What to Do with Enemies Within: Thoughts from Galatians 1:8–9

In one of Paul’s strongest passages, he stated, “But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed” (Gal 1:8–9 ESV). Some thoughts to take away:

First, the recipients of this letter were believers. There is some obvious “anyone” and “you” language, distinguishing between the readers from those who taught a false gospel among them. Though Paul skips his usual thanksgiving for the readers in this letter, Paul does not begin by cursing them―he curses the false teachers. If the readers are believers (cf. “brothers” in Gal 1:11), they will return to faithfully holding the gospel they first believed.

Second, as noted above, the curse is reserved for the false teachers, and it is assumed that the action is by God. To be “accursed” is to suffer the condemnation and wrath of God for teaching a false gospel. Paul is pronouncing what is already the case as it is true of these false teachers.

Third, this warning was repeated in multiple ways. Not only did Paul pronounce his curse twice in this letter (1:8 and 1:9), but he also warned the Galatians of turning from the gospel when he was first with them (note, “As we have said before,” i.e., when he was first with them). Some warnings apparently cannot be repeated enough.

From the above, it should be clear that believers should not tolerate teachers of a false gospel within their local churches or in the body of Christ as a whole. So what do we do when we find them in our midst?

Other passages help answer this question. We warn them once and then twice and then have nothing more to do with them if they persist in their false gospel (Titus 3:10). These confrontations will involve witnesses and even the whole church as necessary (Matt 18:15–18; cf. 1 Tim 5:19–20). But we would hope that we might restore the transgressors with a spirit of gentleness (Gal 6:1–2). Nonetheless, if they persist in heresy and are put out of the church, we watch out for them and avoid them (Rom 16:17). We do not even give them lodging or wish them well on their way and thereby take part in their wicked works (2 John 10–11). It may even be that such ones leave the church on their own because they were never truly part of it in the first place (1 John 2:19).

And while that last paragraph may seem neat and tidy, we know from history and maybe experience that applying these passages can be messy, heart-breaking, and painful, whether in a local church or some other type of fellowship that enforces its unity around the gospel.

Let us be sure we know our gospel and be careful to distinguish ourselves from those who promote another. And let us not be confused to extend our fellowship as God’s people to those who are actually under the wrath of God.

0 Comments

Divorce and Remarriage: A Spectrum of Christian Positions

A 2008 Barna survey suggests that 26% of evangelical marriages end in divorce.1 If this survey represents all evangelical marriages, Christians do well to form a biblical position on divorce and remarriage and understand each other’s respective positions. To clarify, all positions surveyed below agree that a widow or widower may remarry in the event of a spouse’s death (1 Cor 7:39; cf. Rom 7:1–4). With respect to remarriage, this essay surveys the positions as to whether or not an individual may divorce and marry someone other than the original spouse while the original spouse is still living.

No Divorce, No Remarriage

A minority position among Christians today is that believers may neither divorce nor remarry. In the event that a spouse sinfully insists on divorce, the innocent spouse should not remarry but remain single in hope for reunion to the original spouse. 

This position understands that God’s original and ongoing design for marriage is “one man, one woman, for one lifetime,” no exceptions (Gen 2:24). God regulated but did not approve divorce (Deut 24:1–4), and His threats to divorce Israel were hypothetical (Jer 3:8; Hos 1:9). The oft-quoted translation of Mal 2:16 sums it all. God states, “I hate divorce” (NASB). The major texts Mark 10:2–12, Luke 16:18, and 1 Cor 7:10–11 affirm that neither the husband nor the wife may divorce one another. If divorce occurred nonetheless, the man and woman must remain unmarried or remarry only each other. The “exception clause” of Matt 19:9 (“except for immorality”) clarifies that an unmarried couple could be separated in one of two possible ways. Either sexual sin during betrothal allows the dissolution of a marriage-to-be, or the discovery of an incestuous marriage would call for an annulment of an illegitimate marriage (cf. Lev 18:6–18). Either way, a legitimate marriage is not broken. If a divorce ended a legitimate marriage, consequent remarriage would be adultery. 1 Cor 7:12–16 provides a situation in which an unbeliever abandons a believing spouse. The believer may allow the unbeliever to leave (the “Pauline privilege”). Peace is maintained between the two, and the believer should apply 1 Cor 7:10–11 by remaining single and hoping for reunion with the original spouse.

