My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Friday, November 30, 2007

Colossians 2

Screw Christmas

Summary:
I try so hard so that you benefit from the gospel's fullness and don't get sucked away by cunning words. Don't base your life on tradition or on worldly rules but on Jesus. You're buried with him, and brought alive with him. He has circumcised your insides. He is the fullness of God. God saved you when you were still sinning, and got rid of written regulations. He made a public spectacle of it on the cross.

So don't let people stress you out about what you eat, and religious festivals and whatnot. Those things are just shadows of the reality that comes from Jesus. People who try to vex you about these things are disconnected from Jesus.

Human rules have echoes of wisdom and purpose, but ultimately they fall down compared to how the world looks through Jesus-coloured lenses.

Key verse:
8. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.

My thoughts:
This again repeats the notion of full divineness being in Jesus. Super.

So often religion is simply a collective build-up of tradition that people feel part of because they were brought up in it. It's good and right to do because it's what has always been done.

Our faith in Jesus cannot be like that. We absolutely must take captive every thought, action, and belief and make it obedient to Christ, not to tradition. We should not defend parts of our faith which actually are just tradition. We should not pretend that Christianity as tradition is a valid expression of faith.

I believe that if we really stripped down our faith from what seems to be the Christian thing to do (built up from our knowledge of what Christianity has previously been), and made it simply what followed from Christ, then our faith would look vastly different.

Like Christmas, for example. Screw Christmas. Santa, if you move one letter is Satan and Grinch, if you move three letters then change two is Christ.

Anyway, I must get off to our staff Christmas party. Good times! Woo!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Colossians 1

Seeing the invisible

Summary:
Yo Colossian brothers,

I've heard lotsa good things about your love and faith. You've taken hold of the gospel which is budding all over the world. So I always pray for you, so that you'll live a worthy life and always be strengthened, knowing that God qualified you to share in the great inheritance through his Son.

Oh Jesus... he's tops. He's the creator of all, and all creation is made for him. He is the beginning, and the first one resurrected, so that we'd know that he's #1. God was stoked to completely live in him and to save the world through him. You were once enemies of God because of your sin, but now you have no blemishes.

I'm all about building the church and bringing more before God without blemish.

Key verse:
15. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

My thoughts:
Jehovah's Witnesses go along their usual line with this, which basically is "Jesus is almost almost almost almost God, but not quite, so this language is appropriate even though he's not God". I reckon if it looks like a God, if it smells like a God, if it feels like God, then it's probably not a duck.

If we taken Jesus' divinity as a given, then this says something cool still. Jesus is the image of the invisible God. We cannot see God. He is invisible. But we can see Jesus. Jesus is his image. By looking at him we see God. He is God's personal and visible revelation.

He's also the agent of creation which is pretty choice.

I don't know much about colossians other than that it contains this passage in verses 15-20. I don't know it's point or background. Maybe I should go read my NIV study notes... I think I left them in Dunedin though. Meh, I'll just ask the internet. The internet knows all.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Philippians 4

Thinking happy thoughts make you fly!

Summary:
Euodia and Syntyche - get on with each other! Everyone else help them and all my other workers. Always be happy in God. God is close, so don't get stressed, but just give everything to God and peace will follow. Think good throughts and do what I say.

Thanks for showing your concern for me. I mean, I'm fine. I've learnt to be fine no matter how hard it gets! But it's still appreciated. I love your generosity! You were the only church who gave me gifts from the beginning.

God Bless. Everyone says hi, including those working for the Emperor.

Key verses:
8. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
13. I can do everything through him who gives me strength.

My thoughts:
Often verse 13 is used to say that we can do anything. We can freaken' fly if we want! We can create spaceships with the click of a finger. We can do EVERYTHING through him who gives me strength. BOO-YAH!

Of course, Paul here is actually referring to the that he can be content in the worst of situations. God helps him cope no matter how crap things turn. There's a bit of a different emphasis there...

I was listening to Richard Dawkins and Alister McGrath have a verbal battle royale the other night instead of sleeping, and they both agreed that you can tell when a society is getting evil when they start trying to, in big ways or small ways, police your thoughts. Thoughts should be ultimately free! So is Paul being a though police in verse 8? No, because there's a big difference between someone forcing you to think in a way, with some sort of deception or punishment if you fail, and encouraging each other to think in a way we think is good. It's up to them whether they take us up on it. If we take them up, it becomes our own choice, not their policing. Think happy thoughts. DO IT! DO IT NOW!!!!

