Bible Blogs

HCAD — John 13:1-17

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour had come that He should depart from this world to the Father, having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them to the end. 2 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His outer garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.

6 Then He came to Simon Peter. And Peter said to Him, “Lord, are You washing my feet?” 7 Jesus answered and said to him, “What I am doing you do not understand now, but you will know after this.” 8 Peter said to Him, “You shall never wash my feet!” Jesus answered him, “If I do not wash you, you have no part with Me.” 9 Simon Peter said to Him, “Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean, but not all of you.” 11 For He knew who would betray Him; therefore He said, You are not all clean.”

12 So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, Do you know what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for I am. 14 If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.”

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Study of James – Intro

This is intended as the introduction portion of our study in James. In it, I will cover (a) information about the author, (b) touch briefly on significant points and characteristics of the letter, and (c) establish a basic outline of the subsequent parts of the study.

So Who’s James?

As you read through the New Testament, you’ll notice that there are several men named “James” along the way. So how can we know which one wrote this epistle? Well, the apostle James (the brother of the apostle John, son of Zebedee) is thought to have been martyred a bit too early (Acts 12:2, early/mid 40’s AD) for it to have been from him, as this epistle is thought to have been written between ~50-66 AD. In Acts 15, we read about the council in Jerusalem — apparently the “leadership group” of the church at that time — and James, the half-brother of Jesus (i.e. one of the several sons that Joseph and Mary had “the normal way” after Jesus’ immaculate conception and birth), is seen there as a prominent leader at that time. It is generally recognized that the half-brother of Jesus is the James who wrote “The Epistle of James”.

Some mentions of this James that speak of his prominence in the early church:

  • Peter told his friends to tell James that he’d been rescued from prison (Acts 12:17)
  • James was mentioned as a leader in the Jerusalem council (Acts 15:13)
  • Paul met with James on his first visit to Jerusalem after his conversion (as mentioned in Galatians 1:19), as well as on his last visit to Jerusalem (Acts 21:18)
  • He was one of the select people Jesus appeared to after His resurrection (as mentioned in 1st Corinthians 15:7)
  • Paul called him a “pillar” of the church (Galatians 2:9)
  • Jude, in his epistle, identifies himself as a “bond-servant of the Lord Jesus Christ and brother of James” — in a time when people typically introduced themselves by parental lineage, introducing one’s self as a “brother of” someone indicates that someone must have great enough significance to warrant it (Jude 1)

Significant Points and Characteristics

There are some points of significance that are useful to talk about, and others that generally only will appeal to a more “scholarly” type of study (such as taking note of the exceptional use of the Greek language). Since our purpose is a practical one, I’ll stick to the useful points and leave the more “scholarly” ones for you to seek out, should you so desire to jump into that pool later.

The epistle of James is sometimes referred to as “the New Testament ‘Proverbs'”, as it is rich with practical wisdom regarding righteous living, morality, dealing with temptation, prayer, “walking the talk”, and keeping one’s tongue on a tight leash. It is probably best known for its call for believers to match their talk about their faith with genuine action. The early parts of chapter 2 also suggest a great familiarity with Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount”, as it directly talks about points made there before “fleshing out” what exactly the heart the Lord was speaking about looks like in everyday life.

Basic Outline

If you are using a study Bible, it will likely have some sort of outline preceding each book. Looking through several study Bibles and commentaries of my own in preparation for this study has given me no less than five general outlines — none of which are “right” or “wrong”, they simply group things together in different ways, depending on (a) the simplicity or thoroughness with which they are attempting to outline (the simplest used in the materials I possess had only five outline points, while the most thoroughly broken down one had ten outline points + 11 sub-points) as well as (b) what particular focus or topical emphasis each material delved into the most.

Look at it like the gospels: different perspectives on the same events give us harmonized, yet differentiated accounts of what happened that paint a “higher resolution” picture for us than if they’d been exact photocopies of each other. Likewise, don’t be discouraged or confused if your study Bible has a different outline than what we’ll follow here. The purpose of the simple outline I’m drawing up matches our immediate purposes, which is a plain “first run through” study of the book of James with sections that are large enough to focus on and learn from without being so big that we get lost in too much information. It will often follow the natural divisions within the fairly short chapters, and more or less breaks into about half a chapter for each part of our study (similar to what you’d find in the “Half-Chapter a Day” sections of Scripture I try to post daily).

