June - Reading 1

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Jun 1, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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  2. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Good evening -

    First of all, I would like to commend everyone that has stayed with this program for the past five months. I have to say that this Bible reading plan has been of great spiritual benefit to both Margie and me. I sincerely hope that it has been for you as well.

    We started three new Books today and I have gotten in the habit of giving a little of the background to Books as we start them. I will spread this part of the commentary over a few days as I do not want my posts to become extraordinarily long. I suspect that none of you who read these want that either.

    1Kings is another formally written Book of History that adds much insight to the timeline of the Bible. Other ancient text exist that allow for cross-referencing dates. No one is exactly sure who wrote the two Books of Kings (they were once one Book) but tradition holds that it was Jeremiah. These passages may also be a compilation of court records from the time, but that, too, is inconclusive.
    Kings, as the name implies, records the acts and chronological procession of the Jewish kings between the time of 1&2 Samuel, of which it is a sequal and repeater, and the time of the fall to the Assyrians. The Book focuses on those kings who either strongly affirmed or strongly deviated from the Mosaic covenant. Others will be mentioned in only a few verses though their reigns may have lasted for many years.

    The Book begins with David as an elderly man. His son, Adonijah declares his own kingship without the consultation of David. This aggravates Bathsheba, who under the advisement of Nathan, approaches the king and informs him of both Adonijah's ambition and David's promise to Solomon. Nathan comes into the conversation and confirms Bathsheba's report. The chapter ends with Solomon being placed upon the throne and Adonijah humbling himself before the new king.
    If there is any one particular lesson I learned from this passage, it is that David did not manage his household very tightly. Even though he was a great king and a man after God's heart, his sons seemed to be a constant source of irritation for him. Amnon raped his own half sister, Absolom seized power and caused David to flee into exile, and now Adonijah tried to bypass David's wishes for succession.

    The first chapter of the Gospel according to Luke begins with a short, formal introduction or greeting. It appears that Luke is writing to a Roman believer named Theophilus. This is the same name mentioned at the beginning of the Book of Acts. Dr. Luke expresses his desire to give a detailed account to the Romans through his correspondance of the Life of Christ. His attempt is quite successful as this is probably the most cerebral of all of the Gospels.
    We read first of the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist. John was born to Zecharia and Elizabeth, an older couple who had given up on childbirth. This is very similar to the story of the birth of Isaac in Genesis. Also from the story of Isaac we learn that being barren was viwed as disfavor in God's eyes. Gabriel, one of the two named angels in the Bible, comes to Zecharia when he is in the temple burning the incense as Levitical law required (Exodus 30:6-8). This was a rare honor as all of the priests vied for this position by the casting of lots. This shows that God had a Hand in bringing Zecharia to this point.
    John is described much the same way as Samson was before his birth. This shows that John would be a life-long Nazerite. He would also be the first prophet in centuries for the Jewish people.

    The first 14 verses of Ephesians are steeped in the teachings of Paul concerning the elect of Christ. Contrast this Letter written to the already confessed believers of Ephesus to the new believers of Rome (in Romans). This Letter is not written for the sake of evangelism, but was instead intended to describe more of the Nature of God. This was probably a circulating Letter for the people in this province and is a rich treasury for the modern theologist.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    1&2 Kings
    Introduction


    If one should begin their Bible reading at 2Kings, the reader would feel that they are picking up a story in the middle of a Book. This is because 2Kings was indeed a part of the same literary work as 1Kings. When the Hebrew text was translated into the Septuagint (the pre-Christian Greek text of the Old Testament) the entire work of Kings would have made too large a scroll. The same problem faced the scroll makers of 1&2 Samuel and 1&2Chronicles as well. Even though we now have the Bible in book form with both parts of the account of Kings together, we inherited the tradition of keeping the Books separate in title, even from the time of the Latin Vulgate.

