From Murderer to Missionary – The Life of the Apostle Paul (Part Two)


To those who have asked or wondered, yes, I realize that there was still more of the life of Peter to cover.  I ended up teaching those sections without notes, and so I’m behind on that.  It will get done at some point.  🙂

Saul the Persecutor

Saul first appears on the biblical stage, by name, as an enemy of the cross.  It is possible that, living in Jerusalem, Saul was among the groups of Pharisees who saw, questioned, and aggravated Jesus during His earthly ministry.1  But the first time we see his name is in connection with the death of Stephen.  It is possible that, being from Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, that Saul is one of the men who was arguing with Stephen in Acts 6.

Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and them of Cilicia, and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.  And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the spirit by which he spoke.  Then they suborned men, who said, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against this holy place and the Law.  Because we have heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered to us.2

After Stephen’s sermon before the Sanhedrin in Acts 7, the Jews were outraged.

When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth.  But [Stephen], being full of the Holy Spirit, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, and said, “Behold!  I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God!”  Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him together, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him.  And the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul. … And Saul was pleased with his death.3

After hearing the sermon, Saul accompanied the mob (and was perhaps involved in it) that threw Stephen out of the city.  According to Deuteronomy 17:7, the witnesses against someone had to be the first ones to stone him.  So it was these witnesses who removed their outer garments and left them in the care and supervision of Saul.  This event seemed to awaken a bloodlust in Saul, an indignation against anyone who would dare promote the name of Jesus, for we see soon afterwards:

As for Saul, he was devastating the church, entering into every house, and dragging men and women away, and committed them to prison.4

Years later, Saul spoke about his actions against the church:

I truly thought within myself that I ought to do many things antagonistic to the name of Jesus of Nazareth.  I did these things in Jerusalem, and I shut up many of the saints in prison, having received authority from the chief priests.  And when they were murdered, I voted against them.  And I punished them often in every synagogue, and compelled them to blaspheme.  And being exceedingly enraged against them, I persecuted them even into foreign cities, in which I also went to Damascus with authority and commission from the chief priests.5

He also said that, “beyond measure, I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it.”6

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Since Saul was a “young man” when Stephen was killed, he would have been even younger (and thus not in any sense a leader) when Jesus was on the earth, some 3-7 years earlier.  Therefore, if Saul was among the groups of Pharisees, it would be no surprise that he isn’t mentioned at all.  Additionally, only two Pharisees are mentioned by name in the gospel accounts: Simon (Luke 7) and Nicodemus (John 3); and both of them are mentioned because they were involved in a one-on-one discussion with Jesus.  All that to say, the fact that Saul is not named in the gospel accounts does not prove he wasn’t there.

2 Acts 6:9-14.

3 Acts 7:54-58; 8:1.  The word “consenting” (KJV) literally means “was pleased with.”  It gave Saul pleasure to see Stephen get stoned.

4 Acts 8:3.  See Modern Literal Version.

5 Acts 26:9-12.

6 Galatians 1:13, KJV.

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An Unexpected Delay (and some Unsolicited Advice)

It happened.  I knew it would.  And it’s my fault.

I’ve been asked when my book on Revelation will be released.  After all, I had said several weeks ago that I expected it to be ready by around October 10th.  And those of you who can read a calendar know that date has already come and gone.

Oh, I’ve got some good excuses for why it isn’t ready yet.  Really, I do.  Two weeks of being gone from home with a laptop that wouldn’t recognize the SD card I’d stored the book on–meaning I couldn’t get any work done on it during that time.  A Restoration Movement Seminar in Texas (and my three lectures for it).  Spending time visiting members here.  Sermon preparation.  Class preparation.

Then came today.

We left the house this morning to go visit some members, when I discovered that my SD card wasn’t in the pocket that I had put it in.  And we haven’t found it yet.  My family and I have scoured the vehicle, the garage, the house, and everywhere else I can possibly think of.  I’m rather concerned…

Right about now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Why are you so upset?  Surely you have a backup copy, right?”  Well… I do… from August 12th.  So, it’s not completely lost.  But the backup I have only has 81 pages done.  The version on the missing SD card has 175 pages done.  Needless to say, this is a significant setback.

And just for the sake of humiliating myself further, I am also going to admit that the SD card was also the place where I was storing my book on the Apostles (thankfully, I have a backup copy of it from a month ago here somewhere), as well as the text of all three lectures I gave on the Restoration Movement last Saturday (no backups, and I gave my printed notes away).  So I’ve lost at least 50 hours of work that will have to be re-done–all because I didn’t keep up with backing up my files.

