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.


Sep. 29. Matthew Writes His Account of the Gospel

Matthew was a publican (tax collector) for the Roman or Herodian government. The Jews hated publicans because they were associated with Jewish oppression by the Romans and most of them were highly dishonest. They charged more taxes than were due and kept the excess for themselves.

In choosing His apostles, Jesus selected men from a cross-section of that day’s society. This led to criticism by the Pharisees because if Jesus was the Messiah as He had claimed to be, they objected to His association with “tax collectors and sinners.” Jesus answered that He did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

The gospel according to Matthew is commonly referred to as Matthew. Its exact time of writing is unknown. Several scholars think that it was probably written from an unknown location about the time that Paul was imprisoned in Rome around AD 60.

Matthew’s writing was directed toward the Jewish population as he introduced Jesus as the Messiah, the King of the Jews and recorded the events of His life, death, burial and resurrection.

Since Matthew was one of Christ’s apostles and had worked very closely with Him for about two years, he was an eyewitness to most of the events mentioned in this writing. He quoted extensively from the Old Testament and showed the Jews how the Law of Moses and the prophecies of the coming Messiah related to Jesus, the Christ, their King. He presented the life of Jesus as it related to the Jews.

Even in the beginning of his account, Matthew traced the genealogy of Jesus directly to Abraham, the fleshly father of the Jewish nation, spiritual father of the faithful and the one to whom God had PROMISED to bless all the nations through his Seed. He showed that the fleshly descent of Jesus came through David and that He was the Christ of prophecy.

The events recorded by Matthew were grouped according to topics instead of by strict chronological order.


Sep. 28. Arrival at Rome; Paul Under House Arrest

Acts 28:11-31

Three months after Paul’s shipwreck and their arrival at Malta, the weather settled enough for ships to sail again. That was probably about the first of February. Another ship from Alexandria had wintered there and everyone from the wrecked ship boarded this vessel and resumed their journey to Rome.

The ship sailed about eighty miles and landed at Syracuse on the island of Sicily and stayed there three days. After battling the wind again, the ship reached Rhegium. From there it sailed to its port of destination, Puteoli on the mainland of Italy and the principal port for Alexandrian and Italian trade.

Paul met with some of the Christians at Puteoli and they asked that he stay seven days. That period of time would allow them to worship together on the next Lord’s Day.

Since Puteoli was the end of the line for the ship, the centurion with his soldiers and prisoners probably walked the remaining distance from there to Rome. As they reached Appii Forum and Three Inns, they met other Christians from Rome who had been informed of Paul’s journey by those of Puteoli. That was very encouraging to him and he thanked God for their presence.

When they reached Rome the centurion turned the prisoners over to the captain of the guard. Paul’s conduct on the voyage from Caesarea earned him favors that other prisoners could not enjoy. He was permitted to live in his own rented house—but always chained to a guard.

Paul had finally reached Rome about two and one-half years after writing the letter to them telling of his intentions. He was with some of his friends from earlier years and had begun to make new friends.

After only three days, Paul called a meeting of the chief Jews of Rome and explained his case to them. They stated that they had neither received letters (charges) nor had heard anything evil about him. However, they said that they wanted to hear what he thought because, “Concerning this sect, we know that it is spoken against everywhere.”

When the set time arrived, many of the Jews met at Paul’s house and he preached Christ. He started with the Law of Moses, related the prophecies of Christ’s coming and preached the complete gospel of Christ. The Jews were divided after hearing Paul’s teaching. Some believed, but probably most closed their ears and eyes and refused to accept his explanation of the gospel.

As was Paul’s custom, he had preached to the Jews first and after their refusal to believe, he quoted from Isaiah and told them that he would turn to the Gentiles. When the meeting ended, the Jews left and had a great dispute among themselves.

Paul lived the next two years as a prisoner in his own rented house. He had the freedom to write and to receive, “All who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”

As we complete the book of Acts, we also end the study of most of Paul’s travels. He spent most of the remainder of his life in confinement, teaching and writing to various churches and individuals. The works of the other New Testament writers and other letters of Paul follow in chronological order.


Sep. 27. Paul Ministers to Malta Natives

Acts 28:1-10

After the crew and passengers reached the land, they learned that they had reached Malta. It was a small island about sixty-five or seventy miles south of Sicily.

The natives of Malta were very kind to the shipwrecked strangers. They immediately welcomed them with a fire to warm and dry themselves.

As Paul gathered wood to put on the fire, a very poisonous snake bit him on the hand. The Maltans suspected that he was a murderer who had escaped the sea, but was now getting his justice from the snakebite. When he did not swell up and die immediately, but was unharmed, they then concluded that he was a god.

Many times, adversity provides an opportunity for doing good deeds. The father of Publius, the chief resident or ruler of the island was very sick. When Paul learned of his illness, he went in and prayed and laid his hands on him and healed him. The rest of the sick people on the island came to him and he healed them. As he healed those natives, he was presented with opportunities to teach them about Christ. There is no doubt that many people believed and obeyed the gospel. They also honored Paul’s companions and supplied them with many necessities.


