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Bible Study Notes on Acts 1 – 20170115

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Bible Study Notes

Acts 1:1-3  These three verses are one sentence.  Easy to get confused with the descriptive clauses, but the subject and verb is actually I made.  Luke is saying he made a former account of the life of Jesus, the gospel of Luke, and now he is continuing the story of the work of Christ through the Holy Spirit in His disciples.  That is an important point.  The book is usually titled Acts of the Apostles, but it is actually the acts of the Holy Spirit over earthly obstacles as shown through the followers of Christ.  My Bible teacher brought this to my attention years ago.  He is correct.  The books of acts is a fitting sequel to Luke as it continues the story of Christ through the acts of the Holy Spirit.  There will be several obstacles, division in the church, martyrdom, but the biggest may be that Gentiles are included in the salvation of Christ without going through Judaism.  Will note those as we come to them.

1  “…O Theophilus…”
Same person Luke wrote to in the gospel of Luke.  Nothing is recorded about him or who he was.  Commentaries suggest he may have been an early gentile convert whom Luke wanted to help by giving him the story of Christ.  The fact that Luke doesn’t use the phrase most excellent in Acts leads some to speculate that his relationship with Theophilus had become closer than when he wrote the gospel.

3  “…by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days…”
The appearing of Jesus to His disciples after His resurrection wasn’t hidden.  And it wasn’t just once or twice.  He appeared to them over the course of forty days.  Many today wish to discount the resurrection as nothing but myth, but the evidence was there.  Always amazes me that we will believe in the existence and acts of someone such as George Washington even though all we have now is what was written of him and a marker of his supposed remains, yet we won’t take the same type of evidence for Jesus, written testimonies of eye witnesses, the changes in lives, and the continued spreading of His message.  We believe what we choose to believe.

4  “…not to depart…but to wait for the Promise…”
Don’t get started without being prepared.  Wait for the Holy Spirit then follow His lead.

5  “…shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit…”
Not just a onetime filling as had happened at different times throughout history, but a total immersion which is permanent.

6  “…Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
First obstacle, and it comes before Jesus had even left.  Throughout His ministry here, the disciples had been holding on to their understanding that the Messiah’s coming would be as an earthly king.  They had been taught the Old Testament, but had never seen the two comings of the Messiah, one as a suffering servant, the other as King of Kings.  I wonder how Jewish Rabbis reconcile the two prophecies.  At this point, Jesus doesn’t go into it, but tells them God will handle the timing.  Their job from now on is to spread His good news after they have received the gift of the Holy Spirit.

8  “…Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth”
Ever expanding circle of influence.  We can use the same model.  Those closest to us, those we come in contact with on a regular basis, and those we have encounters with perhaps only once or twice.  We share Christ with others as we go about our business here.  It should be the primary focus of why we’re here, not an additional task.  We should incorporate Christ into all aspects of our acting and thinking so sharing Him is as natural as breathing.  I believe that is where we’ve messed up in our understanding of witnessing for Him.  We’ve tried to make it a totally separate action from our normal behavior when it should be our normal behavior.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him.  I find it hard to do myself, but only because I wasn’t taught to and have been doing it another way for so long.  But that’s no reason to not keep working on it.  Bring up the Lord in passing at every opportunity.

Topics9-11  “…He was taken up…This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
One day Christ will return to this earth in bodily form just as He left.  He will land on the Mount of Olives at the point of His departure and will then set up His earthly kingdom which the disciples referred to earlier.

12  “…a Sabbath day’s journey”
The amount of distance one could legally travel on the Sabbath according to Levitical law.  Not sure what it is.  Commentaries suggest it was two thousand paces or cubits, which would be just over half a mile.

14  “…the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers”
Not sure if this means His brothers had now become believers after seeing His crucifixion and resurrection, or if they were still together due to fear of retribution from the Jewish leaders.  Forty days have passed, and they’ve seen Him resurrected, so maybe they have all come to believe.

15  “…a hundred and twenty…”
Quite a number.  Not as large as the crowds that had followed Jesus, but a good core number of real believers before the arrival of the Holy Spirit.  May answer my previous question about His brothers believing.

18  “…this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity…”
Judas didn’t actually purchase the field.  The Jewish leaders purchased the land using the money Judas returned to them as they didn’t want to be defiled with money that had been used to purchase blood.  Their own piety showed their deep depravity.