I hope this explains the delay in publishing my Revelation book.

Now for the unsolicited advice

We have all heard people say “make sure to back up your files.”  And I agree, it is a good idea.  But you need to do it regularly.  As in, when you get done working on a project, or updating it, or copying pictures to your computer, or whatever–make sure to back them up.

I kept letting it slip; kept saying, “I’ll do it later.  I’m too busy to do that right now.”  And now I am reaping what I sowed through my negligence.

If you think backing up your computer files is important, remember this: It is nowhere near as important as making sure you are right with God.

Christians know they should pray to God; know they should confess their sins to Him; know they should repent–but they put it off, and put it off, and eventually forget what they needed to confess in the first place.

Do it regularly.  Don’t let it slip, because you don’t know what might happen.

-Bradley S. Cobb

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Slavery in the Roman Empire


(The following is from the introduction to Philemon in “The Prodigal Slave: A Study of the Letter to Philemon” by Bradley S. Cobb)

Philemon owned at least one slave, a man named Onesimus.  It was because of this slave that the book which bears Philemon’s name was written.   This slave had run away and somehow found himself with the apostle Paul.  After a period of time, Paul sent Onesimus back to his master with this letter.  But why would a man of God send someone back to a life of slavery?

Because of the culture in which we live today, we have ideas about slavery that did not exist in the first century.  In the United States, slavery is generally viewed as inherently sinful.  The idea that one man can own another is repulsive to the vast majority of Americans.  However, the Bible never once condemns slavery.  The book of Philemon, along with Colossians (see 4:1), makes it clear that slavery is not sinful in and of itself.

By some estimates, there may have been as many as 60 million slaves in the Roman Empire during the first century.  This is even more shocking when you note that the whole of the Roman Empire numbered 120 million!  Regardless of the specific number, it is quite sufficient to say that slavery was a common practice throughout the Empire.  However, not all people became slaves in the same way.

  1. Some became slaves because they were part of a conquered people. When armies conquered new areas, many were taken as slaves.  Sometimes it was considered a sign of prestige if you had a Greek slave, especially if that slave was an educator for your children.  Others, such as the Gauls and Barbarians, were prized because of their strength.  These became slaves for life.
  2. Some were born to parents who were slaves, thus becoming property of the master.
  3. A large section of the slave population became slaves because they owed more money than they could pay back. There were no bankruptcy courts back then.  If you amassed a debt and could not pay it back, your possessions would be sold.  If that still did not cover what you owed, your family would be sold or you would sell yourself into slavery.  If you did not owe a tremendous amount of money, you may only have to be a slave for a relatively short time until that debt to the man was paid off.  Other times, you may owe one man the money, and someone else will pay it off, buying you in the process.
  4. The Plebes (the poorest class of people) would often sell themselves into slavery so that they would not starve to death.  In effect, becoming a slave was actually a step up for them, guaranteeing them food, clothing, and shelter.  Possibly, these were the ones who were given the most menial tasks, because they did not have any skills like some of the other slaves.

Slaves literally became the property of their owners.  Think about owning a car.  If the car stops working well, you might decide to try to fix it, and if that does not work you might sell it or even have it crushed.  If a slave was not working as well as the master wanted, the master could try to correct him (possibly by talking with him, or by punishing him).  If that did not work, he might sell him to someone else, continue to beat him, or maybe even kill him.  If a slave was disobedient to his master or talked back, the master had full legal right to sell the slave’s wife and children as punishment.

It is also important to note that not all slaves were treated the same way.  Just as there is everywhere else, good and bad people exist.  There were forgiving masters, but there were also vicious masters.  Some slaves were treated kindly, others were beaten mercilessly.  Many masters would simply view the slave as an employee, like one might view a butler or a maid.  Others made the slaves the object of all of their anger and hatred.  After the Civil War, when Abraham Lincoln had abolished slavery in the US, there were some slaves who did not wish to leave their master’s house.  They stayed on because they had been treated well by their owners.

In the first century, slaves had the same rights as widows and orphans: none.  This is the life that Paul was sending Onesimus back into.  Would you be willing to go back?

-Bradley S. Cobb

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Some brethren in need

This is not what I had planned on posting today, but this is a lot more important than anything I had to say.

