Bible Commentary for Hebrews 6 thru 1 John 5
Hebrews Chapter 6
These Christians are spending too much time rehashing the primary doctrines of the good news when they need to be moving ahead in their spiritual growth something that they seem to be resisting. Paul tells them that he is not going to deal with these basic teachings because they ought to be mature Christians and should be prepared to press on to maturity. With God’s permission, he is going to discuss this solid food with them. If they don’t progress then they will lose what they have. If they fall away after having been enlightened, having been partakers of holy spirit, having tasted the goodness of God’s words and having gain knowledge of the coming order of things, then it is impossible for them to be restored because that would be putting Christ to death again, thereby making a mockery of his death. He compares these ones to land that, in spite of being well watered, produces only thorns and thistles which makes it worthless and would need to be burned to clear it of these worthless plants.
But Paul is hopeful that this is not the case with these Christians, as God will not forget the good works that they have already done and the love they have shown for His name. But he is urging them to continue in the same diligence that they currently have so that they will not lose their hope by becoming spiritually sluggish. They should know that Jehovah keeps his promises and he relates to them the example of Abraham. God promised Abraham that He would bless him and would make him the father of nations and this at a time when he had no son. He had to wait twenty-five years before God began to fulfill this promise to him. God swore an oath to him and since God cannot lie, Abraham’s heirs can be sure that God will not change his purpose. The Christian benefits because he has strong encouragement to lay hold on this hope that he has been given. This hope is anchored in the fact that Christ entered the Most Holy, heaven itself, in their behalf and has paved the way for them. This one has now become a high priest forever according to the manner of Melchizedek.
Hebrews Chapter 7
Melchizedek, a priest of God, was called ‘King of righteousness’ and ‘King of peace’ and Abraham gave a tenth of the spoils of war to him. (Genesis 14:17-20) The scriptures give no record of his genealogy, birth or death, so he remains a priest forever. In this manner he is said to have been like Jesus rather than Jesus being like him because these facts apply more fully to Jesus than they do to Melchizedek. Abraham gave a tenth to a man who was not a descendant of his as the Levites, who would later collect tithes from their brothers, would be thus indicating that this man was greater than Abraham and the greater one blessed the lesser one.
Paul now contrast Melchizedek’s priesthood with that of the Levitical/Aaronic priesthood. He was superior to the Levites because although they received the tithes, they had to pay tithes also. Even before they were born, Abraham had paid tithes to Melchizedek. Those who served as priests would die, but Melchizedek is spoken of as living. Perfection could not be attained through the Levitical priesthood, which was the basis on which the Law rested and hence there was the need for a better priesthood, a priest like Melchizedek. Changing the priesthood would then necessitate the bringing in of a new law. Additionally, the one who would be the priest according to Melchizedek was not of the tribe of Levi but of Judah, a tribe that the Law spoke nothing of in connection with the priesthood. This priesthood then would come into existence not by means of commandments but by the sworn oath of the One that said to him ‘You are a priest forever according to the manner of Melchizedek.’ The Law therefore needed to be set aside because it was weak and ineffective in bringing salvation to those who were under it.
Jesus is the one that has been given as a guarantee of a better covenant. Because he is alive forever and does not need a successor, he is able to provide help to those who approach God through him. He is already perfect, without any sin, so he would not need to offer up sacrifices on a daily basis for his sins and for others as did those of the Aaronic priesthood. His sacrificing of his life once and for all time was sufficient to pay for sin; he would not need to repeat it again and again. The sworn oath came after the Law and it appointed a son who has been installed as priest forever.
Hebrews Chapter 8
The main point of this discussion is to show that their high priest has entered into heaven itself and sat down at Jehovah’s right hand, and he serves in the true tent that Jehovah established. As the high priest is appointed to offer sacrifices and gifts, Christ also had to have something to offer although if he were on the earth at that time, he would not be a part of the priesthood. These men are serving in a physical tent that is only a typical representation of the heavenly one as Moses was told to build it according to the pattern that he was given by Jehovah. Jesus’ public ministry is of greater value because he is the mediator of a better covenant that has been established on better promises.
There was a need for a new covenant because the first covenant did not accomplish what was needed. Paul now quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34 where Jehovah promised a covenant that would be unlike the one He concluded with Israel on Mount Sinai. This one would be written in their minds and in their hearts and they would all know Jehovah from the least one to the greatest. The fact that Jehovah spoke of a new covenant makes the old one obsolete and it would soon be set aside.
Hebrews Chapter 9
The first covenant had its ordinances of service to be performed in connection with the sanctuary. The sanctuary or tent had two compartments, the Holy Place and the Most Holy place. In the Holy Place there was the lampstand, the table of Showbread and the golden altar of incense. A curtain separated the Holy from the Most Holy and behind this curtain was the ark of the covenant that was overlaid with gold with the propitiatory covering above it and it had two cherubs overshadowing this cover. Inside the ark was the jar of manna, the tablets of the covenant and Aaron’s rod that had budded.
After Moses constructed this tent, the priest began officiating in the first compartment but no one went into the second compartment except the high priest and this was once a year, on the day of atonement, when he took blood behind the curtain to offer in behalf of his sins and those of the people. As long as the first tent was standing holy spirit was indicating that the way into the Most Holy, or heaven, was not open. The sacrifices and offerings made in this tent were only illustrative because they could not give the worshipper clean consciences. These legal requirements pertaining to food, drink and various washings and were imposed only until the appointed time to set matters straight.
