The Bible: Miscellaneous Notes

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ADVOCATE   [back to index]
Jesus is our advocate, or defense counsel. 1 Jn. 2:1b ("But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous ...." NRSV); Heb. 7:25 ("... since he always lives to make intercession for them." NRSV)

For another example in scripture of an advocate, see Acts 24:1-9 (Tertullus as prosecuting attorney).

Affliction, see SUFFERING

ANGELS  [back to index]
Defined as "ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation." Heb. 1:14 NIV. Therefore angels are sent to serve me. How? When? Should I ask for the help of angels?

One of the ways angels serve us is by protecting or guarding us. See Ps. 91:11; Dan. 3:28, 6:22.

ATTITUDE  [back to index]
God cares more about the attitude of our heart than the works of our hands. For example, when many Israelites in the time of King Hezekiah came to the Passover meal without first purifying themselves, as required by the law. "But Hezekiah prayed for them, saying, 'May the LORD, who is good, pardon everyone 19 who sets his heart on seeking God the LORD, the God of his fathers even if he is not clean according to the rules of the sanctuary.' And the LORD heard Hezekiah and healed the people." 2 Chron. 30:19-20 (NIV).

Attorney, see ADVOCATE

BELIEF and OBEDIENCE  [back to index]
The same root Greek word is sometimes translated "obey" and sometimes "believe," in both positive (PEITHO) and negative (APEITHO) senses. See especially Jn. 3:36 RSV ("He who believes in the son has eternal life; he who does not obey the son shall not see life ....") See also Heb. 3:18-19.

BELIEF and UNBELIEF  [back to index]
The person who has many doubts does not necessarily have little faith. Belief and unbelief can and do co-exist. See Mk. 9:24 ("Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.")


BIBLE  [back to index]
Paul says, in explaining the advantages that Jews have, that Jews "have been entrusted with the very words of God." (Rom. 3:2) This indicates that the primary author of the New Testament held a very high view of the authority (and continuing validity) of the Old Testament. How could the "very words of God" become of little or no importance? We Christians must take the Old Testament seriously, although we must also interpret it in the light of the New Testament, since the New Testament contains the fullness or completeness of God's revelation, Jesus.

BLOOD  [back to index]
"Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." (Heb. 9:22 NIV) Why? If the "wages of sin is death" (Rom. 6:23), so that in the very nature of things wrongdoing is anti-life and always leads to (or toward) death, then the only way to nullify sin is to pay the inexorable penalty by producing a death; i.e., shedding blood. Thus a sacrificial lamb's blood "takes away" sin; that is, it fulfills the necessary demand of sin that it result in death.

It would seem that the death would have to be that of the sinner, but again, why? If the death were that of someone or something that belonged to the sinner, the principle would hold true; in other words, the lamb would be an extension of the sinner's own life. But then in what sense does Christ "belong" to us, so that his death was our loss? Or is it perhaps exactly the opposite, that because we have no claim whatsoever on Christ, we cannot in any way earn our salvation by his death. But doesn't that destroy the principle that sin requires bloodshed?

BOASTING  [back to index]
Sometimes the Lord wants the odds against us to be great, to preclude our boasting when we win. See Judges 7:2 (Gideon had to reduce his army of 32,000 men to 300, so God would get the glory for defeating the Medianites).

CAPITALISM  [back to index]
Money earning money; see Lk. 19:12-27, the parable of the ten talents. Explicitly recognizes putting money "on deposit" so that it will earn interest (v. 23, NIV). On the other hand, Jesus also used a burglar and a dishonest steward as the main character in a parable, without legitimizing them.

Children, see PARENTS and CHILDREN

CHURCH  [back to index]
In Acts 6:1-6 the Twelve recommended appointing seven men to be in charge of distributing food, so the Twelve could devote themselves "to prayer and the ministry of the word." But note that this apparently clear distribution of duties is immediately scrambled. The very next thing we read (6:8 et seq.) is how Stephen, one of those appointed to handle food, was filled with the Holy Spirit, did great wonders and miraculous signs, and spoke so powerfully about Jesus that no one could withstand him. Doesn't this indicate that our lines of responsibility should not be too sharply drawn, and that, for example, "lay" people may be better preachers than those devoting themselves to that ministry?

COMMANDS OF JESUS  [back to index]
1. "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, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you." Mt. 28:19-20a (NRSV). See also Acts 10:42 (Peter says Jesus "commanded us to preach ... and to testify ....").

2. Love one another. Jn. 13:342.

3. Remember Jesus in the Lord's Supper (Communion, Eucharist). 1 Cor. 11:24-25.

COVENANT, NEW  [back to index]
Jeremiah writes about God's "new" covenant, which appears to have two "new" characteristics: (1) It is internal, not external. "I will put my law within them, and I will write it upon their hearts" (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10), and (2) it is universal, covering all people, "from the least of them to the greatest," automatically, without any need to communicate or teach it (Jer. 31:34; Heb. 8:11).

The first of these appears to be fulfilled in the gospel of Christ, for the indwelling Spirit is our teacher. But what about the second? Obviously all people do not know the Lord, and communicating the Gospel is not only necessary; it is a solemn duty (see Mt. 28:19-20). Thus the new covenant appears to be only partly fulfilled now.

