Abraham’s Offspring – Gal 3-4

Paul speaks harsh to the Galatians he addresses when chapter 3 begins, calling them foolish. They had received the Spirit and now they were questioning the gospel. Did they think they had received it by works of the law? Paul is still working on the doubts and fears that these false prophets had instilled in them that they were under the law. And if they were Gentiles, their only hope in that case would be to become Jews first.

bearing the crossPaul makes his best case in this chapter when he cites Genesis 12:7, where God made the promises to Abraham and his offspring. He did not say “offsprings,” as to mean many. Paul says that God was talking about Jesus as his offspring. He also tells them that God had told Abraham that in him, all nations would be blessed. It is this promise that means through Jesus Christ, we are all Abraham’s offspring. The law, he said, had come after the promises to Abraham, and could not nullify them:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

And in chapter four, as he continues to confirm this, he addresses in verse 17 those false teachers who have endeared themselves to them. He tells them their true motives: “they make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them.” They were not teaching them these things to bring them into the kingdom. They wanted to shut them out!

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark and Galatians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Only One Gospel – Galatians 1-2

Paul addresses the Galatians in chapter one, beginning by establishing his authority as an apostle “not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father.” We can infer, as has been the case elsewhere, that some had called his status as an apostle into question. It is clear from his writing that there were some that were teaching false doctrine, as he begins this chapter with a rebuke to them. He couldn’t have said it any plainer or stronger: “…even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.”

The ancient territory of Galatia, in central Asia Minor, surrounds modern Ankara, Turkey.

The ancient territory of Galatia, in central Asia Minor, surrounds modern Ankara, Turkey.

The words are just as relevant to us today. There are still false prophets. One need only surf the television channels for a short time to find one. There are those who preach health and wealth and almost anything that the gospel does not teach, sometimes throwing in a bit of the truth for good measure. We must guard against believing what we wish to be true preached by man and coming only from man.

In defending his apostleship, he begins a narrative of his conversion from a persecutor of the very church he now served — which he  continues in chapter 2. He even speaks of his confrontation with Peter in Galatians 2:11-14 over Peter “pulling back” from the Gentiles because he feared the circumcision party.

In verses 15-21, we learn that it is members of that party that must have been causing the strife in Galatia, which is, of course, the reason for his narrative. He wanted to reassure them of the gospel, and that they were not under the old law, as those teachers were trying to make them believe.  He tells them “through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me…for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark and Galatians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Resurrection- Mark 16

Mark 16 “marks” the end of his gospel with the most important event in the history of the world — the resurrection. The events described in the four gospels seem to differ in some details on the account (Mark’s is the shortest, of course). This writer’s attempt at harmonizing those accounts, which (I believe) demonstrates that they complement rather than contradict each other, can be read in this previous post.

resurrection01Some early manuscripts do not include verses 9 and following of this chapter (a favorite fact of those skeptics, who try to discredit the Bible). But there are very good arguments that make the case that they are part of the inspired word. And it should also be remembered by Christians faced with accusations of a Bible that is inconsistent that out of the thousands of verses in the 66 books, only a miniscule number are disputed. And none of those contain in any doctrinal significance. And these verses from verse nine to the end contain events that are found in other gospels.

The important thing for us is that the tomb was found to be empty, though it had been under guard. And our Lord showed Himself to about 500 witnesses, including the apostles. He conquered death then, and has promised to do so for us.

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark and Galatians

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Who Was the Naked Runner? – Mark 14-15

Mark 14 is the longest in his gospel and one of the longest in the New Testament at 72 verses. It truly demonstrate the fast pace of Mark’s writing we spoke of earlier, as there is a lot of history in the chapter. It covers Jesus’ anointing at Bethany, the institution of the Lord’s supper, prayer in the garden of Gethsemane, Judas’ betrayal, and Peter’s denial. This makes a detailed study of the chapter in this blog practically impossible. But there is so much to be learned from such a study, considering all of those events. Most of them have been covered in previous posts here.

Sunrise over the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane is to the left of the large building on the right.

Sunrise over the Mount of Olives. The Garden of Gethsemane is to the left of the large building on the right.

That being the case, I want to focus on two verses that are almost always overlooked because of all of the other important details. When you read (or listen to) the chapter, pay attention to verses 51 and 52, which seem to be out of step with the entire chapter. The context is the arrest of Jesus, during which His followers ended up fleeing:

And a young man followed him, with nothing but a linen cloth about his body. And they seized him, but he left the linen cloth and ran away naked.

