From Mark Copeland... "LIFE AFTER DEATH" Are The Souls Of The Redeemed Conscious?

                           "LIFE AFTER DEATH"

                 Are The Souls Of The Redeemed Conscious?


1. In the previous study, I suggested that the spirits of believers go
   to be with the Lord during the "intermediate state" between death and
   the resurrection
   a. Implied was the idea that the souls of the redeemed are conscious
      during this interim
   b. But are they?

2. In this lesson, we shall consider the doctrine of "soul-sleeping",
   and make some observations concerning it


      1. That the souls of the departed continue to exist, but are in an
         unconscious state until the resurrection
      2. This is not to be confused with the doctrine held by JW's, who 
         believe there is no consciousness until the resurrection 
         because until then there is no existence at all

      1. The Scriptures often represent death as a "sleep"
         a. Mt 27:52 - ...bodies of the saints who had "fallen asleep"
         b. Jn 11:11-14 - Jesus says of dead Lazarus, "our friend
         c. Ac 7:60 - As Stephen is stoned to death, it is said "he 
            fell asleep"
         d. 1Co 15:6,18 - Those who were dead are spoken of as 
            "fallen asleep"
         e. 1Th 4:13-15 - Brethren who were dead "sleep in Jesus"
      2. Other passages come very near to saying that the dead have no
         a. Ps 30:9 - The psalmist asks, "...when I go down to the
            pit? Will the dust praise you?"
         b. Ps 115:17 - The psalmist declares, "The dead do not 
            praise the Lord, nor any who go down into silence."
         c. Ec 9:5,10 - Solomon, in his search for meaning, observes:
            1) "...the dead know nothing..."
            2) "there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the
               grave where you are going."
         d. Isa 38:18-19 - King Hezekiah says concerning God that 
            "Sheol cannot thank You, Death cannot praise You, those who 
            go down to the pit cannot hope for Your truth."

[Such is the theory and the arguments presented by those who believe in 
"soul sleeping."  At face value, the doctrine appears very convincing.  
But let's take a closer look at it...]


      1. Nowhere do the Scriptures say that the SOUL of the departed one
         fell asleep
         a. It was the PERSON who "fell asleep"
         b. Thus it can have reference to the body, not the SOUL
      2. The term "SLEEP" can be a figurative reference, and a very 
         appropriate one:
         a. For sleep implies REST...
            1) When one sleeps literally,  there is rest from one's 
            2) So it is that the dead also "rest from their labors",
               cf. Re 14:13
         b. For sleep implies a CEASING OF PARTICIPATION...
            1) In literal sleep, one ceases in the activities pertaining 
               to the sphere in which one has been busy during the hours
               of wakefulness
            2) So it is with the dead, they are no longer active in the 
               world which they left
         c. For sleep is generally a PRELUDE TO AN AWAKENING...
            1) In literal sleep, it is followed by an "awakening"
            2) So it is with death:
               a) Though the souls may be conscious during the 
                  intermediate state...
               b) ...at the resurrection there will be the "awakening" 
                  of the glorified and transformed bodies in which to 
                  house our souls
      3. Perhaps it can also be said that the term "sleep" became a 
         euphemism for death because of the sleep-like appearance of the
      1. Notice first that these passages are in the OLD TESTAMENT, when
         revelation of God's truth was not yet complete
         a. The passages in Psalms and Isaiah are the expressions of 
            faith and understanding by those who knowledge of God's 
            revelation was incomplete
         b. I.e., their concept of "life after death" was not as 
            complete and developed as that found in the New Testament
         c. We should be cautious, therefore, against developing a 
            doctrine of life after death which does not take into 
            account what is ultimately revealed when revelation is 
      2. In some cases, the statements are made solely from an earthly 
         a. This is especially true in Ecclesiastes
         b. Where the theme is "Life Under The Sun"
         c. When one looks at things purely from an earthly 
            1) It does not appear the dead know anything
            2) It does not appear the dead praise God
         d. Thus, Ec 9:10 is saying nothing more than that when we 
            die, we are no longer conscious of things in THIS life

      1. Lk 16:22-26 - Abraham, the rich man, and Lazarus
         a. Some believe that this is only a "parable"
         b. Highly unlikely in my opinion, but even if so, parables used 
            "true to life" experiences as a basis for comparison, not 
            science fiction or fantasy!
      2. Lk 23:43 - How can Paradise be a state of unconsciousness?
      3. Re 6:9-11 - Can souls cry out if they are not conscious?
      4. Re 7:9-17 - Can souls praise God and serve Him if they are 
         not conscious?
      5. Re 20:4-6 - Can souls reign with Christ if they are not aware
         of what is going on?


1. In view of such passages...
   a. Describing the condition of souls during the "intermediate" state
   b. Where they are very much awake, praising and serving God, reigning
      with Christ
   ...The doctrine of "soul sleeping" does not hold up

2. We can best harmonize the Scriptures if we view the term SLEEP in
   reference to death as only a figure of speech...
   a. Naturally drawn from how the body appears at death
   b. Pertaining to our relationship to this earthly realm
      1) We are at rest from labors IN THIS LIFE
      2) We are not aware of what goes on IN THIS LIFE
      3) But one day, there will be an "awakening" (the resurrection), 
         in which we will be rejoined with those who are still IN THIS 
         LIFE (of course, they too will be changed)

3. In the next study, we shall consider the question:  "Shall we know
   each other in the life after death?"

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2015

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The Stirring of the Water and Bible Integrity by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Stirring of the Water and Bible Integrity

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Though skeptics have leveled many charges against the integrity of the Bible through the centuries, proof of its divine origin remains self-evident. Nevertheless, some claim that the Bible endorses the common superstitions that characterized the primitive peoples of antiquity. One such case pertains to the sick man who lay beside the pool of Bethesda. The NKJV reads:
Now there is in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate a pool, which is called in Hebrew, Bethesda, having five porches. In these lay a great multitude of sick people, blind, lame, paralyzed, [waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain time into the pool and stirred up the water; then whoever stepped in first, after the stirring of the water, was made well of whatever disease he had.] Now a certain man was there who had an infirmity thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there, and knew that he already had been in that condition a long time, He said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered Him, “Sir, I have no man to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; but while I am coming, another steps down before me.” Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.” And immediately the man was made well, took up his bed, and walked (John 5:2-9, emp. added).
Observe that the man (and “a great multitude” of others) believed the popular conception regarding the alleged periodic appearance of an angel to stir the water of the pool. The Bible is not to be blamed as giving sanction to this idea merely on the basis of the personal sentiments held by the people of the day, since the Bible merely reports their beliefs—as indicated by the sick man’s own remarks. Jesus certainly said nothing to give that belief credibility. However, the words indicated above by the bracketed bold type are couched in authorial narration, which would imply that the inspired writer of the book of John also believed the superstition. Does the Bible, in this instance, give credence to an outlandish notion, thereby casting suspicion on its inspiration?
In the first place, granted, the idea of God sending an angel to stir the water of a pool, at which point the water is invested with miraculous healing properties, is a nonsensical notion that would be uncharacteristic of the God of the Bible (in contrast to the "God" of the Quran—see Miller, 2005b, pp. 60-61). Jesus might have helped the man get to the water, but He did not do so. Second, nor would God place poor sick folk in competition with each other, allowing only one individual to benefit from the healing, since He shows no partiality (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11). Third, such an occurrence would contradict the Bible’s own explanation for the purpose of miracles—the miracle of healing not being simply to heal or relieve suffering (see Miller, 2003, 23[3]:17-23).
The ultimate answer to this challenge to the Bible’s integrity is found in the fact that the last part of John 5:3 and the entirety of verse four were not a part of the original inspired autograph by John. The oldest, most reliable manuscripts omit the words, and with near unanimity scholars agree that the preponderance of the evidence shows its spurious status to be “virtually certain” (Metzger, 1971, p. 209). Renowned Greek scholar A.T. Robertson observed: “It is a relief to many to know that the verse is spurious” (1932, 5:79). Most English versions omit the words from the text altogether, relegating them to a footnote, including the ASVESV, et al. Among churches of Christ, J.W. McGarvey (n.d., p. 195), Guy N. Woods (1989, p. 95), David Lipscomb (1962, p. 74), George DeHoff (1981, 5:297), Frank Pack (1975, pp. 84-85), Burton Coffman (1974, p. 138), and B.W. Johnson (1886, p. 86) acknowledged the words are not a part of the original. [NOTE: Those who are fearful that the integrity of the text of the Bible is compromised by the reality of textual variants need to be reminded that the world’s foremost textual critics have demonstrated that currently circulating copies of the New Testament do not differ substantially from the original (see Miller, 2005a, “Is Mark...,” 25[12]:89-95;Miller, 2010).]


