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Title: A Brief Bible History - A Survey of the Old and New Testaments
Author: Machen, John Gresham, Boyd, James Oscar
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Brief Bible History - A Survey of the Old and New Testaments" ***






  Printed in the United States of America




  LESSON                                                         PAGE

  I. Before Abraham                                                 7

  II. The Patriarchs                                               10

  III. Egyptian Bondage and Deliverance                            13

  IV. Moses as Leader and Lawgiver                                 16

  V. The Conquest and Settlement of Canaan                         19

  VI. The Period of the Judges                                     22

  VII. Samuel and Saul: Prophecy and Monarchy                      25

  VIII. David and Solomon: Psalms and Wisdom                       28

  IX. The Kingdom of Israel                                        31

  X. The Kingdom of Judah, to Hezekiah                             34

  XI. Judah, from Hezekiah to the Exile                            37

  XII. The Exile and the Restoration                               40

  XIII. The Jewish State Under Persia                              43

  XIV. Israel's Religious Life                                     46

  XV. "The Coming One"                                             49



  I. The Preparation                                               55

  II. The Coming of the Lord                                       58

  III. The Baptism                                                 61

  IV. The Early Judean Ministry                                    64

  V. The Beginning of the Galilæan Ministry                        67

  VI. The Period of Popularity                                     70

  VII. The Turning Point                                           73

  VIII. Jesus as Messiah                                           76

  IX. The Prediction of the Cross                                  79

  X. The Last Journeys                                             83

  XI. Teaching in the Temple                                       86

  XII. The Crucifixion                                             89

  XIII. The Resurrection                                           93

  XIV. The Beginnings of the Christian Church                      96

  XV. The First Persecution                                        99

  XVI. The Conversion of Paul                                     102

  XVII. The Gospel Given to the Gentiles                          105

  XVIII. The First Missionary Journey and the Apostolic Council   109

  XIX. The Second Missionary Journey                              112

  XX. The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistle to the Galatians  115

  XXI. The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistles to the
        Corinthians and to the Romans                             118

  XXII. The First Imprisonment of Paul                            122

  XXIII. The Close of the Apostolic Age                           125


This book surveys the history of God's redeeming grace. It reviews
Old Testament history, disclosing the stream of God's redeeming
purposes flowing down through the older times. It reviews New
Testament history, disclosing the broadening and deepening of that
purpose for us men and for mankind in our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ and his Church.

The chapters included in this book appear also as a part of Teaching
the Teacher, a First Book in Teacher Training, and are issued in
this form to supply the demand for a brief Bible history, for
popular reading.



The Development of the Church in Old Testament Times

By James Oscar Boyd, Ph.D., D.D.


Before Abraham

Genesis, Chapters 1 to 11

That part of the globe which comes within the view of the Old
Testament is mostly the region, about fifteen hundred miles square,
lying in the southwestern part of Asia, the southeastern part of
Europe, and the northeastern part of Africa. This is where the three
continents of the Eastern Hemisphere come together. Roughly speaking
it includes Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, Arabia, and
Egypt, with a fringe of other lands and islands stretching beyond

The heart of all this territory is that little strip of land, lying
between the desert on the east and the Mediterranean Sea on the
west, known as Syria and Palestine. It is some four hundred miles
in length and varies from fifty to one hundred miles in width. It
has been well called "the bridge of the world," for like a bridge it
joins the largest continent, Asia, to the next largest, Africa. And
as Palestine binds the lands together, so the famous Suez Canal at
its southern end now binds the seas together. To-day, therefore, as
in all the past, this spot is the crossroads of the nations.

Palestine has long been called the "Holy Land," because it is the
scene of most of the Bible story. Yet it would be a mistake to
suppose that that Bible story is limited to Palestine. The book
of Genesis does not introduce the reader to Canaan (as it calls
Palestine) until he has reached its twelfth chapter. There is a
sense in which the history of God's people begins with Abraham, and
it was Abraham who went at God's bidding into the land of Canaan.
The story of Abraham will be taken up in the second lesson; but the
Bible puts before the life of Abraham all the familiar story that
lies in the first eleven chapters of Genesis and that forms the
background for the figures of Abraham and his descendants.

The location of this background is the basin of the Tigris and
Euphrates Rivers. These two streams are mentioned in Gen. 2:14 (the
Tigris under the form "Hiddekel") as the third and fourth "heads"
of the "river that went out of Eden to water the garden" in which
our first parents dwelt. The region is at the southern end of what
is now called Mesopotamia. At the northern end of this river basin
towers the superb mountain known as Mount Ararat. But the "mountains
of Ararat," mentioned in Gen. 8:4 as the place where Noah's ark
rested when the waters of the Flood had subsided, are no particular
peak, but are the highlands of Kurdistan, which in ancient times
were called Urartu (Ararat). Between Kurdistan on the north and the
Persian Gulf on the south, the highlands of Persia on the east and
the great Syrian Desert on the west, occurred the earliest drama of
human history.

That drama was a tragedy. It became a tragedy because of man's sin.
The wonderful poem of creation in Gen., ch. 1, has for the refrain
of its six stanzas, "God saw that it was good." Best of all was man,
the last and highest of God's works--man, made in "his own image,"
after his likeness. On the sixth "day," when God made man, God said
of his work, "Behold, it was very good." More than that: through
the kindness of God man is put in a "garden," and is ordered to
"dress it and to keep it." Ch. 2:15. Adam sees his superiority to
the rest of the animal kingdom, over which he is given "dominion."
He is thus prepared to appreciate the woman as a helpmeet for him,
so that the unit of society may ever mean for him one man and one
woman with their children. Adam is also warned against sin as having
disobedience for its root and death as its result.

All this prepares us to understand the temptation, the miserable
fall of the woman and the man, their terror, shame, and punishment.
Ch. 3. And we are not surprised to see the unfolding of sin in the
life of their descendants, beginning with Cain's murder of Abel, and
growing until God sweeps all away in a universal deluge. Chs. 4, 6.

God's tender love for his foolish, rebellious creatures "will not
let them go." At the gates of the garden from which their sin has
forever banished them, God already declares his purpose to "bruise"
the head of that serpent, Rom. 16:20, who had brought "sin into
the world and death by sin," Gen. 3:15. Through the "seed of the
woman"--a "Son of man" of some future day--sinful man can escape
the death he has brought upon himself. And from Seth, the child
"appointed instead of" murdered Abel, a line of men descends, who
believe this promise of God. Ch. 5. In Enoch we find them "walking
with God," v. 24, in a fellowship that seemed lost when paradise
was lost. In Lamech we find them hoping with each new generation
that God's curse will be at length removed. V. 29. And in Noah we
find them obedient to a positive command of God, ch. 6:22, as Adam
had been disobedient.

In the Flood, Noah and his family of eight were the only persons to
survive. When they had come from the ark after the Flood, God gave
them the promise that he would not again wipe out "all flesh." Ch.
9:11. But after it appeared that God's judgments had not made them
fear him, God was just as angry with Noah's descendants as he had
been with the men before the Flood. Pride led them to build a tower
to be a rallying point for their worship of self. But God showed
them that men cannot long work together with a sinful purpose as
their common object; he broke up their unity in sin by confusing
their speech, ch. 11, and scattering them over the earth, ch. 10.
This second disappointment found its brighter side in the line of
men descended from Noah through Shem, ch. 11:10, who also cherished
God's promises. And the last stroke of the writer's pen in these
earliest chapters of the Bible introduces the reader to the family
of Terah in that line of Shem, and thus prepares the way for a
closer acquaintance with Terah's son, Abraham, "the friend of God."


     1. About how large is the world of the
        Old Testament, and where does it lie?

     2. What special importance has Palestine because of its position?

     3. How much of the story in Genesis is told before we are
        carried to Palestine?

     4. Locate on a map the scene of those earliest events in human

     5. Show how the first two chapters of Genesis prepare for the
        tragedy of sin and death that follows.

     6. How does the brighter side of hope and faith appear from Adam
        to Noah?

     7. What effect did the Flood have on men's sin and their faith
        in God?

     8. Trace the descent of the man God chose to become "the father
        of the faithful."


The Patriarchs

Genesis, Chapters 12 to 50

God's purpose to save and bless all mankind was to be carried out
in a wonderful way. He selected and "called" one man to become the
head and ancestor of a single nation. And in this man and the nation
descended from him, God purposed to bless the whole world.

Abraham was that man, and Israel was that nation. God made known
his purpose in what the Bible calls the Promise, Gal. 3:17, the
Blessing, v. 14, or the Covenant, v. 17. Its terms are given many
times over in the book of Genesis, but the essence of it lies
already in the first word of God to Abraham, Gen. 12:3, "In thee
shall all the families of the earth be blessed."

To believe this promise was a work of faith. It was against all
appearances and all probability. Yet this was just where the
religious value of that promise lay for Abraham and for his children
after him--in faith. They had to believe something on the basis
solely of their confidence in the One who had promised it. Or
rather, they had to believe in that Person, the personal Jehovah,
their God. They must absolutely trust him. To do so, they must "know
him." And that they might know him, he must reveal himself to them.
That is why we read all through Genesis of God's "appearing" or
"speaking" to this or the other patriarch. However he accomplished
it, God was always trying thus to make them better acquainted with
himself; for such knowledge was to be the basis of their faith. Upon
faith in him depended their faith in his word, and upon faith in
his word depended their power to keep alive in the world that true
religion which was destined for all men and which we to-day share.
Abraham's God is our God.

Not Abraham's great wealth in servants, Gen. 14:14, and in flocks
and herds, ch. 13:2, 6, but the promise of God to bless, constituted
the true "birthright" in Abraham's family. Ishmael, the child of
doubt, missed it; and Isaac, the child of faith, obtained it. Gal.
4:23. Esau "despised" it, because he was "a profane [irreligious]
person," Heb. 12:16, and Jacob schemed to obtain it by purchase,
Gen. 25:31, and by fraud, ch. 27:19. Jacob bequeathed it to his
sons, ch. 49, and Moses delivered it in memorable poetic form to
the nation to retain and rehearse forever. Deut., ch. 32.

When Abraham, the son of Terah, entered Canaan with Sarah his
wife and Lot his nephew and their great company of servants and
followers, he was obeying the command of his God. He no sooner
enters it than God gives him a promise that binds up this land with
him and his descendants. Gen. 13:14-17. Yet we must not suppose
that Abraham settled down in this Promised Land in the way that
the Pilgrim Fathers settled in the Old Colony. Although Canaan is
promised to the "seed" of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a possession,
they did not themselves obtain a foothold in it. Apart from the
field of the cave Machpelah, at Hebron in the south, Gen., ch.
23, and a "shoulder" (_shechem_) or fragment of land near Shechem
("Jacob's Well"), in the center of Canaan, the patriarchs did
not acquire a foot of the soil of what was to become "the Holy
Land." Abraham wandered about, even going down to Egypt and back.
Isaac was sometimes at Hebron and sometimes at Beer-sheba on the
extreme southern verge of the land. Jacob spent much of his manhood
in Mesopotamia, and of his old age in Egypt. For after divine
Providence in a remarkable manner had transplanted one of Jacob's
sons, Joseph, into new soil, Gen., ch. 37, his father and his
brothers were drawn after him, with the way for their long Egyptian
residence providentially prepared for them, Gen. 50:20.

Side by side with the growth of a nation out of an individual we
find God's choice of the direction which that growth should take.
Not all, even of Abraham's family, were to become part of the
future people of God. So Lot, Abraham's nephew, separates from
him, and thereafter he and his descendants, the Ammonites and the
Moabites, go their own way. As between Abraham's sons, Ishmael is
cast out, and Isaac, Sarah's son, is selected. And between Isaac's
two sons, Esau and Jacob, the choice falls on Jacob. All twelve of
Jacob's sons are included in the purpose of God, and for this reason
the nation is called after Jacob, though usually under his name
"Israel," which God gave him after his experience of wrestling with
"the angel of the Lord" at the river Jabbok. Gen. 32:22. Those sons
of his are to become the heads of the future nation of the "twelve
tribes", Acts 26:7.

Even while Lot, Ishmael, and Esau are thus being cut off, the
greatest care is taken to keep the descent of the future nation pure
to the blood of Terah's house. Those three men all married alien
wives: Lot probably a woman of Sodom, Ishmael an Egyptian, and
Esau two Hittite women. The mother of Isaac was Sarah, the mother
of Jacob was Rebekah, and the mothers of eight of the twelve sons
of Jacob were Leah and Rachel; and all these women belonged to that
same house of Terah to which their husbands belonged. Indeed, much
of Genesis is taken up with the explanation of how Isaac and Jacob
were kept from intermarrying with the peoples among whom they lived.

The last quarter of the book, which is occupied with the story of
Joseph and his brethren, is designed to link these "fathers" and
their God with the God and people of Moses. The same Jehovah who had
once shown his power over Pharaoh for the protection of Abraham and
Sarah, and who was later to show his power over another Pharaoh "who
knew not Joseph," showed his power also over the Pharaoh of Joseph's
day, in exalting Joseph from the dungeon to the post of highest
honor and authority in Egypt, and in delivering Jacob and his whole
family from death through Joseph's interposition. What their long
residence in Egypt meant for God's people will be seen in another


     1. In what promise does God reveal to Abraham his plan to bless
        the world?

     2. How was Abraham brought to believe in God's promise? What
        difference did it make whether he and his descendants believed
        it or not?

     3. Did the patriarchs see that part of the promise fulfilled
        which gave them possession of "the Holy Land"? Read carefully
        Gen. 15:13-16 and Heb. 11:9, 10, 14-16.

     4. Make a "family tree" in the usual way, showing those
        descendants of Terah who play any large part in the book of
        Genesis. Underscore in it the names of those men who were in
        the direct line of "the Promise."

     5. How were Isaac and Jacob kept from marrying outside their own

     6. Explain Joseph's words, "Ye meant evil against me; but God
        meant it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to
        save much people alive." Gen. 50:20.


Egyptian Bondage and Deliverance

Exodus, Chapter 1

God says through his prophet Hosea, Hos. 11:1, "When Israel was a
child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." See also
Matt. 2:15. There was a loving, divine purpose in the Egyptian
residence of God's people. What was it? What did this period mean in
the career of Israel?

Most obviously, it meant growth. From the "seventy souls," Ex.
1:5, that went down into Egypt with Jacob, there sprang up there a
populous folk, large enough to take its place alongside the other
nations of the world of that day. Observe the nature of the land
where this growth took place. Egypt was a settled country, where the
twelve developing tribes could be united geographically and socially
in a way impossible in a country like Palestine. However oppressed
they were, they nevertheless were secluded from the dangers of raids
from without and of civil strife within--just such dangers as later
almost wrecked the substantial edifice slowly erected by this period
of growth in Egypt.

Egypt meant also for Israel a time of waiting. All this growth was
not accomplished in a short time. It lasted four hundred and thirty
years. Ex. 12:40, 41. Through this long period, which seems like
a dark tunnel between the brightness of the patriarchs' times and
that of Moses' day, there was nothing for God's people to do but to
wait. They were the heirs of God's promise, but they must wait for
the fulfillment of that promise in God's own time, wait for a leader
raised up by God, wait for the hour of national destiny to strike.
As Hosea, ch. 11:1 expresses it, this "child" must wait for his
Father's "call." The Egyptian period left an indelible impression on
the mind of Israel. It formed the gray background on which God could
lay the colors of his great deliverance. It is because God knew and
planned this that he so often introduces himself to his people, when
he speaks to them, as "Jehovah thy God, who brought thee out of the
land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage."

In the third place, this Egyptian period meant for Israel a time
of chastisement. The oppression to which the descendants of Jacob
were exposed, when "there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not
Joseph," Ex. 1:8, was so severe, prolonged, and hopeless, v. 14,
that it has become proverbial and typical. Since every male child
was to be put to death, v. 22, it is clear that the purpose of the
Egyptians was nothing less than complete extermination. "It is good
for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth": if that be true, then
the children of Israel derived good from the school of discipline
in which they grew up. True, as we read their later story, we feel
that no people could be more fickle. Yet there is no other nation
with which to compare Israel. And it is very probable that no other
nation would have been serious-minded enough even to receive and
grasp the divine revelation and leading of Moses' and Joshua's time.
God, who had "seen the affliction of his people," who had "heard
their cry" and sent Moses to them to organize their deliverance,
wrote forever on this nation's soul the message of salvation in a
historical record. At the start of their national life there stood
the story, which they could never deny or forget, and which told
them of God's power and grace.

Exodus, Chapters 5 to 15

All this lay in Israel's experience in Egypt. The next lesson
will tell of the character and work of the man whom God chose to
be leader. The means by which Moses succeeded in the seemingly
impossible task of marching a great horde of slaves out from their
masters' country, was the impression of God's power on the minds
of Pharaoh and his people. It was a continued, combined, and
cumulative impression. Of course it could not be made without the
use of supernatural means. We must not, therefore, be surprised to
find the story in Exodus bristling with miracles. To be sure, the
"plagues" can be shown to be largely natural to that land where they
occurred. And the supreme event of the deliverance, the passage of
Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground, was due, according to the
narrative itself, to a persistent, wind, Ex. 14:21, such as often
lays bare the shallows of a bay, only to release the waters again
when its force is spent.

Nevertheless, it is not possible to remove the "hand of God" from
the account by thus pointing out some of the means God used to
accomplish his special purposes. It was at the time, in the way, and
in the order, in which Moses announced to Pharaoh the arrival of the
plagues, that they actually appeared. This was what had its ultimate
effect on the king's stubborn will. And when Israel was told to "go
forward," with the waters right before them, and when the Egyptians
were saying, "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath
shut them in," Ex. 14:3--it was just at that juncture that the east
wind did its work at God's command; when Israel was over safely,
it went down. Such things do not "happen." It made a profound
impression on Israel, on Egypt, and on all the nations of that day;
all united in accepting it as the work of Israel's God. Ex. 15:11,
14-16; Josh. 2:10.

The important point for the nation was to know, when Moses and Aaron
came to them in the name of God, that it was their fathers' God who
had sent them. On account of this need, which both the people and
their leaders felt, God proclaimed his divine name, Jehovah (more
precisely, _Yahweh_, probably meaning "He is," Ex. 3:14, 15), to
Moses, and bade him pronounce the same to Israel, to assure them
that he was "the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," and thus
what Moses came now to do for them was just what had been promised
to those fathers long before. The passover night was the fulfillment
of God's good word to Abraham. Ex. 13:10, 11. How that word went on
and on toward more and more complete fulfillment will be the subject
of the succeeding lessons.


     1. What advantages had Egypt over Palestine as the place for
        Israel to grow from a family into a nation?

     2. What value was there for Israel in a negative time of waiting
        at the beginning of its history?

     3. Compare the effect on Israel with the effect on a man, of
        passing through a time of difficulty while developing.

     4. Name the ten "plagues of Egypt" in their order. How far can
        they be called "natural"?

     5. If the east wind drove back the Red Sea, what did God have to
        do with Israel's escape from the Egyptian army?

     6. Why should we not be surprised to find many miracles grouped
        at this stage of Bible history?

     7. How did God identify himself in the minds of the people with
        the God of their fathers? What was his personal name?


Moses as Leader and Lawgiver

Exodus, Chapters 2 to 4

One of the things Israel had to wait for through those centuries in
Egypt was a leader. When the time came God raised up such a leader
for his people in Moses.

The story of how Moses' life was preserved in infancy, and of how
he came to be brought up at the court of Pharaoh with all its
advantages for culture, is one of the most fascinating tales of
childhood. Ex. 2:1-10. But not many who know this familiar tale
could go on with the biography of the man of forty who fled from
Pharaoh's vengeance. Moses found by personal contact with his
"brethren," the children of Israel, that they were not yet ready for
common action, and would not easily acknowledge his right to lead
them. After killing an Egyptian slave driver there was nothing for
Moses to do but to flee. Vs. 11-15.

He spent the second forty years of his life, Acts 7:23, 30; Ex. 7:7,
in the deserts about the eastern arm of the Red Sea--the region
known to the Hebrews as Midian. There he married the daughter of the
Midianite priest Reuel. (Jethro was probably Reuel's title, meaning
"his excellency.") While herding his sheep in the mountains called
Horeb (Sinai), Moses received at the burning bush that personal
revelation of the God of his fathers, which lay at the base of all
his future labors for God and his people. Ex. 3:1 to 4:17. It was
a commission to lead Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the
land promised to their fathers.

Though very humble as to his fitness for such leadership, Moses
was assured of Jehovah's presence and help. He was equipped with
extraordinary powers for convincing the proud Pharaoh that his
demands were God's demands; and he was given the aid of his brother
Aaron, who had a readiness of speech which Moses at this time seems
to have lacked.

Exodus, Chapters 16 to 24

How the two brothers achieved the seemingly impossible task of
winning out of Egypt, and of uniting a spiritless and unorganized
mass of slaves upon a desperate enterprise, is the narrative that
fills the early chapters of Exodus. But with Israel safe across
the Red Sea, Moses' leadership had only begun. He instituted an
organization of the people for relieving himself of his heavy duties
as judge. He determined the line of march, and sustained the spirits
of the fighting men in their struggle against the tribes of the
desert who challenged Israel's passage.

But, above all, Moses became the "mediator" of the "covenant,"
Heb. 9:19-21, between the Hebrews and Jehovah their God at Mount
Sinai. On the basis of the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20:2-17; Deut.
5:6-21, that guide to God's nature and will which formed the Hebrew
constitution, the people agreed to worship and obey Jehovah alone,
and Jehovah promised to be their God, fulfilling to them his
promises made to their fathers. By solemn sacrifices, according to
the custom of the time, when the symbolism of altar and priesthood
was well understood, this covenant was sealed.

Exodus, Chapter 25 to Numbers, Chapter 36

After long seclusion on the mount alone with God, Moses ordered the
erection of a house of worship. It had to be portable, so as to
accompany them in their wanderings and express visibly, wherever
set up, the religious unity of the twelve tribes. Aaron and his
sons were consecrated to be the official priesthood of this new
shrine and were clothed and instructed accordingly. Minute details
regulated all sacrifices, and similar minute instructions enabled
the priests to decide questions of ceremonial cleanness and
uncleanness in matters of food and health.

All these laws and regulations, mainly recorded in Leviticus,
were given through Moses, either alone or in association with his
brother. It is not surprising to learn that there were those who
challenged this exclusive leadership in every department of the
national life. We read of a willful disregard of divine orders even
in the family of Aaron, with immediate fatal results. Lev. 10:1-7.
Like punishment overtook those members of the tribe of Levi who
showed jealousy of the house of Aaron, and those elements in other
tribes that claimed rights equal or superior to those of Moses.
Num., chs. 16, 17. It would be strange, indeed, if God, who had
vindicated his servant Moses against Pharaoh, should let his own
authority as represented by Moses be challenged within the camp of
Israel. He punished to save.

Just as God took up the Sabbath and circumcision, old customs of
the preceding era, into the law of Israel, so also he spoke to this
people through an elaborate system of feasts and pilgrimages, which
bound up their whole year with the worship of God. Indeed, the
principle of the seventh part of time as sacred was extended to the
seventh year, and even to the fiftieth year (the year following the
seventh seven), for beneficent social and economic uses. Lev., ch.

