Study of I Corinthians chapter16

I Corinthians Chapter 16

 

Paul has effectively dealt with the errors of the brethren in Corinth. He has concluded his words of admonition to these brethren with a detailed discussion on the resurrection of all mankind. Such words are designed to infuse hope and excitement in the saint. Chapter 16 adds no new area of Corinthian error. This final chapter very typically approaches the brethren with words of encouragement and gives the location and date of this epistle (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).

  1. The Collection for the Saints (16:1-4):
  2. Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I gave order to the churches of Galatia, so also do
  3. Upon the first day of the week let each one of you lay by him in store, as he may prosper, that no collections be made when I come” (16:1-2).
  1. Paul left Antioch of Pisidia during the year 53 AD and headed west to Galatia on what is referred to as the third tour of gospel preaching (Acts 18:23). He then traveled to Ephesus (Acts 19:1). Three months were spent reasoning with the Jews in the synagogue and making disciples (Acts 19:8). Paul spent two additional years “reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus” in Ephesus which would bring the date to 55 AD (Acts 19:9-10). At some point during Paul’s stay in Ephesus, he gained intelligence that the brethren in Jerusalem were in financial need. Paul began spreading the word of their needs first to the Galatian brethren (1 Corinthians 16:1), then to the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 16:1ff), and finally to all Macedonia and Achaia (Romans 15:26-27).
  1. These verses illustrate to us how funds were collected in the NT church.
  2. A common treasury existed (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:8; Philippians 4:14-16; 1 Timothy 5).
  3. The funds were collected on the first day of the week (1 Corinthians 16:2). Though this is the first mention of a first day of the week collection we have no record of its beginning or its ending.
  1. Each was to give as he had “prospered” (1 Corinthians 16:2) and “purposed” because “God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). Today, we continue to lay by in store as we have prospered on the first day of the week. The funds are moved to a common treasury and the work of the church is supported by these funds.
  1. And when I arrive, whomsoever ye shall approve, them will I send with letters to carry your bounty unto Jerusalem: and if it be meet for me to go also, they shall go with me” (16:3-4):
  1. The “bounty” would be the funds collected for the needy saints. These funds would be sent by the hands of those of the individual church that they were collected and hand delivered to the needy saints in Jerusalem. Here is an apostolic example of needy saints being helped by the church. Some of our institutional friends would have us collect funds from a multitude of churches, send the collection to one church and then that one church would distribute all funds to the needy and that not to the saints alone but the needy of the world (see study # 86; Institutionalism). One thing that must be noted is that the current distress in Judea was not limited to the saints of God but rather all were feeling the sting (see Romans 15:25-27).
  1. Paul is willing to accompany these brethren to Judea if the need arises.
  1. Paul’s intentions to go to Macedonia (16:5-12):
  2. But I will come unto you, when I shall have passed through Macedonia; for I pass through

Macedonia; but with you it may be that I shall abide, or even winter, that ye may set me forward on my journey whithersoever I go. For I do not wish to see you now by the way; for I hope to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.” (16:5-6).