Coffman, James B. (1974), A Commentary on John (Austin, TX: Firm Foundation Publishing House).
DeHoff, George (1981), DeHoff’s Commentary (Murfreesboro, TN: DeHoff Christian Bookstore).
Johnson, B.W. (1886), The New Testament Commentary: John (Des Moines, IA: Christian Publishing).
Lipscomb, David (1962 reprint), Commentary on the Gospel of John (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
Metzger, Bruce (1971), A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament (New York: United Bible Societies).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation—EXTENDED VERSION,” Reason & Revelation, 23[3]:17-23, March, [On-line]: URL:http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2569.
Miller, Dave (2005a), “Is Mark 16:9-20 Inspired?” Reason & Revelation, 25[12]:89-95, December, [On-line]: URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2780.
Miller, Dave (2005b), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Pack, Frank (1975), The Gospel According to John (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Robertson, A.T. (1932), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press).
Woods, Guy N. (1989), A Commentary on the Gospel According to John (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate).

Telling People What to Think by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Telling People What to Think

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

Dan Barker, the ex-preacher who deconverted to atheism, is most famous for his book Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. In this treatise against God and religion, Barker discussed a book that he wrote for children that contained these words: “No one can tell you what to think. Not your teachers. Not your parents. Not your minister, priest, or rabbi. Not your friends or relatives. Not this book. You are the boss of your own mind. If you have used your own mind to find out what is true, then you should be proud! Your thoughts are free!” (1992, p. 47). Noble sentiments indeed!
But, as one digs deeper into Barker’s book, it quickly becomes clear that those sentiments do not find a willing practitioner in the person of Dan Barker. In his chapter on prayer, Barker wrote:
Don’t ask Christians if they think prayer is effective. They will think up some kind of answer that makes sense to them only. Don’t ask them, tell them: “You know that prayer doesn’t work. You know you are fooling yourself with magical conceit.” No matter how they reply, they will know in their heart of hearts that you are right (1992, p. 109, emp. in orig.).
From Barker’s statement about what should be “told” to those who believe in prayer, it is easy to see that he does not necessarily believe his previous statement that “no one can tell you what to think,” or that a person should use his own mind “to find out what is true.” In fact, what Barker is really trying to say is that a person should only think for himself if such thinking will lead him to believe that there is no God, or that prayer does not work, or that all religion is nonsense. If thinking for himself leads a person to believe in the efficacy of prayer or the existence of God, then that person should be “told” what to believe.
In truth, the Bible demands that each person weigh the evidence for himself or herself. First Thessalonians 5:21 states: “Test all things; hold fast what is good.” Among those things that should be tested are the writings of skeptics like Barker. When blatant inconsistencies pepper their pages like so many spots on a Dalmatian, then those writings should not be “held fast.”


Barker, Dan (1992), Losing Faith In Faith—From Preacher to Atheist (Madison, WI: Freedom from Religion Foundation).

Evolution, Textbooks, and Homeschooling by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Evolution, Textbooks, and Homeschooling

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Day after day, week after week, year after year, an estimated 55 million U.S. public school students open their science textbooks to learn about Big Bang theory, spontaneous generation, and man’s alleged evolution from toads (“Back to School...,” 2009). Although various scientific laws defy the General Theory of Evolution (e.g., the Law of Biogenesis, the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics; see The Scientific Case..., 2004), and even though nearly half of Americans still believe God created humans in our present form (cf. “Poll: Creationism...,” 2004; see also Gallup and Lindsay, 1999, pp. 36-37), multiplied millions of tax-payer-funded textbooks espouse man’s alleged animal ancestry as fact. Christians might hold out hope for their public-schooled children having teachers who do not believe in evolution, however, the odds are stacked against them. A 2007 nationwide survey revealed that only “16% of US science teachers are creationists” (Holmes, 2008). [NOTE: Similar to how atheists are annoyed that “only” 85% of the members of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences are atheists (see Brooks, 2006, p. 10), many militant evolutionists are bothered because “only” 84% of U.S. science teachers are evolutionists; see “Comments,” 2008).]
Hundreds of thousands of creationists in the U.S. have chosen to homeschool their children partly because they do not want their most precious God-given gifts (Psalm 127:3) sitting year after year at the feet of evolutionists, reading evolutionary textbooks, especially without critical analysis. These homeschooling parents still provide their children with training in Earth science, biology, chemistry, etc. In fact, many religiously motivated homeschoolers (which comprise at least 83% of homeschooling families in the U.S.; see Lovan, 2010) provide countless more hands-on, operational science experiences for their children than a lot of young people receive in public schools (where funding is limited and where classrooms are often shared with 20-30 other students). Some individuals, however, are extremely critical of the various textbooks many homeschoolers use.
Associated Press writer Dylan Lovan recently penned an article wherein he interviewed three non-religious homeschooling families and two evolutionary scientists, all who expressed disappointment over the available homeschooling science textbooks. After reviewing two of the best-selling biology textbooks homeschoolers frequently use, Virginia Tech biology professor Duncan Porter said “he would give the books an F” (Lovan, 2010). Ecology and evolutionary professor Jerry Coyne of the University of Chicago stated: “If this is the way kids are home-schooled then they’re being shortchanged, both rationally and in terms of biology” (as quoted in Lovan). “These books are promulgating lies to kids,” said Dr. Coyne (as quoted in Lovan), and allegedly are not scientifically credible. What is so terrible about the science books produced by Apologia, Bob Jones, and other publishers that frequently sell to homeschooling families? The textbooks “dispute Charles Darwin’s theory” of evolution (Lovan, 2010).
And why shouldn’t the theory of evolution be disputed? Why shouldn’t it be assessed critically and debated? Why shouldn’t students learn that all evolutionary dating methods are based upon various assumptions (see Butt and Lyons, 2009, pp. 94-100; see also DeYoung, 2005)? Why shouldn’t they be taught scientific laws that contradict evolution? Why shouldn’t they be allowed to explore the scientific case for Creation and ask whether non-intelligence can reasonably explain complex, functional design, like that in a living, human cell? As Dr. Jay Wile, textbook writer for Apologia, said: “We definitely do not lie to the students. We tell them the facts that people like Dr. Coyne would prefer to cover up.” In truth, it is evolutionists like Jerry Coyne who feel “compelled to lie in order to prop up a failing hypothesis (evolution)” (as quoted in Lovan).
Furthermore, regarding Coyne and Porter’s concerns that homeschoolers are being “shortchanged, both rationally and in terms of biology” because of their use of science textbooks that do not blindly embrace Darwinian evolution, consider how well the average homeschool student scores in standardized science tests. Two different studies (from 1998 and 2009), which included a total of more than 30,000 homeschool students from all 50 states, revealed that, on average, homeschoolers score 30 to 36 percentile points higher than the average student on standardized science tests (see Slatter, 2009). What’s more, many of these same homeschoolers go on to attend universities around the country where they excel in science classes, rather than being hindered because of their religious homeschooling heritage.
The facts speak for themselves: (1) Evolution is not a proven fact (so why should it be the only theory of origins presented to students?); (2) Studies show that, on average, homeschoolers outperform public school students by a wide margin on standardized tests, including science tests, despite most homeschoolers being taught that life on Earth was created and designed by an intelligent, infinite, eternal Mind. Evolutionists may give creationist homeschooling families an “F” on their choice of science curriculum, but in reality, it is the theory of evolution that deserves the “F.”