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Philippians 3

God's swears

Summary:
Don't base anything on your body or background. Neither circumcision nor heritage nor education count. We live by the Spirit, not by our qualifications. All our qualifications are crap compared to knowing Jesus. My righteousness comes from faith. I want to share in who Jesus is so I can somehow sneak into his share of resurrection. Yus!

Don't think I've figured it all out! I haven't. I just push forward to win as hard as possible without looking back. Follow my example. Many are against us, focussed only on earth, but we come from heaven awaiting Jesus' return.

Key verse:
8. I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ

My thoughts:
So the word for rubbish is probably better translated as crap. Or Scheisse. I get a sense that it is slightly less 'offensive' than the word shit, but it is still a somewhat crass word for poos. Good times.

Paul's making an important point that everything that we might think we could be proud about is actually pathetic and weakening compared to what Jesus gives us. It is loss to us, because it tempts us to depend on it, rather than on Jesus

Pushing forward is cool, but not looking back is cooler. Don't let your past define your future!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Philippians 2

Kenotic theory

Summary:
If you're united with Jesus, then make sure you're united with each other too! Be humble like Christ. He had all the qualifications to claim divinity, but chose to humble himself instead. He became a slave and even died, and that's why God lifted him up, so that everyone will one day confess that he is Lord of all.

So be blameless in this generation, so you are like diamonds in the rough.

I'm sending Tim to you. He has a truly selfless heart for you. He's all quality. You're also getting Epaphroditus back, who you sent to help me. It's true he almost died, but he's okay now and is going back to you so you don't worry about him.

Key verses:
6. being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped
10-11. 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.

My thoughts:
So verses 5-11 are very famous for their high Christology, because they claim that Jesus is God in his very nature. There is so much that could be said about Jesus from this small passage. View range from this passage being of little consequence, to it being the proof that Jesus represents the fullness of God. It also says a lot about God's humility, and his willingness to empty himself/lower himself for the sake of his people/future glorification. Kenosis or kenotic theology refers to this concept of self-emptying.

I like the idea of every knee bowing and tongue confessing that Jesus is Lord. It just reminds me that no matter how desperate and hopeless things seem, God wins in the end. Yay him.

In the midst of all this Christology, don't forget that Paul's point is for us to be humble and blameless despite our society.

Timothy is pretty much the first known second generation Christian. He was one of the first people to grow up in a Christian family. The Christians are breeding... multiplying...

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Philippians 1

The life and death of Paul

Summary:
I know God won't ditch you before his plan is finished. I pray simply that you love more, so you can know the right things to do.

The fact that I'm now imprisoned helps the Gospel. Everyone know why I'm here, and Christians are getting bolder. Some people are preaching to get me sympathy, others to get me trouble. Oh well, I'm just stoked that people are preaching about Christ.

The Spirit helps me. It doesn't matter whether I live or die. If I live, I live for Jesus, if I die, I will see him.

Live the way you should and be unified. This will be the sign that you are destined for salvation, not destruction.

Key verse:
21. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

My thoughts:
What a cool verse. We need to be so absolutely content with where God has put us that neither death nor life is of particular consequence. We're just doing God's plan. God wins in the end, and our lives and deaths are part of it!

I use verse 15 to show that though people should have good motivation, it's more important that they preach the Gospel then make sure they have made themselves somehow worthy to do it. I'll all for good motives, but too many people use inadequacy as an 'excuse' not to preach. No-one is adequate.

Verse 6 is also famous, but it's really just specific for the Philippi church, so I wouldn't instantly say that it's true for all Christians. I was thinking about this today. What about the seed that falls on the rocky ground? It sprouts but dies shortly after because there is no foundation. The plant is a growth of a person. Did God completely what he started there? Or was God faithful and working, but the person wasn't up to it? This could become a Augustinians/Pelagian issue.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Ephesians 6

God's sweet armour

Summary:
Kids, do what your parents say. Slaves, serve your masters like you would God. Masters be good to your slaves.

Stand strong and fight against the spiritual, not physical, enemies we have. Protect yourself with righteousness, readiness, truth, faith, salvation, and the Spirit.

Pray for me too.

Key verse:
12. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

My thoughts:
As Christians we need to be very clear that no human is our enemy, only the spiritual forces behind them. There is no justification for a Christian killing someone. The armour of God is a sweet thing to pray over yourself regularly.

