"STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS" Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (4:1-6:15) by Mark Copeland

                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

              Zechariah - I Am Zealous For Zion (4:1-6:15)


1. Our previous study introduced us to the book of Zechariah...
   a. A prophet of God who worked together with Haggai
   b. Whose work focused mainly on the rebuilding of the temple - Ezra 5:1-2; 6:14-15

2. The book starts out in typical fashion with a call to repentance
   (Zech 1:1-6), but then we find eight visions that occurred in one night...
   a. We briefly considered the first four in the previous study
      1) The rider and the horses - Zech 1:7-17
      2) The four horns and four craftsmen - Zech 1:18-21
      3) The man with the measuring line - Zech 2:1-13
      4) Joshua the high priest - Zech 3:1-10
   b. These visions were designed to motivate the people in completing the temple
      1) As God related His zeal for Jerusalem and His house - e.g., Zech 1:14,16,21; 2:4
      2) As God reassured Joshua the high priest of his role - e.g., Zech 3:6-7
      3) As God revealed even greater things to come pertaining to His Servant
          (the Messiah) - e.g., Zech 3:8-10

3. In this study, we shall examine...
   a. The remaining four visions - Zech 4:1-6:8
   b. The command to crown Joshua the high priest - Zech 6:9-15

[From Zech 4:1, it appears that Zechariah had fallen into a deep sleep
after the first four visions.  Awakened by the angel, he is shown four more...]


      1. Awakened from a deep sleep, Zechariah is shown a golden 
         lampstand with seven lamps and seven pipes, with olive trees on both sides - Zech 4:1-3
      2. Asking the angel what they represent, he is told...
         a. That it is a message to Zerubbabel (the governor) - Zech 4:6a
         b. That by God's Spirit, not man's might or power, Zerubbabel
            shall bring forth the capstone (finishing stone) of the temple - Zech 4:6b-7
         c. Thus Zerubbabel will finish the temple - Zech 4:8-9
         d. For the eyes of the Lord (represented by the seven lamps)
            which scan the whole earth, rejoice to see the plumb line
            in the hand of Zerubbabel - Zech 4:10
         e. And that the olive trees represent "two anointed ones" 
            (Joshua the high priest and Zerubbabel the governor?) who 
            stand beside the Lord - Zech 4:11-14
      -- With such encouragement, who can "despise the day of small 
         things?" (as the temple looked when its foundation was first 
         laid - cf. Ezra 3:11-12; Hag 2:2-3)

      1. Turning and raising his eyes, Zechariah sees a flying scroll,
         twenty cubits long and 10 cubits wide (approx. 30 feet by 15feet) - Zech 5:1-2
      2. The scroll is explained as being the curse going out on the whole earth - Zech 5:3-4
         a. According to what is written on one side, every thief will be expelled
         b. According to what is written on the other side, every perjurer will be expelled
         c. Thus it will enter and consume the houses of thieves and those who swear falsely
      -- Such people were responsible for the downfall of Israel and
         Judah (cf. Hos 4:2-3; Mic 2:2-3); this vision ensures such 
         will be removed from God's people

      1. Zechariah is directed to see a large basket, in which sits a woman - Zech 5:5-7
      2. As the woman is explained to represent wickedness...
         a. She is thrust down into the basket with a lead cover over the top - Zech 5:8
         b. Two women with wings like those of a stork lift the basket
            to take it a house in the land of Shinar (Babylon) - Zech 5:9-11
      -- This vision symbolizes that wickedness will be removed from the land

      1. Zechariah sees four chariots coming between two bronze mountains - Zech 6:1-3
         a. The first chariot had red horses
         b. The second chariot had black horses
         c. The third chariot had white horses
         d. The fourth chariot had dappled horses
      2. He is told what the chariots represent - Zech 6:4-8
         a. They represent the four spirits of heaven
         b. The chariot with the black horses is going to the north 
            country, followed by the chariot with the white horses
         c. The chariot with the dappled horses is going to the south country
         d. The chariots go throughout the earth, with those going to
            the north giving rest to God's Spirit in the north country
      3. This final vision appears to correspond with the first (cf. Zech 1:7-11)
         a. In the first vision, the four horses report that the earth
            was at peace, while the temple lay uncompleted
         b. Now, it is God's Spirit which is given rest in the north country (Babylon?)
      -- Perhaps this vision reflects that God would be at ease once 
         His purposes concerning Jerusalem (restoration of its temple)
         and Babylon (judgment for its sins) were completed

[With these eight visions in one night, Zechariah had a message to 
encourage Zerubbabel and Joshua in their efforts to rebuild the temple.
The message would be reinforced with yet another given to Zechariah...]


      1. Take the gift from the captives and make an elaborate crown - Zech 6:9-11a
      2. Set the crown on the head of Joshua the high priest - Zech 6:11b
      3. Speak the following words to Joshua - Zech 6:12-13
         a. Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH!
         b. From His place He shall branch out
         c. He shall build the temple of the LORD
         d. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and reign on the His throne
         e. He shall be a priest on His throne, with the counsel of peace
      4. The elaborate crown to be a memorial in the temple - Zech 6:14
      5. Those from far away will help build the temple - Zech 6:15

      1. Certainly this symbolic crowning was intended to encourage
         Joshua and those captives who had returned to build the temple
      2. But Joshua appears to be a type of the coming Messiah., i.e.,Jesus
         a. Jesus was called "a Nazarene" (branch) - Mt 2:23; cf. Zech 3:8
         b. He would "branch out" - cf. Isa 11:1-2; 53:2
         c. He would build the "temple of the Lord" (i.e., His church) - Mt 16:18; Ep 2:21-22
         d. He would "rule on His throne" - 1Co 15:25; Re 1:5; 2:27-28
         e. He would be "a priest on His throne" - He 8:1-2; Re 3:21
         f. He would provide the "counsel of peace" - Ep 2:14-17
      -- And so this symbolic crowning was not only to encourage 
         Joshua, but those who looked forward to the coming of the 
         Messiah, whom Joshua represented!


1. Through the use of such visions and symbolic representations...
   a. Zechariah succeeded in motivating Joshua, Zerubbabel, and the
      captives who returned with them to rebuild the temple - cf. Ezra 6:14-15
   b. Zechariah likely increased their anticipation of the future as
      well, as they would wonder about the fulfillment of these visions

2. Zechariah's work is not finished, however...
   a. He will provide answers to questions the people had regarding certain fasts
   b. He will have more to say about the future of Jerusalem and the coming Messiah
   ...which we shall consider in the next couple of lessons

Having been reminded in this study of our Lord's role as both king and
priest, perhaps we can close by asking:

   Are you submitting to the Kingship of Jesus Christ?

   Are you making proper use of His intercession as our High Priest?

How you respond to His gospel will answer such questions!

Differences Do Not Demand Discrepancies by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Differences Do Not Demand Discrepancies