When Christ came as high priest, he entered the greater and more perfect tent which no human hand had made, not with the blood of goats and bulls, but with his own blood and he obtained an everlasting deliverance for humans. The blood of goats, bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who were defiled did cleanse the flesh but the blood of Christ is able to cleanse their conscience from dead works so that they could offer sacred service to the living God. Christ died and became the mediator of a new covenant so that he might release by ransom those who sinned under the old covenant. This covenant could not be enforced until the death of covenanter occurred.
Blood has to be poured out before a covenant is in force. For example, after Moses spoke all of the commandments before the people, he took the blood of bulls and goats and sprinkled it on the book of the covenant as well on the people. He also sprinkled blood on the tent of meeting and all the sacred vessels before they were used. According to the Law blood is needed to cleanse nearly all things and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place. The typical representations of heavenly things were cleansed with the blood of animals but the heavenly things themselves required better sacrifices. Christ entered into heaven itself to appear before God on behalf of those who would be saved. The Aaronic high priest had to enter the Most Holy each year to offer sacrifices for sin but Jesus needed to offer himself once to bear the sins of many. When he appears the second time it will be for the purpose of bringing salvation to those who are looking for him.
Hebrews Chapter 10
The Law is just a shadow of that which is real, not the solid reality because the offering made under the Law cannot cleanse a person of his sins. The offering of the blood of bulls and goats yearly was to be a reminder to the people that their sins were still upon them. But of the Christ, Jehovah said that He prepared a body for him because He found no pleasure in the burnt offering and sin offerings whereupon the Christ responds that he had come in accordance to what was written about him to do Jehovah’s will. (Psalms 40:6-8) This means that he was doing away with the offerings stipulated under the Law Covenant and instituting a new order of obedience to the will of God, which said ‘will’ is that all those that God sets apart are to be made holy through the body of Christ.
Jesus’ one sacrifice is able to do what all of the yearly sacrifices made by the priest at the first tent were unable to do, that is, the taking away of sins completely. Afterwards he sat at the right hand of Jehovah waiting for Him to put all of his enemies under his feet. (Psalms 110:1) Holy spirit bears witness to these ones that they are the ones Jehovah was speaking to when he said that He would make a covenant with them and would write His laws in their hearts and in their minds. He would not remember their sins and lawless deeds anymore. (Jeremiah 31:34) Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is no longer a need for offerings to be made for them.
These Christians can now, with confidence, approach Jehovah through a new and living way that the blood of Jesus made possible. He is their great high priest that has been appointed over the house of God, so they should approach God with sincere hearts full of faith, clean consciences and bodies that have been washed clean by the bath of the word. They would hold on to the confession of their hope without wavering because the one who made the promises is faithful. They should continue to encourage one another to love and fine words, always meeting together all the more so as the day draws near.
If they practice sin after receiving accurate knowledge, then they will have nullified the sacrifice Christ made for their sins. If a man disregarded the Law of Moses, he would be put to death, without compassion, on the testimony of two of three witnesses. Certainly because of the inestimable value of Jesus’ sacrifice, anyone that considers it as of ordinary value, would be worthy of a more severe punishment. Jehovah would deal with this person Himself. (Deuteronomy 32:35, 36)
They should not forget the past days when they were enduring suffering and were sharers with others who were undergoing suffering and the plundering of their goods as they keep in mind that they have a solid and more lasting treasure. Keeping their freeness of speech will pay a great reward. If they continue enduring, they will receive the fulfillment of the promise, which fulfillment was very near. Paul quotes portions of Isaiah 26:20 and Habakkuk 2:3 to show the nearness of these events. Then he quotes Habakkuk 2:4 to encourage them to hold fast to their faith and not shrink back because this would mean their destruction.
Hebrews Chapter 11
Faith is defined as having convincing evidence that the things that are hoped for are real even though they have not yet been realized. This is the kind of faith that enabled those who lived in earlier times to have testimony bore to them. This kind of faith allows the belief that it was by means of God’s word that the world was created so that what is seen came from things that were not seen. Paul now lists some of the ones that the Jews looked up to as those with outstanding faith.
He begins with Abel who offered a sacrifice of greater worth than his brother and had witness bore to him that he was righteous in that God accepted his offering and not that of his brother. Enoch is mentioned as one whose faith delivered him from a violent death. Anyone approaching God must have faith because they must believe that He exists and will reward those who are searching for Him. Noah gave a divine warning about things that had not happened and built an ark to save his family, condemning the world through his faith. Abraham obeyed Jehovah without question when he was asked to move from his home country to a land that he did not know and he lived there as an alien always with his eye towards a government that Jehovah would set up. He and his wife, Sarah, had faith that she would conceive a child even though she was past child-bearing age and he, though he was as good as dead, would become father to a multitude of children.
These ones all died before they saw the promises but they were real to them. They publicly declared that they were living in the land as foreigners and strangers because they were looking forward to the time when they could settle permanently in the land under a government that God would set up.
When Jehovah tested Abraham relative to his son Isaac, the one through whom his seed would come, he showed faith that even if Isaac died; Jehovah could raise him from the dead. Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau telling them what the future held for them. Jacob blessed Joseph’s two sons making them heirs along with his other sons. Joseph had faith that Israel would leave Egypt and he wanted his bones buried in the land of promise. Moses’ parents refused to allow him to be killed along with all the other boys. He was raised as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, but as a grown man, he refused to be called her son but chose to be ill-treated with his own people. He esteemed the reproaches of being a Christ or deliverer of greater value than all the riches of Israel. When he ran away from Egypt, he did so not out of fear of the king, but he was keeping his eyes on Jehovah.
