Hebrews 4

Overview

  • The author says:
  • Now that you know there is a rest, a Promised Land, still out there, don’t stop short of getting there.
  • We, just like out ancestors of the exodus, have heard the good news that God is delivering us.
  • But they didn’t get any value from hearing that message because they didn’t combine faith and obedience (follow-through).
  • Yet, we have! And we get to enter God’s rest!
  • Remember the scripture where God said, “I swear I won’t let them get to the end of the journey and enter the Promise Land. No restful reward for you!’”
  • But also remember that God has rested (i.e. reigned as king), and has had a restful reward (i.e. a kingdom of his own) available to his people since the last act of creation.
  • In the beginning of the Bible, it says that, “On the seventh day, God rested from all his work.”
  • Yet in the passage above it says, “No restful reward for you!”
  • It turns out God’s rest, his full reign, has been available since the beginning of time and the people back then were unable to get into it because they just couldn’t keep trusting in God.
  • So God picked a day when people could enter his reign, and he called that day “today.”
  • God established that “day” 500 years after the exodus, when King David wrote that poem that said, “If you can hear God’s voice today, don’t ignore it.”
  • Think about it: If Joshua, who lead the Israelites into the Promise Land, had managed to bring the people fully into God’s rest (i.e. under his reign), then why would God still have to establish a “day” when people can enter it?
  • Well, all this means that God’s perpetual-seventh-day-reign-like rest is still available for his people to enter.
  • And anyone who enters God’s rest can quit working to try and be saved. They can chill under God’s care alongside God.
  • So let’s try really hard to join God in his reign, and make sure that none of us miss out because we stop trusting and following God like our ancestors did.
  • God’s promises to his people (to make them his own and bring them into his reign) are still alive and active.
  • His promises are sharp, like a duel-edge knife that can be used to cut even the smallest, most integrated bits of you in two. He can see through your deepest thoughts and attitudes right into your heart.
  • Nothing can be hidden from God, not one thing in all creation. Like a sacrificial animal cut open, we are all laid bare, vulnerable to be inspected by God, the one who will judge if we have a blemish on our hearts.
  • But we have a high priest, a person who makes atonement for us, who didn’t just pass through the curtain of the temple into the Holy of Holies, but actually passed through the curtain of heaven to the real throne of God–and his name is Jesus, the Son of God, the one in whom we have faith.
  • Our high priest, Jesus, can totally empathize with us and our weaknesses because he, too, was tempted in every way, but yet he managed not to go astray.
  • That should give us the confidence to enter into God’s presence any time we want to receive mercy and grace in our time of need.

Historical Context

Sabbath Rest

The term “Sabbath” (Hebrew Shabbath) means “day of rest”. It derives from the Hebrew verb shavath defined as “repose, or to desist from exertion” (often “cease”). Another noun form of this root, shebeth (“cessation”), is identical to the common word “to sit.”4

Sabbath was the seventh day in the Jewish calendar, and it was differentiated and set apart (sanctified) from the other six days based on the seven day creation account in Genesis 1. The seventh day is assigned a special significance (blessing) by God, based on the fact that it was the day on which God rested. All subsequent commands to keep the Sabbath assume that this sanctity of the seventh day has already been established (here, at creation) by God. Thus, the Israelites are not commanded to sanctify the Sabbath, but to conduct themselves in such a way as not to profane it (Exodus 31:14; Isaiah 56:2).3

The Torah portrays the Sabbath concept both in terms of resting on the seventh day and allowing land to lie fallow during each seventh year. The motivation is described as going beyond a sign and remembrance of Yahweh’s original rest during the creation week and extends to a concern that one’s servants, family, and livestock be able to rest and be refreshed from their work.4

The Torah describes disobedience to the command to keep the Sabbath day holy as punishable by death and failing to observe Sabbath years would be made up for during the captivity that would result from breaking covenant.4

The Old Testament describes the Sabbath as having three purposes: 1) To commemorate God’s creation of the universe, on the seventh day of which God rested from (or ceased) his work; 2) To commemorate the Israelites’ redemption from slavery in ancient Egypt; and 3) As a “taste” the Messianic Age.4

The Day of Atonement was regarded as a “Sabbath of Sabbaths.” It was on this day alone that the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies inside the Tabernacle where the Ark of the Covenant contained the stone tablets on which the Ten Commandments were engraved. The presence of YHWH in Holy of Holies required that the High Priest be first purified by the sacrifice of a bull in a prescribed manner. Entering the Most Holy Place on other days or without fulfilling the ritual requirements would subject the priest to death.4