Sep. 26. Voyage to Rome Begins; Storm at Sea

Acts 27:1-44

When the time came for Paul to leave for Rome, he and other prisoners were put under the control of Julius, a centurion and they boarded a ship sailing as far as Myra of Lycia. Luke and Aristarchus also accompanied Paul.

The ship made various stops along the way to load and unload cargo. Sidon was the first stop and Julius allowed Paul freedom to visit his friends there and to receive needed care. They stayed near the coast as they sailed from Sidon to Myra because the wind was a problem.

Paul’s company changed ships at Myra and boarded a large vessel carrying grain from Alexandria, Egypt to Italy. After many days of difficult sailing due to the wind, the ship finally reached Fair Havens, a harbor on the southern coast of Crete.

The season for smooth sailing was coming to a close, but the ship’s crew did not want to spend the winter at Fair Havens because the harbor was not suitable. Paul either by inspiration or by his own experience warned against going back out to sea because of the perilous conditions that would meet them.

Phoenix, a harbor about forty miles west of Fair Havens was more suitable and the owner of the ship and his officers ignored Paul’s advice and moved out. Soon after leaving, the winds became so tempestuous, that the ship was blown off course away from Crete and out into the sea.

The storm was so severe that the ship went many days without the benefit of the sun nor stars for navigation. During this time, they had relieved the ship of much of its weight and everyone thought that they would surely be destroyed.

In answer to Paul’s prayers, an angel appeared to him and informed him that he must be brought before Caesar. All who were with him would be saved from the storm, but the ship would run aground on a certain island. Even though a prisoner, his faith encouraged the men.

After sensing that they were nearing land, the sailors attempted to secure the ship by dropping anchors. They also schemed to take the lifeboat and leave the ship. Paul alertly informed the centurion of their actions and warned that they would be lost if they did not stay with the ship. The soldiers cut the lifeboat away from the ship and the escape attempt ended.

Because it had been fourteen days since they had eaten, Paul encouraged everyone to eat in order to regain their strength to endure the shipwreck that was to occur soon. After he had given thanks to God for the food, he began to eat and the others began to eat also.

When the two hundred seventy-six persons on the ship had eaten enough, they threw the wheat into the sea and lightened the ship further by removing everything that was unnecessary for its operation.

As daylight came after a sleepless night, those on the ship saw an unidentified land with a bay and beach. They released the anchors into the sea and determined to get as near the land as possible before running the ship aground. The ship soon reached a point where two seas met and there it broke apart.

Paul, the prisoner, was now in charge of the evacuation from the shipwreck. The soldiers planned to kill the prisoners to prevent their escape, but the centurion wanting to save Paul prevented this action. Those who could swim went first and were followed by the rest on boards and parts of the ship. They all escaped safely to land.


Sep. 25. Pleading with King Agrippa

Acts 25:13-26:32

Some days later, King Agrippa II and his sister Bernice made a courtesy call to Festus in Caesarea. After many more days, Festus informed Agrippa about Paul and asked for assistance in presenting his case to Nero.

Agrippa became interested in Paul and asked to hear him. A meeting was arranged. Paul’s meetings with the governors and Agrippa fulfilled the statement that Christ had made to Ananias during Saul’s (Paul’s) conversion many years earlier when He had said that he would “bear my name before the Gentiles and kings, and the children of Israel.” Paul was standing before rulers and kings.

The meeting between King Agrippa, Governor Festus and the prisoner, Paul was one of great contrasts. Agrippa knew much about the Jewish religion and probably had a desire to learn more about Christianity from Paul.

Festus was not a religious man and only tolerated the religions about him. He wanted to release Paul, but since the Jews were so important to him, he did not want to offend them by releasing him.

Agrippa, Bernice, Festus, commanders and prominent men of the city entered the auditorium with great pageantry and were seated. Paul, the prisoner, was brought in and stood before the king.

Festus had the same problem that faced Lysias and Felix. He hoped that their meeting would produce a formal charge that could be sent to Rome. “For it seems to me unreasonable to send a prisoner and not to specify the charges against him.”

Since Paul had not been understood by Lysias, Felix or Festus, he was happy to be permitted to speak to Agrippa, who had a greater understanding of the Jews and their customs.

Paul began by stating his background in the Jewish religion and how the Jews knew of his zeal in persecuting Christians. There was a great contrast between Saul, the persecutor and the man speaking to the king. He explained that he was a Pharisee and was being accused because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead—a main belief of the Pharisees and the hope of the twelve tribes of Israel.

As he continued his speech before Agrippa, Paul related the events that occurred as he was going to Damascus to bind Christians and take them back to Jerusalem. He told of seeing the bright light that blinded him and related his conversation with Christ, who had given him the commission to preach the gospel. One can easily reason that Paul would not have endured the persecutions that he had faced if the story of his conversion had been untrue.

Paul stated that he obeyed the heavenly vision and began preaching in Damascus, Jerusalem, throughout Judea and then to the Gentiles. He explained that for those reasons, the Jews had seized him in the temple and that the protection from God had allowed him to survive his persecutions and to stand before Agrippa that day.

