August - Reading 25

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Aug 25, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

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  2. Aaron

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    Proverbs 17:28
    Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
    and discerning if he holds his tongue.

    My father always said, "Better to let a few people think you're stupid than to open your mouth and remove all doubt." ;)
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

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    Good morning –

    In this reading we finished the Book of Esther and see that the purpose of this account was to commemorate the events that led up to the observance of Purim. Through God'’ Sovereignty, the situation present at the beginning of the Book completely reverse themselves by the chain of events accounted here. Aaron had mentioned that the traditionally accepted author of this Book was Mordecia. This theory is rooted in verse 9:20, however, the wording of this verse may just reflect the fact that Mordecia wrote letters to Jews all through the Persian Empire.
    An interesting note on verses 18 & 19 is that even in its beginning, Purim was observed on two separate days. Even now in modern times observe Purim on the 14th of Adar (February 25th this year) except in Jerusalem where it is celebrated the following day. If you are interested in learning more about this very festive holiday there are tons of resources on the net. Here’s one to get you started: http://www.holidays.net/purim/

    In Luke we read this Gospel’s account of Christ being confronted about the Temple tax. I believe it had been cited before that this was a lose – lose situation. If Christ had simply said that the tax was acceptable, the people would have lost confidence in Him. If He had said it was not, the Romans would have had an issue. Instead, He stunned them with His answer that people should prioritize their values and offer their respects accordingly.

    I read some extraBilical information on Philemon last night and there is one little tid bit I would like to share with you. This statement about verses 17-19 is credited to the great reformer, Matin Luther: Even as Christ did for us with God the Father, thus Paul also does for Onesimus with Philemon.”

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  4. rsr

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    Hi, Clint and Aaron:

    What will we on the Baptist Board have to answer for? :(

    I like the reading from Philemon; often Paul comes across as cold and logical (especially according to his critics.) Snippets like these show him as human, interested in people and the nuts and bolts of his ministry.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

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    You are certainly welcome and, if you like, here is some more "extra" reading on the subject of slaves in the ancient Graeco-Roman world which may shed some more light on the Book of Philemon and how bold a move it was on the part of the runaway slave to return to the household:

    The Private Life of the Romans
    by Harold Whetstone Johnston, Revised by Mary Johnston
    Scott, Foresman and Company (1903, 1932)
    Chapter 5: DEPENDENTS. SLAVES AND CLIENTS. HOSPITES
    Punishments

    http://www.forumromanum.org/life/johnston_5.html#166

    Slavery in the Ancient World
    Ancient Rome

    http://people.morrisville.edu/~satterg/slave.htm

    The Younger Pliny, a Roman author and orator, born about the same year as Philemon was written, wrote an appeal for a runaway slave. This letter is often compared to Philemon but without the love of Christ, the appeal is not as strong. It is the 29th letter in his 9th book and is translated as such:
    http://www.bartleby.com/9/4/1103.html
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture - 10/19/03 Part II

    Philemon 12-16 Explanation of Paul’s Conduct and Motives

    It is from verse 12 that we draw the presumption that Onesimus was the bearer of the Letter. “I am sending … back” is a single word in the original text used as legal jargon for sending one to a higher court. Paul was calling on Philemon to render a verdict based on his Christian character. There is no indication that Onesimus was being sent against his will. Paul repeats a number of times in his Epistles that slaves were to be obedient and it is likely that he had given this command to Onesimus. However, in doing so, Paul was sending “his very heart (or bowels in the KJV)”. It is imperative that the reader understands what a potential peril this new “son” of Paul’s was entering.

    Paul sets forth the proposition that Onesimus had indeed all along been in Philemon’s service by serving Paul, but that it had been done without Philemon’s consent. Paul goes even further to state that the entire incident of Onesimus’ escape, his meeting with Paul and now the journey home to face his master was all part of God’s Providence. While Philemon had likely viewed the escape of a slave as unprofitable before, the arrival of a brother would be viewed as being of immeasurable value.

    Philemon 17 Plea on Behalf of Onesimus

    Paul has greeted his friend and his family, prayed for and commended him, compared his own bondage to that of a slave’s, and set forth that whatever was to come was to be of Philemon’s free will. He now sets forth his plea.

    Imagine, if you can, the thoughts that must have run through Philemon’s mind. Here the great and mighty Apostle Paul, one of the most well known figures in Christianity was asking that this wealthy man receive a slave that had robbed him and run away. It is quite hard to imagine that the request was refused. Imagine further what the reaction of the church must have been. This act must have greatly strengthened their resolve for love and “refreshed the hearts of the saints” just as Paul commended Philemon for doing in verse 7.

    No, Paul never directly called for an abolition of slavery. Yet this plea went head on against the social and economic order of the Roman Empire. Paul was asking Philemon to not instill an expected and justifiable punishment on a slave. In this one sentence, he gives the slave class the single most important element that they lacked in the Graeco-Roman world – dignity.

