors are saying about the word “only begotten.”

I guarantee that by the time you have looked up all the above verses, you will have a good idea of the topic of God’s love to all people in the world!

 

 

 

 

 

On the Eve of Potential Impeachment…Psalm 146

Psalm 146_3098 copy

Psalm 21: A Structural Analysis

Photo by Christina Wilson

 

Bibliography

Outline of Series

Psalm 21

How cold is the title of this post? Why would anyone want to “structurally analyze” any part of God’s Word, especially the poetry of Psalms?

There are living voices in the psalms–various points of view and various speakers within single psalms. Not everyone hears these voices. Yet Christ after his resurrection cited Psalms to his disciples as one of the areas of Old Testament prophecy that  foretold his sufferings, death, and resurrection.

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, (Luke 24:44-45).

Verse 45 above says that Jesus “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” I take this to mean that he spent some time with them going over specific examples and giving them keys to unlock passages. Afterward, they would be able to find and see these things themselves, as the Gospels and letters bear witness.

Psalm 21 is a psalm of resurrection.

Psalm 21 enjoys the agreement of traditional church interpretation both East and West that it is messianic and regards the resurrection and beyond.

Patrick Reardon writes, “Holy Church, both East and West, rather early decided that Psalm 20 (Hebrew 21) is best prayed during the earliest hours of Sunday morning, the Resurrection day of her Lord Jesus Christ” (Reardon, 39).

Andrew Bonar writes of it, “We are at once shewn the King Messiah, already triumphant at the Father’s right hand; and yet, as King, to triumph more ere all be done” (Bonar, 71).

Its positional context in the Psalter corresponds to its messianic nature.

Positioned just before Psalm 21, Psalm 20 is a psalm of prayerful intercession for the salvation of the King in his day of trouble. Undoubtedly the Jewish congregation prayed it through the centuries from David to Christ, and some, such as Anna and Zechariah, most likely knew that when they prayed this psalm, they were indeed praying for the Lord’s Anointed Messiah, not just for King David in retrospect.

Psalm 21 gives God’s answer to the petitions of Psalm 20, and Psalm 22, quoted in the New Testament and widely acknowledged as messianic, gives the details of the struggle prayed for in Psalm 20 and recaps the victory of Psalm 21.

Charles Spurgeon, who is relatively conservative in naming certain psalms as messianic, writes in his forward to Psalm 21, “Probably written by David, sung by David, relating to David, and intended by David to refer in its fullest reach of meaning to David’s Lord. It is evidently the fit companion of Psalm Twenty, and is in its proper position next to it. Psalm Twenty anticipates what this regards as realized. [Notice that Spurgeon here acknowledges reading across the psalms for connected themes]…The next Psalm [Psalm 22] will take us to the foot of the cross, this introduces us to the steps of the throne” (Spurgeon, Vol. 1, 312).

As a note, Psalm 21 is not quoted in the New Testament (Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno). This is apparently the reason why this psalm, widely regarded as being messianic throughout church history, does not appear in “official” lists of prophetic messianic psalms, such as those found in certain popular study Bibles. The author of this blog strongly feels that, as regards the reading of Psalms, current post modern academia has thrown buckets of icy water upon the Holy Spirit of God (1 Thessalonians 5:19), who moves so deeply throughout all of Scripture, breathing the life of Christ everywhere in its pages, and nowhere moreso than in the psalms. Sadly, this atmosphere of strict academia has seeped down into many, if not most, western evangelical churches, so that the power of Psalms as the voice of Christ has been largely lost to the weekly evangelical worshiper.

The Internal Structure of Psalm 21

Psalm 21

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of David.

O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,
    and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire
    and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For you meet him with rich blessings;
    you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
    length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation;
    splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever;[a]
    you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord,
    and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

Your hand will find out all your enemies;
    your right hand will find out those who hate you.
You will make them as a blazing oven
    when you appear.
The Lord will swallow them up in his wrath,
    and fire will consume them.
10 You will destroy their descendants from the earth,
    and their offspring from among the children of man.
11 Though they plan evil against you,
    though they devise mischief, they will not succeed.
12 For you will put them to flight;
    you will aim at their faces with your bows.

13 Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power.

–ESV  (Psalm 21)

As much as possible, when reading the ancient poetry of psalms,  it is necessary to observe and identify within single psalms changes of viewpoint and even changes of speakers.

For example, at times a psalm may include one or more direct quotations and identify the speaker. One example is the well-known Psalm 110:1.

Psalm 110:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.” 

While Psalm 110:1 itself identifies both the speaker, LORD, and the addressee, my Lord, the reader is further helped to recognize who is speaking by Christ’s use of this psalm in verses such as Mark 12:35-37.

Mark 12:35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David?
36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I put your enemies under your feet.”‘
37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly. 

Even beyond this, the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, by means of the context and grammar of the paragraph containing the quotation, explains that Psalm 110:1 was God speaking directly to his Son Christ (Hebrews 1).

From the above example alone, readers learn that 1) God speaks directly within the poetry of psalms, 2) sometimes Scripture identifies to whom he is speaking, 3) at times the addressee is his Son, 4) that Father and Son both appear in certain Old Testament psalms, and  5) that a single psalm may contain more than one speaking voice or speaking point of view.

Who is speaking in Psalm 21?

First, the superscription identifies Psalm 21 as a psalm of David.

Next, we notice that verse one begins in both second (you) and third person (he, the king) and continues this way through the first twelve verses. Verse thirteen alone uses one first person plural (we).

The speaker of the psalm is not identified.

Possibilities

  1. Perhaps King David is speaking. In this scenario he would be referring to himself in third person (he, the king).
  2. However, when the reader arrives at verse 8, it stretches plain literary common sense to continue thinking that David is the speaker.
    1. It is clear that the speaker is addressing God throughout verses 8-12.
    2. If David is the speaker, then God as addressee is the actor in the prophecies spoken throughout these verses.
    3. While it is true that God does act and that his will directs all, Scripture teaches that God himself does not appear; he remains invisible–

John 4:12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.

4. Yet verse 9 says, “when you appear.

5. Therefore, it seems unlikely that David is the speaker in the block of verses 8 through 12.

3. Likewise, it seems clear without explanation that God is not speaking in any portion of Psalm 21.

4. Who is left? None but a narrative voice, a chorus, a body of speakers, given that the final verse is plural first person.

5. It does appear possible that David the King might be speaking in the first block from 1 through 7, and a chorus speaking from verses 8 through 13.

6. As mentioned in the first point, if David is the speaker in verses 1 through 7, then he would be referring to himself in third person.

7. More likely, the narrative chorus, which steps forward to identify itself in verse 13, is singing the entire psalm.

What structural blocks are identifiable?

There are three.