I.     Instruction Regarding Trials and Tribulations (1:2-1:18)
II.    The Difference Between a Hearer and a Doer (1:19-1:27)
III.   The Folly and Consequence of Favoritism (2:1-2:13)
IV.   The Intersection of Faith and Works (2:14-2:26)
V.    Taming the Tongue (3:1-12)
VI.   Two Kinds of Wisdom (3:13-18)
VII.  The Dangers of Pride (4:1-10)
VIII. The Dangers of Pride, Undercover (4:11-17)
IX.   “To Whom Much Is Given…” (5:1-12)
X.    The Prayer of Faith and Chasing Down the One (5:13-20)

This should be a real fun study, breaking down sections of this very practical book into daily, “bite sized” portions that we can then more easily incorporate into practical living. With ten sections, assuming that you read through one a day, even if you took the weekends off you could still complete a “first run through” study of the epistle of James in two short weeks. I pray that it would be as helpful and practical for you as getting ready for it has been for me.

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HCAD — John 12:27-50

27 “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28 Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying:

“I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”

29 Therefore the people who stood by and heard it said that it had thundered. Others said, “An angel has spoken to Him.” 30 Jesus answered and said, “This voice did not come because of Me, but for your sake. 31 Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. 32 And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33 This He said, signifying by what death He would die. 34 The people answered Him, “We have heard from the law that the Christ remains forever; and how can You say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up‘? Who is this Son of Man?

35 Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. 36 While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.

37 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, 38 that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:

“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?”

39 Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:

40 “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”

41 These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. 42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

44 Then Jesus cried out and said, “He who believes in Me, believes not in Me but in Him who sent Me. 45 And he who sees Me sees Him who sent Me. 46 I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 He who rejects Me, and does not receive My words, has that which judges him — the word that I have spoken will judge him in the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on My own authority; but the Father who sent Me gave Me a command, what I should say and what I should speak. 50 And I know that His command is everlasting life. Therefore, whatever I speak, just as the Father has told Me, so I speak.”

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HCAD — John 12:1-26

Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.

4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. 7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. 8 For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.”

9 Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus’ sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.

12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out:

“Hosanna!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!’
The King of Israel!”

14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it as it is written:

15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion;
Behold, your King is coming,
Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”

16 His disciples did not understand these things at first, but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him. 17 Therefore the people, who were with Him when He called Lazarus out of his tomb and raised him from the dead, bore witness. 18 For this reason the people also met Him, because they heard that He had done this sign. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, “You see that you are accomplishing nothing. Look, the world has gone after Him.”

20 Now there were certain Greeks among those who came up to worship at the feast, 21 Then they came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip came and told Andrew, and in turn Andrew and Philip told Jesus.

23 But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24 Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. 25 He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. 26 If anyone serves Me, let him follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also. If anyone serves Me, him My Father will honor.”

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H-CAD — John 11:37-57

37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

38 Then Jesus, again groaning in Himself, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”

40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?” 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” 44 And he who had died came out bound hand and foot with grave-clothes, and his face was wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Loose him, and let him go.”

45 Then many of the Jews who had come to Mary, and had seen the things Jesus did, believed in Him. 46 But some of them went away to the Pharisees and told them the things which Jesus did. 47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, “What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.”

49 And one of them, Caiaphas, being high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50 nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 Now this he did not say on his own authority, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for that nation only, but also that He would gather together in one the children of God who were scattered abroad. 53 Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.

54 Therefore Jesus no longer walked openly among the Jews, but went from there into the country near the wilderness, to a city called Ephraim, and there remained with His disciples. 55 And the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went from the country up to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought Jesus, and spoke among themselves as they stood in the temple, “What do you think — that He will not come to the feast?” 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a command, that if anyone knew where He was, he should report it, that they might seize Him.

