August - Reading 4

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Aug 4, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

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  2. Clint Kritzer

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    Good evening -

    Tonight we see the completion of the second Temple in the sixth chapter of Ezra. There are many extra-Biblical sources that confirm this story including Josephus and the book of 1Maccabees in the Apocrypha. A few points to note on this passage include the smaller dimensions of the new Temple (compare 6:3 with 1Kings 6:2) and the scaled down amount of sacrifices in 6:17 compared to 2Chronicles 30:24 and 35:7. Also the second dedication of the Temple as described in this passage is possibly the origin of Hannakah, though much obscurity surrounds the origin of this Jewish Holiday. However, the ancient Hebrew word "hannakah" translates as "dedication."

    In Luke today we read an account very similar to what we read in 13:10-17. This time the Pharisees stand mute before the question. One further note is the term "dropsy" in verse 2. This disorder is described as an accumulation of fluid indicating illness in another part of the body. The mention of the disorder is indicative of a physician being the author of this Gospel. Again, the charges of healing on the Sabbath were merely pharasiacal interpretation, not true Mosaic Law. There are seven mentions of miracles performed on the Sabbath. Luke ment6ions five of them.

    In 1Timothy we read a great, concise description of the qualifications for overseers and deacons. The passage is in no need of commentary whatsoever except to say that the words overseer, pastor, elder and bishop are synonymous in the New Testament.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture - 1/11/04 Part I

    Proverbs

    We remain in the first part of the Book of Proverbs this week and conclude our examination of the section entitled "The proverbs of Solomon, son of David, king of Israel."

    As discussed in the introduction of the Book, the type of proverb with which we are dealing is the "Instructional". This type of writing is characterized by the common introduction of a father speaking to a son. This could also be interpreted as a teacher speaking to a student, as the relationship of the teacher to the student in Biblical times became parental in nature.

    The Instructional proverb leaves little room for critical evaluation. The authoritative tone is rooted in experience and already found wisdom and carries an anticipated obedience.

    The Teacher's Instructions in Three Parts (Proverbs 4)

    Wisdom from Generation to Generation (4:1-9)


    In verses 3-4 we see that the wisdom being instructed here was first received by the father from his parents. The instructions are passed down through the generations and are rooted in the authority of the teacher's experience. The teacher makes these aged teachings his own.

    In verses 5-9 the son is instructed to bring the teachings into his own possession as well. The key word in this Passage is "get". The student is to actively obtain wisdom and insight from hearing the father's instructions.

    The Ways of Dawn and Deep Darkness (4:10-19)

    The basic concept in this Passage is that there are two paths the student may choose: the way of wisdom or the way of evil men. Verses 18 & 19 contrast the two. The way of wisdom grows brighter and brighter like the dawning of day continuing until noon while the way of the wicked is covered in darkness like that which covered Egypt during the Exodus. In this darkness it is easy for one to stumble.

    The Discipline of the Whole Person (4:20-27)

    Here the instructor is concerned with educating the student to discipline his whole body to move straight ahead on the path of wisdom. The focus is on the discipline of the heart, mouth, eyes, and feet. Though we can not dismiss the application of discipline to the emotions of a man, the "heart" in this ancient Jewish text refers to the intellect, as the ancient Jews perceived the heart being the center of the mind. The intellect is the controlling factor of life and the mouth must be in harmony with it. Likewise, the eyes and feet must be kept straight on the path as well for the student to move straight ahead through life.
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture - 3/14/04 Part I

    1 Timothy 3

    Paul continues his instructions to Timothy regarding the conduct of the church membership in chapter 3. In the face of the disorder threatened by the Judaizers, Paul makes two lists of ethical qualifications for the two offices of the church: overseer and deacon.

    Before expositing this Passage, a few points should be noted. First of all, the term "overseer (KJV - bishop)" is a descriptive title of one of the functions of an officer in a church. We also see the terms "presbyter," "elder," "pastor," and at this point in the evolution of the church, "teacher" applied to functions of the same office. However, we see the terms used interchangeably in several portions of the New Testament.

    The KJV rendering of "episkope (ep-is-kop-ay')" as "bishop" has sometimes led to confusion. There is nothing to indicate that this title is being applied to someone outside of the local congregation in fact, to the contrary, Paul is giving direction to Timothy concerning the local church at Ephesus. The modern connotations of the Catholic definition did not arise until the second century.

    Thirdly, all the examples of elders in the New Testament show that they were members of a council fulfilling these various purposes within the church. The elder system we see reflected in the Epistles appears to have been inherited from the Jewish system of elders we see in the Old Testament. While these qualifications and the parallel list in Titus 1 do not completely describe the duties of the overseers, it does give us hints at what some of their functions may have been.

