Daily Archives: May 19, 2017

May 19, 2017 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)

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May 19, 2017 |

BLOOMBERG

Donald Trump departs Friday for his first foreign trip as president with his White House engulfed in crisis and little prospect for a break from the drama disrupting his agenda. His eight-day odyssey across the Mideast and Europe is packed with crucial sit-downs with key allies. Saudi King Salman. Pope Francis. Newly elected French president Emmanuel Macron. Yet each of those meetings will be shadowed by Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey.

Iranians began voting Friday in a presidential election that will either hand Hassan Rouhani a second term to pursue his engagement with the world economy, or see control of the nation’s top elected office lurch back to conservatives whose antagonism to the West left Iran isolated.

President Donald Trump’s top trade negotiator came out of the gate sounding like he wants to fine-tune the North American Free Trade Agreement, not blow it up as some feared.

President Donald Trump labeled Venezuela’s ongoing political and economic turmoil “a disgrace to humanity,” as the Treasury Department slapped sanctions on members of the crisis-torn country’s Supreme Court.

Two Chinese SU-30 fighter jets intercepted an American military aircraft over the East China Sea on Tuesday, according to the U.S. Air Force. “The interaction was considered unprofessional due to the maneuvers of the Chinese pilots and the speed.”

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said breaking up the biggest banks would be a “huge mistake,” easing concerns that the Trump administration plans a major revamp of Wall Street.

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange moved closer to freedom Friday after Swedish prosecutors moved to drop a rape investigation against him, leaving the door open for him to emerge from his self-imposed exile in a London embassy.

Jean-Michel Basquiat’s painting of a skull sold for $110.5 million at Sotheby’s in New York, setting an auction record for American artists and providing a windfall for the daughter of two collectors who purchased it for $19,000 in 1984.

AP Top Stories

The U.S. military carried out an air strike on Thursday against militia supported by the Syrian government who had moved against U.S.-backed fighters in the country’s south, a U.S. official told Reuters on Thursday.

President Trump is expected to announce his pick to replace fired FBI Director James Comey. According to multiple reports, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman has emerged as the leading candidate for the position.

Special counsels like the one named Wednesday to oversee the probe into Russia’s alleged election interference are rare super sleuths with more power and independence than regular American investigators. This time it is former FBI director Robert Mueller who will take over the probe into the meddling as well as whether President Donald Trump’s campaign team colluded with Moscow to tilt the election his way. The stakes are huge.

After increasing for 11 straight quarters, aggregate household debt toppled the previous peak in 2008, reaching a total of $12.73 trillion in the first three months of 2017. But a report also harbored a real cause for concern, specifically for millennials. While aggregate student loan debt only made up 11 percent of the total – compared to mortgages, with 68 percent of household debt – the average delinquency rate for student loans has shot above all other forms of debt in recent years, and stayed there, according to the Fed report.

The Guardian reported worker conditions at Tesla factories are so bad people have reportedly passed out to meet production demands while others received life-changing injuries.

After a seemingly healthy 16-year-old South Carolina boy died from drinking a series of caffeinated beverages last month, parents are being warned about the dangers of drinking excessive amounts of caffeine in popular coffee beverages and energy drinks.

Mobs looted shops and fought security forces overnight in Venezuela’s restive western region, where three soldiers were being charged on Thursday with the fatal shooting of a man who was buying diapers for his baby, witnesses said.

Carson Huey-You graduated high school at the young age of 10, started attending Texas Christian University when he was 11, and received his bachelor’s degree in physics on May 6. Carson became the youngest person ever to graduate from the university.

Two research teams have managed to create blood stem cells in the lab, with each using different techniques. Both papers detailing these efforts were published in the journal Nature.

The type of hackers who recently hijacked 300,000 computers in 150 countries with the so-called WannaCry ransomware have an inherent advantage against law enforcement agencies. “The bad guys have no rules to be governed by. The good guys have to follow a process while conducting these investigations, so [the hackers] tend to be a little ahead.”

BBC

Dozens of gay men who fled persecution in Chechnya are hoping to find safety in a handful of countries that have volunteered to help.

China has for the first time extracted gas from an ice-like substance under the South China Sea considered key to future global energy supply. Methane hydrates, also called “flammable ice”, hold vast reserves of natural gas.

Japan’s government has approved a one-off bill which, if passed, will allow Emperor Akihito to abdicate. But there is no provision under existing law for him to abdicate and be succeeded by Crown Prince Naruhito.

WND

Federal and local law enforcement officers conducted 50 simultaneous raids in the pre-dawn hours Wednesday, taking down almost two dozen “high-ranking” suspected leaders of the notoriously violent MS-13 street gang, along with numerous Mexican Mafia leaders, in what is being described as the “largest gang raid in Los Angeles history.”

Hebrew University will not play Israel’s national anthem at a graduation ceremony, saying it does not want to offend the university’s Arab students.


The Briefing 05-19-17

Political game changer? DOJ appoints former FBI Dir. Robert Mueller as special counsel in Russia probe

Roger Ailes, Fox News founder who toppled the liberal media monopoly, dies at 77

Lay off the avocado toast: Why is financial prudence a controversial message these days?

Friday Book Recommendation: “The Silk Roads: A New History of the World” by Peter Frankopan

The post The Briefing 05-19-17 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.


Top News – 5/19/2017

Major Demographic Shifts Indicate Israel Will Soon Redivide Into 12 Tribes
As Israel’s population increases, manifesting God’s promise to Abraham, the scales are tipping and very soon the majority of the world’s Jews will be living in Israel. Not only does this in itself fulfill prophecy, it will bring about the conditions that Jewish law states are the prophesied Third Inheritance of Israel, creating a new, end-of-days reality in the Holy Land.

French researchers find last-ditch cure to unlock WannaCry files
French researchers said on Friday they have found a last-chance way for technicians to save Windows files encrypted by WannaCry, racing against a deadline as the ransomware threatens to start locking up victims’ computers first infected a week ago.

Saudi Arabia ‘Strongly Supports’ Trump Policy on PA Peace, Iran Deterrence, ISIS
Prince Al-Jubeir stressed that the Kingdom supports the role of Washington in the fight against ISIS, and noted his country’s satisfaction that “President Trump was clear in calling for Iran to comply with UN resolutions.”

Feinstein Says There’s Still No Evidence of Collusion Between Trump Camp and Russia
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said she had seen no evidence of collusion between President Donald Trump’s associates and Russia during the 2016 campaign.

Israeli President: Christians Are Our brothers
Israel President Reuven Rivlin said during a meeting with church leaders in Jerusalem that Christians and Jews are “brothers.” Rivlin invited the heads of the various churches in Jerusalem to his official residence on the occasion of Easter.

White House map of Israel nixes post-67 lines
The White House on Friday published a map of Israel at the pre-1967 lines in the latest in a series of mishaps that has marred US President Donald Trump’s first visit to Israel. The 54 second video called “Photos Abroad” promotes Trump’s five stop trip in eight day. A red line set to upbeat music shows how Trump will travel from Washington to Saudi Arabia and on to Israel.

Iran’s re-engagement with the world at stake in Friday presidential vote
Iranians vote for president Friday in a contest likely to determine whether Tehran’s re-engagement with the world stalls or quickens, although whatever the outcome no change is expected to its revolutionary system of conservative clerical rule. Seeking a second term, pragmatist President Hassan Rouhani, 68, remains the narrow favorite, but hardline rivals have hammered him over his failure to boost an economy weakened by decades of sanctions.

Embassy decision coming ‘after Trump visit,’ US official says
US President Donald Trump will decide whether to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem after visiting the region next week, and based in part on what he learns on the ground, a US official told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. The official spoke on the matter one day after Bloomberg reported that Trump had already decided against the move.

UN counterterror chief: Europe faces return of ‘dangerous’ IS fighters
Europe will face an exodus of Islamic State fighters defeated in Syria and Iraq this year, more dangerous and battle hardened than previous returnees, the head of the UN Security Council’s counterterrorism agency said on Thursday. Speaking to reporters following meetings with EU officials, Jean-Paul Laborde said several European countries estimate that the rates of fighters returning from conflict zones has increased by one-third over the past year.

Chinese jets intercept US aircraft over East China Sea, US says
Two Chinese Sukhoi Su-30 jets have conducted an “unprofessional” intercept of a US aircraft, the US military said. One of the Chinese jets came as close as 150ft (45m) to the US WC-135 plane and flew upside down above it, according to US officials cited by CNN. The US says the plane was on a mission to detect radiation in international airspace over the East China Sea.

Syria condemns US-led attack on pro-Assad forces
Syria has condemned air strikes by the US-led coalition on pro-Syrian government forces near the Jordan border. Syria said the strikes killed “a number” of people, destroyed some “material” and were a “blatant attack on forces fighting terrorism”. The convoy was hit on Thursday as it neared a group of US-backed rebels and a Western special forces unit in Tanf.

Turkey says ‘pro-Kurd’ US envoy Brett McGurk should leave
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu has accused a senior US diplomat of backing Kurdish militants and said he should be sent home. He said Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the coalition against so-called Islamic State, was “definitely” supporting the YPG in Syria and the separatist PKK. The minister was in Washington with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who met US President Donald Trump.

FCC votes to overturn net neutrality rules
The US Federal Communications Commission has voted to overturn rules that force ISPs to treat all data traffic as equal. Commissioners at the agency voted two-to-one to end a “net neutrality” order enacted in 2015. Ajit Pai, head of the FCC, said the rules demanding an open internet harmed jobs and discouraged investment.

House May Need to Vote Again on GOP Obamacare Repeal Bill
House Republicans barely managed to pass their Obamacare repeal bill earlier this month, and they now face the possibility of having to vote again on their controversial health measure. House Speaker Paul Ryan hasn’t yet sent the bill to the Senate because there’s a chance that parts of it may need to be redone, depending on how the Congressional Budget Office estimates its effects.

US aircraft strikes pro-Assad forces in Syria
A U.S. aircraft conducted an airstrike Thursday on a pro-Assad regime militia convoy that appeared to be moving on a U.S. coalition training base in southeastern Syria, according to a U.S. official. A tank and several other vehicles were destroyed in the airstrike after the convoy ignored repeated warnings.

Net Neutrality Supporters Want to ‘Ban Drudge’
Alt-left advocates for net neutrality, who say they want a “free and open internet,” want to ban the Drudge Report.Members of the alt-left who have been tied to violent protests in the past picketed outside the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday in protest of Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to reverse net neutrality rules. The FCC will vote to undue the Obama era Title II rule that classified Internet service providers as utilities, subjecting them to more federal regulation.

25 ‘impeachable’ Obama scandals far more serious than Comey firing
Ex-president racked up BIG LIST of outrageous abuses of executive power

HAPPENING NOW! LGBT Curriculum And Gender Neutral Uniforms Already ADOPTED By 120 Schools Is this what we can expect to be happening in America soon? There was a time when one would think this could never come to pass….well it has, and it’s catching fire. Already now, 120 school has adopted this program. You’re not going to believe what it all entails either…

Democrats Want To Make It Harder To Remove Regulations
Trump has repealed 14 Obama regulations, and that’s too fast for Dems

Trump Under Siege: More than 60 Percent of NSC Employees Placed by Obama
A White House source estimates more than 60 percent of employees at the National Security Council are not Trump administration appointees, but career officials who were appointed to the White House from other agencies under the Obama administration. The source said there are “whole departments” at the NSC with only one Trump appointee.

We Asked These Dems Why Obama Offering Intel To Russia Was OK
House Democrats had no concerns about President Barack Obama offering to share intelligence about Syria with Russia last June because that decision “was made as a product of consultation between the president and the intelligence community,” a top Democrat said Wednesday.


NYC, San Francisco Public Libraries Host Monthly ‘Drag Queen Story Hour’ for Kids

“Who wants to be a drag queen when they grow up?”

The Associated Press released video footage from inside a Brooklyn public library as it hosts Drag Queen Story Hour for kids, something that has been scheduled every month since last fall.

The children sit around as a man who calls his alter-ego Lil’ Miss Hot Mess reads them stories and leads them in sing-alongs about drag queens.

View Shocking Video


West Coast Seismic Alert: 2 Alaskan Volcanoes Erupt As Earthquake Swarms At Mount St. Helens Raise Concerns

Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Hood are all major volcanoes that lie along the infamous “Ring of Fire” that runs down the west coast of the United States, and all of the seismic activity that has been taking place in the region has many concerned about what may happen next.  Earlier this month, I wrote about how 45 earthquakes of magnitude 2.5 or greater hit Alaska in just one 24 hour period.  This week, it is volcanic activity that is raising concerns.  The earthquake swarms at Mount St. Helens are making headlines all over the globe, and on Tuesday two major volcanoes in Alaska suddenly erupted on the exact same day(Read More…)



May 18, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — Years ago, I agreed to be interviewed for a film which was included in an exhibit for the national museum in Washington, D.C. known as the Newseum. It was on the use of anonymous sources. In the film, which is still playing, I cautioned about their use, saying that they can be inaccurate or even non-existent, and that they reduce trust in the news media…. (more)

May 18, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — A recent National Review article asked, “How Do You Keep False Information Away from the President?” Unfortunately, another article on the same site by editor Rich Lowry, a Fox News commentator, began by quoting from the Washington Post, but added the qualifier, “if true.”… (more)

May 18, 2017
NEWSMAX — The Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller Wednesday as a special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into allegations that Russia and Donald Trump’s campaign collaborated to influence the 2016 presidential election, giving Mueller sweeping powers and the authority to prosecute any crimes uncovered in the probe…. (more)


May 18, 2017
WORLDNETDAILY — Former FBI Director James Comey’s decision last year to clear Hillary Clinton of gross negligence in handling classified information was met with so much frustration within the FBI that Comey felt compelled to put out a bureau-wide memo to employees defending his actions…. (more)

May 18, 2017
GREG COROMBOS — Democrats, media figures and even some Republicans suggest President Trump’s alleged request for former FBI Director James Comey to end an investigation into fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn amounts to obstruction of justice, but a former federal prosecutor says what we know thus far does not rise to that level and is no different than Barack Obama’s efforts to exonerate Hillary Clinton…. (more)


May 18, 2017
ANDREW C. MCCARTHY — Mueller will investigate ‘any links and/or coordination’ between Russia and Donald Trump. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s appointment of Robert S. Mueller III as “special counsel” for purposes of the so-called Russia investigation underscores a point I have made through the years, whenever the subject of special prosecutors or independent counsels rears its head…. (more)


May 18, 2017
BYRON YORK — Ten months into the FBI’s investigation of the Trump-Russia affair, and four months into a bipartisan probe by the Senate Intelligence Committee, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has decided to appoint a special counsel, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to investigate the case. Here are several reasons why it is a bad move:… (more)

May 18, 2017
SUSAN FERRECHIO — Republicans are withholding their judgment on whether President Trump sought to obstruct justice by firing FBI Director James Comey until they hear directly from Comey, and are most ignoring efforts by Democrats to label Trump “guilty” until then…. (more)

May 18, 2017
BOB UNRUH — WND reported last month when Dr. James Dobson, the pioneering radio voice of Christian and family values for tens of millions through Focus on the Family and now Family Talk, called for his supporters to flood the telephones lines of two U.S. lawmakers and the secretary of defense to protest plans to impose the military draft on women…. (more)

May 17, 2017
BOB UNRUH — Only a day after the White House was put on the defensive by a Washington Post report based on a leak from an unnamed source, the New York Times joined the chorus. The Times reported Tuesday that Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey to “let go” of the investigation of Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn…. (more)


May 17, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, threatened to use his subpoena power to obtain a memo from former FBI Director James Comey that said President Trump pressured him to drop a probe into ousted national security adviser Mike Flynn…. (more)

May 17, 2017
GARTH KANT — It’s the story no one want to touch because it is so potentially explosive. And it’s the murder mystery that could throw a wrench into the narrative that Russia hacked the Democratic Party’s emails during the 2016 presidential election in order to influence the presidential election. WND made numerous inquiries to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, to the White House, Washington police and others, but received scant comment…. (more)

May 17, 2017
ALICIA POWE — A top Democratic National Committee official has contacted Washington, D.C., police and the family of murdered DNC staffer Seth Rich demanding to know why a homicide detective is examining the unsolved case, a private investigator told WND Tuesday…. (more)

May 17, 2017
GARTH KANT — On the heels of a bombshell revelation that indicated it might have been a Democratic staffer rather than the Russians who hacked the party’s emails, a top investigative reporter is even more puzzled by the FBI’s curious lack of curiosity in perhaps the prime piece of evidence…. (more)

May 17, 2017
NEWSMAX — Judge Andrew Napolitano said on Fox Business Monday that the late Justice Antonin Scalia told him “that he often thought that the court was being surveilled” roughly four or five years ago…. (more)