The rabbis often asserted that God’s Sabbath (i.e., “the Day of Rest”) never ceased because the regular formula of Genesis 1, “there was evening and there was morning, day. . .,” is never mentioned in connection with this seventh day of creation in Gen. 2:2,3.1

In Matthew 11:25-30 Jesus offered all “rest” in him, an obvious “Sabbath” illusion, with the added claim that he is the source of the rest. These verses immediately precede the “Sabbath controversy” of chapter 12. In chapter 12 Jesus boldly identified himself with God, and indeed, as God, by claiming to be greater than David, greater than the priests, and greater than the temple. He claimed to be the Lord of the Sabbath, thus having the authority not only to interpret the Sabbath Law, but even to set it aside altogether. Jesus set himself up as the true rest, the true Sabbath, the true peace of God.3

Observations

  • The theological issue involves the faith (salvation) or lack of faith of the Israelite adults (20 years and up) who participated in the exodus. Did their lack of faith in the spies’ report mean that (1) they were not allowed to enter Canaan or (2) they were not allowed to enter heaven?1
  • Psalm 95:7-11 has been quoted several times in the context of chapters 3 and 4. Each time a different part of the OT passage is emphasized (like a sermon). 1) 3:7-11 emphasizes “do not harden your hearts” of Ps. 95:8; 2) 3:15 emphasizes “when they provoked Me” of Ps. 95:9; 3)  4:3,5 emphasizes “they shall not enter My rest” of Ps. 95:11; 4)  4:7 emphasizes “today” of Ps. 95:7.1
  • Israel who, though entering Canaan, did not in fact enter fully into God’s rest, in the higher and better sense of becoming a holy nation of righteous and devoted worshipers of God, as God had commanded them (Exodus 19:3-6). Instead they continued to rebel against God time and again; they rejected the theocracy, demanded a king like the nations around them, worshiped idols, oppressed the poor, and even sacrificed their children to Molech. Thus, while entering a type of God’s rest, they failed to attain any reality of it.2
  • The author wants to assure his readers that the Jews failure to enter God’s rest was not due to the fact that the rest had not been prepared, because it existed since the day that God finished his work of creation. This is proved by the words, “And God rested” in one place, and the words “my rest” in another. God’s rest is therefore a fact, and it is clearly his purpose that some shall enter into it.2
  • The argument is that a rest remains because it was not entered by the Jews. Therefore, it was not entering Canaan nor keeping the sabbath day, for they did that. Thus, the true rest referred to here can be neither of those things but must be understood as a reference back to the rest of God himself which is still in progress, a rest the Jews could have entered but did not, and likewise a rest that many now have the right to enter but may come short of it.2
  • The original audience may have conclude that they had missed entering into their rest (i.e., their spiritual inheritance) because the Lord had not yet returned. They expected Jesus to return soon after he ascended into heaven (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Thess. 2:1-12). The writer urged his readers to wait patiently for the Lord to return (10: 36-37). None of the original readers had failed to enter their rest (inheritance) because they had missed the Lord’s return.5
  • The author implies to his audience that there is a rest from the burden of the law of Moses available to them. In Christ they now able to be kept in perfect peace, an ease that was not available to their ancestors.7
  • Some theologians think that the “word of God” used in Hebrews is based on the Egyptian usage of “word” (logos) meaning “reckoning” or “calling into account.” They assert this fits the original author’s overall argument, that there will be a divine reckoning through examination, using the metaphor of a surgeon (p. 227). Therefore, this text is not a description of the revealed word of God, but the discerning judgment of God.1
