1 John 1

1:1 That which was from the beginning [emphasize the eternal nature of Christ], which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched [Jesus had a physical body; some false teachers claimed that He did not have a physical body but only appeared to have one] — this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.

1:2 The life [from the Greek word “zoe”] appeared [was revealed or manifested]; we have seen [Jesus was seen by thousands of people] it [Jesus] and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father [Jesus was face-to-face with God; they enjoyed an intimate relationship] and has appeared to us [the incarnation].

1:3 We [John and the other apostles] proclaim to you what we have seen and heard [John and the others actually walked with Jesus], so that you also may have fellowship [from the Greek word “koinonia”; the twelve enjoyed intimate fellowship with Jesus] with us [through a personal relationship with Jesus others could also enjoy this fellowship]. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.

1:4 We write this to make our [there is a mutual joy among believers] joy complete [wandering away from Christ or embracing false teaching cancels this joy].

1:5 This is the message [essentially the gospel] we have heard from him and declare to you [we are trustees of the gospel and must pass it along to others]: God [see also John 8:12] is light [light enables us to see what we otherwise could not see]; in him there is no darkness [a metaphor for what is sinful and evil] at all.

1:6 If we claim to have fellowship with him
[God’s people live in the kingdom of His beloved Son, a kingdom of light (Col. 1:13-14)] and yet walk in the darkness [it is hypocritical to to claim to belong to the kingdom of His beloved Son while walking in darkness (Col. 1:13-14); we cannot claim to belong to the light while displaying the behavior of the dark], we lie and do not live out the truth.

1:7 But if we walk in the light [means that we must have constant fellowship with God and not tolerate the things that can distance us from Him], as he is in the light, we have fellowship [the result of walking in the light] with one another [this phrase used 35 times in the NT; living out the 35 “one another” passages is evidence that we are in right relationship with God and others], and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies [cleanses] us from all sin.

Note: There is a legend told about Martin Luther that, during a serious illness, the Devil entered his room, and, looking at Luther with a triumphant smile, unrolled a vast roll which when unwound filled the room. On that roll was a detailed and complete record of all of Luther’s sins.

The story says that Luther trembled when he saw it when he suddenly remembered that there was one thing that was not written there.

And so, looking at the Devil, Luther said, “One thing you have forgotten: the rest is all true; but one thing you have forgotten…The blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth from all sin.” (I John 1:7)

As he said this, the Accuser of the brethren and his heavy roll disappeared.

1:8 If we claim to be without sin [this lie was propagated by false teachers], we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

1:9 [The Condition of Cleansing…] If [introduces the condition] we [who must meet the condition] confess [the condition that must be met; translates the Greek work “homologeo” from “homos” = same and “lego” = to speak; the word means “to say the same thing as another” hence “to agree with or to assent to a thing”] our sins, [The Certainty of Cleansing] he is faithful [the grounds of our assurance is the character of God; He never changes and is utterly reliable] and just [God is straightforward in His dealings with us and will do exactly what He says He will do] and will forgive [deals with the judicial side of cleansing; healing for the past] us our sins and purify [deals with the personal side of cleansing; hope for the future] us from all [You can call sin what you like… bondage, guilt, uncleanness, crime, iniquity, vice, evil, misdemeanor, wickedness, failure, stain, wrong, filth, or transgression. These are just some of the many names and aspects of sin, but they are all covered by the word “all”] unrighteousness.

Note: The word “confess” also carries with it the idea of a contract, an agreement, a coming to terms (as used in both Classical and Koine Greek). According to its usage in 1 John 1:9, confession is more than just a mere admission of sin to God. The act of confession includes the act of the Christian:

A. coming to terms with God in regard to his sin
B. then of agreeing with God as to what He says about that sin and what the Christian ought to do about it.
C. then entering into a contract or agreement with God that if He will cleanse us from the filth and defilement of that sin, we will not repeat it.

In other words, we must first own and then disown our sins. We must first acknowledge them and then abandon them—or in the words of Proverbs 28:13, we must confess and forsake them.

1:10 If we claim we have not sinned [an audacious claim of some of the false teachers; if we have not sinned then there was no need for God to send His Son], we make him out to be a liar [because God says we have all sinned; Romans 3:23; 6:23] and his word [the message of the gospel] is not in us.

Philippians 1 NIV

1:1 Paul and Timothy [Timothy had assisted Paul in establishing the church at Philippi and had visited them at least twice since (cf. Acts 19:22; 20:3-4); not a co-author of this letter], servants [Gr. “doulos” meaning “slave”] of Christ Jesus [Paul and Timothy belonged to Jesus and acted in His name], To all the saints in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons:

1:2 Grace [unmerited favor of God toward man] and peace [the kind of peace born of reconciliation; note the order: grace and then peace] to you from [the source from which grace and peace flow] God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

1:3 I thank my God every time I remember [according to Acts 16 we might conclude that Paul’s memories of Philippi (illegally arrested and beaten, imprisoned and humiliated before the people) ought to produce sorrow rather than joy, but those memories caused Paul to rejoice and give thanks] you.

1:4 In all my prayers for all of you, I always [he continually prayed on their behalf] pray with joy [first mention of this little word which will be used repeatedly throughout this letter]

1:5 because of [the specific occasion for his thanksgiving and joy] your partnership [Gr. word “koinoniai” which means “fellowship, sharing, participation”] in the gospel from the first day [from the day Lydia was converted and opened her home to Paul’s missionary team] until now,

1:6 being confident of this, that he [God] who began a good work [refers to the perfecting of character (sanctification) and also to the furtherance of the gospel] in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus [cf. 1 Jn. 3:2].

1:7 It is right for me to feel this way about all of you, since I have you in my heart [Paul had a deep and sincere love for the Philippian believers]; for whether I am in chains or defending and confirming the gospel, all of you share in God’s grace with me.

1:8 God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection [Gr. word “splagchnois” is the strongest word in Greek for the feeling of compassion (Rienecker/Rogers)] of Christ Jesus.

1:9 And this is my prayer: that your love [refers to their mutual love for each other and their regard for their fellowman] may abound [overflow] more and more in knowledge [practical, spiritual principles] and depth of insight [refers to moral discernment or perception],

1:10 so that you may be able to discern [wise and careful discrimination of issues of right and wrong, true and false] what is best and may be pure [in relation to God] and blameless [giving no offense to others] until the day of Christ [the coming of Christ should serve as an incentive to holy living],

1:11 filled with the fruit of [the fruit which righteousness produces] righteousness [right standing with God and right doing (Amplified)] that comes through [comes only through our union with Christ (cf. Jn. 15:4-5); as we are in proper union with Christ the Holy Spirit is able to produce the fruit of the Spirit in us (cf. Gal. 5:22-23)] Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

1:12 Now I want you to know [come to know, learn, or understand], brothers [fellow believers who are members of the same spiritual family by faith in Christ], that what has happened to me [his imprisonment] has really served [in contrast to what might be expected; his imprisonment did not end his missionary activity but rather expanded it for himself and for others] to advance [Gr. “prokope” used to describe the progress of an army or expedition] the gospel [circumstances served to clear the way for the gospel to advance into new areas].

1:13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard [the soldiers to whom Paul was chained; Paul’s imprisonment opened the way for exposing soldiers in the Roman army to the gospel of Christ] and to everyone else [refers to a wide circle in Rome beyond the guard itself] that I am in chains [Paul’s chains gave him contact with the lost] for [Paul was in prison because of his religious convictions and teachings] Christ.

1:14 Because of my chains, most of the brothers in the Lord have been encouraged [inspired and stimulated to greater evangelistic activity] to speak [in everyday conversations and opportunities] the word of God more courageously and fearlessly.

1:15 It is true that some [the brothers mentioned in the previous verse] preach Christ [the issue here was not the substance of their message but rather the motivation that led them to preach it] out of envy and rivalry [some preached from unworthy motives], but others out of goodwill [some preached from worthy motives].

1:16 The latter do so in love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel.

1:17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition [Gr. “eritheia” refers to a self-seeking, ambitious, and competitive spirit], not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains.

1:18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached [Paul was able to see the bigger picture — Christ was being preached!]. And because of this [the fact that Christ was being preached in spite of the imperfect motives of the preachers] I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice,

1:19 for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance [Paul believed things would work out for the best].

1:20 I eagerly expect [Gr. “apokaradokia” from “apo” (away), “kara” (head), “dokein” (to watch)] and hope that I will in no way be ashamed [cf. Rom. 1:16], but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.

1:21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain [because he would be with Christ].

1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

1:22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!

1:23 I am torn between the two [“hard-pressed from both directions” (NASB); Gr. “senechomai” means “to hem in on both sides”]: I desire to depart [military term for breaking camp] and be with Christ, which is better by far;

1:24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.

1:25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain [to remain alongside another], and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,

1:26 so that through my being with you again [when Paul and Philippians see one another again] your joy [Paul’s presence will give them occasion to boast and rejoice in the Lord] in Christ Jesus will overflow on account of me [Paul was a living testimony of how Christ can sustain a man in and through the worst of circumstances].

1:27 Whatever happens, conduct [Gr. “politeuesthe” means “to behave as citizens”; cf. Eph. 4:1; Col. 1:10] yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm [like a soldier who will not budge from his post] in one spirit, contending [Gr. “sunathleo” means “to contend or struggle with someone”] as one man [working cooperatively like an athletic team] for the faith of the gospel

1:28 without being frightened [like a startled animal] in any way by those who oppose you. This is a sign to them that they will be destroyed, but that you will be saved—and that by God.

1:29 For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer [not because of their sin but because of their allegiance to Christ and their commitment to the advancement of the gospel; cf. Jn. 15:18] for him [Paul saw this as a privilege],

1:30 since you are going through the same struggle you saw I had, and now hear that I still have.

Philippians 2 NIV

2:1 If [Gr. first class conditional statement: should be understood to mean “since” or “in view of the fact”] you have any encouragement [Gr. “paraklesis” can also mean exhortation, comfort] from being united with Christ, if any comfort [may be rendered “consolation”] from his love, if any fellowship [Gr. “koinonia” means participation, association, sharing] with the Spirit [Holy Spirit], if any tenderness [“bowels” (KJV) is tender mercies; sensitivity to the needs and feelings of other people] and compassion [to feel another person’s sorrow or hurt],

2:2 then make my joy complete by [1] being like-minded [“thinking the one thing”; cf. Phil. 2:5], [2] having the same love [the kind of love demonstrated by Jesus], [3] being one in spirit [cf. Phil. 1:27; Jn. 17:22] and [4] purpose [a common goal, namely, to spread the gospel].

