Matthew 24:1-51


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If you believe the world is going to end on December 21, 2102, then you need to read Matthew 24:1-51. It explains the coming of Jesus, and tells of no specific hour or day, but what to look for. It does not tell of any specific date of the end of mankind.

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matthew 24:36.

Please take extra care in reading these verses. They will take a lot of worry off of your belief of the ending of mankind on December 21, 2012.

And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the son of man be. Matthew 24:39.

5 For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. Matthew 24:5

11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Matthew 24:11

6 You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Matthew 24:6

7 Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. Matthew 24:7

8 All these are the beginning of birth pains.

9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. Matthew 24:8-9

14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. Matthew 24:14

1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. 2 Timothy 3:1-5

7 always learning but never able to come to a knowledge of the truth.2 Timothy 3:7

1 The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. 2 Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. 3 They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. 1 Timothy 4:1-3

Matthew 24

1And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.

2And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

3And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?

4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.

5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.

7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8All these are the beginning of sorrows.

9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.

10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.

11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.

12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.

13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

15When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:)

16Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:

17Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:

18Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.

19And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!

20But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:

21For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.

22And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.

23Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.

24For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.

25Behold, I have told you before.

26Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.

27For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

28For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.

29Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:

30And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

31And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.

32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.

37But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,

39And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.

40Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

41Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.

42Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.

43But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.

44Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.

45Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?

46Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.

47Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.

48But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;

49And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;

50The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,

51And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Matthew 23.

King James Reference Bible

The Book of Matthew

KJV Strong’s
Parallel NT
Sacred Name
Matthew Henry

Chapter 24

And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple.
temple Mark 13:1, Luke 21:5
And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.
thrown 1st Kings 9:7, Jer 5:10, Jer 26:18, Micah 3:12, Luke 19:44
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?
Tell 1st Thess 5:1
world
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you.
heed Matt 16:6, Luke 12:1, 2nd Peter 3:17
For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.
deceive Jer 14:14, Jer 23:21, John 5:43
And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.
end
For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.
For nation Isa 19:2, Mark 13:8, Luke 21:10
divers
All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake.
deliver Acts 4:3, Acts 7:59, 1st Peter 4:12, Rev 2:10
And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.
offended Matt 11:6, Matt 13:57, Matt 26:31, Mark 6:3, Mark 14:27, John 6:61
And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
false 2nd Cor 11:13
deceive 1st Tim 4:1
And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.
iniquity
love
But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
But Matt 10:22, Mark 13:13, Luke 21:17
end
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
all Rom 10:18, Col 1:6, Col 1:23
world
end
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand🙂
the abomination Dan 9:27, Dan 12:11, Mark 13:14
understand Dan 9:23
Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house:
Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes.
And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days!
But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day:
For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.
shall be Joel 2:2, Dan 12:1, Mark 13:19,
And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.
sake Isa 65:8, Zech 14:3
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not.
For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
signs 2nd Thess 2:9, Rev 13:13
Behold, I have told you before.
Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not.
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.
wheresoever Job 39:30
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
shall Isa 13:10, Mark 13:25, Luke 21:26
sun Joel 2:10, Acts 2:20, Rev 6:12
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
then shall Zech 12:12
the Son of man Dan 7:13, Mark 13:26, Luke 21:27
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
angels Matt 13:41
sound Matt 25:6, 1st Thess 4:16
they Deut 30:4
gather Matt 3:12, Matt 13:30, 2nd Thess 2:1
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
learn Luke 21:29
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
pass Psa 102:26, Isa 51:6, Jer 31:36, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33, Heb 1:11
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.
day Zech 14:7, Acts 1:7, 1st Thess 5:2, 2nd Pet 3:10
But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
marrying Gen 6:2, Luke 17:27, Jude 6
And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
all Gen 6:13, Gen 6:17, Gen 7:21, Luke 17:27, 2nd Pet 3:6
Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.
Watch Matt 25:13, Mark 13:33, Luke 21:36, 1st Cor 16:13
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.
watched 1st Thess 5:6, Rev 3:3, Rev 16:15
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?
faithful 1st Cor 4:2, Heb 3:5
Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods.
ruler Matt 25:21, Luke 12:44, Luke 22:29
But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming;
And shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken;
The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of,
And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
appoint Matt 8:12, Matt 22:13, Matt 25:30, Luke 13:28, 2nd Pet 2:17, Jude 13

John Chapters 2-5


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The Pharisees Question Jesus

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Christ and The Pharisees

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John 2

1And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there:

2And both Jesus was called, and his disciples, to the marriage.