  • The word “sword” used by the author (Greek, machairan) was originally a small one like a boning knife that was used to cut up meat. In its double-edged form it was a symbol of judges and magistrates in the Roman world. It illustrated the power of those officials to turn both ways to get to the bottom of a case. However it is possible that by the time Hebrews was written machaira (sword) had come to mean a sword of any size, long or short.5
  • The author implies that the word of God can express and distinguish what is “soulish” (natural) and what is spiritual in our motivation and actions. It can do so even when those elements are as close to each other as our joints and marrow. It is even able to expose our thoughts and attitudes (cf. 1 Cor. 4:5). God’s Word can reach to the innermost recesses of our being. We must not think that we can bluff our way out of anything, for there are no secrets hidden from God.5
  • Many Christians think this verse shows that God will judge unbelievers with his piercing word, but in the context it refers to God judging believers to determine their rewards.5
  • In Hebrew thought the “heart” represents the entire person and their inner motivation.1
  • “Everything is uncovered” in the text is a metaphor that literally means “to expose the neck by lifting the chin.” This OT metaphor was a warning to judges; here it refers to meeting God face-to-face on judgment day, who has full knowledge of our motives.1
  • The author, in telling the readers they will be cut by the word of God, may have been making an allusion to to the state in which the sacrifices called burnt offerings were laid on the altar. The animals were stripped of their skins, their breasts were ripped open, their bowels were taken out, and their backbone was cleft. Then they were divided into quarters; so that outwardly and inwardly they were fully exposed to the eye of the priest, in order to a thorough examination (Leviticus 1:5,6); and, being found without blemish, they were laid in their natural order upon the altar and burnt.2
  • The “word of God” is most plainly “what God speaks.” The idea here is, that what “God had said” is suited to detect hypocrisy and to lay open the true nature of the feelings of the soul, so that there can be no escape for the guilty.6
  • Isaiah 49 uses the sharp sword analogy as well. Here Isaiah uses it to describe himself as the tool/weapon God will use to reconcile Israel (his people) back to himself. In Hebrews, the author argues that Jesus is the ideal representative of God (greater than the greatest prophet, Moses), whose words can reconcile all his people.
  • To separate the soul from spirit implies the taking of a life. The idea here is that the word of God is like a sharp sword that inflicts deadly wounds. The sinner “dies” as if an actual sword had pierced his heart.6
  • Jesus’ “ascending into heaven,” or literally passing “through the heavens” contrasts with the first High Priest, Aaron’s merely passing beyond certain enclosures in the tabernacle.2
  • “Let us approach God’s throne” is a phrase that emphasizes the subject’s continual involvement with this activity (such as, “let us continually be approaching”). This is a technical term in the Septuagint (LXX) for a priest approaching God. In Hebrews this term is used of fallen mankind’s ability to approach God as if they too were priests because of Jesus’ sacrifice (cf. 4:16; 7:25; 10:1,22; 11:6). Jesus has truly made his followers a “kingdom of priests” (cf. Exod. 19:5,6; I Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6).1
  • The high priests of Judaism could only approach God at his earthly throne (the ark of the covenant), in the holy of holies in the temple, once a year. God’s throne of judgment has now become a throne of grace (undeserved help) for us to approach at any time.5