    Philemon 18-19 Acceptance of Responsibility for Onesimus

    Paul has now, with Timothy as a witness, put himself into financial debt with Philemon. We do not know the specifics of Onesimus’ crime beyond escape but even this would have been viewed as a financial hardship. There is no doubt in any of the four men’s minds that Onesimus has done wrong against Philemon. This was a legally binding contract.

    However, Paul goes on to remind Philemon that he owes Paul what money could never repay – the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Paul is now, if he had not been doing so to this point, writing in his own hand lending sincerity and a personal touch to the Letter.

    Philemon 20 Pleas for Personal Consideration

    As a literary reinforcement to verse 7, Paul calls Philemon “brother” once again (just as he referred to Onesimus in verse 16) and asks that he refresh Paul’s own heart.

    Philemon 21-25 Conclusion

    Paul calls for obedience in verse 21. He himself has given no commands but is instead calling for obedience to Christ’s love. “Even more than I ask” is a very ambiguous request. He has already hinted that he would like Onesimus to be loaned to him in verse 13, he has asked that Philemon forgive all Onesimus’ debts. We can only speculate, as probably Philemon speculated, that this a call for emancipation.

    Returning to the friendly tones of the Letter, Paul intimates that he hopes to be released soon and come see the benefits of his appeal personally. The five coworkers we see listed in verses 23-24 are identical to the list in Colossians 4:10-14, Jesus Justus being the only omission. This verse supports the theory that Colossians and Philemon were written at the same time and delivered together.

    Just as we ended Philippians, the “you” in the benediction is plural, the “spirit” is singular. Paul obviously expected this Letter to be shared with the congregation.
     
  7. Gwyneth

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    "24And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers." from the Philemon reading today.
    Do we know if this is the same Luke who wrote the gospel of Luke?
    Gwyneth
     
  8. Clint Kritzer

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    It is a traditionally supported assumption that they are indeed one and the same man. The phrasing of your question, however, begs the question: did Luke write the Gospel that bears his name?

    Though not conclusive, there is also a deductive line of reasoning taken by many scholars that Luke penned the Book of Acts and thus the Gospel that bears his name. (Please see the second link below.)

    The ISBE goes into great detail on the support of the hypothesis, traditional and academic, that Luke, mentioned only by Paul and done so only three times, is the author of the Gospel of Luke and Acts. On the first two links, scroll down to the heading "Authorship" or "Author". I included the third for general information. Hope this helps.

    LUKE, THE GOSPEL OF
    http://studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T5607

    ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, 1-7
    http://studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T158

    LUKE, THE EVANGELIST
    http://studylight.org/enc/isb/view.cgi?number=T5606

    BTW, Lord willing, next year beginning in June my personal commentary on the Gospel of Luke will be posted in the forum. [​IMG]

    [ August 25, 2004, 03:58 PM: Message edited by: Clint Kritzer ]
     
  9. Clint Kritzer

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    Esther

    Esther 8-10
    A few comments should be made regarding the content of the final chapters of Esther. There are parts of the Old Testament that not only condone but even seem to encourage destruction of one’s enemies. For the modern Christian these portions of the Bible can be somewhat unpalatable. The wanton destruction of not only men but also women and children seems so far outside of the scope of our discipleship that there seems to be a conflict in theology.

    For this commentator, I look at these portions of Scripture as not a conflict but rather as an evolving of the religion. God did not reveal Himself to man all at once. In the plan of salvation mankind needed to grow into a more mature attitude before God revealed the final essence of Himself in Jesus Christ. Even Jeremiah prayed for the destruction of his enemies. It was from Jesus that we learned to love our enemies.

    Jerusalem had fallen a full century before Ahasuerus (whom we assume to be Xerxes I) took the throne in 486. While the Jews seem to have assimilated themselves to a great degree as no rites of the Law are spoken of in the text, they still remained unique and to a great degree racially pure. They remained a unique people in a foreign land and as such they suffered oppression and mistreatment. Mordecai and Esther had only risen to the ranks they had through keeping their heritage a secret. For the original audience of this Book, the story of their kindred rising up and slaughtering their enemies would have been welcome news. Purim is the celebration of a victory. When harm was directed against God’s chosen people in the Old Testament, harm got directed right back at you.

    So, when we last left Esther and Mordecai, Haman had been hung upon the gallows he had built for Mordecai. However, the edict of the king mandating the slaughter of the Jews had not died with Haman. It still required resolution in our story.

    Esther 8:1-2 Mordecai and Esther Receive Haman’s Status

    The practice of takings the spoils from your defeated opponent was very widespread in the ancient Near East. A certain irony may be seen in the Jew and Jewess receiving the signet ring (showing an advancement in office in the royal court) and the enemy’s house from the one who would have taken the spoils from them. However, there is more than irony being shown here. This is the justice from the unnamed God of Israel administered on behalf of his covenant people.