3And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.

4Jesus saith unto her, Woman, what have I to do with thee? mine hour is not yet come.

5His mother saith unto the servants, Whatsoever he saith unto you, do it.

6And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece.

7Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.

8And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.

9When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and knew not whence it was: (but the servants which drew the water knew;) the governor of the feast called the bridegroom,

10And saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.

11This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him.

12After this he went down to Capernaum, he, and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they continued there not many days.

13And the Jews’ passover was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

14And found in the temple those that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting:

15And when he had made a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables;

16And said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise.

17And his disciples remembered that it was written, The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.

18Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things?

19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.

20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?

21But he spake of the temple of his body.

22When therefore he was risen from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this unto them; and they believed the scripture, and the word which Jesus had said.

23Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did.

24But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men,

25And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

John 3

1There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:

2The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.

3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

4Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?

5Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

6That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

7Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

8The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

9Nicodemus answered and said unto him, How can these things be?

10Jesus answered and said unto him, Art thou a master of Israel, and knowest not these things?

11Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.

12If I have told you earthly things, and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?

13And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven.

14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

19And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

20For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

21But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

22After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.

23And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized.

24For John was not yet cast into prison.

25Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying.

26And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.

27John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.

28Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him.

29He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled.

30He must increase, but I must decrease.

31He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

32And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony.

33He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true.

34For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him.

35The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand.

36He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.

John 4

When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,

2(Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)

3He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.

4And he must needs go through Samaria.

5Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.

6Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.

7There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.

8(For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)

9Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

10Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

11The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?

12Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?

13Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:

14But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

15The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.

16Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.

17The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband:

18For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.

19The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.

20Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.

21Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father.

22Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.

23But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.

24God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

25The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.

26Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.

27And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?

28The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,

29Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?

30Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.

31In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat.

32But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of.

33Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat?

34Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.

35Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.

36And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.

37And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth.

38I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.

39And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did.

40So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days.

41And many more believed because of his own word;

42And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.

43Now after two days he departed thence, and went into Galilee.

44For Jesus himself testified, that a prophet hath no honour in his own country.

45Then when he was come into Galilee, the Galilaeans received him, having seen all the things that he did at Jerusalem at the feast: for they also went unto the feast.

46So Jesus came again into Cana of Galilee, where he made the water wine. And there was a certain nobleman, whose son was sick at Capernaum.

47When he heard that Jesus was come out of Judaea into Galilee, he went unto him, and besought him that he would come down, and heal his son: for he was at the point of death.

48Then said Jesus unto him, Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.

49The nobleman saith unto him, Sir, come down ere my child die.

50Jesus saith unto him, Go thy way; thy son liveth. And the man believed the word that Jesus had spoken unto him, and he went his way.

51And as he was now going down, his servants met him, and told him, saying, Thy son liveth.

52Then enquired he of them the hour when he began to amend. And they said unto him, Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.

53So the father knew that it was at the same hour, in the which Jesus said unto him, Thy son liveth: and himself believed, and his whole house.

54This is again the second miracle that Jesus did, when he was come out of Judaea into Galilee.

John 5

1After this there was a feast of the Jews; and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

2Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.

3In these lay a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.

4For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had.

5And a certain man was there, which had an infirmity thirty and eight years.

6When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?

7The impotent man answered him, Sir, I have no man, when the water is troubled, to put me into the pool: but while I am coming, another steppeth down before me.

8Jesus saith unto him, Rise, take up thy bed, and walk.

