Friday, November 13, 2009

1 Thessalonians 4:1-8

V1-8 – 1Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living. Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more. 2For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus. 3It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; 4that each of you should learn to control his own body [or learn to live with his own wife, or learn to acquire a wife] in a way that is holy and honorable, 5not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; 6and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. 7For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. 8Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you His Holy Spirit.

Paul begins his final instruction here, and it is to strive for sanctification continually. There is no room in the Christian life for spiritual complacency (Philippians 3:13), but holiness remains the goal. Paul reminds the Thessalonians that he has already taught them how to live lives that “please God,” and he acknowledges that they are doing it well. But as long as we live, this must be the goal. There is no end to it, nor can it be attained perfectly until Christ’s return. But progress is asked for and urged in the Lord by the Lord from the Lord (v1-2).

In v3, Paul speaks of “God’s will.” We may understand that God’s will could be decretive (secret), as in Ephesians 1:11, whatsoever comes to pass; and we may also see God’s will as perceptive (revealed), as here and in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, our duty to progress in sanctification. Calvin says of our sanctification, “Renouncing the world, and clearing ourselves from the pollutions of the flesh, we offer ourselves to God as if in sacrifice, for nothing can with propriety be offered to Him, but what is pure and holy.” The primary thing that inhibits sanctification, according to Paul, is “sexual immorality” (v3). Calvin quotes, “Where the knowledge of God reigns, lusts must be subdued.” Pagan religions of Paul’s day encouraged sexual immorality, and most married men were adulterers by popular culture. Converting to Christianity awakened morality in the Thessalonians and revealed God’s righteous standards to them. Sexual sin – against God and man – affects all Christians, not just one’s spouse or one’s self (Romans 13:14). Thus, Paul elaborates on this teaching through v8.

Furthermore, Paul’s teaching on sexual sin is harsh; he doesn’t water it down in order to show compassion. Calvin says, “Now, the reason why he rouses himself so vehemently is, because there are always wanton persons who, while they fearlessly despise God, treat with ridicule all threatenings of His judgment, and at the same time hold in derision all injunctions as to a holy and pious life. Such persons must not be taught, but must be beaten with severe reproofs as with the stroke of a hammer.”

Paul doesn’t say, “It’s okay, try harder, or rely more on God next time.” No! Paul declares that “It is God’s will that…you should avoid sexual immorality…learn to control [your] own body…not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God… The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you… God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God.” Every time we commit sexual sin, we reject God and invite punishment from Him for such activity. We’ve been told and warned.

Finally, notice in v8 that Paul considers his teaching, his words, to carry divine authority. He has already stated that in v2, and it is clear that Paul is basing his teaching of Christian ethics on the metaphysical truth of God. It would not be a big deal to reject Paul’s ethical teaching if it was the opinion of mere man, or even if was deemed “good” for the majority of mankind; but to reject Paul’s ethical teaching as God’s instruction is to invite punishment on oneself (v6). In the end, Paul stresses both the Holy Spirit’s role in bringing the truth that his teachings are God’s teachings to individuals and the Holy Spirit’s indwelling as the source of power unto righteousness, maintaining temperance, in the Christian life.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

1 Thessalonians 3:6-13

V6-9 –6But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7Therefore, brothers, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you?

There is no doubt that Timothy’s arrival, as described in v6, served as the motive for Paul’s writing of this letter. With prayerful excitement, in the midst of his own “distress and persecution,” Paul must have waited and then listened as Timothy walked in the room and shared the “good news about [their] faith and love,” and that, in spite of Paul’s fear, the Thessalonians “always have pleasant memories” of he and his companions. Accordingly, he was “encouraged” because of the Thessalonians’ faith. V8 is staggering: “Now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.” There can be no doubt of Paul’s affection for this congregation! And he can’t thank God enough!