When at length the nation, thus organized and equipped, set forth
from Sinai, Num. 10:11, they required a leadership of a different
kind--military leadership and practical statesmanship. They
found both in Moses. He it was who led them through all the long
wanderings in the peninsula of Sinai, bearing their murmurings and
meeting their recurrent difficulties with a patience that seems
almost divine, save for that one lapse which was to cost him and
Aaron their entrance into the Promised Land. Num. 20:10-12.

At the border of the land, from the top of Pisgah in the long
mountain wall of Moab, Moses at last looked down into that deep
gorge of the Jordan Valley at his feet, which separated him from
the hills of Canaan. Beyond this river and the Dead Sea, into which
it empties, lay the land long ago promised to the seed of Abraham.
Moses had been permitted to lead the people to its very gateway; but
it remained for another, his younger helper, Joshua, to lead them
through the gate into the house of rest.

The Book of Deuteronomy

But before he surrendered his power to another and his life to his
Maker, the aged Moses rehearsed in the ears of Israel the great
principles of God's law. He pleaded earnestly with them to accept
it from the heart, to adapt it to the changed conditions of their
new settled life with its new temptations, and to hand it down as
their most precious heritage to their children after them. This is
the purpose and substance of the book of Deuteronomy, which gets its
name from the fact that it is a "second lawgiving." It is the Law of
Sinai repeated, but in oratorical form, charged with the feeling and
spirit of that "man of God," whose name is forever linked with the
Law and with the God who gave it to mankind.


     1. How did Moses' forty years in Egypt and his forty years in
        Midian help to prepare him for leadership?

     2. What was the constitution of the new Hebrew State established
        at Sinai? How was it ratified?

     3. How was the tabernacle suited to the religious needs of
        Israel during Moses' lifetime?

     4. Show how the Law of Moses takes up the old principle of the
        Sabbath and applies it to the life of Israel.

     5. Where did Moses' leadership end, and what was his last
        service to the nation?


The Conquest and Settlement of Canaan

The Book of Joshua

On the death of Aaron his son, Eleazar, succeeded him as high
priest. But when Moses died, it was not a son who succeeded him in
the political and moral leadership of Israel, for that position was
not hereditary. Joshua, a man of Ephraim, was divinely designated
for this work. He was fitted for the difficult undertaking by
military experience, Ex. 17:9-14, by personal acquaintance with
Canaan, Num. 13:8, 16; 14:6, 30, 38, and by long and intimate
association with Moses, Ex. 33:11; Num. 11:28; Deut. 34:9; Josh.
1:1. The book of Joshua, which records his career, divides naturally
into two parts, first, the conquest, chs. 1 to 12, and second,
the settlement, chs. 13 to 22. Two further chapters, chs. 23, 24,
contain Joshua's valedictory address.

Before Moses' death two and a half tribes had already received their
assignment of territory on the east of the Jordan, out of lands
conquered from the Amorite kings, Sihon and Og. But the fighting men
of these tribes agreed to accompany the other tribes and share their
struggle till all had obtained an inheritance. So when the great
host passed over the Jordan, not far from where it empties into the
Dead Sea, the men of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh crossed with the
rest. Jehovah, who at the Red Sea a generation earlier had struck
terror into the hearts of all nations by his wonderful interposition
to save Israel and destroy its enemies, repeated here his saving
help, by stemming the swift current of the Jordan River, till all
had passed over dry shod to the western side.

Once over, they found themselves face to face with Jericho, a
city which commanded the passes into the mountain country beyond.
Spies previously despatched to learn the weakness of Jericho had
reported the panic of its inhabitants and so prepared the Hebrews
to believe God's word, when through Joshua he announced a bloodless
victory here at the beginning of their conquest. Without a blow
struck Jericho fell, and all its inhabitants were "devoted," at
Jehovah's strict command. Even their wealth was to be "devoted,"
that is, the cattle slain and the goods added to the treasury of
the sanctuary. Only Rahab, who had saved the spies, and her family
were excepted. One man, Achan, disobeyed the ban on private spoils.
His covetousness and deception, revealed by Israel's defeat in
the expedition against Ai which followed the fall of Jericho, and
detected by the use of the sacred lot, was punished by the execution
of all who were privy to the crime.

Better success attended the second attempt to take Ai. With these
two cities reduced, Jericho at the bottom and Ai at the top of the
valley leading up from the Jordan floor to the central highland,
Joshua was in a position to attack anywhere without fear of being
outflanked. Middle, south, and north was the order commended by
military considerations. Accordingly those cities which, because
in the middle of the land, felt themselves the most immediately
threatened, took the first steps to avert the menace. A group of
five towns lying just north of Jerusalem, with Gibeon at their head,
succeeded by a ruse in getting a treaty of peace from Joshua. The
Gibeonites deceived Joshua by representing themselves as having
come from a great distance to seek an alliance. Joshua's pride was
flattered and he fell a victim to the trick. The consequences were
serious, for these Canaanites, though reduced to vassalage, remained
as aliens in the heart of the land, and cut off the southern from
the northern tribes of Israel.

A confederacy of the chief cities in the region south of Gibeon,
headed by the king of Jerusalem, determined to strike the first
blow. But their campaign against the Gibeonites, now the allies
of Israel, ended in a quick advance by Joshua and his complete
subjugation of all these cities, the humiliation and death of their
kings, and the "devotion" of the inhabitants who fell into his hands.

A similar campaign followed in the north, with the city of Hazor
at the head of the Canaanite forces. At the "waters of Merom," a
small lake a few miles north of the Sea of Galilee, a surprise
attack by Joshua deprived his enemies of their advantage in horsemen
and chariots on the level ground they had selected for battle,
and resulted in the utter rout of the Canaanites and the general
slaughter of every soul that did not escape by flight from the
"devoted" towns.

Thus from Mount Hermon on the north to the wilderness of the
wandering on the south, the whole land had been swept over and
reduced to impotence by the Hebrew invader. It was time to apportion
it now to the several tribes. This was accomplished under the
direction of Joshua and Eleazar. Judah and Joseph, the two strongest
tribes, were assigned, the one to the south and the other to the
north of the main mountain mass. Levi's inheritance was to be "the
Lord," that is, the religious tithes, and his dwelling was to be
"among his brethren," that is, in designated towns throughout
all the land. A commission of three representatives from each of
the seven other western tribes divided the rest of the conquered
territory into seven fairly equal parts. These then were assigned
to the seven tribes by lot at the tabernacle at Shiloh. As for the
eastern tribes, when they returned to their homes across the Jordan,
they built an altar at the ford, as a permanent "witness" to the
unity of all the sons of Jacob, however the deep gorge of the Jordan
might cut them off from one another.

At Shechem, where Abraham built his first altar in Canaan, Joshua
had renewed the covenant between the people and their God as soon as
he had secured control of Mount Ephraim, the middle highlands. He
had not only read the Law of Moses to all the people here, but also
inscribed it on stones for the sake of permanence and publicity. And
now, when the conquest was complete and Joshua was nearing his end,
he reassembled the people at the same spot, to remind them there of
that solemn covenant, and to leave with them his final charge of
fidelity to their God and his one central sanctuary.


     1. How was Joshua specially fitted to succeed Moses as leader of

     2. Which tribes received their inheritance east of the Jordan?
        How did these show their sense of the unity of all Israel (_a_)
        at the beginning, and (_b_) at the close of the conquest?

     3. What justification can be urged for the stern measures which
        Israel took with the Canaanites and their possessions?

     4. What was the plan of Joshua's campaign, and what relation did
        the capture of Jericho and Ai bear to it?

     5. How did the men of Gibeon deceive Joshua, and why? What
        lasting damage was caused by his treaty with them?

     6. Locate on a map the inheritance of each of the tribes.


The Period of the Judges

The Books of Judges and Ruth

In Egypt, Israel had grown from a family into a folk. In the
wilderness the folk had become a nation. In the conquest the nation
had gotten its home. But in the period of the Judges which followed
the conquest this steady advance seemed interrupted. What do we find
at this time?

We find a loose confederacy of tribes, aware of their common origin,
yet too jealous of local names and rights to combine for a common
end, too selfish to help one another until the danger of one has
become a tragedy for all.

The nature of the land the Hebrews had occupied helped this divisive
tendency. The great gash of the Jordan Valley, its bed two or three
thousand feet below the mountain country on either side, cut off
the eastern minority from the western majority. In the west a plain
separated the foothills of the central range from the seashore. This
plain not only contained enemies like the Philistines whom only a
united Israel could have conquered, but also quickly altered the
type of its Hebrew settlers. Right across the mountain belt from the
sea to the Jordan stretched an almost unbroken plain (Esdraelon),
varying from sea level to the lower level of the Jordan. This cut
off the mountaineers to the north (Galilee) from those to the south
(Ephraim). And a glance at any physical map will show how even in
the mountain country deep, lateral valleys reach up from either side
so far toward the center that communication from north to south is
only by a series of violent grades, save along that narrow ridge
in the middle where runs the highroad between Hebron, Jerusalem,
Shechem, and Jezreel.

Under these conditions only some strong positive force could prevent
the disintegration of the Hebrew nation. Such a force the religion
of Jehovah was intended to be, and would have been, if the people
had remained faithful to it. It had one high priest, descendant
of Aaron, and associated therefore with all the memories of Moses
and Sinai. It had a single sanctuary, the seat of Ark and oracle,
the center of pilgrimage three times a year. It had one law for
all Hebrews, a law far superior to the codes of all other nations,
and revealing the nature and will of a single moral and spiritual
deity. All this provided the focus for a mighty nation, with a pure
"theocracy," that is, a government by God himself. But the people
did not remain faithful. They fell away in this time of the Judges.

The Book of Judges, which tells the story of this period, records a
long list of names, each one connected with some particular enemy of
Israel, some tribe or group of tribes delivered, and some definite
term of years during which the deliverer "judged" the people. On
this list the most conspicuous names are those of Deborah and of
Gideon in the north, of Jephthah east of the Jordan (Gilead), and
of Samson in the south. Most of the other judges are little more
than names to us. Deborah stands out, not only because she was a
woman, but also for her wonderful "song" preserved in the fifth
chapter, celebrating Barak's victory over the Canaanites near Mount
Carmel. Gideon is memorable for his strategems and his persistence,
and for his near approach to a real kingship, which was offered to
him and his house after his victory, but which he declined, saying,
"Jehovah shall rule over you." Ch. 8:23. His son Abimelech was
actually termed king in and around the city of Shechem for a few
years, but perished miserably for his sins. Ch. 9:6, 56. Jephthah's
career was mainly concerned with the region east of the Jordan,
but his admirable "apology" for Israel showed his sense of Hebrew
solidarity. Samson's picturesque story, with its petty loves and
hates, its riddles and its practical jokes, ended in a sacrificial
death which in part redeems its meanness. But neither Samson nor any
of his predecessors accomplished anything permanent.

Two words of caution belong to the study of this book and of these
times. First, we must not suppose that one judge necessarily follows
another in point of time because his story follows the other's
story in the book. Judges 10:7 shows that oppressions of different
sections of the land by different enemies might be taking place
at the same time, and suggests that the figures assigned to each
judge at the close of his story cannot safely be added together to
find the total length of this period. And second, those figures
themselves (nearly always forty or eighty) are to be taken as "round
numbers," rather than as precise data such as we look for to-day to
make out a table of chronology. In the same way the four hundred and
eighty years of I Kings 6:1 is evidently intended as twelve times
forty years, to represent the whole time from the Exodus to Solomon.
For when we have subtracted from the beginning of it one forty-year
term for the wanderings, and from the end of it three forty-year
terms for Eli, I Sam. 4:18, Saul, Acts 13:21, and David, I Kings
2:11, then we have left eight forty-year terms for the Judges. Eight
times forty is three hundred and twenty. Those three hundred and
twenty years would then correspond with the three hundred years
mentioned by Jephthah in Judg. 11:26 as dividing Moses' days from
his own. Under these circumstances we are wise to wait for further
light from archæology before fixing the precise date of any one of
these interesting persons.

There are three additions or appendices to the Book of Judges. The
first of them, including chs. 17, 18, tells how the Danites came
to live in the extreme north, and the origin of the idolatrous
sanctuary at that city of Dan which was reckoned as the northern
limit of Canaan--"from Dan to Beer-sheba." The second occupies
the three remaining chapters of Judges, and records the civil war
between Benjamin and the other tribes on account of "the sin of
Gibeah," Hos. 10:9. And the third appendix is the story of Ruth the
Moabitess which now makes a separate book in the Bible. Besides its
inherent charm the story claims special notice because of the light
it throws on that Bethlehem family which was soon to furnish the
nation its great king, David.


     1. What influences made for the loss of Hebrew unity as soon as
        Joshua's generation was dead?

     2. What forces remained to bind the tribes together? Why did not
        these forces suffice?

     3. How were the persons selected who ruled Israel in this
        period? Were they "judges" in the same sense as our judges
        to-day? What besides?

     4. What three groups of tribes tended to draw together under
        common leaders? Tell the exploits of one distinguished judge
        belonging to each of these groups.

     5. With what reserve should we use the figures in this book to
        construct a chronology of the period?

     6. Point out the relation of the book of Ruth to the closing
        portion of the Book of Judges. What lends Ruth peculiar
        historical interest?


Samuel and Saul: Prophecy and Monarchy

The First Book of Samuel

Sometimes Eli and sometimes Samuel are called the last of the
Judges. But neither of these was a judge in the same exclusive sense
as Gideon or Samson. Eli was the high priest, but exercised the
office of judge for his time. Samuel was a prophet, who also "judged
Israel" in the interval between Eli's death and Saul's accession.
Both men mark the time of transition between the period of the
Judges and the monarchy. And the two names are most closely linked,
for it was under Eli's instruction, at the sanctuary in Shiloh, that
Samuel grew up.

The story of Hannah and her dedication of her little son to God as a
"Nazirite," I Sam. 1:11; compare Num. 6:1-8, to dwell all his life
at the house of God, I Sam. 1:28, has a peculiar charm for young and
old. It gives a picture of personal piety in a rude age, and thus
serves to correct our idea of the times. Beginning at a very early
age, I Sam. 3:1 to 4:1, Samuel became the chosen and recognized
mouthpiece of Israel's God.

That is the essential meaning of a prophet--one who speaks for
God. Exodus 4:16 is instructive, for it shows that as Aaron was to
be "a mouth" to Moses, while Moses was "as God" to Aaron, so the
prophet was God's mouthpiece or spokesman. Of course a prophet was
often a person who also spoke before--one, that is, who predicted
what should come to pass. And the fact that his words were actually
fulfilled became a proof of his divine commission, both in theory,
Deut. 18:22, and in practice, Isa. 44:26. But the bulk of the
prophets' messages were, like those of Samuel, addressed to their
own time. They were preachers of righteousness, warners against sin,
the nation's conscience, and the Lord's remembrancers.

It is the chief glory of Samuel that he was not only first in the
long fine of the Hebrew prophets--the most remarkable succession of
men the world has ever seen--but also the founder of the prophetic
order. By the prophetic order we mean the prophets as a group
conscious of their solidarity, the identity of their principles
and aim. Samuel gathered about his dominating personality those
persons who were sympathetic with him in spirit, and who shared with
him some of that power of testimony which "the word of Jehovah"
conferred. They seem to have lived together, I Sam. 19:20, in
communities similar to those two centuries later under Elijah and
Elisha. They used musical instruments in their devotions, which
were public as well as private. Ch. 10:5. They were the center
of patriotic zeal as well as of religious effort. In fact, the
belief in Israel's God was so evidently the bond that bound Israel
together, that for the common man patriotism and religion were in
danger of being regarded as one and the same thing.

It is not surprising, therefore, that out of Samuel's time and from
the forces which Samuel set in motion, there came two movements
which changed the course of the nation's history: an outward
movement for independence, and an inward movement for monarchy. A
revival of religion could not fail to rouse the subjected Hebrews
against their oppressors, the Philistines. The reverses they
suffered in battle against their better armed and better led enemies
put it into their minds to set up a king, "like all the nations."

Samuel, as the national leader, was God's agent in selecting,
consecrating, and establishing the first king. He chose Saul,
of the tribe of Benjamin, a man of heroic proportions though of
modest demeanor. Ch. 9:2, 21. His choice met the popular approval,
at first with general and outward acquiescence, though with much
inward reserve and individual revolt; but after his first successful
campaign with universal loyalty. Ch. 10:27; 11:12-15.

That first military effort of the new monarch was against the
Ammonites. But a greater test remained in the menace of the
Philistines, whose garrisons at strategic points in the mountains of
Israel served to keep the tribes in check. Under those circumstances
Saul was cautious, for he had but a small force, inadequately
armed, at his disposal. But the initiative, for which all Israel
waited, was taken by Saul's son, Jonathan. Unknown to his father,
Jonathan, accompanied only by his armor-bearer, but encouraged by an
indication of God's will and by the enemy's slackness, ch. 14:12,
attacked boldly a Philistine garrison that relied too much on the
natural strength of its position. He began in this way a panic in
the enemy's ranks, and soon drew after him in pursuit of them not
only Saul's small army but multitudes of Hebrews who in their hiding
places only waited such a signal to fall upon the hated oppressor.
The victory of Michmash was overwhelming, the mountain country was
cleared of the Philistines, and an independent people began to
enjoy the reign of their first king.

Unhappily Saul did not prove himself so well equipped for the
kingship in character and disposition as in personal prowess.
Jealousy, natural in a king whose claim to authority was so new
and weak, was heightened in Saul by a malady that induced fits of
sullenness and rage. His humility and modesty of other days gave
place to envy, vanity, and cruelty. Even God's express commands
through the same prophet on whose divine commission Saul's claim
to the throne rested were not heeded, for Samuel had to rebuke him
for disobedience and only refrained from publicly rejecting him at
Saul's abject entreaty. Ch. 15:30.

Room was found in Saul's heart for jealousy of the popularity and
success of David, ch. 18:8, the young man of Bethlehem in Judah
whom at first he had loved and attached to his person, ch. 16:21.
Jonathan, though heir to his father's throne and aware that David
had been designated as Jehovah's choice for king, ch. 20:15, 31,
had nothing but affection for David his friend. But Saul pursued
David openly, after failing in repeated secret attempts to make away
with him. And the close of Saul's life is marred by his vindictive
pursuit of his rival, till death in battle with the Philistines at
Mount Gilboa brought the first king of Israel to a miserable end and
left the way open for David to become his successor.


     1. Who shares with Samuel the leadership of Israel in the time
        of transition from the judges to the kings, and what relation
        did he bear to Samuel?

     2. What was a prophet, what is meant by the prophetic order, and
        what is Samuel's particular service and distinction among the

     3. What motive led to the popular demand for a king, and how did
        Samuel as God's representative regard this demand?

     4. Sketch the character of Saul. What was his achievement for
        Israel? Wherein did he fail?

     5. Compare Saul and Jonathan in ability and character.


David and Solomon: Psalms and Wisdom

The Second Book of Samuel; I Kings, Chapters 1 to 11; I Chronicles,
Chapter 10 to II Chronicles, Chapter 9

One of Saul's sons, Ish-bosheth, for a short time after the death of
his father and brothers in battle, attempted to maintain his right
to succeed Saul on the throne. But when Abner, his kinsman and the
head of the army, turned to David, son of Jesse, who was already
reigning at Hebron as king over Judah, all the tribes followed him.
Both Ish-bosheth and Abner soon perished.

With his new dignity David promptly acquired a new capital, better
suited than Hebron in location and strength to be the nation's
center. He captured the fortress of Jebus, five miles north of
Bethlehem, his old home, from its Canaanitish defenders, and
enlarged, strengthened, and beautified it. Under its ancient name of
Jerusalem he made it both the political and the religious capital of

The Ark of the Covenant, which in Eli's time had been captured by
the Philistines, had been returned by them, and for many years
had rested in a private house, was regarded as the very heart and
symbol of the national religion. David therefore brought it first
to Jerusalem, and instead of uniting with it its former housing,
the old Mosaic tabernacle, he gave it a temporary home in a tent,
intending to build a splendid temple when he should have peace. But
war continued through the days of David, and at God's direction the
erection of a temple, save for certain preparations, was left to
Solomon, David's successor.

David was victorious in war. His success showed itself in the
enlargement of Israel's boundaries, the complete subjection--for
the time--of all alien elements in the land, and the alliance with
Hiram, king of Tyre, with the great building operations which this
alliance made possible. A royal palace formed the center of a
court such as other sovereigns maintained, and David's court and
even his family were exposed to the same corrupting influences as
power, wealth, jealousy, and faction have everywhere introduced.
Absalom, his favorite son, ill requited his father's love and trust
by organizing a revolt against him. It failed, but not until it had
driven the king, now an old man, into temporary exile and had let
loose civil war upon the land.

Solomon, designated by David to succeed him, did not gain the throne
without dispute, but the attempt of Adonijah, another son, to seize
the throne failed in spite of powerful support. The forty-year
reign of Solomon was the golden age of Hebrew history--the age to
which all subsequent times looked back. Rapid growth of commerce,
construction, art, and literature reflected the inward condition
of peace and the outward ties with other lands of culture. But
with art came idolatry; with construction came ostentation and
oppression; with commerce came luxury. The splendor of Jerusalem,
wherein Solomon "made silver ... to be as stones, and cedars ... as
the sycomore-trees," I Kings 10:27, contained in itself the seeds of

However, there are two great types of literature which found their
characteristic expression in the days of David and Solomon and are
always associated with their names--the psalm with David, and the
proverb (or, more broadly, "wisdom") with Solomon. Kingdom, temple
and palace have long since passed away, but the Psalter and the
books of Wisdom are imperishable monuments of the united monarchy.

The Psalms

The Psalter is a collection of one hundred and fifty poems, of
various length, meter, and style. As now arranged it is divided
into five books, but there is evidence that earlier collections and
arrangements preceded the present. Among the earliest productions,
judged both by form and by matter, are those psalms which bear the
superscription "of David," though it would not be safe to assert
that every such psalm came from David's own pen or that none not so
labeled is not of Davidic origin. Judged alike from the narrative
in the book of Samuel, and from the traditions scattered in other
books as early as Amos, ch. 6:5, and as late as Chronicles, I Chron.
15:16 to 16:43; ch. 25, David was both a skilled musician himself
and an organizer of music for public worship. It is not surprising,
therefore, to find a body of religious poems ascribed to him,
which not only evidence his piety and good taste, but also, though
individual in tone, are well-adapted to common use at the sanctuary.

The psalms are poems. Their poetry is not simply one of substance,
but also a poetry of form. Rime, our familiar device, is of course
absent, but there is rhythm, although it is not measured in the
same strict way as in most of our poetry. The most striking and
characteristic mark of Hebrew poetic form is the parallel structure:
two companion lines serve together to complete a single thought, as
the second either repeats, supplements, emphasizes, illustrates, or
contrasts with the first.

