June - Reading 15

Discussion in 'Bible Reading Plan 2016' started by Clint Kritzer, Jun 15, 2002.

  1. Clint Kritzer

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  2. Clint Kritzer

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    Good evening -

    The first thing that struck me about our reading in 2Kings tonight is the parallels that can be drawn between the stories of Elisha and some of the stories in the New Testament. First of all the reanimation of the Shunammite's son can be likened to the reviving of the girl in Matthew 9:25 and the same feat taken on by Peter in Acts 10:41. The account of the stew calls to mind the final passage of Mark 16 of drinking poison (of course, the jury's still out on that one). The feeding of the hundred in 4:22 is very similar to the feedings of the multitudes as accounted in the Gospels. The healing of Naaman of leprosy is comprable to many of the healings performed by Christ and Elisha's refusal to take payment corresponds with Matthew 10:8.

    In Luke tonight, we see a few minor discrepencies between the Gospels. Luke calls the body of water in this account the Lake of Gennesaret, whereas Matthew and Mark call it the Sea of Galilee. John refers to it as the Sea of Tibereas. Matthew and Mark put these accounts at a different time of day as well (v. 5). These types of minor discrepencies do nothing to disprove the Gopels but rather confirm the validity of them. They show that they are from different witnesses as opposed to the same source.

    In Phillipians we see that Paul is writing this letter while incarcerated. He recognizes that some are preaching the Gospel seperately from his mission but acknowledges that even if they are doing it for personal gain, at least the Gospel is being preached.

    May God bless you

    - Clint
     
  3. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture 9/28/03

    Philippians 2:12-30

    Last week we moved from Paul’s accounting of the events in Rome where he had made his jail a pulpit to the first two exhortations of this Epistle, both concerning unity. The first was unity in the face of adversity; the second was unity within the church. Today we will explore Paul’s third exhortation towards the Philippians and his next three examples of good Christian character from those who display humility: himself, Timothy and Epaphroditus.

    Third Exhortation: Working Out Their Salvation- 2:12-13

    Paul moves directly from his second exhortation towards unity using the Supreme example of Christ to his third exhortation of working out one’s own salvation. In the whole of our lesson today, these two verses likely deserve the most discussion. For Paul to call anyone to “work” for salvation seems contrary to the Pauline thought of “faith apart from works.” Therefore, we must examine closely what the Apostle’s intent is in his phrasing.

    As we discussed last week, the “encouragement” or “consolation” from verse 2:1 that we as believers have in Christ points towards the obligation that we have as being Christ’s representatives here on Earth. It was also stated that there are three phases of salvation in Pauline thought. The initial point of regeneration when the sinful man repents and accepts Christ is termed “Justification.” This was the crux of Paul’s argument built in Galatians 2-3. For Paul, Justification was a legal term meaning the acquittal from past sins.

    The third phase of Salvation in Pauline thought is the joining with Christ upon our death. This is the reward and the passing into Paradise that we receive as reward for our faith. This is Glorification.

    In verse 12, however, Paul is speaking of the present daily struggle of the Christian believer. Remember that for Paul, faith incorporated belief, loyalty and obedience to God. This aspect of the salvation experience is commonly referred to as “Sanctification.” One will not find the word “sanctification” very often in the New Testament, but its synonym of “make holy” is quite prevalent. The Justified believer who is working toward reward at Final Judgment is in need of controlling his own free will in order that the Holy Spirit may work through him. This "“work” is the striving towards a goal.

    The means to this end has already been discussed in the Letter. We attain the goal through self-abnegation (a restraint or limitation of one's own desires or interests) and sacrificial service. This is the unity we attain when we strive to have the “mind” of Christ. We do not attain it through empty boasting and self-serving actions.

    Other Passages that give specific instructions on working out our own salvation include: John 6:27-29; 2Peter 1:5-10.