Saturday, Caelyn Adams, 16 years old, was knocking on doors, inviting people to attend a gospel meeting, when a drunk driver ran into her and killed her.  Her father, Nick Adams, is the preacher for the Middle Fayetteville church of Christ in Fayetteville, GA.

A brief news item about the incident can be found here.

I first met Nick and his family a few years ago at Roundhouse.  He is a dedicated man of God, and a good encourager.

Keith Cozort, a fellow preacher and long-time friend of mine, is organizing a collection of funds to help this family in their time of need.  Money can be sent by mail or via Paypal.

To send help to this family, you can mail a check (made out to Nick Adams or Keith Cozort) to:

Keith Cozort
314 E. Harker St.
Mountain Grove, MO 65711

Or if you use Paypal, you can send money to

Please remember this family in your prayers.  They need it.

-Bradley S. Cobb

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A Break…

Roundhouse begins Sunday, and so we will begin our trek that direction this evening.   It will be nearly two weeks before we actually make it back home (driving time and all), and as such, there will be no new posts until that time, unless something important needs to be said.

We thank you for reading our writings, and we pray that the Lord blesses you as you do His work!

-Bradley S. Cobb

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Did Jesus Really Exist?




  1. One of the many attacks against Christianity and the validity of the Bible is that Jesus Christ never even existed.
    1. Albert Schweitzer said “Jesus never had an existence.”
    2. One of the founders of our nation, Thomas Paine, said Jesus was not a real person.
  2. This accusation truly cuts to the core of belief in the Bible.
  3. If Jesus did not exist, then there is no justification for Christians or Christianity.
  4. If Jesus did not exist, the entire NT is useless!
  5. If Jesus did not exist, we have wasted our lives in studying about Him.
  6. The purpose of today’s lesson is to examine the evidence for the existence of Jesus Christ.

The Gospel records show the existence of Jesus Christ.

Intellectual honesty demands that all ancient documents be treated as historically accurate until proven otherwise.

  1. This is the standard used for all other historical records.
  2. It is this standard that gives us an enormous part of our knowledge of history.
  3. We know of wars and dates from history because of documents and inscriptions.
  4. The Bible should be given the same assumption of authenticity.
    1. It is an ancient document.
    2. It claims to be a reliable historical account.
    3. It has NEVER been proven false by archaeology or other historical documents.

The gospel records all attest to the existence of Jesus.

    1. His birth is recorded (Matthew 2:1).
    2. His earthly parents are described (Luke 2:48).
    3. His friends are mentioned (Matthew 10:1-4).
    4. Many of His teachings are recorded (Matthew 5-7).
    5. He was hungry (Matthew 4:2).
    6. His hometown is mentioned (Luke 2:52).
    7. His trials are recorded (John 18-19).
    8. His death is described (Mark 15:24-37).
    9. His burial is recorded (Mark 15:42-46).

The gospel records were written by reliable historians.