9And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.

10The Jews therefore said unto him that was cured, It is the sabbath day: it is not lawful for thee to carry thy bed.

11He answered them, He that made me whole, the same said unto me, Take up thy bed, and walk.

12Then asked they him, What man is that which said unto thee, Take up thy bed, and walk?

13And he that was healed wist not who it was: for Jesus had conveyed himself away, a multitude being in that place.

14Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

15The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole.

16And therefore did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to slay him, because he had done these things on the sabbath day.

17But Jesus answered them, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.

18Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.

19Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

20For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel.

21For as the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them; even so the Son quickeneth whom he will.

22For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

23That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

24Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.

25Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.

26For as the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;

27And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.

28Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,

29And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.

30I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.

31If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true.

32There is another that beareth witness of me; and I know that the witness which he witnesseth of me is true.

33Ye sent unto John, and he bare witness unto the truth.

34But I receive not testimony from man: but these things I say, that ye might be saved.

35He was a burning and a shining light: and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light.

36But I have greater witness than that of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.

37And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.

38And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.

39Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

40And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.

41I receive not honour from men.

42But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.

43I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.

44How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that cometh from God only?

45Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust.

46For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.

47But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?

John

The Gospel of John endeavors to explain the mystery of the Person of Christ by the use of the term “logos” (word) and was written to confirm Christians in the belief that Jesus was the Christ, the Son of God. Its purpose is evangelical and is so stated in 20:31. John not only records events as do the other Gospels but also uniquely interprets the events by giving them spiritual meaning. The author makes significant use of such words as light, water, life, love, and bread. Traditionally the author of this Gospel is considered to have been John, the Beloved Disciple.

 

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Psalm 91:1-16


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Psalm 90

1Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.

2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

3Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.

4For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.

5Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.

6In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

7For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.

8Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.

9For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.

10The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.

11Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

12So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.

13Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.

14O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.

15Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.

16Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.

17And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

God the Protector (Psalm 91)

Study By: Bob Deffinbaugh

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Printer-friendly versionSend to friendBackground: Death of an older believer, who died of cancer.

The words of Psalm 91 are some of the most beautiful words in the Bible. Look at them for just a moment:

1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, My God, in whom I trust!” 3 For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper, And from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with His pinions, And under His wings you may seek refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.

5 You will not be afraid of the terror by night, Or of the arrow that flies by day; 6 Of the pestilence that stalks in darkness, Or of the destruction that lays waste at noon. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, And ten thousand at your right hand; {But} it shall not approach you. 8 You will only look on with your eyes, And see the recompense of the wicked. 9 For you have made the Lord, my refuge, {Even} the Most High, your dwelling place. 10 No evil will befall you, Nor will any plague come near your tent. 11 For He will give His angels charge concerning you, To guard you in all your ways. 12 They will bear you up in their hands, Lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and cobra, The young lion and the serpent you will trample down. 14 “Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him {securely} on high, because he has known My name. 15 “He will call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him, and honor him. 16 “With a long life I will satisfy him, And let him behold My salvation.”

These are wonderful words of comfort. They speak of God as the Protector of those who trust in Him. They promise that while many will suffer destruction, the one who has trusted in God, who has fled to Him for safety, will be delivered. And yet these words which gave Ann such comfort might seem to have not come true. If God has promised protection from evil and the satisfaction of a long life, why did Ann suffer so long, and then die? Are these words really true? Can we find comfort in them this afternoon? We certain can! Let me show you why they are true, and why they can bring us great comfort as we grieve over the death of one whom we knew and loved.

We have a divinely inspired commentary on these verses in the New Testament, which shed much light on the meaning and application of this psalm to us. In the temptation of our Lord, Psalm 91:11-12 are quoted by Satan to our Lord, at the time of His temptation in wilderness (Matthew 4:6; Luke 4:10-11). Satan challenged Jesus to throw Himself down from the temple, and to be divinely delivered from death, to show that He was the Messiah. He tried to convince Jesus that since Psalm 91 promised deliverance from suffering and death, God would deliver Him.