In continuing his remarks, Paul said that he had preached only what the prophets and Moses had said would come—“that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”

Festus had heard enough. He interrupted Paul and said that he was beside himself and that much learning was driving him out of his mind. Paul’s reply was courteous and to the point. He contended that he was speaking words of truth and reason and that the king knew what he was saying was true.

Paul then turned his attention to Agrippa. He asked the king if he believed the prophets and answered his own question in the affirmative.

Agrippa was at the point of either rejecting the prophets or agreeing with Paul. He said, “You almost persuade me to become a Christian.”

Paul replied, “I would to God that not only you, but also all who hear me today, might become both almost and altogether such as I am, except for these chains.” He was bound with the chains of a prisoner, but the chains of ignorance, arrogance, indifference and sin bound those who heard him.

The meeting ended. Agrippa and the others stood up and after conferring among themselves concluded that Paul had done nothing wrong. Since he had appealed to Caesar, he must be sent to Rome.


Sep. 24. Paul Meets Governor Festus; Appeals to Caesar

Acts 25:1-12

Three days after arriving in Caesarea, Festus traveled to Jerusalem. While there, the Jewish leaders informed him that they wanted Paul brought to Jerusalem for trial. They had formed another plot to kill him in an ambush along the way.

Festus denied their request and stated that those in authority should accompany him to Caesarea and present their case to him there. After more than ten days he returned to Caesarea and ordered Paul to be brought into the judgment seat.

The Jews made many grievous charges against Paul that they could not prove. He made the same defense as he had made before Felix stating, “Neither against the law of the Jews, nor against the temple, nor against Caesar have I offended in anything at all.”

In a good-will gesture toward the Jews, Festus asked Paul if he would be willing to go up to Jerusalem to be judged. Since he had not received justice in Caesarea, there was no hope of justice in Jerusalem either. Paul knew his rights as a Roman citizen and appealed to Caesar. This request was approved.


Bible Studies for Sep. 22 & 23

Sep. 22. Jewish Plot Against Paul Acts 23:12-35

While Paul was being held in protective custody by the Romans, a group of more than forty Jews bound themselves together by an oath that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed him. They went to the chief priests and elders and suggested that they send for Paul to be brought before them under the pretense of further questioning. Their plan was to ambush the soldiers and kill him as they were bringing him to the council.

Paul’s Roman citizenship allowed him more privileges than just a Jew would have received. His nephew had heard of the scheme and had reported it to him in the barracks. A centurion was then called to escort the young man to the commander, “for he has something to tell him.”

Upon hearing the scheme of the Jews, the commander gave orders to two centurions. They were to prepare two hundred soldiers, seventy horsemen, and two hundred spearmen to take Paul safely during the third hour of the night to Caesarea. There he would stand before Felix, the governor.

The commander, Claudius Lysias wrote the following letter to Felix: “This man was seized by the Jews and was about to be killed by them. Coming with the troops I rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman. And when I wanted to know the reason they accused him, I brought him before their council. I found out that he was accused concerning questions of their law, but had nothing charged against him deserving of death or chains. And when it was told me that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him immediately to you, and also commanded his accusers to state before you the charges against him.”

Paul and the letter were presented to Felix the next day. When he had read the letter, the governor asked him where he was from. After learning that he was from Cilicia, he ordered him to be kept in Herod’s headquarters until his accusers had come.

Sep. 23. Paul Appears Before Governor Felix Acts 24:1-27

Five days after Paul had been brought to Caesarea, he appeared before Felix as Ananias, the elders and Tertullus, an orator (lawyer) made their case against him.

Tertullus began his testimony against Paul by being highly complementary of Felix to gain immediate favor in the governor’s eyes. He then listed three things of which Paul was accused. First, he had caused dissention among all of the Jews in the world. Second, he was the ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Third, he had tried to profane the temple.

The prosecution further stated that the commander Lysias had removed Paul by great violence from the Jews and ordered them to appear before Felix. Tertullus further suggested that if he questioned Lysias about the matter, he would get the same information.

When Paul was given permission to speak, he reasoned that in the short time that he had been in Jerusalem, he could not have caused the uproar that Tertullus had described. He did state, however “that according to the Way which they call a sect, so I worship the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the Law and in the Prophets.”

As for profaning the temple, Paul stated that after many years he had brought alms and offerings to his nation. This was the contribution that he had collected from the Gentiles in Macedonia and Achaia. He said that the Jews from Asia who had seen him in the temple should have come to state their charges against him. Their only possibility of a case was his statement concerning the resurrection of the dead, of which the majority of the Jews believed.

Felix was convinced that Paul’s problem was with the Jews and that he was innocent of any crime against Rome. If he had been truly concerned for justice, he would have released Paul for lack of evidence. Since he was a corrupt politician and wanted to please the Jews, he continued to hold Paul until he could question the commander, Lysias. Even though he was at liberty to visit his friends, Paul was chained to a soldier to prevent his escape.