Paul does not promote rebellion again slavemasters. Though I'm sure he's all for freedom of people, it's not a battle worth fighting for him. In fact, the right thing for someone in that situation to do is to serve those who are oppressing them. Maybe this sheds some light on the wife husband situation. Maybe it's not so much of support of a subservient position for woman, but more a statement that when Jesus is your supreme authority, you are a servant to all, even those who oppress you. I dunno.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Ephesians 5

Jesus likes it when you post their deepest darkess secrets on the interwebs

Summary:
Try and be like God and Jesus. They smell good. Don't be dirty like the world. You've left the dark and entered the light. Live like light is what made you. Don't do dark things, but expose them, because they will be exposed in Jesus' light one day.

Make the most of your opportunities. Don't get drunk, but be filled with the Spirit.

Submit to each other. Wives to husband, just like the church does to Jesus. Husbands should love their wife like Jesus does his church. Make her so holy and treat her like your own body. Remember: the two become one. Jesus and the church are like husband and wife.

Key verse:
22. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

My thoughts:
Clearly the point of this whole passage... nay, chapter... nay, letter... nay, the whole Bible is that women should do everything that their husband asks and should do all work required to make the life of their husband better and easier.

It's just obvious.

Oh, but seriously folks, if you read this whole passage and recognise that submission may have a slightly different meaning in the Greek than what it means in your head (see the last verse), then you should have no problem with this. It is a solid Christian understanding of the relationship between a husband and a wife. Just realise that the relationship between Jesus and the church is the same. I've always known this, but have struggled to point to Bible passages in the past. And here it is!

I like the quote about Jesus shining on the risen sleeper. It's cool because it's an early (semi-) extra-Biblical Christian saying speaking of the Christ's role after the resurrection. It's also kinda creepy sounding. Someone should write a song with those words.

Admittedly, this could be just a general Messianic saying, not specifically related to Jesus of Nazareth.

So yea... exposing deeds... that sounds fun... Mum said the f-word once. That's my sin exposing for the day done!

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Ephesians 4

Unified new creations

Summary:
Life worthy of your calling. Be at peace with each other, humble and unified. There is one Spirit, one Lord, one faith, and one baptism, and one God. Jesus has given us different gifts as he wishes. Some are apostles, some are teachers and so on. Instead of being immature still, we will grow up as the body, with all our parts, into the head which is Jesus.

Don't be like the hedonist world, always wanting more. That's not how you found Jesus. You were taught to get rid of the old, and embrace the new. Don't lie, and don't let anger take hold. Don't be bitter or talk smut, but rather be forgiving and say only uplifting things.

Key verses:
4-6. There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.

My thoughts:
This is, at least partially, a bunch of my issue around getting baptised as an adult. My problem isn't with people who get baptised for the first time as an adult, but those who have been baptised/christened as children getting baptised as adults. There is one baptism, not two or three or four. One baptism. Though, of course, those (filshy) anabaptists would say that the first one wasn't a 'real' one. I think more divisions need to be made in the church due to this disagreement.

So there's some pretty sweet stuff on the different roles God might have for us here. Pretty famous passage for modern Christians. Paul's overall point here is that despite our different roles, we are all unified.

The concept of living as life worthy of the calling is a cool one, and I think it's the correct was to express why we should live a Godly life. We are saved by grace. We are called before we are worthy, but we then choose to live a like worthy of the calling after we have been called as a response to the awesome cool. It's good stuff... We need to be a new creation. We need to live like God's new creations. That affects so much of us. The anger part is a cool one. It isn't a sin in and of itself, and it's a stepping stone. Same with the talking smut. It can become so normal and so unshocking, but as Christians I do believe that we need to be clean and uplifting in our speech. Some Christians claim that they are just relating to non-believers when they talk dirt, but I think non-Christians are actually a bit disappointed in us when we do. They expect something different. This chapter contains some pretty cool advice.

In all of this is the assumption that those who weren't Gentiles aren't Gentile Christians, they aren't even Gentiles anymore! I want to go to Israel and tell them that I belong to the nation of Israel. See what they do.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Ephesians 3

Paul's prayers

Summary:
I've already told you about how God revealed his mystery to me, how the Gentiles can share in Israel through Jesus. My mission to tell of this mystery was given to me by God. I certainly didn't meet any sort of standard to earn it. I'm here to make the mystery clear. My job is make the movers and shakers know God's revealed mystery. Don't worry about me and my imprisonment.

I pray and pray and pray that you'll know God's power, have Jesus in you, and know the full extent of his love. All glory to God!