1. The first block–verses 1 through 7 

A. Verse 1 is a couplet:

O LORD, in your strength the king rejoices,

and in your salvation how greatly he exults! (ESV)

1. The first line of the couplet identifies the second person addressee: the Lord.

2. The first line also identifies the third person referent: the king.

3. The first and second lines together identify the theme of the first block: the king’s joy in the victories of strength God gave.

B . Verse 2 announces answered prayer.

You have given him his heart’s desire and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah 

The answered prayer of 21:1-6, and especially the phrasing in verse 2, responds to the prayer spoken in Psalm 20, and especially in 20:4–May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans! 

C. Verses  3-6 give details of the answered prayer.

D. Verse 7 calls back to verse 1.

For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved.

1. In verse 7 is the first appearance of the word “king” since verse 1.

2. Both verses 1 and 7 describe the emotional responses of the king to God’s favorable actions on his behalf, while verses 2 through 6 describe the actions of God.

3. Therefore, verses 1 and 7 form an inclusio. This is a frame, or bracket, around a literary block or section. It’s like the two pieces of bread enclosing the ingredients of a sandwich.

E. It is clear that the chorus of speakers is addressing God in the first block about his actions on behalf of the king.

2. Verses 8 through 12

A. There is a noticeably abrupt switch of topic and addressee immediately in verse 8 and the change continues through verse 12.

What has changed? Not the speaker, as shown above, but the addressee, the topic, and the time frame.

B. Concerning the addressee, as developed in point 2 above in the section called “Possibilities,” the chorus turns from addressing God to addressing the King. This is clear according to the guidelines of plain, everyday speech.

C. The topic has changed from the king’s responses of joy and trust for what God has already done in answering a prior prayer to naming and describing what the king, and the Lord in verse 9, will do to the king’s enemies at a future time of judgment.

D. The time frame has shifted from past–actions that God has already taken–to future–actions that the king will take. Notice that verse 7 does contain a small bit of transition in the phrase, “he shall not be moved.

E. It is the changes in addressee (point B), topic (point C), and time frame (point D) which signal to the reader that indeed verses 8-12 form a poetic block within Psalm 21 that is distinct from the block occupying the first seven verses.

3. Verse 13 

A. Verse 13 stands alone as the only verse in which the voice of the psalm changes in one place from second and third persons singular (you, he) to first person plural (we).

Be exalted, O Lord, in your strength!
    We will sing and praise your power.

B. This change in grammar signals both a new block, if one verse alone can be so considered, and the end of the poem itself.

1. A new block

a. This final verse introduces the third player in the poem–the chorus itself. The other two players have been the Lord and the king, while the chorus-narrator has remained offstage, so to speak.

b. In the final verse, the chorus reveals itself, having stepped into the action of the poem, by describing their own responses of singing and praising the Lord, apparently for an undefined amount of time into the future, most likely corresponding to the eternal life specified in verse 4.

2. The end of the poem.

a. The final verse narrows the theme of the poem to a celebration of song and praise to the Lord for his strength.

b. The first line of the final couplet references the Lord.

c. The second line of the final couplet references the chorus-narrator.

d. The chorus-narrator ends the poem with a personal description of its own response.

Who is the chorus-narrator?

The introduction in the last verse of the chorus as actors in the poetic drama of God and King is a large, extremely important theological step for readers of the poem. Who are these people? Who is the speaker of the entire psalm?

1. We know it’s a group.

2. We know that these people love both the Lord and the King.

3. It seems entirely reasonable to conclude that the chorus is both the congregation of Israelites in King David’s day and the congregation of the church in Greater King David’s day, the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Final Thoughts from a Personal Point of View

1. I find the psalms to be highly interactive. There’s lots of lively drama happening in them.

One example is point 3 in the above section. God, who designed and wrote all Scripture by his Holy Spirit, intends the reader to be pulled into the action and to have personal responses. Theologically, there is tremendous hope and promise to the church for an eternal future with Christ and God, evidenced by its presence in Psalm 21. The Lord, King Jesus, and the believing reader, who is part of the “we” of the narrator-chorus in Psalm 21, comprise the characters in this psalm. God, his Son, us! If that doesn’t amaze and speak of the tremendous love of the Lord (“the steadfast love of the Most High”–vs 7), then what will?

2. Through reading and rereading this psalm, its intent becomes clearer. Although the Lord and the King are distinguishable throughout, they are closely intertwined, reflecting what we know about Christ and the Father’s unity. Verse 9 perhaps references two distinct characters. Or, it might reference one character, the King, under two names.

9 You will make them as a blazing oven when you appear.

The LORD will swallow them up in his wrath, and fire will consume them. 

3. Jesus throughout his ministry directed everyone’s eyes to God the Father. Just so, while this psalm glorifies both the Lord and the King, its verses make clear that it is God the Lord who is the source of the King’s strength, and ultimately it is God the Lord whom the chorus praises in verse 13.

So is it cold or not cold?

This was lots of work for me as a writer!

As a reader, however, I want to say that since the Lord many years ago gave me the key of Christ to open the door of Psalms, it hasn’t been as difficult as this step-by-step analysis may indicate. When reading the psalms, the reality of the interactions between God and Son break through rapidly, as in a great tidal wave of wonder and awe.

It is God the Holy Spirit who anoints each believing reader to perceive the gorgeous interplay between the various speakers and content blocks of Psalms. The perception comes quickly and whole, fed by the Spirit while reading and rereading a particular psalm. Yes, fine points need to be cleared up through analysis and by consulting other sources. For me, as regards this psalm, the fine point was whether or not the king was the speaker in the first block referring to himself in third person. As cited above, Andrew Bonar helped me with that one. Later analysis convinced me that the speaker is what I have termed the chorus-narrator throughout.

My personal testimony is that the discovery of two God-beings in Psalms is not cold, but very hot! While the king is not presented as the Lord in Psalm 21, he has been crowned with gold by God (verse 3), he has been given eternal life (verses 4 and 6), and he has been given glory, splendor, and majesty (verse 5). All this is true of Jesus Christ God’s Son, while not all is true of King David. For God the Holy Spirit to reveal this inside a believing reader’s heart is exciting life indeed.

 

 

 

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Rules Or Relationship?

Photo by Christina Wilson

 

What Is “Salvation” Anyway?

 

Quick Peek: Salvation is not automatic by our meeting a certain set of requirements. God does not say, “Do this, this, that, and the other, and I’ll stamp you saved,” but he does say, “Come to my Son, and my Son will save you.”

Galatians 3:11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” (NIV)

 

Body: The law, the Ten Commandments, is a thing. It’s a set of rules. It’s non-living, not a person, not a sentient being; it’s non-interactive. It has no soul nor mind, no receptors. The Ten Commandments have no awareness of anyone’s reading and obeying or not reading and obeying. There is no consciousness. The Ten Commandments have no power to save or not save. They make no choices.

