Paul’s letter to the Galatians is the Declaration of Independence for Christians. While it is a short document – 150 verses compared to 1,000 in Acts, 870 in the Gospel of John, and 303 in Hebrews – it is one of the most profound documents we have in explaining our faith.
This is clearly one of the writings of Paul, not disputed by any scholars. It was written to Galatians, originally Celts who migrated to Asia Minor around 285 B.C. We’re not exactly certain where these people were that he was writing to, though we do know where the Roman province of Galatia was. Since it covered a broad territory in central Asia Minor, the letter could be to any or all of the churches in that area.
The congregation was predominately Gentile, but they have been taught by some Jewish Christians that they must first conform to the Jewish law if they are ever to be “real Christians.” There were probably some dietary restrictions but the primary area of conflict was over circumcision. Paul never says who these missionaries were, but he rails against their teachings. And that is the substance of the letter, that what these Jewish Christians were teaching was false. Paul attacks them with emotion and intensity not really seen anywhere else in his writings. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Galatians (Week One Notes)→
In week one, we discussed the apostles’ perhaps surprising first steps after Christ’s return and ascension, the beginnning of their persecution by the temple authorities, their creation of the position of deacon, and the martrydom of Stephen.
Now we move on to the story of another deacon, Philip. Philip had taken the bold step of making his ministry among the Samaritans. Talk about a leap of faith! In doing so, he sparks several rather remarkable things. He gets Peter and John to challenge a magician, and defeat him. Then he becomes the divine instrument for converting a court official from a far-off land to the faith – and, in doing so, demonstrates for all that this new experience of Jesus is not just for the Jews but for everybody in the whole world. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Acts (Week Two Notes)→
Sometime between 70 and 100 A.D., the book of Acts was written. The author was Luke, the man who wrote almost one-quarter of the New Testament. It is not just a story of the early church, but a story of the “church” as it was and is today. It deals with issues between Christians and Jews, Christians and pagans, Christians and the government, the problems of prayer, the purpose of preaching and teaching, and many of the other dilemmas that affect the church in our day.
It is the story of a community, formed by God, for without God there would have been no community. It is the same thing with our community here today. We did not form this community, we don’t run this community, and we just live in this community that was formed by God. You will see as we read Acts that the stories are not about somebody else; they are our story. The names might be a bit different, but they are definitely our stories. We keep on telling these stories because they help us make sense out of the life we are trying to live. Continue reading Bible Study Series: The Book of Acts (Week One Notes)→
After 25 years of being a priest in the Episcopal Church, some things get ingrained in you. For example, at least once a year I would go into my “Paul Revere” mode.
You see, according to canon law, Episcopal bishops are required to visit each parish in their diocese every 18 months (most make it a yearly visit). It is a VERY big deal for the parish. So, once I would get the notice that the bishop was coming, I would run about the parish hollering, “THE BISHOP IS COMING, THE BISHOP IS COMING!!” And everybody would go into “bishop visitation mode.”
After his usurping son is killed, David reconstructs the kingdom and writes a psalm about his love for God.
David’s network of spies then begins to have their desired effect. Hushai begins to give advice that is counter to Ahithophel’s, and the new “king” rejects the plan that would have secured the kingdom for him. Instead of acting when he needs to act, he waits. His waiting gives David time to recover from the shock of Absalom’s actions, to gather his forces to him, and to prepare for battle. Ahithophel realizes that everything is lost and that he has no future. Instead of waiting for the ax to fall, he goes off and hangs himself.
Adultery, betrayal, revenge, and retribution as David falls away from God’s path.
David now starts to pay his debts. He had promised Jonathan that if anything ever happened to him, he would look after his family. Jonathan’s son Mephibosheth is still alive and probably in hiding. He was crippled at a young age when he was dropped by his nurse. So he’s no great specimen of a leader in the physical sense, but he still has the blood of Saul and Jonathan in his veins. David could have easily seen him as a threat to his kingship. Instead of looking at him as a threat, he sees in him an opportunity that has multiple assets.