Divorce, No Remarriage

The second position finds voice among a minority of modern Christians and the majority of church fathers. Divorce is permissible in certain instances, but remarriage is not.

Gen 2:24 sets the ideal for marriage. A spouse should forgive and not enforce divorce for immorality (Deut 24:1–4). If divorce does occur, as God loved adulterous Israel (Ezekiel 16) and as Hosea loved his wayward wife (Hosea 1–3), so also should a believing spouse hope for reunion by not remarrying anyone but the original spouse. Jesus appealed to Gen 2:24 in Matt 19:3–9 and thereby shocked the disciples in Matt 19:10; divorce led to celibacy because remarriage was not an option (cf. 19:11–12). Matt 5:32 and Matt 19:9 allow for divorce but not remarriage. Mark 10:2–12 and Luke 16:18 forbid divorce and remarriage. Paul forbade believers to divorce (1 Cor 7:10–11). A believer married to an unbelieving spouse could exercise the “Pauline privilege”  and allow an unbelieving spouse to leave the marriage (1 Cor 7:15), but the believer should not remarry and instead hope to restore the marriage.

Divorce, Remarriage

A third view sees biblical warrant for both divorce and remarriage in certain situations, though disagreement exists as to the extent of this warrant. The majority of modern Christians hold this view in one form or another.

Genesis 2:24 is the ideal for marriage (cf. 1 Cor 7:10–11), though the marriage covenant could be broken. Divorce is permissible in the case of immorality and must be formalized (Deut 24:1–4). God’s approval of divorce is shown by His divorce of adulterous Israel (Jer 3:8; cf. Hos 1:9). Mal 2:16 does not quote God as hating all divorce but describes His hatred for the sinful divorce in which a husband unreasonably abandons his wife for another woman.2 Jesus identifies unreasonable divorce and subsequent remarriage as adultery (Mark 10:2–12; Luke 16:18), but divorce is allowed when a spouse is immoral (Matt 5:32). If immorality takes place, reconciliation should be sought (Matt 19:3–8; cf. Gen 2:24) instead of defaulting to divorce, a surprising concept to the thinking of Jesus’ day (cf. Matt 19:10–12). Remarriage after divorce from an immoral spouse is permissible (Matt 19:9).

The believer left by an unbelieving spouse (1 Cor 7:15) was no longer bound and could remarry, just as a believing widow could remarry (1 Cor 7:39; cf. Rom 7:1–3). Some would say that desertion of the marriage in 1 Cor 7:15 extends in principle to any persistent and major breach of the marriage covenant. In such a case, the believer is privileged to formalize the broken marriage through divorce and may remarry as well (cf. 1 Cor 7:15, 39).

Conclusion

Though these positions differ in significant ways, the Christians who hold these positions may at least agree that God’s ideal is marriage for life. May God give grace to Christians as they seek to uphold this ideal, and may Christians give grace to each other as they vary in ministering to marriages that are less than ideal.

For Further Reading

(1) Davis, John J. Evangelical Ethics. 2nd ed. Phillipsburg, N.J.: Presbyterian and Reformed, 2004.

(2) House, H. Wayne, ed. Divorce and Remarriage: Four Christian Views. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1990.

(3) Köstenberger, Andreas J. and David W. Jones. God Marriage and Family: Rebuilding the Biblical Foundation. 2d ed. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 2010.

 

 

  1. The Barna Group, “New Marriage and Divorce Statistics Released,” n.p. [cited 4 June 2011]. Online: http://www.barna.org/barna-update/article/15-familykids/42-new-marriage-and-divorce-stati. Of the 3,792 adults that were surveyed, 339 professed to be evangelical Christians. 26% of these individuals had been divorced. []
  2. The ESV reflects this understanding: “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the Lord, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal 2:16). []

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 17:6b–10)

This entry is part 44 of 44 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

After the angel asked about John’s marveling (17:6b–7a), he promised an explanation of the woman, the beast with the seven heads, and his ten horns (17:7) and gave it―beast (17:8), heads (17:9–11), horns (17:12–14, 16–17), woman (17:18), and added the waters as well (17:15). The beast is the antichrist who is slain, revived, and rises to power in the midst of these final seven years, provoking unbelievers to worship him (17:8; cf. 13:3, 12, 14). The seven heads are both mountains and kings, identifications which call for wisdom (17:9–10; cf. 13:18), giving reason to be tentative as to conclusions. At the least, five kings are past (“fallen”), one ruled during the days of John (“one is”), and the antichrist was yet to come and would rule for a time shorter than the rest (17:10).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
17:8 Exod 32:32-33; Dan 12:1 Books are described as containing the names of those who will live forever.
17:9 Dan 7:4–7 Both prophecies involve beasts and ten horns.