Moses instituted the Passover celebration as Jehovah had ordered splashing the blood on the doors so that the firstborn of Israel would be spared. The nation later came through the Red Sea but the Egyptians were destroyed. The walls of Jericho fell due to the faith the people put in Jehovah. Rahab exercised faith when she hid the Israelite spies and so was spared when the people of Jericho were killed. He is unable to name all of these faithful one because they were such a numerous group but he does give some detail of the type of sufferings they went through because they were spurned and ill-treated by those that they lived among. But they all had one thing in common, they had witness borne to them that because of their faith, they were worth more than all of those put together that were persecuting them. Yet they would have to wait until God’s promises were fulfilled upon a later group of people before they would be rewarded for their faith.
Hebrews Chapter 12
So, having such an example of faithful ones around them, they should get rid of everything that would hinder them, and with endurance they should run the race that is set before them as they keep their eyes focused on Jesus, the one who perfects their faith. He set the example of endurance and if they follow it they will not tire out or give up in their faith. They have not yet suffered to the point where they were in fear for their lives but they have forgotten that their having to suffer is really discipline from Jehovah. If they are sons of His then the words of Proverbs 3:11, 12 applies to them. Those that have not been disciplined by Jehovah are illegitimate sons. Just as their earthly fathers disciplined them and they showed them respect then should they not submit to the discipline of Jehovah, the Father of their spiritual life by whom they would gain life? Discipline is not something pleasant when it is being administered, but to the ones, who have been trained by it, it will yield the fruit of righteousness.
These Christians are exhorted to raise up the limp hands, straighten the feeble knees, and walk in straight paths so that the lame foot won’t be disabled but will be healed. The NIV Bible Commentary, Volume II, page 1005, says this about these verses: “The writer is mindful of the fact that Christians belong together. They must have consideration for the weak among their members, i.e., the ‘lame;’ they must not be ‘disabled’ (lit., ‘be turned away’). By caring for the defective members of the congregation, the stronger members can help them along the way and revitalize them.”
They are to pursue peace with all and to strive to achieve holiness being careful not to deprive any of the undeserved kindness of God by allowing 1) a bitter root to grow among themselves which would produce bitter fruit that would defiled many in the congregation; 2) fornicators to exist among them, or 3) anyone who does not appreciate sacred things. He highlights the example of Esau who lacked appreciation for sacred things and so sold his birthright for one single meal. He lost the right to inherit the blessings and when he had a change of heart, it was too late.
They have not stood before that which can be felt, seen or heard, as did the ancient nation of Israel when they approach Mount Sinai before getting the Law. The display was so awesome that even Moses was fearful and trembling. No, but they have been allowed to approach the true Mount Zion, heavenly Jerusalem, with myriads of angels in assembly, where the congregation of the first-born has been enrolled, God who is the judge of all and Jesus Christ, the mediator of a new covenant. They should not refuse to hear the voice that speaks to them, as they would not escape punishment any more than Israel did not when they disobeyed.
As Jehovah shook the earth during the time of Moses, He promises ‘yet once more’ to shake not only the earth but the heavens also indicating that He would remove the things that he shakes and leave the things that are not being shaken. (Haggai 2:6) Therefore, since they are to receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken, they should hold on to the undeserved kindness that they have been given and continue to render acceptable sacred service with fear and awe keeping in mind that God is a consuming fire.
Hebrews Chapter 13
These Christians are given some practical advice for showing concern for others. They are to show brotherly love, be hospitable, remember those in prison bonds; marriage should be honorable and undefiled by fornication. They should not be lovers of money but should rely on Jehovah who promised that He would not forsake them. Imitate the good conduct of those who take the lead among them and reject strange teachings, and learn to rely on God’s undeserved kindness for inner strength rather than dietary rules which those who spend their time doing gain little benefit.
Christians render sacred service at an altar that those who still officiate at the tent have no right to eat from. The bodies of the animals whose blood is taken into the Most holy must be taken outside of the camp to be burned. Likewise Christ suffered outside the city in order to sanctify the people; therefore, Christians too must go outside the city to share in his reproach. The city of Jerusalem was not going to continue and they were looking forward to the one that would be permanent. Through Christ they would offer a sacrifice of praise by speaking about him and the hope they had through him. They would continue to do good and share good things with others because these types of sacrifices are pleasing to God.
The Christian is to be obedient to those who take the lead among them because these men have the large responsibility of watching over their souls and they will render an account to God for the way that they do this. Be submissive to them so that they view their work as pleasurable and not as being burdensome as this would not be advantageous for them. Continue praying for the brothers and may the God who raised Jesus from the dead equip them with all they need to do His will.
The Letter of James
James, the writer of this letter, is identified as the brother of Jesus. This letter was most likely written between 45 and 50 CE and was written to Jewish Christians who he referred to as the ‘twelve tribes that are scattered among the nations.’ This ‘scattering’ of these Christians may have occurred after the martyrdom of Stephen. If this letter was written during the time period given above, then it was the first book in the Greek Scriptures to be written.
James Chapter 1
James encouraged his readers to have the proper view of trials. He tells them that they should view trials as tests of their faith that produces endurance and endurance, when it has fully matured, will make them sound in every respect. If anyone lacks the wisdom he needs to endure these trials, he should keep asking God because He gives generously to all without making them feel guilty for asking for help. But they must have no doubts at all because this will show that they are unstable and indecisive and cannot hope to receive anything from Jehovah.