  1. Paul’s intentions were to come to Achaia and Macedonia to collect funds from the gentile churches for the needy saints in Judea.
  1. Around the year 57 to 58 AD (after three years in Ephesus), Paul traveled north to Troas and awaits the arrival of Titus (2 Corinthians 2:12-13). Not finding Titus, Paul traveled across the Aegean Sea and then to Philippi. It is very likely that Paul finds Titus here and then pens the second epistle to the Corinthian brethren (cf. 2 Corinthians 7:5-8) (~ 58 AD; only two years after the first letter; cf. 2 Corinthians 9:2).
  1. Heading southward through Macedonia, Paul eventually comes to Corinth and remains for three months (Acts 20:1-3). It is most probable that Paul pined the letter to the Romans at this time (cf. Romans 15:25; 16:1).
  1. It seems as Paul is not sure as to whether he would be accompanying the representatives of the gentile churches to Judea or not at the writing of this letter in Ephesus. His itinerary becomes clearer once arriving in Corinth at 58 to 59 AD. According to his writing to the Romans he knew then that he would be traveling back to Judea before seeing the Roman brethren (cf. Romans 15:22ff).
  1. Each church may have had their own representative to carry the collected relief back to Judea and Paul accompanied them on the trip (cf. Acts 20:4).
  1. But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost; for a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries” (16:8-9).
  1. This verse gives us the current location of Paul as he writes 1 Corinthians and helps with dating the epistle. Paul had come to Ephesus on his third tour of preaching around 55 AD (cf. Acts 19:1ff).
  1. The Passover feast occurred on the 14th day of the first month (Leviticus 23:5). Between the Passover and Pentecost (50 days after Passover) was the Feast of unleavened bread (Leviticus 23:6). The mention of Pentecost does not infer that Paul was keeping the Mosaic feast but rather it was used as a benchmark of time. The statement reveals how near Paul was to visiting the brethren in Corinth and was sure to be encouraging to some.
  1. A great door of opportunity to preach the gospel was Paul’s good hindrance from coming to the Corinthians sooner. A multitude of Asian brethren were obeying the gospel and Paul wanted to remain as long as necessary (Read Acts 19:10, 26 to get the picture).
  1. While Paul was preaching he ran into troubles (adversaries). Paul’s encounter with Demetrius over his preaching against idolatry is one such case of adversaries he dealt with while in Ephesus (Acts 19:23ff). There were times, while in Ephesus, that Paul feared for his life due to the intense persecution of adversaries (2 Corinthians 1:8). It may be that Paul refers to his being thrown to wild beast in Ephesus as Roman civil punishment (1 Corinthians 15:32).
  1. Now if Timothy come, see that he be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do: Let no man therefore despise him. But set him forward on his journey in peace, that he may come unto me: for I expect him with the brethren” (16:10-11).
  1. Paul had sent Timothy ahead of him to Corinth (1 Corinthians 4:17). Erastus accompanied Timothy on this trip (Acts 19:22).
  1. At some point Titus had been sent to Corinth as well and brought back a report to Paul which prompted the second epistle to the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 7:5ff). At the introduction of 2 Corinthians (1:1) Timothy is apparently now with Paul in Macedonia (possibly Philippi). From these clues it seems likely that Timothy never made it to Corinth but Titus did.
  1. Paul commands that “if” Timothy make it that he “be with you without fear” and secondly no one is to “despise” him. The word “despise” (exoutheneo) is to “set at naught” ;“To make light of, set at nought, despise, contemn, treat with contempt and scorn, disregard; small account”. Why would Paul write such a command in relationship to Timothy? Paul’s writing to Timothy may give us a clue.
  1. Later, Paul would tell Timothy to “let no man despise thy youth” (1 Timothy 4:12).
  2. As we take our minds back to the beginnings of this epistle and the reason for its writing one may easily determine why Paul wrote this statement about Timothy.
  1. First, Timothy was obviously very young. Such youth would be reason for some not to give a serious ear to him. Secondly, the Corinthian brethren were guilty of many things and had false teachers among them. Paul knew that these brethren had the capacity to abuse the young man and thereby gives his commendation. Those of conviction would need to stand with this young man and not leave him to fight any doctrinal battles alone (see 1 Timothy 4:12).
  1. But as touching Apollos the brother, I besought him much to come unto you with the brethren: and it was not at all his will to come now; but he will come when he shall have opportunity” (16:12).
  1. The phrase, “as touching” indicates that the Corinthians had made it known to Paul that they would like to have Apollos come back to Corinth to visit them (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:1).
  1. Apollos had earlier been in Ephesus around 54 AD (Acts 18:24 – 19:1). Apollos may have been the one who hand delivered the letters from the Corinthians to Paul as mentioned 1 Corinthians 1:11 and 7:1.
  1. It is likely that Paul intended for Apollos and “the brethren” to hand deliver the first epistle to the Corinthians; however, Apollos was not willed to do so at that time (see 1 Corinthians 16:12). Who “the brethren” were that delivered the first epistle to the Corinthians is unknown. It is possible that “the brethren” included Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus (see 1 Corinthians 16:17-18) as well as Titus (see 2 Corinthians 7:7-15).
  1. When Paul received and read the Corinthian letters, Paul would have urged Apollos to return to Corinth; however, he had further work to do elsewhere.

