Women’s Role According to Paul
Under the gospel, prayer is not to be confined to any one particular house of prayer, but men must pray every where. We must pray in our closets, pray in our families, pray at our meals, pray when we are on journeys, and pray in the solemn assemblies, whether more public or private. We must pray in charity; without wrath, or malice, or anger at any person. We must pray in faith, without doubting, and without disputing. Women who profess the Christian religion must be modest in apparel, not affecting gaudiness, gaiety, or costliness. Good works are the best ornament; these are, in the sight of God, of great price. Modesty and neatness are more to be consulted in garments than elegance and fashion. And it would be well if the professors of serious godliness were wholly free from vanity in dress. They should spend more time and money in relieving the sick and distressed, than in decorating themselves and their children. To do this in a manner unsuitable to their rank in life, and their profession of godliness is sinful. These are not trifles, but Divine commands. The best ornaments for professors of godliness are good works. According to St. Paul, women are not allowed to be public teachers in the church; for teaching is an office of authority. But good women may and ought to teach their children at home the principles of true religion. Also, women must not think themselves excused from learning what is necessary to salvation, though they must not usurp authority. As a woman was last in the creation, which is one reason for her subjection, so she was first in the…
Henry, Matthew, and Thomas Scott. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, 1997. Print.
God Makes a Covenant with Abram (Genesis 15:1–21)
Chapter 15 consists of a series of dialogues or conversations between God and Abram in which the narrator pauses at certain points to address the reader or to describe events. The chapter is divided into two parts. In the first part, God promises Abram a son and many descendants (verses 1–6). In the second God promises Abram the land (verses 15:7–21).
In the first section. God is the speaker in verses 1, 4, and 5; and Abram is the speaker in verses 2 and 3. The narrator closes the first episode by addressing the reader in verse 6. In the second episode God speaks in verses 7, 9, 13, 14, 15, and 16, and Abram in verse 8. In verses 10, 11, and 12, the narrator describes for the reader what Abram does and what happens to him. Beginning with verse 13 and continuing through verse 16, the action is interrupted as God foretells what will happen to Abram’s descendants and how he will die. The narrator then concludes the account by picking up the action left off at verse 12 and completing it in verse 17. The narrator concludes the second episode by repeating the promise of the land (verse 18) and listing the ethnic groups that live in the land (verses 19–21).
For many years, scholars have debated the history of the text of chapter 15, and translators may wish to review the various theories put forward in the commentaries. Many interpreters view the chapter as consisting of the earlier promises of offspring and land reshaped into a narrative text. Whatever the text history may be, the text as we now have it has certain problems that must be faced before undertaking to translate it. The essential questions that need answers are:
(1) Given the text as we have it, should we translate the chapter as a single story, or as two or more separate stories? Many commentators regard the two parts (verses 1–6 and verses 15:7–21) as separate; and although most translations give the impression that verse 7 follows on immediately from verse 6, some commentators insist that verses 15:7–21 could have happened on a different occasion, or come from a different source. Since verses 12–16 seem to come as an interruption to the flow of the story in verse 15:7–21, it is suggested that they also may describe what happened on yet another occasion.
(2) Does the reference to a “vision” in verse 1 mean that everything described in the whole chapter takes place only in a vision or dream? (Or everything in verses 1–6, if we regard, verse 7 as beginning a separate story?) Some have taken this view; but it seems quite natural to understand the Hebrew text (and practically all English translations) to mean that Abram did actually go outside his tent in verse 5 and that he actually did the actions described in verses 10–11.
(3) What is the relationship in time between the various events reported in the chapter? Although there are only three direct references to time in the story (in verses 12, 17, and 18), there are actions described that normally only take place at night (verse) or during the day (verses 10–11). This is not such a difficult question if we translate the two parts of the chapter as separate stories. But we should note that we do not avoid the question by regarding the whole chapter as taking place in a vision because there is usually still a sequence of scenes or events within a vision.
The view that is taken in this Handbook is that the whole chapter should be regarded as a single story and that only verses 1–4 and verses 12–16 refer to what took place in the vision or dream. Comments about the time sequence of events will be given as appropriate in the comments that follow.
Reyburn, William David, and Euan McG. Fry. A Handbook on Genesis. New York: United Bible Societies, 1998. Print. UBS Handbook Series.
Grace Bestowed on All
The gift each believer has received is the result of the gracious outpouring of God’s blessing on the church (v. 6). Berger writes: “The various charismata are understood as concrete manifestations of the one grace bestowed on all.”
Mounce, Robert H. Romans. Vol. 27. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995. Print. The New American Commentary.
