Oct. 14. Be Alert for False Doctrine

Col. 2:1-23

Even though Paul had never preached directly to the Colossians, he was deeply concerned about them and the church at Laodicea only a short distance away. He warned them to be alert for those who would attempt to deceive them with false doctrine.

Paul knew through the reports from Epaphras that the Colossians had received and obeyed the proper doctrine from the beginning. He urged them to continue to allow their roots to penetrate that firm foundation of faith.

Judaizing teachers were trying to persuade the Colossians to follow their traditions instead of obeying Christ. They were being pressured to submit to circumcision, to avoid certain foods and drink and to observe special days.

Paul assured the Colossians that they had indeed been circumcised, but that their circumcision was of the heart and not the ceremonial removal of a piece of skin. They had received this circumcision as God had cut off their whole body of sin at the time they were buried with Christ in baptism. Just as He was raised from the dead, they had been raised with Him in baptism. Baptism means nothing however, unless it is accompanied by a genuine faith in a risen Christ. Christians are complete in Christ.

The old law was contrary to man in that it condemned, but could not save. It was necessary for the blood of Christ to wash away all sins. These handwritten ordinances had been nailed to the cross with Christ at His death.

There are those today who still contend that we must keep the Ten Commandments. They were superseded when the old law was nailed to the cross. Some of the old laws were re-enacted in the New Testament and are to be observed—not because of the old law, but because they are now a part of the new law.

Paul warned the Colossians about those who would take upon themselves a false humility of practicing things that were not authorized by Christ, even starvation and self-mutilation. There were those who advocated the worship of angels or going through angels to reach God—totally unauthorized.

The apostle Paul had previously explained the superiority of Christ and the importance of worshipping Him only. He is the Head of the body, the church. As the members of the physical body are dependent upon the head for physical life, the spiritual body is dependent upon Christ for spiritual life.

If the Colossians had died with Christ to the ordinances of the Law of Moses and the traditions of men, Paul asked them why they would still subject themselves to regulations prohibiting touching, tasting and handling certain foods, drinks or even people. These were manmade requirements and not authorized by God.


Oct. 13. Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Col. 1:1-29

Colosse was a city of Phrygia located about one hundred miles east of Ephesus. It was near Laodicea and Hierapolis originally on a trade route between Ephesus and the Euphrates River Valley. As those nearby cities increased in importance, Colosse decreased.

It is thought that Epaphras was mainly responsible for establishing the Colossian church as well as churches in Laodicea and Hierapolis. Evidently Epaphras had reported to Paul that members of the Colossian church were teaching some of the old Jewish and pagan doctrines. They denied that Christ was supreme and taught the worship of angels.

This letter was probably written from Rome about A.D. 62 at the same time as Ephesians and Philemon were written and was delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus. Its purpose was to make the supremacy of Christ in the church clear to the Colossians.

Paul began the Colossian letter in his usual style. He established his identity and authority as an apostle of Jesus Christ and acknowledged the presence of Timothy with him in Rome. It was also his practice to greet the recipients of his writings with thanksgiving and praise for their faith and love. He was a prayerful man and informed the Colossians that they were constantly in his prayers to God.

As he continued his salutation, Paul reminded the Colossians of the heavenly reward that is waiting for them and all faithful Christians. Through their obedience to the things taught to them by Epaphras, they were growing and bearing the same fruits of the Spirit that had been showered upon them. They were described as saints of the light, having been delivered from the power of darkness and transferred to the kingdom of Christ.

Those who are expecting Christ’s kingdom to be established in the future should note that the Colossians were already being added to that kingdom. It is the church of Christ and was established on the first Pentecost after His death.

Christians are still humans subject to temptations and enticing words of false teachers. Paul turned his attention to the report of Epaphras regarding errors that were being taught to the Colossians at that time. He began by explaining the eternal presence of Christ with God and that man’s redemption, the forgiveness of sins is through His blood.


Oct. 12. Call for Christian Strength

Eph. 6:10-24

Paul concluded his letter with a call for Christian strength. The Christian life is often referred to as a war. In warfare, the soldier must be strong offensively and defensively.

Christians are in a spiritual war against the forces of Satan. Paul urged the Ephesians to be wholly prepared to defend themselves by putting on the complete spiritual armor of God—not just part of it or by using some man-made parts. He listed those items (girdle of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shoes of preparation of gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and sword of the Spirit) that when properly fitted into one’s life will assure victory against the spiritual enemy.

