Daily Archives: April 3, 2017

April 3, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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Apr. 3, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

An explosion rocked a subway train in the center of St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, killing at least 10 people and injuring dozens, in what may have been a terrorist attack, authorities said.

The Senate is hurtling toward a confrontation over President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee in a week that could change how Washington works. Democrats are lining up to block a vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch, and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear he will be confirmed one way or the other — even if that means further eroding decades of Senate traditions that have forced the majority to compromise.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is doubling down on a push to deepen ties with China, with Canada’s new envoy signaling he can move ahead on a free-trade deal without quickly advancing extradition treaty talks.

Italy’s unemployment declined in February as the number of people looking for a job fell the most in any month since July 2015.

The mayor said Friday that he wants to close the city’s troubled Rikers Island jail complex, though he cautioned that doing so would be difficult and take at least a decade. “It will take many years and it will take many tough decisions along the way, but it will happen,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

Hungarians took to the streets to protest for academic freedom and against government legislation that a university funded by George Soros said is aimed at shutting it down.

AP Top Stories

A newspaper in the Mexican border city of Juarez announced Sunday that it is shutting down because the rampant, unpunished killings of journalists in the country have made it too dangerous to go on.

A landslide in Colombia’s southwestern border province of Putumayo sent mud and debris crashing onto houses overnight, killing at least 154 people and injuring scores, officials said on Saturday.

Black smoke smothered Dubai’s sky on Sunday after a fire broke out near the world’s tallest building. The desert metropolis looked almost apocalyptic as dark clouds rose from a high-rise tower complex being built alongside Dubai’s biggest mall.

March marked six years of civil war in Syria, and over 5 million Syrians have been misplaced as refugees since the war began. The United Nations released the figures Thursday, one year since countries around the world pledged to resettle 500,000 Syrian refugees. But only half of those refugees have found a new home since then.

China will create a new special economic zone outside Beijing similar to those established in Shenzhen and Shanghai, the government said, in a bid to boost flagging growth and reduce the strain on the capital.

Pirates have seized a small boat and kidnapped its 11 Indian crew members off the coast of Somalia, an investigator said, the latest vessel targeted by the region’s resurgent hijackers.

Four civilians were killed in February by U.S.-led coalition forces in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. military said as it updated a tally of accidental deaths in the fight against the IS militants.

Venezuela’s pro-government Supreme Court revoked its takeover of the opposition-led Congress on Saturday after it drew international condemnation and protests against socialist President Nicolas Maduro.

Mylan is expanding a previously announced overseas recall to now include EpiPen and EpiPen Jr. devices distributed in the U.S. over concerns they may not function properly when needed. Mylan says certain epinephrine auto-injectors may have a defect that could “make the device difficult to activate in an emergency.” More precisely, the EpiPen could fail to function or could require additional force.

A joint U.S.-Israeli missile interceptor meant to counter the type of medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants became operational Sunday, completing Israel’s multi-layer defense system amid tensions on its frontiers with Syria and Gaza.

South Korea, Japan and the US held a joint naval exercise Monday aimed at countering missile threats from North Korean submarines, Seoul’s defense ministry said, amid mounting concerns over the hermit state’s weapons program.

BBC

Europe is becoming the global hub for the hosting of child sexual abuse images and videos, suggests a report.

President Donald Trump has said the United States will “solve” the nuclear threat from North Korea, with or without China’s help.

The BBC has seen evidence that so-called Islamic State (IS) has been using children as human shields as they fight to keep control of the Iraqi city of Mosul.

Britain will send military trainers to Jordan to help the country’s air force in the fight against so-called Islamic State, the prime minister said.

WND

423 new mosques, 500 closed churches in London. The city is ‘more Islamic than many Muslim countries put together’.

Democrats in Montana have opposed a bill banning the use of foreign law in its state courts on the grounds that such legislation would target Muslims.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel has decided to push for a new plan to create an identification card that would specifically be used to make sure illegal aliens in the city could get welfare benefits with minimal risk to repatriation.

California’s cigarette tax increased by $2 a pack Saturday under new tobacco policies passed by voters during last November’s general election.


The Briefing 04-03-17

This is the big week in Washington–the Supreme Court, the Senate, Neil Gorsuch, & the nuclear option.

Is the Senate filibuster itself a constitutional problem?

The NCAA plays hardball with North Carolina, becomes enforcer for LGBTQ demands.

Basketball over bathrooms — this is how a revolution in morality is coerced.

The post The Briefing 04-03-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 4/3/2017

Israel takes baby step toward rebuilding Temple?
The project is getting high praise from Israel advocates for rebuilding the Temple. Rabbi Yehuda Glick, a target of an assassination attempt in 2014 for his Temple advocacy, said he welcomed the plan for a Temple Mount Heritage Foundation and has personally lobbied for its creation. “We need to state clearly: The Temple Mount is the foundation of the history of the Jewish people and of the return to the land since the beginning of Zionism,” he said.

Trump, Putin meeting could mend deteriorating relationship, Kremlin spokesman says
Dmitry Peskov told ABC’s “This Week” that relations between the U.S. and Russia are “maybe worse” than the Cold War, but a meeting between the two sides have a chance to repair divisions. “I think if two presidents meet each other, if they exchange views, then there will be a chance for our volatile relations to get better,” Peskov said.

After golf with Trump, Paul says ‘very optimistic’ about ObamaCare repeal
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul, a top conservative critic of House Republicans’ failed plan to replace ObamaCare, concluded his golf outing Sunday with President Trump by saying party members are “getting closer” on a compromise repeal plan and that he remains “very optimistic.”

EU nations, Israel eye world’s longest undersea gas pipeline
Italy, Israel, Greece and Cyprus pledged Monday to move ahead with the world’s longest undersea gas pipeline from the eastern Mediterranean to southern Europe, with support from the European Union. If carried out as planned, the long-discussed $6.2 billion pipeline would take gas from Israel and Cyprus’s recently discovered offshore gas reserves to Europe and could help reduce the continent’s dependence on Russian energy at a time of ongoing tensions.

Brussels says Spain has its ‘full support’ for Brexit power grab over Gibraltar
BRUSSELS today insisted that Spain has its “full support” over its shameless attempt to use the people of Gibraltar as a bargaining chip in the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

Jared Kushner Makes Unannounced Trip to Iraq
Jared Kushner, the Jewish son-in-law of US President Donald Trump, reportedly traveled to Iraq over the weekend with a number of defense officials. Kushner, who has been tasked by Trump with the onerous burden of fostering a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, serves as one of the president’s closest and most trusted advisors, but his role on the short Middle East trip is unclear.

Persecuted Christians Suffer “Worst Year Yet,” Mostly Under Islam
The persecution of Christians around the world, but especially in the Muslim world, has reached an all-time high—with 2016 being the “worst year yet,” according to Open Doors, which recently released its annual ranking of the top 50 countries where Christians face the most persecution. Among some of its more significant findings:

The Yasser Arafat of the Democratic Party
To U.S. presidents and chief diplomatic correspondents he would profess his desire for peace and for a two-state solution, while to Arabs and Muslims he would impugn Jews, It is by this standard that I hereby judge Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer to be the Yasser Arafat of the Democratic Party. Schumer is so practiced at saying one thing to Democratic elites and another to the Democratic base that it is easy to fall for his charade.

Report: Surveillance on President Began Before He was GOP Nominee
The “unmasking”—revealing the identity of Americans “incidentally captured” during surveillance of foreign officials—was done “purely for political reasons,” not for any reason related to national security or foreign intelligence, he added. Quoting his sources, he said, “It had everything to do with hurting and embarrassing Trump and his team.”

Human Rights Watch gives Israel ultimatum over Gaza war crime investigation
Human Rights Watch demanded on Monday that Israel allow its investigators into Gaza if it wants the International Criminal Court “to take seriously” Israel’s own war crimes investigations. The ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda started a preliminary examination of 2014 Gaza war crimes allegations in January 2015. HRW accuses Israel in a 47-page report of preventing its researchers for accessing Gaza. It has also accused Egypt of preventing HRW visits to the coastal territory since 2008.

Palestinian Authority textbooks teach pupils to be expendable ‘martyrs’
The latest Palestinian Authority elementary school textbooks are even more radical than previous editions, according to a report just issued by the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education. The report was based on examination of elementary- school grades one through four and high-school grades 11 and 12 of the 2016-2017 PA’s educational curriculum.

In first White House meeting in 7 years, Egypt expected to focus on security assistance
An Egyptian president will visit the White House for the first time in seven years on Monday when Abdel Fattah al-Sisi sits down with US President Donald Trump. The meeting is expected to focus on shared security concerns in the region. Sisi and Trump have reportedly struck up a rapport in phone calls preceding Monday’s visit, including in exchanges over UN Security Council action on Israel, terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula and US foreign assistance to the Egyptian state.

Somalia piracy: India ship hijacked in new attack
Somali pirates have hijacked an Indian cargo ship off the coast of the semi-autonomous region of Puntland, officials there say. One source said the vessel was heading towards Somali shores. There were no details of the crew or destination. Some two weeks earlier an oil tanker en route to Mogadishu was seized by pirates who then released the boat apparently without conditions.

Islamic State group using human shields in Mosul
The BBC has gained exclusive access to the Iraqi army’s helicopter missions against IS militants in Mosul. BBC Persian reporter Nafiseh Kouhnavard witnessed IS militants using human shields to deter the military from firing at them. (Video)

Israel PM warns enemies at missile defense ceremony
A joint U.S.-Israeli missile interceptor meant to counter the type of medium-range missiles possessed by Iranian-backed Hezbollah militants became operational Sunday, completing Israel’s multi-layer defense system…Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the unveiling ceremony for the David’s Sling system that defending the home front is of the “utmost importance.” He went on to warn “whoever tries to strike us will be hit, those that threaten our existence put themselves in existential danger.”

Soon you’ll be able to go to work in a flying taxi
Late for work? Imagine skipping the subway and instead heading to your local “vertiport,” where you can hop into an aircraft the size of an SUV that runs on electricity and works pretty much like an elevator…Insiders call the new breed of flying machine “e-VTOLs,” (pronounced “EE-VEE- talls”), an acronym for “electric vertical take off and landing.”

Rescuers, locals dig for Colombia flood victims, 254 die
Families and rescuers searched desperately on Sunday through mud-plastered rubble for victims of flooding and landslides in Colombia that have killed 254 people, injured hundreds and devastated entire neighborhoods. Several rivers burst their banks near the southwestern city of Mocoa in the early hours of Saturday, sending water, mud and debris crashing down streets and into houses as people slept.

New UN report attempts to equate Israel to slavery in the US
The UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) is expected to publish a report equating “the Israeli Occupation” to slavery in the United States and put the financial damages suffered by Palestinians as a result of “50 years of occupation” in the billions of dollars. The Arab-dominated committee recently published a report two weeks ago claiming that Israel established an Apartheid regime that controls the entire Palestinian people.

Pakistani prosecutor says he’ll let Christians out of prison — if they convert to Islam
Your freedom or your faith? That’s the question being posed to dozens of Christians currently awaiting trial in a prison in Pakistan. Forty-two Christians were arrested in 2015 for allegedly being involved in the hanging of two Muslims. The two Muslim Pakistanis were killed following two bomb blasts that occurred on Easter Sunday of the same year, killing 15 and injuring more than 70…Christians standing trial for murder are now being given a choice to either continue facing charges or convert to Islam.

‘Witches’ gather at Balboa Park to hex President Donald Trump
A gathering of so-called witches descended upon Balboa Park Saturday at “high noon” in an effort to impeach President Donald Trump by hex.

Jeb Bush warns robots taking US jobs is not science fiction
Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush said Sunday that people “should be marching in the streets” to demand changes to “antiquated” education systems that aren’t preparing students to be competitive in the job market against the robots of the future.

Hungarians Take to the Streets to Support Soros’s University
Hungarians took to the streets to protest for academic freedom and against government legislation that a university funded by George Soros said is aimed at shutting it down. Thousands of Hungarians participated in the march on Sunday, Index news website reported. The demonstration was going to wind its way through Budapest, passing by the capital’s main universities, including local ones as well as Central European University, which was established and is funded by Soros, a billionaire financier and native of Hungary.

First Post-Brexit Tremors: Theresa May “Would Go To War” To Protect Gibraltar
The ink has yet to dry on Theresa May’s Article 50 signature from last week which officially started the UK’s 2-year long divorce from the EU, and already Europe has been traumatized by comments from former Conservative leader Michael Howard, who suggested that Theresa May is be prepared to go to war to protect Gibraltar.

How Obama’s White House Weaponized Media Against Trump
“On the basis of my familiarity with this system, I strongly suspect that someone in the Obama White House blew a hole in the thin wall that prevents the government from using information collected from surveillance to destroy the lives of the citizens whose privacy it is pledged to protect. “

Trump says US is ready to act alone on North Korea
President Donald Trump says that the United States is prepared to act alone if China does not take a tougher stand against North Korea’s nuclear program. Trump’s comments in an interview with the Financial Times come just days before he is set to host Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate in South Florida. The two are expected to discuss a number of issues, including North Korea, trade and territorial disputes in the South China Sea during their meeting on Thursday and Friday.


TRUMPED: Trail For Classified Trump Info Leaker Leads Directly To Senior Obama Official Susan Rice

President Donald Trump drew the world’s attention on Monday to ‘amazing reporting’ from Fox News that suggests the Obama administration spied on him before last year’s election.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Amazing revelation today that greatly supports President Trump’s claims that he was spied on at the request of the Obama administration, and that members of his transition team were unmasked. The trail of evidence leads directly to the doorstep of Barack Obama’s former national security advisor, Susan Rice. The main stream media knew about this, and have been sitting on the story for weeks now in an effort to shield Obama and his Shadow Government minions

‘Such amazing reporting on unmasking and the crooked scheme against us by @foxandfriends,’ Trump tweeted,’ saying that he had been ‘spied on before nomination.’

‘Fox and Friends’ began Monday’s broadcast with a ‘bombshell report about the unmasking of the Trump team.’

Reporter Adam Housley claimed that a U.S. intelligence official responsible for unmasking names of Trump associates is ‘very well known, very high up, very senior in the intelligence world.’ The official, he reported, was known to House Intelligence Committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes since January.

Bombshell report over the weekend shows a ‘very high up’ Obama official unmasking Trump associates for political purposes, sources say pic.twitter.com/Rj6JEXbobb

— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) April 3, 2017

‘The main issue in this case, is not only the unmasking of these names of private citizens, but the spreading of these names for political purposes that have nothing to do with national security or an investigation into Russia’s interference in the U.S. election,’ a congressional source close to the investigation told Fox News.

Trump drew widespread criticism last month for claiming that Obama surveilled his campaign illegally.

‘Adam Housley did an incredible job with this information,’ “Fox and Friends” co-host Brian Kilmeade said Monday.

‘We heard germs of it, that it was beginning to take root during Friday’s show. But right after Friday’s show, we were able to get a perspective on basically what President Trump thought a month ago when he went out and tweeted on Saturday morning. Man, I guess on some level he saw some things that only somebody surveilling his administration would know.’

Co-host Steve Doocy added that ‘what Trump was saying is turning out to be true.’

On Sunday, the president tweeted that the ‘real story turns out to be SURVEILLANCE and LEAKING!’

‘Find the leakers,’ he added.