III. Final exhortations and salutations (16:13-24):

  1. Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong” (16:13).
  2. To “watch” (gregoreuo) is “to be awake”; “to be awake, to watch, to be watchful, attentive, vigilant, circumspect”. Paul had earlier told the Corinthians to “Awake to soberness righteously, and sin not…” (1 Corinthians 15:34). The Corinthians, as well as all Christians, should be aware of their surroundings. False teachers, factions, and false practices were making inroads into the body of Christ and thereby Paul tells them to “watch” (see also 1 Thessalonians 5:6). Christians today need to open their eyes to church problems rather than putting them out of sight and out of mind.
  1. Secondly, Paul admonishes them to “stand fast in the faith.” To “stand fast” (steko) is to “to stand”; “to make a stand. The exact word is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:15 where Paul said, “So then, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which were taught, whether by word, or by epistle of ours.” Rather than retreating in time of conflict, Paul admonishes the brethren to take a stand in the faith (gospel truths) (see also Colossians 2:5).
  1. Thirdly, Paul admonishes the brethren to “quit you like men.” This English phrase is represented by one word in the Greek (andrizomai). Andrizomai is “to make a man of; to come to manhood, behave like a man” . This is the only use of the Greek word in the Following the context of watching for enemies of truth, standing fast against them, and now the Christian is to take such a stand in a courageous manly way. The workers of error are not weak but persistent, boisterous, and at times they are in the majority. To stand against error takes a spirit of manliness (i.e., strength, conviction, resilience, and a willing spirit to defend truth with courage knowing that God is with you).
  1. Fourthly, Paul encourages the Corinthians to be “strong.” Let fears of the workers of Satan flee the Christian. Each Christian is to be filled with strength for the battle at hand. The picture is almost complete. The Christian is to be armed to the teeth with the gospel message being driven forward by hope of eternal salvation. 1 Corinthians 16:13). The victory belongs to those who put their trust in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:57-58; 1 John 4:4; 5:4).
  1. Let all that you do be done in love” (16:14). Love completes our picture of Christian duty and responsibility in the face of sin in the church. The aforementioned battle of faction and disunity in the church can only be battled correctly if love is the motivation. Just as Paul demanded love to be the motivation behind spiritual gifts even so he now explains that love must be the motive for every act of defending truth. We are to care for the physical and spiritual well being of brethren because we love their souls and for no other reason (1 John 3:16; 4:10-17). Now we find that even in battle  against the ungodly influences of faction, disunity, and sin in general the Christian’s every move is to be motivated by love. If there be any other motivation such as envy, strife, or jealousy it is not the work nor battle of the Lord’s.
  1. Now I beseech you, brethren (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have set themselves to minister unto the saints), that ye also be in subjection unto such, and to every one that helpeth in the work and laboreth” (16:15-16).
  1. Stephanas was mentioned in 1 Corinthians 1:16 as having been baptized by Paul. Stephanas and his house were the “firstfruits of Achaia.” Like as Jesus is the firstfruits of all mankind who will be resurrected to die no more even so Stephanas and his house were the first to obey the gospel in this area (i.e., Achaia).
  1. Stephanas and his house had “set themselves to minister unto the saints.” To “set” (tasso) is “to draw up in order of battle, to form, array, marshal, both of troops and ships… to be appointed to a service”; “To devote, to a pursuit” . This self appointment of devotion indicates the willingness and zeal on the part of Stephanas and his house to pursue souls in the great battle with Satan by preaching the gospel. Stephanas’ work would be “unto the saints” (i.e., edifying and building them up to withstand Satan and his tools of worldliness)
  1. Those who so devote themselves to preaching the gospel are to be “submitted” to just as the wife is subject to the husband (Ephesians 5:22); all are subject to civil government (Romans 13:1), the servant is to the master (Titus 2:9), and all Christians to each other (Ephesians 5:21).

Such submission is in the area of helping the work and the worker in any way that is needed that the gospel message may be delivered to the lost, saints edified, and that effective warfare may be waged against false teachers and their sympathizers.

  1. And I rejoice at the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they supplied. For they refreshed my spirit and yours: acknowledge ye therefore them that are such” (16:17-18).
  1. Apparently as Paul is in Ephesus these three men come to Paul bringing him news of Corinth. It appears that these three men, along with Titus and possibly Apollos, comprise “the brethren

Paul speaks of at 1 Corinthians 16:12 (i.e., those who brought the two letters from Corinth to Paul – one from the house of Chloe (1 Corinthians 1:11) and the letter mentioned in 1 Corinthians 7:1.