18-19  Luke includes a bit of history regarding the final disposition of Judas.  His note that it became known to those dwelling in Jerusalem gives credence to the idea that he checked local sources and eye witnesses for his gospel and this record.

26  “…Matthias…was numbered with the eleven apostles”
Some have speculated that God actually intended for Paul to replace Judas as one of the original twelve.  If you think that having the twelve as a specific group has great meaning, I guess that could make sense.  But I see nothing here that would say that.  Peter and the others used that as their reason for replacing Judas.  They prayed about it before acting.  I think God would have told them to wait if it was of that much importance.  I think we place too much emphasis on the people and not enough on the Spirit.  God certainly used the first Apostles mightily for His glory, but He also used Paul when it was time to do so.  I think it was good to replace Judas with Matthias for the work the original would do, then God moved Paul to start another vein of witnessing toward the Gentiles when the time came.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 50 – 20170112

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Bible Study Notes

Genesis 50:1  “…Joseph fell on his father’s face…”
Along with everything else, Joseph must have experienced a sense of closure.  He had lost his father when he was a teenager.  Now he had regained him and had been able to spend time with him for seventeen years before Jacob died.  Nothing could replace the years he lost, but God had taken care of everything.  Now he would be able to do as his father had asked.

2  “…physicians embalmed Israel”
Would make performing Jacob’s last request easier.

3  “…Egyptians mourned for him seventy days”
Jacob not only had his own family mourn for him, but the Egyptians also.

4  “…Joseph spoke to the household of Pharaoh…please speak in the hearing of Pharaoh…”
Wondered why Joseph would need to go through others to speak to pharaoh as he was the second in command.  Commentary suggests that as a mourner he would not want to stand before pharaoh.  Apparently you wouldn’t appear before a king looking downcast.  I recall Nehemiah being upset that the king he served observed him appearing downcast which was normally a bad thing.

9  “…it was a very great gathering”
That must have been a great sight.  All of those people making the trek to Canaan for the burial.

10  “…the threshing floor of Atad…”
Commentary suggests this was on the border of Egypt and Canaan so the Egyptian portion of the party may have stayed here while the family continued on to the burial site.  Not sure of the distance.  Being the final period of mourning before burial, it was the loudest and caused the local inhabitants to notice.

15  “…Joseph will hate us…”
Even though Joseph had settled the matter years before, the actions of his brothers came back to haunt them.  They thought perhaps Joseph had only been biding his time until Jacob died.

17  “…Joseph wept when they spoke to him”
He really had closed the matter.  It upset him to think it was still bothering his family.

20  “…God meant it for good…”
What a statement.  Joseph understood the sovereignty of God.  Those things we consider bad, and even those things which may have been intended for bad, none of them are beyond God’s control.  He can take all things and weave them together to bring about His purposes for His glory.  Nothing takes Him by surprise.

22  “…Joseph lived one hundred and ten years”
Wonder how many pharaoh’s reigned during this time.  Could have been one or two others before Joseph died.  Commentary suggested earlier that the Egyptians may not have lived as long as the Hebrews.

24  “…bring you out of this land to the land of which He swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob”
Joseph knew about and understood the promise.  He knew the importance of going back to the land.

25  “…you shall carry up my bones from here”
Being such an official of Egypt, he knew he would need to be buried there, at least for a time.  And since he would be embalmed, his remains would be available whenever God moved the Israelites back to Canaan.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 49 – 20150110

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Bible Study Notes

Genesis 49:1  “…I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days”
Jacob is dying.  He calls his family together to share information and prophecy.  Interesting that God chooses to do this as each of the patriarchs die.

4  “Unstable as water…he went up to my couch”
Only God knows what Reuben might have been.  His lack of character and sin becomes his legacy, and he loses the birthright as the firstborn.

5-7  “Simeon and Levi…I will divide them in Jacob And scatter them in Israel”
Their decision to take vengeance on the people of Shechem becomes their legacy.  And yet God chooses Levi to become the tribe of His priests.

10  “The scepter shall not depart from Judah…”
Judah shall be the tribe of the Messiah.  All of his prophecies point to Jesus.

13  “Zebulun…his border shall adjoin Sidon”
Not sure of this one.  According to maps of the inheritance, Zebulun was south of Sidon and Tyre and was pretty much land locked.  Bit of a mystery as to what the prophecy meant.