But God is Person. God is sentient. He is personal being. God as creator judges his creation. A righteous man or woman is declared so, and is saved and lives, because God says so, since he is the only one with whom anyone must deal. God makes alive, God declares. The law can do nothing.

I am saved by God’s relationship with me, my relationship with him. Salvation is relational by means of faith. Through faith is how I relate to the person of God. This is by God’s choice. He chose faith as the vehicle for people to relate to him.

Do I have faith in God? Have I put my hope and trust in God? Have I turned to God and begun speaking with Him? Has God spoken into my heart? Do I have an ongoing, active relationship of trust and love with Jesus Christ, God’s Son, his Mediator between himself and humanity? If so, then I am saved.

John 20:31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (ESV)

Further Verses: Romans 8:1-17

This post is a rewrite of an earlier post by the same author at Berean Digs

1 Psalms Bible Study: Bibliography

Outline of Series

 

  • 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise: Daily Readings from the Books of Psalms and Proverbs, New International Version. Arranged by R. Dean Jones. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990, by International Bible Society.
  • Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology, Elk Grove, California. The Orthodox Study Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2008.
  • Aland, Barbara, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, and Bruce Metzger, Editors. The Greek New Testament, Fifth Revised Edition with Greek Text of Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2014.
  • Allen, Leslie C. Word Biblical Themes: Psalms. Waco: Word Books, 1987.
  • Anderson, Bernhard W. with Steven Bishop. Out of the Depths: The Psalms Speak for Us Today, 3rd Edition, Revised and Expanded. Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 2000.
  • Archer, Gleason L. and Gregory Chirichigno. Old Testament Quotations in the New Testament. Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 1983.
  • Arndt, William F. and F. Wilbur Gingrich, Editors. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literrature, 2nd Edition. Revised and Augmented by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick W. Danker from Walterr Bauer’s Fifth Edition, 1958. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1979.
  • Barclay, John. The Psalms of David, and the Paraphrases and Hymns: With a Dissertation on the Book of Psalms, and Explanatory Introductions to Each. Edinburgh: James Gall, 1826. Reprinted Digitally by Forgotten Books, registered trademark of FB &c Ltd., London, 2017. Available at http://www.ForgottenBooks.com, 2017.
  • Belcher, Richard P. Jr. The Messiah and the Psalms: Preaching Christ from All the Psalms. Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, Ltd., 2006
  • BibleWorks. BibleWorks 9 Software for Biblical Exegesis & Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2011.
  • Bonar, Andrew A. Christ and His Church in the Book of Psalms: 150 Inspirational Studies. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978.
  • Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. Psalms: The Prayer Book of the Bible. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1974 in paperback.
  • Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint Version: Greek and English. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1970.
  • Broyles, Craig C. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999.
  • Brueggemann, Walter. The Message of the Psalms: A Theological Commentary. Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1984.
  • Bullock, C. Hassell. Encountering the Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2001.
  • Clowney, Edmund P. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Wheaton: Crossway, 2003.
  • Crossway. The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. Copyright © 2001,2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. All rights reserved. This publication contains The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2007 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. It includes the January 2008 Update. See also English Standard Version Bible Online: http://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/psalms/ .
  • Darby, John, John Darby’s Synopsis, Whole Bible, Psalm 102, Available at Christianity.com, “Psalm 102 Bible Commentary: John Darby’s Synopsis,” https://www.christianity.com/bible/commentary.php?com=drby&b=19&c=102#%5B1%5D, Accessed on November 17, 2017.
  • Feinberg, John S. and Paul D. Feinberg, Editors. Tradition and Testament: Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981.
  • Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Baker’s Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. BibleWorks, v.9.
  • Futato, Mark D. Edited by Howard, David M. Jr. Interpreting the Psalms: An Exegetical Handbook. Grand Rapids: Kregel Academic, 2007.
  • Gingrich, F. Wilbur and Frederick William Danker, Editors. Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition. Copyright © 1965 by The University of Chicago Press.
  • Horne, George, Lord Bishop of Norwich. A Commentary on the Book of Psalms: In Which Their Literal and Historical Sense, as They Relate to King David and the People of Israel, Is Illustrated; and Their Application to Messiah, to the Church, and to Individuals as Members Thereof, Is Pointed Out; With a view to render the Use of the Psalter pleasing and profitable to all orders and degrees of Christians. Philadelphia: Alexander Towar, 1822.
  • Jones, R. Dean, Arranger. 31 Days of Wisdom and Praise. International Bible Society. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1990.
  • Lewis, C. S. Reflections on the Psalms: The Celebrated Musings on One of the Most Intriguing Books of the Bible. Boston and New York: Mariner Books, a division of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1958, 1986 and 2012.
  • Nestle-Aland, Editors. Novum Testamentum Graece, 26th Edition. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1979, 1987.
  • Rahlfs, Alfred, Editor. LXT – LXX Septuaginta (LXT) (Old Greek Jewish Scriptures), Copyright © 1935 by the Württembergische Bibelanstalt / Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft (German Bible Society), Stuttgart.
  • Rahlfs-Hanhart. Septuaginta: Editio altera. Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2006.
  • Reardon, Patrick Henry. Christ in the Psalms, 2nd edition. Chesterton: Ancient Faith Publishing, 2011.
  • Saphir, Adolph. The Divine Unity of Scripture. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1896. Public Domain.
  • Saphir, Adolph and Cortesi, Lawrence. The Epistle to the Hebrews: An Exposition. Public Domain.
  • Spurgeon, Charles. The Treasury of David: Containing an Original Exposition of the Book of Psalms; A Collection of Illustrative Extracts from the Whole Range of Literature; A Series of Homiletical Hints upon Almost Every Verse; And Lists of Writers upon Each Psalm in Three Volumes. Peabody: Henrickson Publishers, No Date.
  • Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Abridged and Revised Thayer Lexicon). Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997. BibleWorks, v.9.
  • The Holy Bible: New International Version®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. See also (New International Version Bible Online): http://www.biblestudytools.com/colossians/. See also http://www.biblestudytools.com/esv/psalms/.
  • Tournay, Raymond Jacques. Seeing and Hearing God with the Psalms: The Prophetic Liturgy of the Second Temple in Jerusalem. Translated by J. Edward Crowley. Sheffield, England: Journal for the Study of the Old Testament (JSOT) Supplement Series 118, 1991.
  • Waltke, Bruce K. and James M. Houston with Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Lament: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2014.
  • Waltke, Bruce K. and James M. Houston with Erika Moore. The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary. Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.

Next in Series

Resurrection, Conclusion, and Falling Action

Week 19 John 20-21

(Link to Outline of John) (Link to the first lesson of Gems in John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

RESURRECTION

In presenting the resurrection facts, John’s intent is: 1) to continue to give credible eye witness reports and 2) to continue to show us the relationships that Jesus had with various of his followers. The quiet tone he had established as he explored Jesus’ character in chapters 13-19 continues. As many commentators say, John the writer undoubtedly was aware of the other three gospel accounts. I like to think, however, that his selective choice of detail was primarily for his own literary and spiritual purposes (John 20:31), rather than to avoid “repetition” of the others.