Proverbs; Job; Ecclesiastes

Poetry is also a term to which the book of Proverbs and most of
the other productions of "Wisdom" are entitled. While they are
chiefly didactic (that is, intended for instruction) instead of
lyric (emotional self-expression), nevertheless the Wisdom books are
almost entirely written in rhythmic parallelism and contain much
matter unsuited to ordinary prose expression. In the Revised Version
the manner of printing shows to the English reader at a glance what
parts are prose and what are poetry (compare, for example, Job,
ch. 2 with Job, ch. 3), though it must be admitted that a hard and
fast line cannot be drawn between them. Compare Eccl., ch. 7 with

"The wise," as a class of public teachers in the nation (see Jer.
18:18), associated their beginnings with King Solomon (Prov. 24:23;
25:1), whose wisdom is testified to in the book of Kings, as well
as his speaking of "proverbs," that is, pithy sayings easy to
remember and teach, mostly of moral import. I Kings 4:29-34. But
the profoundest theme of wisdom was the moral government of God
as seen in his works and ways. The mysteries with which all men,
to-day as well as in ancient times, must grapple when they seek to
harmonize their faith in a just and good God with such undeniable
facts as prosperous sinners and suffering saints, led to the writing
of such books as Job (the meaning of a good man's adversities) and
Ecclesiastes (the vanity of all that mere experience and observation
of life afford). In the case of these Wisdom books, as in that of
the Psalms, the oldest name--that of the royal founder--is not to
be taken as the exclusive author. Solomon, like David, made the
beginnings; others collected, edited, developed, and completed.


     1. In what tribe and town did David first reign as king? How did
        he secure a new capital when he became king of all Israel? How
        and why did he make this the religious capital also?

     2. What advantages and disadvantages did David's continual wars,
        and his imitation of other kings' courts, bring to him, his
        family, and his people?

     3. What was David's part in the development of religious poetry?
        How does Hebrew poetry differ generally from English poetry in
        form? Name the books of the Old Testament written chiefly or
        wholly in poetry.

     4. Who built the first Temple? Who were "the wise" in Israel,
        whom did they venerate as their royal patron, and what did
        they aim to accomplish by their writings?


The Kingdom of Israel

I Kings, Chapter 12 to II Kings, Chapter 17

With the death of Solomon came the lasting division of the tribes
into two kingdoms, a northern and a southern, known as the Kingdom
of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. Rehoboam on his accession
announced a policy of repression and even oppression that alienated
completely the loyalty of Ephraim and the other northern tribes,
which were never attached to the house of David in the same way as
the tribe of Judah was. Under a man of Ephraim, therefore, Jeroboam
the son of Nebat, who in earlier years had challenged even Solomon's
title, the ten tribes revolted from Rehoboam and established a
separate state.

Rehoboam found himself too weak to prevent this secession, and he
and his descendants of David's dynasty had to content themselves
with the narrow boundaries of Judah. To be sure, in Jerusalem they
possessed the authorized center of public worship for the whole
nation. It was to offset this advantage that Jeroboam made Bethel,
that spot associated in the minds of the people with the patriarchs
themselves, his religious capital. And, influenced perhaps by
the Egyptian example of steer worship (for he had long lived as
a fugitive in Egypt in Solomon's reign), he made golden steers
and placed them in the sanctuary at Bethel and in that at Dan in
the extreme north. (See close of Lesson VI.) To these places and
under these visible symbols of brute force, Jeroboam summoned his
people to worship Jehovah. It was the old national religion but
in the degraded form of an image worship forbidden by the Mosaic

A throne thus built on mere expediency could not endure. Jeroboam's
son was murdered after a two years' reign. Nor did this usurper
succeed in holding the throne for his house any longer than
Jeroboam's house had lasted. At length Omri, commander of the army,
succeeded in founding a dynasty that furnished four kings. Ahab, son
of Omri, who held the throne the longest of these four, is the king
with whom we become best acquainted of all the northern monarchs.
This is partly because of the relations between Ahab and Elijah the
prophet. Ahab's name is also linked with that of his queen, the
notorious Jezebel, a princess of Tyre, who introduced the worship of
the Tyrian Baal into Israel and even persecuted all who adhered to
the national religion.

This alliance with Tyre, and the marriage of Ahab's daughter to a
prince of Judah, secured Israel on the north and the south, and left
Ahab free to pursue his father's strong policy toward the peoples
to the east, Moab and Syria. Upon Ahab's death in battle against
Syria, Moab revolted, and the two sons of Ahab, in spite of help
from the house of David in Jerusalem, were unable to stave off the
ruin that threatened the house of Omri. Jehu, supported by the army
in which he was a popular leader, seized the throne, with the usual
assassination of all akin to the royal family. His inspiration to
revolt had been due to Jehovah's prophets, and his program was the
overthrow of Baal worship in favor of the old national religion.
Though Jehu thoroughly destroyed the followers of Jezebel's foreign
gods, he and his sons after him continued to foster the idolatrous
shrines at Bethel and Dan, so that the verdict of the sacred writer
upon them is unfavorable: they "departed not from all the sins of
Jeroboam the son of Nebat, wherewith he made Israel to sin."

Mesha, king of Moab, II Kings 3:4, lived long enough to see his
oppressors, the kings of Omri's house, overthrown and the land of
Israel reduced to great weakness. (See article "Moabite Stone" in
any Bible dictionary.) Jehu's son, Jehoahaz, witnessed the deepest
humiliation of Israel at the hands of Syria. But it was not many
years after Mesha's boasting that affairs took a complete turn.
Jehu's grandson, Jehoash, spurred by Elisha the prophet even on his
deathbed, began the recovery which attained its zenith in the reign
of Jeroboam II, fourth king of Jehu's line. Though little is told
of this reign in the Book of Kings, it is clear that at no time
since Solomon's reign had a king of Israel ruled over so large a
territory. It was the last burst of glory before total extinction.

There is a history lying between the reigns of Jeroboam I, founder
of the Northern Kingdom, and of Jeroboam II, its last prosperous
monarch, which has scarcely been referred to in this brief sketch of
its kings. It is the history of Jehovah's prophets.

Hosea; Amos; Jonah

Reference has already been made to the rise of the prophetic order
as such, in the time of Samuel. (Lesson VII.) With each crisis in
the affairs of the nation God raised up some notable messenger
with a word from him to the people or to the ruler. But all along
the fire of devotion to God and country was kept alive by humbler,
unnamed men, who supplied a sound nucleus of believers even to
this Northern Kingdom with its idolatrous shrines and its usurping
princes. I Kings 18:4; 19:18.

The greatest names are those of Elijah and Elisha. The earlier
struggle to keep Israel true to Jehovah focuses in these two men,
one the worthy successor of the other. Their time marked perhaps
the lowest ebb of true religion in all the history of God's Kingdom
on earth. It is no wonder, therefore, that such stern, strong men
were not only raised up to fight for the God of Moses and Samuel and
David, but also endowed with exceptional powers, to work wonders
and signs for the encouragement of the faithful and the confounding
of idolators and sinners. Such was the purpose of their notable

Elijah and Elisha wrote nothing. But in their spirit rose up Hosea
and Amos a century later--men who have left a record of their
prophecies in the books that bear their names. Denunciation of
sin, especially in the higher classes, announcement of impending
punishment for that sin, and promise of a glorious, if distant,
future of pardon, peace, and prosperity through God's grace and
man's sincere repentance--these things form the substance of their
eloquent messages. Hosea is noteworthy for his striking parable of
a patient husband and a faithless wife to illustrate God's love
and Israel's infidelity. Amos, himself a herdsman from Judah sent
north to denounce a king and people not his own, is startling in the
suddenness with which he turns the popular religious ideas against
those who harbor them. See, for example, ch. 3:2, where Amos makes
the unique relation between Jehovah and Israel the reason, not for
Israel's safety from Jehovah's wrath, as the people thought, but
for the absolute certainty of Israel's punishment for all its sins.
These two prophets, the last of the Northern Kingdom, had the
melancholy duty of predicting the utter overthrow of what the first
Jeroboam had set up in rebellion and sin two centuries before.


     1. When, why, and under whose lead did the ten tribes break away
        from the house of David?

     2. Outline the fortunes of the kings of Israel from Jeroboam I
        to Jeroboam II.

     3. Who were the outstanding prophets in the Northern Kingdom,
        and what was the substance of their messages?


The Kingdom of Judah, to Hezekiah

I Kings, Chapter 12 to II Kings, Chapter 17; II Chronicles, Chapters
10 to 28; Obadiah; Joel; Micah; Isaiah (in part)

The revolt of Jeroboam and the ten northern tribes reduced the
dominion ruled by Rehoboam, grandson of David, to narrow bounds.
Before his disastrous reign was over, Judah was still further
humiliated by an invasion under Shishak, a Pharaoh of the
twenty-second dynasty of Egypt, who despoiled Jerusalem of the
treasures which Solomon had amassed. After the death of Rehoboam and
the short reign of his son, Abijam, Judah was ruled successively by
Asa and Jehoshaphat, each succeeding his father peacefully and each
reigning long and, on the whole, prosperously. Another invasion from
the south which threatened to be as disastrous as that of Shishak,
under "Zerah the Ethiopian" was repelled by Asa. Internal reforms,
both religious and civil, were carried out by these vigorous rulers.

The natural rivalry and intermittent warfare between north and
south, which had arisen through the division under Rehoboam, ceased
for a time after Jehoshaphat entered into alliance with King Ahab
and took Athaliah, Ahab's daughter, as wife for his son Joram. The
kings of Samaria and Jerusalem made common cause against Syria and
Moab, and a temporary success seemed to crown the new policy. But
prophets of Jehovah repeatedly warned the king who sat on David's
throne of the danger to the true religion from such an alliance with
Baal worshipers.

It was not long before their warnings were justified by the facts.
Athaliah, Joram's queen, was the daughter not only of Ahab but also
of Jezebel and brought with her to Jerusalem the fierce spirit and
heathen habits of her Tyrian mother. King Ahaziah her son lost his
life through his close association with King Jehoram of Israel,
his uncle, for Jehu made away with both kings at the same time,
and with all the princes of Judah, kinsmen of Ahaziah, on whom
he could lay his hands. The old tigress at Jerusalem, Athaliah,
now turned upon her own flesh and blood, the children of Ahaziah,
and murdered them all so as to secure the power for herself. One
grandson alone, the infant Joash, escaped, saved by an aunt who hid
him and his nurse from the cruel queen mother. Six years later this
child was proclaimed king in the Temple courts by Jehoiada, the high
priest. Athaliah was slain, and a new era began in Judah with the
destruction of Baal worship and the repair of Jehovah's Temple.

Joash was too weak to do more than buy off the king of Syria when
his army threatened Jerusalem, and he himself met his death in a
conspiracy. The same fate befell his son Amaziah, after a reign that
promised well but was wrecked on the king's ambition to subdue the
Northern Kingdom under him. Uzziah (or Azariah) succeeded to the
throne, though for half of his long reign he and his kingdom seem to
have been in a state of vassalage to Jeroboam II, the powerful ruler
of Israel. The latter part of Uzziah's reign was more prosperous, in
spite of the king's pitiable state--for he was stricken with leprosy
and had to live apart. It was on this account that he associated his
son Jotham with himself, and during the sixteen years of Jotham's
reign--most of which was included within the long nominal reign of
Uzziah--the Philistines, Ammonites, and Arabians were defeated in
warfare, while considerable building both in and out of the capital
helped to prepare the little kingdom for the troublous days just

The mighty kingdom of Assyria, with its capital at Nineveh on
the Tigris River, was the force which God used to punish his
faithless people. Lying beyond the kingdoms of Syria, Israel's
nearest neighbors on the north, Assyria was not at first felt to
be the menace which in the end it proved to be. Whenever Assyria
was strong, Syria was weak, and the king in Samaria could breathe
freely. But there came a day when a king of unusual power ascended
the throne at Nineveh, Tiglath-pileser (or Pul, as he was also
called, see II Kings 15:19, 29), and the fate of both Syria and
Israel was sealed.

Ahaz, the son of Jotham who had just died, saw in this Assyrian the
means of delivering Judah out of the hands of Pekah, king of Israel,
and Rezin, king of Syria, who had joined forces to capture Jerusalem
and put a king of their own on the throne of David. By a great
present Ahaz bought the support of Tiglath-pileser, who sent an army
to attack Judah's foes. Syria was devastated, the inhabitants were
carried away captive from all the eastern and northern parts of
Israel (Gilead and Galilee), Phoenicia and Philistia were overrun,
and Ahaz, among other kings, went to Damascus in person to do homage
to this irresistible conqueror.

In the Northern Kingdom, reduced now to little more than the central
highlands of Ephraim and Manasseh, Hoshea, a protegé of the Assyrian
king, reigned for a few years. But he and his foolish advisers,
unable to read the signs of the times, looked to Egypt for help
and revolted. This time the end had come. Shalmaneser, now on the
Assyrian throne, came against Samaria, and after a siege lasting
almost three years, took and destroyed it. The whole population was
carried away, after the drastic policy of deportation practiced
by Assyria, and an alien population was introduced to take their
places. Thus ended the Northern Kingdom after lasting a little over
two centuries. And thus began that strange mixed people, known as
the Samaritans, who settled in the central part of the Holy Land.

The effect of Israel's doom upon the minds of the king and people
of Judah may be imagined. From the pages of Micah and Isaiah,
contemporary prophets in Judah, can be seen how God was speaking
to Judah through the ruin of Israel. Ahaz's policy of relying on
human help from Assyria instead of divine help from Jehovah was
refuted by its outcome. With Syria and Samaria ruined, there lay
nothing between Jerusalem and the Assyrian. And it is in Hezekiah's
reign--the next after that of Ahaz--that the ruthless conqueror from
Nineveh is found overrunning Judah itself. How king, prophet, and
people met that crisis will begin the next lesson, for it belongs
to the period when the Southern Kingdom is all that remained of the
organized Hebrew nation in Palestine.


     1. What were the relations between the kingdoms of Judah and
        Israel in general?

     2. Who altered these relations for a time? How? With what
        consequences for Judah's politics and religion?

     3. Who was Joash, and how did he come to the throne?

     4. What was the occasion of Judah's first intimate contact with
        Assyria? Discuss Ahaz's policy in the light of Isa. 7:1-9.

     5. What were the stages in the downfall of the Northern Kingdom?
        What became of the conquered people, and who replaced them?
        See II Kings, ch. 17.


Judah, from Hezekiah to the Exile

II Kings, Chapters 18 to 25; II Chronicles, Chapters 29 to
36; Isaiah (in part); Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Jeremiah;
Lamentations; Ezekiel, Chapters 1 to 32

Although outwardly Judah appeared to be the same after the fall of
the Northern Kingdom as before, it was not so. A very different
situation confronted Hezekiah from that which had confronted his
father Ahaz when he called on Assyria for help against Syria and
Israel. Now there were no "buffer states" between Assyria's empire
and little Judah. And it was only a score of years after Samaria
fell when Jerusalem felt the full force of Assyria. Sennacherib,
fourth in that remarkable list of the six kings[1] who made Nineveh
mistress of Asia, sent an army to besiege Jerusalem, with a summons
to Hezekiah to surrender his capital.

[1] Tiglath-pileser, 745-727 B.C.; Shalmaneser, 727-722; Sargon,
722-705; Sennacherib, 705-681; Esar-haddon, 680-668; Ashurbanipal,

A different spirit ruled this king. Isaiah, the same great prophet
who had counseled Ahaz to resist Pekah and Rezin but had failed to
move him to faith in Jehovah, found now in Ahaz's son a vital faith
in the God of Israel in this far sorer crisis. In response to that
faith Isaiah was commissioned by God to assure king and people of
a great deliverance. The case, to all human seeming, was hopeless.
But the resources at God's disposal are boundless, and at one blow
"the angel of Jehovah" reduced the proud Assyrian host to impotency
and drove them away in retreat. II Kings 19:35. Scribes who record
the achievements of ancient monarchs are not accustomed to betray
any of the failures of their royal heroes. But between the lines
of Sennacherib's records we can read confirmation of the Bible's
report of some great catastrophe to Assyrian arms. Jehovah rewarded
the faith of his people in him.

The seventh century before Christ, which began just after this
event, witnessed both the rise of Assyria to its greatest height,
and its sudden fall before the Chaldeans, a people from the Persian
Gulf, who succeeded in mastering ancient Babylon and in winning
for it a greater glory than it had ever known in former times.
Even in Hezekiah's reign these Chaldeans, under their leader
Merodach-baladan, were already challenging the supremacy of Nineveh,
and in doing so were seeking allies in the west. When the king of
Judah yielded to the dictates of pride and showed to these Chaldean
ambassadors his treasures, Isaiah announced to him that the final
ruin of Judah was to come in future days from this source, and not
from Nineveh as might then have been anticipated.

Manasseh, Hezekiah's successor, was indeed taken as a captive to
Babylon for a time, but the captor was a king of Assyria. II Chron.
33:11. Manasseh was thus punished for his great personal wickedness,
for he is pictured as the worst of all the descendants of David, an
idolator and a cruel persecutor. Yet his reign was long, and at its
close he is said to have repented and turned to Jehovah. But this
did not prevent his son Amon from following in his evil ways. A
revolt of the people within two years removed Amon, however, and set
his young son, Josiah, upon the throne. Josiah's reign is important
for the history of Judah.

By putting together all that can be gleaned from Kings, Chronicles,
and the prophets, it can be seen that Josiah gradually came more and
more under the influence of the party in Judah that sought to purge
the nation of its idolatry and bring it back, not merely to the
comparatively pure worship and life of Hezekiah's and David's days,
but to an ideal observance of the ancient Law of Moses. The climax
in the progressive reformation in Judah was reached in Josiah's
eighteenth year, 622 B.C., when the king and all the people entered
into a "solemn league and covenant" to obey the Law of Moses both as
a religious obligation and as a social program.

The Law book which was found while workmen were restoring the Temple
passed through the hands of Hilkiah, the high priest, who therefore
committed himself, together with the priests, to this reform. And
what the true prophets of Jehovah thought of it may be seen, for
example, from Jer., ch. 11, which tells that this prophetic leader
preached in the streets of Jerusalem and through the cities of
Judah, saying, "Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them."

Josiah attempted to attach to Jerusalem all those elements in the
territory of the former kingdom of Israel which were in sympathy
with Jehovah's Law, and at Bethel itself he defiled the old
idolatrous altar and slew its priests. In fact, it was on northern
ground, at Megiddo, that Josiah met his tragic end and the new wave
of patriotic enthusiasm was shattered, when, in battle against
Pharaoh-necho and a great Egyptian army, the king of Judah was

Josiah's four successors were weak and unworthy of David's line.
After Jehoahaz, the son whom the people put on the throne to succeed
Josiah, had been removed by Necho, Jehoiakim, another son, reigned
for eleven years. He owed his throne to the Pharaoh and was at first
tributary to him. But early in his reign came the first of many
campaigns of the Chaldeans into Palestine, as Nebuchadnezzar, master
of Asia, extended his power farther and farther south after crushing
the Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 B.C. Jehoiakim had to bow to
Nebuchadnezzar's yoke and seems to have lost his life in a fruitless
attempt to shake it off. A great number of the leaders of Judah,
nobles, priests, soldiers, and craftsmen, were deported, together
with Jehoiachin, the young son of Jehoiakim, who had worn the crown
but three months, 598 B.C.

For eleven years more, however, the remnant of Judah maintained a
feeble state under Zedekiah, a third son of Josiah and the last of
David's line to mount the throne. In spite of his solemn oath to the
king of Babylon and in the face of the express warnings from Jehovah
through his prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, this weak and faithless
king revolted from Babylon, put his trust in the Egyptian army,
and prepared to stand a siege. But Jerusalem's end had now come,
as Samaria's had come before, and through a breach in the northern
wall the Chaldean army entered; the king fled and was captured,
blinded, and deported, and the whole city, including houses, walls,
gates, and even the Temple--that famous Temple of Solomon which had
stood nearly four centuries--was totally destroyed, 587 B.C. All
that remained of the higher classes, together with the population
of Jerusalem and the chief towns, were carried away to Babylonia,
to begin that exile which had been threatened even in the Law,
and predicted by many of the prophets, as the extreme penalty for
disobedience and idolatry.


     1. How did the fall of Samaria affect the Kingdom of Judah?

     2. How did Hezekiah meet the threats of Sennacherib? What was
        the outcome?

     3. Which king carried through a reformation of religion? What
        was the basis of the covenant he imposed on Judah? How did he
        meet his end?

     4. Describe the relations of the Chaldeans to Judah in the time
        of Hezekiah, of Jehoiakim, of Zedekiah?

     5. When did Jerusalem fall? Did it fall unexpectedly and without


The Exile and the Restoration

Ezekiel, Chapters 33 to 48; Daniel; Ezra, Chapters 1, 2

When the northern tribes were carried away by Assyria they lost
their identity in the mass of the nations. Only individuals from
among them attached themselves to the organized nucleus of Judah.
From that time the one tribe of Judah stood out so prominently as
representative of the whole nation, that "Jew" (that is, man of
Judah) has been equivalent to Hebrew. Paul says that he was of the
tribe of Benjamin; the aged prophetess Anna is said to have been of
the tribe of Asher, Luke 2:36, and all the priests were of course
of the tribe of Levi; yet long before New Testament times all such
Israelites were commonly referred to as "Jews."

Judah did not lose its identity among the nations when Jerusalem
fell. The Jews who were not deported, among them the prophet
Jeremiah, were put under the government of a certain Jewish noble,
Gedaliah, who ruled the land from Mizpah as representative of the
great king. Many fugitives returned to live under his sway when
they found that it was beneficent. But Gedaliah was soon murdered
by a prince of David's house, whom the king of Ammon had set on to
do this mischief and then received and protected. The other Jewish
leaders feared to remain within reach of the king of Babylon after
this insult to him, and against the warnings of Jeremiah they all
went down to Egypt. That removal ended all organized Jewish life in
Palestine for nearly half a century.

In Babylon, however, an event occurred long before that time had
elapsed, which marked the political recognition of Judah's separate
identity as a nation. That event was the release of Jehoiachin
from prison by the new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, successor
of Nebuchadnezzar. Jehoiachin, it will be remembered, was the
unfortunate prince of David's line who held the throne only three
months after his father Jehoiakim's death and was then deported to
Babylon in 598. From that time on, through all the remainder of
Nebuchadnezzar's long reign, he had been imprisoned in Babylon. But
now he was not only released, but given a pension from the royal
treasury for the rest of his life and a standing superior to all the
other captive princes in Babylon.

This was in 562, and many Jewish hearts must already have begun to
beat with fresh hope, as the old loyalty to David's house flamed
up, and the promises of a restoration recorded in the old Law and
the Prophets were echoed by the prophet of the Exile, Ezekiel. This
man, himself a priest by birth, had been carried to Babylon at
the same time as Jehoiachin, and through all those years of doom
had there preached to his countrymen, first to the portion exiled
with him while Jerusalem still stood, but after 587 to the whole
people united in a common catastrophe. His voice had even reached
to Jerusalem, as he joined Jeremiah in reminding King Zedekiah of
his oath to Nebuchadnezzar. With the elevation of Jehoiachin and the
stirring of the national hopes, Ezekiel became the prophet of hope.
He pictures the breath of Jehovah stirring to life the dry bones
in the valley of death. Ezek., ch. 37. And he warns the optimistic
people that only as God takes away from them their old stony heart
and gives them a heart of flesh, and sprinkles clean water upon them
to cleanse them from their pollution through idolatry, can they
be fit to form the new community wherein God shall indeed reign.
Ch. 36:25, 26. What such a community might outwardly and visibly
resemble, Ezekiel pictures in a long, detailed, descriptive vision
wherewith his book closes. Chs. 40 to 48.

