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

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Returning to Antioch

Paul must have been quite the sight as he entered into Derbe.  But people listened to what he and Barnabas taught, and many obeyed the divine commands.  After an apparently persecution-free visit there,1 they returned to the scene of the stoning, Lystra, and met again with the souls who had obeyed the blessed gospel, encouraging them, grounding them in the truth, and warning them that they will have difficult times ahead of them—but that the eternal reward is worth the tribulation here on earth.  How powerful this message must have been when coming from the one who had been viciously attacked and left for dead by an angry mob!  He tells them that even though he was nearly killed, it was worth it for heaven!  Then, from among the gathered disciples, Paul and Barnabas selected and ordained men to serve as elders.2

Departing from Lystra, he returned to Iconium—the same city that he had to flee from in order to avoid being stoned earlier; the same city that was home to some of the very Jews who had chased him to Lystra and actually caused the stoning that left him looking dead.  This shows incredible boldness on the part of Jesus’ own chosen apostle.3  There, he and Barnabas did as they did in Lystra: encouraging the saints to persevere under pressure, and selecting and ordaining godly men to serve as elders.

Doing the same thing in Antioch of Pisidia, they then returned to Perga (where John Mark had left them) and preached the gospel there before going to Attalia and sailing back to Antioch of Syria, from which they had been called by the Holy Spirit in the first place.

Once they returned to Antioch, they gathered the church together and reported all the things that had happened to them.  You can imagine the smiles when Paul shared the joyful news of the obedient believers; the looks of surprise and horror when they described the priest of Zeus and the crowds in Lystra trying to worship mere men; the shock and compassion when Paul’s near-death experience was mentioned.  They were certainly pleased and encouraged by the response to the gospel by the Gentiles, and welcomed these two men back as beloved brothers in Christ.  Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch “a long time” after returning.4

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 It seems most likely that, after believing Paul to be dead, the Jewish persecutors thought the matter over, and went back home.  Paul probably didn’t make his entrance into the city a public event or spectacle, and his departure was probably the same way, giving the persecutors no reason to stay.  Thus, they wouldn’t have heard about Paul’s work in Derbe until much later.

2 Acts 14:21-23.  See 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 for the characteristics that the chosen men had.  There are those who claim that these are simply guidelines, suggestions for those who want to serve as elders; but the Scripture says that an elder must be those things, possess those character traits.  If a man doesn’t meet those qualifications, then he can call himself an elder all he wants—but according to God, he isn’t an elder.  Instead, he is a usurper of the divinely-given office, and will have to give an account to God for his usurpation of authority that doesn’t belong to him.

3 It is possible that the return visits to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch of Pisidia did not involve public preaching, but were instead private, inconspicuous visits.  Paul would not have wanted to push his persecutors into repeating their murderous attempt at Lystra.

4 All of these events can be found described in Acts 14:21-28.

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

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The Conflicts in Iconium and Lystra

In Iconium, Paul preached in the synagogue, and a “great multitude” of Jews and Greeks obeyed the gospel.1  The Jews who refused to believe riled up the Gentiles against Paul and Barnabas, but these two men continued for a long time to speak boldly, and silenced some of the opposition by their bold preaching and accompanying miracles.  However, the Jews wouldn’t stop, and eventually convinced some of the Gentiles to join with them in a mob for the purpose of assaulting and stoning God’s missionaries.  Paul and Barnabas discovered their intent and fled to the cities of Lystra and Derbe, where they commenced preaching again.2

While preaching in Lystra, Paul stared intently at a man who was listening to the sermon.  This man was sitting (most likely on the ground), because he was physically incapable of standing.  In fact, he was crippled from birth, and had never walked.  This man, listening, believed what Paul was preaching, and Paul could see that the man had faith to be saved.3  So Paul spoke very loudly, assuring that all the people could hear what he said, “Stand up on your feet!”  And not only did the man stand, but he also amazed the crowd by jumping and walking.4

This brought out a reaction that even Paul and Barnabas couldn’t have foreseen—the people started shouting that “The gods have come down to us in the form of men!”5  Barnabas, apparently the stronger figure, they called Zeus;6 while Paul, the main speaker, they called Hermes.7  The priest of the temple of Zeus was so excited (and perhaps quite concerned about offending the gods) that he brought oxen to sacrifice, and garlands to decorate them with.8  The people all joined in with the desire and cry to sacrifice to these mighty gods who had come to bless them with their presence.