    The Example of Paul Poured Out As a Drink Offering- 2:14-18

    It is important to note that we are not only to “do” but rather to “do all things” in the right spirit. Compliance with Paul’s imperative to work out our salvation is to be done without grumblings and questionings (KJV - murmurings and disputings). Grumbling implies discontent within a congregation and questionings refers to arguments, debates or wranglings. The term may even be referring to court litigation. These terms, grumblings and questionings, refer to a self-serving, self-assertive temper that is the direct opposite of the Mind of Christ.

    Paul does not view the Philippians, nor himself, nor us for that matter as perfect but to be blameless and perfect is the goal of the Christian. Christ Himself set this as our goal in Matthew 5:48. The crooked and perverse generation of which Paul speaks has always been in this world. It is rather ironic that we who live in this day and age read these words written in the first century with the same relevance. The irony is further asserted in that Paul is using the words of Moses in Deuteronomy 32:5! God’s people have always been in the world but not of it. Christ’s prayer in John 17:15 incited God’s aid for us in this endeavor.

    The Philippians’ efforts toward perfection by emulating the Mind of Christ would give Paul just reason to boast on the Day of Christ, that is to say, the Final Judgment. Paul’s labors, part of which were the reason for his imprisonment, had put him in a position of potential martyrdom. Remember from chapter 1 that Paul did not seek death nor life but only wished that either course would glorify God and promote the Gospel. In the face of this potential martyrdom, Paul viewed his death as a “libation”, a sacrifice that would accompany the Philippians’ offering of faith. Paul did not want pity or sorrow at his death, but rather that they all rejoice at this further promotion of the Cause of Jesus Christ.


    continued
     
  4. Clint Kritzer

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    Sunday School lecture 6/13/04 continued

    2Kings 3-4

    2Kings 4:1-6:7 Prophetic Concerns for Human Needs

    At this point in the Elisha cycle we enter a collection of stories that demonstrate God's concern for faithful individuals. This rather abrupt transition from the political-historical account of the attempted quashing of the Moabite rebellion shows us that not only is God concerned about the actions of kings and nations, but He is also involved with the lives and needs of the common man. Elisha is shown in these stories as a servant of God who implements miracles as a helper of the people.

    2Kings 4:1-7 Provision for the Widow

    The account of "the widow's oil" in 2Kings 4:1-7 is very similar to the story of the widow of Zarephath found in 1Kings 17:8-16. In both cases a faithful widow's family is saved through the intervention of the servant of God implementing a miracle that sustained the recipient in a time of impending disaster.

    The woman spoken of in these verse was a widow of the one of the sons of prophets. She had fallen on hard times and gotten herself into debt that she could not repay monetarily. In the Jewish system, a creditor was within his legal rights to take a debtor or his children as slaves for a period of time in order that through labor the debt could be squared, a practice we will discuss further in chapter 6. While the system was legal under Mosaic Law, we see in the Scriptures that it was also often abused (Nehemiah 5:5). Nonetheless, the creditor was acting in a legal manner and there was not a thing that the widow that could do to prevent her children from being taken.into bondage.

    She appeals to Elisha whose response suggests that the degree of resolution to this crisis was limited only by the woman's faith. The amount of oil that she had in her jar was contingent upon how many vessels she would collect and borrow. Further, the actual disbursement of the oil from the jar to the vessels takes place apart from Elisha's presence. The miracle was that of God, not of Elisha. That she poured the oil behind closed doors shows that this was not a miracle performed for public display but one that demonstrates God's Grace and Mercy upon those who are faithful to Him. By responding with faith and obedience, the widow saved her children from possibly years of servitude.

    2Kings 4:8-17 The Blessing of a Son to the Shunammite Woman

    We first learn of the city of Shunem in Joshua 19. Situated near the plains of Jezreel in the tribal lands of Issachar, it was taken during the Conquest. We can safely presume that it was a regular stop on a circuit that Elisha took through the Northern Kingdom of Israel. In that town there lived a wealthy woman of faith who, with her husband's consent, built a room on the "roof (KJV - wall)" of her home in order that Elisha could stay whenever he passed through town.