Trump tweeted Saturday morning: ‘Wow, Fox News just reporting big news. Source: “Official behind unmasking is high up. Known Intel official is responsible. Some unmasked … not associated with Russia. Trump team spied on before he was nominated.” If this is true, does not get much bigger. Would be sad for U.S.’ source

Susan Rice, who was former President Barack Obama’s national security adviser, did not respond to a report from Bloomberg columnist Eli Lake that on multiple occasions, she made requests to unmask United States citizens connected to President Donald Trump’s transition team.

According to Lake, Rice did not respond to an email seeking comment on the story. The breaking news helps confirm some of President Trump’s accusations that senior Obama officials were involved in disseminating classified information about his transition team to the media, fueling new details about the congressional investigations into Russia’s meddling in the election.

.@FoxNews from multiple sources: “There was electronic surveillance of Trump, and people close to Trump. This is unprecedented.” @FBI

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 3, 2017

On Monday, Fox News senior correspondent Adam Housley said that the “unprecedented” unmasking took place at the direction of “very high-up” officials.

“A lot of these men and women in the intelligence communities did not want to speak about what’s going on because they were concerned about those methods being known,” Housley reported. “But now, they figure they might as well at least clarify things since Nunes has been leaked to by someone they don’t know or at least they tell me they don’t know.”

Susan Rice has not denied the allegations, saying only, “I know nothing about this” when asked about the reports last month on PBS. source


The Ticking Time Bomb That Will Wipe Out Virtually Every Pension Fund In America

Are millions of Americans about to see the big, juicy pensions that they were counting on to fund their golden years go up in flames in the biggest financial disaster in U.S. history? When Bloomberg published an editorial entitled “Pension Crisis Too Big for Markets to Ignore“, it simply confirmed what a lot of people already knew to be true.  Pension funds all over America are woefully underfunded, and they have been pouring mind boggling amounts of money into very risky investments such as Internet stocks and commercial mortgages.  Just like with subprime mortgages in 2008, this is a crisis that everyone can see coming well in advance, and yet nothing is being done about it. (Read More…)


What Is America Going To Look Like When Stocks, Home Prices And Even Used Cars All Crash By At Least 50 Percent?

Have you ever thought about what comes after the bubble?  In 2008 we got a short preview of what life will be like, but most Americans seem to have come to the conclusion that the last financial crisis was just a minor bump in the road toward endless economic prosperity.  But of course the truth is that the ridiculously high debt-fueled standard of living that we are enjoying now is not sustainable, and after this bubble bursts it will be an extremely painful adjustment for our society. (Read More…)


MID-DAY SNAPSHOT

APRIL 3, 2017

Attack Piece on VP Makes Media Look Silly

Leftmedia attempts to shame Pence as a prude.

THE FOUNDATION

“Nothing is more essential to the establishment of manners in a State than that all persons employed in places of power and trust must be men of unexceptionable characters.” —Samuel Adams (1775)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: April 03

  • Buying a Home This Spring Will Be Hardest in Years (Read More)
  • Senate showdown likely over Gorsuch confirmation (Read More)
  • ‘Nuclear’ Bid to Confirm Gorsuch May Radically Change Washington (Read More)
  • Trump’s son-in-law, Kushner, flies into Iraq with top U.S. general (Read More)
  • Solid Asia factory growth caps a strong first quarter but outlook cloudy (Read More)
  • Trump presses China on North Korea ahead of Xi talks (Read More)
  • The Rising Retirement Perils of 401(k) ‘Leakage’ (Read More)
  • Spain Tells U.K. to Keep Its Cool After Gibraltar Compared to Falklands (Read More)
  • U.S. backs out of Latam development fund in sign of policy shift (Read More)
  • Here’s What U.S. Farmers Will Plant More (and Less) of in 2017 (Read More)
  • Democrat Donnelly to support Trump pick for U.S. Supreme Court (Read More)
  • Fed’s Rebel Defends Autonomy as Trump-Molded Central Bank Looms (Read More)
  • Toshiba shares tumble after sources say third earnings postponement likely (Read More)
  • Tesla delivers quarterly record of 25,000 vehicles in first quarter (Read More)
  • ‘Cartel’ Traders Weigh Surrender to Face U.S. Rigging Charges (Read More)
  • Less noodles, beer and movies? Clouds on Chinese consumption horizon (Read More)
  • Almost a Decade Later, U.S. Money Markets Are Yet to Recover (Read More)
  • Poland accuses Russian air traffic controllers over Smolensk air crash (Read More)
  • Thiam’s Turnaround Clouded by Tax Probe of Credit Suisse (Read More)
  • Toronto Bidding Wars So Fierce That Homebuyers Skip Inspections (Read More)
  • Ecuador leftist claims victory, conservative demands recount (Read More)
  • Shares in Turkish Chocolate Company Tumble After April Fools’ Day Ad Goes Wrong (Read More)
  • German court rebuffs VW complaint over prosecutors’ searches (Read More)

Top Headlines – 4/3/2017

Egypt’s Sissi said set to present Trump with Mideast peace plan

In first White House meeting in 7 years, Egypt expected to focus on security assistance

In DC visit, Egypt’s el-Sissi to test ‘chemistry’ with Trump

Trump welcomes Egypt’s ‘fantastic guy’ Sissi amid questions on rights record

Trump to host Middle East leaders after Israel curbs settlement construction

Report: US-Israel talks on settlements suspended after no progress made

UN vote on Israeli settlements has changed little

Bennett, Netanyahu spar over right-wing bona fides after settlement curbs

Israel PM warns enemies at missile defense ceremony

Human Rights Watch says Israel, Egypt blocking Gaza access for its researchers

Explosion in Gaza injures 3 at reported Hamas military site

Hamas: The ‘Zionists’ murdered Faqha

Hamas vows ‘divine punishment’ for assassins of terror chief

Palestinian Authority textbooks teach pupils to be expendable ‘martyrs’

New UN report attempts to equate Israel to slavery in the US

Israeli envoy calls for Passover cleaning to rid UN of anti-Israel bias

Jerusalem police on high alert ahead of Passover holiday

Activists barred from sacrificing sheep near Temple Mount

New video debunks belief Third Temple must be built by Messiah

Sifting for Temple Mount artifacts halts as funding dries up

Israel, EU nations promise world’s longest undersea gas pipeline

UK to send military trainers to Jordan to help fight IS

U.S.-backed forces repel Islamic State attack near Syrian dam

Islamic State group using human shields in Mosul

Jared Kushner Visits Iraq on Invitation From Joint Chiefs Chairman

Met police look at allegations of Saudi war crimes in Yemen

U.S. increasingly sees Iran’s hand in the arming of Bahraini militants

20 Are Hacked and Beaten to Death at Pakistani Shrine

Pakistani prosecutor says he’ll let Christians out of prison – if they convert to Islam

Montana Democrats Vote Against Bill Banning Sharia Law, Call It ‘Repugnant’

1m African migrants may be en route to Europe, says former UK envoy

NYPD alerts feds to Criminal Court appearances of immigrants facing deportation despite ‘sanctuary’ vow

Hungarians Take to the Streets to Support Soros’s University

Somalia piracy: India ship hijacked in new attack

Thousands dead: the Philippine president, the death squad allegations and a brutal drugs war

Trump says US will act alone on North Korea if China fails to help

Ash Carter: A US pre-emptive strike on North Korea could lead to ‘invasion’ of South Korea

Lithuania says Russia has ability to launch Baltic attack in 24 hours

Trump, Putin meeting could mend deteriorating relationship, Kremlin spokesman says

US ambassador to UN says no question of Russian interference

Moscow And Beijing Join Forces To Bypass US Dollar In Global Markets, Shift To Gold Trade

Back from the brink? Venezuela reverses its congressional ‘coup’ but tensions remain

WikiLeaks’ Assange asylum winner in Ecuador election

‘It’s easier to hack an election than eBay’: confessions of a Belarusian hacker

French candidate Fillon: Govt manipulating presidential race

Former Obama staffers run for office to protect the progressive policies they built

Home stretch for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee could forever alter the Senate

Senate faces nuclear showdown over Neil Gorsuch nomination

How Obama’s White House Weaponized Media Against Trump

Trump applauds ‘amazing’ Fox News coverage of surveillance claim

Drone complaints soar as concerns grow over snooping

AT&T, Comcast and Verizon explain that they don’t sell your browser historyEngadget

How Uber Uses Psychological Tricks to Push Its Drivers’ Buttons

Jeb Bush warns robots taking US jobs is not science fiction

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Cerro Punta, Panama

5.3 magnitude earthquake hits near Sungaipenuh, Indonesia

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Amsterdam Island, France

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Stilfontein, South Africa

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near Lata, Solomon Islands

3.0 earthquake hits Ohio

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 30,000ft

Kambalny volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 26,000ft

Feugo volcano in Guatemala erupts to 25,000ft

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 25,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 15,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 14,000ft

Toll in Colombia mudslides rises to 254 dead, including 43 children

Australia floods still rising with two dead, four missing

Southeast set for more severe weather after tornado, flooding kills three

Utah Adopts Informed Consent Law for Medication Abortions

Trump Revokes Obama Executive Order Awarding Contracts to Companies With LGBT Policies

Jailed for using Grindr: homosexuality in Egypt

Chechen Authorities Arresting and Killing Gay Men, Russian Paper Says

14-year-old charged in Facebook Live sexual assault of 15-year-old girl, warrant issued for 2nd suspect

Instagram users: we’ve created the most narcissistic social network on the planet

‘Witches’ gather at Balboa Park to hex President Donald Trump

Jesus Didn’t Let Theology Get in the Way Says Saddleback Church

The Presence Conference: Peddling The Gospel of Selfishness

Joyce Meyer’s “Have a Great Day” Theology: Book Review

False Teacher of the Day #3: Ulf Ekman

Apostle Russel Evans of Planetshakers – are they a cult?

City Harvest Church founder Kong Hee and 5 CHC leaders back in court on April 7

Growing Number of Americans Love Jesus but Don’t Go to Church, Barna Finds

Elderly Ohio Pastor Found Murdered in His Home

At meeting, Mormon leaders encourage more baptisms for the dead

Tajikistan Churches Investigated for Underage Attendees

Londonistan: 423 New Mosques; 500 Closed Churches

UPDATE: ISIS Claims Russia Bombing ‘a Metro to Hell for the Worshipers of the Cross’

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 08:42 AM PDT

At least eight fatalities have been reported and dozens injured today by two explosions on a subway system in St. Petersburg, Russia. A spokesman for…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Chicago Resident Calls For Children To Be Equipped With Bulletproof Helmets, Vests…

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 08:37 AM PDT

After a violent day in the South Shore neighborhood, a longtime resident questioned why there is no the outrage from black activists. “I see them…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Indiana Senate Passes Bill Protecting Religious Expression in Public Schools

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 06:24 AM PDT

The Indiana Senate has passed a bill meant to protect religious expression in public schools. H.B. 1024 passed 44-5 on Thursday despite opposition from groups…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is T-Mobile Waging ‘War on Prayer’ Over Extra Fee Charges?

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 06:15 AM PDT

Thousands of believers are realizing they’re being charged extra by one of the nation’s leading wireless service providers for participating in prayer line conference calls…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Growing Number of Americans Love Jesus but Don’t Go to Church

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 06:09 AM PDT

While an increasing number of Americans are reportedly abandoning the institutional church and its defined boundary markers of religious identity, many Americans still believe in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Only 4 Percent of Millennials Hold a “Biblical Worldview”

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 06:04 AM PDT

Four percent of millennials hold a biblical worldview, according to a recent study. The American Culture and Faith Institute (ACFI) published results of a survey earlier…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is There More to the Passover That’s Yet to Be Fulfilled in Our Day?

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 05:58 AM PDT

(By Kelly Mcdonald Jr) “When the hour had come, He and the twelve apostles with Him sat down. And He said to them, ‘I have…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Mysterious energy signals detected from space…

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 05:52 AM PDT

Rare and brief bursts of cosmic radio waves have puzzled astronomers since they were first detected 10 years ago. Some suggested these mysterious bursts of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Zika Mosquitos Detected in 129 California Cities…

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 05:45 AM PDT

The mosquitos that can carry the Zika virus have reportedly appeared in 129 California cities. With cold winter weather the only major obstacle to the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

North Korean Defector Warns ‘World Should be Ready’ For NK Nuke Attack!

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 05:39 AM PDT

A senior North Korean defector has told NBC News that the country’s “desperate” dictator is prepared to use nuclear weapons to strike the United States…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

‘Witches’ Gather in California to hex President Donald Trump

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 05:34 AM PDT

A gathering of so-called witches descended upon Balboa Park Saturday at “high noon” in an effort to impeach President Donald Trump by hex. 10News reporter…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Coming Asteroid To Make Closest Pass By Earth in 400 Years

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 05:29 AM PDT

A huge 1km-wide asteroid is hurtling towards Earth, prompting astronomers to label it “potentially hazardous”. But don’t pack for Mars just yet – the giant…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Explosion reported at St. Petersburg train station

Posted: 03 Apr 2017 05:26 AM PDT

A suspected IED explosion inside a car of the St. Petersburg Metro system has resulted in casualties among passengers, according to the transit system’s management….

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Japan’s Mount Asama volcano erupts for the first time since 2009

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 08:28 PM PDT

Mount Asama, a volcano on the border of Japan’s Gunma and Nagano prefectures has erupted On April 2, 2017. People in the vicinity immediately took…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

RISE OF ISLAM: 500 churches close in London and replaced with 423 new mosques

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 08:23 PM PDT

“London is more Islamic than many Muslim countries put together,” says London Islamic preacher Maulana Syed Raza Rizvi. The city of London – dubbed “Londonistan”…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Saying the Wrong Thing On Facebook Could Cost You Up To $500K

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 08:15 PM PDT

If you’re not putting too much thought into what you share on Facebook and your other social media accounts, this might be a good time…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: 2 volcanoes spew ash in Russia’s Kamchatka rattled by quakes

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 08:07 PM PDT

Two of Kamchatka’s volcanos – Kambalny and Kluchevskoy – have spewed ash thousands of meters into the air, as eruptions and seismic activity intensified in…

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Insightful Scriptures for Developing Your Heavenly Prayer Language

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 08:01 PM PDT

(By Jared Laskey) Praying in tongues is an amazing and precious gift. It seems many churches have tried to shy away from it, hiding it…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Chinese Christians Detained for 15 Days for Attending Bible Study

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 07:52 PM PDT

More than 20 police officers from China’s southwestern Sichuan Province recently detained 15 Christians for attending a Bible study. Authorities broke into a church in…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

WAR DRUMS: Trump vows to stop North Korea…

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 07:44 PM PDT

Donald Trump has warned he will “solve” the nuclear threat posed by North Korea if China doesn’t. Speaking from the Oval Office in an interview…

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What Is America Going To Look Like When Stocks, Home Prices And Even Used Cars All Crash By At Least 50 Percent?

Posted: 02 Apr 2017 07:40 PM PDT

(By Michael Snyder) Have you ever thought about what comes after the bubble?  In 2008 we got a short preview of what life will be…

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What is The Gospel?


Who Do You Think That I Am?

Selected Scriptures

Code: A335

With that brief question Jesus Christ confronted His followers with the most important issue they would ever face. He had spent much time with them and made some bold claims about His identity and authority. Now the time had come for them either to believe or deny His teachings.

Who do you say Jesus is? Your response to Him will determine not only your values and lifestyle, but your eternal destiny as well.