2:3 Do nothing out of selfish ambition [Gr. “eritheia” refers to a self-seeking, ambitious, competitive spirit] or vain [empty] conceit [Gr. “kenodoxia” is literally “empty praise” or boastful pride], but in humility [“lowliness of mind” (KJV); ability to recognize personal insufficiency and God’s sufficiency; recognizes need to depend on God] consider others better than yourselves.

2:4 [cf. Rom. 12:10] Each of you should look [make it your aim] not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

2:5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus [the ultimate example of true humility]:

2:6 Who, being in very nature [“in the form of” (KJV)] God [a reference to the preexistence of Christ], did not consider equality with God something to be grasped [Jesus did not have to grasp what was already His; Jesus willingly laid aside His heavenly glory or status for our sakes],

2:7 but made himself nothing [Gr. “ekenosen” means that He emptied Himself; He gave up divine privileges; He imposed on Himself certain limitations], taking the very nature of [“the form of” (KJV)] a servant [a slave; one without advantage, without rights, and without privileges], being made in human likeness [He exchanged His kingly robe for the sackcloth of human flesh].

2:8 And being found in appearance [Gr. “schemati”; “in fashion” (KJV)] as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross [the ultimate display of humiliation]!

2:9 Therefore God exalted [through His resurrection and ascension] him [the One despised and rejected and regarded as a criminal] to the highest place and gave him the name [Jesus, the Gr. equivalent of the Heb. Joshua, an abbreviation of Yahweh [Jehovah] is Savior] that is above every name,

2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow [in worship], in heaven and on earth and under the earth,

2:11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [cf. Jn. 17:1,5].

2:12 Therefore, my dear friends [an affectionate term; a reminder that the Philippians were dear to Paul], as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out [not “for”] your [plural (indicating that they were to work out their salvation in the context of their relationships with others in the church); they already possessed salvation] salvation [a reference to sanctification] with fear and trembling,

2:13 for it is God who works [through His Holy Spirit who energizes and empowers believers] in you to will [or to want] and to act according to his good purpose [God’s desired unity in the Philippian church].

2:14 Do everything without complaining [cf. 1 Cor. 10:1-5,10; 1 Pet. 4:9] or arguing [may possibly imply “arguing” in court (cf. 1 Cor. 6:1-11)],

2:15 so that [the goal or purpose of the prohibitions of 2:14] you may become [implies a process of development] blameless [expresses what the Christian is to the world (Barclay)] and pure [refers to that which was unmixed and unadulterated; expresses what the Christian is in himself (Barclay)], children of God without fault [refers to what the Christian is in the sight of God] in a crooked [unbelieving] and depraved [refers to an abnormal moral condition or being twisted and misshapen in character and conduct] generation, in which you shine like stars [Gr. “phosteres”] in the universe

2:16 as you hold out [or hold forth; to offer to a lost world] the word of life—in order that I may boast on the day of Christ that I did not run or labor for nothing [in vain; empty].

2:17 But even if I am being poured out like a drink offering on the sacrifice and service coming from your faith, I am glad and rejoice [the prospect of death did not rob Paul of his joy (cf. Phil. 1:21)] with all of you.

2:18 So you too should be glad and rejoice with me.

2:19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy [as his representative; Timothy was always willing to go anywhere; his message was as safe as if Paul had delivered it himself] to you soon, that [the purpose for sending Timothy] I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.

Note: Timothy held a special place in Paul’s life. Paul had enlisted Timothy to accompany him on the second missionary journey while passing through Derbe and Lystra (see Acts 16:1-3). Timothy was the son of a Jewish mother and a Greek father. His grandmother (Lois) and mother (Eunice) were both believers. Thus Timothy was with Paul on the second missionary journey when he founded the church at Philippi. Timothy had also visited the saints at Philippi on at least two other occasions (see Acts 19:22 and 20:3-4).

2:20 I have no one else like him [an expression of Paul’s confidence in Timothy], who takes a genuine interest in your welfare [characteristic of the good minister].

2:21 For everyone [as opposed to Timothy] looks out for his own interests, not those of Jesus Christ [Timothy was more “other-centered” than “self-centered”; “In a very real sense, all of us live either in Philippians 1:21 or 2:21!” (Wiersbe)].

2:22 But [conjunction places Timothy’s character in contrast to what Paul mentioned in v. 21] you know [Philippians knew Timothy personally] that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father [served as father and son, side by side] he has served with [preposition “with” shows Paul’s humility (Wuest) and raises Timothy to the position of an equal, a fellow laborer, a fellow messenger (Erdman)] me in the work of the gospel [in the common cause of advancing the gospel of Christ].

2:23 I hope, therefore, to send him [Timothy would bear the news of Paul’s deliverance or death to the Philippians] as soon as I see how things go with me [once he knew the outcome of his trial, which at this time was still uncertain].

2:24 And I am confident [a settled persuasion or conviction] in the Lord that I myself will come soon.

2:25 But I think it is necessary to send back to you Epaphroditus, my brother [brother in the faith; shared a common sympathy with Paul], fellow worker [shared a common service with Paul , namely, the advancement of the gospel] and fellow soldier [shared a common suffering and danger with Paul ], who is also your messenger [Gr. “apostolos” refers to one entrusted with a mission], whom you sent [acted as the official representative and priestly servant of the entire church at Philippi] to take care of [“minister to” (NAS) from Gr. “leitourgos” which refers to “one who is engaged in priestly service.”] my needs.

Note: Like Timothy, Epaphroditus was a man whose life exemplified the exhortations of Philippians 2:1-4. He was a man who was more “other-centered” than “self-centered.” Epaphroditus, a member of the Philippian church, had been given the responsibility of taking the Philippians’ special love offering to Paul. He had also been charged with the responsibility of staying to minister to Paul’s needs, doing the things that the Philippians could not do themselves because of distance, but that could only be done by one present. Epaphroditus showed kindness to Paul and was concerned for others in his church.

2:26 For he longs for all of you and is distressed because you heard he was ill.

2:27 Indeed he was ill, and almost died [literally means “alongside of a neighbor”; he was next door to death]. But God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, to spare me sorrow upon sorrow [death of Epaphroditus would have been almost more than Paul could stand].

2:28 Therefore I am all the more eager to send him, so that when you see him again you may be glad and I may have less anxiety.

2:29 Welcome him in the Lord with great joy, and honor men like him,

2:30 because [the reason they are to lovingly receive Epaphroditus and hold him in high regard] he almost died for the work of Christ, risking his life [Gr. “paraboleuesthai” means to expose one’s self to danger] to make up for the help you could not give me [not a rebuke but a reminder that he was there to do what they could not do for him].

Philippians 4 NIV

4:1 Therefore [connects the last verses of chapter 3 with the first verse of chapter 4], my brothers, you whom I love and long for [reminder of his affection for the Philippian saints], my joy [Philippians were source of joy and gladness to Paul (cf. Phil. 1:3)] and crown [Gr. “stephanos” refers to the crown or garland that was awarded to a victorious athlete at the Greek games], that is how you should stand firm [Gr. “stekete” means to stand fast in the heat of battle when the enemy is coming upon you; Paul urged them to maintain their spiritual position as citizens of heaven, especially in face of persecution from without and error from within] in the Lord, dear friends!

4:2 I plead [ exhort] with [note that Paul listed them in alphabetical order, perhaps to show impartiality] Euodia [name means “prosperous or successful journey,” or, according to some texts, “sweet savor/fragrance”] and I plead [exhort] with Syntyche [name means “pleasant acquaintance, good fortune, or affable”] to agree [be of the same mind; to live in harmony; we are not told the cause of their dissension; must have been at odds a long time since news of their disagreement reached Paul in Rome] with each other in the Lord.

4:3 Yes, and I ask you, loyal yokefellow [has been interpreted to mean either a proper name (Syzygus) or as a reference to some outstanding saint who Paul felt was capable of helping these two women; some believe this is reference to Epaphroditus], help these women [sadly, these women are remembered because they quarreled; thy failed to live up to the meaning of their names] who have contended at my side in the cause of the gospel [had been of great service in furthering the establishment of the Philippian church], along with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4:4 Rejoice [keep on rejoicing] in the Lord always [at all times; in all places; in good or bad circumstances; when things look promising; when everything is wrong (cf. Hab. 3:17-18)]. I will say it again: Rejoice!

4:5 Let your gentleness [or reasonableness; “the opposite of stubbornness and thoughtlessness” (Erdman)] be evident to all [not just to some persons; to those within the church and in society at large]. [note the reason and motive for this exhortation…] The Lord is near [the expectation of the Lord’s return should serve as an incentive to holy living].

4:6 Do not be anxious [means “to be pulled in different directions” (Wiersbe)] about anything, but in everything [someone noted that there is nothing too great for God’s power, and nothing too small for His fatherly care], by prayer [the general word for making requests known to the Lord; prayer is the cure for anxiety] and petition [means to ask for things], with thanksgiving [bringing requests to God with an attitude of appreciation for whatever answer He may give], present your requests [refers to particular or specific petitions] to God.

4:7 And the peace of God [the fruit of believing prayer], which transcends all understanding, will guard [stand guard like a soldier] your [cf. Isa. 26:3] hearts [feelings] and your minds [thoughts] in Christ Jesus.

4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true [keep in mind that Satan is a liar (Jn. 8:44) and wants to corrupt our minds with his lies (2 Cor. 11:3)], whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure [refers to moral purity], whatever is lovely [means beautiful or attractive], whatever is admirable [means worth talking about, appealing]—if anything is excellent [that which motivate us to do better] or praiseworthy [worth commending to others]—think [consider; ponder] about such things.

Paul’s goal was to press on toward maturity in Christ. He believed all spiritually mature believers would embrace his way of thinking. Because our thoughts affect how we live and how we interact with others, Paul listed some of the virtues that should dominate believers’ thinking.

Paul urged the Philippian believers to fill their minds with the kind of thoughts that please God and would guide them on the journey toward Christlikeness. Right thinking does not just happen but is the result of filling our hearts and minds with the Word of God (see Ps. 19:7-9; 119:9-16). That is the way we develop a new mind-set that impacts how we live and a biblical worldview that impacts how we view life. Filling our minds with God’s Word will help us to pursue a mature way of thinking and to dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable.