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Sometimes statements differ because they are contradictory. The fact is, nothing can both be and not be for the same person, place, or thing, at the same time, and in the same sense (cf. Jevons, 1928, p. 117; Aristotle, 3:4). It is impossible for a single door to be completely shut and completely open at the same time. It is contradictory for a man to say, “Yesterday I never left my house to go to the store,” if indeed he did leave his house yesterday to go to the store. Differences in stories may very well be the result of lies and contradictory statements.
At the same time, differences do not necessarily mean that various accounts are discrepant. For example, a person may affirm, “I went shopping with my daughter yesterday.” That same person might also tell someone, “Yesterday, I went to several different stores with my best friend.” Both of these statements, though different, easily could be true. Perhaps the mother went shopping with her daughter and her best friend, Melissa. Or, it could be that the daughter is the mother’s best friend. Either way, it would be irresponsible and unreasonable to interpret such differences as contradictions.
People generally understand that differences can abound in various accounts without a person needing to resort to charges of discrepancy. Imagine how long an employee would keep his job if he operated under the assumption that every time one of his colleagues said something that differed from a previous comment or from what another colleague stated, “someone was lying.” Such an employee would soon find himself unemployed. Generally speaking, people who make accusations without sufficient evidence to prove their case are quickly marginalized and distrusted.
Sadly, when it comes to the Bible, many people leave behind reason and fair-mindedness. Different accounts must be “contradictory.” Different wordings by different writers must mean someone was wrong. Though unproven and unprovable assertions in nearly every other area of life are quickly exposed as baseless allegations, when it comes to the Bible, differences are often thought to equal discrepancies.
The fact is, the different but truthful wordings in Scripture are exactly what a person should expect to find in a book composed of 66 smaller books written by approximately 40 different writers, who wrote to different people, at different times, and in different places. Furthermore, the differences in Scripture are parallel to the justifiable differences we expect from each other’s accounts in modern times.
  • Why must Luke be mistaken about the temptations of Jesus because he wrote them in a different order than Matthew (Matthew 4:1-11; Luke 4:1-13; see Lyons, 2004)? Can a person not give an honest description of something without everything being in chronological order? If a person never said the details are in the precise order in which they occurred, would he not have the freedom to arrange his story however he chose (e.g., climactically or thematically)?
  • Was it essential for the apostle John to mention every woman who came to the tomb of Jesus on the morning of His resurrection, or was he at liberty to mention as few as he wanted (John 20:1; cf. Matthew 28:1; Luke 24:1; cf. Butt, 2004)? If Mary Magdalene was at the tomb on that Sunday morning, and John recorded that she was there, without ever denying that others also were there, could his record of the events be truthful? Of course. Differencesexist among the gospel writers’ accounts, but no one can prove that they are dischordant. Just as a person might say, “I went to the park with Bill, Bob, and Bubba,” he might also truthfully say, “I went to the park with Bill and Betty.” These statements are not contradictory. One merely supplements the other. A person may only mention Bill and Betty in one setting (e.g., at worship where the church knows the married couple), while at another setting (e.g., at the office where only the men are known) he may truthfully just mention the men.
The fact is, if the apostles and prophets wrote independently of each other, and penned their accounts at different times, in different places, to different people, and for different reasons, differences should be expected. However, the differences are not demonstrated discrepancies. They are only “contradictions” in the minds of those (1) who reject reason, and/or (2) who refuse to “retain God in their knowledge” (Romans 1:28).


Aristotle, Metaphysics, trans. W.D. Ross, http://classics.mit.edu/Aristotle/metaphysics.4.iv.html.
Butt, Kyle (2004), “Addition Does Not a Contradiction Make,” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=541.
Jevons, W. Stanley (1928), Elementary Lessons in Logic (London: Macmillan).
Lyons, Eric (2004), “In What Order Did Satan Tempt Jesus?” Apologetics Press, http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=746.

Did Peter Authorize Infant Baptism? by Caleb Colley, Ph.D.


Did Peter Authorize Infant Baptism?

by  Caleb Colley, Ph.D.

While there is no documentation of infant baptism in Acts 2, some allege that Acts 2:39 proves the necessity of infant baptism (e.g., Lenski, 1961, p. 110; Barnes, 1972, p. 54). Acts 2:39 reads: “For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (emp. added). This immediately follows Acts 2:38, which reads: “Then Peter said unto them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.’ ” The phrase “to all who are afar off ” implies that Gentiles would have the opportunity and obligation to submit to baptism for the remission of sins (see Coffman, 1977, p. 57; Lenski, 1961, p. 110). But what did Peter mean when he said “the promise is to you and to your children”? Did he command infants to be baptized?
When Peter said, “the promise is to you and to your children,” he was not speaking specifically about infants or implying that young children needed to respond to the commands of Acts 2:38. Peter’s presentation was designed for the people who shared responsibility for the crucifixion of Christ (verse 36), a group that certainly did not include children. Peter assured his listeners that the promise of salvation was not limited to them, but would be available to every future generation. Albert Barnes commented on the “promise” of Acts 2:39:
Similar promises occur in Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour my Spirit on thy seed, and my blessing on thine offspring;” and in Isaiah 59:21, “My Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord from henceforth and for ever.” In these and similar places their descendants or posterity are denoted. It does not refer merely to children as children... (1972, p. 54, emp. in orig.).
Luke intended the reader to understand “children” to mean “descendants” in Acts 13:33, so it is not unreasonable to suggest that the same meaning is present in Acts 2:39. One meaning of teknois, the Greek word translated “children” in Acts 2:39, is “descendants” (Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker, 1979, p. 994). Arndt, Gingrich, and Danker suggest that teknois does denote “descendants” in Acts 2:39. This interpretation fits in the context of Peter’s discussion concerning the fulfillment of prophecy: Joel prophesied that everyone who called upon the name of the Lord would be saved (Joel 2:32), and Peter affirmed that the blessings associated with conversion would be available not only to those in his hearing, but also to the members of every subsequent generation who obeyed (see Longenecker, 1981, p. 285).
The idea that God cares for all people in every generation, and desires that all be saved, is not unique to Peter’s comments in Acts 2:39. God said to Israel, “ ‘As for Me,’ says the Lord, ‘this is My covenant with them: My Spirit who is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your descendants, nor from the mouth of your descendants’ descendants,’ says the Lord, ‘from this time and forevermore’ ” (Isaiah 59:21). The message of concern for future generations is evident in the New Testament as well. The text of 2 Peter 3:9 reveals that God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.”
If Peter’s use of the word “children” did include a reference to the children who were in his audience, Peter did not command the children to be baptized. Nor did Peter imply that Joel, Isaiah, or David prophesied concerning infant baptism (see McGarvey, 1863, p. 44). Peter simply said that the “promise” was partially for the children. Of what promise did Peter speak? In the context of Peter’s presentation on Pentecost, it appears that the promise was salvation through Christ, but nowhere did it imply the necessity of infant baptism (see Longenecker, 1981, p. 285; De Welt, 1967, p. 49; Reese, 1983, p. 79). Wayne Jackson observed:
Peter affirmed that the divine promise (of salvation with its accompanying gift of the Spirit) would be available to future generations (expressed by the phrase “your children”). Contrary to the assertions of some (cf. Lenski, 110), there is no support here for infant baptism. Prof. Howard Marshall of the University of Aberdeen (Scotland) declared that to use this passage in support of infant baptism is to “press it unduly” (81). Babies can neither believe nor repent, hence, are not valid candidates for immersion (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38). Hackett renders the phrase “unto your descendants” (cf. Acts 13:3) [2000, p. 28, parenthetical comment in orig.].
Not every gift given to children is intended for children to possess and enjoy at the time the gift is given. Instead, gifts often are intended to be used by recipients after they mature. In such cases, the gifts will be ready when the children are ready for them. Peter said that the gift of salvation is available to all those who were called by God (Acts 2:39)—and God calls people by His Gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:14). But people who cannot yet understand the Gospel cannot believe in Christ and obey the Gospel (Romans 10:13-16). Furthermore, infants cannot repent of wrongdoing or decide to cease sinning, because they cannot choose to do wrong. Peter commanded the members of his audience to repent, so the applicability of his message was not to infants. Only those who can believe and repent can be included in the “children” of Acts 2:39, because the “promise” was conditioned on belief and repentance (see McGarvey, n.d., p. 40).
As children grow up, they learn the difference between right and wrong, and, eventually, they reach an age when they have the ability to choose sin. All mature humans sin at some point (Romans 3:23). It is at that time that we need to have our sins washed away by Christ’s blood—we need to be baptized, but not when we are infants.


Arndt, William, F.W. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker (1979), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press), second edition revised.
Barnes, Albert (1972 reprint), Barnes’ Notes on the Old and New Testaments: Acts (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Coffman, James Burton (1977), Commentary on Acts (Abilene, TX: ACU Press).
De Welt, Don (1967 reprint), Acts Made Actual (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Jackson, Wayne (2000), The Acts of the Apostles: From Jerusalem to Rome (Stockton, CA: Courier).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961 reprint), The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Longenecker, Richard N. (1981), The Expositor's Bible Commentary, F.E. Gaebelein, Ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
McGarvey, J.W. (1863), Original Commentary on Acts (Bowling Green, KY: Guardian of Truth), ninth edition.
McGarvey, J.W. (no date), Commentary on Acts (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
Reese, Gareth L. (1983 reprint), New Testament History: Acts (Joplin, MO: College Press).

Did Paul Endorse Slavery? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.