  1. The “refreshment” that Paul received of these three could not have been in the activities of the church as a whole since there were many active errors. There are, as I see it, three things that may have refreshed Paul’s soul in relationship to the Corinthians. First, Paul was refreshed by simply hearing from the brethren he so loved even though there were troubles. Secondly, not all the Corinthian brethren were caught up in all these troubles. Many would have been doing all they could do to unite the brethren in truth. Thirdly, Paul may have been refreshed by the fact that the Corinthians were obviously concerned about their spiritual direction. Such concern was poured out in the two letters Paul received and thereby there was hope for all.
  1. The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Prisca salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house. All the brethren salute you. Salute one another with a holy kiss. The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand” (16:19-21).
  1. Note that Paul was not repulsed by the Corinthians even though many were in sin. He was confident that their love of God, His truths, and promises of eternity would outweigh their love of this world.
  1. Here is a passage that helps us understand the relationship between churches in the NT. Churches were locally organized and autonomous; however, they had fellowship and communicated together in truth.
  1. The word “churches” of Asia is a plural noun (i.e., more than one church – seven churches of Asia revealed in the book of Revelation). Paul had established an active relationship with a multitude of churches in Asia (cf. Acts 19:26). If these churches were to “salute” the church in Corinth there must have been communication between each other (i.e., a knowledge of each other). The word “salute” (aspazomai) means “to welcome kindly bid welcome, greet”. NT churches were not isolationist but rather they communicated with each other in truth.
  1. Here is fellowship defined in the realm of the erring. Other churches were allowed by Paul to ‘greet’ or “salute” the brethren in Corinth even though they were guilty of a multitude of sins (cf. Skeletal Outline of I Corinthians in the Introduction of this study).
  1. No such greeting may be extended toward those who continue in said sins (cf. 2 John 9-11).

Apparently the fornicator of 1 Corinthians 5 was in a different situation than the brethren as a whole at Corinth. Though brethren were defrauding one another in the civil courts (1 Corinthians 6:7), lacking love (1 Corinthians 12-13), teaching false doctrines on the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12) and a multitude of other sins they were apparently viewed in a different light than the un-repenting fornicator of 1 Corinthians 5. If this is not so, how could Paul extend a “salutation” (1 Corinthians 16:21) along with “all the brethren” (1 Corinthians 16:20) to an un-repenting church? What was different than the sin of I Corinthians 5 and the others mentioned in this book? The difference must have been in their accepting the sinner as a whole congregation with tolerance rather than exposing his sins (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:2). Secondly, it may be said that 1 Corinthians 5 would apply to every sinner mentioned in 1 Corinthians if there were no repentance. I would conclude then that the fifth chapter serves as a benchmark chapter against all those who would persist in their sins without repentance and prayer for forgiveness. They must not be ignored due to the fact that there souls are in jeopardy.

  1. Paul would not contradict the teachings of another apostle in this area (cf. 2 John 9-11).

The two are clearly saying the same thing. Patience and longsuffering (i.e., teaching of truth) must be applied to the erring before one is delivered unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh (1 Corinthians 5:5). We must conclude then that Paul was sending salutations to the brethren as a whole. They had transgressed in many areas; however, with proper teaching and attitude toward truth, they would exercise the discipline against the fornicator of 1 Corinthians 5 and root out all the other errors mentioned in this epistle if the need arise.

  1. Included in those who saluted the Corinthian brethren was Aquila and Priscilla of Ephesus. Paul first met these two faithful Christians in Corinth (Acts 18:1ff).
  1. Paul then commands that the brethren “Salute one another with a holy kiss.” The apostle Paul would later write to the Roman brethren saying, “Salute one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ salute you” (Romans 16:16). Again, the word “salute” means to greet, welcome, or wish well. The context of the chapter indicates that this is not a general act of affection to those of the world but rather a symbol that illustrates one’s standing with God and fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. The Christian could not possibly greet, welcome into their fellowship, or wish one well who was lost in sin. If God does not receive one how can we (1 John 1:5-7)? The way in which brethren greeted each other in the early church was with a literal kiss (cf. Acts 20:36-38). Paul terms it a “holy kiss” because it was distinguished from a kiss one might give as a display of affection toward a mate or one’s own children.
  1. If any man loveth not the Lord, let him be anathema. Maranatha” (16:22).
  2. Interestingly Paul does not use the Greek word agape but phileo here. The Greek word phileo means “to love, regard with affection… to treat affectionately or kindly, to welcome a guest”.
  1. Paul makes a clear statement regarding the one who has no affection toward Jesus Christ. Such a one is cursed to eternal damnation unless he changes. The “holy kiss” of mutual brotherly affection and fellowship could not be extended to such a one because he or she does not share in that common affection for God.
  1. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with you. My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.” (16:23-24).
  1. Paul would that the Corinthians experience the grace of God through their obedience (cf. Romans 5:1-4).
  1. The love of Paul was the love of souls no matter where their residence may be (cf. 2 Corinthians 11:28).