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H-CAD — John 11:1-37

Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick. 3 Therefore the sisters sent to Him, saying, “Lord, behold, he whom You love is sick.”

4 When Jesus heard that, He said, “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So, when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. 7 Then after this He said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to Him, “Rabbi, lately the Jews sought to stone You, and are You going there again?” 9 Jesus answered and said, “Are there not twelve hours in the day? If anyone walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him.”

11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, “Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up.” 12 Then His disciples said, “Lord, if he sleeps he will get well.” 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe. Nevertheless let us go to him.” 16 Then Thomas, who is called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with Him.”

17 So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. 19 And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. 20 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. 21 Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, yet shall he live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” 28 And when she had said these things, she went her way and secretly called Mary her sister, saying, “The Teacher has come and is calling for you.”

29 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came to Him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come into the town, but was still in the place where Martha had met Him. 31 Then the Jews who were with her in the house, and comforting her, when they saw that Mary rose up quickly and went out, followed her, saying, “She is going out to the tomb to weep there.” 32 Then, when Mary came to where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You would have been here, my brother would not have died.”

33 Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled. 34 And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.”

35 Jesus wept. 36 Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” 37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”

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H-CAD — John 10:22-42

22 Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. 24 Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, “How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they testify of Me. 26 But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me, 28 and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.

31 Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. 32 Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you seek to stone Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.”

34 Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”‘? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.”

39 Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. 40 And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed. 41 Then many came to Him and said, “John performed no sign, but all the things that John spoke about this Man were true.” 42 And many believed in Him there.

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H-CAD — John 9:39-10:21

39 And Jesus said, “For judgement I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” 40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”

“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.

7 Then Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, bu the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

15 “As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring, and they will hear My voice; and there will be one flock and one shepherd. 17 Therefore My Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.” 19 Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. 20 And many of them said, “He has a demon and is mad. Why do you listen to Him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

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H-CAD — John 9:13-41

13 They brought him who was formerly blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.”

16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?” And there was a division among them.

17 They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.” 18 But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight.

19 And they asked them, saying, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he see now?” 20 His parents answered them and said, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but by what means he now sees we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.”

22 His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

24 So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” 25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.”

26 Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.”

30 The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from, yet He has opened my eyes! 31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him. 32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind. 33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.”

34 They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out.

35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36 He answered and said, “Who is He, that I may believe in Him?” 37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. 39 And Jesus said, “For judgement I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”

40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.”

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H-CAD — John 9:1-12

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. 4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work. 5 As long as I an in the world, I am the light of the world.”

6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. 7 And He said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.

8 Therefore the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, “Is this not he who sat and begged?” 9 Some said, “This is he.” Others said, “He is like him.” He said, “I am he.”

10 Therefore they said to him, “How were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered and said, “A Man called Jesus made clay and anointed my eyes and said to me, ‘Go to the pool of Siloam and wash.’ So I went and washed, and I received sight.” 12 Then they said to him, “Where is He?” He said, “I don’t know.”

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H-CAD — John 8:31-59

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

37 “I know that you are Abraham’s descendants, but you seek to kill Me, because My word has no place in you. 38 I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have seen with your father.” 39 They answered and said to Him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham. 40 But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God. Abraham did not do this. 41 You do the deeds of your father.”

Then they said to Him, “We were not born of fornication; we have one father — God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. 43 Why do you not understand My speech? Because you are not able to listen to My word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.”

48 Then the Jews answered and said to Him, “Do we not say rightly that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?” 49 Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor My Father, and you dishonor Me. 50 And I do not seek My own glory; there is One who seeks and judges. 51 Most assuredly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death.” 52 Then the Jews said to Him, “Now we know that You have a demon! Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’ 53 Are You greater than Abraham, who is dead? And the prophets are dead. Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

54 Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. 55 Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him’, I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” 57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” 59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

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Jesus “Un-converting” New Followers? (John 8:31-59)

31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”
      33 They answered Him, “We are Abraham’s descendants, and have never been in bondage to anyone. How can You say, ‘You will be made free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, whoever commits sin is a slave of sin. 35 And the slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever. 36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

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So I was clearing off my desk, removing the debris accumulated from being used as a teaching prep area, reading center, and “general Daddy-item collection center”. Behold! A keyboard! A push of the magic “sleepy moon” button and the big black box on my desk starts up with a hum and a whoosh.