The sword of the Spirit, the word of God is the Christian’s multipurpose weapon. With it, he is able to teach and convert members of Satan’s army. The word of God as a sword also helps God’s people defend themselves against the false teaching and oppression of the enemy. “It is written…”

Prayer gives one the strength and courage to face the enemy and to speak boldly in spiritual combat. Paul urged the Ephesians to use prayer not only for themselves, but for him also as he was confined in Roman chains.

There were other items of news and greetings that Paul wanted to share with the Ephesians, but he was expecting Tychicus to inform them of those things when he delivered this letter. Tychicus was a faithful friend and companion of Paul’s who was of great use to him in his work.

As in other letters, Paul closed the Ephesian letter by praying for peace, love, faith and grace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ to be upon them.


Oct. 11. Relationships Between Children/Parents; Slaves/Masters

Eph. 6:1-9

The relationship between children and parents presents a great responsibility to each. When parents bring a child into the world, they become responsible to feed, clothe and train that child up “in the way he should go.” It is the child’s duty to respect and honor his parents and to obey their admonitions as long as they do not conflict with the word of God. As in all things, one must obey God rather than men. When parents fail to teach their children and children refuse to honor and obey their parents, they sin against God, themselves and one another.

Many slaves and masters became Christians. This changed their relationship from master/slave to that of brothers in Christ. Paul recognized this new relationship and admonished the slaves to be obedient to their masters and to give an honest effort from the heart.

The masters were to realize that God as their Master required them to respect the humanity of their slaves and to treat them with respect and compassion. There is no respect with God. The faithful slave will receive the same reward in heaven as the faithful master. This same principle applies to the workplace today. Employees must give an honest day’s work for a day’s pay. Loafing on the job is stealing. Employers or supervisors must treat those working under them with human respect and dignity. God is watching all.


Oct. 10. Church and Marriage Relationship Compared

Eph. 5:22-33

Paul pointed out that the Christian life is a life of loving submission to God and to one another. He continued by relating the responsibilities of submission among various groups.

The church is the only institution on earth greater than marriage. Paul compared the relationship between Christ and the church with the relationship between husband and wife.

As the husband leads the family as its head, the wife is to submit to him with love and respect. Just as all Christians are one in the body of Christ, the husband and wife are one flesh in marriage. The husband must love his wife as his own body—even to the point of dying for her. Likewise, Christ as head of His church gave His life to save the church, so it must submit to His authority.

Paul did not command wives to blindly obey their husbands, nor did he give license to husbands to be unreasonable with their wives. Marriage is a partnership and husbands and wives must mutually love and respect one another in this sacred relationship. The wishes of the husband should be a law to the wife and the wishes of the wife should be a law to the husband. Neither wife nor husband is to follow the other to disobey God.


Oct. 9. Singing in the Early Church Described

Eph. 5:17-21

As he continued to admonish the Ephesians, Paul warned them about the evils of strong drink. Instead of filling one’s body with wine, which destroys the body, mind and spirit, he encouraged them to fill their hearts with the Spirit; that is to have the word of God dwelling within the heart.

One of the ways Christians’ hearts filled with the Spirit express themselves is in singing, “Speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord…”

Many honest people have added mechanical instrumental music into their worship services. The following article explains music in the early church very well.

“The Holy Spirit, in guiding the apostle Paul into the writing of Ephesians 5:19 certainly knew what the word, ‘psalm’ meant. If that word would bring to the Jewish mind psalms sung with instruments,

He took care of it by defining the instrument! Notice what the text says, ‘making melody with heart.’ This phrase in Greek is ‘psallontes tee kardias.’ You see, that names the instrument. ‘Psallontes’ is from the Greek ‘psallo,’ and ‘karddias’ means the heart. So, when we sing, we ‘pluck the heart strings.’ This is another way of saying what Jesus said in John 4:24, ‘Worship in spirit and in truth.’ In other words, as we sing psalms, we put our hearts into it. There is just no authorization—in this Scripture or in any other—to use instruments of music in the worship of God under the New Testament.

“It is interesting that, with more than a hundred different versions of the Bible in the English language, not one of them translates Eph. 5:19 to include instruments of music. Not one! History tells us that instruments of music were not used in Christian worship for more than 600 years after Christ died. And then it caused great turmoil and was not generally accepted for another 400 years! And maybe the strongest argument of all with regard to ‘psallo’ and ‘psalmois’ is the fact that the Greek Church has never used instruments in their worship, and still do not. If any group knows the Greek language, they do!

