Galatians 5:1-26, 6:1-18


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Galatians 5

1Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage.

2Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing.

3For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law.

4Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

5For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

6For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.

7Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?

8This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you.

9A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.

10I have confidence in you through the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded: but he that troubleth you shall bear his judgment, whosoever he be.

11And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision, why do I yet suffer persecution? then is the offence of the cross ceased.

12I would they were even cut off which trouble you.

13For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

14For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

15But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.

16This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.

17For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

18But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,

20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,

21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,

23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.

24And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

25If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

26Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another.

Galatians 6

1Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.

2Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.

3For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

4But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

5For every man shall bear his own burden.

6Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.

7Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

8For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

9And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

10As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

11Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.

12As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

13For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.

14But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

15For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God.

17From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

18Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Freedom from Evil

So far Paul has talked in general terms about life in the Spirit. He has assured his readers that the Spirit will enable them to resist the desires of their sinful nature. What the law cannot do for them, God will do by the work of his Spirit in them. But he realizes that the Galatians are attracted to the law because it gives them specific moral guidelines that they can apply to their practical problems. After all, the Jewish law teachers were renowned for their ability to develop applications of the law for every conceivable situation. There seems to be a sense of moral security in such well-defined codes of conduct. In comparison, Paul’s command to “live by the Spirit” seems to leave everything up in the air. How can they know they are not gratifying the desires of their sinful nature if the behavior of the sinful nature is not defined? How can they know what life in the Spirit is like if it is not defined?

There seems to be a common tendency to develop a “computer manual” approach to the Christian life. People want a very specific list of steps to follow. “Let’s be practical,” they say. “Tell me exactly what to do and what not to do, and then I will feel safe; I’ll know how to act.” But this approach to the Christian life is in danger of repeating the Galatian error. It is an attempt to live under law rather than under the direction of the Spirit.

But is there any objective basis for evaluating when we are following the direction of the Spirit and when we are gratifying the desires of the flesh? Paul obviously thinks so. Having described in general terms the Spirit’s victory over the sinful nature, he does define their specific characteristics in a list of the acts of the sinful nature (vv. 19-21) and a list of the fruit of the Spirit (vv. 22-23). These specific lists of vices and virtues are not offered as a new set of specific codes to replace the law codes. Rather, they provide an objective basis for evaluation, so we can determine whether we are living to gratify the desires of the sinful nature or living by the Spirit.

The acts of the sinful nature are obvious, Paul says (v. 19). His point may be that while the “desires of the sinful nature” (vv. 16-17) are hidden, the acts produced by those desires are public, plain for all to see. So an evaluation of our outward behavior makes it easy to see if we are gratifying the hidden desires of our sinful nature. But since some of the acts listed also refer to inward attitudes of the heart (for example, hatred, selfish ambition and envy), the word obvious is probably not drawing a contrast between hidden attitudes and public acts. Instead Paul seems to be emphasizing that the Galatians do not need the Mosaic law to define the nature of evil. Since he has just told them that they are not under the supervision of the law (v. 18), it would be strange if he now turned to the law for moral instruction. In fact, he does not do that; he does not describe the acts of the sinful nature as transgressions of law. His list of vices is similar to many lists in the ethical teaching of the Greeks and Romans of his day. Pagan philosophers often published lists of vices and virtues. So when Paul says that the acts of the sinful nature are obvious, he means that all of us already know what is evil when we see it.

His list gives a representative sampling of commonly recognized vices. At the end of the list he says and the like to indicate that his list is not meant to be comprehensive; it is merely typical of the things that were widely viewed to be contrary to high moral standards. The huge difference between Paul and his contemporary pagan philosophers is not the content of the list of vices but the context: Paul gives the list in a context that offers the way to freedom from these vices; the pagan moralists were not able to offer any such solution to the rampant immorality of their day.

Although the list of acts of the sinful nature can be systematized under several headings, there is little discernible order in the list. In fact, “the seemingly chaotic arrangement of these terms is reflective of the chaotic nature of evil” (Betz 1979:283). The chaos caused by theses vices is contrasted to the wholeness and unity of the fruit of the Spirit. We must be careful, however, not to think that the contrast between acts and fruit is a contrast between active and passive, our effort and supernaturally produced growth. We have already seen that life in the Spirit is both active (walking) and passive (being led). And though love and goodness are fruit of the Spirit, Paul urges the believers to work at loving and doing good (5:6, 13-14; 6:4-5, 9-10).