I log in here to see what’s been going on since my last visit, and on the side of my dashboard I see a draft of a “Half-Chapter A Day” post I’d started forever ago and not finished. The post was John 8:31-59. As I re-read the section of Scripture as a preface to typing it out (as is my custom with HCAD posts), some things struck me as powerfully as they always have, while others stood out to me in ways I’m not sure if I ever picked up on before.

Let’s proceed, shall we?

Believing Yet Still Confused (vss. 31-33)

The preface to Jesus’ words in verse 31 is one of the things I’m not sure if I’ve ever zeroed in on before. “Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him” is a very important piece of information regarding those He’s about to converse with. What exactly did they believe?

Going back to the previous section (chapter 8 in general, vss. 21-30 in specific), we read of Jesus at the temple coming to the defense of the woman caught in the midst of adultery, His judgement of “he who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first”, His defense against the Pharisees’ accusation of self-witness, and His prediction of His departure and their needing to believe in Him to avoid dying in their sins. Without going into a whole sidebar on it, Scripture says that many began believing in Him after He told them, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am [He], and I do nothing of Myself; but as My Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” (vss. 28-29)

I find it compelling, and worthy of further Biblical and commentary study, that it is specifically pointed out as a matter of fact that they did, in fact, believe what He was telling them. I think that’s of key importance, and in a way a picture of either “seed by the wayside” or “seed on stony ground” the Lord spoke of in the parable of the sower. Either way, they believed, even if only for a moment, yet something rose up (either within themselves or from without, i.e. the crowd or “the birds of the air”) and provoked them to get into a bit of verbal jiu-jitsu with the Lord and fight against what the Lord had revealed to them.

Teetering At The Cliff (vss. 34-36)

The Lord goes on to provide a distinction that I think a lot of people gloss right over, contrasting a slave and a son and their permanency within a house. A slave, being a “hired hand”, has roots and place elsewhere, yet his occupational requirement compels him to dwell in the house of the master for the length of his term of service, at which point he is free to go if he so chooses. A son, on the other hand, has no requirement to always dwell in the house of his father, and is free to leave whenever he chooses (such as was the case in the parable of the prodigal son), yet he will always be identified as a member of the family, and thus will always have access to the house of his father.

You can almost feel the encouraging compassion of the Lord, trying to get the Pharisees to see that their place in the house of their enemy was temporary, that there was still hope for change. Or to say it another way, their time of being slaves of “the master of the sin-house” was nearing completion, and they would soon have the option to either walk out of the house as free men or choose to remain in the house forever as a bondslave. I wonder how many of the people we talk to about the Lord are in a similar place of approaching the “point of no return” at which they can no longer say “I did it ignorantly, as a slave” and must choose whether they want to “put their ear to the doorpost” to accept the earring of a bondslave or to simply walk out of the house free.

They have the opportunity to either receive with gladness the great news that their time of being a slave to the things they don’t want to do is almost over OR once-and-for-all choose to be counted like a son in the house that desires only their destruction. As we continue reading, we see that they make the wrong choice; take note of how Jesus here says “if you commit sin, you’re (merely) a slave”, yet after something (we’re not told what) within them changes, Jesus starts to say “now that you’re actively choosing sin, you’ve become a son.”

“Who’s Kid Are You, Anyways?” (vss. 37-40)

So rather than looking forward to their time as a slave coming to an end, something — at this point I’m leaning towards pride as the culprit, but we’re not told — something within them seems to be offended at Jesus’ words. Maybe it’s because the Pharisees were so proud of their external efforts to maintain the appearance of sinLESSness that Jesus calling them “slaves of sin” caused them to rebel against the possibility of such a notion. But whatever the case, they begin down the all-too-familiar road of “if I cannot find a hole in your argument, I’m going to try to put a hole in you instead”.

