Posts Tagged With: Jerusalem

1 Corinthians 16: Intentional Giving

We know from history that Judea was suffering from a famine at this point in time.  The Jewish Christians in Jerusalem and the surrounding area were suffering from a famine.  For the Christians their problems were only compounded by the growing animosity between Jews and Christians and how this cut them off from the normal infrastructure of life.

We can tell from this letter and others that Paul had made it part of his mission to help the Jewish Christians by collecting money from Gentile Christians in Asia Minor, Macedonia, and Achaia in order to bring relief when he soon visited Jerusalem.  Paul is discussing this in this chapter.  As a matter of logistics, Paul recommends that the Corinthians set aside their surplus money each week in order to have a store of money for the collection when he finally does visit Corinth on his way to Jerusalem.

On the first day of each week, every one of you should set aside and store up whatever surplus you have gained, so that when I come I won’t have to take an actual collection. (16:2)

I am struck by Paul’s encouragement to the Corinthians (and to us) to be intentional in their giving.  This isn’t spur of the moment.  This is not a plea to give what you can spare.  This isn’t “brother, can you spare a dime?”  This is planned, purposeful giving and sacrifice over a number of months.  That is a good example.

What big idea really sunk in with you as you read 1 Corinthians?  

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Romans 15: After Romans

What happens after the book of Romans?  Where in the life of Paul does this great book come?

Paul wraps up the teaching of his book halfway through chapter 15, then he starts to wind down this long letter by doing a bit of business.  Paul’s greatest desire is “to announce the good news in places where the Messiah has not been named” (15:20).  Specifically, Paul longs to go to Spain (15:24, 28).  He looks forward to finally coming to the Roman church, something he has not been able to do before now (15:23-24).  Rome will become a home base for his Spanish campaign, providing financial support (15:24).

But first Paul has to complete some unfinished business.  The Christians in Macedonia and Achaia have given Paul money to deliver to the poor Christians in Jerusalem who are suffering from a famine (15:26).  Paul will head back to Jerusalem then come to Rome.  The book of Romans was likely written in Corinth during the time mentioned in Acts 18, then taken by Phoebe to Rome around the same time Paul headed east.

Paul reveals some apprehensiveness about this trip to Jerusalem:

Fight the battle for me in your prayers to God on my behalf. so that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judaea, and so that my service for Jerusalem may be welcomed gladly by God’s people. (15:30b-31)

Acts 21 shows Paul had reason to be concerned.  Paul was quickly arrested in Jerusalem on trumped up charges and almost killed by the Jews.  By the end of Acts Paul does make it to Rome, but not in the way he wished at all.

Did Paul ever get to Spain as he wished?  The Bible never says definitively, but early church fathers Eusebius and Clement of Rome both indicate that Paul was released from house arrest in Rome and took the gospel as far as Spain.  It seems Paul does get his wish in the end, though not in the way he wished.

Isn’t that often how it works?

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Acts 20: Bound by the Spirit

I would love to go to Jerusalem.  What a great trip that would be!  Maybe some day.

Interestingly, in this passage Paul isn’t as enthusiastic about his trip to Jerusalem.  Nor was Jesus in Luke’s first volume (Luke 9:51).  Both had to set their faces resolutely towards the city of David.  Jerusalem meant death.  Jerusalem is the place of loss and separation, in this context.

This is likely why Paul seems more melancholy and introspective in today’s reading.  By the middle of the chapter Paul is in Troas on his way to Ephesus on his way to Jerusalem.  The rest of his party sails from Troas to Assos but Paul, who usually surrounded himself with traveling companions, walks the 25-mile journey to Assos alone instead.  In Ephesus, Paul gathers the elders of the church together to encourage them to watch out for “fierce wolves” in sheep’s clothing and to stay strong in Christ (20:29-31).  Paul knows he is “bound by the spirit” to go to Jerusalem (20:22).  Twice he tells the Ephesian elders they will not “see my face again” (20:25, 38).  Paul’s phrase “after I am gone” (20:29) has a foreboding tone of finality.

These are last words.  The kind of things Jesus said to his apostles in John 13-17 just before he died.  The kind of things you say just before “going to Jerusalem.”

Yet, both Jesus and Paul went.  It was their mission, and they knew it.

What stood out to you?

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Mark 13: Jesus the Prophet

We have seen the Jesus the Rabbi or Teacher.  We have watched Jesus the Miracle-Worker.  Less so in Mark than we will see in the other Gospels, we have seen Jesus the Man.  We have been teased along with the question whether Jesus is God.  Today we meet Jesus the Prophet.

"The Destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 AD" by Francesco Hayez (1791-1882)

I am afraid this is a greatly confusing chapter to me, and it has been to many people through the ages.  Jesus begins by talking about the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem, which we know from history happened around AD 70.  Mixed in this chapter it seems Jesus is also talking about the end of time altogether when he comes again.  He talks about the coming of the kingdom, which could be associated with either of these two or something entirely different or it could be both.  Stripping the topics apart seems very complicated.

Then we are told that no one can know the time when all of this will happen (13:32).  But we are also given hints of when (13:8, 14, 29).  And last we are told to “keep watch” four times (13:33, 34, 35, 37).  So maybe we can know generally when but not exactly?

Like so many other biblical prophecies I have come to before, I am going to have to give some study time to this chapter some day soon.

What do you think?

Categories: Mark | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments

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