May 16, 2017
FOX5 DC — It has been almost a year since Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich was murdered in the nation’s capital. There have been no solid answers about why he was killed until now. Rich was shot and killed last July in Northwest D.C and police have suggested the killing in the District’s Bloomingdale neighborhood was a botched robbery. However, online conspiracy theories have tied the murder to Rich’s work at the DNC…. (more)


May 15, 2017
ART MOORE — Robert Spencer, known for his exposure of the role of Islamic theology in global jihad, says he was poisoned by a leftist in Iceland who recognized him at a restaurant after he had given a speech in the island nation’s capital…. (more)


May 15, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — The Trump administration announced a massive expansion Monday of the pro-life Mexico City Policy, issuing guidelines that will strip billions of dollars in aid from international groups that perform or promote abortion. Originally a ban covering roughly $600 million in family planning money, the Trump policy now applies to all international health care aid doled out by the U.S. government – – nearly $9 billion…. (more)


May 15, 2017
WASHINGTON TIMES — Obamacare’s small business outreach has been such a flop that the Trump administration announced Monday it was nixing part of the federal HealthCare.gov website aimed at helping those companies enroll in the health law. The companies will still be able to get tax credits to help offer plans to their employees, but won’t be able to use the website to enroll their employees…. (more)

May 15, 2017
WESLEY PRUDEN — If you’re a Democrat, lost in a restoration fantasy of taking over the Congress next year, now is the time to dream big. Reality, with its talent for smashing the fanciful, will arrive soon enough. Democratic pundits, trying to cheer up a home team that needs a lot of cheering up, have begun talking up “the wave,” a mysterious gathering storm of public opinion that sweeps everything before it into the Sea of Oblivion. Waves don’t happen often; the last one swept dozens of Democratic incumbents and others out to sea in 2010, when the Republicans gained a stunning 63 seats…. (more)

May 15, 2017
WASHINGTON EXAMINER — Petitions and boycotts against ABC are building after the network unexpectedly canceled its hit “Last Man Standing,” a move critics believe was prompted by star Tim Allen’s outspoken conservative politics and support for President Trump…. (more)

May 15, 2017
ALAN KEYES — “Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who was confirmed by a 96 to 4 vote in the Senate on April 25, wrote the letter recommending that Comey should be fired: ‘The Director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement,’ wrote Rosenstein.”… (more)


May 15, 2017
CLIFF KINCAID — Changing academia has been much more difficult than changing the media. However, there is hope: President Donald Trump has asked Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr. to head a White House task force on reforming the U.S. higher education system…. (more)

May 15, 2017
BYRON YORK — Calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the Russia-Trump affair have multiplied in the days since President Trump fired FBI director James Comey. Almost invariably, Democrats and others calling for a prosecutor say such a step is needed to “get to the bottom” of the matter…. (more)


May 15, 2017
NEWSMAX — Final score: Republicans 14, Barack Obama’s last-minute regulations, one. Congressional Republicans anxious to show voters they can get something done are hailing their reversal of more than a dozen Obama-era regulations on guns, the internet and the environment…. (more)

Mid-Day Snapshot

May 19, 2017

Impeachment: Delusional Dems Don’t Have a Case

Democrats have tried for a long time to destroy Donald Trump, and rumblings of impeachment are just the latest proof.

The Foundation

“[M]an is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account.” —Thomas Jefferson (1823)

ZeroHedge Frontrunning: May 19

  • Dollar remains weak as beating eases for global stocks (Read More); Global Stocks Edge Higher as Commodity Prices Rise (Read More)
  • Trump Mideast Trip Aims to Bolster Ties, Shift U.S. Spotlight (Read More)
  • Trump Heads Abroad With White House in Crisis (Read More)
  • Russia Probe Heats Up as Trump Tries to Limit Damage (Read More)
  • Iranians queue up to vote in fiercely-contested presidential election (Read More)
  • Iran’s Presidential Election Exposes Family Divides (Read More)
  • Saudis Turn to Trump for Cash (Read More)
  • Kremlin Grows Anxious Over Trump White House (Read More)
  • Oil heads for second week of gains as output cut extension expected (Read More)
  • Trump Aims to Balance Budget With Deep Cuts, Bullish Forecasts (Read More)
  • Full tanks and tankers: a stubborn oil glut despite OPEC cuts (Read More)
  • Uber Threatens to Fire Self-Driving Car Executive (Read More)
  • Chaffetz Will Resign, Raising Doubts About Trump Probe (Read More)
  • U.S. air strike in Syria hit ‘military point’, caused deaths: Syrian military source on state media (Read More)
  • As Allegations Swirl Around SoftBank, It Calls Them ‘Sabotage’ (Read More)
  • BofA opens debate on lowering mortgage down payments (Read More)
  • Risky and Complex U.S. Loan Wagers Are Hot in Low-Yield Asia (Read More)
  • The Giddy Messages Citi Traders Sent While Lehman Died (Read More)
  • French researchers find last-ditch cure to unlock WannaCry files (Read More)
  • Supermarkets and large chain retailers in NYC will soon be required to post calorie counts for prepared foods (Read More)
  • Americans Die When They Have to Work at Being Healthy (Read More)
  • China issues draft rules cleaning up property sales and rental market (Read More)

 This ‘n’ That

  • Hey, that’s the same way I would answer that question!
  • I used to work at J.Crew. Now you know.
  • No, just…no. Seriously, no. Never. Don’t. Men, please…don’t. I mean it. No.
  • Disciples are made and strengthened through the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
  • I wrote this research article about contemplative prayer back in 2012, but I think it’s still a helpful resource today.
  • It’s been awhile since I’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress, and I think I may pick it up again. This looks like an interesting version, but realistically, you can probably find it cheaper elsewhere.
  • I had spaghetti for dinner last night and, as often happens, I thought of this.
  • The Church and her message:

Featured Blogs


Top Headlines – 5/19/2017

Trump told Abbas he’ll be able to reach a deal within a year, says Palestinian minister

White House official: No Trump-Netanyahu-Abbas meeting planned for visit

Egypt’s Sisi: Trump vital to resolving Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Pro-Israel US right starting to feel unease with Trump

White house twitter video showing Trumps Middle East tour shows map of Israel without the Golan Heights, the West Bank, or Gaza

Religious Zionists of America: ‘If there’s anything that unites, it’s Jerusalem’

Palestinians to ask Trump for economic stimulus package

Israeli Fires on Palestinian Protesters in the West Bank, Killing One

Gazan woman charged with smuggling explosives as cancer medicine

NY court drops suit against Facebook over Palestinian incitement

ADL survey: Anti-Semitism down in France, UK, Germany

Ukraine urged to act against general who threatened to ‘destroy Jews’

Like Israeli counterparts, US spymasters ‘frustrated’ by Trump leak

Saudis Have a Red Carpet Ready for Trump, and a Steep Wish-List

US aircraft strikes pro-Assad forces in Syria

U.S. Airstrikes Hit Syrian Military Vehicles for Violating ‘De-Confliction Zone’

ISIS Video Shows New Weapons, ‘American’ Urging Attacks in U.S.

With latest airstrikes, US signals to Iran: Containment is back

Polls open in first Iran presidential vote since atomic deal

Chinese jets intercept U.S. radiation-sniffing plane, U.S. says

Flashback: Special Counsel Mueller Conspired With Radical Islamic Groups During FBI Tenure

Trump erupts on Twitter, blasts special counsel probe as outrageous ‘witch hunt’

Trump denies Comey allegations, collusion with Russia

Trump: special counsel appointment ‘hurts our country terribly’

Democratic Leaders Try to Slow Calls to Impeach Trump

We Asked These Dems Why Obama Offering Intel To Russia Was OK

25 ‘impeachable’ Obama scandals far more serious than Comey firing

Joe Lieberman emerges as Trump’s top choice for FBI director

U.S. cyber bill would shift power away from spy agency

FCC votes 2-1 to advance repeal of Obama-era internet rules

One Dead and 22 Injured as Car Rams Into Pedestrians in Times Square

Suspect in Deadly Times Square Crash Said Voices Told Him to Hurt People, Sources Say

Declassified Nuclear Data Links Space Weather To Human Activity

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Amukta Island, Alaska

5.0 magnitude earthquake hits near La Punta, Argentina

Sinabung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 29,000ft

Popocatepetl volcano in Mexico erupts to 25,000ft

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

Klyuchevskoy volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 24,000ft

Sheveluch volcano on Kamchatka, Russia erupts to 18,000ft

Turrialba volcano in Costa Rica erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Euador erupts to 13,000ft

Sakurajima volcano on Japan erupts to 10,000ft

Decades after catastrophic 1980 eruption, Mount St. Helens is ‘recharging’

Thanks to global warming, Antarctica is beginning to turn green

Lyme Disease on Rise Amid Diagnosis, Treatment Controversy

House May Be Forced to Vote Again on GOP’s Obamacare Repeal Bill

Ex-Secret Service Officer Gets 20 Years for Sexting Teens From White House

Franklin Graham: Christians under attack, should engage in politics

New Study Suggests Over 25% of Americans May Be Atheists

Mike Ratliff – Deception is rooted in unbelief

Demonic Yeast Infections – Katie Souza received a revelation that playing slot machines and video games could cause you to contract a demonic yeast infection

Calvary Chapel Pastor Brian Brodersen Now Promoting Contemplative Mysticism?

Hillsong cult announces a second church take-over in Norway

Crosspoint Church pastor suffers life-threatening injuries in hit-and-run

Actor Val Kilmer Credits Faith in Jesus, Christian Science Beliefs For Healing From Cancer

U.S. Religious Freedom Report Finds ‘Worsening’ Conditions Worldwide

Cuban Pastor Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Homeschooling His Children

US prepares for drills with TWO giant aircraft carriers on Kim Jong-un’s doorstep

Posted: 19 May 2017 06:24 AM PDT

US forces have deployed another massive aircraft carrier to the Korean peninsula to front up against tyrant Kim Jong-un. USS Ronald Reagan, which holds 4,500…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Christian Station “Pure Flix” Makes Offer for “Last Man Standing”

Posted: 19 May 2017 06:14 AM PDT

There’s a petition going around to ‘save’ Tim Allen’s ‘Last Man Standing’ program on ABC.  So far, there are a whopping 355,000 names on the list of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

CANCER FREE! Christian Musician and Actor Carman Gets a Good Report

Posted: 19 May 2017 06:07 AM PDT

Carman Licciardello’s prayers, and those of his fans, have been answered!  The famed Christian musician’s biopsy for a recently developed tumor was benign. “Yes it…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Did We Just Witness Dwayne Johnson’s ( The Rock) 2020 Presidential Campaign Launched On Tonight Show?

Posted: 19 May 2017 06:03 AM PDT

Sure, Dwayne Johnson was on The Tonight Show last night to promote the upcoming and deeply necessary Baywatch movie, but everyone in attendance knew why…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russia’s ‘Killer Satellites’ Re-Awaken

Posted: 19 May 2017 05:57 AM PDT

A trio of mysterious Russian government satellites startled space experts when, shortly after blasting into low orbit between 2013 and 2015, they began dramatically changing…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Orleans To Remove Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee on Friday

Posted: 19 May 2017 05:51 AM PDT

The city of New Orleans is set to remove its fourth and final Confederate-era monument. Unlike the first three statues, the monument to Gen. Robert…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Ransomware Is Tip Of The Iceberg: America’s Infrastructure At Risk

Posted: 19 May 2017 05:41 AM PDT

The Ransomware that began spreading across the globe on Friday is still going with more computers reportedly being affected today by new variants of the…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DECLINE OF AMERICA: Number of Atheists in US Rising at Alarming Rate

Posted: 19 May 2017 05:37 AM PDT

After signing an executive order earlier this month that seeks to relax restrictions on the political activities of tax-exempt churches, President Trump said the order…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Russian Foreign Ministry Deems US-led coalition strike against Syrian forces ‘Absolutely Unacceptable’

Posted: 19 May 2017 05:29 AM PDT

The US-led coalition strike on a pro-government convoy in Syria is unacceptable and violates the sovereignty of the country, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Activists Organizing Nationwide Impeachment Marches

Posted: 19 May 2017 05:22 AM PDT

Liberal activists are ramping up the pressure on Congress to impeach President Donald Trump.  The increased pressure comes as the White House has been hit with a series of…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

West Coast Seismic Activity Raise Concerns Of Larger Event

Posted: 19 May 2017 05:15 AM PDT

(Reported By Michael Snyder) Mount St. Helens, Mount Rainier and Mount Hood are all major volcanoes that lie along the infamous “Ring of Fire” that…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Judge allows first transgender person to sue under disability law…

Posted: 18 May 2017 08:00 PM PDT

A U.S. judge ruled on Thursday that a transgender woman could move forward with a sex discrimination lawsuit against her employer under the Americans with…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Two Chinese military aircraft intercept U.S. plane…

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:56 PM PDT

Two Chinese fighter jets intercepted a U.S. “sniffer” plane over the East China Sea, two U.S. military officials told NBC News on Thursday. The WC-135…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Orleans Mayor: Another Civil War Monument Removal Helps ‘Stand Up to Hate’

Posted: 18 May 2017 07:51 PM PDT

Upon taking down the third Civil War-era monument, New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said the process of removing four historical was necessary to “stand up…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

5 Critical Steps to Safely Handling a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Posted: 18 May 2017 05:57 PM PDT

(By Anna M. Aquino) Fairly recently I dealt with a wolf in sheep’s clothing issue that was complicated and difficult. It amazes me that as…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Routine Police Check In Minnesota Results In Men Caught with ‘Bomb-Making Devices’

Posted: 18 May 2017 05:51 PM PDT

A routine police check in Minnesota resulted in the arrest of two Muslim men on charges they were driving around with an arsenal of weapons…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Cuban Pastor Sentenced to One Year in Prison for Homeschooling His Children

Posted: 18 May 2017 05:45 PM PDT

A Cuban pastor has been sentenced to one year in prison for homeschooling his children, and his wife has been ordered to spend a year…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

ISIS Video Shows New Weapons, ‘American’ Urging Attacks in U.S.

Posted: 18 May 2017 05:41 PM PDT

ISIS has released a new video featuring a purportedly American fighter calling for attacks in the U.S. and footage of new weapons the terrorists have…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

2 Alaska Volcanoes Erupt Hours Apart

Posted: 18 May 2017 12:35 PM PDT

An eruption at Bogoslof volcano – one of two to erupt in the Aleutian Islands Tuesday – is its first after more than two months…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

UPDATE: Missouri school superintendent apologizes after commencement prayer spurs backlash

Posted: 18 May 2017 12:27 PM PDT

A Missouri schools superintendent has apologized after a prayer he recited during a commencement speech Saturday sparked criticism.  “If my behavior was offensive to anyone…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump claims he will strengthen America’s alliance with Israel

Posted: 18 May 2017 12:21 PM PDT

US President Donald Trump on Wednesday criticized the US media’s handling of his visit to Israel next week.  “There is no politician in history ……

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The One-World Marxist Government Is on the Rise

Posted: 18 May 2017 12:15 PM PDT

If the Marxist one-world government eliminates President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence is next in line. But the enemy hates him, Lt. Gen. Jerry…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Net Neutrality Supporters Want To ‘Ban DRUDGE’…

Posted: 18 May 2017 12:05 PM PDT

Alt-left advocates for net neutrality, who say they want a “free and open internet,” want to ban the Drudge Report. Members of the alt-left who…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Rubio Sponsors Senate Bill Affirming Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital

Posted: 18 May 2017 12:01 PM PDT

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and three other Republican senators sponsored a resolution recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Rubio, who introduced the Jerusalem Embassy…

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U.S. military launches fresh air strikes against pro-Assad forces in Syria

Posted: 18 May 2017 11:17 AM PDT

The U.S. military launched fresh air strikes against pro-Assad forces in Syria, officials told Fox News Thursday. The American strikes were the first against Assad…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

New Zealand in store for Mega-Quake as fault lines collide

Posted: 18 May 2017 11:13 AM PDT

New Zealand could be in store for a devastating earthquake in the coming years with two fault zones set to collide.  The Oceanic country is…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

DEVELOPING: Major severe weather outbreak across parts of the southern and central Plains

Posted: 18 May 2017 11:06 AM PDT

An outbreak of severe thunderstorms is expected across parts of the southern and central Plains Thursday afternoon (local time, May 18, 2017) and Thursday evening…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Trump Cancels Visit to Ancient Masada Site after Israel Refuses Helicopter Landing

Posted: 18 May 2017 11:02 AM PDT

President Donald Trump has canceled a planned visit and speech at the ancient mountain fortress of Masada in Israel after authorities told him that he…

Read more at End Time Headlines.

Is James Comey is Trying to ‘Take Down’ President Trump?

Posted: 18 May 2017 10:57 AM PDT

There is a perception, particularly in Washington, D.C., that former FBI Director James Comey was a man whose moral and ethical compasses were beyond reproach….