Jesus uses their desire to kill Him as a bridge of sorts, a way of linking past and future, what they’ve already been known to want and what they can choose whether or not to do. In what strikes me as a word of warning, He follows up “your relationship with sin can be forever changed” with “you may be Abraham’s descendants, but you surely ain’t his kids”. He keeps bringing to the forefront the simplicity of what they’re doing — “you seek to kill me because I tell you the truth” — yet they keep ignoring it and pressing farther and farther into their hatred. In this instance (vs. 40), He comes right out and tells them, “you’re seeking to do this, but Abraham did not do this”, perhaps with the desire that returning the focus to Abraham’s works would snap them out of their own.

It didn’t. Rather, it caused them to go into full-blown personal slander.

“Who’s Your Daddy, Jesus?” (vss. 41-47)

On the heels of “Abraham did not do this; you do the works of your father”, they go right for the sucker punch — “We were not born of fornication; we have one father — God.” Perhaps it’s because they saw they had no more ground to stand on in the ‘Abraham is our father’ discussion, but they go more directly to Abraham’s position as being called by the one true God and try to take this opportunity to discredit Jesus amongst those listening by mentioning His conception outside of wedlock. Old habits die hard, especially when it comes to taking shots at familiar “enemies”.

Jesus ignores the claim of illegitimacy and focuses on their claim — “If God were your Father, you would love Me.” He goes on for 6 verses questioning their ability to comprehend, schooling them on who their father actually is (with a side-lesson regarding his modus operandi), and culminating in the heart of the matter:

“But because I tell you the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which of you convicts Me of sin? Yet if I tell the truth, why do You not believe Me?
47 He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore, you do not hear because you are not of God.” 

Jesus always makes it very simple for us. In any intro Logic classroom, “Premise, Premise, Conclusion” is pretty much as simple as an argument gets. In this case:

  1. You say you believe the truth.
  2. I speak the truth.
    C. You should believe me.

Yet:

  1. When asked, you offer no contrary evidence of me speaking the truth.
  2. I continue telling you the truth.
  3. You continue seeking to kill Me.
    C. Thus, you have no intention to believe the truth.

Doesn’t get much clearer than calling a spade a spade, does it?

When All Else Fails, Call Him Crazy (vss. 48-55)

You can likely conjure up several images of people in movies or TV shows going “Pshh, you’re crazy!”, and that’s probably pretty close to how they looked at this point. Though their version was worded a bit more culture-specific (“Do we not rightly say that You are a Samaritan and have a demon?”), it was probably just as empty of a statement.

Jews hated Samaritans, called them “half-breeds” (as they were basically people born from one Jewish parent and one Gentile parent), constantly accused them of heresy, and had palpable disdain for everything that had anything to do with them — which, ironically enough, was probably why He chose to cast a Samaritan in the role of “good guy” in the parable of someone with reason not to help who chooses to help anyway, while the “cultural elites” (the Levite and the priest) avoided the hurting man altogether simply because they had other things to do.

Thus their calling Him a Samaritan was on the same plane as their insinuation that he was born of fornication, and as such He ignores it, except to point out “I do not have a demon; I honor My Father, but you dishonor Me”. Their brains must have hurt trying to comprehend how the “illegitimate (i.e. fatherless) man” was doing a better job of honoring His Father than they were.

True to form, they still didn’t get it — “Now we know you have a demon!”, they proclaim. Then Jesus leads them to the question that will divide all humanity throughout the course of history: “Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?…Who do You make Yourself out to be?”

Abraham’s Joy & Jesus’ Declaration (vss. 56-59)

After once again going through and showing that their claim of God as their Father was empty, Jesus redirects them back to whom their “father” looks to:

“Your Father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.”

They were incredulous. Here’s this guy in His early thirties talking about how Abraham saw “His day” (whatever that is), even though Abraham had been dead for more than a millenia. In the “Liar, Lunatic or Lord” discussion, this is where they’d change their vote from liar to lunatic.

And they walk right into what He hits them with next — He drops the bomb on them (again) regarding His identity:

“Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

And there it is, plain as day. (Even though the most head-in-the-sand agnostics will insist that Jesus never said He was God.)

