Bible Questions Answered in Ephesians

The book of Ephesians in a question and answer format  in the same way as Questions Answered in Galatians and Questions Answered in Philippians. The first three chapters cover doctrine and the latter three cover life application.

  • What we were like before Christ [came]? We were by nature children of wrath, dead in our trespasses and sins following the prince of the power of the air living in the passions of our flesh and carrying out the desires of the body and mind. We were separated from Christ, alienated from Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise and had no hope without God. (Ephesians 2:1-3, 11-12)
  • What is our life like in Christ? In Jesus we are made alive, brought near by the blood of Christ, raised up and seated in heavenly places, sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, His dwelling place, blessed with every spiritual blessing, created for good works, holy and blameless before Him, redeemed through His blood, reconciled through the cross, forgiven of our trespasses and citizens and members of the household of God to access Him through the Spirit and to obtain an inheritance from Him (Ephesians 1:3-14, 2:4-22)
  • What does Paul pray for? He gives thanks for the church and asks that it would have wisdom and the knowledge of God to know the hope that He has called them to. He prays that God would strengthen them in the power of His Spirit, that Christ would dwell in their hearts through faith, that they would comprehend the love of God and be filled with all of the fullness of Him. (Ephesians 1:15-23, 3:14-21)
  • What mystery does Paul reveal? The mystery hidden for ages and revealed to the apostles by the Spirit is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs of God’s kingdom with the Jews (Ephesians 3:1-9)
  • What is the church’s role? The church is to make known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places the wisdom of God realized in Jesus. It is to build itself up by speaking the truth in love and by growing into Jesus as the head (Ephesians 3:10-13, 4:15-16)
  • What offices did God give to the church? God gave apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers (Ephesians 4:11)
  •  Why did He provide these offices? He gave them to equip the saints for the work of ministry and build up the body to maturity, so that it won’t be deceived (Ephesians 4:12-14)
  • How should we live our life? We are to live our life in a manner worthy of God’s calling by putting off our old self and replacing it with the new self through a renewed mind to walk in the light as imitators of God. We should try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord, walk in love, not be foolish, not get drunk with wine, not be angry and do not sin. We must make the best use of our time, speak truth with our neighbors, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, address one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs and submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 4:2-3, 22-27; 5:1-2, 8b-10, 15-21; 6:18b)
  • How should we not live? We are not to be like or partner with non-Christians, who are futile in mind, darkened in understanding, alienated from God, callous, sensual and greedy. We must not steal, speak corruptly or foolishly, be bitter, wrathful, angry, clamorous, slandering, malicious, sexually immoral, impure or covetous (Ephesians 4:17-21, 4:28-31; 5:3-8a, 11-14a)
  • What will happen to those who disobey God? His wrath will come upon them (Ephesians 5:6)
  • How do we protect ourselves from the devil? We must be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might by putting on the whole armor of God including the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, Gospel of peace, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit and praying at all times in the Spirit (Ephesians 6:10-18a)
  • How should we relate to other Christians? We should be kind, tenderhearted, forgiving and speak the truth in love to each other (Ephesians 4:15-16, 25-27, 32)
  • How should we treat our spouse? Wives should respect their husbands and submit to them in everything as to the Lord. Likewise, husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:22-33)
  • How should we relate to our children? We shouldn’t provoke them to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesian 6:4)
  • How should children relate to parents? They should obey their parents in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-3)
  • How should we relate to employers/employees? Workers should serve their employers from a sincere heart as they would the Lord knowing that He will reward their work. Employers should not threaten workers knowing that have a heavenly Master who will judge how they treated their workers. (Ephesians 6:5-9)
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Bible Questions Answered in Galatians

The book of Galatians in a question and answer format.  The key them is the nature of the law and justification by faith.