Why is this seemingly insignificant and strange account included in such a succinct gospel account? Does it have any meaning for us? There are some scholars who believe that the young man spoken of here is John Mark himself, and that the passage serves as a sort of signature for the author — somewhat like John’s reference to “the disciple that Jesus loved” in his gospel. That has a ring of truth, and well may be the case.

But it does serve to illustrate that Jesus’ captors did seek to arrest those who followed Him, and would certainly have loved to get their hands on the apostles. But this insignificant man was the only one they got their hands on — and he got away. The Lord had indeed guarded His disciples from harm in this ordeal. It was His will that they would not be harmed. Just one in a long line of examples that God’s will always gets done.

Chapter 15 is only 47 verses, but once again, it is filled with many important events. Jesus appears before the Sanhedrin, who send Him to Pilate, who has Him scourged (trying in vain to get the crowd to have him release Jesus instead of Barabbas). He is mocked and beaten and spat upon, and then led to be crucified. At His death, he utters the famous words taken from Psalm 22 — “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

After His death, it was a respected member of the Sanhedrin council itself who went to Pilate  and obtained permission to take the body for burial. It was a truly courageous thing for a man in his position to do; and Mark tells us that he “was also himself looking for the kingdom of God.” As is so often the case, God used one of the most unexpected of people to see His will done. And that is always a reminder to us that everyone who seeks the Lord has the ability to do something meaningful in His kingdom.

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Not One Stone- Mark 12-13

Reading the whole NT this year – less than 5 minuter per day – Mon thru Fri  (This week: Mark 11-16)

Chapter 12 begins with Jesus telling the crowd the parable of the tenants, which is obviously about God sending His Son to the world, only to have the people kill Him.  To solidify that, in verse 11 he quotes Psalm 118:22-23 — which is a clearly Messianic passage. Verse 12 demonstrates that the Pharisees were on the verge of having Him arrested already, especially upon realizing that He was talking about them.

Herod's Temple, Jerusalem model city.

Herod’s Temple, Jerusalem model city.

In verses 19-26, the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, tried to stump him with a question about it. But what is important to us in His answer is his affirmation of the resurrection, as well as the fact that in the end, there will be no real death because death is the last enemy Jesus defeats for us:

…have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.

Verses 41-44 are about the Widow’s offering. It lets us know that even if we are not wealthy, our gifts from the heart are just as valued by the Lord as those from the rich, and often even more so.

In chapter 13, the disciples were pointing out the majesty and beauty of the temple, when Jesus makes an obvious prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem to come in A.D. 70:

Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.

Verses 3 -24 are somewhat difficult, and many have interpreted those verses in different ways. Some of it has apocalyptic language such as in the book of Daniel (the “abomination of desolation” and other poetic language). To some, it seems clear that Jesus is a first talking about the destruction to come in A.D. 70 (and that must be the case). But some also believe that he then shifts in verse 24 to speak of the second coming.

This latter theory is problematic, however. It seems unmistakable that Jesus is giving the people warning of the signs to look for, so that Christians can get away from Jerusalem before the Romans destroy it. This writer believes that the apocalyptic language in verses 24 and following are just that, and that the entire discourse is about the same event. Note how He finishes in verse 30: Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

But then in verse 32 and following, it begins to sound more like He is talking about the second coming. In this case, I think it is logical to consider that He may very well have been referring to both A.D. 70 and the second coming in these verses. Both of them fit very well, and His audience would not likely have understood at that time that the A.D 70 event would take place.

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Of Prayer and Faith – Mark 11-15

Jesus entering Jerusalem, the Triumphal Entry.

Jesus entering Jerusalem, the Triumphal Entry.

This week, we read Mark 11-15 in our five day per week journey through the entire New Testament this year. Chapter 11 begins with mark’s account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. he then cleanses the temple and further angers the Pharisees. There is also the account of the fig tree that he caused to wither. His statement that it would not bear fruit again is symbolic of His beloved Jerusalem. they had been given the stewardship of God’s word, along with His love and favor. But now their rejection of His Son, was too much.

The last account of the chapter is of another challenge by the chief priests, scribes, and the elders demanding to know by what authority He does the things that He has done. His answer is especially shrewd. He will only answer if they tell Him by what authority John the baptist did his baptisms – of heaven or of man. If they answered that it was of man, the people would become angry, for they knew John was a prophet. So they refused to answer.

The portion of the chapter that grabs your attention, however is when Jesus explained the lesson of the fig tree:

Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, “Be taken up and thrown into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him.  Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.

Grove of fig trees, a mature size.

Grove of fig trees, a mature size.