Upset and anxious to stop them—for only the God of heaven is worthy of worship—Paul and Barnabas tore their clothing, running through the chanting crowd, shouting:

“Why are you doing these things?  We are humans, the same as you, and we are telling you to turn from these empty things, and to the living God, who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and everything that is in them; who in times past permitted all nations to walk in their own ways.  However, He did not leave Himself without testimony, in that He did Good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.”9

Even with these earnest pleadings, these denials of godhood, they just barely were able to keep the people from sacrificing to them.  The crowd must have been confused by their actions, but some were willing to listen, and several obeyed the gospel.10

While Paul and Barnabas were in Lystra,11 the Jews who had tried to kill Paul in Iconium and Antioch arrived and stirred up the people—quite possibly on the heels of the two missionaries finally calming them down from their fervor to sacrifice.  These Jews persuaded the people—almost certainly accusing God’s messengers of rejecting Zeus and Hermes—and stirred them into such a frenzy that they began to pelt Paul with rocks and stones, knocking him to the ground and continuing the assault until he lay motionless.  Believing he was dead, they dragged his bruised and bloodied body outside the city and left him there.  But while the believers stood sadly around his beaten form, their hearts leapt with joy when they saw movement—Paul moved!  He was alive!  He got up from the ground, and walked back into the city.  But the next day, he and Barnabas left and traveled to Derbe.12

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Acts 14:1.  As noted earlier in this chapter, the biblical writers often use the word “believe” to describe the entire process of salvation.  The reason for this is that true faith (the noun form of the word “believe”) is always accompanied with obedience, as proven abundantly by Hebrews 11.

2 Acts 14:1-7.  Paul was only stoned once, according to his own account, and that didn’t happen until he was in Lystra (Acts 14:19-20; 2 Corinthians 11:25).

3 Acts 14:8-9.  The word translated “healed” (or some synonym) in almost every translation is the Greek word sozo, which is usually translated “saved”—93 of the 120 times it appears, in fact.  It seems incredible that when Paul is preaching the gospel, the man’s reaction and faith has nothing to do with being cleansed from sins, but only on being healed of his physical infirmity.  If the faith that came from hearing Paul’s sermon was faith in miraculous healing ability, then Paul preached quite a different gospel here than in other places.  If this word were translated “saved,” like it is so many other times in the New Testament, then there would be no confusion.  H.T. Anderson, in his 1865 translation of the New Testament, and his 1918 translation of the Sinaitic Manuscript, did just that.

4 Acts 14:10.

5 Acts 14:11.  This was a common theme in ancient literature.  See the works of Homer, for example.  Much of the legends surrounding the pantheon of gods include one of the gods coming to earth as a human and consorting with a human, bringing about demigods.  Given that these legends and myths were heavily promoted, especially by the priests of the pagan temples where worship to these “gods” was conducted, it shouldn’t really that surprising that the people would have this reaction.  Since they believed in a plethora of gods, and their literature had said that gods frequently came to earth and walked around as humans, it was logical for them to conclude that the miracle-working men must be gods.

6 Acts 14:12.  The KJV says “Jupiter,” but the Greek is Zeus.  The Romans basically assimilated the legends of the gods into their culture and gave them new names.  What in Greek was Zeus, the Romans called “Jupiter.”

7 Acts 14:12.  KJV says “Mercury,” but the Greek is Hermes.  Hermes was the messenger god, the god of speech and eloquence.  See Robertson’s Word Pictures and Vincent’s Word Studies on this passage for more details.

8 Acts 14:13.  It was common for oxen to be sacrificed to Zeus during this time, and the garlands were used to decorate them during the sacrifices.  See Matthew Henry’s commentary on this verse.