They of course recognized the gravity of His declaration, as evidenced by their picking up of stones to kill Him. I wonder if they had any thought at all as to how they were just minutes earlier holding those very same stones, waiting on the word from Jesus affirming Mosaic law so they could unleash on the adulteress they had brought before Him.

Was it like “Jesus astounds them with His answer, they drop the stones and let the woman go, then Jesus makes them mad again, so they pick the stones right back up”? I picture that in my mind’s eye, and it’s momentarily comical, until of course it sinks back in that such is the power of sin, veiling the eyes to see the patently obvious.

Of course, Jesus’ “time had not yet come”, so He was able to go unharmed from the rock-chucking would-be executioners. But the last verse only serves to remind me of the first one: “Jesus said to those Jews who believed in Him…”.

How quickly they appear to have been “un-converted” from their belief in Him, foreshadowing the crowd that went from joyously singing “Hosanna!” one Sunday afternoon to shouting “Crucify Him!” just four short days later.

It is not enough to merely “believe” Jesus; one has to put their faith in Him, in His redemptive work, otherwise just as quickly as they were “talked into it”, they’ll be later talked out of it as well.

 

[In the interest of full disclosure, I feel I should note that there are many great Bible teachers and commentators who’ve taught that this section of Scripture does NOT start with ‘those who believed in Him’ being the ones who then go into arguing with Jesus, but rather others who didn’t believe that were amongst the same group of Pharisees. Included in this group is no less than Warren Wiersbe, a man whom I greatly admire in the faith and have counted myself more than blessed to have been able to “study” under via his many books and commentaries. I certainly do not consider myself in the same Bible-teaching realm as him, and as such I recognize and freely admit that he (and those who agree with him) could be completely right in their assessment. I’m merely offering my impressions as they have come out of my own studying of the passage.
Perhaps it’s because of my own personal experiences with extremely proud “pre-Christ” people, but I think that, when viewed in light of both ‘external’ (i.e. other sections of Scripture) and ‘internal’ (i.e. within the passage itself) proofs, the case can be made that the people arguing were, in fact, the same ones who — at least briefly — believed in Him at the end of verse 30. While I wouldn’t be dogmatically resolute about it, after the last several hours of studying it, cross-referencing it, reading trusted commentators’ thoughts about it, and writing about it, I feel “confidently shocked” that those who “answered” the Lord in verse 33 were the very ones whom Jesus was addressing in verses 31 and 32.
That is what pressed me forward to write about it. May this example of pride and rebellion never be the case with us. ~JA]
Categories: Bible Blogs, General Interest, New Testament, Thoughts and Daily Insights | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Choosing The Better Part (Luke 10:38-42)

We’re teaching through the Bible in our Children’s Ministry time Sunday mornings, and a section we recently covered in 5th & 6th grade is the little snippet from Luke 10:38-42 where we see Mary and Martha, and their alternative ideas of what “serving God” looks like:

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. [A good thing.] 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. [A good thing.] 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” [A good thing and a bad thing, depending on where you’re coming from.]

And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha…you are worried and troubled about many things. [Not necessarily a bad thing.] 42 BUT one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” [Obviously, a good thing.]

There are lots of “good things” that we are called to do. There are lots of “good things” that the Bible commands us to be doing as disciples of Christ. And there are lots of “good things” that we are to be doing just as people in our cultures and citizens of our respective communities.

We can look at Martha and easily pick on her, saying “Why would she choose working in the kitchen over spending time with Jesus?” That’s partly because we’re largely a lazy society, but also partly because we don’t get the whole Oriental culture towards entertaining visitors. Someone comes over here, we approach it like “Hey dude, want a Coke or somethin’?” Very much not so there.

Contrary to what some (too many) may teach, Jesus was not rebuking Martha for her work. It was one of the highest priorities in that culture — and still is there to this day — for a person welcoming a guest into their home to expend a lavish amount of effort and resource to ensure that their guest felt like royalty in their home. Thus Martha was doing as the culture expected in a “morality-neutral” activity (meaning an activity that has no positive or negative morality in and of itself, like worshiping God in Spirit and truth (positive) or worshiping idols (negative) would), and as such Jesus was not chastising her for that.