Another outstanding Jew of the Exile was a man of an entirely
different type. Daniel, a noble youth carried away from Judah to
Babylon at the first clash of Nebuchadnezzar's armies with the
Jews, 605 B.C., and brought up at the court, succeeded through
interpreting a dream of the king in attracting his notice and
winning his favor, much as Joseph had done in ancient Egypt. Dan.,
ch. 2. From his position of political power, Daniel was able,
doubtless, to minister to the interests of his brethren, the Jewish
exiles. Possibly it is to him that Jehoiachin owed his astonishing
reversal of fortune. At any rate Belshazzar, the last ruler of the
Chaldean state, still maintained Daniel in power, in spite of the
very solemn warning of ruin to that state which Daniel fearlessly
pronounced. Ch. 5. When the Persians succeeded the Chaldeans as
masters of Babylon, this Jewish statesman still held his high
post, and retained it in spite of the bitter enmity of officials
who used his Jewish faith as a handle against him. Ch. 6. In fact,
there is no better way to understand the favor accorded the Jews
by Cyrus, the Persian conqueror, and the edicts preserved in Ezra
1:2-4; 6:3-5, than by supposing that Daniel, who had the king's ear,
brought to his attention the earlier prophecies of Jeremiah and of
other spokesmen for Jehovah, God of the Jews.

Certainly, however the affair was managed, it turned out entirely
to the Jews' liking. All who were willing to return to Palestine
were permitted and encouraged to go. They were assisted by the gifts
of their brethren who could not, or would not, leave Babylon. They
bore back with them the old vessels for the service of the sanctuary
which Nebuchadnezzar had carried off. And, best of all, they took
with them royal authority to erect the Temple of Jehovah on its
ancient site, at the expense of the king of Persia, that is, out of
taxes and tribute he remitted. At their head went a prince of the
old royal house, and a high priest who was grandson of that high
priest whom Nebuchadnezzar had executed half a century before. Their
number totaled forty-two thousand three hundred and sixty, with
enough slaves in addition to make the entire company number nearly
fifty thousand.

Their purpose was threefold: to reoccupy the Holy Land, to rebuild
Jerusalem, and to erect a temple where Solomon's Temple had stood.
We should be likely to rate the importance of these three objects
in the same order as that in which they have just been named. But
not so the believing Jew. It was above all else the sacred house
of his God that he wanted to see restored, so that the prescribed
sacrifices of the Law might be resumed, the nation's sin might thus
be atoned for, and God might once more visibly dwell among his
people. All else was in order to this one great end. The origin
of Judaism, which lies in the movements of this time, cannot be
understood unless this supreme motive is clearly grasped. How
Judaism developed under the new conditions will be the subject of
the next lesson.


     1. What is meant by "a Jew"?

     2. How did government of Hebrews by a Hebrew come to an end in
        Palestine for the first time since Saul's day?

     3. What was the first political event to arouse the exiled Jews
        from their depression?

     4. Compare Ezekiel and Daniel in their personality, position,
        and audience.

     5. When Cyrus captured Babylon in 539, what did he do for the
        Jews, and how came he to do it?

     6. How many Jews returned to Palestine under Cyrus, and what was
        their uppermost motive?


The Jewish State Under Persia

Ezra, Chapters 3 to 10; Esther; Nehemiah; Haggai; Zechariah; Malachi

For two centuries Judea, like the rest of western Asia, was under
the domination of the Persians, whose great royal names, Cyrus,
Darius, Xerxes, Artaxerxes, are familiar to every student of
history. The Old Testament spans one of those two centuries of
Persian rule, 539-430, while for the other century, 430-332, we are
dependent for the little we know about the Jews upon some documents
recently discovered in Egypt, an occasional notice in classical
historians, and the brief narrative of Josephus, the Jewish
historian of the first Christian century.

Even in the century covered by the books of the Bible there are long
stretches of silence separating periods that are fairly reported.
First comes the time of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the leaders, civil
and religious, under whom the Jews returned and erected the Temple.
This story carries us, though with a seventeen-year gap in its
midst, from 538, the year after Cyrus took Babylon, to 515, the
sixth year of Darius the Great, and is recorded in the first six
chapters of the book of Ezra. To help us in understanding this time
we have also the prophecies of Haggai and Zechariah, though the last
six chapters of Zechariah belong to another age.

After the completion of the new Temple the curtain falls on Judea
and, save for a single verse, Ezra 4:6, we hear no more of it for
fifty-seven years. However, the interesting story of Esther belongs
in these years, for the Ahasuerus of the Bible is the Xerxes of
Greek history--that vain, fickle, and voluptuous monarch who was
beaten at Salamis and Platæa. The Jews must have been a part of the
vast host with which he crossed from Asia to Europe. But the drama
unfolded in the book of Esther was played far from Palestine, at
Susa, the Persian capital.

With the seventh year of the next reign--that of Artaxerxes I--the
curtain rises again on Judea, as we accompany thither the little
band of Jews whom Ezra, the priestly "scribe," brought back with him
from Babylonia to Jerusalem. This account is found in the last four
chapters of the book of Ezra, most of it in the form of personal
reminiscences covering less than one year.

The curtain falls again abruptly at the end of Ezra's memoirs, and
rises as abruptly on Nehemiah's memoirs at the beginning of the book
which bears his name. But there is every reason to believe that the
letters exchanged between the Samaritans and the Persian court,
preserved in the fourth chapter of Ezra, belong to this interval of
thirteen years between the two books of Ezra and Nehemiah. For this
alone can explain two riddles: first, who are "the men that came up
from thee unto Jerusalem," Ezra 4:12, if they are not Ezra and his
company, ch. 7? And second, what else could explain the desolate
condition of Jerusalem and Nehemiah's emotion on learning of it,
Neh. 1:3, if not the mischief wrought by the Jews' enemies when
"they went in haste to Jerusalem," armed with a royal injunction,
and "made them to cease by force and power"? Ezra 4:23.

Some persons are inclined to date the prophet Malachi at just this
time also, shortly before Nehemiah's arrival. But it is probably
better to place the ministry of this last of the Old Testament
prophets at the end of Nehemiah's administration. Nehemiah's points
of contact with Malachi are most numerous in his last chapter, ch.
13, in which he writes of his later visit to Jerusalem. Compare Neh.
13:6 with ch. 1:1.

In Cyrus' reign the great Return was followed immediately by the
erection of an altar and the resumption of sacrifice. Preparations
for rebuilding the Temple, however, and even the laying of the
corner stone, proved a vain beginning, as the Samaritans, jealous of
the newcomers and angered by their own rebuff as fellow worshipers
with the Jews, succeeded in hindering the prosecution of the work
for many years. Ezra 3:1 to 4:5.

It was not until the second year of Darius' reign, 520, nearly
two decades later, that the little community, spurred out of
their selfishness and lethargy by Haggai and Zechariah, arose and
completed the new Temple, in the face of local opposition but with
royal support. Ch. 4:24 to 6:15.

Fifty-seven years later, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, 458,
came Ezra with some fifteen hundred men, large treasures, and
sweeping privileges confirmed by a royal edict, the text of which he
has preserved in the seventh chapter of his book. He was given the
king's support in introducing the Law of God as the law of the land,
binding upon all its inhabitants, whom he was to teach its contents
and punish for infractions of it. How Ezra used his exceptional
powers in carrying out the reform he judged most needed--the
dissolution of mixed marriages between Jew and Gentile forbidden by
the Law--is told in detail in his own vivid language in chs. 9, 10.
It helps us to understand Malachi's zeal in this same matter. Mal.
2:11. And the difficulty of this reform appears also from Nehemiah's
memoirs, since the same abuse persisted twenty-five years after Ezra
fought it. Neh. 13:23-27.

After the failure to fortify Jerusalem recorded in Ezra 4:8-23,
Nehemiah, a Jew in high station and favor at Artaxerxes' court,
obtained from his king a personal letter, appointing him governor
of Judea for a limited time, with the special commission to rebuild
the walls and gates of Jerusalem. The same bitter hostility which
the Samaritans and other neighbors in Palestine throughout had
shown toward the returned Jews, reached its climax in the efforts
of Sanballat and others in public and private station to hinder
Nehemiah's purpose. But with great energy and bravery, and with a
personal appeal and example that swept all into the common stream
of patriotic service, Nehemiah built the ruined walls and gates
in fifty-two days, instituted social reforms, ch. 5, and imposed
a covenant on all the people to obey the Law which Ezra read
and expounded. Chs. 8 to 10. Elements in the little nation that
joined with his enemies to discredit and even to assassinate him
were banished or curbed. The origin of the peculiar sect of the
Samaritan is connected with Nehemiah through his rigor in banishing
a grandson of the high priest who had married Sanballat's daughter.
This disloyalty of the priesthood is also one of Malachi's chief
indictments against his nation, and the basis of his promise that
a great reformer, an "Elijah," should arise to prepare the sinful
people for the coming of their God.


     1. How long after the Return was the Temple finished? Who
        hindered? Who helped?

     2. What are the scene and the date of the book of Esther?

     3. Compare the return of the Jews to Jerusalem under Ezra with
        that under Zerubbabel (_a_) in date, (_b_) in numbers, (_c_)
        in purpose and result.

     4. Tell the story of Nehemiah: the occasion of his return, his
        enemies, his achievements. In what did Ezra help him?

     5. Associate the ministry of the three prophets of this period
        after the Exile with the leaders and movements they
        respectively helped.


Israel's Religious Life

It has often been said that while civilization owes its art and
letters to Greece and its law and order to Rome, it owes its
religion and ethics to Palestine. This is true, within limits,
provided we understand that what Israel contributed was not the
product of its "native genius for religion," but was due to the
persistent grace of its God, who took this "fewest of all peoples"
and made of it the custodian of his revelation and the cradle of his
redemption for the whole world. When, however, the Hebrew claimed
preëminence through these two things, a saving God and a righteous
Law, it was no idle boast. So Moses eloquently asks in Deuteronomy:
"What great nation is there, that hath a god so nigh unto them,
as Jehovah our God is whensoever we call upon him? And what great
nation is there, that hath statutes and ordinances so righteous as
all this law, which I set before you this day?" Deut. 4:7, 8.

Religion as developed in Israel had two sides, an inward and an
outward. On its inward side it consisted of a faith in Jehovah
cherished in the hearts of the people, together with the sentiments
of reverence and love, and the purposes of loyalty and consecration,
which grew out of that faith. On its outward side religion consisted
of certain objects and ceremonies, adapted to express by act and
symbol the relation between God and his people.

But there is also another distinction often made in speaking of
religion, the distinction between individual religion and national
religion. Each member of the Hebrew nation held a personal relation
to his God. The Law of God addressed him individually as it said
to him, "Thou shalt not." And, on a still higher level, Moses
summed up that Law for him in these memorable words, "Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart." Yet the entire body of
Israel, as such, held a relation to God which his spokesmen are
continually trying to illustrate and enrich by all sorts of figures.
God is Israel's "Rock," "Possessor" or "Purchaser," "Redeemer,"
"Father"--until Isaiah can even say to the nation, "Thy Maker is
thy husband," and Hosea and Ezekiel can portray God's dealings with
Israel under the allegory of a marriage.

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that all the inward
religion was individual and all the outward religion national.
There was provision in the ceremonial law, not only for sacrifices
on a national scale, like those of the day of atonement, but also
for each man to express outwardly his own penitence or devotion or
gratitude or obligation to God by means of a personal sacrifice,
publicly offered but privately planned and provided. And, on the
other hand, the psalms and the prophets cannot be understood, unless
we realize the general religious life of the nation that lies back
of these highly individual forms of expression. That was why, when
David thinking of himself could write, "The Lord is my shepherd,"
the whole people could take that sentence and the psalm it begins
for use in public worship as the collective expression of Israel's
trust in its God.

The great fact of sin is responsible for the perversion of the true
relation between these different varieties of religious life. In
theory, every symbolic object and action at tabernacle or Temple
was merely the outward expression of an inward idea or feeling or
resolve. Every smoking sacrifice on the altar was supposed to come
from an offerer drawing near to God in the sincere belief "that he
is, and that he is a rewarder of them that seek after him." Heb.
11:6. But in fact the offerer was in constant danger of looking upon
all the gifts and victims he brought as so many bribes with which
he might buy the favor of an offended God, or, worse still, might
obtain an "indulgence" to do some evil deed he planned. This is what
Jeremiah means when he cries, "Will ye steal, murder, and commit
adultery, and swear falsely ... and come and stand before me in this
house, which is called by my name, and say, We are delivered; that
ye may do all these abominations?" Jer. 7:9, 10.

If the private worshiper was in danger of abusing the worship of
God in this way, how much more was the priest, the professional
sacrificer and celebrant, in danger of looking upon all his duties
as a kind of authorized magic! "Do this external act, and that
inward benefit will surely follow." "Offer this lamb, and cease
to think about that black sin for which the lamb is the official
price." Yes, even this: "Go and do it again, but don't forget to
bring another lamb!" Is it any wonder that at length Malachi, after
lashing the priests of his late day for their laziness, cynicism,
and greed, cries out in Jehovah's name, "Oh that there were one
among you that would shut the doors [of the Temple], that ye might
not kindle fire on mine altar in vain!" Mal. 1:10.

All along the course of Hebrew history we find prophets and
psalmists protesting against this sinful perversion of ceremonial
religion. See for example I Sam. 15:22; Ps. 40:6-8; 50; Isa.
1:10-17; Micah 6:6-8.

And yet it would be a mistake to say that the prophet stood for
pure and spiritual religion, and the priest for merely external,
formal religion. Some of the greatest of the prophets, as Jeremiah,
Ezekiel, Zechariah, were priests. And how far the prophets could
become professional declaimers and deceivers may be seen, for
example, from Micah 3:5-8.

The Hebrew prophets, notably Amos and Hosea, are sometimes
represented as the "inventors" of "ethical monotheism," that is, of
religion as consisting in the worship of one God, who is the moral
ideal of man and demands moral living in man. But in fact, that is
precisely the basis of all genuine Old Testament religion, from the
very beginning. See Heb., ch. 11. And, particularly, that is the
basis of the entire Law, even of the ceremonial law. For that Law
must not be judged by its sinful abuse, but by the principles of
righteousness, holiness, repentance, and fellowship that underlie
every article in the sanctuary, every sacrifice on the altar, every
rite prescribed and observance commanded. At their best the priests
were allies of the true prophets, and external religion as centering
in the Temple was for the time a fitting expression of Israel's
personal and national faith. If it had not been so, then such
psalms as Psalms 24, 42, 65, 84, 122 could never have been written,
preserved, and used.


     1. What ground had Israel for "glorying"? See Rom. 9:4, 5.

     2. Give illustrations to show that individual as well as
        national religion in Israel expressed itself externally, and
        that spiritual as well as ceremonial religion belonged to both
        the nation and the individual.

     3. What sinful abuse of sacrifice were the prophets constantly
        attacking? Did they thereby condemn Temple, altar, priesthood,
        and ceremonial law in themselves?

     4. Were all the prophets spiritually minded, or all the priests
        merely "professional"? Give instances from history of
        alliances between prophets and priests.


"The Coming One"

The Old Testament points forward. The whole impression it leaves
upon us is that of an unfinished thing. Its history moves toward a
goal outside of itself. Its religion is a religion of expectation.
All its institutions are typical, that is, they represent more than
themselves, because they belong to a larger order of things which
appears imperfectly in them.

In the last lesson we saw how priest and prophet had their own
place in Israel. But both priest and prophet also typified a
perfect priesthood and a perfect prophecy, to be realized under
ideal conditions which were never present in those times. When, for
example, Aaron made atonement for the sins of the nation once each
year, as provided in Lev., ch. 16, he had to present first the blood
of the bullock which was the sin offering for himself, before he
presented the blood of the goat which was the sin offering for the
people. But ideally, in his position as mediator between God and the
sinful people, he was a sinless man; the blood of the bullock and
the pure, white garments he put on were supposed to indicate that
he was sinless for the moment. Nothing could be clearer than that
he typified a perfect high priest for God's people, who should be
really a sinless man--one who needed no mechanism of altar, victim,
and dress to make him pure from personal sin. See Heb., chs. 5 to
10, especially ch. 7:26-28.

Again Moses looks forward to the realization in the future of the
ideal communication between God and his people typified in the
prophet. "A prophet," says he, "Jehovah thy God will raise up unto
thee." "From the midst of thee, like unto me." Deut. 18:15-19. This
ideal prophet will perfectly hear and perfectly transmit divine
truth to men. It was on the basis of this promise that many persons
described our Lord as "the prophet," meaning thereby that perfect
prophet promised by Moses. John 1:21, 25; 7:40.

But there was another institution of Old Testament times which more
than prophet or priest was associated in the people's minds with
the ideal future. This was kingship. God himself was theoretically
King--sole King--of Israel. Isa. 33:22. But at the entreaty of
his sinful and harassed people he instructed Samuel to "make them
a king." And while Samuel warned them of the evils which the
monarchy would bring with it because of the sinfulness of the men
who should be king, he nevertheless set up a throne that by its
very nature was unique. The king of Israel was in a peculiar sense
the representative of Jehovah. He ruled for God. He was his own
"anointed," set apart for the exercise of supreme authority over
God's people on earth and entitled to their religious as well as
patriotic devotion. See, for example, Psalms 21, 101.

After the failure of Saul to obey God's instructions, Samuel
anointed, at God's dictation and against his own human judgment,
David the son of Jesse. This man proved himself, not indeed sinless
nor the ideal king, but a man after God's heart, Acts 13:22, because
his dominant purpose was to do God's will. To David therefore was
given the remarkable promise contained in II Sam., ch. 7. In a
word, this promise was an irrevocable, eternal "covenant," granting
sovereignty to David's "house"--that is, his posterity considered as
a unit--over God's Kingdom on earth.

The story of how men came to understand better and better the
vastness of this covenant, which Isaiah calls "the sure mercies of
David," ch. 55:3, forms the subject of that special Old Testament
study called "Messianic Prophecy." In the psalms and in the
prophecies we are able to trace a growing faith, that by an ideal
king of David's line Jehovah will finally work his long delayed
will in and through Israel. This Person is commonly called "the
Messiah," because "Messiah" means "Anointed." Its Greek equivalent
is "the Christ." While other persons also were anointed with oil
when they assumed office, kings were always so anointed and the idea
belongs peculiarly to kingship. By the time our Lord appeared, no
other side of the work which this ideal, promised, longed-for Coming
One was to do, was so prominent as that of ruling for God as the
King of Israel. For this reason Jesus of Nazareth is known to all
who believe in his claims as "the Christ," and such believers are
thence called "Christians." This title of Christ connects Jesus with
the line of David, to which he actually belonged by descent, and it
also connects him with the promise to David, of which he was the
heir and the fulfillment.

We have thus seen that "the Coming One," Luke 7:19; John 11:27,
toward whom the eyes of Israel were directed, was to be prophet,
priest, and king. In all these offices and the various duties they
involved he was to be the one chosen from among the people--a man
therefore, "servant of the servants of God." Yet this is not all.
Alongside these promises there was a promise also that Jehovah
himself would come to dwell among his people. The Holy of Holies,
with its Ark of the Presence and its Mercy seat for revelation and
atonement, was itself typical of an ideal presence of God among men.
And through psalm and prophet we can trace this promise also. Now
it is terrible with its threat to sinners, and now it is glorious
with its hope for the oppressed. At length in Malachi we read in
the clearest words, "The Lord, whom ye seek, will suddenly come to
his temple." Mal. 3:1, 5. Preceded by his "messenger" to "prepare
the way before him," Israel's divine Lord himself is to come for
judgment and salvation. See also Ps. 96:13; 98:9.

It was not made so plain to the men of ancient Israel just how these
two lines of promise were to be united, as it appears to us now in
the light of later facts. But we, who worship Jesus of Nazareth not
only as "Son of David according to the flesh," but as divine Lord
from heaven, "in two distinct natures and one person for ever,"
can look back on those old prophecies of "men who spake from God,
being moved by the Holy Spirit." II Peter 1:21. We can see in them
God's purpose to make this great Son of David a true "Immanuel,"
Isa. 7:14--a Person in whom God actually is "with us." God gave to
him such names as "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting
Father, Prince of Peace," because he should really be all that
these names imply. Isa. 9:6. For the Child who was born in little
Bethlehem, the "city of David," was not merely one who should be
"ruler in Israel," but also one "whose goings forth are from of old,
from everlasting." Micah 5:2.


     1. How did the priests and prophets in Israel point forward to
        an ideal Priest and Prophet?

     2. What was the relation of Israel's king to Jehovah? In whose
        "house" was this office made eternal? In what Person has this
        promise been fulfilled?

     3. How was the promise that God himself should be "the Coming
        One" consistent with the promise of a human Prophet, Priest,
        and King? Where is it indicated in the Old Testament that both
        promises might be fulfilled in one Person?


The Life of Christ and the Development of the Church in New
Testament Times

By John Gresham Machen, D.D.


The Preparation

At the time when the Old Testament narrative closes, the Jews
were under the rule of Persia. The Persian control continued for
about one hundred years more, and then gave way to the empire of
Alexander the Great. Alexander was king of Macedonia, a country
to the north of Greece; but the language and culture of his court
were Greek. After Greece proper had been conquered by Alexander's
father, Philip, Alexander himself proceeded to the conquest of
the East. The Persian Empire fell in 331 B.C., and with the
other Persian possessions Jerusalem came into the hands of the
conqueror. In 323 B.C., when Alexander died, his vast empire, which
extended around the eastern end of the Mediterranean Sea and to
the borders of India, at once fell to pieces. But the kingdoms
into which the empire was divided were to a large extent Greek
kingdoms. Short-lived, therefore, as Alexander's empire was, it
had the permanent effect of spreading the Greek language and Greek
civilization over the Eastern world. It became thus, as will be
seen, one of the most important factors in the divine preparation
for the gospel.

After the death of Alexander, the country of Judea became a bone
of contention between two of the kingdoms into which Alexander's
empire was divided--the Greek kingdom of Syria and the Greek kingdom
of Egypt. At last, however, the Syrian kingdom, with its capital
at Antioch, near the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea,
gained the upper hand. Judea became part of the territory of the
Syrian monarchs.

In the reign of Antiochus IV of Syria, called Antiochus Epiphanes,
175-164 B.C., the Jews began a war for independence. Antiochus
Epiphanes had desecrated the Temple at Jerusalem by setting up an
image of a heathen god in the Holy of Holies. The result was the
glorious revolt of the Jews under Mattathias and his sons--the
family of the Maccabees. The Maccabean uprising, of which a stirring
account has been preserved in the First Book of the Maccabees, an
apocryphal book attached to the Old Testament, certainly constitutes
one of the most glorious chapters in the history of liberty. The
uprising was successful, and for about one hundred years the little
country of the Jews, though surrounded by powerful neighbors,
succeeded in maintaining its independence.

At first the Maccabees had been animated by a religious motive; the
revolt had been due not to an interference with what may be called
civil liberty, but to the desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes of the
Temple and to the attempt at prohibiting the worship of Jehovah. As
time went on, however, the Maccabean rulers became more worldly in
their purposes and thus alienated the devout element among their
people. Hence the little kingdom became an easy prey to the next
great world empire which appeared upon the scene.

