From Jim McGuiggan.... God and the Law

God and the Law

 I made the point in Sin, Righteousness & Judgement that the moral law (in particular, the Mosaic covenantal law) profiles the God who gave it. I’m certain that’s true but it begs to be developed. Jews whose giftedness was scribal in nature believed the law profiled God but they still lost sight of his character and heart, which were made known in the law.

There are laws in the Torah that exist only because there were hardhearted people. Take the case of Deuteronomy 24:1-4, which regulated an evil that was going on. If some hardhearted men had not been mistreating women, dishonouring themselves and God there would have been no need for that piece of legislation. Jesus said it existed because their hearts were hard (Matthew 19:7-8).

This means Deuteronomy did more to profile the people than it did to profile God. It exposed their hearts rather than God’s. These men were fools to go to a passage that had For Sinful Weaklings written all over it, line their lives up with it and then boast about it as if they were the righteous cream of the crop. “Sin you can get forgiveness for but stupid is forever,” as Billy Sunday (borrowing from an ancient writer) used to say.

So, then, does Deuteronomy 24 not teach us about God’s heart? It does indeed, but it doesn’t teach us what these people thought it taught. Their problem wasn’t intellectual though there might have been some of that too. They read the law with sinful hearts and settled on the texts they liked best, the ones that justified their sinister agendas—or at least their “settle for less” agendas. Had they been looking for the heart of God they wouldn’t have settled on Deuteronomy 24, they would have seen it for what is it: God regulated an evil he didn’t approve of. (Why he did that is another question for another time.) God tolerated (and tolerates) much that he certainly did not approve. Polygamy, concubinage and divorce in order to marry someone else illustrate what I mean.

Had they looked for the heart of God they wouldn’t have settled on Deuteronomy 24, Jesus said. He said they would have gone for Genesis 2:24, which he linked with Genesis 1:26-27 and Genesis 2:18-23. There we find God’s heart desire for marriage. Line up with that, he tells them.

So what does a text like Deuteronomy 24 teach us about the heart of God? I think there are a number of things behind this Deuteronomy text but let me select just one. I think, among other things, that the passage is written to give abused women a break. The men were either sending them away from home without a clear indicator that she was no longer his wife or they had taken a second wife and the first wife is kept like a piece of furniture (compare Exodus 21:10). In either case the vulnerable woman can’t remarry and build a life. “If you don’t want her,” Moses said, “free her with a bill of divorce and let her get on with her life.” He said more than that in the section but he said no less than that.

In his care for the vulnerable we see the heart of God—he’s compassionate. And in his legislation that regulated something he hated we see the heart of God—he’s unbelievably patient. So while we have to be careful how we use God’s law if we are to see his heart, there it is, the steady beat that means hope for the world.

Sunday and the Lord's Supper by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Sunday and the Lord's Supper

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

The idea that all people are obligated to conform their thinking and their actions to the teaching of Jesus Christ is not a popular notion these days—even among Christians. Many desire to feel religiously authentic and pleasing to God, but few think that acceptance by God is predicated upon their own conformity to divine legislation. In fact, those who urge people to be conscientious about compliance with the details of God’s Word are decried as “legalists” (see Miller, 2003). Of course, this antinomian spirit is in direct conflict with the thrust of the Bible from beginning to end. God always has expected people to conform themselves to His stipulations (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Obedient human response is a manifestation of one’s love (John 14:15; John 15:14; 1 John 5:3).
The New Testament conveys specific information regarding the “what, when, how, and why” of the observance the Lord’s Supper. Nevertheless, most within Christendom assign no significance to frequency. To them, one may partake of the Lord’s Supper once each month, quarter, or year. However, Scripture is in conflict with this thinking (Brownlow, 1945, pp. 168-175). The biblical view is that God intends for the church to observe the Lord’s Supper every first day of the week, i.e., every Sunday. A more recent wrinkle of innovation is the insistence that the Lord’s Supper may be observed on days of the week other than Sunday (e.g., Atchley, 1989; Hood, 1990, p. 15; Mayeux, 1989, 46:6). But what does the Bible teach?

Preliminary Considerations

Shortly before His death, Jesus observed the Old Testament feast of unleavened bread. In the process, He instituted the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:20) and told His disciples that this “communion” (1 Corinthians 10:16) would be observed in the kingdom (Matthew 26:29). The bread and the fruit of the vine were to function as symbols for the body and blood of Jesus that soon would be offered on the cross as the sacrifice for the world. When is this practice of observing the Lord’s Supper to be done? On Sunday? Every Sunday? Only on Sunday?
One key consideration is the early church’s practice under the apostles’ guidance. After all, Jesus specifically predicted that after His departure from Earth, the Holy Spirit would enable the apostles to implement the teachings of Christ in the establishment of the church and the launching of the Christian religion (John 14:25-26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15). Just prior to His ascension, He commissioned the apostles to preach the Gospel (Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15-16). Hence, the New Testament reports what early Christians and churches practiced as a direct result of the teachings of Christ as mediated through the apostles. How churches observed the Lord’s Supper, beginning in the book of Acts, is unquestionably a reflection of apostolic influence and inspired precedent. As McGarvey well noted:
It is axiomatic that the Lord, who instituted ordinances for observance in the church, knew the precise manner of their observance which would best secure the spiritual ends had in view; and consequently every loyal soul feels impelled to preserve them precisely in the manner of their first institution, when that can be ascertained.... [O]ur only safety...is to be found in copying precisely the form instituted by divine authority (1910, pp. 342-343).
A second key factor concerns the significance of Sunday. Does the New Testament assign any special meaning to Sunday? One cannot help but take note of the fact that Jesus’ resurrection took place on Sunday (Mark 16:1; Luke 24:1; John 20:1). After His resurrection, Jesus met with His disciples on Sunday (John 20:19,26). Pentecost was a Jewish feast day (Leviticus 23:15ff.), and it was on this feast day, ten days after the ascension of Jesus, that the church was established—on Sunday (see McGarvey, 1892, p. 19; Brewer, 1941, pp. 325-326). New Testament churches assembled on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:2). They observed the Lord’s Supper on that day (Acts 20:7). In harmony with Revelation 1:10, early Christians began calling Sunday “the Lord’s day” (Swete, 1911, p. 13). How can even the casual reader miss this repetition? Without a doubt, the day Sunday is infused with considerable religious significance.
Another implied factor is the deafening silence of the New Testament with regard to the special significance of Saturday (or any other day). Other than Sunday, Saturday is the only serious contender for a day of religious significance. However, observance of the Sabbath was unquestionably a feature of only Judaism, not Christianity—though the infant church was exclusively Jewish and initially reluctant to abandon Mosaic practice (Acts 11:19; 15:1,5; 21:12). The same is true with regard to early church history. While certainly not the deciding criterion for New Testament Christians, early church history confirms that Acts 20:7 is not an incidental reference. Observance of the Lord’s Supper on Sunday reflects the general practice of both the first-century churches as well as post-first-century churches. For example, the Didache, written shortly after the close of the first century, speaks of Christians coming together each Lord’s day and breaking bread (9:1-12; 14:1). Justin Martyr wrote in his First Apology (ch. 67), circa A.D. 152, of Christians meeting on Sunday and partaking of the communion (ch. 67). Milligan observed: “That the primitive Christians were wont to celebrate the Lord’s Supper on every first day of the week is evident.... During the first two centuries the practice of weekly communion was universal, and it was continued in the Greek church till the seventh century” (1975, p. 440). Johnson summarized the post-first century data:
[T]he early church writers from Barnabas, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, to Clement of Alexandria, Origen and Cyprian, all with one consent, declare that the church observed the first day of the week. They are equally agreed that the Lord’s Supper was observed weekly, on the first day of the week (1891, 1:505, emp. added).
Still another consideration is the doctrinal significance that interconnects the Lord’s Supper and Sunday. Jesus’ death and resurrection were connected intimately to Sunday observance of the Supper (1 Corinthians 11:26). One cannot argue for a Sunday assembly without arguing for Sunday communion. In Deuteronomy 5:12-15, the Sabbath commemorated the Exodus—the deliverance of the Jews from Egyptian bondage. Sunday, in like manner, is the Christian’s day of deliverance. The Lord’s Supper is associated with this redemption and the very nature of the church. It is a corporate act and thus done by all members when the assembly comes together on Sunday. The Lord’s Supper on any other day weakens its doctrinal significance (see Ferguson, 1976, pp. 59-62). As Rex Turner so eloquently affirmed:
The first day of the week is Christ’s resurrection day. It is the greatest day in all the annals of history. What could be more appropriate, therefore, than for the disciples to assemble on Christ’s resurrection day, the first day of the week, to break the bread and to drink the fruit of the vine in commemoration of Christ’s death, his atoning blood, his resurrection, and his promise to come again? He who contends that Christians may with equal propriety and authority partake of the Lord’s Supper on some other day than the first day of the week has not grasped the real significance of what took place on that certain first day of the week, nor does he recognize how that the first day of the week is the Lord’s Day (Revelation 1:10) (1972, p. 80, emp. added).
Ultimately, the issue of observance frequency hinges on the verses that address the subject specifically. [NOTE: For an excellent analytical treatment of the passages of Scripture that impinge on the question of the Lord’s Supper, see Warren, 1975, pp. 148-156.]