What Jesus did rebuke her for (very gently, notice) was that she desired the Lord would take away from Mary what she thought was a worthwhile activity just because Martha thought a different priority took precedence in their situation. And as such, Jesus didn’t call down fire and brimstone on Martha — though some teachers would suggest we would do so in not so many words — He just re-directed her by commending Mary’s choice.

One could assume by Martha’s frustration that she expected Mary to help — being sisters, it’s quite possible that in other cases of visitors, Mary was always by Martha’s side, serving alongside her. Maybe that’s why she was frustrated: “You always help me in service, and here we are with our most important guest EVER, and you’re just sitting there letting the whole thing fall apart!” Again, Martha’s desire for Mary to help isn’t unreasonable, she just wasn’t viewing things through Mary’s eyes.

It’s easy for us to be “doers”, getting involved in many good services for the Lord (or for people on the Lord’s behalf), and that is commendable by God. Jesus is the One who sent us out to do the “work of the ministry” (the word “ministry” = service, remember). However we also need to take the time to just sit at His feet and worship Him, glean from Him, be recharged by Him.

As Jesus Himself would tell His disciples, “You will have the poor to serve always, but I will not always be here for you to serve.” (John 12:8) So when you have those moments of having the opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet, by all means, take them.

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An Argument from Malachi — Doubting God’s Love (Part 1 of 7)

[[I know, “disputation” isn’t a word commonly used much anymore. But as this is the first of a series, it just felt as though a “series-worthy word” was necessary. Plus, it’s my blog, so I can use funky old words whenever I choose. Neener, neener.]]

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This first “disputation” from Malachi comes from the very first verse after the “title verse”:

“I have loved you,” says the Lord.
“Yet you say, ‘In what way have You loved us?'”

In our culture, the word “love” is thrown around so often and for so many different things that we hardly bat an eye anymore when we hear it. I don’t know if it was this way when I was a kid (I’m sure it was), but it kind of freaks me out when I hear my daughters throw the word around at school or at church with their friends. And not in the “don’t be comin’ ’round here with no babies” kind of dad-way (well maybe just a little…lol); more like the “that word actually does mean something, you know” kind of way.

But when someone we’re familiar with says to us “I love you” (assuming they’re not someone we’re romantically interested in), we usually don’t have a dramatic reaction, we usually just respond with a quick “Aw, I love you, too!” and move on. But here when God says to the people “I have loved you”, they don’t respond in that way, which would display common fellowship. They respond with disbelief, saying “In what way have you loved us?”

The word translated “love” is one that conveys a sense of intimacy; as I read other verses where the same root word is used, a feeling of intense, purposeful love such as the love that Abraham had for Isaac. It’s not some passing feeling of interest or casual congeniality, but an intentional and passionate devotion.

It’s interesting that of all issues the Lord would have started with, He started with love. Isn’t that just like God though, to place love in the place of preeminence? In Jesus’ words:

34 But when the Pharisees heard that He had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. 35 Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying,
36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?”
37 Jesus said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 “This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”
~ Matthew 22:34-40

Loving God first was so important, it was the first commandment given on Sinai. It was the first commandment every child would learn at home and at Temple. And it was the “first and great” commandment in Jesus’ view, as He stated above. Conveying love to one’s neighbor as you already convey it to yourself is the “other side of the same coin”.

Matthew Henry had the following to say about this verse in Malachi:

“God asserts the great kindness he had, and had often expressed, for them (v. 2): ‘I have loved you, saith the Lord.’ Thus abruptly does the sermon begin, as if God intended, whatever reproofs should be given them, to reconcile them to his love, and to take care that they should still have good thoughts of him. ‘As many as I love I rebuke and chasten.’

