Day 321 (Nov. 17): Paul gives strong advice to the Thessalonica church, Paul encourages church to remain steadfast in the midst of persecution, Jesus’ second coming, Jesus will take down leaders and man of ‘lawlessness,’ Paul warns against being idle, God gives peace at all times, Gallio stands up for Paul, Paul returns to Antioch of Syria

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Thessalonians 5:12-28

2 Thessalonians 1-3:18

Acts 18:4-23

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Thessalonians 5:12-22): Paul says a lot here.  Are these instructions concrete?  I would think they would be goals.  V. 16: I can’t imagine being joyful all the time.  We all have some low times.  It does seem like some people are much more joyful than others.  V. 18 says to be thankful in all circumstances.  I’m working on that one.  I must say, it would be very hard to thank God in some situations.  I know if you have faith, that whatever seemed so bad will have a reason. V. 22: I would think this means to stay away from evil for yourself.  If we are to reach some sinners, we must brush up to evil.

A. I think Paul is speaking of the position we should be desiring.  We should desire to joyful all the time, for that means that we are able to handle any circumstance.  Paul, like Jesus before him, was no stranger to sin, and surely recommends spreading the gospel among sinners while not sinning yourself.

Q. (2 Thessalonians 1:8): This verse makes it sound like believers will not be judged, only those who don’t follow Jesus.

A. Let’s hold onto this one until we get to Romans.

Q. (1:11-12): So, the church in Thessalonica is being persecuted by whom?  Paul is telling them in these two verses that their good works will bring glory to God.  Of course, God loves people standing up for Him.  However, this does not save a person, right?  People are saved by faith alone?

A. It is likely that the church there (and other places) was persecuted by Jews and Roman authorities, but it was probably not consistent.  The story Acts tells us of Jason being dragged before the civil authorities is probably a good telling example.  What the writers of our readings have been pointing to is the idea that being persecuted offers you the opportunity to test your own heart: are you strong enough to preach the gospel even in the midst of persecution?  As you suggest, this action will not save us, but this level of bravery is surely the sign of a true believer, whose faith WILL save them.

Q. (2:1-12): I was talking to a friend about the horror of the end of days that the pastor at our former church was preaching on.  It was absolutely horrific.  My friend said that she hoped she was in the grave when “the days” come.  I’m with her.  Is it bad to hope that we don’t have to face it?  We have no idea who the “man of lawlessness” is in v. 3?  V. 11 says that God caused them to be greatly deceived, but from the context, I would guess that it means more like God showed them the choice to be saved, but they rejected it.  And because they refused to go “good,” God allows them to be condemned.  What do you say to this, Rob?

A. I see nothing wrong with not wanting to face a time of trial or deal with difficult times, but understand that this may be GOD’S desire for us!  We must be willing to answer the call, even to preach in the midst of difficult times.  As to who the “man” is, this is an image of the anti-Christ, which we will see again in John’s writings and in Revelation.  This is an image of the supreme human evil — but not Satan — who puts himself directly in opposition to the work of Christ (hence “anti”).  There are tons of ideas out there about who this man is (some, for example, say it is Obama, which is just ridiculous), but I’m not going to offer much in the way of speculation except to say that we as believers will know him when we see him.  I, like you, hope that I never have to worry about it at all!

Q. (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15): This is a hard passage.  Sometimes I feel lazy, but I have never thought about being lazy in the spirit, which I think this verse addresses both — lazy in spirit and lazy in earning money.  I feel guilty when I am.  Most of us have down times, I think.  Maybe we are supposed to fight them as hard as possible?  Also, when you try to encourage someone to not be lazy, that’s a little touchy too without offending them.  Maybe instead of addressing their laziness, they could be invited to partake in something that would make them more active.  Here’s a kid’s song I love: http://sovereigngracemusic.bandcamp.com/track/lazy-bones  It has motivated me many times!  That CD is awesome even if you don’t have kids!

A. Sloth, or laziness, is one of the so-called “seven deadly sins” — though I would quickly add that there is no particular “list” of them in the Bible — and it is a slow poison to the soul, which is why we are compelled to fight it in ourselves and make war against it when we see it in others.  Your suggestions are good ones.

Q. Paul had so much energy to devote to spreading God’s word.  He likely went by foot and by boat.  I don’t know if the disciples and other teachers of the gospel had any other means of transportation, like a horse?  If you google “map of Paul’s journeys” you will see what a vast territory he covered and how big of an influence he was on spreading the gospel.  I notice on these maps that Asia is where modern-day Turkey is, which I thought was more of where Israel was in Bible times.  Why is it labeled Asia, when Asia is much farther to the east?