Discussion

  • Do you think Jesus could have sinned? Why or why not?
  • How does the word of God divide the soul and spirit? What does that mean to you? Why would the author say “soul” and “spirit”? What are the differences? Why would they need to be divided? How have you experienced this in your own life?
  • What does the author mean that the word of God is alive and active? What word is he talking about? What implications does that have? How should that effect the way we live?
  • What “rest” do you think is promised to you? What does it look like? Feel like? When is it reached?
  • We often try to please God by trying to do the right thing, or feel guilty that we are not living up to his standards when we inevitably fail. How does the concept of “rest” play into this thinking? How does it make you think differently about your relationship with God and what he expects of you?
  • The author says we can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence… in our time of need.” Do you feel you can do this freely? What hesitations do you have? How does Jesus give us confidence?

References

  1. Utley’s commentary
  2. Coffman’s commentary
  3. Deffinbaugh’s commentary
  4. Biblical Sabbath
  5. Constables’ commentary
  6. Barnes’ commentary
  7. Gill’s commentary

Philippians 3

Scripture: Philippians 3:1-21

Overview:

  • Paul’s all, “Look here, crew, keep a stiff upper lip. Rejoice! Let me tell you one more time all about how God wins so that you can be stalwart in the face of opposition.”
  • Then Paul tells them that the punks in Philippi giving them a hard time are, in reality, just garbage-eating junkyard dogs who think their doing good but actually doing evil, and who might as well be advocating body-scaring mutilation when they promote circumcision.
  • Paul reminds them, “We’re the ones who are members of God’s true nation (because our hearts are circumcised, not our… you know), and it’s us who truly serve God, and we serve God in spirit (not by doing things to our bodies and thinking that’s holy), and we don’t need to have national pride, or even care what nation we’re from, because we’re all one in Christ.”
  • Then Paul says that if the Jews in Philippi think they have the right qualifications for holiness, then Paul has more. He lays down the smack down like this:
  • Circumcised on the eighth day, according to the law? Check. Born of two Jewish parents? Check. Born in one of the coolest, most faithful, king-producing tribes? Check. A Jew among Jews? Yep. Faithful to the Law? Yeah, super strict, every day adherence kinda faithful. Passionate about Judaism? So passionate he hunted down Christians. Ever broke the Law? Nope. Time to drop the mic? Booyah.
  • Yet, despite all his credentials, Paul says he’d willingly tossed them all overboard for Jesus. Everything is garbage compared to knowing Christ.
  • Paul tells them that just as God was “found” in human form, so Paul wants to be “found” in Jesus’ form. Real rightness with God comes from having faith in Jesus, not by obeying a bunch of rules.
  • Paul goes on, “I want to be like Jesus so much that I’m okay suffering like he did and dying like he did, because one day I will rise from the dead like Jesus did.”
  • Paul reminds the Philippians that he hasn’t reached his goal of fully being like Jesus yet, but like a runner in a race he stays focused on reaching towards Jesus, because that was the reason Jesus reached out to Paul.
  • “Like an athlete being called to the podium to get a prize,” Paul says, “God is calling me to heaven to receive mine.”
  • Mature people will agree with Paul, he’s sure, or else God will make it clear to them at some point. Regardless, Paul hopes for his Philly peeps to continue to live up to the status they’d been given by Jesus.
  • Paul wants them to follow his example in pursuing Jesus-likeness. He tells them that he’s saddened by those who think the Cross is not important, because it is the very defining attribute of God’s love.
  • Those that don’t believe in a suffering, self-sacrificing God are destined for destruction, Paul says. “Their real god is their own human desire, and the things they think will bring them glory will actually bring them shame, and they think they’re focused on heaven, but they’re really focused on earth.”
  • Paul tells the Philippians–people living in a Roman outpost who act as if they are in Rome itself–that they are actually citizens of heaven–people living in an outpost of the kingdom of God who should act as if they are living side-by-side with God himself.
  • “The real emperor, Jesus, is coming,” Paul says, “and he will rule over everything and transform our lowly, temporary bodies into eternal, glorious bodies like he has.”

Historical Context:

Jeremiah 9

Paul echoes Jeremiah 9:23-26, where the Lord says that the truly wise will boast in the Lord (thus not put confidence in such “flesh” matters as wisdom, strength, wealth), in a context where “the whole house of Israel” is judged as being “uncircumcised in heart.” Jeremiah says that true boasting in the Lord means to “understand and know me,” in the sense of knowing God’s true character—which is exactly the point Paul will pick up in Philippians 3:8-11. As in Jeremiah, “boasting” here carries the nuance of putting one’s full trust and confidence in Christ.6

Dogs 

Dogs in the First Century were mostly without masters; they wandered at large in the streets and fields, and feed upon garbage, corpses, etc. They were considered unclean. The Jews called the heathen dogs.1

Paul is saying that the Jews causing problems in Philippi think that they are adhering to the law, but in doing so they have so broken the intent of the law and so have become ritually unclean, just like the Gentiles.

The Jews often spoke of themselves as banqueters seated at the Father’s table. The Gentiles would be dogs greedily snatching up the refuse meat which fell therefrom. Here Paul reverses the image.7

Evil workers

The Jews thought that they were good workers. They obeyed all their laws. And so, they thought that God would approve of them. Paul said that, in fact, they were evil.3

In trying to make Gentiles submit to Torah observance, Judaizers (and their contemporary counterparts, the legalists) do not work “righteousness” at all but evil.6

Circumcision

It is likely that the people causing problems in the Philippian church were Jews who thought all Gentile converts had to be circumcised and follow the laws of Moses (i.e. become Jewish) to believe in the Messiah.

In this letter, Paul does a bit of wordplay between the Greek word “katatomē” (off-cutting” or “down-cutting”), and the word “peritomē (“around cutting” or “circumcision”) to show his disdain for their beliefs. Cutting of the body was also a pagan form of worship, so Paul is drawing a negative parallel with both Jewish and Gentile customs.6

Paul is essentially saying the Jews were causing injury to the true faith. It was as if they were cutting it to piece.3

Paul emphasizes that the physical cutting of the body to join the nation of Isreal will not save the Philippians. The church in Philippi must realize that the spiritual circumcision of the heart through faith in Jesus is what truly admits one to God’s real Isreal, his kingdom, the church. They are a part of the redeemed covenant community by a circumcision done not with human hands, but by Christ himself.4

Paul’s further comments using the word “flesh” may be a very derogative term referring to the actual flesh cut away in circumcision.