Read more at End Time Headlines.


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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Friday’s Featured Sermon: “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living”

Titus 2:1

Code: B170519

In many churches across modern evangelicalism, good doctrine has taken a back seat to good works. The emphasis has shifted away from believing the right thing to doing the right thing, with a particular focus on community works and social justice.

Often that shift is the result of legitimate critique—that professing Christians frequently fail to apply and live out their good doctrine. Today, many church leaders argue that doctrine simply does not answer the multitude of practical problems we face in this fallen world. In that sense, the emphasis on prioritizing good works over good doctrine is an overcorrection against the threat of cold orthodoxy and dead faith.

Others simply treat doctrinal disputes as long-argued issues we must ignore or circumvent to accomplish the work God has for His people. That was essentially the point Rick Warren made in a 2005 interview with the Pew Forum. He argued that we find our common ground in what we do rather than what we believe.

You’re never going to get Christians, of all their stripes and varieties, to agree on all of the different doctrinal disputes and things like that, but what I am seeing them agree on are the purposes of the church. And I find great uniformity in the fact that I see this happening all the time. Last week I spoke to 4,000 pastors at my church who came from over 100 denominations in over 50 countries. Now, that’s wide spread. We had Catholic priests, we had Pentecostal ministers, we had Lutheran bishops, we had Anglican bishops, we had Baptist preachers. They’re all there together and you know what? I’d never get them to agree on communion or baptism or a bunch of stuff like that, but I could get them to agree on what the church should be doing in the world.

Warren’s ecumenical enthusiasm for the practical work of the church is so strong it has blinded him to who constitutes the true church in the first place. And that is the danger of emphasizing, as Warren puts it, deeds, not creeds.

In spite of what Warren and others like him seem to believe, Scripture does draw a direct relationship between what we believe and how we live. In John MacArthur’s sermon “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living,” he lays out the clear biblical connection between doctrine and deeds. Moreover, he emphasizes the two in that particular order—doctrine then deeds—because good deeds are the byproduct of good doctrine, never the cause.

John also warns about the critical flipside of that truth—wrong doctrine always produces wrong conduct because “error is a communicable disease.” Good or bad, doctrine lies at the root of all behavior.

Centering on Titus 2:1 (“speak the things which are fitting for sound doctrine”), John shows the biblical pattern of sound living following on the heels of sound doctrine. He also reinforces the importance of this issue because all of us are under the gaze of this fallen world. With regard to Titus 2:8 (“that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us”) John reminds us:

Look, [unbelievers] are examining us and we want to so live that those opponents of the faith will blush in sheer embarrassment because there is no just criticism. Don’t you think that the opponents of Christianity love it when Christians scandalize the faith? Don’t they love to pick up the magazines and the newspapers and read about the fornication and the adultery and the fiscal irresponsibility and the thievery and all of the conning that goes on in the fakeries of Christianity and all of the sin and iniquity in leadership? Sure they do.

And I’ll tell you something else, the people in your little world . . . would love to see you fail significantly so they can justify their unbelief. They don’t want to see God transform your life and then rebuke them. But that’s exactly what you want to do, you want to make them red faced, you want to make them blush when they criticize because they can’t find anything to criticize. You see, the issue here is evangelism.

You live out your Christian life in your own personal mission field, and your witness is always on the line. For that reason, “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living” is a timely reminder for all Christians on how to practice what we preach.

Click here to listen to “Sound Doctrine Backed by Sound Living.”

 


Available online at: https://www.gty.org/library/blog/B170519
COPYRIGHT ©2017 Grace to You

You may reproduce this Grace to You content for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Grace to You’s Copyright Policy (http://www.gty.org/about#copyright).

Americans Worry About Moral Decline, Can’t Agree on Right and Wrong

“We are shifting very fast from a world where right and wrong didn’t change to a world where right and wrong are relative,” McConnell said. “We are not all on the same page when it comes to morality. And we haven’t reckoned with what that means.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Most older Americans say right and wrong never change. Younger Americans—not so much.

A new study from Nashville-based LifeWay Research found a significant generation gap in how Americans view morality.

More than 6 in 10 of those older than 45 say right and wrong do not change. For those 35 and younger, fewer than 4 in 10 make that claim.

That’s a huge shift between generations, said Scott McConnell, executive director of LifeWay Research. Older Americans grew up at time when ideas about morality were more stable, he says. That’s no longer true for younger Americans.

“We are shifting very fast from a world where right and wrong didn’t change to a world where right and wrong are relative,” McConnell said. “We are not all on the same page when it comes to morality. And we haven’t reckoned with what that means.”

Worries about moral decline

LifeWay’s representative survey of 1,000 Americans found most worry moral behavior is on the decline.

Researchers found 81 percent of Americans agree with the statement, “I am concerned about declining moral behavior in our nation.” Nineteen percent disagree.

Worry about morals differs across demographic lines, but remains consistently high. Most Americans older than 65 (85 percent) are concerned about declining moral behavior, as are those 18 to 24 (71 percent.)

Those with graduate degrees (72 percent) agree, as do those with a high school degree or less (85 percent). So do Christians (85 percent), those of non-Christian faiths (70 percent) and “nones”—those with no religious affiliation (72 percent).

White Americans (82 percent), African-Americans (86 percent), Hispanic Americans (73 percent) and Americans of other ethnicities (75 percent) agree as well.

Yet Americans disagree over whether morality can be legislated.

Almost two-thirds (63 percent) agree with the statement, “Implementing laws to encourage people to act morally is not effective.” Thirty-seven percent disagree.

On the other hand, fewer than half (44 percent) agree with the statement, “The fewer laws regulating moral standards, the better.” Fifty-six percent disagree.

Men (49 percent) are more likely to agree than women (39 percent). Nones (55 percent) are more likely to agree than Christians (39 percent.)

Read More

May 19, 2017: Verse of the day

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The Great Triumph

But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, “Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. (15:54–56)

Christ’s resurrection broke the power of death for those who believe in Him, and death is no longer master over them because “death no longer is master over Him” (Rom. 6:9). But death is still the enemy of man. Even for Christians it violates our dominion of God’s creation, it breaks love relationships, it disrupts families, and causes great grief in the loss of those dear to us. We no longer need fear death, but it still invades and torments us while we are mortal.

But one day, when Christ returns, the perishable that “must put on the imperishable” (v. 53) will have put on the imperishable, and the mortal that “must put on immortality” will have put on immortality. Then will come the great triumph that Isaiah predicted, when death is swallowed up in victory. The Isaiah text reads, “He [the Lord of Hosts] will swallow up death for all time” (Isa. 25:8; cf. v. 6). When the great transformation comes, the great victory will come.

The well–known commentator R. C. H. Lenski writes,

Death is not merely destroyed so that it cannot do further harm while all of the harm which it has wrought on God’s children remains. The tornado is not merely checked so that no additional homes are wrecked while those that were wrecked still lie in ruin. … Death and all of its apparent victories are undone for God’s children. What looks like a victory for death and like a defeat for us when our bodies die and decay shall be utterly reversed so that death dies in absolute defeat and our bodies live again in absolute victory (The Interpretation of St. Paul’s First and Second Epistles to the Corinthians [Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1963], pp. 744–45).

Quoting another prophet (Hos. 13:14), Paul taunts death: O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? To continue with that metaphor, Paul implies that death left its sting in Christ, as a bee leaves its stinger in its victim. Christ bore the whole of death’s sting in order that we would have to bear none of it.

To make his point, the apostle reminds his readers that the sting of death is sin. The harm in death is caused by sin; in fact, death itself is caused by sin. “Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned” (Rom. 5:12). Only where there is sin can death deal a fatal blow. Where sin has been removed death can only interrupt the earthly life and usher in the heavenly. That is what Christ has done for those who trust in Him. Our “sins are forgiven for His name’s sake” (1 John 2:12). Death is not gone, but its sting, sin, is gone. “For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:17).

It is not, of course, that Christians no longer sin, but that the sins we commit are already covered by Christ’s atoning death, so that sin’s effect is not permanently fatal. “The blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). But for those who do not believe, death’s sting tragically remains forever.

Paul continues to explain the sequence leading to death by mentioning that the power of sin is the law. God’s law reveals God’s standards, and when they are broken they reveal man’s sin. If there were no law, obviously there could be no transgression. “Where there is no law neither is there violation” (Rom. 4:15). But men die because they break that law.

What about those who do not know God’s law, who have never even heard of, much less read, His Word? Paul tells us in Romans that when “Gentiles who do not have the Law do instinctively the things of the Law, these, not having the Law, are a law to themselves, in that they show the work of the Law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternately accusing or else defending them” (2:14–15). Anyone, therefore, who goes against his conscience goes against God’s law just as surely as anyone who knowingly breaks one of the Ten Commandments. That is the reason men are doomed to die (Rom. 3:23; 6:23).

The Great Thanksgiving

But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. (15:57)

Because of Jesus’ perfect obedience to the law (Rom. 5:19) and the satisfaction He made for its victims, those who trust in Him “are not under law, but under grace,” having “been released from the Law” (Rom. 6:14; 7:6). Jesus has both fulfilled the law and fulfilled righteousness. Because His life was sinless and therefore fulfilled the law, His death conquered sin.

Paul gives thanks to the One who will give us the great transformation of our bodies and who has made the great triumph over sin and death. That which we could never do for ourselves God has done for us through our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot live sinlessly and thereby fulfill the law, nor can we remove sin once we have committed it, or remove its consequence, which is death But on our behalf Jesus Christ lived a sinless life, fulfilling the law; removed our sin by Himself paying the penalty for it, satisfying God with a perfect sacrifice; and conquered death by being raised from the dead. All of that great victory He accomplished for us and gives to us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us” (Gal. 3:13). He took our curse and our condemnation and gives us victory in their place.

How can we do anything but thank and praise God for what He has done for us? He has promised us an imperishable, glorious, powerful, and spiritual body for one that is perishable, dishonorable, weak, and natural. He promises us the heavenly in exchange for the earthly, the immortal in exchange for the mortal. We know these promises are assured because He has already given us victory over sin and death.

For Christians death has no more power (Heb. 2:14–15), because God has taken away our sin. For Christians death is but the passing of our spirits from this life to the next, the leaving of earth and going to be with Christ Paul had only one reason for wanting to remain on earth: to continue his ministry for Christ on behalf of others. But for his own benefit and joy he had but one desire: “to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better” (Phil. 1:23–24).

In Christ’s victory over death, death’s sting is removed; it is declawed, deranged, disarmed, destroyed. “And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire, … and He shall wipe away every, tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev. 20:14; 21:4).

The Great Exhortation

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (15:58)

If we really believe and if we are truly thankful that our resurrection is sure, that we will be transformed from the perishable, dishonorable, weak, natural, mortal, and earthy to the imperishable, glorious, powerful, spiritual, immortal, and heavenly—we should therefore prove our assurance and our thankfulness by being steadfast, immovable [negative] and always abounding [positive] in the work of the Lord.

Hedraios (steadfast) literally refers to being seated, and therefore to being settled and firmly situated. Ametakinētos (immovable) carries the same basic idea but with more intensity. It denotes being totally immobile and motionless. Obviously Paul is talking about our being moved away from God’s will, not to our being moved within it. Within His will we are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord. But we should not move a hairbreadth away from His will, continually being careful not to be “tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming” (Eph. 4:14).

Gordon Clark gives a helpful paraphrase of this verse: “Therefore we should mortify emotion, be steadfast, unchangeable, not erratic and scatterbrained, easily discouraged, and should multiply our good works in the knowledge that the Lord will make them profitable.”

If our confident hope in the resurrection wavers, we are sure to abandon ourselves to the ways and standards of the world. If there are no eternal ramifications or consequences of what we do in this life, the motivation for self-less service and holy living is gone.

On the other hand, when our hope in the resurrection is clear and certain we will have great motivation to be abounding in the work of the Lord. Perisseuō (abounding) carries the idea of exceeding the requirements, of overflowing or overdoing. In Ephesians 1:7–8 the word is used of God’s lavishing on us “the riches of His grace.” Because God has so abundantly overdone Himself for us who deserve nothing from Him, we should determine to overdo ourselves (if that were possible) in service to Him, to whom we owe everything.

What a word Paul gives to the countless Christians who work and pray and give and suffer as little as they can! How can we be satisfied with the trivial, insignificant, short–lived things of the world? How can we “take it easy” when so many around us are dead spiritually and so many fellow believers are in need of edification, encouragement, and help of every sort? When can a Christian say, “I’ve served my time, I’ve done my part; let others do the work now”?

Reasonable rest is important and necessary. But if we err, Paul is saying, it should be on the side of doing more work for the Lord, not less. Leisure and relaxation are two great modern idols, to which many Christians seem quite willing to bow down. In proper proportion recreation and diversions can help restore our energy and increase our effectiveness. But they also can easily become ends in themselves, demanding more and more of our attention, concern, time, and energy. More than one believer has relaxed and hobbled himself completely out of the work of the Lord.

Some of God’s most faithful and fruitful saints have lived to old age and been active and productive in His service to the end. Many others, however, have seen their lives shortened for the very reason that they were abounding, overflowing and untiring, in service to Christ. Henry Martyn, the British missionary to India and Persia, determined “to burn out for God,” which he did before he was thirty–five. David Brainerd, one of the earliest missionaries to American Indians, died before he was thirty. We know very little of Epaphroditus, except that he was a “brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier” of Paul’s who “came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life” (Phil. 2:25, 30). He became so lost in godly service that he literally became sick unto death because of it.

Until the Lord returns there are souls to reach and ministries of every sort to be accomplished. Every Christian should work uncompromisingly as the Lord has gifted and leads. Our money, time, energy, talents, gifts, bodies, minds, and spirits should be invested in nothing that does not in some way contribute to the work of the Lord. Our praise and thanksgiving must be given hands and feet. James tells us, “For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead” (James 2:26).

Our work for the Lord, if it is truly for Him and done in His power, cannot fail to accomplish what He wants accomplished. Every good work believers do in this life has eternal benefits that the Lord Himself guarantees. “Behold, I am coming quickly,” Jesus says, “and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done” (Rev. 22:12). We have God’s own promise that our toil [labor to the point of exhaustion] is not in vain in the Lord.[1]


Celebration

15:54–57

  1. But when this corruptible has put on incorruption and this mortal has put on immortality, then the saying that is written will be realized:

Death is swallowed up in victory.

  1. Where, O death, is your victory?

Where, O death, is your sting?

Verse 54a is a continuation and a verbal repetition of verse 53. By adding two time references, when and then, and changing the tense of the verb to put on to the past, Paul speaks as if a future event has already occurred. To be precise, the fulfillment of Paul’s words took place when Jesus rose from the dead. And with that resurrection, all believers know that also they will rise from the grave. This text is a vivid illustration of the constant tension in the New Testament of the now and the not yet. Through Jesus Christ, we acknowledge the reality of the resurrection, and through his promise to us we shall appropriate it at the consummation.

For the last time in this epistle, Paul quotes prophetic passages from the Old Testament Scriptures (Isa. 25:8; Hos. 13:14). He puts the fulfillment of the first prophecy in the future with these introductory words, “Then the saying that is written will be realized.” He quotes from the prophecy of Isaiah, but follows neither the Hebrew text nor the Septuagint. This is the translation of the Hebrew Scriptures: “He will swallow up death forever” (Isa. 25:8). And the Greek translation reads, “Death forcefully has swallowed [them] up.” According to the Hebrew text, the subject is God and death the object. But notice that Paul makes death the subject with the verb to swallow up in the passive. He adopts the Semitic style of writing the passive to circumvent the use of the divine name; he implies that God has eliminated death, that is, the power of death (refer to Heb. 2:14). And last, Paul changes the Hebrew translation forever to “in victory.” His wording accords with readings in other Greek translations of the Hebrew text.

“Death is swallowed up in victory.” Looking back at Jesus’ triumph over death and forward to the resurrection of all believers, Paul bursts out in jubilation. He understands the demise of life’s mortal enemy: death. Even though death continues to wield power as Christ’s last enemy (v. 26), Paul knows that God will destroy it. Death’s days are numbered.

Paul taunts death and asks mockingly: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” He borrows this second prophecy from Hosea, who writes that God will ransom the children of Israel from the grave and will deliver them from death. The prophet queries, “Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?” (Hos. 13:14). The Greek translation reads: “Where, O death, is your penalty? Where, O grave, is your sting?” Paul has changed the word penalty into “victory” to suit the flow of his presentation. And in the second question he has substituted the word death for “grave,” which in the Septuagint is Hades. But Paul never uses Hades in all his epistles. Perhaps he feared being misunderstood by those Greek readers who were acquainted with ancient mythology in which Hades was a Greek god and the underworld was called “the house of Hades.” This word, then, could not be part of Paul’s vocabulary.