Here are the witnesses and the way Jesus interacted with them.

I. Mary Magdalene

A. In John’s gospel, only mentioned once prior to the resurrection: present at the crucifixion with Mary the mother of Jesus, John, and other women

B. Luke alone (Luke 8:1-3) provides further information about Mary (apart from the crucifixion and resurrection).

1. She had been one of a group of women who had traveled with Jesus and his band, ministering to him (serving, providing food, taking care of needs) at their own expense.

2. Jesus had cast out from her seven demons (vs 2).

C. Mary and the Resurrection (John 20:1-2; 11-18)

1. The events

a. Mary came early to the tomb, while it was still dark. Finding the stone taken away, she ran to Simon Peter and to John, reporting that unknown persons had removed the Lord’s body from the tomb and laid it in an unknown place.

My Groove_IMGP0214

Photo by Christina Wilson

My Disc_BIMGP0068

Photo by Christina Wilson

 Cork Disc copy

See the article at this link: Disc or Cork?

b. Later, after Peter and John had examined the empty tomb for themselves, Mary returned alone. Grieving deeply, Jesus appeared to her, first of all in John’s gospel. Jesus gave her exact instructions about going to his brothers and delivering a message from him to them. (John 20:17)

c. She went and followed Jesus’ instructions.

2. What can we surmise from Mary’s encounter with Jesus? (John tells only the bare facts, giving no interpretation. Anything we add regarding motive and the like is supposition from the details given.)

a. Jesus does not despise women–he rather honors them. (Jesus appears to Mary first. Additionally, John the writer, reflecting Jesus’ attitudes, presents her testimony as credible and important.) Ultimately, God himself determined that Mary’s account, as it appears, was to be included in his holy word.

b. Is it possible that Jesus appeared to Mary first because she was in a great deal of emotional pain?

c. Jesus honored Mary by giving her an important task and a very important theological message to give to the others.

d. Jesus ministered to Mary’s emotional distress in the same way–he kept her busy in service to himself.

e. Why did the angels announcing Jesus’ resurrection also appear to Peter and John, who had arrived at the tomb earlier?

3. Possible interpretation of vs 17, “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to me,  for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.”‘”

a. According to William Hendriksen, writing about vs. 17, Mary has been singled out to “announce to them what great event in the history of redemption is about to take place” (Hendriksen,  Vol. 2, 456).

b. Hendriksen (See above, 455) also interprets Jesus’ command to Mary not to cling to him, as being not about not touching him, but as a statement that there lies something better for her in the future. The outward, physical (concrete) relationship that she and everyone else had enjoyed with him was soon to be replaced by something far better–the opening of the doorway back into intimate spiritual fellowship with God, especially as (implied) his ascension would prepare the way for the sending of the Holy Spirit to live within them (as opposed to the external, physical touch.) In my own paraphrase of Hendriksen’s meaning, Jesus was saying, Mary, I know you want to hold onto me tightly, as you did in the past and because you don’t wish to lose me again, but there is something far, far better planned. You must move forward and deliver the message I have for you, in anticipation of this better way for all of you to relate to me.

II. John and Peter

The hasty trip to the tomb in response to Mary’s message (John 20:2-10)

peter_john-run-2

A. They found the tomb empty, as Mary had said.

B. They saw no angels, unlike Mary’s later visit (see above).

C. John ran faster but waited for his elder.

D. Peter did not hesitate but went right in.

E. John realized that the empty tomb, its complete orderliness, and the positions of the grave clothes indicated that Jesus had arisen–therefore, he was the Christ, the Lord, the Son of God who conquered death (Selah!!) and everything he had said about himself was all true. John’s faith grew by “leaps and bounds” upon this realization.

 

III. The disciples together except for Thomas (John 20:19-25)

A. The disciples, still highly fearful of the religious leadership, the religerati, had locked themselves together on the evening of Resurrection Day, when suddenly, Jesus appears in their midst, not having knocked or visibly come from anywhere. This is a mystery. He gives them his peace: 1) now there is legal peace between them and God the Father, and 2) the subjective peace that follows full realization of the legal peace, and 3) peace in knowing that he, the Christ, their Lord, friend, and brother, is alive, risen.

B. Jesus shows them his hands and his side, demonstrating: 1) that he was not a spirit only, but that his body was very real and concrete, 2) that his was the same body, his body, as before the crucifixion, and 3) that he was certifiably who he claimed to be. It is interesting that although he had been resurrected, the marks of the nails and the hole from the piercing of his side were still present. Perhaps this had specifically to do with the certification of number 3.

C. After the disciples rejoiced, Jesus repeated his gift of peace to them, as though perhaps they were still in shock (See “Further Thoughts” below).

D. Jesus directly commissions them to continue the very work, minus the atonement, that the Father had commissioned him to do. This work involves manifesting the nature and character of the Father to the world for the purpose of bringing in the full number of preordained believers. Love, holiness, mercy, and justice are among the Father’s attributes that Jesus commissions his disciples to go out into the world to manifest.

E. Verses 22 and 23 are too complex for a complete discussion within this outline. In brief, I see in these verses the delegation of Christian authority to practice the gift of spiritual discernment. All Christians and all people sin. Among those who sin are some who grieve and repent over their sin, not wishing to harm others. These show a humility toward the leaders of the church and are for the church, both local and universal. Others sin because they have bad intentions toward other believers and certain people generally and toward the church itself. These have no desire and no intention of repenting. They do not mean well, but they are rebellious and wicked in intent. The assignment Jesus the risen Lord gives these original disciples, as the new appointed leaders of his church, is to sort out who is who in the interest of protecting and sparing the sheep of the flock as shepherds. I believe Jesus is giving them direction on how to nurture, grow, and protect the flock, rather than placing them in an authoritarian position of judgment. God in Christ is the Judge, and he needs no help in that. To show that the spiritual discernment is a gift, Jesus blew on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”

ESV  John 20:22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you withhold forgiveness from any, it is withheld.”

The following is a set of mixed verses that indicate the twin principles of 1) forgiveness of sins for the purpose of nurture and growth, and 2) keeping a watchful and corrective eye upon those whose intent is to divide and disrupt the church and the true word of God: Galatians 6:1; II Timothy 4:2; Titus 3:10-11; Romans 16:17-18; 2 John 9-10; and I Corinthians 5:12-13.

F. Scripture at this point devotes two full verses to Thomas, called the Twin, known by us as Doubting Thomas. He had not been present at this first manifestation of Jesus to the gathered group, and he rejected their combined testimonies to him! He laid out his own terms, and stated that unless this “supposed” (implied) Jesus met his, Thomas’s, criteria, he would not believe.