“Back to School: 2006-2007” (2009), U.S. Census Bureau, http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_ features_special_editions/007108.html.
Brooks, Michael (2006), “In Place of God,” New Scientist, 192[2578]:8-11.
Butt, Kyle and Eric Lyons (2009), Truth Be Told (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
“Comments” (2008), The Richard Dawkins Foundation, http://richarddawkins.net/articles/2609-16-of-us-science-teachers-are-creationists.
DeYoung, Donald B. (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Gallup, George Jr. and Michael Lindsay (1999), Surveying the Religious Landscape: Trends in U.S.Beliefs (Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Publishing).
Holmes, Bob (2008), “16% of US Science Teachers are Creationists,” New Scientist, May 20, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn13930-16-of-us-science-teachers-are-creationists.html.
Lovan, Dylan (2010), “Top Home-School Texts Dismiss Darwin, Evolution,” http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h3x1DHDjafMujXt9RNwwH6ugU9NgD9E9AOV80.
“Poll: Creationism Trumps Evolution” (2004), CBS News, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/11/22/opinion/polls/main657083.shtml.
The Scientific Case for Creation (2004), (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press),http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/e-books_pdf/scfc.pdf.
Slatter, Ian (2009), “New Nationwide Study Confirms Homeschool Academic Achievement,” August 10, http://www.hslda.org/docs/news/200908100.asp.

Our Republic Depends on Christianity? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


Our Republic Depends on Christianity?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

Much disagreement exists regarding the foundations of civil government and the perpetuation of civilization and society. The current “politically correct” viewpoint insists that the strength of America lies in its pluralism—the acceptance and celebration of differing religions, ideologies, and philosophies. The widespread attempt to sanitize American schools, courts, and government by eradicating all references to God, Christ, and the Bible are a manifestation of this belief. The thought is that the stability and continuance of the nation lies in its willingness to embrace diversity, toleration, and acceptance. In stark contrast, the architects of American civilization stated just the opposite.
Jedidiah Morse was born in Woodstock, Connecticut on August 23, 1761, the son of a Congregationalist minister. After being homeschooled, he graduated from Yale in 1783—the year the Revolutionary War ended. Morse published the first American textbook on geography, Geography Made Easy, in 1784. His work in that field earned for him the title “Father of American Geography.” His works were adopted widely in schools, colleges, and libraries and were used in thousands of homes. His eldest son, Samuel F.B. Morse, became a famous inventor, even developing the Morse Code (“Morse, Jedidiah,” 2007).
In an election sermon given at Charlestown, Massachusetts on April 25, 1799, this American patriot offered the following chilling warning—an observation not unlike many of the Founders:
To the kindly influence of Christianity we owe that degree of civil freedom, and political and social happiness which mankind now enjoys. In proportion as the genuine effects of Christianity are diminished in any nation, either through unbelief, or the corruption of its doctrines, or the neglect of its institutions; in the same proportion will the people of that nation recede from the blessings of genuine freedom, and approximate the miseries of complete despotism. All efforts to destroy the foundations of our holy religion, ultimately tend to the subversion also of our political freedom and happiness. Whenever the pillars of Christianity shall be overthrown, our present republican forms of government, and all the blessings which flow from them, must fall with them (1799, p. 9, emp. added).
If Morse was correct, America is in a dire predicament—literally teetering on the brink of national disaster and destruction. “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34). “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord” (Psalm 33:12).


Morse, Jedidiah (1799), A Sermon, Exhibiting the Present Dangers and Consequent Duties of the Citizens of the United States of America (Hartford, CT: Hudson and Goodwin), [On-line]: URL:http://www.archive.org/details/sermonexhibiting00morsrich.
“Morse, Jedidiah” (2007), Encyclop√¶dia Britannica, [On-line]: URL:http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9053833.

Confused Critics, Not God by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Confused Critics, Not God

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

One of the many criticisms that skeptics have levied against the Bible writers is that the Scriptures paint a contradictory picture of God, specifically regarding whether or not God “authors confusion.” Since God confused the language of man at Babel (11:1-9; apparently in the days of Peleg—Genesis 10:25), then, allegedly, Paul’s claim that “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33) must be erroneous. How could He purposefully confuse mankind, while at the same time not be the “author of confusion”?
Certainly, God punished mankind for his disobedience at Babel by confusing their language (i.e., He brought into existence additional languages). After the Flood, God had instructed man to “[b]e fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1, emp. added). At Babel, however, humanity rebelled against God’s will, saying, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens...lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4, emp. added). What’s more, the descendants of Noah at Babel also were guilty of attempting to “make a name” for themselves (11:4; cf. 1 John 2:16). Thus, God chose to “confuse their language” that they might be “scattered...over the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).
This kind of confusion, however, was not the same kind that Paul had in mind when he wrote 1 Corinthians. When Paul wrote, “God is not the author of confusion” (14:33), he was addressing problems that the Corinthian Christians were having in the worship assembly. He gave specific instructions about how those with spiritual gifts (e.g., tongues, prophecies, interpretations) were to conduct themselves in the assembly. Those with the gift of tongues were to speak “in turn” (14:27), and if no interpreter was present they were to “keep silent in the church” (14:28). Those with the gift of prophecy were to “prophecy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged” (14:31, emp. added). Paul concluded this section of his letter by encouraging the church to “[l]et all things be done decently and in order” (14:40). In short, God desires worship that is free from the kind of chaos and confusion caused when (among other things) various individuals are speaking at the same time.
Consider the teacher who tells his class that he is not a person of confusion (i.e., he likes order and wants an orderly class). Later, however, this same teacher coaches a football team and desires to “cause confusion” among the opposing team’s players by implementing a complex game plan on both offense and defense. Might this man still be considered a man of integrity, whose personality is one that others would describe as the antithesis of chaotic? Certainly. Simply because a person initiates confusion in one particular setting does not mean that his very nature is chaotic.
Attempting to equate the dispersion God caused among sinful people at Babel with the confusion God condemned in Corinth is both unjustified and unreasonable. Remember, for there to be a legitimate contradiction, one must make sure that the words (or concepts) under discussion are used in the same sense. In Genesis 11:9 and 1 Corinthians 14:33, they are used in totally different senses.