That empire was the empire of Rome. Originally a small city-state
in Italy, Rome had gradually extended her conquests until she came
into conflict with Greece and with the Greek kingdoms of the Eastern
world. Weakened by many causes, the successors of Alexander soon
succumbed, and among them the monarchs of Syria. Judea could not
resist the new conqueror. In 63 B.C., the famous Roman general,
Pompey, entered Jerusalem, and Jewish independence was at an end.

The Roman control was exerted in Palestine for a time through
subservient high priests, until in 37 B.C. Herod the Great was made
king. Herod was not a real Jew, but an Idumæan; and at heart he
had little or no attachment to the Jews' religion. But he was wise
enough not to offend Jewish feeling in the outrageous way that had
proved so disastrous to Antiochus Epiphanes. Throughout his reign
Herod was of course thoroughly subservient to the Romans; though a
king, he was strictly a vassal king. Herod reigned from 37 B.C. to 4
B.C. His kingdom embraced not only Judea, but all Palestine. It was
near the end of Herod's reign that our Saviour was born. Thus the
reckoning of the Christian era, which was instituted many centuries
after Christ, is at least four years too low; Jesus was born a
little earlier than 4 B.C.

When Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 B.C., Rome was still a
republic. But before many years had elapsed Julius Cæsar assumed the
supreme power, and the ancient Roman liberties were gone. After the
assassination of Cæsar in 44 B.C., there was a long period of civil
war. Finally Augustus was triumphant, and the Roman Empire began. In
the long reign of Augustus, 27 B.C. to A.D. 14, our Saviour was born.

The political events which have just been outlined did not take
place by chance. They were all parts of the plan of God which
prepared for the coming of the Lord. When Jesus finally came, the
world was prepared for his coming.

In the first place, the Roman Empire provided that peace and unity
which was needed for the spread of the gospel. War interrupts
communication between nations. But when the apostles went forth from
Jerusalem to spread the good news of Christ to the world, there was
no war to interrupt their course. Nation was bound to nation under
the strong hand of Rome. Travel was comparatively safe and easy, and
despite occasional persecution the earliest missionaries usually
enjoyed the protection of Roman law.

In the second place, the Greek language provided a medium of
communication. When the Romans conquered the Eastern world, they
did not endeavor to substitute their own language for the language
which already prevailed. Such an attempt would only have produced
confusion. Indeed, the Romans themselves adopted the Greek language
as a convenient medium of communication. Greek thus became a world
language. The original, local languages of the various countries
continued to be used (Aramaic, for example, was used in Palestine),
but Greek was a common medium. Thus when the apostles went forth to
the evangelization of the world, there were no barriers of language
to check their course.

In the third place, the dispersion of the Jews provided the early
missionaries everywhere with a starting point for their labors. As
a result not only of captivity, but also of voluntary emigration,
the Jews in the first century were scattered abroad throughout the
cities of the world very much as they are scattered to-day. But
there was one important difference. To-day the Jewish synagogues are
attended only by Jews. In those days they were attended also by men
of other races. Thus when Paul and the other Christian missionaries
exercised their privilege of speaking in the synagogues, they were
speaking not only to Jews but also to a picked audience of Gentiles.


     1. Name in order the foreign powers which possessed the country
        of the Jews, beginning with Old Testament times and continuing
        down to the present day.

     2. What was the importance of the Maccabean uprising in the
        preparation for the coming of the Lord? What would have
        happened if Antiochus Epiphanes had been successful?

     3. What was the importance of the Roman Empire for the spread
        of the gospel? of the Greek language? of the dispersion of
        the Jews?


The Coming of the Lord

John 1:1-18

When the Son of God came to earth for our salvation, the world was
ready for his coming. The whole course of history had been made to
lead up to him. And he was well worthy of being thus the goal of
history. For the One who came was none other than the eternal Son
of God, the Word who was with God and who was God. He had existed
from all eternity; he had been the instrument in creating the world.
He was himself truly God, the same in substance with the Father,
and equal in power and glory. Yet the One who was so great humbled
himself to be born as a man and finally to suffer and die. His
coming was a voluntary act, an act of the Father in giving him for
the sins of the world, and his own act which he performed because he
loved us. It was an act of infinite condescension. The Son of God
humbled himself to lead a true human life; he took upon himself our
nature. He was born, he grew in wisdom and stature, he suffered, he
died. He was always God, but he became also man. Who can measure the
depth of such condescending love?

What, then, was the manner of his coming? The story is told, in
beautiful narrative, in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke.

Luke 1:5-25, 57-80

First, the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner, was announced
by the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, a devout priest, as he was
ministering in the Temple. Luke 1:5-25. Zacharias was old; he had
given up hope of children. The promise seemed to him too wonderful
to be true; he doubted the angel's word. But the punishment which
was inflicted upon him for his doubt was temporary merely, and the
bitterness of it was swallowed up in joy for the child that was
born. The tongue of Zacharias, which had been dumb on account of
his sin, was loosed, and he uttered a wonderful song of praise. Vs.

Luke 1:26-56

But before John was born, in fulfillment of the angel's promise,
there was a promise of a greater than John. Luke 1:26-56. "The
angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named
Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of
the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary." It was a far
more wonderful promise than that which had come to Zacharias, not
only because of the greater glory of the promised Son, but also
because of the mystery of his birth. The child was to have no human
father, but was to be given by the power of the Holy Spirit. But
this time, despite the strangeness of the promise, there was no
unbelief, as in the case of Zacharias. "Behold, the handmaid of the
Lord," said Mary; "be it unto me according to thy word." And then
Mary went to Judea to visit her kinswoman Elisabeth, the wife of
Zacharias; and while in Judea she gave glorious expression to her
thanksgiving in the hymn which is called, from the first word of it
in the Latin translation, the "Magnificat"--"My soul doth magnify
the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour." Then Mary
returned to her own home in Nazareth.

Matthew 1:18-25

But another announcement of the Saviour's birth was made to Joseph,
who was betrothed to Mary. Matt. 1:18-25. Joseph was to have the
high privilege of caring for the child that was to be born. "Fear
not to take unto thee Mary thy wife," said the angel to Joseph in a
dream, "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit."
And here again, there was no unbelief and no disobedience. Joseph
"did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his

Luke 2:1-7

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, a town of the northern part of
Palestine, which was called Galilee. But the promised Child was to
belong to the house of David, and it was fitting that he should be
born at Bethlehem, a little town five miles south of Jerusalem where
David himself had been born. To cause him to be born at Bethlehem,
God made use of an event of world politics. Luke 2:1-7. A decree had
gone out from the emperor, Augustus, that the whole empire should be
enrolled. This enrollment or census seems to have been carried out
in the kingdom of Herod the Great by the Jewish method which took
account of family relationships. So, although at the time Joseph and
Mary were living at Nazareth, they went up to the home of Joseph's
ancestors, to Bethlehem, to be enrolled. And at Bethlehem the
Saviour was born. There was no room in the lodging place. The Child
was laid, therefore, in a manger that was intended for the feeding
of cattle.

Luke 2:8-20

But humble as were the surroundings of the newborn King, his birth
was not without manifestations of glory. Luke 2:8-20. Shepherds,
keeping watch in the fields by night, heard a multitude of the
heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased." The
shepherds went then to see the sign which had been made known to
them. It was a strange sign indeed--Christ the Lord, the promised
King, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger!

Luke 2:21-38; Matthew 2:1-12

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary made the
offering according to the Old Testament law, and presented the
Child, as the first-born, to the Lord in the Temple at Jerusalem.
Luke 2:21-38. Then they must have returned to Bethlehem, for it was
at Bethlehem that gifts were presented by Wise Men from the East.
Matt. 2:1-12. The Wise Men had been guided to Bethlehem partly by a
wonderful star which they had first seen in their own country, and
partly by questions which were answered by the scribes.

Matthew 2:13-23

But the life of the infant Saviour was not all to be a hearing of
angels' songs and a reception of gold and frankincense and myrrh.
The Lord had come to suffer for the sins of the world, and the last
great suffering on the cross was anticipated by the persecution
which came in the early days. Matt. 2:13-18. The suspicions of
Herod, the jealous king, had been aroused by the questions of the
Wise Men. He sent to Bethlehem to put a possible rival out of the
way. But it was too late. The king's rage was vented upon the
innocent children of the little town, but God had cared for the
infant Saviour. The Lord was finally to die for the sins of the
world. But meanwhile many words of wisdom and grace were to fall
from his lips; his hour was not yet come. Joseph was warned of God
in a dream, and took the young Child and his mother away to Egypt,
out of the way of harm, until Herod the Great was dead. Then they
returned to Nazareth, where the Child was to spend long, quiet years
of preparation for his work.


     1. What life had our Saviour lived before he came to earth? Did
        he cease to be God while he was on earth?

     2. Why did he come?

     3. Who was his forerunner? What sort of persons were the parents
        of the forerunner?

     4. How did Jesus come to be born at Bethlehem?

     5. What was the character of his mother?


The Baptism

Luke 2:40-50

The New Testament tells very little about the boyhood and early
manhood of our Saviour. One incident, however, is narrated. Luke
2:41-50. Joseph and Mary, we are told, were in the habit of going up
from Galilee to Jerusalem every year in the spring at the feast of
the passover. When Jesus was twelve years old, he went up with them.
But when they left Jerusalem on the return, Jesus remained behind
in the Temple, to study the Old Testament; and when Joseph and Mary
found him, he replied to their inquiries, "Knew ye not that I must
be about my Father's business?" The incident shows the presence
even in the human consciousness of the boy Jesus of a knowledge of
the great mission that he was called to fulfill and of his special
relation to God.

Luke 2:51, 52

But the consciousness of these great things did not prevent our
Saviour from performing the humble tasks of daily life and from
being obedient to his human parents. Luke 2:51, 52. Jesus became a
carpenter, and since Joseph also was a carpenter, no doubt Jesus
learned the trade in early youth. Mark 6:3; Matt. 13:55. For many
years, till he was about thirty years old, the Saviour of the world
labored at the carpenter's bench, and lived as an obedient son in a
humble home at Nazareth. Luke 3:23.

At last, however, the time came for the beginning of his public
ministry. Before that ministry is studied, it may be well to cast
a glance at the condition of the country into which Jesus now came

When Herod the Great died in 4 B.C., his dominions were divided
among his three sons. Archelaus received Judea, the southern part
of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its chief city; Herod Antipas, the
"Herod" who is mentioned in the Gospels in connection with Jesus'
public ministry, received Galilee and a district to the east of the
Jordan River called Perea; and Philip received a region lying to
the east of Galilee and to the north of Perea. When Archelaus was
banished in A.D. 6, his territory was placed under the control of
Roman officials called procurators. The procurator who was in office
during Jesus' public ministry was Pontius Pilate. Herod Antipas,
with the title of "tetrarch," continued to rule until A.D. 39;
Philip until about A.D. 33. The public ministry of Jesus extended
from A.D. 26 or 27 to A.D. 29 or 30. During most of that time he
was in the territory of Herod Antipas and of Pontius Pilate, though
occasionally he entered the territory of Philip.

Matthew 3:1-12, and Parallels

The beginning of Jesus' public ministry was prepared for by the work
of John the Baptist. Matt. 3:1-12, and parallels. John was the last
and greatest prophet of the old dispensation, who came just before
the dawn of the new age. For centuries prophecy had been silent. But
at last a prophet came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare
the heart of the people for the promised Messiah.

Even in dress and in manner of life, John was like a prophet of the
olden time. His food was locusts and wild honey; he was clothed with
a rough camel's-hair garment; and his preaching was carried on in
the deserts. The substance of his message is summed up in the words,
"Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matt. 3:2.

The phrase, "kingdom of heaven," or "kingdom of God," was evidently
familiar to the hearers of John, and the meaning of the phrase, up
to a certain point, is perfectly clear. As the kingdom of Cæsar
is the place where Cæsar bears rule, so the Kingdom of God is the
place, or the condition, where God bears rule. In one sense, the
whole universe is the Kingdom of God, for nothing happens apart from
God's will. But evidently John was using the phrase in some narrower
sense; he meant by the Kingdom of God the condition where God's will
is wrought out to completion, where the sinful disobedience which
prevails in the world is banished and God is truly King.

The Jews expected an age which should be under the perfect control
of God. But they were surprised by what John the Baptist said about
the requirements for entrance into that age. They had supposed that
all Jews would have the blessing of the Kingdom, but John told
them that only the righteous would be allowed to enter in. It was
a startling message, since the hearers of John knew only too well
that they did not possess the righteousness which was required.
Repentance, therefore, or cleansing from sin, was necessary. And the
sign of cleansing was baptism.

Matthew 3:13 to 4:11, and Parallels

Among those who came to be baptized was Jesus of Nazareth. Matt.
3:13-15, and parallels. Jesus did not need to be baptized for his
own sake, for he had no sin to be washed away. But his baptism was
part of what he was doing for his people. Just as on the cross he
received the punishment of sin, though there was no sin of his own,
so in his baptism he represented the sinful people whom he came to

When Jesus had been baptized, there was a wonderful event which was
perceived not only by him but also by John the Baptist. Matt. 3:16,
17, and parallels. The Holy Spirit descended upon him in the form
of a dove, and there was a voice from heaven which said, "This is
my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This event marks the
beginning of Jesus' public ministry as Messiah. He had been the
Messiah already, and he had already possessed the Holy Spirit; but
now the power of the Spirit impelled him to come forward definitely
as the promised One.

At the very beginning, however, there was temptation to be overcome.
Matt. 4:1-11, and parallels. Jesus was led up from the deep Jordan
Valley, where the baptism had taken place, into the wilderness on
the heights. And there he was tempted. The temptation was based
upon the holy experience which he had just received. The voice from
heaven had designated Jesus as Son of God. "If that be true," said
the Tempter, "if thou art really Son of God, use thy power to obtain
creature comfort, test out thy power by casting thyself down from a
pinnacle of the Temple, obtain the immediate enjoyment of thy power
by doing obeisance to me." The Devil quoted Scripture for his evil
purpose. But Jesus did not need to repudiate the Scripture in order
to refute him. The Holy Scriptures themselves contained a sufficient
answer to every suggestion of the Evil One. The great victory was
won. The Kingdom of the Messiah was not to be a worldly realm, and
it was not to be won by worldly means. The path to the Messiah's
throne led by the way of the cross. And that path our Saviour was
willing to tread for our sakes.


     1. What is known about the boyhood and youth of Jesus?

     2. Describe the physical features and the political divisions of
        Palestine at the time of our Lord. Where was Jesus born, where
        did he spend his youth, and where was he baptized?

     3. What was the meaning of John's baptism? Why was Jesus

     4. What was the meaning of each of the three temptations, and
        how did Jesus overcome them?


The Early Judean Ministry

John 1:19-34

After the temptation Jesus descended again into the Jordan Valley,
where the baptism had taken place. There he received the testimony
of John the Baptist. John 1:19-34. John had come not to perform a
work of his own, but to be a witness to the greater One who was to
follow. He put aside, therefore, all thoughts of personal ambition,
declared plainly that he was not the Christ, and rejoiced when his
disciples left him in order to follow the One whom he had come to
announce. John had had revealed to him, moreover, not merely the
fact that Jesus was the Saviour, but also something of the way in
which the salvation was to be wrought. Jesus was to die, like a
sacrificial lamb, for the sins of others. "Behold, the Lamb of God,"
said John to his disciples, "that taketh away the sin of the world!"

John 1:35-51

Two pairs of brothers, in those early days, left John to follow the
Saviour. John 1:35-42. One pair consisted of Andrew and Peter; the
other, no doubt, consisted of the two sons of Zebedee, James and
John, although John, who wrote the Gospel in which this narrative is
contained, has never mentioned his own name in his book. Two other
men, besides these four, came to Jesus on the following day--Philip
and Nathanael. Vs. 43-51.

John 2:1-11

After the meeting with these six disciples, our Lord ascended again
from the valley of the Jordan to the higher country of Galilee. And
there, in the village of Cana, he wrought the first of his miracles.
John 2:1-11. He was a guest at a wedding feast, and when the wine
ran out he supplied the lack by turning water into wine. Thereby he
not only manifested his power, but also indicated the manner of his
ministry. He was not to be an austere person like John the Baptist,
living far from the habitations of men. On the contrary, his
ministry was, for those whom he came to win, a ministry of joy. He
entered not merely into the sorrows, but also into the joys of men;
the One who was to die for the sins of the world was also willing to
grace a marriage feast!

John 2:12-22

After a brief sojourn at Capernaum, on the shores of the Sea of
Galilee, where he was afterwards to carry on a large part of his
ministry, Jesus went southward to Jerusalem at passover time. At
Jerusalem his first recorded act was an act of stern rebuke. John
2:13-22. The Temple area was filled with the tables of those who
sold the sheep and oxen and doves which were intended for sacrifice;
the sacred precincts of God's house had been made a place of
business. There was no hesitation on the part of Jesus; he made a
scourge of cords and drove the traffickers out. It is a mistake to
suppose that the wonderful gentleness of our Saviour or his gracious
participation in innocent joys was any indication of weakness.
Though always merciful to the penitent, Jesus could be indignant
against blatant sinners; and the righteous anger of the Saviour was
a terrible thing.

John 2:23-25

At Jerusalem Jesus won adherents because of the miracles which he
wrought. But he was able to distinguish true devotion from that
which was false. He "knew all men, ... and needed not that any one
should bear witness concerning man; for he himself knew what was in
man." John 2:24, 25.

John 3:1-15

One example of this knowledge was afforded by the case of Nicodemus,
John 3:1-15; Jesus knew what Nicodemus lacked. Nicodemus, a ruler
of the Jews, came to Jesus by night, to discuss the substance of
what Jesus had been saying. But our Lord would not waste time with
things that lay on the surface. He went straight to the heart of the
matter, and said to Nicodemus, "Ye must be born anew." V. 7. None
of the learning, none of the worldly influence of Nicodemus would
avail; true life could come only by a new birth, which all, rich and
poor, learned and ignorant, must receive, and receive, not by their
own efforts, but by the mysterious power of the Spirit of God. Jesus
spoke, too, on that memorable night, of the sacrificial death which
he himself was to die for the sins of men. "As Moses lifted up the
serpent in the wilderness," he said, "even so must the Son of man be
lifted up; that whosoever believeth may in him have eternal life."

John 3:22-30

Then Jesus left Jerusalem, the capital, and carried on, through
his disciples, a ministry of baptism in the country districts of
Judea. John 3:22-30. He was thus engaging in a work which before had
belonged peculiarly to John the Baptist. Some of John's disciples
were perhaps inclined to be envious. But there was no envy in the
heart of John himself. He had come not for his own sake but to be
a witness to Jesus as Messiah. And now he rejoiced in the growing
prominence of Jesus. "The friend of the bridegroom," he said about
himself, "rejoices at the voice of the bridegroom. He must increase,
but I must decrease." Vs. 29, 30, in substance.

John 4:1-42

When this early Judean ministry was over, Jesus went back to
Galilee. On the way he passed through Samaria. John 4:1-42. The
inhabitants of Samaria were not of pure Jewish race, and although
they accepted the five books of Moses and looked for the coming
of a Messiah, they did not accept all of the Old Testament. They
were despised by the Jews. But even for the Samaritans, and for
the most degraded among them, the Saviour had a message of hope.
Wearied by his journey, our Lord was sitting by Jacob's well near
the city of Sychar. When his disciples had gone into the city to
buy food, a woman came to draw water at the well. For that woman it
was a memorable hour. Jesus was willing to labor, and that in the
midst of his weariness, for one sinful soul, as well as for all the
multitudes that had crowded around him in Judea. The woman was of
sinful life, and she could not hide her sin from Jesus. But Jesus
searched out her sin, not in order to condemn her, but in order to
bring to her the message of salvation. Attracted, then, by what
the woman had said, a number of the Samaritans came to Jesus and
recognized him as the Messiah and as the Saviour of the world.


     1. Give an account of the testimony of John the Baptist to
        Jesus. How did John know that Jesus was the Messiah?

     2. What happened at Cana? Who, besides Jesus, was a guest at the

     3. Give an outline of all the journeys of Jesus up to his
        passage through Samaria.

     4. Give an account, fuller than the outline given, of the early
        Judean ministry. What did Jesus say when he was asked to give
        a sign?

     5. What is the meaning of the "new birth"? Is it still necessary
        to-day if a man is to be saved? How does it come?


The Beginning of the Galilæan Ministry

After passing through Samaria, Jesus arrived in Galilee, and it was
in Galilee that a large part of his ministry was carried on. The
Galilæan ministry is narrated for the most part by the first three
Gospels, which are called Synoptic Gospels, whereas the Gospel
According to John deals more particularly with the work in Judea.

Luke 4:16-30

After the healing of a nobleman's son, when Jesus was at Cana of
Galilee, our Lord began his preaching in the Galilæan synagogues.
Early in this period he went to Nazareth, the place where he had
been brought up. Luke 4:16-30. But the people of Nazareth could not
believe that the carpenter's Son whom they had known was really
chosen by God to fulfill the glorious prophecies of Isaiah. When
rebuked by Jesus they even desired to kill him. Thus did they
illustrate, to their own eternal loss, the words of Jesus that "No
prophet is acceptable in his own country."

Leaving Nazareth, our Lord went down and dwelt at Capernaum, making
that city apparently the center of his work. But before the details
of the Galilæan ministry are studied, it will be well to cast a
hurried glance at the geographical features of the country where
Jesus' ministry was carried on.

The political divisions of Palestine have already been
mentioned--Galilee in the north, under the tetrarch, Herod Antipas;
Samaria and Judea to the south, under the Roman procurator, Pontius
Pilate. But the physical features of the country do not correspond
at all to the political divisions. Physically the country is divided
into four narrow strips, each about one hundred and fifty miles
long, running from north to south. The westernmost strip is the
coastal plain, along the Mediterranean Sea, into which Jesus hardly
went; then comes the low hill country, the "shephela"; then the
highlands, upon which Jerusalem is situated, reaching an altitude of
some 2500 feet above sea level. These central highlands of Palestine
are broken by the plain of Esdraelon, in southern Galilee. A little
to the north of this plain, in a hill country, lies the town of
Nazareth. East of the central highlands is the deep valley of the
Jordan River. The Jordan rises in the extreme north of Palestine,
one of its sources being on the slopes of the lofty Mount Hermon;
then flows southward to the lake called "the waters of Merom"; then,
issuing from that lake, it flows, after a short course, into the
Lake of Gennesaret, or Sea of Galilee, which is about twelve miles
long; then, issuing from the Lake of Gennesaret, it flows southward,
through a very deep valley to the Dead Sea, which has no outlet and
is extremely salt. During most of its course the Jordan Valley lies
far below the level of the sea, being on account of this peculiarity
absolutely unique among the river valleys of the world. The Dead Sea
is 1292 feet, and the Lake of Gennesaret 682 feet, below sea level.
It was on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret that a large part
of our Lord's ministry was carried on. Centuries of misrule have
now ruined the country, but in those days Galilee supported a large
population. The shores of the lake, particularly, were lined with
villages and towns. The work of our Lord was thus carried on amid
"life's throng and press," though from time to time he sought out
the desert places for rest and prayer.