    Her kindness towards him prompted Elisha to seek a way to repay her. He offered to speak to the king or to the general of the army but this would not have really benefited the woman. As she was a woman of means, Elisha was at a loss as to how he would show his gratitude.

    We now meet a new character in the story: Gehazi. We gather from this and the subsequent mention of the character that Gehazi was Elisha's aide. Perhaps Elisha was his mentor just as Elijah had been to him. Elisha consults with Gehazi to see what could be done for the woman who seemingly had everything so that he may express his gratitude. Gehazi suggests to Elisha that the woman has no children and her husband was aged. At this juncture, Bible students tend to stop to guess what Gehazi's motives were. The meaning of his name is "avaricous" or "covetous." Jewish tradition asserts that it was lust that motivated the younger man. While he appears in a favorable light in this instance, in chapter 5 we will see him fall from favor. Chapter 8 will present us with a possible repentance.

    It should also be understood that the miraculous gift of a child for the barren couple not only gave the parents personal joy, but elevated their status as well. For a couple in Biblical times to be unable to have children was viewed as, at worst, a curse or, at best, a reproach from the Lord. The motif of older couples bearing children as a blessing from the Lord is repeated often throughout the Old and New Testaments: Abraham and Sarah; Samson's parents, Manoah and his wife; Elkanah and Hannah, the parents of Samuel; and of course, Elizabeth and Zecharia, the parents of John the Baptist.

    Elisha accepts Gehazi's counsel and under Divine guidance tells the woman that in a year's time she will have a child. The prophecy seems almost too good to be true and the woman responds that Elisha should not lie to her. Nonetheless, at the appointed time the woman conceived and bore a child.

    2Kings 4:18-37 The Death and Resurrection of the Shunammite's Son

    When the child was at an unspecified age, it was working with its father in the family fields and suffered what many speculate to be sunstroke. The father sent the child back home by way of a servant to his mother. At noon that day, the child died.

    The mother, retaining her faith in God and the abilities of Elisha, lays the child on the bed in the room that she had had constructed for the prophet. Perhaps this was so that the lifeless body of the child would be as near to the presence of the prophet as possible. In any case, it appears that the mother kept the child's death a secret from everyone including her husband as he inquires why she would be going to see a holy man when there was no festival or religiously significant even occurring. Her cryptic reply of "shalom" or literally "all is well" may have been prompted by a possible knowledge of Elijah's act of reanimating a young man in Zarephath as recorded in 1Kings 17:22. Indeed, the two accounts are quite similar and such speculation is quite credible.

    Verse 24 displays the mother's urgency in reaching the prophet. Interestingly, upon her arrival we see that the mother had little use for Gehazi who was sent out to meet her. When she finally does make it to Elisha, she never directly mentions the child's death. Instead, she clings to Elijah's feet as Gehazi tries to remove her. God does not allow Elisha to perceive the cause of her trouble but instead the woman was required to state the nature of her visit. She replies to the prophet with two questions: Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? (KJV)

    Elisha immediately recognizes that there is a problem with the boy and sends Gehazi, a younger and more able man ahead of him on the approximately 25 mile journey to Shunem. He instructs him to take his staff and if he meets anyone along the way to remain silent. Though the historian does not state the reason for these instructions, scholars speculate that the silence was necessary to preserve the power communicated to him through Elisha. Gehazi's arrival at the home may have been symbolic of the impending arrival of Elisha himself. The staff, like Aaron carrying and wielding Moses' staff in the Exodus stories, was a symbol of Elisha's power. The mother, however, still remained with Elisha, perhaps born of a mistrust of Gehazi. The inability of Gehazi to revive the child heightens the tension of the story.

    Upon arriving at the home, Elisha goes into the room and shuts the door. Through personal prayer and symbolic prophetic actions he revives the son to life. Though the first series of prayer and action are not successful, Elisha persisted and the child awoke. We learn from this story that the Lord tested the faith of Elisha and the woman and through faith and persistence, they were both rewarded (Hebrews 11:35).