  • What should be our response to those preaching a different gospel? They should be rebuked harshly (Galatians 1:6-9)
  • Whom should we please? We should seek to please God rather than man (Galatians 1:10-11)
  • How did Paul learn the Gospel? He learned it directly through a revelation of Jesus (Galatians 1:12-23)
  • What is the law? The law is a guardian or prison until Christ came to reveal justification by faith. It is a curse for those who try to keep it (Galatians 3:10, 22-23)
  • Why was the law given? It was a temporary provision or guardian given because of our sins until the promised offspring of Abraham (Jesus) would come and be revealed to those who were to believe in Him. It cannot give life (Galatians 3:19-22)
  • Are we required to keep the law? No, righteousness is not through works of the law. We have died to the law and are no longer under it as a guardian. (Galatians 2:3-4, 11-21; 3:24-25; 5:18)
  • Should we return to the law? No, it is weak and worthless to us for we are no longer slaves to it but free (Galatians 4:9-10, 21-31; 5:1-6)
  • What happens to those who rely on works of the law? They are under a curse (Galatians 3:10)
  • What is a summary of the law? You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Galatians 5:14)
  • Why are we given freedom from the law? To serve one another through love (Galatians 5:13)
  • How are we justified before God? In the same way Abraham was, by believing God to be counted as righteous. Not by works of the law, but by faith in Jesus. This is true of the Jews and Gentiles (Galatians 2:16-21; 3:6-9, 11-18)
  • What are we in Christ? Sons of God, Abraham’s promised children, through faith (Galatians 3:6-9, 26
  • How did Jesus redeem us? By becoming a curse for us by hanging on a tree (Galatians 3:13)
  • What was the covenant with Abraham? It was one of promise and not law because the promise preceded the law and the law did not annul it (Galatians 3:15-18)
  • What does it mean to follow Jesus? I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20)
  • Who were Peter and Paul’s missions to? Paul’s mission was to the Gentiles and Peter’s to the Jews (Galatians 2:7-10)
  • How will the Spirit accomplish His work in us? By faith rather than through the law or flesh (Galatians 3:1-6)
  • Who are the sons of Abraham? Those of faith just like Abraham the man of faith (Galatians 3:7-9, 29)
  • How many gods are there? There is one God (Galatians 3:20)
  • What is our relationship to God? In Jesus, we are adopted children of God through faith and heirs (Galatians 3:26-29, 4:4-7)
  • What is our relationship to other Christians? We are no in Christ regardless of background (Galatians 3:28)
  • Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to redeem those under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Galatians 4:4-5)
  • Why has God sent His Spirit? Because we are His (adopted) children (that we might be like Him) (Galatians 4:6-7)
  • What we were like before Christ [came]? We were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world and to those that are not gods (Galatians 4:1-3, 8)
  • What is the relationship of Spirit and flesh? They are against and opposed to each other (Galatians 5:16-26)
  • What are the works of the flesh? Sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these (Galatians 5:19-21)
  • What is the fruit of the spirit? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Galatians 5:22; 6:7-9)
  • Who should we do good to? Everyone, but especially to other Christians (Galatians 6:10)
  • What should happen to someone caught in sin? Their burdens should be borne by others that they might be restored in gentleness (Galatians 6:1-5)
  • How should we relate to sin? By keeping watch on ourselves, so that we are not tempted (Galatians 6:1b)
  • What is the law of Christ? Bearing each others burdens (Galatians 6:2)
  • What should those taught relate to the teachers? We should share what we have with them (Galatians 6:6)
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Bible Questions Answered in Philippians

  • Here’s the book of Philippians turned into a catechistic question and answer format:Philippians wordle What should be our attitude during imprisonment or persecution?  We should be confident in the Lord and bold to speak the word without fear knowing that to live is Christ and to die is gain (Philippians 1:12-14, 1:18b-26)
  • How should we live to be worthy of Christ?  We should stand firm in one spirit with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, and not frightened in anything by our opponents, but being willing to suffer for Jesus sake (Philippians 1:27-30)
  • How should we relate to one another in the church? We should be in the same mind and same love in full accord and doing nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than ourselves. Let each of us look not only to our own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:1-4)
  • How does Christ provide us an example in how to relate to each other? Jesus didn’t count equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but made Himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death (Philippians 2:5-8)
  • How will Jesus be honored by all? He has the name above all names, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11)
  • How should we work out our salvation? Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us (Philippians 2:12-13)
  • How should we relate to the world? We work with each other without grumbling or questioning that we may be blameless and innocent and shine as a light in the world (Philippians 2:14-15)
  • How is Timothy an example for us in ministry? He genuinely was concerned for the welfare of the church and the interests of Jesus rather than His own (Philippians 2:19-22)
  • What should we not rely on to save us? We should not put any confidence in our flesh (Philippians 3:2-6)
  • What will save us and is the resulting focus of life? The righteousness from God the comes through faith in Christ saves us, so that we may know Him and the power of His resurrection, share in His sufferings and attain resurrection for ourselves.  We should be willing to suffer loss of all things for His sake  (Philippians 3:7-11)
  • What is our goal and its result? Our goal is the prize of the upward call of God in Jesus, who will transform our lowly body to be like His glorious body (Philippians 3:12-16)
  • Who should we model our Christian life after? Paul and others who walk according to the example of the disciples while watching out for enemies of the cross whose minds are set on earthly things (Philippians 3:17-19)
  • Where is our citizenship and what will we be like when we get there? Our citizenship is in heaven where we will receive glorious bodies like Jesus’ (Philippians 3:20-21)
  • What should our attitude in life be and what will be the result? We should always be rejoicing in the Lord and not anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let our requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:4-7)
  • What should we meditate on and think about? We should meditate on what is true, honorable, just, pure, love, commendable, excellent or worthy of praise (Philippians 4:8-9)
  • How should we act in times of plenty and want? We should be content in any and every circumstance. (Philippians 4:10-13)
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Children’s Sermon Notes Outline