A last comment on this verse. When Jesus stopped Paul on the way to Damascus, he said that it was hard for Paul to kick against the goads (Acts 26:14). Paul had to cope with the scars of these goads the rest of his life. Now Paul sees that death no longer has a goad and is, in a sense, powerless. Other scholars refer to the word sting as that of a scorpion. Both a goad and a sting strike fear into the heart of man. But those who are in Christ do not fear death with its goad or sting, for they know that Jesus indeed has conquered death. Therefore, Paul can boldly say:

  1. The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.

In a single verse Paul expresses the doctrine of sin, the law, and death. What is this sting of death? Paul answers: sin. And what is the power of sin? Paul says: the law. So, what is the relation of sin, the law, and death? Sin is the cause of death, and knowledge of sin comes through the law. In brief, the law has a causative function. It brings to light sin committed against God. It gives sin its power, that without the law is dead (Rom. 7:8). The law, which is good, arouses sinful passions (Rom. 7:5), and as such empowers sin. The law convicts and condemns the sinner to death. Thus the law is an instrument of death because the sinner is unable to fulfill its demands. John Calvin observes, “Death has no other weapon except sin, with which to wound us, since death comes from the wrath of God. But God is angry only with our sins; do away with sin then, and death will not be able to harm us any more.… It is the Law of God that gives that sting its deadly power.”

Is there no hope? Yes, in response to Paul’s cry, “Who will rescue me from this body of death,” he answers, “Thanks be to God—through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom. 7:24b–25). Paul proclaims the good news that Jesus Christ has fulfilled the law for his people.

  1. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul’s jubilation is an appropriate climax to his lengthy discourse on the resurrection. In this climax he expresses his gratitude to God for the victory obtained through Jesus Christ. The key word in this verse is the term victory, which echoes the Old Testament quotations in the previous verses (v. 54–55).

What is this victory? Jesus died because of our sins and conquered death for us by rising from the grave. Through his death, he set us free from the bondage of sin and declared us righteous before God. On the basis of his resurrection and glorification, we look forward to being like him. By faith in Christ, we share his victory over Satan, death, hell, and the grave (compare 1 John 5:4). Conclusively, our risen Lord triumphantly holds the keys of death and Hades (Rev. 1:18).

While serving Christ, Paul repeatedly faced death. Even though he knows that death is still a powerful force on earth, he is absolutely certain that Jesus Christ has conquered death. Hence, he writes “God … gives us the victory.” Paul uses the present tense; that is, God keeps on giving us the victory in Christ. We may appropriate Jesus’ triumph and rejoice in the riches of salvation that are ours.

Paul clearly states that God gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. He notes first the work that Christ performed to set us free; next, he identifies Jesus as our Lord. We acknowledge him as our Lord and in gratitude serve him without distraction by doing his will. Christ is our victorious Lord and we are his grateful servants.[2]


15:55 This verse may well be a taunt song which believers sing as they rise to meet the Lord in the air. It is as if they mock Death because for them it has lost its sting. They also mock Hades because for them it has lost the battle to keep them as its own. Death holds no terror for them because they know their sins have been forgiven and they stand before God in all the acceptability of His beloved Son.

15:56 Death would have no sting for anyone if it were not for sin. It is the consciousness of sins unconfessed and unforgiven that makes men afraid to die. If we know our sins are forgiven, we can face death with confidence. If, on the other hand, sin is on the conscience, death is terrible—the beginning of eternal punishment.

The strength of sin is the law, that is, the law condemns the sinner. It pronounces the doom of all who have failed to obey God’s holy precepts. It has been well said that if there were no sin, there would be no death. And if there were no law, there would be no condemnation.

The throne of death rests on two bases: sin, which calls for condemnation, and the law which pronounces it. Consequently, it is on these two powers that the work of the Deliverer bore.

15:57 Through faith in Him, we have victory over death and the grave. Death is robbed of its sting. It is a known fact that when certain insects sting a person, they leave their stinger imbedded in the person’s flesh, and being thus robbed of their “sting,” they die. In a very real sense death stung itself to death at the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, and now the King of Terrors is robbed of his terror as far as the believer is concerned.[3]


55 Because God’s last word is resurrection, glorified and imperishable bodies, and the abolishment of death, Paul cries out in the words of Hosea, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?” (cf. Hos 13:14). Right now death does have a sting. Right now it appears as though death does have the victory, for there is not a single human being alive who will escape death if the Lord tarries. But what appears to be victory for “the angel of the Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon” (Rev 9:11), will ultimately end in his defeat, for death itself will be vanquished along with its angel (20:10, 14–15).

56 Paul digresses before he writes his grand conclusion. He wants to identify more closely what the “sting” (kentron, GK 3034) is that will be conquered through the resurrection. That sting is “sin.” As Paul wrote in Romans 5:12, death entered into the human world as a result of Adam’s sin. Otherwise put, “the wages of sin is death” (Ro 6:23). But when Christ offered himself as a sacrifice for sin on the cross, died, and then rose again as the firstfruits (1 Co 15:20–23), the power of that sting was gone. Death remains an enemy, of course, but only temporarily. When the resurrection of the body occurs, the sting will be gone permanently (v. 26).

Paul follows this phrase up with one more teaser, which reflects a lifetime of theological thinking about the relationship of sin and the law: “The power of sin is the law.” According to Paul’s thinking in Romans, the law (though in itself holy, righteous, and good, Ro 7:12) generates in us a knowledge of sin (3:20; 5:13; 7:7). In fact, the law can even increase our sin (5:20), perhaps by provoking us to do precisely what it forbids. But Christ, through his sacrifice on the cross, “redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Gal 3:13).

57 Thus, not only has the sting of death (sin) been removed, but also the power of sin (the law) has lost its grip—all through the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is the message that Paul triumphs in v. 57: “Thanks be to God,” who has given us the victory through what he accomplished in Jesus Christ. It is Christ, and Christ alone, who has achieved the victory.[4]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (pp. 444–448). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the First Epistle to the Corinthians (Vol. 18, pp. 584–586). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1811). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Verbrugge, V. D. (2008). 1 Corinthians. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, pp. 404–405). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

May 19 – Searching for Truth (Bartholomew)

The twelve apostles included “Bartholomew [Nathanael]” (Matt. 10:3).

✧✧✧

God knows your heart and will honor your search for truth.

Despite Nathanael’s prejudice, Jesus knew he was an honest, sincere Jewish believer in whom there was no religious hypocrisy or deceit (John 1:47). He truly sought after God and looked forward to the Messiah’s coming.

Most of the Jewish people of Jesus’ day believed that every circumcised descendant of Abraham was a true Jew and a beneficiary of the Abrahamic Covenant. But in Romans 2:28–29 Paul explains that salvation is an issue of the heart, not of national origin: “He is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart.” Nathanael was such a man.

He was shocked when Jesus described him as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile” (John 1:47) because they had never met before. He was equally shocked when Jesus said He saw him under a fig tree because Jesus was nowhere near that tree. Nathanael immediately realized that Jesus was omniscient—He knew everything! That’s why he exclaimed, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (v. 49). He had found the Messiah for whom he had searched so long!

The Lord’s mention of the fig tree is significant. In that region fig trees were commonly used as a source of shade and outdoor shelter. Many of the houses in Palestine had only one room, so fig trees became a place to be alone for prayer and meditation on the Scriptures. Quite possibly Nathanael was under the fig tree searching the Scriptures and communing with God when Jesus saw his open heart and his desire to find the Messiah. Jesus personally answered Nathanael’s prayer.

When Jesus looks into your heart, does He see a true believer in whom there is no hypocrisy? Nathanael wasn’t perfect, but he loved God and was a diligent student of the Word. And the Lord did great things through him. I pray that is true of you as well.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Ask the Spirit to reveal and deal with any hypocrisy you might be harboring. ✧ Ask God to increase your desire and capacity to know and love Him.

For Further Study: Memorize Romans 12:1–2 as a defense against hypocrisy.[1]


The Master’s Men—Part 3: Philip, Bartholomew (Nathanael)

(10:3a)

14

Philip and Bartholomew; (10:3a)

The second group of four disciples begins with Philip, as it does in the other listings (Mark 3:18; Luke 6:14; Acts 1:13), probably indicating he was its leader. This Philip is not to be confused with the deacon who became a prominent evangelist in the early days of the church (see Acts 6:5; 8:4–13, 26–40).

All of the twelve were Jews, but many used both Greek and Jewish names. It is not known what this disciple’s Jewish name was, because Philip (a Greek name meaning “lover of homes”) is the only name used of him in the New Testament. It was possibly due to his name that the Greeks who wanted to see Jesus came to Philip first (John 12:20–21).

Philip’s hometown was the northern Galilee town of Bethsaida, where Peter and Andrew also lived. Because they were all God-fearing Jews and probably were all fishermen (see John 21:2–3), it seems certain that Peter, Andrew, Philip and Bartholomew not only were acquaintances but were close friends even before Jesus called them.

As with Andrew, the first three gospels make no mention of Philip except in listings of the apostles, and all that is revealed about him is found in the fourth gospel.

It can be surmised from John’s account that Philip was already a devout man. The day after Jesus called Peter and Andrew, “He purposed to go forth into Galilee, and He found Philip, and Jesus said to him, ‘Follow Me’ ” (John 1:43). Although John, Andrew, and Peter had taken up with Jesus as soon as they realized He was the Messiah (vv. 35–42), Philip was the first person to whom the Lord expressly said, “Follow Me.”

God had already given Philip a seeking heart. Salvation is always on the sovereign Lord’s initiative, and no one comes to Jesus Christ unless God the Father draws him (John 6:44, 65). But God planted the desire in Philip’s heart to find the Messiah even before Jesus called him. Philip therefore said to Nathanael (or Bartholomew), “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph” (1:45). From the perspective of divine sovereignty, the Lord found Philip, but from the perspective of human understanding and volition, Philip had found the Lord. Both the divine and human wills will be in accord when salvation takes place. Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10), and it is those who truly seek Him who find Him (Luke 7:7–8; cf. Jer. 29:13). God seeks and finds the hearts of those who genuinely seek Him.

From his comments to Nathanael, it seems that Philip must have been diligently studying the Scriptures to learn God’s will and plan. God’s promised Messiah was central on his mind, and when he was introduced to the Messiah, he immediately acknowledged and accepted Him. Using His written Word, God had prepared Philip’s heart. From the scriptural record we know of no human agent who was instrumental in Philip’s calling or commitment. Jesus simply walked up to Him and said, “Follow Me.” Philip’s heart and eyes and ears were spiritually attuned, and when he heard Jesus’ call he knew it was from God. We can only imagine the excitement and joy that filled his soul at that moment.

The genuineness of Philip’s faith is seen not only in the fact the he immediately recognized and accepted the Messiah but in the reality that he also promptly began to serve Christ by telling others of Him. As soon as Jesus called him, Philip found Nathanael and told him he had found the Messiah.

One of the certain marks of genuine conversion is the desire to tell others of the Savior. The new believer who is baptized as a public testimony of his new relationship to Jesus Christ often has a spontaneous desire to use that occasion to witness for the Lord. The believer who has not left his first love for the Lord inevitably has a loving desire to witness to those who do not know Him.

Because Philip already cared about his friend Nathanael, it was natural to communicate to him the most profound and joyous discovery of his life. In every listing of the twelve, Philip and Nathanael are together, and it is likely they had been close friends for many years before they met Jesus.

Second, we learn from John’s gospel that Philip had a practical, analytical mind. When Jesus faced the great crowd of people who had followed Him to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, He knew they were tired and hungry and that few of them had made provision for eating. He therefore “said to Philip, ‘Where are we to buy bread, that these may eat?’ ” (John 6:5). Philip had seen Jesus perform many miracles, including the turning of water into wine (John 2:1–11), but at this time his only thoughts were of the practical problems involved in Jesus’ suggestion. In addition to the 5,000 men (6:10), it is not unrealistic to assume that there were an equal number of women and several times that many children.

Judging from Philip’s response, it may have been that he was normally in charge of getting food for Jesus and his fellow disciples, just as Judas was in charge of the group’s money. He therefore would have known how much food they usually ate and how much it cost. But Jesus had a special purpose in asking Philip about the food. “And this He was saying to test him; for He Himself! knew what He was intending to do” (v. 6). If Jesus had asked about buying food only for the thirteen men in their own group, the answer would have been simple and practical, and Philip could quickly have given the answer. But he should have realized that, in His asking about feeding the entire multitude, Jesus’ question went far beyond the practical and implied the impossible.

But Philip took the question at its practical face value and immediately began to calculate an answer based on his own experience. Making a rough estimate, he concluded that “two hundred denarii worth of bread is not sufficient for them, for everyone to receive a little” (v. 7). A denarii represented the daily wage of an average Palestinian worker, and even if two hundred of them were collacted from the crowd or taken from the disciples’ treasury, that amount could not buy enough bread even to give the multitude a snack.

Philip’s response was sincere, but it revealed a lack of consideration for Jesus’ supernatural provision. He was face to face with the Son of God, but he could see no further than the practical, physical dilemma. There was no prospect of a solution from the human standpoint, and that is all he considered. He was so engrossed in the material situation that he completely lost sight of God’s power.

It has been noted that the supreme essential of a great leader is a sense of the possible. Like most people, however-including perhaps most believers-Philip only had a sense of the impossible. He did not yet understand that “with God all things are possible” (Matt. 19:26; cf. Mark 9:23).

It would seem that, after having seen Jesus perform so many miracles, Philip’s immediate response would have been, “Lord, You made the water into wine, stilled the storm, and have healed every kind of disease. Why bother trying to buy so much food when all You have to do is say the word and create the food necessary to feed all these people?”

Philip failed Jesus’ test of faith because he was too taken up with his own understanding and abilities. He was methodical and full of practical common sense; but those virtues, helpful as they often are, can be an obstacle to the immeasurably greater virtue of trusting God for what is impractical. Facts and figures are a poor substitute for faith.

Third, we learn from John’s gospel that Philip was not forceful and was inclined to be indecisive. Although he was not a member of the inner circle, Philip had access to Jesus on his own. But when “certain Greeks among those who were going up to worship at the feast … came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida of Galilee, and began to ask him, saying, ‘Sir, we wish to see Jesus,’ ” Philip decided to take them first to Andrew (12:20–22).

Philip knew that Jesus healed the Gentile centurion’s servant and accepted the half-Gentile Samaritans who came to Him for salvation, yet he seems to have been uncertain about whether it was proper to introduce these Gentiles to the Lord. He may have been thinking of the temporary instruction Jesus gave when He first sent the disciples out on their own: “Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5–6). Natural Jewish prejudice made that an easy command to obey, and Philip may have thought the restriction was still in effect. But he did not ignore the Greeks’ request and at least made the effort to consult Andrew.

Fourth, we discover from John’s gospel that Philip lacked spiritual perception This deficiency was evident in his failing Jesus’ test in regard to feeding the multitude, and it was even more pronounced when, almost three years later, he said to Jesus at the Last Supper, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us” (John 14:8). It must have grieved Jesus deeply to hear such a question, and He replied, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how do you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; otherwise believe on account of the works themselves” (vv. 9–11).

After three years of learning at Jesus’ feet, Philip’s spiritual perception still seemed almost nil. Neither Jesus’ words nor His works had brought Philip to the understanding that Jesus and His Father were one. After gazing for three years into the only face of God men will ever see, he still did not comprehend who he was seeing. He had missed the main truth of Jesus’ teaching, that He was God incarnate.

Yet the Lord used that man of limited vision and trust. Philip was slow to understand and slow to trust. He was more at home with physical facts than with spiritual truth. Yet, along with the other apostles, Jesus assured him of a throne from which he would judge the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28) Philip was pessimistic, insecure, analytical, and slow to learn; but tradition tells us that he ultimately gave his life as a martyr for the Lord he so often disappointed and who so patiently taught and retaught him. It is reported that he was stripped naked, hung upside down by his feet, and pierced with sharp stakes in his ankles and thighs, causing him slowly to bleed to death. He is said to have asked not to be shrouded with linen after he was dead, because he felt unworthy to be buried as was his Lord.

Bartholomew (Nathanael)

Bartholomew means “son [Aramaic, bar] of Tolmai.” He was much different from Philip, his close friend and companion with whom he is always paired in the New testament. The first three gospels refer to him only as Bartholomew but John always as Nathanael, which may have been his first name. The short account of John 1:45–51 is the only place this apostle is mentioned in the New Testament outside the four listings of the twelve.

Bartholomew came from Cana of Galilee and was brought to the Lord by his friend Philip. As soon as Philip discovered Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, he “found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph’ ” (John 1:45).