After a period of time, Felix along with his wife Drusilla, who was a Jewess called for Paul to explain things concerning the faith in Christ. Felix was familiar with Christianity and Drusilla was closely related to the kings who had persecuted Christians.

Paul explained the evils of the sins that Felix and Drusilla had committed and the consequences that they faced in the judgment if they did not turn from their wickedness. Even a tyrant can be touched by the gospel for Felix was terrified by Paul’s teaching, but Satan prodded Felix to say, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” As far as we know, he never again had a “convenient time.” Today is the day of salvation!

Felix, hoping that Paul would offer him a bribe for his freedom called him many times, but the bribe did not come. After two years, Nero removed him as governor and named Porcius Festus as his successor. Even then, in order to gain favor with the Jews, Felix left Paul in prison.


Bible Studies for Sep. 20 & 21

Sep. 20. Paul’s Stormy Return to Jerusalem Acts 21:18-40

The day following Paul’s arrival in Jerusalem, he met with James and the elders of the church there. He reported on the things that he had accomplished with the Gentiles during his journey. Those present rejoiced at his news, but they reported to him that there was a problem among the Jews because of him.

Jewish Christians in Jerusalem had been informed that Paul had taught, “All the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.”

Paul continued to face accusations from the Jews. He did not command them to refrain from circumcision and the other Jewish customs, but taught that those things were unnecessary for salvation and should not be forced upon the Gentiles.

In order to become all things to all men as he had stated in his first letter to Corinth, Paul participated in a vow with four other men. He had hoped that this act would show his respect for the Law of Moses and pacify the Jews without violating a Christian principle.

Jews from Asia who had probably heard Paul preach had come to Jerusalem for the Feast of Pentecost. When they saw him in the temple completing the vow, they stirred up a mob.

These Jews charged Paul with teaching, “All men everywhere against the people, the law and this place.” Since they had seen Trophimus, a Greek with him in the city, they supposed that he had defiled the temple with a Gentile. They added that charge to Paul also.

Mobs are not noted for being polite or organized. The people ran together, seized Paul, dragged him from the temple to kill him and immediately shut the doors; probably to prevent it from being defiled by his blood.

However, before the Jews could carry out their plan, the Roman garrison commander was notified that all Jerusalem was in an uproar. He took soldiers, rescued/arrested Paul, tied him up with two chains and asked who he was and what he had done. Because the commander could not understand what the mob was yelling, he commanded that Paul be taken to the barracks near the temple. This fulfilled the prophecy of Agabus.

As the soldiers reached the stairway leading into the barracks, Paul asked the commander for permission to speak to the mob. After he had explained his identity to the commander, he was allowed to address the Jewish multitude. When the people realized that Paul wanted to speak and had addressed them in Hebrew, their native language, there was a great silence.

Sep. 21. Paul’s Defense Before Mob and Sanhedrin Acts 22:1-23:11

Paul reviewed his Jewish heritage with the people who were assembled. He told of his background, training and zeal in persecuting the early Christians. The high priest and elders could attest to the fact that Saul (Paul) once had the authority to bind Christians and bring them back to Jerusalem to be imprisoned for their faith.

As Paul continued his defense, he related the events that happened on the road to Damascus when he had seen the bright light from heaven and the voice of Christ telling him what to do. He told how Ananias, by divine authority, had directed him to be baptized to wash away his sins, calling on the name of the Lord.

The people listened attentively until Paul stated that the Lord said, “Depart, for I will send you far from here to the Gentiles.”

It was hard for the Jews to imagine their Messiah giving orders to preach to the Gentiles. At that point, they went into a frenzy, and cried out, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he is not fit to live.”

The commander ordered that Paul be bound and scourged to get him to confess to why the Jews were so against him. As the soldiers prepared to beat him, he asked the centurion if it was lawful for them to scourge a Roman, and uncondemned. Upon learning that they were about to scourge a Roman citizen, the commander ordered Paul to be released from the scourging. Since there were still no charges against Paul, the commander ordered the Sanhedrin to meet and state their case against him.

As Paul began to address the council, he stated how he had lived in all good conscience before God until that day.

Ananias, the high priest commanded that Paul be slapped across the mouth. In a rare outburst of anger, he spoke harsh words against the high priest. On other occasions of persecution, he had patiently and humbly defended himself. After being reprimanded for reviling “God’s high priest”, he apologized and continued his defense.

Jews were divided into two distinct sects—Pharisees, who believed in the resurrection of the dead, angels and spirits and Sadducees who did not believe in either. Paul identified himself as a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee and hoping to set them against one another stated that he was being judged concerning the “hope and resurrection of the dead.”

Upon hearing of Paul’s Pharisaical belief, the Pharisees stated, “We find no evil in this man; but if a spirit or an angel has spoken to him, let us not fight against God.”

The conflict between the Pharisees and Sadducees became so intense that the soldiers forcibly removed Paul to the barracks for his protection. Having failed to hear definite charges, the commander of the Roman soldiers was still at a loss as to how to proceed next with him.

One can only imagine the state of mind that Paul was surely suffering at that time. He had been warned previously, and these warnings had been fulfilled—he was a prisoner. The Lord recognized his condition and stated to him that night, “Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome.”