A Parting Thought

The antichrist is a coming, evil king who is worse than all others who precede him. Let us be thankful that God has shortened his time to “only a little while” for the sake of the elect (cf. Matt 24:22).

0 Comments

A Timeline of Paul’s Ministry in Galatians and Acts

“The Cities of Galatia” (from Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts, Revised, 1996, Logos Edition)

Galatians is probably Paul’s earliest letter, written around AD 48 to the churches in southern Galatia and not to Gentiles in northern Galatia (the first conclusion among several debated issues, as you will see).

Assuming some dates (these dates can be debated) and matching Paul’s biographical details their parallels in Acts, Paul persecuted the church (Gal 1:13–14; Acts 9:1–2; AD 34), was converted (Gal 1:15–16a; Acts 9:3–19a; AD 34), preached in Arabia and Damascus for three years (Gal 1:17; Acts 9:19–22; AD 34–37), visited Peter and James in Jerusalem after these three years (Gal 1:18–20; Acts 9:26–29; AD 37), and preached in Judea for about ten years (Gal 1:21–24; Acts 9:30–31; AD 37–47).

Fourteen years after his conversion (so it seems; cf. Gal 2:1), Paul took Barnabas and Titus to visit Jerusalem again for a private meeting with Peter, James, and John (Gal 2:1–10), which may or may not be recorded in Acts (if so, Acts 11:27–30; AD 47; this conclusion is debated and hinges on another―see comments on Gal 2:1–10 and Acts 15:1–29 below).

Paul then went on his first missionary journey, which included planting churches in southern Galatia (Acts 13–14; AD 47–48). It is not clear when Peter came to Antioch and was confronted by Paul (Gal 2:11–14), but (making yet another conclusion) perhaps it was after Paul had planted the Galatian churches (thus, AD 48). Maybe Peter wanted to follow up on the gospel’s spread to the Gentiles as he had done earlier in Samaria (Acts 8:14) or visited while traveling to minister to the churches in general (cf. Acts 9:32).

Paul then went to the Jerusalem council in Acts 15:1–29 a year or so later (AD 49), an event probably not the same as what Paul records in Gal 2:1–10 (another debated issue). This conclusion is supported in that (1) Paul does not mention the Acts 15 conclusions in Galatians and (2) Luke describes the Acts 15 council as public (cf. Acts 15:6, 12, 22) while Paul describes Gal 2:10 as a private meeting (cf. Gal 2:2).

Paul then visited the Galatian churches two more times at the beginnings of his second (Acts 16:6; cf. cf. 15:40–18:22; AD 49) and third (Acts 18:23; cf. 18:23–21:17; AD 52) missionary journeys (AD 49–51 and 52–57, respectively).

On a pastoral level, for as strong as Paul was in his letter to the Galatians, we can be encouraged that the churches corrected themselves and persevered, implied by the fact that Paul visited them in his second and third missionary journeys. While these churches were swayed for a time, Paul’s strong and swift denunciation of a false gospel grounded them in the true gospel again, leaving them strengthened in the end.

So, if you are keeping track, (tentative) conclusions made were the following:

(1) Paul wrote the churches in southern and not northern Galatia (i.e., the ones in Acts 13–14).

(2) Paul visited Jerusalem a second time fourteen years after his conversion and not fourteen years after his first visit to Jerusalem (Gal 2:1).

(3) Paul’s visit to Jerusalem in Gal 2:1–10 could be the one recorded by Luke in Acts 11:27–30.

(4) Pauls’ visit to Jerusalem in Gal 2:1–10 was probably not the one recorded by Luke in Acts 15:1–29.

(5) Peter visited Paul in Antioch (Gal 2:11–14) after Paul’s return to the city after Paul had planted several churches, some being in southern Galatia (Acts 13:1–14:28).