Philip’s words imply that, like himself, Nathanael was a student of Scripture, a seeker after divine truth and well acquainted with the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament. A further implication seems to be that these two men were partners in Scripture study, having examined the Old Testament together for many years. In any case, it is clear from Philip’s statement that he knew Nathanael would immediately know whom he was talking about. They both hungered for God’s truth and earnestly sought the coming of the anticipated Messiah.

But Nathanael was affected by prejudice. Instead of judging Jesus by what He said and did, Nathanael stumbled over the fact that He was from Nazareth, a town with a notably unsavory reputation. It was an unrefined, rowdy place that hosted many foreign travelers. Nathanael’s question, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (v. 46), was probably a common expression of derision among the Jews of Galilee.

Prejudice is an unwarranted generalization based on feelings of superiority, and it can be a powerful obstacle to the truth. Herbert Lockyer points out that in his allegory The Holy War, John Bunyan depicts Christ (called Emmanuel) invading and holding the life of a person (represented as the town Mansoul). During the course of the siege on Mansoul, Emmanuel’s forces attack Eargate. But Diabolus (Satan) sets up a formidable guard called “Old Mr. Prejudice, an angry and ill-conditioned fellow who has under his power sixty deaf men” (All the Apostles of the Bible [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1972], p. 60).

The nature of prejudice is to turn a deaf ear and a blind eye to any truth that does not fit its preconceived and cherished ideas. Consequently, it is a common and powerful weapon of Satan By appealing to various prejudices he often succeeds in getting a person to reject the gospel even before learning what it is really about. The prejudices of their man-made traditions blinded many Jews to the true teaching of their Scriptures and thereby led them to reject Jesus as the Messiah-despite His clear demonstrations of divine power and fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy.

Fortunately, Nathanael’s prejudice was tempered by his genuine desire to know God’s truth. He agreed to Philip’s suggestion (“Come and see”) and went to meet Jesus for himself (v. 46b-47a).

From the mouth of Jesus we learn still other characteristics of Nathanael. As Nathanael approached, Jesus said, “Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!” (v. 47b). Alēthōs (“indeed”) was a word of strong affirmation by which Jesus declared Nathanael to be the kind of man God intended His chosen people to be. He was a Jew in the truest spiritual sense, “a Jew who is one inwardly, … [whose] praise is not from men, but from God” (Rom. 2:29). He was not merely a physical descendant of Abraham but, more important, a Jew in the true covenant with God, a spiritual descendant, a child of promise (see Rom. 9:6–8).

Not only was Nathanael a genuine, spiritualual but he was, by the Lord’s own testimony, a man “in whom is no guile!” (John 1:47c). He was a genuine Jew and a genuine person. He had no deceit or duplicity, no hypocrisy or phoniness. That characteristic alone set him far apart from most of his countrymen, especially the self-righteous and hypocritical scribes and Pharisees, whose very names Jesus used as synonyms for religious and moral hypocrisy (Matt. 23:13–15, 23, 25, 27).

Nathanael had reflected the common prejudice of the time, but his heart was right and won out over his head. His prejudice was not strong and it quickly withered in the light of truth. What an astoundingly wonderful commendation to be described by the Lord Himself as “an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!”

Nathanael’s response to Jesus’ commendation reflected its appropriateness. He did not swell up with pride at the compliment but wondered how Jesus could speak with such certainty about the inner life of a person He had never met. “How do You know me?” he asked (John 1:48). “How do You know what I am really like on the inside?” he was asking. “How do You know that I truly seek to follow God and that my life is not hypocritical?” Because of his genuine humility, Nathanael may have been inclined to doubt Jesus’ judgment and think His comments were mere flattery.

But Jesus’ next words removed any doubts Nathanael may have had. When Jesus said, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,” Nathanael knew he stood in the presence of omniscience He declared, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel” (vv. 48b-49).

Because fig trees of that region could become quite large, they were often planted near a house to provide shade, comfort, and a place of retreat from household activities. Nathanael must have been meditating and praying in the shade of such a tree before Philip came to him.

In any case, Jesus not only saw where Nathanael was sitting but knew what he was thinking. “I saw you in your secret place of retreat,” Jesus said, in effect, “and I even saw what was in your heart.” Nathanael’s prayers were answered and his searching for the Messiah was over. Because his heart was divinely prepared to seek the Messiah, he immediately acknowledged Him when they met, just as the godly Simeon and Anna recognized even the infant Jesus as the: Son of God (Luke 2:25–38).

Jesus continued His attestation of Nathanael’s faith. “Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe?” (John 1:50), is better translated as a statement of fact (as in the NIV). Both Jesus and Nathanael knew it was the manifestation of omniscience that convinced Nathanael of Jesus’ messiahship. Because of Nathanael’s faith, Jesus went on to say, “ ‘You shall see greater things than these.’ And He said to him, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, you shall see the heavens opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man’ ” (vv. 50b-51). This demonstration of Jesus’ omniscience would come to seem small to Nathanael in comparison to the wonders of divine power he would soon begin to witness.

It may be that Nathanael came to understand Jesus’ glory as well as any of the other apostles. We know nothing else of the man than what is found in that one brief account. But it seems reasonable to assume that he was among the most dependable and teachable of the twelve. There is no record of his questioning Jesus or arguing with Him or even misunderstanding Him.

The New Testament says nothing of his ministry or his death, and even tradition has little to offer about him. But it is apparent from the Lord’s own words that, like David, Nathanael was a man after God’s own heart[2]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 152). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 10:3). Chicago: Moody Press.

MAY 19 – THE GREAT UNSEEN REALITY IS GOD HIMSELF

Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me.

JOHN 14:1

At the root of the Christian life lies belief in the invisible. The object of the Christian’s faith is unseen reality.

In the world of sense around us, the visible becomes the enemy of the invisible; the temporal, of the eternal. That is the curse inherited by every member of Adam’s race.

Our uncorrected thinking, influenced by the blindness of our natural hearts and the intrusive ubiquity of visible things, tends to draw a contrast between the spiritual and the real; but actually no such contrast exists. The antithesis lies elsewhere: between the real and the imaginary, between the spiritual and the material, between the temporal and the eternal; but between the spiritual and the real, never! The spiritual is real.

If we would rise into that region of light and power plainly beckoning us through the Scriptures of truth we must break the evil habit of ignoring the spiritual. We must shift our interest from the seen to the unseen.

For the great unseen Reality is God! “He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” This is basic in the life of faith. From there we can rise to unlimited heights.

“Ye believe in God,” said our Lord Jesus Christ, “believe also in me.” Without the first, there can be no second.

God and the spiritual world are real. We can reckon upon them with as much assurance as we reckon upon the familiar world around us![1]


Comfort Comes from
Trusting Christ’s Presence

“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. (14:1)

The last few days had been an emotional roller coaster for the disciples. Their fervent messianic hopes had reached an apex during the dizzying excitement of the triumphal entry—only to be dashed when Jesus publicly announced His impending death: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24), and then repeated that prediction privately to them: “Little children, I am with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’ ” (13:33).

Like their fellow Jews, the disciples saw the Messiah as a conquering king. He would, they passionately believed, free Israel from bondage to Rome, restore her sovereignty and glory, and extend it over the world. The concept of a dying Messiah had no place in their theology (cf. Luke 24:21). On a more personal note, the disciples had forsaken everything to follow Jesus (Matt. 19:27); now He apparently was forsaking them.

Other events of that evening in the upper room had added to the emotional turmoil that the disciples felt. They had been shamed by their prideful refusal to wash each other’s feet, which prompted Jesus to humbly do what they refused to do (13:3–5). They were dumbfounded to hear Jesus predict that one of them would betray Him (13:21–22) and appalled at the news that their stalwart leader Peter, seemingly the strongest and boldest of them all, would cravenly deny Christ (13:38). They were also no doubt unsettled because they sensed that the Lord Himself was troubled (13:21).

Thus when Jesus told them, Do not let your heart be troubled (cf. Gen. 15:1; 26:24; 46:3; Ex. 14:13; Num. 21:34; Deut. 1:21, 29; 20:1; 31:6; Josh. 1:9; 11:6; 1 Chron. 22:13; 28:20; Prov. 3:25; Isa. 37:6; 41:10, 13, 14; 43:1, 5; 44:2, 8; 51:7; Jer. 1:8; 42:11; 46:27–28; Lam. 3:57; Joel 2:21; Hag. 2:5; Zech. 8:13, 15; Matt. 10:31; Acts 18:9; 27:24; 1 Peter 3:14; Rev. 2:10), He was not telling them not to start being troubled. They were already troubled, and He was telling them to stop. Troubled translates a form of the verb tarassō (“to shake,” or “to stir up”). It is used to describe the literal stirring up of the pool of Bethesda (5:7) and, figuratively, of severe mental or spiritual agitation (Matt. 2:3; 14:26; Luke 1:12; 24:38; John 11:33; 13:21; Acts 15:24). As always, Jesus knew the disciples’ hearts; He understood their confusion and concerns. Ever the compassionate Savior, He sympathized with their sorrow and grief (Isa. 53:3–4; Heb. 4:15). Even though the disciples were oblivious to His pain, He felt theirs and sought to comfort them.

The Lord then added a second command. Just as the disciples believe in God, they are to believe also in Him. Christ affirmed His deity, placing Himself on a par with the Father as an appropriate object of faith. In calling them to hope in God, Jesus was calling His disciples to put their hope in Him.

Despite occasional lapses into idolatry, Israel had a heritage of faith and trust in God. Abraham “believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Moses’ charge to the nation, “Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one!” (Deut. 6:4), captures the essence of Old Testament faith. David cried, “To You, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in You I trust” (Ps. 25:1–2; cf. 42:5, 11). In another psalm he wrote, “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘You are my God’ ” (Ps. 31:14). In a passage especially appropriate for the disciples’ situation, David declared confidently, “When I am afraid, I will put my trust in You” (Ps. 56:3; cf. vv. 4, 11). King Hezekiah was commended because “he trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel; so that after him there was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor among those who were before him” (2 Kings 18:5). In short, all “those who know [God’s] name will put their trust in [Him]” (Ps. 9:10; cf. 21:7; 22:4, 5, 9; 26:1; 28:7; 31:6, 14; 32:10; 33:21; 37:3, 5; 40:4; 52:8; 55:23; 62:8; 84:12; 86:2; 91:2; 112:7; 115:9–11; 125:1; 143:8; Prov. 3:5; 16:20; 22:19; 28:25; 29:25; Isa. 12:2; 26:3–4; 50:10; Jer. 17:7; Dan. 6:23).

Many in Israel believed in God despite never having seen Him. Even Moses “endured, as seeing Him who is unseen” (Heb. 11:27), since, as God Himself declared to him, “You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!” (Ex. 33:20; cf. Deut. 4:12; John 1:18; 6:46; 1 Tim. 6:16). The disciples needed to have that same kind of faith in Jesus when He was no longer visibly present with them. The Lord was not calling the disciples to believe savingly in Him; they had already done so (13:10–11). The present tense form of the verb pisteuō (believe) refers instead to an ongoing trust in Him. Though they genuinely believed in Jesus, the disciples’ faith was already beginning to waver. Soon, when He was taken from them and they faced the traumatic events of His betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion, it would reach its lowest ebb.

But Christ did not need to be visibly present for the disciples to receive comfort and strength from Him. In fact, Jesus commended the faith of those who had not seen Him (John 20:29; cf. 1 Peter 1:8). Though He would no longer be visibly present with the disciples, Christ’s promise, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Heb. 13:5; cf. Gen. 28:15; Deut. 31:6, 8; Josh. 1:5; 1 Sam. 12:22; 1 Chron. 28:20; Ps. 37:25, 28; Isa. 41:10), would still hold true.

It is the post-Pentecost ministry of the Holy Spirit to make believers aware of Christ’s comforting presence. Later in this chapter Jesus promised,

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you. I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. (vv. 16–18)

In 15:26 He told the disciples, “When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me” (cf. 16:7, 13–14).

The presence of Christ is enough to calm the believing heart in whatever perplexing, troubling situation it finds itself. As the godly Puritan John Owen noted, “A sense of God’s presence in love is sufficient to rebuke all anxiety and fears; and not only so, but to give, in the midst of them, solid consolation and joy” (The Forgiveness of Sin [repr.; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977], 17).[2]


14:1. Let not your hearts any longer be troubled. We prefer this translation because it reproduces both the meaning and the cadence of the original. First, the meaning, for the thought is not, “Do not begin to be troubled,” but “Stop being troubled,” or “Do not be troubled any longer.” And secondly, the cadence. In the original the line has a rhythmical flow, a soothing and consoling tenderness, which can be reproduced in English by stressing the words and syllables that have been printed in italics:

Let not your hearts any longer be troubled.”

Note that Jesus is not merely telling the disciples that they must not be sad any longer; he exhorts them not any longer to be troubled, tempest-tossed, agitated, thrown into a state of confusion and perplexity. The verb used is ταρασσέσθω, third person singular present imperative passive of ταράσσω. See also on 5:7; 11:33; 12:27; 13:21, The original has your heart where English idiom prefers your hearts (but see A.V. and A.S.V.). The heart is here the fulcrum of feeling and faith as well as the main-spring of words and actions, as is evident from such passages as 16:6, 22; cf. Matt 12:34; 15:19; 22:37; and Rom. 10:10. John seldom uses the term (only in 13:2; 14:1, 27; 16:6; and in 12:40, which, however, is a quotation from Is. 6:10).

The hearts of the disciples were filled with a medley of emotions. They were sad because of the gloomy prospect of Christ’s departure; ashamed because of their own demonstrated selfishness and pride; perplexed because of the prediction that one of their own number would betray the Master, that another would deny him, and that all would be ensnared because of him; and finally, they were wavering in their faith, probably thinking: “How can one who is about to be betrayed be the Messiah?” Yet, at the same time, they love this Master. They hope against hope. All this is implied in the words, “Let not your hearts any longer be troubled.”

The exhortation is based on love of the most tender and self-forgetful character, for when Jesus uttered it he was himself troubled in the spirit (13:21; and compare also Matt. 26:38; Luke 22:28, 44). The agonizing shepherd, facing the cross, comforts others. He consoles the very men who have just demonstrated their selfishness and who are going to be “offended in him,” “Was there ever kinder shepherd, half so gentle, half so sweet?”

Moreover, what Jesus is expressing is not merely a pious wish, like our cheering (but often empty) phrase: “Just do not worry. Everything will be all right.” When Jesus says, “Let not your hearts any longer be troubled,” he fortifies this with solid grounds. See the Synthesis at the end of the chapter.

In this connection there is an interesting superficial resemblance between Christianity and Epicureanism. The latter also stressed the necessity of remaining calm and untroubled in all circumstances of life. In fact this school even used a term which is derived from the same root as is the verb which Jesus employs here in 14:1, 27. They spoke of ataraxia (ἀταραξία), the state of being unperturbed. And yet, upon a closer view, the difference between Christianity and Epicureanism, as brought out strikingly in John 14, is great. The reasoning of Epicureanism and of its present-day equivalents is this: “Do not be disturbed, for the gods, if they exist at all, do not take notice of you.”—On the contrary, the teaching of Jesus is this: “Do not be disturbed, for the God whom you trust does take notice of you. He hears your prayers. He loves you. And so does the Son of God.” Hence, Christianity—or, if you prefer, Christ—furnishes the only adequate grounds for the exhortation of 14:1, 27.

Continue to trust in God, also in me continue to trust.

There is much to be said in favor of the position that both of these verbs (πιστεύετε … πιστεύετε) are imperatives, precepts. The imperative form is in harmony with the entire discourse (14:11; 15:4, etc.). It is also in harmony with the first line, for “Let not your hearts any longer be troubled,” is also imperative. The old argument, which one can find in many books, to the effect that the first clause cannot be a command because Jesus knew that the disciples already trusted in God, hence, could not order them to do so, has little value. Though they had faith, that faith was beginning to waver. Hence (using the continuative present imperative) Jesus says, “Continue to trust!”

Though the disciples still loved the Master, their faith in him as Messiah-Savior was beginning to waver. Jesus knows that when within a matter of hours he dies on the cross and is buried, that faith will be undermined even more (16:20; cf. Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27; 16:13; Luke 24:21). He knows also that the only remedy for the troubled heart is the assurance that Jesus is and remains the Savior even though—rather, by virtue of the very fact that—he suffers and dies. That is why he tells them, according to the original, “Keep on trusting in God, also in me keep trusting.” The verb may also be rendered keep on believing. It makes little difference. We chose keep on trusting because it is especially the trust-element in faith which is on the foreground in a context which concerns the troubled heart.

Jesus does not, in this connection, fully explain why he must die on the cross, though there had been some teaching along this line previously (10:11, 14, 28; Mark 10:45); neither was a full explanation possible as yet (16:12). He demands abiding trust or faith in God and in himself even then when mysteries multiply. Jesus asks that the disciples shall continue to rest in God and in himself with their entire being, so that their heart, soul, mind, and strength will continually go out to the source of their salvation, the goal of their existence. For the verb see also on 1:8; 3:16; 8:30, 31a.