Those in humble circumstances can be glad that God has chosen to exalt them by giving them the privilege to suffer for the name of Jesus. Those who are wealthy should be glad that they have been humbled and so learn not to trust in their riches because persecution can rob them of these. James describes the effect trials can have on riches as being like flowers that wither in the heat of the sun and drop to the ground and their beauty perishes. He pronounces those who keep on enduring trials as happy because they will receive eternal life that Jehovah promised them.
One should never say when they are undergoing trials that God is behind their trials as that would be like saying that God Himself can be tried by evil. There is not the slightest bit of moral depravity in God as He is holy, pure and clean. He would never put anything before a person that would cause him to commit a sin. If trials cause a person to sin, then it is his own wrong desire coming from within himself and if he does not dismiss this desire it will become fertile and will entice him to sin and once this sin has been accomplished, he faces death. They are warned not to be fooled into an attitude of wrong thinking, as the things that God gives are good and perfect and He never changes. Part of His good purpose is shown through the fact that it was because of His will that they were brought forth through the word of truth to be firstfruits from among His creatures.
A Christian should always be swift about hearing, slow to speak and slow about becoming wrathful because a man’s anger will not motivate him to be obedient to God but will cause him to sin. So to keep this from happening, they should put away all moral filth that will lead them to anger and humbly accept with mildness the truth that will save them. They must also be doers of the word and not hearers only because one who hears but does not do is like a man who looks at himself in the mirror and walks away and immediately forgets what sort of person he saw in the mirror. Anyone who looks intently into the perfect law, zealously searching its message so that he can conform his life to what it reveals, is one who is a doer of the word and he will be blessed. A person who believes that he is a devout worshipper of God but does not control his tongue is fooling himself and his worship is futile. Genuine worship is not merely formalistic but requires active participation in helping other especially those who are unable to help themselves and keeping oneself from being contaminated by the degradation of the world.
James Chapter 2
Christians should not show favoritism towards anyone because he has an abundance of material possessions. Showing class distinctions indicates that they have become judges with evil thoughts. Jehovah specifically chose those who were poor in reference to the world to be rich in faith and to be heirs of the kingdom. But they chose to dishonor these poor ones and show favoritism to the ones who oppress them, who take them to court and who blaspheme the name of Jesus. If they were obeying the kingly law that says ‘You must love your neighbor as yourself,’ then they are doing well but when they show favoritism they are condemned as being transgressors by the same law. James makes the point that if a person observes all of the commandments but fails to keep just one of them, he has transgressed against all of them.
They are encouraged to speak and act in a way that shows that they will be judged not by the Mosaic Law but by the law of a free people. If they do not practice being merciful towards others especially the poor they will have their judgment without mercy. If a person shows mercy to all then when he comes before Jehovah for judgment, he will be rewarded for his merciful acts.
In these verses James writes concerning the relationship between faith and that of works. Faith must have works as evidence that it exists. He gives the example of having someone in the congregation who is needy and all that that person receives from the members are kind words rather than the provisions that he needs. These individuals may claim to have faith but their actions belie this. They may think that because they believe that there is only one God that this proves that they have faith but even the demons have this conviction because they are afraid of Him but this belief will not save them. Faith apart from works is inactive. Abraham was declared righteous because of the action he took in obedience to God when he offered Isaac on the altar. His faith prompted him to do the right thing and his works confirmed that he had faith. Rahab also acted in faith when she hid the spies and helped them to escape. Therefore, he concludes that just as the body without life is dead so faith without works is dead.
James Chapter 3
James advises the brothers not to put so much emphasis on becoming teachers. Teaching in the congregation is a weighty responsibility and those who become such will receive a much stricter judgment. One of the reasons that James gives this advice is because humans have a difficult time keeping the tongue under control, a feat that most fail to do. The one who controls his tongue controls his whole body just as a bit in the mouth of a horse controls it or a small rudder controls a large ship. The tongue, though a small member, likewise exerts a powerful influence over the body. Like a small fire that sets a forest on fire, so the tongue can cause much devastation among humans and nations. Man came tame all sorts of animals but has not yet learned to tame the tongue.
The tongue is very inconsistent, with it one can bless Jehovah and from the same mouth he can curse humans that He created. Blessings and cursing should not come forth from the same mouth, as it is not proper, especially among Christians. They would not expect to find fresh water and salty water coming from the same spring nor would they expect a fig tree to produce both olives and figs. So out of the mouths of those who are righteous should proceed righteous words and out of the mouth of the wicked would come wicked words.
If there is any among these brothers who is wise and has understanding and is desirous of being a teacher, then he should show by his conduct that he has the humility that is born from wisdom. His entire life would show that he knows how to live in a godly manner. But if he harbors bitter jealousy and contentiousness in his hearts and is unable to admit this, then whatever wisdom he is exhibiting is not from God but comes from the world, from within himself and from the devil. Only discord and disharmony exists where there is jealousy and rivalry. The wisdom that God gives is pure, having no sinful attitudes or motives. It is peaceable, reasonable, submissive, compassionate, shows concern for others and is sincere. Righteousness grows only in a peaceful climate so it can only be sown by those who are those who are peacemakers.
James Chapter 4
These Christians were constantly fighting and quarreling among themselves and James identifies the source of these battles as their trying to satisfy their personal cravings for pleasure. Although James did not specify what these cravings were, but when they were unfulfilled, some Christians would become murderously jealous of what others had and fights would ensue. James said that even if they asked Jehovah for these things, He would not respond to this request because their motivation for wanting them was for a wrong purpose, that is, satisfying their personal desires.