Consider what the Bible says about Him:

JESUS IS GOD

While Jesus was on earth there was much confusion about who He was. Some thought He was a wise man or a great prophet. Others thought He was a madman. Still others couldn’t decide or didn’t care. But Jesus said, “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30). That means He claimed to be nothing less than God in human flesh.

Many people today don’t understand that Jesus claimed to be God. They’re content to think of Him as little more than a great moral teacher. But even His enemies understood His claims to deity. That’s why they tried to stone Him to death (John 5:18; 10:33) and eventually had Him crucified (John 19:7).

C.S. Lewis observed, “You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to” (Mere Christianity [Macmillan, 1952], pp. 40-41).

If the biblical claims of Jesus are true, He is God!

JESUS IS HOLY

God is absolutely and perfectly holy (Isaiah 6:3), therefore He cannot commit or approve of evil (James 1:13).

As God, Jesus embodied every element of God’s character. Colossians 2:9 says, “In Him all the fulness of Deity dwells in bodily form.” He was perfectly holy (Hebrews 4:15). Even His enemies couldn’t prove any accusation against Him (John 8:46)

God requires holiness of us as well. First Peter 1:16 says, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.”

JESUS IS THE SAVIOR

Our failure to obey God—to be holy—places us in danger of eternal punishment (2 Thessalonians 1:9). The truth is, we cannot obey Him because we have neither the desire nor the ability to do so. We are by nature rebellious toward God (Ephesians 2:1-3). The Bible calls our rebellion “sin.” According to Scripture, everyone is guilty of sin: “There is no man who does not sin” (1 Kings 8:46). “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). And we are incapable of changing our sinful condition. Jeremiah 13:23 says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard its spots? Neither can you do good who are accustomed to doing evil.”

That doesn’t mean we’re incapable of performing acts of human kindness. We might even be involved in various religious or humanitarian activities. But we’re utterly incapable of understanding, loving, or pleasing God on our own. The Bible says, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God; all have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one” (Romans 3:10-12).

God’s holiness and justice demand that all sin be punished by death: “The soul who sins will die” (Ezekiel 18:4). That’s hard for us to understand because we tend to evaluate sin on a relative scale, assuming some sins are less serious than others. However, the Bible teaches that all acts of sin are the result of sinful thinking and evil desires. That’s why simply changing our patterns of behavior can’t solve our sin problem or eliminate its consequences. We need to be changed inwardly so our thinking and desires are holy

Jesus is the only one who can forgive and transform us, thereby delivering us from the power and penalty of sin: “There is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Even though God’s justice demands death for sin, His love has provided a Savior, who paid the penalty and died for sinners: “Christ … died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18). Christ’s death satisfied the demands of God’s justice, thereby enabling Him to forgive and save those who place their faith in Him (Romans 3:26). John 3:16 says, “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” He alone is “our great God and Savior” (Titus 2:13).

JESUS IS THE ONLY ACCEPTABLE OBJECT OF SAVING FAITH

Some people think it doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you’re sincere. But without a valid object your faith is useless

If you take poison—thinking it’s medicine—all the faith in the world won’t restore your life. Similarly, if Jesus is the only source of salvation, and you’re trusting in anyone or anything else for your salvation, your faith is useless.

Many people assume there are many paths to God and that each religion represents an aspect of truth. But Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). He didn’t claim to be one of many equally legitimate paths to God, or the way to God for His day only. He claimed to be the only way to God—then and forever.

JESUS IS LORD

Contemporary thinking says man is the product of evolution. But the Bible says we were created by a personal God to love, serve, and enjoy endless fellowship with Him

The New Testament reveals it was Jesus Himself who created everything (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16). Therefore He also owns and rules everything (Psalm 103:19). That means He has authority over our lives and we owe Him absolute allegiance, obedience, and worship.

Romans 10:9 says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.” Confessing Jesus as Lord means humbly submitting to His authority (Philippians 2:10-11). Believing that God has raised Him from the dead involves trusting in the historical fact of His resurrection—the pinnacle of Christian faith and the way the Father affirmed the deity and authority of the Son (Romans 1:4; Acts 17:30-31).

True faith is always accompanied by repentance from sin. Repentance is more than simply being sorry for sin. It is agreeing with God that you are sinful, confessing your sins to Him, and making a conscious choice to turn from sin and pursue holiness (Isaiah 55:7). Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15); and “If you abide in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine” (John 8:31).

It isn’t enough to believe certain facts about Christ. Even Satan and his demons believe in the true God (James 2:19), but they don’t love and obey Him. Their faith is not genuine. True saving faith always responds in obedience (Ephesians 2:10).

Jesus is the sovereign Lord. When you obey Him you are acknowledging His lordship and submitting to His authority. That doesn’t mean your obedience will always be perfect, but that is your goal. There is no area of your life that you withhold from Him.

JESUS IS THE JUDGE

All who reject Jesus as their Lord and Savior will one day face Him as their Judge: “God is now declaring to men that all everywhere should repent, because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead” (Acts 17:30-31).

Second Thessalonians 1:7-9 says, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. And these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”

HOW WILL YOU RESPOND?

Who does the Bible say Jesus is? The living God, the Holy One, the Savior, the only valid object of saving faith, the sovereign Lord, and the righteous Judge.

Who do you say Jesus is? That is the inescapable question. He alone can redeem you—free you from the power and penalty of sin. He alone can transform you, restore you to fellowship with God, and give your life eternal purpose. Will you repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?


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(Alternative News, Apologetics, Current Events, Commentary, Opinion, Theology, Discernment Blog, Devotionals, Christian Internet Evangelism & Missions Activist).

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Shocking News: Steven Furtick Goes Full-On Prosperity

Jeff Maples of Pulpit & Pen shares what’s going on with prophet-pastor Steven Furtick:

If it isn’t enough that Steven Furtick, pastor of Elevation, the multi-campus megachurch in Charlotte, NC is a habitual twister of the Scriptures for the purpose of self-promotion and egotistical gain, it’s now abundantly clear that he’s gone full-on Prosperity Gospel.

The Prosperity Gospel is a false gospel that teaches that God promises to all believers who have “enough faith” a long life of good health and extraordinary wealth. Never mind that the proponents of this false gospel are regularly afflicted with various calamities, including death. Recently, Eddie Long, one of the most notorious proponents of the distorted gospel of health and wealth died after a long battle with cancer. Then you have others, like Jan Crouch, who died unexpectedly. Perhaps their faith failed them? Perhaps they did not ask therefore they did not receive?

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Three Reasons God is a Cessationist

Jordan Standrich has some thoughts on cessationism vs. continuationism to help us think through this challenging topic. “An important part of cessationism,” says Standridge “is God Himself and what He has done in history.”

In this piece over at The Cripplegate, Standrich offers three reasons to bolster his argument that God is a cessationist and not a continuationist. He writes:

Lord I believe that Jordan will play in the NBA! No! I declare Jordan will play in the NBA!

That was a sentence that a guy prayed over me as we were leaving a basketball camp I attended in high school. He said that sentence as he alternated between speaking in tongues and speaking in English. I wanted to say, “have you not seen me play this whole week? I’ll be lucky to start on my high school team this year!” That was the first time I was exposed to the modern version of the gift tongues. Over the years I’ve had a chance to attend quite a few pentecostal churches and events but it wasn’t until I got to seminary that I really started gaining interest in Charismatic theology.

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Research: New Apostolic Reformation

For the Person Who Feels Weak

There’s no denying it. I am weak to the core.

My body is weak as it continues to be beaten down by Lyme disease and its devastating effects. My mothering abilities feel weak as I grow weary caring for four sick children who are also being ravaged by this awful disease.

My marriage has had weaknesses exposed as my husband and I carry stress loads that statistically leave 90% of marriages in divorce. Even our basic needs have left us feeling weak and vulnerable after my husband was laid off work. And if I’m honest, my faith has felt weak as I’ve wrestled with the Lord through my confusion, fears, anger, and weariness.

Three Reminders for the Weak and Weary

In my flesh, I despise feeling weak. But in the Spirit, I’ve found a sufficient and satisfying strength. If you’re struggling with weakness (whether physical, emotional, or spiritual), be encouraged by these three reminders from Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 12:8-10:

1. You are accepted and loved.

Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. (v. 8)

When my husband lost his job, I went through a period of shock and didn’t want to speak to anyone, including the Lord. We were already feeling like we were sinking, and had been praying for deliverance, healing, and provision. I felt angry, confused about how to reconcile what I felt with what I knew to be true about the Lord, and numb, completely overwhelmed by reality. What do we do in a place like this?

We throw ourselves upon Christ, even the messy, doubting, angry part of us. He knows our thoughts, emotions, and hearts better than we do. We are believing a lie if we think we must pull ourselves together before we can come to him.

Why do we seek momentary comforts and solutions to temporarily drown our pain, rather than casting ourselves at his feet in dependence on his mercy, grace, provision, and strength? Jesus knows what we need and is able and willing to provide it, so let’s bring ourselves to him in honest prayer and receive what he has for us in his Word. He will be faithful to meet us where we are—weakness, mess, and all.



2. He gives strength.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (v. 9)

Just as we can’t see the wind with our eyes, yet see evidence of its presence, we can’t see or always feel the strength of Christ flowing through us, yet we see evidence of his power. I marvel at how the Lord has infused me with his strength. In my flesh, I’ve wanted to run—but I didn’t. In my flesh, I wanted to be angry at the Lord, yet I found myself desperate to be near him and drawn to the Word as if it were my very lifeline of survival. I felt no desire to get up each morning to care for my kids (or myself), yet somehow I made it through another day.

Although I don’t feel strong, I see incredible evidence of his strength in me. So draw near to Christ honestly and trust him to give you the strength you need. You may not feel it in the moment, but he will be faithful to equip you, even if it’s simply to take your next breath.

3. His strength brings joy.

Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (vv. 9-10)

In Christ, you will experience joy, even in circumstances that you don’t enjoy. Paul’s weaknesses drew him into a deeper love-relationship with and reliance on his Savior. Though I imagine he found no joy in the thorn in his flesh, his words express a contentment and joy as he experienced the strength of Christ. Oh, I pray this would be true of you and me!

Whatever trials we are entrusted with, may we be so satisfied in Jesus that we gladly boast in our weaknesses because of how Christ’s power is miraculously displayed through them. Of course, that doesn’t mean we don’t pray for relief, healing, or provision; but if the Lord chooses not to bring it, we have an opportunity to bear the evidence of Christ’s power shining through our flawed, weak, and broken lives.

Strength in Weakness

There is a strange freedom that comes with knowing that God alone is big enough to save us. While we’ve been blown away by the love that others have shown us, ultimately it is Christ who has sustained us, provided for us, and carried us through this darkness.

In the words of Charles Spurgeon,

Oh, storm-tossed believer, it’s a happy trouble that drives you to your Father! Now that you have only your God to trust in, see that you put your full confidence in Him….Show the strong person how strong you are in your weakness when underneath the everlasting arms. Now’s the time for feats of faith and valiant exploits. Be strong and very courageous, and the Lord your God will surely glorify Himself in your weakness.

weak

The post For the Person Who Feels Weak appeared first on Unlocking the Bible.

Why calling Rick Warren a ‘General’ is significant

Amy Spreeman of Berean Research responds to the question many in the Christian community are asking: How do I know if my church is part of the New Apostolic Reformation?  Here’s what she says:

What’s in a name? When the name and title of “General” is used in a church leadership context, it’s a rank that ought to be a red flag for you.  After reading this article, I hope it will be in the future.

First, the photo. Hillsong’s Brian Houston posted this on his Facebook profile:

The rank title in this case may be easily dismissed as nothing more than just a friendly term of endearment. But did you know that “General” is code word for Apostle within the New Apostolic Reformation movement?

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The Master’s Seminary 2017 Faculty Lectures: Believers, The Bible and the LGBTQIA community

The Domain for Truth

For some reason I did not realized until now that the Master’s Seminary’s 2017 Faculty Lectures was on the topic of “Believers, The Bible and the LGBTQIA community.”  Every year the Seminary has their faculty lectures on various topics around late January to February.

This topic would be very relevant given all the issues today.  There are six lectures total in this series below.

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April 3, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Pattern for True Greatness

just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (20:28)

The emphasis of this verse is in the words just as the Son of Man. What Jesus says about Himself should also characterize His followers. “I am your perfect Pattern,” He was saying, “your supreme Example. My attitude should be Your attitude, and My kind of living should be your kind of living. If you want to be great as God wants you to be great, be like Me.”

To discover what it means to become a godly servant and slave, the disciples had only to look at the Son of Man Himself. Many years after John presumptuously asked to be seated at Jesus’ side in the kingdom, the now humble apostle wrote, “The one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked” (1 John 2:6). As once his life had centered in himself and his great desire had been to lord it over others, now it was centered in Jesus Christ and was abandoned to the selfless service of others in His name. He no longer sought to manipulate Jesus but only to emulate Him.

In His incarnate role as the Son of Man, Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve. “Although He existed in the form of God, [He] did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name” (Phil. 2:6–9).

Jesus is the supreme example of humility and servanthood, because, as the sovereign of the universe and of all eternity, He subjected Himself to humiliation and even to death. He is the most exalted because He faithfully endured the most humiliation. Although He was the King of kings and had the right to be served by others, He ministered as a Servant of servants and gave His life to serve others.

During the Last Supper, after the disciples had again been arguing about which of them was the greatest, Jesus asked, “Who is greater, the one who reclines at the table, or the one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at the table? But I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). It was probably at this time that Jesus gave them the beautiful object lesson of servanthood recorded by John.

[Jesus] laid aside His garments; and taking a towel, He girded Himself about. Then He poured water into the basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded. … And so when He had washed their feet, and taken His garments, and reclined at the table again, He said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call Me Teacher and Lord; and you are right, for so I am. If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master; neither is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” (John 13:4–5, 12–17)

Jesus’ ultimate act of servanthood, however, was to give His life. “Greater love has no one than this,” He said, “that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13).

Some years ago, Joe Delaney, a star football player for the Kansas City Chiefs, saw three young boys out in a lake, crying out for help and struggling to stay above the water. Although he was himself a poor swimmer, Joe dived into the water and tried to save them. One of the boys was rescued, but Joe and the other two boys drowned. He willingly laid down his life in an effort to save those boys, making the ultimate sacrifice in their behalf.

Although such heroes are lauded, the world understands little of that kind of selflessness, which runs counter to man’s natural inclination to self-preservation. But self-giving is to be the normal pattern for Christians, just as it was the normal pattern for Christ.

In His next statement, Jesus presents the first explicit New Testament teaching about the redemptive work of the Messiah. He would vicariously suffer for the sins of mankind as a ransom for those who trust in Him. He did not simply give His life an example for others. He was no mere martyr for a godly cause, as some claim. Nor was He merely an example of life-giving selflessness, although He was indeed the supreme example of that. Jesus not only lived and died for others but died as a ransom for others.

In that redemptive aspect, of course, His followers cannot follow His example. Nothing that a believer can do will have any direct spiritual benefit for himself or others. If he could not merit his own salvation, he surely cannot merit the salvation of someone else.

Lutron (ransom) was the term commonly used for the redemption price of a slave, the amount required to buy his freedom. It is used only twice in the New Testament (see also Mark 10:45), both times in reference to Christ’s giving of Himself to redeem others. Here it is followed by the proposition anti (“instead of”), expressing an exchange. In 1 Timothy 2:6, the word used for “ransom” is antilutron, which simply combines the two words used here. In both cases the idea is that of a price paid for a life.