The clear implication is that Jesus is himself God. This is brought out beautifully by means of the inverted word-order in the second exhortation, so that the phrases in God and also in me are placed right next to each other.[3]


1 Having left their homes and occupations to follow the Master, the disciples are now faced with what appears to be complete failure. The noble cause to which they had given themselves for the past three years seems about to crumble. How reassuring, then, would be the words of Jesus, “Set your troubled hearts at rest” (NEB; the present imperative may suggest “stop being troubled”). The verb (tarassō, GK 5429) means “stir up,” “unsettle,” “throw into confusion.” In 11:33 it depicted Jesus’ reaction when he encountered the sorrowing Mary, in 12:27 when he anticipated death, and in 13:21 when he predicted his betrayal.

As members of the Jewish community, the disciples would know from their own religious tradition that God would never abandon them. Throughout history he had responded to the needs of his people and protected them in times of distress. Jesus is saying to his disciples, “You do trust in God; therefore trust also in me [pisteuete, “trust,” GK 4409, can be taken as indicative or imperative in either clause]. Have I not yet convinced you that I and my Father are one [10:30; cf. 17:21–23]? If the Father is worthy of your trust, so also is the Son.” In light of this, then, Jesus urges, “You must not let yourselves be distressed” (Phillips).[4]


14:1 Some link verse 1 to the last verse of chapter 13 and think it was spoken to Peter. Although he would deny the Lord, yet there was a word of comfort for him. But the plural forms in Greek (“ye” in old English) show it was spoken to all the disciples, hence we should pause after chapter 13. The thought seems to be: “I am going away, and you will not be able to see Me. But let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, and yet you do not see Him. Now believe in Me in the same way.” Here is another important claim to equality with God.[5]


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

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2008). John 12–21 (pp. 97–100). Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to John (Vol. 2, pp. 262–264). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Mounce, R. H. (2007). John. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 559–560). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1545). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

MAY 19 – WHEN PENTECOST CAME

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses.

Acts 1:8

As we read the New Testament, we find a very simple and very plain and very forceful truth—the Holy Spirit makes a difference!

Consider the early disciples—Jesus Himself had taught them for more than three years—the greatest Bible school! But still He had to caution them and encourage them not to depend on their own wisdom and strength: “Tarry ye…until ye be endued with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). He promised that they would receive the Person of the Holy Spirit to carry out His plan of world evangelization.

After Pentecost, the Spirit brought them a new and vivid consciousness of the actual presence of God. He gave them the gifts of divine joy and peace. He gave them great and continuing delight in prayer and communion with God!

Finally, we recall that before Pentecost the disciples could only ask questions. After Pentecost, throughout the record in the book of Acts, they stood in the authority of the Spirit and answered all of the questions of the people concerning God’s plan of salvation through the crucified and risen Christ!

Lord, I pray that Your Spirit will “visit” our local churches and anoint them with a renewed sense of urgency to become involved in Your plan of world evangelization.[1]


  1. “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

In this text, Luke presents the theme for the entire book. This text contains the promise of Pentecost and the mandate to witness for Jesus in the following geographical areas: Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria, and the world.

  1. Promise. We see a distinct parallel between Jesus and his disciples when they are about to begin their respective ministries. When Jesus was baptized, the Holy Spirit descended upon him and strengthened him to oppose the power of Satan (see Matt. 3:16). Before the apostles are able to assume the tremendous responsibility of building the church of Jesus Christ and to conquer the strongholds of Satan, they receive the power of the Holy Spirit. In the upper room on Easter Sunday, Jesus breathed on the apostles and said: “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22). But immediately before this he told them, “As the Father has sent me, so I am sending you” (v. 21).

The Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son. For instance, Jesus informs the disciples in his farewell discourse, “When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me” (John 15:26, NIV). The Holy Spirit, therefore, is not an inanimate power but the third person of the Trinity. And the promise of the Spirit originates with the Father: “I will bestow on you the promise of my Father” (Luke 24:49a).

  1. Mandate. Only through the indwelling person and power of the Holy Spirit are the disciples able to witness for Jesus Christ. Not only the disciples receive the gift of the Spirit, but, as Luke shows in Acts, numerous persons are filled with the Holy Spirit and become Christ’s witnesses. “Effective witness can only be borne where the Spirit is, and where the Spirit is, effective witness will always follow.” Jesus’ word, “You will receive power,” applies first to the twelve apostles and then to all believers who witness effectively for Jesus Christ.

“You will be my witnesses.” In Acts, the term witness has a twofold meaning. First, it relates to the person who has observed an act or event. Next, it refers to the person who presents a testimony by which he defends and promotes a cause. Accordingly, the apostles choose Matthias to succeed Judas Iscariot because as an eyewitness he has followed Jesus from the time of John’s baptism to the moment of Jesus’ ascension. Further, Jesus commands Matthias to proclaim the message of his resurrection (1:21–22).

In the strict sense of the word, the expression witness does not apply to Paul and Barnabas, who during their first missionary journey proclaimed the message of Jesus’ resurrection to the people in Pisidian Antioch (13:31). Paul and Barnabas state that they are not witnesses; they tell the Good News. Jesus sends forth the twelve apostles on the day of Pentecost as true witnesses of all that he said and did.

These twelve have seen and heard Jesus and now tell others about him (compare 1 John 1:1). Filled with the Holy Spirit, they begin to proclaim the Good News in Jerusalem (see Luke 24:47). Then they preach the gospel in the Judean and Samarian countryside, and eventually they take it to Rome. Rome was the imperial capital from which all roads extended, like spokes in a wheel, to the ends of the then-known world (cf. Isa. 5:26, “the ends of the earth”). In the third Gospel, Luke directs attention to Jerusalem, where Jesus suffers, dies, rises from the dead, and ascends. In Acts, he focuses on Rome as the destination of Christ’s gospel. From Rome the Good News reaches the entire world.[2]


8 The mandate to witness that stands as the theme for the whole of Acts is here explicitly set out. It comes as a direct commission from Jesus himself—in fact, as Jesus’ last word before his ascension and, therefore, as a mandate that is final and conclusive. All that follows in Acts is shown to be the result of Jesus’ own intent and the fulfillment of his express word.

This commission lays an obligation on all Christians and comes as a gift with a promise. It concerns a person, a power, and a program—the person of Jesus, on whose authority the church acts and who is the object of its witness; the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the sine qua non for the mission; and a program that begins at Jerusalem, moves out to “all Judea and Samaria,” and extends “to the ends of the earth.” The Christian church, according to Acts, (1) is a missionary church that responds obediently to Jesus’ commission, (2) acts on Jesus’ behalf in the extension of his ministry, (3) focuses its proclamation of the kingdom of God in its witness to Jesus, (4) is guided and empowered by the very same Spirit that directed and supported Jesus’ ministry, and (5) follows a program whose guidelines for outreach have been set by Jesus himself.

Whereas the geographical movement of Luke’s gospel was from Galilee through Perea to Jerusalem, in Acts the movement is from Jerusalem through “Judea and Samaria” and on to Rome. The joining of Judea and Samaria by one article in the Greek (en pasē tē Ioudaia kai Samareia, “in all Judea and Samaria”) suggests a single geographical area that can be designated by its two ethnological divisions. And the fact that neither Galilee nor Perea is included in 1:8 as a place to be evangelized (even though 9:31 speaks in summary fashion of a growing church in “Judea, Galilee and Samaria”) is probably because Luke has already shown in his gospel how Jesus had earlier evangelized those areas. So here Jesus’ mandate to witness not only gives us the theme of Acts but also a basic table of contents by its threefold reference to “Jerusalem,” “all Judea and Samaria,” and “the ends of the earth.” To be sure, Luke’s development is fuller and subtler than its succinct form here. Nevertheless, in what follows he shows through a series of vignettes how the mission of the church in its witness to Jesus fared at Jerusalem (2:42–8:3), throughout Judea and Samaria (8:4–12:24), and as it progressed until it finally reached the imperial capital city of Rome (12:25–28:31).[3]


1:8 Having suppressed their curiosity as to the future date of this kingdom, the Lord Jesus directed their attention to what was more immediate—the nature and sphere of their mission. As to its nature, they were to be witnesses; as to its sphere, they were to witness in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

But first they must receive power—the power of the Holy Spirit. This power is the grand indispensable of Christian witness. A man may be highly talented, intensively trained, and widely experienced, but without spiritual power he is ineffective. On the other hand, a man may be uneducated, unattractive, and unrefined, yet let him be endued with the power of the Holy Spirit and the world will turn out to see him burn for God. The fearful disciples needed power for witnessing, holy boldness for preaching the gospel. They would receive this power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.

Their witness was to begin in Jerusalem, a meaningful prearrangement of the grace of God. The very city where our Lord was crucified was first to receive the call to repentance and faith in Him.

Then Judea, the southern section of Palestine with its strong Jewish population, and with Jerusalem as its chief city.

Then Samaria, the region in the center of Palestine, with its hated, half-breed population with whom the Jews had no dealings.

Then the end of the then-known world—the Gentile countries which had hitherto been outside the pale as far as religious privilege was concerned. In this ever widening circle of witness, we have a general outline of the flow of history in Acts.

  1. The witness in Jerusalem (Chaps. 1–7)
  2. The witness in Judea and Samaria (8:1–9:31)
  3. The witness to the end of the earth (9:32–28:31)[4]

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

[2] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Acts of the Apostles (Vol. 17, pp. 53–54). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[3] Longenecker, R. N. (2007). Acts. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Luke–Acts (Revised Edition) (Vol. 10, pp. 718–719). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (pp. 1578–1579). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 19 – Hallowing God’s Name

Hallowed be Your name.—Matt. 6:9c

Scripture (1 Peter 1:16) commands believers to be holy (“hallowed”), whereas it recognizes God as being holy. So attributing to Him the holiness that already is His is how we hallow His name.

As with every other truly righteous action, hallowing God’s name must begin in the heart. Peter reminds us to “sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts” (1 Peter 3:15). When we do this, we also sanctify Him as Lord in our lives, as we above all affirm that He exists: “for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6).

Discovering and believing scriptural truth about God is also a way to hallow His name. Any deliberate ignorance or wrong doctrine about the Father shows gross irreverence for Him. But if we want to completely hallow His name and have full reverence for Him, we must go on to have a constant awareness of the Father’s presence. David was a great example of this: “I have set the Lord continually before me” (Ps. 16:8).

Perhaps the greatest way of all for us to hallow His name is by following His will—down to the smallest task—making it the entire goal of our lives to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31).

Furthermore, we hallow God’s name by drawing others to Him. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may … glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16; cf. Ps. 34:3).

ASK YOURSELF
Everything we do, think, say, and communicate is a reflection on the name of God, since we have been called by His name and wear it as our chief identity. When are you most likely to forget that you bear the name of Christ, that you carry the responsibility for doing nothing to defame or discredit it?[1]

God’s Priority

hallowed be Thy name. (6:9c)

At the beginning Jesus gives a warning against self-seeking prayer. God is to have priority in every aspect of our lives, and certainly in our times of deepest communion with Him. Praying is not to be a casual routine that gives passing homage to God, but should open up great dimensions of reverence, awe, appreciation, honor, and adoration. This phrase introduces a protection against any sentimentalism or overuse and abuse of Father, which is prone to being sentimentalized.

God’s name signifies infinitely more than His titles or appellations. It represents all that He is-His character, plan, and will. When Moses went up on Mount Sinai to receive the commandments for the second time, he “called upon the name of the Lord. Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth;who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin’ ” (Ex. 34:5–7). The characteristics of God given in verses 6–7 are the equivalent of “the name of the Lord” mentioned in verse 5.

It is not because we simply know God’s titles that we love and trust Him, but because we know His character. “Those who know Thy name will put their trust in Thee,” David said, “for Thou, O Lord, hast not forsaken those who seek Thee” (Ps. 9:10). God’s name is seen in His faithfulness. In another psalm David declared, “I will give thanks to the Lord according to His righteousness, and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High” (Ps. 7:17; cf. 113:1–4). In the typical form of Hebrew poetry, God’s righteousness and His name are paralleled, showing their equivalence. When the psalmist said, “Some boast in chariots, and some in horses; but we will boast in the name of the Lord, our God” (20:7), he had much more in mind than the title by which God is called. He spoke of the fullness of God’s person.

Each of the many Old Testament names and titles of God shows a different facet of His character and will. He is called, for example, Elohim, the Creator God; El Elyon, “possessor of heaven and earth”; Jehovah-Jireh, “the Lord will provide”; Jehovah-Shalom, “the Lord our peace”; Jehovah-Tsidkenu, “the Lord our righteousness”; and many others. All of those names speak of God’s attributes. His names not only tell who He is but what He is like.

But Jesus Himself gives the clearest teaching about what God’s name means, because Jesus Christ is God’s greatest name. “I manifested Thy name to the men whom Thou gavest Me out of the world” (John 17:6). Everything the Son of God did on earth manifested God’s name. As the perfect manifestation of God’s nature and glory (John 1:14), Jesus was the perfect manifestation of God’s name.

Hallowed is an archaic English word used to translate a form of hagiazō, which means to make holy. Words from the same root are translated “holy, saint, sanctify, sanctification,” etc. God’s people are commanded to be holy (1 Pet. 1:16), but God is acknowledged as being holy. That is the meaning of praying hallowed be Thy name: to attribute to God the holiness that already is, and always has been, supremely and uniquely His. To hallow God’s name is to revere, honor, glorify, and obey Him as singularly perfect. As John Calvin observed, that God’s name should be hallowed was nothing other than to say that God should have His own honor, of which He was so worthy, that men should never think or speak of Him without the greatest veneration (cited in A Harmony of the Gospels Matthew, Mark, and Luke [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979], p. 318).

Hallowing God’s name, like every other manifestation of righteousness, begins in the heart. “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts,” Peter tells us (1 Pet. 3:15), using a form of the word that hallowed translates.

When we sanctify Christ in our hearts we will also sanctify Him in our lives. We hallow His name when we acknowledge that He exists. “He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him” (Heb. 11:6). To the honest and open mind, God is self-evident. Immanuel Kant had many strange ideas about God, but he was absolutely right when he said, “The law within us and the starry heavens above us drive us to God.” (See William Barclay, The Gospel of Matthew, 2 vols. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1975], 1:208)

We also hallow God’s name by having true knowledge about Him. False ideas about the Sovereign One are irreverent. Origen said, “The man who brings into his concept of God ideas that have no place there takes the name of the Lord God in vain.” Discovering and believing truth about God demonstrate reverence for Him; and willing ignorance or wrong doctrine demonstrate irreverence. We cannot revere a God whose character and will we do not know or care about. But acknowledging God’s existence and having true knowledge about Him are not enough to hallow His name. We must have a constant awareness of His presence. Spasmodic thinking of God does not hallow His name. To truly hallow His name is to consciously draw Him into every daily thought, every daily word, and every daily action. David put the focus of his life where it should always be-“I have set the Lord continually before me” (Ps. 16:8).

The Father’s name is most hallowed when we behave in conformity to His will. For Christians to live in disobedience to God is to take His name in vain, claiming as Lord someone whom we do not follow as Lord. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ ” Jesus warned, “will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). When we eat, drink, and do everything else to the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31), that is hallowing His name. Finally, to hallow God’s name is to attract others to Him by our commitment, to “let [our] light shine before men in such a way that they may see [our] good works, and glorify [our] Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). Psalm 34:3 sums up the teaching in this phrase with a lovely exhortation: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together.”[2]


The First Petition

9c. Hallowed be thy name. In ancient times the name was not generally regarded as a mere appellation to distinguish one person from another, but often rather as an expression of the very nature of the person so indicated, or of his position, etc. This was true to such an extent that frequently when in some important respect the facts concerning a man had undergone a change, he was given a new name. See pp. 132, 138. The name was to some extent identified with the person. This is especially true with respect to the names of God. God’s name is God himself as revealed in all his works. This is not so difficult to understand, for also among us the same holds with respect to the name Jesus, as is clear from the poetic line, “That beautiful Name, that beautiful Name from sin has power to free us!” (from the hymn “That Beautiful Name,” by Jean Perry). We immediately recognize the fact that a mere vocal cannot free or save anybody, but a person can—and does!