4:9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me–put it into practice [an exhortation to follow his example (cf. Phil. 3:17)]. And the God of peace will be with you.

4:10 I rejoice [Paul rejoiced specifically because they had sent an offering and Epaphroditus to minister to him] greatly [word used only here in the NT] in the Lord that at last you have renewed [Gr. word means “to sprout or blossom again”] your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned [they had never lost their interest in or concern for him], but you had no opportunity to show it.

4:11 I am not saying this because I am in need [Paul’s joy was not dependent upon whether or not his needs were met], for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances [included the litany of experiences recorded in 2 Cor. 11:23-33].

4:12 I know what it is to be in need [having very little], and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned [means “understanding” or “entering into the secret of” ] the secret of being content in any [particular] and every [general] situation, whether well fed [refers to being full of food] or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want [refers to one who is in serious financial difficulty or in debt].

4:13 I can do everything through him who gives me strength [enabled Paul to deal with the “every situation” of verse 12].

4:14 Yet it was good of you to share [Paul was truly thankful for their gift and for the ministry and friendship of Epaphroditus] in my troubles.

4:15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days [Paul recalled the past generosity of the Philippians] of your acquaintance with the gospel [they had expressed their thankfulness for and commitment to the gospel from the very beginning, from the day Paul founded the church at Philippi some ten years earlier], when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving [possibly refers to the gift Paul received from Macedonia while he was in Corinth (2 Cor. 11:8-9)], except you only [no other church followed their example];.

4:16 for even when I was in Thessalonica, you [the Philippian church was a new assembly of believers when it made these donations] sent me aid again and again when I was in need.

4:17 Not that I am looking for a gift, but I am looking for what may be credited to your account [the Philippians benefited spiritually by their giving].

4:18 I have received full payment and even more; I am amply supplied [Paul addressed the matter of the personal benefits of the Philippians’ gift; Paul told his Philippian friends that his needs were “amply supplied” by their generous gift (cf. Eph. 3:20-21)], now that I have received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent. They are a fragrant offering, an acceptable sacrifice, pleasing to God.

4:19 And my [personal relationship] God will [speaks of certainty] meet [supply] all your needs [both temporal and spiritual] according to his glorious [God will supply their needs in such a way that His glory will be manifested] riches [inexhaustible and boundless] in Christ Jesus .

4:20 To our God and Father be glory [Paul’s earnest desire was for God to be glorified] for ever and ever. Amen.

4:21 Greet all the saints in Christ Jesus. The brothers who are with me send greetings.

4:22 All the saints send you greetings, especially those who belong to Caesar’s household [those who worked in Caesar’s household; Paul had likely led these to faith in Christ through his ministry in Rome (cf. Phil. 1:12-14).].

4:23 [a simple benediction…] The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

Philippians 3 NIV

3:1 Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord [indicates the true sphere of joy]! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again [views include: refers to rejoice; refers to encouragement to live in harmony; refers to previous letters to them; refers to warnings against false teachers], and it is a safeguard for you.

3:2 Watch out for [beware; note three references to the Judaizers whose activity was dangerous, divisive, and subversive (cf. 2 Cor. 11:13)…] those dogs [they followed Paul and barked their contradictory doctrines], those men who do evil [their teaching and activity led people away from God], those mutilators of the flesh [Judaizers believed that circumcision was essential to salvation (Acts 15:1; Galatians 6:12-18); cf. Col. 2:11 re: spiritual “circumcision done by Christ”; Judaizers had also “mutilated” the message of the gospel].

From the time of his dramatic conversion on the Damascus road, Paul committed himself to tell others about Him. In addition to the physical hardships he experienced as he took the gospel to new frontiers, Paul felt the pressure of concern for all the churches (see 2 Cor. 11:28). He often encountered strong opposition from those who sought either to add to Christ’s work on the cross or to subtract from His deity. These individuals wedged their dangerous doctrines into the hearts of new believers and caused divisions in the early church.

Paul warned the Philippian believers to watch out for evil workers or the Judaizers. This subversive group (2 Cor. 11:13) taught that Gentiles had to first become Jews before they could become Christians. They added to Christ’s work by insisting that circumcision was essential to salvation. Paul therefore referred to them as those who mutilate the flesh. Like dogs, the Judaizers followed Paul everywhere he went. They barked their contradictory doctrines and mutilated the message of salvation by grace through faith in Christ.

3:3 For it is we [those who trust Christ Jesus alone for salvation] who are the circumcision, we who worship [serve] by [under the leadership and power of] the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus [and not in any outward rites], and who put no confidence in [to depend on] the flesh [what we are and can achieve apart from Christ]

3:4 [Paul reinforced his warning against the Judaizers by referring to his own personal testimony] though I myself have reasons for such confidence. If anyone else thinks he has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more [because of who he was and what he had achieved before coming to faith in Christ]:

Under the old covenant, circumcision was a physical sign that set the Jews apart from the Gentiles. This bodily sign was to be a mark of a spiritual relationship with God. However, after Jesus Christ, physical circumcision was no longer necessary. He made it possible for all who believe in Him as Savior to become part of God’s family. Those who have placed their faith in Christ have had their hearts circumcised by Him (Col. 2:11-12). Unlike the Judaizers who put confidence in their own external achievements, true believers boast or exult only in Christ Jesus and in what He has done to make salvation possible.

The Judaizers placed a great deal of confidence in their personal religious credentials and accomplishments. They mistakenly believed that their religious effort and activity would earn their salvation. However, if religious credentials were the basis for salvation, then Paul had better grounds for confidence in the flesh.

Paul listed several facts about his life that would have qualified him for a place in the covenant people of God according to the Judaizers’ standards. However, after his encounter with Christ, Paul realized that his religious resume had actually kept him from knowing God. Those who depend on their religious credentials will be disappointed.

3:5 [Paul listed seven personal credentials which formed the basis for his boasting in v. 4…] [1] circumcised [the Judaizers were most vocal about this] on the eighth day, [2] of the people of Israel [he was not a proselyte but a true Jew], [3] of the tribe of Benjamin [youngest son of Jacob and his beloved wife, Rachel; the only one of Jacob’s sons who was born in the Promised Land], [4] a Hebrew of Hebrews [a Hebrew from Hebrew parents (pure and unmixed Hebrew stock)]; [5] in regard to the law, a Pharisee [strictest and most law-abiding sect of Judaism; name means “the separated ones”];

3:6 [6] as for zeal, persecuting the church [cf. Acts 8:1; 9:1-2]; [7] as for legalistic righteousness, faultless [Paul kept the demands of the Law (the Mosaic law as interpreted by the Pharisaic tradition)].

Like the Judaizers, many religious people today need to experience a transformation of their way of thinking. Christianity is not about religion or religious activity, but about a relationship with God made possible by Christ’s work on the cross. How arrogant to imagine ourselves standing before God and expecting that our personal religious resume will either please or impress Him.

Isaiah noted that our own works and accomplishments, however good or righteous we imagine them to be, are as filthy rags before God (Isa. 64:6). If following the law, doing good works, and building an impressive resume is how people are made right with God, then Christ died for nothing (Gal. 2:21).

3:7 But whatever [reference to the things (cf. Phil. 3:5-6) which both the Jews and the Judaizers looked to put them in right relationship with God] was to my profit [reference to all of the things mentioned which were a source of enrichment and pride] I now consider [to count, deem, think, account] loss [all of the things that were keeping him from gaining righteousness in Christ] for the sake of Christ.

Paul saw things differently after his conversion. His encounter with Christ led him to rethink all of his Old Testament studies in light of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus. Only then did he understand that all of the things he once considered profitable were actually useless in helping him gain righteousness in Christ. The sum of all his religious activity could not earn him salvation. He learned that right standing with God comes at God’s initiative and by faith in Christ. He therefore abandoned trust in the flesh and external rites and observances and tossed his religious resume into the garbage.

3:8 What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things [refers to a specific time in the past, probably his conversion when he suffered the confiscation or loss of all things]. I consider them rubbish [can refer either “to human excrement . . . or . . . to the refuse or leavings of a feast, the food thrown away from the table” (Rienecker/Rogers)], that [Paul had a new ambition in life] I may gain Christ [a profitable exchange]

Paul recognized the surpassing value of knowing Christ. All of the things he had once considered valuable he now considered to be a loss by comparison to knowing Christ. For Paul, knowing Christ was indeed a profitable exchange for everything he had lost.

Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant who found a pearl of great value. Recognizing the surpassing value of that pearl, the merchant eagerly sold all that he had and bought the pearl (Matt. 13:45-46). Like this merchant, Paul counted everything he had lost as nothing in comparison to what he had gained.

I know many believers who live in places that are hostile to the gospel of Jesus Christ. What convicts and inspires me most is what they have exchanged for the privilege of knowing and following Christ. Many have exchanged personal security. Others have lost careers, property, and family. And yet, I have never heard a single one of these believers utter a complaint. Their lives are a testimony to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ and to the fact that what they have gained far exceeds anything they have lost.

We should make knowing Christ the central goal of our lives and be absolutely determined to accomplish that goal. Knowing Christ is not merely having factual information about Him, but a growing, personal experience with Him that shapes our entire outlook on life.

One way in which we can become better acquainted with Jesus is by spending time in the study of the Bible. While we should not equate knowing the Bible or knowing theology with loving Jesus, we must gain acquaintance with Him in the Bible. We must become so familiar with Christ and know Him so well that we are not duped by counterfeits or by thinking that minimizes who He is or adds to what He did to make provision for our redemption.

3:9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ–the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.

Prior to his conversion, Paul had thought that his own righteousness and religious credentials were sufficient to gain him access to God. After his conversion, Paul’s thinking underwent major changes. His greatest desire was that he might be found in Christ, not depending on his own righteousness, but in the righteousness that results from placing one’s faith in Christ alone for salvation. Like Paul, we too should want to be found in Him every moment that we live, when we die, when He returns, and at the final judgment.

3:10 I want to know [same word that Paul used in verse 8; means “to know personally through experience.”] Christ [“to know Christ” was the was the deep desire and passion of Paul’s life] and the power of his resurrection [God’s great power was manifested in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead] and the fellowship [means “a joint participation”] of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,

After his conversion, knowing Christ became Paul’s greatest ambition in life. While many are content to know about Christ or to be acquainted with facts about His life, Paul’s deepest desire was to know Christ intimately. He wanted to live each day in the power of the Holy Spirit, who raised Jesus from the dead. Paul also was willing to suffer for Christ who suffered for him. Paul indeed suffered many hardships and trials for the sake of the gospel. And, he expressed a desire to become like Christ in His death, something that Paul did by daily dying to his sinful nature and personal ambitions.

