Friday, March 26, 2010

Matthew 10:40–42

Matthew 10:40–42 (ESV) : Rewards

Synopsis

Chapter 10 has focused on the Apostles. In verses 1–4 Jesus called them, and then in the rest of the chapter he gave a speech—this passage being the end of that speech—in which he sent them out on the first missionary journey, warning/instructing them what they would find on that journey, and how people would react, and how the Apostles should react to those reactions, etc.

Much of that speech involved warnings, since Christians are going to be persecuted in this world, but it ends on a high note with this passage, in which Jesus tells the Apostles that anyone who receives them well, or who helps them, will be rewarded. (I won’t summarize it point by point because it’s too short. Click the link above to read it.)

Thoughts

I’ve probably said this before, but I tend to stay away from the concept of rewards, when thinking about Christianity and my relationship with God. But it’s not a concept I should avoid so much; Jesus doesn’t shy away from talking about rewards.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Matthew 10:34–39

Matthew 10:34–39 (ESV) : Not Peace, but a Sword

Synopsis

This passage is still a continuation of the speech Jesus is giving to the Apostles, before sending them out on their first missionary journey. Much of this speech has been a warning to them, and this passage is more of the same.

Jesus tells the Apostles not to think that he has come to bring peace to the earth—contrarily, he has come to bring a sword! And he’s not talking about war between nations, but in fact there will be “enemies” even within a person’s own household (verses 35–36) (ESV) .

This is sad, but some things are more important than peace; Jesus tells us that anyone who loves their parents, or their children, more than they love Jesus, is not worthy of Jesus. Anyone who doesn’t take up their cross and follow him is not worthy of him (verse 38 (ESV) ). In fact, not even your own life should have more importance than Jesus:

Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (verse 39 (ESV) )

Thoughts

What does Jesus mean by bringing a sword? What does he mean by saying that, “… a person’s enemies will be those of his own household” (verse 36 (ESV) )? Simply put, and there should be no surprise here, Christianity is not going to be accepted by everyone. When a person becomes a Christian, other Christians rejoice—but non-Christians do not. If a person comes from a Muslim family, or a Jewish family, or a Hindu family, or a Buddhist family, and becomes a Christian, that person’s family is probably not going to rejoice that this person has abandoned their faith and their culture, by becoming a Christian. People in the West have a very fuzzy notion of Islam, and we immediately start thinking about things like Sharia law (which few of us understand, but we’re pretty sure we know enough to be sure that it’s bad), and people being killed for becoming Christians, but I’m not even talking about that; I’m just talking about the feeling of betrayal that a person’s family might feel, when that person becomes a Christian. That person is now on a road to a fulfilling relationship with God, that will last through all eternity, and He will enable that person to cope, but Jesus doesn’t want to sugar-coat the issue, either: This will cause real problems for families, and one has to be prepared to face that, when one comes to Christ.

The person’s family doesn’t even have to belong to another religion; if you come from a family where everyone is atheist, they’re going to feel betrayed if you become a Christian. (And, on top of that, probably think you’re a fool.) If you come from a family that generally considers themselves “christian” (notice the small c), and they go to church every Easter (almost without fail), and suddenly you become a true believer, and start trying to live your life right, and start actually enjoying going to church because you like fellowship with the saints and with God, they may still get rather uncomfortable, and wish you weren’t so overzealous about it, and maybe try and convince you that this Christianity thing is all well and good, but you can over do it, you know…

In terms of Jesus talking about taking up your cross and following him, in verse 38 (ESV) , I am required by law to make the next point: When Jesus said this to his disciples, they knew exactly what he meant: He meant that they had to be willing to die. The cross was an implement of execution. I’m sure you’ve heard a hundred preachers say this before, so say it with me now: it’s as if Jesus was saying to them, “take up your electric chair and follow me.” There is both a literal aspect to this, and a figurative aspect to it.

Literally, we have to be prepared to actually lay down our lives for the sake of the Gospel, if it comes to it. Personally, I live in Canada, so I doubt that will ever happen, but if it does, I should remember that there are some things that are more important even than my own life. If my death will bring God glory, then it’s a death well died.