 

Synopsis of I Corinthians 16

Paul gives instructions regarding a collection for the needy saints in Jerusalem (1 Corinthians 16:1-4). Secondly he gives his projected itinerary. Paul’s desire is to apparently supervise the final collection and send this money, with local church representatives, to Jerusalem and then head toward Rome (1 Corinthians 16:6). The reading of Romans 15:25-27, which was written approximately one year latter than 1 Corinthians, indicates that Paul would have to go back to Jerusalem with the collected funds.

The encouragement is primarily found at 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 where Paul states, “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong. Let all that ye do be done in love.” This five fold admonition summarizes the position Paul advocates in the faithful Christians at Corinth in light of all the current problems. These brethren are commanded to “watch” or be attentive to the errors around them and not to be deceived or misled by any (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:33). Secondly, they are to “stand fast” or take a stand against the error around them rather than being tolerant or even taking part in it (cf. 1 Corinthians 5:1ff). Thirdly, Paul admonishes the brethren to be manly, i.e., courageous in this stand against error (cf. 1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Fourthly, the faithful Corinthians are to be “strong.” The faithful Corinthians were to let the sword of God’s word be wielded in strength (cf. 1 Corinthians 4:14-17). Lastly, Paul commands that all these efforts against error must be conducted with a spirit of “love.” Love takes into consideration the betterment of man’s physical and spiritual well being (cf. 1 John 3:16, 17; 4:10-17). When those who are in error see your genuine concern for their soul it may be that they will at least try to study with you about your differences. Paul concludes the letter with admonitions of fellowship and greetings. One cannot help but note the tender affection that the early saints had for each other as we read this final chapter. The churches of Jesus Christ in this first century obviously communicated with each other. They knew of each other’s troubles (1 Corinthians 16:1ff) and their faithfulness or lack thereof (1 Corinthians 16:19). This communication was not universal organization; yet, a union together in truth. All faithful saints are united in truth and organized locally. For this cause Paul could say, “ALL the brethren salute (greet) you. Salute one another with a holy kiss” (1 Corinthians 16:20).

Providence

This video will help you better understand Providence.  To see more video’s on Providence check out www.video.wvbs.org/access and search for Providence.

Providence Part One
The Concept of providence presumes that God is still at work in the world He created. The word “provide” is at the root of the word “providence.” God does provide good things for His people, and His loving care is always behind His every action.
I Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”
Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? and not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than may sparrows”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

The Miracles of God
The Apostle John’s favorite word for miracle is his gospel was “sign.” Biblical miracles were events that could not have occurred naturally: a withered arm immediately restored, a man born blind given immediate sight, a dead person raised. John’s word “sign” reminds us that miracles had significance. They signified something. Specifically, they demonstrated conclusively that the person working the miracle had the approval of God in what he said or taught.

Providence: Beyond Miracles
Now here is where it gets tricky. Providence cannot be as certainly known to be God’s work as is restoring a withered arm. Providence, therefore, cannot be a sign of God’s approval as in raising someone from the dead. Miracles are a “sign” of God’s endorsement. God’s providential working is not obvious enough to serve as such a sign.
God is Always Good

God’s providential care does not always work in ways we think best. Sometimes circumstances we might never think of as providential may actually serve a providential purpose.

God is always good, but we may not always understand His ways. Consider the death of a child; Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego; or consider Job. God is good.
Read Hebrews 11:32-35 (1284)
God is good. But what about verses 36-38?
Keep reading…verses 39-40
Even in death, torture and seeming defeat, God was providing and blessing. Some providential actions of God are not apparent until the after-life.

We can confidently say today: “Our God whom we serve is able. But if not, by the providence of God, we will be victors either way.”

Providence is “Perhaps”
“Glad to see you. Will you be at church Sunday?” “Yes, if I’m not providentially hindered.”
Personal choices and Satan hinder us. But could it be providence also? James 4:13-16 (pew Bible page 1291)
Can I not also be hindered by God through His providence?
God is in Control
Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps”
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”
Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
We have to realize that we are not in control. And what James says in 4:13-16 is not so much something that we have to say all of the time, but we do need to be reminded that God is in control; not us.

The Principle of “Perhaps”
When Paul learned that Onesimus had run away from Philemon, a brother in Christ whom Paul had converted during his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote to Philemon that he was sending Onesimus back, no longer as a slave but “as a beloved brother”. Paul told Philemon, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever”. It seemed God’s hand was behind it all. Paul, at least, thought that likely. But the most he would say about it was “perhaps” (15)

To escape the command to kill all male Hebrew babies, Moses’ mother put him in a reed basket at the edge of the river. His sister Miriam, was charged to stay nearby. Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who accepted Miriam’s offer to find a woman of the Hebrews to nurse him. So Moses was nourished by his mother and evidently taught by her about the Lord. Providence? Undoubtedly? At least, perhaps.