Covetousness, see GREED, COVETOUSNESS

CREATION  [back to index]
1. "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible." (Heb. 11:3 NIV) Although all knowledge is, in a sense, based on faith, this verse seems to say emphatically that we believe in creation because of our faith, not, e.g., because of demonstrable facts. Thus, creation is a faith-position, and while evidence can be derived to support it, it does not ultimately rest on the evidence. It might be argued that evolution is also a faith position, but it seems to me that the faith comes in further down the line, and that there is an empirical foundation, although perhaps weak in places, underlying that faith.

DARKNESS  [back to index]
Jesus said to those who came to arrest him: "this is your hour – when darkness reigns." (Lk. 22:53 NIV) See also Jn. 3:19-21 ("... men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil")

DEATH  [back to index]
There is no death in heaven (Lk. 20:36); humans die once on earth (Heb. 9:27) and the unredeemed die a second death by being thrown into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:14).

Note that right after Jesus predicted that some Christians will be put to death, he said "But not a hair of your head will perish." (Lk. 21:18)

DISCIPLINE  [back to index]
1. Discipline comes from the Lord, and the fact that He disciplines us shows that we are truly his children. See Heb. 12:5-8.

2. God disciplines us for our good – to enable us to share in his holiness. The result of being disciplined by God is righteousness and peace. See Heb. 12:9-11. Cf. Jn. 15:2b ("Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit." NRSV) So hard things or experiences are good for us. But does this mean that all hard experiences are good for us? What about the hard things we bring upon ourselves? God can still use them in the disciplining process.

DIVORCE  [back to index]
"... do not let anyone be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I hate divorce, says the Lord, the God of Israel ...." Mal. 2:15-16.

Doubt, see BELIEF and UNBELIEF

EARTH  [back to index]
Earth (and heaven) shall pass away. Lk. 21:33

After telling slaves to obey their earthly masters "with respect and fear," and to work "as if you were serving the Lord," Paul then says to masters, "Treat your slaves in the same way." Eph. 6:5-9. What can this mean except that masters (and employers) are to act as if they are supervising Jesus and ordering him to perform work? cf. Mt. 25:31-46 ("whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me" v. 40). In other words, we are to see Jesus in our inferiors – those whom we employ, supervise, teach, etc.

ETERNAL LIFE  [back to index]
1. Has both a present and future aspect:

    Present: Jn. 17:3 NRSV "And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent."

    Future: Lk. 18:30 NRSV Those who leave home and family for the sake of God's kingdom will "get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life;" 1 Pet. 1:5 NIV "... until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time."

2. The Bible expresses various ways in which eternal life is achieved:

    Jn. 3:16 NIV "... that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

    Mt. 19:21 NIV (Jesus to the rich young ruler) "... go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me." (Query: Is having "treasure in heaven" the same as having "eternal life"?)

    Mt. 19:29 NIV "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life."

    Lk. 10:27-28 NRSV When asked by a lawyer what he must do to inherit eternal life, Jesus asked him what was written in the law. The man said, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself." Jesus then approved his answer, saying "[D]o this, and you will live."

Evolution, see CREATION

Faith, see CREATION and FAITH and WORKS

FAITH and WORKS  [back to index]
1. Our salvation comes by grace (unmerited favor) through faith – not through good works (Eph. 2:5, 8-9). But we were created to do good works (v. 10). This suggests the proper relationship between faith and works. Faith is the channel over or through which God's grace flows to us. Although faith – like everything .else we have – originally comes from God, we must exercise it in order for God's grace to reach us, because God will not force his grace on us. (If he supplied both the grace and the faith, we would be entirely passive in the transaction, like trees or other inanimate things.)

This does not mean that faith causes or produces salvation, any more than the wire is the cause of electricity. Faith is just the stipulated means of accepting God's offer of salvation. And since our salvation does not in any way depend on what we do, this implies that it is always possible to have faith (at least enough faith for salvation). In other words, faith is a matter of the will. Ultimately we either choose to believe or choose not to believe.

2. Salvation by faith, not by works, is the heart of the Gospel. But why does the New Testament sometimes talk about "doing good" as the way of salvation, without mentioning faith? See the following verses:

    Mt. 16:27 (NIV) ("then he will reward each person according to what he has done.")
    Lk. 10:27-28 (NRSV) (Jesus' answer to the lawyer who asked what he had to do to inherit eternal life, "[D]o this, and you will live.")
    Rom. 2:6-13 (NRSV) ("For he will repay according to each one's deeds ....")
    1 Jn. 2:17 (NRSV) ("... those who do the will of God live forever.")

Also, some other passages seem to indicate that both faith and works are necessary for salvation:

    Jas. 2:14-26 (faith without works is dead).

FAMILY  [back to index]
"God setteth the solitary in families ...." Ps. 68:6.

Families are a blessing from God. See Ex. 1:21 NIV ("And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own."); Ruth 4:14-17 (the Lord restores a family to Naomi through Ruth).


Freedom comes from God. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." 2 Cor. 3:17 NIV See also Rom. 8:21 NIV ("the glorious freedom of the children of God"); Gal. 2:4 NIV ("The freedom we have in Christ Jesus").