Paul’s use of the word acts (literally “works”) connects this list to his frequent reference in this letter to the “works of the law.” They are not one and the same, of course. But the tragic irony of the situation is that while the Galatian believers are trying so hard to do the “works of the law,” they are actually producing “works of the flesh” (NIV: acts of the sinful nature). This is another way of saying again that the law has no power (as the Spirit does) to overcome the destructive influence of the sinful nature.

Paul’s list of fifteen acts of the sinful nature can be divided into four categories: (1) illicit sex, (2) religious heresy, (3) social conflict and (4) drunkenness.

1. Illicit sex. Paul mentions three kinds of illicit sex: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery. The first is a general term that encompasses all kinds of immoral sexual relationships. The next two terms refer to sexual perversions. The art and literature of Paul’s day provide ample evidence for the widespread practice of sexual immorality. When we read that “the sexual life of the Graeco-Roman world in NT times was a lawless chaos” (Barclay 1962:24), we only need to observe the chaos in our own world to understand the conditions in Paul’s day. In fact, a good case could be made that in the two millennia since the Roman Empire, our generation comes closer than any previous one to the blatant prevalence of sexual perversions that was characteristic then. And a study of the fall of the Roman Empire suggests that any society that tolerates the unchecked promotion of such perversions will inevitably fall apart from the rottenness within.

2. Religious heresy. From Paul’s teaching on idolatry in his other letters we learn that idolatry is not merely worshiping the image of a god but also participating in the temple feasts (1 Cor 10:7, 14) and even being greedy for possessions (Col 3:5). Witchcraft is a translation of a Greek word from which our English word pharmacy is derived. The Greek word could have the positive meaning of dispensing drugs, but its more common meaning was the use of drugs in sorcery and witchcraft and to poison people.

False religion is the worship of other gods (whether images in temples or in shopping malls) and dependence on other powers (whether the power of drugs or of occult practices). The forms of false religion in Paul’s day differ from the forms of our day, but we can still see its pervasive influence today.

3. Social conflict. Paul’s major emphasis in this list is on those acts of the sinful nature which cause social conflict. He lists eight such acts: hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy. Since the NIV translation provides a clear and accurate rendering of each term, there is little need for expanded discussion of their meanings. Some terms are roughly synonymous, such as jealousy and envy. It seems that Paul added more terms under this category of social conflict because this was the area of greatest need in the Galatian churches. The attitudes and actions that destroy personal relationships were the most evident manifestation of the sinful nature in those churches. We can see reflections of this problem of social conflicts in verses 15 and 26 as well: Christians were “biting and devouring each other” and “provoking and envying each other.” The Galatian churches were divided into bitterly antagonistic factions. The rest of the letter indicates that these conflicts were caused by the false teachers’ campaign to enforce the observance of the law in the churches. The curse on “all who rely upon observing the law” (3:10) was already being experienced in the tragic breakdown of relationships between Christians. While they concentrated on performing “works of the law,” their lives were characterized by the “works of the flesh,” especially these eight in the area of social conflict.

Often the “desires of the sinful nature” and the acts of the sinful nature are equated only with sexual immorality. Paul’s list starts with that category. And that was undoubtedly a real problem in the Galatian churches. All churches seem to be plagued to some degree with sexual immorality. But it is likely that Paul began there because he knew that most of the church would quickly condemn those who were guilty of sexual immorality and yet consider themselves “safe,” since they had performed the “works of the law” by getting circumcised (5:2) and observing special days (4:10). Paul then turns to these “lawkeeping” Christians and gives them a long list of flagrant acts of the sinful nature which they had committed. This is something like the story of the woman caught in adultery (Jn 8:1-11). The teachers of the law were ready to stone her. But Jesus said that only those without sin could stone her. Then he began to write on the ground. What he wrote we don’t know. But those teachers of the law were convicted of their own sin and left her.

When Paul confronts law teachers who are ready to stone lawbreakers, he writes out a list of acts and attitudes that are generated by the desires of their sinful nature. They can find no safety in their selective observance of the law. They too are enslaved to sin. Only Christ can set them free; only the Spirit can keep them free.

4. Drunkenness. Paul concludes his list with two terms that refer to the wild drinking parties held in honor of pagan gods, particularly the god Bacchus. Drunkenness and orgies were part of pagan culture; they still are. And the church has never been immune to these acts of the sinful nature.

Paul begins and ends his list with the most obvious expressions of the sinful nature. The list is weighted, however, in the direction of the major problem of divisions caused by ambitious, angry people. Their preoccupation with keeping the law may have blinded them to their own sinful nature. Intent on establishing a secure place for themselves in the kingdom of God, they were actually destroying the people of God. Paul gives them a very severe warning: I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (v. 21). Those who are so concerned to secure their own place that they deny any place for others will lose their own place in the end.