————————————————————————

Further Thoughts:

The disciples had been through an extraordinarily topsy-turvy week emotionally and spiritually.

1. The triumphal entry had encouraged their dreams of a great kingdom on earth in which they would play chief roles, because they were Jesus’ close followers.

2. Jesus’ announcements and predictions in the upper room not only smashed these hopes, but caused sorrow, grief, and confusion.

3. The events of the crucifixion intensified and seemingly brought to reality what before had been doubts. Hendriksen makes a strong case that none of the disciples in any way, shape, or form had been expecting the resurrection.

4. The empty tomb and the reports of “Jesus sightings” had turned their world upside-down again, as faith, logic, reason, and emotions tried to quickly grapple with and accommodate the new information.

5. Jesus’ first appearance to the gathering of disciples startled the disciples tremendously.

In view of the above, can we forgive the disciples, including Thomas, for perhaps what may seem like a slow response on their part? Would any of us have done better? What is my own miracle-expectation level?

————————————————————————

IV. The disciples together including Thomas (John 20:26-29)

A. Hendriksen writes, “The condescending manner in which Jesus dealt with Thomas certainly indicates that he is still the same Jesus. His love has not lessened…he deals very gently with him.” (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 465) [How many of us are glad that God wanted to include Thomas’s story in Scripture?]

B. Jesus certifies that it is indeed himself by showing his powerful omniscience, as he had done many times while with them before his crucifixion. The following chart is also from Hendriksen in the same citation as Point A above.

jesus-omniscience

 

CONCLUSION

John 20:30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

A. John as a writer and eyewitness to the events he describes points out in verse 30 that he has been selective in the events and dialogue he chose to report.

B. At the same time, he adds credibility to the other three gospels, each of whose writers chose to include more of Jesus’ miracles, details of his travels, and character sketches and events involving secondary characters.

C. John in verse 31 directly states his criteria for selecting the material he did. Further, he gives his goal for having written the entire book.

D. Thomas, as one who doubted perhaps more than the others, is one who came to a solid belief that the Jesus he knew is the Christ, the Son of God. This belief gave life to Thomas in Christ’s name.

E. Thomas response exemplifies John’s stated goal (Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 466)

John 20:27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.”

resurrection-sign

 

FALLING ACTION

I. A group of disciples (John 21:1-14)

A. In these detailed verses, John describes the third occurrence in his gospel of Jesus’ revealing himself to his disciples while they are gathered in a group.

B. We see Peter as the leader, and John as the one with the greater spiritual insight.

C. We see the whole group experiencing real time in a life example the difference between being attached to Christ the vine and heading out on their own (See John 15:1-8, the vine and branches discourse).

D. We see Peter’s compliance to one who at first appears to be unknown. Compare this with the prior time when Jesus had asked him to cast his net on the other side of the boat, Luke 5:4-8.

II. Jesus and Peter (John 21:15-19)

A. Even though through the prior section it becomes apparent that Peter is the leader of the small band, at least informally, in the dialogue in this section, Jesus performs what is usually termed “Peter’s reinstatement.”

1. Jesus formally gives Peter his task as shepherd-servant within Christ’s kingdom. Jesus’ purpose is not to make of Peter a great man, but to impress upon him his further plans for him to help, nurture, and grow the sheep of his kingdom.

2. With that end in mind, Jesus brings Peter back to the place of acceptance and inclusion among the group of chosen, hand-picked disciples. Not that Jesus himself had ever excluded Peter from that group, but Peter’s own experience of dismal failure in the area of loyalty to Christ had caused him to feel guilty and unworthy of such a role.

3. Jesus offers Peter three opportunities to declare his love for Jesus, one for each time that Peter had publicly denied him.

4. Jesus continues to insist throughout that because Peter loves him (Jesus himself, who knows all things, has no doubts about Peter’s genuine love for him) he must do for Jesus what Jesus himself will no longer be able to do in physical presence: love, care for, feed, and protect his sheep. Jesus demonstrates his acceptance of, love for, and confidence in Peter by assigning him a large and most important task central to Jesus’ own heart.

B. Jesus also prophesies to Peter that he will yet be given another opportunity to die for Christ–“you will stretch out your hands” is a euphemistic way of referring to crucifixion in the literature and speech of those days.

III. Jesus and Peter and John (John 21:20-23)

A. The prior statement had closed with Jesus’ commandment to Peter, “Follow me.” As Peter is doing so physically, he turns and sees John also following. (It is interesting that John did so apparently on his own–he did not need a personal command nor invitation to do what appears to be natural for him.)

B. Peter asks Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” There are at least two ways of reading Peter’s motives–one negative and one positive. Given Peter’s recent humbling in having denied his beloved Lord three times, and given that throughout this gospel Peter and John appear to be friends, I receive the positive explanation.

1. Negatively, Peter could have been asking about John from a motive of selfish and jealous pride, having so recently been not only reinstated by Christ but singled out by him to perform an important task. A paraphrase of his thinking might be, Lord, you commanded me by name to follow you, and here is this man whom you did not command also following. Is he welcome?

2. Positively, Peter’s attention was focused on the more recent prophecy that he would die by crucifixion and he is concerned that his young friend might die the same way. So he seeks a foretelling from Jesus concerning John.

3. That the positive interpretation seems most likely is further indicated by Jesus’ reply to Peter, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” This seems a mild rebuke to Peter to keep his own eyes focused on the task that Jesus gave to him, rather than being distracted by whatever may happen around him.

C. In verse 23, John corrects a rumor that had widely spread among the Christian family that he would not die. In so doing, he demonstrates his skill of careful listening to the exact words of Christ.

D. This incident should serve to increase the reader’s confidence in John’s narrative.

E. The section in its entirety also teaches how easy it is, even among disciples, to arrive at wrong interpretations of Jesus’ words. This should be a lesson against becoming didactic on theological positions, even though using scriptural texts as “proofs.” John has just demonstrated how easy it is for God’s words to be misinterpreted.

IV. John’s final words (John 21:24-25)

A. Once again, John speaks to his trustworthiness as the writer of this gospel.

B. He also reminds the reader of the selectivity he has chosen to use in presenting the gospel, while at the same time testifying to the greatness of Jesus Christ incarnate.