Bible Studies for Sep. 18 & 19

Sep. 18. Concluding Remarks to Roman Christians Rom. 15:14-16:27

As Paul concluded the main emphasis of his letter it was his prayer that the Romans would be filled with joy and hope from God through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Paul expressed confidence in the Romans that they had the strength to encourage and admonish one another. They had received the signs and wonders earlier that were necessary to establish their faith. Like people everywhere, they needed to be reminded of the basic principles of obedience and Christian living.

As he began to conclude his letter, Paul pointed out his policy of not preaching or building on foundations where others had established churches. In the case of the Roman church, he felt a strong desire to impart some spiritual gifts on them also. He reminded them again that as an apostle to the Gentiles, he most definitely wanted to visit them.

Since Paul had completed most of the work in the areas where he had established churches, he was prepared to go by Rome as he traveled to Spain. Spain was the next mission field that he had determined to work. He planned to make that trip after delivering the contribution from Asia, Macedonia and Achaia to the church in Jerusalem.

Paul expected confrontations with the Jews in Jerusalem and asked the Romans to pray for him as he made his journey from Corinth to Jerusalem and ultimately to Rome and Spain.

As was his custom, Paul closed his letter by greeting various special individuals in the Roman church. He also sent greetings from other Christians who were with him at the time.

Phoebe received specific mention because she was the courier of this letter. She also would probably need assistance with her business matters while in Rome.

Priscilla and Aquila had been very prominent in Paul’s work. They had assisted him on his first visit to Corinth; had accompanied him to Ephesus; risked their own lives for him and had taught Apollos more completely regarding the baptism of Christ. At the time of Paul’s Roman letter, they had returned to Rome and had a congregation of the church meeting in their house.

Many of the people that Paul greeted had been converted by him. Some had been converted before he had become a Christian. Probably some of these Christians had been converted on Pentecost. Whatever their background, they had all been involved in Paul’s previous works.

It was the custom to greet one another with a kiss. It still is in some cultures today. Paul admonished the Romans to use a holy kiss—a warm affection for brothers and sisters in Christ. In our society, one would greet another with a holy handshake—a warm affectionate greeting.

Paul had used a large portion of the body of his letter to point out the errors and dangers of keeping portions of the Law of Moses in their worship. As he closed the letter, he gave the Romans another reminder and warning against following the Judaizing teachers. Those people were to be identified and avoided.

In addition to the greetings of Paul to various Christians in Rome, several of the people with him in Corinth sent greetings to the church. Timothy was the most notable of those mentioned. Tertius, the penman who wrote the letter for Paul also sent his personal greetings.

Paul ended his letter with an invocation, “To God, alone wise, be glory through Jesus Christ forever. Amen.”

Sep. 19. Third Missionary Journey Concluded Acts 20:2-21:17

With the contribution to the Jerusalem church in hand, Paul left Corinth. He had planned to go directly from Corinth to Syria, but because of a plot by the Jews, they traveled through Berea, Thessalonica and Philippi in Macedonia and on to Troas. Paul had sent Timothy and several other men ahead to meet him at Troas. Luke had rejoined Paul’s company at Philippi.

Since the Jews would be observing the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, Paul probably remained in Philippi long enough to preach to as many Jews as possible before leaving for Troas.

Paul stayed a week in Troas and met with the church to worship on the first day of the week. The purpose of the church’s meeting was to break bread (observe the Lord’s Supper)—not to hear Paul or someone else preach. However, since the church was assembled, it was proper and convenient to hear God’s word proclaimed.

The church did, indeed, hear the word preached! Paul continued speaking until midnight and Eutychus who went to sleep fell out of a third-story window and died from the fall. This gave Paul an opportunity to show the power of God. He fell on the dead young man, embraced him and said that his life was in him. After raising Eutychus from the dead, Paul had many instructions for the church and continued to talk until daybreak.

Paul departed from Troas and walked a few miles to Assos where he met his co-workers whom he had sent on a ship. They sailed from there to Mitylene, passed near the island Chios and arrived at Samos, another island between Ephesus and Miletus. From Samos the ship sailed on to Miletus.

The Feast of Pentecost was only a few days away and Paul wanted to be in Jerusalem at that time. It was not his purpose to observe the Jewish Pentecost in a religious service, but to present evidence of the unity of Gentile and Jewish Christians to the multitude of Jews who would be there. He had the contribution of aid for Jewish Christians that had been sent by Gentile Christians.

Upon arriving at Miletus, Paul sent for the elders of the Ephesian church, which was only a few miles away. In his farewell message to these men, he reviewed the three years that he had been with them. He reminded them of their responsibilities of keeping themselves pure and caring for and feeding (teaching) the members.

Paul concluded their meeting with a warning to watch for false teachers, and that some of them would even teach false doctrine. After kneeling in prayer, weeping and kissing Paul, the elders went with him to the ship to continue his voyage to Jerusalem.