    The literary work of Kings picks up where the Books of 1&2Samuel leave off. The Septuagint designated the relationship between these Books by naming them "First, Second, Third, and Fourth Kingdoms" and the Latin Vulgate also names them in like manner as "1,2,3 & 4 Kings." Along with Samuel, the Books of Kings give a chronological account of the monarchy of Israel from its rise under the ministry of Samuel to its final fall at the hands of the Babylonians. 1Kings takes us from the beginning of the Solomonic era beginning in about 970 BC and concluding with the death of Jehoshaphat in 848BC. The Book of 2Kings will take us through the final two and a half centuries of the monarchies of Israel and Judah and conclude with the exile of Judah in 585BC.

    Authorship

    The author, of 1&2Kings whom we will refer to as the "historian" in the commentary to come, never identifies himself. Jewish tradition credited Jeremiah with the work but there is no evidence to support or deny this claim. While there are similarities in style and vocabulary with the works we know to be of Jeremiah, this does little to nothing in confirming the tradition. Some scholars feel that there were actually several authors involved in compiling Kings, but again all we have to fall on is speculation and theory.

    We can conclude, however, that the historian was a diligent man, inspired by God, to write a theological history of God's Covenant People and the events that led them to bondage at the hands of pagans.

    Dating

    A dating of the events cited in the Books of Kings is rather academic. An abundant amount of resources are given within the text such as length of reigns, ages of kings at death, beginnings of reigns and dynasties and cross-references between the two kingdoms' monarchies. In addition to this, the records of the Assyrian Empire have been preserved through time and their recording of like events confirm and build upon Biblical scholarship such as giving us a precise calculation to the dates in which Ahab and Jehu met with Shalmaneser III of Assyria. Even more importantly, the Assyrians recorded a solar eclipse occurring on May 6, 724 BC and what most believe to be mentioned as a miraculous sign to Hezekiah in his 14th year of reign in 2Kings 20:8-11. Even less obscure a reference to an eclipse is found in Amos 8:9 corresponding to an eclipse on June 15, 763BC.during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam in Israel confirming the interpretation of 2Kings 20. By means of these devices, we can positively fix the year 853BC as the date of Ahab's death and 841BC as the date of the beginning of Jehu's reign.

    From these fixed dates, scholars count forwards and backwards through the recorded chronology of the Books of Kings to arrive at a dating for each monarchy. Doing so causes a few problems mathematically, as the numbers don't add up perfectly. While this was considered an unsoluble conundrum at one time, scholars have come to some satisfactory theories by accepting such possibilities as overlapping reigns, coregencies of sons and fathers, and even a different system of recording the year of the beginning of a reign between the two kingdoms.

    Dating the writing of the Books is a different matter. One school of thought is that the Books were composed before the fall of the Southern Kingdom in 586BC. This theory is supported by the numerous pre-exilic statements found throughout the Book of "to this day" referring to such things as the poles to the Ark of the Covenant still being in existence, conscripted labor, Edom in rebellion to Judah, etc. Assuming that this theory is correct, the events recorded after the death of Josiah in 2Kings 23 would have been added subsequently during the time of the exile.

    Other scholars theorize that the statements of "to this day" existed in the sources that the historian drew upon to compose Kings, just as the chronicler, a clearly post-exilic writer says in 2Chronicles 5:9. This theory would place the date of the composition after the time of Jehoiachin's release from prison in 562BC and before the end of the exile in 538BC.

    Theme and Purpose

    However great its value as an historical resource, the intent of the Books is not to give a political, social, or economic history but rather to point to the theological history of the era. Kings whom we know of from extra-Biblical sources that enjoyed immense political success may only receive a cursory acknowledgment from the historian while others who are historically unique to this text are expounded upon greatly. The historian also does not venture into the turbulent political climate of the Assyrians, Babylonians or Egyptians despite the impact it had on the Divided Kingdoms of Israel.

    Further, the historian had no intention of giving an exhaustive account of the Jewish monarchy as he on several occasions refers the reader to other texts that would give a fuller picture of the described events. These texts, namely " the book of the acts of Solomon", " the chronicles of the kings of Israel", " the chronicles of the kings of Judah," have been lost to us through antiquity. God, however, preserved what we would need to know of the Jews in the centuries of their golden era.