    Qualifications for Overseers - 1Timothy 3:1-7

    Paul begins with another quote saying it is a noble task to seek the office of overseer. The thrust of the word "aspire (KJV - desire)" for the office has the connotation of inward intent rather than manipulation to obtain an office.
    The term "blameless" or "above reproach" comes out stronger in the translation than what is intended. The intent is that the man should have a good reputation and have good conduct.

    The phrase "husband of one wife" has long been and will continue to be a topic of debate. There are five general lines of interpretation as to Paul's meaning here:
    1. He must be faithful to his wife;
    2. He must be married to only one woman at a time (monogamy),
    3. He must have been married only once, that is to say, not remarried after divorce or widowhood;
    4. He must never have been divorced;
    5. He MUST be married.

    The last view contradicts Paul's advice in 1Corinthians 7 in which he encourages people not to marry because of the times. The third view is quite frequently taken yet Paul's instructions to widows to seek remarriage would seemingly contradict it. The second view seems redundant for a New Testament teaching, as monogamy was already a well-established practice within the Christian body. However, reasoning does not solve the ambiguity here as the Passage is dedicated to a specific appointment of a specific office.

    The next three terms, sober-minded, self-controlled and respectable (KJV - vigilant, sober, of good behavior), sum up the character of a Christian gentleman. "Vigilant or sober-minded" and "sober or self-controlled" refers not only to rejection of intoxicants but also in general attitude and conduct. "Respectable or of good behavior" imply someone with a cool head that can manage diversity within a church without falling into the disorder.

    That he be "hospitable" and "able to teach" show two duties of the overseer. Hospitality would be required for those in need and for visitors or travelers. This was a mandate for all Christians as we see in Hebrews 13:2 and 1Peter 4:9. We also see a possible absorption of the theoretical office of "teacher" mentioned in James 3 into the pastorate.

    It seems a bit strange that Paul would add the next characteristics: not a drunkard (KJV - not given to wine), not violent but gentle (KJV - not a striker), not quarrelsome (KJV - not a brawler). While these self-explanatory terms would seem to go without saying, they may be a commentary on the times in which Paul wrote. It is important to remember also that many of the early converts had been "the dregs of society." 1Corinthians 6:9-11

    That he be "not a lover of money" may relate to the fact that certain elders within the church were responsible for collection and disbursement of funds. As much integrity would have been required at that time as in the present day for such a duty.

    We see in verses 4-5 that the overseers were managers of God's household, the church. The analogy draws a picture of them being the spiritual parents of the congregation. This would include duties of rebuke and discipline. However, it must be remembered that the duties of parents in general as outlined by the New Testament require that this be done in a loving spirit, not provoking the children to wrath.

    The next qualification is the one seeking the office of overseer not be a new convert. Paul warns Timothy again not to be hasty in ordination in 5:22. While this may seem like common sense in the modern day, remember that these early churches were planted rather hastily starting from scratch as it were. Accepting our supposed dating of this Epistle, the church at Ephesus was at least ten years old at the time of this writing, though in Acts 20 Paul speaks to the Ephesian elders as well. This instruction is not repeated in the list of qualifications in Titus 1 as Crete was a much newer mission.

    Paul notes in this Passage, however, the danger of ordaining a neophyte. He may "fall into the condemnation of the devil." There are two major credible lines of interpretation for this phrase: Should he become conceited or prideful of his position,
    1. He would fall under the same judgment as the devil, i.e. expulsion from Heaven.
    2. He would be put into the hands of the devil like Job was.

    The first interpretation is preferable in that nowhere else in his writing does Paul ascribe judgment to the devil.

    The final qualification in Paul's list of virtues for elders is that they be well thought of by outsiders. This is a mandate given to all Christians throughout the New Testament. The success of a church s dependent upon the views and opinions of those who view us, especially the view taken of our leaders. A bad reputation would leave a pastor vulnerable to disgrace. A bad reputation is a snare for the devil to use to trap ministers. He becomes entangled in the suspicion of outsiders and his ministry is crippled if not completely destroyed.

    Qualifications for Deacons 1Timothy 3:8-13

    The word "deacon" as it applies to this Passage is a title given to an officer in a church. Unlike the office of elder, the diaconate has no parallel in Judaism. Instead it probably arose in response to the message of servitude Christ gave us for all of His followers. While it is commonly accepted that the choosing of the seven in Acts 6 represents the establishment of the diaconate, the word "deacon" is never used in that passage. It is, however, quite plausible to consider that the office evolved from that event.

    There is a certain amount of redundancy in the list for deacons as it relates to the lists of qualifications for elders. Therefore, he will only be speaking of those qualities that are unique for this office. The repeated qualifications are that he must be: above reproach, husband of one wife, self-controlled, respectable, not given to much wine, a good manager, have obedient children, and not be covetous or greedy.