(6) The years are exactly as stated above. (As one can see, it is sometimes very difficult to identify Paul’s locations and the times he was there with certainty and precision.)

While it is not imperative to figure out the timing of (5) (i.e., before or after Acts 13–14), it does seem that a combination of (1), (2), (3), (4), and (6) lean upon one another and, if one conclusion is made, so also are the others in this combination.

The chart below is my own and gives a tentative timeline for how one could match the details of Paul’s life in Galatians to Acts. It also adds some semi-related events that Acts mentions besides (i.e., Paul’s other visits to Galatia).

Date Description Galatians Acts
AD 34 Saul (not yet Paul) persecuted the church. 1:13–14 9:1–2
AD 34 Saul was converted. 1:15–16a 9:3–19a
AD 34–37 Saul preached in Arabia and Damascus. 1:17 9:19–22; cf. 9:27
AD 37 Saul visited Jerusalem three years after his conversion. 1:18–20 9:26–29
AD 37–47 Saul preached in Syria and Cilicia. 1:21–24 9:30–31
AD 47 Saul visited Jerusalem fourteen years after his conversion. 2:1–10 11:27–30?
AD 47–48 Saul became Paul and with Barnabas planted churches in Gentile territory, Galatia included, during Paul’s first missionary journey. 13:1–14:28
AD 48 Peter visited Antioch and was confronted by Paul. 2:11–14
AD 48 Paul wrote Galatians. 1:1–6:18
AD 49 Paul participated in the Apostolic Council in Jerusalem. 15:1–29
AD 49–51 Paul and Silas visited the Galatian churches during Paul’s second missionary journey. 16:6; cf. 15:40–18:22
AD 52–57 Paul visited the Galatian churches for the last time recorded in Scripture. 18:23; cf. 18:23–21:17

 

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 17:1–6a)

This entry is part 43 of 44 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

With similarities that work to bring out a stark contrast to John’s vision of the New Jerusalem (cf. 21:9–11), John is invited by one of the angels who had one of the last seven bowls to see the judgment of the great immoral and adulterous end-times religious system that has its sway over the world (17:1–2; cf. 17:15). John was carried away to the wilderness and saw the woman riding the beast, indicating this religious system will even hold sway over the antichrist (17:3; cf. 13:1). The clothing, gold, and jewelry of the woman show her wealth, and the golden cup full of abominations shows the many sins committed by her followers (17:4). Her forehead held the name now revealed, “Babylon the great, mother of prostitutes and of earth’s abominations” (17:5). Among her sins is to have spilled the blood of believers (17:6a).

Old Testament in the New 

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
17:1 Jer 51:13 Babylon dwells by waters and is judged.
17:1 Nah 3:4 Babylon is judged for idolatry and immorality.
17:2 Isa 23:17 A world power prostitutes itself to the nations of the world.
17:3 Dan 7:7 The beast has ten horns.
17:4 Jer 51:7 Babylon’s golden cup is full of sins committed by the nations.
17:4 Ezek 28:13 Foreign powers are described as having great wealth.

A Parting Thought

False religion has many lures―immorality, wealth, and power. But these sins and ill-gotten gains come with a price―judgment for abominations, sins, and the murder of God’s own. May we be quick to spot the Great Prostitute and avoid her at every turn.

0 Comments

An Overview of Galatians

After an introduction (1:1–5), Paul rebuked the Galatians for turning to false gospel and cursed those who preached it (1:6–10). This false gospel was that one had to add the Law of Moses to his faith in order to be righteous, shown representatively by being circumcised. As Paul would explain, if this “gospel” were true, hearing the gospel with faith was unnecessary, and one could earn his own righteousness by keeping the Law.

In showing this “gospel” to be false, Paul gave the story behind the true gospel that he preached and how it was confirmed by others. He received it from Jesus Christ (1:11–17) and was confirmed of its truth two times by Peter in Jerusalem, the second time along with Peter and John (Gal 1:18–2:10). He even confronted Peter for acting out of accord with what he had previously confirmed (2:11–14). Summarizing his gospel in contrast to the heresy at hand, Paul stated that “a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ” (2:16; cf. 2:15–21).