James compares these ones to adulterous wives who do not remain faithful to their husbands. They have turned their attention to things that belong to the world, the world that is in opposition to God and controlled by Satan. Their pursuing the things that those who do not obey God go after made them just like the world and thus they were becoming enemies of God. The quote in verse 5 is not a direct one from the scriptures although it may be a paraphrase of a scriptural principle. Verse 6 quotes from Proverbs 3:34 describing Jehovah’s view of the haughty and the humble.
Having this view in mind, James admonishes his readers to subject themselves to God and oppose the Devil so that he will leave them alone. In their envious jealousies, they are imitating the Devil and if they want to have undeserved kindness from Jehovah, they must draw close to Him and humble themselves before him.
James warns Christians not to criticize each other, doing so in a harsh unloving manner. They are making themselves judges of this person’s behavior relative to obeying God’s law. If they judge law, then they are not doers of law but have become judges and have usurped Jehovah’s position as judge and lawgiver. He also warns them about being boastful about their future business ventures without giving consideration to whether Jehovah will support them by extending their lives another day. Having this type of pride in themselves is wicked and they have been warned about it. So now that they know how they should act, it would be a sin for them if they do not do what they know to be right.
James Chapter 5
James now gives a scathing denouncement against those who misuse their riches. He told them that it was time for them to weep because of the miseries coming upon them. All that they had accumulated would either rust or rot. They had failed to pay the wages of their workers and Jehovah had heard the cries of these ones. The rich had lived in luxury and enjoyed sensual pleasure, while condemning and murdering the innocent although they were not opposing them.
The brothers are told to be patient while they waited for the Lord’s presence exercising the same patience that the farmer does as he waits for the rains to come. In the same way, they should continue to exercise patience and to make their hearts firm because their wait would not be too long. They are to be careful not to become irritated with one another doing so by means of a sigh or a groan, for which they would be judged. They are to keep in mind the suffering and patience of the prophets who spoke in Jehovah’s name. They most certainly are familiar with the endurance of Job and how Jehovah dealt with him after he had suffered. They were able to learn from Job’s example how kind and compassionate Jehovah is.
If anyone is in trouble, he should pray; if anyone is happy, he should sing psalms; but if anyone is sick, then he should ask the older men in the congregation to pray over him, anointing him with oil. Their prayer will make the sick one well, as Jehovah will raise him up. They are admonished to pray for one another as the prayer of the righteous one has much force. He give the example of Elijah who prayed that rain would not fall and the land had a drought until he prayed again after three and one half years had passed and rain again fell on the land. If anyone wanders away from the truth and he is turned back then the one that helps him will have rescued a soul from death and will have forgiven many sins.
The First Letter of Peter
Peter wrote his first letter from Babylon sometime between 62 and 64 CE before the Roman emperor, Nero, began persecuting the Christians. This letter was addressed to Christians living in northern Asia Minor that were experiencing trials. This letter was written to encourage them to keep in mind the promises they had been given and to remain faithful even under the severe trials they were facing.
1 Peter Chapter 1
Peter addressed his letter to those who are temporary residents scattered throughout northern Asia Minor, the ones chosen by God to be made holy by His spirit that they may obey Jesus Christ and be cleansed by his blood. Jehovah is blessed because in His great mercy, He gave them a new birth to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They are being safeguarded by God’s power for a salvation to be revealed in the last days. They can rejoice in this hope even though they are at present undergoing trials that will test their faith. Their tested faith will be of more value than gold, which perishes no matter how pure it is.
The salvation that has been reserved for them is something that even the prophets were interested in so much so that Peter described them as making a ‘diligent inquiry and a careful search’ into what they were prophesying about. They wanted to know the time and circumstances that the spirit was bearing witness to about the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow these. But they were told that the things that they were prophesying about were not meant for them but for these Christians. Even the angels had an intense interest in these things. The NIV Bible Commentary, page 1044, tells us that the word used here “long to look” in reference to the angels “implies a willingness to exert or inconvenience oneself to obtain a better perspective. The specific tense used means continuous regard rather that a quick look.” They too want to know how Jehovah was going to carry out His purposes.
They are to therefore prepare their minds for action, keeping the senses and setting their hope upon the undeserved kindness that they will receive at the revelation of Jesus. They are not to allow themselves to be drawn back into their former activities when they were ignorant of these things but are to follow the advice given at Leviticus 19:2 ‘to be holy as Jehovah is holy.’ As they are praying to the Father who is impartial in His judging of each one according to his works, then they ought to be always conducting themselves with reverential awe before Him.
They have been rescued from the former fruitless way of life by means of the precious blood of Christ. Although God knew before the founding of the world that he would do this but it was not made manifest to humans until the time of the end for their sake. Through Christ they have become believers in God who raised him from the dead and gave him glory so that their faith and hope would be in God. Now that they have become clean by being obedient to the truth, they should love one another intensely from the heart. It is the word of a living and eternal God that is behind their new birth and this word is eternal, enduring forever. (Isaiah 40:8)
1 Peter Chapter 2
They should rid themselves of all badness, deceit, hypocrisy, envy and slander and develop a longing for spiritual milk that is the word of God which will help them grow to salvation if they are convinced that Jehovah is good. They are coming to a living stone, though rejected by men but precious to God, upon whom they are being built into a spiritual house where as a holy priesthood they will offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Christ. (Isaiah 28:16) He is precious to them because they believe in him but to those who did not believe in him, he has, as Isaiah 8:14 says, become a “stone of stumbling and a rock mass of offense” to them. These ones stumble because of their disobedience to God’s word. But these Christians are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession so that they should declare to others the virtues of the one who called them out of darkness into His wonderful light. Peter now applies Hosea 1:19 to them.
