Daily Archives: April 4, 2019

April 4 A Second Chance

Scripture Reading: John 8:1–11

Key Verse: John 8:11

She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said to her, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”

The love Jesus demonstrated at the Cross is unconditional. True love reaches out to the unlovely.

The woman caught in adultery sought affection, but reaped a scandal. As the scribes and Pharisees brought her before Jesus, they demanded that her punishment be stoning. Jesus reacted in love. Stooping down, He began writing something in the sand.

Then He related the basic truth that only the sinless have a right to cast stones. Knowing that sinlessness was not something they could claim, the crowd of religious men dispersed. Only Jesus was left, and He refused to condemn her.

Jesus’ ministry always allowed for second chances. His interest was not to hold on to records of wrong, but to give people the chance to accept Him and do right. We do well to reflect His love by giving others second chances. Our greatest acts of love may be offering forgiveness to someone who has wronged us or to reach out to someone others have judged as unlovely.

Always remember the love and forgiveness God has shown you as you deal with other people. You will be less likely to cast stones and more likely to give second chances.

Father, thank You for the offer of a second chance. I accept. Thank You for Your love and forgiveness.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2006). Pathways to his presence (p. 99). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Why Is Social Justice the Biggest Threat to the Church in the Last One Hundred Years? — Christian Blogs – Delivered By Grace

Last summer as a group of concerned Christian leaders gathered in Dallas, Texas for the summit on social justice, several times it was repeated by others, and by me personally, that social justice is the biggest threat to the church of Jesus Christ in the last one hundred years.

As we discussed these matters in great detail, as we were departing for the airport, a few of us got into one vehicle and one of the men from the back asked me directly, “How do you know that this is the greatest threat in the last one hundred years?” What I said in that ride to the airport I maintain to this very day, but now—with much more clarity.

The Three Headed Dragon

In J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the great red dragon- the fire-breathing monster—Smaug—has taken over Lonely Mountain and the entire story is a dramatic build-up to the teamwork of an unlikely and eclectic group that is determined to overcome the dragon. The only way to do so is by storming the door and defeating the beast.

Throughout history, the church has faced a number of controversies and a number of dragons along the way. From legalism to ecumenism to postmodernism, the evangelical church has drifted through the years. Perhaps the biggest controversy to face the evangelical church in recent history has been the inerrancy controversy. This problem crossed denominational lines and affected many institutions and entities along the way—not to mention the local churches that were devastated. The story of the Conservative Resurgence of the Southern Baptist Convention is nothing short of God’s providence. Other denominations never recovered when they were overtaken by theological liberalism.

The main issue, although filled with serious complications that were played out in the theological, legal, and local church circles—was the inerrancy of God’s Word. No matter how large the dragon, it had only one head. It was easy to rally people behind the cause to fight for the Bible. The annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention in June ebbs and flows from 5-9k people every June depending on the city, but during those years of controversy (in the late 70s), the local churches were busing in thousands of people to vote—to take a stand against error. In Dallas, Texas in the summer of 1985 during the heat of the resurgence, 45,519 messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention showed up to vote.

When people suggest that social justice is “the greatest threat to the church in the last one hundred years”—many Christians who know their history begin to see images of large crowds at the annual SBC meetings over inerrancy and they think of the church growth movement of pragmatism, and the Emerging Church movement and the racism of divided churches in the Jim Crow era—and they just don’t understand how social justice could be that big of a deal. We must remember, no matter what the beast is—if it’s liberalism, pragmatism, or some other theological or political conglomeration—those beasts had one head to focus upon during the fight. I’m arguing that social justice is a three-headed dragon—one that’s often difficult to define—yet one that has a powerful push both in terms of numerical and financial support. That’s what makes this social justice issue the biggest threat to the church in the last century.

Complementarianism—Does It Need a Revision?

The social justice controversy is complicated. One of the “heads” of the dragon of social justice is the issue of complementarianism. Simply put, social justice is driving us toward the need to redefine and clarify where we stand on women serving in ministry. This was one of the biggest issues facing The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary near the end of the inerrancy controversy of the SBC. You can see some of this in a documentary that was made by liberals to chart the “takeover” of Southern Seminary. Through the faithful leadership of Albert Mohler, the institution was led back to the biblical and theological position.

The Danvers Statement was first produced by The Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood in 1988 and to this very day, remains a solid document that articulates the complementary differences between masculinity and femininity as designed by God from the very beginning. The point is clear—if such differences and if such roles were the product of God’s original design, why would we suddenly desire to redefine the boundaries for women in the local church? Many voices today are advocating for women’s leadership in the church so long as a woman is not ordained to the office of elder. Others are promoting the idea of a woman to lead in denominational life—such as the president of the Southern Baptist Convention. Such conversations have led to the recent release of the SBC Womens’ Leadership Network.

During times of controversy, we tend to focus upon what certain people cannot do rather than celebrating what they can do. In this case, we should celebrate what God has called women to do and help them fulfill God’s calling on their lives. We are not living in the past where women were, in many ways, discriminated against because of their gender. However, we should stand opposed to any agenda that presses the boundaries that extend beyond the God ordained roles and responsibilities for women in the church and culture. The social justice agenda is currently beating this drum that suggests we need to rethink complementarianism.

Ethnicity—The Modern Racism Debate

Craig Mitchell, in his explanation of Article 12 of The Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel, writes the following, “The science of race is getting louder and clearer all of the time. Race is at best an overblown social construct that has been harmful to our society. It is a concept that is best forgotten.” He cites Svante Paabo, the director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany as stating the following:

What the study of complete genomes from different parts of the world has shown is that even between Africa and Europe, for example, there is not a single absolute genetic difference, meaning no single variant where all Africans have one variant and all Europeans another one, even when recent migration is disregarded. [1]

In other words, throughout history, we have made a horrible mistake of dividing over the tone of skin. The melanin count in one person doesn’t make him a member of a different race of people—all of us can be traced back to one historic human—Adam.

However, throughout American history (and world history) we have often divided over skin color. Even after the slave trade was ruled illegal, our nation went through a difficult time of division in the Jim Crow period. Far more than water fountains were segregated. Much of our culture—including local churches were divided by skin color.

Since that time period, we have watched those days pass away. Much education and repentance has occurred through the years allowing for an equal playing field in various spheres of culture—including business, academia, athletics, politics, and the church.

Although we are living in days of great opportunity for all ethnic groups within the United States—and specifically within the evangelical church circles—we continue to see a resurgence of rhetoric regarding racism, discrimination, and white privilege. Certain evangelical voices are leading this conversation through confusing statements on social media and conference platforms such as the MLK50 event which was held on the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. While many praised the event, it was filled with moments of tension and a lack of clarity on the person and beliefs of King himself.

Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Jr. recently posted a clip of a sermon where the following statement was made:

Social justice is a biblical issue…it’s not a black issue, it’s a humanity issue. It’s not a hood issue, it’s a global issue. And until we understand that Jesus himself said, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to preach liberty to the captive, to set free those who are oppressed.” If that ain’t social justice, I don’t know what is.

Sadly, McKissick missed the point of Luke 4:16-30. A clear contextual reading of that account of Jesus in Nazareth will demonstrate that God often does the unexpected. Furthermore, the emphasis is placed upon the spiritual poverty and slavery to sin and how Christ delivers people from spiritual poverty rather than the social needs of individuals. The social justice agenda is hyper-focused on equality of opportunity and equality of social position both inside the church and outside the church. This is simply not the message of Jesus.

Through the years, the church has suffered the mistake of mission drift on social issues. We see this in many black church circles where they have turned the pulpit into a political stump, but it has likewise been in seminary education like the Carver School on Social Work that was closed in 1997 on the campus of Southern Seminary in Louisville. It was transferred to Campbellsville University in 1988. Albert Mohler, in a statement, articulated that one of the key reasons for the closing and transfer of the school was the direction that social work as a profession had taken in the last 20 years.

While we must stand upon a firm commitment to “do justice” and we must stand in opposition to injustice in our society and within evangelical circles—the current social justice movement has a different motivation. As a means of acknowledging the wrongs of the past, we are being encouraged to empower people with certain melanin count to high ranking positions within the local church and denominational circles. In some cases, even if the individual is under qualified for the position, it has been suggested he or she should be chosen in order to achieve a respectable level of skin tone diversity. This is severely patronizing to the black population—and anyone else with darker skin than whites.

In order to press an agenda, you must convince a population to accept your ideologies. The normalization of terms and ideas and theories such as “systemic racism” and “white privilege” is one means of continuing this agenda. Many people today haven’t even been willing to pause and honestly evaluate evangelical circles to see if systemic racism is really alive across the system (which is different than individuals). In the same way, many people haven’t paused to evaluate the theory of white privilege within evangelical circles.

Once again, if it does exist, why are we not all working together to name the names of leaders, institutions, and entities that are engaged in this sinful discrimination scheme? We do this with sexual scandals and discrimination against women, but we aren’t willing to call names with racism? Could the ideas of systemic racism and white privilege be nothing more than a political strategy to deconstruct hierarchies and to gain political power within the evangelical church?

As we continue to see a growing divide among ethnic groups within evangelicalism, the way forward for the proponents of social justice is merely a repeat of historic mistakes regarding collectivism and a hyper focus on group equality rather than biblical justice for the individual. Samuel Sey explains:

Over time the term ‘social justice’ became associated with critical theorists and Neo-Marxists from the Frankfurt School in Germany. They rejected universal rights or human rights as a basis for justice. They essentially rejected liberty for individuals as the hallmark for justice in society. They believed, instead, that parity between groups were the mark of justice in society. They rejected individualism and embraced collectivism. They did not define justice as equality of opportunity; they defined justice as equality of outcome.

In our ongoing debate on social justice in the area of ethnic division, we must evaluate the conversation and see if we are interested in establishing biblical justice for all, or if we are advocating for advancement and empowerment for our group. That’s what separates biblical justice from social justice. The agenda of social justice is interested in power—not unity nor is it interested in biblical justice. If the machine can use such tactics as social solutions to ethnic division in order to obtain the power, that’s often how the game is played.

Gay Christianity Demands Inclusion

In 2014, as a direct response to the controversy caused by Matthew Vines’ book, God and the Gay Christian, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary released a comprehensive response to Matthew Vines. In the opening chapter, Albert Mohler writes the following:

Evangelical Christians in the United States now face an inevitable moment of decision. While Christians in other movements and in other nations face similar questions, the question of homosexuality now presents evangelicals in the United States with a decision that cannot be avoided. Within a very short time, we will know where everyone stands on this question. There will be no place to hide, and there will be no way to remain silent. To be silent will answer the question. [2]

In our present social justice conversation, the false category of “gay Christianity” is being promoted by evangelical leaders—many of whom speak in major evangelical conferences and lead evangelical institutions. If you search on Google for “gay Christianity” (as of 4-3-19), the second listing on the first page is for Living Out. This is a ministry devoted to helping those who experience same sex attraction and clearly states the following on their website:

Can you be gay and Christian? Is it a sin to be gay? How do you live life without sex? How do I support my same-sex attracted Christian friend/family member?
We are a group of Christians who experience same-sex attraction bringing out into the open the questions and dilemmas that gay Christians can often face.

Recently, Tom Buck, who serves as the senior pastor for the First Baptist Church in Lindale, Texas devoted nearly a week for the release of four consecutive articles (part 1part 2part 3, part 4) that pointed out the errors of the Living Out ministry and called for separation and acknowledgement regarding the endorsement of the ERLC and Russell Moore—among other evangelical leaders. Since then, the ERLC has removed their endorsement, however, you can still see it on the web archives.

If we are to be committed to biblical justice, how can we both love people and accommodate error at the same time? That is precisely what the proponents of gay Christianity are asking the church of Jesus Christ to do. Heath Lambert provided clarity on this issue by writing the following:

Is a “gay Christian” consistent with the gospel of Christ? Matthew Vines’s answer to this question is the exact opposite of the one provided by historic Christianity. Vines’s book, God and the Gay Christian, is an unfortunate reversal of thousands of years of moral clarity about homosexuality. [3]

He goes on to make this statement, “What is at stake in this debate is nothing less than our love for troubled people and the very gospel of Jesus Christ.” [4] Make no mistake about it, the capitulation on the false category of gay Christianity and the acceptance of new “ministries” such as Living Out and Revoice demonstrate that the LGBTQA+ proponents are planning to bang on the same door, use the same rhetoric, and demand the same equality that has been shouted loudly through this social justice conversation from the beginning.

The Way Forward

The way forward is not to continue to shout at one another or to talk past one another. In fact, we must avoid misrepresentation and labor to achieve unity through the cloud of controversy. As we continue to talk, study, and work through this controversy—there is a better way forward. I would like to propose a few suggestions.

  1. Commitment to the Sufficiency of Scripture: Unfortunately, the social justice agenda is primarily a political agenda. There are theological talking points that often get brought to the surface, but the fabric of the agenda is politically driven and motivated. In order to untangle the web of controversy, there will need to be an uncompromising commitment to the sufficient Word of God. There is no controversy and no trial too big for God’s Word.
  2. Conversation. There hasn’t been much conversation happening on the issue of social justice. There has been no real serious conversation. It has been primarily a one sided conversation with responses shouted back and forth—mostly in the 280 character limit of Twitter. At some point, there needs to be a honest and transparent conversation between people who talk to one another directly.
  3. Pursue Unity in the Gospel of Jesus: True unity will not come as a result of the social justice agenda. It will only cause division and compromise of doctrinal fidelity. The only means of true unity will come as a result of seeing ourselves marked by our union with Christ. This is not the outward mark of circumcision as the Jews often misunderstood, but by the circumcision of the heart. The ground is truly level at the foot of the cross (Gal. 3:28-29).
  4. Do Justice: The call of all Christians is to practice biblical justice and to stand against injustice. We must do this within society and evangelical circles (local churches and denominations). We must love people and care for people properly and biblically. This means that we must not tolerate discrimination of people based on skin color and gender. Once again, the Bible is clear about how to do justice, walk humbly, love God supremely, and love our neighbor (Micah 6:8; Mark 12:28-30).

The only way to honor Christ, protect the gospel, and to gain the trust of people is by standing upon the Word of God without compromise and acknowledging error when necessary. Where necessary, and it may be necessary at some point, we must be willing to divide friendships over important theological issues—specifically those that denigrate the gospel of Jesus Christ. Until then, we pray for unity and peace as we continue to work through the controversy of social justice.

Martin Luther once urged ministers of his day to take action and to not be lazy. He stated:

Some pastors and preachers are lazy and no good. They do not pray; they do not read; they do not search the Scripture … The call is: watch, study attend to reading. In truth you cannot read too much in Scripture; and what you read you cannot read too carefully, and what you read carefully you cannot understand too well, and what you understand well you cannot teach too well, and what you teach well you cannot live too well … The devil … the world … and our flesh are raging and raving against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brothers, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent … This evil. shameful time is not the season for being lazy, for sleeping and snoring. [5]

You can describe social justice in terms of a train with boxcars to identify an agenda or a three-headed dragon to identify the threat. I still believe this is the biggest threat to the church in the last century. Once upon a time, Martin Luther stormed the door of the Roman Catholic Church and took on the beast of a false religion. Today, we must not underestimate the three-headed dragon of social justice. We must not forget that while we see the beast of social justice, this enemy of the church is merely a puppet for the true dragon—Satan himself who hates Jesus and God’s church. Be alert (1 Pet. 5:8). Stand firm (Eph. 6:13b-14a).

  1. Megan Gannon, “Race is a Social Construct, Scientists Argue.” Scientific American.com(February 5, 2016).
  2. Albert Mohler Jr., ed., God and the Gay Christian? A Response to Matthew Vines, (Louisville: SBTS Press, 2014), 9.
  3. , 77
  4. , 80
  5. Fred W. Meuser, Luther the Preacher, (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Pub, 1983), 40-41.

via Why Is Social Justice the Biggest Threat to the Church in the Last One Hundred Years? — Christian Blogs – Delivered By Grace

April 4 A Living Savior

Scripture Reading: Mark 15–16

Key Verse: Luke 24:6

He is not here, but is risen! Remember how He spoke to you when He was still in Galilee.

One cannot diminish the torture or agony of the Cross. Christ suffered and died for our sin, willingly laying down His life for the transgressions of men. Yet there can likewise be no diluting the supernatural power of the Resurrection.

None of the benefits of the Cross—forgiveness of sin, justification of sinners—could be ours today without a living Savior. The resurrection of Christ attested more than any other event to His full and absolute deity. Jesus met and conquered death, Satan, and sin, proclaiming His divine nature and displaying His divine power.

Today, the believer can enjoy the exquisite delight of union with the resurrected Christ. At work, in the store, in the house, or on the road, you have Jesus Christ in you, and God has placed Him in you.

The resurrected Christ lives in you so that you may partake of His life and sup with Him. He helps you, comforts you, guides you, loves you, and pours His life out through you. Jesus does more than just live. He lives in you, makes His abode in your heart, and infuses your ordinary life with supernatural meaning, strength, and hope. He arose just as He said He would, and He lives to give you the abundant life He promised.

Jesus, You live in me! I am partaker of Your life. I can fellowship with You. Come and comfort, guide, and pour Your life through me. Infuse my ordinary life with supernatural meaning.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1999). On holy ground (p. 99). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

April 4 The Wellspring of Spiritual Blessings

Scripture reading: 1 Peter 5:5–6

Key verse: James 4:10

Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

The grace of God is the wellspring of all spiritual blessings. Grace gives and gives, superabounding in its measure and effectiveness. How then can you cease striving, get off the performance treadmill, and learn to walk in such rich and plentiful grace?

Here is the key: the more you humble yourself before God, the more you receive the fullness of God’s grace.

God “gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 5:5). Not to the strong, but to the weak. Not to the self-sufficient, but to the dependent. Not to the proud, but to the poor of spirit. You humble yourself by realizing the majesty of God, worshiping Him as the mighty God. The more you adore and praise the Savior, the more highly you think of Him. You can do much, but it is so little when compared to what You may accomplish when God directs and empowers you.

Humbling yourself does not belittle your self-esteem or worth to God. It positions you to receive your sustenance from the Source of all good things, Jesus Christ. As a humble believer, you fling yourself on the grace of God, leaning your full weight on Him. You draw all your strength, peace, joy, and security from the sufficiency of God’s generous grace.

I fling myself upon Your mercy, O Lord. I lean on You and draw my strength, peace, joy, and security from Your sufficiency.[1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (2000). Into His presence (p. 99). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

April 4, 2019 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

The Content of His Commission

preach the word; (4:2a)

The faithful minister of Jesus Christ is commanded to preach the word, which focuses on the content of what is proclaimed. Preach translates the first of nine imperatives Paul uses in this passage, five of them in verse 2 (preach, be ready, reprove, rebuke, exhort) and four in verse 5 (be sober, endure, do, fulfill).

Preach is from kērussō, which means to herald, to proclaim publicly. In New Testament times, the herald, acting as imperial messenger, would go through the streets of a city to announce special events, such as the appearing of the emperor. His duties also included public announcement of new laws or government policies and actions.

Paul himself not only was appointed an apostle but also, like Timothy, was appointed a preacher (1 Tim. 2:7; cf. 2 Tim. 1:11). But because of Timothy’s timid spirit, that task was especially challenging for him. He did not have the naturally strong and aggressive personality or constitution of his mentor. He also may not have had the formal training or intellectual skill to argue successfully on a human level with more sophisticated and experienced errorists in and around the church. He doubtless felt inadequate and intimidated when they presented arguments for which he had not yet developed a successful apologetic or polemic. And in the eyes of some believers in Ephesus, he also was handicapped because of his youthfulness, although Paul had earlier counseled him to disregard such criticism (1 Tim. 4:12). In addition to resistance within the church, Timothy faced growing hostility from unbelieving Jews and from the Roman government. It was persecution by those enemies that had put Paul in prison.

There were other reasons why Timothy might have been tempted to muffle his proclamation, especially that of evangelism, which Paul mentions in verse 5. Timothy realized that the idea of salvation solely through God’s grace runs totally counter to the thinking of natural men and is often met with anger or indifference. But when preaching to unbelievers, whether Jew or Gentile, Timothy was to be like Noah, who “was a righteous man, blameless in his time; [and] walked with God” (Gen. 6:9; cf. Heb. 11:7). Timothy also was to be like Noah in being “a preacher of righteousness” (2 Peter 2:5). Long before God made His covenant with Abraham, before He made His covenant with Israel and gave them the law at Sinai, and still longer before He made the final and perfect covenant through His Son, Jesus Christ, Noah preached God’s righteousness to the ever-more-wicked antediluvians. As far as we know, Noah was not persecuted, but we do know that his preaching for a hundred years while he was building the ark fell on completely indifferent ears, because not a single soul outside his immediate family trusted in God and was saved.

Like every preacher of God’s truth to unbelievers, Timothy also was to be like Jonah, who declared to the wicked pagan city of Nineveh, “Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown” (Jonah 3:4). In great contrast to that of Noah, however, Jonah’s preaching produced an amazing response of repentance and faith in the true God. “The men of Nineveh shall stand up with this generation at the judgment,” Jesus declared, “and shall condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah” (Matt. 12:41).

Timothy was to be like “John the Baptist [who] came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (Matt. 3:1–2), and who then proclaimed “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29).

By the word, Paul doubtless means the entire written Word of God, His complete revealed truth, which the apostle also calls “the whole purpose of God” (Acts 20:27) and which he has just referred to as “the sacred writings” and the “Scripture” (2 Tim. 3:15–16).