     Henry S. Coffin spoke of the difference between guides who are pathetic and those who are truly in touch with what they are guides in and to. I'd like to say something about that with regard to preaching and teaching. Hand on my heart, I don't profess to preach well but I know down into my bones when I hear it done well and for the reason God willed it into being.
There are guides who take visitors around the great Continental cathedrals or magnificent buildings, to look at a much-talked-about statue or famed art gallery or any great historic site or to some marvelous place from which you can see half the world.
One kind is filled with patter, he’s rarely silent and for the 1000th time reels of the information he has read in a book and tells us what this or that expert or art critic has said. He regurgitates the facts, the dates, the places, the measurements and you come away overwhelmed with bits and pieces of information—and a very temporary recollection of some of the jumble of things he has said.
The other is in tune with the grandeur, mystery and mystique of it all—he experiences it, has entered into the heart of it, or at least he has us convinced that he has because it's more than "interesting" tidbits of geography, history and psych stuff he has rattled off. He says something, enough, but he does more than that; he brings us to that “place” and “draws back the curtain” and we’re confronted with the “thing” itself. He steps aside, so to speak, and leaves us there to be stunned by someone or something directly from the hand of a master instead of a stream of someone else’s "considered opinion" or judgment. With this guide we’re not deafened to the “real thing” by the “noise” of a prepared spiel, well-prepared chatter or bored and speedy lecturing on something too familiar.
There’s so much religious talk from too many pulpits, a lot of verses are thrown in that give it a biblical coloration but in the end it’s all a substitute for biblical preaching; it's the same old shell game. No one ever [ever!] goes away stunned--least of all the preacher. We’re rarely confronted with “the master”. We hear lots of opinions from this commentator or that, this exegete or that, this theologian or that but it’s so much hearsay and allegedly interesting information about events or persons who lived thousands of years ago--most of them unknown to us and unmissed by us. The Modernist preacher Fosdick was right when some years back he said something like this: "People who go to church now aren't interested in what happened to the Hittites."
When you hear the kind of regurgitated patter that pours out of so many pulpits you might think of Christ’s words to Pilate. The Roman governor, whose head was swimming, grunted something like, "So, you're a king then." Jesus shot back, “You saying this out of your own mind or are you quoting somebody else?” At least the Roman was on target about the subject.
Edward Thomas Taylor preached a lot and preached a lot to sailors. One of them said: “When a man is preachin’ at me I want him to take something hot out of his heart and shove it into mine. That’s what I call preachin’.”
A pox on “delightful,” “interesting” and “informative” preaching!

From Wayne Jackson... The Allegory of the Vine and the Branches


The Allegory of the Vine and the Branches

The Holy Scriptures are supremely rich. The Christian who does not plumb the depth of these treasures is poorer indeed.
There is a brief context in John’s Gospel record that we would like to explore briefly, not only for the instruction and edification that it imparts on its own, but also for the opportunity of illustrating how one may reap great rewards in surveying a biblical text analytically, though we do not mean to suggest that this study exhausts all possibilities.
Near the end of his earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus, speaking to his disciples, declared: (Note: The following rendition employs more contemporary language for those not versed in ancient, agricultural vocabulary.)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he takes away: and every branch that bears fruit, he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken unto you. Remain in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it remains in the vine; so neither can you, unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches: He who remains in me, and I in him, the same bears much fruit: for away from me you can do nothing. If a man does not remain in me, he is thrown away as a branch, and is withered; and they gather them, and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, ask whatsoever you will, and it shall be done unto you” (John 15:1-7; with supplementary instruction following).
In the following study we wish to explore these elements: the contextual background, the literary format, the characters in the illustration, some verbal forms, along with some vocabulary points of emphasis and interest.

The Background

Jesus and his disciples had concluded the meeting in the upper room in Jerusalem where they celebrated the Passover. Apparently they had just left that event, and were making their way eastward toward the garden of Gethsemane situated on the western slope of the Mt. of Olives (John 14:31b; 18:1). Undoubtedly, the disciples were exceedingly anxious (cf. 14:1), and perplexed as to what loomed ahead.
The discourse in chapters 15-17, therefore, was calculated to calm, to instruct, and to strengthen these courageous (though somewhat fragile — at least at this point) men. They needed some crucial preparation for the ordeal that would follow in the next twenty-four hours.

Literary Format

The literary format of the narrative is that of the “allegory.” An allegory is an expanded metaphor. The metaphor is a figure of speech where a comparison is made between two objects for the purpose of illustration. It constitutes a more dramatic mode of teaching than by means of a simple prosaic narrative.
The allegory draws the comparison, but without the use of common comparative terms (e.g., as, like, such like, even as, etc.). This format allows for a more potent form of expression than that of the simile. A good example, comparing these two figures, is found in Jacob’s prophecy concerning the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49). He says on the one hand that Judah “is a lion’s whelp” (v. 9a; metaphor); then again, Judah “crouched as a lion and as a lioness” (v. 9b; two similes).
In this allegory, the Savior sets forth some wonderful truths in the motif of the agricultural environment of his day. A good Bible class teacher will do some research in this area, in preparation for his/her presentation. Background details can add real “sparkle” to a class.

The Characters in the Illustration

There are four characters in the Lord’s illustration.
(1) There is the “husbandman.” This term is rather obscure in our modern culture. “Husbandman” does not signify a “husband,” but rather a tiller of the ground, a vinedresser, or, in our vernacular, a farmer. He is the one in charge of the vines and to whom ultimate accountability is to be rendered. He does everything within his power to see that the plant bears fruit. If it does not, the fault is not his.
Jesus identifies the “husbandman” as “my Father,” i.e., God, the Father. Of special notice should be the singular pronoun “my,” rather than “our.” As the Son of God, Christ entertained a very unique relationship to his heavenly Father, and that is emphasized several times in John’s Gospel (5:17-18; 20:17; cf. also Luke 2:49). The expression is a subtle affirmation of the Savior’s deity.
(2) There also is the “vine.” The vine is the source of life for the branches. It provides the water and nutrients by which the grapes are produced. Without the vine, no fruit could ever result. Branches are utterly dependent upon the vine. Without Christ, of course, there is no spiritual life or hope of eternal reward (John 14:6; Acts 4:11-12).
It is interesting that Christ designates himself as the “true” vine. The Greek term denotes that which is genuine; the word stands in contrast to that which is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretentious (Thayer, p. 27). Inasmuch as the Israelite nation was portrayed on occasion as a “vine” by the Old Testament prophets (see Isaiah 5:1-7; cf. Matthew 21:33ff), one can scarcely avoid thinking that this is a rebuke aimed at a considerable segment of the Hebrew family; the nation largely had failed in its mission, and was on the precipice of murdering its Messiah (cf. John 10:7ff).
(3) The “branches” are identified explicitly as the Lord’s “disciples” (v. 8). How anyone can possibly contend that Christ is the vine, and various denominational churches are the branches, is an unfathomable mystery; it is an example of the most irresponsible scholarship imaginable.
(4) Finally, there is that ambiguous “they,” to which reference is made in verse 6. These will be responsible for gathering the withered/pruned branches, and committing them to fire for burning. One might surmise that these individuals correspond to the “reapers” mentioned in the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:24-30), identified later as the Lord’s “angels” (v. 39). They will “gather out” of God’s kingdom those who cause others to stumble, and who themselves practice iniquity (v. 41).

