Category Archives: Verse of the day

February 20, 2017: Verse of the day


21:1 Sovereignty of God. A king’s decisions are controlled by God. The verse uses synthetic parallelism to develop the point. The first line affirms that the decisions (“heart”) of the king are under the Lord’s control (“in the hand”), and the second explains that God directs the king as he pleases. What clarifies the second line is the simile that the heart is “like a watercourse.” As a farmer channels the water where he wants and regulates its flow, so does the Lord with the king. No human ruler is supreme; to put it another way, the Lord is truly the King of kings. Scripture offers many examples of the truth of this proverb (Ezr 7:21; Isa 10:6–7; 41:2–4; Da 2:21; Jn 19:11).

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary

21:1 He turns it. See notes on 16:1, 9, 33; cf. 19:21; 20:24. Note the examples of the divine hand of God in the cases of Artaxerxes (Ezr 7:21–23), Tiglath-pileser (Is 10:5–7), Cyrus (Is 45:1–4), and Nebuchadnezzar (Da 4:34) and Belshazzar (Da 5:23–25).

MacArthur Study Bible

21:1 The stream of water describes water flowing through a channel or an irrigation ditch, which a skillful farmer can turn to flow wherever he wishes.

ESV Study Bible

21:1 in the hand of Yahweh Even though kings hold great power (Prov 14:28; 16:15; 20:2), they are ultimately under the jurisdiction of God’s power over the entire earth.

Faithlife Study Bible

21:1 The king’s heart … Lord. Possibly a reference to the sovereignty of God even over pagan kings who unwittingly do His will (e.g., Cyrus in Is. 45:1), or to the king of Israel, who, like Solomon, received a special endowment of the wisdom of God (16:10 and note).

Reformation Study Bible

February 19, 2017: Verse of the day


The basic meaning of temptation (peirasmos) is simply to test or prove, and has no negative connotation. Whether it becomes a proof of righteousness or an inducement to evil depends on our response. If we resist it in God’s power, it is a test that proves our faithfulness. If we do not resist, it becomes a solicitation to sin. The Bible uses the term in both ways, and I believe that Paul has both meanings in mind here.

When “Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil” (Matt. 4:1) it is clear that both God and Satan participated in the testing. God intended the test to prove His Son’s righteousness, but Satan intended it to induce Jesus to misuse His divine powers and to give His allegiance to Satan. Job was tested in much the same way. God allowed Job to be afflicted in order to prove His servant was an “upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil” (Job 1:8). Satan’s purpose was the opposite: to prove that Job was faithful only because of the blessings and prosperity the Lord had given him and that, if those things were taken away, Job would would “surely curse Thee to Thy face” (v. 11).

God’s tests are never a solicitation to evil, and James strongly corrects those who suggest such a thing. “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone” (James 1:13). “By evil” is the key to the difference between the two types of temptation. In the wilderness God tested Jesus by righteousness, whereas Satan tested Him by evil. A temptation becomes an inducement to evil only when a person “is carried away and enticed by his own lust. Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin” (James 1:14–15).

Earlier in his letter James wrote, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials” (1:2). The nouns trials (see also verse 12) and testing (v. 3) are from the same Greek root as the verb tempted in verses 13–14. The context indicates which sense is meant.

God often brings circumstances into our lives to test us. Like Job we usually do not at the time recognize them as tests, certainly not from God. But our response to them proves our faithfulness or unfaithfulness. How we react to financial difficulty, school problems, health trouble, or business setbacks will always test our faith, our reliance on our heavenly Father. If we do not turn to Him, however, the same circumstances can make us bitter, resentful, and angry. Rather than thanking God for the test, as James advises, we may even accuse Him. An opportunity to cheat on our income tax or take unfair advantage in a business deal will either prove our righteousness or prove our weakness. The circumstance or the opportunity is only a test, neither good nor evil in itself. Whether it results in good or evil, spiritual growth or spiritual decline, depends entirely on our response.

In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus says that we should ask God not to “lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). “Evil” is better translated “the evil one,” referring to Satan. In other words we should pray that God will not allow tests to become temptations, in the sense of inducement to evil. The idea is, “Lord, stop us before Satan can turn your test into his temptation.”