In Eph. 6:5-9, Paul says slave owners are to (1) "do the same" toward their slaves; i.e., supervise them as Christ would; and (2) stop threatening them. However, Paul did not argue for Christians to abolish the practice of slavery. Why doesn't he say to free them? Although he did not attack the institution of slavery, there is a revolutionary thought here: slaves were real persons, not mere chattels, and were to be treated as persons by their masters. Cf. Philemon 16, 17. For anther New Testament passage on slavery: 1 Pet. 2:18-20.


GIFTS, SPIRITUAL - see also VOCATIONS  [back to index]
Spiritual gifts (or talents, or "grace") are distributed (a) by the Lord Jesus (Eph. 4:11) (b) for the purpose of (1) preparing God's people for works of service (Eph. 4:12; see also 2:10); (2) building up the "body of Christ" (the church) (Eph 4:12; see also 1 Cor. 12:7); (3) maturing Christians (Eph. 4:13)

GREED, COVETOUSNESS - see also IDOL, IDOLATRY and RICHES  [back to index]
The Bible condemns greed or covetousness, not riches per se.

    Ex. 20:17, "You shall not covet ...."

    Prov. 28:20, "A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished."

    Lk. 12:15, "Then he said to them, 'Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.'"

    1 Tim. 6:9-10, "People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs."

    Heb. 13:5, "Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have ...."

HEAVEN - see also HELL  [back to index]
Giving earthly treasure to the poor produces treasure in heaven. Mt. 19:21; Lk. 18:22.

Heaven and earth will pass away. Lk. 21:33

HELL - see also HEAVEN  [back to index]
    1. Note that in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk. 16:19-31) the rich man in hell (Hades) could see Lazarus in heaven (in the bosom of Abraham), but Lazarus apparently could not see the rich man. This is consistent with the idea of hell as punishment (increasing the agony by allowing those in hell to peer into heaven) and heaven as reward or paradise (no unpleasant scenes).

    2. Some idea of how horrible hell is can be gleaned from the fact that it was Lazarus (who was not just poor but sick and repulsive, with dogs licking his sores) whom the rich man was willing to have dip his finger in water to touch his tongue.

    3. Abraham's first word to the rich man in hell is "remember." Perhaps those in hell are doomed to remember what they did or failed to do on earth; that in itself would be a great punishment.

    4. This parable teaches that a great unbreachable chasm or barrier separates heaven from hell, so that no one can go from one to the other.

    5. See Rev. 14:11, which says: "And the smoke of their torment rises forever and ever." John Stott interpreted this to mean that unrepentent sinners are not tortured forever in hell; rather "The fire itself is termed `eternal' and `unquenchable', but it would be very odd if what is thrown into it proves indestructible." HOLY, HOLINESS - see also DISCIPLINE  [back to index]
We "have been made holy" through Christ's sacrifice (Heb. 10:10 NIV) and we "are being made holy" (Heb. 10:14 NIV). Does this mean that when we receive Christ we are made more holy than we were (or holy in comparison with our former life) but we also begin a process of being made holy (or more holy)?

Cf. 1 Jn. 3:2 ("... when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.")

HOLY SPIRIT - see also SEAL  [back to index]
The Holy Spirit
    1. comes from the Father at Jesus' request. Jn. 14:16.
    2. is the "Spirit of Truth" (Jn. 14:17) and will guide us into all truth. Jn. 16:13
    3. will be with us forever. Jn. 14:17
    4. is not given to or known by nonchristians. Jn. 14:17, 19, 22-24.
    5. will teach us all things, and remind us of everything Jesus taught. Jn. 14:26. He will also reveal future things. Jn. 16:13. Thus the Holy Spirit teaches us past and future as well as present things.
    6. is a guarantee or assurance of our salvation. 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph 1:13-14; 1 Jn. 3:24, 4:13, and possibly Rom. 8:15b-16. But a guarantee must be seen to be credible. Does this imply that outward manifestations of the Holy Spirit must be present (tongues, etc.)? Or is it the inward witness of the Holy Spirit to each individual believer; i.e., a feeling or sensory experience?

The Greek word for "guarantee" is arrhabon (long "o"), which means a surety, pledge, earnest, deposit or down payment; something that binds the transaction. It is used only these three times in the New Testament, each time in reference to the Holy Spirit. (In modern Greek, arrabona is an engagement ring.) In the Old Testament, the related Hebrew word is used to refer to the staff, seal and cord that Judah gave to his daughter-in-law (whom he mistook for a prostitute) as a pledge or security for his promise to send her a young goat for letting him sleep with her. See Gen. 38:17, 18, 20.

HOMOSEXUALITY  [back to index]
Because people "worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator," God "gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural ones. In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed indecent acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their perversion." Rom. 1:25-27 NIV.

HOSPITALITY  [back to index]
The Christian duty of hospitality (see Rom. 12:13) extends to those who are strangers. Mt. 25:35 ("I was a stranger and you invited me in"); Heb. 13:2 NIV ("Do not forget to entertain strangers, for by so doing some people have entertained angels without knowing it.")