Verbal Actions and Vocabulary Emphases

Grammar is very important in a book, the words of which are inspired of God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Within this context, there are at least ten significant verbal actions set forth. Some have a positive emphasis; others are adverse. Let us consider the positive first, and then the negative. We will survey five actions in each category.
(1) Christ spoke of the necessity of the branches “bearing (i.e., producing) fruit.” The term is used eight times in this chapter. The present tense form indicates a sustained productivity. The unfruitful branch is considered worthless. The fruit, in the immediate context, consists of the converts one personally makes, or is instrumental in helping to bring to the Lord (see vv. 8,16; cf. Romans 7:4). Elsewhere in the New Testament, however, there is also the admonition to produce the “fruit” of Christian character (Galatians 5:22-23).
(2) There is a “cleansing” or “purging” that takes place even with reference to productive branches. The purpose in the cleansing (an allusion to trimming) is to enhance branch production. Every disciple should attempt to be wise enough to be grateful to God for whatever disciplinary procedures are necessary for the development of his service to Christ (see Hebrews 12:7ff). Just as the farmer uses the cutting knife to sever dead branches, even so he “often cuts back the living wood so far that His method seems cruel [to the spiritually dull]. Nevertheless, from those who have suffered the most there often comes the greatest fruitfulness” (Tenney, pp. 227-228).
(3) The Lord emphasized the necessity of “abiding” (i.e., remaining) joined to him. Seven times in this general context there is stressed the urgency of “remaining” with the vine (Christ). The verb meno (118 times in the NT; 67 times in John’s writings) carries the idea of sustaining a union with, continuing with, being steadfast, or enduring. The exhortation assuredly implies the possibility of not doing so!
(4) For those who abide in the Lord, there is the promise that they may “ask” God for those things necessary for their personal spiritual development and the conversion of others (v. 7). Of course many of us have insufficient faith to “ask,” hence, we do not receive (James 4:2). The Christian life is one of trust; and trusting, we petition our Father for heavenly-oriented needs.
(5) In response to unselfish requests (cf. James 4:3), there is Heaven’s pledge that “it shall be done,” i.e., God will respond to our prayers. This promise, of course, is not without limitation. The “whatsoever” of the text must be qualified by other passages that bear on the same theme. See Paul’s requests, and the Lord’s response, in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. Even Jesus, when praying that “the cup” pass from him, qualified the request, “your will be done.” This is the most selfless request of all!
(6) But there are verbals of a different tone. Every branch that does not bear fruit is to be “taken away” (v. 2). In this context, the Greek word aireo signifies to “take off” that which is attached to something else — to rend or cut off (Thayer, p. 16). Practically speaking, it is the equivalent of being “severed from Christ,” the expression used by Paul to depict certain Judaizers who were corrupting the gospel (Galatians 5:4). It is utterly incredible that any scholar could suggest: “We should not regard this as proof that true believers may fall away” (Morris, p. 594). What else could have been said to make it plainer? What lengths men will go to, in order to preserve their cherished doctrines!
(7) Those who choose not to remain with Christ are to be “thrown away” (v. 6). They are trash; unfit for further use.
(8) The “cast off” state is said to be subject to “withering.” The original word suggests the idea of simply “drying up.” Interestingly, the verb is in the passive voice; the thrown-away branches “are withered” (as a result of forces exercised upon them). Could this hint of the removal of divine blessings? Or might it be the accelerated influences of the world in a spiritually impoverished environment?
(9) There is reference to the withered branches being “gathered” in preparation for final disposal. As noted earlier [see “Characters in the Illustration,” (4)], this could have to do with the work of angels at the time of the Judgment.
(10) Finally, there is the verb “burned” (v. 6). Dead branches are thrown into the “fire” where they are burned (literally, being burned — present tense). There can hardly be any doubt but that Christ is here warning about the danger of eternal punishment in the hell of fire (Matthew 13:41-42; 25:46). And, as Lenski observes, the verb “affords no support for the annihilation of the wicked — the cast off branches are burning” (p. 1038). Calvinists, of course, would emasculate this context of any reference to hell, because they do not believe that a child of God can fall from grace (cf. Beasley-Murray, p. 273).


In concluding this summary of John 15:1-7, one other word-combination should be stressed. Six times in this context the Lord used the expression “in me.” The term is employed of those who are in “union” with Christ. It initially referred to those “disciples” to whom he was giving instruction on that occasion; later, though, the application would be to those who have become “disciples” in a more technical sense (Matthew 28:19), and thus have entered into the “in Christ” relationship by means of obedience to the gospel (Romans 6:3-4; Galatians 3:26-27). These became known formally as “Christians” (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16).
Wayne Jackson
  • Beasley-Murray, G.R. (1987), John – Word Bible Commentary (Waco: Word).
  • Lenski, R.C.H. (1943), The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Minneapolis: Augsburg).
  • Morris, Leon (1995), The Gospel According to John — Revised (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
  • Tenney, Merrill C. (1948), John — The Gospel of Belief (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).
  • Thayer, J.H. (1958), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark).
Copyright © 2013 Christian Courier. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Published in The Old Paths Archive