ACTS 2:42,46

In Acts 2:42, we encounter the expression “breaking of bread.” The Greek expression “to break bread” (klasai arton), a literal rendering of the Hebrew idiom (paras lechem), was a common idiom meaning “to partake of food” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 839; Woods, 1976, p. 67; Harris, et al., 1980, 2:736; Gesenius, 1847, p. 690; Moule, 1961, p. 25; Behm, 1965, 3:729). The idiom developed from the fact that Hebrews baked their bread in the shape of thin round flat cakes (rather than loaves) that lent themselves more to breaking than cutting (Bullinger, p. 839; McClintock and Strong, 1867, 1:882). The idiom is clearly seen in Isaiah 58:7, Jeremiah 16:7, and Lamentations 4:4. Americans use a similar idiom when we speak of “getting a bite to eat.” However, figures of speech often do “double duty” by developing additional meanings. From the idiomatic meaning of eating a meal came a more technical use of the expression in Scripture. Since the Lord took bread and, in accordance with the Jewish practice where the father of the household prepared the bread for distribution to the family (see Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 434; Rackham, 1901, p. 37; Behm, 1964, 1:477), apparently broke it into pieces (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Corinthians 1:24), “breaking bread” sometimes is used in Scripture to refer to the Lord’s Supper (see Behm, 1965, 3:730; Klappert, 1976, 2:530; Reese, 1976, pp. 83, 734). One cannot assume that every occurrence of the idiom refers to the Lord’s Supper. Context must determine whether a common meal or the Lord’s Supper is intended (see chart).

Literal Breaking
Figurative Breaking
Common Meal
Matt. 14:19; 15:36
Mark 6:41; 8:6,19
Luke 9:16; 24:30
Acts 27:35
Luke 24:35
Acts 2:46
Lord’s Supper
Matt. 26:26
Mark 14:22
Luke 22:19
1 Cor. 11:24
Acts 2:42
Acts 20:7,11
Contextual indicators in Acts 2:42 that point to the meaning of the Lord’s Supper include the use of the article “the” (in the Greek), indicating that a particular event, as opposed to a common meal, is under consideration (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:16; Nicoll, n.d., 2:95). The verse could well have been translated, “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and the fellowship, in the breaking of the bread, and in the prayers.” Luke obviously was speaking of the formal worship activities of the Christians.

Second, “breaking bread” is listed among other unmistakably religious activities of the church: apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, and prayer. Third, the phrase “continued steadfastly” (imperfect tense) indicates a customary, habitual, ongoing practice—though the exact frequency is not indicated in this context. One has to go elsewhere to ascertain whether specific frequency is enjoined. Yet, from this passage one can see that the early church obviously partook more frequently than annually, since a year had not passed since the establishment of the church, and they already were worshiping “steadfastly.”
“Breaking bread” is again mentioned four verses later. Here, too, context must provide indication as to whether Acts 2:46 refers to observance of the Lord’s Supper or simply common meals. Arndt and Gingrich call attention to the use of the enclitic particle, te, occurring most frequently in the New Testament in the book of Acts. It appears twice in Acts 2:46 to convey the idea of “not only...but also” (1957, p. 807; cf. Robertson, 1934, p. 1179—“But te...te is strictly correlative”). Thayer identifies the term as a copulative enclitic particle that conveys an inner connection with what precedes. Hence, double use of the term in the same sentence, as in Acts 2:46, presents parallel or coordinate ideas—“as...so” (Thayer, 1901, pp. 616-617; Blass, et al., 1961, p. 230). Hence the use of the correlative conjunction (te) in verse 46 functions as a break in thought—a contrast—to guard against the impression that the disciples stayed in the temple 24 hours a day. Luke conveyed the idea that the disciples clustered together in the temple almost constantly after the momentous events of Pentecost, no doubt unwilling to miss any of the tremendous spiritual activities associated with the establishment of the church. However, they went to their private homes in order to carry on the routine amenities associated with common meals. So Jamieson, et al.: “in private, as contrasted with their temple-worship” (1871, p. 176, italics in orig.).
The parallel thought conveyed by the double use of te, evident throughout the context, is the unity or togetherness that the disciples enjoyed. While they participated together in their religious activities, they also continued their togetherness in their nonreligious acts of domestic socialization. English versions that capture the grammatical nuances of the verse include the NIV: “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts.” Observe that the allusion to being together in the temple courts is terminated with a period. The next sentence conveys a separate idea pertaining to the eating of common meals in their homes. The ASV translates the verse: “And day by day, continuing steadfastly with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread at home, they took their food with gladness and singleness of heart.” The daily meeting in the temple was a separate practice from breaking bread at home, where they ate their meals with gladness. Barnes observed: “[T]he expression ‘did eat their meat’ seems to imply that this refers to their common meals, and not to the Lord’s supper” (1847, p. 59, emp. added). “Breaking bread” (vs. 46) therefore refers, not to the Lord’s Supper, but to common meals. The term “food” (trophe; cf. “meat,” KJV), never used to refer to the Lord’s Supper, is explicative of the expression “breaking bread”—further proof that a common meal is under consideration (Jackson, 1991, p. 3).
In order to prove that Acts 2:46 refers to daily observance of the Lord’s Supper, one would have to both know and prove two unprovable points: (1) that “daily” is an adverbial temporal modifier that necessarily modifies the phrase “breaking bread at home,” and (2) that the phrase “breaking bread at home” refers specifically and exclusively to the Lord’s Supper (Warren, 1975, p. 151). One would have to know these two things before one could draw the conclusion that God sanctions partaking of the Lord’s Supper on some day other than Sunday. But one cannot know or prove these two points. Indeed, the grammatical evidence militates against them. Acts 2:46 provides no authority or evidence to warrant the conclusion that the church can partake of the Lord’s Supper on some day other than Sunday.