HUMAN NATURE - see also SELF  [back to index]
    1. No one is good – except God alone. (Jesus, speaking to the rich young ruler) Lk. 18:19.

    2. Humans by nature (?) aspire to greatness. See Lk. 22:24 (disciples arguing who was the greatest); Acts 8:9 (Simon the magician had "boasted that he was someone great").

HUMILITY  [back to index]
Jesus demonstrated his humility. See Mt. 3:13-15 (Jesus went to the Jordan River to be baptized by John).

HUMOR  [back to index]
"Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving." Eph. 5:4 NIV. RSV says "no filthiness, nor silly talk, nor levity."

HUSBANDS and WIVES – see also WOMEN AND MEN  [back to index]
"Wives, submit to your husbands ...." "Husbands, love your wives ...." Eph. 5:22, 25. These are commands, not options, for Christians. There is a hierarchical but reciprocal and symbiotic relationship between Christian spouses.

HYPOCRISY  [back to index]
Paul, in effect, calls his fellow Jews hypocrites in Rom. 2:17-24. And the result of their hypocrisy is that "God's name is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you." Rom. 2:24. Is this true of Christians today also? Is God's name blasphemed among the unsaved because of our hypocritical lives?

    1. A person who is "covetous" (RSV) or "greedy" (NIV) is an idolater. Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5. Cf. 1 Cor. 5:11, where those who are greedy are listed separately from idolaters, although the two terms are next to each other.

    2. All other references in Scripture to idols or idolatry appear to be to tangible objects – images of wood, metal or stone. Thus the only intangible characterized as idolatry is greed or covetousness – which says a lot about how dangerous that sin is.

    3. After describing idols as unable to speak, see, hear, smell, feel or walk, the Psalmist says: "Those who make them will be like them, and so will all who trust in them." Ps. 115:8 NIV. In other words, we become like what we worship and trust. If this is true of idols, isn't it also true of worshiping the true God? Cf. Lk. 6:40 NIV ("A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.")

    Authority over:
        (1) forces of nature. Mk. 4:35-41 (calms the storm).
        (2) demons, the spirit world. Mk. 5:1-20 (heals the demoniac)
        (3) disease. Mk. 5:25-34 (heals woman with flow of blood)
        (4) death. Mk. 5:35-43 (raises Jairus' daughter from death)

    Omniscience of - In telling Peter and John where to prepare the Passover meal, Jesus said, "As you enter the city, a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him ...." "They left and found things just as Jesus had told them." Lk. 22:10, 13.

Jews "have been entrusted with the very words of God." Rom. 3:2 NIV.

    1. The basic command is: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." Mt. 7:1 KJ; see also Lk. 6:37; Rom. 2:1-3 (those who judge others condemn themselves, for they do the very things they condemn in others; addressed to nonbelievers); Rom. 14:1-4, 10-13 (judging fellow believers on the basis of what they eat or abstain from eating. "Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another?" "We shall all stand before the judgment seat of God." See also Col. 2:16); 1 Cor. 4:5 (Don't pass judgment before the Lord comes. He will bring to light things now hidden, and will disclose the purposes of the heart; context: Corinthians were passing judgment on Paul).

    On the other hand, some Scripture supports judging: 1 Cor. 5:3-4 (Paul by letter pronounces judgment on a man living with his father's wife, and orders the Corinthians to "deliver this man over to Satan for the destruction of his flesh."); 1 Cor. 5:12-13 (Christians are to judge those inside the church, not non-belieers: "Drive out the wicked person from among you"); 1 Cor. 6:1-6 (Christians will someday judge the world, and even angels; therefore they ought to judge disputes between fellow Christians. See also Jn. 7:24 NRSV ("Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.")

    2. Often our judgment of others is a way of elevating ourselves. See Lk. 18:9-14 (parable of Pharisee and tax collector - "God, I thank you that I am not like other people ....").

    3. Judging others may also mask a concern that someone else is getting preferential treatment. See Jn. 21:20-22 (after being told that he would be martyred for his faith, Peter asked the resurrected Christ about John: "Lord, what about him?" he asked. Jesus replied, "If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!") See also Mt. 20:1-16 (parable of the laborers in the vineyard, where the workers who worked all day, although paid the agreed-upon wage, grumbled when the owner of the vineyard paid the same wage to those who worked only part of the day).

    See also Jude 9, which involves slander rather than judgment, but seems to make the same point ("But when the archangel Michael contended with the devil and disputed about the body of Moses, he did not dare to bring a condemnation of slander against him, but said, 'The Lord rebuke you!'") Jude 9 NRSV (emphasis added). The NIV says, "slanderous accusation."

    1. Must be "received" like a little child. Lk. 18:17; Mt. 18:3.

    2. Very difficult for the rich to enter the Kingdom. Mt. 19:23-24; Lk. 18:24-25

    3. Does not "appear at once." Lk. 19:11 (parable of ten talents)

    4. Does not come "visibly." Lk. 17:20 NIV. Yet we can know it is near when we see the predicted signs. Lk. 21:31

    5. Is "within you" or "among you." Lk. 17:21. Note that Jesus was speaking to Pharisees here, not to his disciples.

    6. Jesus sometimes spoke of the coming of the Kingdom of God as a future event. See Lk. 22:18 ("I will not drink again from the fruit of the vine until the Kingdom of God comes.")