 

Link: A Subjective Look at Thomas

 

 

 

 

Jesus Loved Them to the End: Arrest and Crucifixion

Week 18 John 18-19

(Link to Outline of John) (Link to the first lesson of Gems in John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Events of Chapters 18-19

I. Arrest in the Garden (18:1-12)

A. Judas’ betrayal (18:2-3)

B. Peter’s use of the sword (18:10-11)

C. Jesus’ defense of his disciples (18:4-9)

II. Appearance before the High Priests (18:13-27)

A. Annas and Peter’s first denial of knowing Jesus (18:13-23)

B. Caiaphus and Peter’s second and third denials of knowing Jesus (18:24-27)

III. Appearance before the Secular Roman Governor Pilate and Pilate’s Intense Struggle to Free Jesus (18:28-19:16)

A. Outside his headquarters to hear the charges against Jesus in the presence of the Jewish leaders (18:29-32)

B. Inside his headquarters to question Jesus alone (18:33-38a)

C. Outside again to bargain with the religerati, the religious leaders, away from Jesus (18:38b-40)

1. Pilate declares Jesus innocent and seeks to release him in (18:38b-39)

2. The Jewish religious leaders cry out for Barabbas the robber instead (18:40)

D. Pilate punishes Jesus

1. flogging by the soldiers (19:1)

2. mocking and scorn by the soldiers (19:2-3)

E. More negotiations (19:4-12)

1. Pilate announces to religious leaders that he is bringing Jesus out to them, having found no basis for a charge against him (vs 4)

2. Jesus appears wearing the crown of thorns and purple robe, having just been flogged by the Roman soldiers (vs 5)

ESV  John 19:5 So Jesus came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate said to them, “Behold the man!”

behold-the-man

3. The religerati cry “Crucify!” while Pilate insists he finds no basis for a charge against him (vs 6)

4. The religerati name the Jewish crime of claiming to be the Son of God (vs 7)

5. Back inside his palace with Jesus present with him, Pilate is intimidated by the regal bearing and authoritative statements of Christ (vss 8-11)

6. Back outside, Pilate attempts again to set Jesus free, but the religious leaders will have none of it. They accuse Pilate of being no friend of Caesar. (vs 12)

F. Pilate pronounces judgment against Jesus (vss 13-16)

1. Afraid for himself, Pilate gives in, sits on the judge’s seat (vs 13)

2. He still gives opportunity to the leaders to change their minds (vss 14-15)

3. The religerati’s argument boils down to Caesar being king; to free Christ would be to offend Caesar (vs 15)

4. Finally, Pilate weakens utterly and hands Jesus over to the Jewish religious leaders to be crucified (vs 16a)

III. The Crucifixion (vss 16b-27)

1. The soldiers take Jesus away from Pilate’s palace carrying his own cross to The Place of a Skull, also called Golgotha (vs 16a)

2. They crucified him with two others (vs 17)

3. Pilate writes “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews” on a sign fastened above Jesus’ head, overriding the protests of the religerati (vss 19-22)

4. The soldiers divide Jesus’ garments among themselves, fulfilling an Old Testament scripture (vss 23-24)

5. Three women named Mary and John, “the disciple whom Jesus loved,” stood near the cross, while Jesus assigned the care of his mother Mary to the disciple (vss 25-27)

IV. Jesus Dies (19:28-37)

1. Jesus says, “I thirst.” (vs 28)

net-notes-vs28

New English Translation Notes. BibleWorks 9 Software for Biblical Exegesis & Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2011.

2. Having received a bit of sour wine, Jesus says, “It is finished,” bows his head, and dies (vss 29-30)

3. The soldiers come by and break the legs of the two men crucified with Christ, but Jesus’ legs they do not break. Instead, one of the soldiers pierces his side with his sword, and immediately blood and water flows out. Two Old Testament prophecies are thus fulfilled: Exodus 12:46 and Psalm 34:20 (vss 31-37)

V. The Burial (19:38-42)

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus (See Nicodemus in Week 4, John 3), both prominent Jewish men of standing, take Jesus’ body, wrap it with spices and linen, and place it in a freshly hewn, never used tomb near the site of the crucifixion.

Approaches to the Text for Helping the Reader Understand

I. Interpretive Principles

A. Author’s Intent

1. It is a general principle of reading, taught as early as second grade, that readers need to be aware of 1) the genre of any piece of written material, and 2) the author’s intent, or purpose in writing.

a. The genre of John is a gospel circular, as are all the Gospels.

b. What distinguishes John’s gospel from the other three are his specific purposes, just as each of the other gospel writers in turn had their own specific purposes.

c. John himself states 1) his overall purpose for his entire book, and 2) his immediate purpose for chapters 13-19.

1) John gives his overall purpose near the end of his writing.

John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

2) John gives his immediate purpose at the beginning of the Upper Room record of events and Jesus’ last discourse and prayer.

John 13:1 Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.

B. Context

1. John’s distant and near contexts control his choice of details to accomplish his purposes.

a. John’s ultimate context is everything in his account so far, which all shows how Jesus is God’s Son, sent to love the world.

b. John’s near context begins in the Upper Room as quoted just above.

I have found that reading Chapters 13-19 straight through as a single unit, a continuous narrative, highlights the demonstration of Jesus’ tender and gentle love for his own and his command of all that is happening around him.

2. John’s concern is to display Jesus, to tell-him-forth (John 1:18), as it were. Jesus is his main character and the central figure throughout. John never deviates from keeping Jesus in the spotlight at all times.

a. For example, John relates Judas’ betrayal very simply in two brief verses. He mentions none of the Synoptic Gospels’ account of the betrayal-by-kiss method that Judas chose. John relates enough to demonstrate that Jesus’ foreknowledge and announcement of the betrayal event to the disciples in the Upper Room had been fulfilled, yet no more, for this is Jesus’ story, not Judas’s. Likewise, Jesus’ love is displayed in that Judas was at the table among the twelve when Jesus stooped to wash the disciples’ feet. Jesus demonstrates God’s selfless love by washing the feet of the man whom he knows will betray him.

b. Likewise, John’s relating of Peter’s drawing the sword and cutting off the high priest’s servant’s ear is simple and concise. The details demonstrate Peter’s sincerity of heart when he stated in John 13:37, “Lord…I will lay down my life for you,” yet this is Jesus’ story, not Peter’s. Therefore, John chooses to omit the long narrative that Luke includes about the two swords (Luke 22:35-38 and 48-52). Even though John adds credence to his first-hand account by mentioning the servant’s name (John, as an acquaintance of the high priest, {John 18:16}, is the only gospel write who includes the servant’s name), he doesn’t mention the healing. He gives only enough detail to 1) demonstrate Peter’s heart of loyalty, 2) establish credibility for his authority as writer in order to help the reader believe in Christ, and 3) to show the fulfillment of scripture, which helps the reader to conclude that God has foreknowledge and command of the entire situation.

c. A similar motif of John’s use of brief details as concerns the other actors in the narrative occurs in Peter’s three denials. Matthew (Matthew 26:69-75), Mark (Mark 14:54; 15:66-72), and Luke (Luke 22:54-62) include many details about the event, such as Peter’s own subjective response to his actions, while John records only enough details to show that the event occurred (John 18:17-18, 25-27). John’s account serves to demonstrate the truthfulness of Jesus’ prior foreknowledge in his Upper Room prophecy (John 13:38) without removing the spotlight for very long from Jesus himself. Jesus’ foreknowledge of Peter’s denial also adds to the convincing nature of Jesus’ love for his own.