ACTS 20:7

In Acts 20, considerable information regarding the early church’s handling of the Lord’s Supper is divulged. Nothing in this or any other context indicates that the “many lights,” “upper room” (vs. 8), or “third story” (vs. 9) have anything to do with the Lord’s Supper. Thus the location and surrounding paraphernalia (e.g., number of trays/cups) are expedients. As such, they are permanently optional (cf. Warren, 1975, p. 140). Additional contextual features help to define the parameters of the passage.
First, the term “to break bread” is a first Aorist infinitive. Infinitives in Greek and English denote purpose of action of the principal verb (Summers, 1950, p. 132; Dana and Mantey, 1927, p. 214). The verb in the verse is “came together.” Thus the primary purpose for the assembly was to partake of the Lord’s Supper. This conclusion is also implied in Paul’s rebuke of the Corinthians: “Therefore when you come together in one place, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 11:20). Alexander Campbell noted that Paul’s words demonstrate that partaking of the Lord’s Supper was “the chief object of meeting” (1972, p. 32). Observe carefully that even as the purpose for the assembly is declared forthrightly to be partaking of the Lord’s Supper, so the text states explicitly that this act was done on the first day of the week. [NOTE: For a discussion of the underlying Greek that authenticates the translation “first day of the week,” see McGarvey, 1910, pp. 306-307.]
Second, Luke used “when” as a stylistic device to denote a regular procedure that the reader should know and understand (see Dungan, 1891, 1:245-246; Gibson, 1990, pp. 4-5). The clause prefaced by the word “when” constitutes a side comment by Luke intended to flag a well-recognized, fully expected event. The significance of this feature is illustrated in the following paraphrase: “Now on the first day of the week—which everyone recognizes is the very day that Christians come together to observe the Lord’s Supper—Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them....” A parallel to American culture may be seen in the statement: “On the fourth of July, when Americans celebrate the birth of their country, the President delivered a stirring speech to the nation” (cf. Nichol and Whiteside, 1920, 1:171). The main point to which Luke was driving was the preaching of Paul that lasted until midnight. However, subordinating an additional action within a separate clause, prefaced with “when,” shows that Luke was making reference to that which was recognized as standard protocol among Christians: Sunday observance of the Lord’s Supper. Indeed,
[w]e must remember that I Cor. had been previously written, and that the reference in I Cor. xvi.2 to “the first day of the week” for the collection of alms naturally connects itself with the statement here in proof that this day had been marked out by the Christian Church as a special day for public worship, and for “the breaking of the bread” (Nicoll, n.d., 2:424, emp. added).
Third, Paul spent an entire week in Troas—even though he was on a rushed schedule, in a hurry to get to Jerusalem (20:16). One would not delay a rushed trip simply to partake of a common meal or meals—which could have been eaten on any of the delayed days. It would seem he desired to meet with the entire church at the formal, weekly worship assembly—a circumstance he repeated both at Tyre (Acts 21:4) and Puteoli (Acts 28:14). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown explain the timetable:
[A]rriving on a Monday, they stayed over the Jewish Sabbath and the Lord’s Day following; occupying himself, doubtless, in refreshing and strengthening fellowship with the brethren during the interval.... This...plainly indicates that the Christian observance of the day afterwards distinctly called “the Lord’s Day,” was already a fixed practice of the churches (1871, p. 208, emp. added).

Saturday Night or Sunday Night?

From the text it is apparent that on this occasion the disciples came together in the evening. Since we are informed that they came together “on the first day of the week,” the question remains whether the evening was our Saturday night or our Sunday night. The answer hinges on the matter of the reckoning of time in the first century, specifically, whether Luke’s narrative employs Jewish or Roman time. The following background information will resolve this question.

Days & Hours

Throughout history, cultures have differed in their counting of hours and days. The term “day” has a variety of meanings among cultures even in the Bible. The 24-hour rotation of the Earth on its axis is one meaning for the term “day,” i.e., a solar or astronomical day. But the point at which one begins to count this single revolution has differed from culture to culture. Scholars are largely agreed that the Babylonians counted their days from sunrise to sunrise, the Umbrians from noon to noon, the Athenians and Hebrews from sunset to sunset, and the Egyptians and Romans from midnight to midnight (Pliny, 1855, 2.79.77; Smith, 1868, 1:567; Hasel, 1979b, 1:878; Anthon, 1843, p. 361). Europe, America, and Western civilization have generally conformed to Roman time. Throughout the Bible, the Jews commenced their day in the evening—as stipulated by the Law of Moses in the phrase “from evening to evening” (Leviticus 23:32; cf. Exodus 12:18). Hence, for Jews the Sabbath (Saturday) began at sunset (approximately 6:00 p.m.) on what we delineate as Friday evening. Their Sabbath (Saturday) came to a close at approximately 6:00 p.m. on our Saturday evening, and their Sunday began at that time (see also Nehemiah 13:19; Psalm 55:17; cf. ereb boqer [evening-morning] in Daniel 8:14). Since the early church initially was composed entirely of Jews, and since Jews were scattered outside of Palestine throughout the Roman Empire, “the early churches...often followed the Jewish custom” (Johnson, 1891, 1:506) of reckoning time.
Another meaning for the word “day” corresponds to our word “daylight.” The phrase “night and day” (Mark 5:5) refers to the dark and light portions of a single, 24-hour day—with the word “day” referring to only half of the 24-hour day (Gibbs, 1982, 2:769; Hasel, 1979a, 1:877; Anthon, pp. 362,507). Jesus made this meaning clear when He asked, “Are there not twelve hours in the day?” (John 11:9, emp. added). He was using the word “day” to refer to the daylight hours as distinguished from the night. Luke uses the term the same way. In Acts 16:35, he wrote: “And when it was day, the magistrates sent the officers, saying, ‘Let those men go.’” He means “when it was daylight,” since the events leading up to his statement were post-midnight occurrences (vs. 25).
The Jews of Jesus’ day divided the daylight portion of the “day” into even smaller units, i.e., four units of three hours each beginning about 6:00 a.m. (Hasel, 1979b, 1:878; Robinson, 1881, p. 338; Robertson, 1922, p. 284). This mode permeates the New Testament. The darkness that prevailed during Christ’s crucifixion “from the sixth hour until the ninth hour” (Matthew 27:45; cf. Mark 15:33) is our noon to 3:00 p.m. Though Luke probably was a non-Jew, and though the initial recipient of the book, Theophilus, very likely was also a Gentile, it nevertheless is evident that Luke used the Jewish—not Roman—method of counting time in Luke and Acts. The “sixth hour” and “ninth hour” in Luke 23:44 are noon and 3:00 p.m. respectively. The “third hour of the day” in Acts 2:15 refers to 9:00 a.m. The “sixth hour” in Acts 10:9 is 12:00 noon. The “ninth hour” in Acts 3:1 and Acts 10:3,30 is 3:00 p.m. So certain of this reckoning were the NIV translators that they converted the “ninth hour” to the modern equivalent to aid the English reader: “Cornelius answered: ‘Four days ago I was in my house praying at this hour, at three in the afternoon” (Acts 10:30, emp. added; cf. vs. 3). Even the Roman authority Claudius Lysias was “following the Jewish method of counting time” (Jackson, 2005, p. 298) in Acts 23:23 when he alluded to “the third hour of the night” (i.e., 9:00 p.m.). Notice that all of Luke’s allusions to days and hours in Acts assume a Jewish reckoning of time. [NOTE: Matthew and Mark also followed Jewish time, while John—who wrote near the end of the first century—seems to have followed Roman time (cf. Smith, 1869, 2:1102; Robertson, 1922, p. 285; Lockhart, 1901, p. 28; Brewer, 1941, pp. 330-331; McGarvey, 1892, 2:181-182).] The same may be said even of Luke’s references to seasons, as Reese so insightfully observes in his comments on Acts 27:9:
It should be noted that Paul is using Jewish time here (as he does in Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8; and Acts 18:21, KJV); or shall we say that Luke is using Jewish time in his account of what Paul said? Rather than speaking of sailing being dangerous from the Ides of November to the Ides of March, Luke uses the Jewish means of reckoning. In Jewish language, the sailing season was reckoned from the feast of Passover until the feast of Tabernacles (five days after the Day of Atonement) (1976, p. 897, emp. added).
Further, one must distinguish very carefully between the meaning “24-hour period” and “daylight” in the Bible’s use of “day.” For example, Luke informs us that Herod had James executed and intended to do the same to Peter: “Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover” (Acts 12:3-4, emp. added). Passover began on our Friday evening around 6:00 p.m. While sitting in prison during that night (vs. 6), Peter was released by an angel, so he went to the home of Mary (vs. 12) to report the incident, and then went elsewhere. Luke then states: “as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers about what had become of Peter” (vs. 18, emp. added). “Day” in verse 18 refers to daylight, i.e., morning—not another or second day.
Another example is seen in Luke’s remark about the Jewish authorities: “And they laid hands on them [the apostles—DM], and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening” (Acts 4:3, emp. added). Observe that, by “next day,” Luke did not mean to refer to a different day, as if to say that the apostles were arrested on Monday, but placed in custody until Tuesday. Rather, using Jewish time, Luke was saying that the apostles were arrested at or after 6:00 p.m. (“it was already evening”) on a particular day, and then placed in custody until the next daylight period, i.e., the next morning of the same day. To illustrate, if the apostles were arrested after 6:00 p.m. on, say, our Monday, it already was their Tuesday, and the “next day” when the Sun rose would still be Tuesday. [NOTE: For yet another example of this use of “day,” see Acts 23, where Paul delivered his defense before the Jewish Council (vss. 1-10). Luke then states: “But the following night the Lord stood by him...” (vs. 11). The “following night” does not refer to the night of the next day, but rather to the dark hours that followed sequentially after Paul’s defense during the daylight hours (as reflected in the NASB rendering: “But on the night immediately following...”). Verse 12 then states: “And when it was day...”—referring to the daylight that followed the night of verse 11. See also Acts 23:31-32; 27:27-29.]
This linguistic usage comes into play in Acts 20. Since Luke was using Jewish time (as he does everywhere else in Acts), then the disciples came together on the evening of our Saturday—their Sunday—with Paul “ready to depart the next day,” i.e., the next period of daylight, which would be sometime after dawn the next morning—which would still be their (and our) Sunday. Conybeare and Howson comment: “It was the evening which succeeded the Jewish Sabbath. On the Sunday morning the vessel was about to sail” (1899, pp. 592-593).
Observe also that the Jewish (vs. Roman) method of reckoning time is inherent in the terminology in the above passages, in which 12 sequential hours are equated with “day,” i.e., daylight. Roy Lanier, Sr. explains:
But reckoning the day of twenty-four hours from 6 p.m. to 6 p.m. is the only way one can get twelve hours of night and twelve hours of day and get them in that order. Starting the period at midnight gives us approximately six hours of darkness, then twelve hours of light, and then another six hours of darkness, in that order. The Biblical day began with twelve hours of darkness and was followed by twelve hours of light (1984, 2:108).