A preacher cannot continue to faithfully preach and teach God’s word unless he carefully protects its truth. “O Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to you,” Paul had warned in his previous letter, “avoiding worldly and empty chatter and the opposing arguments of what is falsely called ‘knowledge’ ” (1 Tim. 6:20). Near the beginning of this second letter he admonished, “Retain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love which are in Christ Jesus,” and, “Guard, through the Holy Spirit who dwells in us, the treasure which has been entrusted to you” (2 Tim. 1:13–14). He also implored Timothy to handle “accurately the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), because truth that is poorly retained, guarded, and handled inevitably will be poorly taught.

After declaring the marvelous truth first proclaimed by the prophet Joel (2:32) that “whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved,” Paul asks rhetorically in his letter to the church at Rome, “How then shall they [unbelievers] call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” Again quoting from the Old Testament, this time from Isaiah 52:7, the apostle then exults, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:13–15).

Of his own preaching Paul said,

I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Col. 1:25–29)

There are gifted orators who can sway an audience with the power of their persuasive rhetoric. There are men who are erudite, knowledgeable, well-trained, and worldly-wise, who can cause other men to change their minds about certain matters. There are men who can relate moving stories that tug at a hearer’s heart and move him emotionally. Throughout the history of the church, including our own time, God has chosen to endow some ministers with such abilities. But God also has chosen not to bless every faithful preacher in those particular ways. Nevertheless, He charges them with the same task of preaching His Word, because the spiritual power and effectiveness of preaching does not rest in the skill of the speaker but in the truth.

Intellectually brilliant as he was, the apostle testified to believers at Corinth: “Brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling. And my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God” (1 Cor. 2:1–5). In his next letter to that church, he said, “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus’ sake” (2 Cor. 4:5).

By far the most reliable and effective way to proclaim all of God’s Word is to preach it expositorially. In his book The Ministry of the Word, the nineteenth-century Scotsman William Taylor writes,

By expository preaching, I mean that method of pulpit discourse which consists in the consecutive interpretation, and practical enforcement, of a book of the sacred canon.… Exposition is the presentation to the people, in an intelligible and forcible manner, of the meaning of the sacred writer.… It is the honest answer which the preacher gives, after faithful study, to these questions, “What is the mind of the Holy Spirit in this passage?” and “What is its bearing on related Christian truths, or on the life and conversation of the Christian himself?” ([Grand Rapids: Baker, 1975], 155, 157, 159)

Like countless men before and after his time, Taylor preached expositorially because he wanted to know the mind of the Spirit, because he wanted to know how one Scripture truth bore upon another, and he had to carefully understand what God desired for his people.

For many reasons, faithful and full proclamation of the word is the only right way to preach. First of all, such preaching lets God speak rather than man, because it declares God’s own Word. And it is an incredibly thrilling privilege to give voice to God!

Second, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it brings the preacher into direct contact with the mind of the Holy Spirit, the author of Scripture. It is for that reason that the preacher of the Word finds the process of study and discovery to be even more rewarding than the preaching that results from it, gratifying as that can be.

It is tragic and puzzling that so many preachers who recognize Scripture to be God’s own Word spend more time investigating and interacting with the limited and imperfect minds of other men than delving into the infinite and holy mind of God. Part of the reason, of course, is that many hearers do not really want to delve into the depths of God’s righteousness and truth, because it exposes their own shallowness and sin. Paul already has warned Timothy about the danger of those who hold “to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power” (2 Tim. 3:5). Later in the present passage he will warn again that “the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; … and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths” (2 Tim. 4:3–4; cf. Acts 20:29–30).

Third, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it forces the preacher to proclaim all of God’s revelation, including those truths that even many believers find hard to learn or accept.

Fourth, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it promotes biblical literacy in a congregation, not only through what is learned from the sermon itself but also through the increased desire to study Scripture more carefully and consistently on their own. The faithful pastor, and all other faithful believers, love to learn God’s Word because they love the God of the Word.

Fifth, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because it carries ultimate authority. It is the complete and perfect self-revelation of God Himself and of His divine will for mankind, which He has created in His own image.

Sixth, preaching the word is the only right way to preach because only that kind of preaching can transform both the preacher and the congregation.

The final and most compelling reason that preaching the word is the only right way to preach is simply that it is His own Word, and only His own Word, that the Lord calls and commissions His preachers to proclaim.

In the book mentioned above, William Taylor writes, “Let it never be forgotten, then, that he who would rise to eminence and usefulness in the pulpit, and become ‘wise in winning souls,’ must say of the work of the ministry, ‘This one thing I do.’ He must focus his whole heart and life upon the pulpit. He must give his days and his nights to the production of those addresses by which he seeks to convince the judgments and move the hearts and elevate the lives of his hearers” (p. 7).

The Scope of His Commission

be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. (4:2b)

In order to be effective, a faithful preacher must understand the scope of his commission, which Paul here summarizes.

Like any other effective worker, he must be ready. This is the second command Paul uses in verse 2 and translates ephistēmi, which has a broad range of meanings as determined by tense, mood, and voice. It often connotes suddenness, as in Luke 2:9 (“suddenly stood before”) and Acts 12:7 (“suddenly appeared”; cf. 1 Thess. 5:3); or forcefulness, as in Luke 20:1 (“confronted”) and Acts 4:1; 6:12; 23:27 (“came upon”). In the aorist active imperative, as here, the word carries the complementary ideas of urgency, preparedness, and readiness. It could be used of a soldier who is ready to go into battle on a moment’s notice or of a guard who keeps continually alert for any threat of infiltration or attack by the enemy.

For the faithful preacher, be ready carries similar meanings of gravity and vigilance. He should feel like Jeremiah, who felt under divine compulsion to prophesy. “If I say, ‘I will not remember Him or speak anymore in His name,’ ” he testified, “then in my heart it becomes like a burning fire shut up in my bones; and I am weary of holding it in, and I cannot endure it” (Jer. 20:9; cf. 5:14).

While Paul stayed in Caesarea for a few days on his way back to Jerusalem after his third missionary journey, the prophet Agabus “took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, ‘This is what the Holy Spirit says: “In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles,” ’ … the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem.” But Paul’s immediate reply was, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 21:11–13).

Such a sense of readiness and willingness to serve the Lord at any cost and at any time not only should characterize every faithful preacher but also every faithful Christian. Peter exhorted his readers, most of whom were suffering severe persecution from Rome, “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). Writing to believers in the church where Timothy now was ministering, Paul implored, “Be careful how you walk, not as unwise men, but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph. 5:15–16).

In his classic Lectures to My Students, Charles Spurgeon wrote, “What in a Christian minister is the most essential quality for securing success in winning souls for Christ?… earnestness. And if I were asked a second or third time, I should not vary the answer.… Success is proportionate to the preacher’s earnestness” ([Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1955], 305).

Only continual study of God’s Word, fellowship with Him in prayer, and submission to His Holy Spirit can keep alive a sense of exhilarating eagerness to preach. Apart from the Word and from prayer, the most gifted and orthodox preaching will grow spiritually stale, for the preacher and for the hearers. In the book just cited, Spurgeon said, “He, who at the end of twenty years ministry among the same people is more alive than ever, is a great debtor to the quickening Spirit” (Lectures, 309).

The faithful preacher must be ready in season and out of season, when it is convenient and when it is not, when it is immediately satisfying and when it is not, when from a human perspective it seems suitable and when it does not. His proclaiming God’s Word must not be dictated by popular culture and propriety, by tradition, by esteem in the community (or even in the church), but solely by the mandate of the Lord.

Of the next three commands—reprove, rebuke, and exhort—the first two are negative, and third is positive.

Reprove and rebuke are closely related in meaning and are the third and fourth imperatives in this passage. Paul has just declared that all Scripture is “profitable for … reproof” (3:16). As noted in the previous commentary chapter, elegmos (reproof) carries the idea of correcting misbehavior or false doctrine. Reproving may have more to do with affecting the mind, with helping a person understand that what he believes or is doing is wrong. Rebuke, on the other hand, may have to do with the heart, with bringing a person under conviction of guilt. To reprove is to refute error and misconduct with careful biblical argument; to rebuke is to bring the erring person to repentance. The first discloses the sinfulness of sin, whereas the second discloses the sinfulness of the sinner.

The first call of the gospel reflects this reproof by calling for men to repent from sin. In preparing the way for the Messiah, John the Baptist declared, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt. 3:2). He not only preached against sin in general but against particular sins of particular people. “When Herod the tetrarch was reproved by him [John the Baptist] on account of Herodias, his brother’s wife, and on account of all the wicked things which Herod had done, he added this also to them all, that he locked John up in prison” (Luke 3:19–20).

Like John the Baptist, Jesus began His public ministry by calling sinners to repentance. After being baptized by John and spending forty days and nights in the wilderness being tempted by Satan, “from that time Jesus began to preach and say, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ ” (Matt. 4:17). Although Jesus mentioned God’s love on several occasions, He never preached a message on that theme. But He preached countless messages on God’s condemnation of sin, on His judgment of sinners, and on the sinner’s need for repentance. The unrepentant sinner has no hope in the love of God, because God’s love is inseparable from His holiness and justice. A person who refuses to be cleansed of his sin by God’s grace has no prospect of being accepted into heaven by His love.

Immediately after Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, his hearers “were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’ And Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’ ” (Acts 2:37–38).

The preacher’s continuing responsibility is to expose, reprove, and rebuke sin. Sin is that which totally separates unbelievers from God and which temporarily separates believers from close fellowship with their Lord. Paul therefore counseled believers in Ephesus, “Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them” (Eph. 5:11).

He warned Titus about those sinners who infiltrate the church: “There are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach, for the sake of sordid gain.… For this cause reprove them severely that they may be sound in the faith” (Titus 1:10–11, 13).

Sin must be addressed among believers as well. In his first letter to Timothy, Paul commanded, “Those who continue in sin, rebuke in the presence of all, so that the rest also may be fearful of sinning” (1 Tim. 5:20).

Paul next gives Timothy the positive imperative to exhort, which is from parakaleō, a common New Testament word that can range in meaning from simply calling out to someone to admonishing, which is clearly the meaning in this context. It also carries the idea of encouragement. After having reproved and rebuked disobedient believers under his care, the faithful preacher is then to come alongside them in love and encourage them to spiritual change.

That is the spirit in which Paul himself pastored those under his care. He reminded believers in Thessalonica, “You know how we were exhorting and encouraging and imploring each one of you as a father would his own children, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory” (1 Thess. 2:11–12; cf. Col. 1:28). Later in the letter he counseled those believers to do as he had done, saying, “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men” (5:14).

Not only are the things a preacher says and does important but also the way he says them and does them. He is to reprove, rebuke, and exhort with patience. Makrothumē (patience) means literally to “abide under” and therefore is often translated “endurance” (see, e.g., Luke 21:19; 2 Cor. 6:4; James 1:3) or “perseverance” (see, e.g., James 1:12; 2 Cor. 12:12). But here Paul is speaking specifically of patience with people, with members of a flock who may have been persistently stubborn and were resisting their pastor’s admonitions. But the shepherd is not to become exasperated or angry, remembering that he himself is firmly but lovingly and patiently held accountable by the Great Shepherd, our supreme example of patience. Paul cautioned believers in Rome, “Do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment upon those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?” (Rom. 2:3–4). If the perfect Son of God is so kind, forbearing, and patient with sinners, how much are His people obliged to have those attitudes?

Although mentioned at the end of the verse, didachē (instruction) is foundational to preaching, reproving, rebuking, and exhortation. It is only through careful teaching of the Word that those tasks can be successfully carried out by a pastor. An unbeliever will not be convicted of his sin and come to salvation apart from some instruction from God’s Word about his lost condition and his need for saving faith in Jesus Christ. Nor will a believer be convicted of his sin and brought to repentance and restoration apart from the work of the Word in his heart.

It is not by a preacher’s personal authority or persuasiveness—no matter how well he knows Scripture or how highly he is gifted—but solely by the authority and power of Scripture itself, illuminated and applied by the Holy Spirit, that any ministry or Christian service can be spiritually effective and pleasing to the Lord. In 4:2 Paul essentially reiterates what he has just declared, namely, that “all Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (3:16–17).[1]

2. Be instant in season, out of season. By these words he recommends not only constancy, but likewise earnestness, so as to overcome all hindrances and difficulties; for, being, by nature, exceedingly effeminate or slothful, we easily yield to the slightest opposition, and sometimes we gladly seek apologies for our slothfulness. Let us now consider how many arts Satan employs to stop our course, and how slow to follow, and how soon wearied are those who are called. Consequently the gospel will not long maintain its place, if pastors do not urge it earnestly.

Moreover, this earnestness must relate both to the pastor and to the people; to the pastor, that he may not devote himself to the office of teaching merely at his own times and according to his own convenience, but that, shrinking neither from toils nor from annoyances, he may exercise his faculties to the utmost. So far as regards the people, there is constancy and earnestness, when they arouse those who are asleep, when they lay their hands on those who are hurrying in a wrong direction, and when they correct the trivial occupations of the world. To explain more fully in what respects the pastor must “be instant,” the Apostle adds—

Reprove, rebuke, exhort. By these words he means, that we have need of many excitements to urge us to advance in the right course; for if we were as teachable as we ought to be, a minister of Christ would draw us along by the slightest expression of his will. But now, not even moderate exhortations, to say nothing of sound advices, are sufficient for shaking off our sluggishness, if there be not increased vehemence of reproofs and threatenings.

With all gentleness and doctrine. A very necessary exception; for reproofs either fall through their own violence, or vanish into smoke, if they do not rest on doctrine. Both exhortations and reproofs are merely aids to doctrine, and, therefore, have little weight without it. We see instances of this in those who have merely a large measure of zeal and bitterness, and are not furnished with solid doctrine. Such men toil very hard, utter loud cries, make a great noise, and all to no purpose, because they build without a foundation. I speak of men who, in other respects, are good, but with little learning, and excessive warmth; for they who employ all the energy that they possess in battling against sound doctrine, are far more dangerous, and do not deserve to be mentioned here at all.

In short, Paul means that reproofs are founded on doctrine, in order that they may not be justly despised as frivolous. Secondly, he means that keenness is moderated by gentleness; for nothing is more difficult than to set a limit to our zeal, when we have once become warm. Now when we are carried away by impatience, our exertions are altogether fruitless. Our harshness not only exposes us to ridicule, but also irritates the minds of the people. Besides, keen and violent men are generally unable to endure the obstinacy of those with whom they are brought into intercourse, and cannot submit to many annoyances and insults, which nevertheless must be digested, if we are desirous to be useful. Let severity be therefore mingled with this seasoning of gentleness, that it may be known to proceed from a peaceful heart.[2]

2 Paul’s concluding charge to Timothy begins with a series of five imperatives in the Greek. The first is to “preach [kēryssō, GK 3062; cf. 1 Ti 3:16; cf. kēryx, GK 3061, in 1 Ti 2:7; 2 Ti 1:11] the Word” (on “the Word,” see 1 Ti 4:12; 5:17). Timothy has been thoroughly grounded in the “holy Scriptures” (2 Ti 3:15); those Scriptures are the same Word—God’s Word (2:9), the “word of truth” (2:15)—that he is solemnly called on to preach (cf. Ro 10:8; 1 Co 15:2). Notably, this preaching is not limited to the edification of believers (cf. Marshall, 800). It entails imparting to his hearers “sound doctrine” rather than telling them what they want to hear (v. 3).

Timothy’s primary motivation must not be to please people; he must take his cue first and foremost from God’s Word. As Stott (Message of 2 Timothy, 106) says, “We have no liberty to invent our message, but only to communicate ‘the word’ which God has spoken and has now committed to the church as a sacred trust.” We must proclaim the Word rather than merely cater to people’s “felt needs” or use the pulpit as a platform for pursuing our own personal agendas.

Paul’s next command is that the preacher must “be prepared” to proclaim the Word whether it seems popular at the time or not (eukairōs akairōs, GK 2323, 178, an oxymoron, “in season and out of season”; Mk 6:21; 14:11; cf. 2 Ti 4:3). This defied both Jewish and Greco-Roman wisdom. The OT Preacher wrote that there is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecc 3:7). Conventional Greco-Roman rhetoric held similarly that a speaker must carefully discern whether or not certain forms of address are opportune in a given situation. According to Plato (Phaed. 272A, using the same two Greek words), “a knowledge of the times for speaking and for keeping silence” is crucial (cf. A. J. Malherbe, “ ‘In Season and Out of Season’: 2 Timothy 4:2,” JBL 103 [1984]: 236–41). Especially startling is Paul’s exhortation to Timothy to preach the Word even when his audience may not be receptive (some say the reference is merely to Timothy’s own personal convenience, but this is unlikely). Judging by the book of Acts, this was also Paul’s own practice. In the end, it is not the preacher’s task to predict his audience’s response,only to be faithful to his calling. As Theodore of Mopsuestia (Commentary on 2 Timothy: TEM 2:223) writes, “Every occasion constitutes an opportune time for preaching.”

According to Paul’s last three imperatives, the preacher must “correct” (elenchō, GK 1794; 1 Ti 5:20; Tit 1:9, 13; 2:15; cf. 2 Ti 3:16), “rebuke” (epitimaō, GK 2203; not elsewhere in Paul), and “encourage” (parakaleō, GK 4151; cf. 1 Ti 5:1; 6:2; on the entire triad, cf. 3:16) with all “patience” (makrothymia, GK 3429; cf. 3:10) and “instruction” (didachē, GK 1439).[3]

4:2 / The charge itself is a series of five imperatives. The first, preach the Word (see disc. on 1 Tim. 4:5 for “the gospel message” as the proper understanding of “the logos of God” in the pe), is the rubric for the others. Above all else, Timothy must proclaim the message of the gospel, which here has the same effect as the charge to “guard the deposit” in 1 Timothy 6:20 and 2 Timothy 1:14. This is what the whole appeal from 1:6 to 3:17 is all about.

Furthermore, he is to be prepared in season and out of season. This is very close to the kjv’s famous, “Be instant in season, out of season.” Unfortunately what Paul intends is not all that clear. The verb is probably best translated “stand by it” (D-C) or “keep at it” (Kelly), that is, your proclaiming of the Word. The double adverbs (eukairōs, akairōs) are either subjective (having to do with Timothy) or objective (having to do with his hearers). If the former, which was how Chrysostom understood it, then it means that he should stay with the task whether it is convenient or not. If the latter, then it means that he should stand by it “whether or not the preaching comes at a convenient time for the hearers.” In the context, especially in light of what follows, the latter is probably intended, although it just may have to do with Timothy’s reticence (cf. 1:6–7).

The final three imperatives, correct, rebuke and encourage, are related to the various aspects of his task as proclaimer of the Word. He is to correct (better, “rebuke,” as in 3:16; Titus 1:13; 2:15) those in error; rebuke (perhaps, “warn”) those who do not heed the correction; and finally “exhort” (or “urge,” not encourage; see disc. on 1 Tim. 2:1; 5:1; 6:2) them all.

He is to do these final three tasks with great patience and careful instruction. Patience is required because of what will be said next—not all will give heed to him. Nonetheless he must always patiently hold forth the truth (i.e., teach with … careful instruction).[4]

The Nature of the Charge (verse 2)

Omitting verse 1 for the moment and passing to verse 2, the essence of the charge is in the three words ‘Preach the word’. We observe at once that the message Timothy is to communicate is called a ‘word’, a spoken utterance. Rather it is the word, God’s word which God has spoken. Paul does not need to specify it further, for Timothy will know at once that it is the body of doctrine which he has heard from Paul and which Paul has now committed to him to pass on to others. It is identical with ‘the deposit’ of chapter 1. And in this fourth chapter it is equivalent to ‘the sound teaching’ (3), ‘the truth’ (4) and ‘the faith’ (7). It consists of the Old Testament Scriptures, God-breathed and profitable, which Timothy has known from childhood, together with the teaching of the apostle which Timothy has ‘followed’, ‘learned’ and ‘firmly believed’ (3:10, 14). The same charge is laid upon the church of every age. We have no liberty to invent our message, but only to communicate ‘the word’ which God has spoken and has now committed to the church as a sacred trust.

Timothy is to ‘preach’ this word, himself to speak what God has spoken. His responsibility is not just to hear it, and to believe and obey what he hears; nor just to guard it from every falsification; nor just to suffer for it and continue in it; but now to preach it to others. It is good news of salvation for sinners. So he is to proclaim it like a herald in the market-place (kēryssō, cf. kēryx ‘a herald’ in 1:11). He is to lift up his voice without fear or favour, and boldly to make it known.

Paul goes on to list four marks which are to characterize Timothy’s proclamation.

  • An urgent proclamation

The verb ephistēmi, ‘be urgent’, means literally to ‘stand by’, and so to ‘be ready, be on hand’ (ag). But here it appears to take on the flavour not just of alertness and eagerness, but of insistence and urgency. ‘Never lose your sense of urgency’ (jbp). Certainly it is no good preaching in a listless or lackadaisical manner. All true preaching conveys a sense of the urgent importance of what is being preached. The Christian herald knows that he is handling matters of life and death. He is announcing the sinner’s plight under the judgment of God, the saving action of God through the death and resurrection of Christ, and the summons to repent and believe. How can he treat such themes with cold indifference? ‘Whatever you do,’ wrote Richard Baxter, ‘let the people see that you are in good earnest … You cannot break men’s hearts by jesting with them, or telling them a smooth tale, or patching up a gaudy oration. Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures upon a drowsy request of one that seemeth not to mean as he speaks, or to care much whether his request be granted.’1

Such urgent preaching, Paul adds, must continue ‘in season and out of season’. ‘Press it home on all occasions, convenient or inconvenient’ (neb). This injunction is not to be taken as an excuse for the insensitive brashness which has sometimes characterized our evangelism and brought it into disrepute. We have no liberty to barge unceremoniously into other people’s privacy or tread clumsily on their corns. No. The occasions Paul has in mind are probably ‘welcome or unwelcome’ (jb) not for the hearers so much as for the speaker. The translation of the neb margin emphasizes this: ‘be on duty at all times, convenient or inconvenient’. This takes the verb ephistēmi in its alternative sense, which is found sometimes in the papyri. It seems, then, that what we are given here is not a biblical warrant for rudeness, but a biblical appeal against laziness.