The unbeliever is a slave to sin, the flesh, Satan, and death, and it was to redeem men from those slaveries that Jesus gave His life a ransom in exchange for sinners. “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” Paul explained to believers in Rome. “For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death. For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” (Rom. 8:1–3). “Having been freed from sin,” the apostle had told them earlier, “you became slaves of righteousness” (6:18). Christ’s sacrifice bought us back from the slavery of sin.

And although the noun lutron is used only twice in the New Testament, other forms of the root word are used frequently, as are numerous synonyms. “For you have been bought with a price,” Paul reminded the worldly Corinthian believers; “therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). To the Galatians he wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13; cf. 4:5); to the Ephesians he wrote, “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7; cf. v. 14; 4:30); and to Titus he wrote, “[Christ] gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14). Peter reminds believers that they “were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold, … but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ” (1 Pet. 1:18–19). In John’s magnificent vision on Patmos he heard the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders proclaim of Christ, “Worthy art Thou to take the book, and to break its seals; for Thou wast slain, and didst purchase for God with Thy blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9).

Jesus’ ransom was paid to God to satisfy His holy justice, and it was more than sufficient to cover the sins of everyone who has ever lived and ever will live. His death was sufficient for “the whole world,” says John (1 John 2:2). It is not the Lord’s will “for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9). And because He “desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4), He has therefore provided atonement for every person. “For this is the will of My Father,” Jesus said, “that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40).

Although His ransom is sufficient for every person, it is valid only for those who believe in Him. It is in that sense that His redemption is for many, rather than for all. The Lord was not teaching limited atonement, the idea that He died only for the sins of a select few. Paul makes it dear that Christ died for the whole world: “The man Christ Jesus … gave Himself as a ransom for all” (1 Tim. 2:5–6).

The basic idea behind anti (for) is that of being set over against something else, and the word was often used to denote an exchange or substitution. In becoming a ransom for many, Jesus exchanged His life for the lives of the many who would believe in Him. It became His death for the deaths of those many, His undeserved punishment for the punishment they deserved. As Isaiah had predicted 700 years earlier, “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; … He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:4–5).

Christ, then, is the pattern for all to follow in being servant leaders. By giving His life He gained the eternal glory and esteem of God and men. That is the path to greatness.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary


28 At this point, Jesus presents himself—the Son of Man (see comments at 8:20)—as the supreme example of service to others. The verse is clearly important to our understanding of Jesus’ view of his death. Three related questions call for discussion.

1. Authenticity. Many reject the authenticity of v. 28, or at least of v. 28b (and, correspondingly, Mark 10:45; most recently, see McKnight, Jesus and His Death, 356–57), on the grounds that it ill suits the context, since Jesus’ atoning death cannot be imitated by his disciples, that nowhere else is he reported as speaking of his death in this way, and that the language reflects the influence of the Hellenistic church. On the contrary, the language has been shown to be Palestinian (Jeremias, Eucharistic Words, 179–82), and Jesus speaks of his death in not dissimilar terms when instituting the Lord’s Supper (26:26–29) and also in Luke 22:37, assuming that it relates to a different occasion. It is quite common in the NT, both in words ascribed to Jesus and elsewhere, to begin with the disciples’ need to die to self and end up with Jesus’ unique, atoning death as an ethical example—or, conversely, to begin with Jesus’ unique death and find it applied as an example to the disciples (16:21–28; Jn 12:23–25; Php 2:5–11; 1 Pe 2:18–25). There are no substantial reasons for denying the authenticity of this saying (cf. S. H. T. Page, “The Authenticity of the Ransom Logion [Mark 10:45b],” in Gospel Perspectives [ed. France and Wenham], 1:137–61), and its nuances seem much more in keeping with the way Jesus progressively revealed himself (cf. Carson, “Christological Ambiguities”) than with a clear-cut, postresurrection apostolic confession.

2. Meaning. It is natural to take “did not come” as presupposing at least a hint of Jesus’ preexistence, though the language does not absolutely require it. He came not to be served, like a king dependent on countless courtiers and attendants, but to serve others. Stonehouse (Witness of Matthew, 251ff.; Origins, 187) rightly points out that the verse assumes that the Son of Man had every right to expect to be served, but he served instead. Implicit is a self-conscious awareness that the Son of Man who, because of his heavenly origin, possessed divine authority was the one who humbled himself, even to the point of undergoing an atoning death. The tripartite breakdown of the Son of Man references (see Reflections, p. 247) is to this extent artificial. The display of divine glory shines most brightly when it is set aside for the sake of redeeming man by a shameful death. This stands at the very heart of Jesus’ self-disclosure and of the primitive gospel (1 Co 1:23: “We preach Christ [Messiah] crucified”).

The Son of Man came to give his life as a ransom for many. Deissmann (Light from the Ancient East, 331–32) points out that lytron (“ransom,” GK 3389) was most commonly used as the purchase price for freeing slaves; there is good evidence that the notion of “purchase price” is always implied in the NT use of lytron (cf. Morris, Apostolic Preaching, 11ff.). Others, however, by examining the word in the LXX, conclude that, especially when the subject is God, the word means “deliverance” and the cognate verb “to deliver,” without reference to a “price paid” (cf. Hill, Greek Words, 58–80; McKnight, Jesus and His Death, 357). The matter may be difficult to decide in a passage like Titus 2:14. Is wickedness a chain from which Jesus by his death delivers us, or a slave owner from whom Jesus by his death ransoms us? The parallel in 1 Peter 1:18 suggests the latter, even though (as Turner, Christian Words, 105–7, insists) there is never any mention in the NT of the one to whom the price is paid, and in 20:28, this meaning is virtually assured by the use of anti (“for”). The normal force of this preposition denotes substitution, equivalence, exchange (cf. NIDNTT, 3:1179–80). “The life of Jesus, surrendered in a sacrificial death, brought about the release of forfeited lives. He acted on behalf of the many by taking their place” (ibid., 1180).

“The many” underlines the immeasurable effects of Jesus’ solitary death: the one dies, the many find their lives “ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,” a great host no man can number (cf. J. Jeremias, “Das Lösegeld für Viele,” Judaica 3 [1948]: 263). But it should be remembered that “the many” can refer, in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the rabbinic literature, to the elect community (cf. Ralph Marcus, “ ‘Mebaqqer’ and Rabbim in the Manual of Discipline vi:11–13,” JBL 75 [1956]: 298–302). This suggests Jesus’ substitutionary death is payment for and results in the eschatological people of God. This well suits “the many” of Isaiah 52:13–53:12.

3. Dependence on Isaiah 53. C. K. Barrett (“The Background of Mark 10.45,” in New Testament Essays [ed. A. J. B. Higgins; Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press, 1959], 1–18; idem, “Mark 10.45: A Ransom for Many,” in New Testament Essays [London: SPCK, 1972], 20–26), Hooker (Son of Man, 140–47), and others have argued that there is no allusion to Isaiah in Mark 10:45 and Matthew 20:28. They argue this on two grounds: linguistic and conceptual. Linguistically, they point out that the Greek verb diakoneō (“I serve,” v. 28) and its cognates are never used in the LXX to render ʿebed (“servant” of Isaiah’s “Servant Songs,” GK 6269) and its cognates. But the evidence is slight, and the conceptual parallels close—Isaiah’s Servant benefits people by his suffering, and so does Jesus. Hooker is certainly incorrect in restricting diakoneō to domestic service (cf. France, “Servant of the Lord,” 34). Both France and Moo (Old Testament in the Gospel Passion Narratives, 122–27) have also shown that “to give his life” springs from Isaiah 53:10, 12, and that lytron (“ransom”) is not as impossible a rendering of ʾās̆ām (“a guilt offering”) as some allege. The Hebrew word ʾās̆ām includes the notion of substitution, at least of an equivalent. The guilty sinner offers an ʾās̆ām to remove his own guilt; in Leviticus 5, ʾās̆ām refers to compensatory payment. Thus, though, ʾās̆ām has more sacrificial overtones than lytron, both include the idea of payment or compensation. Most scholars have also recognized in “the many” a clear reference to Isaiah (cf. esp. Dalman, Jesus-Jeshua, 171–72). The implication of the cumulative evidence is that Jesus explicitly referred to himself as Isaiah’s Suffering Servant (see comments at 26:17–30) and interpreted his own death in that light—an interpretation in which Matthew has followed his Lord (see comments at 8:17; 12:15–21).

Both Mark (10:45) and Matthew (here) tie their understanding of this verse not only to the immediate pericope but to their entire gospel narrative (see Bolt, Cross from a Distance, ch. 2).

Expositor’s Bible Commentary

April 3 – Relying on God’s Grace

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:3).

✧✧✧

Poverty of spirit is a prerequisite to salvation and to victorious Christian living.

In Luke 18:9–14 Jesus tells of two men who went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, the other a tax collector. The Pharisee boasted to God about his self-righteous efforts; the tax collector humbly acknowledged his sin. The Pharisee was proud and went away still in sin; the tax collector was poor in spirit and went away forgiven.

The Greek word translated “poor” in Matthew 5:3 was used in classical Greek to refer to those reduced to cowering in dark corners of the city streets begging for handouts. Because they had no personal resources, they were totally dependent on the gifts of others. That same word is used in Luke 16:20 to describe a “poor” man named Lazarus.

The spiritual parallel pictures those who know they are spiritually helpless and utterly destitute of any human resources that will commend them to God. They rely totally on God’s grace for salvation, and they also rely on His grace for daily living. Jesus called them happy people because they are true believers and the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.

The word translated “theirs” in Matthew 5:3 is emphatic in the Greek text: the Kingdom of Heaven definitely belongs to those who are poor in spirit. They have its grace now and will fully enjoy its glory later (1 John 3:1–2). That’s cause for great joy!

Isaiah 57:15 says, “Thus says the high and exalted One who lives forever, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.’” David added, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

Like the humble tax collector, recognize your weaknesses and rely totally on God’s resources. Then He will hear your prayers and minister to your needs. That’s where happiness begins!

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Thank God that when you come to Him in humility and contrition, He hears you and responds. ✧ Prayerfully guard your heart from the subtle influences of pride.

For Further Study: Read the following verses, noting God’s perspective on pride: Proverbs 6:16–17; 8:13; 11:2; 16:5, 18–19.[1]


Happy Are the Humble

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. (5:3)

The Beatitudes

The series of conditional blessings promised in Matthew 5:3–12 have long been called the Beatitudes, a name derived from Latin and referring to a state of happiness or bliss. Jesus presents the possibility of people being genuinely happy, and that available happiness is the opening theme of the Sermon on the Mount. Many people, including some Christians, find that hard to believe. How could a message as demanding and impossible as the Sermon on the Mount be intended to make people happy? Yet the first and greatest sermon preached by Jesus Christ begins with the resounding and repeated theme of happiness, a fitting start for the New Testament’s “good news.”

Far from being the cosmic killjoy that many accuse Him of being, God desires to save men from their tragic lostness, to give them power to obey His will, and to make them happy. In this great sermon, His Son carefully and clearly sets forth the way of blessedness for those who come to Him.

Makarios (blessed) means happy, fortunate, blissful. Homer used the word to describe a wealthy man, and Plato used it of one who is successful in business. Both Homer and Hesiod spoke of the Greek gods as being happy (makarios) within themselves, because they were unaffected by the world of men-who were subject to poverty, disease, weakness, misfortune, and death. The fullest meaning of the term, therefore, had to do with an inward contentedness that is not affected by circumstances. That is the kind of happiness God desires for His children, a state of joy and well-being that does not depend on physical, temporary circumstances (cf. Phil. 4:11–13).

The word blessed is often used of God Himself, as when David ended one of his psalms with the declaration “Blessed be God!” (Ps. 68:35). His son Solomon sang, “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders” (Ps. 72:18). Paul spoke of “the glorious gospel of the blessed God” (1 Tim. 1:11) and of Jesus Christ “who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (6:15). Blessedness is a characteristic of God, and it can be a characteristic of men only as they share in the nature of God. There is no blessedness, no perfect contentedness and joy of the sort of which Jesus speaks here, except that which comes from a personal relationship to Him, through whose “magnificent promises” we “become partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet. 1:4).

Because blessedness is fundamentally an element of the character of God, when men partake of His nature through Jesus Christ they partake of His blessedness. So it becomes clear at the very beginning of the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus is speaking of a reality that is only for believers. Others can see the kingdom standards and get a glimpse of kingdom blessings, but only those who belong to the kingdom have the promise of personally receiving and experiencing the blessings. To be blessed is not a superficial feeling of well-being based on circumstance, but a deep supernatural experience of contentedness based on the fact that one’s life is right with God. Blessedness is based on objective reality, realized in the miracle of transformation to a new and divine nature.

The Beatitudes seem paradoxical. The conditions and their corresponding blessings do not seem to match. By normal human standards such things as humility, mourning, desire for righteousness, mercy, and persecution are not the stuff of which happiness is made. To the natural man, and to the immature or carnal Christian, such happiness sounds like misery with another name. As one commentator has observed, it is much as if Jesus went into the great display window of life and changed all the price tags.

In a way, happiness is misery with another name; Jesus has changed the price tags. He teaches that misery endured for the right purpose and in the right way is the key to happiness. That basic principle summarizes the Beatitudes. The world says, “Happy are the rich, the noble, the successful, the macho, the glamorous, the popular, the famous, the aggressive.” But the message from the King does not fit the world’s standards, because His kingdom is not of this world but of heaven. His way to happiness, which is the only way to true happiness, is by a much different route.

Seneca, the first-century Roman philosopher who tutored Nero, wisely wrote, “What is more shameful than to equate the rational soul’s good with that which is irrational?” His point was that you cannot satisfy a rational, personal need with an irrational, impersonal object. External things cannot satisfy internal needs.

Yet that is exactly the philosophy of the world: things satisfy. Acquiring things brings happiness, achieving things brings meaning, doing things brings satisfaction.

Solomon, the wisest and most magnificent of ancient kings, tried the world’s way to happiness for many years. He had the royal blood of his father, David, coursing through his veins. He had vast amounts of gold and jewels and “made silver as common as stones in Jerusalem” (1 Kings 10:27). He had fleets of ships and stables filled with thousands of the finest horses. He had hundreds of wives, gathered from the most beautiful women of many lands. He ate the most sumptuous of foods on the finest of tableware in the most elegant of palaces with the most distinguished people. He was acclaimed throughout the world for his wisdom, power, and wealth. Solomon should have been immeasurably happy. Yet that king, so great and blessed by earthly standards, concluded that his life was purposeless and empty. The theme of Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s personal testimony on the human situation, is “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun?” (1:2–3).

Jesus came to announce that the tree of happiness cannot grow in a cursed earth. Earthly things cannot bring even lasting earthly happiness, much less eternal happiness. “Beware, and be on your guard against every form of greed,” Jesus warned; “for not even when one has an abundance does his life consist of his possessions” (Luke 12:15). Physical things simply cannot touch the soul, the inner person.

It should be pointed out that the opposite is also true: spiritual things cannot satisfy physical needs. When someone is hungry he needs food, not a lecture on grace. When he is hurt he needs medical attention, not moral advice. True spiritual concern for such people will express itself first of all in providing for their physical needs. “Whoever has the world’s goods, and beholds his brother in need and closes his heart against him, how does the love of God abide in him?” (1 John 3:17).