It may come as a shock that Paul is announcing judgment on the basis of works. But there can be no doubt that that is exactly what he is doing. Those who practice the works of the flesh are denied entrance to the kingdom of God. How can Paul, who so vehemently defends justification by faith in Christ, not by works of the law (2:16), now turn around and declare that judgment will be on the basis of works? Is this a glaring contradiction in his theology? Some have thought so. But some reflection on the flow of Paul’s argument will show the consistency of his thought. The evidence that the Galatian believers had really been justified by faith was the presence of the Spirit in their lives. They had received the Spirit simply by believing the gospel, not by observing the law–just as righteousness had been reckoned to Abraham on the basis of his faith (3:1-6). Those who receive the Spirit experience a moral transformation by the directive power of the Spirit (5:16-18). If there was no evidence of moral transformation, then there was no basis for claiming the presence of the Spirit, and hence there was no basis for claiming justification by faith. And if they had not experienced justification by faith, then of course they would not inherit the kingdom of God.

To put it in traditional theological language, sanctification is not the basis of justification but the inevitable result of justification. Those whom God declares righteous on the basis of their faith in Christ’s work for them, God also makes righteous by the work of his Spirit within them. Those whose lives are characterized only by the expressions of the sinful nature demonstrate that they have not been born by the power of the Spirit. Those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God (v. 21).

It is clear that Paul does not consider freedom in Christ to be freedom from moral obligation. On the contrary, “Christ has set us free” to “live by the Spirit.” All who live by the Spirit and are led by the Spirit reap a great harvest of moral transformation: the fruit of the Spirit.

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Galatians:

Paul’s letter addressed to the churches in Galatia is the great letter on Christian freedom; in it Paul attacks the Christians who wished to exalt the law. Galatians’ emphasis is similar to the theme of Paul’s letter to the Romans. The doctrinal section, as is typical of the Pauline format, is followed by an intensely practical section in Chapters five and six.

Revelation 1:1-20, Revelation 2:1-29


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Revelation 1

1The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

2Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.

3Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

4John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

7Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

8I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.

9I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

10I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,

11Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

12And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;

13And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.

14His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame of fire;

15And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.

16And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp twoedged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.

17And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:

18I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

19Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;

20The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

Revelation 2

1Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;

2I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:

3And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.

4Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

5Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

6But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitanes, which I also hate.

7He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.

8And unto the angel of the church in Smyrna write; These things saith the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive;

9I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan.

10Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

11He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; He that overcometh shall not be hurt of the second death.

12And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write; These things saith he which hath the sharp sword with two edges;

13I know thy works, and where thou dwellest, even where Satan’s seat is: and thou holdest fast my name, and hast not denied my faith, even in those days wherein Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was slain among you, where Satan dwelleth.

14But I have a few things against thee, because thou hast there them that hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balac to cast a stumblingblock before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication.

15So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes, which thing I hate.

16Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth.

17He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

18And unto the angel of the church in Thyatira write; These things saith the Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire, and his feet are like fine brass;

19I know thy works, and charity, and service, and faith, and thy patience, and thy works; and the last to be more than the first.

20Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou sufferest that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols.

21And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.

22Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

23And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

24But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden.

25But that which ye have already hold fast till I come.

26And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:

27And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to shivers: even as I received of my Father.

28And I will give him the morning star.

29He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

The book of Revelation has always appealed to people. There is something about a good mystery that stirs the heart and Revelation is certainly mysterious. The reason is that the book is full of vivid images, but with little explanation as to what the images mean. It is as if the author assumes the reader of the book is familiar with the interpretation of these symbols, so no explanation is needed.

The result has been that the book of Revelation has become the proof text for many false doctrines. After all, if I say that the images mean “X,” how can you possibly disagree? And therein lies the difficulty for Christians. Most of us recognize that the book is difficult because of its heavy use of symbols, so we put off studying it. However, our unfamiliarity with the book causes us to let many erroneous statements to go unchallenged.

I doubt that I can explain everything that the book of Revelation discusses. Many great scholars have stated their confusion over different sections of the text. I doubt I can do any better. However, I think enough of Revelation is clear that we can understand its message. One rule that any student of the Bible must always keep in mind is that God is not the author of confusion (I Corinthians 14:33). The Bible has one source (God) and that source does not contradict itself. Anything we glean from the pages of Revelation must agree with the rest of the Bible. If it contradicts what the rest of the Bible states, then we must have misunderstood the symbolism of Revelation.

Who wrote the book?