Matthew 4:18-22, and Parallels

At the beginning of the ministry on the shores of the Lake of
Galilee, Jesus called the two pairs of brothers--Simon Peter and
Andrew, and James and John. Matt. 4:18-22, and parallels. They had
known Jesus before, and had devoted themselves to his service. But
now they were commanded to show their devotion by leaving their
ordinary occupation and becoming Jesus' permanent followers.

Mark 1:21-39, and Parallels

The Gospels give a vivid picture of a Sabbath which Jesus spent at
Capernaum near the beginning of his Galilæan ministry. Mark 1:21-34,
and parallels. As usual, he went into the synagogue. Our Lord knew
how to find God's handiwork in the flowers of the field; but he was
not like those who think that the worship of God through nature
is any substitute for the public worship of the Church. In the
synagogue the people were astonished at Jesus' teaching: "He taught
them as having authority, and not as the scribes." But they were
also astonished at his power; he commanded even the unclean spirits
and they obeyed him. He was not merely a teacher, but also a healer;
he brought not merely guidance, but also active help.

After the synagogue service, Jesus went into the house of Simon and
Andrew with James and John. In the house he healed Simon's wife's
mother who was sick of a fever. Others had heard of the wonderful
power of Jesus, and desired to be healed. But in order not to break
the Sabbath, they waited until sunset, when the Jewish Sabbath was
over. At sunset they brought to Jesus those who were sick and those
who were possessed with demons, and Jesus put forth his divine power
to heal.

It had been a crowded, busy day. Our Lord must have been weary as
night at last came. But even in such busy days, he took time to
seek the source of all strength. A great while before the dawn he
went out into a desert place and there prayed. Mark 1:35-39, and

Matthew 9:1-8, and Parallels

After a tour in the Galilæan synagogues, with both preaching and
healing, our Lord returned to Capernaum. There, as is told in one
of the vivid narratives of the Gospels, Jesus healed a paralytic.
Matt. 9:1-8, and parallels. The sick man could not be brought in by
the door of the house because of the crowds. But he and his friends
were not to be denied. The four friends who bore his couch lowered
him through the roof into the place where Jesus was. They had found
the Healer at last. But bodily healing was not the first gift which
Jesus bestowed. "Son," said Jesus, "thy sins are forgiven." It was
a strange physician indeed who could forgive sins. The scribes said
that the word of Jesus was blasphemy. And so it was, unless Jesus
himself were God. As a proof of his divine power, the Lord said also
to the paralytic, "Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk." And so the
man went away from the presence of the great Healer, whole in body
and in mind.


     1. Describe the political and the physical divisions of
        Palestine. In what parts of the country was our Lord's
        ministry carried on? Where was Nazareth? Capernaum? Point out
        these places on a map.

     2. Describe the call of the four disciples. When and where had
        they followed Jesus before? What was their occupation?

     3. Give an account of the Sabbath in Capernaum that is described
        in the Gospels. What great divisions of Jesus' work were
        illustrated on that day?

     4. Describe the healing of the paralytic. What can be learned
        from this incident about the nature of Jesus' person? Why were
        the scribes offended?


The Period of Popularity

During the first part of the Galilæan ministry, our Lord had the
favor of the people. Great crowds followed him so that he could
scarcely enter into a house. On one occasion he embarked in a little
boat and put forth a short distance into the lake, so as to be able
to speak to the throng on the shore.

This popularity, it is true, was not universal. The common people
heard Jesus gladly, but the official teachers were hostile. These
teachers, who are called scribes, belonged for the most part to
the sect of the Pharisees. At the time of Christ there were two
chief parties among the Jews--the Pharisees and the Sadducees.
The Sadducees were a worldly aristocracy, in possession of the
high-priestly offices at Jerusalem, favored by the Romans, and
satisfied with the existing political order. The Pharisees, on
the other hand, were a strict Jewish party, insisted on a strict
interpretation of the Mosaic Law, and added to the Law a great mass
of oral "tradition," which ostensibly consisted of interpretation
of the Law, but really meant an enormous and oppressive addition
to it. The Pharisees were opposed to Jesus for at least two
reasons. In the first place, they were envious of his success in
teaching, which endangered their own position. In the second place,
they were opposed to the contents of his teaching; he rejected
their interpretation of the Law, and rebuked them for paying such
attention to the detailed rules which were set forth in their
tradition as to forget the weightier matters of justice and mercy.

The conflict of Jesus with the Pharisees was precipitated
particularly by the attitude of Jesus toward the Sabbath. The
Sabbath controversy was carried on partly in Galilee and partly,
John, ch. 5, during a visit of Jesus to Jerusalem. The Pharisees had
developed for the preservation of the Sabbath an elaborate set of
rules which went far beyond what was set forth in the Old Testament.
They were offended, therefore, when Jesus refused to rebuke his
disciples for plucking the ears of wheat on the Sabbath Day, and
when he himself insisted on using the Sabbath to perform works of
mercy like the healing of the man that had a withered hand.

But for the present the opposition of the Pharisees was held in
check by the favor which our Lord had among the people.

This favor was due partly to the teaching of Jesus and partly to his
miracles. He interpreted the Scriptures in a fresh, original way;
"He taught as one having authority and not as their scribes." And he
had power to heal every manner of disease and to cast out demons. It
was no wonder that the crowds followed so wonderful a teacher.

Matthew 4:17

The Galilæan teaching of Jesus began with the proclamation of the
Kingdom of God. The message sounded at first somewhat like the
message of John the Baptist. Quite like John, Jesus came forward
with the summons, "Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."
But the new teacher differed from John in the more complete account
which he gave of the nature of the Kingdom, and especially in the
central place in the Kingdom which he assigned to himself.

Matthew, Chapters 5 to 7

The nature of the Kingdom of God is set forth in the great discourse
of our Lord which is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount.
Matt., chs. 5 to 7. Having gone up from the shores of the Sea of
Galilee to the heights which surround the lake, our Lord taught his
disciples what was to be the life of those who should have a part
in the Kingdom of God. In one sense, the Kingdom lay altogether in
the future; it would be ushered in with full power only at the end
of the world. But in another sense, it was present already wherever
there were those who were truly submitting their lives to Jesus.

The Sermon on the Mount contains certain features which are
fundamental in all of Jesus' teaching.

In the first place, God is presented, in the Sermon on the Mount,
as "Father." The fatherhood of God, in the teaching of Jesus, is
sometimes misunderstood. Jesus did not mean that God is Father
of all men. God stands indeed to all men in a relation which is
analogous to that of a father to his children; he cares for all, he
makes his sun to rise upon all. Matt. 5:45. But in the teaching of
Jesus and in the whole New Testament the lofty term, "Father," is
reserved for a still more intimate relationship. So in the Sermon on
the Mount the great world without is sharply distinguished from the
company of Jesus' disciples; it is only the latter who can say, "Our
Father which art in heaven."

There was nothing narrow in such teaching; for although in Jesus'
teaching the intimate relation of sonship toward God was offered
only to those who should be of the household of faith, yet the door
of the household of faith was open wide to all who would be willing
to come in. Indeed Jesus himself died on the cross with the purpose
of opening that door. Our Saviour did far more than teach men that
they were already children of God; he came to make them children of
God by his saving work.

In the second place, the Sermon on the Mount tells what kind of life
is led by those who should have entered into the Kingdom and been
made the children of God. That life is far more than obedience to a
set of external rules; the purity which Jesus demanded is a purity
of the heart. The life in the Kingdom is also far removed from all
pretense; the children of God engage in prayer and good works not
to be seen by men but to be seen by God. Finally, the life in the
Kingdom is a life of perfect trust; all anxious thought for the
morrow is banished, since God will care for his children.

One difficulty arises in the reading of the Sermon on the Mount. How
can such an ideal be attained? It might be possible to obey a set
of rules, like the rules of the Pharisees, but how is it possible
for sinful men to attain purity of heart? The righteousness of the
Kingdom of heaven exceeds by far the "righteousness of the scribes
and Pharisees." How can such righteousness be attained?

The answer to this question was partly understood even by the first
hearers of the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples of Jesus knew even
then that Jesus alone could give them entrance into the Kingdom;
they trusted in him already not merely as teacher but also as
Saviour. But the answer to the question is far plainer to us; for
we know the cross. The atoning death of Christ it was that gave men
the kind of righteousness required for entrance into the Kingdom
of God, for it gave them the righteousness of Christ himself. The
significance of the cross was spoken of by our Lord even during his
earthly ministry, but the full explanation of it was left to the
apostles. The saving work of Jesus could be fully explained only
after it had been done.


     1. What is the meaning of "the kingdom of God," in Jesus'

     2. Who were the Sadducees? Who were the Pharisees, and why were
        they opposed to Jesus?

     3. Give an outline of the Sermon on the Mount.


The Turning Point

The teaching of Jesus was carried on in various ways. Sometimes
there were extended discourses like the Sermon on the Mount. On
the other hand, much of the most precious teaching of our Lord is
contained in brief sayings which were uttered in answer to some
objection or in view of some special situation. One other form of
teaching requires special attention--namely, the parables.

Mark 4:1-34, and Parallels

A parable is a narrative taken from ordinary life, but intended to
teach some spiritual lesson. It differs from an allegory in that
the application is not to be carried out in such detail. Ordinarily
a parable teaches simply one lesson; there is only one point of
similarity between the literal meaning of the parable and the
deeper spiritual truth. Thus when our Lord compared God's answer to
prayer with the answer which an unjust judge gives to an importunate
widow, the details in the two cases are not intended to be similar;
God is very different from the unjust judge. But there is one point
of similarity--importunity does have its effect in both cases.

The distinction between a parable and an allegory is not an absolute
distinction, and sometimes the two shade into each other. Thus the
parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, which Jesus uttered nearly at the
close of his earthly ministry, partakes largely of the nature of
allegory. The details to a considerable extent are significant--the
wicked husbandmen represent the Jews and their leaders, the servants
who were first sent represent the prophets, the son who was sent
last represents Jesus himself. But many of Jesus' parables are
parables pure and simple; they are not intended to be pressed in
detail, but teach, each of them, some one lesson.

The purpose of Jesus in using parables was twofold. In the first
place the parables were not clear to those who did not wish to
learn. In accordance with a principle of the divine justice, willful
closing of the eyes to the truth brought an increase of darkness.
But in the second place, to those who were willing to receive the
truth, the parables were made gloriously plain; the figurative form
of the teaching only served to drive the meaning home.

The ministry of Jesus did not consist merely of teaching. Along with
the teaching there went wonderful manifestations of divine power.
These manifestations of divine power were of various kinds. Many
of them were miracles of healing; Jesus had power to make the lame
to walk, the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear. He also had power to
cast out demons. At the presence of the Son of God, Satan and his
ministers had put forth all their baneful power. But the demons were
obliged to flee at Jesus' word.

Matthew 8:23-27, and Parallels

Not all of the miracles, however, were miracles of healing. Some
of the most notable of them were of a different kind. But all of
them were manifestations of Jesus' divine power. When, on the lake,
in the midst of the frightened disciples, our Lord said to the
winds and the waves, "Peace, be still," the Ruler of all nature was
revealed. The particular form of Jesus' miracles depended upon his
own inscrutable will; but all of the miracles revealed him as the
Master of the world. He who had made the world in the beginning
could still put forth the same creative power. A miracle, as
distinguished from the ordinary course of nature, is a manifestation
of the creative, as distinguished from the providential, power of

Matthew 14:13-21, and Parallels

Among the miracles of Jesus the feeding of the five thousand seems
to have been particularly important. Its importance is indicated
by the fact that it is narrated in all four of the Gospels. Matt.
14:13-21, and parallels. Even the Gospel of John, which is concerned
for the most part with what happened in Judea, here runs parallel
with the Synoptic Gospels and narrates an event which happened in

This event marks the climax of the popularity of our Lord and at
the same time the beginning of his rejection. Even before this time
he had been rejected by some; his popularity had been by no means
universal. He had been opposed by the scribes and Pharisees; he had
not been understood even by the members of his own household; and he
had been rejected twice at the town where he had been brought up.
But for the most part he had enjoyed the favor of the people.

At the time of the feeding of the five thousand, this popular
favor had reached its height. Jesus had withdrawn from the crowds
into a lonely place across the lake from Capernaum. But such was
his popularity that he could not escape. The people followed him
even when he tried to be alone; they had had no thought of food
or of lodging for the night, so eager had they been to listen to
his teaching. When evening came, therefore, they were in want. But
our Lord had pity on them because they were like sheep without a
shepherd. By a gracious manifestation of his divine power he made
the five loaves and two fishes suffice for all the multitude.

Matthew 14:22-34, and Parallels

After the feeding of the five thousand Jesus found at last the
solitude which he had sought; he went up into the mountain to pray.
The multitudes were making their way around the lake by the shore;
the disciples had taken the only boat and were rowing hard against
the wind. But about three o'clock at night our Lord came to the
disciples walking upon the water. It is no wonder that they bowed
before him and said, "Of a truth thou art the Son of God."

John 6:22-71

Meanwhile the multitude had gone on foot around the lake to
Capernaum. When they found Jesus there before them they were
astonished. But their astonishment, unfortunately, was not of the
kind that leads to true and abiding faith. They had valued the
earthly bread which Jesus had given them, but were not willing to
receive the spiritual bread. Jesus himself, he told them, was the
Bread of life who had come down from heaven; only those could truly
live who would feed upon him by accepting his saving work. John

It seemed to the Jews to be a hard saying. How could the Jesus whose
family they knew be the bread which had come down from heaven? Many
even of those who had formerly followed Jesus were offended at this
"hard saying." The popularity of Jesus at this time began to wane.

But there were some disciples who remained. Jesus had chosen twelve
men, whom he called apostles. He had had them as his companions,
and already he had sent them out on a mission to teach and to
heal. Turning now to them, he asked, "Would ye also go away?" Then
Peter, speaking for the others, showed the difference between true
disciples and those who are offended at every hard saying. "Lord,"
he said, "to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life."


     1. What is a parable? How does it differ from an allegory?

     2. Why did Jesus use parables? Mention some of the parables
        recorded in the Gospels.

     3. What is a miracle? Why did Jesus work miracles?

     4. What is the particular importance of the feeding of the five

     5. Why were the people offended by the discourse on the Bread of


Jesus as Messiah

The waning of Jesus' popularity was by no means sudden. Even
after the discourse on the Bread of life, we frequently find the
multitudes around him. But in general, from that time on our Lord
seems to have withdrawn from the crowds more frequently than before,
in order to devote himself to the instruction of his intimate

Matthew 15:21-39, and Parallels

At this time our Lord withdrew into Phoenicia, northwest of
Palestine. In Phoenicia he healed the daughter of a Syrophoenician
woman. It was a foretaste of the rich streams of mercy which after
Pentecost were to flow out into the whole world.

After a brief stay in Phoenicia, Jesus returned to Galilee, where
he engaged again in controversy with the Pharisees and again, by
his divine power, fed a great multitude. This second time four
thousand men were fed. There were also miracles of healing, and in
general the essential characteristics of the Galilæan ministry were

Matthew 16:13-20, and Parallels

But before long Jesus departed again from Galilee, and finally went
with his disciples to the regions of Cæsarea Philippi, northeast
of Galilee. Near Cæsarea Philippi occurred the great confession of
Peter, which is one of the most important incidents of the Gospel
record. Matt. 16:13-20, and parallels.

"Who," Jesus asked of his disciples, "do men say that I am? And they
told him, saying, Elijah; but others, One of the prophets. And he
asked them, But who say ye that I am? Peter answereth and saith unto
him, Thou art the Christ." Mark 8:27-29.

In this confession Peter recognized that Jesus was the "Messiah,"
the "Anointed One," or according to the Greek translation of the
same word, "the Christ." It was by no means the first recognition
of the fact. The Messiahship of Jesus had been revealed to Joseph
and Mary and Zacharias and Elisabeth even before Jesus was born; it
had been revealed to the shepherds and the Wise Men who greeted the
infant Saviour; it had been revealed to John the Baptist; it had
been revealed to the little group of disciples who left John at the
Jordan in order to follow Jesus; it had been proclaimed by Jesus
himself in his conversations with Nicodemus and with the Samaritan
woman; it had been recognized even by the unclean spirits.

But although Jesus had been proclaimed as Messiah before, the
confession of Peter was by no means a matter of course. Although
the disciples had already accepted Jesus as the Messiah it required
considerable faith and devotion to continue to accept him, for Jesus
was not the kind of Messiah whom the Jews had been expecting. They
had been expecting a Messiah who, as anointed king of Israel, would
deliver God's people from the Roman oppressors, and make Jerusalem
the center of the whole world.

Such expectations seemed to be set at nought by the Prophet of
Nazareth. No kingly pomp surrounded him; he mingled freely with the
common people; he lived in the utmost humility, having not even a
place to lay his head. Political Messiahship he definitely refused.
When, after the feeding of the five thousand, the people were about
to come and make him a king--that is, the Messianic king--he left
them and withdrew into the mountain. John 6:15. It is no wonder that
they were disappointed. All their enthusiasm seemed to be ruthlessly
quenched. Jesus would have absolutely nothing to do with the kind of
Messiahship which they offered.

By this attitude of Jesus not only the multitudes were discouraged.
Even the members of Jesus' household failed to understand, and the
very forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist himself, was assailed,
momentarily at least, by doubts. Conceivably the twelve apostles
also might have been discouraged. But their faith remained firm.
Despite all disappointments, despite the refusal of our Lord to
accept what were supposed to be prerogatives of Messiahship, Peter
was able still to say, at Cæsarea Philippi, "Thou art the Christ."

But in what sense was Jesus the Christ? He was not an earthly king
who would lead the armies of Israel out to battle against the
Romans. He was not that sort of Messiah. What then was he? What was
Jesus' own conception of Messiahship?

In order to answer that question fully, it would be necessary to
return to the study of the Old Testament. Jesus accepted to the full
the Old Testament promises about the Messiah; what he rejected was
merely a false interpretation of them.

Even those promises of the Old Testament which make the Messiah a
king of David's line were fulfilled in Jesus. He was actually of
David's line, and he was born in David's city. He was also the King
of Israel.

Only his kingship was exercised in ways different from those which
the people generally were expecting. And there were other features
of the Old Testament promises which Jesus also fulfilled. Jesus
was not only Son of David; he was also Son of Man. The title "Son
of Man," which was Jesus' own Messianic designation of himself,
does not denote merely the humanity of Jesus in distinction
from his deity. On the contrary, it is plainly taken from the
stupendous scene in Dan. 7:13, where "one like unto a son of man" is
represented as coming with the clouds of heaven, and as being in
the presence of God. It indicates, therefore, not the human weakness
of Jesus, but his exalted position as supreme Ruler and Judge.

It is not surprising that for a time at least during his earthly
ministry Jesus used this title of the Messiah rather than the
other titles, for the title Son of Man was without the political
associations which Jesus desired to avoid. It had been employed, not
so much by the masses of the people, as by the circles which read
the books which are called the "Apocalypses." In these books, on the
basis of Daniel and other Old Testament prophecies, the Messiah was
represented not as a political king, but as a heavenly, supernatural
person. The title, therefore, was admirably fitted to designate
the lofty character of the Messiah's person, without the dangerous
political associations which had gathered around certain other

Indeed for a time, in the early Galilæan ministry, our Lord seems
to have kept his Messiahship somewhat in the background. Public
proclamation of his Messiahship would have aroused false, worldly
hopes of political upheaval. Before proclaiming himself again as
Messiah, our Lord needed to make clear by his teaching and by his
example what kind of Messiah he was; before finally setting up his
Kingdom he needed to show that that Kingdom was not of this world.
But he was Messiah and King from the beginning, and even at the
beginning his Messiahship had been made known.


     1. Mention some of the titles which are used to designate Jesus
        as Messiah, and explain their meaning. Was the title "Son of
        Man" ever used with reference to Jesus by anyone except Jesus

     2. What was the significance of Peter's confession?

     3. Why did Jesus become less popular than he was at first?


The Prediction of the Cross

Peter's confession at Cæsarea Philippi was a triumph of faith, for
which Jesus pronounced Peter blessed. Through a revelation from God,
Peter had been made able to endure the disappointment involved in
Jesus' refusal of kingly honors. But another trial of faith was soon
to come.

Matthew 16:21-28, and Parallels

After Peter's acknowledgment of Jesus as Messiah, our Lord began
to teach the disciples more of what his Messiahship meant. Matt.
16:21-28, and parallels. It meant, he said, not worldly honors,
and not merely a continuation of the humble life in Galilee, but
actual sufferings and death. This teaching was more than Peter could
endure. "Be it far from thee, Lord," he said, "this shall never be
unto thee." In such rebellion against God's will Jesus recognized
a repetition of the temptation which had come to him at the first,
immediately after the voice from heaven had proclaimed him to be
the Messiah--the temptation to use his Messianic power for his own
worldly glory. And now as well as then the temptation was resolutely
overcome. "Get thee behind me, Satan," said Jesus: "thou art a
stumblingblock unto me: for thou mindest not the things of God, but
the things of men."

Jesus was thus ready to tread the path of suffering which he had
come into the world, for our sakes, to tread. And he called upon his
true disciples to tread that path after him. Yet all the suffering
was to be followed by a greater glory than Peter had ever conceived;
and almost immediately there was a wonderful foretaste of that glory.

Matthew 17:1-13, and Parallels

Six days after the scene at Cæsarea Philippi, our Lord took Peter
and James and John, his three most intimate disciples, with him
up upon a high mountain--no doubt somewhere on the slopes of the
lofty Mount Hermon. There he was transfigured before them, Matt.
17:1-13, and parallels; "his face did shine as the sun, and his
garments became white as the light." With him appeared Moses and
Elijah, talking with him. And they were talking about what seems to
be a strange subject at such a moment. They were talking not of the
glories of Jesus' Kingdom, but of the "departure" which he was about
to accomplish at Jerusalem. Luke 9:31. The "departure" included not
only the resurrection and the ascension, but also the crucifixion.
Even the shining light of the transfiguration was intended to point
to the cross.

Matthew 17:14-20, and Parallels

After the glorious experience on the mountain, our Lord came at
once into contact with the repulsiveness of human misery. Matt.
17:14-20, and parallels. But he did not shrink from the sudden
transition. As he came down from the mountain, he found at the
bottom a boy possessed of a demon, who "fell on the ground, and
wallowed foaming." It was a depressing sight, very unlike the
brightness of the transfiguration. Even more discouraging, moreover,
than the condition of the boy himself was the powerlessness of the
disciples. They had tried to cast the demon out but had failed
miserably, not because the power might not have been theirs, but
because of their unbelief. The father of the boy, too, was lacking
in faith. "I believe," he said; "help thou mine unbelief." Jesus did
help his unbelief, and the unbelief of the disciples. He rebuked the
unclean spirit, and healed the boy.

At this period Jesus repeated on several occasions the prophecy of
his death. The tragedy on Calvary did not overtake him unawares. He
went deliberately to his death for our sakes.

Matthew 18:1-6, and Parallels

Even on such solemn days, when the shadow of the cross lay over the
path, the disciples were unable to overcome the pettiness of their
character. On the very journey when Jesus had told them about his
approaching death, they had quarreled about the question as to which
of them should be greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Thereby they
had shown how far they were from understanding the true nature of
the Kingdom. If the Kingdom was finally to be advanced under the
leadership of such men, some mighty change would have to take place
in them. That change did take place afterwards, as we shall see, at
Pentecost. But at present the pettiness and carnal-mindedness of the
disciples added to the sorrows of our Lord. Despite the intimacy
into which he entered with his earthly friends, he towered in lonely
grandeur above them all.