Key verse:
17-18. I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ

My thoughts:
So now it becomes apparent that Paul is in some sort of hardship, most likely he is in prison. Yet this seems to be his most excited letter yet! Mind you there's quite a few to come, and from memory there is one that is probably written from his final, much harsher, imprisonment, and that one is pretty sobering. I should probably go find out what letter I'm referring to, but I'm too lazy.

Paul, it appears, is quite the intercessor. Prison is an opportunity for him to pray more.

Ephesians is cool.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Ephesians 2

Pete is excited about apostolic authority

Summary:
We were dead in our sin, like everyone else. We've all been that. But then by grace God made us alive through Jesus. We have places in heaven, by grace alone, not by works. Gentiles used to have no hope, but now you've been brought close to God.

In his death Jesus turns us both - Jews and Palestinians - into one people. There are no more barriers. We are fellow citizens, built on the apostles and prophets, but most of all on Jesus. By him we are become the home of God's Spirit.

Key verses:
19-20. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God's people and members of God's household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.

My thoughts:
My reference to Palestinians is, of course, obnoxious because they didn't exist at this time and certainly not in Ephesus. But yea... the point's the same. Peace between those who are divided.

Check this out! The Apostles are being put up there with the Prophets! By Prophets Paul is, of course, referring to the writings of the Old Testament Prophets. For the Apostles to be considered an equal foundation certainly implies that their writing are scripture along with the Prophets! This gets me excited because the New Testament doesn't really talk about itself much, and it's not directly doing so here, but it definitely helps form an argument!

Ephesians is quite an excited letter from Paul, from my first glance.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Ephesians 1

Bodilicious

Summary:
Thank God because he chose us and blessed us. He gave us Jesus, through whom we're forgiven. He's revealed the world's mysteries to us, which put all things in heaven and earth under Jesus. We were chosen to praise him. When you came to Jesus you were given the Spirit as a promise of your inheritance.

This is why I am so thankful for you. I keep wanting you to have more and more wisdom and revelation. I want you to know the inheritance you have! You have the same power that raised Jesus from death to complete authority over all and over the church his body.

Key verse:
22-23. God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body

My thoughts:
This occurs to me as Paul's zealous rant of excitement about what God's done. He's excited, and he's in the zone, and he is writing from his heart. It's actually a pretty good explanation of what God has done for us, and elates Jesus, and of course God, very highly. It is both very basic and very powerful at the same time.

So we're Christ's body. That's pretty cool.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Galatians 6

Mocking God

Summary:
Help the sinners amongst you, but be careful not to fall into their trap. Look after each other, but don't compare yourselves with one another. Be generous to those who teach you.

You get out what you put in. You can't take short cuts when God's involved. So invest in the Spirit.

Don't worry about appearance so you can boast. Boast about the crucifixion for you, not on the circumcision you may have. Be a new creation.

Ciao.

Key verses:
4. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else
7. Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.

My thoughts:
Verse 4 is pretty sweet. I think so many people would do so much better if they just lived by that principle! Don't compare yourself by others or by others standards. Test yourself based on yourself and God. So often we see people we consider to be super-Christians or super-people and we instantly attempt to determine our self-worth in comparison to them, but that is really really unhelpful and actually denies the unwarranted acceptance God has given us. Despite the acceptance, we are trying to prove ourself and it's wrong.

Verse 7 is a healthy reminder than in the midst of all the freedom and grace God gives, God's not there to be made as ass of or exploited. You can't just push yourself as close to the line of sin as possible and get upset when God doesn't catch you when you fall over the line. You reap what you sow.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Galatians 5

God wants fruity followers

Summary:
We weren't set free for slavery. If you get circumcised now, then Jesus didn't die for you. You have to follow the whole law. If Jesus died for you then faith matters, not law. You were doing so well, who stopped you? I am offensive because I deny the old law, or else I wouldn't be persecuted. Those who ask for circumcision might as well chop it all off. But you're free. Use it to love one another, not to sin.

Live by the Spirit, not the law, and you won't do sinful things which exclude you from God's Kingdom. Instead in you love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control will be grown. Everyone appreciates those.

Key verse:
22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

My thoughts:
I'll just clarify that Paul's first point is not that circumcision excludes you from God's grace but that if you feel you need to follow the regulations of the law for salvation, then you are saved by God's grace. You have completely missed the point.

Anywho, the fruit of the Spirit are pretty famous. They're just cool things. So often we get so caught up in Church and religious fervour that we don't stop to check whether these attritubes, which are universal, are growing in us. Your fruit shows you for who you are. If you have none of these fruit, then I'm sorry, but you're not living by the Spirit. Christians often get a bad press for a whole bunch of things which are not these fruit. If we truly live by the Spirit, then we have these universal characteristics and the world will envy our character, not hate it.