    Though the historian never outright states his purpose, an analysis of the Books of Kings reveals several theological themes to the believer. First and foremost Israel's obedience or disobedience to the Sinaitic Covenant was pivotal to the fate of the nation. Yet despite the inevitable destruction of the monarchy, the author always keeps God's faithfulness to the Davidic Covenant in the forefront. We also see the relationship between prophecy and fulfillment in the historical development of the kingdoms and the importance of the prophets as emissaries between the kings and the Lord.

    The Book then gives a retrospective look at a people in exile. It explains to them the reason for their destruction while at the same time giving them a hope for the future. Though the author was certainly a citizen of Judah, he keeps both Kingdoms in focus throughout the narrative. God's Covenant with His chosen nation was not to any specific tribes but to the whole of Israel.

    As the Old Testament is a foreshadowing of the substance of the New, our analysis of the Books of Kings teaches us a number of lessons. As the Book shows the constant interaction of kings, priests and prophets, it becomes apparent that there was a yet unfulfilled need for One who could execute all three offices in a Godly way. We learn that disobedience to God brings consequences to the believer. Likewise, we learn that the Sovereignty of God and the actions of man are intertwined and interconnected in a delicate balance. Perhaps most importantly, we learn that a Just God will cut off His people if provoked too long (Romans 11:21-22).
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture – 9/5/04

    Luke
    Introduction


    Set in the third position of the New Testament Canon, the third synoptic (which means presenting or taking a common view) Gospel of Luke adds a great deal of detail to what we know of the life of Christ. In order to fully appreciate the work an introduction is certainly in order.

    Authorship: Internal evidence of authorship is non-existent, as the author never identifies himself. However, from the prologues and style of both works we can safely determine that the Gospel of Luke and Acts were written by the same man. The evidence tying these two Books together is far too extensive to cover in this synopsis but criticism of this point has always fallen far short and bears little to no merit.

    From the text we can safely determine that the author was an educated man of culture with a highly developed style of Greek matched only by Paul and the author of Hebrews among the New Testament writers.

    How, then, did the Gospel receive the name we see today? We first begin to see the work labeled "Luke" in the mid 2nd century in the writings of Marcion, Irenaeus, and the Muratorian Canon. The tradition is well grounded, unanimous and consistent among the early church fathers.

    Aside from the title of the Gospel, which occurred after the writing, Luke is mentioned by name only three times in the New Testament and in each instance by Paul. In Colossians 4:14 we learn that Luke was a Gentile as Paul distinguishes him as not being "of the circumcision" and that he was a physician. In 2Timothy 4:11 and in Philemon 24 we see that Luke was a faithful companion of Paul and remained with him during his imprisonment(s). Accepting the premise that the Gospel of Luke and Acts were written by the same author, these three facts corroborate well with the tradition of authorship.

    The fact that Luke is not mentioned by name in the Gospel would come as no surprise. The author quickly tells his audience in Luke 1:1-2 that he was not an eyewitness to the life and ministry of Christ and that this work is a compilation being added to a widening body of literature already in existence. The omission of his name in the Book of Acts is also readily explainable when we consider the obvious omission of John's name in the Gospel that bears his name. Leaving one's own name out of the text was a common feature of the first century writers and, in fact, the omission of Luke's name in Acts despite his obvious long time association with Paul adds evidence to the assumption of authorship.

    Overall, the assumption of Luke's authorship is strongly supported and is therefore widely accepted among scholars. Though a few objections have arisen over the years, the arguments are satisfactorily answered and contrary opinion remains in the minority.

    Tradition and conjecture also add a few other theories about Luke the evangelist. One of which is that he was from Antioch as the text of Acts concentrates a great deal on that area. Also from the 2Corinthians 8:17-18 and 12:18, many have speculated that Luke was the brother of Titus. This would help explain why Titus in also not mentioned in the Book of Acts despite his obvious status in the early missions. If this conjecture is accurate we can assume that Paul first encountered Luke in Philippi on his way to Corinth.