Summary:
Ephesians 5:15, 16 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
As you do that, God’s providential care will be with you, regardless of whether you recognize it in particular instances.
More soon; “Perhaps”

 

Have You Seen His Glory

As we finish our survey of John, let us look to the spiritual truths of John to see His Glory.

Have You Seen His Glory?  A Wrap Up of the book of John

John’s gospel is unique among the Gospels because it is different in its very nature.  John helps us see the spiritual realities that transcend the events being reported on.  When the eternal Logos of God became flesh, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” proclaimed, “We have seen his glory (1:14) While no person has ever seen God, the author says, ‘The only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (18)

Jesus told Philip “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9).  What does this mean?

As we have looked at the Gospel of John, certain statements point to spiritual realities about Jesus.  The Logos made flesh is “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (1:9). So there is light as we know it, and there is “true light” that only Jesus brings.  There is water that comes from Jacob’s well and the “living water” of the Holy Spirit that only Jesus can give.  Unlike food that perishes,” Jesus is the “bread of life” and the “true bread from heaven” (chapter 6).

To His apostles, He explained He is the “true vine” and they are the branches (15). In each of these cases, the mundane reality of light, or bread or water or vine is only a reflection of the ultimate spiritual reality that is the glory of the incarnate Word.

Many analogies in this gospel help us see the glory of Jesus.  In 1:51, Jesus told Nathanael that he would see the “angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.” The language is the same of Genesis 28:12, where the angels of God are ascending to heaven and descending from heaven on Jacob’s ladder.  When we see His glory, we realize Jesus is the ladder that enables God and man to connect with one another.

In John 2, Jesus saved the day at the wedding by changing the water into wine and providing what was needed to carry on the wedding feast.  The master of the feast told the host that most people serve the better wine first and save the inferior wine until later in the feast, but he “kept the good wine until now” (2:10).  Is there a spiritual message in those words?  Is John trying to tell us that the law (the inferior wine) may have come through Moses, but grace and truth have finally come through Jesus the Christ? (1:17)

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born anew, He spoke of something spiritual.  Nicodemus wondered how it could be possible to enter again into the womb and be born.  Jesus countered with “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (3:6)  Those who receive Jesus are “children of God” (1:12) or “born again” (3:3) or “born of water and the Spirit” (3:5).  Jesus is the bringer of a new birth, which transcends physical birth and regenerates the soul of man.

Read with me in I John and read 2:29; 3:9; 4:7 and 5:1-2

When Jesus cleanses the temple, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were confused and said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”  John explains that Jesus was really speaking of “the temple of his body” (2:19-21).  Only after the resurrection did His disciples remember this saying of Jesus. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” and the scripture ? Zeal for your house will consume me” (Psalm 69:9).  What is the “temple of his body” that Jesus raised through the redemptive work of His death and resurrection?  Does John refer here only to the resurrection of Jesus’ physical body or to the building of the new temple, His body, the church?  When we “see his glory,” do we see Jesus as the destroyer of the old temple and the builder of a new one?” Certainly something spiritual is being said.

The woman at the well came to draw water.  Jesus told her that if she knew His true identity she would ask Him and He would give her living water.  The woman, marveling that Jesus would even speak to her remarked that He had no bucket to draw with.  Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (4:13-14)  Only Jesus can give us the heavenly water that quiches the thirsty soul.

Read John 7:37-39

John has been concerned with two things in the Gospel of John. He is building our belief in Christ as the Son of God but also through a stronger faith in Christ to have a more abundant life.

John points us that as we draw closer to Christ in faith then our lives begin to be greatly blessed. He is the source of real life.

This gives us a good picture of better understanding who Jesus Christ really was and what was He offering us.  He is saying that what He can do for you is something you should have.

In John 5, Jesus found a lame man beside the pool waiting with other hopeful sick people for the therapeutic value of the waters.  Jesus asked the man a simple question, “Do you wish to be healed?” (5:6).  The word translated healed means healthy as opposed to being sick. Throughout the passage this word is repeated in various phrases.

Who made you well?  How did you get well?  Jesus said to the man “See, you are well  Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you. (5:14). Does this mean that all who are without Jesus are fundamentally and spiritually sick?  Does it mean that only Jesus, the Great Physician, can truly heal one’s soul and make one well?

