Posts

Showing posts from December, 2019

Fellow-Participant in the Kingdom

Image
Exiled to the isle of Patmos, John was a “fellow-participant” in the tribulation and endurance with the churches of Asia – Revelation 1:9 .  At the start of the first vision, Revelation introduces John, who was exiled to the isle of Patmos for the “ testimony of Jesus .” Rather than point to his apostolic credentials, he identified himself with the plight of the “ seven churches of Asia .” Although isolated on the small island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, he was a “ fellow-participant ” with the “ churches ” in the “ tribulation and endurance in Jesus .” - [ Photo by Jan Majer on Unsplash ].

First Vision - Son of Man

Image
The first vision presents the image of one “like the Son of Man” who was walking among the seven churches of Asia – Revelation 1:9-20 .  The opening vision centers on Jesus and his care for the “ churches of Asia .” At least one congregation faced imminent persecution. John did not begin his record by holding up his apostolic credentials; instead, he identified himself with the plight of the seven churches: He was a “ fellow-participant ” with them in the “ tribulation and the kingdom and the endurance .” - [ Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash ].

Isle of Patmos

Image
OVERVIEW  -  John was exiled to Patmos for his testimony – A “fellow participant” in the Tribulation and Perseverance “in Jesus”  -  Revelation 1:9 .  Patmos  is a small island in the Aegean  Sea  approximately ninety kilometers west of the city  of Ephesus . It is eleven kilometers long by seven kilometers wide, making it one of the smaller islands of the  Sporades , an archipelago off the west coast of Asia  Minor . Roman literature from the period identifies this group of islands as a place where political offenders were exiled - ( Tacitus, Ann. iii.  68; iv. 30; v. 71). [ Photo by Marek Okon on Unsplash ].

Revelation's Recipients

Image
In its entirety, Revelation is addressed to seven very real churches located in the Roman province of Asia in the first century . From start to finish, the book of  Revelation  is addressed to the “ seven churches of Asia ,” and these congregations do not fade from the picture in the later sections of the book. While it may include a larger audience,  Revelation  is first and foremost a message for the seven assemblies, and the significance of its visions cannot be understood apart from them - [ Church in Winter - Photo by redcharlie on Unsplash ].

Revelation - Prologue

Image
The prologue presents the basic themes of the book and declares that the season of fulfillment has arrived – Revelation 1:1-3 .  Revelation’s first paragraph details its purpose, key themes, main characters, and how it communicates . Its purpose is to reveal , and its protagonists are God , Jesus , and the “ his servants .” It is “ the prophecy ,” and its source is God . The contents concern “ what things must come to pass ,” which provides its chronological perspective (“ soon ”) - [ Pergamos - Photo by Ahmet Demiroğlu on Unsplash ].

Extent of the Beast’s Reign

Image
In Revelation, rulers and nations refuse to follow the “Lamb”; instead, they render homage to the “Beast.”   In  Revelation , there are no geographic restrictions on the reign of the “ beast .”  ALL  the “ inhabitants of the earth ” take its “ mark ” and render homage to its “ image .” Not a single government resists the final incarnation of the “ ancient serpent ,” for it is granted “ authority over every tribe, people, tongue and nation .” There is no mention of any exception to the rule - [ Photo by Arpit Rastogi on Unsplash ].

Wrath of God

Image
“Wrath” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies and is not synonymous with “tribulation.”  In  Revelation , the “ wrath of God ” is  NOT  synonymous with “ tribulation ,” nor is it identical with the “ plagues ” unleashed by the three series of “ seals ,” “ trumpets ,” and “ bowls of fury .” Despite their devastation, impenitent men continue to rebel against God until the end. Instead, “ wrath ” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies - [ Photo by Dominik QN on Unsplash ].

Rescuing Us From Wrath

Image
Even now, Jesus is “rescuing” his people from the coming “wrath” that the unrighteous will receive when he arrives in glory .  Paul was compelled to leave Thessalonica early by opposition from the synagogue and city officials. He later attempted to return but was thwarted “ by Satan .” Due to his anxieties about the congregation, he sent Timothy to investigate matters. His letter to the Thessalonians is his thankful response after hearing of the continuing faithfulness of the Thessalonian church - [ Photo by Dave Hoefler on Unsplash ].

Just Judgment

Image
The arrival of Jesus will mean vindication and “rest” for the righteous, but everlasting loss for the wicked  -  2 Thessalonians 1:5-10 .  Paul’s second letter to the Thessalonians was written in the months following his departure from the city. The first epistle expressed joy at the good news that the Thessalonians were remaining faithful despite persecution. The second addressed three main issues: Persecution, believers who refused to work, and questions about the “ arrival ” of Jesus - [ Photo by Thomas Kinto on Unsplas ].

Concerning Times and Seasons

Image
Paul did not detail the “times and seasons” since the Thessalonians understood that the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” – 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 .  Paul continued his discussion about the “ coming ” of Jesus by addressing its timing and how it will impact believers and nonbelievers. But rather than provide any chronological information, he reminded the Thessalonians that the “ Day of the Lord ” will come just like “ a thief in the night ,” as they already knew. No one except God knows the timing of that day - [ Photo by Dawid Zawiła on Unsplash ].