9 Acts 14:14-17.

10 Acts 14:18.  The text doesn’t describe anyone being converted, though the healed man (14:8-10) certainly would have obeyed the gospel, and there were others, because when Paul is stoned and left for dead, “the disciples” stood around him (14:20).  Whether these people obeyed the gospel prior to the healing and the sacrificial attempts, or between that event and the arrival of the Jews, is not made clear.

11 The inspired text does not tell us how long there is between the sacrificial fiasco and the arrival of Jewish perpetrators.  It could have taken place the same day, or it could have been several weeks later.  The way the text reads, it is quite possible that these Jews arrived while the sacrificial attempts were taking place, and stirred up the people, accusing Paul and Barnabas of denying the power of the great Zeus and Hermes.

12 Acts 14:19-20.

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

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The Conflict in Antioch of Pisidia

Upon their arrival in Antioch of Pisidia, a free Roman city, they entered the Jewish synagogue on the Sabbath, and they sat down for the reading of the Law and the Prophets.  The rulers of the synagogue (that is, the ones in charge of the Sabbath gatherings)1 sent [literally, apostled] someone to go to Paul and Barnabas and tell them, “Men, brethren, if you have any word of encouragement for the people, speak.”

Paul rose from his seat, motioned with his hand for their attention, and said to them: “Men of Israel, and you who fear God, listen.”  He then proceeded to give them a brief recap of their history as a nation, going back to the Exodus, the conquest of Canaan, the period of the judges, the monarchy under Saul, and then he stopped for a moment to deal with David.

“He [God] raised up David for them, to be their king; about whom He bore witness and said, ‘I have found David, the son of Jesse, to be a man after my own heart, who shall do all my desire.’  Of this man’s seed, God has, according to His promise, raised for Israel a Savior, Jesus.”2

After reminding them that John the Baptist preached baptism of repentance, and foretold of one greater than he, Paul described the perversion of justice that resulted in the murder of Jesus.  Then he adds the words, “But God raised Him from the dead,”3 and then showed how it was prophesied in the Old Testament.  He concludes this stirring sermon to the Jews with the words:

Therefore, [let] it be known to you, men, brethren, that through this man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins.  And through Him, all that believe are justified from all the things from which you couldn’t be justified under the Law of Moses.  Therefore, beware, lest that which is spoken of in the prophets come upon you: “Behold, you despisers, and wonder, and perish!  For I do a work in your days, a work that you shall not ever believe, even though a man declares it to you.”4

Leaving the synagogue, several people (Jew and Gentile both) followed Paul and Barnabas, wanting to hear more.5  Paul took the opportunity to persuade them, and it is likely that some obeyed the gospel soon thereafter.6

The next Sabbath day, most of the city turned out to hear this message from God.  However, the Jews saw that the people were listening to these visitors, and their jealousy stopped their minds from listening to the truth presented.7  Instead, they began to contradict Paul’s message, and speaking evil of him—and by doing so, they were blaspheming God.8

Paul’s bold response to their action was to express a truth that would have made them hate him even more:

It was necessary that the word of God was spoken to you first.  But seeing that you have cast it away from you, and condemned yourselves as unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.  Because this is what the Lord commanded us: “I have set you to be a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.”9

The Gentiles were ecstatic about this message, and many of them obeyed the gospel, and the result was that God’s message was preached throughout the whole area.  However, the Jews were incredibly upset, and caused a persecution against Paul and Barnabas by influencing the prominent men and women in the city.  As a result, the two missionaries were thrown out of the city.  Outside the city limits, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust of their feet at them, and traveled to Iconium.10  But they could be glad that there were now Christians living in the city of Antioch.

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Thayer gives the definition of archisunagogos as “Ruler of the synagogue. It was his duty to select the readers or teachers in the synagogue, to examine the discourses of the public speakers, and to see that all things were done with decency and in accordance with ancestral usage.”

2 Acts 13:22-23.

3 Acts 13:30.

4 Acts 13:38-41.

5 Acts 13:42-43.  There are some textual variants in verse 42 which clouds the exact chronology of events.  The KJV says the Jews left the synagogue, leaving the missionaries and the Gentiles in the building.  The ASV says the missionaries left the synagogue first and talked with others outside after the synagogue meeting ended.  Either way, they still talked to Jews and Gentiles.