Moving a mountain in Jewish literature was a metaphor for doing that which seemed impossible (just as it would be for us). Jesus does not mean that God is our magic genie, to whom we only need to incant the proper words in prayer and get whatever we want. We must remember also that the Bible is a unified teaching, and that it has much else to say about prayers — such as in James 4:2-3: “…You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.”

So clearly, we are expected first of all to pray according to God’s will. But more importantly, we must examine why we should “move the mountain” in first place. Jesus said in Matthew 6: 33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” So following His word, and trying hard to be the “light of the world” and “the salt” that He spoke of in Mark 9:50, must be our primary driving force in life. That’s is easy to say, but hard to really do.

At least as important, and possibly more so, is the lesson Jesus gave to the apostles in that same chapter, when they were arguing about which of them was the greatest. In Mark 9:35, He told them: “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.” Jesus taught that being righteous in His kingdom is not about one’s self. It is about how we can serve others in order to help carry them to heaven with us. And that, my friends, is the hardest part of all.

Knowing this then, when we pray for the mountains” that we wish to move, we must ask ourselves how, in doing so, we might be able to put others first, build someone up, and nurse them along life’s journey and into His kingdom. Jesus was the King they had waited for so long to come. But they missed the fact that He was to be the greatest servant — the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 53. By following his example, and becoming a servant to others, there is truly no mountain we cannot move from faith in our prayers.

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Kingdom of God- Mark 9-10

Mark chapter 9 begins with a stark reminder that the chapter divisions of the Bible, unlike the scriptures themselves, are not divinely inspired. In point of fact, like many other chapter beginnings, verse one clearly should have been the end of chapter 8. But the fact that it was made the first verse of this chapter instead has resulted in a plethora of misunderstandings and theories. Here is what the verse says:

And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

rich ruler

The rich fool in Jesus’ parable was not only rich and a fool, but very greedy and covetous. He wanted to keep his riches to himself and not share it with others in need

The first five words indicate that Jesus was still talking to the same crowd that He had called to Him with His disciples in Mark 8:34-38. But alas, some scholars have still tried to link the meaning of the verse to the Transfiguration that follows in the chapter. Frankly, that explanation of “seeing the kingdom of God come into its power” seems the most ludicrous of all the explanations that scholars have offered. Well, perhaps not. Some have offered that it refers to His second coming. That certainly cannot be the case because He has not yet returned, and none of that crowd still lives today. It is the opinion of this writer that the kingdom of God that He refers to is Jesus’ church.

Jesus goes on to cast out a demon that the disciples could not deal with. Jesus makes it pretty plain in verse 19 that it was a matter of faith on their part. A few verses later, they are arguing about which one of them was the greatest. The lesson Jesus tries to teach them is that serving in His kingdom is not about being the greatest. It is about serving.

In verses 42-50, Jesus talks about cutting one’s hand or foot off, or plucking out one’s own eye if they cause you to sin. This is not a literal command obviously — any more that He is saying that they are literally salt in verses 49-50. The point is that one must make big changes in their life in order to avoid temptations. Sometimes that mean removing one’s self from the company of those who would tempt them, or avoiding places and things that cause temptation.

Chapter 10 begins with the Pharisees trying to trap Him about divorce.  His answer is that God takes the marriage vow very seriously, and just as He says in Matthew 5:32, it is His expectation that they stay married, with adultery being an acceptable exception. But clearly, God would prefer that a man and woman stayed married even then. God can forgive any transgression. So can we.

The rich young man who Jesus spoke to in verses 17-22 was told that what he lacked in order to please God was to sell all he had and give it to the poor. This makes some wonder whether this is what is expected of everyone. Jesus knew this man’s heart, and that heart belonged to his possessions. Many people are rich and serve God well. But this man could not. There are some who probably would be better off if they did not have so much material wealth. No man can serve God and money.

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Be Not Ashamed – Mark 6-8

Continuing with our reading of Mark this week, we read in chapter 6 of Jesus being rejected in His home town and how Herod had John the baptist killed. He was afraid of him, but he had made an oath around witnesses to give Herodias’s daughter whatever she wished. To his dismay, she followed her mother’s wishes and asked for John’s head on a platter. Jesus then went on to feed the 5,000.

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees

Saint John the Baptist and the Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In chapter 7, the Pharisees confront Him because his disciples did not follow the washing rituals they prescribed as though they were God’s laws. Jesus exposed them for their many hypocrisies, such as how they manipulate words and deeds to shirk their duty to take care of their parents.