Jesus responded by referring to the Scripture which forbade putting God to the test. There is much more that Jesus could have said, and did not. What Satan would only later learn is that the promise of Psalm 91 was to be fulfilled through the suffering and death of Jesus, on the cross of Calvary. God could promise deliverance to those who trusted in Him because Jesus would suffer in their behalf, and would rise from the dead, the Victor over sin, and death, and Satan. Psalm 91 was not Jesus’ excuse for avoiding the cross, but His reason for going to the cross.

Just as Psalm 91 was no guarantee that Jesus need not suffer. Indeed, the suffering of Jesus was the reason why the saints are protected and removed from suffering. The important question is this: “From what sufferings are the saints delivered? From what dangers and destruction are we delivered?” Psalm 91 does it promise us that the saints will be delivered from all suffering. Many Scriptures, the experience of many saints (biblical and otherwise) and our own experience, make it clear that Christians do suffer. Let us look more carefully at this psalm to determine what suffering we are promised to be delivered from.

The Psalm begins with the strong statement that God is our refuge, our fortress, our place of safety (verses 1-4). There are two kind of people mentioned in this psalm, and they have two very different destinies. The one group is delivered from destruction, and the other group is destroyed. The all-important need here is to determine what it is that some are delivered from, which is also the means by which others are destroyed. Our text cannot mean that those who trust in God are all delivered from suffering and death, and that those who do not trust in God suffer and die prematurely. The psalm which comes immediately before our text speaks of that suffering and short life which the godly experience, as a result of living in a fallen, sin-tainted world:

1 Lord, Thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. 2 Before the mountains were born, Or Thou didst give birth to the earth and the world, Even from everlasting to everlasting, Thou art God. 3 Thou dost turn man back into dust, And dost say, “Return, O children of men.” 4 For a thousand years in Thy sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or {as} a watch in the night. 5 Thou hast swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep; In the morning they are like grass which sprouts anew. 6 In the morning it flourishes, and sprouts anew; Toward evening it fades, and withers away. 7 For we have been consumed by Thine anger, And by Thy wrath we have been dismayed. 8 Thou hast placed our iniquities before Thee, Our secret {sins} in the light of Thy presence. 9 For all our days have declined in Thy fury; We have finished our years like a sigh. 10 As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years, Or if due to strength, eighty years, Yet their pride is {but} labor and sorrow; For soon it is gone and we fly away. 11 Who understands the power of Thine anger, And Thy fury, according to the fear that is due Thee? 12 So teach us to number our days, That we may present to Thee a heart of wisdom. 13 Do return, O Lord; how long {will it be}? And be sorry for Thy servants. 14 O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. 15 Make us glad according to the days Thou hast afflicted us, {And} the years we have seen evil. 16 Let Thy work appear to Thy servants, And Thy majesty to their children. 17 And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; And do confirm for us the work of our hands; Yes, confirm the work of our hands (Psalm 90:1-17).

Psalm 90, written by Moses, speaks of the eternal nature of God and the very temporal nature of man. With God, a thousand years is nothing. For man, 70 years is a long life, and even these years are filled with sorrow and labor. This brevity and painfulness of life is explained by Moses as the result of God’s holiness and man’s sin. The solution to this problem of pain, and the hope of the believer is not in this life, but in the next. It will come with the return of the Lord. It will come “in the morning”. It will come in the future. The solution is not to be found in the deliverance from death, but in a deliverance after death. While it is not clearly stated in this psalm, it would be correct to say that death itself is a kind of deliverance for the Christian, for it removes us from the effects of sin, from pain and suffering and sorrow, and it takes us into the eternal joy of the presence of our Lord.

The destruction from which the believer is delivered is not the suffering and pain and even death of this life, but from the judgment of God, from the “second death” of eternal separation from His presence. This deliverance is so clearly described in yet another psalm, Psalm 73.