  • A relevant proclamation

The herald who announces the word is to ‘convince, rebuke and exhort’. This suggests three different ways of doing it. For God’s word is ‘profitable’ for a variety of ministries, as Paul has already stated (3:16). It speaks to different men in different situations. The preacher must remember this and be skilful in his use of it. He must ‘use argument, reproof, and appeal’ (neb), which is almost a classification of three approaches, intellectual, moral and emotional. For some people are tormented by doubts and need to be convinced by arguments. Others have fallen into sin, and need to be rebuked. Others again are haunted by fears, and need to be encouraged. God’s word does all this and more. We are to apply it relevantly.

  • A patient proclamation

Although we are to be urgent (longing for people to make a ready response to the word), we are to be ‘unfailing in patience’ in waiting for it. We must never resort to the use of human pressure techniques, or attempt to contrive a ‘decision’. Our responsibility is to be faithful in preaching the word; the results of the proclamation are the responsibility of the Holy Spirit, and we can afford to wait patiently for him to work. We are to be patient in our whole manner as well, for ‘the Lord’s servant must … be … kindly to everyone, … forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness’ (2:24, 25). However solemn our commission and urgent our message, there can be no possible justification for a brusque or impatient manner.

  • An intelligent proclamation

We are not only to preach the word but to teach it, or rather to preach it ‘with all teaching’ (kēryxon … en pasē … didachē). C. H. Dodd has made the whole church familiar with his distinction between kērygma and didachē, the former being the proclamation of Christ to unbelievers with a summons to repent, and the latter the ethical instruction of converts. The distinction is helpful and important. Yet, as has already been suggested in the comment on 1:11, it can be pressed too rigidly. At least, this verse shows that our kērygma must itself contain much didachē. Whether our proclamation is intended primarily to convince, rebuke or exhort, it must be a doctrinal ministry.

The Christian pastoral ministry is essentially a teaching ministry, which explains why candidates are required both to be orthodox in their own faith and to have an aptitude for teaching (e.g. Tit. 1:9; 1 Tim. 3:2). There is an increasing need, especially as the process of urbanization continues and standards of education rise, for Christian ministers to exercise in the teeming cities of the developing world a systematic expository preaching ministry, to ‘proclaim the word … with all teaching’. This is precisely what Paul had himself done in Ephesus, as Timothy well knew. For some three years he had continued to teach ‘the whole counsel of God’ both ‘in public and from house to house’ (Acts 20:20, 27; cf. 19:8–10). Now Timothy must do the same.

Such is Paul’s charge to Timothy. He is to preach the word, and as he announces the God-given message to be urgent in his approach, relevant in his application, patient in his manner and intelligent in his presentation.[5]

4:2. Paul’s charge to Timothy was: Preach the Word. Through the course of his two letters to Timothy, Paul had referred often to God’s revelation, his Word. Timothy understood that the Word was the same as Paul’s teachings (2 Tim. 2:2), “sound doctrine” (1 Tim. 1:10; 2 Tim. 1:13), the “glorious gospel” (1 Tim. 1:11; 2 Tim. 1:11), the “true faith” (1 Tim. 2:7; 4:1; 2 Tim. 1:5), and the “Scriptures” (1 Tim. 4:13). All pastors are bound by their duties as ministers of the gospel, to herald, or proclaim, the words of God. Whether on Sunday mornings or throughout the week, as they teach and instruct, their duty is to pass on what God has revealed.

Personal opinions and theories provide interesting discussions, but conviction about the essential truths of God remain necessary. The mandate for the church and its leadership remains: Preach the Word.

The subject of ministry is God’s Word. The duty of ministry is preparedness and accessibility: in season and out of season. The pastor, the Christian, is to view ministry as full-time, all the time, because faith involves all of life. There is no moment of the day that Christ cannot redeem if his people are prepared to seize the opportunities as they come. Those who remain ready and alert in their faith participate willingly in proclaiming the gospel, whether it is convenient or not.

The manner of ministry is to correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. God’s Word is extremely practical for every encounter and situation in life.

To correct means to convince or reprove. The pastor works to guide a person along the proper path of obedience and faith. To rebuke means to chide or censure, even blame. The pastor seeks to put a stop to wrong behavior or belief. To encourage means to exhort, give courage, or come alongside. The pastor walks with his people, living the example of faith and urging other to follow.

All these duties are to be carried out with kindness. Our battle is not against the weak, the errant, the sinful, but against Satan, who enslaves people to do his will. We are commissioned to offer peace in the name of Christ, and we must extend it in love and care as we proclaim the truth. It is the Word that confronts and convicts, not our spirits. We are to tell the truth in love (Eph. 4:15), allowing God’s Word and Spirit to work in people’s minds and hearts.[6]

2. By means of five brisk imperatives (all of them aorists) the content of the charge is now set forth: herald the word; be on hand in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, admonish, with all longsuffering and teaching.

  • “Herald the word.” This is basic to the other four imperatives. The rendering “Preach the word” is entirely correct, if the verb preach be understood in its primary, etymological meaning (from the Latin praedicare): to proclaim before the public, and not in the weakened sense which today is often attached to it: “to deliver a moral or religious discourse of any kind and in any way.” The word employed in the original means proclaim (cf. Matt. 10:27); literally, herald, make known officially and publicly a matter of great significance. Of course, all preaching should be heralding (Rom. 10:14, 15). Paul calls himself a herald (see footnote ). By order of his Superior he made an authoritative, open, forceful declaration. He here commands Timothy to be a herald also.

According to Scripture, then, “heralding” or “preaching” is generally the divinely authorized proclamation of the message of God to men. It is the exercise of ambassadorship.

This is evident from the following examples. These men are all said to have “heralded”:


“God will destroy the world. Turn away from your sins!” Or similar words (2 Peter 2:5; cf. 1 Peter 3:19).


“Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” (Jonah 3:4; Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32).

John the Baptist

“Repent, for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

“Look, the Lamb of God, who is taking away the sin of the world!” (Matt. 3:1, 2; John 1:29).

The Healed Gerasene Demoniac

“God has done great things for me!” (Luke 8:39).

The Apostle Paul

“Jesus is the Christ!” (Acts 9:20).

“Far be it from me to glory, except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Gal. 6:14).

“But now has Christ been raised from the dead, the first-fruits of them that are asleep!” (1 Cor. 15:20; cf. verses 55–58; 1 Thess. 4:13–18).

Similarly the twelve, Philip the evangelist, Peter at Cesarea, “a strong angel,” etc., are said to have “preached” (“heralded”). The verb is even used in connection with Christ, for he, too, was bringing God’s message to man.

The herald brings God’s message. Today in the work of “heralding” or “preaching” careful exposition of the text is certainly included. But genuine heralding or preaching is lively, not dry; timely, not stale. It is the earnest proclamation of news initiated by God. It is not the abstract speculation on views excogitated by man.

The somewhat timid Timothy must never be afraid to herald the word, that is, the gospel (see on 2 Tim. 2:8, 9; cf. Mark 1:14; 16:15; 1 Thess. 2:9). It is the true message of redemption in Christ, and as such stands over against all falsehood (see verse 4). Moreover, in sharp contrast with the oft stealthy infiltration practised by Satan and his servants (2 Tim. 3:6) is this open-and-above-board proclamation by one who brings good tidings and publishes peace (Nah. 1:15; Rom. 10:15).

How this heralding must be done is indicated by the four imperatives which follow:

  1. “Be on hand in season, out of season.” Welcome or not welcome, Timothy must ever be “on the spot” with the message from God. He must “buy up the opportunity” (Eph. 5:16).
  2. “Reprove” or “Convict.” See on 2 Tim. 3:16 for the related noun. Sin must be brought home to the sinner’s consciousness in order that he may repent. See the detailed discussion of this verb in N.T.C. on John 16:8, especially footnote 200.
  3. “Rebuke.” In the process of reproving or convicting the sinner, the latter must be sharply reprimanded. His sin must not be toned down.
  4. “Admonish.” Nevertheless, the demands of love must be fully satisfied. Hand in hand with pertinent rebuke there must be tender, fatherly admonition. See N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 2:7–12, and for detailed explanation of the verb “admonish” see on 1 Tim. 5:1.

Modifying each of the three imperatives is the beautiful phrase, “with all longsuffering and teaching,” meaning “with utmost longsuffering and with most painstaking teaching-activity.” Cf. a similar combination in 2 Tim. 2:24, “gentle to all, qualified to teach.”

Such longsuffering is a distinctly Christian virtue (2 Cor. 6:6; Eph. 4:2; Col. 1:11; 3:12; and see N.T.C. on 1 Thess. 5:14), as well as (elsewhere) a divine attribute (Rom. 2:4; 1 Tim. 1:16). Note that longsuffering (slowness to wrath, gentle patience with people who have erred) and teaching-activity go together. Neither is complete without the other. The manner in which Paul dealt with the Corinthian fornicator illustrates what he means by “reprove, rebuke, admonish, with all longsuffering and teaching” (1 Cor. 5:1–8, 13; 2 Cor. 2:5–11). A much earlier example is Nathan’s treatment of David (2 Sam. 12:1–15).[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1995). 2 Timothy (pp. 171–179). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Calvin, J., & Pringle, W. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (pp. 253–254). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

[3] Köstenberger, A. (2006). 2 Timothy. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, p. 593). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[4] Fee, G. D. (2011). 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus (pp. 284–285). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[5] Stott, J. R. W. (1973). Guard the Gospel the message of 2 Timothy (pp. 106–109). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Larson, K. (2000). I & II Thessalonians, I & II Timothy, Titus, Philemon (Vol. 9, p. 319). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[7] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Pastoral Epistles (Vol. 4, pp. 308–311). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

April 4, 2019 Truth2Freedom Briefing Report (US•World•Christian)


President Donald Trump is expected to announce a date for a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday afternoon, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is confident the world’s biggest social network will do better in 2020 at stopping “bad actors” from manipulating the U.S. presidential election.

The Republican-led U.S. Senate on Wednesday changed its procedures to speed up the confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominees for some lower court judgeships and sub-Cabinet level positions.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday called on NATO allies to adapt to confront a wide variety of emerging threats, including Russia’s increased aggression, Chinese strategic competition and uncontrolled migration.

San Diego County has filed a federal lawsuit against the administration of President Trump, accusing it of leaving thousands of asylum seekers stranded without help and straining county resources, officials said on Wednesday.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has severed ties with Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp as U.S. authorities investigate the Chinese firms for alleged sanctions violations.

The number of Americans filing applications for unemployment benefits fell to a more than 49-year low last week, pointing to sustained labor market strength despite slowing economic growth. U.S.-based companies announced fewer layoffs in March, but job cuts for the first quarter were the highest since 2015. The economy is losing momentum as the stimulus from a $1.5 trillion tax cut package fades. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits declined 10,000 to a seasonally adjusted 202,000 for the week ended March 30.

Pope Francis named the first African-American to the Catholic Church’s most senior U.S. position on Thursday, seeking to end a period of upheaval in a job whose previous two occupants were caught in sexual abuse scandals.

The presence of more than 200 Chinese fishing boats near an island occupied by Manila in the disputed South China Sea is illegal and a clear violation of Philippine sovereignty, the country’s foreign ministry said on Thursday.

AP Top Stories

The Trump administration is intensifying measures to curb the flow of Central American asylum seekers crossing into the United States from Mexico, including sending more people back to Mexico to wait for their asylum claims to be heard by U.S. courts.

A humanitarian aid ship with 64 rescued migrants aboard was stuck at sea as Italy and Malta refused safe harbor, leaving migrants sleeping in cramped conditions on deck as a storm approached.

Three teenage migrants were charged in Malta with seizing control of a merchant ship and using force and intimidation against the crew, which is considered a terrorist crime under Maltese law.

The leadership of Sen. Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign held a press call with reporters on Tuesday where they touted figures showing the diversity of their staff and supporters. Former Ohio state Sen. Nina Turner, a co-chair of the Sanders campaign, said this was evidence the senator “is bringing the rainbow mosaic of humanity together all across this country.”

Islamic State militants blew themselves up following clashes with the U.S.-backed Syrian forces in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which was liberated from the extremists nearly two years ago.

Tensions soared Wednesday between the United States and two of its NATO partners, Germany and Turkey, marring a 70th birthday celebration for the alliance aimed at showing a united front against a resurgent Russia.

Saudi Arabia plans to issue a multi-billion-dollar tender in 2020 to construct its first two nuclear power reactors and is discussing the project with U.S. and other potential suppliers.

Heavy bombardment by the Syrian army of the jihadist-controlled Idlib region has killed 22 civilians, a monitor said Thursday, the latest violence to threaten a seven-month-old truce.

Three of eight importers granted waivers by Washington to buy oil from Iran have now cut their shipments to zero, a U.S. official said on Tuesday, adding that improved global oil market conditions would help reduce Iranian crude exports further.


Most cannabis sold on the streets of Madrid is contaminated with dangerous levels of fecal matter, a study says. The samples that were wrapped up in plastic “acorns” were the worst offenders, reportedly because of the way they are smuggled into the country. Some 40% of these also had the aroma of feces.

US Vice-President Mike Pence has warned Turkey against buying a Russian S-400 anti-aircraft missile system that Washington sees as a threat to US jets. He said Turkey “must choose” between remaining a key NATO member or risk the security of that partnership “by making such reckless decisions”. Turkey responded that the purchase of the advanced system was a done deal.

The number of new corals on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has plunged by 89% since unprecedented bleaching events in 2016 and 2017, scientists said.

After Brunei introduced strict Islamic laws that make gay sex punishable by flogging or stoning to death, celebrities are calling on the public to boycott Brunei-owned luxury hotels.


The 2020 Democratic field is running hard to the left as the Democratic Party celebrates socialism. But several of the candidates can well afford taking down capitalism at this point, because they’re already multimillionaires and have incomes in the top 1 percent.

A gun buyback event in Newark funded primarily by a lawyers’ association brought in more than 300 weapons last weekend, from handguns that fit comfortably in a palm to assault rifles with high-tech accessories. The Essex County Prosecutor’s Office displayed some of the weapons Wednesday. They said the event held Saturday yielded 332 firearms and paid out about $41,000.

Mid-Day Snapshot · Apr. 4, 2019

The Foundation

“It has been a source of great pain to me to have met with so many among [my] opponents who had not the liberality to distinguish between political and social opposition; who transferred at once to the person, the hatred they bore to his political opinions.” —Thomas Jefferson (1808)

Dems Double Down on Anti-Trump Witch Hunt

They say Barr is hiding Mueller evidence damaging to Trump, while demanding tax returns.

Mitch Goes Nuclear

Democrats “have chosen to endlessly relitigate the 2016 election rather than actually participate in governing.”

Metastasizing Media Mendacity

The Leftmedia’s collective effort to undermine Trump over the last two years is remarkable.

Should the SPLC Be Tax-Exempt?

Sen. Tom Cotton has asked the IRS to investigate its “defamation of political opponents.”

Electoral College: Republic vs. Democracy

Democrats attack the notion that America is a republic with their push for abolition.

Michigan 12-Year-Old Fixes Potholes

He’s not going to wait for officials to fill the large potholes dotting a street near his home.

Humor Video: Deep Issues, Deep Tissues, 2020 Race

“The Tonight Show” asks random people to share thoughts while being given a massage.

The Border Policy Debacle — Never Let a Serious Crisis Go to Waste

Democrats will hold the line, seeing the crisis on the border as a political opening to loosen immigration policy and grow their voter constituency pipeline.

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Today’s Opinion

Gary Bauer
A CAT 5 Crisis
Victor Davis Hanson
With Mueller Hopes Gone, So Goes Progressive Unity
Tony Perkins
100% Cotton: Senator Asks IRS to Investigate SPLC
Cal Thomas
Joe Biden Suffers a Political Hit
Jeff Jacoby
Special Olympics Can Soar on Its Own
For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

Thursday Top News Executive Summary

“Nuclear option,” Trump tax returns, Joe Biden responds, ICE raid, Amazon’s Seattle exodus, WI supreme court, and more.

Thursday Short Cuts

“There is nothing we can ever give to the Democrats that will make them happy.” —Donald Trump

Today’s Meme

For more of today’s memes, visit the Memesters Union.

Today’s Cartoon

For more of today’s cartoons, visit the Cartoons archive.

News – 4/4/2019

Zehut’s Feiglin says he wants to build Third Temple right away
The head of the far-right quasi-libertarian Zehut party said Wednesday that he wants to rebuild the Jewish Temple on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem immediately. “I don’t want to build a (Third) Temple in one or two years, I want to build it now,” Moshe Feiglin said at a Maariv/Jerusalem Post conference in Tel Aviv, referring to the site that currently houses the Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa Mosque and where both Jewish Temples stood in the past.

Moscow Positions Itself as ‘Final Judge’ in Syria Amid Israel-Iran Tensions
Netanyahu will fly to Moscow on Thursday for a meeting with Putin, just five days before Israel’s April 9 elections. The meeting may be tied to Russia’s assistance in retrieving an Israeli soldier who went MIA in 1982, but may not be limited to that topic. On April 1, Netanyahu and Putin held a phone conversation to talk about “military cooperation issues,” according to the Kremlin, as well as “pressing bilateral issue,” and “the situation in the Middle East region.”

Wonder drug could reverse ageing process
Anti-ageing drugs – known as “senolytics” – are being trialled in humans, and unlike previous tests, which have focused on a single disease, these drugs work like a broad-spectrum antibiotic, preventing or alleviating most age-related illnesses and frailty. Scientists at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, have six trials in humans under way and plan to start six more. If successful, they estimate that drugs to slow down ageing could be ready within two years. “With a single intervention it might be possible now to affect healthspan and lifespan.”

Ilhan Omar Holding Private Fundraisers with Islamist Groups Linked to Terrorism – Report
Ilhan Omar of Minnesota is reportedly participating in a series of fundraisers closed to the press with groups that have been tied to Islamic terrorism. “Omar recently spoke in Florida at a private event hosted by Islamic Relief, a charity organization long said to have deep ties to groups that advocate terrorism against Israel,” The Washington Free Beacon reported. “Over the weekend, she will appear at another private event in (Irvine,) California that is hosted by CAIR-CA PAC, a political action committee affiliated with the Council on American Islamic Relations, or CAIR a group that was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in a massive terror-funding incident.”

“My Belief in Jesus Christ Makes a Real Difference”: The Faith behind Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
This isn’t new territory for Pompeo. Back in 2015, as a congressman from Kansas in a church setting, he preached about the cultural battle ahead. “We will continue to fight these battles, it is a never-ending struggle … until that moment that Pastor Fox spoke about; until the rapture,” Pompeo said.

Israeli Ambassador Forces UN to Acknowledge Anti-Semitism
“The memory of history seems to be fading with time, but our diplomatic efforts have shown that we will not allow the international community to remain silent while a wave of anti-Semitism spreads throughout the world,” Danon said.

Scientists Argue Whether Yellowstone Super Eruption is Overdue
There is a history of conflicting scientific reports regarding Yellowstone. In 2017, increased seismic activity at Yellowstone generated a great deal of concern. More than 2,300 tremors were recorded between June and September, In July 2018, a massive, 100 foot-wide fissure opened up in the Grand Teton National Park near Yellowstone, further increasing fears.

Build a wall? ‘We the people’ ready to step in where gov’t won’t
“[We believed the American people] were better equipped to start building sections of the southern border wall just like the government is doing, but on our own – doing it on private property where owners want it,” says Kolfage. “And that’s exactly what we’re doing right now. We break ground on our first section this month.”

Tea party leader: Time to go after ‘Deep State’
In an op-ed published at RealClearPolitics.com, Martin reminds readers that two years of leaks and lawsuits have unearthed a long list of officials at the CIA and Justice Department who conspired against Trump: James Comey, John Brennan, James Clapper, Loretta Lynch, Rod Rosenstein, Sally Yates, Andrew McCabe, and former FBI agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page.

TRIGGERED: Mitch McConnell goes nuclear, Chuck Schumer forgets who Harry Reid was
Led by Senate Majority Leader “Cocaine Mitch” McConnell, the Senate voted 51-48 to nuke the old rules and cut debate time for certain nominations from 30 hours to just 2 hours — great for confirming more judges.

UK Muslims steal $10,500,000,000 from British taxpayers in fraud schemes to fund jihad terror
The normal situation is to take money from the Kafir (non-Muslim), isn’t it? So this is normal situation. They give us the money. You work, give us the money. Allah Akbar, we take the money. Hopefully there is no one from the DSS (Department of Social Security) listening. Ah, but you see people will say you are not working. But the normal situation is for you to take money from the Kuffar (non-Muslim) So we take Jihad Seeker’s Allowance.”

Netanyahu: the option of reoccupying Gaza is still on the table
Israel has not ruled out the option of reoccupying Gaza, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday morning in an interview with KAN news. “All the options are still on the table, including entering Gaza and occupying it, out of consideration of what is best for Israel,” he said. “But that is the last option and not the first,” he said.