Common to man is one word (anthrōpinos) in Greek and simply means “that which is human, characteristic of or belonging to mankind.” In other words, Paul says there is no such thing as a superhuman or supernatural temptation. Temptations are human experiences. The term also carries the idea of usual or typical, as indicated by common. Temptations are never unique experiences to us. We can never have a temptation that has not been experienced by millions of other people. Circumstances differ but basic temptations do not. Even the Son of God was “tempted in all things as we are” (Heb. 4:15), and because of that “He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (2:18). And because temptations are common to us all we are able to “confess [our] sins to one another” (James 5:16) and to “bear one another’s burdens” (Gal. 6:2). We are all in the same boat.

Not only are temptations common to men but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able. No believer can claim that he was overwhelmed by temptation or that “the devil made me do it.” No one, not even Satan, can make us sin. He cannot even make an unbeliever sin. No temptation is inherently stronger than our spiritual resources. People sin because they willingly sin.

The Christian, however, has his heavenly Father’s help in resisting temptation. God is faithful. He remains true to His own. “From six troubles He will deliver you, even in seven evil will not touch you” (Job 5:19). When our faithfulness is tested we have God’s own faithfulness as our resource. We can be absolutely certain that He will not allow [us] to be tempted beyond what [we] are able. That is God’s response when we pray, “do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13). He will not let us experience any test we are not able to meet.

When the soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, He asked them twice whom they had come for, who was designated on their arrest order. After they answered for the second time, “Jesus the Nazarene,” He said, “If therefore you seek Me, let these go their way” (John 18:4–9). John explains that Jesus prevented the disciples from being arrested with Him in order “that the word might be fulfilled which He spoke, ‘Of those whom Thou hast given Me I lost not one’ ” (v. 9). The disciples were not yet ready for such a test. Had they been arrested, they would have been devastated, and Jesus would not permit it. As best we know from church history, most of those eleven disciples died a martyr’s death. The other, John, was exiled for life on the island of Patmos. All of them went through persecution, imprisonment, and countless hardships for the sake of the gospel. But they did not go though those things until they were ready to handle them.

But with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it. The phrase the way is formed by the definite article and a singular noun. In other words, there is only one way. The way of escape from every temptation, no matter what it is, is the same: it is through. Whether we have a test by God to prove our righteousness or a test by Satan to induce to sin, there is only one way we can pass the test. We escape temptation not by getting out of it but by passing through it. God does not take us out; He sees us through by making us able to endure it.

God’s own Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tempted. It was the Father’s will that the Son be there, and Jesus did not leave until all three temptations were over. He met the temptations head–on. He “escaped” the temptations by enduring them in His Father’s power.

God provides three ways for us to endure temptation: prayer, trust, and focusing on Jesus Christ.

“Keep watching and praying, that you may not come into temptation,” Jesus told His disciples (Mark 14:38). If we do not pray, we can be sure a test will turn into temptation. Our first defense in a test or a trial is to pray, to turn to our heavenly Father and put the matter in His hands.

Second, we must trust. When we pray we must pray believing that the Lord will answer and help us. We also trust that, whatever the origin of the trial, God has allowed it to come for our good, to prove our faithfulness. God has a purpose for everything that comes to His children, and when we are tested or tempted we should gladly endure it in His power—for the sake of His glory and of our spiritual growth.

Third, we should focus on our Lord Jesus Christ. “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:3–4). Christ endured more than we could ever be called on to endure. He understands our trials and He is able to take us through them.

In John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress Christian and Hopeful fall asleep in a field belonging to giant Despair. The giant finds them and takes them into Doubting Castle, where he puts them in a dark and stinking dungeon, without food or water. On his wife’s advice, the giant first beats them mercilessly and then suggests they commit suicide. After the giant leaves, the two companions discuss what they should do. Finally Christian remembers the key in his pocket. “I have a key in my bosom called Promise, that will, I am persuaded, open any lock in Doubting Castle.” Sure enough, it opened all the doors in the castle and even the gate. “Then they went on, and came to the King’s highway again.”