From Gary... Bible Reading December 18, 19, 20

Bible Reading  

December 18, 19, 20

The World English Bible

Dec. 18
Amos 5-9

Amo 5:1 Listen to this word which I take up for a lamentation over you, O house of Israel.
Amo 5:2 "The virgin of Israel has fallen; She shall rise no more. She is cast down on her land; there is no one to raise her up."
Amo 5:3 For thus says the Lord Yahweh: "The city that went forth a thousand shall have a hundred left, and that which went forth one hundred shall have ten left to the house of Israel."
Amo 5:4 For thus says Yahweh to the house of Israel: "Seek me, and you will live;
Amo 5:5 but don't seek Bethel, nor enter into Gilgal, and don't pass to Beersheba: for Gilgal shall surely go into captivity, and Bethel shall come to nothing.
Amo 5:6 Seek Yahweh, and you will live; lest he break out like fire in the house of Joseph, and it devour, and there be no one to quench it in Bethel.
Amo 5:7 You who turn justice to wormwood, and cast down righteousness to the earth:
Amo 5:8 seek him who made the Pleiades and Orion, and turns the shadow of death into the morning, and makes the day dark with night; who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth, Yahweh is his name,
Amo 5:9 who brings sudden destruction on the strong, so that destruction comes on the fortress.
Amo 5:10 They hate him who reproves in the gate, and they abhor him who speaks blamelessly.
Amo 5:11 Forasmuch therefore as you trample on the poor, and take taxes from him of wheat: You have built houses of cut stone, but you will not dwell in them. You have planted pleasant vineyards, but you shall not drink their wine.
Amo 5:12 For I know how many your offenses, and how great are your sins-- you who afflict the just, who take a bribe, and who turn aside the needy in the courts.
Amo 5:13 Therefore a prudent person keeps silent in such a time, for it is an evil time.
Amo 5:14 Seek good, and not evil, that you may live; and so Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be with you, as you say.
Amo 5:15 Hate evil, love good, and establish justice in the courts. It may be that Yahweh, the God of Armies, will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph."
Amo 5:16 Therefore thus says Yahweh, the God of Armies, the Lord: "Wailing will be in all the broad ways; and they will say in all the streets, 'Alas! Alas!' and they will call the farmer to mourning, and those who are skillful in lamentation to wailing.
Amo 5:17 In all vineyards there will be wailing; for I will pass through the midst of you," says Yahweh.
Amo 5:18 "Woe to you who desire the day of Yahweh! Why do you long for the day of Yahweh? It is darkness, and not light.
Amo 5:19 As if a man fled from a lion, and a bear met him; Or he went into the house and leaned his hand on the wall, and a snake bit him.
Amo 5:20 Won't the day of Yahweh be darkness, and not light? Even very dark, and no brightness in it?
Amo 5:21 I hate, I despise your feasts, and I can't stand your solemn assemblies.
Amo 5:22 Yes, though you offer me your burnt offerings and meal offerings, I will not accept them; neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat animals.
Amo 5:23 Take away from me the noise of your songs! I will not listen to the music of your harps.
Amo 5:24 But let justice roll on like rivers, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Amo 5:25 "Did you bring to me sacrifices and offerings in the wilderness forty years, house of Israel?
Amo 5:26 You also carried the tent of your king and the shrine of your images, the star of your god, which you made for yourselves.
Amo 5:27 Therefore will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus," says Yahweh, whose name is the God of Armies.
Amo 6:1 Woe to those who are at ease in Zion, and to those who are secure on the mountain of Samaria, the notable men of the chief of the nations, to whom the house of Israel come!
Amo 6:2 Go to Calneh, and see; and from there go to Hamath the great; then go down to Gath of the Philistines. are they better than these kingdoms? or is their border greater than your border?
Amo 6:3 Those who put far away the evil day, and cause the seat of violence to come near;
Amo 6:4 Who lie on beds of ivory, and stretch themselves on their couches, and eat the lambs out of the flock, and the calves out of the midst of the stall;
Amo 6:5 who strum on the strings of a harp; who invent for themselves instruments of music, like David;
Amo 6:6 who drink wine in bowls, and anoint themselves with the best oils; but they are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph.
Amo 6:7 Therefore they will now go captive with the first who go captive; and the feasting and lounging will end.
Amo 6:8 "The Lord Yahweh has sworn by himself," says Yahweh, the God of Armies: "I abhor the pride of Jacob, and detest his fortresses. Therefore I will deliver up the city with all that is in it.
Amo 6:9 It will happen, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.
Amo 6:10 "When a man's relative carries him, even he who burns him, to bring bodies out of the house, and asks him who is in the innermost parts of the house, 'Is there yet any with you?' And he says, 'No;' then he will say, 'Hush! Indeed we must not mention the name of Yahweh.'
Amo 6:11 "For, behold, Yahweh commands, and the great house will be smashed to pieces, and the little house into bits.
Amo 6:12 Do horses run on the rocky crags? Does one plow there with oxen? But you have turned justice into poison, and the fruit of righteousness into bitterness;
Amo 6:13 you who rejoice in a thing of nothing, who say, 'Haven't we taken for ourselves horns by our own strength?'
Amo 6:14 For, behold, I will raise up against you a nation, house of Israel," says Yahweh, the God of Armies; "and they will afflict you from the entrance of Hamath to the brook of the Arabah."
Amo 7:1 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me: and behold, he formed locusts in the beginning of the shooting up of the latter growth; and behold, it was the latter growth after the king's harvest.
Amo 7:2 It happened that, when they made an end of eating the grass of the land, then I said, "Lord Yahweh, forgive, I beg you! How could Jacob stand? For he is small."
Amo 7:3 Yahweh relented concerning this. "It shall not be," says Yahweh.
Amo 7:4 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me and behold, the Lord Yahweh called for judgment by fire; and it dried up the great deep, and would have devoured the land.
Amo 7:5 Then I said, "Lord Yahweh, stop, I beg you! How could Jacob stand? For he is small."
Amo 7:6 Yahweh relented concerning this. "This also shall not be," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 7:7 Thus he showed me and behold, the Lord stood beside a wall made by a plumb line, with a plumb line in his hand.
Amo 7:8 Yahweh said to me, "Amos, what do you see?" I said, "A plumb line." Then the Lord said, "Behold, I will set a plumb line in the midst of my people Israel. I will not again pass by them any more.
Amo 7:9 The high places of Isaac will be desolate, the sanctuaries of Israel will be laid waste; and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword."
Amo 7:10 Then Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, "Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words.
Amo 7:11 For Amos says, 'Jeroboam will die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.' "
Amo 7:12 Amaziah also said to Amos, "You seer, go, flee away into the land of Judah, and there eat bread, and prophesy there:
Amo 7:13 but don't prophesy again any more at Bethel; for it is the king's sanctuary, and it is a royal house!"
Amo 7:14 Then Amos answered Amaziah, "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was a herdsman, and a farmer of sycamore figs;
Amo 7:15 and Yahweh took me from following the flock, and Yahweh said to me, 'Go, prophesy to my people Israel.'
Amo 7:16 Now therefore listen to the word of Yahweh: 'You say, Don't prophesy against Israel, and don't preach against the house of Isaac.'
Amo 7:17 Therefore thus says Yahweh: 'Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city, and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword, and your land shall be divided by line; and you yourself shall die in a land that is unclean, and Israel shall surely be led away captive out of his land.' "
Amo 8:1 Thus the Lord Yahweh showed me: behold, a basket of summer fruit.
Amo 8:2 He said, "Amos, what do you see?" I said, "A basket of summer fruit." Then Yahweh said to me, "The end has come on my people Israel. I will not again pass by them any more.
Amo 8:3 The songs of the temple will be wailings in that day," says the Lord Yahweh. "The dead bodies will be many. In every place they will throw them out with silence.
Amo 8:4 Hear this, you who desire to swallow up the needy, and cause the poor of the land to fail,
Amo 8:5 Saying, 'When will the new moon be gone, that we may sell grain? And the Sabbath, that we may market wheat, making the ephah small, and the shekel large, and dealing falsely with balances of deceit;
Amo 8:6 that we may buy the poor for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes, and sell the sweepings with the wheat?' "
Amo 8:7 Yahweh has sworn by the pride of Jacob, "Surely I will never forget any of their works.
Amo 8:8 Won't the land tremble for this, and everyone mourn who dwells in it? Yes, it will rise up wholly like the River; and it will be stirred up and sink again, like the River of Egypt.
Amo 8:9 It will happen in that day," says the Lord Yahweh, "that I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I will darken the earth in the clear day.
Amo 8:10 I will turn your feasts into mourning, and all your songs into lamentation; and I will make you wear sackcloth on all your bodies, and baldness on every head. I will make it like the mourning for an only son, and its end like a bitter day.
Amo 8:11 Behold, the days come," says the Lord Yahweh, "that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of Yahweh.
Amo 8:12 They will wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will run back and forth to seek the word of Yahweh, and will not find it.
Amo 8:13 In that day the beautiful virgins and the young men will faint for thirst.
Amo 8:14 Those who swear by the sin of Samaria, and say, 'As your god, Dan, lives;' and, 'As the way of Beersheba lives;' they will fall, and never rise up again."
Amo 9:1 I saw the Lord standing beside the altar, and he said, "Strike the tops of the pillars, that the thresholds may shake; and break them in pieces on the head of all of them; and I will kill the last of them with the sword: there shall not one of them flee away, and there shall not one of them escape.
Amo 9:2 Though they dig into Sheol, there my hand will take them; and though they climb up to heaven, there I will bring them down.
Amo 9:3 Though they hide themselves in the top of Carmel, I will search and take them out there; and though they be hid from my sight in the bottom of the sea, there I will command the serpent, and it will bite them.
Amo 9:4 Though they go into captivity before their enemies, there I will command the sword, and it will kill them. I will set my eyes on them for evil, and not for good.
Amo 9:5 For the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, is he who touches the land and it melts, and all who dwell in it will mourn; and it will rise up wholly like the River, and will sink again, like the River of Egypt.
Amo 9:6 It is he who builds his chambers in the heavens, and has founded his vault on the earth; he who calls for the waters of the sea, and pours them out on the surface of the earth; Yahweh is his name.
Amo 9:7 Are you not like the children of the Ethiopians to me, children of Israel?" says Yahweh. "Haven't I brought up Israel out of the land of Egypt, and the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Syrians from Kir?
Amo 9:8 Behold, the eyes of the Lord Yahweh are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from off the surface of the earth; except that I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob," says Yahweh.
Amo 9:9 "For, behold, I will command, and I will sift the house of Israel among all the nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve, yet not the least kernel will fall on the earth.
Amo 9:10 All the sinners of my people will die by the sword, who say, 'Evil won't overtake nor meet us.'
Amo 9:11 In that day I will raise up the tent of David who is fallen, and close up its breaches, and I will raise up its ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old;
Amo 9:12 that they may possess the remnant of Edom, and all the nations who are called by my name," says Yahweh who does this.
Amo 9:13 "Behold, the days come," says Yahweh, "that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the one treading grapes him who sows seed; and sweet wine will drip from the mountains, and flow from the hills.
Amo 9:14 I will bring my people Israel back from captivity, and they will rebuild the ruined cities, and inhabit them; and they will plant vineyards, and drink wine from them. They shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.
Amo 9:15 I will plant them on their land, and they will no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them," says Yahweh your God.