In chapter 8, He feeds the 4,000 with seven loaves of bread and a few small fish– ending up with more food than they started with in the first place. In Dalmanutha, the Pharisees confronted Him again and demanded a sign from heaven. Jesus, of course, gave them none; and he even said that no sign would be given to “this generation.” God’s people were given all the signs they needed.

It was after this that Jesus told His disciples to beware of the “leaven” of the Pharisees and of Herod. As they wondered about bread, jesus became impatient with them. They still did not understand, it seems. But in verse 29, Peter did make it clear that he knew that Jesus was the Christ.

He finishes the chapter with a sermon to the crowds; and verse 39 says:

For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.

Those words are easy to read, and they are just as easy for us to nod our heads and say “that’s right.” But we must beware living in an increasingly pagan land, as we do. How easy is it to keep our mouths shut, when perhaps we should be speaking up for the Lord?

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

The Love of Jesus

English: Jesus healing the sick by Gustave Dor...

English: Jesus healing the sick by Gustave Dore, 19th century Source: http://www.morethings.com/god_and_country/jesus/healing-jesus-240.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This week, we read Mark 6-10 as we go through the entire New Testament this year. I took at peek at Mark 6, just to refresh my memory of where we are currently. As you read that chapter, notice the last verse, verse 56. Jesus is healing the sick in Gennesaret, and the text reads:

And wherever he came, in villages, cities, or countryside, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and implored him that they might touch even the fringe of his garment. And as many as touched it were made well.

There was nothing special about Jesus’ clothing. It was the same clothing that anyone there in that place and time could have been wearing. But there were so many people bringing their sick in the hope of being healed. Jesus, though He was the Son of God was here also as a man. There simply was not time to personally interact with each one of these. But knowing what they were coming for, He also knew their hearts. These people believed that His healing power was so great that a mere touch of His garment could heal.

They were right of course. But it wasn’t the garment. Jesus made it so because He wanted them to have what they came for. It was their faith that enabled them to receive the gift that He wanted them to have. Jesus said in Matthew 7:11:

If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

The Lord wants to give us what we need. Sometimes that is in conflict with what we think we want. But we “touch His garment” in manner of speaking when we pray because we know that if it is His will, He can make it so. What a blessing it is to have a “High Priest” (Hebrews 4:14-16) that loves us so much!

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

Parables, Miracles and Blessed Assurance – Mark 3-5

In Mark 3, Jesus heals the man with the withered hand. The pharisees reacted by trying to figure out how to destroy Him. It is the same in this day and age. When people have their hearts and minds set against believing in the Lord, even miracles such as those witnessed by the Pharisees will not convince them. He performed other miracles and cast out demons; and the crowds continued to grow. Bu verse 13 of the third chapter, He is naming His apostles. Notice verses 20-21. It is clear from these verses that many of Jesus’ family were not yet convinced that He was truly the Lord.

Then he went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when his family heard it, they went out to seize him, for they were saying, “He is out of his mind.”

Christ and The Pharisees

Christ and The Pharisees (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Verses 28-29 speak of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit. This is not a certain kind of sin that one commits that is just unforgivable. Many people have misinterpreted these verses to make themselves believe that they can have no forgiveness. Verse 28 sates that “ALL sins will be forgiven the children of man, AND whatever blasphemies they utter.” No sin is unforgivable if one repents. Verse 29 is not a contradiction of that. It simply means that one who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit has denied God. It is those whose hearts have turned against the Lord AND who do not repent that will perish. It is, as always, a matter of the heart.

Chapter 4 has several of the parables contained in Matthew. When Jesus explained in verses 10-12 about why He was speaking in parables, He quoted Isaiah 6:9-10. What is all means, is that those who hear and want to learn and understand will be able to do so. But those who do not thirst for this knowledge will not comprehend.

Chapter 5 begins with the man possessed by many demons, who Jesus healed in Gerasenes. When the people heard of what He had done, they became afraid, rather than being in awe of the Lord. When they begged Him to leave their land, He complied. It is the same with us. If we do not want the Lord in our lives, He will give us what we want in that respect.

The chapter ends with Jesus raising the daughter of Jairus from the dead. The girl was clearly dead, but Jesus said in verse 39 that she was only sleeping. This should be an encouragement to us. Paul also speaks of the dead in this way in 1 Thessalonians 4:13. It is an assurance to all of us that death is not the finality of our being.

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click here to read or listen to audio of this week’s chapters in Mark

/Bob’s boy
___________________

some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please visit this site’s menu item “The Author’s Books” for info on the author’s books, website, and Facebook page.

All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.