6 The text does not describe the reaction of the ones who were being “persuaded” by Paul, but he would have been in the city, studying with people throughout the next week.  It would be strange indeed if not a single one of the “many” who followed them obeyed the gospel.

7 The Jews were apparently quite influential in this city.  When the city was established under the Seleucid kings, its settlers were comprised of Phrygians, Greeks, and Jews (see International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “Antioch of Pisidia”).  Thus, they had a long history in this Antioch.  The existence of many “religious proselytes” (Gentiles who converted to Judaism) in Acts 13:43, and the possible mention of Gentiles in the synagogue (verse 42, KJV), shows that they held a place of prominence in the city, religiously speaking.  So it is no surprise that when someone comes in, convincing the people that the Law of Moses was fulfilled/removed, and draws huge crowds, the Jews would be upset.  Robertson, commenting on verse 45, says “Nothing is specifically stated here about the rabbis, but they were beyond doubt the instigators of, and the ringleaders in, the opposition as in Thessalonica (Acts 17:5). No such crowds … came to the synagogue when they were the speakers.”

8 Acts 13:45.  Luke says they were “blaspheming,” though it is incredibly unlikely that they were intentionally blaspheming (speaking evil against) God.  Thus, the blaspheming must be against Paul—but the effect was that they were also (unknowingly) blaspheming against God.

9 Acts 13:46-47.

10 Acts 13:48-52.  The word “expelled” (verse 50, KJV) is ekballo, which means to throw out.  Whether this means the mob of people literally tossed them outside the city, or just forced them to leave, the result is the same: they were removed from the city.

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

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Paul’s First Missionary Journey

The Conflict with Elymas

Leaving Antioch, they went to Seleucia, a seaport town just southwest of Antioch, where they boarded a ship heading to Cyprus.  They landed on the eastern edge of the island of Cyprus, and worked their way westward across the island, preaching in the synagogues along the way.1

Once they got to Paphos, a city on the western coast of the island, their preaching attracted the attention of the proconsul of the island,2 whose name was Sergio Paul.3  He called Saul and Barnabas to meet him, because he wanted to hear the word of God.  However, there was another man who was with Sergio Paul, and who apparently held some measure of influence with him (or at least thought he did).  This man, Elymas, called himself Bar-Jesus (which means “son of Jesus”), but was a Jewish sorcerer and false prophet.4  When they began to preach the word to Sergio Paul, Elymas spoke against them—attempting to negate their message and imply that they were the false prophets, because he did not want the proconsul to obey the gospel.5

Saul (who from this point onward is known as “Paul”) stared him down,6 and by inspiration, called down a curse on him:

O [you are] full of all subtlety and mischief.  You son of the devil!  You enemy of all righteousness!  Will you never cease perverting the straight ways of the Lord?  And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is on you, and you shall be blind, not seeing the sun for a time.7

The first recorded miracle of Paul, a former opponent of Christianity who was blinded by God, was blinding another opponent of Christianity.  Immediately after Paul spoke those words, Elymas became blind, and walked around searching for someone to guide him.  This miracle had the desired effect: showing who the true spokesperson for God actually was.  After seeing the miracle, Sergio Paul believed, and was struck with amazement at the teaching about Jesus.  There can be no doubt that the proconsul obeyed the gospel.8

When they left Cyprus, they sailed northwest to Perga, a seaport city in Pamphylia.  It was while there that John Mark left them and returned to Jerusalem (most likely by sea).  We aren’t told why Mark left them, but it left Paul with a not-too-high regard for his trustworthiness.  Most likely, Paul preached in the city of Perga9 before they traveled to Antioch of Pisidia10 (not to be confused with Antioch of Syria, where Paul and Barnabas had worked together as prophets).

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Acts 13:4-5.  It is possible that there were multiple synagogues in Salamis, the first city that they came to, but it is also certain that they would have preached as often as possible as they traveled through the island.