    2Kings 4:38-41 Death in the Pot

    The remainder of chapter 4 is concerned with Elisha performing two miraculous acts surrounding the food needs of the sons of the prophets in the school at Gilgal. The backdrop to the story is that Israel was experiencing a famine (KJV - dearth).

    The first of these accounts involves one of the sons of prophets gathering some type of unidentified gourd, not knowing that it was poisonous, to add to a soup (pottage) that the group would be eating for a meal. Upon tasting the mixture, one of the sons of prophets exclaimed that the soup was inedible, perhaps due to a bitter taste.

    Elisha calls for meal, or flour, to add to the soup which renders the toxin inactive. Whether the meal had some property that counteracted the toxins or the addition of it to the soup was a symbolic act is not stated by the historian. In either case, the means are not the focus. The point is that Elisha's prophetic powers are once again displayed.

    The second account that concludes the chapter begins with a man from Baal Shalisha bringing the bread of the first fruits of his city to Elisha. We are uncertain of where this city was but we find it mentioned in the Talmud where it is stated that fruits ripened earlier there. What is significant about this is that just as the priest in Jerusalem received the first fruits according to Mosaic Law, this man recognized Elisha as the center of religious leadership in the Northern Kingdom. Rather than taking his offering to Dan or Bethel, where Jeroboam had established the worship centers and the golden calves, he brought his offering to Elisha.

    Elisha, being the benevolent spiritual leader of the people, commands that the bread be distributed among the people. In a scene clearly foreshadowing Christ's feeding of the multitudes, the servant asks how such little food would be distributed among so many. Elisha repeats the command and the bread miraculously is found to be more than sufficient to feed all the people.

    The lesson of the story is clear: God provides for the needs of His people and the meal shared of His power is satisfying. A central function of the prophetic office is to instill contact between Divine power and human need.

    Sunday School lecture 6/20/04

    2Kings 5

    Chapters 3-4 have shown us God's concern for His Covenant people, both nationally and individually, through His prophet Elijah. Chapter 5 widens the scope and shows us God's concern for a Gentile. Though the healing and conversion of Naaman are the central focus of the Passage, a secondary theme of the treachery of Gehazi is also presented. A chapter of conflicting characters, a clear message is sent to the exiled audience of the historian's time and the audience in the modern age on faith, obedience, hope, and God's Sovereignty towards all of mankind.

    The political backdrop of the story is found along the northern border of Israel in the kingdom surrounding Damascus. This region is translated by some versions as "Aram" and by other versions by its modern name, "Syria". The following commentary will term the location "Aram" in order to avoid confusion between Syria and Assyria. Though David had defeated the Aramaens, Israeli control over the nation had begun to slip by the time of Solomon and the eventual division of Israel under Jeroboam enabled the kingdom of Aram to rise to a political stature equitable with Israel. In 1Kings 15 we witness Aram allying itself with Judah and attacking Israel from the north but when we get to chapter 20 of that same Book, Ahab forms a shaky peace treaty with the Aramaens. Despite this treaty, border conflicts continued to erupt and raiding parties from Aram would cross the border capturing and looting northern Israeli towns, taking booty and slaves back to Aram.

    With the Assyrian Empire gaining control and amassing power in the east, once hostile enemies in Palestine were beginning to recognize the need for alliances, however shaky they may be. Jehoram, king of Israel, was no exception to this reality. His failure to aid Aram in the Syro-Assyrian conflicts will result in escalated military action against his nation by the Aramaens in chapters 6-7.

    2Kings 5:1-7 Hope Springs from Crises

    Naaman is introduced to us as a "great man." Under the reign of Ben-Hadad II (named in 1Kings 20:1 and again in chapter 8 of this Book), Naaman had successfully commanded the Syrian army in the systematic raiding of Israel as well as the ongoing conflict with Assyria. The historian notes that despite whatever personal abilities he may have had, it was God who was ultimately responsible for his success.