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 18, 2017: Verse of the day


As the great hymn of praise reaches a crescendo, every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them joins in. This all-inclusive statement is reminiscent of Psalm 69:34: “Let heaven and earth praise Him, the seas and everything that moves in them,” and the concluding verse of the Psalms, “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Ps. 150:6). This mighty chorus cries out, “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” Endless blessing, endless honor, endless praise,endless glory, and endless worship belong to God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The creation is unable to contain its joy over its imminent redemption (cf. Rom. 8:19–22).

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 17, 2017: Verse of the day


The Reaction

And they, after worshiping Him, returned to Jerusalem with great joy, and were continually in the temple praising God. (24:52–53)

Now that the disciples understood fully the person and work of Christ, there was no other way they could have reacted, other than by worshiping Him. With all their doubts and fears gone, all their questions answered, fully convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, the Savior and Redeemer, the disciples were ready to preach the gospel—even if it cost them their lives.

After Jesus was gone, they returned to Jerusalem as He had commanded them (v. 49; Acts 1:4) with great joy, which caused them to be continually in the temple praising God. Their training was complete, and they were full of praise, ready to preach, and some of them even prepared to write portions of the New Testament.

The Implications

The amazing implications of the ascension of the Son of God to heaven can be broken down into the following truths.

First, the ascension marked the completion of the work of salvation. After the cross and the resurrection, there was nothing further to be done to provide any aspect of salvation. Jesus’ words from the cross, “It is finished!” (John 19:30), signified that He had accomplished the work the Father had given Him to do.

Second, the ascension marked the end of Jesus’ limitations. During His incarnation, He had “emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil. 2:7–8). At the ascension, He returned to the glory He had had with the Father before the world was created (John 17:5). Jesus had left heaven as spirit, but returned as the God-Man, whom He will remain forever.

Third, as noted earlier, the ascension marked Christ’s exaltation and coronation.

Fourth, the ascension signaled the sending of the Holy Spirit, who until then “was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified” (John 7:39). “It is to your advantage that I go away,” Jesus had told the disciples, “for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you” (John 16:7).

Fifth, the ascension marked the start of Jesus’ preparing believers’ heavenly home (John 14:1–3).

Sixth, the ascension marked the passing of the work of evangelism to His followers. Christ’s work is both finished and unfinished (Acts 1:1). His work of providing redemption is completed, and nothing can be added to it (John 17:4; 19:30; Heb. 9:12). But His work of proclamation is not finished. The rest of the New Testament describes the continuation of that work by the early church, and it will not be completed until He returns.

Seventh, the ascension signaled the Lord’s sovereign headship over the church (Eph. 1:20–23; Col. 1:18).

Eighth, the ascension marked Christ’s triumph over Satan. As the apostle John wrote, “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8; cf. Gen. 3:15; Heb. 2:14).

Ninth, the ascension signaled the Lord’s giving the work of the ministry to gifted men. When He ascended, Jesus sent the Spirit, who not only gave spiritual gifts to individual believers (1 Cor. 12:4–11), but also gifted men to the church (Eph. 4:11–13).

Tenth, the ascension marked the beginning of the merciful and faithful (Heb. 2:17) and sympathetic (Heb. 4:15) high priest’s work of intercession for His people (Heb. 7:25).

Finally, the ascension guarantees and secures Christ’s second coming (Acts 1:11).

All Christians should celebrate all that Jesus accomplished for them, which culminated in the ascension. “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ,” wrote Paul, “that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich” (2 Cor. 8:9).

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 16, 2017: Verse of the day


The Redeemer

Grace (v. 6a) is the antecedent of which. It is God’s grace (undeserved love and goodness) that He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved, and because we are in Him we have redemption. Jesus Christ is our Redeemer from sin, the Beloved (the word indicates the One who is in the state of being loved by God) who Himself paid the price for our release from sin and death. Because we now belong to Christ, by faith made one with Him and placed in His Body, we are now acceptable to God.

From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry the Father declared Him to be “My beloved Son” (Matt. 3:17). And because we have believed in Him, “He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). Because we are now in the Beloved, we, too, are “beloved of God” (Rom. 1:7).