3:11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.

3:12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect [the Greek word used here does not mean “sinless, flawless,” but “spiritually mature”], but I press on [Watchman Nee said that all who aspire to spiritual maturity must maintain Paul’s attitude in Phil. 3:12; picture here is of athlete running a race, straining every nerve and muscle to reach his goal] to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.

Paul understood that knowing Christ and becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. His journey toward becoming all that he was meant to be began on the day Christ took hold of him on the road to Damascus. Like an athlete running a race, Paul pressed on, straining every muscle to move toward the finish line. Every step carried him closer to spiritual maturity—to Christlikeness. Every believer who aspires to spiritual maturity must maintain Paul’s attitude of pressing on toward the goal of knowing Christ better and better.

3:13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it [Paul was still a learner and understood that he had not arrived]. But one thing I do [Paul focused on a single purpose]: Forgetting what is behind [he did not allow past victories to fill him with pride nor past failures to fill him with fear] and straining [like an athlete expending every ounce of strength to win a race] toward what is ahead,

While Paul was satisfied with Christ, he was never satisfied with his Christian life. He recognized that complacency and satisfaction are the enemies of spiritual progress. Instead, Paul maintained the attitude of a learner or of one who had yet to arrive. He did not allow past successes to fill him with pride or past failures to fill him with fear lest these cause him to stumble. Instead, he had a single focus — to reach or to lean forward like an athlete on the home stretch of a race. He fixed his eyes on the goal of spiritual maturity — knowing Christ, and finishing the race set before him. He allowed nothing to distract or deter him from reaching that goal.

3:14 I press [continual action] on toward the goal [translates a word meaning “a mark on which to fix the eye”] to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Not everyone in the Philippian church shared Paul’s views about spiritual maturity. Some were filled with pride and looked down on others from their perch of perceived personal perfection. Paul therefore urged his friends in Philippi to pursue a mature way of thinking. Those who are truly mature generally are more aware of their imperfections and of their need to press on toward Christlikeness. For those who thought otherwise, Paul expressed the hope that God would reveal the truth to them.

Note: Here are a few things that you and I can do to know Christ better.
G = Make it your goal to know Christ intimately. Spend time alone with Him daily in prayer and in the study of His Word.
R = Take responsibility for your spiritual progress. Invite others to hold you accountable for your spiritual health.
O = Order your priorities to reflect your determination to press on toward spiritual maturity.
W = Watch out for modern-day Judaizers who add rules, regulations, rites and rituals or other external standards as qualifications for receiving salvation.
T = Guard your thoughts. Fill your mind with God’s Word and think about things that please God.
H = Aim high. Make it your goal to follow Christ daily and to know him more intimately.

3:15 All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.

3:16 Only let us live up to what we have already attained [exhortation to stay on the path in which they had made steady spiritual progress].

3:17 Join with others in following my [Paul wanted for the Philippians to follow his example only insofar as he followed the example of Christ] example [cf. 1 Cor. 11:1], brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we [others whose lives were exemplary and worthy of imitation included Timothy and Epaphroditus, whom Paul highly commended in Phil. 2:19-30] gave you.

3:18 For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears [“to weep audibly” (Lightfoot)], many [men of a character far different from Paul’s] [1] live as enemies of the cross of Christ.

3:19 [2] Their destiny is destruction [reference here is to eternal punishment; they will not be able to stand in the judgment. (cf. Ps. 1:4-6)], [3] their god is their stomach [“may be used as a general term to include all that belongs to the bodily, fleshly life of man and therefore inevitably perishes” (Rienecker/Rogers)], and [4] their glory is in their shame [they were proud of things they should have been ashamed of]. [5] Their mind is on earthly things [cf. Col. 3:1-2; Rom. 13:12-14].

3:20 But our citizenship [the same word used in Phil. 1:27; conduct of believer must be in accordance with citizenship] is in heaven. And we eagerly await [we ought to have an eager longing for the Lord’s return (it is at that time that He will bring to completion our salvation)] a Savior from there [cf. Jn. 14:2-3], the Lord Jesus Christ,

3:21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body [cf. 1 Jn. 3:2].

Overview of John 13-21

John 13:1-11 — Jesus and His disciples gathered to eat the Passover meal in an upper room. Before beginning the meal, Jesus got up from the table and washed His disciples’ feet. Peter protested that Jesus should not wash his feet. Jesus explained that those who wanted to be connected to Him had to be cleansed by Him, a reference to the spiritual cleansing He would make possible by His death on the cross. Jesus also explained that not all of those present were clean within, a reference to Judas.

John 13:12-17 — Jesus asked the disciples if they understood what He had done for them. He explained that He had set an example of service He expected them to follow. Jesus did not institute foot washing as a church ordinance but rather set an example of the kind of humble service believers should show one another.

John 13:18-30 — After His startling display of service, Jesus made an equally startling announcement. Jesus informed His disciples that one of them would betray Him. John, who was seated next to Jesus, asked Him to identify the betrayer. Jesus identified His betrayer by giving a piece of bread, a gesture of friendship, to Judas Iscariot. Judas accepted the bread and then left the room. Judas would later betray Jesus with a kiss, another gesture of friendship.

John 13:31-38 — After Judas left the room, Jesus told His disciples that the time had come for Him to be glorified—something which would be accomplished through His death and resurrection. He also commanded His disciples to love one another. Love, said Jesus, should be the distinguishing mark of His followers. Peter boasted that he was willing to protect Jesus with his life. Jesus informed Peter that during the next several hours he would deny Him three times.

John 14:1-7 — The disciples were troubled at the news that one of them would betray Jesus (13:21) and that Jesus was leaving them (13:33). Jesus told the disciples that He was leaving to prepare a place for them in His Father’s house. He identified Himself as the way to the Father.

John 14:8-11 — Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. Jesus explained that to see Him is to see the Father. After hearing Jesus words and seeing His works, the disciples should have known that Jesus was God in human form (1:14,18).

John 14:12-14,18-21 — When Jesus returned to the Father He would send the Holy Spirit to empower His followers to expand the scope of His kingdom. Jesus promised that God would hear and answer requests in line with His will and kingdom purposes.

John 14:15-17 — Jesus promised to give the disciples the Holy Spirit. He identified the Spirit as the Counselor and the Spirit of truth. Jesus also promised the disciples that the Holy Spirit would be with them forever.

John 14:22-24 — Judas (not Iscariot) asked Jesus to clarify how He would manifest Himself to them but not to the world. Jesus explained that He and the Father would abide with them in the Person of the Holy Spirit. Their obedience would be the proof that they loved Him.

John 14:25-26 — The Holy Spirit would teach the disciples all they needed to know about Jesus and the way of salvation. The Counselor would cause the disciples to remember all that Jesus had said to them.

John 14:27-31 — Jesus gave the disciples His peace—a resource they would need to calm their troubled hearts. He told His disciples that He would complete His redemptive work and return to His Father.

John 15:1-3 — Jesus used the analogy of a vine and its branches to clarify His relationship to believers. God, the gardener, personally tends the vineyard in order to increase the potential for fruit bearing.

John 15:4-8 — Jesus said that He is the Vine and believers are the branches. Believers must remain in vital union with Christ in order to bear fruit. Apart from Christ, believers can do nothing worthwhile or of eternal value. Believers who remain in Him are assured that God will hear and answer prayers that are in line with His will and purposes.

John 15:9-15 — Jesus urged His disciples to obey His commands just as He obeyed His Father’s commands. Jesus called His disciples friends and challenged them to demonstrate a sacrificial kind of love toward others.

John 15:16-17 — Jesus appointed His disciples to bear fruit that will last. He reminded them that prayer is essential to a productive and fruitful spiritual life.

John 15:18-20 — Jesus taught His disciples that they would experience the hatred and opposition of the world. The world hates those who are identified with Christ. Jesus told His disciples to remember that the world hated Him first.

John 15:21-24a — Jesus explained that the world’s hatred is fueled by spiritual ignorance. Jesus’ life and works made people uncomfortably aware of their sin. Those who refused to believe in Jesus were without excuse for their sin.

John 15:24b-25 — In spite of evidence that indicated Jesus is the Christ and God’s Son, many Jews refused to believe in Jesus. Instead, they hated Him, thus fulfilling what was written in their Law.

John 15:26-27 — The Holy Spirit always points others to Jesus. The disciples, under the power of the Holy Spirit, were to tell others about Jesus and how to find salvation in Him.

John 16:1-4 — Jesus warned His disciples about persecution so that they would not be caught off guard when it came. He said that the hatred of the world would manifest itself in expulsion from the synagogue and even death.

John 16:5-15 — Jesus identified the ministry of the Holy Spirit in relation to the world. The Holy Spirit convicts the world in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment. The Holy Spirit guides believers into all truth concerning the significance of Christ’s life, ministry, and death.

John 16:16-18 — The disciples were confused by Jesus’ announcement that they would not see Him and then would see Him. They were also puzzled by what He meant by the statement that He was going to the Father. They discussed their confusion among themselves and wondered what Jesus meant by these statements.

John 16:19-22 — Jesus overheard the disciples’ discussion concerning His statements. He explained to them that they would weep and mourn His death while the world would rejoice. He also assured them that their grief would turn to joy when they saw Him again.

John 16:23-24 — Jesus told the disciples that a day was coming when they would make their requests directly to the Father in Jesus’ name. He assured the disciples that they would be heard.

John 16:25-28 — Jesus told the disciples that a time was coming when they would understand everything He had taught them about the Father. He also spoke to them of a time when they would have direct access to the Father through prayer in His name.

John 16:29-33 — Jesus questioned the disciples’ declaration of faith. He predicted they would forsake Him in the coming hours. Jesus offered hope to the disciples by assuring them that everything He had shared with them was meant to give them peace. He also promised to give them victory over tribulation.

John 17:1-5 — Jesus prayed that the Father would glorify Him so that He might glorify the Father. Jesus glorified the Father by completing the work God had given Him to do. For this reason, Jesus asked the Father to restore to Him the glory He had before He came to earth.

John 17:6-12 — Jesus prayed for His disciples. He acknowledged that God had given them to Him. He asked the Father to protect them and to keep them united.