Acts 20:11

When the worship was interrupted by the fall of Eutychus from the upper window, and Paul miraculously revived him, we read in verse 11: “Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed.” Commentators are divided as to the meaning of “broken bread” in this verse. Some insist that “broken bread” and “eaten” refer to a common meal (perhaps “love feast”) that the brethren shared with Paul before his departure. Others insist that “broken bread” refers to the Lord’s Supper.
One primary reason to equate “broken bread” in this verse with the eating of the Lord’s Supper is due to its connection to the same expression used previously in verse seven. The Greek places the article before “bread” in verse 11, i.e., “the bread,” as reflected in both the ASV and NASB. G.C. Brewer concluded from this grammatical feature: “In verse 7 we are told that they came together to break bread, and in verse 11 we are told that after the interruption they came to the upper chamber again and broke the breadton arton” (p. 331). Brewer’s point was not that the article preceding “bread” automatically proves that the Lord’s Supper is intended. Rather, his point was that
since bread was mentioned in the context (verse 7), and this, as all admit, was the Lord’s Supper, and no other bread was contemplated in the passage, then “the bread” in verse 11 would naturally refer to the bread just previously mentioned. If we allow the context to explain what bread is intended, we can have no doubt about its being the Lord’s Supper (p. 336, italics in orig., emp. added; see also Hackett, 1852, p. 283; cf. Johnson, 1891, 1:505).
In their famous Greek Grammar of the New Testament, Blass, Debrunner, and Funk lend further support to this interpretation of Acts 20:11, in their discussion of the use of the article with proper names (1961, pp. 135-136). They note that while proper names “do not as such take the article,” they may do so as the result of “anaphora” (i.e., “the use of a linguistic unit...to refer back to another unit”—American Heritage..., 2000, p. 65). In other words, if a proper name is used, arton (bread) in verse seven, and the same noun is used thereafter in the same context preceded by the article, ton arton (the bread) in verse 11, the second occurrence of the noun generally refers to the earlier occurrence. Blass, et al., give examples of two such instances—both also by Luke: (1) the use of the article with Saul (“the Saul”) in Acts 9:1 with reference to the earlier mention of him in Acts 8:3 where the article is not used, and (2) the use of the article with Damascus (“the Damascus”) in Acts 9:3 with anaphora to verse two where Damascus occurs without the article.
Using four participles and one verb in verse 11, Luke itemized five specific actions that followed the revival of Eutychus. In the ASV, those actions are: (1) gone up (i.e., returning to the third floor), (2) broken the bread, (3) eaten, (4) talked a long while, and (5) departed. Observe carefully that the term “eaten” is a separate participial action from the breaking of the bread. It would appear that “eaten” refers to a common meal that Paul ate after the Lord’s Supper was commemorated. Guy N. Woods commented: “We believe that the breaking of the bread in verse 11 refers to the Lord’s supper; and that the mention of the word eaten suggests a common meal” (Woods, 1976, p. 351, italics in orig.). Conybeare and Howson agree: “[T]hey celebrated the Eucharistic feast. The act of Holy Communion was combined, as was usual in the Apostolic age, with a common meal” (1899, p. 594). They further noted that “When he had eaten, v. 11...is distinguished in the Greek from the breaking bread” (p. 594, note 3, italics in orig.; see also Robertson, 1930, 3:342; Jamieson, et al., 1871, p. 208). The objection that the allusion to breaking bread is singular and that therefore it cannot refer to the Lord’s Supper, since Paul would not have taken the Lord’s Supper by himself, actually carries no force, since the same objection would apply to the idea that a common meal is intended. Would Paul have consumed a common meal by himself—especially since he was accompanied by several traveling companions who would have been in just as much need of sustenance before continuing the trip with Paul (cf. McGarvey, 1863, p. 249)?
In view of Luke’s use of Jewish time, it matters little whether the Lord’s Supper or a common meal is indicated. In either case, the disciples came together to partake of the Lord Supper “on the first day of the week”—not Saturday or Monday. Even those scholars who are inclined to believe that Luke used Roman time, nevertheless, speak with virtually one accord in affirming that the Lord’s Supper was observed on Sunday—not Monday. As H. Leo Boles insisted: “[I]f they ate the Lord’s Supper on Monday, they did not do what they met to do on the first day of the week” (1941, p. 319). He also explained:
Yes. The Jews and Romans had different ways of counting time. It matters not to us how they counted time. We have a time designated as the “first day of the week,” and the Lord’s people are to meet upon that day. Their time was divided into days, weeks, months, and years, as in ours. Their weeks had a first day, and our weeks have a first day. We can know the first day of our week, and can meet and worship on that day and receive the blessing of God (1985, p. 112).
Though DeWelt assumes a Jewish reckoning, he noted: “We might remark that the Lord’s Supper here called the ‘breaking of bread’ was partaken of on Sunday regardless of what time of reckoning for time is used. If you count the time from sundown to sundown (Jewish) it was on Sunday. If from midnight to midnight (Roman) it was on Sunday” (1958, p. 271, emp. added).


Some argue that since the Jewish Christians could have observed the Lord’s Supper on our Saturday evening, we can, too. However, Saturday evening was not Saturday evening to a Jew—it was Sunday! The timing of our observance of the Lord’s Supper must conform to the reckoning of time indigenous to our culture. God expects Christians to observe the Supper on the first day of the week—however that day is reckoned in a given society. It will not do to say that we can partake of the Lord’s Supper on Saturday in Texas since at that moment in Australia it is already Sunday. A person living in Texas must observe the Lord’s Supper on Sunday as Sunday is reckoned in Texas. Otherwise, there would be no end to the resulting confusion, and the emphasis placed on Sunday in the New Testament would be rendered essentially meaningless. God will hold each of us accountable for observing the Supper on Sunday as that day is reckoned in our culture and geographical location.
Another quibble is the assertion that since Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper on a Thursday—taking of it Himself along with His disciples—we can partake on days other than Sunday. It is true that Jesus instigated the Lord’s Supper on Thursday evening—the first day on which the Jews commenced preparations for the feast, which was the killing of the Passover lamb. But the thinking that says, “If He did it on Thursday, we can, too” fails on two counts. First, Jesus could have taught His disciples about a practice on one day, but intend for them to practice it on another, without being inconsistent. Second, the text plainly says that Jesus’ participation in this practice would take place “new...in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29). In other words, He was giving them instruction on the observance of the Lord’s Supper that would be practiced in the church after its establishment. Therefore, one would have to look after Acts chapter two in order to see if Jesus intended any set frequency or particular day. We find precisely that—Sunday observance of the Lord’s Supper.