Explaining the role of faith further, Paul reminded that it was through faith that the Galatians received the Spirit, persevered, and saw miracles (3:1–5). And, just as Abraham was saved by faith without the Law, so also their salvation came in the same way (3:6–9). Relying on the Law was impossible and brought about a curse that is canceled only through the work of Christ on the cross (3:10–14). The purpose of the Law was to show how sinful man was and that his ability to keep it was impossible. When Christ came, this temporary function of the Law ended, and now we live by faith in the gospel through the Spirit (3:15–4:11).

After exhorting his readers to continue in the gospel they had once so gratefully received (4:12–20), Paul intentionally allegorized the story of Hagar and Ishmael and their relation to Sarah and Isaac to illustrate how the Galatians were now enslaving themselves to the Law, persecuting those who had the Spirit, and were not acting as heirs of the New Jerusalem (4:21–31).

Paul again exhorted them to stand firm in the gospel and not accept circumcision as the basis for their righteousness, something of no advantage that would sever themselves from Christ (5:1–6). He was confident that they would return to the gospel (5:7–12) and detailed a life lived by the Spirit in contrast to a life lived in the flesh (5:13–26).

Giving general instructions that likely dealt with a matter at hand, Paul commanded that any transgressor (such as a false teacher) should be restored and treated gently, not thinking themselves better than the transgressor but boasting, if anything, in Christ (6:1–5). Influenced by false teachers, the Galatians may have waned in their giving to the church, so Paul commanded them to share their good things (e.g., finances) with their teachers, promising spiritual reward (6:6–10).

Paul closed the letter by once more attacking the false doctrine of finding righteousness by keeping the Law, promising peace and mercy to those who could boast instead in the cross of Christ (6:11–18).

0 Comments

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 16:17–21)

This entry is part 42 of 44 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

The seventh angel poured out his bowl into the air, and the Father proclaimed, “It is done!” (16:17), a statement He proclaims again at the end of all that is initiated by this bowl, the last of the last plagues (21:6). Then comes lightning, thunder, and the earth’s greatest and worst earthquake (16:18). This earthquake will split Jerusalem into three parts, topple Gentile cities, and satisfy God’s wrath against Babylon (16:19). Similar to the end of all things (cf. 20:11), the islands and mountains flee (16:20), and hundred-pound hailstones kill many, leaving the remaining to curse God once again (16:21; cf. 16:9, 11).

 

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
16:18 Ezek 38:19–22 God’s judgment is shown through a number of phenomena in nature.
16:19 Jer 25:15 Those who drink from the cup of the wrath of God are those who experience His wrath.
16:21 Exod 9:18–25 Thunder, hail, and lightning are sometimes instruments of God’s wrath.

 A Parting Thought

God remembers unpunished sins, and cursing God for His judgment will be no help to anyone at all. May we be ready for our rescue from this judgment, living godly lives and waiting for the blessed Hope to come.

0 Comments

Lessons from the Eagle and the Little Old Lady Who Flew from Nest to Nest

Aquila’s name is Latin for “eagle,” a bird that migrates from one place to another as demanded by its circumstances. His wife was Prisca, meaning “ancient” in the sense of old age (short for Priscilla, “little old lady”). Naming a baby as such could have hopes for a long life. These two ideas seem to characterize this couple as we find them in the New Testament. We see them moving from nest to nest, and there is longevity in their service for the Lord. We will briefly study their lives in the NT and see seven lessons from their example for us today.

Nest 1 – Corinth: The Tentmaker’s Trade and the Apostle Who Stayed (Acts 18:1–17) 

Aquila and Priscilla (A&P hereafter) moved from Rome to Corinth thanks to the Roman Claudius’ edict in AD 49 (Acts 18:2). During their stay of 2–3 years (AD 49–52), Paul “found” Aquila in Corinth (Acts 18:2), and the couple helped Paul as tentmakers (Acts 18:2–3) for “a year and six months” (18:11; AD 50–52) and then “many days longer” (18:18).

Though we know some details about their lives at this time, it is not clear how they became believers. Maybe Roman visitors at Pentecost may have spread the gospel (cf. Acts 2:10). However their conversion came about, their help to Paul allowed him to teach and preach in the synagogue and the city (Acts 18:5), winning many converts to Christ (Acts 18:8).