  1. Matthew was a disciple of Jesus Christ.
    1. Matthew wrote, giving his occupation: a tax collector (Matthew 10:3).
      1. If Matthew was not a reliable historian, he would have left that bit of information out.
        1. Tax collectors were seen as traitors to the Jewish people because they took money from Jews and paid it to Rome.
        2. Matthew’s primary purpose in writing was to show the Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.
        3. If Matthew was willing to lie about anything in his writing, he would have lied about his occupation.
        4. Lying about his occupation would have taken away some animosity towards his writing by the Jews.
    2. Being a disciple (one of the 12 apostles) of Jesus Christ, Matthew had first-hand knowledge of the things he wrote.
    3. He was an eye-witness to the life and teachings of Jesus.
  2. Mark was a companion to two different apostles.
    1. Mark was a nephew of Barnabas (Colossians 4:10); Barnabas was a close associate of the apostles in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36) as well as a close friend of Paul (Acts 9:26-28).
    2. Mark was with Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 12:25), though not on the second (Acts 15:37-39).
    3. Mark was requested to come to Paul while he was in prison (II Timothy 4:11).
    4. Mark was also a companion of Peter (I Peter 5:13).
    5. The church in Jerusalem gathered at his mother’s house, indicating that he was possibly familiar with all the apostles (Acts 12:12).
    6. Some believe Mark mentions himself in Mark 12:51-52, which—if true—would have Mark following Jesus while he was on earth.
    7. The evidence shows that Mark would have been a person who could easily ascertain the facts from multiple eyewitnesses, and may have even been an eyewitness to many of the events himself.
  3. Luke was a dedicated historian and a companion of an apostle.
    1. Luke declares that his gospel account came from eyewitness accounts (Luke 1:2).
    2. He declares that he writes because he has “perfect understanding” of the events
      • ASV says “have traced the course of all things.”
      • This is to say that Luke claimed to have done extensive research to make sure his account was true.
    3. He states that his account is trustworthy (Luke 1:4).
    4. He was a travelling companion of the apostle Paul (Colossians 4:14, II Timothy 4:11).
    5. His second book (Acts) has been said to be written by a “historian of the first-degree” by a man who was an atheist intent on proving Acts false (Sir William Ramsay).
    6. Because of his historical reliability (especially seen in the people and places mentioned in Acts), Luke gains instant credibility as a historian.
    7. Though Paul was not an apostle during the lifetime of Jesus, he was likely in Jerusalem during much of Jesus’ ministry, and would have been able to pass on eyewitness accounts as well.
  4. John was one of Jesus’ most trusted and beloved apostles.
    1. He is called “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 21:20-24).
    2. He was one of the first disciples to follow Jesus after His baptism (Mark 1:16-20, possibly John 1:35-41).
    3. He was one of only three (the others being James and Peter) who were chosen to see Jesus transfigured (Luke 9:28-36).
    4. He was one of the three taken to keep watch while Jesus prayed (26:36-38).
    5. He was possibly at the trial of Jesus (John 18:15).
    6. He was at the cross while Jesus was dying (John 19:25-27).
    7. He claimed to teach only what he heard, saw, examined, and touched (I John 1:1-4).
    8. John was an eyewitness, a companion with Jesus during his entire ministry, and would be in a perfect position to write about the life of Jesus.

Early Christian writers attest to the truth of the existence of Jesus.

  1. The epistles of the apostles state that Jesus truly existed.
    1. Paul spends an entire chapter dealing with the resurrection of Jesus (I Corinthians 15).
      1. In order for one to be raised from the dead, he had to have died.
      2. In order for one to have died, he would have to have been alive.
      3. Paul, therefore, asserts that Jesus lived.
    2. Paul states that Jesus came to earth as a man and died on a cross (Philippians 2:5-8).
    3. John states that he was an eyewitness to Jesus (I John 1:1-4).
    4. Peter describes being on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus (II Peter 1:16-18).
    5. Jude condemned those who denied Jesus as Master (showing He existed – Jude 4).
      1. He spoke of the apostles of Jesus Christ (showing he believed in the truth of the gospel accounts – Jude 17).
      2. He called himself the brother of James (likely James, the brother of Jesus – Matthew 13:55).
    6. James calls himself a servant of Jesus Christ (James 1:1), and was likely the brother of Jesus (Galatians 1:19).
  2. The post-Biblical writings of Christians show that Jesus actually existed.
    1. Christianity had spread across the Roman Empire, and it was being fought tooth and nail by the leaders of Rome.
    2. Still, Christians wrote in order to convince the heathen (Jews and Gentiles) that Jesus was indeed the Christ.
    3. Justin Martyr wrote trying to convince Trypho (a Jew) that Jesus was the Christ prophesied about in the OT, and that he was resurrected (indicating He had actually lived).
    4. Papias claimed to get some of his information from those who were disciples of Jesus Himself, as well as from those who studied under the 12 apostles.
    5. Quadratus spoke of knowing some of those who were healed or raised from the dead by Jesus and His disciples, showing a historical belief that Jesus existed.

Non-Christian writings prove that Jesus existed.