“The truth of the matter is simple: there is just no authority for the church of the New Testament to use instruments of music in worship, for the Bible does not authorize it. Why can’t we learn to be satisfied with doing what the Lord wants? He defines our worship. Let us, then, in faithful submission, worship as He directs us.”—Clem Thurman, Gospel Minutes, Sep. 3, 2004

As Christians sing, they teach and admonish one another and give praise and thanks to God through the words of the songs. As much as I may enjoy listening to a musical instrument, it teaches me nothing.


Oct. 8. Christian Life is a new Life

Eph. 4:17-5:16

Since the Ephesians had become one with the Jews in Christ and were separated from the unconverted Gentiles, Paul urged them to refrain from returning to their former ways of life. As converted Gentiles, they were to refrain from lying, lusts, corrupt speech, dishonesty, greed and other sins. Even though anger is not sinful, one must be alert to the sins that are produced by anger and quickly bring it under control.

When man sins, he grieves the Holy Spirit by violating the commands of God given through inspiration by the Holy Spirit.

Paul instructed the Ephesians to have the same attitude of love, kindness and forgiveness toward one another that God in Christ had when He forgave them. If one is unwilling to forgive another, he cannot expect God to forgive him.

Christ sat the supreme example of love when he died on the cross for the forgiveness of man’s sins. Christians must also forgive one another in love.

Paul listed several sins that will prevent one from entering heaven. However, because of God’s love, repentance of those sins will bring forgiveness. He reminded them that they had previously been guilty of those things, but they had become lights instead of darkness. It was their responsibility to continue to walk as children of light to show the way for others to become Christians and to insure their own salvation. The things that Paul wrote to the Ephesians apply to Christians today.


Oct. 7. Ephesians Urged to Remain United

Eph. 4:1-16

Jesus prayed just before His captors took Him in the Garden of Gethsemane that His disciples would be united as one. Since Jews and Gentiles had been united in the church, Paul issued the same plea for the Ephesians to maintain that unity. As Christians, they were to forget the bitterness and traditions that had divided them in the past and press forward with lowliness, gentleness and patience in love as children of God. He stressed that there is one body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism and God.

The one body is Christ’s church. He promised to build only one church. Today, when one through faith obeys that same gospel, he becomes a member of that same body. Groups of people, regardless of the name that they are wearing who are teaching anything contrary to that which is found in the Scriptures are dividers or denominators. Denominations, as the word implies divide the body of Christ and have no place in God’s plan.

There is but one Spirit to give life and guidance to that body. As with the physical body, the Spiritual body cannot survive if it is divided. Christians are fed by the word of God that was inspired by that same Holy Spirit.

Eternal life is the one hope or desire expected by children of God as an eternal reward in heaven for a faithful life in Christ. This hope gives Christians strength in the face of persecutions.

The one Lord is the Lord Jesus Christ, who was born of the virgin, Mary. He lived among men and died a cruel and shameful death on the cross for all mankind. After being buried in a borrowed tomb, He was resurrected from the dead, ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God. Paul informed the Gentiles that this same Lord is Lord of the Gentiles as well as the Jews.

Faith that is regulated by and conformed to the word of God is the only one faith that will lead to salvation. This faith comes only by hearing God as one studies the Scriptures.

Paul wrote of one baptism. Careful study will inform one that this baptism is the burial of a penitent sinner in water after he has died to his sins. These sins are washed away (forgiven) by the blood of Christ in baptism. He is then raised out of the watery grave as Christ was raised from the tomb. As Christ lives a new spiritual life with God, a newly risen Christian also lives a new spiritual life.

Even though people believed in and worshipped many different false gods, Paul stressed the fact that there is only one true God and Father. This one God, our creator demands total allegiance and total unity among His people.

Paul explained that it was through God’s grace that Jesus descended to earth and led captivity captive (bound and overcame death) when He was resurrected from the grave. As He was resurrected, man will also rise from the dead. Christ ascended back into heaven. In like manner His faithful children will ascend at the judgment.

In order to prepare man for that glorious resurrection, various men were given special responsibilities as gifts. They, through divine guidance from the Holy Spirit provided the instructions and teaching necessary to establish and guide the early church. Since these men have all passed from the earth, man receives instructions and teaching today through studying the Scriptures that the inspired writers left. By following those instructions, the body, the church with Christ as its head grows and matures into a strong spiritual body.


Oct. 6. Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians

Eph. 3:14-21

After discussing his apostleship, Paul addressed a prayer for the Ephesians to have strength to maintain Christ in their hearts in face of harsh trials as well as during good times. Christ well-rooted in the heart causes one to seek only those things that provide a suitable dwelling place for the Lord.