Figuratively, we can also take this to mean killing our old nature, so that our new nature can live more freely. Putting to death the sin that so easily besets us, so that we might live (Romans 8:12–17 (ESV) ). Whether or not we’re called to literally die for Jesus, this is a sacrifice that we’re all called to make—and make no mistake about it, it is a sacrifice. This is a major change to our character. Not to put too fine a point on it, we like our sin. We don’t want to give it up. Once we have given it up, we’ll find that we’re happier with God, and in a better relationship with Him, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to give up in the first place.

Of course, living in North America, it’s very easy to say that we’d die for Jesus (especially since we can be pretty sure we’ll never have to), but it’s harder for us to just be good, day-to-day Christians. “I would die for him,” we say boldly, “… but I will not sit next to that person in church!” (I believe I’m stealing this line from my pastor; I’m sure he’s used a similar example, either from the pulpit or in some other context.) We have a thousand petty little things we won’t give up, or won’t give in on… so how can we so boldly claim that we’d die for him?

I like the way the ESV Study Bible put it:

Matt. 10:38 take his cross (cf. 16:24). Crucifixion is a shocking metaphor for discipleship. A disciple must deny himself (die to self-will), take up his cross (embrace God’s will, no matter the cost), and follow Christ.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Matthew 10:26–33

Matthew 10:26–33 (ESV) : Have No Fear

Synopsis

This passage is a continuation of the last one and the one before; Jesus is preparing the Apostles to go out on a missionary trip.

The last passage ended with Jesus telling the Apostles that they could expect to be maligned, because he himself was maligned. And the first verse in this passage tells us what their response was supposed to be (and, hence, what our response should be): “So have no fear of them …” (verse 26 (ESV) ). Why? Because:

  • “nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known” (verse 26 (ESV) ). I believe Jesus’ point here is that God knows what’s going on, and knows what the people are doing to the Apostles (and, hence, to us); he’s not unaware of what’s going on.
    • Similarly, Jesus also tells the Apostles that anything he tells them, “in the dark,” they should go out and say “in the light,” and what he whispers they should proclaim from the housetops (verse 27 (ESV) )
  • There is no need to fear those who can do nothing worse than kill the body, but can’t touch the soul; instead, they should fear the one who can destroy both in hell (verse 28 (ESV) )
  • Even tiny sparrows—so insignificant that two are sold for a penny—are under the control of God, Who knows even the number of hairs on each of our heads. So, since we’re worth a lot more than sparrows, we shouldn’t fear (verses 29–31 (ESV) ).
Jesus ends the passage by telling us that anyone who acknowledges Jesus before men will also be acknowledged by Jesus to the Father, but anyone who denies him will be denied by him to the Father.

Thoughts

Jesus has told the Apostles about what is going to happen to them on this missionary journey, and not all of it has been pretty. He’s warned them of persecution and flogging and other unpleasant things. But the point of this passage is that they shouldn’t fear any of this, because God is in control. Especially striking might be this verse:

And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (verse 28 (ESV) )

Don’t worry about people; the worst they can possibly do to you is kill you. “Er… but Jesus,” we’re tempted to reply, “that’s the worst thing that can be done to us!” But of course it’s not. Murder is a serious thing, but your soul is more important than your body. Maybe that’s why martyrdom is such an amazing thing; that someone is willing to die for their faith—to give up their body—is a powerful testimony.

The other part that grips me is the part about God being in control of everything—even sparrows, which are comparatively worthless. Even the hairs on your head, which are worthless. (Apologies to any bald or balding readers, who value every single hair.) A passage like this can spark controversy, with people arguing about how in control God really is, and bringing in questions of free will vs. sovereignty. But if we keep the context in mind, Jesus isn’t saying this to the Apostles to make a religious point—he’s saying it to comfort them. Because God is in control, you don’t have to worry about anything. “When you go on this journey,” Jesus is telling them, “and you’re persecuted, don’t worry, because God is in control of the situation.” There is nothing that will happen to them that was unforeseen by God. There will never be an occasion when an Apostle gets flogged in a synagogue, prompting God to fret and say, “Wow, I never saw that coming! If only I could do something!” The Apostles can be confident, when these bad things happen, that they’re happening for a reason, because God is in control.