  1. Josephus mentions Jesus Christ as a real person.
    1. In Antiquities of the Jews, he states, “About this time came Jesus, a wise man, if indeed it is appropriate to call him a man. For he was a performer of paradoxical feats, a teacher of people who accept the unusual with pleasure, and he won over many of the Jews and also many Greeks. He was the Christ. When Pilate, upon the accusation of the first men amongst us, condemned him to be crucified, those who had formerly loved him did not cease to follow him, for he appeared to them on the third day, living again, as the divine prophets foretold, along with a myriad of other marvellous things concerning him. And the tribe of the Christians, so named after him, has not disappeared to this day.
      1. Some textual critics say that part of that quote was added or embellished by later Christian scribes in order to make their case for Jesus.
      2. Other manuscripts have been found which read differently, but still they mention Jesus: “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus, and his conduct was good, and he was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon their loyalty to him. They reported that he had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion, and that he was alive. Accordingly they believed that he was the Messiah, concerning whom the Prophets have recounted wonders.
    2. In another passage of the book (one which is not disputed), he mentions James, the brother of Jesus.
      1. “Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others; and when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned.”
      2. Josephus did not believe in Jesus as the Christ, but fully acknowledged that there was a man named Jesus who was crucified (as in the earlier passage) that was called by many “Christ.”
    3. This report is from a Jew, who was opposed to Christianity; yet, he still admits that Jesus was a real person.
  2. Pliny the Younger mentions followers of Christ.
    1. Pliny was a governor of sorts in Bithynia shortly after the first century.
    2. He wrote to the emperor asking what to do with the Christians, and stating what he had been doing up to that point.
    3. In a letter to the emperor Trajan, he stated, “Those who denied that they were or had been Christians, when they invoked the gods in words dictated by me, offered prayer with incense and wine to your image, which I had ordered to be brought for this purpose together with statues of the gods, and moreover cursed Christ — none of which those who are really Christians, it is said, can be forced to do — these I thought should be discharged. Others named by the informer declared that they were Christians, but then denied it, asserting that they had been but had ceased to be, some three years before, others many years, some as much as twenty-five years. They all worshiped your image and the statues of the gods, and cursed Christ.”
    4. For some to be a follower of Christ, even at a time in the past, they must have believed He was a real person.
  3. The Talmud says that according to early rabbis, Jesus was a transgressor in Israel which led the people astray, claiming not to destroy the Law, but to add to it.
    1. This is a Jewish source, which was very hostile to Christianity.
    2. They still admitted Jesus was an actual person.
  4. Tacitus, a Roman historian (wrote in 116), admits Jesus existed.
    1. He said: “Nero fastened the guilt of starting the blaze and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” (Annals)
    2. The Roman Empire persecuted the Christians, but they also were very aware that Jesus was an actual person.
  5. Suetonius (Lives of the 12 Caesars) describes an event involving Christians.
    1. As the Jews were making constant disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he [ Claudius ] expelled them [the Jews] from Rome“.
    2. This event has its Biblical parallel in Acts 18:2 – “And found a certain Jew named Aquilla, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy with his wife Priscilla (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome), and come unto them.”
    3. At this point in time (AD 49), Christianity was viewed by many as a sect of Judaism.
    4. Because of the riots which came about from the Jews persecuting the Christians, all Jews were forced to leave Rome.
    5. That there were Christians 19 years after Jesus died is confirmed by historical record.
    6. This shows that less than two decades after His death, people believed Jesus was a real person, and that belief had spread all the way to Rome from Jerusalem.
  6. Lucian, a satirist (AD 125-180), acknowledges the belief that Jesus was a real person around 100 years after His death.
    1. “The Christians, you know, worship a man to this day — the distinguished personage who introduced their novel rites, and was crucified on that account… You see, these misguided creatures start with the general conviction that they are immortal for all time, which explains the contempt of death and voluntary self-devotion which are so common among them; and then it was impressed on them by their original lawgiver that they are all brothers, from the moment that they are converted, and deny the gods of Greece, and worship the crucified sage, and live after his laws.”
    2. He shows that he is not in agreement with the actions of the Christians, but he does acknowledge that Jesus lived and was crucified.
  7. Mara bon Sarpion alludes to Jesus.
    1. This man was in prison, and wrote a letter to his son asking him to pursue wisdom (approximately 73 AD).
    2. What advantage did the Athenians gain from putting Socrates to death? Famine and plague came upon them as a judgment for their crime. What advantage did the men of Samos gain from burning Pythagoras? In a moment their land was covered with sand. What advantage did the Jews gain from executing their wise king? It was just after that that their kingdom was abolished. God justly avenged these three wise men: the Athenians died of hunger; the Samians were overwhelmed by the sea; the Jews, ruined and driven from their land, live in complete dispersion. But Socrates did not die for good; he lived on in the teaching of Plato. Pythagoras did not die for good; he lived on in the statue of Hera. Nor did the wise king die for good; he lived on in the teaching which he had given.”
    3. The only person who fits the description of the “wise king” is Jesus.
      1. This would fit in perfectly with the time period in which this letter was written.
      2. Jesus was well-known as “the King of the Jews,” for Pilate even had heard of it before meeting Jesus.
    4. This is a non-Jewish, non-Christian reference to the existence of Jesus, written in the first century!