1 Surely God is good to Israel, To those who are pure in heart! 2 But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling; My steps had almost slipped. 3 For I was envious of the arrogant, {As} I saw the prosperity of the wicked. 4 For there are no pains in their death; And their body is fat. 5 They are not in trouble {as other} men; Nor are they plagued like mankind. 6 Therefore pride is their necklace; The garment of violence covers them. 7 Their eye bulges from fatness; The imaginations of {their} heart run riot. 8 They mock, and wickedly speak of oppression; They speak from on high. 9 They have set their mouth against the heavens, And their tongue parades through the earth. 10 Therefore his people return to this place; And waters of abundance are drunk by them. 11 And they say, “How does God know? And is there knowledge with the Most High?” 12 Behold, these are the wicked; And always at ease, they have increased {in} wealth. 13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure, And washed my hands in innocence; 14 For I have been stricken all day long, And chastened every morning.

15 If I had said, “I will speak thus,” Behold, I should have betrayed the generation of Thy children. 16 When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight 17 Until I came into the sanctuary of God; {Then} I perceived their end. 18 Surely Thou dost set them in slippery places; Thou dost cast them down to destruction. 19 How they are destroyed in a moment! They are utterly swept away by sudden terrors! 20 Like a dream when one awakes, O Lord, when aroused, Thou wilt despise their form. 21 When my heart was embittered, And I was pierced within, 22 Then I was senseless and ignorant; I was {like} a beast before Thee. 23 Nevertheless I am continually with Thee; Thou hast taken hold of my right hand. 24 With Thy counsel Thou wilt guide me, And afterward receive me to glory. 25 Whom have I in heaven {but Thee}? And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 27 For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish; Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee. 28 But as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord God my refuge, That I may tell of all Thy works (Psalm 73:1-28).

Here Asaph, the psalmist, expresses his faith, a faith in God as the Good God, to those who trust in Him. His problem was that while he trusted in God as the One who was “good” to Israel, his experience was that the righteous suffered, while it was the wicked who prospered. He had contemplated giving it up, he confessed, for his piety seemed to be of little profit.

This was until he came to see his life through a different perspective–a heavenly, eternal one (verses 16ff.). He then realized that the prosperity of the wicked was exceedingly short-lived. Their eternal fate was destruction. The righteous, on the other hand, have all of eternity to enjoy the blessings of God’s presence and power.

In the light of eternity, the sufferings of this life are but a small price to pay when compared to the blessings of eternity. But even the sufferings of this life are not “evil”. They are truly “good” for the saint, for in these times of suffering, God seems even nearer to us, especially as we are drawn nearer to Him. The ultimate “evil” in life is to be separated from God, and if affluence and a life of ease turns us from God, this absence from pain is really an “evil”. The ultimate “good” in life is fellowship with Him, enjoying His presence. If suffering in this life enables us to experience His presence in a deeper way, then it is truly “good” and He is “good” for bringing this adversity into our lives.

This is why Ann found comfort in Psalm 91. Not because it promised her a long, trouble-free life on this present earth, but because it assured her that in Christ she would escape the wrath of God. In this life, she did not need to fear danger or even death, for He will raise her from death to eternal life, in His presence, free from pain and sickness and sorrow. That was her hope, and thus we can rejoice in her sufferings and death.

This hope is not for everyone, but only for those who have turned to God for their security and safety. Jesus Christ suffered the wrath of God, and by faith in Him, we may be sheltered from it. If you would share the hope of Ann, you must trust in her Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ. May you experience the joy and the hope which she did, even in her sickness and pain.

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A collection of 150 psalms, whose Hebrew name is “The Book of Praise.” Authors of individual psalms include David, Solomon, Moses, Asaph, and others who are anonymous. The variety and unity of Psalms have given this book a unique place in the devotional life of the individual and the Church. Almost every aspect of man’s relation to God is depicted in these poems: simple trust, the sense of sin, appeal to a higher power in time of trouble, and the conviction that the world is in the hands of a loving God.

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.