On the 13th of May, 1894, our caravan passed through the gateway in the western wall of the city of Damascus, and we found ourselves in the midst of this most remarkable city. For hours before we reached it we saw its gleaming glory in the distance; the tall, graceful minarets rising from her more than three hundred mosques; her far-famed gardens and the glory of her trees. Perhaps one of the reasons why travelers praise Damascus so unstintingly is because of the delightful contrast it furnishes to the treeless, hot and verdureless country through which they passed on their approach to it. After a horseback ride from Jerusalem over a rough road—perhaps one of the roughest on earth—through a country with few trees, one would be in condition to praise any city in which gardens, orchards and abundance of water were to be found; but when the contrast is presented between such a desert journey and the surpassing beauty of Damascus, one is justified for the measure of extravagance in his terms of commendation. We see its gardens, canals, fountains, deep and abundant, shadows cast from long, spreading branches of most charming trees; certainly, the traveler may be allowed, at the pitch of his enthusiasm, to use the most extravagant adjectives in his praise of the new-found paradise. Damascus is said to be the oldest city in the world. This may not be literally true, but we know something of its history for four thousand years. It has been ruled by kings from Nineveh, Babylon, Persia, Greece and Rome, and under all it has been a place of importance.
Tetradrachma of Mithradates II of Pontus
In 291 B.C. Mithradates, I founded Pontus, a kingdom along the Black Sea’s south coast. This silver coin portrays Mithridates II, whose reign, though impossible to firmly date, probably extended from about 240 to 185 B.C. The name Mithridates, occurring twice in the Bible (Ezra 1:8, Ezra 4:7), means “gift of Mithra,” Persian god of covenants. The Roman Republic conquered Pontus in 63 B.C., including it in the province of Bithynia and Pontus. Jews from Pontus were at the Pentecost celebration in Acts 2:9.
Ezra 1:8, Ezra 4:7, Acts 2:9, Acts 18:2, 1 Pet 1:1
April 26: Bitter and Betrayed
Joshua 16:1–17:18; 2 Corinthians 11:24–33; Psalm 55
The betrayal of a loved one can shake our world. It can make us feel vulnerable and used, and if we’re not careful, it can cause us to be bitter and suspicious toward others. The psalmist in Psalm 55 experiences such a betrayal from a friend who feared God: “We would take sweet counsel together in the house of God” (Psa 55:14).
The psalmist agonizes over how he was deceived: “The buttery words of his mouth were smooth, but there was trouble in his heart. His words were smoother than oil, but they were drawn swords” (Psa 55:21). How does someone move beyond a violation of trust? Instead of growing bitter, the psalmist puts his trust in Yahweh: “Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved” (Psa 55:22).
Similarly, in 2 Corinthians, Paul tells the church in Corinth about his sufferings. Among Paul’s lashings, stonings, shipwrecks (three of them), and robbings, he also lists “dangers because of false brothers” (2 Cor 11:26). He suffered anxiety because of the churches (2 Cor 11:28).
Paul adds to this list by discussing a force of oppression over him. He states that he prayed for his “thorn” to be taken from him (2 Cor 12:8). However, the Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, because the power is perfected in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). This reshapes Paul’s perspective on suffering: “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in calamities, in persecutions and difficulties for the sake of Christ, for whenever I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). By submitting to Christ, Paul relied less on himself and more heavily on God. As a result, God’s grace and power was manifested within him.
Betrayal causes bitterness that can poison our hearts. But, like Paul, we should use trials as an opportunity to submit more fully to God, and to show others His work in us.
How are you holding onto bitterness? What would God have you do instead?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
Barry, John D., and Rebecca Kruyswijk. Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press, 2012. Print.
Morning, April 26 Go To Evening Reading
“This do in remembrance of me.”
— 1 Corinthians 11:24
It seems then, that Christians may forget Christ! There could be no need for this loving exhortation if there were not a fearful supposition that our memories might prove treacherous. Nor is this a bare supposition: it is, alas! too well confirmed in our experience, not as a possibility, but as a lamentable fact. It appears almost impossible that those who have been redeemed by the blood of the dying Lamb, and loved with an everlasting love by the eternal Son of God, should forget that gracious Saviour; but, if startling to the ear, it is, alas! too apparent to the eye to allow us to deny the crime. Forget him who never forgot us! Forget him who poured his blood forth for our sins! Forget him who loved us even to the death! Can it be possible? Yes, it is not only possible, but conscience confesses that it is too sadly a fault with all of us, that we suffer him to be as a wayfaring man tarrying but for a night. He whom we should make the abiding tenant of our memories is but a visitor therein. The cross where one would think that memory would linger, and unmindfulness would be an unknown intruder, is desecrated by the feet of forgetfulness. Does not your conscience say that this is true? Do you not find yourselves forgetful of Jesus? Some creature steals away your heart, and you are unmindful of him upon whom your affection ought to be set. Some earthly business engrosses your attention when you should fix your eye steadily upon the cross. It is the incessant turmoil of the world, the constant attraction of earthly things which takes away the soul from Christ. While memory too well preserves a poisonous weed, it suffereth the rose of Sharon to wither. Let us charge ourselves to bind a heavenly forget-me-not about our hearts for Jesus our Beloved, and, whatever else we let slip, let us hold fast to him.