But the more common danger is trying to meet almost every need with physical things. That philosophy is as futile as it is unscriptural. When King Saul was distressed, his jewels and his army could give him no help. When King Belshazzar was having a great feast with his nobles, wives, and concubines, he suddenly saw a hand writing on the wall, “mene , mene , tekel , upharsin .” He was so terrified that his “face grew pale, and his thoughts alarmed him; and his hip joints went slack, and his knees began knocking together.” His military power, his influential allies, and his great possessions could give him no solace (Dan. 5:3–6, 25).

The great Puritan saint Thomas Watson wrote, “The things of the world will no more keep out trouble of spirit, than a paper sconce will keep out a bullet. … Worldly delights are winged. They may be compared to a flock of birds in the garden, that stay a little while, but when you come near to them they take their flight and are gone. So ‘riches make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven’ ” (The Beatitudes [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1971], p. 27). The writer of Proverbs said, “Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it. When you set your eyes on it, it is gone” (Prov. 23:4–5).

Tragically, many preachers, teachers, and writers today “who must be silenced” (Titus 1:11) are passing off worldly philosophy in the name of Christianity-claiming that faithfulness to Christ guarantees health, wealth, success, prestige, and prosperity. But Jesus taught no such thing. What He taught was nearer the opposite. He warned that physical, worldly advantages most often limit true happiness. The things of the world become fuel for pride, lust, and self-satisfaction-the enemies not only of righteousness but of happiness. “The worry of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful,” Jesus said (Matt. 13:22).

To expect happiness from the things of this world is like seeking the living among the dead, just as the women sought Christ at the garden tomb on that first Easter morning. The angels told the women, “He is not here, but He has risen” (Luke 24:6). Paul said, “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth” (Col. 3:1–2). John said, “Do not love the world, nor the things in the world. … And the world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God abides forever” (1 John 2:15, 17).

True blessedness is on a higher level than anything in the world, and it is to that level that the Sermon on the Mount takes us. Here is a completely new way of life, based on a completely new way of thinking. It is in fact based on a new way of being. The standard of righteousness, and therefore the standard of happiness, is the standard of selflessness-a standard that is completely opposite to man’s fallen impulses and unregenerate nature.

It is impossible to follow Jesus’ new way of living without having His new life within. As someone has suggested, one might as well try in our own day to fulfill Isaiah’s prophecy that in the Millennium the wolf, lamb, leopard, kid, lion, and cow will live together peaceably (Isa. 11:6–7). If we were to go to a zoo and lecture a lion on the new peaceable way he was expected to live, and then placed a lamb in the cage with him, we know exactly what would happen as soon as the lion became hungry. The lion will not lie down peaceably with the lamb until the day when the lion’s nature is changed.

It is important to remember that the Beatitudes are pronouncements, not probabilities. Jesus does not say that if men have the qualities of humility, meekness, and so on that they are more likely to be happy. Nor is happiness simply Jesus’ wish for His disciples. The Beatitudes are divine judgmental pronouncements, just as surely as are the “woes” of chapter 23. Makarios is, in fact, the opposite of ouai (woe), an interjection that connotes pain or calamity. The opposite of the blessed life is the cursed life. The blessed life is represented by the true inner righteousness of those who are humble, poor in spirit, whereas the cursed life is represented by the outward, hypocritical self-righteousness of the proud religionists (5:20).

The Beatitudes are progressive. As will be seen as each one is discussed in detail, they are not in a random or haphazard order. Each leads to the other in logical succession. Being poor in spirit reflects the right attitude we should have to our sinful condition, which then should lead us to mourn, to be meek and gentle, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful, pure in heart, and have a peacemaking spirit. A Christian who has all those qualities will be so far above the level of the world that his life will rebuke the world-which will bring persecution from the world (5:10–12) and light to the world (vv. 14–16).[2]


3 Two words and their cognates stand behind “blessed” and “blessing” in the NT. The word used in vv. 3–11 is makarios (GK 3421), which usually corresponds in the LXX to, ʾas̆rê (GK 897), a Hebrew term used almost as an interjection: “Oh the blessednesses [pl.] of.” Usually makarios describes the person who is singularly favored by God and therefore in some sense “happy”; but the word can apply to God (1 Ti 1:11; 6:15). The other word is eulogētos (GK 2329), found in the LXX primarily for Hebrew berākâ (GK 1388) and used chiefly in connection with God in both OT and NT (e.g., Mk 14:61; Lk 1:68; Ro 1:25; 2 Co 1:3). Eulogētos does not occur in Matthew; but the cognate verb appears five times (Mt 14:19; 21:9; 23:39; 25:34; 26:26), in one of which it applies to man (25:34), not God or Christ. Attempts to make makarios mean “happy” and eulogētos “blessed” (Broadus) are therefore futile. Though both appear many times, both can apply to either God or man. It is difficult not to conclude that their common factor is approval: man “blesses” God, approving and praising him; God “blesses” man, approving him in gracious condescension. Applied to man, the OT words are certainly synonymous (cf. THAT, 1:356).

As for “happy” (TEV), it will not do for the beatitudes, having been devalued in modern usage. The Greek “describes a state not of inner feeling on the part of those to whom it is applied, but of blessedness from an ideal point of view in the judgment of others” (Allen). In the eschatological setting of Matthew, “blessed” can only promise eschatological blessing (cf. NIDNTT, 1:216–17; TDNT, 4:367–70); and each particular blessing is specified by the second clause of each beatitude.

The “poor in spirit” are the ones who are “blessed.” Since Luke speaks simply of “the poor,” many have concluded that he preserves the true teaching of the historical Jesus—concern for the economically destitute—while Matthew has “spiritualized” it by adding “in spirit.” The issue is not so simple. Already in the OT, “the poor” has religious overtones. The word ptōchos (“poor”—in classical Gr., “beggar,” GK 4777) has a different force in the LXX and NT. It translates several Hebrew words, most important (in the plural) ʿanāwîm (“the poor,” the plural of GK 6705; see also GK 6714), i.e., those who because of sustained economic privation and social distress have confidence only in God (e.g., Pss 37:14; 40:17; 69:28–29, 32–33; Pr 16:19 [NIV, “the oppressed”; NASB, “the lowly”]; 29:23; Isa 61:1; cf. Pss. Sol. 5:2, 11; 10:7). Thus it joins with passages affirming God’s favor on the lowly and contrite in spirit (e.g., Isa 57:15; 66:2). This does not mean there is lack of concern for the materially poor but that poverty itself is not the chief thing (cf. the prodigal son’s “self-made” poverty). Far from conferring spiritual advantage, wealth and privilege entail great spiritual peril (see comments at 6:24; 19:23–24). Yet, though poverty is neither a blessing nor a guarantee of spiritual rewards, it can be turned to advantage if it fosters humility before God.

That this is the way to interpret v. 3 is confirmed by similar expressions in the Dead Sea Scrolls (esp. 1QM 11:9; 14:6–7; 1QS 4:3; 1QH 5:22). “Poor” and “righteous” become almost equivalent in Sirach 13:17–21; CD 19:9; 4QpPs (37) 2:8–11 (cf. Schweizer; Bonnard; Dodd, “New Testament Translation Problems I,” 307–10). These parallels do not prove literary dependence, but they do show that Matthew’s “poor in spirit” rightly interprets Luke’s “poor” (cf. Gundry, Use of the Old Testament, 69–71). In rabbinic circles, too, meekness and poverty of spirit were highly praised (cf. Felix Böhl, “Die Demut als höchste der Tugenden,” BZ 20 [1976]: 217–23).

Yet biblical balance is easy to prostitute. The emperor Julian the Apostate (AD 332–63) is reputed to have said with vicious irony that he wanted to confiscate Christians’ property so that they might all become poor and enter the kingdom of heaven. On the other hand, the wealthy too easily dismiss Jesus’ teaching about poverty here and elsewhere (see comments at 6:24) as merely attitudinal and confuse their hoarding with good stewardship. R. T. France (“God and Mammon,” 3–21) presents a fine balance in these matters.

To be poor in spirit is not to lack courage but to acknowledge spiritual bankruptcy. It confesses one’s unworthiness before God and utter dependence on him. Therefore those who interpret the Sermon on the Mount as law and not gospel—whether by H. Windisch’s historical reconstructions (The Meaning of the Sermon on the Mount [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1951] or by classical dispensationalism (cf. Carson, Sermon on the Mount, 155–57), which calls the sermon “pure law” (though it concedes that its principles have a “beautiful moral application” for the Christian)—stumble at the first sentence (cf. Stott, Message of the Sermon on the Mount, 36–38). The kingdom of heaven is not given on the basis of race (cf. 3:9), earned merits, the military zeal and prowess of Zealots, or the wealth of a Zacchaeus. It is given to the poor, the despised publicans, the prostitutes, those who are so “poor” they know they can offer nothing and do not try. They cry for mercy, and they alone are heard.

These themes recur repeatedly in Matthew and present the sermon’s ethical demands in a setting that does not treat the resulting conduct as conditions for entrance to the kingdom that people themselves can achieve. All must begin by confessing that by themselves they can achieve nothing. Fuller disclosures of the gospel in the years beyond Jesus’ earthly ministry do not change this; in the last book of the canon, an established church must likewise recognize its precarious position when it claims to be rich and fails to see its own poverty (Rev 3:14–22).

The kingdom of heaven (see comments at 3:2; 4:17) belongs to the poor in spirit. It is they who enjoy Messiah’s reign and the blessings he brings. They joyfully accept his rule and participate in the life of the kingdom (7:14). The reward in the last beatitude is the same as in the first. The literary structure, an “inclusio” or envelope, establishes that everything included within it concerns the kingdom: i.e., the blessings of the intervening beatitudes are kingdom blessings, and the beatitudes themselves are kingdom norms.

While the rewards of vv. 4–9 are future (“will be comforted,” “will inherit,” etc.), the first and last are present (“for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”). Yet one must not make too much of this, for the present tense can function as a future, and the future tense emphasizes expectation, not mere futurity. There is little doubt that here the kingdom sense is primarily future, postconsummation, made explicit in v. 12. But the present tense “envelope” (vv. 3, 10) should not be written off as insignificant or as masking an Aramaic original that did not specify present or future, for Matthew must have meant something when he chose estin (“is”) instead of estai (“will be”). The natural conclusion is that, though the full blessedness of those described in these beatitudes awaits the consummated kingdom, they already share in the kingdom’s blessedness so far as it has been inaugurated (see comments at 4:17; 8:29; 12:28; 19:29).[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 106). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 140–145). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 161–162). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 3 – PLAN OF REDEMPTION: GOD HAS NOT ABANDONED MAN

…God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.

1 TIMOTHY 3:16

For mankind, the earth has become the symbol of death and mortality, but in the very face of this, the Christian still knows for certain that God has not forgotten him. Man who was made in the image of God has not been forsaken—God promised a plan to restore that which had been made in His image.

Only that creature whom He called “man” did God make in His own image and likeness. So, when man failed and sinned and fell, God said, “I will go down now.”

God came down to visit us in the form of a man, for in Christ Jesus we have the incarnation, “God manifest in the flesh.” God Himself came down to this earthly island of man’s grief and assumed our loss and took upon Himself our demerits, and in so doing, redeemed us back unto Himself. Jesus Christ, the King of glory, the everlasting Son of the Father, in His victory over sin and death opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers!

Beyond His death and resurrection and ascension, the present work of Jesus Christ is twofold. It is to be an advocate above—a risen Saviour with high priestly office at the throne of God; and the ministry of preparing a place for His people in the house of His Father and our Father, as well.

That is what the Bible teaches. That is what the Christian church believes. It is the essence of the doctrines of the Christian church relating to atonement and salvation![1]


The Word of God is a vast, inexhaustible storehouse of spiritual truth. Out of all that truth, what is most essential for the church to uphold and proclaim? Paul gives the answer in verse 16: The message of Jesus Christ. That is the core of what we teach and preach. In Luke 24:46–47, Jesus said to the disciples, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.” That became the theme of apostolic preaching. In Acts 10:37–43 Peter said,

You yourselves know the thing which took place throughout all Judea, starting from Galilee, after the baptism which John proclaimed. You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good, and healing all who were oppressed by the devil; for God was with Him. And we are witnesses of all the things He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. And they also put Him to death by hanging Him on a cross. God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us, who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead. And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead. Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins.

Paul, too, made Jesus Christ the central theme in his preaching. To the Corinthians he wrote, “we preach Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 1:23), and, “For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). In his second epistle to them he added, “For the Son of God, Christ Jesus, who was preached among you by us—by me and Silvanus and Timothy—was not yes and no, but is yes in Him” (2 Cor. 1:19), and “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5). In Galatians 6:14 he said, “May it never be that I should boast, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” Even when Christ was preached from wrong motives, he rejoiced (Phil. 1:18).

Because Paul emphasizes the person and work of Christ in 1 Timothy (cf.. 1:1; 2:5–6; 6:15–16), that truth may well have been under attack in Ephesus. In this magnificent six-line hymn, Paul rehearses in familiar terms the central truths about Jesus Christ.

Common confession comes from homologeō, which means “to say the same thing.” This is a truth upon which everyone agrees; it is the unanimous conviction of all believers that great is the mystery of godliness. That phrase may be a parallel to the common confession of the pagan worshipers in Ephesus, “Great is Artemis [Diana] of the Ephesians!” (Acts 19:28).

As already noted, a mystery was a hidden, sacred truth that is revealed in the New Testament. The mystery of godliness parallels the “mystery of the faith” (v. 9). It refers to the great truth of salvation and righteousness through Christ, which produces godliness (eusebeia) in those who believe. It is also possible to understand the mystery of godliness as a reference to Jesus, who was the very revelation of true and perfect “godlikeness,” since He was God. Godliness, then, first refers to the incarnation and secondly to those who are saved and become the godly in Christ.

As already noted, the lines that follow are undoubtedly from an early church hymn. That is evident from its uniformity (The six verbs are all third person singular aorists), rhythm, and parallelism. The first parallel is between the flesh and the Spirit, the second between angels and nations (Men), and the third between the world and glory, or earth and heaven.

The Authorized Version opens the hymn with “God.” The earliest and best manuscripts, however, read hos (He who), not theos (“God”). (For a discussion of the textual issue see Bruce M. Metzger,A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament [New York: United Bible Societies, 1975], 641.) Although no antecedent for hos is given, the hymn can only be describing Jesus Christ, who is the purest mystery of godliness—the hidden God revealed perfectly. This marvelous hymn gives us six truths about our Lord.

First, Jesus Christ was revealed in the flesh. God became man in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Phaneroō (revealed) does not mean “to bring into existence,” or “to create,” but “to make visible.” It thus affirms Christ’s preexistence (cf.. John 8:58; 17:5). At the Incarnation, Jesus “although He existed in the form of God … emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and [was] made in the likeness of men” (Phil. 2:6–7). Our Lord Jesus Christ made the invisible God visible to human eyes (cf.. 1:17; 6:16; John 14:9; Col. 1:15; Heb. 1:3).

Flesh does not refer here to sinful, fallen human nature, as it does in Romans 7. Rather it refers merely to humanness (cf.. John 1:14; Rom. 1:3; Gal. 4:4). Jesus was “made in the likeness of men … and … found in appearance as a man” (Phil. 2:7–8). “Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same” (Heb. 2:14), and therefore “is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb. 2:11). That does not mean He was sinful, but that He was fully human. “We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

It is at precisely this point that the cults and false religions of the world deceive. Satan invariably attacks the Person of Christ, denying that He is the living, eternal God in human flesh.