Did Paul Endorse Slavery?

by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Thousands of years prior to the establishment of the Lord’s Church, and long before Paul addressed the conduct of Christian slaves in the first century, various forms of slavery were commonplace. In fact, virtually every ancient civilization used slaves.1 Slavery was prevalent enough in Babylon in the 18th century B.C. to be mentioned numerous times in the Code of Hammurabi.2 The Egyptians enslaved hundreds of thousands of Israelites in the 16th century B.C. (Exodus 1; cf. Numbers 1:46). Historians estimate that, by the time Paul wrote his New Testament epistles in the first century A.D., five to eight million slaves resided within the Roman Empire,3 including 15-25% of the total population of Italy.4

“Slavery”—A Broad Term in the First Century

The English term “slave” is translated from the Greek word doulos. Some translations use the term “servant” (or “bondservant”), but doulos is best translated “slave” (especially since “in normal usage at the present time the two words [“slave” and “servant”—EL] are carefully distinguished”).5
So what is meant by “slave” or “slavery”? Americans often envision ancient slavery as the kind of oppressive bondage that was popular among many slave owners in North America in the 18th and 19th centuries, when millions of Africans were stolen from their homelands and shipped across the Atlantic. Certainly, some first-century slavery was similar, but often it was quite different. For example, slavery in New Testament times was not based on race. Many foreign soldiers and their families became slaves after being captured during times of war.6 What’s more, “[s]ome became slaves because they could not pay back the money they had borrowed. The government would also take people into slavery if they could not pay their taxes. There were also many cases of poor people selling their children as slaves to richer neighbours.”7
Consider the fact that the ancients would likely interpret certain modern American practices as forms of “slavery.” For example, hundreds of thousands of Americans who work, labor nearly one-third of every year for the government. That is, Americans are forced by the government with the threat of fines and imprisonment to pay over 100 days wages to local, state, and federal governments every year in the form of taxes. Many Americans hand over more money to the government each year than they spend on food, clothing, and shelter combined.8 According to irs.gov, U.S. citizens who fail to pay government-mandated taxes can be prosecuted and imprisoned for up to five years. And what about the military draft—“the practice of ordering people by law to serve in the armed forces”?9 To this day, all 18-25-year-old males in the U.S. are required to register with the Selective Service System in case of “a crisis requiring a draft”10—a draft in which thousands or millions of men would be forced to go to war, and possibly die for their country, whether they wanted to or not.
Please understand, I am not suggesting that we should defraud the government, or that we should refuse to submit to its authority if the draft is reinstated. I am simply suggesting that “slavery” was broadly defined in the first century. When people ask questions such as “Did Paul endorse slavery?” we must understand that there were various kinds of slavery in the first century, including some forms that resemble certain practices today which may be generally accepted and morally justified.

Define “Endorse”

Did Paul “endorse” slavery? The word “endorse” means “to publicly or officially say that you support or approve of (someone or something).”11 To endorse is to advocate or champion an idea, a thing, or a person. Did Paul “endorse” slavery? Did he champion it or publicly promote it as one advocates a particular product or political candidate? No, at least not the kind of slavery most people think of when they hear the term.
In truth, Paul specifically condemned “kidnappers” (andrapodistais) or “menstealers” (KJV) as lawless and insubordinate individuals who practice that which is “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10). Danker, et al. defines this kidnapper as a “slave-dealer.”12 Far from endorsing such activity, Paul groups these men-stealing, slave traders with murderers, liars, and other ungodly sinners (1 Timothy 1:9-10).
Yet, five chapters later Paul wrote: “Let as many bondservants [doulos, slaves] as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things” (1 Timothy 6:1-2). What did Paul instruct Timothy to teach the various Christian slaves in the first century? To respect, honor, and even serve their masters (i.e., to set a good example of Christianity before them).

Paul Endorsed Godly Submission, Not Sinful Forms of Slavery

Paul’s instruction for slaves to honor their masters is perfectly consistent with the rest of God’s Word regarding all Christians submitting to those in positions of authority. To the Christians living in the heart of the Roman Empire, Paul taught: “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities…. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:1,7; cf. Matthew 22:21).13 Similarly, Peter wrote: “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors…. For this is the will of God…. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king” (1 Peter 2:13-17). Was the Roman Empire corrupt in many ways? Certainly. Was a Christian’s submission to Rome a blanket endorsement of the Empire? Not at all. But Christians were (and are) to be humbly compliant.
God expects all Christians to have a spirit of submission. Children are to submit to their parents (Ephesians 6:1-3). Young people are to be submissive to older people (1 Peter 5:5). Wives are to submit to their husbands (1 Peter 3:1-2). Members of local churches are to submit to their overseeing elders who rule over them (Hebrews 13:17; Acts 20:28). Local shepherds are to submit fully to the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:1-4). In short, all Christians, including those in leadership positions, are to “be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble’” (1 Peter 5:5). And, yes, God expects His people to humbly “submit…to every authority instituted among men,” whether to kings or to slave masters (1 Peter 2:13,18, NIV).

Submission for a Higher Purpose

God did not create the practice of slavery. Furthermore, Paul’s inspired instructions regarding a slave’s submission to his master were not given because God favors a master over his slave (Galatians 3:28), or because He simply wants some people to have harder lives than others. The specific purpose that Paul gave for Christian slaves submitting to their pagan masters was “so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed” (1 Timothy 6:1).
Imagine if Christian slave after slave in the first century became less submissive to their masters as they learned more about the equality of all mankind (Genesis 1:26-27). Consider how the reputation of Christianity would have been greatly tarnished in the eyes of the unbelieving world if Paul explicitly taught that all slaves should be set free. As William Barclay noted: “For the Church to have encouraged slaves to revolt and rebel and rise against their masters would have been fatal. It would simply have caused civil war, mass murder, and the complete discredit of the Church.”14
God, in His infinite wisdom, commands all men to do their best to make the most for the cause of Christ in whatever situation they find themselves. “Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord while a slave is the Lord’s freedman. Likewise he who is called while free is Christ’s slave” (1 Corinthians 7:21-23). Whether a person becomes a Christian while in slavery or in a terrible marriage, God wants His people to change from the inside out and have a positive spiritual impact on others. Be obedient to parents, husbands, governing officials, and yes, even slave owners. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Rather than giving people reasons to curse Christ and His doctrine, be obedient to all those in positions of authority “for the Lord’s sake” (1 Peter 2:13). Be honorable at all times so that you may “put to silence the ignorance of foolish men” and “by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:15,12; cf. 3:1-2). In short, “humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 2:6).

Taking Paul’s Teaching to Its Logical Conclusion

Over time, with the spread of Christianity (cf. Acts 19:10,26; 21:20) and with increasing numbers of slave masters becoming Christians, the physical lives of many slaves would have improved dramatically. As slave owners with honest and good hearts learned (1) to love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and (2) to love their neighbors (including their slaves) as themselves (Matthew 22:36-40), they would give up “threatening” (Ephesians 6:9). As Christian slave owners contemplated treating others how they want to be treated (Matthew 7:12), they would give their slaves “what is just and fair,” knowing that they, too, had a Master in heaven (Colossians 4:1). As slave owners submitted to Christ, they would be transformed by the Gospel, learning to be “kindly affectionate” to everyone (Romans 12:2,10), including all those who served them. In short, far from endorsing sinful slavery, Paul’s teachings, taken to their logical conclusion, would eventually lead truth-seeking masters and government officials to help bring an end to any kind of cruel, sinful captivity.15


1 “History of Slavery” (no date), History World, www.historyworld.net/wrldhis/PlainTextHistories.asp?historyid=ac41.
2 “Code of Hammurabi, King of Babylon” (no date), https://archive.org/stream/cu31924060109703/cu31924060109703_djvu.txt.
3 Walter Scheidel (2007), “The Roman Slave Supply,” p. 6, https://www.princeton.edu/~pswpc/pdfs/scheidel/050704.pdf.
4 Scheidel, pp. 3-6.
5 Frederick William Danker, William Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich (2000), Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Chicago: University of Chicago), p. 260.
6 John Simkin (2014), “Slavery in the Roman Empire,” Spartacus Educational, http://spartacus-educational.com/ROMslaves.htm.
7 Simkin.
8 Scott Greenberg (no date), Tax Foundation, https://taxfoundation.org/tax-freedom-day-2016-april-24/.
9 “Conscription,” Merriam-Webster.com, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/conscription, emp. added.
10 “Who Must Register” (2008), Selective Service System, https://web.archive.org/web/20090507213840/http://www.sss.gov/FSwho.htm.
11 “Endorse,” Merriam-Webster.com, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/endorse.
12 Danker, et al., p. 76.
13 All bold text in Scripture quotations has been added for emphasis.
14 William Barclay (1956), The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon (Philadelphia: Westminster), p. 141.
15 For a more extensive response to questions regarding slavery, and especially slavery in the Old Testament, see Kyle Butt (2005), “Defending the Bible’s Position on Slavery,” Reason & Revelation, 25[6]:41-47, June, https://www.apologeticspress.org/pub_rar/25_6/0506.pdf.