Archaeologists unearth 2,000 year-old Second Temple era Beersheba settlement
Israel Antiquities Authority and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev discovered the first-ever archeological evidence of a Jewish settlement in Beersheba from the Second Temple period, the Antiquities Authority announced on Thursday morning. The settlement was uncovered as part of an initiative by the Ministry of Construction and Housing, looking for archeological finds before they build a new neighborhood at the northern entrance of Beersheba.

Facebook Demanding Some New Users’ Email Passwords
Just two weeks after admitting it stored hundreds of millions of its users’ own passwords insecurely, Facebook is demanding some users fork over the password for their outside email account as the price of admission… “To continue using Facebook, you’ll need to confirm your email,” the message demands. “Since you signed up with [email address], you can do that automatically …” A form below the message asked for the users’ “email password.”

If You Are Not Paying Attention, the World-Ending Storm of a Third World War Is Gathering in Venezuela
At first, the US’s aggressive position on Venezuela seemed uncomplicated. Troops were quickly on the mind of the top hawk in D.C.—White House National Security Adviser John Bolton, the man who, in the first years of the 2000s, played a key role in leading the US into an adventure—the second Iraq war—that proved to be disastrous, and placed American imperial power in a terminal crisis (the collapse of the Project for the New American Century).

ISIS has NOT been defeated as terrorists are ‘re-grouping in Syria’ and plotting more attacks on the West
AS the world has been celebrating the fall of ISIS, the terror group has been re-grouping in Syria, according to reports. US-backed Syrian fighters were still battling ISIS jihadis in eastern Syria 10 days after declaring complete victory over the extremists, officials said. And the terror group has released a number of vile propaganda videos since the fall of the last stronghold in Baghouz calling for jihadis across the world to carry out attacks.

Report: Hamas, Islamic Jihad order end to Gaza border attacks
Militant groups in the Gaza Strip, which are dominated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have ordered their members to stop all launches of firebombs towards Israeli communities on the opposite side of the border, Palestinian newspaper al-Quds reported Wednesday. All Hamas and Islamic Jihad men were also ordered to end their nightly disturbances along the Gaza border fence, the report said, as well as the use of explosives during riots along the border.

The Sinoloa Drug Cartels Are Poisoning the Drinking Water for San Francisco
This article is both part-informative and in part will serve as a Public Service Announcement (PSA) for the drinking water in the San Francisco, Sacramento and the Central Valley region of California.

Maryland’s ‘Red Flag’ Law Turns Deadly: Officer Kills Man Who Refused To Turn In Gun
A 61-year-old man is dead after he was shot by an officer trying to enforce Maryland’s new ‘red flag’ law in Ferndale Monday morning… “Under the law, family, police, mental health professionals can all ask for the protective orders to remove weapons,” said Sgt. Jacklyn David, with Anne Arundel County Police.

61-Year-Old Woman Gives Birth To Own Granddaughter For Gay Son Using His Husband’s Sister’s Egg
Last week, a 61-year-old woman carrying her own granddaughter via a surrogacy pregnancy gave birth in a Nebraska hospital.

Why Does the CDC Recommend Hepatitis B Vaccination for Infants?
…Many parents naturally wonder why it is considered so necessary to vaccinate their baby against a virus that is primarily transmitted sexually or through sharing of needles among injection drug users

IT’S OFFICIAL: Trump officially blocks F-35 warplane sale to Turkey amid tensions
Delivery of F-35 fighter jet parts to Turkey halted in response to purchase of Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system.

President Trump Cuts Planned Parenthood Funding $44 Million, Sends Funds to Pregnancy Centers
Some of that grant money now will go to a life-affirming medical provider called the Obria Group instead, Townhall reports.

Europe plagued by waves of sexual and physical assaults committed by Muslim migrants – police don’t seem to care
A 88-year-old German woman has died due to injuries she sustained following an alleged attack by a 17-year-old migrant from Chechnya who is now in police custody.

UK Muslims steal $10,500,000,000 from British taxpayers in fraud schemes to fund jihad terror
A network of fraudsters stole billions of pounds from taxpayers in a 20-year crime spree on an industrial scale, funneling tens of millions to terrorists including Osama Bin Laden, according to police and intelligence files.

Christian Chick-fil-A Banned from Buffalo Airport for ‘Anti-LGBT Rhetoric’
Chick-fil-A has been banned from operating as a food vendor in the Buffalo Niagara International Airport after a Democrat New York assemblyman tweeted the restaurant supports “anti-LGBTQ organizations.”

24-Hour Illuminati Rave ‘Get Lost Miami’ Is The Latest Installment Of New Age Paganism For The Global Elites
I have said it many times before, but it bears repeating. The dystopian end times world envisioned by gospel tract cartoonist Jack Chick that he didn’t live long enough to see fully realized is now right before our very eyes. Massive throngs of people, on a global scale, given over to every type of lasciviousness and set to a house music beat, in glorious technicolor and Illuminati triangles drinking and dancing the night away. If you thought Burning Man was bad, this takes it up a few notches.

Wikipedia a SCAM: Top editors paid to protect left-wing leaders of tech giants
You can’t believe everything you read on Wikipedia: A shocking new report reveals the open-source network for information has been colluding to protect left-

Decline of Marriage: Majority of UK Brides Now Aged over 30
Britons who get married before the age of 30 are now in a minority, according to official new data showing that the number of religious marriages has declined to a record low.

Hollywood Actors Try To Blackmail Georgia Over Protecting The Unborn
Hollywood elites are threatening the state of Georgia with a boycott if the state protects unborn lives once their heartbeat is detectable. Georgians don’t need Hollywood’s consent to affirm humans’ personhood.

Headlines – 4/4/2019

Palestinian Shot and Killed in West Bank After Attempting Stabbing Attack, IDF Says

IDF shoots three Gazans sneaking into Israel with knives

Hamas, other groups said to order halt to arson balloon launches

Saudi Arabia supports Palestinian Authority’s budget with $40 mln

In upcoming elections, Palestinian issue nowhere to be found

Elections committee mulling request to ban Likud from social media campaigns

Shas: Blue and White would relocate gay pride parade to Western Wall

Feiglin: I want to build the Third Temple now

Lithuania’s genocide studies center accused of Holocaust denial

Activists petition Polish police to bar Holocaust denier from country

UK documentary claims Hitler was ‘very hands off’ in implementing Final Solution

Venezuelan FM to Meet Hezbollah Official While on Tour of anti-U.S. Allies in Mideast

Israel recovers remains of soldier missing since 1982 Lebanon war

Terror group said Baumel’s body found in Damascus camp, more remains recovered

As soldier’s body recovered, PM says Israel won’t rest until others found

$25 mln reward for information on ISIS leader whereabouts

Four suicide bombers hit Syria’s Raqqa: SDF

Russia positions itself as ‘final judge’ in Syria amid escalating Israeli-Iranian tensions

Iraqi journalist accused of spying for Iran arrested in Sweden

US envoy Brian Hook says three countries cut Iran oil imports to zero

Oil Market Conditions Allowing Countries to Forgo Iran Sanctions Waivers, U.S. Official Says

Arab Coalition intercepts two Houthi drones over Saudi Arabia

Satellite Images of Saudi Nuclear Reactor Show Plant Nears Completion, Report Says

U.S.-Turkey Standoff Over F-35 Escalates As Each Side Waits For The Other To Blink

US Vice President warns Turkey against buying Russian anti-missile system

Turkish FM says no turning back from Russia arms deal

Istanbul mayoral candidate asks to be confirmed as winner

Recount ordered in Istanbul local election

Eastern Libyan forces ordered to move west to fight militants

German charity ship rescues 64 migrants off Libya

Kremlin hopes for transition in Algeria without foreign ‘interference’

NATO chief cites Russia threat in address to US Congress

India anti-satellite missile test a ‘terrible thing,’ NASA chief says

Pakistan summons Indian diplomat over Kashmir killings

Bomb injures at least 18 people in southern Philippine town

Top Venezuela court tightens noose on opposition chief Guaido

Venezuela’s Guaido stripped of immunity, can face prosecution

If You Are Not Paying Attention, the World-Ending Storm of a Third World War Is Gathering in Venezuela

Senators introduce bill to send $400 million in aid to Venezuela, strengthen sanctions

British lawmakers back bill to delay Brexit if no deal reached

No-deal Brexit outlawed as Theresa May faces fury from her own side

Labour’s Corbyn says Theresa May has not moved enough on Brexit

U.S. Senators Want to Hit Russia With New Sanctions Over Election Meddling, Ukraine and Syria

House Judiciary authorizes subpoena for full Mueller report

Some on Mueller’s Team See Their Findings as More Damaging for Trump Than Barr Revealed

House Dem asks IRS for 6 years of Trump’s tax returns, setting up showdown with White House

Kushner’s security clearance was denied due to concerns of foreign influence

It’s a ‘Cat 5’ immigration crisis: Nielsen

Trump’s fear-stoking immigration policy, in two White House retweets

Chaos, complexities asylum seekers, border agents face in possible US border shutdown

US company makes Trump $3.3B border offer: Quick turnaround on 218 miles of steel fence, roads, and tech

Trump lashes out at Puerto Rico’s ‘incompetent or corrupt’ politicians after Senate fails to advance disaster aid bill

Senate Rewrites Rules To Speed Confirmations For Some Trump Nominees

Commentary: The Democratic Party Is Radicalizing – Extremism isn’t just affecting the GOP

Socialists Surge To Victories In Chicago City Council

Federal agency frets about terrorism threats at Burning Man

Yujing Zhang: Woman with Chinese passports, malware inside Mar-a-Lago facing federal charges

Reddit, Telegram Among Websites Being Blocked in India

Millions of Facebook Records Found on Amazon Cloud Servers

Speeder arrested after posting YouTube livestream as he drives over 185 mph

6.5 magnitude earthquake hits near Kiska Volcano, Alaska

5.4 magnitude earthquake hits near Taitung City, Taiwan

5.2 magnitude earthquake hits near Little Sitkin Island, Alaska

5.1 magnitude earthquake hits near Taitung City, Taiwan

Sabancaya volcano in Peru erupts to 25,000ft

Popocateptl volcano in Mexico erupts to 21,000ft

Agung volcano in Indonesia erupts to 20,000ft

Fuego volcano in Guatemala erupts to 16,000ft

Reventador volcano in Ecuador erupts to 16,000ft

Planchon Peteroa volcano in Chile erupts to 15,000ft

Kerinci volcano in Indonesia erupts to 14,000ft

Ibu volcano in Indonesia erupts to 13,000ft

April snow falls in Charlotte, North Carolina, for only 2nd time in over 100 years

‘A California Water Supply Dream’: Record Snowpack Measured In Sierra Nevada, Lake Tahoe Region

Long-term flooding remains a concern in central US as rivers continue to rise

Iran puts death toll from flooding at 62

Melting glaciers on Alaska’s Denali will unleash tons of human poop

The wonder drug that could reverse the ageing process

Mozambicans line up for cholera vaccines to fight outbreak

El Al flight attendant hospitalized in serious condition with measles – the woman had been vaccinated

Dirty dental utensils may have exposed Seattle schoolkids to risk of HIV, hepatitis B, C: reports

Alyssa Milano pushes against Georgia abortion ban, Georgia pushes back

‘Unplanned’ actress fires back at movie industry for threatening Georgia

Chick-fil-A banned from another airport for Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Salvation Army donations

Anti-LGBTQ judge claims victory in Wisconsin Supreme Court race

Lori Lightfoot elected Chicago mayor, will be 1st black woman and 1st openly gay person to hold post

Prince Azim of Brunei, Where It’s Now Legal to Stone LGBTQ People to Death, Has Openly Partied with Queer Celebs

Obama Silent on Biden As Former VP Feels Heat Over Allegations of Inappropriate Touching

Trump says Biden accusations are work of Dem ‘socialists’

‘He hugs everybody’: Women divided over defense of Biden

Joe Biden responds to misconduct allegations, says he’ll be ‘more mindful about respecting personal space’

Apostasy Watch Daily News

Mike Ratliff – Fools and Their Foolishness

Most Evangelical Leaders Have No Idea How the Gospel Works

A Hyper-Charismatic Guide to Losing your Mind

Roma Downey’s Financial Contribution to New Ager Marianne Williamson Raises Many Questions

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“A simple layman armed with Scripture is to be believed above a pope or a council without it…” – Martin Luther


Will Marriage Soon Be Meaningless?

Eradicate: Blotting Out God in America

Is God-ordained marriage being deconstructed  in America? In order to eliminate natural marriage in society, it must first be rendered meaningless. How could that happen? You might say ‘gays and lesbians pushing same-sex marriage for several decades’, and you’d only be partially right. Many factors lead to marriage being redefined.

Recent surveys done by Barna Research concluded that adultery, premarital sex and cohabitation have basically become the new normal in America. In addition, according to the National Center for Health Statistics, seventy-five percent of Americans say it’s okay to have and raise children when the parents are living together but not married. So how did we get here? 

Fifty years ago, a Gallup poll was done showing only 21% of Americans said premarital sex was acceptable; 68% said it was wrong. That was 1969. So what happened to change the attitudes of people about marriage over five decades?

Skyrocketing divorce…

View original post 370 more words

Roma Downey’s Financial Contribution to New Ager Marianne Williamson Raises Many Questions — Christian Research Network

“Our concern (one that is growing by the day) is with Christian leaders (men and women who name the name of Jesus Christ, who are highly influential and looked up to by millions – such as Greg Laurie and David Jeremiah) who are exhibiting very little or no discernment, such as in the situation with Roma Downey. And many are being misled because of this.”

Evangelical leaders such as Rick Warren, Greg Laurie, and David Jeremiah have shown public support for Roma Downey and her books, movies, and other media work for a number of years now. Lighthouse Trails has attempted to alert these leaders and the church at large that while Downey may be a sincere person, she is a New Age sympathizer and has consistently supported those sympathies.

This week, a Lighthouse Trails reader sent us a link to a March 27, 2019 article from the Center for Public Integrity that disclosed that Roma Downey contributed $2600 to Marianne Williamson’s 2014 run in California for Congress. Proof of this contribution can be seen on a government website (Federal Election Commission) that shows a tax record for Marianne Williamson for the year 2013 (when the contribution by Downey was made – see page 135 of the report). Marianne Williamson is one of today’s foremost New Age leaders and is running for president in 2020. It was because of Williamson that the New Age “Bible,” A Course in Miracles (see video), became popular in mainstream America after Williamson’s book Return to Love (promoting A Course in Miracles) was featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show. A Course in Miracles has the quintessential New Age message that God dwells in every human being and that each person has a Christ consciousness. It is this same New Age “God” who believes that “the era of the single savior is over”(1) and that Hitler actually did the Jews a favor by killing them. Listen to the following quotes by the New Age “God”:  View article →


Roma Downey

New Age Movement


CRN has a list of professing Christians to mark and avoid (Rom 16:17-18). Scroll down to WARNING

via Roma Downey’s Financial Contribution to New Ager Marianne Williamson Raises Many Questions — Christian Research Network

Tucker Carlson Drops TRUTH BOMB on Mexican Official: “Mexico Is a Hostile Power Seeking to Undermine Our Country and Our Sovereignty” (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

On Wednesday Tucker Carlson invited Juan Hernandez, the Guanajuato Secretary of Migration, on to his show to discuss the migrant crisis on the US border.

Tucker — correctly — called out Mexico for being a hostile power and seeking to undermine the United States.

He’s right.

TUCKER CARLSON: So but why isn’t the Mexican government stopping migrants from Central America before they get to the United States? Instead, Mexico is encouraging them to come here. That’s not the behavior of an ally. They’re not welcome, they’re not here legally. We have a process by which people can come legally – they’re not going through that process. So that’s an act of hostility and you can lie about it all you want, but we all know what it is. Why are we paying you money?…  Mexico is a hostile power that is seeking to undermine our country and sovereignty. 

Via The Columbia Bugle:

via Tucker Carlson Drops TRUTH BOMB on Mexican Official: “Mexico Is a Hostile Power Seeking to Undermine Our Country and Our Sovereignty” (VIDEO) — The Gateway Pundit

The Democratic Party Has Become Radicalized And Their Socialist, Pro-Death And Anti-Israel Agenda Should Be Truly Terrifying To All Americans — Now The End Begins

If you want to understand just how radicalized the Democratic Party has become in recent years, look at the ascent of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

Time was, the Democratic Party was the party of championing freedom and individual liberty, freedom of the press and commonsense immigration control. The Democratic Party used to stand for American values and our uniquely American way of life. But those ideals for Democrats exist only in unread history books, they are not the waking reality of the Democratic Party in 2019.

“The goal of socialism is communism.” Vladimir Lenin

Today’s Democratic Party has lurched so far Left that it has become something that would be unrecognizable to previous Democrats like FDR and JFK. Democrats in the 21st century are in favor of the killing of babies in the womb at any stage, and against preserving the life of babies fortunate enough to live through their own abortion. They have adopted many Socialist and Communist ideals, and are increasingly anti-Israel. In short, the Democratic Party in our day has become the enemy of the beliefs and doctrines of our Founding Fathers.

Just this week in Chicago, a minimum of 5 members of the Democratic Socialist Party have won their races for alderman, with a sixth win quite likely. To put that in perspective, Democratic Socialists now control 10 percent of the entire Chicago City Council. Everywhere you turn, the fake news Leftist media is pushing stories extolling the virtues of Socialism.

If you don’t think America is capable of turning Socialist, think again. America can absolutely be turned into a Socialist state, and even worse than that. Socialism, like it’s evil older sister Communism, means the death of any free nation. The Democratic Left is gaining ground rapidly, and it will be up to the America people to either reject it or embrace it at the ballot box.

The Democratic Party Is Radicalizing

FROM THE ATLANTIC: A self-proclaimed socialist, Sanders served as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, and was then elected to the House in 1990 and the Senate in 2006. It’s hard to overstate just how left-wing Sanders’s views have been, at least by the standards of American politics.

Sanders has been a consistent defender of regimes led by anti-American dictators like Daniel Ortega and Fidel Castro. He took pains to separate his brand of socialism from the “totalitarianism” of the Soviet Union, but on a 1988 trip, repeatedly drew contrasts between the Soviet system and the United States that cast his own country in an unfavorable light. In the 1970s, Sanders called for the nationalization of entire industries and 100 percent taxation on those making more than $1 million. Since then, Sanders has moved away from calling for government to own the means of production, but he has hardly experienced a Damascus-road conversion. He is still a proud leftist.

For most of his career, Sanders—who identified as an independent but who caucused with Democrats—was treated like a curiosity and even a bit of a crazy uncle by Democrats, who considered the label socialist to be a smear.

No more.

The most prominent socialist in America, Sanders has gained a following, and in 2016, he challenged Hillary Clinton for the presidential nomination. He eventually lost, of course, but not before winning roughly 13 million votes and 23 primaries and caucuses against Hillary Clinton, who got 17 million votes and won 34 contests. He electrified Democratic audiences in ways she could not, drawing a crowd of nearly 30,000 in Portland. The hashtag “Feel the Bern” exploded in popularity in 2016. Sanders particularly inspired the younger generation, drawing far more votes in the primaries from those under the age of 30 than did Clinton and Trump combined.

The 77-year-old Sanders is now a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination, with The New York Times declaring that his leftist ideas on health care, taxes, the environment, and other matters are defining the race.

“Those ideas that we talked about here in Iowa four years ago that seemed so radical at the time, remember that?” Sanders said during a return trip to the state earlier this month. “Shock of all shocks, those very same ideas are now supported not only by Democratic candidates for president but by Democratic candidates all across the board, from school board on up.”

“In 2016 Iowa helped begin the political revolution,” he continued. “Now as we move to 2020 our job is to complete that revolution.”

He’s not kidding, and he’s not alone. Among the freshman class of House Democrats, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez—now the second-most-famous democratic socialist in America—is the unquestioned star among the base. According to Dan Balz of The Washington Post, Ocasio-Cortez is “the titular leader of a progressive grass-roots movement pushing the party to the left.” (The mere mention of her name elicits spontaneous applause on programs like The Late Show With Stephen Colbert.)

Another prominent member of the freshman class of House Democrats, Ilhan Omar, recently dismissed former President Barack Obama—who not that long ago defined the progressive wing of the Democratic Party—as too right-wing. “We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished,” she said, “we want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

To more fully grasp the leftward lurch of the Democratic Party, it’s useful to run through some of the ideas that are now being seriously talked about and embraced by leading members of the party—ideas that together would be fiscally ruinous, invest massive and unwarranted trust in central planners, and weaken America’s security.