Furthermore, Paul’s declaration of consolation, or encouragement, and joy for the Thessalonians’ prosperous faith, is meant to urge them on to continued perseverance and edification. Paul’s very life was tied intimately to the spiritual condition of his newly founded flock; upon hearing of their steadfastness, Paul claimed to “really live.” In this light, Calvin has a word for shepherds, saying, “By this all pastors are admonished what sort of connection ought to subsist between them and the Church – that they reckon themselves happy when it goes well with the Church, although they should be in other respects encompassed with many miseries, and, on the other hand, that they pine away with grief and sorrow if they see the building which they have constructed in a state of decay, although matters otherwise should be joyful and prosperous.”

V10-13 –10Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11Now may our God and Father Himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13May He strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all His holy ones.

Paul, though hindered by Satan (1 Thessalonians 2:18), directs his prayer to return to Thessalonica in v10-13 to both the Father and Son, declaring Their equality. Calvin says, “We must take notice that he assigns the same office to God and to Christ, as, unquestionably, the Father confers no blessing upon us except through Christ’s hand. When, however, he thus speaks of both in the same terms, he teaches that Christ has divinity and power in common with the Father.”

Paul expresses strong desire (“most earnestly”) to visit them – by the will of God – for fellowship, but more importantly to “supply what is lacking in [their] faith.” Calvin notes, “Yet this is the faith which he had previously extolled marvelously. But from this we infer, that those who far surpass others are still far distant from the goal. Hence, whatever progress we may have made, let us always keep in view our deficiencies, that we may not be reluctant to aim at something farther.” Paul’s goal to edify the saints never ceases, and his prayer, by the way, was answered in Acts 20:1-4.

Paul ends this chapter (v12-13) with a lengthy benediction, asking for God first to make their love increase to overflowing, first for each other and then for everyone else (Galatians 6:10), just as Paul’s does for them (exhorting them to follow his example), and second to strengthen their hearts, confirming their consciences in holiness. Calvin says, “From this again we learn in what the perfection of the Christian life consists – in love and pure holiness of heart, flowing from faith” (1 Timothy 1:5); and God must work it in us. In other words, Paul is saying that sanctification has started in the Thessalonians and it will be completed at the second coming of Christ (Philippians 1:6). We’ll cover the second coming of Christ in much more detail in the next chapter. But in the meantime, we can see that the Thessalonians have learned about this from Paul and are familiar with the language he uses when writing about it (1 Thessalonians 2:19). And here we see that Jesus will not be coming alone; He will be with “all His holy ones,” speaking of either angels (Matthew 13:39,48-49; 16:27; 2 Thessalonians 1:7; Jude 1:14) or humans (2 Thessalonians 1:10; Revelation 19:14), or even both.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

1 Thessalonians 3:1-5

V1-5 – 1So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker [or our fellow worker, or God’s servant] in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. You know quite well that we were destined for them. 4In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter might have tempted you and our efforts might have been useless.

Paul continues into chapter three detailing memoirs from his time with the Thessalonians, especially in regard to persecution. So as to further assure them of his sincerity, Paul chose to be left alone in his ministry rather than have them be left without comfort in their enduring persecution; so he sent Timothy, one likeminded and a great help to Paul (Philippians 2:20), to “strengthen and encourage” the Thessalonians in their faith. Calvin says, “The fellowship which ought to subsist between the saints and members of Christ extends even thus far – that the faith of one is the consolation of others. Thus, when the Thessalonians heard that Paul was going on with indefatigable zeal, and was by strength of faith surmounting all dangers and all difficulties, and that his faith continued everywhere victorious against Satan and the world, this brought them no small consolation.” Paul was confident that his faith, as well as his measure in sending Timothy to them, would keep them from being unsettled (v3).

Paul says in v3-4 that believers are “destined for” persecution (John 15:18-21; Mark 8:34). Vincent Cheung says, “God ordains persecution for believers, among other things, for their training and education, for His own honor, and to increase the punishment against unbelievers, who persecute His people. Thus when rightly perceived, the idea that we are ‘destined’ for persecution generates in us, not bitterness or despair, but great peace, strength, and consolation.” This message is not designed for the so-called “seekers” out there; the rich young ruler was a seeker, and when Jesus told him the hard truth, that he needed to give up his wealth, he went away disappointed (Matthew 19:16-22). Rather, Paul says that the Thessalonians knew they would be persecuted; his prophetic words were confirmed, bearing witness to his integrity and the truth of all that he spoke and wrote to them.