Franky & Jennifer by Jim McGuiggan


Franky & Jennifer
There’s more than one way to construe “rules” or “laws” or “commandments”. Reflect for a moment on the “consequences” of these few verses: Matthew 23:23; Mark 2:27; Matthew 12:7. A “law” will always retain that “legal” complexion until it becomes the heart’s desire of someone you love and who loves you and then something happens to it. I wonder what is it that happens to it!
Franky and Jennifer grew up together. They went to the same school, shared some of the same classes, outside interests and became good friends. They not only admired and respected each other, they began to miss each other when the other wasn’t around, and to worry when the other was sick. Nobody was surprised when the two close friends announced they were going to get married.
They had talked a lot about what they wanted out of life and high on the grand list was, “a warm, loving family”. How would they achieve that? Well, they’d both been part of families that gave them clues—positive and negative—how to go about it; they were reasonably well-read and though they were young, they weren’t dumb. They’d seen and heard much that would act as groundwork on which to build. So they set up home.
A few years later the babies began to arrive. For all the best reasons the two of them found a lot of pleasure and deep joy in the children and, of course, they were committed to holding, feeding, clothing, bathing, loving and providing them with what they needed.
The babies earned nothing, they didn’t need to—the parental love was unconditional and unashamed.
As the time slipped by they laughed and rejoiced at every sign of progress in the children. Progress they nurtured and encouraged. There was David’s first time to hold the spoon for himself (even got some food to his mouth), Rachel’s first tottering steps, Andrew’s successful (and unaided) first read. There was the tying of shoes, the brushing of teeth, the making of beds, the putting on of socks, a bath all by one’s self (with nervous parents calling in every thirty seconds, “Are you all right?”) and other social challenges which grew more difficult and more complex as the years slipped by.
There were house-rules, of course! No one was allowed to play around with electric sockets or sharp knives, scream at someone, use bad language they heard at school or maybe on TV. There was bed by 8.30 and lights out by nine, there was homework to be done (usually) before a favored TV program was watched and there were chores to be done—before or after play didn’t matter—but they had to be done.
The rules weren’t created to enslave, narrow or deprive the children. The opposite was true!
The children learned the behavior that pleased or displeased their parents but it never entered their minds that Franky and Jennifer loved them because they kept the rules. And it never entered their minds that when the rules were sometimes broken that the parents stopped loving them. If someone had suggested that their parents only loved them when and because they kept the house-rules, the children would have scoffed! They knew they sometimes disappointed or displeased their parents; they even knew what it was to be disciplined but it was utter rubbish to suggest that Franky and Jennifer loved them only when they did what they were told. That may have been the case in other homes but not in this home!
The two older children noticed that the “lights out by nine” rule didn’t apply in Rachel’s room when she developed a real fear of the dark. That made sense. The “lights out by nine” rule was for their benefit, to allow them to get enough sleep but since Rachel had become terrified of the dark, she wasn’t getting any sleep at all. In Andrew and Robert’s room the rule still applied because it was achieving for them what the parents were aiming at.
One response to Rachel’s fear might have been, “Rules are made to be kept no matter what the circumstances, so, nightmares, cold sweats and endless tears notwithstanding, the lights go out at nine.” But that would have been a poor response.
Franky and Jennifer would insist that “the law was made for the child and not the child for the law.” They would leave the light on while they tried to help eliminate the anxiety.
Since the law was introduced for the child’s benefit it’s assumed by the parents that the child is more important than the law. To insist that the rule be kept when it’s clearly contrary to the child’s welfare is to regard the rule as more important than the child and it would violate the parental purpose for the child.
It wouldn’t help the other children either to see their brother or sister mauled by a law which was supposed to be a blessing. Parental credibility would be under siege and the relationship under threat. This helped the kids to see that the rules weren’t the fundamental realities; that behind the rules was the will of the parents for each child’s good. They were learning not only the importance of rules because by a wise application of them the parents were teaching them the place of rules.
As they grew older the parents changed the “to bed” and “lights out” times. That made sense to the children as well. At five years old, in bed by 8.30 seems sensible but at fifteen it isn’t geared for their age and maturity. (A maturity which had been helped along earlier by rules such as an 8.30 bed time and the childrens’ glad submission to them.) They couldn’t always understand why some of the rules were made, even when they asked and the parents explained but the children trusted Franky and Jennifer and supposed that they would understand better later.
And there were times when the rules didn’t suit, even when they did understand the whys and wherefores of them. Sometimes they broke them and paid the price of discipline. For example, any eating was to be done in the kitchen at meal or snack times and there was to be no eating done in bed. (Too many children had nearly choked while they ate lying down.) No one was tarred and feathered if they didn’t resist the temptation to a snack in bed but there was some sort of discipline ranging from a stern rebuke to loss of privileges.
There were other house rules that hardly needed mentioned because they would have been such a radical departure from family values and aims. Physical abuse of one another, marked verbal or emotional abuse would all have been taken as serious crimes against the family. This was clear from the way persistent squabbling was handled, squabbling that led to some pushing and unbridled speech. It was made plain too by the frequent discussions about some TV programs, news and fiction, as well as experiences at school.
The very idea that someone in a fit of temper would set light to someone’s room or hit them with a sharp instrument made coming in fifteen minutes late or smuggling some biscuits to bed appear to be mild transgressions indeed.
This showed that while all house rules were to be kept, some were more important than others. It would have been nonsense to view every house rule as of equal importance. The parents made it clear to the children that there were more important and less important matters in “the law of the house”.
I could easily leave you the impression that what the Wilson family did was spend their lives thinking about rules and laws. This is far from the truth!
The proper response to the rules of the home is a wise loving commitment to the family and that’s what was nurtured in the Wilson house. They didn’t go about thinking of “rules”. They didn’t always consciously think of their being a family—because of their shaping they simply understood that they were and much of the time they lived out their place in this loving family without analyzing the situation.
The rules were seen as servants to the family unit. They were seen as protecting, promoting, defining and revealing what it meant to be a loving family and not just a collection of free-standing individuals.
I mentioned earlier that a generally wise rule was set aside when Rachel’s need was not only not being met by it, she was being injured by it. And the change of bed-time and lights out was made when the rule no longer reflected the conditions/age and new needs of the children.
Let me make the point again: only the rules changed—the aim was maintained. If the rules were contrary to the family’s well being, they wouldn’t have been made in the first place. If due to changes in circumstances the wise rules no longer gained what the parents aimed for, they were either altered or removed. But as long as the rules served the grand purpose for which they existed, they stood and were gladly obeyed by all the family.
The rules didn’t determine the over-arching aim, the rules expressed and were there to support and help achieve the over-arching aim: fullness of life for all within a loving family relationship.
Because “life” within a family unit had change and difference written into it, many rules were understood to relate only to specific sets of circumstances and specific times.
David, the older son, noticed that his parents held him more strictly accountable than his brother and sister. He would hear Franky say to him on occasions when all three of them had been disobedient, “You should know better.” At first he didn’t understand or like this but as he got older he understood, and though he smarted under it at times, he felt good about it. It meant they saw him as more mature and so expected more of him. (He was also pleased because his maturity brought privileges with it. He was free from some of the restrictions the younger ones were still subject to.)
Andrew noticed that while they all had so many things in common, each of them had their own roles in the family. For example, David wasn’t the dad and wasn’t expected to carry that responsibility. Rachel wasn’t the mother and he wasn’t David. And dad wasn’t Andrew so he didn’t have school-work to do. Of course there were jobs that the whole family pitched in to do, jobs that weren’t exclusively assigned to anyone (dishwashing and clearing up would illustrate the point) and it was OK for David to give Rachel advice, as Jennifer would do. Just the same, while there was plenty of dialogue and everyone got a fair hearing, it was clear that some responsibilities couldn’t be passed off to someone else.
There was no competition in the home to see who kept the most laws or who kept them best. Nobody assessed himself or anyone else on the basis of the number of laws kept or broken. That would have been too simple and it would have missed the whole spirit of the family. Franky and Jennifer would have been appalled if the children ever felt that that was what the parents wanted.
“No,” they would have said, “If we gave you that impression we’ve misled you. The keeping or the breaking of the rules is not the bottom line here. The final issue is: are we committed to each other in love, seeking one another’s joy and best interests?”
If Rachel came to Franky and Jennifer every day with a “laundry list” of rules kept and broken, seeking approval from her parents and seeking to be seen as the ”child most committed to the family”—if she did that, they would set her down and made some things clear.
Because there could never be enough rules to cover every conceivable life-situation, where guidelines were needed, the parents made new rules. For example, when they went on vacation, they faced new conditions (crowds, fair-grounds, river rides, and the like) so new rules were created that weren’t necessary at home. In a large fairground Franky said, “If we get separated for more than thirty minutes, we go to the entrance of that big marquee marked CENTRAL, okay?”
This was a new rule but it served the same purpose that all the other rules served: the protection, enrichment and care of the family. And because this was true, the whole family willingly subjected itself to the new rule. Nobody wanted any member of the family to get lost or hurt or be subjected to needless anxiety.
Safely back home that rule was forgotten while family commitment remained as fresh and vital as ever.
The fact that new rules had to be created because they were on vacation confirmed to Franky and Jennifer what they had always realized: it isn’t possible to have enough rules to cover all situations—even if they had thought that was desirable—which they certainly didn’t. Besides, in having enough rules would mean there would have to be rules on how to apply rules.
Let’s suppose, one of the rules is: you will be back in the house no later than 10 p.m. On winter evenings. If unintentionally one of the children came in at 10.05 that would be one case but what if one deliberately chose not to make it home by 10? He arrives back in at 11.15 to worried parents who are about to verbally reprimand him and he tells them of a friend who was hit by a passing motor-cyclist and needed to go to the emergency room. He could have made it home by ten but deliberately chose to ignore the “curfew”.
Franky and Jennifer would be pleased. That sort of decision could be fitted into the spirit of the family. It shows the maturity and compassion that the parents are aiming to create in the children. In this case, the breaking of the rule honored, and was intended to honor, the parents and the family (“my parents would want me to do this”).
To deliberately choose to break the rule to spite the parents, to exercise pride, to “do what I want to do” would have been a different kind of decision altogether.
It was in areas like these that Franky and Jennifer realized with special clarity that they were shaping hearts and lives and not just handing down laws. There were occasions when the children were older that the parents were away and decisions had to be made without their input.
How could the children know, know for sure, what the parents would have wanted under some serious circumstances? Well, they couldn’t know for certain just what they would have said, but they had been shaped by their spirits, wisdom and values so that the decisions they came to by themselves weren’t completely without parental input. There were some options which just weren’t possible for the children in the light of their raising. Of course they could have physically carried them out, but they couldn’t have done it and thought they would be pleasing to their parents.
And while people who didn’t know the Wilson family perhaps could have suggested other sane options if they had been given the facts, they wouldn’t have been as well qualified to know what would please Franky and Jennifer and fit in with the spirit of the family.
The Wilsons learned as they grew together as a family that life wasn’t a static “thing”—it was dynamic, it was a relationship, not something you could take in your hand or set on a cabinet and admire; not something “finished”. Being a family involved the biological connection (they were all related by “blood”) of course, but it meant being committed to one another, seeking one another’s highest good. It meant giving and receiving, adjusting or standing firm.
It was loving one another!
“Love” wasn’t simply an emotion, it was a “bias” toward each other, a loyal commitment to one another which showed itself in different emotions depending on the circumstances. Sometimes they cried because the others were crying, sometimes they laughed for the same reason. All the emotions that are part of being human and which are constructive were exerted toward each other.
Behavior and emotions were tested by their relation to the over-arching meaning of “a loving family”. They sometimes mistreated each other, forgave and/or confronted each other. The wrongs committed were wrongs that could (and were) gladly tolerated as “within the covenant”.
But there were wrongs that were immediate violations of the “family covenant”. These involved not only the nature of the acts but the attitude which went with the deeds.
Physical violence was always frowned on but this had to be worked out in light of the foundational values and commitment of the family. A slap in anger would have its consequences but prolonged sly beatings or some form of inflicting pain would be in a wholly different category. A disrespectful word against the parents was unacceptable but a day after day stream of obscenities would be something else.
David in his very late teens got caught up in wrong behavior and the wrong company. He became addicted first to booze and then to cocaine. It was the beginning of a nightmare. The whole family pleaded and worked with him over an extended period, tears were shed, practical help was given, money was spent, abuse was endured, advice was sought but all to no avail. It came to a head after about two years, with David seriously injuring Rachel and holding a knife to his mother’s throat, demanding money.
You understand, it wasn’t just what David did that turned harmony into chaos, it was his disposition and attitude toward the parents and the children. The wrongs were not only of a foundational nature, they were done in a spirit which demonstrated that at that point the family meant nothing to him.
With sorrow in the hearts of the two children, the parents removed David from the home as someone no longer capable of/willing to live as part of the family. (For two more years he would come back, abusive, smashing windows, ripping tyres and threatening the family.)
What had been lost was more than the willingness/ability to abide by the rules of the family—what had been lost was loving commitment to the family.
No one was pleased at the loss of David! Every member of the family felt the pain of the loss and wished things were different.
Now and then they’d sit and look at each other. Jennifer, in particular worried about their exclusion of David. Franky assured her that what they did was not loveless. They owed something to Andrew and Rachel as well as to one another. A “conflict of interests” had arisen. Love toward the other children meant offering protection to them and it was that expression of love that led to David’s exclusion. David wasn’t excluded because he was hated or that the family didn’t wish him well or had easily grown tired of him. And it certainly wasn’t that they had lost all feeling toward him. (Even as they discussed the situation they felt pity toward David and wished things could be as they once were, as they had sought them to be and they hoped that excluding him would bring him to his senses when he felt the loss.)
As Franky and Jennifer reflected on the way they pursued family joy and enrichment through the years, they knew they didn’t do everything right. They had made some rules they thought were useful but with hindsight they realized they hadn’t been. But their intentions had always been good; their motivation had always been for the blessing of the family as a family.
As deeply as they loved the children they could never have made rules that were purposed to narrow or hurt or cheat them.
Both parents and children knew that love was not without content. There were certain types of behavior that love wouldn’t approve–there were things love wouldn’t do! On the other hand, there were things love could not avoid doing. It was more than a feeling, it was a commitment and a purpose and it was shaped by a vision of what a deep, rich, full life was.
Later, when the children left home and had families of their own, they would follow the loving guidance of their parents. This wouldn’t mean they would do everything the same way, have the same number of rules, the same emphasis and the like. Their family would be a different family with different needs, dispositions and temperaments and while families would always have things in common and have the same over-arching purpose—changed circumstances would require a different approach to things.
In order for the wise loving parents to remain the same they would have to and want to change!
( We thank you wise, and loving Holy Father that you too are “the same yesterday, today and forever,” and that because that’s true you “change” in order to remain the same. This thanksgiving in the name of the Lord Jesus.)