  1. Did Jesus really exist?
  2. The consensus of historical writings says that He did.
  3. Both friends and foes of Christianity speak in favor of His existence, all within 100 years (some even earlier) of His death.
  4. One admitted unbeliever in the Jesus of the Bible admits that “It was a group of French philosophers during the French Revolution in the late 18th century who first suggested that Jesus was a mythical character” and “The vast majority of historians and theologians have always believed in the reality of Jesus’ life.”
  5. We can have confidence that Jesus Christ did indeed exist!
  6. We do not follow cunningly devised fables!
  7. What are you doing with Jesus?
    1. Are you with Him or against Him?
    2. You cannot be neutral!
    3. Come to Jesus today!

-Bradley S. Cobb

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A New Book on Revelation

Back in 2012, I was asked to preach a series of sermons on the book of Revelation.  That turned into 48 lessons–and the Bible study adventure of a lifetime!

As I studied through the book, I discovered that most of what I had been taught about its contents was wrong.  It could be understood.  It did have meaning–both then and now.  And so I embarked on a quest to understand it as best as possible, and to take what I learned and make it understandable to others.

Since completing that series of sermons, I have had numerous requests to put them in print, both from the members here, as well as others who have read through the material.  In fact, people I don’t even know have emailed me, saying that other people (who I also have never met) told them that they needed to get my Revelation material.  It is both gratifying and humbling to know that the 48 sermon outlines I put together have been so well-received.  It is also a scary proposition, because while most people will say that (within certain parameters) the interpretation of Revelation doesn’t matter, I’ve seen more heated arguments over this topic than almost any other among some preachers.

Because of the continual encouragements to make this material available in a permanent format, I have been editing, reformatting, correcting, and expanding my detailed sermon outlines, and preparing them for publication.  It’s not complete yet, but it is getting there–and it looks like it will be well over 450 pages by the time it is done.

Here is what others have said about this material:

I’ve studied the Bible for over fifty years, and this is the first time Revelation has ever made sense to me.–A long time Bible teacher.

I can’t believe I didn’t see this before.  You’ve made it so clear and easy to understand.–An elder.

Awesome.  Just awesome.–Another elder.

If you want to understand Revelation, talk to Bradley Cobb–Michael Shank

[Your] ability to rightly divide the Word of truth never ceases to amaze me.  How can your points be argued, debated, refuted, discredited, minimized?  They can’t be!–A well-know preacher and author.

The material you have online has been a great help to me in my studies.–A long-time preacher.

We need to get this material out in the brotherhood–it makes it so easy to understand!–Shane Otts, preacher, Judsonia church of Christ.

Our target release date is Monday, October 10th.

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The Roller-Coaster of Faith – The Life of the Apostle Peter (Part Ten)

The Denials at the Trials1

Peter couldn’t stay away.  Both he and John had a change of heart, and turned back to follow the mob.  Peter followed at a distance, while John went ahead and rejoined Jesus.2  Peter couldn’t get into the palace of the high priest on his own, so John came back out and talked to the girl who served as a doorkeeper, and convinced her to let Peter in.3  But soon afterwards, she said, “You aren’t one of this man’s disciples, are you?”  And Peter said, “I’m not.”4

After a little while had passed, another girl saw Peter, and told the men around him that “This man is one of them.”5  One of those men (the others being in agreement) then made the accusation at Peter, who replied, “Man, I’m not.”6

About an hour later, a servant of the high priest who was also a relative of Malchus (whose ear Peter had cut off) confidently said, “Didn’t I see you in the garden with Him?  Truly you were also with Him: for you are a Galilean, and your speech betrays you!”7  After this eyewitness accuses him, Peter denies loudly and vehemently, “Man, I don’t know what you’re saying! I don’t know the man you’re speaking of,”8 and he cursed and swore to emphasize the point9—as he lied to them.

This is all happening as Jesus is being questioned, mocked, and abused by the Sanhedrin.  False witnesses all came to speak against Him10—what was Peter thinking during this time?  Did he ever have to fight the urge to stand up and scream, “They’re lying!”?  Peter saw Jesus being beaten, slapped, and spat upon,11 but didn’t stand up for the Lord—instead, he hurt Him further by denying Him.  As Peter made his final denial, Jesus turned, momentarily ignoring the questioning and accusations He was enduring, and looked at Peter.  Then the weight of what Peter had done came crashing down on him, and he remembered how bold he had been, proclaiming how he would never deny Jesus; and remembering how Jesus had foretold that he would deny Him three times—then Peter went out of the palace and wept bitterly.12

It is possible that this was the last time Peter saw Jesus alive—until after the resurrection, that is.13

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 John’s account (chapter 18) shows that Peter’s first denial took place when Jesus was being tried by Annas, while his final denial took place when Jesus was being tried by Caiaphas.