Paul prayed that the Ephesians would know the dimensions of the love of Christ. The width of His love is wide enough to fill the needs of all men of all nations. His love is long enough for Him to die on the cross that all men might live. Christ’s love goes deep enough to lift the most wicked of mankind out of the mire of sin. His love desires that all would be His disciples and live with Him eternally in heaven.

As he ended his petition, Paul recognized the infinite power of God and glorified His name for eternity.


Oct. 5. Paul Digresses and Explains His Apostleship

Eph. 3:1-13

In view of the gospel being available to the Gentiles, Paul became an apostle to them. It was because of his preaching to the Gentiles that events involving the Jews in Jerusalem caused him to be in a Roman prison when he wrote the Ephesian letter.

Paul digressed from his main thought and described himself and his apostleship. He reminded the Ephesians that he had received the gospel by revelation and not from ordinary men. His commission was to preach that gospel to the Gentiles.

As Paul wrote of his apostleship, he described the mystery of Christ as it related to the Gentiles. He explained that this mystery was their acceptance into the fellowship of Christ as equals with the Jews. Even though it had been prophesied in the Old Testament, it was not revealed until Peter had received it from God prior to the conversion of Cornelius and his household.

Paul looked upon himself as least of all the saints because of his history of persecuting the church. Nevertheless, he accepted the commission to preach to the Gentiles and asked for their support during his tribulations as their apostle.


Oct. 4. Jews and Gentiles United in Church through Christ’s Blood

Eph. 2:1-22

The Ephesian Gentiles to whom Paul was writing had previously been dead—separated from God in their sins, as the Jews had been before they received the blessing of salvation through the death of Christ. Just as Jesus was raised from the dead, the Ephesians were resurrected by God’s love and mercy to a new life free from sin.

Paul pointed out that salvation is through the grace of God and not by any works of the Law of Moses or works of merit that man can do. However, there are certain conditions or appointed works which must be met prior to qualifying to receive God’s grace. Man must possess an obedient faith in Christ as the Son of God—not merely a mental assent that he believes. God appointed these good works from the beginning.

One may receive a coupon in the mail for a free loaf of bread. No works had been done to earn that coupon. The recipient must have the faith to redeem (obedient faith) that coupon before the free loaf of bread becomes a reality.

Paul reminded the Ephesians that previously, they as Gentiles had been cut off from God and as aliens, they had no hope of salvation. The Law of Moses had placed a barrier of enmity between Jews and Gentiles, but they had been brought together in the church with the Jews by the blood of Christ. This barrier of enmity had been removed as the Jewish law was abolished on the cross and Jews and Gentiles had become at peace with each other and with God. All peoples and nations had become one in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit brings all to God the Father by revealing the same word of salvation (the Bible) to all.

Paul described the church as the household of God with the Gentiles not being excluded, but being equal partakers with the Jews in God’s family. They were all children sharing in the love of the Father.

The church was also referred to as a building or temple of God built upon the teachings of the apostles and prophets with Jesus as the chief cornerstone. As God once dwelt in the temple under Jewish law, He now dwells in His new temple, the church (Christians).


Oct. 3. Church’s Place in God’s Eternal Plan

Eph. 1:3-23

According to Paul, all spiritual blessings are in Christ. That would indicate that there are no spiritual blessings outside of Christ. Therefore, if one is to enjoy these blessings, it is necessary to be in Christ—in His body—in His church.

There are many honest and sincere people who believe that God has predestined or chosen beforehand certain individuals to either be saved or lost through no action of their own. Paul’s use of the term predestined in this letter is not referring to individuals, but to a class of people. This particular class is made up of those who by faithful obedience have chosen to fulfill the qualifications to become members of that class. By careful study, one learns that this elite class consists of faithful Christians—the church of Christ. God foreordained and predestined from the beginning that Christians would be saved by Christ and that non-Christians would be lost.

Paul pointed out to the Ephesians that the Jews had been first to receive redemption—forgiveness of sins through purchase by the blood of Christ. After the Gentiles had heard and obeyed that same gospel, their salvation was also sealed and guaranteed by the Holy Spirit of promise. Jews and Gentiles are now one in the church.

The Ephesian church had a special place in Paul’s heart and he was encouraged by the news that he had heard from them. He expressed this as he related his constant remembrance of them in his prayers. He desired for them to remain faithful as they continued to learn and obey the will of God. It is important for Christians to continue to seek more knowledge as they grow in their spiritual life.