If you want to win followers to Christ, would you begin with, “How would you like to believe something and be mocked, ridiculed, beaten, imprisoned, and even killed for embracing?” There aren’t many who would jump at the opportunity. But Paul doesn’t shy away from the truth. Nevertheless, Cheung says, “Although [Paul] takes care to remove unnecessary offenses that might hinder people from considering the Christian faith, he makes no effort to make his message palatable to the sinful man. The sinful man is possessed by evil dispositions that render him naturally antagonistic to truth, repentance, and holiness. From this perspective, there is nothing that the preacher can do to make the Christian faith attractive or ‘friendly’ to the sinner without compromising the truth about what this religion teaches and produces.” He reminds the Thessalonians, “We kept telling you that we (believers) would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know” (v4).

Because Paul wanted reassurance that the Thessalonians were persevering through their trials, he sent Timothy back there. He had to stay alone in Athens (v1) for safety, but after claiming confidence that they would not be “unsettled” (v3), he now acknowledges his fear that Satan may have gotten the best of them and proven his efforts to build them up “useless.” Calvin comments, “He teaches us that temptations are always to be dreaded, because it is the proper office of Satan to tempt. As, however, he never ceases to place ambushes for us on all sides, and to lay snares for us all around, so we must be on our watch, eagerly taking heed. And now he says openly what in the outset he had avoided saying, as being too harsh – that he had felt concerned lest his labors should be vain, if, peradventure, Satan should prevail. And this he does that they may be carefully upon their watch, and may stir themselves up the more vigorously to resistance.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Husband to Wife

I came across this anonymous letter, and I thought it might speak to many husbands and wives out there...


I know you're confused about my sadness. You admire me, I can tell, and I know you respect me, which is what you're supposed to do. And you know that I love you. I say it, and I mean it. I try to show it, but I fail - a lot. I don't do the things I want to do, and I do the things I don't want to do. That's why I'm mad at myself. I rambled last night before falling asleep - sorry if I did too early. I'm tired a lot. It's been a tough year, really about a year. I reflect on it. Things were good last November. I don't remember much of December, but January through March were challenging on many levels. I remember being especially tempted by lust during those months and losing battles on Mondays after just confidently leaving church the day before... But the words don't come easily, and though I've longed to confess to you (or even someone else), it's shameful. So I'll write about it instead.

Once April rolled around, the temptations eased and I felt really good. Spring was in the air. We had our family vacation, which was truly fabulous, the highlight of my year. I had not experienced any ugly sin that I can recall during April or May. Relief!

And of course, I'm wise enough to know that it'll never go away. But I weakened and the roller coaster ride began again through the summer. I think of a roller coaster, it goes up slow and it's peaceful, but when the downhill comes, you go down fast. And I did. This summer, the battle with lust reared up again. Truly, it began with mere and innocent curiosity, as in "Who's that actress that played in that movie?" I saw no fault in looking at an image or two of a fully clothed woman, with the motive of adding movies to our rental queue... It was no trouble, so I thought. But it didn't stop there. And so towards the end of summer, I was really struggling with this - 2 good weeks were followed by a bad day, and then a good week was followed by a bad week, and then a good day was followed by 2 bad weeks. Each down was deeper and longer, and each up was less peaceful and shorter. I was truly in trouble, and I knew it.

And I justified it by appealing to what I've told you before (at least I think I did - If I didn't, I played it over in my head with you enough times to convince myself that we've had this discussion). I've always thought myself to have a low sex-drive; and I don't like the thought of that (at least I didn't...). I'd go in cycles of nothing to wanting you all the time. I want to want you. But I'm not confident in initiating sex, so I roll over and go to bed. And then on occasion, you'll get mad at me for doing that, but I fight it off and claim to be tired (which I truly am). The desire builds over a couple days like that, and as James 1:15 says, "After desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin." But our sex (and here's the justification) was/is always so good when I want you a intensely. And losing the battle with lust makes me want you more. And I'd justify it for the sake of good sex, then I'd ask for forgiveness, and fight against it the next day. That cycle week-in and week-out was killing me.