2 Luke 22:54 shows Peter followed from a distance.  This is no surprise, considering he had just sliced off the ear of one of the servants of the high priest—he was curious, but also fearful for his own safety.  Meanwhile, John 18:15 shows that by the time Jesus entered the palace of the high priest, John accompanied Him.

3 John 18:16.

4 John 18:17.  Robertson and Vincent both point out that the question is phrased in such a way that the girl expected a negative answer.  Vincent gives it as “thou art not, art thou?”  Luke’s account (Luke 22:55-57) shows that Peter had already sat down by the fire inside before the girl came and asked him this question.

5 Mark 14:69.

6 Luke 22:58 shows one man making the accusation, while John 18:25 shows that there was a group of men who asked if he was one of Jesus’ disciples.

7 The first part of this quotation comes from John 18:26, while the second can be found in the other three gospel accounts: Matthew 26:73; Mark 14:70; Luke 22:59.

8 The quotation given here is an amalgamation of Luke 22:60 and Mark 14:71.

9 Matthew and Mark both mention Peter’s cursing and swearing.  Some confusion exists regarding what exactly this is.  Some have said that it is basically cussing—as no one who was truly a follower of Jesus would be seen publicly cussing.  Others have said that these were oaths: that Peter was calling down curses on himself if he was lying, vowing to God that he was telling the truth.  Either explanation shows the great lengths that Peter went to in order to convince people that he wasn’t associated with Jesus—which was far worse than Judas’ betrayal.

10 Mark 14:56-59.

11 Mark 14:65.

12 Luke 22:60-62.  Luke is the only one who mentions that Jesus actually looked at Peter after the third denial.  Their eyes must have met, and Jesus almost assuredly showed a look of disappointment.

13 This is the last time Peter is mentioned until after the resurrection.  It is possible that he came and watched Jesus on the cross from afar, but if he did, none of the gospel writers saw fit to mention it.  It’s possible that he couldn’t bear to let Jesus see him again, out of shame, and that he found the rest of the apostles and stayed with them (except for John, who was at the cross).

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The Preview…



(did that get your attention?)

The Preview Edition of the Quarterly is now available.  If you want to download the digital preview — FREE — the link is at the end of this post.  But first, let me tell you a bit about it.  🙂

This preview edition has 15 articles, and 48 pages of encouragement, edification, education, and enjoyment from good, dedicated, Christian writers.

One writer with a lot of experience in personal evangelism is writing a series on preparing for Bible studies and getting people to agree to have them with you.  We’ve got stories of conversions, interviews with “seasoned ministers,” a look at understanding “hospitality,” and even the first few chapters of a novel that we are certain you will find interesting and worthwhile!

Take a look for yourself:

  1. Editorial: An Important Note
    Bradley S. Cobb
  2. Insights from Seasoned Ministers: Loren (L.L.) Gieger and Stafford North
    Interviews by Jim Mitchell
  3. Equipping
    Jim Mitchell
  4. I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me
    Roderick L. Ross
  5. Restoration Moments: The Conversion of Blue Dick
    From the Life of Knowles Shaw, Singing Evangelist
  6. The Parable of the Lighted Candle
    Devin Self
  7. Biblical Biography: Barnabas
    Bradley S. Cobb
  8. What Ever Happened to Shepherding?
    Jamie Beller
  9. Paul Darst: A Novel
    Daniel R. Lucas
  10. Funny and Not-So-Funny Events in the Life of Elijah Martindale
    Bradley S. Cobb and Elijah Martindale
  11. Poetry Corner
  12. Sons and Daughters of Encouragement
    Gerald Cowan
  13. The Tabernacle Shadows
    Mark McWhorter
  14. Preparing Yourself to Conduct Bible Studies
    James Sims, Sr.
  15. Hospitality Revisited
    Perry Hall

If you like what you see, then by all means, download the digital copy of the preview (did we mention it’s free?).  If you’re like me, and you much prefer having things in your hand, you can order the print version of the Preview for just $3.99 (see the option below).  If you want to order 10 or more to share with others (friends, family, your local congregation), then contact us  for a specific price quote (orders of 10 or more get a 25% discount).