Nest 2 – Ephesus: Edifying in Ephesus and Apollos the Apologist (Acts 18:18–26)

Claudius died in AD 54, but A&P did not return home to Rome right away. A&P stayed with Paul in his travels to Ephesus in AD 52 (Acts 18:18–19). Paul wrote 1 Corinthians in AD 55 and sent a hearty greeting to the Corinthians from A&P “with the church that is in their house” (1 Cor 16:19). This means would have been serving in Ephesus for a minimum of 3 years. By the time Paul wrote Romans in AD 57, they were back in Rome, which means they maximum they stayed in Ephesus was roughly 5 years (AD 52–55 or 57; cf. Rom 16:3–5).

The couple would have been well-versed in theology after having worked with Paul for 1.5 years. They stayed in Ephesus after Paul left (Acts 18:18–19) and taught the mighty preacher Apollos “the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:26). Apollos knew of John’s baptism, but he did not know of Christian baptism (Acts 18:25; cf. 19:1–6). Due to the recent nature of the events, It seems he may not have known the full details of the life, death, or resurrection of Jesus Christ, or that the Spirit had been given at Pentecost (cf. Acts 19:1–6). Whatever the hang-up, as a result of A&P’s teaching, Apollos’ ministry as an apologist for the gospel was all the more effective in Achaia (Acts 18:27–28).

Nest 3 – Rome: An Open Home to the Church in Rome (Romans 16:3–5a)

At some point, A&P moved from Ephesus back to Rome. If they moved from Ephesus to Rome sometime between AD 55 and 57 (cf. Rom 16:3–5; 1 Cor 16:19) and returned to Ephesus by AD 65/66 (cf. 2 Tim 4:19), they could have been back in Rome for 1 to 10 years (AD 55/57–65/66). While in Rome, A&P used their home to host one of the three to five churches in Rome (Rom 16:5; cf. 16:10, 11, 14, 15). Paul’s summary of their ministry is that they were “fellow workers” (Rom 16:3) who risked their lives for Paul (Rom 16:4; cf. Acts 19:23–41?). Paul gave thanks to them from himself and from “all the churches of the Gentiles” (Rom 16:5). 

Nest 4 – Ephesus: Serving Again with Ephesian Friends (2 Tim 4:19)

Whenever they returned to Ephesus, A&P moved from Rome to Ephesus at least by AD 65/66 (2 Tim 4:19). Perhaps they went to Rome to be with the loved ones they so abruptly left at the edict of Claudius but then came back to where they could be better used in Ephesus. Whatever the case, Paul first met A&P around AD 50. Here they are still serving 15years later.

Seven Lessons to Learn from the Lives of Aquila and Priscilla

First, sometimes God moves people from one church to another in order to bless multiple congregations.  Move 1: God used Claudius to move A&P to help Paul as tentmakers in Corinth (Acts 18:2–3). Move 2: Paul took A&P to Ephesus (Acts 18:18–19). Move 3: A&P went back to Rome (Rom 16:3–5). Move 4: A&P returned to Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19).

Second, ask godly couples to be involved in ministry. Paul “found . . . Aquila” and “came to them” (Acts 18:2). Corinth, Ephesus, and Rome all knew the blessing of having this faithful couple come to their churches and using a home to help the churches.

Third, find a church with a good pastor. A&P had the apostle Paul for a pastor in Corinth and then in Ephesus. From this point on, we see them faithfully serving and discipling others. An effective shepherd leaves others serving faithfully after the time they have spent with him.

Fourth, serve your church with your whole heart, mind, and soul. Everywhere we see A&P, they are involved in a local church, even when forcibly moved away from Rome to Corinth. They made it a priority to be involved in the ministry of their local churches. A&P personally discipled others, used their business for the sake of missions, and opened their homes to the churches. These activities were not necessarily public ministries that were as noticeable as those of Paul or Apollos. They had servants’ hearts to give their time, energy, and resources to serve the needs of the churches. Their ministries allowed Paul and Apollos to win and strengthen many for the Lord.

Fifth, remember the good times. Paul mentioned the risk A&P took in his greetings to Rome (Rom 16:4). He remembered the highlights of their service together, not the pain of breaking apart.

Sixth, keep in touch. Paul sent greetings from A&P to Corinth (1 Cor 16:19). He sent greetings to them in Rome (Rom 16:3–5). He did the same when they returned to Ephesus (2 Tim 4:19).