Lawyer, see ADVOCATE

Did Jesus abolish the Old Testament law? Eph. 2:15 says he abolished in his flesh "the law with its commandments and regulations." (NIV) To the same effect, see Col. 2:14: He "canceled the written code, with its regulations." Heb. 7:18; 8:13 both indicate that the former covenant was "set aside" or "obsolete."

On the other hand, Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: "Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them." Mt. 5:17.

    1. The command to "honor your father and your mother" is coupled with a promise of long life. Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16; Eph. 6:2-3. Why? Could it be that a proper attitude towards one's parents indicates a harmony about life in general (i.e., get this primary relationship right and all relationships are likely to be right), which is likely to result in long life?

    2. Since long life is a promise or reward, and not, for example, a punishment, it would seem to be right for Christians to desire it. For other verses promising long life as a reward, see Deut. 5:33; 1 Kings 3:14 (reward for obedience to the Lord); Ps. 91:16; Pr. 10:27.

    1. God is light. 1 Jn. 1:5.

    2. Jesus is the light of the world. Jn. 8:12.

    3. Followers of Jesus are the light of the world (Mt. 5:14), and "have the light of life" (Jn. 8:12). Paul told the Ephesian Christians to "live as children of light," (Eph. 5:8) and John urged Christians to "walk in the light, as he is in the light" (1 Jn. 1:7).

    4. The result of "walking in the light" is "fellowship with one another." 1 Jn. 1:7.

    5. What does it mean to live or walk in the light? It means to be exposed; to become visible, not hidden. See Eph. 5:13 ("but everything exposed by the light becomes visible")

    1. The love of Christ "surpasses knowledge." Eph. 3:19. See also 1 Cor. 13:2, "And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge ... but have not love, I am nothing." Therefore it is more important in God's sight to be loving than knowledgeable.

    2. Self-love. Paul says, "He who loves his wife loves himself" (Eph. 5:28), and he commands husbands to love their wives (Eph. 5:25, 28, 33) Doesn't this imply that we are supposed to love ourselves? See also Mt. 22:39; Gal. 5:14; Jas. 2:8, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself." Yet we don't find anywhere in Scripture a direct command to love ourselves. We are, first, to love God (Deut. 6:5), then to love our wives (Eph. 5:25, 28, 33), fellow Christians (Jn. 13:35), neighbors (Mt. 22:39), aliens and strangers (Deut. 10:19), and even our enemies (Mt. 5:44), but nowhere are we directly told to love ourselves. Instead, self-love is assumed as the natural condition of fallen humans. See Eph. 5:29, "After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds it and cares for it ...."

    See also John Stott's discussion of self-love in his classic "The Cross of Christ," at pp. 268-78. He agrees that the second part of the command to "love our neighbors as ourselves" is not a command to love ourselves, but is a "rough and ready, practical guide to neighbor-love." (p. 268)


There is no marriage in heaven. Lk. 20:35.

Only mentioned twice in the Old Testament. In Gen. 14:18, Melchizedek, whose name means "king of righteousness" (Heb. 7:2), is described as "king of Salem," which means "king of peace" (Heb. 7:2), and may refer to Jerusalem. He is also described as a "priest of God Most High," and upon returning from battle Abram gave him a tenth of all the booty (Gen. 14:17-20). This is the first mention of a "priest" in the Bible, and it occurs many years before the Levitical priesthood is established.

The second Old Testament reference to Melchizedek is in Ps. 110:4, "The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, 'You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek'."

In the New Testament, Melchizedek is mentioined several times in three chapters of Hebrews, especially chapter 7. According to the author of Hebrews, Jesus was made "a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." Heb. 5:6, 10; 6:20.


The "mystery of Christ" (Eph. 3:4) is that "through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus." Eph. 3:6 NIV.

Obedience and belief, see BELIEF and OBEDIENCE

    1. "Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it." Prov. 22:6 NIV. Is this a promise, or merely a generalized prediction? Did Solomon (or whoever wrote this proverb) simply notice that usually kids who are raised in God-fearing homes turn out okay? That seems more likely than the promise theory – that God was promising that children raised and taught to believe in Him would always do so.

    2. Children are or may be punished for the sins of their fathers, grandfathers and greatgrandfathers. See Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Num. 14:18 ("punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation"). For a particularly graphic example, see Josh. 7:1, 24-25, where Achan's sons and daughters, and presumably his wife, were stoned to death along with Achan for his disobedience in taking some of the plunder (gold, silver, and other "devoted things") after a battle and hiding it in his tent.

    However, punishing the children for the sins of their parents is not inevitable; see Num. 14:26-33. The minor children (below 20 years of age) of those who grumbled after hearing the spies' negative report about Canaan did have to live in the wilderness for 40 years, but they were then brought into the land to live in and enjoy it. The punishment of the parents (living out their lives in the wilderness rather than in the promised land) necessarily involved suffering by the children, but as soon as the parents were completely punished for their own sins, the children were released from any further punishment.

    1. Persistence pays off. We should "always pray and not give up." God will vindicate those "who cry out to him day and night." Parable of the Unjust Judge, Lk. 18:1-8.