Tribe of Benjamin

The Tribe of Benjamin was well regarded for several historical reasons:

  1. Benjamin was the child of Rachel, the wife whom Jacob loved most
  2. Benjamin was the only son of Jacob  born in the promised land (Genesis 35:16-18)
  3. Benjamin was untainted by the sin of Judah against Tamar (Genesis 38)
  4. The tribe of Benjamin was located near the temple, and indeed it has been said that the temple was on the dividing line between them and the tribe of Judah
  5. The tribe of Benjamin provided Israel their first king (Saul)
  6. Jerusalem was in the territory of Benjamin.
  7. They provided a very wise man, Mordecai, who saved the Jews during Esther’s time (the reason for the Feast of Purim)
  8. Benjamin remained loyal to David’s family when the Israel split and became two countries
  9. Benjamin held the post of honor in the Israelite army
  10. After the Exile, Benjamin and Judah formed the core of the restoration community

Paul imitating Jesus

Paul parallels his description of Jesus in chapter 2 with his own experience in chapter 3.

Jesus (Philippians 2:6-11) Paul (Philippians 3:7-11)
 [Jesus] being in very nature God I, myself, have reasons for such confidence… circumcised on the eighth day… of the tribe of Benjamin… a Hebrew of Hebrews…
 He made himself nothing by taking on the very nature of a servant Whatever were gains to me I now consider loss… I consider them garbage
 And being found in appearance a man he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!  …I may be found in [Christ]… [I want] participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in death
 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place  I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection

Citizenship

The word Paul uses for “citizenship” (Greek: politeuma) is found nowhere else in the New Testament. It properly means, any public measure, administration of the state, the manner in which the affairs of a state are administered; and then the state itself, the community, commonwealth, those who are bound under the same laws, and associated in the same society.1

Paul goes on to say that “we await a Savior… the Lord…” This is a play on the Philippians; Roman citizenship and what that entailed. The primary title for the Roman emperor was “lord and savior”; Paul now puts those two words side by side: “our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ .”6 This verse is saying, “Jesus is Lord, and Caesar isn’t. Caesar’s empire, of which Philippi is a colonial outpost, is the parody; Jesus’ empire, of which the Philippian church is a colonial outpost, is the reality.”1

Observations:

  • The word “flesh” in Philippians seems to refer to every advantage which a person may have of birth and/or to any external conformity to the law, such as circumcision.1
  • The Mosaic law required that circumcision should be performed on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12; Leviticus 12:3).1
  • When Paul says he regards his past as “loss in comparison with the knowledge of Christ,” the comparison he is making is to sailors throwing cargo overboard in a storm to save their own lives. Valuable as the shipment may be, they are willing to throw it all overboard to save themselves.1
  • “I consider them garbage.” The word “garbage” (Greek: skubalon) occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. It means, properly, dregs, refuse; what is thrown away as worthless; chaff, feces, or the refuse of a table or of slaughtered animals; and then filth of any kind.1
  • The  expression “in Christ,” or “in him,” is found more than one hundred fifty times in Paul’s letters.2
  • in the New Testament Greek, the word for “faith” almost never has the sense of subjective, cognitive believing. The true meaning is nearer to our word “fidelity” or “faithfulness,” which carries with it a sense of obedience, action, thought as shown by deed.2
  • Paul says that he has abandoned works as a way to secure favor with God and has turned instead to faith in Christ as the only means by which one may be justified before God. He wants to “be found in him,” that is, when God is judging mankind, he doesn’t want to be “found” in any other way.4
  • The idea of “partaking of Christ’s sufferings,” “taking up the cross,” and being “crucified with Christ,” as stressed throughout the New Testament (1 Peter 4:13; Romans 8:17; 2 Corinthians 1:5; Colossians 1:24; 2 Timothy 2:11). It was expected that every Christian should suffer as a result of his faith.2
  • Paul is not referring here to our participation in Christ’s sufferings on the cross as if somehow our sufferings could contribute to Christ’s atoning work.  What he means is that we share in Christ’s sufferings since he too lived and walked in a fallen world. The relationship between experiencing resurrection power and suffering is that the former becomes most evident in the context of the latter. His power through us is seen most strikingly in the midst of our struggles.4
  • There are two ways to look at the phrase “[I] take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.” A) Paul wants to take hold of Christ because Christ had already taken hold of him. This translation indicates the ground on which Paul can pursue Christ. B) Christ laid hold of Paul for the purpose of Paul pursuing him. Though both interpretations are certainly true, this latter one seems to be better. Paul’s point is not that it is because of Christ that he can seek Him, but that Christ saved him for this purpose. Thus the reason Christ took hold of Paul—undoubtedly a reference back to his Damascus road experience—was so that Paul might know him fully.4
  • When Paul says “God has called me heavenward,” the word “called” refers to the First Century “call” of the official presiding over of the athletic games for the victorious athlete to step up unto the podium and receive their prizes. The “prize” Paul expects to receive is the ability to know Christ perfectly.4
  • It is interesting that Paul calls the Philippians’ opponents “enemies of the cross of Christ.” This group of people obviously had a major problem with the cross in particular. They likely opposed the idea itself—or at least the centrality of the idea—of the cross, most likely because they thought it demonstrated weakness.According to 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, the cross stands as God’s utter contradiction to human wisdom and power, and therefore inevitably creates enemies of those who refuse to go that route.6
  • hen Paul says that “their god is the belly,”  he may be referring to the Judaizers who held a strong belief in ritual purity and adherence to certain Jewish food laws. The problem with this is that the term belly seems to connote some degree of licentiousness and an inordinate attentiveness to one’s sensual needs. If this is true, then the ascetic practices of the Judaizers would hardly come under such a rebuke. It may be, as many have suggested, that Paul’s use “belly” is roughly equivalent to his use of “flesh” in other contexts.4
  • Paul stresses imitation of Jesus now because just as knowing Christ now means being conformed into the likeness of his death (v. 10), so in our final glory we will be conformed into the likeness of his resurrection.4
  • Paul’s description of his past and how that relates to his present circumstances is an echo of Paul’s hymn in Chapter 2 about Jesus lowering himself to become a slave. Formerly, Christ did not consider God-likeness to accrue to his own advantage, but ‘made himself nothing,’ so Paul now considers his former ‘gain’ as ‘loss’ for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ. As Christ was ‘found’ in ‘human likeness,’ Paul is now ‘found in Christ,’ knowing whom means to be ‘conformed’ (echoing the morphe of a slave, 2:7) to his death (2:8). Finally, as Christ’s humiliation was followed by God’s ‘glorious’ vindication of him, so present ‘suffering’ for Christ’s sake will be followed by ‘glory’ in the form of resurrection. As he has appealed to the Philippians to do, Paul thus exemplifies Christ’s ‘mindset,’ embracing suffering and death. This is what it means ‘to know Christ,’ to be ‘found in him’ by means of his gift of righteousness; and as he was raised and exalted to the highest place, so Paul and the Philippian believers, because they are now ‘conformed to Christ’ in his death, will also be ‘conformed’ to his glory.7

Discussion:

  • When we think of dying, we wish to have our departure made as comfortable as possible1, yet Paul challenges the Philippians to be willing to die in humiliation like Jesus. What do you think of this challenge? Why shouldn’t we be comfortable? What does suffering accomplish?
  • Paul asks the Philippians to imitate him as he imitates Christ. Who would you tell to imitate you? In what way?
  • Paul set aside all his cultural credentials in pursuit of Jesus. What cultural credentials do we hold onto today? What defines us that we don’t want to let go of? Jobs? Nationality? Social economic class?
  • Paul tells them to be citizens of God’s realm, not Rome and to believe in Jesus as the true emperor, not Nero. How does this concept of “heavenly citizenship” play out in modern day America? What defines us as Americans that opposes our definition as members of the kingdom of God? Politics? State/national pride? Consumerism? Democracy? Manifest destiny? Just as if we lived abroad today, which laws of the country we’re temporarily living in should we adhere to to and which should we realize don’t apply to us based on our true homeland?

References:

  1. Barnes’ commentary
  2. Coffman’s commentary
  3. Easy English commentary
  4. Herrick’s commentary
  5. Hagelberg’s commentary
  6. IVP commentary
  7. Constable’s commentary

Coffee and Theology Podcast: Episode 4 – Life and the Afterlife in the First Century

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In the latest episode of Coffee and Theology special guest, Scott the Scholar, talks with us about greater context of the world at the time of the formation of the New Testament.

We also discuss the influence of Vikings on video games, why Boba Fett and Judas shared the same fate, what you should name your pet wolf, and other burning issues surrounding the Afterlife.

Yes, we go from the first century to life after death. That’s just how we do it.

As always, the coffee is provided by Urban Pioneer, the finest coffee in all of Long Beach.

You can also find us on iTunes. Subscribe today!