16  “Dan…one of the tribes of Israel”
Interesting that Dan isn’t mentioned among the tribes in Revelation.  Not sure what happens.

22  “Joseph is a fruitful bough…”
Even though he was treated roughly and unfairly by his brothers, he eventually overcame them and also became their provider and means of salvation from starvation.  His sons’ tribes also become two of the larger in Israel.

31  “…there I buried Leah”
I’ve always thought it strange that Jacob didn’t carry Rachel to this burial place.

33  “…breathed his last…”
Death of Jacob.  Last request was that he be buried in Canaan.  I’m surprised that Joseph didn’t have the same request.  He simply said to make sure his bones were taken back to Canaan when God returned Israel there.  Perhaps he knew the Egyptians would prefer to bury him there due to his position.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 48 – 20170109

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Bible Study Notes

Genesis 48:1  “…after these things…”
Previous chapter tells us Jacob lived in Egypt for seventeen years, so approximately that amount of time has passed.

1  “…your father is sick…”
Not just a passing illness, but an indication that Jacob’s time of departure was drawing near.

2  “…Israel strengthened himself and sat up on the bed”
In the years I’ve visited seniors, I’ve encountered those moments of grace that God grants.  People would be at death’s door, but then would miraculously gain strength to continue on for some time, sometimes a few days sometimes a year or more.  Time to resolve things that have been left undone.

4  “…I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession”
Statement of the promise.  Passing on to the next generation.  And another specific mention of the reception of the land of Canaan as an everlasting possession.  Something people today need to understand, and some who know try to deny.

5-6  “…your two sons…are mine; as Reuben and Simeon, they shall be mine…your offspring…after them…will be called by the name of their brothers…”
It was Jacob’s wish to grant a double portion of inheritance to Joseph, so he adopted Joseph’s first two sons as his own.  Joseph’s inheritance as one of the tribes of Israel was given to his first two sons so we have the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh instead of the tribe of Joseph, although they are combined as the tribe of Joseph.  Other sons of Joseph would be known as members of either the tribe of Ephraim or Manasseh.  I’m assuming that would be their choice as they could choose with which brother’s descendants they decided to live and multiply.  Unknown, but perhaps that’s why Manasseh’s tribe became so large.

7  “…Rachel died beside me…”
Was wondering why Jacob brought up Rachel at this point.  Thought it may be that he was saying he wanted to give Joseph a double portion since Rachel died before being able to have more children.  Commentaries agree.  They also think Jacob is here giving the birthright to Joseph as opposed to Reuben.  Certainly because of Reuben’s sin earlier of sleeping with one of Jacob’s wives, but also since Jacob may have considered Rachel his first wife, and thus Joseph would be the firstborn.  Reasoning of Jacob’s intent is sound although speculative.  Wasn’t sure of the birthright issue, but his blessing on Joseph’s sons does sound much like that of a birthright blessing, so that may be the case.  However, if we say that the tribe through whom the Messiah came, which would be fulfillment of the promise, is to be considered the one given the birthright, then God chose Judah over all the others.  Interesting that in his blessing to all his sons, Jacob will mention this, yet it appears he is giving his birthright blessing to Joseph through Joseph’s sons.

11  “…I had not thought to see your face; but in fact, God has also shown me your offspring!”
Statement of joy and acknowledgement of God’s great blessing.  Even when he thought Joseph dead, God was working to ensure he would see his grandchildren.

12  “…Joseph brought them from beside his knees…”
A little confusing.  Describing the movements and intentions of the moment.  Jacob has been hugging his two grandsons.  Joseph now pulls both boys back from Jacob and puts them down before him so that he might bless them, the oldest first.  But Jacob will do something different.

Topics16  “…Let my name be named upon them, And the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac…”
Sounds like a birthright blessing to me.

19  “…truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations”
Jacob was acting and speaking prophetically.  Not sure of the whole significance.  Commentary suggests it was fulfilled in that Ephraim was given a central location in the land, Joshua would come from that tribe so it was given prominence by the others in leadership, and that even after Joshua’s death, the other tribes tended to look toward Ephraim for guidance.  May be other aspects of which we’re not aware.

20  “…May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!…”
Another statement which sounds like part of a birthright blessing.