II. Conclusion

Therefore, in light of the above, as the reader considers John’s account of Jesus’ arrest, trial, crucifixion, death, and burial, it is helpful to remember that John’s ultimate aim is to help the reader believe in Jesus as the Son of God. He includes material and only includes material that demonstrates Jesus’ and God’s own prior knowledge and control of the situation within the realm of love.

III. Application of the Prior Suggestions

As you read, try to notice and reply to the following questions:

1. Which verses demonstrate fulfillment of Jesus’ prior statements in the Upper Room concerning events that would happen?

2. Which show fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies?

3. Which verses about Jesus’ arrest show his control and command of the entire situation?

4. How does Jesus behave during his questioning by the high priest? How does his behavior indicate his control?

5. How do Jesus’ several  dialogues with Pilate indicate that God was the author of the Crucifixion and that Jesus through the Father is in complete control, even the outcome of Pilate’s choices?

6. How does the narrative as a whole and in specific parts demonstrate God’s love for people? As you answer, consider the world, Jesus’ own band, and Jesus’ own family?

sidebar-additions_omissions

I’d be interested to learn if my suggested approach to reading John by keeping his own purposes and contexts forefront in your mind as you read are at all helpful for you. I welcome any comments you may wish to leave below in the comment box. You can sign in through your Word Press account, through Facebook, or through Google (such as through your g-mail address. All this information is private and kept private–I do not even see it. I will only see your comments.

We have one more week to go, Lord willing. I have really enjoyed taking this journey with you, as I have been greatly blessed by studying John up close. This is not something I would have done on my own. Therefore, I wish to thank Norma, Michele, and Linda in particular for the accountability our weekly meetings have afforded me. Your diligence, great listening skills, and hungry appetites have put me to shame. Thank you all so very, very much for giving me this awesome opportunity to go through this Scripture with you. Thanks also to the Word Press readers who read and like these studies. Such feedback offers encouragement to press on and prayer support in doing so.

 

 

 

 

Jesus Loved Them to the End: High Priestly Prayer

…Jesus’ prayer is relational. He’s requesting that his Father bring his flock into the relationship that Father and Son share, not as partners in their divinity, but as partners in the fellowship of the relationship.

(more…)

Jesus Loved Them to the End: Words of Prediction

Week 16 John 16:1-33

(Link to Outline of John) (Link to the first lesson of Gems in John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Overview of Chapters 14-17

Chapters 14-17 form a unit, possibly all taking place while in the upper room still at supper or shortly thereafter. Or, chapters 15-17 may have been given while in route to the Garden of Gethsemane. The text does not give enough information to know conclusively.

Chapters 14-16 form a single, long discourse by Jesus to his disciples, while chapter 17 is a prayer to God by Jesus both for himself and for his disciples. A general description of each chapter is given below.

ch 14 Comfort with an emphasis upon the Trinity

ch 15 Admonition

ch 16 Prediction

ch 17 High Priestly Prayer

Chapter 15 (Link to Previous Lesson)

Section 1: Abide in Me John 15:1-11

Section 2: Love One Another John 15:12-17

Section 3: Testify of Me John 15:18-27

Chapter 16 (see Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 319-346)

A Word of Prediction

Section 1: Even as believers are being persecuted (John 16:1-4, see Week 15), the Holy Spirit will come and abide.

I. The Holy Spirit and the World (John 16:5-11)

Setting: ESV  John 16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

A. Jesus is leaving (vss 5-6)

1. He points out the disciples’ selfish response in their failure to ask questions.

2. Their grief has numbed them, so that they only see their own pain and not the larger picture.

3. Nevertheless, Jesus proceeds with kindness to explain that his leaving them physically is for their benefit.

B. The Counselor will not come to them unless he goes away.

1. Not stated–Jesus is going the way of the cross in order to provide ultimate atonement for all their sins.

2. Atonement paves the way for God’s dwelling within them to be re-established.

3. God’s declaration of acceptance for Jesus’ sacrificial death is two-fold:

a. the resurrection

b. the sending of the Holy Spirit

C. When the Counselor (the Holy Spirit) comes he will (vss 8-11):

1. Convict the world in regard to sin–the world’s sin. The world rejected Jesus as Son of God and killed him. The presence of the Spirit in the world shows that Jesus, though rejected and cast out by the world, is alive and therefore the genuine Son of God. There is no excuse for not believing (receiving) him.

2. Convict the world in regard to righteousness–Christ’s righteousness: It is Christ’s righteousness to which the Spirit testifies. The presence of the Holy Spirit in the world shows that Christ indeed was resurrected, and therefore declared righteous in the eyes of God the Father. (see also Pink, pages 861-868)

 3. Convict the world in regard to judgment–Satan’s judgment: Satan has been judged and declared guilty for condemning God’s Son. Everyone will witness this finally and fully when at the Last Day he will be cast into the eternal lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).

D. Peter’s sermon on Pentecost contained all three of the elements listed in verses 8-11 above (Acts 2:22-36). Many of the people–about three thousand men, women, and children–repented and believed that day.

 II. The Holy Spirit and Believers–the Church (John 16:12-15)

A. Throughout Chapters 14-16 Jesus has been emphasizing his oneness with the Father and the Holy Spirit. He is leaving; the eternal God is always present. Jesus is leaving, but He will return in the third person of the Trinity–the Holy Spirit. This should be a great comfort to the disciples in their moment of felt need at the thought of the imminent departure of their leader, their Master and Lord.

B. Details of the Holy Spirit’s future interaction with the disciples.

1. The disciples cannot bear to hear the “many things” right then, in part because neither the cross, the resurrection, nor the ascension had yet happened.

2. The Holy Spirit follows the same pattern as Christ. Neither Jesus nor the Spirit speaks on their own authority, but only what they hear in the presence of God the Father. They are essentially one in substance, one essence.

3. The Holy Spirit will prophetically reveal that which is still to come (see, for example, Thessalonians and Revelation).

4. Everything the Son has is given by the Father, and all that the Father has is given to the Son. This is what the Spirit will reveal to the disciples. He will thereby glorify Christ, since Christ is at the center of God’s plan of salvation for the entire human race. Christ will also be glorified to the world through the preaching of the disciples and their followers.

Section 2: Sorrow turns to joy with the resurrection of Christ and the Coming of the Holy Spirit (John 16:16-24)

I. Jesus Helps the Disciples Voice Their Concerns Aloud (John 16:16-19)

This dialogue fits in well with the informality in tone of Chapter 13. It serves to remind the readers of the location (quite likely still the upper room either during or right after the Last Supper) and occasion (Jesus’ imminent departure from the disciples) of the entire discourse. John points out to the reader the tenderness of the Lord as he helps the disciples to deal with and receive what he is telling them.