Second, Jesus Christ was vindicated in the Spirit. Dikaioō (vindicated) means “to justify,” or “to declare righteous.” Though the translators decided to capitalize Spirit, making it refer to the third member of the Trinity, it could also refer to Jesus. That would mean that Jesus Christ was vindicated—declared to be righteous—with respect to His spiritual nature. This reality is why the Father said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased” (Matt. 3:17). First John 2:1 calls Him “Jesus Christ the righteous.” He was “tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15). Hebrews 5:9 relates that “having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation,” while Hebrews 7:26 describes Him as “holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens.”

Jesus Christ was a sinless sacrifice on our behalf: “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21). “How much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14)? “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth” (1 Peter 2:21–22).

Our Lord was the God-Man. In His human nature, He was fully man, in His divine nature, He was fully God.

It is also possible that the translation of Spirit in the upper case is correct and is referring to Christ’s vindication by the Holy Spirit. In Romans 1:4 Paul tells us that Jesus Christ “was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the spirit of holiness.” His resurrection by the Spirit proved His sinlessness. If He had any sin of His own, He would have stayed dead as the penalty for that sin. The affirmation of His perfect righteousness came when the Holy Spirit raised Him from the dead.

It may well be that Paul here encompasses both realities. Jesus Christ was vindicated both by His sinless life of obedience to God which declared His righteousness, and by the testimony of the Holy Spirit, who affirmed His righteousness again by raising Him from the dead.

Third, Jesus Christ was beheld by angels. Horaō (beheld means “to see,” “to visit,” “to observe,” or “to be attendant to.” Throughout our Lord’s earthly ministry, the angels observed Him, and attended to Him. They were there at His birth, announcing it to Joseph and the shepherds. They ministered to Him at His temptation, and strengthened Him in Gethsamane. At His death and resurrection, which is the focal point of this passage, angels observed Him. The fallen angels saw Him. First Peter 3:18–20 describes that event:

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit; in which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, who once were disobedient, when the patience of God kept waiting in the days of Noah.

After His death on the cross, our Lord visited the place where certain demons are kept imprisoned, and proclaimed His triumph over them (cf.. Col. 2:15).

The holy angels also were involved. An angel rolled away the stone at the door of His tomb (Matt. 28:2). Angels appeared to the women, affirming that Jesus had risen (Luke 24:4–7). Finally, two angels attended Christ’s ascension (Acts 1:10–11). Angels were involved in our Lord’s earthly life from beginning to end. That, too, signified divine approval of the incarnate Messiah.

Fourth, Jesus Christ was proclaimed among the nations. Before His ascension, He commanded the disciples to “go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matt. 28:19–20). In Acts 1:8 He told them, “you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.” There was to be no nation left without the gospel message. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the whole world (cf.. John 3:16; 4:42; 2 Cor. 5:19–20; 1 John 2:2; 4:14).

Fifth, Jesus Christ was believed on in the world. The plan of God was fulfilled as the apostles’ proclamation resulted in saving faith in many lives. At the first public preaching of the gospel after Christ’s resurrection, 3,000 people were saved (Acts 2:41). In the days that followed, thousands more believed on Him. The gospel was preached throughout Judea, then to the Samaritans, to an Ethiopian eunuch, to Cornelius the Gentile, and ultimately across the Gentile world by Paul and his associates.

Finally, Jesus Christ was taken up in glory. Acts 1:9–10 describes the event:

After He had said these things, He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was departing, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them; and they also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.”

“When He had made purification of sins,” Hebrews 1:3 says, “He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” To the Philippians Paul wrote,

Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:8–11).

Jesus’ ascension showed that the Father was pleased with Him and accepted His work.

In six short stanzas, this hymn summarizes the gospel. God became man, died for our sins, triumphed over death, was honored by angels and feared by demons, and ascended into heaven. This message was preached all over the world and many believed and were saved. That is the heart of the message it is our mission to proclaim to the world.

There once was an old church in England. A sign on the front of the building read “We preach Christ crucified.” After a time, ivy grew up and obscured the last word. The motto now read, “We preach Christ.” The ivy grew some more, and the motto read, “We preach.” Finally, ivy covered the entire sign, and the church died. Such is the fate of any church that fails to carry out its mission in the world.[2]


16 The apostle goes on to cite a confession (homologoumenōs, GK 3935; NIV, “beyond all question”; NASB, “by common confession”; cf. Josephus, Ant. 1.180: “by common consent”; 2.229: “all agree”), which he calls “the mystery of godliness.” (Regarding eusebeia [GK 2354, “godliness”], see comments at 2:2; cf. 4:7, 8; 6:3, 5–6, 11.) Most likely this confession is made up of three couplets, each linking earthly and heavenly realities (flesh/spirit; angels/nations; world/glory), apparently in the form of a chiastic structure (ab-ba-ab; contra Mounce, 217–18, following Walter Lock, who sees two stanzas of three lines each; and Marshall, 502, who postulates the later insertion of lines 4 and 5). Knight, 183, writes that “the first of the three couplets presents Christ’s work accomplished, the second his work made known,and the third his work acknowledged.”

The confession makes reference to Jesus’ incarnation (“appeared in a body”; cf. Jn 1:14) and resurrection (“vindicated by the Spirit”; cf. Ro 1:4; the phrase should probably be rendered, “vindicated in the realm of the Spirit” [cf. K. Easley, “The Pauline Usage of Pneumati as a Reference to the Spirit of God,” JETS 27 (1984): 305; NASB]). In the second couplet, Jesus was “seen by angels” (resurrection appearances?) and became the object of universal proclamation (“preached among the nations”; cf. Col 1:6, 23). Finally, the faith elicited by this proclamation (“believed on in the world”) and Jesus’ ascension and exaltation (“taken up in glory”) conclude the confession. The first and last lines serve as a framing device, with lines 2–5 filling out the confession, which on all accounts is “great” (sublime as well as important; cf. Eph 5:32).[3]


3:16 This is a difficult verse. One difficulty is in discerning just how it fits in with what has preceded. One suggestion is that here we have an epitome of the truth, of which the church is the pillar and ground (v. 15). Another is that this verse gives the example and power of godliness which Paul insists is an integral part of proper behavior in the house of God. J. N. Darby said:

This is often quoted and interpreted as if it spoke of the mystery of the Godhead, or the mystery of Christ’s Person. But it is the mystery of godliness, or the secret by which all real godliness is produced—the divine spring of all that can be called piety in man.… Godliness springs from the knowledge of the incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ.… This is how God is known; and from abiding in this flows godliness.

When Paul says that the mystery of godliness is great, he does not mean that it is very mysterious but that the previously unknown truth concerning the Person and work of the Lord Jesus is very marvelous and wonderful.

God was manifested in the flesh refers to the Lord Jesus, and particulary to His Incarnation. True godliness was manifest in the flesh for the first time when the Savior was born as a Babe in Bethlehem’s manger.

Does justified in the Spirit mean “justified in His own human spirit”? Or does it mean “justified by the Holy Spirit”? We understand it to mean the latter. He was vindicated by the Holy Spirit of God at His baptism (Matt. 3:15–17), transfiguration (Matt. 17:5), resurrection (Rom. 1:3, 4), and ascension (John 16:10).

The Lord Jesus was seen by angels at His birth, temptation, His agony in the Garden of Gethsemane, resurrection, and ascension.

From the day of Pentecost onward, He has been preached among the Gentiles. The proclamation has reached not only the Jewish people but the farthest corners of the earth.

Believed on in the world describes the fact that some from almost every tribe and nation have trusted the Lord Jesus. It does not say “believed on by the world.” Although the proclamation has been worldwide, yet its reception has been only partial.

Received up in glory is generally agreed to refer to His Ascension to heaven after the work of redemption had been completed, and to His present position there. Vincent points out that it reads “received up in (not into) glory.” It means “with attendant circumstances of pomp or majesty, as we say of a victorious general.”

Some make this list of events chronological. For instance, they say that manifested in the flesh refers to the incarnation; justified in the Spirit refers to Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection; seen by angels describes His ascension into heaven; preached among the Gentiles and believed on in the world are the events that followed His ascension; and, finally, received up in glory refers to a coming day when all His redeemed are gathered, raised from the dead, and received up with Him to glory. Then, and only then, will the mystery of godliness be complete, according to this view.

However, we see no reason that the order must be chronological. Some believe we have in this verse a fragment of an early Christian hymn. If so, it is rather similar to our gospel song “One Day”:

Living, He loved me; dying, He saved me;

Buried, He carried my sins far away;

Rising, He justified freely forever:

One day He’s coming—oh, glorious day!

Charles H. Marsh[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 1 Timothy (pp. 137–142). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 1 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 531–532). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2090–2091). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

APRIL 3 – SPIRITUAL UNANIMITY

Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren.

1 Peter 3:8

 

The Holy Spirit knew what He was doing when He moved the Apostle Peter to write to the early Christian church about the reality of being “of one mind” in their fellowship.

Peter was not asking all the brothers and sisters to settle for some kind of regulated uniformity. He was recommending a spiritual unanimity—which means that the Spirit of God making Christ real within our beings will also give us a unity in certain qualities and disposition.

Peter leaves little doubt about the fruits of genuine Christian unanimity within: “Be alike in compassion. Be alike in loving. Be alike in pity. Be alike in courtesy. Be alike in forgiving!” Then he sums it all up: “Finally, be ye all of one mind!”

God’s love shed abroad in our hearts—compassion and love which can only be found in Jesus Christ—these are the only elements of true unity among men and women today!

 

Lord, I want to pray for spiritual unity among all true believers and for spiritual harmony among all Christ-honoring churches.[1]


Having the Right Attitude

… all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; (3:8b)

Everything begins with the right attitude. Five spiritual virtues constitute this God-honoring perspective.

First, believers are to be harmonious. The compound word rendered harmonious (homophrones) literally means “same think.” Believers are to live in harmony together, maintaining a common commitment to the truth that produces an inward unity of heart with one another (cf. Rom. 12:5, 16; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12; Gal. 3:28; Phil. 2:1–5). They must not be in conflict with each other, even under severe persecution:

Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. (Phil. 1:27–28)

Jesus instructed the disciples, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34–35). In His high priestly prayer, Jesus prayed earnestly for the spiritual unity of all believers (John 17:20–23), which prayer was answered. Believers are all one in Christ (Eph. 4:4–6; cf. 1 Cor. 6:17; 8:6). This spiritual reality should be the basis for the church’s visible harmony. The early church was a model of visible oneness (Acts 2:42–47).

Sympathetic, the second factor in experiencing the fullness of Christian life, is virtually a transliteration of sumpatheis, which means “sharing the same feeling.” Christians are to be united on the truth, but also ready to sympathize with the pain of others, even of those they do not know (cf. Matt. 25:34–40; Heb. 13:3; James 1:27). Like Christ, the sympathetic high priest (Heb. 4:15), they must share in the feelings of others, in their sorrows as well as their joys (Rom. 12:15; 1 Cor. 12:26; 2 Cor. 2:3; Col. 3:12; cf. John 11:35; James 5:11). Believers must not be insensitive, indifferent, and censorious, even toward the lost in their pain of struggling anxiously with the issues of life (cf. Matt. 9:36; Luke 13:34–35; 19:41). Saints must come alongside them with empathy to declare God’s saving truth (cf. Acts 8:26–37).

Third, Peter used the term philadelphoi, translated here as brotherly. The first part of the word stems from the verb phileō, “to love,” and refers to affection among people who are closely related in some way. Those who demonstrate that affection will do so by unselfish service for one another (Acts 20:35; Rom. 14:19; 15:2; 2 Cor. 11:9; Phil. 4:14–16; 1 Thess. 5:11, 14; 3 John 6). Such service begins in the church among believers and extends out to the world.

Kindhearted translates eusplagchnoi, the root of which refers to one’s internal organs and is sometimes translated “bowels” or “intestines” (e.g., Acts 1:18). Affections and emotions have a visceral impact, hence this word signifies a powerful kind of feeling (Eph. 4:32; cf. 2 Cor. 7:15; 1 Thess. 2:8). Much like sympathetic, the expression calls for being so affected by the pain of others as to feel it deeply, following the kind of tenderhearted compassion God, through His Son, has for sinners (cf. Matt. 23:37; Luke 13:34; 19:41–42; John 11:35).

The final factor in Peter’s list for enjoying the goodness of the Christian life, humble in spirit, is actually one word in the Greek, tapeinophrones (“humble-minded”). Humility is arguably the most essential, all-encompassing virtue of the Christian life (5:5; Matt. 5:3; 18:4; Luke 14:11; 18:14; Eph. 4:1–2; Col. 3:12; James 4:6; cf. Ps. 34:2; Prov. 3:34; 15:33; 22:4). Paul used a form of this Greek word in Philippians 2:3, “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves.” Years earlier Jesus demonstrated the importance of His own example of humility when He said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matt. 11:29; cf. Phil. 2:5–8).

The joys of their lives in Christ are maximized when believers are united in truth and life with one another, peaceful in disposition, gracious toward those who need the gospel, sensitive to the pains of fallen sinners, sacrificial in loving service to all, compassionate instead of harsh, and above all humble like their Savior.[2]


8 Peter signals the conclusion of the household code admonitions with “finally, all of you.” The concluding exhortation is addressed to everyone in the community. What applies specifically to individual groups regarding respect and harmony applies to the community. The Christian ethic will exhibit unity, sympathy, brotherly affection, compassion, humility, and nonretaliation. Together these six qualities possess a corporate character that will strengthen the Christian community’s witness to society.

To be of the same mind (homophrōn, GK 3939; NIV, “live in harmony with”) is to be on guard against divisions that would hinder Christian unity. Because of the imperative of unity as witness to the world, Jesus prays, on the eve of his crucifixion, for his disciples to realize a degree of unity that he and the Father have shared in eternity (Jn 17:1–5). Jesus’ prayer is “that all of them may be one … so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17:21). The accent on Christian unity is found throughout the NT (e.g., Ac 4:32; Ro 12:4–5, 16; 1 Co 1:2, 10; 3:5–9, 21–23; 10:17; 12:4–7, 12–13; 2 Co 13:11; Eph 4:4–6; Php 1:27; 2:2; 4:2). Unity does not require uniformity; being of the same mind is not predicated on simple agreement with others. It is, however, founded on a common Lord, a common confession, and a common goal of witness to the world. No Christian can live the Christian life in isolation, but only as he or she is joined, with one mind, to other members of God’s church, living stones that together comprise one building. The church is not church if there is no inherent, manifested unity. If the readers are encountering hostility from society around them, Christian unity is no luxury; it is critical for survival.

A related attitude is that of being sympathetic (sympatheis, GK 5218). It is the essential nature of the human body to be “sympathetic” (cf. 1 Co 12:26), to which Peter calls his readers. Sympathy, as Barclay, 227, reminds us, is the opposite of self-absorption, the ability to identify with the sufferings and pains of others. To share in the sufferings of others is both the cause and effect of Christian unity. The believers’ model once again is Christ, the high priest, who sympathizes with [sympathēsai] our weaknesses (Heb 4:15). Significantly, sympathy is not merely a Christian virtue; it was also held in high esteem by Hellenistic moralists (e.g., Plutarch, Mor. 432; Strabo, Geogr. 6.3.3). Like unity, sympathy strengthens Christians in the world.