    2. As we see the signs of the end times, we should pray that we may be able to escape "all that is about to happen," and that we may be able to "stand before the Son of Man." Lk. 21:36.

    3. Prayer is able to keep us from falling into temptation. Lk. 22:40, 46.

    4. How to pray when facing adversity or trial: "Not my will, but yours be done." Lk. 22:42. Yet Jesus asked the Father, first, to "take this cup from me." Lk. 22:42. Doesn't this show that he had a will independent of the Father, but submissive to the Father?

    5. Basis of prayer: "We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy." Dan. 9:18b NIV.

    6. Prayer may be answered without our immediate knowledge. See Dan. 9:23, "As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you ...."

    7. What to pray for: boldness. See Eph. 6:19-20 ("Pray also for me, ... that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel .... Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should."); Acts 4:29 ("Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.")

    1. Paul urged Christians to pay for him. Rom. 15:30; Eph. 6:19; 1 Thess. 5:25 ("pray for us"); 2 Thess. 3:1 ("pray for us"). See also Heb. 13:18.

    2. Paul's example; he prayed for other believers. Rom. 1:9 ("without ceasing I mention you always in my prayers" RSV)

    3. The Bible commands or encourages prayer for other believers. See 1 Sam. 7:9 (Samuel cries out to the Lord on Israel's behalf); (Eph. 6:18 ("always keep on praying for all the saints").

    4. Failure to pray for those for whom we have a special responsibility is sin. See 1 Sam. 12:23, "As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by failing to pray for you."

    5. Case study: Paul's prayers for the Ephesians:

        a. Gives thanks for them (continuously, without stopping). Eph. 1:16.

        b. Asks for "Spirit of wisdom and revelation," so that they might know God better. Eph. 1:17 NIV.

        c. Asks for the "eyes of [their] heart" to be enlightened, so that they might know

            (1) the hope to which they were called,

            (2) the riches of his inheritance, and

            (3) his great power. Eph. 1:18-19 NIV.

        d. Prays that they will be spiritually strengthened to the point where Christ really lives in their hearts through faith. Eph. 3:16-17.

        e. Asks that they might experience Christ's love:

            (1) that they might be "rooted and established in love." Eph. 3:17

            (2) that they understand or comprehend the vastness of Christ's love. Eph. 3:18

            (3) that they might know the love that surpasses knowledge. Eph. 3:18

        f. Asks that they might be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God." Eph. 3:19 NIV

    1. Active, passionate prayer. "And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground." Lk. 22:44 NIV. Jesus "offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears." Heb. 7:5 NIV.

    2. Jesus "fell on his face and prayed." Mt. 26:39.

How should we petition God?
    1. Together with other believers. Mt. 18:19.
    2. Believing, in faith. Mt. 21:22.
    3. In Jesus' Name. Jn. 14:13-14.
    4. Abiding in Jesus. Jn. 15:7.
    5. According to his will. 1 Jn. 5:14-15.
    6. Persistently. Lk. 18:1-8.

Jesus said that everything written by the prophets about the Son of Man would be fulfilled. Lk. 18:31. And he knew what those things were: insults, beatings, death – and
resurrection. Lk. 18:32-33.

    1. Punishment by God seems to be retribution, not correction. See Gen. 4:11-12, 15 (Cain's punishment). However, it might also be a deterrent; Cain's punishment could deter others. See also Gen. 3:16-19 (Adam and Eve's punishment); 6:5-7 (flood to destroy men because they were evil).

    2. Teachers of the law, who love to be the center of attention and who "devour widows' houses" and make lengthy prayers "for a show," will be punished "most severely." Lk. 20:46-47 NIV.

    3. Punishment is to be proportionate to the crime. See Num.13:1 - 14:45, esp. 14:34. For disbelief and grumbling following a negative report by ten of the spies sent into Canaan for a 40-day exploration, God made the Israelites wander in the wilderness 40 years – one year for each of the 40 days the spies explored the land.

    4. Punishment of children for sins of parents – see PARENTS and CHILDREN

Paul's insight into the "mystery of Christ" did not come through his human reasoning or education (though he was highly educated; see Acts 22:3), but through God's revelation. Eph. 3:3-5.

God rested after creating the universe (Gen. 2:2), and we are to strive to enter into God's rest (Heb. 4:11). Jesus said, "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Mt. 11:28. Thus rest is a good thing. Then why do I sometimes feel guilty when I rest?

The significance of the resurrection; that is, what we have because Jesus arose from the dead that we would not have had Jesus stayed in the grave:
    (1) The teachings, wisdom, example of Jesus? No, we would have all these regardless of whether he arose from the dead.
    (2) Forgiveness of our sins? Apparently this is only possible because Jesus paid the penalty for our sins. But cf. examples of forgiveness in the Old Testament.
    (3) Proof that death is not the final word. Yes. we would hardly believe that we will be raised from the dead if Christ wasn't. (See 1 Cor. 15:49)
    (4) Evidence of Jesus' divinity (Rom. 1:4). Yes.
    (5) Support for Jesus' claim that he would go and prepare a place for us in heaven (Jn. 14:2-3) and that he would be our advocate in heaven (Rom. 8:34). Yes.