2 Luke was the target of many skeptics and atheists for this statement, because Cyprus didn’t have a proconsul; at least, that’s what they thought.  Archaeological discoveries have since shown that Augustus Caesar changed their governmental setup, and inscriptions from AD 51-52 have been unearthed which mention the proconsul of Cyprus named Paulus.  See Vincent’s Word Studies on Acts 13:7 for more information.

3 Acts 13:7.  The Greek in this verse is Σεργίῳ Παύλῳ, that is, Sergio Paulo.  Without exception, every translation renders it “Sergius Paulus,” even though the second word is translated “Paul” the other 154 times it appears in the Bible.

4 Acts 13:6-8.  Elymas fought against the truth of Jesus Christ as taught by Barnabas and Saul, yet called himself “son of Jesus,” which he may have done in an attempt to gather followers after himself, as though he was the heir to Jesus’ mantle.  He was a Jew, and his rejection of the truth leads us to conclude that he would have embraced the Law of Moses—which also condemns him because of his involvement in sorcery (Deuteronomy 18:10), and his being a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:20).  See also Malachi 3:10.

5 Acts 13:8.

6 Acts 13:9.  The phrase “set his eyes” (KJV) on him is atenisas, from which we get the word “attention.”

7 Acts 13:9-11.  Paul calls him the “son of the devil” as a contrast to the name Elymas wore, “son of Jesus.”

8 Acts 13:12.  Often, the New Testament writers use the word “believe” to encompass the entire process of obedience to the gospel (Romans 1:16, for example).  Luke would not have recorded the incident in this way if the proconsul had refused to be baptized.  It is possible that the book of Acts was written as part of Paul’s defense before Caesar.  If this is the case, then maybe Luke didn’t specifically mention the baptism in order to not put any unnecessary persecution on Sergio Paul for joining the Christians.

9 The Scriptures do not give us every detail of Paul’s missionary journeys.  It seems very unlikely that he would be in a city for any length of time and not attempt to spread the gospel there.

10 This description by Luke has been the cause of some confusion, as this city was the capitol of southern Galatia, and in the region of Phrygia.  Souter, in James Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible (“Antioch”), says that the official title of the city was “Antioch near Pisidia,” and attempts to explain the difficulty.

The Preview…

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FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE FREE!!!!!!

(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

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.

Three Free Books

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I hope that caught your attention.  We were busy last week and didn’t get as many books added to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary as we wanted, so we’re making up for it this week!

Today, we’re adding three more books for your enjoyment!  And here they are:

The Gospel and Its Elements

By James Challen, this book could be called a doctrinal history of the Restoration Movement.  By that, I mean that he writes about the biblical doctrines and practices pleaded for (without mentioning the names of anyone involved) by people like Alexander Campbell, Walter Scott, James Challen, and others.

To download it, just click the link below:

The Gospel and Its Elements (James Challen)

A Primitive Missionary Church

Written by H.L. Hastings (a big name in the late 1800s for his fight against atheists and skeptics), this sermon is all about the church in Thessalonica.  While we might not agree with everything he says, it is a worthwhile read–and it isn’t that long.  The download link is below:

A Primitive Missionary Church (H.L. Hastings)

The Disciples of Christ in Illinois and Their Attitude Toward Slavery

Originally given as a lecture before the Illinois State Historical Society in 1913, N.S. Haynes presented his manuscript for publication in their official minutes.  It gives a very brief history of the Restoration Movement, then a brief history of how the Restoration made its way into Illinois, and then briefly shows the attitude of many of the brethren in the state toward slavery prior to the Civil War.  It is an interesting historical piece, and we have taken the liberty to correct a few historical errors that the author made (with notations of what was changed appearing in footnotes).