1 CORINTHIANS 11:23-39

While 1 Corinthians 11:23-39 provides much detail, the main purpose of the passage pertains to the how of the Lord’s Supper, not the when. Nevertheless, frequency and consistency in partaking of the Lord’s Supper are implied in such words as “do this” (vss. 24,25), “as often as” (vss. 25,26), “until” (vs. 26), “when” (vs. 33). Repetition is inherent in the construction of such expressions, without specifying the precise pattern of frequency. Since the phrases are indefinite, one must look elsewhere to see if any specific frequency is enjoined. All one need do is read forward to chapter 16. The Corinthians knew that they were to meet every first day of the week—as is evident from the use of kata in 1 Corinthians 16:2 (“every week”—see below). When Paul wrote, “Whenever you meet, you are to do such and so,” he knew that his readers already understood the intended specificity about the day (Sunday).


In 1 Corinthians 16:2, the term kata is distributive and means “every.” Macknight explains: “And as kata polin signifies every city; and kata mena, every month; and, Acts xiv. 23 kata ekklesian, in every church: so kata mian sabbatou signifies the first day of every week” (n.d., p. 208, italics and emp. in orig.; cf. Arndt and Gingrich, 1957, p. 407; for a discussion of the proper translation of sabbatou, see Lyons, 2006; McGarvey, 1910, pp. 306-307). English translations that reflect this feature of the Greek include the NIV and NASB. Thus Paul unquestionably invoked weekly contributions for the churches: “on the first day of every week.” Similarly, the Jews understood that the Sabbath observance—“remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Exodus 20:8)—applied to every Sabbath. Paul stated that he gave this same command for weekly Sunday collection to the Galatian churches as well (vs. 1). Here is an inspired apostle, under the guiding influence of the Holy Spirit Whom Jesus said would come, legislating frequency for first century churches. These churches obviously came together not only to offer a financial contribution and then go home. They met to engage in all acts of worship—the Lord’s Supper being premiere among them. Recognized theologian, avowed Pentecostal minister, and Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies at Regent College, Gordon Fee, agrees with this contention, when he speaks of Sunday as—
a weekly reckoning with religious significance.... This language is well remembered in the Gospel traditions in relationship to the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The fixed place of this terminology in those narratives implies that it had more than simply historical interest for the early church. This is verified further by the note in Acts 20:7, which implies most strongly that Paul and the others waited in Troas until the “first day of the week” precisely because that is when the Christians gathered for the breaking of bread, that is, their meal in honor of the Lord (1987, p. 814, emp. added).


Only by gathering everything the New Testament says on a subject and logically fitting it all together can one arrive at the truth. The conclusion to be drawn from this information is definitive and unquestionable. Since Christians met every Sunday (1 Corinthians 16:2), and a central purpose for such assemblies was to observe the Lord’s Supper (Acts 20:7) regularly and consistently (Acts 2:42), it follows that the early church partook of the Lord’s Supper every Sunday—and partook of it only on Sunday. H. Leo Boles well concluded: “There is no scriptural example or instruction authorizing the eating of the Lord’s Supper on any day except the first day of the week” (1985, p. 37). Rex Turner offers a fitting summary: “[T]he necessary and inescapable conclusion is that disciples must meet on, and only on, the first day of the week to break bread” (1972, p. 77).


American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (2000), (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin), fourth edition.
Anthon, Charles (1843), A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Antiquities (New York: American Book).
Arndt, William and F.W. Gingrich (1957), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Atchley, Rick (1989), in Monroe Hawley, “Acts As A Pattern for the Church Today (Part 3),” Audio Cassette (Searcy, AR: Harding University Lectures).
Barnes, Albert (1847), Notes on the New Testament: Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2005 reprint).
Behm, Johannes (1964), “artos,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Behm, Johannes (1965), “klao, klasis, klasma,” Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Blass, F., A. Debrunner, and Robert Funk (1961), A Greek Grammar of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press).
Boles, H. Leo (1941), A Commentary on Acts of the Apostles (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Boles, H. Leo (1985), Questions and Answers, Sermon Outlines and Bible Study Notes (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Brewer, G.C. (1941), Contending For the Faith (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Brownlow, Leroy (1945), Why I Am A Member of the Church of Christ (Fort Worth, TX: Brownlow Publishing).
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Campbell, Alexander (1972 reprint), “Lord’s Supper A Divine Institution,” in Around the Lord’s Table, ed. John Hinds (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Conybeare, W.J. and J.S. Howson (1971 reprint), The Life and Epistles of Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Dana, H.E. and Julius Mantey (1927), A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament (Toronto, Canada: Macmillan).
DeWelt, Don (1958), Acts Made Actual (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Didache (no date), ed. Roberts-Donaldson, [On-line], URL: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/text/didache-roberts.html.
Dungan, D.R. (1891), “The Lord’s Supper,” in The Old Faith Restated, ed. J.H. Garrison (St. Louis, MO: Christian Publishing). Reprinted in John Hudson, ed., The Pioneers on Worship (Kansas City, MO: The Old Paths Book Club), pp. 93-114.
Fee, Gordon (1987), The First Epistle to the Corinthians, New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Ferguson, Everett (1976), “The Lord’s Supper and Biblical Hermeneutics,” Mission, September.
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1979 reprint).
Gibbs, J.G. (1982), “Hour,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Gibson, Steve (1990), “Ruminations on Acts 20:7,” The Restorer, 10[1]:4-5, January.
Hackett, H.B. (1852), A Commentary on the Original Text of the Acts of the Apostles (Boston, MA: J.P. Jewett).
Harris, R.L., G.L. Archer, Jr., and B.K. Waltke (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Hasel, G.F. (1979a), “Day,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hasel, G.F. (1979b), “Day and Night,” The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. Geoffrey Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Hood, Kregg (1990), “Establishing Biblical Authority: A Fresh Look at A Familiar Issue (Part 2),” Image 6, May/June.
Jackson, Wayne (1991), “The Lord’s Supper in the Early Church,” The Edifier, 11:3, November 28.
Jackson, Wayne (2005), The Acts of the Apostles from Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Christian Courier), second edition.
Jamieson, Robert, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (1871), A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan), [On-line], URL: http://www.ccel.org/ccel/jamieson/jfb.i.html.
Johnson, B.W. (1891), The People’s New Testament (St. Louis, MO: Christian Board of Education).
Klappert, Bertold (1976), “Lord’s Supper,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Lanier, Roy, Sr. (1984), 20 Years of the Problem Page (Abilene, TX: Quality Publications).
Lockhart, Clinton (1901), Principles of Interpretation (Delight, AR: Gospel Light), revised edition.
Lyons, Eric (2006), “The First Day of the Week,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3157.
MacKnight, James (no date), Apostolical Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Martyr, Justin (no date), First Apology, ed. Roberts-Donaldson, [On-line], URL: http://www.earlychristianwritings.com/justin.html.
Mayeux, Randy (1989), “Letter to the Editor,” Christian Chronicle, 46:6, June.
McClintock, John and James Strong (1867), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
McGarvey, J.W. (1863), A Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth Foundation).
McGarvey, J.W. (1892), New Commentary on Acts of Apostles (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
McGarvey, J.W. (1910), Biblical Criticism (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Legalism,” Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2265.
Milligan, Robert (1975 reprint), The Scheme of Redemption (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
Moule, C.F.D. (1961), Worship in the New Testament Church (Richmond, VA: John Knox Press).
Nichol, C.R. and R.L. Whiteside (1920), Sound Doctrine (Clifton, TX: Nichol Publishing).
Nicoll, W. Robertson (no date), The Expositor’s Greek Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Pliny the Elder (1855 edition), The Natural History,ed. Bostick, John and H.T. Riley (London: Taylor & Francis), [On-line], URL: http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999. 02.0137%3Ahead%3D%2382.
Rackham, Richard (1901), The Acts of the Apostles (London: Methuen & Co.).
Reese, Gareth (1976), New Testament History—Acts (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Robertson, A.T. (1922), A Harmony of the Gospels (New York: Harper & Row).
Robertson, A.T. (1930), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Robertson, A.T. (1934), A Grammar of the Greek New Testament in the Light of Historical Research (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).
Robinson, Edward (1881), The Comprehensive Critical and Explanatory Bible Encyclopedia (Toledo, OH: H.W. Snow).
Smith, William (1868/1869), Dictionary of the Bible, ed. H.B. Hackett (New York: Hurd & Houghton).
Summers, Ray (1950), Essentials of New Testament Greek (Nashville, TN: Broadman).
Swete, Henry (1911), Commentary on Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1980 reprint).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
Turner, Rex (1972), Sermons and Addresses on the Fundamentals of the Faith (Montgomery, AL: Rex Turner).
Warren, Thomas B. (1975), When Is An “Example” Binding? (Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press).
Woods, Guy N. (1976), Questions and Answers (Henderson, TN: Freed-Hardeman College).