On the other hand, people will always find reasons to hate us, no matter what we do wrong or right.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Galatians 4

Child slavery

Summary:
Look, we've always been God's heirs, but when an heir is young, they might as well be a slave. They have no inheritance yet. Same with us, when we were young we were slaves under the law, but now is the time for us to become heirs. We call God Dad.

Now you know God! Why would you go back to slavery? You used to accept me with open arms. It's just confusing! They just want you to be passionate about them! Passion is fine provided that's it's appropriately directed. I just want to visit to figure you out.

Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. Ishmael was born of Hagar the slave, who is like the old way of earth. Isaac was born on Sarah, the wife, who is like the new way of heaven, born of the Spirit. Ishmael may persecute Isaac, but Ishmael has no inheritance. Don't go back to slavery.

Key verse:
7. So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

My thoughts:
This is one of the coolest ways I've seen to explain the relationship between the Old Testament and the New. God's people have always been sons, but when a son is young, he has no freedom. Now we have reached maturity we are given freedom. It's not inconsistency, it's development! Paul's point is consistent throughout Galatians. Don't feel you need to follow the law if you are a Christian.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Galatians 3

Promises are stronger than law

Summary:
Don't be silly. You know full well that you received the Spirit by faith. Stop going back to trying human effort. Remember Abraham was saved by faith.

The law curses us because we can't do it all, so Jesus became a curse by hanging on a tree so that we might be free.

God's inheritance was given to Abraham's seed singular. It was given to Jesus. That was a promise, and the law that came hundreds of years later didn't break that promise. The law, by creating transgressions, allowed that promise to be fulfilled, but once it had done so, we didn't have to follow the law anymore.

You, then, are God's children and the seed of Abraham with Jesus. God doesn't discriminate on gender, colour, or social status.

Key verse:
28. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

My thoughts:
It's a pretty sweet key verse. Societies like our love these parts of the Bible, and it is pretty cool. God doesn't discriminate against the things which you cannot change. It's verses like this which add weight to the view that the issues surrounding homosexuality cannot be grouped in the same basket as the issues surrounding women.

As for the rest of the passage, Paul is appealing to two things. He is appealing to the Galatian's personal experience of the Spirit. Often it's good to base faith on reality rather than what sounds good. Why should they change what was working?

Secondly he is doing his old trick of going to the Covenant that predates Moses, aligning it with Christianity, and thereby giving it more authority that Moses' Covenant.

Paul's view is this: The law is not made to make people righteous, because then it would be a massive failure and God doesn't fail. Dead comes from the law, but only so that life can come through Jesus.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Galatians 2

Foolish Peter

Summary:
Ages later I talked to those considered leaders in Jerusalem, and they didn't want me to change anything in my message. They agreed that I had been sent to the Gentiles, and only asked that I remember the poor, which I do.

I confronted Peter, in fact, because he was eating with Gentiles until James turned up, and he started eating only with Jews. We're not saved by acts, and I questioned Peter on making Gentiles follow Jewish customs. Jesus makes us alive whilst we are dead. It's not so much that Jesus supports death, but that in order for one to be made alive, one must first be dead! I am dead so that I can live.

Key verse:
20. I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

My thoughts:
Paul is seemingly dismissive of the Apostles. He just seems unfazed by it all. They are just the ones everyone considers the leaders. He is only telling of these encounters because the Galatians consider them leaders. Paul's message is from God and doesn't necessarily need the support of other leaders, but it does have that support and Paul shares this for the Galatians' benefit.

Paul shows this more by showing that he was teaching the Apostles, not the other way around.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Galatians 1

Other Gospels

Summary
From Paul, sent from Jesus.

Don't take other gospels than what I've said! They're crap! Those people are evil. I'm not trying to please people. My Gospel has nothing to do with what people have told me, I got it straight from. I got to know the other Apostles later. They haven't sent me. God himself has.

Key verse:
8. even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!

My thoughts:
So Paul came to the Galatians saying that they didn't have to follow Jewish law, and that their salvation doesn't come from following such laws. Evidentally, however, others have come saying that they have to follow Jewish law. This is the other gospel Paul is referring to. Paul's point is simple. He hasn't made this up. No mere human has. His Gospel is from God, so don't disagree!

Monday, November 12, 2007

2 Corinthians 13

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Summary:
Ok, this'll be my third visit, and I won't be going soft. Despite any doubts, Jesus does speak through me, and he isn't weak.