And what’s the worst that can happen? They might die? There are worse things than dying.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Matthew 10:16–25

Matthew 10:16–25 (ESV) : Persecution Will Come

Synopsis

This passage is a continuation of the last passage. Jesus is continuing to talk to his Apostles before sending them out on the very first missionary journy. (I think; someone can correct me if there was an earlier missionary journey, but I think this is the first.) In the last passage Jesus talked about some of the ways that the Apostles should conduct themselves as they go; not to bring supplies, but to trust the “worthy” to provide (and the Lord, I suppose), and stuff like that. In this passage, Jesus tells them what kind of a reaction they can expect to receive as they go.

The first verse in this passage sort of sums it up: Jesus is sending the Apostles out “as sheep in the midst of wolves,” so they are to be “wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (verse 16 (ESV) ).

He tells them that they need to beware, because they (the Apostles) will be taken to court, flogged, and dragged before governors and kings. But this will all happen for a reason: “… for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles” (verse 18 (ESV, emphasis added) ). Even more:

Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (verses 21–22 (ESV) )

When this does happen, when they’re persecuted in one town, they are to “flee” to the next (verse 23 (ESV) ). Jesus tells them that they won’t finish going through all the towns of Israel before he comes.

So if they are to have all of this happen for Jesus’ sake, so that they can bear witness, does that mean they need to start studying, so that they’ll know what to say? It might not hurt, I suppose, but Jesus tells the Apostles not to be anxious about it. When the time comes, they will be “given” what to say (verse 19 (ESV) ), because, really, it’s not the Apostles speaking anyway; it’s the Holy Spirit (verse 20 (ESV) ).

Finally, Jesus tells us the reason we can expect to be persecuted:

A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household. (verses 24–25 (ESV) )

In other words, if Jesus was persecuted, how can we expect not to be?

Thoughts

Christians in the Western Church seem to get very flustered when any form of persecution—or even perceived persecution—comes their way. And yet it’s the way we should expect it to be; when Jesus sent his Apostles out for the very first time, he told them he was sending them as sheep in the midst of wolves. It sounds to me, from a verse like that, that the Apostles could expect that their trip wouldn’t be easy. The world at large is not going to accept our message, and, let’s face it, the world greatly outnumbers the believers. Put a “sheep” up against a “wolf,” and the sheep doesn’t stand much of a chance right?

So what’s Jesus’ advice for handling this? To tell the Apostles to rally for better pro-Christian laws within the Roman empire, to help them? To try and get Christian leaders elected, to run the land, instead of the non-Christians? No, he simply tells them to be as wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Which, for some reason, I always took to be a purposeful contradiction in terms; that we’re supposed to be wise about some things, but not about other things. (Like… we should know the laws of the land, so that we don’t disobey them, but we shouldn’t know, I don’t know, the names of the currently popular porn stars, because we shouldn’t be getting involved in that stuff.) But wisdom and innocence aren’t related to each other; we should be wise—period—and we should be innocent—period. When we get dragged to the courts and before governors and kings, if we’re charged with being Christian then fine, we’re guilty. But we should never, ever be charged with actual crimes. We should be innocent of those. As it says in 1 Peter:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

(1 Peter 2:9–12 (ESV) )


We may be accused of doing evil, but when it comes right down to it, there shouldn’t be anything sinful that we’ve actually done.

And let’s not lose sight of the fact that it’s all for a good cause. Having all of this hardship happen to us is for his sake, so that we can bear witness before unbelievers. For the original trip that Jesus is talking about, that the Apostles were going on, it’s primarily the Jews that they were bearing witness to, whereas we’re bearing witness to everyone, but even for this trip, Jesus tells them that they’ll be bearing witness before “them” (the Jews) and the Gentiles.

I think that’s part of the point of the 1 Peter passage quoted above; when we present the Gospel to people, they are not going to like it. We’re telling them that they’re sinful, and that there’s only one possible way they can be saved from that sin, which is anathema to a world that believes that all roads lead to God, and that it doesn’t really matter what you believe. So of course they’re going to accuse us of all sorts of things, and revile us. But if they really examine us, they should see a body of believers that really love each other. They should see a body of believers who are all living in a way that is holy. They should, in essence, have nothing really to accuse us of. (Are we living in such a way that this is true? Something to think about.)