by steve finnell

Do most church leaders understand God's teaching? Where do preachers, priests, Sunday school teachers, elders, and pastors receive their knowledge? It does not come from prayerfully studying the Bible. Most church leaders receive their religious instruction from parents, church catechisms, books about the Bible, fellow church members, religious seminaries, denominational teaching booklets, their own opinions, denominational Bible colleges and various man-made creed books.

If understanding God's doctrine comes from the Bible? Then, how...........

1. Then, how could church leaders believe that there are other ways to heaven, other than Jesus Christ.

2.Then, how could church leaders believe that infants are guilty of Adam's sin, before they are born?

3. Then, how could church leaders believe that water baptism is not essential in order to have sins forgiven?

4. Then, how could church leaders believe that praying to the Virgin Mary and other dead saints is not a sin? We are only to worship God. Prayer is worship.

5. Then, how could church leaders believe interdenominational worship and interdenominational charities are approved by God? Denominations teach various ways of salvation. There is only one way to be saved.

6. Then, how could church leaders believe that non-believing infants are candidates for water baptism? First, infants have not sinned. Second, if they had sinned, they are not capable of believing. There are no conversions in the Bible where a non-believer is baptized.

7. Then, how could a church leader believe in theistic evolution? God created the universe in 6 twenty-four hour, days. Not millions or billions of years.

8. Then, how could a church leader believe once you are saved you can never be lost?

9. Then, how could a church leader believe that men are saved by, grace alone?

10. Then, how could a church leader believe that men are saved by, faith only?

11. Then, how could a church leader believe that certain men are select for salvation and that God selects all others to burn in hell?

12. Then, how could a church leader believe new testament Christians need to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy, as well as keeping other old testament laws? Saturday is the Sabbath.

13. Then, how could a church leader believe that contemporary Christians have the gift of miracles and the gift of tongues, as the apostles did on the Day of Pentecost?

14. Then, how could a church leader believe that God is inspiring new books of revelation, in addition to the Bible?

15. Then, how could church leaders believe that Christian can continue a sinful lifestyle and still be saved? Can murders continue to murder and still be saved?