Now since God’s names reveal who he himself is, it is necessary for us to know them. This, moreover, is very rewarding. In the Old Testament the Supreme Being is called ’El, that is, God, viewed as the Mighty One. This name occurs in various combinations. ’El-Shaddai is God Almighty, the source of salvation for his people (Gen. 17:1; Exod. 6:3). ’Elohim (Gen. 1:1) is a plural, and refers to God in the fulness of his power. ’Elyon indicates the Most High (Num. 24:16). ’Adonai points to God as Master (properly “my Master”) or Lord; cf. “O Lord, I am not a man of words” (Exod. 4:10). The meaning of the name Jehovah is to some extent explained in Exod. 3:13, 14; cf. 6:2, 3. It is a form of the verb to be, and has been interpreted to mean “I am that I am,” or “I shall be what I shall be.” In the original Hebrew this name consists of the four letters YHWH, and is therefore called the tetragram (maton). There came a time, perhaps about 300 b.c., when the Jews, owing to a. their reverence for God, b. their interpretation of Lev. 24:16, and c. their resulting fear of becoming guilty of the sin of desecration, ceased to pronounce this name. In reading Scripture they substituted for it ’Adonai or, less frequently, ’Elohim. The Masoretes, those Jewish textual experts who flourished between the destruction of Jerusalem (a.d. 70) and the tenth century, but whose activity in a more general sense antedated the period of the Maccabees and extended to the year a.d. 1425, attached to the four consonants (YHWH) the vowels of ’Adonai (or of ’Elohim). It is sufficiently clear from such passages as Exod. 6:2–4; 15:1–3; Ps. 83:18; Isa. 42:8; Hos. 12:5; and Mal. 3:6 that the name Jehovah, however it be vocalized or transliterated, emphasizes God’s unchangeable covenant faithfulness toward his people.

Various combinations occur in connection with this name. Probably most familiar are the designations “Jehovah of hosts” (Ps. 46:7, 11), and “Jehovah our righteousness” (Jer. 23:6). Other combinations are “Jehovah will provide” (Gen. 22:14), “Jehovah (is) my banner” (Exod. 17:15), “Jehovah heals you” (Exod. 15:26), “Jehovah (is) peace” (Judg. 6:24), and “Jehovah (is) my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1).

To hallow God’s name means to hold it in reverence; hence, to hold him in reverence, to honor, glorify, and exalt him. To do this, far more than a merely intellectual knowledge of the meaning of the divine names is required. Humility of spirit, gratitude of heart, earnest study of God’s works until observation changes into rapturous astonishment and worship is certainly implied. The composers of the Psalms knew what this meant. Everywhere—in the work of creation and in the events of history—they observed and took time to meditate upon God’s majesty. They viewed their God as the One who delivered them from their enemies and constantly protected them. As such he was a God filled with wrath aimed at those who rejected him and who persecuted his people. This very wrath was, as it were, the proof of his tender love for his own (Ps. 3; 4; 5; 7; 11; 13; 14; 18; 48; 50; 63; 97; 135; etc.). As to the latter (the tender love), the Psalms are filled to overflowing with the idea that for those who trust in him the Lord is the hearer of prayer, the refuge in the time of storm, the one who daily cares, who blots out transgression, and never forsakes his children, not even at the moment of death (Ps. 16; 17; 23; 42; 73; 81; 89; 91; 92; 103; 111; 116; 118; 146; to mention but a few).

“Hallowed be thy name” means, therefore, that the one who has been brought into fellowship with this tenderly loving Father now calls upon everyone to share this experience with him, and to exalt this glorious God. This means far more than that the petitioner does his utmost to fight profanity. It has a positive content. The supplicant calls upon the entire creation and especially upon the world of men to praise his God. He exclaims, as it were, “O magnify Jehovah with me, and let us exalt his name together” (Ps. 34:3). He traces God’s steps in history (Pss. 76–80, especially 78; further 106; 107; 118; 124; 126; 136), and wants his children and everyone to adore and glorify God because of his wondrous deeds. He also is filled with gratitude and amazement when he observes God’s wisdom and goodness in nature, and he desires that his own thrilling observations and lasting impressions shall be shared by others, so that they too may see the reflection of God’s glorious attributes in the sky above as well as in the earth below, and may exult in the One whom he calls “my God” (Ps. 8; 19; 29; 63; 65; 104; 139; 145; 147; 150).

So also today the person who knows what it means to pray “Hallowed be thy name” will joyfully magnify the Lord when he beholds the blue of the starlit sky, full of silent beauty and majesty, with its myriads of stars, scintillating like so many dewdrops upon the meadows of the heavens. He praises God when he sees his glory reflected in the softly blending hues of the rainbow, in wooded hills, fruited groves, murmuring brooks, sparkling lakes, and meandering rivers, as well as when he listens to the richly variegated, almost continuous song of the mockingbird. He marvels when he contemplates the wisdom of God revealed in the construction of the human body (Ps. 139:15, 16). And when from general revelation he ascends to special revelation, and ponders the implications of such passages as Isa. 53; John 3:16; Rom. 5:8–11; 8:31–39; and 1 Cor. 8:9, is it any wonder that he falls in love with the matchless name of him who through Christ is his Father, that he pours out his heart in fervent doxologies (2 Cor. 9:15; Eph. 1:3 ff.; 1 Peter 1:3 ff.; Rev. 19:16, 17), and urges others to do likewise?

Style and grammar help us to enter into the spirit of this prayer. Not only is the contrast between the three imperative passives, all in the third person, of the first three petitions (literally, “Let be sanctified thy name, let come thy kingdom, let be done thy will”) in striking and pleasing contrast with the second person verbs of the last three requests, but also these three crisp, opening third person imperatives, being aorists and in each case heading the petition, stress urgency. With respect to the first petition this means that the worshiper is so completely filled with unrestrained eagerness that the Father’s name be adored, honored, and glorified, that he cannot wait to communicate his consuming desire that it receive this honor from the lips, hearts, and lives of everyone.

The Father’s name will not be hallowed throughout the world unless his royal rule be acknowledged. This leads to[3]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 148). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (pp. 377–379). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 327–330). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

MAY 19 – THERE YOU HAVE GOD

LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.

—Psalm 90:1-2

Shake your head to get all the wheels going and try to stretch your mind all you can, then think, if you can, about the past. Think your hometown out of existence. Think back to when there wasn’t anything here but some Indians. Then go back and think all those Indians away, back to before the Indians got here. Go back before that and think away the North American continent. And then think away all this earth of ours. And then let’s go back and think that there are no planets and no stars dotting the clear night sky; they have all vanished away and there is no Milky Way, no anything.

Go to the throne of God and think away the angels, the archangels, the seraphim and the cherubim that sing and worship before the throne of God. Think them all away until there is no creation: not an angel waves its wing, not a bird flies in the sky—there’s no sky to fly in. Not a tree grows on a mountain, there is no mountain for a tree to grow on. But God lives and loves alone. The Ancient of Days, world without end, to the vanishing point back as far as the human mind can go—there you have God. AOGII055-056

Lord, before the foundation of the world You knew me and chose me to be Your child. I praise You today. Amen. [1]


The Lord Is God (90:1–2)

Commentary

1 The psalm begins with and ends on an affirmation of God as “the Lord” (Adonai), the Creator and Ruler of the universe. The difference between these two affirmations is that toward the conclusion the general recognition of God as the Lord and shelter of his people is the basis for the prayer that he may again bless his people with his favor in the future (v. 17). The Lord himself has been the “dwelling place” for his people (cf. 91:9; Dt 33:27)—their oasis of refreshment and encampment—for many generations (cf. Dt 32:7). The metaphor is related to the imagery of God’s protection (cf. 91:9), and it is not surprising that several MSS and the LXX read here “refuge” (māʿôz, GK 5057) instead of “dwelling place” (māʿôn, GK 5061).

2 The love of God is eternal. The psalmist expresses the greatness of God’s fatherly care in the imagery of birth. It is not entirely clear who is giving birth; is it God (NIV, “you brought forth the earth”) or the earth (“before the earth and the world gave birth”; cf. Pr 8:25)? The metaphor of God’s giving birth is possible (cf. Dt 32:18; P. D. Miller Jr., “Psalm 90,” in Interpreting the Psalms, 125–30); but it is more likely to render the phrase in favor of the earth’s giving rise to mountains, while not denying the creative role of the Lord in the process of the formation of the earth (cf. Ge 1:11, 20).

The confessional statement “you are God” affirms both God’s kingship over creation and his otherness. The designations for the Lord in these verses have been carefully chosen, as the psalmist sings praise to “the Lord,” the Ruler of the world, who alone is “God” (El; cf. Isa 44:6; 48:12). The Canaanites believed in El as the father of the gods, whose supremacy had gradually been taken over by Baal, his son. The psalmist states that there is no other Lord than the God who is eternal and who is the “dwelling place” of his own.[2]


90:1, 2 In the midst of so much transience and mortality, he first finds relief in the eternity of the Lord. While all else fades and vanishes, God is unchanging, a home and refuge for His people. From all eternity and to all eternity, He is God, “infinite, eternal and unchangeable in His being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.”[3]


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

[2] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 690). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 688). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 19 – Rejoicing in Suffering

“But to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing; so that also at the revelation of His glory, you may rejoice with exultation.”

1 Peter 4:13

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We should rejoice in trials and persecutions, not for their own sake, but for the benefits that result.

The late D. Martyn Lloyd–Jones, in his classic book Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, made the following careful distinction on what it means to rejoice in persecution: “The Christian is, in a sense, one who must feel his heart breaking at the effect of sin in others that makes them do this [persecute believers]. So he never rejoices in the fact of persecution as such.”

We can draw from this, then, that 1 Peter 4:13 and other verses (notably Matt. 5:11–12), while they encourage the positive attitude of rejoicing in trials, do not mean we should have a masochistic or elitist view of suffering. The joy we are to have should go beyond the pain and heartache of the suffering itself and focus on the ramifications of what God is doing in our life.

Peter begins our verse by asserting that one of those ramifications is enjoying the fellowship of Christ’s sufferings. That means we can share, for His sake, in the same kind of suffering and rejection He endured. We should be ready for such persecution whenever we share the gospel or generally identify with Him. The apostles learned this lesson soon after Jesus departed—“rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41). We will increasingly embrace such suffering as a privilege if we heed Peter’s exhortation.

The apostle goes on to give us more motivation for rejoicing. “The revelation of His glory” is a reference to Jesus’ second coming, which in itself ought to bring tremendous joy to all believers. If we have faithfully endured all the persecutions, sufferings, trials, and problems of this life, when our Lord returns we will have genuine reason to rejoice all the more. And it will be with an intense and joyous outburst that exceeds any we’ve had before (see Luke 6:22–23).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Ask God to give you the right motivation to rejoice in the midst of suffering.

For Further Study: Matthew 5:11–12 contains some of the most challenging truth in all the Bible. Commit these verses to memory, and look for opportunities in which they can become real in your experience.[1]


Exult in Suffering

but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation. If you are reviled for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you. (4:13–14)

To the degree is a generous way to translate katho (“as,” “according to which”) and thus to show that Christians’ eternal reward is proportionate to their earthly suffering (cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 4:16–18; Heb. 11:26; 2 John 8; Rev. 2:10). That is a reasonable relationship since suffering reveals faithfulness to their Lord Jesus Christ, who Himself noted this relationship between suffering and reward, saying,

Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets. (Luke 6:22–23)

Peter further enriches the endurance of those who are persecuted by stating that they share the sufferings of Christ. That is not in any redemptive sense; neither does it refer only to spiritual union with Him, as Paul describes in Romans 6. But it refers to believers experiencing the same kind of sufferings He endured—suffering for what is right. R. C. H. Lenski rightly elaborates the meaning of Peter’s expression:

The readers [of 1 Peter] are only in fellowship with the sufferings of Christ. This is a thought that is prominent and fully carried out by Paul in Rom. 8:17; II Cor. 1:7; 4:10; Phil. 1:29; 3:10; Col. 1:24. It goes back to Christ’s word (John 15:20, 21).

We fellowship Christ’s sufferings when we suffer for his name’s sake, when the hatred that struck him strikes us because of him. Never is there a thought of fellowshiping in the expiation of Christ’s suffering, our suffering also being expiatory. In Matt. 5:12 persecution places us in the company of the persecuted prophets (high exaltation indeed); here it places us in the company of Christ himself, into an even greater communion or [koinōnia]. Is that “a strange thing” or to be deemed strange? It is what we should deem proper, natural, to be expected, yea, as Peter says (following Matt. 5:12), a cause for joy. (The Interpretation of the Epistles of St. Peter, St. John and St. Jude [reprint; Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1966], 203)

Christ who suffered at the hands of wicked men even though He was without sin (Isa. 53:9; Matt. 26:67; 27:12, 26, 29–31, 39–44; John 10:31, 33; 11:8; Acts 2:23) promised believers it would be their privilege to suffer in the same way when He said, “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:20).

To the degree that believers suffer unjustly, they should, as their Lord did, keep on rejoicing, a sentiment completely unacceptable to those who have no hope of heavenly reward, but affirmed by the Lord when He declared,

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matt. 5:10–12)

The revelation of His glory will come in “the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (Luke 17:30), which refers to Christ’s return. The Lord resumed the full exercise of His glory after He ascended to heaven, but He has not yet revealed it on earth for everyone to see (cf. Matt. 24:30; Phil. 2:9–11; Rev. 19:11–16). (Peter, James, and John did get a preview of that glory when they witnessed Christ’s transfiguration [Mark 9:2–3; cf. 2 Peter 1:16–18].)

Peter’s second use of rejoice (chairō) in verse 13 is qualified by exultation (agalliaō), a reference to rapturous joy. When Christ returns, believers will rejoice with exultation (cf. the discussion of joy in chapter 3 of this volume), and do so in proportion to their share in His sufferings in this life. Those who share His sufferings will also share His glory (5:1; cf. Matt. 20:20–23). The saints’ suffering for righteousness proves them, refines them, and earns for them “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor. 4:17) so that the greater their suffering the stronger their hope, and the richer their joy (cf. 2 Cor. 4:16–18; James 1:2).

The name of Christ is the cause of evil hatred directed toward believers (Matt. 10:22; 24:9). In the early days of the church, His name first became synonymous with the Savior Himself and all that He represents (cf. Luke 24:47; John 1:12; Acts 2:38; 4:17, 30; 9:15; 19:17). In Peter’s sermon before the Sanhedrin, he asserted, “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). Later the apostles “went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name” (5:41). In His vision concerning the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and his subsequent preaching as Paul the apostle, Christ told Ananias of Damascus, “I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake” (9:16). It is not the name “Christ” that offends the ungodly, but rather who He is and what He said and did that causes hostility from them.

That animosity is summed up in the word reviled (oneidizō), meaning “to denounce,” or “to heap insults upon.” In the Septuagint it described hostility heaped at God and His people by the godless (Pss. 42:10; 44:16; 74:10, 18; cf. Isa. 51:7; Zeph. 2:8). In the New Testament it refers to the indignities and mistreatments Christ endured from sinners (Matt. 27:44; Mark 15:32; Rom. 15:3). In the first century, unbelievers were often exasperated and infuriated that believers were so frequently speaking of Christ, whose indictment of sinners they despised (cf. Acts 4:17–18; 17:1–7).

However, all the hatred and violence of the world against Christians does not diminish their blessedness. Actually they are more blessed for such suffering, not only for the eternal reward they will receive but for the present blessing, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on them. It is not merely because of suffering that the Holy Spirit will rest on believers, as when He came on and departed from an Old Testament prophet, but rather that He, already being in believers permanently (Rom. 8:9; 1 Cor. 6:19–20; 12:13), gives them supernatural relief in the midst of their suffering. Because the Spirit is God, divine glory defines His nature (cf. Pss. 93:1; 104:1; 138:5). Glory recalls the Shekinah, which in the Old Testament symbolized God’s earthly presence (Ex. 24:16–17; 34:5–8; 40:34–38; Hab. 3:3–4). When the tabernacle and the ark of the covenant were brought to Solomon’s newly dedicated temple, “the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:11). As the brilliant cloud of the Shekinah rested in the tabernacle and the temple, so the Holy Spirit lives in and ministers to believers today. Rests (from the present tense of anapauō) means “to give relief, refreshment, intermission from toil” (cf. Matt. 11:28–29; Mark 6:31), and describes one of His ministries. “Refreshment” comes on those believers who suffer for the sake of the Savior and the gospel. The Spirit gives them grace by imparting endurance, understanding, and all the fruit that comes in the panoply of His goodness: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal. 5:22–23).