You can download it and read it here:

Disciples of Christ in Illinois and Their Attitude Toward Slavery

-Bradley S. Cobb

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

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The Denial of Denial

While they were in this upper room, Jesus said that one of them would betray Him, causing all the apostles to begin to question which one it would be.1  Peter, wanting to know the answer, but apparently not willing to ask Jesus himself, told John to ask for him—and when Jesus gave the answer, Peter apparently still didn’t get it.2 But soon thereafter, having left the upper room and gone to Mt. Olivet,3 Jesus told the apostles that He was going away.  Peter didn’t understand, and said, “Lord, where are you going?”  To this, the Lord replied “Where I go, you [Peter] can’t follow me now; but you will follow me later.”4  Jesus was about to be murdered, and this could be seen as a prophecy that Peter will also be murdered for his faith.5

Still not quite understanding what Jesus meant, Peter said, “Lord, why can’t I follow you now?  I will lay down my life for your sake!”6  Jesus looked at Peter and spoke directly to him:

“Simon, Simon;7 Look, Satan has demanded you [apostles], so that he might sift you like wheat.  But I have prayed for you [Peter], so that your [Peter’s] faith doesn’t fail.  And when you [Peter] have returned, strengthen your brethren.”8

It is in this statement that Peter is given a special commission unique to him—he is commissioned to strengthen, to encourage, to uplift the other apostles after the death of Jesus.  Jesus knew that they would all forsake Him (and He will say as much momentarily), but He had been praying for Peter so that Peter would have the strength to not completely lose his faith, and so that he would be able to build up the other apostles—the apostles who would have been very depressed and in need of encouragement.

But also in this statement is a prophecy that Peter would have a need to return.  That is, Peter was going to go astray.  This pronouncement is what caused Peter to say, “Lord, I’m ready to go with you, both into prison and to death.”9

The Lord replied by saying that not just Peter, but all the apostles (Judas had already left) would “stumble because of [Him] this night.”10  But Peter spoke up again, “Although all of them shall stumble, yet not I!”11  Peter’s self-exaltation was about to be deflated, because Jesus replied with perhaps the most memorable words spoken to Peter in the entire Bible:

“Truly I say to you [Peter], that this day—even in this [very] night—before the cock crows twice, you shall deny me—deny that you [even] know me—three times!”12

Then Peter replied again, this time vehemently,13 “Even though I might die with you, yet I won’t deny you!”  And the rest of the apostles said the same thing.14  But it wasn’t too long after this that they all abandoned their Lord.15

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Luke 22:21-23.

2 John 13:21-30.  The apostles thought that Jesus had sent Judas on an errand; even at this late hour, they didn’t understand that Judas was the one who would betray the Lord.  See the chapter on Judas Iscariot for more details.

3 See Matthew 26:30-35; Mark 14:26-31; and compare them with Luke 22:31-34.

4 John 13:33, 36.  The pronouns in this verse are singular, showing that Jesus is speaking directly to Peter, not to the other apostles.

5 Regardless of whether this is a prophecy of how Peter would die, it is a prophecy that Peter would die as a faithful follower of Jesus Christ—otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to follow Jesus where He was going: heaven.

6 John 13:37.

7 Jesus calls him “Simon,” probably to emphasize that Peter isn’t going to be much of a “rock” during the events which were about to happen.  But then Jesus says, “When you return, strengthen your brethren,” or in other words, “be a rock for your brethren.”

8 Luke 22:31-32.  The pronouns in the Greek show that Satan asked for all the apostles, but that Jesus prayed for Peter specifically.

9 Luke 22:33.

10 Mark 14:27.  The word “stumble” is the Greek word skandalizo, where we get “scandalize.”  They would act as though it was a scandal to follow Jesus.

11 Mark 14:29.  Peter elevates himself over the rest of the apostles by saying this, Even if they are scandalized by you, I won’t ever be!  This makes Jesus’ next statement even more powerful, for it shows the truth of Jesus’ statement that “Whoever exalts himself shall be brought low” (Luke 14:11).

12 Mark 14:30.  The phrase “deny that you [even] know me” comes directly from Luke 22:34.  Mark’s account says “before the cock crows twice.”  The other biblical writers just say “before the cock crows.”  This supposed contradiction has been sufficiently explained and harmonized in many places.  See Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pages 339-341, and Eric Lyon’s The Anvil Rings: Answers to Alleged Bible Discrepancies, Volume 1, pages 74-78.