Take Bible Literally? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Take Bible Literally?

by  Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Recently, when an ABC News reporter asked President Bush if the Bible is “literally true,” the president responded that he is “not a literalist,” and that one can read the Bible and not take it literally (Escherich, 2008). Sadly, many Americans have been duped by over a century of propaganda perpetrated by higher critics who seek to undermine confidence in the inspiration of the Bible. Nevertheless, the evidence is decisive: the Bible possesses the attributes of inspiration that prove its divine origin (Jackson, 1982; Butt, 2007).
To suggest that the Bible is not to be taken literally is nonsensical. True, the Bible contains much figurative language, i.e., it includes figures of speech (e.g., simile, metaphor, hyperbole, metonymy, synecdoche, etc.)—just like our own English language (e.g., “quit cold turkey,” “stretch my legs,” “died laughing”). But figurative language still communicates meaning that can be comprehended. Did the ABC News reporter’s questions communicate “literal truth” that the president could grasp? Of course. And so does the Bible. Any diligent student can ascertain the original intent of the divinely-guided writers. Could it be that the “can’t take the Bible literally” crowd simply does not want to be restrained by the Bible’s admonitions to “deny ungodliness and worldly lusts” and “live soberly, righteously, and godly” (Titus 2:12)? Could it be they do not want to hear that “fornicators and adulterers God will judge” (Hebrews 13:4), and the “sexually immoral...shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone” (Revelation 21:8)?


Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Escherich, Katie (2008), “Excerpts: Cynthia McFadden Interviews President George W. Bush,” ABC News: Nightline, Dec. 8, [On-line], URL: http://abcnews.go.com/Nightline/Politics/story?id=6418908&page=1.
Jackson, Wayne (1982), The Holy Scriptures—Verbally Inspired,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/holyscri.pdf.

From Mark Copeland... Loving One Another Fervently (1 Peter 1:22)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

                  Loving One Another Fervently (1:22)


1. In our last study, we saw that "Proper Conduct As Obedient Children"
   a. Not to conform ourselves to the former lusts - 1Pe 1:14
   b. To be holy in all our conduct - 1Pe 1:15-16
   c. To conduct ourselves in fear - 1Pe 1:17-21

2. Another responsibility we have as obedient children is found in 
   verse 22...
   a. Simply stated, we are to "love one another fervently".
   b. A closer look at verse 22 reveals:
      1) What "fervent love" is
      2) And how it is possible for Christians to "love one another

[But before we take that closer look, consider this question...]


      1. While Judas had gone to betray Him, Jesus gave a new 
         commandment - Jn 13:33-35
      2. It is a commandment to love one another, even as Jesus loved 
      3. The reason for such a commandment:  to convince the world that
         we are truly His disciples!
      4. Where there is no "Christ-like love", our actions betray our 
         a. We may profess to be Christ's disciples...
         b. But failure to have a fervent love like Christ had for us 
            will cause the world to doubt our discipleship!

      1. "Love of the brethren" is an indication that we have passed 
         from spiritual death to spiritual life - 1Jn 3:14
      2. Failure to love the brethren is an indication that we are 
         still spiritually dead!

      1. God is love, and those who truly love have been born of God 
         - 1Jn 4:7
      2. Failure to love leaves the impression that we have not been 
         born again and that we do not truly know God! - 1Jn 4:8

[Certainly these three reasons should convince us that "loving one
another fervently" is important.

But what qualifies as a "fervent love"?  What kind of love will 
demonstrate our discipleship, our spiritual life, our relationship with


      1. The same word is used in reference to prayer in Ac 12:5
         a. There it is translated "constant" or "earnest"
         b. Just as the disciples were constantly praying for the 
            release of Peter, so our love for one another is to be 
      2. Therefore, only that love which is constant and earnest can 
         qualify as "fervent love"

      1. Translated "unfeigned" in some versions
      2. The Greek word literally means "not hypocritical"
      3. This makes it clear that "fervent love" is not to be some kind
         of show, but coming from the heart - cf. Ro 12:9

      1. Love of the brethren must always be kept in the context of 
         moral purity
      2. Under no circumstances is our love to be a cover for sexual 
         immorality - Ep 5:2-3
      3. Pure, sincere, fervent love, then, is one that emulates 
         Christ's love, i.e., a sacrificial love!

[How do we measure up to this type of love?  Do we have a pure and 
sincere love for one another?  Does the word "fervently" accurately 
describe our feelings and actions towards each other?

If our only contact with one another is a weekly assembly, and if we 
are not opening our hearts and our homes to one another, can it be said
that we love one another fervently?  Brethren, think upon these things!



      1. By obeying the truth we have been forgiven - 1Pe 1:22; 
         cf. Ac 2:38
      2. By continuing to heed the truth, we are taught to be pure 
         - cf. Ep 4:20-24
      3. Therefore we can be fervent in our love for it will be a pure

      1. Born again by the incorruptible word of God! - cf. 1Pe 1:23
      2. How does being born again by the Word of God prepare us to 
         love one another fervently?
         a. By the Word of God we come to know what true love really is
         b. For the Word of God tells us of:
            1) The love of Jesus - 1Jn 3:16-18
            2) The love of God - 1Jn 4:9-10

      1. We CAN have this fervent love because we have been purified 
         and understand the need for a sincere, pure love of the 
      2. We WILL have this fervent love, because the love of Jesus and
         God motivates us!


1. If we fail to "love one another fervently" with sincerity and 
   purity, it is an indication that we either:
   a. Have never been purified, born again
   b. Or are not allowing the love of God and Jesus to motivate us

2. Furthermore, failure to love one another fervently presents a 
   picture to the world which belies our claim to:
   a. Be true disciples of Christ
   b. Possess spiritual life
   c. Have a relationship with God as our heavenly Father

3. Perhaps this is the reason Peter exhorts us to love one another 
   fervently, not only here in verse 22, but also in 1Pe 4:8!

4. In view of these truths found in God's Word, how are we doing in our
   gave for one another?
   a. Even if we excel in this department, there is room for 
      improvement - cf. 1Th 4:9-10
   b. In the days ahead, think of how you can be more fervent in your 
      love of the brethren
   c. But just don't think, ACT!  Open your hearts and homes to each 

If you are not a Christian, we want you to enjoy the blessings of God's
love and the love of His children.  But these blessings are only for 
those who have purified themselves by obeying the truth!