After the transfiguration and related events near Cæsarea Philippi,
our Lord returned to Galilee. But apparently he did not resume
permanently his Galilæan ministry. Soon we find him passing through
Samaria, and laboring in Judea and in that country east of the
Jordan River which is called Perea. This part of Jesus' ministry is
recorded particularly in the Gospels According to Luke and According
to John, although Matthew and Mark contain important information
about the latter part of the period. The general character of the
period is fixed by the expectation of the cross. Jesus had set his
face toward Jerusalem to accomplish the atoning work which he had
come into the world to perform.

Luke 10:1-24; John, Chapter 5

At the beginning of the period Jesus sent out seventy disciples,
to prepare for his own coming into the several cities and villages
which he was intending to visit. The Seventy were in possession of
something of Jesus' power; they were able to report with joy that
the demons were subjected to them.

During the same period we find Jesus in Jerusalem at the feast of
tabernacles. Even during the period of the Galilæan ministry Jesus
had gone up to Jerusalem at least once, at the time of one of the
Jewish feasts; and in connection with the healing of a man at the
pool of Bethesda he had then set forth the true nature of his person
and his relation to God the Father. John, ch. 5. At the later period
with which we are now dealing, the same teaching was continued. Chs.
7, 8.

Matthew 11:27, and Parallels

It is particularly the Gospel of John which records the way in which
Jesus set forth the nature of his own person, but what is fully
set forth in the Gospel of John is really implied all through the
Synoptic Gospels, and in Matt. 11:27; Luke 10:22 it is made just as
plain as it is in John. According to his own teaching, Jesus stood
in a relation toward God the Father which is absolutely different
from that in which other men stand toward God. In the plainest
possible way, our Lord laid claim to true deity. "I and my Father,"
he said, "are one." All the Gospels present the true humanity of
Jesus, the Gospel According to John, no less than the Synoptists.
But all the Gospels also set forth his deity. He was, according to a
true summary of the Gospel teaching, "God and man, in two distinct
natures, and one person for ever."


     1. What trial of Peter's faith came just after his great

     2. What was the meaning of the transfiguration?

     3. What event took place just afterwards?

     4. Give an account of Jesus' teaching at the time of the feast
        of tabernacles. John, chs. 7, 8. How was this teaching

     5. Give an account of the mission of the Seventy and compare it
        with the previous mission of the Twelve.


The Last Journeys

John, Chapter 9

During the latter part of Jesus' ministry, with which Lesson IX
began to deal, Jesus spoke some of the most beautiful of his
parables. A number of them, such as the Good Samaritan and the
Prodigal Son, are recorded only by Luke. From the same period the
Gospel According to John records some notable teaching of Jesus, in
addition to that which was mentioned in the last lesson. Part of
this teaching was introduced by the healing of the man born blind.
John, ch. 9. This miracle, which had been performed on the Sabbath,
had aroused the special opposition of the Pharisees. In answer to
them, our Lord pointed out the difference between those leaders of
the people who are like robbers breaking into the sheepfold or at
best like hirelings who flee at the first approach of danger, and
the good shepherd who is willing to lay down his life for the sheep.
Such a shepherd was Jesus himself, and his life was soon to be laid

John 11:1-53

Finally, after various journeyings of Jesus in Judea and in Perea,
there occurred in Bethany, a little village near Jerusalem, one of
the most notable of our Lord's miracles. John 11:1-44. At Bethany
lived a certain Lazarus with his sisters Martha and Mary, whom Jesus
knew well. Lazarus fell ill during the absence of Jesus across the
Jordan in Perea; and the illness resulted in his death. On the
fourth day after Lazarus' death, Jesus came to Bethany. Martha came
to meet him; Mary remained mourning in the house, until her sister
brought word that Jesus had arrived. Then she, too, went to meet
the Lord. When Jesus saw her and her friends weeping for the one
who had died, he, too, wept with them. But he had power not only to
sympathize, but also to help. Going with the sisters to the tomb, he
caused the stone to be removed, then prayed, and then called with a
loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." At the word of Jesus, the dead
man came out of the tomb. Jesus was Master over death and the grave.

It was not the first time that our Lord had raised the dead. He had
raised the daughter of Jairus in Galilee and the son of the widow
of Nain. But the raising of Lazarus is especially important, not
only because of the wonderfully vivid way in which the incident
is narrated in the Gospel According to John, but also because it
served to hasten the crisis in Jerusalem. Both the Sadducees and
the Pharisees were now aroused. The movement instituted by Jesus
had reached alarming proportions. If allowed to continue it would
be full of danger. The Romans, it was feared, would regard it as
rebellion and would utterly destroy the nation of the Jews. The
diverse parties among the Jewish leaders were becoming more and more
united against the strange Prophet from Galilee.

John 11:54

For a short time still the crisis was delayed. Our Lord retired from
Judea to a city called Ephraim, near the wilderness. We also find
him, in this period of his life, again beyond the Jordan, in Perea.
In this Perean residence is to be placed a portion of the teaching
contained in the Synoptic Gospels, such as the teaching concerning
divorce, Matt. 19:3-12, and parallels, the words to the rich young
ruler, vs. 16-30, and parallels, and the parable of the Laborers in
the Vineyard. Matt. 20:1-16.

Luke 19:2-10

Before long, however, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the last time.
On the way, when he was passing through Jericho, in the Jordan
Valley, he healed two blind men, and converted the tax collector
Zacchæus. The conversion of Zacchæus was in accord with Jesus'
custom all through his ministry. The taxgatherers were despised
by the rest of the Jews at the time of Christ. They had allied
themselves with the Roman oppressors, and no doubt most of them
were guilty of abominable extortion on their own account. By the
Pharisees, particularly, they were regarded as belonging to the very
dregs of the people, with whom no true observer of the law could be
intimate. But Jesus was bound by no limits in his saving work. He
did not condone sin--either the sin of the taxgatherers or the sin
of the Pharisees. But he was willing to save from sin all who would
believe. The whole, he said, need not a physician, but they that are
sick. The Son of Man had come to "seek and to save that which was

John 11:55 to 12:1

Toiling up the long ascent from Jericho, our Lord arrived at last,
six days before the passover, at the village of Bethany, which is
less than two miles from Jerusalem. During the remaining time
before the crucifixion Jesus went every morning into the city and
returned in the evening to lodge with his friends at Bethany.

Matthew 26:6-13, and Parallels

Soon after his arrival at Bethany, when Jesus was reclining at table
in the house of a certain Simon the leper, he was anointed by Mary
the sister of Lazarus. Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:2-8. This
anointing is not to be confused with a somewhat similar event which
had taken place some time before, when Jesus had been anointed by a
woman who had been a notorious sinner. Luke 7:36-50. The disciples
murmured at the waste. The precious ointment, they said, might have
been sold for a great sum, which could have been distributed to the
poor. Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, had a special cause for
dissatisfaction; in his case the mention of the poor was only a
cloak for covetousness. Judas kept the bag, and if the proceeds of
the ointment had been put into his keeping, he could have indulged
his thieving propensities. But all the murmuring, whether it
proceeded from more sordid motives or from a mere misunderstanding
of the true spirit of the woman's act, was rebuked by our Lord. The
woman, he said, had anointed his body beforehand for the burial. The
days just before the crucifixion were no time for true disciples
to murmur at an act which was prompted by overflowing love for the
Saviour who was so soon to die.

Matthew 21:1-11, and Parallels

On the day after the supper at Bethany, that is, on the day
after the Jewish Sabbath, on the ninth day of the Jewish spring
month Nisan, our Lord entered into Jerusalem. Matt. 21:1-11, and
parallels. It was a triumphal entry; Jesus was received publicly by
the multitudes as the Messiah, the promised King of Israel. Even the
manner of his entry was in accordance with prophecy; he came riding
over the Mount of Olives and into the city mounted on an ass, in
accordance with Zech. 9:9. The promised King of Israel at last had
come. The multitudes strewed palm branches in the way, and cried,
"Hosanna to the son of David."


     1. Where was Perea? Jericho? Bethany? Ephraim? Find on a map the
        places mentioned in this lesson.

     2. Give an account of all the times when Jesus, during his
        earthly ministry, raised the dead. In what Gospels are these
        incidents narrated?

     3. What is the special importance of the raising of Lazarus?

     4. Give an account of some of those parables of Jesus which are
        contained only in the Gospel According to Luke.


Teaching in the Temple

Despite the enthusiasm which the multitudes had shown at the time
when Jesus entered into Jerusalem, despite the shouts of those who
cried, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," Jesus
knew that he was going to his death, and that Jerusalem would soon
turn against her King. "When he drew nigh," we are told in the
Gospel According to Luke, "he saw the city and wept over it, saying,
If thou hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong
unto peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." Luke 19:41, 42.

On the Sunday of the triumphal entry it was already late when Jesus
entered into the Temple area. He did nothing, therefore, that day,
except look about him; and then he returned to Bethany with the
twelve apostles. Mark 11:11.

Matthew 21:12-19, and Parallels

On Monday, however, the final conflict began. Entering into the
city, our Lord cast out of the Temple those who bought and sold,
just as he had done at the beginning of his public ministry. The
rebuke which he had administered several years before had had no
permanent effect. But Jesus did not hesitate to rebuke again those
who made God's house a place of business. The rulers, of course,
were incensed. But popular favor for a time put a check upon their
hate. On the way into the city, Jesus said to a fig tree, which was
bearing leaves only, "No man eat fruit from thee henceforward for
ever." The motives of our Lord's act are not fully known to us; but
at least he was able afterwards to point out through the case of the
fig tree the limitless power of faith. The disciples were exhorted
to pray in faith. But their prayers, Jesus said, must be in love; no
unforgiving spirit should be left in their souls when they prayed to
their heavenly Father for their own forgiveness.

The next day, Tuesday, was a day of teaching. Our Lord spent the day
in the Temple, meeting the attacks of his enemies. And he had an
answer to every inquiry; the trick questions of his enemies always
redounded to their own rebuke.

Matthew 21:23-32, and Parallels

First our Lord was questioned as to the authority by which he had
cleansed the Temple the day before. Matt. 21:23-32, and parallels.
He answered that question by another question: "The baptism of
John, whence was it? from heaven or from men?" The chief priests
and elders could not say. They were not really sincere seekers for
divine authority. But Jesus was not content with having silenced
them. He also pointed out, positively, their sin in not receiving
the word of God which had come through John.

Matthew 21:33-46, and Parallels

Still more scathing was the rebuke which Jesus uttered through the
parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. Matt. 21:33-46, and parallels. The
wicked husbandmen had been put in charge of a vineyard. But when
the time came to render the fruit of the vineyard to the owner,
they killed the servants who were sent to them and finally the
owner's son. The chief priests and Pharisees needed no elaborate
explanation; they would probably in any case have applied the
parable to themselves. But as a matter of fact Jesus made the
application abundantly plain. "The kingdom of God," he said, "shall
be taken away from you, and shall be given to a nation bringing
forth the fruits thereof."

Matthew 22:1-14

Just as plainly directed against the wicked leaders of the people,
and against the rebellious nation itself, was the parable of the
Marriage of the King's Son. Matt. 22:1-14. Those who were bidden
to the feast refused to come in; but from the highways and hedges
the king's house was filled. So the covenant people, the Jews, had
rejected the divine invitation; but the despised Gentiles would be

Matthew 22:15-40, and Parallels

The rulers would have liked to put Jesus to death at once; but they
still feared the people. So they adopted the underhand method of
trying to catch him in his speech. First came the Pharisees and
the Herodians, the latter being the partisans of the Herodian
dynasty, with their adroit question about giving tribute to Cæsar,
Matt. 22:15-22, and parallels; then the Sadducees, the worldly
aristocracy, who did not believe in the resurrection, with their
attempt to make the doctrine of the resurrection ridiculous, vs.
23-33, and parallels; then an individual Pharisee with his question
about the greatest commandment in the law. Vs. 24-40, and parallels.
Jesus had a wonderful, profound answer for them all. But only the
last inquirer seems to have been at all willing to learn. "Thou art
not far," Jesus said to him, "from the kingdom of God." Mark 12:34.

Matthew 22:41-46, and Parallels

Then, after all the questions which had been put to him, our Lord
put one question in turn. "David himself," he said in effect,
"calls the Messiah Lord; how is the Messiah, then, David's son?" In
this way Jesus was presenting to the people a higher conception of
Messiahship than that which they had been accustomed to hold. The
Messiah was indeed David's Son, but he was not only David's Son.
Matt. 22:41-46, and parallels.

Apparently on the same day, our Lord called attention to the poor
widow who was casting her mite into the collection box. A gift, he
said, is measured in the estimation of God not by its amount, but
by the sacrifice which it means to the giver. Mark 12:41-44, and

Matthew, Chapter 23

Finally, on the same memorable Tuesday, our Lord denounced openly
the formalism and hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. Matt., ch.
23. It was also perhaps on the same day that certain Greeks desired
to see Jesus, John 12:20, 21--a foretaste of that entrance of
Gentiles into the Church which was to come after the resurrection.
We are not told exactly how Jesus received the Greeks, but the
importance of the moment was marked by a voice from heaven which
came as a divine confirmation of Jesus' message.

Matthew, Chapters 24, 25

When Jesus, on the same day, had gone out of the Temple and had
ascended to the Mount of Olives, a hill which lay on the way to
Bethany, he taught his disciples about the coming destruction of
the Temple and also about the end of the world. Matt., ch. 24, and
parallels. The time of the end of the world, he said, is unknown
to all except God, and in expectation of it men should always be
watchful. This duty of watchfulness he illustrated by the parables
of the Ten Virgins, Matt. 25:1-13, and of the Talents. Vs. 14-30.
Then our Lord drew a great picture of the last awful judgment of
God, when the wicked shall be separated from the good. Vs. 31-46.


     1. Where was the Mount of Olives? Describe the route between
        Bethany and the Temple in Jerusalem.

     2. Compare the two occasions when Jesus cleansed the Temple.

     3. On what occasions during his ministry did Jesus speak about
        John the Baptist?

     4. Give a full account of the questions which were put to Jesus
        on the Tuesday of the last week, and of the answers of Jesus.

     5. What were the "woes" which Jesus pronounced against the
        scribes and Pharisees?

     6. What did Jesus say after the Gentiles came to seek him?


The Crucifixion

Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16, and Parallels

On the Wednesday of the week before the crucifixion, the chief
priests and elders of the Jews took counsel how they might put Jesus
to death. The difficulty was that if they arrested so popular a
teacher in the midst of the crowds who had come to Jerusalem for
the approaching feast of the passover, there would be a tumult.
At first, therefore, the enemies of Jesus thought that they might
have to wait until the passover was over. But they were helped out
of their difficulty by one of Jesus' own friends. Judas Iscariot,
one of the twelve apostles, proved to be a traitor. He received a
promise of thirty pieces of silver, and watched for a time when
Jesus would be away from the crowds so that he could be delivered
quietly into the hands of his enemies, Matt. 26:1-5, 14-16, and

Matthew 26:17-19, and Parallels

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Jesus arranged for the celebration of
the passover in company with the apostles. The passover feast
commemorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, especially the
passing over of Israel's first-born when the first-born sons of
the Egyptians were slain. The feast was opened on the evening of
Nisan 14, Nisan being a spring month, and the first month of the
Jewish year. According to Jewish reckoning, the evening of Nisan
14 constituted the beginning of Nisan 15. Starting from that time,
the feast continued for seven days, no unleavened bread being used
within that period. The first and most solemn act of the whole feast
was the eating of the paschal lamb on the evening of Nisan 14.

This passover supper was celebrated by Jesus and the apostles on
Thursday evening, Nisan 14. And the feast was to be continued into
the Christian era. The symbols were changed; bread and wine were to
be used instead of the paschal lamb. But the fundamental meaning
of the feast remained the same; both the passover and the Lord's
Supper had reference to the atoning death of Christ. The paschal
lamb prefigured the Lamb of God who was to die for the sins of the
world; the bread and wine also symbolized the body of Christ broken
for us and the blood of Christ poured out for the remission of
our sins. Thus what the passover symbolized by way of prophecy is
symbolized in the Lord's Supper by way of commemoration. And on that
last evening our Lord changed the symbols in order to suit the new
dispensation when, since the Lamb of God had once been offered up,
other sacrifices should be no more.

Matthew 26:20-35, and Parallels

Jesus gathered with his apostles for the feast in an upper room.
Matt. 26:20, and parallels. Then, lamentably enough, there was a
strife among the apostles as to who should be the greatest. Luke
22:24-30. As a rebuke of all such inordinate ambitions our Lord
gave an example of humility by washing the feet of his disciples.
John 13:1-20. The traitor, Judas Iscariot, then left the apostolic
company, John 13:21-35, and parallels, and the Lord's Supper was
instituted. I Cor. 11:23-25; Matt. 26:26-29, and parallels. Then
the denial of Peter was foretold; before the cock should crow twice
Peter would deny his Lord three times.

John, Chapters 14 to 17

Then followed some of the most precious teaching of Jesus--teaching
which is preserved only in the Gospel According to John. Chs. 14
to 17. Our Lord spoke of the mission which he had come into the
world to fulfill and of the mission which his apostles were to
fulfill through the power of the Holy Spirit. The meaning of Jesus'
redeeming work could not fully be explained until it had been
accomplished. And it was to be explained by the Holy Spirit speaking
through the apostles.

Matthew 26:36-46, and Parallels

After they had sung a hymn, our Lord went out with the eleven
apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane, outside of Jerusalem, on the
slopes of the Mount of Olives. Matt. 26:36-46, and parallels. There
he sought strength in prayer for the approaching hour when he was to
bear the penalty of our sins. The disciples were no help to him in
his agony; Peter and James and John slept while he prayed. But God
the Father heard his prayer.

Matthew 26:47 to 27:1

Soon the traitor came with the Temple guard, and Jesus was arrested,
Matt. 26:47-56, and parallels. On the same evening there was
an informal hearing of the Prisoner in the house of Annas, the
father-in-law of Caiaphas, the high priest. Matt. 26:57, 58, 69-75,
and parallels. Meanwhile Peter and "another disciple," who was no
doubt John the son of Zebedee, the writer of the Fourth Gospel, had
entered into the house. There Peter denied his Lord.

The next morning there was a more formal meeting of the sanhedrin,
the highest court of the Jews. Luke 22:66-71, and parallels. This
meeting was intended to confirm the results of the informal hearing
in the house of Annas. But both meetings were little more than a
form. The court had really decided the question beforehand; it had
determined to bring Jesus by any means, lawful or otherwise, to his
death. When faced by his enemies, our Lord declared plainly that he
was the Messiah, the Son of God. That answer was enough to satisfy
the accusers. Jesus was judged guilty of blasphemy.

Matthew 27:2-56, and Parallels

But the sanhedrin did not possess the power of life and death.
Before Jesus could be executed, therefore, the findings of the
sanhedrin had to be confirmed by Pilate, the Roman procurator.
And at first Pilate was recalcitrant to the Jews' demands; he
was not able to find in Jesus any cause of death. John 18:28-38,
and parallels. In his perplexity, Pilate sent the prisoner to be
examined by Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee, who was at the
time in Jerusalem. Luke 23:6-12. But this hearing also was without
decisive result.

At last Pilate yielded, against his better judgment, to the
importunity of the Jewish leaders and the mad shouts of the crowds,
who had turned now against the One whom formerly they had honored.
Matt. 27:15-30, and parallels. Pilate delivered Jesus up to the will
of the Jews. Before the execution, however, the Prisoner was cruelly
scourged and mocked by the Roman soldiers. Then when a last effort
of Pilate had failed to placate the wrath of Jesus' enemies, John
19:4-16, our Lord was finally taken out of the city to be crucified.
Luke 23:26-33, and parallels.

The Prisoner at first was compelled to bear the cross on which he
was to be put to death, but when his strength gave way a certain
Simon of Cyrene was pressed into service. A crowd of people from
Jerusalem followed the Prisoner, and especially a number of women
who lamented. At last the place of execution was reached. It was
called "Golgotha," or according to the Latin translation of the
name, "Calvary." There they crucified our Lord. Matt. 27:33-56, and

With him were crucified two thieves, of whom one repented at the
last hour, and received salvation. A number of sayings which Jesus
uttered on the cross are recorded in the Gospels. At the moment of
death, he cried, "It is finished." John 19:30. The meaning of that
saying is plain. The work for which our Lord came into the world at
last was done. The Lord of glory had died to wash away the sins of
all believers. The just penalty of sin had been borne by the One who
knew no sin.


     1. Summarize the teaching of Jesus on the last evening before
        the crucifixion.

     2. What happened in Gethsemane?

     3. Describe the trial of Jesus before the sanhedrin and before

     4. Why did the Jewish leaders put Jesus to death? Why did Jesus
        consent to die?

     5. Give an account of the crucifixion of our Lord.


The Resurrection

The death of Christ was the greatest event that history has ever
seen. By that event the grace of God triumphed over sin, and a lost
world was redeemed. Apart from Christ we all deserve eternal death.
But the Lord of glory, on Calvary, bore the guilt which belonged to
us, and made us children of God.

So great an event was accomplished without flare of heavenly
trumpets or blazing of heavenly light. To many, the death of Christ
seemed to be merely the execution of a criminal. But there were not
wanting some strange phenomena which marked the greatness of the
event. From twelve o'clock on the day of the crucifixion there was
darkness until three o'clock, when Jesus died. Then the veil of the
Temple was rent, there was an earthquake, and graves were opened.
Thus was nature made to recognize the suffering and the triumph of
her Lord.

After Jesus had died, his side was pierced by one of the soldiers
whom Pilate had sent at the instance of the Jews in order that those
who had been crucified should be killed and their bodies removed
before the Sabbath. From the body of Jesus there came out blood
and water. The event was witnessed by John the son of Zebedee, the
writer of the Fourth Gospel. John 19:31-42.

Matthew 27:57-66

Then, in the late afternoon of the same day Joseph of Arimathea, a
secret disciple of Jesus, removed our Lord's body from the cross
and placed it in a new tomb. Mark 15:42-46, and parallels. Another
secret disciple, or half-disciple, Nicodemus, came also to anoint
the body. John 19:39. Certain women also came to see where Jesus
was laid. Luke 23:55, 56, and parallels. The chief priests and
Pharisees, on the other hand, obtained a guard from Pilate, to watch
the tomb, lest the disciples of Jesus should steal the body of Jesus
away and say that he had risen from the dead. Matt. 27:62-66.

Matthew 28:2-4, 11-15

The next day was Saturday, the Old Testament Sabbath. The friends
of Jesus rested on that day. But very early on Sunday morning, the
women started to the tomb bearing spices in order to anoint the
body. But before they arrived, our Lord had already risen from
the dead. There had been an earthquake, an angel had rolled away
the stone from the sepulcher, and our Lord himself had risen. At
the sight of the angel, the soldiers of the guard, in their fear,
"became as dead men." Matt. 28:2-4. All that they could do was to
report the event to the chief priests who had sent them. Vs. 11-15.