  • The Green New Deal, a 10-year effort to eliminate fossil fuels “as much as is technologically feasible” that would completely transform the American economy, put the federal government in partial or complete control over large sectors, and retrofit every building in America. It would change the way we travel and eat, switch the entire electrical grid to renewable energy sources, and for good measure “guarantee” high-paying jobs, affordable housing, and universal health care. It would be astronomically costly and constitute by far the greatest centralization of power in American history.
  • Medicare for all, which would greatly expand the federal role in health care. Some versions would wipe out the health-insurance industry and do away with employer-sponsored health plans that now cover roughly 175 million Americans. This would be hugely disruptive and unpopular (70 percent of Americans are happy with their coverage), and would exacerbate the worst efficiencies of an already highly inefficient program.
  • Make college tuition-free and debt-free, with the no-debt promise including both tuition and living expenses—a highly expensive undertaking ($50 billion a year or so just for the federal government)—that would transfer money from less wealthy families whose children do not attend college to wealthier families whose children do. It could also have potentially devastating effects on many private, not-for-profit colleges.
  • Increase the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent from its current rate of 37 percent for those making more than $10 million, unwise in the 21st-century economy and far above the average top rate for OECD nations; and impose a “wealth tax” that would levy a 2 percent annual tax on a household’s assets—including stocks, real estate, and retirement funds—above $50 million. It isn’t even clear whether a tax on wealth rather than income would be constitutional, but that almost seems beside the point.
  • Abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which upholds immigration laws; protect “sanctuary cities” (local jurisdictions that don’t fully cooperate with federal efforts to find and deport unauthorized immigrants); and take down existing walls on the southern border, walls which Speaker Nancy Pelosi has referred to as “an immorality.” These policies signal that Democrats don’t really believe in border security and are mostly untroubled by illegal immigration.
  • Eliminate the Senate filibuster, pack the courts, and put an end to the Electoral College. The effect of these would be to weaken protections against abuses of majority power.
  • Reparations for African Americans to provide compensation for past injustices like slavery, Jim Crow laws, and redlining. (Senator Elizabeth Warren believes Native Americans should be included as well.) Reparations would pose countless practical problems and create unintended consequences, as David Frum argued in these pages.
  • Opposition to any limits on even third-trimester abortions, and opposition to the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act, legislation clarifying that babies who survive attempted abortions must receive medical care. Abortion is a very difficult issue that requires empathy on all sides—but for many of us, this stance of Democrats is morally incomprehensible.
  • Increasing antipathy aimed at Israel, one of the most estimable nations in the world. Two freshmen Democrats, Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, have embraced the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement targeting Israel, and House Democratic leaders faced a fierce backlash in their efforts to condemn the anti-Semitic remarks by Omar, who has a record of anti-Semitic comments and who most recently accused supporters of Israel of dual loyalties. (The Democratic House, unable to pass a measure that focused solely on anti-Semitism, eventually passed a resolution condemning “hateful expressions of intolerance.”)

Tucker: The collapse of the Democrats

From unhinged candidates to violent mobs and brazen hypocrisy, it appears lunacy has invaded the Democratic Party.

via The Democratic Party Has Become Radicalized And Their Socialist, Pro-Death And Anti-Israel Agenda Should Be Truly Terrifying To All Americans — Now The End Begins

Democrat presidential candidates propose giving citizenship to millions of illegal immigrants


Net annual cost of illegal immigration Net annual cost of illegal immigration to taxpayers

The Democrat position on border security, as we know from that last few months, is that they would prefer that the government be shut down rather than build a wall. One Democrat presidential candidate even wants to give millions more illegal immigrants amnesty. Is there any reason why American taxpayers should be concerned about his plan?

The radically leftist Dallas Morning News reports:

Democratic presidential hopeful Julián Castro on Tuesday unveiled a detailed immigration plan that would offer a path to citizenship for millions of immigrants in the country without authorization.

He’s not the only one.

Fox News reports that Robert O’Rourke proposes something similar:

Days after saying he’d support eliminating U.S.-Mexico border barriers, former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke has released a 10-point plan that argues that strict border enforcement encourages illegal immigration and that calls for giving millions of undocumented immigrants a path to…

View original post 611 more words

Evangelical Leaders Hi-jacking the Pro-Life Movement for Social Justice — Reformation Charlotte

The social justice movement is by far one of the most dangerous affronts to the gospel in history. As John MacArthur rightly stated, it is a hindrance to the gospel and has injected something “alien” into the gospel. But what makes an unbiblical attack on the gospel even worse is when a legitimate, gospel-centered movement is hi-jacked and used as a platform to campaign for a subversive agenda. This is what many Evangelical leaders are doing today.

Thabiti Anyabwile is by far the most notable figure in the Evangelical social justice movement. Why he hasn’t been completely written off by sound leaders is mind-boggling as he has left no doubt as to what he stands for — and it isn’t the gospel. Anyabwile — born as Ron Burns, but changed his name when he converted to Islam to identify with black nationalism — is now the pastor at Anacostia River Church in Washington, DC.

Anyabwile has relentlessly pushed for social justice — namely, redistribution of wealth through slave reparations and other forms of identity politics. And he has repeatedly used the pro-life movement as a platform to channel his subversive ideology through.

In January, Anyabwile preached a chapel sermon at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary where he began the sermon with an anti-abortion message and then proceeded to turn it into a call for Christians to take up a socialist cause. Quoting Proverbs 31:8-9, he attempted to paint black Americans as the “poor,” “needy,” and “destitute” that this passage refers to, and asserted that unless you take up the cause of black reparations, you aren’t truly pro-life.

Read more: Evangelical Leaders Hi-jacking the Pro-Life Movement for Social Justice — Reformation Charlotte

Theology of the Cross | Ligonier Ministries Blog

Here’s an excerpt from Theology of the Cross, Burk Parsons’ contribution to the April issue of Tabletalk:

One of my greatest fears for the church today is that we will become bored with the cross of Christ. I am concerned that any mention of Christ and Him crucified is leading many professing Christians to say to themselves: “Yeah, I know all about Jesus dying on the cross for my sins—let’s move on to something else. Let’s get past the basics, and let’s deal with bigger theological issues.” I firmly believe that Satan is set on trying to destroy us, but he’ll settle with just getting us to lose our astonishment regarding Christ and Him crucified. Such loss of astonishment usually begins in the pulpit, and it quickly trickles down into the hearts and homes of those in the pew. When pastors stop preaching about the cross or mention it only when they have to, the people of God can easily begin to see the cross as a perfunctory matter that only needs to be considered occasionally.

The cross should not just be at the top of our theological priority list; it should be at the center of all our theological priorities.

All professing Christians know that the cross is important, but we often fail to grasp the all-encompassing significance of it—that the cross is not only at the heart of our faith, but it encompasses the entire existence of our faith, our life, and our worship. In order for us to possess a proper theology of the cross, the reality of Christ and Him crucified must possess us in all that we believe and in all that we do. The cross should not just be at the top of our theological priority list; it should be at the center of all our theological priorities. If we become bored with the cross of Christ, and if we lose our astonishment of Christ and Him crucified, we will quickly begin to lose the entirety of Christian doctrine and practice.

The question is, then, Why is it that many Christians do not hear much about the cross of Christ? Why is it that some preachers do not dig into the depths of the theology of the cross? Some preachers do not spend much time addressing the cross because if they do, they will have to talk about sin, the wrath of God, the holiness of God, and God’s eternal condemnation in hell of all those who do not repent at the foot of the cross. Rightly, we do well to focus on the love of God demonstrated at the cross, but if we don’t grasp the wrath of God not just against sin but against sinners, then we cannot grasp the love of God for sinners. If we fail to understand what God is saving us from—namely, wrath, judgment, and hell—we will never understand His mercy. If we are not confronted with the wretchedness of our sin, we will not be able to rest in His amazing grace. For it is only when we grasp that we in our sin put Jesus on the cross that we can begin to see what God did for us at the cross.

Continue reading Theology of the Cross
— Read on www.ligonier.org/blog/theology-cross/

April 4 The Cross: A New Way of Living

scripture reading: Romans 6:1–14
key verse: Romans 6:11

Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

The Cross is removed from a purely historical perspective when we realize that we, too, are involved in its ageless liberation. The apostle Paul informed us that by God’s unfathomable working, we were included in the Lord Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection.

We have been crucified, buried, and raised with Christ. Through faith in Christ Jesus, each of us has died to sin and been joined with Him to become “a new creature” (2 Cor. 5:17 nasb).

This concept is difficult to understand. Perhaps this analogy will help: Think of a book mailed to Europe. Inside the book is a three–by–five–inch photograph. Wherever the book is sent, the photograph goes also.

God placed you in Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection. What happened to Jesus also has happened in you. Daily you are told to “reckon” or “consider” yourself (count it as so) “to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 6:11 nasb).

You can do so only because of your union with Christ. His death to sin is yours, and His life with the Father is yours. The Cross is the means to an entirely new way of living—now and forever.

I am dead to sin. I am a new creature in Christ. I am alive to You, dear God. Thank You for my new life![1]

[1] Stanley, C. F. (1998). Enter His gates: a daily devotional. Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

4 april (1858) 365 Days with Spurgeon

The form and spirit of religion

“Let us fetch the ark of the covenant of the Lord out of Shiloh unto us, that, when it cometh among us, it may save us out of the hand of our enemies.” 1 Samuel 4:3

suggested further reading: 1 Corinthians 1:13–17

How vain are the hopes that men build upon their good works, and ceremonial observances! How frightful is that delusion which teaches for the gospel a thing which is not “the gospel”, nor “another gospel”; but it is a thing that would pervert the gospel of Christ. Let me ask thee solemnly, what is thy ground of hope? Dost thou rely on baptism? O man, how foolish thou art! What can a few drops of water, put upon an infant’s forehead, do? Some lying hypocrites tell us that children are regenerated by drops of water. What kind of regeneration is that? We have seen people hanged that were regenerated in this fashion. There have been men that have lived all their lives as whoremongers, adulterers, thieves, and murderers, who have been regenerated in their baptism by that kind of regeneration. Oh, be not deceived by a regeneration so absurd, so palpable even to flesh and blood, as one of the lying wonders that have come from hell itself. But maybe thou sayest, “Sir, I rely upon my baptism, in after life.” Ah, my friends, what can washing in water do? As the Lord liveth, if thou trustest in baptism thou trustest in a thing that will fail thee at last. For what is washing in water, unless it is preceded by faith and repentance? We baptize you, not in order to wash away your sins, but because we believe they are washed away beforehand; and if we did not think you believed so, we would not admit you to a participation in that ordinance. But if you will pervert this to your own destruction, by trusting in it, take heed; you are warned this morning. For as “circumcision availeth nothing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature,” so baptism availeth nothing.

for meditation: Baptism is supposed to illustrate the gospel, not to replace it. The command to be baptised follows the new birth, repentance and faith in Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 8:12, 36–38; 9:17–18; 10:47–48; 16:14–15, 31–34; 18:8).

sermon no. 186[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H., & Crosby, T. P. (1998). 365 Days with Spurgeon (Volume 1) (p. 101). Leominster, UK: Day One Publications.

4 APRIL 365 Days with Calvin

Separating Wheat from Chaff

When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning. Isaiah 4:4

suggested further reading: Zechariah 13

When the church’s filth has been washed away, she will be clean, and all who belong to her will truly be the elect of God. Now, it is certain that what Isaiah says here does not apply universally to the external church, into which many have been admitted under the designation of believers and who have nothing that corresponds to their profession.

The number of unbelievers in the church may even exceed the small number of true believers, as chaff often exceeds wheat in a barn. And though the captivity in Babylon was used by God as a sieve to remove a large portion of chaff, yet we know that the church was still very far from being as pure as she ought to have been. Still at that time there was, in some measure, a resemblance of that purity which will be truly and perfectly manifested after the lambs are separated from the kids (Matt. 25:32). When Isaiah speaks of those beginnings, he includes (as his custom is) a period that extends to the end, when God will bring to perfection that which he has begun.

We see the same thing today, for though chastisements and punishments do not entirely remove all spots from the church, yet when spots have been washed out, she recovers a part of her purity. She suffers no great loss by the strokes inflicted in her because, while she is diminished, she is at the same time comforted by casting out many hypocrites. For it is only by casting out offensive or corrupt matter that a diseased body can be restored to health.

In this we obtain a most useful consolation, for we tend to want a multitude of believers and to estimate by it the prosperity of the church. On the contrary, we should rather desire to be few in number in which the glory of God shines brightly. But because our own glory leads us in another direction, the consequence is that we more greatly regard a great number of men than the excellence of a few.

for meditation: What is the use of a great number of nominal Christians if few behave like Christians in any sense of the word? The greater concern is building a holy church, not building a mega-church. How can you help your church become more holy?[1]

[1] Calvin, J., & Beeke, J. R. (2008). 365 Days with Calvin (p. 113). Leominster; Grand Rapids, MI: Day One Publications; Reformation Heritage Books.

Thursday Briefing April 4, 2019 – AlbertMohler.com

Chicago elects openly gay, African-American woman as mayor: What this tells us about identity politics, the normalization of a new morality, and the Chicago political machine

The prophet of the Mormon church claims God directly told him to change the church’s name: Why this direct assertion of special revelation is theologically troubling

An opinion piece in the New York Times states that believing in a perfect, all-powerful, and all-knowing God is incoherent, but Christians stand firm in God’s self-revelation

The post Thursday, April 4, 2019 appeared first on AlbertMohler.com.

Download MP3

— Read on albertmohler.com/2019/04/04/briefing-4-4-19/

April 4, 2019 Morning Verse Of The Day

Submission in the Workplace

(1 Peter 2:18–21a)

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, (2:18–21a)

Today postmodern culture seems to cling to only one basic moral obligation, the sacred duty to provide equal rights for everyone. No one any longer speaks of sacrifice or privilege—only rights, such as ethnic rights, reproductive rights, immigrant rights, homosexual rights, and workplace rights.

If people do not receive what they think personal freedom should give them, they express their grievances in the form of walkouts, strikes, boycotts, and political rebellions. Such protesters are usually motivated by the belief that everyone is equal in every way and entitled to exactly the same things as everyone else.

In the workplace, employees voice their grievances over a lack of “rights” through work slowdowns, “sick-outs,” protests, or all-out strikes that prevent management from conducting business. Management sometimes responds with lockouts or even termination of the striking employees. Job actions on occasion do result in salary increases and improved benefits for employees, or perhaps a compromise agreement that benefits both sides in the long run.

However, the focus on “rights” in the workplace, whatever the results, is incongruous with the Christian life. Believers are to be concerned instead with obedience and submission to God’s will. When they obey and submit to their superiors, as He commands, they prove that their real hope is in the world to come. David provides an excellent illustration of the submissive attitude God seeks in the context of serving under someone. Once God chose him to replace Saul as king, Saul sought to kill David. First Samuel describes what underlay Saul’s hatred:

It happened as they were coming, when David returned from killing the Philistine [Goliath], that the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with joy and with musical instruments. The women sang as they played, and said, “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” Then Saul became very angry, for this saying displeased him; and he said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, but to me they have ascribed thousands. Now what more can he have but the kingdom?” Saul looked at David with suspicion from that day on. Now it came about on the next day that an evil spirit from God came mightily upon Saul, and he raved in the midst of the house, while David was playing the harp with his hand, as usual; and a spear was in Saul’s hand. Saul hurled the spear for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David escaped from his presence twice. (1 Sam. 18:6–11; cf. 19:9–10)

In the face of such hostility, David rested in the divine promise that he would be king. Therefore he did not need to demand his right to rule; neither did he insist on vengeance against King Saul. Nevertheless Saul continued to seek David’s life.

Then Saul took three thousand chosen men from all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Rocks of the Wild Goats. He came to the sheepfolds on the way, where there was a cave; and Saul went in to relieve himself. Now David and his men were sitting in the inner recesses of the cave. The men of David said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold; I am about to give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it seems good to you.’ ” Then David arose and cut off the edge of Saul’s robe secretly. It came about afterward that David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the edge of Saul’s robe. So he said to his men, “Far be it from me because of the Lord that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord’s anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the Lord’s anointed.” David persuaded his men with these words and did not allow them to rise up against Saul. And Saul arose, left the cave, and went on his way. Now afterward David arose and went out of the cave and called after Saul, saying, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the ground and prostrated himself. David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men, saying, ‘Behold, David seeks to harm you’? Behold, this day your eyes have seen that the Lord had given you today into my hand in the cave, and some said to kill you, but my eye had pity on you; and I said, ‘I will not stretch out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord’s anointed.’ Now, my father, see! Indeed, see the edge of your robe in my hand! For in that I cut off the edge of your robe and did not kill you, know and perceive that there is no evil or rebellion in my hands, and I have not sinned against you, though you are lying in wait for my life to take it. May the Lord judge between you and me, and may the Lord avenge me on you; but my hand shall not be against you.” (1 Sam. 24:2–12)

Unbelievably, from a human standpoint, David again refused to harm Saul, even though he had another opportunity to strike back at the king. First Samuel 26:6–12 chronicles what happened:

Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite and to Abishai the son of Zeruiah, Joab’s brother, saying, “Who will go down with me to Saul in the camp?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” So David and Abishai came to the people by night, and behold, Saul lay sleeping inside the circle of the camp with his spear stuck in the ground at his head; and Abner and the people were lying around him. Then Abishai said to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hand; now therefore, please let me strike him with the spear to the ground with one stroke, and I will not strike him the second time.” But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can stretch out his hand against the Lord’s anointed and be without guilt?” David also said, “As the Lord lives, surely the Lord will strike him, or his day will come that he dies, or he will go down into battle and perish. The Lord forbid that I should stretch out my hand against the Lord’s anointed; but now please take the spear that is at his head and the jug of water, and let us go.” So David took the spear and the jug of water from beside Saul’s head, and they went away, but no one saw or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a sound sleep from the Lord had fallen on them.

The apostle Paul more specifically articulated the divine principle of granting respect and not seeking retaliation: “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17–19; cf. Luke 6:32–35; 1 Cor. 7:20–21, 24). As discussed in the previous chapter of this volume, neither Peter, Paul, nor any of the New Testament writers ever advocated that subordinates should rise up against their superiors.

In this section, Peter moves from politics to work and commands believers who are servants or slaves to submit to their masters. In broader terms, that means Christian employees are to respect and obey their employers. The apostle issued his command as both a mandate and a motive for submission.

The Mandate for Submission

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. (2:18)

The workforce in the Roman world consisted of slaves, and the way they were treated was wide-ranging. Some masters loved their slaves as trusted members of the household and treated them like family. But many did not, because there were scant protections—and virtually no rights—for slaves, who were considered property rather than persons. Slaves owned little or nothing and had no legal recourse to which they could appeal when mistreated. For instance, the influential Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote, “A slave is a living tool, and a tool is an inanimate slave” (Ethics, 1161b). Writing about agriculture, the Roman nobleman Varro asserted that the only thing distinguishing a slave from a beast or a cart was that the slave could talk.

It is safe to say that as the gospel spread throughout the Greco-Roman world most of the converts were slaves. Paul told the Corinthians,

For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen. (1 Cor. 1:26–28)

That reality is the reason the New Testament addressed much teaching to slaves (1 Cor. 7:20–24; Eph. 6:5–6; Col. 3:22; 1 Tim. 6:1–2; Titus 2:9–10; Philem. 12–16). They made up a large part of the Gentile church and their place in society raised some important issues. First, believing slaves often assumed that since they had become free in Christ (Rom. 6:17–18; 7:6; 1 Cor. 7:22; 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Eph. 6:8; Col. 3:11, 24) they also had a right to freedom from their masters. Second, converted slaves sometimes assumed that certain societal elevation should be theirs because of their spiritual giftedness and leadership in the church. When a slave became a church elder and thus the spiritual overseer of his believing master, the issue of his subordination to that master in the workplace had to be addressed. Under apostolic teaching, the early Christians developed strong and correct convictions on the slavery issues. They did not seek to incite a slave rebellion, but focused on making sure Christian slaves’ attitudes were right. Paul’s letter to Philemon is inspired testimony to the divine will for a slave, who was a brother in Christ, to fulfill his duty to his master.

Servants (oiketai) is from the root meaning “house,” and thus is the basic term for household servants (cf. Acts 10:7). Most of those servants served in a home or under an estate owner with duties from being farmers who plowed the owner’s field to doctors who cared for his family’s medical needs. Peter’s basic command to them is be submissive (hupotassomenoi, a present passive participle with the sense of a present imperative, meaning “to line up under”). Slaves were to be continually submissive to their masters, the despotai (from which the English word despots derives), who had absolute ownership of and complete control over them (cf. 1 Tim. 6:1–2; Titus 2:9).

The submission of servants was to be rendered with all respect, that is, without bitterness or negativity, but with an attitude of gracious honor. That was a way to show respect to God Himself and to fulfill Peter’s teachings about the fear of God, expressed elsewhere in the letter (1:17 [see the discussion of this verse in chapter 5 of this volume]; 2:17; 3:2; 3:15). God designed the servant-master relationship to ensure safety, care, support, productivity, and the conduct of human enterprise. The earth yields its produce and material wealth to support and enrich mankind through the providence of work relations. This is an institution of God from the Fall onward (Gen. 3:17–19). God has designed a complex of abilities and opportunities, relations and experiences, to allow humans to draw the rich resources out of this planet.

Such a God-fearing attitude is to extend beyond the good and gentle masters even to those who are unreasonable. Good (agathois) means “one who is upright, beneficial, and satisfactory for another’s need.” Gentle (epieikesin) refers to “one who is considerate, reasonable, and fair.” Therefore good and gentle describes a magnanimous, kind, and gracious person, the kind of master to whom it is easy to submit. The kind to whom it is not easy to submit Peter called unreasonable (skoliois), a term that literally means “curved” or “crooked,” and metaphorically means “perverse” or “dishonest.” (The word is transliterated in medical terminology to describe a twisted condition of the spinal column [scoliosis].)

In his letter to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul further stated God’s will on this issue:

Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him. (Eph. 6:5–9)

In the workplace, employees are to submit to employers as if they were serving Christ Himself. Such submissiveness precludes all rebellions, protests, mutinies, strikes, or workplace disobedience of every kind, even if the employer is unreasonable.