Transitioning children from their Sunday School class to the adult service and sermon is challenging.  Depending on the church size and format, this can happen anywhere between 4th grade and 8th grade.  There aren’t many resources that help children, youth or high school students make the move to the sophistication of a sermon targeted to adults.  The page below is an attempt to create a youth sermon worksheet.  It’s targeted for older middle schoolers or high schoolers, but can be simplified by removing some of the questions for a younger audience.

Children's sermon worksheetThe worksheet covers singing, praying and preaching the word of God as elements of the service.  It assumes that you’ve taught some basic concepts of interpretation such as understanding the context and identifying the genre of a book, but that could be changed as well.  The sermon is applied using the know, be, do structure for knowing God, becoming like Him and following Him.

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Good Friday Resources about the Crucifixion

Here are some resources about the crucifixion, atonement and meaning of the cross as you reflect on Good Friday:

Classic sermons

Articles

Books

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Metzger’s Causes of Error in the Transmission of the New Testament Text

We are blessed with thousands of New Testament manuscripts (over 5,000 fragments) due to the work of many scribes copying the Scriptures throughout the centuries.  This blessing also poses a challenge because many of these writers made changes to the Biblical texts.  The variances or errors introduced deviate from the autographs, and generally only cause minor changes to the meaning, but can be unwound by scholars to reveal with a high probability what the original texts said.

Consider a situation where you receive an important handwritten letter (considered the original autograph) and want many others to be able to read it.  Before the printing press, you’d have had to copy it manually (creating a first generation copy) and maybe have your friends copy it as well to speed the distribution.  As the letter was rewritten, one person may misread a word and write it down incorrectly, another might try to help out by attempting to fix what she thought was an error in the letter and another friend might forget a word because of being interrupted while writing.  Over time, other people my decide to rewrite the letter as well (creating a second generation) and introduce further errors because of misreading handwriting or due to an attempt to clarify a word so that their readers would better understand the letter based on their customs.  Transmitting the letter in this way could go on for many, many generations and introduce hundreds of variances in the letter based on who scribed it and the source document the scribe worked from.  As a result, there become many similar, yet not exact versions of the original letter with much of the meaning continuing, but containing differences in some words or sentences from one version to another.

The science (and art) of unwinding the differences and tracing them back to the original text is called textual criticism.  Textual criticism is helpful to understand variances, but is controversial  as well because many of its practitioners remove large sections of Scripture.  Bruce Metzger was one of the leading (conservative) scholars of New Testament texts and created a list of the types of error that crept into the Scripture that is helpful in understanding how and why the changes introduced over time:

  • Unintentional changes
    • Errors from faulty eye sight – confusion of similar letters (think c and o or m and n in English) resulting in different words or skipping lines that look similar in the text
    • Errors from faulty hearing – the text was sometimes read so it could be copied by multiple scribes; if two different words were pronounced the same they could be mixed up (think red and read or there and their)
    • Errors of the mind
      • Substitution of synonyms
      • Variations in the sequence in words
      • Transposition of letters within a word
      • Usage of the wording of one passage based on a similar passage (think of the synoptic Gospels that tell similar stories slightly differently)
    • Errors of judgment – explanatory notes in the margins of texts incorporated into the text itself
  • Intentional changes – this includes correcting what was thought to be an error or attempting to alter the text to make a doctrine more clear or explicit
    • Changes involving spelling or grammar
    • Harmonistic corruptions – intentionally ‘fixing’ the text to make it align with a similar passage (e.g., Lord’s prayer) or Old Testament reference (to make it better conform to the original text)
    • Addition of natural complements and similar adjuncts – examples would include adding “and Pharisees” to a passage the referenced scribes only or ‘enhancing’ Jesus by including “Lord” before His name when only only his name was mentioned in the text
    • Clearing up historical and geographic difficulties – editing what were thought to be mistakes such as how a place was described or which prophet a quotation was attributed to (Zechariah rather than Isaiah)
    • Conflation of readings – merging of two variant readings together when there were differences in manuscripts such as when one manuscript referenced “God” and another referenced “Lord” in the same passage the words were merged to read “Lord and God” rather than selecting one or the other
    • Alterations made because of doctrinal considerations – removal of problematic passages or changes to phrases to support a desired doctrine
    • Addition of miscellaneous details – examples include naming the criminals crucified with Jesus, adding to Jesus genealogy and providing apocryphal details about Jesus baptism