Peter now gives practical advice to the brothers. As aliens and temporary residents, they are to refrain from giving in to fleshly desires; they should make sure that their conduct is such that those who observe them will give glory to God on the day of his inspection; subject themselves to the governmental authorities; they should not misuse their freedom as a cover for wickedness; honor men of all sorts; love the entire associations of brothers; fear God and honor the king. House servants are to be in subjection to their owners whether they are hard to please or not. Bearing up under unjust suffering is an agreeable thing but having to endure when one has done wrong carries no merit.
The example to look to is that of Jesus Christ who committed no sin, who did not revile when he was being reviled nor did he threaten revenge when he was suffering. No, but he committed his cause to the one who judges righteously. He carried their sins in his own body to the torture stake so that they would be free to live in righteousness. They were like sheep that had gone astray but now they had returned to the shepherd of their souls. (Isaiah 53:5, 6)
1 Peter Chapter 3
Peter’s admonishes wives to be in subjection to their husbands that those who are not obedient to the word may be won over to the good news after being eyewitnesses of their wives chaste conduct. Their adornment will not be the outside appearance but the secret person they are at heart, their quiet and mild spirit that is of much value to God. Husbands are to give their wives consideration as they are the weaker ones, in a physical sense, not weaker in a spiritual, moral or an intellectual sense because they are equally heirs to eternal life as the husband is.
They should all be of one mind, being sympathetic toward each other, having brotherly affection, remaining humble, not paying back wrong for wrong but always bestowing a blessing so that they might receive the blessing reserved for them. Peter quotes from Psalms 34:12-16 to show the importance of putting the happiness of their fellow Christians first. Generally those who are zealous for what is good will not be harmed but even if they suffer for righteousness sake they will still be happy. They are not to fear men but are to always be ready to make a defense before those who demand the reason for their hope, doing so with a mild temper and deep respect.
Their consciences should always be clear that they have given no one a reason to speak against them and these ones will become ashamed, as they will have no basis for their opposition. He again repeats that it is better to suffer for doing good rather than doing bad. Christ was a righteous person who died for unrighteous people in order to lead them to God. He died in the flesh but was raised a spirit and in this state he preached to the wicked spirits who had disobeyed Jehovah during Noah’s day as the ark was being built in which eight people were saved through the water. Baptism is the corresponding means of salvation for Christians although it is does not mean an external washing but the request made to God for a clear conscience through Christ.
1 Peter Chapter 4
Christians should have the same mental attitude that Christ had, that is, they should be willing to suffer in the flesh because it means that they have turned from their sins and are living the remainder of their fleshly lives doing God’s will. The way they lived in the past was in harmony with the will of the nations as they indulged in excesses of all sorts but since they do not continue in this sort of debauchery, their former associates think that they are strange and speak abusively of them. But they will have to render an account to God for there activity. That is why the good news has been preached to them to give them the opportunity to repent and turn their lives around and live according to God’s standards and thus gain His approval.
Peter reminded them that the end was very near so they needed to be sound in mind, constantly praying, having love for one another so that they would overlook the sins of each other and they must be hospitable without grumbling. Whatever gifts they each have, they should use in a manner that will bring glory to God through Christ. They are not to be surprised at the suffering they are going through but should rejoice in them because as sharers in Christ’s sufferings, they will rejoice during his revelation. Their being able to rejoice because of suffering reproaches for the name of Christ is evidence that the spirit of God is resting upon them. Be careful that none of them should suffer because of being a murderer, a thief or a busybody. There is no shame in suffering as a Christian and in their accepting this they will glorify God in Christ’s name.
The appointed time for judgment has already come and it begins with the house of God as it always does. (Jeremiah 25:29) Those who are not obedient to the good news will not make a showing at this time because it will be with difficulty that the righteous are being saved. (Proverbs 11:31, LXX) Those who are suffering in harmony with the will of God should continue relying on him and continue doing good.
1 Peter Chapter 5
Peter, as an elder in the congregation, was in a good position to give encouragement to other elders as he had personally witnessed the suffering of Christ and was a sharer in the glory that will be revealed. He told them to be willing shepherds of God’s flock, not as under compulsion nor for dishonest gain, but becoming examples to them and when their shepherd is manifested, they will receive their unfadable crown of glory. Younger men are told to be in subjection to the older men and all should put on humility in dealing with each other as God opposes the haughty but gives grace to the humble. They must continue in humility if they want the exaltation that God gives while at the same time casting their anxieties upon Him because He cares for them.
They should never let their guard down because their enemy, the Devil, is always seeking to bring them down. They must take a stand against him solid in the faith knowing that all of their brothers are going through the same sufferings. But know this that after they have suffered for a little while, God will finish their training making them firm and strong. Peter closes his letter saying that he has written them this short letter to encourage them and as a testimony that he has shown them the true undeserved kindness of God in which they are to stand firm.
The Second Letter of Peter
Peter wrote this letter to the same group of Christians that he wrote his first letter to. (See 3:1) Scholars are uncertain of the date of its writing but they agree that it was most probably just before his death around 64 CE. He was aware that his death was imminent and he wanted to remind them of things they were already aware of so that they would not forget them after he was dead.