And when you’re done reading it, please consider subscribing to either the print or digital edition.  Each subscriber will receive, as  BONUS, either 35% off of a book we publish (in print), or a free eBook of your choice from any that we publish.

Here’s the link for the digital preview:

The Quarterly – Preview Edition (eBook)

And if you want to order the print edition, just use the link below (or click here).

-Bradley S. Cobb

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The Roller-Coaster of Faith – The Life of the Apostle Peter (Part Nine)

ApostlesLogoThe Garden of Gethsemane

After the apostles all pledged their allegiance to Jesus, they walked to a place where Jesus instructed them to sit while He took Peter, James, and John a bit further.  The lord was “exceeding sorrowful, even unto death,” and told the three to wait there and watch on His behalf.1  He went further on and prayed, but instead of watching, Peter and the two brothers fell asleep.

When Jesus returned to find His three closest followers sleeping, His words were directed at Peter, whom the Lord apparently expected to show some leadership: “Simon, you’re sleeping?  You couldn’t watch for even an hour?”2  By this point, the other two apostles apparently had awakened, because Jesus said, “You all watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.  The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak.”3  But after the Lord went away to pray again, Peter’s weakness took over and he again went to sleep with the other disciples.

Jesus didn’t wake them the second time He returned, but when He came back the third time, He sarcastically said, “You sleep now, take your rest.  Enough!  The hour is come!  Look, the Son of man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.  Get up; let’s go!  Look, he that betrays me is at hand.”4  Then Peter and the rest of the apostles stood and took their place by Jesus’ side as Judas and a band of Roman soldiers, as well as many Jewish officials came to arrest Jesus.5

Peter watched as Judas came forward and gave Jesus a kiss, and then saw the armed men make their move to grab Jesus.  It’s at this point that Peter, standing beside Jesus, unsheathes his sword, and with amazing accuracy (or perhaps just lucky dodging on the part of his target) slices the right ear off of a man named Malchus, a servant of the high priest.6  While Jesus probably appreciated the show of loyalty, He told Peter to “Put up your sword,”7 and “Allow this to take place.”8  Then Jesus touched Malchus’ ear and healed him, effectively counteracting Peter’s actions.9  It was soon after this, all the disciples realizing that Jesus wasn’t going to fight—nor let them—that they all ran away and left Him alone with His captors.10

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Matthew 26:38.  Jesus told these three men to “watch,” but He didn’t mean “watch me while I pray.”  He meant to watch for anything that might happen (specifically the arrival of Judas and the soldiers he would bring with him).

2 Mark 14:37.  It is worthy of note that Jesus calls him “Simon” once again, which appears to indicate disappointment in him; or at the very least, showing that Peter was not living up to his divinely-given name of “Rock.”  The fact that all three were sleeping, but that only Peter was chastised, shows that Jesus expected more of him than the others.

3 Mark 14:37-38.  Verse 37 has singular pronouns, showing that Peter was being chastised; while verse 38 has plural pronouns, showing Jesus speaking to the three disciples.

4 Mark 14:41-42.  The NET Bible says, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Enough of that! The hour has come. Look, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Get up, let us go. Look! My betrayer is approaching!”

5 The word “band” in John 18:3 refers to a cohort, a collection of 600 Roman soldiers, though it is occasionally used to refer to as many as a thousand, or as few as 200 (see NET Bible notes, Barclay’s Daily Study Bible notes on the passage).  Matthew and Mark call this group it a “great multitude” of armed men (Matthew 26:47; Mark 14:43), which may have included some of the Jewish temple guard.

6 Matthew and Mark tell us that the attacked man was a servant of the high priest.  Mark is the one who informs us that the disciple with the sword was standing by Jesus.  Luke tells us that it was the right ear that was cut off.  John is the one that gives us the identity of both the attacker and the attacked: Peter and Malchus.  John 18:10.

7 John 18:11.

8 Luke 22:51.  The word “suffer” (KJV) means “allow.”  Jesus spoke this to the disciples—primarily Peter—telling them to let it happen.  After all, Jesus had told them several times previous that He was going to be betrayed, taken, and killed.  If the apostles fought, they were fighting against God’s plan.

9 Luke 22:51.

10 Matthew 26:56.

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