Many scholars believe that the gospel of Mark…

Many scholars believe that the gospel of Mark was written first, and that may be so, although there is no definite proof that can be given for that position. Regardless of which gospel was written first, Matthew is first in the canon.

Do you have any reasons why it might have been put first?

We obviously do not have access to any records of those who, by the providence and wisdom of God, collected the inspired books and put them in the order in which we now have them. But there may be some indications, as we consider the collections of books, to help us understand that process.

Any ideas?

#gospel-of-matthew, #gospels, #new-testament-canon

Bible lesson outline: The authority of Christ (Matthew 28)

In Matthew’s account of the Great Commission, Jesus asserts his authority. Here are some of the things we note about his authority.

  1. A received authority.

    1. The verb apparently uses the “divine passive” which refers to the action of God. Jesus received his authority from the Father. His is legitimate. Anyone else’s is not. Jesus is the only head and Lord.

    2. His authority is complete and universal: “on heaven and on earth.” No one can escape the necessity to submit to the authority of Christ.

  2. An exercised authority.

    1. Some people fail to use the authority they have. Others attempt to exercise an authority that is not theirs.
    2. The “therefore” means that Jesus’ order is based on his received authority. He exercises or uses his authority to order his disciples to do something.
    3. As Lord, Jesus gives specific commandments so that people may become his followers.

  3. A saving authority.

    1. To make a disciple of Christ is to bring one to salvation. This is what Jesus wants for all. He did not come to condemn but to save. His authority is exercised for a benevolent purpose.
    2. Jesus prayed to the Father about himself in Jn 17.2: “you have given him authority over all humanity, so that he may give eternal life to everyone you have given him.”

    3. Paul affirmed something similar in 2Co 13.8-10, that he had received authority to edify the saints.

  4. So what? Have I submitted to Christ’s authority by obeying him? Is there some area in my life that I have refused thus far to put under his authority?

#authority-of-christ, #bible-study, #gospel-of-matthew, #sermon-outline

Amazing structure of a list

I’m getting on up there in years, and had never noticed that the seven-fold list in Matthew 19.29 has a very tight and meaningful structure. I was reading Psalm 10 this morning and the reference to the fatherless in v. 14, I guess it was, toggled a thought. From there it just seemed to fall into place. I’ve not investigated any commentaries or reference works on chiasmi, but I am so confident in this, since the correspondences seem clear, that I’ve written on it today in my devotional thought.

#chiasmus, #gospel-of-matthew

What I do know

Yesterday, I immersed myself in the study of Philippians 2:1-4 for our Sunday Bible study in Taubaté. So many amazing things to discover! And what a blessing is the Internet, which brings so many resources within our grasp! I’ll never look at this letter the same again. Here’s a little outline for that pericope from David Alan Black:

  1. The bases of Christian unity (v 1)
  2. The results of Christian unity (v 2)
  3. The expressions of Christ unity (vv 3-4)

• Here’s another item to chew on: Two scholars suggest a structure for the letter and say the pericope perhaps least appreciated in Philippians is actually its center and main section: 2:17–3:1a. If they are correct, it wouldn’t be the first time that what we thought was of least importance turned out to be the Main Point.

• Did I mention the Christian Poets group is rising from the dead? Join in, if you’d like to contribute, and I’ll add you. Sorry if I repeat myself. Take it as an extra reminder. The world needs thoughtful works to prod the mind toward wholesomeness and toward God. Two new items today are already posted at the link above.

• Matthew 18 is that fourth discourse of Christ’s on life in the Christian community. Jesus speaks often of the little ones. Note that in Matthew 10 part of that group are evangelists and missionaries. It would appear that indeed they often don’t, in Rodney Daingerfield style, get much respect in established churches. I’m thankful to see many exceptions, and to be the recipient of those who honor little ones.

• Is the Occupy movement the last gasp of dying Socialism and Communism, or the beginning of the end as America slides into permanent decline? I know little about politics, less about economics, and absolutely nothing about the future. I do pray the Lord will bless my countrymen and family in the US, but I don’t know how that prayer will best be answered. I do know that God cares for his own.

#gospel-of-matthew, #philippians, #poetry

Two identical verses in Matthew’s gospel

Two identical verses in the gospel of Matthew? Almost! And I never saw it until today … My personal website seems to be working again, so if you were looking for today’s Daily Bible Devotional, you’ll have to hop over there, for “Now, it’s your turn,” on Matthew 9:35. The meditation actually takes in 4:23, an almost identical verse. (It’s called an inclusio, marking the beginning and ending of a section.) Fascinating, so much the more since I’d never noticed before.

• As I was studying this section of Matthew I searched Google Books for tidbits on its literary structure. Google’s book previews can often reveal some jewels. I became so enamored with one book that I considered buying it, until I saw the price tag: $128 for a 182-page paperback. Inexcusable to my mind.

I found some used copies of the book, the cheapest in, of all places, Jerusalem, but with postage, I was looking at $50, at least. The book has a 1998 copyright, so it’s likely that the publisher has turned the book back over to the author. I found him on the net and wrote him to ask if he would sell me an electronic version of it. Good ole Internet.


• See the chart above and read the story behind it here. I read it with interest. It wasn’t effective with the denominational preacher it was used with, but then maybe nothing would have been. Was the preacher too direct, too blunt? Was the chart too simplistic? I must admit, however, I liked the brother’s approach. (I don’t know anything about the site, but it looks like it may be anti-institutional.)

• On my Diaspora* spot, I have a Matthew quote with a confession, and a Superman link and a question. Here’s the main link. By the time you read this there may be more.