2 Peter Chapter 1
Peter refers to the ones to whom he is writing as those whose faith is as precious as his faith and he desired that undeserved kindness and peace would increase to them through their gaining a more accurate knowledge of Jehovah and Jesus. They have been freely given everything that they need to live a life of godly devotion through this accurate knowledge and have also received the grand promises that they would share in the divine nature. So for these reasons they should be progressive in their spiritual growth.
Through their earnest effort, they should add to their faith these qualities: virtue, knowledge, self-control, endurance, godly devotion, brotherly affection, and love. If they have these qualities then they will not be inactive or unfruitful regarding the accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ. But without them, they have become blind or shortsighted and have forgotten how they were cleansed from their sins. So they should live the sort of life that would ensure that they will make the calling and choosing of them sure.
The good news about Jesus that has been taught to them was not based on clever myths but was based on their teachers having been eyewitnesses of his magnificence when they heard the words spoken to Jesus by Jehovah when He said “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased.” These words they heard when they were on the sacred mountain. (Matthew 17:5) Therefore the words of the prophets have been made more certain and they should pay more than the usual attention to them as they would a light shining in a dark place. They know that prophecy did not come about because of man’s will but men spoke from God as they were moved by holy spirit.
2 Peter Chapter 2
Peter now warns them to expect false teachers to rise up among them and these ones would bring in destructive sects. Many in the congregations will follow their acts of loose conduct causing the truth to be spoken of in a bad light. In their greed, they will exploit them with false words but their judgment is coming fast. God did not fail to punish the angels that sinned but threw them into pits of darkness until the time of their judgment. He punished a whole world and saved only Noah and his family when he brought a flood upon ungodly people. He reduced the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes but He saved Lot, a righteous man, who was in mental distress because of their lawless deeds. Jehovah knows how to rescue those who worship Him out of trial and to reserve the ungodly for the day He reserved to cut them off.
Jehovah’s judgment is chiefly reserved for these false teachers who follow the corrupt desire of their sinful nature, who despise authority and speak abusively of those who have the responsibility for oversight of the congregations. Even the angels don’t speak in abusive terms against these disobedient ones before Jehovah out of respect for Him. These men, who are not reasonable but are like animals that are born to be caught and destroyed, will bring about their own destruction. They are self-indulgent, their hearts are trained in greediness and they love to entice others into sin. Peter describes these ones as following the course of Balaam who loved wrongdoing because of the reward it brought to him. But Jehovah reproved him by means of a donkey that He caused to speak to him to keep him from taking a wrong path
These false teachers are like fountains that have no water and they love to speak high sounding words that have no value for their listener. They feed on those who are just learning the truth and have not entirely escaped from their previous life style, promising them freedom but actually enslaving them to even more corruption. They would have been better off not ever having learned the accurate knowledge of Christ Jesus because they have returned to the filth that they had been cleaned up from and their present condition is now worse than their former condition. They are like the dog that has returned to his vomit or the pig that has been bathed that returns to wallowing in the mud. (Proverbs 26:11)
2 Peter Chapter 3
Peter writes a second letter to the brothers to tell them that he wants to stimulate their clear thinking ability so that they would keep in mind the commands of Jesus that have been taught them by the apostles and prophets. They already know that in the last days many will ridicule them because they teach and believe that the last days are eminent. These ridiculers, who were probably those who still clung to Judaism, will say that things have been the same their forefathers died and nothing has changed since the beginning of God’s creation. However, they choose to forget that God, by means of his word, destroyed a world of ungodly people when He brought the flood upon them. By means of the same word, He has determined that the current world of ungodly men will likewise be destroyed.
Peter reminds them that time in Jehovah’s eyes is not the same as it is with them. A thousand years that goes by for men is no more that a day for Him. He is exercising patience with humans because He would rather that they all attained to repentance. Yet this day will slip upon them just as a thief does. This day will bring the destruction of the Jewish system of things and all that the Jews hold sacred. This knowledge should encourage them to continue to strive to be pleasing to Jehovah as they wait for Him to act.
They have been told of these things through letters that the apostle Paul had written to them. There are some things in his letters that may be difficult to understand and which are being twisted by those who don’t have understanding but who want to be looked up to as leaders. But they also twist the remainder of the Scriptures, all of which will lead to their own destruction. Having this knowledge, they can be on guard against any that will try to mislead them and can continue growing in the knowledge and undeserved kindness of Jesus to whom glory is given now and into eternity.
The First Letter of John
This letter was written sometime before or near 70 CE but the exact date is uncertain. John was an elderly man when he wrote his letters and they were directed to the congregations near Ephesus. John wrote to strengthen the brothers due to the many false teachers that were teaching that Jesus had not come in the flesh. John referred to these ones as antichrists.
1 John Chapter 1
John writes to reassure these brothers that Jesus, who had lived in heaven with Jehovah, became flesh and he was an eyewitness to the event. He had heard the good news from Jesus with their own ears and was now imparting it to these brothers so that they could become sharers with him and with the Father and his son, Jesus. Their accepting this message would make his joy complete. This message concerned the fact that God is light and there is no darkness at all in association with him. If they are in darkness, then they are not in union with Him and they are not practicing truth. But if they are in light then they are sharers with him and the blood of Jesus has cleansed them of their sins. Anyone who says he has no sin does not have truth. But if they confess their sins, then they can gain forgiveness for these sins.