Church leaders are not learning 1 thru 15 by reading the Bible.

 Matthew 15:9 And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrine the commandments of men.'" (NKJV)

Owe no one anything except to love one another by Roy Davison


Owe no one anything except to love one another  Romans 13:8

We owe each other love for ever. But what about the first part: “Owe no one anything.”

This passage presents a problem for many. Some do not understand what it means and for everyone the application is sometimes difficult.

What are Biblical principles of dealing with money?

“Owe no one anything.” Does this mean that we may never commit ourselves financially? At Rome “Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house” (Acts 28:30). Thus he obviously had agreed to pay rent. Financial commitments are part of life. As long as we pay on time, we owe no one anything.

But what if we pile up commitments that are beyond our means? After a while we will no longer be able to pay.

Actually we are all stewards of other people’s money. Most of our income each month belongs to someone else. Part belongs to the government, and the State is smart enough to deduct its portion from our wages before we get them! If we rent a house, a portion belongs to our landlord. If we have loans, a part belongs to the bank. Our family needs food and clothing, so a part belongs to the shopkeepers. We need energy, so a part belongs to the utility companies. There is only a small amount left that we can spend any way we want. If we are not good stewards, we can easily misappropriate someone else’s money, and no longer be able to give them their due portion.

I knew a woman who opened a shop and went bankrupt in a few months because she thought she could freely spend everything that came into the cash register!

Also in money matters, the temptations of Satan must be resisted. Problems can be “love of money” (1 Timothy 6:10); “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16); covetousness (Colossians 3:5); not paying your workers a fair wage (James 5:4); “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things” (Mark 4:19). Materialism can cause us to get in debt and be unable to pay what we owe.

“Owe no one anything.” What are some dangers?

We are warned in Scripture about the danger of putting up security for someone else. “A man devoid of understanding shakes hands in a pledge, and becomes surety for his friend” (Proverbs 17:18). Why is this dangerous? If your friend can easily pay, he will have security of his own! If you decide to provide security anyway, keep in mind that you may have to pay the whole debt yourself! Thus, you must be able to do so without jeopardizing your own financial condition.

The principle behind this warning is that we must avoid excessive debts. If we allow ourselves to become insolvent, there is a great danger that we will not be able to pay what we owe. Being solvent means that we can pay all we owe by selling things we own.

Does the command, “Owe no one anything,” mean that we may not borrow? Borrowing is not forbidden in Scripture, but it is viewed as something negative, which of course it is. A loan is negative money.

When the Lord promised to bless Israel if they remained faithful, He said: “For the LORD your God will bless you just as He promised you; you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow” (Deuteronomy 15:6). The one who lends has power over the one who borrows: “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender” (Proverbs 22:7).

Yet, borrowing is sometimes needful. In the next two verses in Deuteronomy we read: “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother, but you shall open your hand wide to him and willingly lend him sufficient for his need, whatever he needs” (Deuteronomy 15:7, 8). Thus, it is not wrong to borrow for things we really need, on condition that we will be able to pay it back.

It is wrong not to repay: “The wicked borrows and does not repay, but the righteous shows mercy and gives” (Psalm 37:21).

Thus, to obey the command, “Owe no one anything,” we must be careful not to borrow more than we can repay. When we have a loan, we do not owe until payment is due. If we repay the loan at the agreed time, we do not owe anything.

A loan should be covered in some way. If because of unexpected circumstances, for example, you are not able to make your car payments, you should be able to repay the loan by selling the car.

Insurance can also be part of the coverage. I know someone who had to pay off a loan for five years on a car that no longer existed because it caught fire while he was driving and was not insured. And, he was an insurance salesman!

The same applies to the purchase of a house with a mortgage. If you cannot make your house payments, you should be able to pay off the loan by selling the house.

It is not sufficient, however, that the principal is covered by a countervalue, the repayments must also be within our means.

Many get in trouble at this point. In our society it is easy to borrow more than we can repay. Since we can get something on credit, we may be tempted to buy a more expensive house or automobile than we can afford.

Why is it so easy to get credit? Because those who offer us credit want to make money off of us even if it is to our financial disadvantage.

In my pocket I have something that is extremely dangerous: a credit card. First, one must understand that a credit card is NOT MONEY. With it you only promise to pay money.

It is dangerous because it enables you to promise to pay more than you can afford. You can make purchases with money you do not have. You can go to the airport and get a ticket to fly halfway around the world and back, even if you do not have the money.

A credit card can be valuable for one month’s credit. If you pay your credit card bill completely every month, no interest is charged!

If you do not pay it off every month, the interest charged is exorbitant, and you can easily build up a debt that you are no longer able to repay. It can become a form of debt bondage. You owe your soul, not to the company store, but to the credit card company.

This is how it works: One month you use your card to buy more than you can afford. So, at the end of the month you are not able to pay the whole amount. Or if you do, you do not have enough money for the next month’s expenses. So now you are forced to use your credit card because your money is gone. And if you buy more on your card than you can afford again (it is so easy to do), your negative balance grows even larger. Your debt snowballs because each month you must pay high interest on your growing debt.

When you go shopping with a credit card there is no hard limit to what you can spend.

Credit card companies set a high maximum credit to lure the card user into deeper debt, which results in more profit for them. They also make it easy for you not to pay off your debt by setting a low minimum payment each month. After all, they collect high interest on what you do not pay!

Credit card debt is a major cause of personal bankruptcy.

A survey by the US Department of Justice in 2000 determined that in 74% of personal bankruptcy cases, credit card debt played a significant role, and that 42% of bankruptcies involved credit card debts of $10,000. to $50,000, 7% involved credit card debts of more than $50,000 and 3% involved credit card debts of more than $75,000. Those with high credit card debts usually had several credit cards they obtained through the aggressive marketing of credit card companies.

Someone who uses more credit than he can repay, is not obeying the command: “Owe no one anything.”

To obey God in this, our expenditures must be less than our income. It is that simple. If we spend even a little more than we earn each month, we will go deeper and deeper into debt. The first rule if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging! The hole must be filled up!

If you have become a victim of credit mongers and you find yourself in a seemingly hopeless situation, ask for advice, possibly from someone in the church or from a free independent family finance counseling service. But beware of loan sharks who profile themselves as debt advisors! Someone who wants to loan you money is not the best source of advice.

Christians must pay their taxes: “For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God's ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor” (Romans 13:6, 7).

Christians are to give as we have been prospered (1 Corinthians 16:2) and as we have purposed in our hearts (2 Corinthians 9:7). This is possible only if we do some planning.

To obey the command to owe no one anything, we must also save for extraordinary expenditures. Even under normal circumstances, there are certain times of the year and certain occasions in life, when expenses are higher than otherwise. This requires saving, which means that our regular expenses must be less than our income. During lean years it is not possible to save. And most of us have experienced such times. But when things go better, it is wise to put something aside.

“There is desirable treasure, and oil in the dwelling of the wise, but a foolish man squanders it” (Proverbs 21:20). Remember the prodigal son? ‘Prodigal’ means wasteful. He wasted his whole inheritance. He repented and returned to his father, but his inheritance was gone.

So far, we have spoken mainly about frugality so we can obey the command, “Owe no one anything”. But frugality does not help if we have no income!

The world does not owe us a living. We must work to pay our own way. “But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing” (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12). We are to work, not only to provide for our own needs, but also that we “may have something to give him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28).

Paul also wrote: “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread” (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12).

A brother who is unemployed asked me about this passage recently. I pointed out to him that it does not say, “If anyone is out of work”, but “If anyone will not work.”

Circumstances can vary, but in the first instance it is the man’s responsibility to provide bread for his family “in toil” and “in the sweat” of his face (Genesis 3:17-19). Women are to be “homemakers” (Titus 2:5; See also 1 Timothy 5:14).

Jesus promised that God will provide for our needs if we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matthew 6:33).

Let us pray and work for our daily bread that our needs might be provided and we might have extra to give to the Lord and to share with the needy. Let us be careful to “Owe no one anything except to love one another” (Romans 13:8). Amen.