An interesting verse is verse 23:

When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. (verse 23 (ESV) )

What does Jesus mean, when he says that they (or we?) won’t have gone through all the towns of Israel before he comes? The short answer is: I don’t know. My first thought is that he means before he was crucified and resurrected. I mean, how many towns could there possibly be in Israel, right? He couldn’t be talking about the second coming, because surely all of Israel could be preached to by that point… right? Although, any time Jesus talks about “coming,” there will of course be people who will immediately think of second coming. Well I went to the ESV Study Bible, and they actually had four different interpretations that have been suggested for what Jesus means in this verse. (The resurrection, the sending of the Spirit at Pentecost, the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70—which, I guess, some think of as Jesus “coming in judgement”—and the second coming at the end of the age. The ESV Study Bible authors didn’t pick a side on this; maybe wisely.) I still think the explanation that makes the most sense—and is the most straightforward, which is usually how I approach these things—is that Jesus is referring to his resurrection. I’d be surprised if there are towns in Israel that haven’t yet been reached. But I don’t feel strongly about it, and I doubt you should either. (Feel free to comment, if you disagree with me on this one, but I probably won’t bother responding.)

This passage ends with Jesus telling us, basically, that he was persecuted, and he’s the teacher and master. So, that being the case, we (the disciples and servants) should expect to be persecuted all the more. I’m very hard on the Western Church, because we have so much, and yet we’re so quick to abandon the Bible’s teachings, and believe whatever we want. We really want to believe that if God loves us, He will never let us suffer, and He will make all of our ministries prosper. Especially Christians in America—and, to a lesser extent, Canada—who seem to believe that they have created Christian nations, and therefore God should never let them be persecuted for being His followers. They won’t find support for that in the Bible. On the other hand, they’ll find passages like this, and they’ll find passages like Acts 5:17–42 (ESV) (especially verse 41 (ESV) ) where the disciples are persecuted and rejoice that they’ve been counted worthy to suffer for the Lord—which really confuses us, to the point that we don’t even know what to do with a verse like that. (How can they suffer and rejoice at the same time?!?)

I guess one last point I should mention is that “the one who endures to the end will be saved” verse:

Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, and you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. (verses 22–23 (ESV) )

My first response, when seeing a verse like this, is always to want to say, “don’t take this to be saying that you have to earn your salvation by your own effort”—which is true, Jesus isn’t saying that we can earn our salvation. This isn’t a cause and effect thing. However, I shouldn’t be so quick to jump on what this verse doesn’t say, because it detracts from what it does say. Regardless of whether you can or can’t save yourself through your own works (you can’t), that shouldn’t distract from the fact that the Bible tells us many times that we are to persevere; to “endure” (2 Timothy 2:11–13 (ESV) ), and to “keep ourselves” (Jude 21 (ESV) ). Because of the work Jesus did on the cross, my entrance into God’s Kingdom is certain, and nothing can stop that. But as a Christian, I am to be on guard (1 Corinthians 16:13 (NIV) ), and I am to persevere (Hebrews 10:35–39 (NIV) ).

Monday, March 01, 2010

Matthew 10:5–15

Matthew 10:5–15 (ESV) : Jesus Sends Out the Twelve Apostles

Synopsis

In the last passage Jesus called the twelve Apostles. In this passage he sends them out to the “lost sheep of Israel”—specifically not the Gentiles or the Samaritans—to tell them that “the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (verses 5–7 (ESV) ).