Furthermore, being “affectionate” (NIV, “love as brothers”; philadelphos, GK 5789), “compassionate” (eusplanchnos, GK 2359), and “humble” (tapeinophrones, GK 5426) all stand in direct relation to sympathy and Christian unity. Moreover, all are vital to the community’s survival in a hostile environment. Brotherly affection is also included in the catalog of virtues appearing in 1 Peter 1:5–7, where it is related to—though distinct from—love (agapē, GK 27). While the distinction should not be pressed too far, the former is a virtue valued by pagans, appearing frequently in Stoic virtue lists, for example. A practical test in any cultural context is whether the Christian will love his fellow human. Moreover, a hearty affection for one’s brothers and sisters in the community will attest to the vibrancy of the community’s faith. Philadelphia has a notably social trajectory.

The word rendered “compassionate,” eusplanchnos, vividly conveys feeling and emotion. Deriving from splanchna (GK 5073), one’s inner organs, the term by extension conveys deep, intense emotion. Its only other NT occurrence is in Ephesians 4:32, contextualized in Pauline admonitions toward tenderheartedness, though the verb form is found in the Synoptic Gospels, notably in depicting the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:33), who “took pity,” and the father of the prodigal (Lk 15:20), who on seeing his son returning home “was filled with compassion.” And it finds its fullest expression in Jesus himself (Mk 1:41), who is said by the evangelist, when approached by a leper, to have been “filled with compassion.”

Among secular Hellenistic moralists, to be “humble” was not considered a virtue, given the primacy of self-sufficiency (autarkeia, GK 894). Hence it is a peculiarly Christian ethical distinctive. The Christian ethic reorients and transforms one’s outlook. Humility springs in part from an awareness of our creatureliness and thus of our utter dependence on the Creator. But this contrast is not intended to be demeaning, provided that the creature draws on divine provision (i.e., grace). Humility that acknowledges and appropriates grace is a humility that does not humiliate; rather, it is buoyed by gratitude (cf. 1:6–9, 18–21) and results in attitudes and actions that are active rather than passive.[3]


As a Brother in Relation to the Fellowship (3:8)

That this verse deals primarily with the Christian and his relation to the fellowship seems evident from the exhortations to unity and brotherly love. The other three exhortations could have a wider application.

The word Finally does not mean that Peter is about to close his Epistle. He has been speaking to various classes of individuals such as servants, wives, and husbands. Now, as a finale, he has a word for all of you.

Let all of you be of one mind. It is not expected that Christians will see eye-to-eye on everything. That would be uniformity, not unity. The best formula is contained in the well-known expression: In fundamentals, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; in everything, love. We are to have compassion for one another. Literally, this means “to suffer with,” and the admonition is especially appropriate when given to those undergoing persecution. The advice is for all times because no age is exempt from suffering.

Love as brothers. An unknown author writes:

Providence does not ask us whom we would like to be our brethren—that is settled for us; but we are bidden to love them, irrespective of our natural predilections and tastes. You say, “That is impossible!” But remember that true love does not necessarily originate in the emotions, but in the will; it consists not in feeling but in doing; not in sentiment, but in action; not in soft words, but in noble and unselfish deeds.

Tenderhearted means having a heart sensitive to the needs and feelings of others. It refuses to turn cold, callous, or cynical in spite of abuse.

Courteous—It seems so proper that courtesy should be taught as one of the Christian virtues. Essentially it means humbly thinking of others, putting others first, and saying and doing the gracious thing. Courtesy serves others before self, jumps at opportunities to assist, and expresses prompt appreciation for kindnesses received. It is never coarse, vulgar, or rude.[4]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 187–189). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Charles, D. J. (2006). 1 Peter. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, pp. 330–331). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 2269–2270). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

April 3 – We Must Receive, Honor, and Obey the Word

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.—Matt. 5:18

To be a follower of Jesus Christ is to accept what He says about Scripture and to wholeheartedly echo Peter’s sentiment: “You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68). The privilege of knowing Christ and His Word also carries with it certain essential obligations.

First, we must receive God’s Word exactly for what it is, “the word implanted, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21). We should be completely receptive because the Word is the highest standard of truth, joy, and blessing, and it tells us of the way to salvation.

Second, we are obliged to honor the Scripture. The psalmist wrote, “How sweet are Your words to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103; cf. Jer. 15:16). The great Reformer Martin Luther did not fear his human opponents. However, when he stood in the pulpit to expound Scripture, his knees often knocked under a sense of awe and duty to honor the Word.

Third, we must obey God’s Word. The apostle Paul commanded Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). A key to genuine obedience in the Christian walk is to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within” (Col. 3:16).

ASK YOURSELF

In what ways is the Scripture honored in your home? If this is an area in your family life that has been allowed to slip, what could you begin doing right away to restore the Bible to a place of regular reflection, instruction, and prominence?[1]


Christ and the Law—Part 2: The Permanence of Scripture

For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, until all is accomplished. (5:18)

The honest Jew of Jesus’ day knew he could not fulfill all the requirements of the Mosaic law, and that he could not even keep all the traditions developed over the years by the rabbis and scribes. Many hoped the Messiah would bring God’s standards down to a level they could manage.

But as indicated in previous chapters,Jesus made it clear in His first major sermon that God’s true standard was even higher than the traditions, and that, as the Messiah, He had not come to diminish the law in the least bit, but to uphold and fulfill it in every detail.

By introducing His statement with truly I say to you, Jesus confirmed the special importance of what He was about to say. Amēn (truly) was a term of strong, intense affirmation. Jesus was saying, “I say this to you absolutely, without qualification and with the fullest authority.”

His teaching not only was absolute but was permanent. Until heaven and earth pass away represents the end of time as we know it, the end of earthly history. As God’s Word, the law would outlast the universe, which someday will cease to exist. “The present heavens and earth by His word are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men” (2 Pet. 3:7; cf. v. 10). Even the psalmist knew that “Of old Thou didst found the earth; and the heavens are the work of Thy hands. Even they will perish, but Thou dost endure; and all of them will wear out like a garment; like clothing Thou wilt change them, and they will be changed. But Thou art the same, and Thy years will not come to an end” (Ps. 102:25–26). Isaiah said, “Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment, and its inhabitants will die in like manner, but My righteousness shall not wane” (Isa. 51:6; cf. 34:4; Rev. 6:13–14).

Jesus equated His own words with the Word of God: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). What was true of the law, in its fullest meaning as the Old Testament, was also true of Jesus’ teaching. It is timeless.

It is incredibly foolish to ask, “What does the Bible, a two-thousand-year-old book, have to say to us today?” The Bible is the eternal Word of the eternal God. It “is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword” (Heb. 4:12). It has long preceded and will long outlast every person who questions its validity and relevancy.

Not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law, Jesus continued. The smallest letter translates the word iōta, the smallest letter of the Greek alphabet. To Jesus’ Jewish hearers it would have represented the yodh, the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, which looks something like an apostrophe. A stroke (keraia) literally means “little horn” and refers to the small marks that help distinguish one Hebrew letter from another. It was a small extension of a letter similar to a serif in modern typefaces.

In other words, not only will the smallest letter not be erased, but even the smallest part of a letter will not be erased from the Law. Not even the tiniest, seemingly most insignificant, part of God’s Word will be removed or modified until all is accomplished.

As discussed in the last chapter, Jesus brought to completion all the judicial and ceremonial law and certain parts of the moral law, such as Sabbath observance. But God’s basic moral law, centered in the Ten Commandments, is still every bit as valid today as when God gave it to Moses at Sinai. During His earthly ministry, death, resurrection, and ascension, Jesus fulfilled many of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Others, such as the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, would be fulfilled in later New Testament times. Still other prophecies, both of the Old and New Testaments, are yet to be fulfilled. But without the smallest exception, every commandment, every prophecy, every figure and symbol and type would be accomplished.

No other statement made by our Lord more clearly states His absolute contention that Scripture is verbally inerrant, totally without error in the original form in which God gave it. That is, Scripture is God’s own Word not only down to every single written word, but down to every letter and the smallest part of every letter.

“Fulfill” in verse 17 has the idea of completion, of filling up. Accomplished (from ginomai) has the similar meaning of becoming or taking place. Arthur Pink comments, “Everything in the Law must be fulfilled [or accomplished]: not only its prefigurations and prophecies, but its precepts and penalty: fulfilled, first, personally and vicariously, by and upon the Surety; fulfilled, second and evangelically, in and by His people; and fulfilled, third, in the doom of the wicked, who shall experience its awful curse forever and ever. Instead of Christ’s being opposed to the law of God, He came here to magnify it and render it honourable. … And rather than His teachings being subversive thereof, they confirmed and enforced it” (An Exposition of the Sermon on the Mount [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1950], p. 57).

Jesus referred to the Old Testament at least sixty-four times, and always as authoritative truth. In the course of defending His messiahship and divinity before the unbelieving Jewish leaders in the Temple, He said, “The Scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

When the Sadducees tried to trip Him up by asking which of seven successive husbands would be a woman’s husband in the resurrection, that is in heaven, He replied, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures, or the power of God” (Matt. 22:29). The question itself was foolish, He said, because its very premise was wrong, “For in the resurrection they neither marry, nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven” (v. 30). He then went on to correct the Sadducees’ view of resurrection, in which they did not believe. “But regarding the resurrection of the dead, have you not read that which was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living” (vv. 31–32).

In that confrontation with the Sadducees, Jesus’ whole argument is based on a single verb tense. In the book of Exodus, which He was here quoting, God told Moses that He is, not was, “the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob” (3:6). Hundreds of years after those patriarchs had died, the Lord was still their God. Obviously those men were still alive. God’s Word is therefore authoritative not only down to the smallest part of every letter, but also to the grammatical forms of every word. Because Scripture itself is without error, when it is believed and obeyed it will save us from error.

Over and over again, Jesus confirmed the accuracy and the authenticity of the Old Testament. He confirmed the standard of marriage that God established in the Garden of Eden (Matt. 19:4), the murder of Abel (Luke 11:51), Noah and the flood (Matt. 24:38–39), Abraham and his faith (John 8:56), Sodom, Lot, and Lot’s wife (Luke 17:29), the call of Moses (Mark 12:26), the manna from heaven (John 6:31, 58), and the bronze serpent (John 3:14).

Jesus also made clear that Scripture was given to lead men to salvation. In Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Abraham told the rich man that if his brothers, whom he hoped to save from hell, “do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16:31). In other words, they had God’s Word, which was sufficient to bring them to God and to salvation-if they would believe it.

Jesus also used Scripture in His own defense. When He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness at the outset of His ministry, Jesus countered each temptation with quotations from Deuteronomy (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10; cf. Deut. 8:3; 6:16, 13). He could have challenged the devil in the power and authority of new words spoken simply for that occasion. But in quoting the Scriptures, He testified to their divine origin and authority.

I heard a preacher once say, “The one thing I’ve learned is that when you get into the pulpit you’ve got to somehow communicate without using the Bible, because the Bible turns people off. I’ve spent a long time developing the ability to communicate to people without ever using the Bible. I started out in my ministry saying this verse says this and this verse says that, and I finally realized that wouldn’t get me anywhere. Now I say it in my own way and people will accept it.”

What that preacher said is true. Many people today are very much turned off by the Bible. But men’s being turned off by God’s Word is hardly a new phenomenon. It has been turning off unbelievers for thousands of years. Many people today, just as in Jesus’ day-and in the days of Moses and of the prophets-would much rather hear the opinions of men than the Word of God. But those opinions cannot lead them to the truth or to salvation. Opinions that do not square with Scripture will often leave men superficially contented and satisfied, but they will also leave them in darkness and sin.

Shortly after His temptation, Jesus went into the synagogue at Nazareth “on the Sabbath, and stood up to read. And the book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to Him. And He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are downtrodden, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.’ And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed upon Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing’ ” (Luke 4:16–21; cf. Isa. 61:1).

The Lord used Scripture’s authority to establish His own. When John the Baptist sent some of his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else? … Jesus answered and said to them, ‘Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matt. 11:3–5). In that reply Jesus again referred to the same passage from Isaiah which predicted the Messiah and His work.

When He cleansed the Temple on returning to Jerusalem for the last time, Jesus defended His action on the basis of Scripture. “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a robbers’ den” (Mark 11:17).

It is impossible to accept Christ’s authority without accepting Scripture’s authority, and vice versa. They stand together. To accept Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord is to accept what He taught about Scripture as binding. To be a kingdom citizen is to accept what the King says about God’s Word. To have a kingdom character and a kingdom testimony is to obey the King’s manifesto, the Scriptures. Scripture’s authority is Christ’s authority, and to obey the Lord is to obey His Word. “He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God” (John 8:47). To trust in Christ is to say of Him as Peter did, “You have words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

If the Old Testament contains any errors we must conclude one of two things about Jesus Christ. One possibility is that He was ignorant of those errors, in which case He was not omniscient and was therefore not God. The other possibility is that He knew of the errors but denied them, in which case He would have been a liar and a hypocrite, and therefore not holy God.

If not a single letter or stroke or tense of God’s Word is going to pass away, we first should receive it for what it is, “the word implanted, which is able to save [our] souls” (James 1:21). We should receive it because of the infinite majesty of the Author and His authoritative statements about it. We should receive it because of the price that God paid to get it to us, and because it is the standard of truth, joy, blessing, and salvation. And we should receive it because not to receive it brings judgment.

Second, we are called to honor God’s Word. “How sweet are Thy words to my taste!” said the psalmist, “Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Ps. 119:103). Charles Spurgeon said, “They called George Fox a Quaker. Why? Because when he spoke he would quake exceedingly through the force of the truth he so thoroughly apprehended.” He went on to say, “It were better to break stones on a road than to be a preacher, unless God had given the Holy Spirit to sustain him. The heart and soul of a man who speaks for God will know no ease, for he hears in his ears that warning admonition, ‘If the watchman warned them not, they perished, but their blood will I require at the watchman’s hands.’ Is the infallible revelation of the infallible Jehovah to be moderated, to be shaped, to be toned down to the fancies and fashions of the hour? God forbid us if we ever alter His Word.”

Martin Luther never feared men, but when he stood up to preach he often felt his knees knock together under a sense of great responsibility to be true to the Word of God.

Third, we should obey God’s Word. We should be diligent to present ourselves approved to God as workmen who do “not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15). Like Jeremiah, we should find God’s words and eat them (Jer. 15:16), and “let the word of Christ richly dwell within” us (Col. 3:16).