    1. See also

    2. Paul prayed for the "Spirit of wisdom and revelation" to be given to the Ephesians, so that they might know God better. Eph. 1:17 NIV.

    3. God has revealed some things about Himself to everyone (general revelation). See Rom. 1:18-20 ("The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.") For other references to general revelation in the Bible, see Jn. 1:9; Acts 2:14-15; 14:17; Ps. 19:1-4; 97:6; Eccl. 3:10. Also, almost the entire book of Job is about general revelation.

The Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does. Eph. 6:8. Even giving a cup of water to a follower of Jesus earns a reward (or will not lose his reward). Mt. 10:42; Mk. 9:41.


    1. "You may say to yourself, 'My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.' But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth ...." Deut. 8:17-18a NIV.

    2. "[G]ive me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, 'Who is the Lord?' Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God." Prov. 30:8b-9 NIV.

    1. Christians are to offer sacrifices of (1) praise (Heb. 13:15); (2) good works (Heb. 13:16); and sharing with others (Heb. 13:16).

    2. Obedience is better than sacrifice. Jer. 7:22-23; cf. Jn. 14:15; 15:10, 14.

Loss of salvation. "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." Heb. 6:4-6 NIV.

    1. Paul says the Ephesian Christians were "sealed" with the Holy Spirit "for the day of redemption." Eph. 4:30. See also Eph. 1:13 ("you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit ...").

    2. According to the New Bible Commentary, Rev., the predominant ideas in the New Testament uses of the word "seal" are "ownership, authentication, and security."

        a. Ownership. Christians are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, which indicates that God owns us. We are his, as shown by the fact that he has stamped us with his seal.

        b. Authentication. In 1 Cor. 9:2, Paul indicates that his converts are the "seal" of his apostleship; that is, they authenticate his ministry. See also Jn. 6:27, where Jesus, speaking of himself in the third person as the Son of Man, says, "On him God the Father has placed his seal of approval." Query: Did the Father do this when the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus as he was being baptised by John? See Jn. 1:32-33.

        c. Security. In Mt. 27:66 the term "seal" is used literally in the sealing of Christ's tomb to prevent his disciples from stealing his body; in other words, the seal is the security. See also 2 Tim. 2:19, in which Paul, referring to the fact that the faith of some Christians had been destroyed by false teaching, says, "Nevertheless, God's solid foundation stands firm, sealed with this incription: 'The Lord knows those who are his,' and 'Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness.'"


    How will Jesus return?

        1. With or in the clouds. Mk. 13:26; Lk. 21:27; Rev. 1:7.

        2. In the same way in which he ascended into heaven. Acts. 1:11.

        3. With "his mighty angels in flaming fire." 2 Thess. 1:7.

        4. With power and glory. Mk. 13:26; Lk. 21:27.

        5. Suddenly. Mk. 13:36; 1 Thess. 5:2 ("like a thief in the night").

        6. With a cry of command, and the archangel's call. 1 Thess. 4:16.

        7. Universally, not locally - "That day" (of Jesus' return) will come upon all those who live on the whole earth. Lk. 21:35.

    When will Jesus return?

        1. No one knows. Mk. 13:32.

        2. At a time of great anxiety and terror, when there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars, and on earth the sea will be roaring and tossing. Lk. 21:25-27.

    Why will Jesus return?

        1. Punish unbelievers. 2 Thess. 1:8.

        2. Gather believers to himself. 1 Thess. 4:16-17.

Should be humbled, not exalted. Lk. 18:14; 22:26.

    1. Jesus said to his disciples, when they were arguing about who was the greatest, "I am among you as one who serves." Lk. 22:27 NIV.

    2. Slaves are to serve their masters (and therefore employees are to serve their employers) with (1) respect and fear, (2) sincerity of heart, wholeheartedly, and (3) the attitude of serving Christ, not man. Eph. 6:5-7 NIV.


    Sins of omission. See Mt. 23:23; 25:41-46; Lk. 12:47; Jas. 4:17. A salient example is in the parable of the Good Samaritan, Lk. 10:31-32 (the priest and the Levite "passed by on the other side."

    1. We should put what we have been given to work, or invest it, pending Jesus' return. Lk. 19:12-27 (parable of ten talents).

    2. Key to stewardship is trustworthiness. Lk. 19:17.

    3. God measures our giving by how much we have left. The widow who "out of her poverty put in all she had to live on" gave more than those who gave gifts "out of their wealth." Lk. 21:1-4.

    1. We are to rejoice insofar as we share Christ's sufferings; we are not to be ashamed to suffer as a Christian, but are to glorify God. 1 Pet. 4:13, 16. On the other hand, we are not to suffer as a wrongdoer, or as a "mischief-maker." 1 Pet. 4:15. The point seems to be that what is important is not whether we suffer, but the reason for our suffering. Suffering itself is morally neutral.

    2. Because Jesus suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Heb. 2:18.

    3. There is a link between affliction or suffering and righteous living. See Ps. 119:67, 71 (NIV: "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word. ... It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your decrees." Even Jesus learned obedience through suffering; Heb. 5:8.