He gives them the following instructions for their trip:
  • As they’re going they should heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons (verse 8 (ESV) )
  • Since the Apostles didn’t have to pay to receive what they have, neither should they charge anyone else for it
  • They should bring no gold, silver, or copper, neither should they bring a bag for the journey, or multiple tunics, not even [extra?] sandals or a staff. Why? “[F]or the laborer deserves his food” (verse 10 (ESV) ).
  • Whenever they enter a new town or village, they should find someone there who is “worthy” (verse 11 (ESV) ), and stay at that person’s house for the duration of their stay at that town/village.
    • Along these lines, when they enter that house, they should greet it (verse 12 (ESV) ), and if the house is “worthy,” let their “peace come upon it.” If it is not, they are to let their peace return to them (verse 13 (ESV) ). (By “house” I think Jesus means household; I don’t think he’s actually talking about the physical building.)
    • If anyone will not listen to the Apostles’ words, they are to shake the dust off their feet when they leave that town/village/house. Jesus tells them that when the day of judgement comes, it will be more bearable for Sodom and Gomorrah than for the town/village/house in question.
There’s a lot to think about in this passage—and some things I’ll need to look up before writing them down—so let’s get to it.

Thoughts

Notice that Jesus specifically sends his Apostles to the Jews, not to Gentiles or Samaritans. With a few exceptions, Jesus’ entire ministry was to the Jews, who were, after all, the chosen people of God. In modern times I think we tend to forget about the Jews’ special relationship with God, since He has opened up salvation to the Gentiles. Personally, I don’t pretend to understand the Jews’ current relationship with God; the New Testament makes it clear that God’s salvation is now freely available to everyone—that anyone who believes is a “spiritual descendent of Abraham,” if I might put it that way. See, for example:So clearly the Jews are no longer God’s exclusive people. However, that doesn’t mean that they no longer have a special relationship with God; For example:
  • Throughout the Gospels, in passages such as this one, Jesus is preaching specifically to the Jews. Even though the Apostles later brought the Gospel to Gentiles, that didn’t start in earnest until the book of Acts.
    • See especially Matthew 15:21–28 (ESV) and Mark 7:24–30 (ESV) , where Jesus specifically mentions this.
    • Obviously the passage we’re currently looking at is an example of this, which is what started this whole topic in the first place
  • Verses 25–36 of the aforementioned Romans 11 (ESV) , which, I’m sure, has been interpreted differently by different people (all of whom are convinced that they’re right, and that I’m an idiot for not seeing what they see), but whatever it means, does indicate that there is a special relationship between God and the Jews, even after Jesus’ sacrifice.
So Jesus sends the Apostles to tell the Jews that the “kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What is the “kingdom of heaven”? (And why am I digging into so many larger topics, for such a relatively short passage?) Well, since he says that it’s “at hand,” I don’t think Jesus is referring to the new heaven and the new earth. I don’t think he’s talking about the post-judgement-day bliss that we’ll have when sin is eradicated, since it’s been two thousand years, and that hasn’t come yet. (Since a day is as a thousand years with God, I can’t fully rule this out, but I don’t think this is what Jesus is referring to.) So I’m assuming that Jesus is referring to the time we’re living in now, after he has died and atoned for our sins and risen again, after the Holy Spirit has been given to His disciples, after the Gospel has been opened up to the Gentiles. Jesus’ death and resurrection was definitely “at hand,” so I think that’s what he was referring to. However, I think focusing on the phrase “kingdom of heaven” probably isn’t the important thing in this passage; the important thing is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that believing in Him will cleanse you of your sins, in a way that the Old Testament religious system never could.

As the Apostles were going, in addition to preaching they were also to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, and cast out demons. They weren’t going just with words, but also with power. And as usual (always?) in the New Testament, that power was used to help people with their physical needs. The miracles would prove that the Apostles were sent by God, so I’m sure Jesus could have commanded them to go and preach, and to do things like calling down lightning and do other things like that to prove their power, but he didn’t, he commanded them to heal people, both spiritually and physically. The vast majority of miracles in the New Testament are along these lines; they prove Jesus’ power, but they directly help someone, by healing them, or feeding them, or something along those lines. In fact, as I’m writing this, I’m trying to think of any examples in the New Testament of miracles that were performed just for the sake of demonstrating power, but none are occurring to me. (Maybe Ananias and Saphira, but I think that would be a stretch.) That being said, I may very well think of something after I’ve clicked Submit on this post, or someone may leave a comment giving an obvious example, and then I’ll feel foolish for not thinking of it.