It had to stop. So about 10-12 weeks ago (I stopped counting after being porn-free for a couple months - and probably if you reflect on it, about the time I started to seem especially distant to you), I decided to give up the desire for sex. Romans 7:8 says, "But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire." When I don't try to want it, it doesn't try to want me. I have no desire, but I don't struggle against THAT sin.

God said to Cain in Genesis 4:7, "If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it." This ongoing attempt to "master sin" by eliminating desire has worked really well in curbing that sin. 1 Peter 2:11 says, "Abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul." Romans 6:12 says, "Do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires."

I spent time in God's word yesterday in order not so much to learn but more to abstain from sinful desires and, therefore, sin. Romans 13:14 says, "Clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the sinful nature." I like the thought of not thinking about how to gratify lust! Galatians 5:16 says, "Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature." How do you live by the Spirit? It's not so much by trying, though I am trying. It's by grace. And so just as I prayed for awhile that you would want sex (and, sadly, certain kinds of sex, like the porn I was watching) more (though that was foolish because I was sinning all the while), I now pray for the grace to be pure, having pure desires that lead not to sin but to the right experience of purity in the marriage bed.

Galatians 5:24 says, "Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires." I don't feel like I have done that. It's not over. It's as good as done, but not done yet. And I'm not sure how to invite desire for sex without inviting sin to regain its desired place in my life. 2 Peter 2:18-19 says, "By appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, [false teachers] entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, while they themselves are slaves of depravity—for a man is a slave to whatever has mastered him." I see myself as "just escaping from those who live in error," (though truly only in one area of my life, all the while watching other areas of my life seeming fall into shambles). And that's the pain. I am too weak to manage it all. I can't fight sin on multiple fronts. If I strive against it on the left, it beats me down on the right. If I fight to the right, it attacks from the left and then underneath. I look up, and it's there too. It's strong. But God is stronger. And I just want to let go. But I don't know how.

I was mastered before becoming a Christian. And then I was free for awhile. And then I was mastered again. And then I was free. And then mastered, and then free. And then mastered and now free - in one area, but mastered elsewhere. I HATE the cycle. I HATE that good desires (for my wife) lead me into sin. But I haven't figured out how to invite good desires without also inviting sin. And so my solution over the past 3 months has been to eliminate all desires. It has worked to keep away sin. I don't have the desire, so sin has had no hold on me (in that area). But I realize that's not good for you. You need me to want you. And though I'm scared to want you - since that desire will invite sin - I probably need it too. I don't know what to say or what to do. But I ask for your forgiveness. You think you have a strong husband. I am not that and am certain that I never will be on my own. But at least you have a faithful lover in the Lord, and I hope that we can still work together to glorify Him in whatever way He chooses to be glorified by us. I love you, and though seeming sad for a season, I will not be mastered any longer by that oh so hideous sin.

1 Thessalonians 2:17-20

V17-20 – 17But, brothers, when we were torn away from you for a short time (in person, not in thought), out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you. 18For we wanted to come to you – certainly I, Paul, did, again and again – but Satan stopped us. 19For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when He comes? Is it not you? 20Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

Paul uses the phrase “torn away,” the word for “orphaned,” speaking of himself and his companions in v17, and you can continually see the familial illustrations throughout this chapter (v7,8,11,17). Paul says that “Satan stopped us” from coming back to Thessalonica, which he wanted to do since the Thessalonians are his “glory and joy” (v20). He had unfinished business in teaching the Thessalonian believers, and he reveals the way he felt about that here; though he could not at that moment be with them “in person,” he was always with them “in thought” (v17). He’ll elaborate in the next chapter, but for Paul, the Great Commission to go and make disciples, teaching them everything, takes more than a 1-hour Bible study or once a week church service. Paul’s life was devoted to this task, and he often spent years with as many people as would gather (Corinth; Ephesus) to teach them discipleship. But he was forced out of Thessalonica rather abruptly. He wanted to go back and spend more time with them, because he cherished the Thessalonian believers and wanted to see them persevere and grow.