Source: The Text of the New Testament – Chapter 7

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Qualifications and Role of Deacon

In 1 Timothy, 3:8-13, Paul follow-up his teaching to Timothy about qualification for elders with an explanation of the qualifications for deacon.  Paul writes:

Deacons likewise must be dignified, not double-tongued, not addicted to much wine, not greedy for dishonest gain.  They must hold the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And let them also be tested first; then let them serve as deacons if they prove themselves blameless. Their wives likewise must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, faithful in all things. Let deacons each be the husband of one wife, managing their children and their own households well. For those who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The characteristics Paul lists should sound familiar because they’re very similar to those that he listed for elders:

  • Respectable = Dignified
  • Not a drunkard = not addicted to wine
  • Not a lover of money = not greedy
  • Husband of one wife = husband of one wife
  • Manage household = manage household
  • Manage children = manage children
  • Not a new convert = tested first

Characteristics of Elders and DeaconsDeacons Office Compared to Elders

The two positions have similar character qualities of managing themselves well, maintaining good relationships and maturity.  The only significant differences are the requirements to be in control over mind/body and not be violent/quarrelsome are mentioned for elders, but not for deacons.  However, someone who fell short in these areas would not be put in a deacon role, so the real differences are the elder requirements of hospitality and the ability to teach.  In essence, deacons should be held to the same character standards as elders.

Beyond these 1 Timothy verses about character qualities, nothing else in the New Testament explains the role of deacons or how they should function.  The office of deacon is referenced in Philippians 1:1 when Paul addresses the letter to both elders and deacons, but that’s the only other mention of the office.   Titus 1 helps to clarify the nature of an elder’s teaching responsibility from 1 Timothy 3, but for deacons we don’t have the luxury of finding a clearly passage to allow Scripture interpret Scripture.

How should the position be understood with such limited information?  For one thing, care should be taken to not be dogmatic about the role.   No one can go beyond what Paul is telling us here with any definitive conclusion.  Without the clarity of other texts, the next best option is to look deeper at the nature of the word used for deacon to understand what it describes in other contexts.

The root word for deacon is sprinkled throughout the New Testament.  When the word is used elsewhere, it’s frequently translated as servants and sometimes ministers.  For example, the passage from Matthew (20:26) where Jesus says “the greatest among you shall be your servant” is from the same root word as deacon.

The idea of service, in Greek as diakonous, provides the best direction about the role of deacons.   Jesus tells his disciples to be great servants and there is also verse upon verse where service is highlighted:

  • What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each (1 Corinthians 3:5)
  • For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Corinthians 4:5)
  • Through love serve one another (Galatians 5:13)

In essence, the deacon (or deaconess) is the model servant among all servants.  He or she removes the administrative weight from the elders, so that they are freed up to teach.

Based on the limited information about deacons, Paul is purely focused on the character qualities and his or her willingness to serve rather than a specific expertise in children’s ministry, financial management or another responsibility of the church.  While it would be imprudent to allow someone incompetent in any area, given the choice between an expert in finance with questionable character and someone with basic skills and good character, you should choose the later.

With the limits of the text, it is also clear what a deacon is not.  Paul does not say that the role is a precursor or step to becoming an elder.  The character requirements are very similar with the most significant difference being the ability to teach.  John Owen argues that far from being a “stepping-stone” to the eldership, diaconal responsibilities actually hinder one from being in a position to move to an elder role.  He says that deacons responsibilities, “lies wholly in the providing and disposal of earthly things, in a serving of tables of the church, and those private, of the poor; but preparation for the ministry consists in a man’s giving himself unto study, prayer, and meditation.” (Beeke, A Puritan Theology – Location 24,432)

To reiterate the difference in church offices, an elder is a model for us with specific gifts of communicating the faith while a deacon is a model of service that everyone should seek to emulate.  Everyone is called to serve, so there’s no reason everyone cannot aspire to serve as a deacon.

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