    However, despite the man's success in the political arena, he was afflicted with leprosy. It is impossible from the text to determine the exact nature of what malady this was as "leprosy" applied to a variety of skin conditions in the Old Testament and even house mold in the case of Leviticus 14:34. Whatever his infirmity was, it overshadowed his personal achievements as a military commander and weighed on him heavily. Leprosy in its various forms not only threatened and ate away the health of the afflicted but also led to social ostracism.

    The historian now introduces us to the second character in crisis: a Jewish slave girl. It should not be lost to the reader that this character would be significant to the original audience of the narrative, the exiled Jewish nation. She stands in contrast to the "great" Naaman as one who has lost everything including her freedom, yet she has a knowledge not possessed by the Aramaens - she knows God and knows of His prophet, Elisha. She shares this knowledge freely with Naaman's wife and from the despair of these two individuals springs a hope for cure.

    Upon learning of this hope, Naaman approaches Ben-Hadad and asks his leave to go to Samaria where Elijah had a residence. The king, granting his requests, sends a letter to Jehoram evidently assuming that the Jehoram would be in direct alliance with Elisha. He did not know of the constant conflict between the two and thus does not mention the prophet in his correspondence. Naaman sets out with this letter of recommendation and a great deal of money in the form of silver, gold, and clothing.

    At this juncture we witness a further contrast in characters as Jehoram, the king of God's Covenant people fails to see the significance of a worshipper of a pagan god coming to Israel for a cure. Being steeped in the idolatry of his parents he can only ascribe the letter as a precursor to war and rends his clothes knowing he does not have the ability to cure this man. His focus is situated on international and political affairs with the exclusion of God.

    2Kings 5:8-14 Naaman's Cure

    Word reached Elisha of Jehoram's distress and he chastises the king and tells him to send Naaman to him in order that the Gentile will recognize the presence of God in Israel. Naaman then goes to Elijah's house with his chariots and horses. The action of arriving with such pomp can be interpreted as Naaman's desire to show this lowly prophet that he was dealing with a "great" man. Naaman would command Elisha and his healing just as he commanded his forces because he was a powerful warrior with high political ties.

    Elisha, however, does not go out to greet the pagan commander but instead sends a servant with instructions that he wash himself seven times in the Jordan river. Elisha's action of not going out may be interpreted in a variety of ways. Some contend that Elijah's refusal to come out showed that he had no political ties to Aram or its servants and that he instead served a higher Power. Others feel that it demonstrated his lack of fear and failure to be impressed by the military display. It has also been proposed that Elisha was in prayer on the matter and could not be disturbed just then. No matter what the reason, however, the action became a test of faith for Naaman. Angered by what he perceived as insolence by the prophet, Naaman leaves the door of the house angry and bitter. Not only had the prophet sent a lowly servant to the great man, but he had failed to come out and work magic by incantation to effect a cure like Naaman had pictured in his mind. On top of this, the instructions to wash in the muddy waters of the Jordan were at best, absurd, at worst, insulting. In effect, Naaman wished to prescribe his own cure.

    One may reminded at this point of the cure effected by Christ in John 9:7 when He commanded a blind man to wash in the Pool of Siloam in order to be cured. Belief and confidence in the Lord is not always sufficient to obtain His mercy. Obedience is a prerequisite as well. God had seen fit to give the pagan commander political success just as He later would the Assyrians and Babylonians in order that His Purpose might be accomplished. Naaman's physical and personal success would require more from him. The arrogant man who arrived at the socially inferior prophet's home with horses and a chariot had to humble himself to God.

    The general continued to rant about the Jewish slave girl's prophet, speaking of the seemingly absurd notion of traveling to a foreign nation to wash in a muddy river when much cleaner rivers were in his own country. Finally, one of his own loyal servants in his entourage encouraged him to confront his pride with common sense. Had Elisha commanded some great thing of him during an elaborate ritual as Naaman had pictured he would have gladly acquiesced. Dipping oneself into a river seven times was only a big deal because it threatened the great man's pride. In short, what did he have to lose?