Only Jesus Christ has the inherent right to all the goodness of God. But because we are identified with Him by faith, that goodness is now also our goodness. Because our Savior and Lord is the Beloved of the Father and possesses all the goodness of the Father, we are also the beloved of the Father and possess all His goodness. Jesus said, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me shall be loved by My Father” (John 14:21).

The Father now loves us as He loves Christ and wants us to have everything that Christ has. That is why Paul could say He “has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3). Every Christian is God’s beloved child because the Lord Jesus Christ has become our Redeemer.

The Old Testament concept of a kinsman–redeemer set forth three qualifications: he had to be related to the one needing redemption, able to pay the price, and willing to do so. The Lord Jesus perfectly met these requirements.

A poet has expressed the magnificent reality of redemption in the words,

Near, so very near to God,
Nearer I could not be;
For in the person of His Son,
I’m just as near as He.
Dear, so very dear to God,
Dearer I could not be;
For in the person of His Son,
I’m just as dear as He.

Charitoō (freely bestowed) is from charis (grace, v. 6a), and therefore Paul is saying that God has graced us with His grace. Christians are those who have been graced by God.

The Redeemed

On us, “the saints … who are faithful in Christ Jesus” (v. 1), the Redeemer has freely bestowed His grace. We have the ones who have redemption through His blood

In chapter 2 Paul reminds us of what we were like when God so graciously redeemed us. We “were dead in [our] trespasses and sins”; we “walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air”; we “lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath”; and we were without “hope and without God in the world” (vv. 1–3, 12). In chapter 4 he reminds us that we formerly walked in futility of mind, “darkened in [our] understanding, excluded from the life of God,” because of ignorance and hardness of heart (vv. 17–18). Those are the kinds of people (the only kind who exist) that God chose to redeem.

It is of course because men are like that that they need redemption. Good men would not need a Redeemer. That is why Christ “gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:14).

Until a person realizes his need for redemption, however, he sees no need for a Redeemer. Until he recognizes that he is hopelessly enslaved to sin, he will not seek release from it. But when he does, he will be freed from the curse of sin, placed in Christ’s Body, and blessed with His every spiritual blessing.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 15, 2017: Verse of the day


Let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (10:22)

Sincere (alēthinos) means genuine, without superficiality, hypocrisy, or ulterior motive. Coming to God with full assurance requires commitment that is genuine.

The nation of Judah, like many individuals, often had come to God with anything but a sincere heart. “ ‘Judah did not return to Me with all her heart, but rather in deception,’ declares the Lord” (Jer. 3:10). But a day was to come when His people would change. “I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the Lord; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with their whole heart” (Jer. 24:7).

Simon the magician made a profession of faith in Christ, but his heart became corrupt. He tried to use Christ’s name and power for his own glory and benefit, and was harshly rebuked by Peter. “You have no part or portion in this matter, for your heart is not right before God. Therefore repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:21–22). Paul counseled slaves to be obedient to their masters, “in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ” (Eph. 6:5). From the earliest days of the Old Covenant, God had demanded a sincere heart. “You will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul” (Deut. 4:29). The people who find God are those who seek Him with their whole heart, with total genuineness.

A certain type of faith is built into human nature. Even on the purely human, earthly level, we could not operate without it. We eat food taken from a can or box that we buy in the store, with perfect confidence that it will not harm us. We turn on the faucet, pour a glass of water, and drink it without question. We accept payment in printed paper because we have faith that the government will back its money. Without faith, society could not operate.

But saving faith not only requires faith in a different object, it requires faith from a different source. We can trust in food, water, and money by our own will, our own decision. Faith in Jesus Christ must include our own decision, but it must proceed from God’s decision. “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Eph. 2:8). Salvation is a gift of God, and part of that gift is saving faith itself. God plants in the heart the desire and the ability to believe, and the ability to receive the gift of salvation.

When we come to God in faith, our hearts should not only be sincere but also sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. This figure, as we might expect, is taken from the sacrificial ceremonies of the Old Covenant. The priests were continually washing themselves and the sacred vessels in the basins of clear water, and blood was continually being sprinkled as a sign of cleansing. But all the cleansing, whether with water or blood, was external. Only Jesus can cleanse a man’s heart. By His Spirit He cleanses the innermost thoughts and desires.