The book is often called the Revelation of John, but notice the statement in verse 1. The source of the book is Jesus Christ himself. The words were given to an angel who in turn gave them to John. John simply wrote down the things that were revealed to him (Revelation 1:1, 4, 9; 22:8).

There is no doubt that the Apostle John (as opposed to some other John) is the writer of Revelation – the same author of John, I John, II John, and III John. Early Christians stated that the Apostle John was the author in their own writings. But we also have the book’s own testimony. In Revelation 1:2, the author calls himself a witness. It is the same type of designation that John makes in I John 1:1-4. One of the prime duties of an apostle was to serve as a witness (Luke 24:48, I Corinthians 9:1). We can be confident that the Apostle John gave his testimony in the book of Revelation.

When was the book written?

There are usually two dates ascribed to the book. The first is between AD 64 and AD 68, during the reign of Nero. The second date is between AD 91 and AD 96 during the reign of Domitian. Both eras were times of persecution against the church. Nero’s persecution of Christians was limited to those who lived in Rome. However, those who ascribe to the earlier date believe that the persecutions mentioned in Revelation were those conducted by the Jews. Those who ascribe to the earlier date also believe that the city prophesied to be destroyed was the city of Jerusalem. The emperor Domitian had the greater reign of terror that lasted many years and was conducted across the entire Roman empire. Those who ascribe to the later date believe the city prophesied to be destroyed was Rome.

The weight of evidence favors the later date. In fact, some of the early Christian’s writings state that the book was written during Domitian’s reign. As I studied the book, I found that the imagery does not fit well with the destruction of Jerusalem, so I lean toward the later date.

What is being revealed?

Regardless of when the book was written, we can understand the purpose for writing the book. One of the greatest errors people make in regards to understanding Revelation is to ignore several statements in the book that the things described in the book would shortly take place (Revelation 1:1,3; 22:6,10). Any view that does not give meaning to the symbols in Revelation as occurring in the first or second century is wrong. In other words, the Mormon’s claim that parts of Revelation predict the book of Mormon is wrong. 1800 years later is not near to the time of John’s writing. Something that happens 1800 years later is not something that would take place shortly. Popular claims by the Prophecy Club that Revelation talks about one world order, the destruction of the world by Russia or the Middle East, or any similar claim is also wrong. We do not live in a time near to John’s. Events in our future will not occur shortly after John recorded Revelation.

Now, this does not mean that everything recorded in Revelation deals with events in the first and second century. There can be, and I believe there are, events discussed which deals with the second coming of Jesus Christ, especially Revelation 20:11 to 22:5. But any view that states the bulk of the book is about the second coming of Jesus cannot be correct because John said very clearly that the events would come soon after he wrote them.

The purpose of Revelation is to given encouragement to Christians (Revelation 1:3). Throughout the book there is a portrayal of great tribulations which are overcome by God. (In fact, the word “overcome” is used 17 times in the book of Revelation – see Revelation 12:11 and 21:7 for examples). Wars are conducted, but victory is assured. Full triumph over the enemies of God will be had. We see throughout the book that God is in control even when things look bleak. It echos the same theme Paul makes in I Corinthians 15:54-57.

Like other books of the New Testament, the book of Revelation is written to the Christians who lived at the time of its writing, but what it teaches is applicable to all Christians who learn from its principles.

How was the message revealed?

John stated that the message given to him was “signified” (Revelation 1:1). This just means that the message was written down in signs or symbols. A quick reading of the book shows that is obvious, but why use symbols instead of plain text? First, the use of symbols limits who can understand its meaning. Like Jesus’ use of parables, the symbols would have meaning to Christians and would be gibberish to those not inclined to follow God (Matthew 13:10-17). Notice that John said the book was written to show God’s servants the things that would shortly take place (Revelation 1:1). The use of symbols limits that revelation to only God’s servants. Second, the use of symbols give greater illustration. Great pageantry and glory is described with vivid symbols. Things too great and marvelous to understand are compared to familiar ideas. For example, heaven is described as having streets paved with gold. Yet heaven is a spiritual realm and gold is physical. Are the streets actually gold lined, or is the author describing a place so beautiful and valuable that the most precious metal in our world is considered cheap paving material in heaven? Finally, the use of symbols dramatizes the events. The scenes are so vividly portrayed that they are locked into our memory. Readers of Revelation do not quickly forget its message.

To whom is the book written?

Revelation 1:4 says the book was written to the seven churches in Asia. The area then known as Asia is now called Asia Minor. Chapters two and three list the names of the churches, but why was the book written to these particular churches? We know that there were more than seven churches in Asia from a reading of the New Testament. For example, there was a church in Colosse (Colossians 1:2), Hieracpolis (Colossians 4:13), Troas (Acts 20:5), and Miletus (Acts 20:17). This apparent conflict gives us a hint that the seven churches are not literal but figurative.