In John 6, Jesus fed the 5,000 men in the desert with five loaves and two fish. They pursued Him across the sea, seeking more bread.  Jesus says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give you.” (6:27)  The He explained, “I am the bread of life, whoever come to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (35) Jesus is the “true bread from heaven. (32) We must keep coming to Jesus and trusting in Him to get the food that sustains the soul!

Jesus encountered a man blind from birth, having lived his entire life in darkness. Right before Jesus opened the man’s eyes, He said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.  (9:5) When the man received his sight, the opponents of Jesus wanted to know who opened his eyes and how they were opened.  The blind man told them that the man called Jesus made clay and put it on his eyes, and after he washed, he could see!  Later the man said, ‘Whether he is a sinner I do not know.  One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (9:25).

At the end of this account, Jesus explained, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (9:39)  All who are without Jesus are blind.  They cannot see the world and life as they truly are. Only Jesus, the light of the world can open our eyes so that we can truly see things as they are.

John’s gospel speaks of life and death in terms of both shadow and spiritual reality. Jesus called dead Lazarus from the tomb.  Dead Lazarus heard the voice of the Son of God when He called, “Lazarus, come out!”, and Lazarus come to life.

Earlier in the book, Jesus said, “An hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (5:25)  Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, though he dies yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (11:25, 26).  All who don’t have Jesus are dead.  Only those who hear His words and believe in Him come to life. These people have “passed from death to life.” Even physical death cannot take their spiritual life away from them (5:24).

When Jesus hung on the cross, we are told that the Scripture was fulfilled that said, Not one of his bones will be broken” (19:36). That passage, however, is part of the cooking instructions for the Passover lamb.  “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones” (Exodus 12:46).  The spiritual reality we see in the incarnate Word is that He is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” John 1:29.

If we simply look at the bare facts of the events in the life of Jesus, then we never see His glory.  Jesus is Jacob’s ladder, the bridge between heaven and earth.  He is the good wine God has saved until now.  Jesus is the destroyer of the old temple and the builder of the new.  Jesus is the bringer of new birth.

He is the living water that quenches the thirsty soul.  He is the only Physician who can truly make people well.  Jesus is the true bread that satisfies the hunger of the soul.

Jesus is the light of the world that opens the eyes of all who are blind and frees them from stumbling through life in the darkness.  Jesus calls the spiritually dead to life.  He is the true vine to which the branches must be connected in order to bear fruit.  He is the way to the Father’s house, the truth about everything, and the bringer of life.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sin and the King of kings who rules us forever!

When you begin to see His glory, you will forever be changed.

John 20:30-31 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Have you seen His Glory?

A Secret Faith is No Faith At All John 19:38-42

Having A Secret Faith

Those who claimed Jesus’ body were part of same Sanhedrin that condemned. The first was Joseph of Arimathea, whom John calls “a disciple of Jesus.” But he was secret disciple too “afraid of the Jews” to follow Jesus openly.

John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue;”

A Secret Faith Is No Faith At All

His closest friends had abandoned him in the Garden of Gethsemane. One of his trusted friends had betrayed him to his enemies.

The voices that shouted “Hosanna!” became taunts of “Crucify Him!”  The friend who said, “I will never leave you” then denied him 3 times.

Jesus died virtually alone, and afterwards his body remained all alone.

What changed them?  The Cross!

Maybe it was the gentle and dignified way Jesus faced his fate.

Maybe it was the forgiveness offered to the mob calling for blood.

Maybe it was the haunting cry, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?

Maybe it was the quake that shook earth or torn veil that shook Judaism.

Maybe they had to agree with the pagan Centurion’s confession.

Summary:

Do you co-workers know about your faith?

Do the ones you go to school with know about your faith?

Do they know favorite sports team, music and movies but nothing about your Lord?

The cross demands that we make a choice—you can’t keep faith hidden.

If you avoid faith discussions, maybe yours is secret faith—no faith at all.

Have you decided, really decided to follow Jesus this morning?

 

What is Truth?

John 18:38 , Pilate asks Jesus about truth.  I believe that there is absolute truth.

Jesus says in John 8:32 “and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

God is a God of love.  He is also a God of His word.  He is both good and severe.  Romans 11:22

There are things that our society says is moral and socially acceptable. But at the same time God says that these things are immoral.

Sometimes truth is hard to determine. Consider the story of Micaiah Read I Kings 22:2-17    Now if you were one of those two kings who would you have believed? How can we be sure of truth?

We have to develop a thorough understanding of the Word of God ourselves.  Truth must always agree with God’s Word or it’s not truth at all.