John 17:13-19 — Jesus not only asked the Father to keep His disciples together but to keep them from the enemy as well. He did not ask that they be taken out of the world, but that they be sanctified and consequently live distinctive lives in the world.

John 17:20-24 — Jesus prayed for those who would believe in Him as a result of the disciples’ message. He specifically prayed that they be one, as He and the Father are one. Christian unity tells the world that Christ makes a difference in the lives of those who believe in Him.

John 17:25-26 — Although the world had failed to recognize who Jesus was, the disciples had come to believe that He was the One sent from God. Jesus prayed that the Father’s love would be in them and that He (Jesus) Himself would be in them.

John 18:1-14 — At the conclusion of His prayer (17:1-26), Jesus took His disciples to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus agonized in prayer to the Father (Matt. 26:39; Luke 22:42-44). Soon, Judas escorted an armed crowd to the garden to arrest Jesus. Those who arrested Jesus bound Him and took Him to Annas, a former high priest.

John 18:15-18 — Peter and an unnamed disciple followed Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard. A servant girl asked Peter if he was a disciple of Jesus. Peter replied that he was not one of Jesus’ disciples.

John 18:19-24 — Annas asked Jesus about His disciples and His teaching. Jesus did not disclose any information about His disciples. He told Annas that He had taught openly and challenged him to produce witnesses against Him. An official struck Jesus in the face. Jesus challenged the official to provide proof that He had said or done anything wrong.

John 18:25-27 — Peter denied a second and third time that he knew Jesus. As Jesus had predicted, a rooster began to crow after Peter’s third denial.

John 18:28-40 — The Jewish leaders led Jesus from Caiaphas to Pilate in an effort to secure from him the death sentence for Jesus. Pilate questioned Jesus but did not wait for an answer to the most important question, “What is truth?” Pilate gave in to the pressure of the Jews and released Barabbas instead of Jesus.

John 19:1-7 — Pilate handed Jesus over to Roman soldiers who physically and verbally abused Him and dressed Him in mock royal attire. Pilate then presented Jesus to the crowd. The crowd called on Pilate to crucify Jesus because of His claim to be the Son of God.

John 19:8-12 — Pilate was afraid when he heard that Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He questioned Jesus a second time and told Jesus he had the authority to crucify or release Him. Jesus reminded Pilate that His only power over Him came from God.

John 19:13-16 — Pilate gave in to the pressure of the Jews to crucify Jesus. He presented Jesus to the Jews as their King. The Jews shouted that they had no king but Caesar. Pilate then washed his hands before the crowd (Matt. 27:24) and handed Jesus over to be crucified.

John 19:17-30 — Jesus was required to carry His own cross to Golgotha where He was crucified between two others. Pilate wrote an inscription and placed it on Jesus’ cross to the dismay of the Jewish leaders. The soldiers who made up the execution squad divided and cast lots for Jesus’ clothing. Jesus instructed “the disciple whom he loved” to care for Mary, His mother. Jesus then uttered His final words from the cross and died.

John 19:31-42 — The Jews asked Pilate to hasten the death of Jesus and of those crucified with Him. When the soldiers came to Jesus they saw that He was already dead. A soldier thrust his spear in Jesus’ side thus confirming that Jesus was dead. Pilate released the body of Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus. These men prepared His body for burial according to Jewish burial customs and placed Jesus in Joseph’s own new tomb.important question, “What is truth?” Pilate gave in to the pressure of the Jews and released Barabbas instead of Jesus.

John 20:1-9 — Mary Magdalene discovered the empty tomb early on the Sunday morning after the crucifixion. Mary reported the news to Peter and the disciple who Jesus loved. These men ran to the tomb to investigate her report.

John 20:10-18 — After looking into the empty tomb, Peter and the other disciple returned to Jerusalem but Mary stayed outside the tomb crying. Mary saw two angels seated in the tomb who asked her why she was crying. Mary replied that she wanted to know where the body of Jesus was. Mary then turned and saw a man who she presumed was the gardener. When he called her name, she recognized that it was Jesus. Jesus asked Mary to tell the disciples about His resurrection.

John 20:19-29 — The disciples, with the exception of Thomas, were hiding behind locked doors when Jesus appeared to them without announcement. Jesus showed them His hands and side. The disciples tried to convince Thomas that Jesus was alive. Thomas refused to believe without bodily proof. A week later Jesus again appeared to the disciples and Thomas had the opportunity to see Jesus for Himself. Thomas acknowledged the deity of Jesus.

John 20:30-31 — John stated the evangelistic purpose for writing his gospel. He wrote in the hope that his readers would believe in Jesus and that by believing they would receive the gift of eternal life.

John 21:1-11 — Seven of the disciples were together on the Sea of Galilee. As they fished from their boat, Jesus appeared on the shore and called out to them, but they did not recognize Him. He instructed them to cast their net on the right side of the boat. The result was a large catch of fish. John realized and told Peter that the stranger on the shore was Jesus. Peter swam to shore while the others hauled the catch of fish in.

John 21:12-14 — Jesus invited the disciples to share the breakfast He had prepared. He served them bread and the fish He had prepared. This was the third time Jesus appeared to the disciples after His resurrection.

John 21:15-23 — Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Peter replied that he loved Jesus all three times. Jesus commissioned Peter to feed or shepherd His sheep. Jesus also predicted that Peter would die a martyr’s death. Peter asked Jesus about John’s fate. Jesus told Peter not to be concerned about what God had planned for John. He urged Peter to fulfill his specific calling. Some people misunderstood Jesus’ statement about John remaining until He returned. John included a brief statement to clear up the misunderstanding.

John 21:24-25 — John affirmed that he was an eyewitness to all that he had recorded in his gospel. He also affirmed that Jesus did much more than was contained in his gospel or that could be contained in an endless number of books.

Introduction to John

The Gospel of John is like a photo album containing selected snapshots from the life of Jesus—scenes from everyday life. John included a photo of Jesus at a wedding. On another page he mounted a photo taken at night in which we can make out the figure of Jesus conversing with a nervous religious leader.

John included a photo of a woman at a well who discovered how to find living water and a panoramic photo of Jesus feeding bread to thousands on a mountainside. John took a close-up of Jesus weeping at a friend’s funeral and included a rare photo of Jesus’ washing the dirty feet of His disciples.

He chronicled the gruesome death of Jesus and took a snapshot of His empty tomb in early morning light. John’s candid snapshots help us to understand exactly who Jesus is—the Son of God who came to help real people find real life in the real world.

Contents — John introduced Jesus as God in human flesh. He showed how Jesus related to ordinary people in need. The first twelve chapters of his Gospel cover events that occurred during the three years of Jesus’ public ministry. The last nine chapters of John’s Gospel describe the final days and private ministry of Jesus to His disciples. John recorded intimate details about the twenty-four hour period immediately preceding the crucifixion.

All of the Gospel writers recorded that Jesus observed the Last Supper with His disciples. However, John’s account ushers us in to the upper room and allows us to hear the final words of Jesus to those He dearly loved. Following the crucifixion, John recorded the appearance of Jesus to His disciples as they were fishing on the Sea of Galilee.

Purpose — John clearly stated his strong evangelistic purpose for writing in John 20:31: “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.” John carefully selected and recorded details of events, miraculous signs, and personal conversations between Jesus and others so that his readers would realize that Jesus is God.

John repeatedly used his favorite word to describe the response he wanted from his readers—“believe.” The term “believe” appears in John’s Gospel more than in the other three Gospels combined. We cannot escape the fact that John wanted his readers to believe in Jesus—to acknowledge the facts about Jesus and to abandon themselves to the truth of those facts.

Themes —  John presented Jesus as the second Person of the Godhead (1:1) who came to take away “the sin of the world” (1:29). In keeping with his evangelistic purpose, John shared facts about Jesus that would lead people to believe “that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” and thereby “have life in His name” (John 20:31). John made it clear that real life is found only in Jesus.

John’s portraits of real people searching for meaning in life provide solid answers and hope to earnest seekers today. John also honestly portrays the difficulties Jesus’ followers can expect to experience as they seek to truly follow Christ in the real world. His Gospel challenges us to live out our faith in a real way in the real world.

Author and Date — John the Apostle is considered the writer of the Fourth Gospel. He was one of the closest friends of Jesus. Although his name is not written anywhere in the Gospel, John identified himself in other ways. The author of the Gospel identified himself as the “disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 21:20). At the conclusion of the book we read that this was the same person “who testifies to these things and who wrote them down” (John 21:24).

The early church believed that John is the author of the Gospel that bears his name. Irenaeus, an early church leader, identified John as the disciple who had leaned upon the breast of Jesus at the Last Supper (John 13:23). He testified that John had published a Gospel while living in Ephesus in Asia. The Gospel itself does not give us a precise date, but most Bible scholars believe it was written between A.D. 85–95.

Overview of Acts

Acts 1:1-3 — Jesus appeared to His disciples several times during the forty days between His resurrection and ascension. These appearances confirmed that He had been raised from the dead. On these occasions He taught them about the kingdom of God.

Acts 1:4-26 — Jesus told His disciples to wait in Jerusalem until they received God’s promise of power. God would send the Holy Spirit to empower them to be His witnesses. Afterward Jesus ascended into heaven and his followers returned to Jerusalem where they elected Matthias to replace Judas.

Acts 2:1-13 — The Holy Spirit came to the disciples during the Jewish festival of Pentecost. The Spirit enabled them to speak in languages they did not know to people from all over the Roman Empire.

Acts 2:14-36 — Peter explained to the crowd that the disciples’ behavior was the result of the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. He then proclaimed the story of Jesus’ life, crucifixion, and resurrection.

Acts 2:37-47 — Peter announced that those who placed their faith in Christ would receive forgiveness of sin and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Three thousand responded, were baptized, and became a part of the church. The members of the church worshiped God and cared for one another in practical ways.

Acts 3:1-10 — As Peter and John were on their way to the temple complex to pray, a lame man asked them for help. Instead of giving alms, they gave the man something far greater—his health. The healed man went about praising God and attracted a large crowd.

Acts 3:11–4:22 — Peter preached the gospel to the curious crowd. He indicted them for having crucified Jesus and called them to repentance. The religious authorities arrested Peter and John and called them to account for their actions. Peter proclaimed Jesus as the only way of salvation and vowed to continue preaching in spite of threats to do otherwise.

Acts 4:23-31 — Upon their release, Peter and John reported to the church all that had happened. The church prayed for boldness and was again filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to preach the gospel.