In acknowledging that “Satan stopped us” from coming back to Thessalonica, Paul reminds his audience, says Cheung, “that they are in a spiritual struggle against forces hostile to the Christian agenda (Ephesians 6:12). Along with this is a reminder that Christians stand for truth and righteousness, unlike Satan and the non-Christians, who persecute God’s people. Or, again in line with this, it might be a reminder that the apostle and his companions are also engaged in this conflict, that they and the Thessalonians are both enduring persecution for the sake of the gospel, and all that is good and right, in contrast to the devil and the unbelievers.” And we might also wonder why God, who has complete control over Satan, would allow Satan to stop Paul from returning at this point. One reason may be to occasion the writing of these Thessalonian epistles. Had Paul been able to return there, he would not have needed to write. So God’s purpose in Paul’s persecution, and the Thessalonians’, is a good one. Cheung continues:

“Since evil is not an end in itself and since evil itself is not the termination point of God’s plan, but since God’s purpose is the perfection of the saints, it is perfectly sensible for God to ordain evil and then tell the elect to resist it. James writes, ‘Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything’ (James 1:2-4). God’s plan is not that evil might prosper, but that His own people would ‘be mature and complete, not lacking anything.’ There are other reasons for God to ordain evil, but for now this explanation alone is sufficient to show that it is unnecessary to appeal to mystery or paradox. God uses Satan and non-Christians for His own glory and for our benefit, testing and refining our faith. When they have served their purpose, they will be thrown into the lake of hellfire to be punished and tortured forever.”
In v19, Paul uses the word “parousia” (“when He comes”), which is only used once outside of the Thessalonian epistles (used 6 times – 1 Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23; 2 Thessalonians 2:1,8) by the apostle (1 Corinthians 15:23). We’ll cover the second coming of Christ in much more detail when we come to chapter 4. But in the meantime, we can see that the Thessalonians have learned about this from Paul and are familiar with the language he uses when writing about it (1 Thessalonians 3:13). Concluding, Paul celebrates the Thessalonians, acknowledging that he will glory and rejoice for eternity about their communion with him, as well as their inclusion in and edification within God’s Kingdom.

Monday, November 09, 2009

1 Thessalonians 2:13-16

V13-16 – 13And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe. 14For you, brothers, became imitators of God’s churches in Judea, which are in Christ Jesus: You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, 15who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men 16in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last [or fully].

Paul again gives reason for thanking God, that His word is efficacious (“at work in you”); see Isaiah 55:11, Jeremiah 23:29, and Hebrews 4:12. God’s word accomplishes exactly what God wants it to do every time it is preached. Paul thanks God, because the Thessalonians received and accepted the gospel. In other words, God opened their deaf ears and blind eyes and gave them faith; that’s why Paul is thankful. And God did this by His word; in fact, “God” and “Scripture” are often used interchangeably in the New Testament. Calvin says, “The relative pronoun may be taken as referring either to God or to His word, but whichever way you choose, the meaning will come all to one, for as the Thessalonians felt in themselves a Divine energy, which proceeded from faith, they might rest assured that what they had heard was not a mere sound of the human voice vanishing into air, but the living and efficacious doctrine of God.”

But notice that those who do not receive the word of God, those who do not accept it as divinely inspired, infallible and inerrant, are neglecting what “it actually is, the word of God.” We might also conclude from that implication that the word of God is not at work in the same way for unbelievers as it is for believers. We might argue that the word of God is always at work, even if only to bring condemnation. Vincent Cheung says, “To regard the word of God as the word of mere men is not faith, not even weak faith, but non-faith, unbelief, and blasphemy. The difference is not a matter of ‘more or less,’ but one of ‘either-or,’ not a matter of degree, but of truth and reality. Thus to regard the doctrine of the apostles as the word of men is to deny that it is the word of God – it is to reject the gospel, the only message that saves.” Elaborating further on v13, Cheung says:

“Unbelievers cannot perceive the word of God for what it is because it is spiritually perceived. They lack the disposition and competence to perceive it for what it is with their minds. They think that men wrote the Bible, and therefore it must be the word of men. They make this judgment without regard to the heavenliness of the content. Yet some claim that they would believe if the same message were delivered to them in conjunction with some spectacular display of divine presence. But this just shows that they are sensual and irrational, and not intellectual. This is part of the reason Jesus could say, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead’ (Luke 16:31). If they are irrational and non-intellectual, then what would a shock to the senses do? They would still lack the intellectual disposition and competence to recognize the true nature and source of an intellectual message. But if they possess the intellectual disposition and competence to recognize intellectual truth, then they would not need a shock to the senses. This intellectual enlightenment is what is granted to the elect in conversion. Reprobates remain in darkness and a mentally disabled condition.”
Moving on, Paul says in v14 that the Thessalonians “became imitators of” the Jewish Christians in suffering for the faith. Calvin says they “had in good earnest embraced the gospel, as being presented to them by God, inasmuch as they courageously endured the assaults which Satan made upon them, and did not refuse to suffer anything rather than leave off obedience to it. And, unquestionably, this is no slight test of faith when Satan, by all his machinations, has no success in moving us away from the fear of God.” Furthermore, the Thessalonians may have wondered why, if the truth of Jesus extends from the Jews, the Jews would persecute Christians. But Paul elaborates on that in the coming verses.

In v15-16, Paul speaks of the Jews being responsible for killing Jesus. Quite bluntly, the Jews, who self-righteously and arrogantly yet piously and truthfully claimed to be ambassadors to the world with theological truth, murdered Jesus, and even though God foreordained that and by whom it should happen, the Jewish people, led by their selfish, pharisaical shepherds, were morally culpable for their actions. Paul goes on and says that “they displease God” by prohibiting Paul and others from preaching the gospel, especially to the Gentiles. Cheung says of Paul, “He describes the ongoing effort of the Jews to frustrate the works of God on the earth. They killed the prophets and the Lord Jesus (v15a), and now they pursue the Christians. Some they drive out. Others they imprison. And the rest they kill. They do not only refuse the gospel, preferring the fires of hell to the glories of heaven, but they also attempt to prevent the gospel from reaching the Gentiles, often by any means necessary, including murder. Whereas there is much talk about anti-Semitism today, Paul writes that they are the ones who are ‘hostile to all men,’ and this is seen in their efforts to impede the progress of the Christian faith, which is the only hope of salvation for mankind. Determined to destroy the Christian faith, in effect they have assigned themselves the task of mass damnation, the instigators of spiritual holocaust.” And in that way, they, as Jesus said (Matthew 23:32), fill up the measure of their sins.

For additional commentary on this concept, we might need to look at Romans 9-11 (compare Romans 1:18-32 for an image of God’s wrath poured out on the Gentiles) and consider Jewish envy. But in the meantime, we can say that the wrath on the Jews may be seen as partial, though severe. It may have included and continue to include famine (Acts 11:28), massacre in the Temple (as recorded by Josephus), or the Holocaust, and expulsion from Jerusalem at the hands of Claudius (Acts 18:2). It likely also prophesies, as Jesus did throughout the gospels, the fall of the Temple in 70 AD.

DC 401 - Week 10 - Overview of Biblical History

This is our final week of the semester, with a lengthy break to follow, during which we will read through Isaiah. But for this week, the workload might look something like this:

Monday - Read and comment on Ezra, as well as Psalms 77, 79, and 80
Tuesday - Read and comment on Nehemiah
Wednesday - Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:11 - These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come - and review previous verses, such as Genesis 3:6, 1 Thessalonians 1:3, and Colossians 3:23-24
Thursday - Read chapter 1 of Across the Spectrum, and answer questions 1, 2, 3, and 4 (4 questions), and fill in the chart of Old Testament books (you may also want to attempt to memorize the books of the Bible in order)
Friday - Review memory verses, and answer questions 5a-c, 6a-c, and 7a-b (8 questions)