    Sources: Also of interest to those who study the Scriptures is the author's contention in verse 1:1-2 that many eyewitnesses of the " things that have been accomplished among us" had delivered narratives to the author and his company. It is important that the reader bear in mind that the author never claims to be an eyewitness and thus makes note that he is using primary sources for a secondary account. This begs the obvious question, "what specifically are these sources?" These sources may be conveniently categorized into four sections: (1) The Gospel of Mark; (2) a lost document referred to as "Q"; (3) a lost document or oral tradition known as "L"; and (4) the birth and infancy narratives.

    (1) Mark: It is a widely accepted (but not unanimous) conclusion that Luke had in his possession a copy of Mark's Gospel very equivalent to the document we have today. Over 300 verses in Luke, approximately 28%, correspond to Mark and Mark contains 70% of the substance of Luke. Luke used his references in large blocks sticking to one source at a time. In contrast, Matthew, who is also believed to have used Mark and "Q", weaved his sources together to make a more homogenous storyline.

    (2) "Q": The theory of "Q" arises from the remarkable, sometimes verbatim, similarity of some 220-230 verses found in Luke and Matthew. We also find certain parallel Passages in these two Gospels occurring in the same sequence lending credibility to the two authors using a common written source. If the theory is accurate, we deduce that Q contained many sayings and parables of Christ but few accounts of miracles.

    (3) "L": Scholars designate the Passages that are unique to Luke as "L", or the Lukan sources. This material makes up a full 50% of the Gospel of Luke. An examination of these sources reveals what a wealth of knowledge we owe to "L". It is in these Passages that we find Christ's concern for tax collectors, Samaritans, women, and sinners. Likewise we attribute to "L" the special interest given to prayer and wealth.

    (4) The Birth and Infancy Narratives: The birth of Jesus and John the Baptist as accounted by Luke in the first two chapters also are unique to the third Gospel, but the character and style of them set them apart from the other Passages attributed to "L". The style bears a remarkable similarity to the Septuagint leading many scholars to speculate that these accounts were originally a Hebrew account translated into Greek by the author. Likewise, the similarity of Acts leads to speculation that it is Luke himself that put these narratives into their final form. Again, we owe a great deal to Luke for preserving these narratives.

    Date and Place of Writing: Following the well-supported assumption that Mark is a source and that Acts is written by the same author, the dating of Luke is contingent upon our dating of Mark and Acts.

    The abrupt ending of Acts leaving us hanging as to the outcome of Paul's trial have led many to speculate that Luke was written prior to 67AD urging a date as early as 59-63AD. Acts also does not go into the accounts of Nero's persecution of the early Christian community and does not mention the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD. The author also seems to be unaware of the wide circulation of Pauline Letters, which would have almost certainly have been mentioned in Acts. While not totally convincing, these arguments bear much merit.

    On the other hand, some argue that a date between 70 and 90AD would be more in line with the text. Among these arguments is that Mark's dating should be set at about 64AD. This would preclude too early a dating of Luke. Also, the account of Christ's prophecy about Jerusalem in 19:43-44 and the "desolating sacrilege" in Mark 13:14 specifically referring to the siege of Jerusalem in Luke 21:20 have led some to speculate that the dating should be set after 70AD. Also in support of the later dating is that is that Luke's treatment of the Parousia in verses such as 17:24-25 indicate that the first generation of Christians had already passed away, a concept not reflected in other New Testament writings.

    Both arguments bear equal weight and we are left with mere speculation as to an exact dating of the Gospel outside of the parameters of placing it between Mark and Acts. Likewise, we can not state with certainty where Luke was when he compiled the Gospel though many traditions have arisen including Rome, Caeserea, and Achaia.

    Purpose: The author overtly states his purpose in Luke 1:3-4. The author wishes to "put in order” those things that his primary recipient, Theophilus, had heard concerning Christ, his life, his mission and the church. Luke wished to give an accurate account of various doctrine and testimony that a group of early believers had heard. The term "order" does not necessarily mean chronological order, but an interpretation of "setting the facts in order" is preferable. As we study Luke and Acts, several themes emerge as prominent.

    (1) Luke's audience appears to be primarily Gentile. With the exception of a few "amens," Luke avoids Semitic language altogether. There is also a special concentration on the fact that Christianity is rooted in Judaism but that the Jews had forfeited their inheritance by rejecting Christ. It is in Luke that we read of the inhabitants of Nazareth rejecting Jesus, Jesus weeping over Jerusalem, and the centurion at the Cross praising God and saying, "This man was innocent."