13 Mark 14:31 mentions that Peter got vehement in this response.

14 Matthew 26:35

15 Matthew 26:56.

The 1957 Lipscomb College Bible Lectures

We are sorry for not getting more posted this week.  We will be making up for that next week, where each daily post from Tuesday through Friday will (Lord willing) contain multiple additions to the Jimmie Beller eLibrary to finish celebrating the one-year anniversary.

We spent the early part of this week at the hospital with one of the families from the congregation here in McLoud.  Kitty Patterson, a wonderful friend and sister in Christ, was hospitalized last week, and the doctors discovered a 4-inch cancer that ended up getting into her stomach, intestines, and colon.  They gave her no chance of surviving the surgery, but through the prayers of her Christian family, she came through it with flying colors.  She will be hospitalized for close to another week, and then will have to be in a rehab center for several weeks while she recovers.

I know you’ll understand when I say that being there for her and her family was tops on our priority list, and getting new posts done fell by the wayside until today.

And now, on to our new addition to the Jimmie Beller Memorial eLibrary.

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What we are giving you today is a series of lessons, given by some very prominent preachers of the last century.  It is the 1957 David Lipscomb College Bible Lectures (Part 1).  I don’t know if a part 2 was ever published, but if it was, I don’t have a copy of it.  🙂

If you’d like to know what is contained in this eBook, you have two choices: download it and read it, or just look below.

Contents

  1. The Hope Of The World (John H. Banister)
  2. The Place Of The Bible At Lipscomb (Batsell Barrett Baxter)
  3. The Pattern For Personal Development (E. G. Couch, Jr.)
  4. Facing Denominational Trends (Carroll B. Ellis)
  5. The Scriptures—Our Pattern (Reuel Lemmons)
  6. The Pattern—The Bible (Jim Bill Mcinteer)
  7. Christ, Our Pattern In Teaching Our Young (Wyatt Sawyer)
  8. The Pattern In Sound Doctrine (Rex A. Turner)
  9. Lessons From The Past (Howard A. White)
  10. Where There Is No Pattern (Athens Clay Pullias)
  11. Principles Of New Testament Congregational Cooperation (Cecil N. Wright)
  12. Facts That Support Our Faith (Joe E. Sanders)
  13. Christ-Centered Living (Ernest O. Stewart, Jr.)
  14. The Objectives Of Lipscomb (Athens Clay Pullias)

To read this fully-reformatted eBook, or to save it for later perusal, just click the link below:

Lipscomb Lectures – 1957

-Bradley S. Cobb

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

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Simon Peter’s Experiences During the Passion Week

The Cursing of the Fig Tree

On Monday of Jesus’ final week, Peter walked with Jesus and the rest of the apostles from Bethany towards Jerusalem.  Jesus saw a fig tree, but it had no figs on it, so Jesus cursed it.1  The next morning, as they walked by the same spot, Peter saw the tree completely dried up, and in his amazement said to Jesus, “Master, look!  The fig tree that you cursed has withered away!”  Jesus responded by telling the apostles, “Have faith in God.”2

The Prophecy about Jerusalem

Later that same day, when Jesus finished teaching in the temple, one of the disciples (some have suggested that it was Peter himself)3 said to Him, “Master, look at the quality of these beautiful stones and the quality of the buildings!”4  But Jesus replied that these beautiful buildings of the temple complex would all be destroyed.  After they went outside Jerusalem to Mt. Olivet, Jesus sat down and Peter came to him with Andrew, James, and John, and specifically asked him, “Tell us, when shall these things happen?  What shall be the sign (of your coming and the end of the age) when all of these things are fulfilled? ”5  In response, Peter and the other three apostles are informed about the overthrow of the Jewish people, the great tribulation that would come on that nation, and the destruction of their city and temple—which Jesus called “the coming of the Son of man.”6

The Passover and the Foot-washing

Wednesday,7 the disciples asked Jesus what He wanted them to do so they could celebrate the Passover.8  Jesus sent Peter and John into Jerusalem, telling them that they would meet a man with a pitcher of water, and that they were to follow him into his house, and ask him where the guest room was so that they could eat the Passover.  Then Peter and John prepared the Passover meal for Jesus and the rest of the apostles.9