Doing the Whole Law

Image
OVERVIEW – Anyone who is under the Law of Moses is obligated to keep all its required deeds and rituals – Galatians 3:10 .  In his  Letter to the Galatians , the Apostle Paul responded to teachings from certain Jewish Christians that were disrupting the churches of Galatia. A key point of contention was the claim that male Gentiles must be circumcised to “complete” their faith. Additionally, they may have pressured believers to keep the calendrical observances of the Mosaic legislation and conform to Jewish dietary regulations - [ Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash ].

Having Begun in the Spirit

Image
The receipt of the Spirit while in an uncircumcised state is irrefutable proof that Gentile Christians are accepted by God AS GENTILES  –  Galatians 3:1-4 .  In  Galatians , Paul addressed a growing danger. Certain “ men from Jerusalem ” claimed that Gentiles must keep the deeds of the Mosaic Law to “ complete ” their faith, or at least, some of them. They were “ compelling Gentiles to Judaize ” by adopting circumcision, calendrical observances, and possibly, the dietary restrictions from  Leviticus  - [ Photo by Mike Lewis HeadSmart Media on Unsplash ].

Controversy at Galatia

Image
The  letter to the Galatians  is the response of the Apostle Paul to a specific situation among the churches of  Galatia . At issue was the status of Gentile believers. Must the Gentile convert to the faith conform to Jewish practices and submit to the regulation of the Mosaic Law? The heart of his response was that, now, “ in Christ ,” the old distinctions between “ Jew ” and “ Gentile ” were no longer relevant. In him, the covenant promises found their fulfillment - [ Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash ].

Spiritual Dullness

Image
Mark highlights the unbelief behind the inability of both his opponents and the disciples to perceive exactly who Jesus was - Mark 8:1-21 .  Despite all they had seen, the disciples remained dull of hearing and ran the risk of submitting to the same unbelief that characterized the opponents of Jesus, and especially the unbelief and hostility of the Pharisees. Regardless of his many miracles, they still could not comprehend who he was, the Messiah of Israel and the savior of the world - [ Cornicorpia - Photo by Brad West on Unsplash ].

Authority over Disease

Image
Neither social conventions nor purity regulations prevented Jesus from ministering to the physical needs of men and women  –  Mark 1:29-39 .  Jesus did not allow scruples over purity regulations to prevent him from healing the sick and delivering the oppressed from demonic spirits. Neither Sabbath restrictions nor the Levitical rules governing ritual purity were ever intended to prevent human needs from being met, although that is effectively the result of some of the “traditions of the elders” - [ Jesus Heals the Sick - clipart.christiansunite.com ].

Authority Over Ritual Purity

Image
The touch of Jesus cleansed a leper, and the forbidden contact did not render him “unclean”  –  Mark 1:40-45 .  His touch cleansed a leper from ritual impurity, restoring him physically  AND  religiously. Remarkably, Jesus touched the man  BEFORE  he was cleansed of his  ritual impurity, let alone its confirmation by the priests . Any concern over contracting “uncleanness” did not stop the Messiah from healing one of the sons of Israel - [ Clean water - Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash ].

Jesus and the Demoniac

Image
Jesus delivered a demonized Gentile while traveling through hostile territory, demonstrating his vast authority over Satan  – Mark 5:1-20 . The declaration that Jesus had come to the “ other side of the sea ” links this next story to the preceding incident when he calmed the storm. His plan to crossover the Sea of Galilee set in motion the series of events that followed. Having calmed the storm, he next encountered the demonized man who had a violent “storm” raging within – ( Mark 5:1-20 ) - [ Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash ].

Authority over Sea and Storm

Image
Despite his tremendous miracle of calming a tempest on the Sea of Galilee, the disciples still did not recognize the Son of Man – Mark 4:35-41 .  After teaching the multitude near Capernaum, Jesus set out to cross the Sea of Galilee. But a violent storm descended suddenly, frightening the disciples. Storms were common enough on that body of water, and several of the men were fishermen familiar with its moods. Thus, their great terror indicated that this was an especially severe storm - [ Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash ].

Kingdom Parables

Image
Jesus taught several parables about the kingdom of God, its unexpected ways of expansion, and its status in the world - Mark 4:21-34 .  The Gospel of Mark provides only a few examples of the many parables taught by Jesus, his primary method of teaching - (“ Apart from a parable he did not speak to the crowds ”). While they cover several topics, in Mark , the overarching theme is the “ Kingdom of God ,” the reign of God that commenced in the ministry of Jesus and continues as the gospel is preached - [ Wheat Harvest photo by Erik-Jan Leusink on Unsplash ].

Redeemed from the Law

Image
The Law was an interim stage with a termination point. Therefore, Christians are no longer under it, and instead, are “in Christ.”   In  Galatians , Paul argues that adopting the rite of circumcision is regression to something rudimentary, a reversion to an earlier stage in the redemptive history of God’s people. If Gentiles adopt a  Torah -compliant lifestyle, they will return to bondage and once more experience the social divisions inherent in the Law - [ Photo by  Susan Holt Simpson  on Unsplash ].