Acts 4:32–5:16 — The believers demonstrated their love and unity by sharing their resources with those in need. Barnabas sold property and gave the proceeds to assist believers in need. Ananias and Sapphira also sold property but only pretended to give the proceeds—an act which cost them their lives. The apostles continued to minister and the church continued to grow.

Acts 5:17-42 — The religious leaders had the apostles arrested for preaching but an angel freed them from jail. They continued to preach in the temple complex and were arrested again. Even though they were flogged and warned to stop, they continued to speak about Jesus.

Acts 6:1-15 — A dispute arose in the Jerusalem church about the distribution of food to widows. The church selected seven laymen, including a man named Stephen, to assist with this practical ministry need. Stephen also performed signs and wonders that incited opposition from members of the Freedman’s Synagogue who accused Stephen of blasphemy.

Acts 7:1-53 — Stephen defended himself and his beliefs concerning Christ by appealing to Jewish history. He illustrated how the Jews had failed to see what God was doing in their midst and how they had killed the prophets. He charged the members of the Sanhedrin with the betrayal and murder of Jesus.

Acts 7:54–8:3 — Unable to refute his defense, Stephen’s opponents took him out of the city and stoned him. As he was dying, Stephen sought forgiveness for those stoning him. His death resulted in persecution against the church and launched a young man named Saul on a personal campaign against the church.

Acts 8:4-8 — Stephen’s death resulted in persecution against followers of Christ in Jerusalem. The strong winds of persecution carried the gospel seed to regions beyond Jerusalem. Philip escaped by going to a city in Samaria where he took advantage of the opportunity to preach the Messiah to them.

Acts 8:9-25 — The attention and so-called magical powers of a sorcerer named Simon presented a special challenge to Philip. However, instead of being intimidated, Philip presented the gospel to Simon’s followers. Many of them confessed their faith and were baptized.

Acts 8:26-40 — God directed Philip to leave the harvest in Samaria to a lonely desert road where he encountered an Ethiopian official. Philip took advantage of this special opportunity to spread the gospel by doing as God directed in meeting and conversing with the Ethiopian and leading him to faith in Christ.

Acts 9:1-9 — Saul was deeply committed to the destruction of the church. While on his way to persecute believers in Damascus he was blinded by a bright light. Saul fell to the ground and heard the voice of the risen Lord. Jesus instructed Saul to proceed to Damascus and await further instructions.

Acts 9:10-19 — God instructed Ananias to go to Saul and lay his hands on him to restore his sight. The Lord explained to Ananias the key role that Saul would play in the spread of the gospel. Ananias obeyed and Saul regained his sight and was baptized.

Acts 9:20-31 — Paul began speaking to his fellow Jews in Damascus about Jesus. Some of the Jews plotted to kill him so he escaped Damascus by night. When he returned to Jerusalem, the believers there were skeptical about his conversion. However, Barnabas convinced them that Saul’s conversion was genuine. As Saul continued to preach, the Jews in Jerusalem plotted to kill him, so he left Jerusalem and returned to his hometown of Tarsus.

Acts 9:32-43 — Peter visited believers in Lydda and Joppa where he healed a paralyzed man and raised a woman named Tabitha (Dorcas) from the dead.

Acts 10:1-16 — At Caesarea, a Roman centurion named Cornelius had a vision in which an angel instructed him to send for Peter. In Joppa, Peter had a vision in which he was instructed three times to kill and eat unclean animals. Peter protested on the basis that he had never violated Jewish dietary laws.

Acts 10:17-48 — While Peter contemplated the meaning of the vision, Cornelius’ messengers arrived to escort Peter back to Caesarea. Peter accompanied the men and preached the gospel to those assembled in Cornelius’ home. God poured out His Holy Spirit on these Gentile believers who then were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Acts 11:1-18 — Peter returned to Jerusalem where he gave an account of his experience to the Jerusalem Church. He told of how the Holy Spirit had come on those who responded to the gospel in Cornelius’ home. His testimony convinced them that God had granted salvation to Gentiles who believed in Jesus. The church praised God for His work among the Gentiles.

Acts 11:19-26 — Some of the Jewish believers who fled Jerusalem after Stephen’s death settled in Antioch where they preached the gospel to fellow Jews. Others preached the gospel to Gentiles resulting in many conversions. Barnabas recruited Saul to help him teach and encourage these new believers.

Acts 11:27-30 — A prophet named Agabus predicted that there would be a severe famine throughout the Roman Empire, including Judea. The church at Antioch collected a special offering for their brothers in Judea and recruited Barnabas and Saul to deliver it to the elders in Jerusalem.

Acts 12:1-25 — King Herod Agrippa arrested and executed James, the first of the apostles to be martyred. Then he arrested and imprisoned Peter. While the church prayed for Peter an angel miraculously released him from prison. Peter went to the home of John Mark’s mother where he was reunited with other believers. King Herod later was struck with an illness that took his life. The church continued to grow in spite of persecution.

Acts 13:1-3 — The Holy Spirit told the church at Antioch to set apart Barnabas and Saul for a specific work to which He had called them. The church fasted, prayed, and commissioned these men to serve as missionaries.

Acts 13:4-12 — Barnabas and Saul sailed to the island of Cyprus where they proclaimed the gospel in a Jewish synagogue. There they confronted a sorcerer who opposed their work and led a government official to faith in Christ.

Acts 13:13-52 — Paul and Barnabas sailed next to Pamphylia, where John Mark left them to return to Jerusalem. In Pisidian Antioch, Paul preached before Jews and converts to Judaism. The following Sabbath they preached again but soon encountered opposition from Jewish leaders who drove them from the region.

Acts 14:1-20 — Paul and Barnabas traveled to Iconium where many Jews and Gentiles came to faith in Christ. Once again, unbelieving Jews stirred up opposition against them and forced them to flee to Lystra. There they healed a lame man and were thought to be the incarnation of the Greek gods Zeus and Hermes. Jews from Pisidian Antioch and Iconium stirred up the crowd to stone Paul. He survived the stoning and traveled to Derbe with Barnabas where they led many to faith in Christ.

Acts 14:21-28 — Paul and Barnabas retraced their steps, strengthened new believers, and appointed leaders in the churches they started in Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch. They returned to Syrian Antioch where they reported to the church all that God had done.

Acts 15:1-3 — Paul and Barnabas argued and debated with some Jerusalem Jews who taught that circumcision was necessary for salvation. Unable to resolve the controversial issue, the church at Antioch sent Paul and Barnabas and others to discuss the matter with the leaders of the Jerusalem church.

Acts 15:4-12 — The Jerusalem church welcomed Paul and Barnabas and listened to their report of what God had done among the Gentiles on their missionary journey. The opposition party insisted that Gentiles must first be circumcised and observe the law of Moses in order to be saved. Peter affirmed that Jews and Gentiles are saved in the same way—through the grace of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 15:13-21 — James cited a passage from the book of Amos that clearly indicated that the salvation of the Gentiles was part of God’s divine plan. Gentiles did not need to become Jews before becoming Christians. James recommended that Gentile believers observe some basic food considerations and abstain from sexual immorality.

Acts 15:22-35 — The Jerusalem church sent Judas and Silas with Paul and Barnabas to deliver their decision in an official letter to the church at Antioch. The church at Antioch rejoiced when they read the letter.

Acts 15:36–16:5 — When preparing for the second missionary journey, Paul and Barnabas had a disagreement about whether to allow John Mark to accompany them. Unable to come to an agreement, Barnabas took John Mark with him departed for Cyprus. Paul chose a new traveling companion named Silas and later a young man named Timothy.

Acts 16:6–17:15 — God providentially led Paul to Troas where he had a vision of a Macedonian man appealing for help. Paul and his companions concluded that God was calling them to take the gospel to regions beyond Asia. Paul preached the gospel and encountered opposition in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Beroea.

Acts 17:16-34 — Some Beroean believers escorted Paul to Athens, a city lined with idols. While there, Paul was invited to address a meeting of the Areopagus, a council made up of philosophers and intellectuals who spent their time discussing and debating ideas. Paul spoke about Christianity’s uniqueness and of the importance of believing in Jesus Christ.

Acts 18:1-18 — Paul visited Corinth where he met and worked with a couple named Aquila and Priscilla. He stayed in Corinth for a period of 18 months, preaching to both Jews and Gentiles.

Acts 18:19-22 — Paul left Corinth and sailed to Ephesus where he spoke in the synagogue. Paul left Ephesus, although the Jews there asked him to stay longer, and traveled on to Caesarea. He greeted the church there and then went down to Antioch.

Acts 18:23–19:7 — Priscilla and Aquila assisted an eloquent speaker named Apollos to have a better understanding of Christianity. With their help, Apollos became a powerful witness in Ephesus and Corinth. Paul met twelve disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus and explained to them the meaning of Christian baptism.

Acts 19:8-12 — Paul spent three months teaching at a synagogue in Ephesus. Afterward he lectured daily in a public hall for a period of two years. During that time many in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord and witnessed extraordinary miracles.

Acts 19:13-20 — Seven sons of a Jewish priest unsuccessfully tried to cast out evil spirits. The report of their failure and humiliation spread throughout the area. As a result, many of the Ephesian converts who had practiced magic publicly burned their magic books and made a clean break with their past. The gospel message continued to spread and flourish.

Acts 19:21-41 — An Ephesian silversmith named Demetrius, who made idols of the Greek goddess Artemis, stirred up trouble against Paul. He convinced other craftsmen that Paul and his message were a threat to their business and to the local economy. A riot followed in which two of Paul’s companions were seized. The city clerk spoke to the crowd and urged them to use legal channels to air their grievances. Afterward he dismissed the mob.

Acts 20:1-38 — Paul traveled from Ephesus to Troas where he revived a young man who had fallen out of a third story window. He then traveled to Miletus and sent for the Ephesian elders to join him there. Paul spoke about his time of service in Ephesus and his determination to go to Jerusalem, He then charged the elders to keep watch over the church and bid them a tearful farewell.

Acts 21:1-14 — When Paul and his companions arrived at Tyre, some disciples there warned Paul not to go to Jerusalem. Later, while staying at the home of Philip the evangelist in Caesarea, a prophet named Agabus strongly warned Paul about the danger awaiting him in Jerusalem. In spite of these warnings, Paul said that he was willing to die in Jerusalem, if necessary, for the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 21:15-29 — Paul arrived in Jerusalem and reported to James and the elders about all that God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. These leaders told Paul about widespread rumors that he had encouraged people to abandon the law and the practice of circumcision. When Paul took steps to dispel these rumors, he was seized by an angry mob at the temple.