• A last thought on Matthew. Chapter 10 is a challenge to apply. I’d be interested in hearing your applications. No immediate brush-offs, please, that this was for the Twelve and doesn’t apply to us. Obviously, there are such elements. I want to know how to be as trusting as Jesus wants them to be by going out with no gold, no silver, no copper. What say you?

#evangelism, #gospel-of-matthew, #mission

I will follow you

Daily Bible Devotional.

DiscipleshipThe Mt. of Olives Christian Camp, like many Christian youth camps, excels in teaching the gospel to children and adolescents. But caution is needed: sometimes a young person becomes enamored with the atmosphere and wants to be baptized, without considering the cost of following Jesus after going home.

Then an expert in the law came to him and said, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.”
Matthew 8:19 NET

It must be deliberate that, both before and after this narrative of the scribe, Matthew registers three examples of Jesus’ cures. It appears that the scribe becomes enamored with Jesus’ power to bring effective change in people’s lives.

Maybe Matthew wants to say that it’s one thing to receive a cure from Christ, but another to give him one’s life.

One might understand the Lord’s answer to the man as a bucket of cold water. He does not receive him with open arms.

Take Peter as an example. It’s wonderful that Jesus comes to live in his house and cures his mother-in-law, but his house becomes surrounded by multitudes seeking healings (verses 14-16).

Being a follower means putting oneself at the Lord’s disposal, being a servant as Christ served. It’s more that clicking “Like.”

Have you considered the cost, now that you want to follow him, after you’ve decided to be baptized?

Personal website is still inoperable, so we’re coming here again today.

#devotionals, #discipleship, #gospel-of-matthew

Down with selfishness

Problems persist on my personal site, so here goes the Daily Bible Devotional again on TFR.

EgotismHumans are selfish, thinking first of their own desires. In order to be the people of God, we must repent of our selfishness and think first of our neighbor. Jesus explains how:

In everything, treat others as you would want them to treat you, for this fulfills the law and the prophets.
Matthew 7:12 NET

We already have a good idea of how we want to be treated, how we want others to judge us. With this measure we should treat others.

In a word, this idea expresses the sense of Scripture and, we may add, the sense of our Lord Jesus’ coming to earth.

#altruism, #gospel-of-matthew, #help-others, #selfishness

A united, worldwide church

Church of ChristThe NLT Study Bible has this comment on 2 Corinthians 9:13, “Paul envisioned a united, worldwide Christian church, … which would become a powerful witness to the Lord’s work of reconciliation.” Exactly. And not only Paul, but this came from the Lord Jesus.

And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overpower it.
Matthew 16:18 NET

The problem: Men abandoned God’s word to build their own churches (denominations).

The solution: Not ecumenism, which ignores substantial differences, but restoration of the Bible as the Word of Christ which has complete authority, repentance from human works and doctrines among the denominations, and the return to speak only what our Lord Jesus Christ has commanded.

Jesus built his church. Men also build their churches. Which will win against the powers of the Evil One?

Note: Having some issues on my personal website, so I’m posting today’s Daily Bible Devotional here, until the problem there gets solved.

#church-of-christ, #church-unity, #ecumenism, #gospel-of-matthew

What Jesus doesn’t teach about the judgment

This is my sermon idea for Sunday in Taubate, about several things that Jesus’ judgment passage in Matt. 25.31-46 doesn’t teach. Rarely do I go on the negative like this, but this passage is so maligned and misused, and after I got into it, I thought my hearers might find it a novel approach from what I usually do. Of course, after each point, I’ll state what it is teaching and make application.

  1. What will happen in the so-called millenium;
  2. That the church should begin social programs;
  3. That we can earn salvation through good works.

If I can get all this fleshed out and then translated, I’ll post it on my website. So consider this either a teaser, or, lacking the future article, seeds for the sower.

#gospel-of-matthew, #jesus-as-judge, #judgment-day, #sermon-ideas

That easy yoke

You remember what Jesus said:

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke on you and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and my load is not hard to carry. Matthew 10:28-30 NET

Some seem to think that after becoming a Christian things get cushy and comfy. Think again. It’s probably no coincidence that the Lord says this after those hard-to-swallow instructions for the limited commission in chapter 10, — many of which carry over into the Great Commission — like getting thrown out into the world like sheep in the midst of wolves, like his coming to bring a sword not peace, and brother delivering up brother.

Then right after Jesus’ invitation to his yoke, we get the big controversy about the Sabbath. Sounds like a tempest in an teapot to us, but the tightened regulations of the rabbis lay at the center of Jesus’ differences with them.

Before the yoke invitation, Jesus mentions in chapter 10 that he will be called Beelzebul; then, right afterwards, it happens that they accuse him of casting out demons by Beelzebul’s name. Coincidence?

All that to say, we ought to beware making that yoke invitation into something it’s not.

Part of this “easiness” is the gospel versus the law-keeping, the burden of the Sabbath soothed by the freedom of the Spirit. But part, also, may just be in the swap of the world’s burdens and conflicts for the suffering for Jesus in his train, the yoking of our lives to his, of our interests to the Kingdom, of our hopes to his plan.

Compared to the pagan pursuit of stability, security, and happiness, the seeking after God’s kingdom and justice are a piece of cake, notwithstanding the persecutions, rejections, and slanders for his name. Add to that truth that those afflictions are light and fleeting next to eternal possessions.

That’s why his yoke is easy.

#gospel-of-matthew, #invitation, #yoke-of-christ