In Christ our sins are covered in the blood and our lives are transformed. There must be both; together they make up salvation. We might say the first is positional satisfaction and the second is practical sanctification. God is satisfied with the sprinkling of the blood of Christ, and sin is removed and our consciences are free. We are changed on the inside as we are washed by the Word and born again.

Positional Satisfaction

Having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience is a beautiful picture of deliverance, already mentioned in 9:14. Conscience condemns us and reminds us of our guilt; and the guilt cannot be removed until the sin is removed. When Jesus died, His blood removed our sins, and when we embrace Him by faith, our conscience becomes free from guilt—we are cleansed from an evil conscience. We do not condemn ourselves anymore.

Cleansing of our hearts refers to satisfaction of God’s justice, the expiation of our sins, which is required before we can be acceptable to Him.

Practical Sanctification

The other part of the cleansing, having our bodies washed with pure water, does not refer to baptism, but has to do with our living, with how the Holy Spirit changes our lives. It is the same cleansing mentioned by Paul in Titus 3:5 (“the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit”) and in Ephesians 5:26 (“the washing of water with the word”).

These two aspects of cleansing are inseparable. When a man comes to Christ, they both take place. Christ’s death pays the penalty of sin for us and God is satisfied; and the cleansing act of the Holy Spirit begins to change us on the inside and He is satisfied. God’s justice and righteousness are both satisfied; and because of this, a believer can come into God’s presence with confidence.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 14, 2017: Verse of the day


Heirs of the Promise

And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. (3:29)

The spiritual promise of eternal salvation and blessing given to Abraham belongs to all those who belong to Christ. They are all heirs according to that promise, which is fulfilled in Christ. This is not a reference to the promises given to Abraham regarding the land (Gen. 12:1; 13:14–15; 17:8), but refers to the spiritual blessings that come to all who, being justified by faith just as Abraham was (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3–11), will inherit the spiritual promises given to Abraham. Not all the physical seed of Abraham will receive the promises of salvation (Rom. 9:6–11), but many who are not physical seed of Abraham will receive them by coming to God by faith as he did, thereby becoming his spiritual offspring.

Those who are children of God are “heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17). Christ’s inheritance belongs to “all those who are sanctified” (Acts 20:32), His fellow “heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:7). They are “sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1:13), the promise of inheriting God Himself. “The Lord is the portion of my inheritance and my cup,” exulted David (Ps. 16:5).

In his vision on Patmos, John “heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He shall dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be among them, and He shall wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there shall no longer be any death; there shall no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain … He who overcomes shall inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (Rev. 21:3–4, 7).

John Stott lucidly summarizes his comments on this passage in the following words: “We cannot come to Christ to be justified until we have first been to Moses to be condemned. But once we have gone to Moses, and acknowledged our sin, guilt and condemnation, we must not stay there. We must let Moses send us to Christ” (The Message of Galatians [London: Inter-Varsity, 1968], p. 102).

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 13, 2017: Verse of the day


The Law as Guardian and Guide

Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith. (3:24)

Second, the Law has become a guardian and guide to the Jews and, in a less unique and more general sense, to all mankind.

A paidagōgos (tutor) was not a teacher or schoolmaster proper (KJV) but rather a slave employed by Greek or Roman families, whose duty was to supervise young boys in behalf of their parents. They took their young charges to and from school, made sure they studied their lessons, and trained them in obedience. They were strict disciplinarians. scolding and whipping as they felt it necessary. Paul told the Corinthian believers-who often behaved liked spoiled children-that, even if they “were to have countless tutors [paidagōgous] in Christ,” he would be their only “father through the gospel” (1 Cor. 4:15). Continuing the contrast of paidagōgos and father, he later asks, “Shall I come to you with a rod or with love and a spirit of gentleness?” (v. 21).

The role of the paidagōgos was never permanent, and it was a great day of deliverance when a boy finally gained freedom from his paidagōgos. His purpose was to take care of the child only until he grew into adulthood. At that time the relationship was changed. Though the two of them might take care of the child only until he grew into adulthood. At that time the relationship was changed. Though the two of them might remain close and friendly, the paidagogos, having completed his assignment, had no more authority or control over the child, now a young man, and the young man had no more responsibility to be directly under the paidagōgos.