Luke states that Paul and his companions sailed from Miletus to Cos, Rhodes and Patara. They changed ships (probably to a larger open-sea type vessel) at Patara and sailed toward Phoenicia passing by Cyprus and docked about three hundred fifty miles later in Tyre. While in Tyre, they visited with some of the disciples there for seven days while their ship was being unloaded.

As Paul and his group prepared to leave Tyre, the families that they had visited went with them to the shore. After a prayer, they boarded the ship and the disciples returned home. Notice that the people traveling with Paul and those whom they met were just like we are today with the same feelings, emotions and fears that we experience.

The next stop for Paul and his company was at Ptolemais. They stayed with the brethren there for one day and departed for Caesarea. Upon their arrival in Caesarea, they came to the home of Philip the evangelist and stayed many days. He was not one of the twelve apostles, but was probably one of the seven deacons who was chosen to help care for the Grecian widows more than twenty years earlier.

Paul was in great danger. The Holy Spirit had warned him; his plans to go directly from Corinth to Syria and Jerusalem had to be changed; and the disciples in Tyre had urged him not to go to Jerusalem. At Caesarea, the prophet Agabus came from Judea and took Paul’s belt and bound his own hands and feet. He said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this belt, and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’”

Upon hearing the warning from Agabus, Paul’s traveling companions pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. As a man of strong courage and convictions, he refused to turn back. He replied, “What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Are we that strong? Are we ready to die for Christ? Paul’s purpose in life was to serve. If it cost him his life, his attitude was, “SO WHAT?”

When Paul’s companions saw that he was determined to continue to Jerusalem, they said, “The will of the Lord be done.” That should be the attitude of every Christian.

Paul completed his third missionary journey when he arrived at Jerusalem. He did not complete a circle and end at Antioch as he had done on the first two journeys.


Bible Studies for Sep. 16 & 17

Sep. 16. Various Christian Responsibilities Explained Rom. 12:1-13:14

Paul utilized a great portion of his letter to the Roman Christians explaining how one is saved through faith in Christ instead of the works of the Law of Moses. He also reminded them that the gospel had been presented to the Jews first, but after their rejection, it had been extended to the Gentiles. The latter part of his letter dealt with acceptable Christian living.

The Jews had for many generations, under the Law of Moses offered dead animal sacrifices to God. Christ had offered Himself as a sacrifice for all mankind. Paul admonished the Romans to present a different type of sacrifice—their bodies as a LIVING sacrifice.

As previous sacrifices involved a death, a living sacrifice entails a death also. One dies to sin, rejecting the sins and so-called pleasures of the world and grasping a spiritual life of service for Christ.

In Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church a few months earlier, he had pointed out the different abilities of Christians. He made these same observations to the Romans. As the human body has different organs with different functions, the church also is made up of different members with differing abilities and functions. Christians are to perform these functions vigorously but with humility. All members are essential.

The family is the closest human relationship on earth. Paul explained how brothers and sisters in the church are to have that same kind of loving kindred relationship with one another. They were living in a world of sin, hate and persecution. It was and is imperative that Christians have a deep love and affection for one another in order to defend themselves from the world. When one member of the physical family is in pain or rejoices, all members are affected the same way. The same care and concern should be present within the spiritual family. That also includes sharing their blessings with the needy Christians.

Paul commanded the Romans to abhor (hate) what is evil. Jesus said that one is to love his enemies. Christians are to hate the sin, but to love the sinner. People of the world today still have a problem with Christians speaking out against sin. They think that when a Christian condemns a sin, that he is actually judging and hating the person that is involved with the wickedness. Christians should avoid leaving that kind of impression when rebuking sin.

The apostle Paul, stated, “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.” If you cannot be at peace with your neighbor, be sure that it is his fault.

Human nature leads one to seek revenge for evil that is done against him. Paul admonished the Romans to leave vengeance to God who will repay the evildoers. Instead of seeking revenge, Christians are to do good to their enemies. Being kind and helpful to one’s enemies can make them ashamed and even lead them to Christ. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”

As Paul continued his admonitions regarding Christian living, he turned to the relationship that Christians are to have with civil governments. During the earliest history of the world, one finds that God had placed authorities to oversee the civil affairs of man. It is the responsibility of the government to punish the evildoers under their authority.

According to Paul, it is man’s responsibility to obey the laws that are enacted by the government. This command is as binding on Christians as any other that the Holy Spirit guided the apostles to write. One who breaks the laws of government breaks the commands of God. Think about this when you are exceeding the speed limit on the local highway.

However, when the laws of the land are in direct conflict with the laws of God, Christians “must obey God rather than men.”

Paul said, “Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor.”

Christians are expected to show their love for God and their fellowman by completing their obligations regarding spiritual, governmental and social debts. They will do good and not evil to others. Jesus said to love your neighbor as yourself.

Paul urged the Romans to become alert to the occasions that they had to serve others. One does not know how much time he has before Christ will return or that death will end all opportunities for service. He encouraged them to turn from the sinful fleshly works of darkness and to clothe themselves with the spiritual works of light.