Acts 21:30–22:22 — Paul was rescued from certain death by the Roman regiment stationed in a fortress adjacent to the temple. Paul asked the Roman commander for permission to address the angry crowd. He then shared his impressive Jewish credentials, his conversion experience, and his call to take the message of salvation to the Gentiles. The mention of “the Gentiles” once again stirred the crowd into a mad frenzy.

Acts 22:23–23:22 — The Roman commander ordered that Paul be scourged in order learn the reason why the mob wanted to kill him. Paul escaped this scourging by disclosing that he was Roman citizen. The commander then arranged for Paul to speak to the Sanhedrin. Paul declared his Pharisaic heritage and belief in the resurrection. The mention of the resurrection led to a fierce argument between the Pharisees and Sadducees on the council. Later, more than 40 Jews formed a plot to kill Paul. Paul’s nephew learned of this plot and reported it to the Roman commander.

Acts 23:23-35 — Concerned for Paul’s safety, the Roman commander arranged for Paul to be taken from Jerusalem to Caesarea under cover of night. An armed escort transferred Paul to the custody of Felix, the Roman governor in Caesarea. Felix agreed to hear Paul’s case when his accusers arrived and ordered that Paul be kept under guard in Herod’s palace.

Acts 24:1-27 — Paul’s accusers arrived five days later. His opponents hired a lawyer named Tertullus to represent their case. Tertullus spoke on behalf of Ananias the high priest and others who wanted to see Paul discredited and destroyed. However, his eloquent presentation of the false charges against Paul failed to win a favorable verdict. Instead, Paul’s brilliant defense won him a reprieve from Felix. For the next two years, Paul had numerous opportunities to speak on the subject of faith in Christ Jesus with Felix and his wife.

Acts 25:1-22 — Festus succeeded Felix as governor and reopened the case against Paul. Paul’s enemies were still fervent in their resolve to destroy him. They presented their false charges and asked for a judgment against Paul. Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen and was granted the opportunity for a hearing before Caesar. Festus later discussed Paul’s case with King Agrippa, a descendant of Herod the Great. Festus arranged for Agrippa to hear Paul himself.

Acts 25:23–26:32 — Paul appeared before Agrippa, his sister Bernice, and Festus. Festus asked for Agrippa’s help in determining how the legal charges against Paul should be expressed in writing to the Emperor. Paul presented his Jewish credentials, spoke about his persecution of believers, and shared his personal conversion experience. Agrippa heard and resisted the truth and then left the room.

Acts 27:1-44 — Paul set sail for Rome in winter along with other prisoners. Sensing that the voyage was in danger, Paul warned the centurion in charge of the prisoners. Ignoring Paul’s warning, the ship encountered a severe storm and eventually ran aground off the island of Malta. All those on board made it safely to land as Paul had foretold.

Acts 28:1-10 — The people of the island showed extraordinary kindness to Paul and the other survivors. They were amazed that Paul was bitten by a viper but suffered no harm and said he was a god. Paul showed kindness to the people of the island by healing many who had diseases.

Acts 28:11-29 — After spending three months on the island, Paul finally arrived in Rome where he was placed under house arrest. Although he could not leave his rented quarters, Paul invited the local Jewish leaders to meet with him. He declared his innocence and also talked to them about the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. Some of those who listened were persuaded by Paul’s message and others did not believe.

Acts 28:30-31 — Paul spent two years under house arrest in Rome but took advantage of the opportunity to invite people to his meet with him. He boldly proclaimed the good news about the kingdom of God and Jesus Christ. As a result, many believed God’s message of salvation through Christ and the gospel continued its advance in Rome and beyond.

Acts 28

28:1-6 Paul bitten by viper on Malta.
28:7-10 Paul’s ministry to those on Malta.
28:11-15 Paul’s safe arrival in Rome.

28:1 Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta.

28:2 The islanders [of Phoenician ancestry; island of Malta (from Canaanite word for “refuge”)] showed [continued to show] us unusual kindness. They built a fire [to warm survivors who were chilled from being in the sea and because of the foul weather] and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.

Note: When was the last time you showed “unusual kindness” to someone?

28:3 Paul gathered a pile of brushwood and, as he put it on the fire, a viper, driven out by the heat, fastened itself on his hand.

28:4 When the islanders saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer; for though he escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.”

28:5 But Paul shook the snake off into the fire and suffered no ill effects.

28:6 The people expected him to swell up or suddenly fall dead, but after waiting a long time and seeing nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

28:7 There was an estate nearby that belonged to Publius, the chief official [probably a political authority, like a governor] of the island [literally “first man of the island”]. He welcomed us [either only Paul (and Luke), Julius, and ship’s owner or the entire crew/passengers (276 people)] to his home and for three days entertained us hospitably.

28:8 His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands [only reference in Acts that mentions both prayer and laying on of hands] on him and healed him.

28:9 When this had happened [good news travels fast], the rest of the sick on the island came and were cured.

28:10 They honored us in many ways [a reminder that unbelievers do good deeds] and when we were ready to sail [after spending three winter months on the island (28:11)], they furnished us with the supplies we needed [islanders provided for the needs of their guests].

28:11 After three months we put out to sea in a ship that had wintered in the island. It was an Alexandrian ship with the figurehead of the twin gods Castor and Pollux.

28:12 We put in at Syracuse and stayed there three days.

28:13 From there we set sail and arrived at Rhegium. The next day the south wind came up, and on the following day we reached Puteoli.

28:14 There we found some brothers who invited us to spend a week with them. And so we came to Rome.

28:15 The brothers there had heard that we were coming, and they traveled as far as the Forum of Appius and the Three Taverns to meet us. At the sight of these men Paul thanked God and was encouraged.

28:16 When [after spending three months on the island of Malta (Acts 28:11)] we [Luke was still with Paul] got to Rome [during this two-year period Paul wrote Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon], Paul was allowed to live by himself [Paul considered a low-risk prisoner], with a soldier [to whom Paul apparently was chained, at least some of the time (Acts 28:20)] to guard [“a captive audience”] him.

After spending three months on the island of Malta (Acts 28:11), Paul finally arrived in Rome. He had already visited some of the most beautiful cities of his day and yet had eagerly longed to visit Rome (Rom. 1:15). His arrival in this influential city fulfilled the promise of the Lord that he would one day preach the gospel there (Acts 23:11).

Considered a low-risk prisoner, Paul was permitted to stay by himself in his own rented quarters. This arrangement gave him more freedom than a typical prisoner. However, the presence of a soldier who guarded him was a reminder that he was nevertheless a prisoner. Some of the soldiers who guarded Paul may have become believers as they listened to him share the gospel over a period of two years (see Phil. 1:13).

28:17 Three days later [after arriving in Rome] he called [since Paul could not go to the synagogue, he summoned members of the synagogue to visit him; Paul had freedom to invite people to visit him, but did not have freedom to move about city] together the leaders [capable of influencing others] of the Jews. When they had assembled, Paul said to them: “My brothers, although I have done nothing against our people or against the customs of our ancestors, I was arrested in Jerusalem and handed over to the Romans.

Three days after arriving in Rome and settling into his rented quarters, Paul was ready to meet with Jews in the city. Since he could not go to the synagogue, he summoned the leaders of the Jews to visit him, even though he did not know them. Even within limiting circumstances we can make new acquaintances, which will give us new opportunities to witness. These Jews were likely leaders of various synagogues but not an official ruling body. Paul’s purpose in meeting with them was to state his innocence of the charges against him. He summarized the events that had led to his arrest in Jerusalem and maintained his innocence of all charges of violating Jewish customs.

28:18 They [the Roman authorities (cf. 23:29; 25:25; 26:31)] examined me and wanted to release me [cf. Acts 26:32], because I was not guilty of any crime deserving death.

Paul pointed out that the Roman authorities who examined him wanted to release him. Claudius Lysias, the Roman army commander who had protected Paul from the Jews in Jerusalem, affirmed Paul’s innocence in a personal letter to Felix (Acts 23:29). Festus, Felix’s successor, also said that Paul had done nothing to deserve death (Acts 25:25). And King Agrippa and Festus again reaffirmed that Paul had not committed a capital offense (Acts 26:31).

28:19 But when the Jews objected, I was compelled to appeal to Caesar—not that I had any charge to bring against my own people [Paul was a loyal Jew; although he had been falsely accused, he did not want to retaliate; Paul did not bring counter charges against his own people].

Even though the charges against him were groundless, Paul felt no other recourse than to appeal to Caesar. However, he made it clear to the Roman Jewish leaders that he had no intention of bringing any charges against his own people. Paul was a loyal Jew and did not want to harm his own countrymen. Instead, his greatest desire for his fellow Jews was for them to come to faith in Christ (see Rom. 9:1-5).

28:20 For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel [cf. 23:6; 24:15; 26:7; 28:20; Paul believed that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah, the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel] that I am bound with this chain.”

Paul’s reason for calling the Roman Jewish leaders together was to explain why he was a prisoner. He was a prisoner because of the hope of Israel or because he believed that the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth was the long-awaited Messiah—the fulfillment of the Old Testament promises to Israel. Christianity was not some illegitimate or dangerous sect, but instead the ultimate fulfillment of Judaism. This conviction was the source of contention between Paul and the Jews.

28:21 They replied, “We have not received any letters from Judea concerning you, and none of the brothers who have come from there has reported or said anything bad about you.

The Roman Jews told Paul that they had not received any letters or oral reports about him from Judea. This is not surprising since Paul’s ship was probably among the first to arrive in Rome after winter. And, because of winter travel conditions, it is likely that the Jews in Jerusalem had not yet had an opportunity to send an emissary to communicate with their counterparts in Rome. Or, it is possible that they had given up hope of having Paul prosecuted since he had appealed his case to Caesar.

28:22 But we [Roman Jews] want [indicates they were receptive to what Paul had to say] to hear [because they knew little about this movement] what your views [concerning the Jesus movement] are, for we know that people everywhere [indicates that the awareness of Christianity had spread throughout the Roman world] are talking against this sect [from Gr. word hairesis from which we get our word heresy; considered an illegitimate branch of Judaism].”