Seventh, keep on keeping on. The NT has A&P serving for at least 15 years. They likely served much longer than that.

Aquila and Priscilla were a blessing to multiple congregations during the early days of the church. May we and couples especially follow their example and serve our own churches just the same today.

The Old Testament in the Book of Revelation (Revelation 16:12–16)

This entry is part 41 of 44 in the series Revelation and Its Connections to the OT

Passage Summary

The sixth angel poured out his bowl on the Euphrates River, drying it up and removing it as a barrier for the eastern kings to travel for battle (16:12; cf. 16:14). Satan, the antichrist, and the false prophet then use demonic powers to gather and join all the world’s forces for this same battle (16:13–14). Readers are reminded to persevere in holiness in light of this coming battle (16:15; cf. 3:3, 18). The eastern and world forces combine at Armageddon, the hill country of Megiddo about 25 miles SE of the Sea of Galilee, for a battle that extends to Jerusalem in opposing Israel and the saints (cf. Zech 12:2–3; 14:1–3).

 

Old Testament in the New

Revelation Old Testament Connection Between the Two
16:12 Isa 11:15–16; 41:2, 25; 46:11 Before the rescue of God’s people, God dries up the river and stirs up eastern powers.
16:13 Exod 8:6–7 Frogs are connected to demonic powers.
16:14 1 Kgs 22:21–23 Spirits entice kings to battle.
16:16 Judg 5:19; 2 Kgs 23:29–30; 2 Chr 35:22; Zech 12:11 Megiddo was the battleground for Gideon and Josiah and will be one day for the world against Israel.

 A Parting Thought

As always, we are reminded of the wrath that ends this age and warned to live holy lives so that it is not for us! May God help us to be sober in light of this coming judgment and watch for the coming of our Lord.

0 Comments

Mark: A Lesson in Falling Down and Getting Up Again

A few passages about Mark (or John; cf. Acts 12:12, 25; 15:37) teach us a lesson about failure in ministry and then serving again thereafter.

As a young man, Mark’s home was used by the church for prayer and possibly worship (Acts 12:12). With a home large enough for a church gathering, complete with at least one servant (Acts 12:13), his family enjoyed both physical and spiritual blessings. Unsurprisingly, he was recruited for missionary ministry by Barnabas and Saul (not yet Paul) in Acts 12:25.

However, shortly after joining their missionary journey, “John left them and returned to Jerusalem” (Acts 13:13). Though “they had John to assist them” (Acts 13:5), he became “one who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work” (Acts 15:38). Thus, Paul distrusted him and split from Barnabas who desired Mark to join them on a later journey (Acts 15:36–41).

Why did mark abandon the work? Perhaps he did not like the team’s leadership shift from “Barnabas and Saul” (Acts 13:2) to “Paul and his companions” (Acts 13:13). Perhaps the salvation of Gentiles was hard for him to accept as a Jew. Perhaps he did not enjoy the travel, threat of persecution, or distance away from home. We do not know why he abandoned the work, but we know his abandonment was a negative thing.

Thankfully, Mark made a quick recovery. If he deserted in AD 46 in Acts 13:13 but was serving with Barnabas in Acts 15:35–41 in AD 48, his failure did not last long. However, consequences remained. Paul distrusted him and refused to travel with him again.

As time went on, Paul wrote the Colossians about a dozen years later (AD 60 or 61), speaking this of Mark: “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him)” (Col 4:10). As told by Paul, Mark was to serve and be welcomed by this congregation, implying a reconciliation between Mark and Paul.

Yet later, we Mark serving with Peter (1 Pet 5:13), likely during the mid-60s AD when he wrote his Gospel. Paul’s last letter in AD 66 requested of Timothy, “Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim 4:11).

Mark’s desertion was disappointing and brought about the distrust of Paul and likely others. Over time, however, he persisted and regained a reputation for faithfulness. In the end, he was very useful to many and certainly the imprisoned Paul in his final days of ministry.

We all fail from time to time, and our consequences vary according to our failures. Not everyone is so fortunate as Mark to be completely restored over time to a previous position. Nonetheless, whatever our failure may be, God forgives the repentant sinner, and we can serve Him and be faithful again. May God help us towards this end.