1 John Chapter 2
John prefers that these Christians not commit a sin but if they do, they have a helper with the Father, Jesus, who acts as an advocate to speak to Jehovah in their behalf. In order for a Christian to remain in union with Jesus, that is, they can say that they have come to know him then they must obey his commandments because this is only way that the love of God can be made perfect in this person. The commandments that John is here emphasizing are not new ones but are the ones that they were taught from the beginning. Yet he speaks of as new commandments because the darkness is passing away and true light is already shining. Anyone who hates his brother is in darkness and his eyes are blind so he cannot see where he is going. The one who loves his brother remains in the light and he gives no cause for stumbling.
They are not to love the world or the things of the world because if they do, the love of the Father is not in them. Everything in the world, the selfish desires that have to be satisfied, does not originate with the Father but belongs to the world and the world is passing away. Those who do the will of the father will remain forever.
These Christians are living in the last hour and the appearance of the antichrist is proof of this. The antichrist was a part of the congregation but they separated from them because they were not like these Christians. Christians are anointed and therefore have knowledge and they know that no lie originates with truth. The ones who deny that Jesus is the Christ also deny the Father and this one is a liar and the antichrist. What these Christians have been taught from the beginning should remain with them if they are to remain in union with Jesus. Because of their anointing, they need no one to teach them because their anointing teaches them and does not lie. They must continue to be righteous if they are to remain in union with Jesus who is righteous and when he is made manifest, they will have freeness of speech before him at his presence.
1 John Chapter 3
The love that the Father has shown them is made manifest in that they are called His children. As His children they do not yet know what they would be like but when Jesus is manifested to them, they know that they will be just like him. So until that time they must purify themselves so that they are like him in this way right now. Anyone who practices sin is also practicing lawlessness and since Jesus has no sin then if they are to remain in union with him, they must not practice sin. Those who practice sin originate with the Devil who has been sinning since he began and Jesus was sent to undo everything that the Devil had done.
Those born from God do not practice sin because they have His reproductive seed in them. This is the way that the children of God are differentiated from the children of the Devil. The children of the Devil do not carry on righteousness not do they love their brother. From the beginning they have been taught to love one another and not imitate Cain who was like the Devil and who did not love his brother but killed him because his own works were wicked and those of his brother were righteous. Everyone who hates his brother is a manslayer and a manslayer will not have everlasting life.
They have come to know love because Jesus set the proper example in showing love for them by giving his life in their behalf so they are now under obligation to give their life for their brothers. But if they cannot help a brother who is in need, they show that the love of God is not in them at all. So they should show their love not by words but by deeds and in truth. By doing this their hearts will not condemn them and they will have freeness of speech before Jehovah and they can be confident that as long as they observe His commandments they will receive whatever they ask from Him. Those who observe His commandments also remain in union with God and He in union with them.
1 John Chapter 4
They are warned not to simply accept an inspired expression on face value but are to test it to see if it originated with God because of the prevalence of false prophets. They know first of all that the inspired expression must confess that Jesus did come in the flesh if they are to believe that it came from God otherwise if it does not make this confession, then it is the product of the antichrists who they know are coming. As long as they remain in union with God, they will be able to conquer these ones. The antichrist originates with the world and they speak what the world wants to hear so it listens to them. But the Christian originates with God and only those who know God will listen to them and those who originate with the world will not listen to them. Having this understanding helps them differentiate between an inspired expression of truth and that of error.
John urges them to continue to love one another because this proves that they have come to know God. The love of God was shown in the fact that He sent his only-begotten son into the world that he might save many people even before they knew anything about His love for them. This automatically dictates that they are to love one another. If they confess that He sent His son as savior of the world then they will remain in union with God and He will remain in union with them. They have proof that God is love and if they show love then they will have freeness of speech on the day of judgment because there is no fear in love because with fear there is a restraint and those under fear have not been made perfect in love. Anyone who says that they love God but hates their brother is a liar. How can they love God whom they cannot see and yet not love their brother who they can see?
1 John Chapter 5
Anyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is a son of God and whoever loves the one who begets these sons will also love the sons. So they know that they love the their brothers because they love God and obey his commandments as this is what it means to love God and they do not view His commandments as being burdensome. Anyone begotten by God conquers the world and he will do this by means of his faith.
Jesus came by means of the water of baptism, with his shed blood and with the spirit that is truth. These three bear witness to his being the son of God and it is the witness that God gives so that one who puts faith in the son has God as the witness concerning His son. He that believes in the son has everlasting life and he that does not believe does not have this life. John assures these Christians that he is writing these things to them because they have put faith in Jesus, and they therefore have everlasting life. They can be confident that no matter what they ask for, God will hear them, and so they will have the things that they ask of Him.
If anyone has knowledge of his brother committing a sin, that is, one that does not incur death, he can pray in his behalf and save his brother. But if his brother commits a sin that does incur death, John does not recommend that a brother make request to God concerning this sin. Although all unrighteousness is sin, yet there is a sin that one can be forgiven for. Those born from God do not practice sin because He does not allow the wicked one to fasten his hold on them. The world lies in the power of the wicked one but because they originate with God, they are not under his power. They have been given the capability to know God and are in union with him by means of his son, Jesus Christ. They have everlasting life therefore they should guard themselves from idols.
NOTE: LXX is the Septuagint Version
***©2006 by YORWW Congregation
A chapter-by-chapter Bible Commentary offered each week by the YORWW Congregation to ardent students of Holy Scripture. This innovative new feature of Bible Study on LWF will offer insightful, indepth, and deeply probing analysis of God's Holy Word, with special emphasis upon modern day prophecy fulfillment. This is a MUST feature for all ardent students of God's Word who wish to accurately learn the bible from cover-to-cover! (Only LWF Administration post here.)
Moderator: LWF Administration
1 post • Page 1 of 1