The Motive for Submission

For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, (2:19–21a)

It should be of little consequence to believers what their circumstances are in the workplace, whether they are chief executive officers or custodians, whether they receive a substantial pay raise or settle for a salary cut so the company can stay solvent. The factor of overarching significance is that they maintain their testimony before the watching world of sinners (cf. Matt. 5:15–16; Mark 4:21; Phil. 2:14–16), and in the workplace that occurs when believers labor with an awareness of God’s glory. Such awareness is the motivation not only for godly behavior and submission on the job, but also for trusting in God’s sovereignty in every situation. Theologian A. W. Pink wrote,

As [one] sees the apparent defeat of the right, and the triumphing of might and the wrong … it seems as though Satan were getting the better of the conflict. But as one looks above, instead of around, there is plainly visible to the eye of faith a Throne.… This then is our confidence—God is on the Throne. (The Sovereignty of God, rev. ed. [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1961], 149–50; emphases in the original)

The motivation for believers’ submission in the workplace resides in the short phrase, for this finds favor, literally, “this is a grace.” God is pleased when believers do their work in a humble and submissive way for their superiors (cf. 1 Sam. 15:22; Pss. 26:3; 36:10; James 1:25). It is especially favorable to God when for the sake of conscience toward God a person [believer] bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. Whether it was a slave in Peter’s day patiently enduring brutal treatment, or whether it is a modern-day employee not retaliating against an unkind and unjust supervisor, God is pleased. This is what James referred to as a “consider it all joy” experience by which believers are perfected (James 1:2–4). The greater blessing is actually for the one who suffers.

Conscience toward God refers to the aforementioned general awareness of His presence, which again is believers’ main motivation for submission in the workplace. The word rendered bears up under means “to endure,” and the term sorrows implies pain, either physical or mental. The Lord wants believers, when suffering unjustly in the workplace, not to falter in their witness but humbly and patiently to accept unjust treatment, knowing that God has sovereign control of every circumstance (Pss. 33:11; 103:19; Prov. 16:1, 9; 19:21; Isa. 14:27; 46:9–10; Acts 17:28; Rom. 8:28–30; cf. 1:6–7; 2 Cor. 4:17–18) and promises to bless.

Undoubtedly many recipients of this epistle endured painful and unjust beatings as slaves. Their masters might have deprived them of food, forced them to work unreasonably long hours, or punished them unfairly in a variety of ways. Unlike modern-day employees in Western industrialized countries, those slaves had no one to turn to for redress of grievances—no union representatives, no government boards or ombudsmen to settle disputes, and no way to file civil lawsuits. They just had to endure whatever painful and difficult circumstances their masters imposed on them—and they did so, much to the glory and honor of God (cf. Matt. 5:10; 2 Thess. 1:4–5; James 5:11), which evidenced their heavenly perspective.

Peter pressed his argument with a negative rhetorical question, followed by a positive statement. The implied answer to his question, For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? is, “There is no credit.” Believers who sin deserve chastening (cf. Ps. 66:18; Jer. 5:25; Dan. 9:8; Heb. 12:5–11), and they ought to endure it with patience.

On the other hand, Peter offered the positive assertion, But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. When the believing slaves did what was right some still had to suffer for it, even to the extent of being harshly treated as if they really deserved punishment. This indicates that, among various forms, harsh treatment came physically, by means of repeated, hard blows with the fists or instruments (cf. Mark 14:65). Perhaps some were punished because of their Christian convictions. Again, those who endured such suffering patiently found favor or grace with God. It always pleases Him to see believers faithfully accept and deal with any adversity (cf. 3:14; 4:14, 16; Matt. 5:11–12; 1 Cor. 4:11–13; 2 Cor. 12:9–10; James 1:12).

Peter concluded this section with the amazing statement at the beginning of verse 21, For you have been called for this purpose. Have been called refers to the efficacious salvation call (1:15; 5:10; cf. Rom. 8:28, 30; 9:24; 1 Cor. 1:9; Gal. 1:6, 15; Eph. 4:1, 4; Col. 3:15; 2 Thess. 2:14; 2 Tim. 1:9; Heb. 9:15; 2 Peter 1:3). As soon as the Holy Spirit calls people from darkness to light, they become an enemy of the world (John 15:18–19; 1 John 3:13) and a target of unjust and unfair attack as they seek to obey Christ. Paul told Timothy, “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Tim. 3:12; cf. Mark 10:30; John 15:20; 16:33).

It is more important to God that those who are citizens of heaven display a faithful testimony, marked by spiritual integrity, than that they strive to attain all their perceived rights in this world. It is more important to God for believers to uphold the credibility of gospel power than to obtain a raise or promotion in their vocation. It is ultimately far more important to God that believers demonstrate their submission to His sovereignty in every area of life than that they protest against problems at their workplace. Martyn Lloyd-Jones illustrated the value of Christians’ submitting to God’s purpose—the rigor of discipline and trials in everyday life—as follows:

We are like the school boy who would like to evade certain things, and run away from problems and tests. But we thank God that because he has a larger interest in us and knows what is for our good, he puts us through the disciplines of life—he makes us learn the multiplication table; we are made to struggle with the elements of grammar. Many things that are trials to us are essential that one day we may be found without spot or wrinkle. (The Miracle of Grace [reprint; Grand Rapids: Baker, 1986], 39)

Whenever believers encounter trials on the job, they ought to view them as opportunities for spiritual growth and evangelism. The chief reason God allows believers to remain in this world is so He might use them to win the lost and thereby bring glory to His name. Those who suffer with the right attitude will be blessed in this life and honored later in the Lord’s presence.

The Suffering Jesus

(1 Peter 2:21b–25)

since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (2:21b–25)

If one were to survey a typical cross section of people in Western society about who Jesus was, the answers would undoubtedly include the following accuracies: He was the Christmas child in the Bethlehem manger (Luke 2:15–16); He was the young man from the Nazareth carpenter shop who on one occasion confounded the religious teachers in Jerusalem (Luke 2:45–47); He was a humble and loving teacher (Matt. 5:1–12); He was a compassionate and powerful healer who cured diseases (Matt. 8:14–17) and raised the dead (John 11:1–44); He was a courageous and insightful preacher who stirred the multitudes as He explained God’s will (Matt. 7:28–29); and He was the perfect example and the ideal model of manhood (Luke 2:52; cf. Matt. 4:1–11; Phil. 2:7; Heb. 4:15).

Each of the foregoing images of Christ is true and instructive to some extent. But one could affirm all of them and completely miss the point of His life and ministry. One image of the Son of God supersedes all others in significance and is crucial to the purpose of His incarnation. It is that of Jesus as the suffering Servant and the crucified Savior. At the Cross He most clearly displayed His deity and humanity together and completed His redemptive work, the atonement for sin—the reason He came into the world. The apostle Paul summarized the supreme importance of His death and resurrection: “I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2).

This concluding passage of 1 Peter 2 presents the suffering Messiah and reveals three aspects of His suffering: He was believers’ perfect standard for suffering, their perfect substitute in suffering, and became their perfect shepherd through suffering.

Believers’ Perfect Standard for Suffering

since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; (2:21b–23)

As discussed in the previous chapter of this volume, Christians have been called to persecution and suffering, whether in the workplace or any other realm of life (2:20–21a). In all forms of suffering, they must look to Christ as their standard, their example. For Him, the path to glory was the path of suffering (Luke 24:25–26), and the pattern is the same for His followers.

Peter’s phrase since Christ also suffered for you certainly recalls the reality of His efficacious, substitutionary, sin-bearing death—His redemptive suffering (cf. the discussion in the next section of this chapter). His redemptive suffering as the one sacrifice for sin has no parallel in His followers’ sufferings. But there are features of His suffering that do provide an example for them to follow in their own sufferings. For instance, in a complete breach of justice and goodness, He was crucified as a criminal (Isa. 53:12; Matt. 27:38) even though He committed no crime (1:19; cf. Isa. 53:9; John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 7:26). He was perfectly sinless. Life in this world has always been filled with such unjust treatment of God’s faithful (cf. 2 Tim. 3:12). His execution demonstrates that one may be absolutely faithful to God’s will and still experience unjust suffering. So Christ’s attitude in His death on the cross provides believers with the ultimate example of how to respond to unmerited persecution and punishment (cf. Heb. 12:3–4).

That is clearly Peter’s point, because he adds the words leaving you an example. Believers will never suffer for others’ salvation, including their own. But they will suffer for Christ’s sake, and His example is their standard for a God-honoring response. The word translated example is hupogrammon, which literally means “writing under” and refers to a pattern placed under a sheet of tracing paper so the original images could be duplicated. In ancient times, children learning to write traced over the letters of the alphabet to facilitate their learning to write them. Christ is the example or pattern on which believers trace their lives. In so doing, they are following in His steps. Ichnesin (steps) means “footprints” or “tracks.” For believers as for Him, the footprints through this world are often along paths of unjust suffering.

In view of the suffering they were enduring (1:6–7; 2:20; 3:14, 17; 4:12–19; 5:9) and would yet endure, Peter wanted his readers to look closely at how their Lord responded to His suffering. Since Christ endured unequalled suffering when He went to the Cross, Peter, to set forth the example, focused on that event as the ultimate experience. The apostle examined Jesus’ response to intense suffering through the prophetic words of Isaiah 53, the most significant Old Testament chapter on Messiah’s suffering.

Peter first borrowed from Isaiah 53:9 to describe Christ’s reaction to unjust treatment. The phrase who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth is a close parallel to the prophet’s words in the second half of that verse, “Because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth.” Isaiah used “violence” not in the sense of a single act of violence, but to signify sin, all of which is violence against God and His law. The prophet indicated that the Suffering Servant (the Christ to come) would never violate God’s law. The Septuagint translators understood this and used “lawlessness” rather than “violence” to translate the term. Peter chose the word sin because under the Holy Spirit’s inspiration he knew that was Isaiah’s meaning.

Peter further drew from Isaiah, affirming Christ’s sinlessness by declaring that there was no deceit found in His mouth. The heart of man expresses sin most easily and often through the mouth, as the prophet made clear even in documenting his own experience: “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isa. 6:5; cf. Matt. 15:18–19; Luke 6:45; James 1:26; 3:2–12). Jesus’ mouth could never utter anything sinful, since there was no sin in Him (Luke 23:41; John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 John 3:5). Deceit is from dolos (see the discussion of that word in 2:1, chapter 8 of this volume), which here is used as a general term for sinful corruption.

Peter then describes Christ’s exemplary response to such unjust torture by saying while being reviled, He did not revile in return, again echoing the prediction of Isaiah 53:7, “He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, so He did not open His mouth.” During the cruel hours preceding His actual crucifixion, Jesus suffered under repeated provocations from His accusers (Matt. 26:57–68; 27:11–14, 26–31; John 18:28–19:11). They tried to push Him to the breaking point with their severe mockery and physical torture but could not (Mark 14:65; Luke 22:63–65). He did not get angry at or retaliate against His accusers (Matt. 26:64; John 18:34–37).

Being reviled is a present participle (loidoroumenos) that means to use abusive, vile language over and over against someone, or “to pile abuse on someone.” It described an extremely harsh kind of verbal abuse that could be more aggravating than physical abuse. But Jesus patiently and humbly accepted all the verbal abuse hurled at Him (Matt. 26:59–63; 27:12–14; Luke 23:6–10) and did not return abuse to His tormentors. That He did not revile in return is all the more remarkable when one considers the just, righteous, powerful, and legitimate threats He could have issued in response (cf. Matt. 26:53). As the sovereign, omnipotent Son of God and the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, Jesus could have blasted His cruel, unbelieving enemies into eternal hell with one word from His mouth (cf. Luke 12:5; Heb. 10:29–31). Eventually, those who never repented and believed in Him would be sent to hell; but for this time He endured with no retaliation—to set an example for believers. While suffering, He uttered no threats; instead of giving back threats for the repeated, unjust abuse, He chose to accept the suffering and even ask His Father to forgive those who abused Him (Luke 23:34).

Jesus drew the strength for that amazing response from His complete trust in His Father’s ultimate purpose to accomplish justice on His behalf, and against His hateful rejecters. He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously. The verb for entrusting (paredidou) means “to commit,” or “hand over” and is in the imperfect tense signifying repeated past action. With each new wave of abuse, as it came again and again, Jesus was always “handing Himself over” to God for safekeeping. Luke records how that pattern continued until the very end: “ ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:46). Undergirding Jesus’ peaceful, resolute acceptance of suffering was an unshakeable confidence in the perfectly righteous plan of Him who judges righteously (cf. John 4:34; 15:10; 17:25). He knew God would vindicate Him according to His perfect, holy justice. Alan Stibbs comments,

In … the unique instance of our Lord’s passion, when the sinless One suffered as if He were the worst of sinners, and bore the extreme penalty of sin, there is a double sense in which He may have acknowledged God as the righteous Judge. On the one hand, because voluntarily, and in fulfillment of God’s will, He was taking the sinner’s place and bearing sin, He did not protest at what He had to suffer. Rather He consciously recognized that it was the penalty righteously due to sin. So He handed Himself over to be punished. He recognized that in letting such shame, pain and curse fall upon Him, the righteous God was judging righteously. On the other hand, because He Himself was sinless, He also believed that in due time God, as the righteous Judge, would vindicate Him as righteous, and exalt Him from the grave, and reward Him for what He had willingly endured for others’ sake by giving Him the right completely to save them from the penalty and power of their own wrongdoing. (The Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, The First Epistle of Peter [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971], 119)

He is believers’ perfect example in suffering for righteousness’ sake and sets the standard for them to entrust themselves to God as their righteous Judge (cf. Job 36:3; Pss. 11:7; 31:1; 98:9; 119:172; Jer. 9:24). Though saints are not sinless, they are righteous in Christ and have the promise of God’s vindication of them. Such hope undoubtedly prompted Stephen to fix his eyes on the exalted Christ and ask God to forgive his murderers (Acts 7:54–60). Paul wrote,

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Cor. 4:17–18; cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Tim. 2:12; Heb. 2:10; James 1:2–4; 1 Peter 1:6–7)

The apostle suggests that the intense but comparatively trifling amount of suffering believers experience in this life will result in an infinitely greater weight (lit., a “heavy mass”) of glory in the life to come.

Believers’ Perfect Substitute in Suffering

and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (2:24)

Peter then moves to the essential reality in the Lord’s suffering—His substitutionary death (Mark 10:45; Rom. 5:8; Eph. 5:2; cf. Heb. 2:17). Leon Morris comments,

Redemption is substitutionary, for it means that Christ paid the price that we could not pay, paid it in our stead, and we go free. Justification interprets our salvation judicially, and as the New Testament sees it Christ took our legal liability, took it in our stead. Reconciliation means the making of people to be at one by the taking away of the cause of hostility. In this case the cause is sin, and Christ removed that cause for us. We could not deal with sin. He could and did, and did it in such a way that it is reckoned to us. Propitiation points us to the removal of the divine wrath, and Christ has done this by bearing the wrath for us. It was our sin which drew it down; it was He who bore it.… Was there a price to be paid? He paid it. Was there a victory to be won? He won it. Was there a penalty to be borne? He bore it. Was there a judgment to be faced? He faced it. (The Cross in the New Testament [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965], 405)

Paul, like Peter, placed supreme importance on Christ’s substitutionary atonement. To the Galatians he wrote, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree’ ” (Gal. 3:13; cf. 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18). The significance of Christ’s substitution cannot be overstated:

To put it bluntly and plainly, if Christ is not my Substitute, I still occupy the place of a condemned sinner. If my sins and my guilt are not transferred to Him, if He did not take them upon Himself, then surely they remain with me. If He did not deal with sins, I must face their consequences. If my penalty was not borne by Him, it still hangs over me. (Morris, 410)

Peter explained Christ’s sacrifice in believers’ behalf with additional allusions to Isaiah’s familiar description of Messiah’s death (Isa. 53:4–5, 11). He Himself (hos … autos) is an emphatic personalization and stresses that the Son of God voluntarily and without coercion (John 10:15, 17–18) died as the only sufficient sacrifice for the sins of all who would ever believe (cf. John 1:29; 3:16; 1 Tim. 2:5–6; 4:10; Heb. 2:9, 17). The very name Jesus indicated that He would “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). Bore is from anapherō and means here to carry the massive, heavy weight of sin. That weight of sin is so heavy that Romans 8:22 says “the whole creation groans and suffers” under it. Only Jesus could remove such a massive weight from the elect (cf. Heb. 9:28).

Anyone who understood the Hebrew Scriptures, as Peter did, and experienced the sacrifices in the temple, would have been familiar with the truth of substitutionary death and thus grasped the significance of Christ as the full and final offering for sin.

That Jesus bore believers’ sins means that He suffered the penalty for all the sins of all who would ever be forgiven. In receiving the wrath of God against sin, Christ endured not only death in His body on the cross (John 19:30–37), but the more horrific separation from the Father for a time (Matt. 27:46). Christ took the full punishment for saints’ sins, thus satisfying divine justice and freeing God to forgive those who repent and believe (Rom. 3:24–26; 4:3–8; 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10). Explicit in the pronoun our is the specific provision, the actual atonement on behalf of all who would ever believe. Christ’s death is efficacious only for the sins of those who believe, who are God’s chosen (cf. Matt. 1:21; 20:28; 26:28; John 10:11, 14–18, 24–29; Rev. 5:9; see also the discussion of election in chapter 1 of this volume).

When Christ died, He died so that believers might die to sin and live to righteousness. This is Peter’s way of saying what the apostle Paul says in Romans 6:3–11,

Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

Union with Christ in His death and resurrection does not change only believers’ standing before God (who declares them righteous, since their sins have been paid for and removed from them), but it also changes their nature—they are not only justified but sanctified, transformed from sinners into saints (2 Cor. 5:17; Titus 3:5; James 1:18).

Apogenomenoi (might die) is not the normal word for “die” and is used only here in the New Testament. It means “to be away from, depart, be missing, or cease existing.” Christ died for believers to separate them from sin’s penalty, so it can never condemn them. The record of their sins, the indictment of guilt that had them headed for hell, was “nailed to the cross” (Col. 2:12–14). Jesus paid their debt to God in full. In that sense, all Christians are freed from sin’s penalty. They are also delivered from its dominating power and made able to live to righteousness (cf. Rom. 6:16–22).

Peter describes this death to sin and becoming alive to righteousness as a healing: by His wounds you were healed. This too is borrowed from the Old Testament prophet when he wrote “by His scourging we are healed” (Isa. 53:5). Wounds is a better usage than “scourging” since the latter may give the impression that the beating of Jesus produced salvation. Both Isaiah and Peter meant the wounds of Jesus that were part of the execution process. Wounds is a general reference—a synonym for all the suffering that brought Him to death. And the healing here is spiritual, not physical. Neither Isaiah nor Peter intended physical healing as the result in these references to Christ’s sufferings. Physical healing for all who believe does result from Christ’s atoning work, but such healing awaits a future realization in the perfections of heaven. In resurrection glory, believers will experience no sickness, pain, suffering, or death (Rev. 21:1–4; 22:1–3).

In fair consideration of this explanation, it must be admitted that the apostle Matthew seems to relate Jesus’ physical healing ministry to Isaiah’s prophecy:

When evening came, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed; and He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were ill. This was to fulfill what was spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “He Himself took our infirmities and carried away our diseases.” (Matt. 8:16–17)

Some say that proves Christians can now claim physical healing in the atonement. However a more accurate understanding of Matthew’s narrative (8:16–17) reveals that Jesus healed people to illustrate the physical healing all believers will experience in the glory yet to come.

Disease and death cannot be permanently removed until sin is permanently removed, and Jesus’ supreme work, therefore, was to conquer sin. In the atonement He dealt with sin, death, and sickness; and yet all three of those are still with us. When He died on the cross, Jesus bruised the head of Satan and broke the power of sin, and the person who trusts in the atoning work of Christ is immediately delivered from the penalty of sin and one day will be delivered from the very presence of sin and its consequences. The ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s redeeming work is yet future for believers (cf. Rom. 8:22–25; 13:11). Christ died for men’s sins, but Christians still fall into sin; He conquered death, but His followers still die; and He overcame pain and sickness, but His people still suffer and become ill. There is physical healing in the atonement, just as there is total deliverance from sin and death in the atonement; but we still await the fulfillment of that deliverance in the day when the Lord brings the end of suffering, sin, and death.

Those who claim that Christians should never be sick because there is healing in the atonement should also claim that Christians should never die, because Jesus also conquered death in the atonement. The central message of the gospel is deliverance from sin. It is the good news about forgiveness, not health. Christ was made sin, not disease, and He died on the cross for our sin, not our sickness. As Peter makes clear, Christ’s wounds heal us from sin, not from disease. “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness” (1 Peter 2:24). (John MacArthur, Matthew 8–15, MacArthur New Testament Commentary [Chicago: Moody, 1987], 19)

If the atonement’s physical healing were fully realized now, no believer would ever be sick or die. But obviously, all do. The Lord’s substitutionary sacrifice on behalf of His own heals their souls now and their bodies in the future.

Believers’ Perfect Shepherd Through Suffering

For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls. (2:25)

As he concluded this passage, Peter once more alluded to Isaiah 53, “All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (v. 6). If God had not determined that all believers’ sins should fall on Jesus, there would be no shepherd to bring God’s flock into the fold.

The phrase were continually straying like sheep describes by analogy the wayward, purposeless, dangerous, and helpless wandering of lost sinners, whom Jesus described as “sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36). The verb rendered have returned (epestraphēte) carries the connotation of repentance, a turning from sin and in faith a turning toward Jesus Christ. But Peter’s readers had trusted in Christ’s substitutionary death and turned to Him for salvation. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15:11–32, they had turned away from the misery of their former sinful life (cf. Eph. 2:1–7; 4:17–24; Col. 3:1–7; 1 Thess. 1:2–10) and received new life in Christ (cf. Eph. 5:15–21; Col. 3:8–17; 1 Thess. 2:13–14). All who are saved come under the perfect care, provision, and protection of the Shepherd and Guardian of their souls.