Why not do so today?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Proper Conduct As Obedient Children (1 Peter 1:14-21)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

             Proper Conduct As Obedient Children (1:14-21)


1. In our previous study, we saw from verse 13 that we have the
   responsibility to fortify the focus of our hope and set it fully
   upon the grace that we are to receive when Jesus comes again

2. Another responsibility we have as Christians is to conduct ourselves
   as "obedient children" - 1Pe 1:14

3. While the need to be obedient is often misconstrued by some as
   sounding legalistic, it is stressed in the New Testament nonetheless
   - cf. He 5:9; 2Th 1:8

4. In what way are we to be obedient?  There is much the Bible has to
   say on the subject...
   a. But in this lesson we shall focus our attention to 1Pe 1:14-21
   b. Where we learn that "Proper Conduct As Obedient Children" has
      both negative and positive connotations (i.e., both "thou shalt
      nots" and "thou shalt")

[For example, we learn from verse 14 that as "obedient children"...]


      1. The word "conform" ("fashion" in the KJV) means "to conform
         one's self (i.e. one's mind and character) to another's
      2. The "former lusts" refer to the evil desires and behavior in
         which we once engaged, and in which the world continues to
      3. In essence, then, Peter is saying:
         a. "Don't act like you once did, or like those still in the
         b. "Do not adopt their sinful habits, mannerisms, dress, and
            speech, which you did before you became Christians."

      1. We will not seek to act like those who are not Christians
      2. For Christians are not to be "conformists", but true
         "non-conformists", or "transformists" - cf. Ro 12:1-2
         a. "Conformists" simply imitate others, sometimes claiming to
            do so only outwardly
         b. But "transformists" are those who:
            1) Have undergone a true change on the "inside"
            2) And who manifest the difference on the "outside"
      3. To behave properly as "obedient children", then, we need to be
         sure we are not adopting the sinful habits or mannerisms of
         those in the world
         a. Like accepting the popular fashions of our society which
            appeal to fleshly desires
            1) E.g., short dresses, tight "designer jeans", and other
               immodest apparel
            2) Christians, rather than conforming, are to adorn
               themselves in modest apparel - cf. 1Ti 2:9-10
         b. Like filling our speech with suggestive language or jokes
            - cf. Ep 4:29; 5:3-4
         c. Or delighting in various forms of entertainment which cater
            to fleshly desires - cf. Php 4:8
      4. But too many Christians DO conform to the world and its
         a. Therefore it is not surprising to hear many becoming
            entrapped by the world
         b. As is indicated by the rise of marital unfaithfulness and
      5. So Christians need to heed what Peter is saying (as well as
         what was said by John - 1Jn 2:15-17)

[In a more "positive" vein, we learn from verses 15-16 that as
"obedient children"...]


      1. It is closely related to the words "sanctify" and
      2. All of which stress the idea of being "set apart"
      3. To be "holy", then, means that we are "set apart" or dedicated
         to God

      1. The first reason is that given in our text:  "For I (God) am
         a. The God who has called us through His gospel is a holy God
         b. He Himself is "set apart" from sin and wickedness
         c. His very nature demands a similar holiness on our part -
            cf. He 12:14
      2. It is also Jesus' desire that we be holy (He died for this
         very purpose!) - cf. Ep 5:25-27

      1. Holiness is not something we put on when convenient, like on
      2. Instead, our daily life, our entire conduct is to be "set
         apart" in service to the Lord - cf. Ro 12:1
      3. For this to be true, every aspect of our life must be in
         harmony with God's demand for holiness!
         a. This means our work, our speech, our dress, our
         b. ...ALL should be in harmony with the principles of God's
      4. Even the most mundane things, when done in keeping with God's
         Will, become a part of our holy service to God!
      5. Can it be said of our lives, that we are holy in all our
         a. Do we go about our business, our play, with the thought of
            being "set apart" to the Will of God, so that it is evident
            in our business or play?
         b. I am sure that all of us can improve in this area of our
            service as "obedient children"!

[There is one more point that can be made in reference to our conduct
as "obedient children", taken from verses 17-21...]


      1. Even as Jesus taught His disciples - Mt 10:28
      2. And as Paul wrote the Philippians - Php 2:12

      1. In view of the judgment by our Father - 1Pe 1:17
         a. He will not be partial - "without partiality"
         b. He will be personal - "judges according to each one's work"
         -- No one will receive special favors, no one will escape His
            discerning eye!
      2. In view of the high cost of redemption - 1Pe 1:18-21
         a. We were not redeemed from our sins with silver or gold
         b. But only by the precious blood of Christ!
            1) Who was without blemish and without spot
            2) Who was foreordained to die for our sins before the
               world began
            3) Who came to this earth for our sakes
            4) By whom our faith and hope are in God!
         c. Any Christian who does not conduct himself in a manner
            appreciative of the price paid for his sins, can expect a
            fate worse than death if he does not repent! - cf. He 10:


1. From verses 14-21, then, we learn that "Proper Conduct As Obedient
   Children" means that...
   a. We are not to conform ourselves to former lusts
   b. We are to be holy in all our conduct
   c. We are to conduct ourselves in fear

2. Paul said much the same thing in writing to the church at Corinth:

   "Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse
      ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit,
         perfecting holiness in the fear of God."  (2Co 7:1)

3. This we cannot do on our own, but by the redeeming grace of God...
   a. We can be forgiven by the precious blood of Christ
   b. We can be strengthened by the power of His Spirit to live the
      sort of lives pleasing to our Heavenly Father

Have you responded to the grace of God in order to receive such
wonderful blessings? - cf. Ac 2:38

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Fortifying The Focus Of Our Hope (1 Peter 1:13)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

                Fortifying The Focus Of Our Hope (1:13)


1. Up to this point in his epistle, Peter has summarized some of the
   blessings enjoyed by God's "pilgrims"...
   a. Their election, sanctification, and sprinkling of the blood of
      Jesus - 1Pe 1:2
   b. Their rebirth to a living hope - 1Pe 1:3
   c. Their incorruptible inheritance, reserved in heaven - 1Pe 1:4
   d. Their being kept by the power of God through faith for the 
      salvation to come - 1Pe 1:5
   e. Their great joy, which is inexpressible and full of glory - 1 Pe 1:6-9
   f. The honor of having been served by a distinguished group of 
      individuals - 1Pe 1:10-12

2. Starting with verse 13, we find a series of exhortations...
   a. These exhortations are based upon the wonderful blessings listed
      previously (note the connecting word "therefore")
   b. These exhortations are found throughout much of the rest of the

3. The first exhortation relates to the "hope" that we have as 
   Christians - 1Pe 1:13
   a. In which we are charged to "rest your hope fully upon the grace 
      that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ"
   b. Put another way, we are being charged to "fortify the focus of 
      our hope"
   c. What this means, and how we are to accomplish it, will be the 
      focus of this lesson

[Let's start by first noticing...]


      1. I.e., the words "rest your hope fully upon the grace that is 
         to be brought to you" is the main point of this verse
      2. The other exhortations which precede it are subsidiary
      3. And will be considered later

      1. It means to "set your hope perfectly, unchangeably, without 
         doubt and despondency"
      2. As the NASV puts it:  "fix your hope completely on the 
      3. Therefore Peter is exhorting us to make our hope one that is
         complete, strong, and not wavering

      1. We have a duty to develop and fortify our hope
      2. Just as we need to cultivate patience, self-control, etc., so
         we need to cultivate our hope!
      3. For without a hope that is strong...
         a. Our faith may waver
         b. We are subject to fear, doubt, and depression
      4. Yes, the cultivation (or fortification) of our hope is 
         essential to living joyful and victorious lives as Christians!

[This is the main point of verse 13, an exhortation to fortify our 
hope, to make it stronger.  Just as we are to grow in faith and love, 
so we are to grow in hope!

To do this effectively, it is important to give thought to...]


      1. The "grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of 
         Jesus Christ"
      2. I.e., the unmerited favor that we will receive when Jesus 
         comes again!