The sole purpose of the Law, God’s divinely appointed paidagōgos, was to lead men to Christ, that they might be justified. After a person comes to Him, there is no longer need for the external ceremonies and rituals to act as guides and disciplinarians, because the new inner principles operate through the indwelling Christ, in whom is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Col. 2:3). The law in the ceremonial sense is done away with, though in the moral sense it remains always an intimate friend that one seeks to love and favor.

Before Christ came, the law of external ritual and ceremony, especially the sacrificial system, pictured the once-for-all, perfect, and effective sacrifice of Christ for the sins of the world. When the perfect Christ comes into the believer’s heart, those imperfect pictures of Him have no more purpose or significance.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 12, 2017: Verse of the day


28:16–17 Surely the Lord is in this place (v. 16). Jacob’s affirmation of the Lord’s presence indicates that he considers God to be resident in this location. Consequently, he describes it as the house of God (v. 17). The associated phrase gate of heaven (v. 17) possibly implies that this is the entrance to the divine city. Since Jacob names the location “Bethel” (v. 19), which means “house of God,” the idea of God’s being present on earth is clearly dominant in his thinking. (The idea of a gate into heaven is a common one in ancient Near Eastern literature. For example, one of the titles given to a high priest of Thebes in Egypt was “The Opener of the Gates of Heaven.”)

ESV Study Bible

28:17 the house of God The Hebrew phrase used here, beth elohim, is typically used of a temple. Temples were both divine abodes and places where divine activity, as it pertained to humanity, could be witnessed or experienced.

the gate of heaven The stairway led to God’s abode, the heavens, where divine administration of the affairs of heaven and earth were conducted.

Faithlife Study Bible

28:17 he was afraid. Worshipful fear in God’s presence is appropriate (Ex. 3:6; 19:16; Ps. 2:11).

Reformation Study Bible

February 11, 2017: Verse of the day


And such were some of you, Paul continues. The Corinthian church, as churches today, had ex–fornicators, ex–adulterers, ex–thieves, and so on. Though many Christians have never been guilty of the particular sins just discussed, every Christian was sinful before he was saved. Every Christian is an ex–sinner. Christ came for the purpose of saving sinners (Matt. 9:13). That is the great truth of Christianity: no person has sinned too deeply or too long to be saved. “Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Rom. 5:20). But some had ceased to be like that for a while, and were reverting to their old behavior.

Paul uses but (alla, the strongest Greek adversative particle) three times to indicate the contrast of the Christian life with the worldly life he has just been describing. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified. It made no difference what they were before they were saved. God can save a sinner from any sin and all sin. But it makes a great deal of difference what a believer is like after salvation. He is to live a life that corresponds to his cleansing, his sanctification, and his justification. His Christian life is to be pure, holy, and righteous. The new life produces and requires a new kind of living.

Washed speaks of new life, of regeneration. Jesus “saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit” (Titus 3:5). Regeneration is God’s work of re–creation. “Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). “We are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:10). When a person is washed by Christ he is born again (John 3:3–8).

Sanctified speaks of new behavior. To be sanctified is to be made holy inwardly and to be able, in the Spirit’s power, to live a righteous life outwardly. Before a person is saved he has no holy nature and no capacity for holy living. But in Christ we are given a new nature and can live out the new kind of life. Sin’s total domination is broken and is replaced by a life of holiness. By their fleshly sinfulness the Corinthians were interrupting that divine work.

Justified speaks of new standing before God. In Christ we are clothed in His righteousness and God now sees in us His Son’s righteousness instead of our sin. Christ’s righteousness is credited to our account (Rom. 4:22–25). We are declared and made in the new nature righteous, holy, innocent, and guiltless because God is “the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:26).

The Corinthian believers had experienced transformation in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and in the Spirit of our God. God’s name represents His will, His power, and His work. Because of Jesus’ willing submission to the Father’s will, His death on the cross in our behalf, and His resurrection from the dead, He has provided our washing, our sanctification, and our justification.