    1. Can we help being tempted? Jesus twice exhorted his disciples, immediately before his arrest, "Pray so that you will not fall into temptation." Lk. 22:40, 46. But see 1 Cor. 10:13 ("But when you are tempted ...."); Jas. 1:13 ("When tempted ...."). These verses seem to indicate that temptation is a normal experience. Even Jesus was tempted (Mt. 4:1-11).

    2. 1 Cor. 10:13 says that God will not let us be tempted beyond what we can bear. So there is really no such thing as an "irresistible" temptation, at least for believers.

    3. How should we deal with temptation? Jesus immediately thought of Scripture and quoted it to Satan when he was tempted in the desert. Mt. 4:1-11. In other words, he counterattacked with the "sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." Eph. 6:17.


    See Jn. 17:11, 21-23; 1 Cor. 1:10; Eph. 4:3, 13; Phil. 1:27; 2:2, all calling for believers to be united. But cf. Acts 18:24-26 (Priscilla and Aquila explained the Apollos "the way of God more adequately"); Phil. 3:15-16 ("All of us who are mature should take such a view [Paul's view] of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.")

    Note that Christians are to avoid those who create dissensions. Rom. 16:17.


    1. Will all people eventually be saved? This is not traditional Christian theology, but there is some (slight) scriptural authority for it.

    2. See 1 Tim. 4:10 (the "living God" is "the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe"); 1 Jn. 2:2 ("he is the expiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world").

    1. God does not merely "go beyond" or supersede human values, but completely reverses them. For example, minor earthly rulers exercise some authority over others, great earthly rulers exercise great authority, but the King of kings and Lord of lords comes as a servant.

    2. Examples of the disparity in divine and human values:

        a. Wisdom is valued by the world; God chooses belief. 1 Cor. 1:17-25.

        b. The world values the strong, the rich and those of high position; God chooses the weak, poor and lowly. 1 Cor. 1:27-28.

        c. A Messiah who is put to death is folly to the world, but is the wisdom of God. 1 Cor. 1:18.

        d. God chose Israel, the "least of all nations," rather than a numerous and powerful nation. Deut. 7:7.

        e. The world values riches; Jesus said, "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth." Mt. 6:19.

        f. Worldly men choose places of honor; Jesus said, "Everyone who exalts himself will be humbled." Lk. 14:7-11.

Vengeance is the execution of judgment to punish wrongdoing, and the New Testament is clear that humans have no business avenging themselves, for vengeance belongs to God alone. See Rom. 12:17-21 ("Do not repay anyone evil for evil .... Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave room for the wrath of God; for it is written, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.' [Deut. 32:35] ... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.") See also Heb. 10:30a ("For we know the one who said, 'Vengeance is mine, I will repay.")

Scriptures condemning violence: Gen. 6:13 (the earth was "filled with violence" at the time of Noah).

    1. There are several vocations in the church:

        a. Apostles. Eph. 4:11.

        b. Prophets. Eph. 4:11.

        c. Evangelists. Eph. 4:11.

        d. Pastors. Eph. 4:11.

        e. Teachers. Eph. 4:11.

    2. Note that these vocations, properly exercised, result in spiritual maturity for Christians and growth for the church. See Eph. 4:16.


When Jesus realized that the end was near, he said to his disciples, "... if you don't have a sword, sell your cloak and buy one." Lk. 22:36. But a few hours (?) later, when the crowd came to arrest Jesus and the disciples asked, "Lord, should we strike with our swords?" and one of them, without waiting for an answer, slashed off the ear of the high priest's servant, Jesus said, "No more of this!" Lk. 22:49-51 NIV.

How can this be explained except as a graphic lesson that the Kingdom of God is not defended (or advanced) by the use of worldly weapons? Perhaps Jesus wanted the disciples to have swords available, so he could teach this lesson. Otherwise, why only two swords (Lk. 22:38) for the eleven disciples, and why did he prevent their use?

Paul wanted to visit the Christians in Rome, and had planned many times to go to Rome, but each time was prevented from doing so. .Rom. 1:11-14. He prayed that "now at last by God's will the way may be opened for me to come to you." Rom. 1:10.

When Christians are persecuted and "brought before kings nad governors" on account of Jesus' name, this will result in those Christians being witnesses to them. Lk. 21:13. When brought before kings and governors, we should not worry beforehand about how to defend ourselves, for Jesus will give us "words and wisdom" that none of our adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. Lk. 21:14-15.

WOMEN AND MEN – see also HUSBANDS AND WIVES  [back to index]
The epistles generally assign strict gender roles to men and women, which may be a reflection of the culture rather than divinely ordained. See, e.g., Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1-7 (submission of wives to husbands).

On the other hand, Jesus had a radically different approach to women:

    He allowed women to be his disciples, he was financed by them, and some women traveled with him (Lk. 8:1-3).

    He tells women to bear witness about him to men (Jn. 4:16, the woman at the well; Jn. 20:17, Mary Magdalene).

    He deliberately injected women into conversations that ostensibly had nothing to do with women. (Mt. 12:50 "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother").

For other examples of Christianity at least tending toward equality of men and women, see Gal. 3:28 (no distinction between male and female "in Christ") and Col. 3:18-19 (mutual and reciprocal obligations).