Thus kindly does the sermon begin. God will have his people satisfied that he loves them and is ever mindful of his love…

They question his love, and diminish the instances of it, and seem to quarrel with him for telling them of it: ‘Yet you say, Wherein hast thou loved us?’ As God traces up all his favours to them to the fountain, which was his love, so he traces up all their sins against him to the fountain, which was their contempt of his love. Instead of acknowledging his kindness, and studying what they shall render, they scorn to own that they have been beholden to him, challenge him to produce proofs of his love that are material, and think and speak very slightly of the instances they have had of his kindness, as if they were so few, so small, as not to be worth taking notice of , and no more than what they had sufficiently made returns for, or at least than he had sufficiently balanced with instances of his wrath…

God justly takes it very ill to have his favours slighted, as not worth speaking of; and it is very absurd for us to ask wherein he has loved us, when, which way soever we look, we meet with the proofs and instances of his love to us.”

Suffice it to say that the Lord has loved since before He had created the objects (i.e. us) to be loved. Love came first, then the Creation of the object of His love. One might even conclude that Creation was a direct result of the love that God desired to express. So think about it from God’s viewpoint for a second:

“I have loved you with an everlasting love, a love that has its origin before you were created, and I have loved you enough to show you the way you should walk so as to avoid the same self-imposed destruction that the nations around you experience. I have called you out of the world as a special people, the apple of My eye, not because you were in any way better, but simply because I love you and want you to know My love so you can be a good witness of that Love to the entire world.”

I’m intentionally trying to let it sink in for me personally that of all the “business” the Lord has in mind to do with us — salvation, sanctification, instruction and direction — settling in our minds the issue of God’s love is first and foremost at the top of the prioritized list. And that fact should permeate every aspect of our outreach with the world. God loves the world no less than He loves you. Why deprive them of that relationship one minute longer than absolutely necessary?

Categories: Bible Blogs, General Interest, Old Testament | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

An Argument From Malachi – Introduction

This past few Sundays, our 5th and 6th grade class has been going through a teaching on giving, and as is generally the case, the Scripture pages turned to Malachi to talk about God’s last declaration to the nation of Israel before the 400+ year “silent period” — the time between the last prophet’s message (Malachi) and the coming of the forerunner of Messiah (John the Baptist).

As we were reading through the requisite verses from chapter 3 that pertain to giving, something caught my eye in a way it never has before. I noticed in verses 7 and 8 that the tone seemed sort of argumentative, like God would say something, then whoever is being referenced as “you” replies questioning with seeming incredulity, then God would explain what the problem is.

We finished reading through the relevant verses for the teaching, and as the teacher continued expanding the verses for the kids, I kept reading, noticing that in verse 13, God seems to “pick another fight” by giving another accusation, which is again met with “you” saying basically “what did we do?”, and then God again explains what the problem is.

When I was in Bible college, one of our required courses was reviewing mp3-recorded verse-by-verse teachings from Genesis through Revelation; the second semester’s set of mp3’s covered Malachi. Our task was to listen to the teachings (usually between 40-55 minutes each) and take notes on the main themes you hear as well as any points that jump out at you or resonate with you. I’d have to dig out my old sets of notes to verify, but off the top of my head I don’t recall being specifically struck by any realization of this argumentation; if it did strike me enough to make a note of it, it didn’t do so in such a way that it lingered, which leads me to believe it wasn’t something I was learning for that point in time.

Back in the present, I wondered if this kind of argumentation was a pattern throughout Malachi’s proclamation or if this was simply something isolated to this chapter. Turning back to chapter 1 and looking for the “God said, but you say” pattern. As it turned out, I found six specific instances of it, with a couple others mentioned as part of the explanation of those six: Malachi 1:1; 1:6; 2:13-14; 2:17; 3:7-8; and 3:13. When I got home, I grabbed one of my study Bibles that has introductions prior to the various books that gives background information as well as notes on how the book is structured and if there are specific points of significance to pay special attention to.

Imagine my surprise when I found that this study Bible made note of the “unique disputation writing style” of Malachi! In my excitement, I decided I should hammer out a quick series for you on these “disputations”. After all, if the one we commonly refer to on the giving of tithes and offerings is important enough that we all always think of Malachi when the topic comes up, perhaps the other disputes are equally worthy of note as well?

Stay tuned as I will seek to address these “disputations” one by one here in the next few days so that hopefully we all can be better edified and equipped to take on these subjects in our daily lives and mindsets.

Categories: Bible Blogs, General Interest, Old Testament | Leave a comment

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