Dec. 19

Oba 1:1 The vision of Obadiah. This is what the Lord Yahweh says about Edom. We have heard news from Yahweh, and an ambassador is sent among the nations, saying, "Arise, and let's rise up against her in battle.
Oba 1:2 Behold, I have made you small among the nations. You are greatly despised.
Oba 1:3 The pride of your heart has deceived you, you who dwell in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high, who says in his heart, 'Who will bring me down to the ground?'
Oba 1:4 Though you mount on high as the eagle, and though your nest is set among the stars, I will bring you down from there," says Yahweh.
Oba 1:5 "If thieves came to you, if robbers by night--oh, what disaster awaits you--wouldn't they only steal until they had enough? If grape pickers came to you, wouldn't they leave some gleaning grapes?
Oba 1:6 How Esau will be ransacked! How his hidden treasures are sought out!
Oba 1:7 All the men of your alliance have brought you on your way, even to the border. The men who were at peace with you have deceived you, and prevailed against you. Friends who eat your bread lay a snare under you. There is no understanding in him."
Oba 1:8 "Won't I in that day," says Yahweh, "destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mountain of Esau?
Oba 1:9 Your mighty men, Teman, will be dismayed, to the end that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.
Oba 1:10 For the violence done to your brother Jacob, shame will cover you, and you will be cut off forever.
Oba 1:11 In the day that you stood on the other side, in the day that strangers carried away his substance, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots for Jerusalem, even you were like one of them.
Oba 1:12 But don't look down on your brother in the day of his disaster, and don't rejoice over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction. Don't speak proudly in the day of distress.
Oba 1:13 Don't enter into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity. Don't look down on their affliction in the day of their calamity, neither seize their wealth on the day of their calamity.
Oba 1:14 Don't stand in the crossroads to cut off those of his who escape. Don't deliver up those of his who remain in the day of distress.
Oba 1:15 For the day of Yahweh is near all the nations! As you have done, it will be done to you. Your deeds will return upon your own head.
Oba 1:16 For as you have drunk on my holy mountain, so will all the nations drink continually. Yes, they will drink, swallow down, and will be as though they had not been.
Oba 1:17 But in Mount Zion, there will be those who escape, and it will be holy. The house of Jacob will possess their possessions.
Oba 1:18 The house of Jacob will be a fire, the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble. They will burn among them, and devour them. There will not be any remaining to the house of Esau." Indeed, Yahweh has spoken.
Oba 1:19 Those of the South will possess the mountain of Esau, and those of the lowland, the Philistines. They will possess the field of Ephraim, and the field of Samaria. Benjamin will possess Gilead.
Oba 1:20 The captives of this army of the children of Israel, who are among the Canaanites, will possess even to Zarephath; and the captives of Jerusalem, who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.
Oba 1:21 Saviors will go up on Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom will be Yahweh's.

Dec. 20
Jonah 1-4

Jon 1:1 Now the word of Yahweh came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying,
Jon 1:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach against it, for their wickedness has come up before me."
Jon 1:3 But Jonah rose up to flee to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh. He went down to Joppa, and found a ship going to Tarshish; so he paid its fare, and went down into it, to go with them to Tarshish from the presence of Yahweh.
Jon 1:4 But Yahweh sent out a great wind on the sea, and there was a mighty storm on the sea, so that the ship was likely to break up.
Jon 1:5 Then the mariners were afraid, and cried every man to his god. They threw the cargo that was in the ship into the sea, to lighten it. But Jonah had gone down into the innermost parts of the ship, and he was laying down, and was fast asleep.
Jon 1:6 So the shipmaster came to him, and said to him, "What do you mean, sleeper? Arise, call on your God! Maybe your God will notice us, so that we won't perish."
Jon 1:7 They all said to each other, "Come, let us cast lots, that we may know for whose cause this evil is on us." So they cast lots, and the lot fell on Jonah.
Jon 1:8 Then they asked him, "Tell us, please, for whose cause this evil is on us. What is your occupation? Where do you come from? What is your country? Of what people are you?"
Jon 1:9 He said to them, "I am a Hebrew, and I fear Yahweh, the God of heaven, who has made the sea and the dry land."
Jon 1:10 Then were the men exceedingly afraid, and said to him, "What is this that you have done?" For the men knew that he was fleeing from the presence of Yahweh, because he had told them.
Jon 1:11 Then said they to him, "What shall we do to you, that the sea may be calm to us?" For the sea grew more and more stormy.
Jon 1:12 He said to them, "Take me up, and throw me into the sea. Then the sea will be calm for you; for I know that because of me this great storm is on you."
Jon 1:13 Nevertheless the men rowed hard to get them back to the land; but they could not, for the sea grew more and more stormy against them.
Jon 1:14 Therefore they cried to Yahweh, and said, "We beg you, Yahweh, we beg you, let us not perish for this man's life, and don't lay on us innocent blood; for you, Yahweh, have done as it pleased you."
Jon 1:15 So they took up Jonah, and threw him into the sea; and the sea ceased its raging.
Jon 1:16 Then the men feared Yahweh exceedingly; and they offered a sacrifice to Yahweh, and made vows.
Jon 1:17 Yahweh prepared a great fish to swallow up Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.
Jon 2:1 Then Jonah prayed to Yahweh, his God, out of the fish's belly.
Jon 2:2 He said, "I called because of my affliction to Yahweh. He answered me. Out of the belly of Sheol I cried. You heard my voice.
Jon 2:3 For you threw me into the depths, in the heart of the seas. The flood was all around me. All your waves and your billows passed over me.
Jon 2:4 I said, 'I have been banished from your sight; yet I will look again toward your holy temple.'
Jon 2:5 The waters surrounded me, even to the soul. The deep was around me. The weeds were wrapped around my head.
Jon 2:6 I went down to the bottoms of the mountains. The earth barred me in forever: yet have you brought up my life from the pit, Yahweh my God.
Jon 2:7 "When my soul fainted within me, I remembered Yahweh. My prayer came in to you, into your holy temple.
Jon 2:8 Those who regard lying vanities forsake their own mercy.
Jon 2:9 But I will sacrifice to you with the voice of thanksgiving. I will pay that which I have vowed. Salvation belongs to Yahweh."
Jon 2:10 Yahweh spoke to the fish, and it vomited out Jonah on the dry land.
Jon 3:1 The word of Yahweh came to Jonah the second time, saying,
Jon 3:2 "Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and preach to it the message that I give you."
Jon 3:3 So Jonah arose, and went to Nineveh, according to the word of Yahweh. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly great city, three days' journey across.
Jon 3:4 Jonah began to enter into the city a day's journey, and he cried out, and said, "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!"
Jon 3:5 The people of Nineveh believed God; and they proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them.
Jon 3:6 The news reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and took off his royal robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes.
Jon 3:7 He made a proclamation and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, "Let neither man nor animal, herd nor flock, taste anything; let them not feed, nor drink water;
Jon 3:8 but let them be covered with sackcloth, both man and animal, and let them cry mightily to God. Yes, let them turn everyone from his evil way, and from the violence that is in his hands.
Jon 3:9 Who knows whether God will not turn and relent, and turn away from his fierce anger, so that we might not perish?"
Jon 3:10 God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way. God relented of the disaster which he said he would do to them, and he didn't do it.
Jon 4:1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
Jon 4:2 He prayed to Yahweh, and said, "Please, Yahweh, wasn't this what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore I hurried to flee to Tarshish, for I knew that you are a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and you relent of doing harm.
Jon 4:3 Therefore now, Yahweh, take, I beg you, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live."
Jon 4:4 Yahweh said, "Is it right for you to be angry?"
Jon 4:5 Then Jonah went out of the city, and sat on the east side of the city, and there made himself a booth, and sat under it in the shade, until he might see what would become of the city.
Jon 4:6 Yahweh God prepared a vine, and made it to come up over Jonah, that it might be a shade over his head, to deliver him from his discomfort. So Jonah was exceedingly glad because of the vine.
Jon 4:7 But God prepared a worm at dawn the next day, and it chewed on the vine, so that it withered.
Jon 4:8 It happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a sultry east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah's head, so that he fainted, and requested for himself that he might die, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live."
Jon 4:9 God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the vine?" He said, "I am right to be angry, even to death."
Jon 4:10 Yahweh said, "You have been concerned for the vine, for which you have not labored, neither made it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night.
Jon 4:11 Shouldn't I be concerned for Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred twenty thousand persons who can't discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much livestock?"