    Esther 8:3-8 Esther’s Plea for a New Edict

    At this point the tension heightens as Esther and Mordecai must use their newfound status and power to correct the irrevocable edict made by the king. The king remained firm that a royal edict can not be revoked despite his wife’s weeping and begging. In a Pilate-like fashion, the king washes his hands of the whole matter by giving full authority to Esther and Mordecai.

    Esther 8:9-14 The New Edict

    Having received the authority to make a new mandate, Esther summons the royal secretary and a new edict is dictated by Mordecai. Copies of the edict went out to all 127 provinces in various tongues and dialects just as the first had. The new edict did not withdraw the first edict. Instead the new edict allowed the Jews to defend themselves and take plunder of those whom they slay.

    Esther 8:15-17 Joy Among the Jews

    Mordecai is shown here as the new symbol for the Jews and their new power. Mordecai wore the signet ring but this was a victory for all the Jews of Ancient Persia as events had turned from oppression and fear of annihilation to the nation fearing them. Mordecai displays himself much like Haman now in blue attire and a gold crown.

    What else but the aid of a Higher Power could have caused such a turn of events? Many of the ancient people in order to escape the wrath of such a God and share in His blessings, convert to the Jewish faith. This statement is quite interesting in that it shows that for this Jewish author, a Jew is not necessarily one of a special race but of a special religion.
     
  10. Clint Kritzer

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    Esther 9:1-10 Jewish Slaughter of Enemies

    When the day selected by Haman’s lot tossing came, we see that it was far more than Hamn that wished to plunder the Jews. These enemies, rather seeking revenge or loot, came out in great numbers. Since the great turn of events, however, these enemies could find no allies among the local inhabitants because there was now a great fear of the Jews. With the new edict as their legal shield, however, the Jews aptly and completely thwarted all assaults against them

    In Susa, the capitol city, 500 men were slaughtered under the new edict and ten sons of Haman. Justice against the enemies of the Jews was being meted out in large doses. Yet in all their slaughters, the Jews never laid hands upon the plunder. This was not an action of monetary gain but a nobler defense against evil.

    Esther 9:11-15 Two Day Slaughter in Susa

    The king expresses horror at the news of the great slaughter of so many people and Haman’s ten sons right in his own city. He could only imagine what had occurred in the rest of his kingdom. Therefore it is very curious that he allows this type of uncontrolled upheaval to continue. Perhaps the author is again pointing to the work of an invisible God who, like he hardened Pharaoh’s heart against the Jews, hardens Ahasuerus against the enemies of the Jews.

    Esther begs for another day of slaughter plus permission to hang the corpses of Haman’s sons upon the gallows as a display of terror. The request is granted and 300 more people die the next day. Again we are reminded that no hands were laid upon the spoils. This was an act of justice not revenge.

    Esther 9:16-19 One Day of Slaughter, One of Celebration in the Provinces

    The number of enemy casualties in the provinces is reported to be 75,000 and with no property taken. This all took place on the day cited in the decree, the 13th of Adar. The following day, the 14th, was declared a day of feasting. In Susa where there had been two days of fighting the day of feasting was declared the 15th. This difference in the customs of the city dwellers and the country folk is quickly reconciled by Mordecai in the next Passage.

    Esther 9:20-32 Purim Declared a Jewish Festival

    Haman had chosen the date of the Jewish destruction by casting lots, “pur.” Therefore when his devices are turned against him, the event becomes known as “Purim.” Mordecai declares both the 14th and the 15th of Adar to be days of feasting and gladness. This celebration was to be accompanied with the exchanging of portions, much as many Christians do at Christmas time.

    It is interesting that Mordecai seems to become the focus of the Book in verses 20-28. The statement that Esther declared Purim in verse 32 seems to contradict verses 20-21 and we may be dealing with two traditions both presented here in the text. It is a difficult puzzle for the scholars. The second oldest mention of Purim outside of Esther is found in the apocryphal book of II Maccabees where it is referred to as “Mordecai’s Day.”

    In either case the author has presented to his fellow Jews that the celebration of Purim is not a celebration of God’s providence and hand in history. Perhaps some of the original audience had religious scruples against a new holiday decreed by men other than Moses. This great turn of events in Susa that could only be caused by a sovereign God who loved His people qualified Purim as a viable and palatable holy day.

    Esther 10:1-3 Epilogue

    The story has ended and these verses seem to serve as an epilogue. We are told how King Ahasuerus laid tribute on the land all the way to the sea, a fact that seems to have nothing to do with the story. It appears that these sentences are looking to lend credibility to the historical value of the story. The mention of the “Chronicles of the Kings of Media and Persia” further validates the story.

    The Book concludes with a tribute to Mordecai who for this moment in history represented the leadership the Jews had lost more than a century before. Like Jason in Egypt, a captured Jew had risen to the ranks of second in command of the nation.

    Esther is strangely omitted in this conclusion.

    The lesson we are left with in Esther is that those who have a relationship with God must remain faithful in both the good times and the bad. For we know that all things work together for good for them that love God
     
  11. Clint Kritzer

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