II. Their Sorrow Will Become Joy (John 16:20-24)

A. The Jewish religious leaders undoubtedly rejoiced when Jesus was pronounced dead. As soon as they found the tomb empty that first Sunday morning, their joy turned once more to anguish. The world has been anguishing over the Good News ever since.

B. The disciples would grieve and mourn over the events of the Garden and what followed. And they on that first Sunday morning experienced awe and joy like none other. The coming of the Holy Spirit caused further joy beginning on the day of Pentecost. Christians have been rejoicing ever since.

C. This is very much like the pain and joy of a mother during labor and afterwards. The disciples’ joy will be permanent–out of reach of every enemy.

D. Answered prayer will be a cause for joy after the Holy Spirit comes. The disciples faith will be mature–grown up and complete. In that day, they will know all about God’s complete plan for salvation, as revealed by the Spirit in plain words, no longer in parables and veiled sayings. They will understand more fully the motives and character of Christ and ask accordingly. Because they will be praying as Christ himself would pray, the Father will answer those prayers, causing greater joy.

E. Combining the first four verses of this chapter (John 16:1-4) with these verses, the reader sees that the disciples’ (and all believers’) union with Christ will yield on the one hand persecution on account of his name and on the other hand great blessings of answered prayer and fullness of joy in his name.

III. Final Encouraging Remarks (John 16:25-33)last-supper-discourse

A. The Father loves you.

1. Jesus very directly tells the disciples that he will be leaving them permanently–he is going back to the Father from whom he came.

a. When the Holy Spirit comes, he will also speak plainly to them.

b. Because the disciples have believed that Jesus was sent by God and because they loved him, albeit imperfectly, they are included in the circle of God’s fellowshipping love. God loved them before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4-5), and from now on, they will be fully experiencing that love through the Spirit.

2. The disciples now know that Jesus is the Christ, God’s Son, and that he is able to discern their thoughts without the hint of their asking him questions.

3. Jesus again demonstrates his knowledge of all things by predicting that they will scatter, each to his own home, and leave him alone. The disciples believe and love him, but it is as though the light within them is on a short timer that keeps clicking on and off. When the Spirit comes, they will know fully, and the light switch will be permanently turned on (metaphor courtesy of my pastor). Yet Jesus, up until the moment of the cross, will not be alone, for his Father is with him.

B. You will have peace.

John 16:33a “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace…”

1. The peace will be a legal peace of atonement and justification (“your whole body is clean”). Such a peace always leads to subjective peace with daily confession and repentance of sins (a good foot washing) and a constant abiding in Christ the vine through the presence of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s heart

C. Be of good cheer!

John 16:33b “…In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

What seemed at first to be gloom and doom has turned into a rallying cry of victory–Christ will soon be wearing the victor’s crown. So certain is he of the final outcome of his achievement that he states it in the present perfect tense, “I have (once and for all and with permanent ongoing results) overcome the world.”

The implication is that because Christ has already conquered the world, the disciples, who most assuredly will follow wherever he leads–they too will overcome the world.

Lamentations 3:22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

 

 

 

Jesus Loved Them to the End: Words of Admonition

Week 15 John 15:1-27

(Link to Outline of John) (Link to the first lesson of Gems in John)

John’s Theme: John 20:31 … these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.

Overview of Chapters 14-17

Chapters 14-17 form a unit, possibly all taking place while in the upper room still at supper or shortly thereafter. Or, chapters 15-17 may have been given while in route to the Garden of Gethsemane. The text does not give enough information to know conclusively.

Chapters 14-16 form a single, long discourse by Jesus to his disciples, while chapter 17 is a prayer to God by Jesus both for himself and for his disciples. A general description of each chapter is given below.

ch 14 Comfort with an emphasis upon the Trinity

ch 15 Admonition

ch 16 Prediction

ch 17 High Priestly Prayer

Chapter 15 (see Hendriksen, Vol. 2, 293-317)

Section 1: Abide in Me John 15:1-11

Section 2: Love One Another John 15:12-17

Section 3: Testify of Me John 15:18-27

 I. Vine and Branches–Abide in Me John 15:1-11

ESV  John 15:5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

A. The purpose of Jesus’ incarnation is to provide atonement and new life for humankind.

1. through the cross and resurrection

2. by faith

3. through the preaching of the Word

4. by means of sending the Holy Spirit

B. Jesus’ own exemplar is God the Father.

1. Throughout the book of John, Jesus has always said that he speaks and does only as he hears and sees the Father speaking and doing.

2. Jesus abides in his Father 100% thoroughly.

C. When he is gone, the disciples must say and do as Christ by means of abiding in Christ through his Word and the Holy Spirit.

1. There are no exceptions. Anyone who does not abide in Christ misses the mark, and will be left out, cast away, just like a fruitless branch of a grapevine.

2. Even though Jesus will soon be leaving the disciples, the Father is not going anywhere, and the principle of abiding in Christ remains.

D. The means of abiding in Christ is through the Word and the Holy Spirit (a theme to be developed in Chapter 16).

John 15:3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

E. What is fruit in this context?

1. Branches bear fruit because they abide in the vine–they are livingly attached and dependent upon the vine.

2. A fruitful branch is one that carries the living life juice and properties of the vine within it. Any branch so related to the vine will bear fruit–that’s what vines do; if not, it will be pruned, so that the remainder does bear fruit.

3. Bearing fruit in this context is to be livingly connected to Christ, to bear his image, to represent him to the world.

Luke 6:40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

a. Aspect one: to be like Christ.

Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.

b. Aspect two: to do the works of Christ–i.e., to witness about him and about the love of God to the world.

Matthew 28:19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

F. Three “fruits” of bearing fruit–

1. answered prayer

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

2. love

John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

3. joy

John 15:11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

II. Love One Another John 15:12-17last-supper-discourse

John 15:12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

A. God is love.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

1 John 4:16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.

B. Jesus demonstrates his love for God and for people by laying down his life.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

C. Jesus is leaving. The disciples must do for each other what prior to this time only Christ had been doing for them.

John 15:17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

D. Fruit, obedience, and love are intertwined

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

E. How did Jesus demonstrate all three? How can I demonstrate all three in the relationships and situations I encounter again and again each day in my own living environment?

III. The World Will Hate You–Go Testify About Me John 15:18-27 and 16:1-4 

John 15:18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.

John 15:27 And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.

A. Jesus is establishing a kingdom populated by those whom he has pulled from the fire by means of their faith in him.

1. Jesus will be physically leaving.

2. The disciples must carry on.

3. The Holy Spirit will also be engaged in this work.

B. Just as the world hated Christ and crucified him, so they will hate and even kill the disciples, who bear his image and preach in his name.

C. Implied: Don’t be like Judas, who gave up and left because he was a fruitless branch who did not abide in me.

John 16:1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2 They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3 And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me. 4 But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.

Looking Ahead: If all this seems too hard for you, it is. But don’t worry; you will have the Holy Spirit to be your friend and Helper.

 

 

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