Test your faith. I think you'll find you pass. We love making ourselves weak to make you strong.

In the name of the whole Trinity, ciao.

Key verse:
14. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

My thoughts:
This is the closest thing you'll find to a clear mention of the Trinity in the Bible. It's not exactly the precise theology of the relationship between the three, but it does indicate a feel of significance of these three things which nothing else seems to have. It's very interesting.

I find the concept of testing your faith interesting. To me that would normally imply that Paul is trying to tell the Corinthians to pull finger, but he's actually very clear that this is to encourage the Corinthians more than anything else. Isn't that nice.

Okay, buh-bye childlike Corinthians! Hello, Judaising Galatians!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

2 Corinthians 12

Thorny sides

Summary:
But wait... there's more boasting! I know someone who went up to the highest heaven when he was still alive. He saw amazing things. I'll boast about him, but not myself. I'll let my actions talk. God keeps me humble through torment. He doesn't take it away no matter how much I pray. He offers grace, but not relief.

Wonders and miracles accompany an apostle. The only thing you missed out on from me was me being a burden. And when I visit again, I still won't be a burden. I don't want your things. I want you. I want the best for you, though I'm a bit scared that when I come to see you, God will humble me through your struggles. Perhaps I will be a disappointment to you too.

Key verse:
10. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

My thoughts:
I feel that this phrase summarises chapters 11 and 12 quite well. It is a reversal of the normaly worldly way of thinking about things. It is in our weaknesses that we simply have to trust God. Paul has to do this with the mysterious 'thorn' in his side. He doesn't know why it's there and why God hasn't taken it away, but because he can't understand it he simply has to trust God's grace. This is what Paul takes pride in. It is when he does not understand and doesn't have a clear well-thought-out answer.

Many people have speculated as to what this 'thorn' is, but no-one really knows. Could be anything from an illness, to spiritual torment, to a person.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

2 Corinthians 11

Paul the best boaster

Summary:
Ok, this might be a bit of a silly analogy, but I'm scared that though you are innocent like Eve, you are also easily deceived like her! Don't accept other gospels of these flashy new 'apostles'. I may not have the flash, but I'm not inferior. I didn't even ask for support! I practically robbed the other churches so I could minister to you without being a burden. Just because they look like apostles, doesn't mean they are. Satan can look quite lovely sometimes!

You don't have to put up with fools and people who hurt you, you know! They sure like to boast, and if you let me be like them for a bit, then realise that I too can boast! I've got the right blood, had the right punishments for Jesus. I'm a much better servant! I've been stoned, beaten, shipwrecked multiple times, in danger everywhere.

But I'll boast of the things that make me look pathetic.

Key verse:
14. Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.

My thoughts:
This verse was important to me when I was about 14, but I can't really remember why. Someone wrote it down for me on a camp. Anyway, it's good to know that looks can deceive.

These 'super-apostles' can perhaps be compared to some modern-day personality 'cult' leaders. They appear to boast a lot and put on a pretty good show, and they seem to have had some influence. What Paul is doing here is explaining that just because he doesn't boast and maybe doesn't look so good, it doesn't mean he's not secretly awesome and better than those so-called apostles.

It's quite fun/impressive going through Paul's list of troubles and trying to match it up to Acts. It adds a bit to the life of the historical Paul. Acts only tells of one shipwreck though!

Friday, November 09, 2007

2 Corinthians 10

Captivating thoughts

Summary:
I'm known as being timid in person, and harsh from a distance, and hopefully I don't have to be too harsh to some people when I visit. We need to realise that we don't fight like the world. We have spiritual weapons and authority, even over our own thoughts. Don't underestimate us. We are within Christ too, and strong words can translate to strong actions.

We only boast within reason. We want your faith to grow, so that we can preach into your regions. Boasting about yourself doesn't mean much

Key verse:
5. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

My thoughts:
Paul seems to love the words 'boast' and 'commend'. Due to my limited understanding of what Paul's means when he says these things, I find verses 12-17 very difficult to understand.

I think the picture of Paul you get when reading his letter is different to how he would come across in real life. I wouldn't suggest taking Paul's writings as an excuse to be an arrogant prick in real life! It appears that he was much more forgiving and 'timid' in person.

Anyway, I love this key verse. It reminds us that our obedience goes beyond just our actions, but pervades deep into our thought life. I love the strong language it uses. It doesn't say "We don't think bad thoughts"; it says "we take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ". It's quite a discipline, but it's quite a vital one.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

2 Corinthians 9

A promised gift

Summary:
The Macedonians have heard about the generous gift you said you'd give them, so our friends are coming to you first just to make sure everything ready, and we're not embarrassed were it not to work out.