    That the deacon must be dignified (KJV-grave) carries the connotation that they are of high principles. They are serious and composed, not given too excessive levity. The phrase "double-tongued" has two possible meanings. It could mean double-minded or it could refer to one who says one thing to one person and an entirely different thing to another. Both interpretations are credible and certainly make sense as applied to the office.

    As in other Pauline writings, the word "mystery" in verse 9 refers to the eternal purpose of God that was once hidden but has been revealed in Jesus Christ (Romans 16:25-27). Faith has the formal connotation as in the truths of the Christian religion.

    Paul also proposes a trial period for deacons. It is possible that this a redundancy of the instructions for appointing elders relating to "let them not be new converts." However, it may also refer to a probationary period that these early deacons may have had to undergo.

    Since the Greek word for "wives' and "women" is the same, verse 11 is somewhat problematic and has given rise to 4 distinct interpretations of the Greek gune (goo-nay'):
    1. Wives of deacons;
    2. Female deacons;
    3. Wives of bishops and deacons;
    4. Women in General.

    The last two interpretations have not received very strong support, however, the first two deserve examination. The support for the first option is that since verses 8 & 12 both address male deacons, it is unlikely that a reference to female deacons would be placed between them. Also, a more detailed word than just "women" would have been used and their duties more detailed. Further, in chapter 5 the ministry of women is specifically addressed concerning widows.

    On the other hand, the arguments that support female deacons are that there is no feminine form of the Greek diakonos. Phoebe in Romans 16:1 is referred to as a "diakonos." The mention of wives in this verse would be a break in the train of thought. "Likewise" in verse 11 refers back to verse 2 in the qualifications for overseers. Further, if Paul had meant wives, he would have inserted the possessive pronoun "their" wives. Please note that in the KJV, the words "must their" are italicized meaning that they were inserted by the translators and can represent translator bias.

    In either case, female deacon or wife, these women are required to be fully trustworthy and the instructions of verse 8 are repeated for them.

    Verse 13 tells us that those that take this office of servitude advance themselves in office, dignity and influence. Through this commitment they would be fulfilling the instructions of Christ. Matthew 20:26-28
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lesson – 12/5/04

    Luke 14

    The first 24 verses of chapter 14 of Luke viewed as the teachings at one sitting of a Sabbath meal. While the Jewish tradition had taken a wide array of "thou shalt not's" pertaining to the Sabbath, it had also retained the festive nature of the Holy Day representing the Jewish Covenant of being God's people and eating was one way in which this was celebrated. The meal was prepared the day before and only the people of the highest status would be invited. Once again, we see Jesus dining at the home of a Pharisee., most likely following a synagogue service. Jesus took this opportunity to teach His audience a variety of lessons about the question of healing on the Sabbath and the Messianic banquet. Afterwards we read about the great cost of being a disciple.

    Luke 14:1-6 The Man with Dropsy

    The Pharisee who hosted this party is described as a "ruler" indicating that he was an influential man, likely a member of the Sanhedrin. Before the meal begins a man with a condition known as dropsy enters the scene. Dropsy designates a condition in which there are excess fluids in the body. It is usually a symptom of heart or kidney disease or some other malfunction of an organ. As the man stands before Jesus we read that the Pharisees were watching, waiting to see if He would abide by the oral tradition concerning healing on the Sabbath.

    This was, of course, not a new scenario to Jesus. We read of other Sabbath healings in the Gospels, which always evoke a negative response from the onlooking religious leaders. This time Jesus asks them before He performs the miracle, "Is it legal to heal on the Sabbath or not?"

    The question is met with silence. There was nothing in the Mosaic Law that forbade healing on the Sabbath. The belief had grown out of the tradition supported by the Pharisees and scribes. The Pharasiacal code was quite complex when it came to medical attention on the Sabbath. A doctor or healer could work to save a life but if the person was not in jeopardy, the healing had to wait until sundown. At other times when Sabbath healings had been performed, criticism always followed (Luke 13:14). This time the question was put before the healing. Had there been any legitimate argument against healing the poor sick man, the Pharisees had their opportunity to state it. Hearing no objection, Jesus healed the man.

    We can imagine that the Pharisees viewed this act with condemnation, albeit, unspoken. Jesus then turns to them and answers their indignation. He gives an application of Deuteronomy 22:4 stating that it is certainly lawful, indeed mandatory, to help an ox or an ass escape from a pit in which it may have fallen during the Sabbath. How then, could they justify not helping one of God's chosen on that day?

    Once again the Pharisees religious order and their notion of what makes the Sabbath holy is put at odds with Jesus' teachings. Like Gehazi in 2Kings 5, the Pharisees would not rejoice over the saving of a life. They did not glorify God at the sight of miracles. Jesus taught us that the love of one's fellow man is a sign of holiness.