      1. The "inheritance...reserved in heaven for you" - 1Pe 1:4
      2. The "salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" - 1 Pe 1:5
      3. The "praise, honor, and glory" we shall receive "at the 
         revelation of Jesus Christ" - 1Pe 1:7
      4. The "end of your faith--the salvation of your souls" - 1Pe 1:9

      1. The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the wonderful grace 
         He will bring!
      2. The wonderful praise, honor, and glory we shall receive when 
         He comes!
      3. The complete and final salvation of our souls from sin and its
      4. The receiving of our wonderful inheritance, the heavenly city,
         which is incorruptible, undefiled, and that does not fade 

[Such is to be the focus of our hope.  And as stated previously, the 
main charge in this passage to "rest our hope fully upon the grace that
is to be brought to you" (to fortify the focus of your hope).

How we accomplish this is now considered as we examine...]


      1. "gird up" is an oriental expression...
         a. It refers to the act of gathering up around the waist the
            long, loose robes warn by those in the east
         b. Such "gathering up" was necessary or one's progress in 
            running or some other act of exertion would be impeded
      2. With the use of this metaphor, Peter is saying...
         a. We must put out of the mind all things that would impede 
            the free action of the mind in connection with developing 
            our hope
         b. We must put out of the mind such things like worry, fear, 
            or obsession with material possessions
      3. I.e., remove anything and everything that is not conducive to 
         having a strong hope in the coming of our Lord
         a. Such as carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life - 
            cf. Lk 21:34-35
         b. Such things as these "choke" us and hinder our ability to 
            bear fruit (such as the fruit of a strong hope) - cf. Lk 8:14

   B. "BE SOBER"
      1. The word "sober" means "to be calm and collected in spirit, to
         be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect"
      2. It is that state of mind in which the individual is self-
         controlled, able to see things without the distortion caused
         by worry or fear
      3. I.e., to fortify the focus of our hope requires a CALM and 
         SERIOUS attention to the task at hand - cf. Lk 21:36 ("Watch
         therefore, and pray always...")
      4. We cannot cultivate and fortify a strong hope if we are so 
         "weak-minded" that we allow things to divert us away from our
         true calling!


1. And what is our calling?  To sojourn through this life as pilgrims,
   but with a hope that is resting fully upon the grace we will receive
   when Christ comes again!

2. The problem with many Christians today is NOT that they have no 
   a. But that their hope is weak and shallow
   b. And that is because they are preoccupied with the affairs of this
      temporary life

3. To remain faithful to the Lord, we need to heed Peter's exhortation
   to fortify the focus of our hope by...
   a. Freeing our minds of those things which would hinder us
   b. Being more serious about the kind of lives our Heavenly Father 
      would have us live - cf. Lk 12:35-40

Our next lesson will elaborate upon how God would have us live; but for
now, are we living for God at all...?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011

From Mark Copeland... Ministering Not To Themselves, But To Us (1 Peter 1:10-12)

                      "THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PETER"

           Ministering Not To Themselves, But To Us (1:10-12)


1. Already in Peter's epistle we have seen several blessings enjoyed by
   the "elect" of God...
   a. E.g., born again to a "living" hope - 1Pe 1:3
   b. E.g., having a joy "inexpressible and full of glory" - 1Pe 1:8

2. As one continues in verses 10-12, he finds that Peter expands upon
   the topic of the "salvation" Christians enjoy as a result of their
   faith (please read)

3. If one takes the time to contemplate upon what is found in this
   passage, he should not fail to be impressed with how privileged we
   are in God's sight
   a. For there we learn that we are the recipients of a gospel that
      was prophesied and has come to us only through the efforts of a
      very distinguished company of individuals!
   b. And in their efforts, they were ministering not to themselves,
      but to us who are now Christians!

[To illustrate just how privileged we are, let's begin identifying
those who have ministered to us...]


      1. When the prophets prophesied, they were often intrigued by 
         what they revealed - 1Pe 1:10-11
         a. This is because they were inspired or moved by the Holy 
            Spirit, and not by their own will - cf. 2Pe 1:21
         b. Therefore, they often expressed perplexity concerning those
            things they prophesied - e.g., Dan 7:28; 8:26-27
      2. But as pointed out in our text, it was revealed to them that
         they were not serving themselves, but us! - e.g., Dan 12:8-9

      1. We who are Christians have been served by such people as:
         a. Moses, Samuel, and David
         b. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel
      2. These men (and many others) spent their lives, and in many 
         cases even gave their lives, in service to you and me!
      3. Yes, these great "heroes of faith" suffered much in their 
         service to God and to us who are now in Christ - cf. He 11:

[Does this not indicate that we must be very special in God's sight?
We who have been ministered unto by the prophets of Almighty God, and
who endured all these things for our sake?

And yet, there is even more...]


      1. For it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the prophets to 
         proclaim things to come - 1Pe 1:11
         a. It was He who inspired David and Isaiah to foretell the 
            sufferings of Christ - e.g., Ps 22; Isa 53
         b. It was He who likewise moved the prophets to proclaim the 
            glories to follow
            1) E.g., the resurrection of Jesus - Ps 16: 9-11
            2) E.g., His ascension and coronation - Dan 7:13-14
      2. And it was the Holy Spirit who inspired the apostles to reveal
         the gospel - 1Pe 1:12
         a. As Jesus promised He would, in His discourse to His
            apostles - Jn 16:13
         b. As Paul said He did, in writing to the Ephesians - Ep 3:5

      1. Through His ministry of inspiration and revelation in the
         lives of the prophets and apostles, we have been served by the
         Holy Spirit
      2. Because of His work, we have today the completed revelation of
         God's Word in our hands!
      3. This is in addition to the "sanctifying work" of the Holy 
         Spirit to which Peter referred in 1Pe 1:2

[Do we appreciate the service that the Holy Spirit has rendered for us
throughout the ages?  Is this not an indication of the great value God
must place upon His people?

But there is even another group of distinguished individuals who served
their lives in our behalf...]


      1. "...those who preached the gospel to you"
         a. This is a likely reference to the apostles of Jesus Christ
         b. Who were commissioned to preach the gospel, as recorded in
            Mk 16:15-16
      2. As they carried out this "Great Commission", they considered
         themselves but servants for those to whom they preached
         a. As Paul said, they were but "seed-throwers" and 
            "water-boys" - cf. 1Co 3:5-7
         b. They were serving as servants of Christ - 1Co 3:21-4:1; 
            2Co 4:5

      1. Such as Peter, James, John, and Paul
      2. Who gave their lives for our sake, to convince the world that
         our faith in their testimony is not unfounded, but that Jesus
         did indeed rise from the dead! - cf. 2Co 11:24-29

[When we take the time to think about those who spent their lives 
ministering to us, we can't help but conclude that Christians hold a 
very high place in God's scheme of redemption as it has unfolded 
throughout the ages!

But before we conclude this lesson, let me point out another noble 
group that has served those who are God's "elect"...]


      1. In things prophesied by the prophets
      2. In things proclaimed by the apostles through the gospel

      1. They too were involved in the process of foretelling and 
         revealing the salvation in Christ!
         a. E.g., Gabriel's appearances to Daniel - cf. Dan 8, 9
         b. E.g., Gabriel's appearances to Zacharias and Mary - cf. 
            Lk 1:11-19, 26-38
      2. But like the prophets, angels were also in the dark concerning
         the details of coming salvation
      3. And so, the angels were serving not themselves but us! - cf. 
         He 1:13-14


1. Our Father in heaven must hold His "elect" (the church) in high 
   regard to have them served by such a distinguished company!

2. To be so privileged should motivate us to praise God for His grace
   and to devote our lives in grateful service to Him and His people

3. But the grace God bestowed toward us reached its peak when addition
   to all these (prophets, the Holy Spirit, apostles, angels) He sent
   His only Son to serve us as well!

   "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,
   and to give His life a ransom for many." - Mt 20:28

Shall we not respond with grateful service through faithful obedience
to His Will?

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011