If you sow lots, you'll reap lots, but you shouldn't give under compulsion. God will look after you. He'll make you rich so you can give more, and all glory will go to him. Know that in your generosity everyone will be stoked, and will praise God and be thankful.

Key verse:
7. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

My thoughts:
Ah! It's all starting to make sense now! It appears that the Corinthians have promised to give a gift to some other churches, and Paul's strong words are just to make sure they keep their promise. Maybe Paul has trust issues! That kinda explains Paul's mixture of concern for and boasting about the Corinthians. Good times.

Verse 7 is good, appropriate, and all in context for when Preacher's are wrongly pressuring their people to give.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

2 Corinthians 8

NO APOLOGIES!

Summary:
The Macedonians, though poor, and very very generous. They begged to support me beyond their means! The love the Lord first, but us second! Make sure you keep generosity on your list of strong attributes too. I'm not telling you to give, but I'm making it prettt darn clear that you should!

So give like you used to! We're not trying to make you worse off, we're just trying to make it fair compared to the others. Like they say, "what goes around, comes around."

Titus will come, and he's pretty keen to help, especially with that whole generosity thing. He'll come with an awesome Christ-follower. So show them love.

Key verse:
7. But just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in your love for us—see that you also excel in this grace of giving.

My thoughts:
Ah giving. It's funny watching Paul trying to be clear, whilst also tip-toeing around the topic. But I think he is being direct without being a dick. No matter how you put it, Christians should be giving. They should be generous. They should be generous to build up the Church (with a capital C). People don't like to hear it, and many people just switch off and think "Damn Pente's/Christians/Evangelicals, always want your money!" whenever someone talks about money, but it truely is important and there are no excuses.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

2 Corinthians 7

Prior offences

Summary:
We haven't wronged you in any way. Please love us like we love you. I know my last letter was a bit hard hitting. I don't like that you got hit hard, but I like that you repented. That was a good way to be hit; see what you've produced!

We're also stoked that Titus was well received. You lived up to your hype!

Key verse:
10. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.

My thoughts:
Sorrow is a big word to use here! I kinda toned it down my making it sound like a hit, or like hardship. Often sorrow doesn't fit into our picture of what God gives us, but it should.

Obviously Paul had causes a few offences in his previous letter, presumably 1 Corinthians (though it could be an intermediate letter). It wouldn't surprise me that it was 1 Corinthians, because 1 Corinthians was a bit of a kick in the bum!

Monday, November 05, 2007

2 Corinthians 6

Mmmmm... yoke...

Summary:
We don't want to trip anyone up. We look good whatever's going on. Nothing can beat us.

We love you, but you are holding back from us. Don't connect yourself with unbelievers. They are dirty. You are clean.

Key verse:
4. Rather, as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses

My thoughts:
So the word 'yoke' for 'yoking' oneself with unbelievers can be interpreted a few ways. I could mean associate with, or ally with, or go into partnership with, or work with, or marry. Most often I have heard this quoted to show that Christians shouldn't go out with or marry non-Christians, however if your sole reason not to marry a non-Christian is just because of this verse then I would suggest that your faith needs to be more important to you.

Anyway, it's clear from Paul's previous statements to the Corinthians that Paul is not suggesting that to associate or reach out to unbelievers is wrong. He is clearly speaking about some deeper level of connection or alliance.

My interpretation: Churches shouldn't be connected to our nation's secular politcal system. But I'm biased though. In reality, I suspect that Paul had very little knowledge of 21st century New Zealand's political system.

So Paul seems to be defending and building up his ministry before God in this letter. Perhaps there had been some doubt surrounding its validity.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

2 Corinthians 5

Hillsong United

Summary:
Things are hard here in this earthly body, and we're waiting for a heavenly body. That's coming. His Spirit is a downpayment. We have a promise! So we live for what's coming, not for what is. So we live to please God.

We need to push people to see beyond what is before their eyes right now; that which is clear to us and God. In fact, we will appear dead, because we don't live for ourselves anymore, but for Jesus who died for us. So we have a message of restoration. People are becoming completely new people when they come to God. We must be God's ambassadors.

Key verse:
7. We live by faith, not by sight.
21. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

My thoughts:
I went to The Street (which has no name) on Sunday morning. It was fine, but they sang 'The Stand', which as you know goes:

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart abandoned...