Paul wanted the Ephesians to be fully aware of the power of God as He had raised Christ from the dead. It was also important for them to understand the position of Christ with His church. He is now seated at the right hand of God with all authority over all things in heaven and on earth. Christ is “Head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” If He has all authority, man has no authority to change His commands.


Oct. 2. Paul Writes Letter to the Church at Ephesus

Eph. 1:1, 2

Ephesus was the capital city of the Roman province of Asia located on the Asiatic coast east and across the Mediterranean Sea from Athens, Greece. Paul had spent more than two years there during his third missionary journey. He had to leave because of intense opposition from the followers of the goddess Diana. The Ephesian elders had met with Paul at Miletus as he was ending his third journey.

It is thought that Paul wrote letters to the churches at Ephesus and Colossae and to his friend Philemon about A.D. 62 soon after his imprisonment in Rome. They were delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus as Onesimus, the run-away slave returned to his master, Philemon.

The letter to the Ephesians, who were Gentiles did not have a specific theme, but was probably intended as a general letter to be read to the churches in various locations. As in the letter to the Romans, this letter contains much basic information about the plan and purpose of the church. It points out the oneness of Christ and salvation by grace through faith. He also places special emphasis upon earthly relationships as they relate to the church.

As he began his letter, Paul identified himself as an apostle and its writer. Even if he had intended it to be circulated among several churches, he addressed it to the saints at Ephesus. All Christians are saints.


Oct. 1. Luke’s Account of the Gospel

Luke did not disclose much information about himself. Paul referred to him as, “the beloved physician.” He was the only Gentile writer of the New Testament and he wrote in the Greek language primarily for Gentile readers. Scholars conclude that he was born and reared in Antioch of Syria. The use of the pronouns “we” and “us” in the book of Acts indicates that he spent much time as a traveling companion of Paul.

The writer doesn’t identify himself as the author of the gospel that bears Luke’s name nor does he identify himself as the writer of Acts. As one reads Acts and Paul’s epistles, it becomes evident from the various references to Luke that he indeed wrote Acts. Evidence in the preface to Acts indicates that the same writer was responsible for the Gospel According to Luke.

As with the accounts of Matthew and Mark, the location and date of writing the Gospel According to Luke are unsure, but the time was probably during the early A. D. 60s.

Luke, being a physician was more highly educated than the other gospel writers. This became evident as he referred to various names and events of contemporary history.

The account of the gospel by Luke contains more details about the genealogy, birth and early childhood of Jesus than the other gospels. He related more stories of Jesus’ concern for the outcasts of society than the other writers.

In his gospel, Luke recorded the time prior to the birth of Jesus until His ministry; the Galilean Ministry; last journeys to Jerusalem and the events relating to His death, burial, resurrection and ascension into heaven.


Sep. 30. The Gospel According to Mark

John Mark was the youngest writer of the New Testament. It is thought that he referred to himself as the young man who wrapped himself in a linen cloth and followed Jesus after the apostles had forsaken Him during His arrest in the garden of Gethsemane. Someone had grabbed him and he ran away naked as they held the cloth that he had left behind.

The mother of Mark was Mary. The apostles spent much time in her home. When an angel released Peter from prison, he went to her house where many were praying. Since he was not an apostle, but a preacher, Mark no doubt learned much of his information about the life of Jesus from those contacts with the apostles.

When Barnabas and Saul (Paul) departed on their first missionary journey from Antioch, Mark accompanied them as far as Perga in Pamphylia, but for some unknown reason, he returned to Jerusalem. Some years later, he was the center of contention between Paul and Barnabas that caused their division as they prepared for their second missionary journey. Paul and Mark reconciled later and he asked Timothy to bring Mark with him when he came to him in prison.

Mark’s story of the gospel is shorter than the other three accounts. Even though he recorded many of the teachings of Jesus, he told more about His actions than about His teaching. Like Matthew’s story of Jesus, the time and location of the writing of Mark’s account are also unknown, but is thought to be about A. D. 60.

The primary purpose of Mark’s writing is thought to be for the benefit of Gentile readers. He explained some of the Jewish customs, such as not eating with defiled or unwashed hands. References to Jewish law, the genealogy of Jesus and His birth and childhood were omitted. Jesus was presented in a way that the Gentiles could understand that He is the Christ, the Son of God and that He came to earth, lived and died as a sacrifice for the sins of the world. Man’s responsibility to obey the conditions set forth for salvation was explained by each of the four gospel writers.