A. Well, the region you refer to is called Asia Minor, and it is indeed part of Asia, not Europe, depending upon who you ask.  I suppose that the disciples could have had horses or other transport animals, but most of what the record tells us is that they traveled by foot.

Day 319 (Nov. 15): Letter for Gentile believers, Paul and Barnabas separate, Timothy joins Paul, Paul and Silas are called to Macedonia, Paul baptizes Lydia, Paul commands demon out of girl, Paul and Silas imprisoned and miraculously released, Paul and Silas ran out of Thessalonica, Paul welcomed in Berea

46 more days to the finale!

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 15:22-17:15

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 15:28): So, these are the laws that some church officials, along with the Holy Spirit, decided were to still be obeyed?  The rest of the laws go to the wayside?  I hope they were also told of the new law.

A. I think what this council decided is that these practices were the ones that most separated out Christians from the surrounding culture of idol sacrifice, which was common in the Roman world.  This isn’t a new law, but guidelines in how to be a Christian in a hostile world without corrupting yourself.  We will see the sacrifices to idols issue come up again.

Q. (Acts 15:36-41): I don’t know if there is any significance to this argument between Paul and Barnabas.  They had been together for so long.  I guess Christians can still be stubborn and disagree?

A. I’ve read different commentaries that downplay whether or not this was an actual “fight” or just a difference of opinion that led to a parting of ways.  It may have been the Spirit’s desire to see them separated so that they could cover twice the ground, if you will.  But there is no getting around that we Christians are still human, and can be subject to disagreement.  I was having a friendly argument about the merits of megachurches (he feels they are wasteful) just today, so yea, it still happens.  God uses even our disagreements to advance His Kingdom.

Q. (Acts 16:1-5): Here Paul is encouraging Timothy to be circumcised when Paul just spoke out against it and especially to Peter when he rebuked him for obeying old laws because he was scared of being criticized by Jews.

A. I think he was trying to ensure that Timothy would be accepted by the non-Christian Jews and be allowed in places like the Temple, which was forbidden to non-Jews.  I doubt Paul did this — or Timothy volunteered for it — in order to accommodate Christians.

Day 315 (Nov. 11): Cornelius Calls for Peter, Peter’s Vision, Peter at Cornelius’s House, Peter Explains His Actions, The Church in Antioch, Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison

Day 315 (Nov. 11): Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 10:1-12:5

Questions & Observations

Q. I enjoyed today’s reading and thought it was very easy to follow.  To me, the central theme of it was that God is erasing the lines between Jews and Gentiles.  He is fading out many of the old laws that were just for the Israelites.  The disciples and other believers in Jesus are now allowed to preach to the Gentiles.  However, it appears that there is still plenty of dissent out there from those religious leaders with hardened hearts who are standing by the old law and using it to persecute others.

A. Yes there are, and there are also Christian Jews who continue to question exactly how God is moving among the Gentiles, but we will see that the Spirit will guide Paul in preaching to the Gentiles and also to the Jewish Christians to bring them around.

Q. (Acts 10:9-16): So, for anyone, including the Jewish religious leaders, to understand that God was making food clean to eat that once was unclean and for them to know that God’s kingdom is for all believers, Jews and Gentiles alike, they would have to listen to the disciples preaching about it.  They were not privy to this information even though they were in a high position.  I can see how this would manifest jealousy and anger in the Jewish leaders.

A. The Jewish leaders who have not proclaimed faith in Jesus, frankly, will not be a part of this story much longer.  This is about what God (specifically the Spirit) is doing through these few thousand Christians and their leaders.

Q. (Acts 12:1-5): The disciples must have been somewhat discouraged by Stephen and James’ death.  Jesus sent them to spread the Good News, but now two followers have died.

A. He warned them about that repeatedly — specifically in John 15:18-25.  The world kills what it hates, which is why millions are still dying for the Gospel today.  But, Jesus reminds us, that He has already won the victory, and that nothing that happens to His true followers — including death — can change that. (From Leigh An: Our pastor spoke about the Bible Hall of Fame on Sunday.  He mentioned “this cloud of witnesses” — Abel, Noah, Abraham, Joseph, David, etc. — in Hebrews 12:1-3.  I think it says everything I need to say about the disciples having the right mindset to continue their mission. (Hebrews 12:1-3: Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.)