    Confronted with this logic, Naaman turned towards the Jordan and followed the command of God's prophet. Through his obedience the cure was effected. The Scriptures tell us that his diseased skin became like that of a little child. The wording implies and confirms that he was born again.

    2Kings 5:15-19 Naaman's Commitment to God

    The Aramean general returns to Elisha's house a changed man. Elisha now meets him and the once proud pagan declares "there is no God in all the world but in Israel." This confession of faith in a polytheistic world is very theologically advanced for this time. Not only has Naaman's health been cured but his spirit has also been awakened. In gratitude he offers Elisha a gift. Elisha refuses. The cure had not been caused by him but by God and the general's own faith.

    Naaman then makes two requests of Elisha: (1) that he be allowed to take as much dirt as two mules could carry from Israel back to his home in Aram; and (2) forgiveness for having to bow in a pagan temple as the duties of his command would necessitate. The request for dirt stems from the ancient belief that gods were regional deities that could only be worshipped on the soil of the nation to which they were bound. As to the bowing before false gods, some scholars have reckoned that this verse should read in the past tense. However, taking the text as written we speculate that the ceremonial actions of Naaman were an expected civic duty of a man in his position. This presented a problem of conscience in the new convert. Elijah blesses both Naaman's requests and the Gentile convert, a now greater man, takes his leave.

    2Kings 5:20-24 The Greed of Gehazi

    The historian has displayed for us in this story a wide array of characters representing a myriad of situations. There is Naaman, the proud pagan general who converts to the worship of the true God. There is the Jewish slave girl who retains a faith in God despite her circumstances. There is Jehoram, the apostate king of the Covenant people. There is Elisha, the faithful servant of the one true God through whom God makes His Will known. Now in the concluding Passage we meet, once again, Gehazi whose name means "avaricious" and we examine his sin.

    As Naaman rides away from Elisha's house, Gehazi, Elisha's servant who obviously overheard the offer of gifts refused by Elisha, decides that he will take advantage of the new convert's offer. When Naaman sees Gehazi running after him he stops and gets down from his chariot. This posture of coming down from his chariot displays the new nature of the man. Before his conversion he used the chariot as a statement of his authority. He now sets himself on par with even the servant of a prophet.

    When the general inquires of Gehazi if everything is all right, the prophet's aide assures him that it is but he then fabricates a lie in order to take advantage of the man's new faith. He tells Naaman that Elisha sent him to get aid for two of the sons of prophets that had just arrived from Mount Ephriam. Naaman gladly gives Gehazi all he had asked: two talents of silver and two sets of clothing. For a perspective of the worth of this gift, a talent, in the Hebrew system, was a weight measurement of between 114 and 125 pounds! The scholars who wrote the American Tract Standard Dictionary estimated the value at $1500 per talent in 1900. This converts to about $28,500 per talent today in 2004!

    Naaman has two of his servants carry the ill gotten loot back for Gehazi. When they arrived near his house, Gehazi takes the gifts and secrets them away in his house, thinking he had committed a perfect crime.

    2Kings 5:25-27 The Judgment of Gehazi

    Upon returning to Elisha's house, the treacherous servant is confronted by the prophet who asks where he had been. The reader may be reminded of God asking Adam in the Garden where he was or asking Cain where Abel was. Again Gehazi lies saying that he had been nowhere. Not taking the opportunity for confession and repentance, Elisha reveals that he had Divine knowledge of what Gehazi had done.

    Throughout time, ministers have fallen to the temptation of taking advantage of those who believe. While the true minister and servant of God would have recognized that the real reward in the circumstances of that day was the salvation of a new convert, Gehazi sought to use the opportunity to increase his own earthly wealth.

    The Jerusalem Bible beautifully captures the essence of the end of verse 26 and the beginning of verse 27 in its translation: Now you have taken the money. You can buy gardens with it, and olive groves, sheep and oxen, male and female slaves. But Naaman's leprosy will cling to you and to your descendants forever. (see also Matthew 16:26; 2Corinthians 2:17)

    The judgment of Gehazi stands as a warning to all those who would use the office of prophet, minister, or Heir to the Promise for greed and material gain.
     