Dec. 18

Jud 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ:
Jud 1:2 Mercy to you and peace and love be multiplied.
Jud 1:3 Beloved, while I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I was constrained to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.
Jud 1:4 For there are certain men who crept in secretly, even those who were long ago written about for this condemnation: ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying our only Master, God, and Lord, Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:5 Now I desire to remind you, though you already know this, that the Lord, having saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who didn't believe.
Jud 1:6 Angels who didn't keep their first domain, but deserted their own dwelling place, he has kept in everlasting bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day.
Jud 1:7 Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities around them, having, in the same way as these, given themselves over to sexual immorality and gone after strange flesh, are set forth as an example, suffering the punishment of eternal fire.
Jud 1:8 Yet in like manner these also in their dreaming defile the flesh, despise authority, and slander celestial beings.
Jud 1:9 But Michael, the archangel, when contending with the devil and arguing about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him an abusive condemnation, but said, "May the Lord rebuke you!"
Jud 1:10 But these speak evil of whatever things they don't know. What they understand naturally, like the creatures without reason, they are destroyed in these things.
Jud 1:11 Woe to them! For they went in the way of Cain, and ran riotously in the error of Balaam for hire, and perished in Korah's rebellion.
Jud 1:12 These are hidden rocky reefs in your love feasts when they feast with you, shepherds who without fear feed themselves; clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn leaves without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots;
Jud 1:13 wild waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the blackness of darkness has been reserved forever.
Jud 1:14 About these also Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord came with ten thousands of his holy ones,
Jud 1:15 to execute judgment on all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their works of ungodliness which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the hard things which ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
Jud 1:16 These are murmurers and complainers, walking after their lusts (and their mouth speaks proud things), showing respect of persons to gain advantage.
Jud 1:17 But you, beloved, remember the words which have been spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Jud 1:18 They said to you that "In the last time there will be mockers, walking after their own ungodly lusts."
Jud 1:19 These are they who cause divisions, and are sensual, not having the Spirit.
Jud 1:20 But you, beloved, keep building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.
Jud 1:21 Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
Jud 1:22 On some have compassion, making a distinction,
Jud 1:23 and some save, snatching them out of the fire with fear, hating even the clothing stained by the flesh.
Jud 1:24 Now to him who is able to keep them from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory in great joy,
Jud 1:25 to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

Dec. 19
Revelation 1

Rev 1:1 This is the Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things which must happen soon, which he sent and made known by his angel to his servant, John,
Rev 1:2 who testified to God's word, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, about everything that he saw.
Rev 1:3 Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and keep the things that are written in it, for the time is at hand.
Rev 1:4 John, to the seven assemblies that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from God, who is and who was and who is to come; and from the seven Spirits who are before his throne;
Rev 1:5 and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us, and washed us from our sins by his blood;
Rev 1:6 and he made us to be a Kingdom, priests to his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Rev 1:7 Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, including those who pierced him. All the tribes of the earth will mourn over him. Even so, Amen.
Rev 1:8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."
Rev 1:9 I John, your brother and partner with you in oppression, Kingdom, and perseverance in Christ Jesus, was on the isle that is called Patmos because of God's Word and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Rev 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet
Rev 1:11 saying, "What you see, write in a book and send to the seven assemblies: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and to Laodicea."
Rev 1:12 I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. Having turned, I saw seven golden lampstands.
Rev 1:13 And among the lampstands was one like a son of man, clothed with a robe reaching down to his feet, and with a golden sash around his chest.
Rev 1:14 His head and his hair were white as white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire.
Rev 1:15 His feet were like burnished brass, as if it had been refined in a furnace. His voice was like the voice of many waters.
Rev 1:16 He had seven stars in his right hand. Out of his mouth proceeded a sharp two-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining at its brightest.
Rev 1:17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me, saying, "Don't be afraid. I am the first and the last,
Rev 1:18 and the Living one. I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. I have the keys of Death and of Hades.
Rev 1:19 Write therefore the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will happen hereafter;
Rev 1:20 the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands. The seven stars are the angels of the seven assemblies. The seven lampstands are seven assemblies.

Dec. 20
Revelation 2

Rev 2:1 "To the angel of the assembly in Ephesus write: "He who holds the seven stars in his right hand, he who walks among the seven golden lampstands says these things:
Rev 2:2 "I know your works, and your toil and perseverance, and that you can't tolerate evil men, and have tested those who call themselves apostles, and they are not, and found them false.
Rev 2:3 You have perseverance and have endured for my name's sake, and have not grown weary.
Rev 2:4 But I have this against you, that you left your first love.
Rev 2:5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly, and will move your lampstand out of its place, unless you repent.
Rev 2:6 But this you have, that you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
Rev 2:7 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes I will give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of my God.
Rev 2:8 "To the angel of the assembly in Smyrna write: "The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life says these things:
Rev 2:9 "I know your works, oppression, and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews, and they are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
Rev 2:10 Don't be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.
Rev 2:11 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. He who overcomes won't be harmed by the second death.
Rev 2:12 "To the angel of the assembly in Pergamum write: "He who has the sharp two-edged sword says these things:
Rev 2:13 "I know your works and where you dwell, where Satan's throne is. You hold firmly to my name, and didn't deny my faith in the days of Antipas my witness, my faithful one, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to throw a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.
Rev 2:15 So you also have some who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans likewise.
Rev 2:16 Repent therefore, or else I am coming to you quickly, and I will make war against them with the sword of my mouth.
Rev 2:17 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies. To him who overcomes, to him I will give of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written, which no one knows but he who receives it.
Rev 2:18 "To the angel of the assembly in Thyatira write: "The Son of God, who has his eyes like a flame of fire, and his feet are like burnished brass, says these things:
Rev 2:19 "I know your works, your love, faith, service, patient endurance, and that your last works are more than the first.
Rev 2:20 But I have this against you, that you tolerate your woman, Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. She teaches and seduces my servants to commit sexual immorality, and to eat things sacrificed to idols.
Rev 2:21 I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
Rev 2:22 Behold, I will throw her into a bed, and those who commit adultery with her into great oppression, unless they repent of her works.
Rev 2:23 I will kill her children with Death, and all the assemblies will know that I am he who searches the minds and hearts. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.
Rev 2:24 But to you I say, to the rest who are in Thyatira, as many as don't have this teaching, who don't know what some call 'the deep things of Satan,' to you I say, I am not putting any other burden on you.
Rev 2:25 Nevertheless, hold that which you have firmly until I come.
Rev 2:26 He who overcomes, and he who keeps my works to the end, to him I will give authority over the nations.
Rev 2:27 He will rule them with a rod of iron, shattering them like clay pots; as I also have received of my Father:
Rev 2:28 and I will give him the morning star.
Rev 2:29 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the assemblies.