Go To Morning Reading Evening, April 26
“Blessed is he that watcheth.”
— Revelation 16:15
“We die daily,” said the apostle. We are not in this day called to pass through the same fearful persecutions:. If we were, the Lord would give us the grace to bear the test; but the tests of Christian life, at the present moment, though outwardly not so terrible, are yet more likely to overcome us than even those of the fiery age. We have to bear the sneer of the world—that is little; its blandishments, its soft words, its oily speeches, its fawning, its hypocrisy, are far worse. Our danger is lest we grow rich and become proud, lest we give ourselves up to the fashions of this present evil world, and lose our faith. Or if wealth is not the trial, worldly care is quite as mischievous. The roaring bear will tear them to death by the bear, the devil cares which it is, so long as he destroys our love to Christ, and our confidence in him. I fear me that the Christian church is far more likely to lose her integrity in these soft and silken days than in those rougher times. We must be awake now, for we traverse the enchanted ground, and are most likely to fall asleep to our undoing unless our faith in Jesus is a reality, and our love of Jesus a vehement flame. Many in these days of making easy profession are likely to prove tares and not wheat; hypocrites with fair masks on their faces, but not the true-born children of the living God. Christian's do not think that these are times in which you can dispense with watchfulness or with holy ardour. You need these things more than ever, May God the eternal Spirit display his omnipotence in you, that you may be able to say, in all these softer things, as well as in the rougher, “We are more than conquerors through him that loved us.”
Spurgeon, Charles H. Morning and Evening: Daily Readings. Complete and unabridged; New modern edition. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006. Print.
The supreme climb
Take now thy son, … and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell thee of. Genesis 22:2.
Character determines how a man interprets God’s will (cf. Psalm 18:25–26 ). Abraham interpreted God’s command to mean that he had to kill his son, and he could only leave this tradition behind by the pain of a tremendous ordeal. God could purify his faith in no other way. If we obey what God says according to our sincere belief, God will break us from those traditions that misrepresent Him. There are many such beliefs to be got rid of, e.g., that God removes a child because the mother loves him too much—a devil’s lie! and a travesty of the true nature of God. If the devil can hinder us from taking the supreme climb and getting rid of wrong traditions about God, he will do so; but if we keep true to God, God will take us through an ordeal which will bring us out into a better knowledge of Himself.
The great point of Abraham’s faith in God was that he was prepared to do anything for God. He was there to obey God, no matter to what belief he went contrary. Abraham was not a devotee of his convictions, or he would have slain Isaac and said that the voice of the angel was the voice of the devil. That is the attitude of a fanatic. If you will remain true to God, God will lead you straight through every barrier into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself; but there is always this point of giving up convictions and traditional beliefs. Don’t ask God to test you. Never declare as Peter did—‘I will do anything, I will go to death with Thee.’ Abraham did not make any such declaration, he remained true to God, and God purified his faith.
Chambers, Oswald. My Utmost for His Highest: Selections for the Year. Grand Rapids, MI: Oswald Chambers Publications; Marshall Pickering, 1986. Print.
Consider how great things he hath done for you
1 Sam. 12:24
Look back on all the way the Lord your God has led you. Do you not see it dotted with ten thousand blessings in disguise? Call to mind the needed succor sent at the critical moment: the right way chosen for you, instead of the wrong way you had chosen for yourself; the hurtful thing to which your heart so fondly clung, removed out of your path; the breathing-time granted, which your tried and struggling spirit just at the moment needed. Oh, has not Jesus stood at your side when you knew it not? Has not Infinite Love encircled every event with its everlasting arms and gilded every cloud with its merciful lining? Oh, retrace your steps, and mark His footprint in each one! Thank Him for them all, and learn the needed lesson of leaning more simply on Jesus.
Hardman, Samuel G., and Dwight Lyman Moody. Thoughts for the Quiet Hour. Willow Grove, PA: Woodlawn Electronic Publishing, 1997. Print.