Seven is regarded in Hebrew literature as the perfect number. For example, when Solomon described the perfection of his new wife, he listed seven attributes of her features (Song of Solomon 4:1-7). The number seven is used 54 times in the book of Revelation, giving credence that it is not a literal value but a representation of an idea. The seven churches in Asia is a perfect representation of the Lord’s church as a whole. The seven churches were selected because their attributes represent the attitudes and conditions of all churches.

From whom does the book come?

John tells us in Revelation 1:4-5 that the words come from the eternal God (“Him who is, and who was, and who is to come”). This echos God’s statement in Exodus 3:14 that his name is “I Am.” God is eternal. He has always existed, he continues to exist, and he will always exist. (See also Isaiah 43:12-13).

The book is also from the Seven Spirits. Again we have an apparent conflict. Paul said in Ephesians 4:4-6 that there is only one Spirit. Since Paul’s writing is plain and John’s revelation is in symbols we understand that once again the number seven is a representation of perfection. This is the complete and perfect Spirit, the Holy Spirit. It is possible that John is alluding to Zechariah 4:10 which mentions the seven eyes of the Lord. The Spirit of God sees all things perfectly. Nothing is hidden from his sight.

And finally, the book is from Jesus Christ, of which John has much to say so I will save that for another article.

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Revelation:

This last book of the Bible identifies itself as “the revelation of Jesus Christ.” and its author is designated “his servant John” who was exiled to he Greek island of Patmos because of his faith. Traditionally, John is identified with the author of the Fourth Gospel. Addressed to seven historical churches in Asia Minor, the Book of Revelation was written to warn against spiritual indifference and to elicit courage under persecution. Because of the extensive use of symbolism and picturesque imagery, its interpretation has posed many problems for the student of the Bible. While recognizing the historical situation (Roman persecution) that elicited this writing, many interpreters look upon it as a prophecy depicting events that were to take place at the end of the age. The ultimate victory of Christ is the dominant theme of his book.

Matthew 22:1-46


John the Baptist baptizing Christ

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Christ and The Pharisees

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Dispute of Jesus and the Pharisees over tribut...
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Matthew 22

1And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

2The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

3And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.

4Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.

5But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:

6And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

7But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.

8Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.

9Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

10So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.

11And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

12And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

13Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

14For many are called, but few are chosen.

15Then went the Pharisees, and took counsel how they might entangle him in his talk.

16And they sent out unto him their disciples with the Herodians, saying, Master, we know that thou art true, and teachest the way of God in truth, neither carest thou for any man: for thou regardest not the person of men.

17Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto Caesar, or not?

18But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?

19Shew me the tribute money. And they brought unto him a penny.

20And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription?

21They say unto him, Caesar’s. Then saith he unto them, Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.

22When they had heard these words, they marvelled, and left him, and went their way.

23The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him,

24Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother.

25Now there were with us seven brethren: and the first, when he had married a wife, deceased, and, having no issue, left his wife unto his brother:

26Likewise the second also, and the third, unto the seventh.

27And last of all the woman died also.

28Therefore in the resurrection whose wife shall she be of the seven? for they all had her.

29Jesus answered and said unto them, Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures, nor the power of God.

30For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.

31But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying,

32I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.

33And when the multitude heard this, they were astonished at his doctrine.

34But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together.

35Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying,

36Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

37Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

38This is the first and great commandment.

39And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

40On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

41While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

42Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The son of David.

43He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

44The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

45If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

46And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

Commentaries for the book of Matthew

Matthew 1

Matthew 2

Matthew 3

Matthew 4

Matthew 5

Matthew 6

Matthew 7

Matthew 8

Matthew 9

Matthew 10

Matthew 11

Matthew 12

Matthew 13

Matthew 14

Matthew 15

Matthew 16

Matthew 17

Matthew 18

Matthew 19

Matthew 20

Matthew 21

Matthew 22

Matthew 23

Matthew 24

Matthew 25

Matthew 26

Matthew 27

Matthew 28

Matthew:

From at least the 2nd century A.D. the Gospel of Matthew has been ascribed to Matthew the publican, tax collector, and disciple. It is the most complete account of Jesus’ teachings and was written to convince the writer’s Jewish audience that Jesus was the Messiah descended from David, the One promised by the Old Testament Prophets. It is peculiarly the Gospel for Israel. The most significant teaching passages are the Sermon on the Mount (5-7) and the parable sections (especially Chapter 13).