I John 4:1 “do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

We Need to Commit ourselves

To seeking the truth. 2 Timothy 4:3-4

To believing the truth.

To living the truth.

Read Ephesians 4:14-15

John 8:31-32  Jesus says: “If you abide in my word you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The main reason people prefer to have a relative truth is so they can justify not following the commands of God.  *Key to today’s lesson.

Summary

There is truth—absolute truth—and there are things out there that aren’t true.  There are men and women who should be listened to and false prophets who need to be avoided.

Sometimes it is hard to know the difference.  Keep in mind that the Micaiahs of our world do not usually win popularity contests.  Their message may be painful to accept, but if it comes from God it is our responsibility to listen to and to put it into practice in our lives.

 

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The God of the Towel John 13:1-17

Jesus is aware that the time of his earthly ministry is over (John 12:23 READ)

The time had come for his supreme work to be accomplished (John 12:27 READ)

Here John says that Jesus “showed them the full extent of His love” (13:1 READ)

The full extent of Jesus’ love is seen in the cross, but He begins with a towel. (13:2-5 Read)

Luke 22:24 “A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest”

To Wash shows honor, respect and esteem

Abraham offered water to wash the three strangers feet (Genesis 18:3)

Abigail went to David and offered to his wash feet (1 Samuel 25:41)

Mary had just washed Jesus feet with perfume and her hair (John 12:3)

 

So maybe they were sitting back waiting to be honored by someone else

Maybe it never occurred to them that they should honor someone else

Jesus was Self-Aware of His Mission John 13:3

Read Philippians 2:5-11 (Pew Bible 1248)

He “existed in the form of God” (NAS) or “Though he was God” (NLT)

His equality wasn’t “something to be used for his own benefit” (NCV)

Simon Peter’s Response (13:6-9) He knew that something wasn’t right with all of this. He knew that Jesus shouldn’t be the one washing their feet.

Point: We should be looking to service and not for status (John 13:12-17 READ)

We could practice foot washing as a religious ritual, but that’s optional

What isn’t optional is humbling ourselves to serve one another (Gal 5:13 “For you were called to freedom, brothers.  Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” )

If Jesus humbled Himself to serve, then so should we (Matt 20:27-28 READ) Pew Page 1049

God will make sure we have the gifts we need to serve others (1 Pet 4:10 “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace;”)

Summary: Serving Takes Love

But we can be so distracted by the trivial and miss opportunities.

We assume that someone else will take care of it.

We are afraid some may take advantage of us in some way.

Some must deal daily with very real hardships and difficulties.

There are many reasons NOT to serve and one good reason to serve—Jesus.

 

The Good Shepherd John 10:1-5

God as Shepherd in the Bible

Two of best loved psalms present God as shepherd (23:1 The Lord is My Shepherd I shall not want…, 100:3 we are His people, and the sheep of His pasture).

 Jeremiah promised that God will gather his people as shepherd (Jer. 31:10 ‘He who scattered Israel will gather him, and will keep him as a shepherd keeps his flock’)

 Jesus shows God’s care for the lost in terms of a Shepherd (Lk. 15:4  What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it?)

 Peter shares God’s pastoral responsibility with elders (1 Pet 5:2, 4 shepherd the flock of God, that is among you, exercising oversight…and when the chief shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.)

The Good Shepherd Provides  vs. 9-10

 Jesus is the gate of his sheep fold—image is about more than an entrance.

1) Protection: Jesus gives us salvation and therefore he gives safety.

2) Provision: It is in Jesus that we come and go to have our needs met.

The Good Shepherd Sacrifices vs. 11-13

Shepherds who know their sheep will put themselves on the line.  Remember how David fought lions and bears to protect his sheep?  While David put himself on the line, Jesus put Himself on the Cross!

I John 3:16-18 Pew Bible Page 1303

 The cross of Christ was not one-time static event in history—it is our life.                                                      1) It calls us to accept God’s grace and follow the Good Shepherd daily.                                                            2) It calls us to a life of self-sacrifice and surrender as we live with others.                                                         3) It calls us to give up pride, conceit, and our demands to get our way.

The Good Shepherd Knows the Sheep and is Known by them  vs. 14

The first century shepherds knew their sheep by name.  What kept the sheep in line was the sound of the shepherd’s voice.

The Good Shepherd knows all of his sheep, even when we don’t. (John 10:16)  Christianity is Exclusive—only those who know the Shepherd.  But it is also Inclusive—ALL those who know the Shepherd.

Do You Know the Shepherd’s Voice?

Psalm 23   The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.

He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

 

Where Faith Becomes Family