As the Apostles go, they are to give the Gospel for free; they’re not to charge people for hearing the Gospel. Conversely, neither are they to stock up on supplies before they go, to keep themselves fed—they are to accept food for their labour. (Or even clothes, since Jesus tells them not to bring an extra tunic or sandals; if their clothes wear out on the way, they should be able to accept replacement clothes that the “worthy” are willing to give them.) Based on the context, since the Apostles are only to stay with the “worthy,” it seems that the sequence is this: First, they are to preach the Gospel, for free; then, if someone hears the Gospel and believes—i.e., they are “worthy”—then the Apostles can accept that person’s hospitality, which would include food, clothing, whatever. Really, this is how the Church should be operating today; the Gospel is free for all, and nobody should ever, ever be charged to hear it. But once you are saved, and join a local church, you should be supporting it financially, because the labourer—your pastor(s), and anyone else whom the church pays for their work—deserves his wages. If the believers aren’t supporting the Church, then how else is it going to go out and preach the Gospel—for free—to those who haven’t heard it?

This passage mentions people who are “worthy.” Again, I don’t think we need to spend a lot of time digging into the word “worthy;” it sounds like Jesus is just referring to people who accept and believe the message that the Apostles are bringing to them. (The ESV Study Bible agrees with me on this one; they simply say: “Worthy indicates someone who responds positively to the disciples’ message.”) Similarly, when Jesus talks about letting the Apostles’ “peace” come upon the house where they’re staying, or letting it return to them if the house isn’t worthy, I don’t think we need to start digging into that terminology, looking for some deep, hidden meaning. All Jesus is saying (I think) is, “Go to a town/village and preach the Gospel. When someone believes, you can feel free to stay at that person’s house, and accept their hospitality, but if it turns out that they don’t really believe you, then maybe it’s not such a good idea to stay there.”

If they go to a town/village and nobody believes them, they’re to leave, and to shake the dust off their feet as they go. I don’t know that Jesus is being literal here (although he might); he’s referring to a Jewish custom at the time, that when a Jewish person would leave a Gentile region, they would shake the dust off their feet. (Acts 13:51 (ESV) has an example of believers doing this, at Antioch.) For the Jews, I assume this would be a sign that they don’t want to be made unclean even by the Gentile dust sticking to them; it’s poignant that Jesus’ followers are to do the same to the Jews, when they don’t accept the Gospel—the Jewish people would know what is meant by that, even if they wouldn’t necessarily believe it.

Finally, Jesus says of such a town/village that Sodom and Gomorrah will be judged less harshly on the day of judgement than that town/village will. That’s pretty amazing teaching—Sodom and Gomorrah are the standard setters for what it takes to be a city full of sinful people. (If you remember the story, in Genesis 18:22–33 (ESV) God agrees with Abraham that if He is able to find just ten righteous people in Sodom, He won’t destroy it; He isn’t able to find even that many righteous people, so Sodom and Gomorrah are destroyed in Chapter 19.) The term “sodomy” comes from the city of Sodom, and even today, when a place is considered really sinful, it will be compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. e.g. if a city is located in the South somewhere, it might be referred to as the “Gomorrah of the South” (I’m sure I’ve heard that term before, although I can’t remember in reference to what city/region), or the “Sodom and Gomorrah of the South.” So why will they be judged less harshly than one of the cities/villages mentioned in this passage, that rejects the Gospel? Simply put, if you know that something is wrong and you do it anyway, you will be judged more harshly than someone who doesn’t know that something is wrong and does it. Or, as the ESV Study Bible puts it, “Increased understanding of God’s revelation means increased responsibility.”

This was a long post, and any time I put up a long one like this, I’m always hesitant to click Submit. After a post gets to a certain length, it’s hard to proofread your own work properly, and even more so here, since this is really meant as my own personal Bible study, rather than a teaching instrument. (If I were writing this for others, rather than for myself, I’d set it aside for a while, and come back to it with fresh eyes later, rather than posting it right away.) But that being said, I’m aware that there are a number of people who read this blog, so if there are comments, please leave them “in love” (Ephesians 4:1–16 (ESV) ), and I’ll read them all, as I always do.