While the Passover was being observed,10 Jesus stood up and wrapped Himself with a towel and began to wash the feet of the apostles, and to dry them with the towel.  When He came to Peter, the apostle tried to stop Him, saying, “Lord, you wash my feet?”11  Jesus kindly answered, “You don’t know what I’m doing now, but you will know after this.”  Peter still wasn’t having any of it and said, “No!  Never shall you wash my feet!”12  But Jesus silenced this protest with a warning: “If I don’t wash you, you have no part with me.”13  In other words, if Peter refused, he would be giving up his apostleship and all of the promises that were made to him.  So, Peter responds, “Lord, not only my feet, but [also wash] my hands and my head!”14  The Lord said washing Peter’s feet would be enough, and took the opportunity to again foretell that one of them wasn’t faithful.  Afterwards, He explained to them that they needed to be servants, and not try to be masters over others.15

-Bradley S. Cobb

1 Mark 11:12-14.  The chronology of the Passion Week is best served by Mark, who gave specific time markers, such as “on the morrow” (11:12) and “in the morning” (11:20), and “after two days” (14:1).

2 Mark 11:20-22.  Jesus gave more in response, emphasizing the strength and power of faith, in verses 23-24, but it is all summarized in the phrase “Have faith in God.”

3 See Robertson’s Word Pictures on Mark 13:1.  The reasoning behind this suggestion is because Mark gives the exact quote of what was said, and many believe that Mark’s main source of information was Peter himself.

4 Mark 13:1, mixed with the information (beautiful stones) given in Luke 21:5.  The word translated “what manner” (KJV) is a description of the quality of something, hence our translation above.

5 Mark 13:2-4.  The section given in parentheses above come from Matthew’s account of their questions (Matthew 24:3).  For the Jew, the destruction of the temple symbolized the “end of all things” (1 Peter 4:7), so it is no wonder that they would associate this with “the end of the world” (KJV) or “the end of the age” (NKJV).  See McGarvey’s comments in The Fourfold Gospel, pages 619-620, and his Commentary on Matthew and Mark, page 204.

6 Matthew 24:27, 30.  Among faithful brethren, there is a disagreement over whether Jesus’ discourse on the destruction of Jerusalem continues past verse 34.  Many (both conservative and liberal) believe it continues through the end of chapter 25; while many (both conservative and liberal) believe that beginning in 24:35, Jesus speaks of the end of the universe.  Part of this disagreement is based on the translation of verse 3, “the end of the world” (KJV) vs. “the end of the age” (NKJV).  If it is “the end of the world,” then it would make sense that Jesus addresses that topic.  But if it is “the end of the age,” then it could be a reference to the Jewish age—which in practice ended AD 70.  It’s validity ended no later than the day of Pentecost, AD 30 (Acts 2).

7 See the notes dealing with the final Passover meal in the chapters on Andrew and John for more specifics.  To the Jew, what we consider to be Wednesday evening would have been the beginning of Thursday (their new day started at 6pm).

8 Mark 14:12; Matthew 26:17.

9 This information is found in Luke 22:7-13.

10 The KJV of John 13:2 says “supper being ended,” but this cannot be the correct translation.  Jesus sat back down at the table (verse 12), and was still eating (verse 26) after this.  Almost every other translation (except the NKJV) renders this as “during supper” (ASV, ESV, McCord) or “while they were at the supper” (Living Oracles).

11 John 13:6.  The Greek order of this phrase put emphasis on the pronouns, and is most literally translated: “You of me wash feet?”

12 John 13:8.  Literally, Peter says, “No, not … into the ages!”  It’s a very strong statement, saying that even into eternity, he will not let Jesus wash his feet.

13 John 13:8.

14 John 13:9.  Peter didn’t just want a part with Jesus; he wanted as big a part as possible!

15 John 13:10-20.  The apostles had several times argued over who was the greatest among them; and they would do it again this same night—after Jesus gave them this lesson.  The principle of being a servant is something that they didn’t quite understand until after the resurrection.