While the Jewish religious leaders had not received any reports about Paul, they had heard about the Christian movement. Awareness of Christianity had spread throughout the Roman world. In fact, people everywhere were speaking either against or about this sect. The word sect translates a word from which our word heresy derives. The Jewish leaders in Rome were interested in hearing what Paul had to say about this growing movement. Like Paul, we should always take advantage of opportunities to talk to others about what we believe and why we believe it.

28:23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying [lodging; own rented quarters (cf. Acts 28:30)]. From morning till evening [shows intensity of Paul’s appeal and the depth of his concern for his own people (cf. Rom. 9:1-3; 10:1)] he explained [to lay out, to set forth] and declared to them the kingdom of God [the rule of God in the hearts of people] and tried to convince [persuade] them about Jesus [must always be the focus of our witnessing] from [cf. Acts 17:2-3; Paul’s message/witness was grounded in Scripture] the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.

On a prearranged meeting day, large numbers of Roman Jews came to meet with Paul. Though confined to a house, Paul readily made appointments with and witnessed to people who were interested enough to come to him.) Those who came were interested in hearing what Paul had to say about the Christian movement and Paul was eager to preach the gospel to them. He witnessed to his guests from dawn to dusk. Using the Old Testament prophecies and references to the Messiah, Paul tried to persuade them concerning Jesus.

Jesus must always be the focus of our witnessing. Paul explained how passages from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets had been fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every Christian witness should learn how to use the Scriptures to share with others about Jesus.

28:24 Some were convinced [but not necessarily converted] by what he said, but others would not believe [cf. parable of the sower in Matt. 13:1-8, 18-23].

The response to Paul’s teaching and testimony was mixed. As is almost always the case, some of those present were persuaded by what he said. This does not necessarily mean that they were converted, but that they found Paul’s arguments convincing. Some of these may have actually become Christians. Others, however, did not believe. The parable of the sower teaches that all people will not respond in the same way to the message of salvation (see Matt. 13:1-8,18-23).

28:25 They disagreed [out of harmony] among themselves and began to leave after Paul had made this final statement [a desperate warning]: “The Holy Spirit spoke the truth to your forefathers when he said through Isaiah the prophet [cf. Isa. 6:9-10: God told Isaiah that people would not heed his message; cf. Jesus’ use of this passage in Matt. 13:13-15, Mk. 4:12, and Lk. 8:10]:

The Jews who were persuaded by what Paul said and those who did not believe argued among themselves. Paul had a final and solemn word for these unbelieving and arguing Jews. The particular Old Testament prophecy he quoted applied specifically to them. Citing Isaiah 6:9-10, he compared them to their stubborn forefathers who had refused to hear and heed the word of God. Paul’s guests began to leave when they heard this statement, perhaps angered by the comparison. How eternally dangerous to refuse to hear and believe, yet many do just that.

28:26 “‘Go to this people and say, “You will be ever hearing [opportunity to hear] but never understanding [to comprehend]; you will be ever seeing [opportunity to see] but never perceiving.”

28:27 For this people’s heart has become calloused [to become fat, to become dull]; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’

28:28 “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent [to send as an authoritative representative] to the Gentiles, and they will [indicates receptivity] listen!”

When the Jewish leaders in Rome rejected the gospel, Paul determined to find others—Gentiles—who would listen and respond to the gospel. He told these unbelieving Jews that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles. This does not mean that the Jews were excluded from the opportunity to receive God’s salvation. Instead it emphasizes the inclusion of the Gentiles in God’s people.

The message of Acts is that God’s salvation has been sent to all peoples. When we encounter people whose hearts and minds are closed to the gospel, we can make plans to find others with open minds, which will give us other opportunities to witness.

28:29 After he said this, the Jews left, arguing vigorously among themselves.

This verse emphasizes again the fact that the Jews were arguing or debating among themselves (see Acts 28:25). The gospel challenges people to think about what they believe and in what or whom they are trusting in for their salvation. Those who left Paul’s residence continued to debate among themselves about what they had heard that day.

We should be patient and understand that these periods of debate and reflection are important in the conversion process. The Holy Spirit continues to work in the hearts and lives of those who have heard the truth of the gospel.

28:30 For two whole years [may indicate that the time period for Paul’s accusers to appear had elapsed] Paul stayed there [cf. Phil 1:12-14 re: how gospel flourished during his imprisonment] in his own rented house and welcomed all [cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23] who came to see him [indicates many opportunities to witness].

The events recorded in the book of Acts began in Jerusalem and ended in Rome. Paul stayed two whole years under house arrest in Rome. Even though he was confined to his own rented house, Paul enjoyed a measure of freedom. He was allowed to have visitors and graciously welcomed all who came to see him—Jews as well as Gentiles. As a result, God’s work never slowed down.

During this period, Paul wrote a letter to the Philippians and told them that his imprisonment had “actually resulted in the advancement of the gospel” (Phil. 1:12). Even within limiting circumstances Paul took advantage of opportunities to witness to all the people who came his way.

28:31 Boldly [candidly, forcefully] and without hindrance [the Romans did not hinder Paul from sharing the good news; implies that the Romans (at this time) did not see Paul’s message as subversive] he preached the kingdom of God and taught [strong tradition that Paul wrote the prison epistles at this time (his first Roman imprisonment): Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon / Paul released and wrote First Timothy and Titus / Paul arrested and wrote Second Timothy (his “last will and testament”) / Paul executed (beheaded) by Roman authorities in A.D. 67/68] about the Lord Jesus Christ.

The book of Acts ends on a triumphant note. The Romans did not hinder Paul from sharing the good news. This indicates that, at this time, they did not consider Paul’s message to be either dangerous or subversive. Sadly, that attitude on the part of the Romans would change in the coming years.

Paul had the freedom to preach with full boldness about the kingdom of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Luke did not record what happened to Paul, only that in a period of about thirty years, the gospel had spread from Jerusalem, across Asia Minor, all the way to Rome, the center of the world.

From Rome, the gospel has continued its march across continents and oceans, touching people of every tribe, and nation, and tongue. May God use us to write the continuing story of Acts as we faithfully tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Note: What to do when facing limitations.
L = Look for creative opportunities to share the gospel.
I = Invite others to meet with you.
M = Make the most of difficult situations.
I = Initiate conversations with those around you.
T = Talk freely about what Jesus has done for you.
A = Ask questions that can give you insight into what others believe.
T = Take practical steps to get to know others.
I = Inspire interest in the gospel through godly living.
O = Open the door for others to approach you.
N = Never allow obstacles to discourage you.
S = Stand firm on the truth of the gospel.

Acts 27

27:1-8 Paul sails from Caesarea to Fair Havens.
27:9-12 Paul’s warning about potential danger on the seas ignored.
27:13-20 Paul caught in a storm.

Acts 27:14
27:14 Before very long, a wind [from Gr. word from which we get English word typhoon] of hurricane force, called the “northeaster [a severe winter storm],” swept down from the island [the mountains (over 7,000 feet high) of Crete].

Acts 27:18-26
27:18 We [Luke was present with Paul] took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they [the crew] began to throw [jettison or eject] the cargo [grain as per v. 38] overboard [desperate measure to lighten the ship; cf. Jonah 1:5].

27:19 On the third day, they threw [to hurl] the ship’s tackle [presumably included the mast and spare sails] overboard with their own hands.

27:20 When neither sun nor stars [navigational aids; without these they had no way of determining where they were] appeared for many days and the storm continued [worsened] raging [to lie upon: describes the pressure of a violent tempest], we finally [after exhausting all personal efforts] gave up all hope of being saved [rescued].

Note: Can you think of a time when you gave up hope but God rescued you?

27:21 After the men had gone a long time without food [probably lost appetite because of desperate situation and/or seasickness], Paul stood up [in the midst of the storm] before them and said: “Men, you should have taken [to obey] my advice [cf. Acts 27:10] not to sail from Crete; then you would have spared yourselves this damage and loss [Paul shared this in order to prepare them to receive his heaven-sent encouragement (vv. 22-26)].

27:22 But now I urge [to advise, to recommend] you to keep up your courage [to cheer up; word occurs three times in this chapter (see also vv. 25, 36)], because [reason] not one of you [276 people on board as per v. 37] will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.

Note: How do you keep up your courage in times of crisis? How do you encourage others in times of crisis?

27:23 Last night an angel of the God whose I am [stresses Paul’s intimate relationship with God; Paul belonged to God] and whom I serve [stresses Paul’s dedication to God; Paul was faithful to his divine calling] stood beside me

27:24 and said, ‘Do not [command to stop an action in progress] be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar [cf. Acts 23:11 re: the Lord’s earlier disclosure that Paul would bear witness in Rome; the storm would not frustrate God’s purpose for Paul]; and God has graciously given [to grant as a present] you the lives of all who sail with you.’

27:25 So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith [unwavering confidence] in God that it will happen just as he [God] told me [a contrary view never entered Paul’s mind].

27:26 Nevertheless, we must [certainty] run aground on some island.”

27:27-32 In the midst of the storm at sea.

Acts 27:33-36
27:33 Just before dawn Paul urged [repeatedly encouraged] them all to eat. “For the last fourteen days,” he said, “you have been in constant suspense and have gone without food — you haven’t eaten anything.

27:34 Now I urge you to take some food. You need it to survive [while they could not save the ship, Paul urged them to take practical measures to insure their own survival]. Not one of you will lose a single hair from his head [stresses God’s providential care (cf. Matt. 10:30); cf. Paul’s reassuring words in v. 22; v. 34 was additional assurance].”

27:35 After he said this, he took some bread and gave thanks [a normal Jewish custom before meals] to God in front of [served as a reminder of the God who had assured their safety; Paul’s example enhanced his witness] them all [many pagans]. Then he broke it and began to eat.

27:36 They were all encouraged [Paul’s confident faith lifted the spirits of those aboard the storm-tossed ship] and ate some food themselves.

Acts 27:42-44

27:42 The soldiers [responsible for safe delivery of prisoners; failure to carry out responsibility meant death (cf. Acts 12:19; 16:27)] planned to kill the prisoners to prevent any of them from swimming away and escaping.

27:43 But the centurion [Julius] wanted to spare Paul’s life and kept [to hinder] them [the soldiers] from carrying out their plan. He [centurion had the authority to make this decision] ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and get to land.

27:44 The rest were to get there on planks or on pieces of the ship. In this way [swimming or holding on to planks; cf. Acts 27:43-44b] everyone [276 people as per v. 37] reached land [island of Malta] in safety [thus fulfilling Paul’s prophetic utterance in Acts 27:22].