21  “…God will be with you and bring you back to the land of your fathers”
Probably more than just a statement of hope.  Also a reminder that they are sojourners in the land of Egypt.  Their home is really in the land of Canaan.  He may have given this reminder to Joseph and his sons specifically since they had certainly acquired a life for themselves among the Egyptians.  Would have been very easy to forget their God given heritage and stay in Egypt.  Fortunately, Joseph never forgot, and he passed the message on to his children.

22  “…I have given to you one portion above your brothers…”
Not sure why Jacob mentions this other than just telling Joseph of it and specifying its location.  Will be mentioned in the gospels when Jesus stopped at the well in Samaria.  Commentaries suggest it is due to the fact that Jacob purchased the land himself from the sons of Hamor in Genesis 33, so he may have looked at it as being more his than other sections of the land of Canaan, and thus wanted to pass it on to Joseph.  The tale of Jacob fighting to retrieve it from the Amorites isn’t mentioned in scripture, but obviously took place.  Joseph’s bones will be buried there when the people return to Canaan.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word. May it accomplish what He desires. Please feel free to comment or post questions. Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 47 – 20170105

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Bible Study Notes

Genesis 47:1  “…Joseph went and told Pharaoh…”
Introduction of his family to Pharaoh.  Wonder what all was going through Joseph’s mind.  His actions seem to show that he understood that his family was not to assimilate in Egypt, but stay separate.

4  “…We have come to dwell in the land…the famine is severe in the land of Canaan…”
Not come and stay or move to Egypt, but dwell in the land since the famine is great in Canaan.  Gives the impression that once there is no longer a famine, they will return to Canaan.

6  “…make them chief herdsmen over my livestock”
Pharaoh had good fortune because of Joseph.  Couldn’t hurt to have more like him if they are available.

10  “…Jacob blessed Pharaoh…”
Wonder what influence Jacob had on Pharaoh.

14  “…Joseph gathered up all the money…”
Greatly increased the riches of Egypt due to the famine.  All of Egypt and Canaan were now under Egypt’s influence, and no telling how far stretched it was.  But it didn’t really matter how great Egypt got.  When God was finished with them, He broke them.  Kingdoms rise and fall only at His will.

22  “…priests had rations allotted to them by Pharaoh…”
Egypt’s priests were supported by the Pharaoh already.

26  “…Joseph made it a law over the land of Egypt…”
Seems like a socialist takeover, but it provided for the people to maintain themselves, not be completely dependent on the government.  The people and their government could have coexisted properly under the arrangement.

30  “…carry me out of Egypt and bury me in their burial place…”
Part of the plan to return to Canaan.  Joseph would have a similar request of his descendants.  The idea has been to one day return to the land of promise.

I hope you enjoy reading and studying His word.  May it accomplish what He desires.  Please feel free to comment or post questions.  Thanks for reading!

Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 46 – 20170104

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 46:1  “…came to Beersheba, and offered sacrifices…” Stop along the way to worship.  He took time for God, and God used the time to share with him.

4  “I will go down with you to Egypt…” Can we fear to go anywhere on this planet knowing that God is with . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 46 – 20170104

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 45 – 20170101

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 45:1  “…could not restrain himself before all those who stood by him…” Most likely an understatement.  I’m sure he had trouble keeping his emotions in check the whole time.  They’re not mentioned until here, but there must have been attendants with him, other Egyptians.  He apparently didn’t want to lose . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 45 – 20170101

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 44 – 20161229

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 44:1  “…put each man’s money in the mouth of his sack” Not sure why he did this again since his steward has already told his brothers that he returned their money earlier.  Commentary suggests returning the money the first time was to show kindness to Jacob.  The second time was . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 44 – 20161229

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 43 – 20161227

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 43:2  “…when they had eaten up the grain…” Once they consumed what they had, the urgency returned.  Jacob will be confronted with the decision he didn’t want to consider.

9  “I myself will be surety for him…” Judah actually shows some character.  Somewhat prophetic for him to be the guarantee . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 43 – 20161227

Bible Study Notes on Genesis 42 – 20161225

Bible Study Notes

Genesis 42:1-2  “…Why do you look at one another…go down…and buy for us…” The famine which Jacob saw in Pharaoh’s dreams has spread to other lands besides Egypt.  Jacob and his family are beginning to suffer.  Must have gotten down and depressed.  Sounds like Jacob’s saying what are you doing just . . . → Read More: Bible Study Notes on Genesis 42 – 20161225