A transformed life should produce transformed living. Paul is saying very strongly that it was unacceptable that some believers were behaving like those outside the kingdom. They were acting like their former selves. They were not saved for that, but from that.

MacArthur New Testament Commentary

February 10, 2017: Verse of the day


11:2 The Spirit of the Lord. As the Spirit of the Lord came upon David when he was anointed king (1Sa 16:13; Ps 51:11), so He will rest upon David’s descendant, Christ, who will rule the world. Spirit … the Lord … Him. This verse refers to the 3 persons of the Holy Trinity (see 6:3). wisdom and understanding … counsel and strength … knowledge … fear of the Lord. These are Spirit-imparted qualifications that will enable the Messiah to rule justly and effectively. Compare the 7-fold Spirit in Rev 1:4.

MacArthur Study Bible

11:2 the Spirit of the Lord. David was empowered by the Holy Spirit (1 Sam. 16:13), but the Messiah is more richly endowed with a threefold fullness of the Spirit: wisdom and understanding for leadership (Deut. 1:13; 1 Kings 3:9; cf. Isa. 10:13); counsel and might to carry out his wise plans (36:5; cf. Job 12:13; observe the connection to Isa. 9:6, “counselor” and “mighty”); knowledge and the fear of the Lord for holiness (Ps. 14:4; Prov. 2:5). For Jesus’ fulfillment of this prophetic word, cf. Matt. 3:16–17.

ESV Study Bible

11:2 This verse describes the characteristics of an ideal ruler (see 1 Sam 16:13; Deut 1:13; 1 Kgs 3:9). Wisdom, understanding, knowledge, and fear of Yahweh were key components of righteous living (see Prov 1:7; 2:5; Psa 14:4).

Faithlife Study Bible

11:2 Spirit of the Lord. As the fourfold repetition emphasizes, the same God-given endowment of the Spirit that brought David his successes (1 Sam. 16:13; Ps. 51:11) will empower the Messiah (42:1; Luke 3:22). The Spirit is the creative agent for establishing God’s kingdom (Gen. 1:2; Judg. 3:10; 6:34; 1 Sam. 10:6 and notes).

rest upon him. The Spirit came in a powerful way on saints in the Old Testament: Moses (Num. 11:17); certain elders (Num. 11:25, 26); Joshua (Deut. 34:9); the judges (Judg. 3:10; 11:29; 13:25); kings (1 Sam. 11:6); and prophets (1 Sam. 10:10; 2 Sam. 23:2; 1 Kin. 22:24; 2 Kin. 2:15; Mic. 3:8). The Spirit is the divine agent of restoration (32:15; Joel 2:28–32).

wisdom. Solomon prayed for wisdom and understanding (1 Kin. 3:9), the administrative skill to govern the people in righteousness and justice. See Introduction to the Wisdom Literature.

counsel. Authoritative plans and decisions are in view here. Human counsel may or may not be in accord with God’s plan (30:1), but the Messiah’s counsel is by “the Spirit.”

knowledge. This refers to wise and submissive living in accordance with the will of God (33:6; 53:11). It is a perfection of God (40:14).

fear of the Lord. Fearing God includes obeying His commandments because of faith that the Lord will keep His threats against transgressors (Prov. 1:7 note).

Reformation Study Bible

February 9, 2017: Verse of the day


6:13 swear by His name. An oath was a solemn pledge to affirm something said as absolutely true. The invoking of the Lord’s name in the oath meant that one was bound under obligation before God to fulfill that word (cf. Mt 4:10; Lk 4:8).

MacArthur Study Bible

6:13 by his name you shall swear Swearing by Yahweh’s name served as an oath of loyalty (e.g., Deut 10:20; Josh 2:12; Psa 63:11; Isa 45:23; 65:16; Jer 12:16). Compare Matt 5:33–37.

Faithlife Study Bible

6:13 by his name you shall swear. The third commandment does not forbid taking an oath on the name of God (cf. Judg. 8:19), but forbids a false oath. Because swearing by the name of a god implied the recognition and worship of that god, the Israelites were not to swear by other gods (cf. Jer. 5:7; Zeph. 1:5).

Reformation Study Bible