Sep. 17. Relationship Between Strong and Weak Christians

Rom. 14:1-15:13

There were some weak Jewish Christians in the Roman church who needed special care and encouragement. They still observed some of the outdated laws and traditions of the Old Testament.

The Law of Moses forbade eating certain kinds of meats, but Paul stated that under the new law all meat is fit for human consumption. God has not given a law forbidding certain meats. It just doesn’t matter. Therefore, a person eating meat should not condemn one who does not eat meat. A person who does not eat meat, also should not condemn another who does eat meat. If God is silent on a matter, man also should be silent on the same matter.

There were persons who felt the need to keep the Sabbath day, new moon or other special festival days as days of worship. God has directed that the first day of the week be utilized for worship, but if someone wanted to worship on the Sabbath or another day also, it was permissible as long as he did not bind it upon other Christians. Other Christians should not condemn him for worshipping on other days as long as the first day or Lord’s Day was not forsaken.

Paul urged the Romans to remember that Christians do not live to themselves, but to the Lord. Christians must leave the judgment of those matters up to the Lord who is the Judge. One should remember that he is not the judge, but will himself stand before the judgment seat of Christ. There are some judgments necessary for Christians to make. They must recognize false prophets and their false teachings and in areas of specific commandments, erring brothers are to be admonished.

One of the most sobering thoughts in the Bible was stated by Paul regarding the judgment. “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.” This is personal. One person will not be judged for another. Instead of being so intent on condemning his brothers for their weaknesses, one needs to keep his own soul prepared for the ultimate judgment.

The Law of Moses specified certain meats to be clean or unclean. Paul pointed out that under Christ, no food is unclean. However, if a brother felt for some reason that a kind of food was unclean, it then became unclean to that individual. Because of Christian love, one must refrain from actions, which within themselves are acceptable to God, but would cause a brother to violate his conscience. A selfish attitude is contrary to the love of Christ.

It is a little thing for a person to forgo certain desires or pleasures. Those things are not the goal of Christian living. Paul stated that peace and edification of one another are the things that are acceptable to God.

A person’s conscience is that wee small inner voice that warns him of evil. Paul urged the Romans to avoid doing anything that would cause another to violate his conscience.

The weak brother should be taught the differences between the old and new laws in a spirit of love. The teacher must not force his personal opinions upon others, but he should guide his hearers to the truth.

If one’s faith leads his conscience to believe a certain action is sinful, he indeed sins when he indulges in that action. Paul stated, “But he who doubts is condemned if he eats, because he does not eat from faith, for whatever is not from faith is sin.”

As Paul continued his thoughts regarding relationships with weaker Christians, he admonished the stronger Christians to respect their weaknesses. Strong Christians must use Christ as an example of forgoing pleasures of this life in order to please others.

The Romans were told how the examples of God’s relationships with His people during the Old Testament eras were to encourage and admonish Christians during the New Testament dispensation.

Since Jesus had died for all, Jews and Gentiles alike, Paul admonished the Romans to work together and receive one another as equals. They were to be like-minded as they glorified God.

Paul quoted several Old Testament prophecies regarding the future relationships between Jews and Gentiles. Those prophecies showed them that it was God’s plan from the beginning to include the Gentiles in His promises.


Bible Studies for Sep. 14 & 15

Hello Bible Study Friends; There have been those of you who have been concerned about my welfare because you have not been receiving the Bible studies this week. THANKS for your concern! My wife’s health has been steadily declining since the beginning of this year. Sadly, she passed from this life this past Sunday, but happily, she was prepared to go. As for me, it was not a plan I would have followed, but in this life, anything can happen at any time. I am ok and will adjust over time. Your prayers are appreciated. Below, is a link to her obituary if any of you would like to know more. Please keep studying God’s Word and living for Him so we can all join her some time.

Lincoln County Funeral Services


Sep. 14. Salvation Is Open to all who Will Believe Rom. 10:1-21

It is natural that one should desire that his household would be saved. Paul had that same desire for his Jewish family. In their ignorance of His purpose, they had rejected Christ and were zealous toward their own traditions in the Law of Moses. He desired that they would redirect their zeal toward the proper knowledge that justification and salvation were through Christ and that the Law of Moses had ended.

We see many religious people today who are greatly zealous, but because of a lack of knowledge, they are promoting religious error. Those who have the truth of God should be as zealous as those who are teaching man-made error.

Paul stated that the person who wanted to live by the Law of Moses was obligated to do the whole law completely, which they were unable to do.

Those who would desire to see Christ come back from heaven or return again from the grave would not benefit because He had been rejected when those events did occur. To bring Christ back from the dead again would be useless because they still would not accept Him.

Paul said that the way to salvation was to believe with all one’s heart that God had raised Jesus from the dead and to confess that faith with the mouth. He reminded the Romans that salvation was available to both Jews and Greeks (Gentiles). Saving faith is one of obedience and action.

Man must hear the truth of the gospel before he can believe it. The first teachers were selected by God and given the message to teach. Today, man still must hear the word of God, but he hears through reading and being taught the word as written by men inspired by the Holy Spirit. Many, however, by refusing to obey, give up their heavenly home.