Roy Davison

The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The New King James Version. ©1979,1980,1982, Thomas Nelson Inc., Publishers.
Permission for reference use has been granted.
Published in The Old Paths Archive

Bible Reading for March 23 and 24 by Gary Rose

Bible Reading for March 23 and 24

World  English Bible

Mar. 23
Leviticus 1, 2

Lev 1:1 Yahweh called to Moses, and spoke to him out of the Tent of Meeting, saying,
Lev 1:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, and tell them, 'When anyone of you offers an offering to Yahweh, you shall offer your offering of the livestock, from the herd and from the flock.
Lev 1:3 " 'If his offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he shall offer a male without blemish. He shall offer it at the door of the Tent of Meeting, that he may be accepted before Yahweh.
Lev 1:4 He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.
Lev 1:5 He shall kill the bull before Yahweh. Aaron's sons, the priests, shall present the blood and sprinkle the blood around on the altar that is at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 1:6 He shall flay the burnt offering, and cut it into pieces.
Lev 1:7 The sons of Aaron the priest shall put fire on the altar, and lay wood in order on the fire;
Lev 1:8 and Aaron's sons, the priests, shall lay the pieces, the head, and the fat in order on the wood that is on the fire which is on the altar;
Lev 1:9 but its innards and its legs he shall wash with water. The priest shall burn the whole on the altar, for a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.
Lev 1:10 " 'If his offering is from the flock, from the sheep, or from the goats, for a burnt offering, he shall offer a male without blemish.
Lev 1:11 He shall kill it on the north side of the altar before Yahweh. Aaron's sons, the priests, shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.
Lev 1:12 He shall cut it into its pieces, with its head and its fat. The priest shall lay them in order on the wood that is on the fire which is on the altar,
Lev 1:13 but the innards and the legs he shall wash with water. The priest shall offer the whole, and burn it on the altar. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.
Lev 1:14 " 'If his offering to Yahweh is a burnt offering of birds, then he shall offer his offering of turtledoves, or of young pigeons.
Lev 1:15 The priest shall bring it to the altar, and wring off its head, and burn it on the altar; and its blood shall be drained out on the side of the altar;
Lev 1:16 and he shall take away its crop with its filth, and cast it beside the altar on the east part, in the place of the ashes.
Lev 1:17 He shall tear it by its wings, but shall not divide it apart. The priest shall burn it on the altar, on the wood that is on the fire. It is a burnt offering, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.

Lev 2:1 " 'When anyone offers an offering of a meal offering to Yahweh, his offering shall be of fine flour; and he shall pour oil on it, and put frankincense on it.
Lev 2:2 He shall bring it to Aaron's sons, the priests; and he shall take his handful of its fine flour, and of its oil, with all its frankincense; and the priest shall burn its memorial on the altar, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.
Lev 2:3 That which is left of the meal offering shall be Aaron's and his sons'. It is a most holy thing of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire.
Lev 2:4 " 'When you offer an offering of a meal offering baked in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mixed with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil.
Lev 2:5 If your offering is a meal offering of the griddle, it shall be of unleavened fine flour, mixed with oil.
Lev 2:6 You shall cut it in pieces, and pour oil on it. It is a meal offering.
Lev 2:7 If your offering is a meal offering of the pan, it shall be made of fine flour with oil.
Lev 2:8 You shall bring the meal offering that is made of these things to Yahweh: and it shall be presented to the priest, and he shall bring it to the altar.
Lev 2:9 The priest shall take from the meal offering its memorial, and shall burn it on the altar, an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.
Lev 2:10 That which is left of the meal offering shall be Aaron's and his sons'. It is a thing most holy of the offerings of Yahweh made by fire.
Lev 2:11 " 'No meal offering, which you shall offer to Yahweh, shall be made with yeast; for you shall burn no yeast, nor any honey, as an offering made by fire to Yahweh.
Lev 2:12 As an offering of firstfruits you shall offer them to Yahweh: but they shall not ascend for a pleasant aroma on the altar.
Lev 2:13 Every offering of your meal offering you shall season with salt; neither shall you allow the salt of the covenant of your God to be lacking from your meal offering. With all your offerings you shall offer salt.
Lev 2:14 " 'If you offer a meal offering of first fruits to Yahweh, you shall offer for the meal offering of your first fruits grain in the ear parched with fire, bruised grain of the fresh ear.
Lev 2:15 You shall put oil on it, and lay frankincense on it: it is a meal offering.
Lev 2:16 The priest shall burn as its memorial, part of its bruised grain, and part of its oil, along with all its frankincense: it is an offering made by fire to Yahweh.

Mar. 24
Leviticus 3, 4

Lev 3:1 " 'If his offering is a sacrifice of peace offerings; if he offers it from the herd, whether male or female, he shall offer it without blemish before Yahweh.
Lev 3:2 He shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it at the door of the Tent of Meeting: and Aaron's sons, the priests shall sprinkle the blood around on the altar.
Lev 3:3 He shall offer of the sacrifice of peace offerings an offering made by fire to Yahweh; the fat that covers the innards, and all the fat that is on the innards,
Lev 3:4 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away.
Lev 3:5 Aaron's sons shall burn it on the altar on the burnt offering, which is on the wood that is on the fire: it is an offering made by fire, of a pleasant aroma to Yahweh.
Lev 3:6 " 'If his offering for a sacrifice of peace offerings to Yahweh is from the flock; male or female, he shall offer it without blemish.
Lev 3:7 If he offers a lamb for his offering, then he shall offer it before Yahweh;
Lev 3:8 and he shall lay his hand on the head of his offering, and kill it before the Tent of Meeting: and Aaron's sons shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.
Lev 3:9 He shall offer from the sacrifice of peace offerings an offering made by fire to Yahweh; its fat, the entire tail fat, he shall take away close to the backbone; and the fat that covers the inwards, and all the fat that is on the inwards,
Lev 3:10 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away.
Lev 3:11 The priest shall burn it on the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire to Yahweh.
Lev 3:12 " 'If his offering is a goat, then he shall offer it before Yahweh:
Lev 3:13 and he shall lay his hand on its head, and kill it before the Tent of Meeting; and the sons of Aaron shall sprinkle its blood around on the altar.
Lev 3:14 He shall offer from it as his offering, an offering made by fire to Yahweh; the fat that covers the innards, and all the fat that is on the innards,
Lev 3:15 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away.
Lev 3:16 The priest shall burn them on the altar: it is the food of the offering made by fire, for a pleasant aroma; all the fat is Yahweh's.
Lev 3:17 " 'It shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwellings, that you shall eat neither fat nor blood.' "

Lev 4:1 Yahweh spoke to Moses, saying,
Lev 4:2 "Speak to the children of Israel, saying, 'If anyone sins unintentionally, in any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and does any one of them:
Lev 4:3 if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer for his sin, which he has sinned, a young bull without blemish to Yahweh for a sin offering.
Lev 4:4 He shall bring the bull to the door of the Tent of Meeting before Yahweh; and he shall lay his hand on the head of the bull, and kill the bull before Yahweh.
Lev 4:5 The anointed priest shall take some of the blood of the bull, and bring it to the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:6 The priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle some of the blood seven times before Yahweh, before the veil of the sanctuary.
Lev 4:7 The priest shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar of sweet incense before Yahweh, which is in the Tent of Meeting; and he shall pour out all of rest of the blood of the bull at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:8 He shall take all the fat of the bull of the sin offering off of it; the fat that covers the innards, and all the fat that is on the innards,
Lev 4:9 and the two kidneys, and the fat that is on them, which is by the loins, and the cover on the liver, with the kidneys, he shall take away,
Lev 4:10 as it is taken off of the bull of the sacrifice of peace offerings. The priest shall burn them on the altar of burnt offering.
Lev 4:11 The bull's skin, all its flesh, with its head, and with its legs, its innards, and its dung,
Lev 4:12 even the whole bull shall he carry forth outside the camp to a clean place, where the ashes are poured out, and burn it on wood with fire. Where the ashes are poured out it shall be burned.
Lev 4:13 " 'If the whole congregation of Israel sins, and the thing is hidden from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and are guilty;
Lev 4:14 when the sin in which they have sinned is known, then the assembly shall offer a young bull for a sin offering, and bring it before the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:15 The elders of the congregation shall lay their hands on the head of the bull before Yahweh; and the bull shall be killed before Yahweh.
Lev 4:16 The anointed priest shall bring of the blood of the bull to the Tent of Meeting:
Lev 4:17 and the priest shall dip his finger in the blood, and sprinkle it seven times before Yahweh, before the veil.
Lev 4:18 He shall put some of the blood on the horns of the altar which is before Yahweh, that is in the Tent of Meeting; and the rest of the blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar of burnt offering, which is at the door of the Tent of Meeting.
Lev 4:19 All its fat he shall take from it, and burn it on the altar.
Lev 4:20 Thus shall he do with the bull; as he did with the bull of the sin offering, so shall he do with this; and the priest shall make atonement for them, and they shall be forgiven.
Lev 4:21 He shall carry forth the bull outside the camp, and burn it as he burned the first bull. It is the sin offering for the assembly.
Lev 4:22 " 'When a ruler sins, and unwittingly does any one of all the things which Yahweh his God has commanded not to be done, and is guilty;
Lev 4:23 if his sin, in which he has sinned, is made known to him, he shall bring as his offering a goat, a male without blemish.
Lev 4:24 He shall lay his hand on the head of the goat, and kill it in the place where they kill the burnt offering before Yahweh. It is a sin offering.
Lev 4:25 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering. He shall pour out the rest of its blood at the base of the altar of burnt offering.
Lev 4:26 All its fat he shall burn on the altar, like the fat of the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin, and he will be forgiven.
Lev 4:27 " 'If anyone of the common people sins unwittingly, in doing any of the things which Yahweh has commanded not to be done, and is guilty;
Lev 4:28 if his sin, which he has sinned, is made known to him, then he shall bring for his offering a goat, a female without blemish, for his sin which he has sinned.
Lev 4:29 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill the sin offering in the place of burnt offering.
Lev 4:30 The priest shall take some of its blood with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.
Lev 4:31 All its fat he shall take away, like the fat is taken away from off of the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn it on the altar for a pleasant aroma to Yahweh; and the priest shall make atonement for him, and he will be forgiven.
Lev 4:32 " 'If he brings a lamb as his offering for a sin offering, he shall bring a female without blemish.
Lev 4:33 He shall lay his hand on the head of the sin offering, and kill it for a sin offering in the place where they kill the burnt offering.
Lev 4:34 The priest shall take some of the blood of the sin offering with his finger, and put it on the horns of the altar of burnt offering; and all the rest of its blood he shall pour out at the base of the altar.
Lev 4:35 All its fat he shall take away, like the fat of the lamb is taken away from the sacrifice of peace offerings; and the priest shall burn them on the altar, on the offerings of Yahweh made by fire; and the priest shall make atonement for him concerning his sin that he has sinned, and he will be forgiven.