But they sang, and put up words saying

So I'll stand
With arms high and heart so thankful...

Dumb aye? Obviously they changed the words because they didn't think it was theologically correct to abandon one's heart (to God). I think they're just thinking to hard, and that doing this is retarded. If they really disagree, then they shouldn't sing the song. But they just shouldn't disagree. I think saying that you abandon yourself to God in worship is a perfectly fine expression for what we do. I also know of people who won't sing the "You give and take away" parts of 'Blessed be your Name', because their God (probably Allah or someone) doesn't take away.

Why am I talking about this? Because there's a line in the song "One way", which goes "You are the way, the truth and the life, I live by faith and not by sight...", and I always thought that though it was good to walk by faith, we still had to walk by sight too. Then I read this verse and was somewhat humbled.

The point is, worship songwriters are probably smarter than you. Our whole life is focussed on something we can't see. Now that's faith. We gotta have it. Sometimes we need to trust God more than we trust ourselves.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

2 Corinthians 4

Slowly I become one with the mud

Summary:
We don't do this secretly or deceptively, but openly. It's only clouded from those the devil has stopped from seeing. So God has made us lights of his glory in a dark world. We're like dirty pots, but God has put a great treasure inside of us. It's difficult, but we haven't lost hope yet. We carry death in others, so the life of Jesus can be shown to others.

We speak out of faith. We will be raised. We may suffer outwardly, but God's doing an awesome thing inside us. We don't focus on the current difficulties, but the promised and unseen good to come.

Key verse:
7. we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

My thoughts:
I'm finding this letter quite hard to follow. It's hard to figure out what Paul is really saying. So this key verse is chosen mostly because of the band Jars of Clay.

Anyway, it seems that sucky stuff is going on for Paul and his crew, but he's trying to tell the Corinthians that it's all okay. Sometimes the only way to deal with stuff is to focus on heaven and realise that our suffering is only temporal.

Only one month behind! W00t!

Friday, November 02, 2007

2 Corinthians 3

Letters and Spirit

Summary:
We don't need written proof of your success. The Spirit shows it! Our ministry is working! The confidence in our competence comes from God; through the Spirit, not through letters and words, which bring dead and sin.

The law of the letters, Moses' law, had so much glory, so the ministry of the Spirit will have so much more, and much longer lasting! We don't hide our face with a veil like Moses. We unveil the glory of the old scriptures and the new covenant. With the Spirit, there is freedom, and we reflect God's glory.

Key verse:
18. we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory

My thoughts:
Hmmm... I guess this is where the phrase "Follow the Spirit of the law, rather than the letter" comes from, though the meaning of that phrase doesn't seem to follow exactly from the message of this passage. One of Paul's points here is that nothing of the Old Covenant makes sense without Jesus.

Anywho, it's pretty cool that we get an unveiled faith. There is no reason anymore for covers and separators between us and God's glory. That's pretty far out, man.

Verse 17 says that the Lord is the Spirit. The Lord is Paul's word for Jesus, so this is essentially saying that Jesus is the Spirit, which makes his pretty darn equal with God. Jehovah's Witnesses, my favourite foe, claim that the Spirit is simply Jehovah's manifestation - as much a part of God as our mind is a part of us. So even for them, this passage should claim that Jesus is equal to the Father. They translate the 'Lord' here as Jehovah, which is ridiculously inconsistent. It shows that they can't really cope with the fact that the Greek word kyrios can interchangably refer to God and Jesus is different passages. Redonkulous.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

2 Corinthians 2

A wedge driving through people

Summary:
So I won't visit you, so you can remain my feel good friends, to remember when I'm depressed.

Oh, that guy who I told you to cast out, you were obedient to me but now you can forgive him if you want, and I will too. We don't want Satan to win here!

I'm stoked that wherever I go, I smell like God. Some people smell that as death, others as life.

Key verse:
14. thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him.

My thoughts:
I once heard Jesus described not so much as the Saviour of all, but as a wedge. A wedge which pushed those who are sitting on the fence onto the side they were leaning on anyway. Paul here is explaining that to him, having the fragrance of God mean death for some and life for others.

It's quite a cool image really; we are bearers of God's fragrance. We carry his scent. I've never really properly encountered this wee passage before. It's very cool.

Anywho, Paul here gives forgiveness to the sinner of 1 Corinthians 5, which gives a good context to that chapter, and perhaps speaks a bit about what Paul means when he makes some pretty 'absolute' sounding statements.

This is obviously written by Paul later, and he seems more depressed and stressed than before. He must be getting old.