The analogy of God as shepherd is a familiar and rich theme in Scripture (cf. 5:4; Ps. 23:1; Ezek. 34:23–24; 37:24). Jesus identified Himself as God when He took the divine title and named Himself the “good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14). Shepherd is an apt title for the Savior since it conveys His role as feeder, leader, protector, cleanser, and restorer of His flock. And believers as sheep is also an apt analogy because sheep are stupid, gullible (a sheep called the “Judas sheep” in modern times leads the other sheep to slaughter), dirty (the lanolin in sheep’s wool collects all kinds of dirt), and defenseless (they have no natural defensive capabilities). (See the discussion of shepherding in chapter 23 of this volume.)

The term Guardian (episkopos) serves as a synonym, another term describing Jesus’ care for His flock. It is the word usually translated “bishop” or “overseer,” which along with Shepherd also describes the responsibilities of the pastor or elder (cf. 1 Tim. 3:1–7; Titus 1:5–9). Later in this letter, Peter uses both root words when he exhorts elders to “shepherd the flock of God … exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God” (5:2). By His death and resurrection for His flock, the Lord has become the Shepherd and Guardian of their eternal souls. In suffering, He became their example, their substitute, and their shepherd.[1]

A Life Shaped by the Crucified Christ

1 Peter 2:18–25

Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh. For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.… To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. (1 Peter 2:18–19, 21)

From 1 Peter 2:11 to 4:11, the apostle Peter constantly instructs the faithful in their social obligations. Peter insists on giving this sustained attention for both pragmatic and intrinsic reasons. Pragmatically, his people were a tiny and nearly defenseless minority, a group of aliens and exiles in their own culture (2:11–12). Further, a pagan convert to the faith found that his contemporaries were surprised at his departure from their way of life and maligned him for it (4:1–6). So Peter foresaw that believers would be increasingly exposed to persecution in coming days and wanted to help them to minimize their exposure to trouble (3:10–17; 4:12–16). Perhaps that is part of the reason why Peter tells his people to submit to some authority five times in just thirty-five verses (2:13, 18; 3:1, 5, 22). But the call to submit is more than a survival strategy. God has woven authority structures all through society, indeed through all creation, and we needlessly harm ourselves and miss the blessing of walking in his ways if we ignore those structures. Social ethics are essential both to Christian living and to the cause of Christ. If a fleet is about to sail, the sailors need to know how to avoid bumping into each other. Peter’s social instruction enhances both the public reputation and the inner peace of the church.

Peter’s social teaching emphasizes submission to masters and governors. Because Peter’s people were aliens in their own culture and because they refused to worship the emperor, it was imperative that they submit to governing authorities wherever they were. Thus, they could “silence the ignorant talk” of their accusers (1 Peter 2:11–17). Still, apart from the social benefits, it is intrinsically good to yield to the authority that God establishes, “for he is God’s servant to do you good” (Rom. 13:1, 4).

The Duty of a Christian Servant

After describing the social obligations of all disciples in 1 Peter 2:11–17, Peter commands, “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh” (2:18). This is necessary “because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps” (2:21).

In order to apply Peter’s message, we need to know the status of slaves in the empire. Their life differed both from that of ordinary laborers today and from that of the slaves in the Americas in prior days. Roman slavery was not race-based. Slaves did not look, talk, or dress in a distinct way. Most slaves were poor, but almost everyone was poor.

The term translated “slaves” in 1 Peter 2:18 denotes household slaves. There were several kinds of slaves in the empire. People became slaves through war, poverty, or birth to enslaved parents. Slaves could be well educated. A slave might be a doctor, teacher, shipbuilder, or even city treasurer.3 But nobler tasks were exceptional. Most were household slaves, and their lot varied with the status and character of their masters and mistresses. Field slaves worked hard, and house slaves lacked freedom.

American slavery was worse than Roman slavery in most ways. Roman slaves could own property and follow their traditions. Although a slave’s life expectancy was short, many slaves gained their freedom eventually. American slavery was race-based, had limited paths to freedom, and rested on kidnapping, which is a sin—and a capital crime in Moses’ law (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7). While the Mosaic law tolerated slavery, it regulated potential abuses. For example, if a master so struck a slave as to cause major injury, the slave went free (Ex. 21:26). The law also had several paths to manumission. For example, all slaves normally went free every seventh calendar year (Deut. 15:12–18). Roman slaves also had several paths to freedom.

Still, the life of a slave was difficult. Aristotle opined that slaves were inferior by nature. Since they were unable to govern themselves, Aristotle claimed, they were better off under a master, just as domestic cattle were better off than wild cattle. Further, he said, it was impossible to mistreat a slave, because slaves were mere property. This was the consensus, although Seneca observed that men “of distinguished birth” sometimes became slaves through war. Social rank, he said, “is only a robe that clothes us.” So someone could have slave status while “his soul … may be that of a free man.”6 But Seneca was the exception.

Legally speaking, slaves were not persons. They had virtually no rights. A slave was the property of his or her master. Therefore, a master could sell a slave at will, separating him or her from family and home. People said that “a slave is a living possession,” a “talking tool,” and “property with a soul.”

A household slave could hope for economic security, decent treatment, and a position as a leading slave in a great house. But a slave’s body belonged to his master. Demosthenes reported that slaves were “answerable in their body for all offences while freemen … can protect their persons.” That is, slaves were liable to a beating for all offenses.9 A master or mistress could take any slave, male or female, to gratify the owner’s sexual desires. How often this happened, we don’t know. We do know that some slaves endured terrible privation to buy their freedom.11

Given that slaves were barely regarded as human, we see that Peter elevates slaves simply by addressing them. Although some slaves were literate, most Greco-Roman writers thought it pointless to address them, since they didn’t see them as responsible moral agents.

Clearly, the status of contemporary employees is not the same as that of Roman slaves. Today’s workers can feel trapped by social and economic forces. While we should not minimize the resulting distress, our rights and freedoms keep us far from slavery. Nonetheless, millions are still enslaved throughout the world today. Most live in lawless countries, but they are scattered across the continents. Further, some people live in situations akin to slavery, even in the West. Children who suffer hidden abuse at the hands of violent parents and immigrants with no knowledge of their rights are like slaves if they are defenseless, powerless, and trapped.

Peter’s first word to slaves is: “Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect” (1 Peter 2:18). Peter is not endorsing or blessing slavery. Rather, he tells believing slaves how to live within a pervasive, entrenched institution. Peter commands slaves to submit “with … respect”—literally, “with fear” or awe. Ultimately, the believer fears God, not man, Peter notes (3:14–15). But God appoints all human authorities, so we obey them for God’s sake. Our respect for masters is ultimately respect for God, who ordains and commissions all authorities (Rom. 13:1–4).

Even if there is no precise analogy between slaves and free workers today, Peter’s instructions do apply to all who serve harsh or perverse leaders. Evil authorities are not slave masters, but they can give harmful orders and can punish all who violate them. We should think this way: If God can command a harder thing, that slaves respectfully submit to harsh masters, surely we can submit to harsh superiors, since their power is more modest.

Nonetheless, we find the command daunting, possibly without fully realizing why. If we have an angry or unjust supervisor and feel trapped by him, we are tempted to return anger for anger, disrespect for disrespect. Yet Peter commands believers to submit, with respect, to difficult leaders at home and at work. We can extend the principle to schools, churches, and governments. We obey if we can. If we must disobey, we do so humbly and respectfully, and we bear the consequences (Acts 5:17–33).

Most citizens of Western countries resist Peter’s teaching. We treasure our independence, criticize our authorities, and honor our rebels. We don’t like to submit to leaders unless we think they are worthy.

In college I worked at a resort hotel as an assistant to “George,” who supervised all food operations. George was a hardworking, shrewd, witty, but flawed man. He could be loud and critical, he was faintly awkward, his clothes were out of style, and he played favorites. He divided the world into two camps: his friends and his enemies, whom he regarded with constant suspicion. The chief baker was an enemy. Nothing she did pleased him. One day she made apple cinnamon pancakes. George sent me to requisition a taste of the batter. He took a spoonful. “Not sweet enough,” he thundered. “Send it back.” I hustled the batter to the baker, then brought a taste of the sweetened concoction to him. “Too sweet,” he fumed. “Send it back.” The third time, the baker got an idea. She noisily shook empty containers over the batter, waved her spoon around, and returned the batter unchanged. The boss sampled it again. “Perfect,” he beamed. “That woman wouldn’t do anything right if I didn’t keep my eye on her.”

George was competent and he treated most people fairly. His misdeeds were minor indignities and irritations, not grievous wounds. But the students judged him uncool and the pros judged him bombastic. Because of these petty flaws, people bristled at the thought of giving him respect. They seemed to think, “If I had his job, I’d treat people better and everyone would like work better.”

The root of discontent with people like George is a concept of work that is grounded in our culture, not Scripture. We believe work should offer more than tasks and income. We think work should be a place where we grow, find fulfillment, and find and develop our gifts, so that we flourish as individuals. In his monograph, Vocation, Douglas Schuurman writes that college students view work as “a realm for self-fulfillment” and “optimal self-actualization.” By working hard and consulting career experts, students think they should find fulfilling careers. As a result, they think they will never work for someone like George.

Schuurman calls this a myth that applies, at best, to people who already have the advantages of native intelligence, a network of supportive adults, and access to an elite education (by world standards). The middle and lower classes rarely have such opportunities, even in the West. In recent years (at this writing), the most common occupations in America are cashier and retail sales assistant. Neither post offers especially fulfilling work. Even upper-class adults are prone to exaggerate their options. Clearly, we should reconsider our concept of vocation.

The Gifts and Calling of a Christian Worker

All this does not mean that work should be miserable. God gives gifts to his people, and when we serve others out of the capacities that he has given us, we can expect to take pleasure in using our skills. Romans 12:6–8 tells us to exercise our gifts freely and cheerfully, which seems to imply joy in our work.

But Peter and Paul, along with Martin Luther and John Calvin, see our work, as well as our family relationships, “as domains not freely chosen, but providentially assigned to each person.” Sociologists call this ascriptivism. That is, a person’s significant social relations are not primarily matters of “individual choice, but are assigned based largely on class, parentage, and gender. One does not so much choose one’s callings as discover oneself within their network.” Vocation is not so much about choosing the right spouse, work, friends, and residence as it is seeing the web of our relationships “as divinely assigned places to serve God and neighbor.”

Of course, God still grants us freedom to escape oppression, if we can. Paul told slaves, “If you can gain your freedom, do so” (1 Cor. 7:21). Jesus told his disciples, “When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another” (Matt. 10:23). But sometimes we can’t move. Then, Peter says, “submit yourselves to your masters with all respect” (1 Peter 2:18). Each word is instructive.

First, everyone must submit. The concept of submission assumes that this world has God-given structures and authorities. We must organize our lives within those structures. Even if we suspect that our leaders are wrong, we should subordinate ourselves to legitimate commands. We should yield to the authority and defer to it.

The niv, like some other translations, uses a verb and reflexive pronoun to translate a one-word Greek participle in the phrase “submit yourselves” in 1 Peter 2:18. The participle (hupotassomenoi) has the middle voice, which can be reflexive. The middle voice makes perfect sense in this case. It suggests that we act on ourselves: we tell ourselves to submit. Regardless, our submission should be voluntary. We should yield to leaders, rather than making them force their will on us. We yield to people, laws, and institutions that have authority because the Lord placed them over us. He ordains the leaders, teachers, and parents who govern the world under him.

We submit with respect. When people feel trapped at work, they obey the boss because they need to keep their jobs. But respect is more than obedience. We should respect leaders even when we disagree with their decisions. We should respect and pray for political leaders even if we voted against them, disagree with their policies, and doubt that they can govern well.

The early English Puritans lived in a hierarchical society, under often-hostile bishops and kings. They reflected deeply on the duties of subordinates to flawed superiors. All agreed that leaders gain their authority through their God-given positions, not superior character or achievements. William Perkins observed that master and servant may be equal in Christ, in the inner man, yet in the “civil order,” masters rule and servants “must be subject.” Speaking of marriage, William Gouge said that the principle holds even if the husband was “a beggar” before marriage and is, after marriage, “a drunkard, a glutton, and a profane swaggerer.” Even if the wife is sober, wealthy, and religious, she must respect her husband because of “the civil honor which God hath given unto him.”16 Further, her outward submission must be matched by an inward reverence. The mantle of authority for husbands, ministers, parents, and masters is bestowed by God, not earned, although a wise leader will strive to enhance his authority by using it wisely.

The term submit (hypotassō) requires definition. Submit ordinarily means “to subject, subordinate, or bring under control” (Acts 19:35; Phil. 3:21; Heb. 2:5, 8). Yet to submit is not precisely to obey. To obey is to do what is commanded, willingly or not. Submission can also be willing or unwilling, but the concept can be more nuanced. In Paul’s teaching, children obey their parents, and slaves obey their masters, but wives submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; 6:1, 5; Col. 3:18–22). To submit, in that setting, entails more freedom or latitude than obedience. Submission can include freedom to arrange affairs under general directions or principles, not necessarily under precise commands. So wives have freedom to consider how to follow their husbands, especially since marriage is a close relationship that is essentially parity-based. A worker, similarly, may have freedom in the way he gets things done, even while fulfilling tasks given by the authority.

The word submit implicitly refers to authority structures. The Romans believed that authority structures stretch up and down in a chain. In the chain, lower authorities had to yield to higher ones, ending with the emperor and the gods above him; a Roman centurion expresses this concept in Matthew 8:8–9.

Scripture says that all authorities are answerable to God, and must therefore be disobeyed if their commands contradict his. Because no human authority is absolute, no summons to submit to it is absolute. If an authority gives a wicked command, it must be refused. Peter himself made this point during a crisis in the first days of the church: “We must obey God rather than men!” (Acts 5:29). The call to submit always has this caveat: We obey the authorities unless they contradict God.

Nonetheless, rulers have real authority. Peter tells slaves to submit to masters. Elsewhere, Scripture commands all believers to submit to authorities. If the term authority (exousia) refers to humans, it typically has the nuance of legitimate rule (Rom. 13:1–3). If we yield to authorities, we yield to rulers ordained by God. By contrast, we do not have to submit to every power, for a power can have brute strength—a gun, for example—and no legitimacy (Heb. 2:14). There is no moral obligation to bow to brute force.

Some people quickly ask, “So when is it time to rebel?” The question is common in nations born in rebellion against colonial powers and in nations that currently suffer oppression. People ask, “Did God really appoint all authorities?” Authorities and powers take their place by many means. Emperors claim power through conquest, intrigue, murder, and inheritance. A master might gain his place by inheritance, bribery, or merit. If an authority was hired or appointed, we can ask whether the decision was based on skill and training or favoritism.

But in the final analysis, the Lord appoints all authorities. He even has purposes for evil leaders. Consider the words of Daniel, who long served a flawed monarch: “The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men” (Dan. 4:17). Paul stated, “He who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves” (Rom. 13:2).

Calvin said that there is a magistrate who is “a father of his country, … [a] shepherd of his people, guardian of peace, protector of righteousness, and avenger of innocence—he who does not approve of such government must rightly be regarded as insane.” We must submit to deserving authorities. We should resist the inclination to second-guess everyone and everything. It is easy to criticize and hard to remember how readily we err.

Some authorities are careless, self-indulgent, and corrupt wastrels. These, too, are ordained by God. Speaking through the prophet Daniel, God told ruthless, egotistical Nebuchadnezzar, “The God of heaven has given you dominion and power and might and glory; in your hands he has placed mankind and the beasts of the field.… Wherever they live, he has made you ruler over them all” (Dan. 2:37–38; cf. 5:18–19).

Other Scriptures teach that there is a time to resist evil authorities. If possible, the Reformers knew, the righteous will not simply rebel, but ally themselves with other authorities, with “lesser magistrates,” whether civil or ecclesiastical. If we must stand against “the fierce licentiousness of kings,” we should do so not as private individuals, but through the authority of “magistrates of the people [who were] appointed to restrain the willfulness of kings.” Thus, the Christians who attempted to assassinate Hitler did so in allegiance with faithful German military leaders.21 So there is a place for godly rebellion, but too many people are quick to doubt authorities and to declare that they have a right to rebel.

Peter declares, “It is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God” (1 Peter 2:19). The phrase “it is commendable” literally reads “this is grace.” Grace here does not mean “unmerited favor,” but “that which counts with God” and with which he is pleased. (Jesus said something similar in Luke 6:32–34. There the Greek word grace is usually translated “credit” [niv, rsv, nasb].)

No one likes to suffer unjustly. Still, the Lord is pleased when we endure unjust suffering, for it is a form of imitation of Christ. But there is no glory or praise if a slave endures punishment for doing evil: “How is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it?” (1 Peter 2:20a). Peter does not say that anyone deserves a beating. (Scripture tells masters that they should not threaten. If it is evil to threaten violence, surely actual blows are a greater evil [Eph. 6:9].) Peter is simply stating the obvious: We have no right to complain if we are punished for misdeeds. God is not impressed when we endure well-deserved punishment. It is praiseworthy if we, like Jesus, quietly endure injustice.

The Model of Christlike Service

The exceptional case of justified rebellion is not Peter’s main concern. The Romans were already suspicious of Christians for refusing to worship the emperor. If Christians commonly rebelled, it would exacerbate the suspicion that all Christians were seditious. Beyond that, rebellion misses a vital lesson from Jesus’ life.

According to Peter, slaves please God when they endure “unjust suffering” (1 Peter 2:19). Why? The believing slave did not live on naive hopes that his master would reform. Slaves follow the life and teaching of Jesus.

Slaves are to endure mistreatment: “To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. ‘He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth’ ” (1 Peter 2:21–22). There are two lessons here. First, almost unbearably, Peter tells those who suffer abuse to follow Jesus’ “example” or pattern, and to “follow in his steps.” We should walk in his very steps, as he silently bore unspeakable hatred and violence.

Second, Jesus is our example because he “committed no sin” (1 Peter 2:22). Peter lived with Jesus all day for three years. If Jesus had grabbed tasty morsels of fish for himself or exploded in frustration at his thickheaded disciples, Peter would have known. But Peter never saw Jesus stray in deed or word. He never got upset unjustly, never made a bad decision, never got a laugh at another person’s expense. His proper self-interest was never tainted by selfishness. Echoing Psalm 34:13 and Isaiah 53:9, Peter says that no “deceit was found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:22). So Jesus is holy even in that realm where holiness is most elusive for humans: in our speech (James 3:8).

Peter focuses on Jesus’ exemplary suffering. Blind, vindictive authorities killed Jesus. Passersby joined in as they mocked and reviled him even as he suffered the most wretched death. Yet “when they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). Jesus’ patience and calm in suffering is our model. There is no glory in calmly receiving deserved punishment, but there is glory in bearing insults silently and committing ourselves to the Father to judge and vindicate us. That is precisely what Jesus did and what we should aspire to do.

The Pharisees accused Jesus of serving the devil (Matt. 12:22–26). On the cross, Jesus suffered taunts: “He saved others, … but he can’t save himself!… Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him” (27:42). Yet he endured in silence, and entrusted himself to the Father to exonerate him.

The Greek verb translated “he entrusted himself” is paradidōmi. It most commonly means “hand over,” and it is often used of Jesus. Strikingly, Jesus was handed over for ill again and again, but he handed himself over to the Father, for good:

  • Judas handed Jesus over to the priests out of greed (Matt. 26:14–49).
  • The priests handed Jesus over to Pilate out of envy and self-righteousness (Mark 15:10).
  • Pilate handed him over to the soldiers out of cowardice (Matt. 27:26).
  • On the cross, Jesus handed himself over to God for vindication as he endured the mockers’ taunts (1 Peter 2:23) and anticipated his final vindication in the resurrection (Rom. 1:4).

For disciples, Jesus is the supreme example of the man who suffered patiently because of confidence in God. Like David, we receive thoughtless praise; like the Lord, we receive groundless scorn. Church leaders are criticized for sound decisions that we cannot fully defend, lest we reveal confidential matters. People condemn us for telling hard truths that people need, but do not wish, to hear. They blame us for failing to salvage a collapsing marriage. One pastor has said, “I spend half my time apologizing for words I never said and for actions I never took.” There is a time to defend our reputation (“A good name is more desirable than great riches,” Prov. 22:1). Yet we must also be willing to trust God the Judge for our vindication.

Let us notice that the imitation of Christ is a common New Testament theme. Some Protestants are wary of this. They fear that an emphasis on imitating Jesus’ life might lead to neglect of his atoning death. But Jesus repeatedly presented himself as an example, especially in his endurance of unjust suffering: “Remember the words I spoke to you: ‘No servant is greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also” (John 15:20; cf. Matt. 10:24–25; Luke 6:40). Paul tells us that we should love as Jesus loved (Eph. 5:2), forgive as he forgave (Eph. 4:32), and put others first as he did (Phil. 2:3–8). Peter instructs elders to be “examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:3).

Yet Jesus is more than an example. Because we neither heed God’s commands nor follow Jesus’ example, we stand guilty before God. But, Peter says, Jesus “suffered for you” (1 Peter 2:21). More than that, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed” (2:24).

Jesus’ suffering is unique, for his death, and his death alone, is an atoning sacrifice, a penal substitution for sin. First Peter 2:24 quotes (and slightly rephrases) Isaiah 53, taking readers to the Old Testament prophecy that so clearly foretells Jesus’ substitutionary sacrifice:

But he was pierced for our transgressions,

he was crushed for our iniquities;

the punishment that brought us peace was upon him,

and by his wounds we are healed.

We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each of us has turned to his own way;

and the Lord has laid on him

the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:5–6)

Perhaps Jesus himself pointed the apostles to this passage after his resurrection, when he “opened their minds to understand the Scriptures” that foretold his suffering and resurrection (Luke 24:44–46 esv). The Westminster Confession of Faith 11.3 summarizes: “Christ, by his obedience and death, did fully discharge the debt of all those that are thus justified, and did make a proper, real, and full satisfaction to his Father’s justice in their behalf.”