Fourth, we must defend God’s Word. We are to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Like Jude, we should fight for the integrity, purity, and authority of Scripture. Spurgeon said, “The everlasting gospel is worth preaching even if one stood on a burning fagot and addressed the crowds from a pulpit of flames. The truths revealed in Scripture are worth living for and they are worth dying for. I count myself thrice happy, to bear reproach for the sake of the faith. It is an honor of which I feel myself to be unworthy, and yet most truly I can say the words of our hymn, ‘Shall I to soothe the unholy throng, soften Thy truths and smooth my tongue to gain earth’s gilded toys, or flee the cross endured my God by Thee?’ ”

Finally, we live to proclaim God’s Word. Says Spurgeon again, “I cannot speak out my whole heart on this theme which is so dear to me, but I would stir you all up to be instant in season and out of season in telling out the gospel message, especially to repeat such a word as this: ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.’ Whisper it in the ear of the sick, shout it in the corner of the streets, write it on your tablet, send it forth from the press, but everywhere let this be your great motive and warrant. You preach the gospel because the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.”[2]


18 “I tell you the truth” signals that the statement to follow is of the utmost importance (see Notes). In Greek it is connected to the preceding verse by an explanatory “for” (gar): v. 18 further explains and confirms the truth of v. 17. The “jot” (KJV) has become “the smallest letter” (NIV). This is almost certainly correct, for it refers to the letter י (yôd), the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet. The “tittle” (NIV, “least stroke of a pen,” keraia, GK 3037) has been variously interpreted: it is the Hebrew letter ו (wāw) (so G. Schwarz, “ἱῶτα ἕν ἣ μία κεραία [Matthäus 5:18],” ZNW 66 [1975]: 268–69) or the small stroke that distinguishes several pairs of Hebrew letters (e.g., כ/ב; ר/ד; ך/ד) (so Filson, Lenski, Allen) or a purely ornamental stroke, a “crown” (Tasker, Schniewind, Schweizer; but cf. NIDNTT, 3:182); or it forms a hendiadys with “jot,” referring to the smallest part of the smallest letter (Lachs, “Textual Observations,” 106–8). In any event, Jesus here upholds the authority of the OT Scriptures right down to the “least stroke of a pen.” His is the highest possible view of the OT.

Verses 17–18 do not wrestle abstractly with OT authority but with the nature, extent, and duration of its validity and continuity. The nature of these has been set forth in v. 17. The reference to “jot and tittle” establishes its extent. It will not do to reduce the reference to moral law, or to the law as a whole but not necessarily its parts, or to God’s will in some general sense. “Law” almost certainly refers to the entire OT Scriptures, not just the Pentateuch or moral law (note the parallel in v. 17).

That leaves the duration of the OT’s authority. The two “until” clauses answer this. The first—“until heaven and earth disappear”—simply means “until the end of the age”: i.e., not quite “never” (contra Meier, Law and History, 61), but “never, as long as the present world order persists.” The second—“until everything is accomplished”—is more difficult. Some take it to be equivalent to the first (cf. Sand, Gesetz und die Propheten, 36–39). But it is more subtle than that. The word panta (“all things” or “everything”) has no antecedent. Contrary to Sand (p. 38), Hill, Bultmann (History of the Synoptic Tradition, 138, 405), and Grundmann, the word cannot very easily refer to all the demands of the Law that must be “accomplished,” because (1) “Law” almost certainly refers here to all Scripture and not just its commands—but even if that were not so, v. 17 has shown that even imperatival law is prophetic; (2) the word genētai (“is accomplished,” GK 1181) must here be rendered “happens,” “comes to pass” (i.e., “is accomplished” in that sense, not in the sense of obeying a law; cf. Meier, Law and History, 53–54; Banks, Jesus and the Law, 215ff.).

Hence panta (“everything”) is best understood to refer to everything in the Law considered under the Law’s prophetic function—namely, until all these things have taken place as prophesied. This is not simply pointing to the cross (Davies, Christian Origins, 60ff.), nor simply to the end of the age (Schniewind). The parallel with 24:34–35 is not that close, since in the latter case, the events are specified. Verse 18d simply means the entire divine purpose prophesied in Scripture must take place; not one jot or tittle will fail of its fulfillment. A similar point is made in 11:13. Thus the first “until” clause focuses strictly on the duration of OT authority, but the second returns to considering its nature. It reveals God’s redemptive purposes and points to their fulfillment, their “accomplishment,” in Jesus and the eschatological kingdom he is now introducing and will one day consummate (cf. Gibbs).

Meier (Law and History) ably establishes the centrality of the death and resurrection of Jesus as the pivotal event in Matthew’s presentation of salvation history. Before it Jesus’ disciples are restricted to Israel (10:5–6); after it they are to go everywhere. Similarly, the precise form of the Mosaic law may change with the crucial redemptive events to which it points. For that which prophesies is in some sense taken up in and transcended by the fulfillment of the prophecy. Meier has grasped and explained this redemptive-historical structure better than most commentators. He may, however, have gone too far in interpreting v. 18 d too narrowly as a reference to the cross and the resurrection.[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 102). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 260–266). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, pp. 177–178). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

APRIL 3 – A JOURNEY INTO GOD

The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints.

—Ephesians 1:18

The Church will come out of her doldrums when we find out that salvation is not a lightbulb only, that it is not an insurance policy against hell only, but that it is a gateway into God and that God is all that we would have and can desire. Again I quote [Lady] Julian: “I saw that God is to us everything that is good and comfortable. He is our clothing; His love wrappeth us and claspeth us and all encloseth us for His tender love, that He may never leave us, being to us all that is good.”

Christianity is a gateway into God. And then when you get into God, “with Christ in God,” then you’re on a journey into infinity, into infinitude. There is no limit and no place to stop. There isn’t just one work of grace, or a second work or a third work, and then that’s it. There are numberless experiences and spiritual epochs and crises that can take place in your life while you are journeying out into the heart of God in Christ. AOG003-004

Lord, whether we’ve been Your children for five months or fifty years, many of us are just beginning our journey through the gateway of Christianity. Open my eyes to all that You are and can be to me. Amen. [1]


Understanding the Greatness of God’s Plan

I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, (1:18)

In most modern cultures, the heart is thought of as the seat of emotions and feelings. But most ancients—Hebrews, Greeks, and many others—considered the heart (Greek kardia) to be the center of knowledge, understanding, thinking, and wisdom. The New Testament also uses it in that way. The heart was considered to be the seat of the mind and will, and it could be taught what the brain could never know. Emotions and feelings were associated with the intestines, or bowels (Greek splanchnon; cf. Acts 1:18, where the term clearly refers to physical organs, with Col. 3:12; Philem. 7, 12, 20; and 1 John 3:17, where it refers to affections and feelings).

One cause of immaturity in the church at Corinth was reliance on feelings above knowledge. Many believers were more interested in doing what felt right than in doing what God declared to be right. Paul therefore told them, “Our mouth has spoken freely to you, O Corinthians, our heart [kardia] is opened wide. You are not restrained by us, but you are restrained in your own affections [splanchnon]. Now in a like exchange—I speak as to children—open wide to us also” (2 Cor. 6:11–13). The apostle said, in effect, “I can’t take God’s truth from my mind and give it to your minds, because your emotions get in the way.” Instead of their emotions being controlled by God’s truth, their emotions distorted their understanding of His truth.

Paul therefore prays for the minds of the Ephesians to be enlightened. Emotions have a significant place in the Christian life, but they are reliable only as they are guided and controlled by God’s truth—which we come to know and understand through our minds. That is why we are to “let the word of Christ richly dwell within [us]” (Col. 3:16). When the Holy Spirit works in the believer’s mind, He enriches it to understand divine truth that is deep and profound, and then relates that truth to life—including those aspects of life that involve our emotions.

While Jesus talked with the two disciples on the Emmaus road, their hearts (that is, their minds) burned within them; but it was not until “their eyes were opened [that] they recognized Him” (Luke 24:31–32). Before the Spirit enlightened them they had the information but not the understanding; what they knew was true, but they could not in the power of their own minds grasp the meaning and significance of it.

The first thing for which Paul prays is that believers be enlightened about the greatness of God’s plan. In the most comprehensive of terms, the apostle asks that they be given understanding of the hope of His calling and the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. He prays for God to enlighten them about the magnificent truths of election, predestination, adoption, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom and insight, inheritance, and sealing and pledge of the Holy Spirit about which he has just been instructing them (vv. 3–14).

Those truths summarize God’s master plan for the redemption of mankind, His eternal plan to bring men back to Himself through His own Son, thereby making them His children. Now that they belonged to Christ by faith (v. 13), Paul’s supreme desire was for the Ephesian believers to fully’ realize what their new identity meant. “You were no afterthought of God:” he says. “God not only chose to save you, but He chose to save you eons before you existed, eons before you would have opportunity by His grace to choose Him. That is who you are!”

Until we comprehend who we truly are in Jesus Christ, it is impossible to live an obedient and fulfilling life. Only when we know who we really are can we live like who we are. Only when we come to understand how our lives are anchored in eternity can we have the right perspective and motivation for living in time. Only when we come to understand our heavenly citizenship can we live obedient and productive lives as godly citizens on earth.

It is God’s great plan that every believer one day “become conformed to the image of His Son” (Rom. 8:29). That is the hope of His calling—the eternal destiny and glory of the believer fulfilled in the coming kingdom. The fullness of that hope will be experienced when we receive the supreme riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints. It is truth too magnificent for words to describe, which is why even God’s own revelation requires the illumination of His Spirit in order for believers even to begin to understand the marvelous magnitude of the blessings of salvation that exist in the sphere of the saints.

Our being glorious children of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ of all God possesses is the consummation and end of salvation promised from eternity past and held in hope until the future manifestation of Christ. There is nothing more to seek, nothing more to be given or received. We have it all now, and we will have it throughout eternity.[2]


18 Continuing the same theme, Paul changes the metaphor to capture another component of his prayers for his readers: he prays for the enlightenment of the “eyes of [their] heart.” This captures what Paul expects the Spirit of wisdom and revelation will achieve. Unbelievers live in ignorance with darkened understanding (4:18). How tragic if believers revert to living as unbelievers do (5:8)! “Heart” (kardia, GK 2840) refers to the seat of the physical, spiritual, or mental life (cf. BDAG, 508). It represents the hub of a person’s being, the foundation of understanding and will, the center of one’s personality (see other uses at 4:18; 6:5, 22). Paul prays that God would shine a light into the command center of their lives so they would have understanding. The use of the perfect tense of the participle “enlighten” shows that Paul prays not for a moment’s insight but that they live enlightened lives. The following clauses explain the threefold content of the enlightenment for which Paul prays. The clauses should be read as parallel to each other.

Paul first wants his readers to know what is “the hope to which he has called you.” Paul used the cognate “first to hope” in v. 12 as a synonym for salvation. Employing a similar sense in 4:4, Paul refers to the readers’ being “called to one hope when you were called.” Hope represents an important concept for Paul (Ro 5:2–5; 8:24–25; 15:4, 12–13; 2 Co 1:10; 3:12; Gal 5:5; Col 1:5, 23, 27). In biblical usage, “hope” (elpis, GK 1828) always conveys the sense of confident expectation of God’s presence and saving actions, even despite the adverse realities of the current situation. In our text Paul wants the readers to know that God called them to live in hope—the confident, not tentative, expectation of God’s presence, power, and victory. Their lives should reflect this hope. “Call” (kaleō, GK 2813) and its various cognates are rich Pauline terms that in virtually all uses connect in some way to salvation (see the important article by K. L. Schmidt, TDNT 3:487–536). Jesus made a distinction between the “called” and the “chosen”; only those who responded to God’s invitation (calling) receive salvation (Mt 22:14). But for Paul all the saved are “called,” an element in the chain that culminates in glorification (Ro 8:29–30). In the act of calling people, God names them as his own (Ro 9:24–26). And that new status enables a new manner of living—in hope. Though Paul does not specify the content of the hope, its use here depicts the tension in which believers live—between the already and the not yet. They live in confident hope that what they already have in Christ will be consummated on the day of fulfillment.

Second, Paul prays that they will know the riches of God’s glorious inheritance in or among the hagioi (“saints,” “holy ones”). This supplies some insight into the content of their hope: they are assured that they belong to God, paralleling the declaration in v. 11. In v. 14 Paul spoke of our inheritance. Believers possess an awesome inheritance in heaven, where already they now sit in Christ. Now Paul asserts the reverse: God has taken possession of them as his own glorious inheritance (as he redeems his possession; v. 14). God has placed a high value on his people, and they need to live with that assurance, despite their circumstances (Bruce, 270; O’Brien, 136).

Who are these “holy ones”? Paul may be speaking of believers—“saints” (v. 1 and frequently in Paul’s writings). An intriguing alternative reflects the uses of “holy ones” to describe angels (cf. Job 5:1; 15:15; Ps 89:5, 7; many Qumran and intertestamental texts; debatably 1 Th 3:13; 2 Th 1:7, 10; Eph 3:18). Taking this view, believers will be God’s inheritance among the angels, another way of speaking of heaven. Nothing definitively disqualifies this second option, though Paul’s and the other NT writers’ predominant uses of “holy ones” probably warrant that these be seen as believers. The NT has several references to believers’ inheritance among the “saints,” clearly referring to people (e.g., Ac 20:32; 26:18). And since the “holy ones” are God’s inheritance, most likely they are his people. The readers find assurance here that they participate in God’s company of saints.[3]


1:18 We have seen that the source of spiritual illumination is God; the channel is the Holy Spirit; and the supreme subject is the full knowledge of God. Now we come to the organs of enlightenment: the eyes of your hearts (NKJV margin6) being enlightened.

This figurative expression teaches us that proper understanding of divine realities is not dependent on our having keen intellects but rather tender hearts. It is a matter of the affections as well as of the mind. God’s revelations are given to those who love Him. This opens up wonderful possibilities for every believer, because though we may not all have high I.Q.’s, we can all have loving hearts.

Next Paul specifies the three particular areas of divine knowledge which he desires for the saints:

  1. the hope of His calling
  2. the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints
  3. the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe

The hope of His calling points forward to the future; it means that eventual destiny which He had in mind for us when He called us. It includes the fact that we shall be with Christ and like Him forever. We shall be manifested to the universe as sons of God and reign with Him as His spotless Bride. We hope for this, not in the sense that there is any doubt about it, but rather because it is that aspect of our salvation which is still future and to which we look forward.

The riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints is the second tremendous vastness for believers to explore. Notice the way in which Paul stacks words upon words in order to produce the effect of immensity and grandeur:

His inheritance

His inheritance in the saints

The glory of His inheritance in the saints

The riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints

There are two possible ways of understanding this, and both are so meaningful that we present both. According to the first, the saints are His inheritance, and He looks on them as a treasure of incomparable worth. In Titus 2:14 and 1 Peter 2:9, believers are described as “His own special people.” It is certainly an exhibition of unspeakable grace that vile, unworthy sinners, saved through Christ, could ever occupy such a place in the heart of God that He would speak of them as His inheritance.

The other view is that the inheritance means all that we will inherit. In brief, it means the whole universe put under the reign of Christ, and we, His Bride, reigning with Him over it. If we really appreciate the wealth of the glory of all He has in store for us, it will spoil us for the attractions and pleasures of this world.[4]


1:18 the eyes of your heart may be enlightened. A spiritually enlightened mind is the only means of truly understanding and appreciating the hope and inheritance in Christ and of living obediently for Him.[5]


1:18 hope The Greek word used here, elpis, refers in this context to the fullness of salvation that believers will experience at Christ’s return (see Eph 1:14 and note). Paul highlights three blessings the believers can expect: hope for the future, God’s claim on them as His inheritance, and the great power of God Himself at work on their behalf.

among the saints Throughout the Bible, God sets apart people for Himself (Exod 5:1; Hos 1:10; Heb 8:10). Here, Paul again adopts language commonly used for Israel and applies it to Gentiles (see note on Eph 1:1, 4).[6]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1986). Ephesians (pp. 44–46). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Klein, W. W. (2006). Ephesians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 58–59). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1913–1914). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[5] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eph 1:18). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[6] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Eph 1:18). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.