    (2) Luke's Gospel reflects that there was no need for the Empire to be concerned about Christianity. We see John the Baptist ministering to servants of the Empire such as tax collectors and soldiers. In the story of Zacchaeus, Christ does not denounce his proffession but rather his greed and exploitation of the people. When the question of taxes is raised in 20:19-26, Christ foils his opponents by not denouncing the tax system.

    (3) Luke stresses that Jesus was a fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies and that it was from the Jews that salvation would come.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture – 9/5/04

    Luke 1:1-25

    Luke 1:1-4 – Preface


    Aside from the points made in the introduction, the reader should also note that Luke in verse 3 says that the writing of this account and Acts is motivated by his knowledge of the events from witnesses and sources. We all know that the Holy Spirit is the author of Scripture but in this verse we see that we must not discount the effort of the man as well. Luke recognized that for an unstated reason there was a need to "set things in order."

    It should also be noted that in verse 1, a more literal rendering of the word "believed" would be “accomplished.” It was important to Luke that his recipients recognized that the coming of Christ, the ministry, the death, Resurrection, and establishment of the church were a fulfillment of what had been promised to the Jews.

    The Gospel is addressed to Theophilus, which means "lover of God," leading some to speculate that this refers to all Christians, however the title of "Most Excellent" indicates that this was likely a Roman official of some importance.

    Luke 1:5-25 The Annunciation to Zechariah

    The Herod mentioned in verse 5 is Herod the Great, the first of at least six other rulers to share this name. We know that he died in 4AD and, despite his well-documented cruelty, was one of the great architectural promoters of the ancient world.

    Zechariah was a priest in the order of Abijah, one of twenty-four divisions of priest in Palestine. His wife, Elizabeth, was also of the priestly line of Aaron. This gave the two of them extremely high religious credentials. In spite of this, however, God had not blessed them with children and they were now at an advanced age.

    Some estimates have claimed that there may have been as many as 20,000 priests in Palestine at this time, each division rotating duties to the temple. This high number constituted the need to select priest who served in the high capacity of burning incense in the Most Holy Place by lots. With hundreds of priest per division and 24 divisions, it is likely that many would not have ever received the honor of this task.

    It is fitting and in keeping with the Old Testament that the angel would appear first in the Temple with news of the coming of the Lord. Those who study the Scriptures have long pondered what the prayer that the angel was promising an answer to may have been. It may have been for an heir, or perhaps deliverance from the Romans in the form of a messiah. The angel gives oracle to Zechariah concerning John and the ministry he would have. By the world's standards, greatness was measured in terms of Emperors, kings and Pharaohs. By God's standards, greatness would reveal itself in the form of an obscure wilderness prophet.

    The call for abstinence from alcohol has been construed by many to mean that John would be a Nazerite as described in Numbers 6:1-8, a segregated class of men zealous in their servitude towards God.

    The most remarkable aspects of John, however, was that he would be filled with the Holy Spirit. In the Old Testament, the Spirit came upon men for a time to accomplish a task. John, however, would be filled with the Holy Spirit his whole life. It should be noted that the angel does not say that John will be Elijah reincarnated, but rather that he will have his "spirit and power". John would be the fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6, the very last prophetic oracle heard by Israel over 4 centuries before.

    Zechariah's reaction to the message is one of doubt. In response, the angel first identifies himself as Gabriel. The Bible names two primary Heavenly angels: Gabriel and Michael. Michael is associated with God's vengeance and judgment whereas Gabriel, named in Daniel, is associated with bearing good news. As a punishment for Zechariah's doubt, he is struck dumb until the angel's oracle is fulfilled.

    His delay in the temple was cause for concern by those waiting for him, especially perhaps considering his age. When he emerged he was unable to speak the benediction associated with the rite and immediately it was recognized that he had had a vision. The stigma of being a barren couple would be lifted in five months when it was recognized that Elizabeth was going to have a child.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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