  5. Clint Kritzer

    Clint Kritzer
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    Sunday School lecture 9/26/04

    Luke 5

    In the fifth chapter of Luke we continue to read of the miraculous events surrounding Jesus' early ministry in Galilee. Interspersed within this narrative, however, we also find the calling of the first Disciples and the first encounters with the Pharisees as accounted by Luke.

    Luke 5:1-11 The First Disciples

    Though the Gospels are not explicitly clear on the matter, we may assume an acquaintance between Jesus and the first Disciples called in this account. We do not have enough data, however, from the accounts to reconstruct exactly what this relationship may have been. Though Luke does not mention Andrew, Simon's brother, Mark tells us that he was there as well and was also called. The event of the healing of Simon's mother in Luke 4:38-39 need not be placed chronologically with the events spoken of here. The3 special emphasis placed on Peter in the account of Luke and Acts is foreshadowed here as Peter is the first called.

    Of special interest to the modern student is the discovery of a boat in the Sea of Gennesaret (Galilee, Tiberias) that was discovered in 1986. Scholars are in nearly unanimous agreement that this boat dates from the time of the New Testament period though to speculate that this is the actual boat belonging to Zebedee is, at best, an exaggerated presumption.

    http://www.christiananswers.net/q-abr/abr-a003.html

    http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/History/Early%20History%20-%20Archaeology/The%20Roman%20Boat%20from%20the%20Sea%20of%20Galilee

    The narrative opens with Jesus being surrounded by a crowd as He teaches the word of God. This sets the scene that the calling of Peter was not a private occasion but a widely witnessed event. Stepping into a boat in order to separate Himself from the crowd that He taught, Christ tells Simon to set out from shore a short distance. He the sits in the boat and continues His teaching. Sitting was the common posture assumed by teachers in Jewish society.

    After He had finished His teaching, He turned to Simon and told him to set out for deeper waters and to set down his nets in order to make a catch. Simon is doubtful of the command as he and his compatriots had just completed a night of fishing with no results but as is a requirement of a disciple, he obeys the imperative and lets down his nets. Luke quotes Simon as calling Jesus "Master," a term unique to this Gospel. The other Gospels use the term "Rabbi." It should be noted that the conversations in these New Testament events likely occurred in Aramaic and were recorded in Greek. The terms are synonymous and represent a transliteration towards different audiences. The Jewish term "rabbi" would have meant little to Theopholis, a gentile. As a demonstration of the authority of Jesus' word, the nets immediately and miraculously fill with fish. The haul is so large that Simon is forced to call his associates to his aid as the nets break.

    As with all New Testament miracles displayed by Christ, the miracle should be viewed as a sign. The result of this miracle was to instill in Simon a sense of awe and fear. His statement of "I am a sinful man" may remind the reader of the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, in Isaiah 6:5. Simon's personal confession of sin will stand in stark contrast to the Pharisees who soon confront his Master.

    Jesus' reply to Simon likewise echoes Old Testament dialogues of God's meeting with man. He tells Simon to "fear not." Peter's qualifications for discipleship are not based upon his personal righteousness but upon the summons issued by Christ. Peter would no more be able to "catch men" than "catch fish" without the authority of the Christ backing Him. The advancement of God's Kingdom is not reliant upon the qualifications of the instruments used to do so but rather upon the power o the One who calls them to service.

    The text also reveals to us that John and James, the sons of Zebedee were present as well. These four men appear to form the "inner circle" of Disciples later in the Gospel account. All four were fishermen, and businessmen who left their trade and livelihood at command from Christ. We can only speculate as to what the reaction of their friends and families may have been at this seemingly rash decision. Those reactions are, however, irrelevant to the story at hand. The example of unquestioning obedience is outlined in the Scriptures for all of Christ's disciples even to the present day.
     
  6. Clint Kritzer

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