Mar. 23, 24
Mark 14

Mar 14:1 It was now two days before the feast of the Passover and the unleavened bread, and the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might seize him by deception, and kill him.
Mar 14:2 For they said, "Not during the feast, because there might be a riot of the people."
Mar 14:3 While he was at Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster jar of ointment of pure nard-very costly. She broke the jar, and poured it over his head.
Mar 14:4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, saying, "Why has this ointment been wasted?
Mar 14:5 For this might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii, and given to the poor." They grumbled against her.
Mar 14:6 But Jesus said, "Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for me.
Mar 14:7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want to, you can do them good; but you will not always have me.
Mar 14:8 She has done what she could. She has anointed my body beforehand for the burying.
Mar 14:9 Most certainly I tell you, wherever this Good News may be preached throughout the whole world, that which this woman has done will also be spoken of for a memorial of her."
Mar 14:10 Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went away to the chief priests, that he might deliver him to them.
Mar 14:11 They, when they heard it, were glad, and promised to give him money. He sought how he might conveniently deliver him.
Mar 14:12 On the first day of unleavened bread, when they sacrificed the Passover, his disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make ready that you may eat the Passover?"
Mar 14:13 He sent two of his disciples, and said to them, "Go into the city, and there you will meet a man carrying a pitcher of water. Follow him,
Mar 14:14 and wherever he enters in, tell the master of the house, 'The Teacher says, "Where is the guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?" '
Mar 14:15 He will himself show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make ready for us there."
Mar 14:16 His disciples went out, and came into the city, and found things as he had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.
Mar 14:17 When it was evening he came with the twelve.
Mar 14:18 As they sat and were eating, Jesus said, "Most certainly I tell you, one of you will betray me-he who eats with me."
Mar 14:19 They began to be sorrowful, and to ask him one by one, "Surely not I?" And another said, "Surely not I?"
Mar 14:20 He answered them, "It is one of the twelve, he who dips with me in the dish.
Mar 14:21 For the Son of Man goes, even as it is written about him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would be better for that man if he had not been born."
Mar 14:22 As they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had blessed, he broke it, and gave to them, and said, "Take, eat. This is my body."
Mar 14:23 He took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave to them. They all drank of it.
Mar 14:24 He said to them, "This is my blood of the new covenant, which is poured out for many.
Mar 14:25 Most certainly I tell you, I will no more drink of the fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it anew in the Kingdom of God."
Mar 14:26 When they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.
Mar 14:27 Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of me tonight, for it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.'
Mar 14:28 However, after I am raised up, I will go before you into Galilee."
Mar 14:29 But Peter said to him, "Although all will be offended, yet I will not."
Mar 14:30 Jesus said to him, "Most certainly I tell you, that you today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times."
Mar 14:31 But he spoke all the more, "If I must die with you, I will not deny you." They all said the same thing.
Mar 14:32 They came to a place which was named Gethsemane. He said to his disciples, "Sit here, while I pray."
Mar 14:33 He took with him Peter, James, and John, and began to be greatly troubled and distressed.
Mar 14:34 He said to them, "My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch."
Mar 14:35 He went forward a little, and fell on the ground, and prayed that, if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him.
Mar 14:36 He said, "Abba, Father, all things are possible to you. Please remove this cup from me. However, not what I desire, but what you desire."
Mar 14:37 He came and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, "Simon, are you sleeping? Couldn't you watch one hour?
Mar 14:38 Watch and pray, that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."
Mar 14:39 Again he went away, and prayed, saying the same words.
Mar 14:40 Again he returned, and found them sleeping, for their eyes were very heavy, and they didn't know what to answer him.
Mar 14:41 He came the third time, and said to them, "Sleep on now, and take your rest. It is enough. The hour has come. Behold, the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.
Mar 14:42 Arise, let us be going. Behold, he who betrays me is at hand."
Mar 14:43 Immediately, while he was still speaking, Judas, one of the twelve, came-and with him a multitude with swords and clubs, from the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders.
Mar 14:44 Now he who betrayed him had given them a sign, saying, "Whoever I will kiss, that is he. Seize him, and lead him away safely."
Mar 14:45 When he had come, immediately he came to him, and said, "Rabbi! Rabbi!" and kissed him.
Mar 14:46 They laid their hands on him, and seized him.
Mar 14:47 But a certain one of those who stood by drew his sword, and struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear.
Mar 14:48 Jesus answered them, "Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to seize me?
Mar 14:49 I was daily with you in the temple teaching, and you didn't arrest me. But this is so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled."
Mar 14:50 They all left him, and fled.
Mar 14:51 A certain young man followed him, having a linen cloth thrown around himself, over his naked body. The young men grabbed him,
Mar 14:52 but he left the linen cloth, and fled from them naked.
Mar 14:53 They led Jesus away to the high priest. All the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes came together with him.
Mar 14:54 Peter had followed him from a distance, until he came into the court of the high priest. He was sitting with the officers, and warming himself in the light of the fire.
Mar 14:55 Now the chief priests and the whole council sought witnesses against Jesus to put him to death, and found none.
Mar 14:56 For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony didn't agree with each other.
Mar 14:57 Some stood up, and gave false testimony against him, saying,
Mar 14:58 "We heard him say, 'I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.' "
Mar 14:59 Even so, their testimony did not agree.
Mar 14:60 The high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, "Have you no answer? What is it which these testify against you?"
Mar 14:61 But he stayed quiet, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, "Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?"
Mar 14:62 Jesus said, "I am. You will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of the sky."
Mar 14:63 The high priest tore his clothes, and said, "What further need have we of witnesses?
Mar 14:64 You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?" They all condemned him to be worthy of death.
Mar 14:65 Some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to beat him with fists, and to tell him, "Prophesy!" The officers struck him with the palms of their hands.
Mar 14:66 As Peter was in the courtyard below, one of the maids of the high priest came,
Mar 14:67 and seeing Peter warming himself, she looked at him, and said, "You were also with the Nazarene, Jesus!"
Mar 14:68 But he denied it, saying, "I neither know, nor understand what you are saying." He went out on the porch, and the rooster crowed.
Mar 14:69 The maid saw him, and began again to tell those who stood by, "This is one of them."
Mar 14:70 But he again denied it. After a little while again those who stood by said to Peter, "You truly are one of them, for you are a Galilean, and your speech shows it."
Mar 14:71 But he began to curse, and to swear, "I don't know this man of whom you speak!"
Mar 14:72 The rooster crowed the second time. Peter remembered the word, how that Jesus said to him, "Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times." When he thought about that, he wept.