That kind of refreshment and divine power came upon Stephen, a leader in the Jerusalem church and its first recorded martyr. As he began to defend his faith before the Jewish leaders, they “saw his face like the face of an angel” (Acts 6:15). His demeanor signified serenity, tranquility, and joy—all the fruit of the Spirit—undiminished and even expanded by his suffering and the Holy Comforter’s grace to him. The Sanhedrin became enraged as Stephen rehearsed redemptive history to them from the Old Testament, an account that culminated in the atoning work of Jesus the Messiah. Stephen’s Spirit-controlled rest was evident as “he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ ” (Acts 7:55–56). As his enemies stoned him to death, Stephen “called on the Lord and said, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!’ Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, ‘Lord, do not hold this sin against them!’ Having said this, he fell asleep” (vv. 59–60). Truly the Spirit of glory elevated him above his suffering to sweet relief. That powerful work of the Spirit was the cause of Paul’s later testimony in 2 Corinthians 12:9–10, “And He has said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.’ Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”[2]


  1. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

Notice the following points:

  1. Celebrate

“But rejoice.” With the term but Peter introduces a contrast. He places the emphasis on the command rejoice. Instead of looking negatively at their suffering, Christians need to look positively to Jesus and rejoice in their lot. Peter says, “Rejoice and continue to rejoice.” He is fully aware of the apparent contradiction. (Paul remarks that while experiencing numerous hardships in their ministry, he and his fellow servants of God are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” [2 Cor. 6:10].) Peter tells the readers that when suffering for the sake of Christ is their lot, they should place their affliction in the context of joy. Rejoice! Here is the reason:

  1. Participate

“You participate in the sufferings of Christ.” What a privilege, what an honor for Christians to participate in Christ’s sufferings! Especially in the epistles of Paul, the thought of suffering for Christ’s sake is prominent. The apostles are not saying that the sufferings of Christ are incomplete until Christians, too, have suffered. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is complete and our participation in his suffering has nothing to do with that sacrifice. However, Christ identifies with his people and when they suffer for his cause, he suffers. When they teach and preach the gospel, when they witness for Jesus, and when they encounter affliction for his sake, they participate in the sufferings of Christ. Then, because of their relationship to Christ, they rejoice and are jubilant (compare Acts 5:41).

  1. Jubilate

“So that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” In the original, Peter writes a combination of two verbs, both of which express the concept joy. The resultant translation is “overjoyed.”

Why are Christians overjoyed? Once again Peter directs our attention to the imminent coming of Jesus Christ (see 1 Cor. 1:7). At the return of Christ, the believer will see the glory and splendor of the coming age in its fullness (refer to Matt. 25:31). Christ is the victor and all his followers share in his victory. Together they participate in Christ’s glory (Rom. 8:17). Therefore, when we contemplate the glory we shall inherit with Christ, we are unable to refrain from “exulting, jubilating, skipping and bubbling over with shouts of delight.”

Charles Wesley has given us a well-known hymn that captures the joy, adoration, and victory we experience when we think of Jesus’ return. Thus, we sing:

Rejoice, the Lord is King:

Your Lord and King adore;

Rejoice, give thanks and sing,

And triumph evermore:

Lift up your heart, lift up your voice,

Rejoice, again I say, rejoice.

  1. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Insults

In the next few verses, Peter writes a sequence of conditional sentences. He uses the particle if to indicate that he is describing reality. With the clause if you are insulted, he is pointing to actual insults to which the Christians have to submit. They meet verbal and not physical abuse from unbelievers.

  1. Name

Why are Christians insulted? Simply put, because of the name of Christ (compare James 2:7). A common theme in the New Testament is that followers of Christ must endure verbal insults because of Jesus Christ. The concept name of Christ includes the ministry of preaching, teaching, baptizing, praying, and healing. The apostles spoke in the name of Christ and demonstrated in word and deed that Jesus had delegated his power and authority to them (for example, see Acts 4:7–12). Because Christians confessed the name of Jesus Christ among Jews and Gentiles, they were mercilessly persecuted (see Acts 5:41; 9:16; 15:26). In the early Christian community the single word name was synonymous with the Christian religion.

  1. Beatitude

Twice in this epistle Peter writes, “You are blessed.” Both beatitudes are in the context of suffering (3:14; 4:14). Here the beatitude forms the second part of a conditional sentence. If the harsh reality of verbal abuse is the one side of the proverbial coin, the reward of heavenly bliss is the other side. In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explains the term blessed in these words: “Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven” (Matt. 5:12).

  1. Spirit

This last part of the verse is difficult to explain. First, the text itself shows variations in the New King James Version, which has the reading, “For the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified” (also see the KJV). All other translations delete the second sentence. The New International Version has this translation: “For the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” At least two translations have another addition: “the Spirit of glory and power” (Moffatt and RSV [margin]). Although this addition has the support of several textual witnesses, translators generally tend to avoid it.

We also face grammatical difficulties in interpreting this part of the text. The literal wording of the text (“the spirit of glory and the Spirit of God rests on you”) has a double subject with a verb in the singular. Evidently the context demands that we supply the word spirit for the first part, so that we read, “the spirit of glory.” But is this spirit of glory different from or identical to the Spirit of God? Explanations of this sentence vary.

  1. Interpretations

First, note that the last part of verse 14 is a quotation from Isaiah 11:2, “The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him.” Because Isaiah prophesies about Christ in this text, some commentators have deduced that Peter is implicitly referring to the Trinity. In other words, the phrase spirit of glory points to Christ (compare John 1:14). Thus, both the Spirit of Christ and the Spirit of God rest upon the individual Christian.

Another explanation is that the term glory is a reminder of the glory of God filling the tabernacle in the desert (Exod. 40:34–35). Thus the phrase glory of God is descriptive of the Spirit of God. A Jewish Christian reader, then, would understand the term as a suitable description of the presence of God.

A third interpretation is to identify the word spirit and make its repetition explanatory. This repetition appears either as an expansion, “the Spirit of glory, yes, the Spirit of God, is resting on you” (MLB); or as a relative clause, “that glorious Spirit which is the Spirit of God is resting upon you” (NEB).

In the context of suffering for the name of Christ and the mention of Christ’s glory (v. 13), the first explanation has merit indeed. The suffering Christian knows that the Spirit of (the glorious) Christ and of God is resting upon him.[3]


13 Rather than be shocked or surprised at suffering, the readers are told to rejoice. The writer is not hereby glibly suggesting that one rejoices in suffering qua suffering. It is rather “in the Lord” (Php 4:4) that one rejoices. Believers “participate in the sufferings of Christ” (cf. Php 3:10, which speaks of “the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings”), based on the believer’s union with Christ, and therefore can emit a response of “rejoicing.” The believer is united with Christ in his death as well as his resurrection (Ro 6:5–14), not in the sense of paying for our sins, as only the Son of God could do, but in the sense that “our old self was crucified with him … that we should no longer be slaves to sin … but alive to God” (Ro 6:6, 11). Rejoicing and shock stand at opposite ends, and a deep awareness of our union with Christ—and all that it entails—preserves the Christian from surprise that metastasizes into disenchantment and disillusionment. To expect suffering, it should be emphasized, is not to welcome it in some blindly fatalistic way; it is, however, to be realistic about our union with Christ.

The attitude of rejoicing in the context of suffering is further magnified by the cognizance of the coming revelation of Christ’s glory. Peter writes, “so that you may be overjoyed [lit., ‘that you may rejoice exultingly’] when his glory is revealed,” using the same strengthened form of “rejoice” (agalliaō, GK 22) as earlier (1:6, 8), and in the same context (Christ’s return). His theological rationale squares with that of Paul: “if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory” (Ro 8:17); “if we endure, we will also reign with him” (2 Ti 2:12). Suffering for Christ is a privilege and not a penalty (so Barclay, 258). In Petrine thinking, eschatology informs Christian ethics.

14 Peter further reminds his readers that they are “blessed” if they are “insulted [oneidizō, GK 3943; used of Jesus’ experience on the cross, Mk 15:32] because of the name of Christ.” His assertion is expanded with the somewhat strange statement that “the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” This language is frequently used in the book of Exodus to describe the glory of the Lord as it descended on Mount Sinai (24:16), in the desert (16:10), on the tabernacle (29:43; 40:34) and ark (Lev 16:2), or when it filled the temple (2 Ch 7:3). Indeed Paul resorts to similar language and imagery in describing the glory of the new covenant (2 Co 3:7–18). Significantly, Stephen’s countenance is depicted in this way in Luke’s account of his martyrdom (Ac 7:55; cf. 6:15). Peter would seem to be suggesting that the presence of God is particularly notable in those times when the saints are being persecuted. The Spirit glorifies Jesus (Jn 16:14); therefore, as believers experience persecution on account of Christ, they are filled with the Spirit’s presence, and in so doing they are glorifying God.[4]


4:13 The privilege of sharing Christ’s sufferings should cause us great rejoicing. We cannot of course share His atoning sufferings; He is the only Sin-Bearer. But we can share the same kind of sufferings He endured as a Man. We can share His rejection and reproach. We can receive the wounds and scars in our bodies which unbelievers would still like to inflict on Him.

If the child of God can rejoice today in the midst of suffering, how much more will he rejoice and be glad when Christ’s glory is revealed. When the Savior comes back to earth as the Lion of the tribe of Judah, He will be revealed as the Almighty Son of God. Those who suffer now for His sake will be honored then with Him.

4:14 The early Christians rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of Christ (Acts 5:41). So should every Christian who has the privilege of being reviled for Christ’s sake. Such suffering is a true indication that the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon us. This is the Holy Spirit who rests upon persecuted Christians as the glory cloud rested on the tabernacle in the OT, indicating the presence of God.

We know that the Spirit indwells every true child of God, but He rests in a special way upon those who are completely committed to the cause of Christ. They know the presence and power of the Spirit of God as others do not. The same Lord Jesus who is blasphemed by the persecutors is glorified by His suffering saints.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 251–254). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude (Vol. 16, pp. 174–176). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] 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. 349–350). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2278). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

May 19 – An Excellent Example

Join in following my example.

Philippians 3:17

There is no better historical example of a Christian than the apostle Paul. He’s a dominant figure in the New Testament, so we can conclude that God wants us to pattern our lives after him.

Paul is a model of virtue, worship, service, patience, endurance through suffering, victory over temptation, and good stewardship over possessions and relationships. He shows us how a godly man deals with his fallenness—something Christ could never do because He was sinless (Heb. 4:15)

Paul’s life is a marvelous pattern for ours. That’s why he told the Corinthians, “Imitate me” (1 Cor. 11:1). He also commended the Thessalonians, saying, “You have become followers of us and of the Lord” (1 Thess. 1:6). Paul is my own personal example in ministry. I look at how he handled situations and try to respond the way he did.[1]


Following After Examples

Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. (3:17)

For the third time in this chapter Paul affectionately addresses the Philippians as brethren (cf. vv. 1, 13). The phrase join in following my example literally reads in the Greek text “be fellow imitators with me.” Paul urged the Philippians to imitate the way he lived. He was not putting himself on a pedestal of spiritual perfection (cf. the discussion of vv. 12–16 in the previous chapter of this volume). Instead, he was encouraging the Philippians to follow him, an imperfect sinner, as he pursued the goal of Christlikeness.

The New Testament records Paul’s failures as well as his triumphs. Outraged at his abusive treatment at the hands of the high priest, he cried out, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” (Acts 23:3)—an outburst for which he promptly apologized (Acts 23:5). Because of his struggle with pride, the Lord gave Paul a thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7). Three decades after his conversion, he still thought of himself as the foremost of sinners (1 Tim. 1:15).

Had he been perfect, Paul would not have been an example believers could follow. We need to follow someone who is not perfect so we can see how to overcome our imperfections; someone who can show us how to handle the struggles of life, its disappointments, and its trials; someone who can show us how to handle pride, resist temptation, and put sin to death. Christ is the perfect standard, model, and pattern for believers to emulate. But Christ never pursued perfection; He has always been perfect. Paul was a fellow traveler on the path toward the unattainable spiritual perfection, and thus a model for believers to follow. He modeled virtue, morality, overcoming the flesh, victory over temptation, worship, service to God, patient endurance of suffering, handling possessions, and handling relationships.

Moving beyond himself, Paul commanded the Philippians also to observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us. Skopeō (observe) is the verb form of the noun translated “goal” in verse 14, and could be translated “fix your gaze on.” Paul is in effect saying, “Focus on those whose walk (daily conduct) is according to the correct pattern—the one you have in us.” That would include Timothy and Epaphroditus, whom the Philippians knew, as well as the overseers and deacons at Philippi (cf. 1:1). The word us, however, is most likely a literary plural, a humble way for Paul to refer to himself.

Paul’s example was available to the Philippians in print, as it is to believers today. But they had also observed his life firsthand during his stay in Philippi. Believers have always needed examples of godly living as patterns. Those examples are the pastors and elders of the church, who are to “show [themselves examples] of those who believe” (1 Tim. 4:12) by modeling humility, unselfish service, willingness to suffer, devotion to Christ, courage, and dedication to spiritual growth.

Those who teach and preach the Word must handle it accurately. That is especially important today, when the correct interpretation of Scripture has been hopelessly blurred and seemingly any view is tolerated. Paul exhorted 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). But accurate teaching of the truth must be backed up by a godly life.[2]


  1. Deeply moved by what he is about to write, Paul addresses the Philippians with the endearing word Brothers (see on 1:12; cf. 1:14; 3:1, 13; 4:1, 8, 21). He continues, join in being imitators of me. Should not brothers show that they belong to the same spiritual family, and are, therefore, really brothers? Should not their attitude of heart, speech, and conduct remind one of the same model? “Let me be that model,” says Paul, as it were, and this in self-renunciation over against self-complacency; in humble, Christ-centered trust instead of arrogant self-esteem; in idealism versus indolence (Phil. 3:7–14); and thus also in spirituality as contrasted with sensuality, that is, in heavenly-mindedness as opposed to worldly-mindedness (verses 18–21).

But is selection of himself as an example consistent with Christian humility? Answer:

(1) Before pointing to himself as an example, the apostle had reminded the Philippians of Christ as the chief example (Phil. 2:5–8). Accordingly, they knew that what Paul meant was simply this, “Be imitators of me, as I also am of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1).

(2) The apostle was not placing himself on a pedestal, as if he were perfect, but, quite the contrary, was urging his friends to strive after perfection, in the full realization that they were still far removed from the ideal, as was he himself.

(3) Surrounded by immorality on the part both of pagans and of nominal Christians (see verses 18 and 19), these Philippians needed a concrete example of Christian devotion, a picture-lesson. The apostle had every right to point to himself as such an example.

(4) The justifiable character of his exhortation becomes even more clearly evident when it is seen in the light of what immediately follows, showing that when Paul urged the Philippians to imitate him, he was not thinking of himself alone but of himself in company with others, such as Timothy (Phil. 2:19–24) and Epaphroditus (2:25–30). Note the pronoun we instead of I in the continuation: and watch closely those who are walking according to the example that we have set you. Instead of fixing your attention upon individuals who have confused Christian liberty with license, focus it upon those who are safe guides of Christian conduct. Let them be your example (see N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 1:7).[3]


17 The command to “join … in following [Paul’s] example” (cf. 1 Co 4:6; 11:1; 1 Th 1:6; 2 Th 3:7) and the mention of a “pattern” (typos, GK 5596) confirms that Paul has been setting patterns, both negative and positive, before the Philippians. They are to follow the positive examples. Urging imitation rather than issuing authoritative prescriptions is far more effective in accomplishing this goal.

The verb “observe, take note of” (skopeō, GK 5023) recalls the blepō (“consider,” GK 1063) in 3:2. The preposition syn (symmimētēs, “join … in following my example,” GK 5213) suggests that they be unified in their imitation of him. The NIV’s “the pattern we gave you” may suggest that Paul is using the literary plural to refer to himself. Williams, 215–16, comments, however, that the singular would have defeated his purpose: “He wants to show the unity they have in their example. It is not just himself, but others who follow this model.” The other examples are Timothy and Epaphroditus, both of whom are well-known in Philippi. They set the example, forfeiting everything to serve Christ, with the hope of attaining the resurrection through him. The Philippians may not be able to abandon the Jewish-privilege system to know Christ, but they can let go of the Roman cultural advantage and abandon the power and status of the Roman Empire.[4]


3:17 Now Paul turns to exhortation, first by encouraging the Philippians to be followers, or imitators of himself. It is a tribute to his exemplary life that he could ever write such words. We often hear the expression in jest, “Do as I say, not as I do.” Not so the apostle! He could hold up his own life as a model of wholehearted devotion to Christ and to His cause.

Lehman Strauss comments:

Paul considered himself the recipient of God’s mercy that he might be a “pattern”; thus his whole life, subsequent to his conversion, was dedicated to presenting to others an outline sketch of what a Christian should be. God saved Paul in order that he might show by the example of his conversion that what Jesus Christ did for him He can and will do for others. Was not this the special object our Lord had in view in extending His mercy to you and me? I believe He has saved us to be a pattern to all future believers. Are we serving as examples of those who have been saved by His grace? May it be so!

And note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. This refers to any others who were living the same kind of life as Paul. It does not mean to mark them out disapprovingly, as in the next verse, but to observe them with a view to following in their steps.[5]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 156). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2001). Philippians (pp. 254–255). Chicago: Moody Press.

[3] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of Philippians (Vol. 5, pp. 179–180). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[4] Garland, D. E. (2006). Philippians. In T. Longman III (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 247). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[5] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1976). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.