The concept of penal substitution is under attack today from liberals and even from so-called evangelicals. They claim that it is barbaric for God to punish sin by death. Worse, it is “cosmic child abuse” for God to kill his Son for the sins of others. These criticisms pervert both the problem of and the cure for sin. Sin leads to death intrinsically, not arbitrarily, because it separates us from God, the Author of life. Further, the principle of substitution is not strange or cruel; it is a common element of human life. Lawyers speak on behalf of others. Family members offer to pay each other’s debts. And Jesus offered to pay our debt to God. God’s justice requires that sin be punished, and Jesus chose—as an abused child cannot—to pay for our sins, as 1 Peter 2:24 makes clear.

Above all, Jesus is not an arbitrary substitute. There is a real relationship between us. If a member of my immediate family fails another person, it is sensible, not arbitrary, for me to pay what my spouse or child owes. Similarly, it is sensible, not arbitrary, for the traits of one family to be ascribed to another. For example, people regard me as a warm person, even if I might convey a touch of professorial detachment, because my wife is so warm. Similarly, people assume that she can answer almost any question about the Bible because she is united to me. By faith, the Christian is united to Jesus. Because of our relationship, it is sensible to ascribe his traits to us.

First Peter 2:21–24 is one highly structured, quasi-poetic sentence. A series of dependent clauses explore the master concept: “Christ suffered for you” (2:21). Peter says that he “committed no sin.… When he was reviled, he did not revile in return … [but] bore our sins in his body” (2:22–24 esv).

See how the passage interweaves truths about the person and the work of Christ. In his person, he is sinless and morally perfect. In his work, he atoned for sin. His work brings us salvation. Jesus is our trailblazer; he opened the path to life. By the same work, Jesus redeems us and sets us an example.

Everyone needs Jesus the Redeemer. Slaves—and all others who feel trapped by toxic masters—need Jesus’ example. Whenever anyone in power makes life difficult, Jesus shows the way. He never returned insult for insult. He trusted God to vindicate him. There is a place for justice, and everyone deserves dignity and protection. But it can be futile to seek our rights. (If a public figure decided to defend himself from all false accusations, he might finally do nothing else.) Jesus’ example teaches us that it can be best to absorb a blow. Imagine the result if we laid down our rights. Marriage disputes would fade. How can two people quarrel if both give up their rights and live a cruciform life? Church life would improve if people refused to become angry when they (or their child) did not get their way. Peace would flourish if we refused to take offense.

The lessons are clear. First, let us submit to all God-given authorities. Almost everyone has spent time under someone who seemed to lack the qualities essential to good leadership. It seems natural to balk at the prospect of submitting to the unworthy. Besides, humans are prone to rebel, even against noble authorities. Notice, then, that Peter does not say, “Submit to good leaders.” If we follow leaders only if we concur with their directions, the descriptive term is agree, not submit.

Peter exhorts us to submit “with all respect” (1 Peter 2:18). Authorities deserve respect for the sake of God, who placed them in their role, if not for their merit. Sadly, it is typical, in Western cultures, to criticize a leader even as we obey, and to disobey if we can. Even if we labor under a flawed authority, Peter says that we should be governed by our obligations, not the putative qualities of the leader. Remember, Jesus submitted to his parents despite their limitations. When we honor flawed leaders, we follow Jesus. The Father notices when we yield to masters who seem neither wise nor good.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul encourages us that we can be content wherever we are, without changing marital status, ethnic status, or economic status. We can remain in our place if we remain with God, since he provides for us there (7:1–24). This principle neither denies that some authorities are evil nor excuses their misdeeds. God’s capacity to override evil cannot remove their culpability. On the contrary, because the Lord cares for the poor, lesser lords should, too. All who exercise authority should recall that they have an authority and a Judge over them.

It is possible to live well under a bad master. Besides, everyone belongs to someone, and everyone is enslaved to something. Seneca observed that one man “is a slave to lust, another to greed, another to ambition, and all men are slaves to fear.” Believers, whom God “bought at a price” (1 Cor. 7:23), now belong to Jesus, and that is liberating. So our first thought is not to change masters or jobs but to remain faithful, whatever our bonds may be.

Jesus carries us through suffering under unjust masters. He set an example and, through his sacrifice, offers forgiveness when we fail. By his wounds we are healed, so we may live for righteousness, under the care of the Lord, the Good Shepherd and Overseer of our souls.[2]

The new lifestyle’s motivation: Christ’s suffering (2:21–25)

  • His saving example: in his steps (2:21–23)

To this you were called. Peter has shown the glory of God’s calling. Christians have been called out of darkness into God’s marvellous light (2:9). They are called as God’s elect, his chosen people, heirs of his blessing (3:9). But now Peter says, To this you were called. To what? To suffering, to unjust abuse, to patient endurance when they are beaten for doing right! Peter has described our heavenly calling; he does not conceal our earthly calling. ‘Many are the afflictions of the righteous,’ declares the psalm to which Peter often alludes in this letter. Clearly Peter is thinking not only of Christian servants who were subject to abuse. They have a particular duty to serve the Lord where he has called them; in this, however, they do not differ from their brothers and sisters in other situations. All Christians are called to suffer with Christ before they are glorified with him. Archbishop Leighton comments on the readiness of Christians to claim the peace of Christ while expecting no tribulation in the world. ‘They like better St. Peter’s carnal advice to Christ, to avoid suffering. Matt. 16:22, than his Apostolic doctrine to Christians, teaching them, that as Christ suffered, so they likewise are called to suffering.

Peter does not ask us to view suffering as inevitable in the world under the curse. He does not ask for stoic resignation. A life of suffering is our calling, not our fate. It is our calling just because we are God’s people. It is our calling because it was Christ’s calling. He calls his disciples to follow him. To be sure, suffering is a flame to burn away the dross so that our tested faith may shine as gold (1:7; 4:12). Some of the suffering that we endure is the direct result of our own sin (2:20; 3:17). But our example in suffering is One who was totally innocent and free from sin (2:22). He suffered, not for his own sake, but for the sake of God’s purpose, and for the salvation of others. As we follow him, we suffer for his sake, and for the sake of winning others to his saving gospel (3:1–2; 4:13–16).

Two themes are woven together in this magnificent section of Peter’s letter. One is the theme of the example of Christ’s suffering: leaving you an example. The other is the more basic theme of the saving purpose of Christ’s suffering: Christ suffered for you. Some commentators suppose that the cadenced prose of this passage must reflect an early Christian hymn or a credal statement. It has been suggested that the references to the atoning power of Christ’s suffering are present here because they were in the source that Peter quoted. Kelly even speaks of ‘the stress of the vicarious nature of Christ’s sufferings, which is a theme that is strictly irrelevant to the conduct of slaves.’3

Far from being irrelevant to Peter’s exhortation, the atoning sacrifice of Christ lies at the heart of all that he has to say. The cadences of the passage could well reflect the eloquence with which Peter had preached Christ, the suffering Servant, from the prophecies of Isaiah. The example of Christ is a saving example. Peter does not hold forth the meekness of Christ simply as an abstract pattern, a pattern that might have been offered by any uncomplaining sufferer. Christ’s suffering is our model because it is our salvation. It does not simply guide us; it is the root of all our motivation to follow. Our ‘living to righteousness’ follows in Christ’s steps because we died to sin in his atonement (2:24). Remove Christ’s atonement from the passage and its point would be lost.

Knowing that we were redeemed by the precious blood of Christ (1:19), we take up our cross to follow him. He has left us an example, a pattern to follow. Peter’s word translated example refers to a pattern to be traced. Clement of Alexandria gives samples of Greek sentences containing all the letters of the alphabet (the Greek equivalent of ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’). They were written out to be traced so that children would learn their ABC. The word could also apply to an artist’s sketch to be filled in (our painting-by-number kits).

To the vivid figure in his word for example, Peter joins another, the figure of footsteps to be traced. Peter, Christ’s disciple, had followed in his Master’s footsteps along the narrow paths of the hill country and through fields of grain in Galilee. No doubt Peter also witnessed the dreadful procession that led to Calvary. To save himself from that path he had sworn fearful oaths. Now he is ready to follow Jesus all the way. He calls every Christian to walk that path with him.

The path that Jesus took was the path of meek obedience to the calling of his Father. Peter now presents Jesus as the suffering Servant of the Lord, taking his language from the song of the Servant in Isaiah 53. Jesus advances toward Calvary as a lamb that is led to the slaughter (Is. 53:7). He is without sin or deceit; here Peter quotes directly from Isaiah 53:9. The sufferings of the Servant are not for his own faults, but for the sins of others. He suffers to fulfil the will of God: ‘It was the Lord’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer’ (Is. 53:10). He is a willing sacrifice: ‘he poured out his life unto death’ (Is. 53:12). His meekness appears in his silence—before the high priest, before Pontius Pilate, and before Herod. On the cross he answered nothing to the mockery of his enemies as they cursed the King of the Jews, or to the taunts of the thief crucified with him. Peter had cause to remember all too vividly the silence of Jesus before the high priest. He can bear witness: When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate. Oppressed and afflicted, he was silent: ‘as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth’ (Is. 53:7).

The meekness of Christ not only showed his submission to his Father’s will; it showed also his confidence in his Father’s righteous judgment. He did not revile or threaten because he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. He had no need to vindicate himself. Paul writes to Christ’s followers: ‘Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.’

Perhaps there is even a deeper sense to Peter’s description of Christ’s meek commitment to God. The verb translated entrusted is used twice in the Greek version of Isaiah to describe the ‘delivering up’ of the Servant for our sins (Is. 53:6, 12). It is also used in the gospels for the delivering up of Christ to Pilate. Stibbs says of the term, ‘Here in the phrase committed himself it is used to describe our Lord’s own surrender of Himself to bear the penalty of sin—not His own sin but ours (cf. Rom. 4:25), and not at the hands of men, but at the hands of God, the righteous Judge.’

Certainly the way of Christ’s meek suffering, so well remembered by Peter, is the way of redeeming love. By the welts of his scourging we were healed: Isaiah foresaw it, and Peter witnessed it. The very torture that Peter wanted Jesus at any cost to escape was the torture that Jesus came to endure. In Isaiah’s songs, the Servant is both identified with the people of God and distinguished from them. He suffers for them, stands in their place, and bears the judgment of their sins. The example of Christ’s meekness is drawn from the mystery of Christ’s sacrifice.

  • His atoning sacrifice (2:24)

Jesus is far more than our example; he is our sin-bearer. As Leighton says, ‘This was his business, not only to rectify sinful man by his example, but to redeem him by his blood.’ In one brief sentence Peter uses the prophecy of Isaiah to interpret what he had seen: Jesus going to his death. Jesus’ predictions of rejection, suffering and death had contradicted the expectations of the disciples. But they did not contradict the words of the prophet. Isaiah had said, ‘He bore the sin of many.’2 Now Peter understands those words; they convey the heart of the gospel.

The background for Isaiah’s prophecy and Peter’s teaching is the symbolism of sacrifice that God appointed for Israel. Sin was pictured as a burden to be placed upon the head of a sacrificial animal before it was killed. Death was the penalty for sin; the sacrificial animal died in the place of the sinner, who confessed his sin with his hands on the head of the animal. That action graphically pictured the transfer of the weight of his sin from himself to the substitute. The sprinkling of the blood of the sacrificed animal marked atonement; the penalty of sin had been paid.4 Isaiah describes the mysterious tragedy of the righteous Servant of the Lord: his astonishing agony, his scornful rejection, his submissive meekness. Then he discloses the meaning of the apparent tragedy. The suffering Servant offers himself as a sacrifice for sin. He was stricken with death for the transgression of his people. His soul was made an offering for sin. He bore the sin of the many.

We lack Peter’s preparation for understanding Christ as the sacrifice, the lamb whose precious blood redeems us (1:19). We have not witnessed, as Peter did, the offering of lambs, bulls and goats on the altar of sacrifice; the symbolism is not vivid in our minds. Yet Peter knew that the sacrifices at Jerusalem had not cleansed his heart from sin. Faced with the divine power of Jesus on the Lake of Galilee, he had fallen on his knees in his fishing-boat to cry, ‘Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!’

Peter, who had slept through his Lord’s agony in the garden of Gethsemane, now knows what cup it was that Jesus had to take; he knows why Jesus cried out in his abandonment, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ When Jesus went to Calvary, ‘he bore the sin of many’. The wood of his cross could be put upon another; the weight of sin was his alone to bear. Should anyone think lightly of his sin—and Peter could not—then to see the agony of the Son of God must call him to think again. Jesus bore our sins personally, in his own body. Only he could do so, for only he was sinless, God’s lamb without spot (1:19; 3:18). Only he could do so, for only he was who Peter confessed him to be: no mere man, not even the greatest prophet, but the Lord’s Anointed; indeed, the Lord himself, the Son of God, now crowned with glory (3:22; 4:11). If our death does not confront us with the wages of sin, then his death must. That such a price was paid, by the Son who gave his life, by the Father who gave his Son, is the measure of the measureless love of God.

The priests of old put away sin in the symbolic ritual of sacrifice; Jesus put away sin through the sacrifice of himself. The author of Hebrews reminds us of the words of Psalm 40:

‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,

but a body you prepared for me;

with burnt offerings and sin offerings

you were not pleased.

Then I said, “Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—

I have come to do your will, O God.” ’

The expression Peter uses seems to describe not simply Christ’s bearing of sin on the cross, but his carrying the burden of sin to the cross. In any case, it is the death of Christ, the shedding of his precious blood, that accomplishes our redemption. Peter’s expression emphasizes the dreadful extent of Christ’s sin-bearing. He suffered not only to the point of death, but to death as one accursed. Peter is well aware of the law’s curse upon one who died as a criminal on the tree. To Pharisees like Saul, before his conversion, Christ’s death on the cross refuted any claim to Messiahship. The Messiah could not die as one accursed of God. The astonishing prophecy of Isaiah shows the very opposite; only the One who becomes a curse for us can be the true Messiah, for his accursed death in our place paid the price of sin. Peter had proclaimed to the Sanhedrin the horror of their offence in killing Jesus, ‘hanging him on a tree’.2 Yet the wicked hands of men had fulfilled the counsel and will of God. God raised up Jesus, and by his death brought forgiveness of sins to all who trust in him.

By bearing our sin Jesus brings healing as well as atonement. The curse of sin includes suffering as well as death. From this, too, Jesus saves us. Peter again quotes from Isaiah: by his wounds you have been healed. Slaves who had been beaten bore the scars of the lash to which wounds (‘welts’) refers. Jesus had been tied to a post on the ‘Pavement’ of the palace where Pilate administered justice. There he had been whipped with the Roman scourge, a lash with multiple thongs, weighted with lumps of lead or bone. How did Christ’s wounds bring healing to slaves who might also have felt the lash? Did not Peter call them to follow in Christ’s steps, to imitate him in receiving wounds for his sake?

The apparent contradiction reveals the heart of Peter’s message. That which is to be feared is not the wrath of men, but the wrath of God. That which is to be desired is not the passing comforts of the world, but the blessing of God’s eternal inheritance. This is not just a matter of suffering now and glory to come: the promised blessing is already the possession of believers in Christ. They now taste the joy of heaven, for they taste the Lord’s grace (2:3). They know Jesus, the great Physician. Peter well knew the healing power of Christ. As an apostle he had power to declare, ‘Jesus Christ heals you.’ In hope of the resurrection, Peter could promise the final healing of all the people of God. But here Peter speaks of healing, not by the hands of Jesus, but by the wounds of Jesus. Christ’s wounds heal suffering at its root: the curse of sin. Not only do they plead the sinner’s case in the judgment; they transform his present suffering. No longer is it the bitter legacy of unrighteousness; it has become fellowship in the steps of Jesus. The pain that remains for the Christian is not the penalty of sin: Christ has suffered that in his place. The pain that remains is Christ’s calling to follow in his steps, sharing his reproach.

  • His saving claim (2:24–25)

Christ’s atoning sacrifice has accomplished our salvation. We were like sheep going astray, but now we have been brought back to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. Jesus is not only the Good Shepherd who gives his life for the sheep; he is also the seeking Shepherd, the Lord who gathers his remnant flock. He bore our sins with a marvellous purpose: ‘that we, having died unto sins, might live unto righteousness’. (This translation in the asv is to be preferred to that in the niv.3)

Peter here speaks in a way that is close to the language of Paul. Central for Paul is the doctrine of union with Christ. We were united to Christ in his saving death; when he died to sin, so did we. When he rose, we rose with him. We are therefore to live in accord with our new position. Peter, too, stresses what Christ has accomplished for us. He makes Christ’s finished work the ground of his exhortations to live for righteousness. While he does not develop the theme of our union with Christ in the way that Paul does, he presents the same conviction from a different perspective, using particularly the Servant songs of Isaiah.2 In this passage he is showing us the meaning of the death of Christ from Isaiah 53, a passage in which the Servant suffers for the sins of the people because he is identified with them. In affirming that Jesus bore our sins, Peter teaches that Jesus is identified with us as our representative. That enables Peter to say that because of Christ’s sin-bearing in our place, we have died to sin. Peter makes it clear that Christ has done more in his death than enable us to die to sin. By his death in our place ‘once, the righteous for the unrighteous’, he has brought us to God (3:18). We have ceased from sin in Christ’s suffering and death for us, and therefore we are to live to God (4:1–2).

Peter had begun this section by addressing servants, speaking to them of their calling to follow Christ. But now he speaks in the first person plural, not ‘you’ only, but ‘we’. Peter’s hope is one with theirs, remission of sin through the death of Christ and freedom for a new life of righteousness.

By his atoning death Jesus puts his saving claim upon us. We have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls. The title Shepherd for the One who is the suffering Servant of the Lord is suggested in Isaiah 53:6, the passage that follows the statement that we are healed by his wounds: ‘We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.’ David’s confession, ‘The Lord is my shepherd …’, presents one of the major images of the Old Testament describing the Lord’s care for his covenant people. The Lord, the true shepherd, promises to gather and care for his scattered flock. In the prophet Zechariah the figure of the shepherd and that of the sufferer are brought together. The shepherd, the one who was pierced, is identified with the Lord himself,2 yet distinguished from him as his ‘fellow’, the man close to him:

‘Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,

against the man who is close to me!’

declares the Lord Almighty.

‘Strike the shepherd,

and the sheep will be scattered,

and I will turn my hand against the little ones.’

Peter would well remember that passage. He had heard Jesus quote it as he led the disciples from the last supper to the garden of Gethsemane. Jesus used it to warn the disciples of their scattering, their falling away, when he, the Shepherd, would be struck down. Peter had replied, ‘Even if all fall away, I will not.’ Yet Peter, too, had forsaken Jesus and fled. When he later followed from a distance, he had been prepared to swear that he never knew Jesus. What joy filled Peter’s heart to receive forgiveness and blessing from his risen Lord! Peter had returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of his soul. His own calling as an apostolic shepherd had come from the Lord, the good Shepherd, who had reclaimed Peter from his desertion.5

The Zechariah passage goes on to describe how the Lord will purify his people, refining them as silver or gold in fire. This image, too, is in Peter’s thoughts (1:7; 4:12). The Lord who is now gathering his own from the nations of the world leads them through suffering to know him.

They will call on my name

and I will answer them;

I will say, ‘They are my people,’

and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’

Our Shepherd is also our Overseer, the ‘Bishop’ (av; Greek, episkopos) of our souls. The overseer is one who watches over a charge to protect and preserve it. A shepherd is the overseer of his flock. The elders of the church are to exercise oversight as they tend the flock of God (5:2). Yet the oversight of the ‘Chief Shepherd’ (5:4) has majestic breadth and depth; it goes far beyond the care of any under-shepherd. The Lord who knows the secrets of our hearts watches over our souls. So Jesus was the Overseer of Peter’s soul, warning him, calling him to watch and pray, praying for him that his faith should not fail, and searching his heart in order to restore him to his calling.2 Household slaves, designated as ‘things’ by the Romans and ‘bodies’ by the Greeks, are in Christ a kingdom of priests; Jesus the Lord is their Shepherd, the guardian of their precious souls.[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 155–174). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[2] Doriani, D. M. (2014). 1 Peter. (R. D. Phillips, P. G. Ryken, & D. M. Doriani, Eds.) (pp. 91–106). Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R Publishing.

[3] Clowney, E. P. (1988). The message of 1 Peter: the way of the cross (pp. 116–126). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Quick Shot Responses to “All Religions Lead to the Same Place” (Cold-Case Christianity S5E6) — Cold Case Christianity

In this episode of the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast, J. Warner offers a number of brief, rhetorically powerful responses to the objection: “All religions lead to the same place.” These responses are designed to help you remove intellectual obstacles when talking about God with your friends and family members. They are also available on the Cold-Case Christianity Phone App so you can access them as you are interacting with others.

Be sure to watch the Cold-Case Christianity Broadcast on NRBtv every Monday and Saturday! In addition, here is the audio podcast (the Cold-Case Christianity Weekly Podcast is located on iTunes or our RSS Feed):


For more information about the nature of Biblical faith and a strategy for communicating the truth of Christianity, please read Forensic Faith: A Homicide Detective Makes the Case for a More Reasonable, Evidential Christian Faith. This book teaches readers four reasonable, evidential characteristics of Christianity and provides a strategy for sharing Christianity with others. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Forensic Faith DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.

J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case ChristianityGod’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.

via Quick Shot Responses to “All Religions Lead to the Same Place” (Cold-Case Christianity S5E6) — Cold Case Christianity