    Luke 14:7-11 Instructions to the Guests

    This particular Passage and the one following are interpreted by many as mere teachings of etiquette. However, Luke tells us in verse 7 that Jesus is teaching a Parable, indicating that the lesson here moves on two levels. Also, a meal figuring as the Messianic age is as ancient as the Writings of Isaiah (Isaiah 25:6).

    Jesus notes that as the guest sit for the meal there is a scramble for the seats of honor, those nearest the host. This demonstrates how the Pharisees, the religious conservatives of that day, failed on the level of human relations. Jesus then uses the example of a wedding feast to teach the lesson. In the case of such a banquet, the guests are assigned positions at the table in order of importance. Jockeying for position such as the Pharisees were doing at this meal could lead to embarrassment in such a situation. Just as Jesus tells them, they may be told to move to a less important spot.

    On the higher level of the Parable, however, at God's banquet, arrogance and egotism disqualify one for a position of honor. To the contrary, humility is rewarded by God's judgment in exalting the man who is humble. The one who shows humility will be placed closer to the Host, figuratively, God.

    Humility is not a weak, self-deprecating attitude. The child of God knows himself as having worth because of his relationship with the Father. It is not necessary that he prove his worth by his position among men. He is freed from the need to prove himself worthy by comparison to his fellow man.

    Luke 14:12-14 Instructions to the Host

    The host of the meal at which Christ was attending was as self-centered as the guest vying for position at the table. A glance at the guest around the table proved that his invitation list was based on self-serving interests. The table at which He was seated was a microcosm of the exclusivity of the Jewish religious system that had formed in Israel over the centuries. While the sinners and tax collectors sat on the outside, the pious held fast to "proper" religious practice.

    Jesus urged his host to break out of the social norm of the day and to invite those who were unable to repay the man in this life. The instruction to invite the lame, blind, and maimed carried a religious significance as well as those with physical maladies were excluded from religious ceremony. Jesus was instructing the man to invite those whom his own social circle would rule out all together.

    If one follows these instructions of Christ, they will be repaid not by man but by God. It should also not be discounted that the recipients of the invitation are rewarded by the Love of God through His child here on earth. In doing so, we bring them into not only the earthly feast but into the Heavenly banquet as well.

    It should also be noted in this Passage that the reference to the "resurrection of the just" in verse 14 is likely drawing on a common belief at the time that only the righteous would be resurrected. It would be an error, however, to adopt such a belief based on this one verse when compared to verses such as Acts 24:15.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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    Ezra

    Ezra 5:3-6:13 The Tattenai Episode

    The resumption of the work raised the curiosity and suspicion of new governor of the region and he went to investigate. It is likely that he was urged to do so by the locals as the Persian policy of religious tolerance is well documented. The previously discussed letters between Artaxerxes and the former leaders was likely reported to him. He questions the work and asks for names of those in charge. The text indicates that the Jews were not intimidated this time and they continued their work. God had fortified the resolve of the elders and they told the governor about Cyrus’ decree so many years before.

    Tattenai decides to pursue the matter through official channels and writes another letter to Persia to the new king, Darius, to inquire about the validity of the Jewish elders’ claim. He recounts the incident and the recollection of the Jew’s history and waits for the king’s reply.

    Darius obviously took the matter quite seriously as the decree of Cyrus was not found in Babylon the current capitol, but rather in the archives in Ecbatana, the former Persian capitol. The written decree recorded on the scroll recounted the instructions of Cyrus in regards to the emancipation of the Jews from Babylon.

    Darius honors the decree made by Cyrus and orders his governor to let the Jews continue their work. Anyone who tried to interfere is threatened with execution by impaling upon a beam from their own home, the eviction of their family and that the structure be turned into a public latrine.

    Aside from this, monetary provisions were to be given from the treasury to supply the work and animals necessary for the completion of the task. The Biblical motivation for Darius was so that the priest in Jerusalem could pray for the king and his sons. We must also consider that Darius may have been motivated by political reasons. Jerusalem would be an important ally in his campaigns against Egypt as the city stood so near the border of that nation. Darius indicates that he fully expects God to intervene as well should anyone have the nerve to ignore his decree.

    Ezra 6:14-18 The Completion of the Work

    With the backing of Darius the work proceeded swiftly and was completed in the early Spring of 515 BC. Though neither the work of Haggai nor Zechariah indicate the completion of the Temple, the chronicler places them in the forefront of activity in the final years of construction.

    The description of the offerings made at the dedication of the Temple pale when compared to those made by Solomon in 1Kings. Nonetheless, this was a proud time for the Jews and an awakening of a nationalism not known for centuries.
     
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