Again, Paul quoted Old Testament prophecies that foretold the rejection of Christ by the Jews and the acceptance of Him by the Gentiles. Those prophecies were being fulfilled during that period in man’s history.

Sep. 15. Jews Can Still be Saved if They Return to God Rom. 11:1-36

After pointing out the rejection of the Jews, Paul asked, “Has God cast away His people?” He answered his own question by stating that there was still a remnant of Jews who were still obedient to Christ and that he also being a Jew was included in that remnant.

Paul reminded the Romans of the story of the prophet Elijah, who felt alone because he had thought that all of Israel had forsaken God and were seeking to kill him also. Even in the darkest hours of the relationship to God’s people with Him, there was still a remnant who had remained faithful.

The grace of God as opposed to works relating to man’s salvation was mentioned again by Paul. Even though works do not save a person, there are certain conditions of obedience that must be met in order to receive God’s grace. Consider a blind man that Jesus healed. He had to wash the mud from his eyes.

Paul used a parable of an olive tree to explain how that through disobedience the Jews had been broken off from the main tree (Christ). The Gentiles through obedience had been grafted into the tree and accepted. That same principle of disobedience breaking one off the tree and obedience grafting one onto the tree is true with individuals today.

“Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God:” Paul warned the Romans that even though God is a God of love and is merciful to those who obey, He is also severe on those who fail in their obedience. If He had cut off the natural branches, the Jews because of disobedience, He would also cut off the grafted branches, the Gentiles if they disobeyed. He also stated that if the Jews would turn again to God, He would graft them back into the olive tree.

It was concluded again that all Jews and Gentiles could be saved if they would accept and obey the Deliverer who was sent to take away their sins.


Sep. 13. Paul Explains why God Rejected Jews

Rom. 9:1-33

The apostle Paul showed in the first part of his letter to the Romans that righteousness and salvation are obtained only through faith in Jesus Christ. He had shown how the Jews had rejected this salvation and how it had been offered to the Gentiles.

As he began this second part of this letter, Paul explained that it was not he, but God who had condemned the Jews. He stated that he could even wish that he himself would be rejected from salvation if it would mean the saving of his Jewish countrymen.

Paul recounted how God had chosen His people, the fleshly Israel. After the age of natural childbearing of Abraham and his wife, Sarah, Abraham had been chosen as the father of all—fleshly Israel and spiritual Israel. Not all of Abraham’s sons had been chosen. Ishmael was rejected but Isaac became the chosen son.

Even before Isaac’s twin sons, Esau and Jacob were born, it was prophesied that the descendants of the older would serve the descendants of the younger. Jacob, being the younger, became the father of twelve sons who were the heads of the twelve tribes of Israel.

Paul stated that some might question the righteousness of God. He had told Moses, “I will have mercy on whomever I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whomever I will have compassion.” God used those who were best fitted for His service and were obedient to Him as He formulated His plan of redemption for man. He willed to show mercy to those who obeyed and He willed to harden those who disobeyed.

In explaining how people digress from the purpose for which God has made them, Paul referred to the potter and the clay in the book of Jeremiah in the Old Testament.

God had chosen the Jews to be His people, but because they had rejected Christ, He, the Potter had reshaped them into a vessel of dishonor. The Gentiles had been disobedient, but after becoming obedient, they had been reshaped into a vessel of honor. God will make the best thing possible out of each piece of clay. His will is that all of mankind would be saved.

Paul quoted from prophecies of Hosea and Isaiah to show that the Gentiles would eventually receive the gospel, but only a few of the Jews would be obedient. The Gentiles were accepted because of their faith. Refusing to turn from works of the Law of Moses caused the Jews to stumble at the teaching of the gospel—the stumbling stone of Zion.


Sep. 12. Blessings in Christ Far Outweigh Earthly Sufferings

Rom. 8:18-39

As Paul continued his letter to the Roman Christians, he further explained the blessings of living the Christian life. Even though they suffered extremely, this was insignificant. He stated that the glory of eternal life far exceeds the price paid by their temporary persecutions.

Man in his mortal state is unable to express all of his needs and desires to God in words. In addition to guiding Christians through the inspired Word of God, the Holy Spirit also takes these thoughts and intercedes to God for the saints according to the will of God.

All who hear the gospel are called by God to be obedient to it. According to Paul, it was predestined or foreknown that only those who were obedient would be justified and glorified.

Paul also stated, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Those “called according to His purpose” obviously are those who are obedient. It is difficult for man to understand how God can turn “all things” (pain, affliction, poverty, imprisonment, hunger, death or any other unpleasant thing) to any good result. God’s ways are not man’s ways; neither are His thoughts man’s thoughts.

Paul reasoned with the Romans that since God had given His Son for them, He would protect them and give them all the things necessary for their salvation. Even human wisdom can understand that after God and Christ have sacrificed so much for the salvation of man, eternal harm will not come to the one who continues in his obedience. A person walking with God is a majority against those who would do harm to him in this life or in the life to follow. Man may take the physical life of a Christian, but nothing but his own failure to faithfully continue serving God can harm his spiritual life.