Matthew 28:1, and Parallels; John 20:2; Matthew 28:5-10, and

Then the women arrived at the tomb, and found it empty. Matt. 28:1,
and parallels. One of them, Mary Magdalene, went back to tell Peter
and John. John 20:2. The others remained at the tomb, and there
saw two angels who announced to them that Jesus was risen from the
dead. On their way back to the city Jesus himself met them, and they
fell down, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. Matt. 28:5-10, and

John 20:3-18

Meanwhile, at the message of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John ran to
the tomb, found it empty, and believed that Jesus really was risen.
John 20:3-10. But Mary Magdalene, after they had gone, stood weeping
at the tomb; she supposed that some one had taken the body of her
Lord away. Then Jesus himself came to her, her sorrow was changed
into joy, and she joined her voice to that of the other women who
told the disciples of the glad event. Vs. 11-18.

I Corinthians 15:5; Luke 24:13-49; John 20:19-23

Thus far, Jesus himself had been seen only by the women. But now
he appeared to Peter, I Cor. 15:5; Luke 24:34, and to two of the
disciples who were walking to the village of Emmaus. At first the
two disciples did not know him; but they recognized him at Emmaus
when he broke the bread. Then, on the evening of the same Sunday, he
appeared to the apostles in Jerusalem. I Cor. 15:5; Luke 24:36-49;
John 20:19-23. All doubts were removed when he showed them the
wounds in his hands and his side, and partook of food in their
presence. Then he interpreted the Scriptures to them, as he had done
to the two disciples on the walk to Emmaus, showing them that it was
necessary that the Messiah should suffer. Finally he breathed upon
them, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit."

John 20:24-29

Thomas, one of the apostles, who had been absent from this meeting
with the risen Lord, refused to believe at the mere word of the
others. But Jesus dealt very graciously with the doubting disciple.
Again, one week later, he came to the apostles, the doors of the
room being shut, and presented to Thomas his hands and his side.
All doubts now melted away in the joy of meeting with the risen
Lord. Thomas answered and said unto him, "My Lord and my God." John

John 21:1-24; I Corinthians 15:6; Matthew 28:16-20

The apostles then went back to Galilee in accordance with Jesus'
command, and in Galilee also Jesus appeared to them. First he
appeared to seven of the disciples on the shores of the Sea of
Galilee. Among the seven was John the son of Zebedee, who has given
an account of the event in his Gospel. John 21:1-24. Then there was
a great appearance of Jesus on a mountain. At that time, apparently,
not only the eleven apostles were present, but also five hundred
other disciples. I Cor. 15:6; Matt. 28:16-20. On the mountain Jesus
instituted the sacrament of baptism, and gave his disciples the
Great Commission to make disciples of all nations. The execution of
that commission has sometimes been attended with discouragements.
But the risen Lord promised always to be with his Church.

I Corinthians 15:7; Acts 1:1-11

After the appearances in Galilee, the apostles returned to
Jerusalem. It was no doubt in Jerusalem that Jesus appeared to
James, his own brother, I Cor. 15:7, who during the earthly ministry
had not believed on him. Other appearances also occurred there. At
one or more of these appearances Jesus commanded the apostles to
wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit should come upon them. Then,
said Jesus, they were to be witnesses of him "both in Jerusalem, and
in all Judæa and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
Acts 1:8. Finally, forty days after the resurrection, Jesus led his
disciples out to the Mount of Olives, on the way to Bethany, and
there he was taken from them in a cloud into heaven. The disciples
were saddened and bewildered by the departure of their Lord. But
their sadness was soon turned into joy. "Two men stood by them
in white apparel; who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye
looking into heaven? this Jesus, who was received up from you into
heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye beheld him going into
heaven." Acts 1:10, 11. The disciples went then into the city, where
they were constantly in the Temple, praising God.


     1. Describe the burial of Jesus. How long did his body rest in
        the tomb?

     2. Enumerate the persons who saw the empty tomb.

     3. Enumerate, so far as the facts are known, the persons who saw
        Jesus after the resurrection.

     4. In what books of the New Testament are the facts about the
        resurrection mentioned?

     5. What is the importance of the resurrection of Jesus for our
        Christian faith?

     6. Describe the change which the resurrection produced in the
        early disciples of Jesus.


The Beginnings of the Christian Church

The Christian Church is founded on the fact of the resurrection
of Jesus; if that fact had not occurred there would be no Church
to-day. The disciples of Jesus of Nazareth were evidently far
inferior to him in spiritual discernment and in courage. Evidently
they could not hope to succeed if he had failed. And with his death
what little strength they may have had before was utterly destroyed.
In the hour of his trial they had deserted him in cowardly flight.
And when he was taken from them by a shameful death, they were in
despair. Never did a movement seem to be more hopelessly dead.

But then the surprising thing occurred. Those same weak, discouraged
men began, in a few days, in Jerusalem, the very scene of their
disgrace, a spiritual movement the like of which the world has
never seen. What produced the wonderful change? What was it
that transformed those weak, discouraged men into the spiritual
conquerors of the world?

The answer of those men themselves was plain. Their despair, they
said, gave way to triumphant joy because the Lord Jesus had risen
from the dead, and because they were convinced of his resurrection
by the empty tomb and by the appearances of Jesus himself. No other
real explanation has yet been discovered to account for the sudden
transformation of the despair of the disciples into triumphant
joy. The very existence of the Christian Church itself, therefore,
is the strongest testimony to the resurrection; for without the
resurrection the Church could never have come into being.

Acts 1:12-26

After the ascension of Jesus, which was studied in the last lesson,
the apostles returned to Jerusalem, and obeyed the command of Jesus
by waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. But the period of
waiting was not a period of idleness; it was spent, on the contrary,
in praising God and in prayer. One definite action was taken--the
place of Judas, the traitor, who had killed himself in his remorse,
was filled by the choice of Matthias. Acts 1:15-26. At that time,
certain women and a number of other disciples were gathered together
with the apostles, making a total of about one hundred and twenty
persons. It was upon that little company of praying disciples, or
rather upon the promise of Jesus which had been made to them, that
the hope of the world was based.

Acts, Chapter 2

At last, at the feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the passover,
the promise of Jesus was fulfilled; the Holy Spirit came upon the
disciples to fit them for the evangelization of the world. Acts
2:1-13. They were all together in one place; there was a sound as of
a rushing, mighty wind; cloven tongues, like tongues of fire, sat
upon each one of them; they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,
and began to speak with other languages as the Spirit gave them
utterance. When the crowd came together to see the wonderful thing
that had happened, Peter preached the first sermon of the Christian
Church. Vs. 14-36. At the preaching of Peter three thousand persons
were converted; the campaign of world conquest had begun. Vs. 37-42.

The campaign from the beginning was a campaign of witnessing, in
accordance with Jesus' command. Acts 1:8. The Christian Church was
to conquer the world, not by exhorting men to live a certain kind
of life, but by bringing them a piece of news. The Son of God, said
the Christian missionaries, died on the cross and then rose again.
That was the good news that conquered the world. Christianity from
the beginning was a way of life, but it was a way of life founded
upon a piece of news, a way of life founded upon historical facts.
The meaning of the facts was not revealed all at once, but it
was revealed in part from the very beginning, and throughout the
Apostolic Age the revelation came in greater and greater fullness,
especially through the instrumentality of Paul.

The life of the Early Church in Jerusalem was in some respects like
that of the Jews. The disciples continued to observe the Jewish
fasts and feasts and were constantly in the Temple. But a new joy
animated the company of believers. Their Lord was indeed taken from
them for a time, and they did not know when he would return, but
meanwhile he was present with them through his Spirit, and already
he had saved them from their sins.

Even in external observances the believers were distinguished from
the rest of the Jews. Entrance into their company was marked by
the sacrament of baptism, which signified the washing away of sin;
and their continued fellowship with one another and with the risen
Lord found expression in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which
commemorated the atoning death of Jesus. There were also common
meals. And those who had property devoted it, in a purely voluntary
way, to the needs of their poorer brethren. The disciples attended
diligently, moreover, to the teaching of the apostles, and engaged
constantly in prayer.

Acts, Chapter 3

The preaching of the apostles in Jerusalem was authenticated by
miracles. One notable miracle is narrated in detail in the book of
The Acts. Ch. 3. As Peter and John were going up into the Temple at
the hour of prayer, they healed a lame beggar, who was in the habit
of sitting at the gate. The miracle was the means of bringing to the
people something better than bodily healing; for when the crowd came
together in wonder at the healing of the lame man, Peter proclaimed
to them the good news of the salvation which Jesus had wrought.

Acts, Chapter 4

The Sadducees, the ruling class, being incensed at such a
proclamation, laid hands upon the two apostles, and brought them
before the sanhedrin. Acts 4:1-22. But even when Peter boldly
announced to them that the name of that Jesus whom they had put
to death was the only name which could bring salvation to men,
they were unable to do more than warn the recalcitrant preachers.
A notable miracle had been wrought, and they could not deny it.
When Peter and John came again to the company of believers, all the
company united in a glorious prayer of praise. The answer to the
prayer was plainly given. "The place was shaken wherein they were
gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,
and they spake the word of God with boldness."


     1. Show how the Christian Church is founded upon the fact of the

     2. Describe the choice of Matthias.

     3. Who were gathered together in the "upper room" in Jerusalem?

     4. Describe the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

     5. Was the speaking with other tongues on the Day of Pentecost
        the same as the gift of tongues described in the First Epistle
        to the Corinthians? If not, what was the difference?

     6. Why were the Sadducees opposed to the preaching of Peter and


The First Persecution

Acts 5:1-11

The life of the early Jerusalem church was full of a holy joy. But
even in those first glorious days the Church had to battle against
sin, and not all of those who desired to join themselves to the
disciples were of true Christian life. One terrible judgment of God
was inflicted in order to preserve the purity of the Church. Acts

A certain Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, had sold a possession, in
accordance with the custom of those early days, and had laid part of
the price at the apostles' feet that it might be distributed to the
poorer disciples. Part of the price was withheld, and yet Ananias
and his wife pretended to have given all. Ananias was not required
to sell his field, or to give all of the price after he had sold
it. His sin was the sin of deceit. He had lied to the Holy Spirit.
Terrible was the judgment of God; Ananias and Sapphira were stricken
down dead, and great fear came upon all who heard.

Acts 5:12-42

The apostles and the Church enjoyed the favor of the people--a
favor which was mingled with awe. Many miracles were wrought by the
apostles; multitudes of sick people were brought to be healed.

But the Sadducees made another attempt to put a stop to the
dangerous movement. Acts 5:17-42. They laid hands upon all the
apostles, as they had laid hands upon two of them once before, and
put them all in prison. But in the night the apostles were released
by an angel of the Lord, and at once, in obedience to the angel's
command, went and taught boldly in the Temple. When they were
arrested again, Peter said simply, "We must obey God rather than
men. The Jesus whom you slew has been raised up by God as a Prince
and a Saviour, and we are witnesses of these things and so is the
Holy Spirit." Vs. 29-32, in substance. It was a bold answer, and
the sanhedrin was incensed. But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, one of the
most noted of the Jewish teachers, advocated a policy of watchful
waiting. If the new movement were of God, he said, there was no use
in fighting against it; if it were of men it would fail of itself as
other Messianic movements had failed. The cautious policy prevailed,
so far as any attempt at inflicting the death penalty was concerned.
But the apostles before they were released were scourged. The
suffering and shame did not prevent their preaching. They rejoiced
that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of

Acts 6:1-6

The early Jerusalem church was composed partly of Aramaic-speaking
Jews who had always lived in Palestine, and partly of Greek-speaking
Jews who were connected with the Judaism of the Dispersion. The
latter class murmured because their widows were neglected in the
daily ministrations. In order that the matter might be attended to
without turning the apostles aside from their work of teaching and
preaching, seven men were chosen to preside over the distribution of
help to the needy members of the church. Acts 6:1-6. But these seven
were no mere "business men." They were "full of the Spirit and of
wisdom," and at least two of them became prominent in the preaching
of the gospel.

Acts 6:7 to 8:3

One of these two was Stephen, a "man full of faith and of the
Holy Spirit." Stephen "wrought great wonders and signs among the
people," and also preached in the synagogues which were attended
by certain of the Greek-speaking Jews residing at Jerusalem. By his
preaching he stirred up opposition. And the opposition was of a new
kind. Up to that time the objection to the Early Church had come,
principally at least, from the Sadducees. But the Sadducees were a
worldly aristocracy, out of touch with the masses of the people, and
in their efforts against the Church they had been checked again and
again by the popular favor which the disciples of Jesus enjoyed.
Now, however, that popular favor began to wane. It became evident
that although the disciples continued to observe the Jewish fasts
and feasts, their preaching really meant the beginning of a new era.
The people were not ready for such a change, and especially the
leaders of the people, the Pharisees, who, since the crucifixion of
Jesus, had shown no persecuting zeal, came out in active opposition.

The result was at once evident. Stephen was arrested, and was
charged with revolutionary teaching about the Temple. The charge was
false; Stephen did not say that the Temple worship should then and
there be abandoned by the disciples of Jesus. But he did proclaim
the beginning of a new era, and the presence, in the person of
Jesus, of one greater than Moses. So, after a great and bold speech
of Stephen, he was hurried out of the city and stoned. As Stephen
was stoned, he called on Jesus, saying, "Lord Jesus, receive my
spirit," and then kneeling down he prayed for forgiveness of his
enemies: "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Acts 6:8 to 8:3

Thus died the first Christian martyr. The Greek word "martyr" means
"witness." Others had witnessed to the saving work of Christ by
their words; Stephen now witnessed also by his death.

When Stephen was stoned, the witnesses had laid "their garments at
the feet of a young man named Saul." Saul was to become the greatest
preacher of the faith which then he laid waste. But meanwhile he was
a leader in a great persecution.

The persecution scattered the disciples far and wide from Jerusalem,
though the apostles remained. But this scattering resulted only in
the wider spread of the gospel. Everywhere they went the persecuted
disciples proclaimed the faith for which they suffered. Thus the
very rage of the enemies was an instrument in God's hand for
bringing the good news of salvation to the wide world.

Acts 8:4-40

Among those who were scattered abroad by the persecution was
Philip, one of the seven men who had been appointed to care for
the ministration to the poor. This Philip, who is called "the
evangelist," to distinguish him from the apostle of the same name,
went to Samaria, and preached to the Samaritans. It was a step on
the way toward a Gentile mission, but the Samaritans themselves were
not Gentiles but half-Jews. When the apostles at Jerusalem heard of
the work of Philip, they sent Peter and John from among their own
number, and through Peter and John the Samaritans received special
manifestations of the Holy Spirit. Acts 8:4-25. Then Philip went
to a desert road leading from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he preached
the gospel to an Ethiopian treasurer, who despite his employment in
a foreign country may have been of Jewish descent. Vs. 26-40. Yet
the preaching to him was another preparation for the spread of the
gospel out into the Gentile world.


     1. What was the sin of Ananias and Sapphira? Was the relief
        of the needy in the early Jerusalem church what is now called
        communism or socialism? If not, why not?

     2. What was the fundamental difference between the two first
        imprisonments of apostles in Jerusalem, and the persecution
        which began with the martyrdom of Stephen? Why was the latter
        more serious?

     3. Outline the speech of Stephen.

     4. Describe the progress of the gospel in Samaria.


The Conversion of Paul

The work of the Early Church was at first carried on only among the
Jews. The Lord Jesus, it is true, had commanded the apostles to make
disciples of all the nations, but he had not made it perfectly plain
when the Gentile work should begin, or on what terms the Gentiles
should be received. Conceivably, therefore, the early disciples
might have thought it might be the will of God that all Israel
should first be evangelized before the gospel should be brought
to the other nations; and conceivably also the men of the other
nations, when they finally should receive the gospel, might be
required to unite themselves with the people of Israel and keep the
Mosaic Law. The guidance of the Holy Spirit was required, therefore,
before the gospel should be offered freely to Gentiles without
requiring them to become Jews.

But that guidance, in God's good time, was plainly and gloriously

One of the most important steps in the preparation for the Gentile
mission was the calling of a leader. And the leader whom God called
was one upon whom human choice never would have rested; for the
chosen leader was none other than Saul, the bitterest enemy of the

Saul, whose Roman name was Paul, was born at Tarsus, a center of
Greek culture, and the chief city of Cilicia, the coast country in
the southeastern part of Asia Minor, near the northeastern corner of
the Mediterranean Sea. In Tarsus the family of Paul belonged by no
means to the humblest of the population, for Paul's father and then
Paul himself possessed Roman citizenship, which in the provinces of
the empire was a highly prized privilege possessed only by a few.
Thus by birth in a Greek university city and by possession of Roman
citizenship Paul was connected with the life of the Gentile world.
Such connection was not without importance for his future service as
apostle to the Gentiles.

Far more important, however, was the Jewish element in his
preparation. Although Paul no doubt spoke Greek in childhood, he
also in childhood spoke Aramaic, the language of Palestine, and his
family regarded themselves as being in spirit Jews of Palestine
rather than of the Dispersion, Aramaic-speaking Jews rather than
Greek-speaking Jews, "Hebrews" rather than "Hellenists." Both in
Tarsus and in Jerusalem, moreover, Paul was brought up in the
strictest sect of the Pharisees. Thus despite his birth in a Gentile
city, Paul was not a "liberal Jew"; he was not inclined to break
down the separation between Jews and Gentiles, or relax the strict
requirements of the Mosaic Law. On the contrary, his zeal for the
Law went beyond that of many of his contemporaries. The fact is of
enormous importance for the understanding of Paul's gospel; for
Paul's gospel of justification by faith is based not upon a lax
interpretation of the law of God, but upon a strict interpretation.
Only, according to that gospel, Christ has paid the penalty of the
law once for all on the cross. According to Paul, it is because the
full penalty of the law has been paid, and not at all because the
law is to be taken lightly, that the Christian is free from the law.

Acts 9:1-19, and Parallels

Early in life Paul went to Jerusalem, to receive training under
Gamaliel, the famous Pharisaic teacher. And in Jerusalem, when he
had still not reached middle age, he engaged bitterly in persecution
of the Church. He was filled with horror at a blasphemous sect that
proclaimed a crucified malefactor to be the promised King of Israel,
and that tended, perhaps, to break down the permanent significance
of the law. It is a great mistake to suppose that before he was
converted Paul was gradually getting nearer to Christianity. On the
contrary, he was if anything getting further away, and it was while
he was on a mad persecuting expedition that his conversion finally

The conversion of Paul was different in one important respect
from the conversion of ordinary Christians. Ordinary Christians,
like Paul, are converted by the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of
Jesus. But in the case of ordinary Christians human instruments are
used--the preaching of the gospel, or godly parents, or the like. In
the case of Paul, on the other hand, no such instrument was used,
but the Lord Jesus himself appeared to Paul and brought him the
gospel. Paul himself says in one of his Epistles that he saw the
Lord. I Cor. 9:1; 15:8. It was that fact which made Paul, unlike
ordinary Christians, but like Peter and the other apostles, an
actual eyewitness to the resurrection of Christ.

A wonderful thing, moreover, was the way in which Jesus appeared to
Paul. He might naturally have appeared to him in anger, to condemn
him for the persecution of the Church. Instead he appeared in love,
to receive him into fellowship and to make him the greatest of the
apostles. That was grace--pure grace, pure undeserved favor. It is
always a matter of pure grace when a man is saved by the Lord Jesus,
but in the case of Paul, the persecutor, the grace was wonderfully
plain. Paul never forgot that grace of Christ; he never hated
anything so much as the thought that a man can be saved by his own
good works, or his own character, or his own obedience to God's
commands. The gospel of Paul is a proclamation of the grace of God.

Paul saw the Lord on the road to Damascus, where he had been
intending to persecute the Church. Acts 9:1-19, and parallels. As
he was nearing the city, suddenly at midday a bright light shone
around him above the brightness of the sun. Those who accompanied
him remained speechless, seeing the light but not distinguishing the
person, hearing a sound, but not distinguishing the words. Paul, on
the other hand, saw the Lord Jesus and listened to what Jesus said.
Then, at the command of Jesus, he went into Damascus. For three days
he was blind, then received his sight through the ministrations of
Ananias, an otherwise unknown disciple, and was baptized. Then he
proceeded to labor for the Lord by whom he had been saved.

Soon, however, he went away for a time into Arabia. Gal. 1:17. It
is not known how far the journey took him or how long it lasted,
except that it lasted less than three years. Nothing is said, in the
New Testament, moreover, about what Paul did in Arabia. But even if
he engaged in missionary preaching, he also meditated on the great
thing that God had done for him; and certainly he prayed.


     1. Where was Paul born? Find the place on a map. What sort of
        city was it.

     2. What is known about Paul's boyhood home, and about his
        education? In what books of the New Testament is the
        information given?

     3. Why did Paul persecute the Church?

     4. Describe in detail what the book of The Acts says about the
        conversion of Paul. Where does Paul mention the conversion in
        his Epistles?

     5. How did the conversion of Paul differ from the conversion
        of an ordinary Christian? In what particulars was it like the
        conversion of an ordinary Christian?

     6. What did Paul do after the conversion?


The Gospel Given to the Gentiles

Saul of Tarsus was not only converted directly by the Lord Jesus;
he was also called just as directly by Jesus to be an apostle, and
especially an apostle to the Gentiles. But other instruments were
also used in the beginning of the Gentile mission. Even Peter, whose
work continued for a number of years afterwards to be chiefly among
the Jews, was led by the Holy Spirit to take a notable step in the
offering of the gospel freely to the whole world.

Acts 9:31-43

During the period of peace which followed after the persecution at
the time of the death of Stephen, Peter went down to labor in the
coastal plain of Palestine. Acts 9:31-43. At Lydda he healed a lame
man, Æneas; at Joppa, on the coast, he raised Dorcas from the dead.
And it was at Joppa that he received the guidance of the Holy Spirit
as to the reception of Gentiles into the Church. Ch. 10.

Acts, Chapter 10

At midday Peter went up upon the flat housetop to pray. There he
fell into a trance, and saw a vessel like a great sheet let down
from heaven, and in it all kinds of animals which it was forbidden
in the Mosaic Law to use for food. A voice came to him: "Rise,
Peter; kill and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never
eaten anything that is common and unclean. And a voice came unto him
again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou common.
And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was received up
into heaven."

The meaning of this vision was soon made plain. A Roman officer,
Cornelius, a devout Gentile, living at Cæsarea, which was a seaport
about thirty miles north of Joppa, had been commanded in a vision
to send for Peter. The messengers of Cornelius arrived at Peter's
house just after Peter's vision was over. The Holy Spirit commanded
Peter to go with them. Arriving at Cæsarea, the apostle went into
the house where Cornelius and his friends were assembled, and there
proclaimed to them the gospel of the Lord Jesus. While he was still
speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were present,
upon the Gentiles as well as upon the Jews. Then said Peter, "Can
any man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who
have received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" So the Gentiles were

A very important step had been taken. Cornelius, it is true, was
a "God-fearer"--that is, he belonged to the class of Gentiles
frequently mentioned in the book of The Acts who worshiped the God
of Israel and were friendly to the Jews. Nevertheless, he was still
outside the covenant people, and under the old dispensation he could
not be received into covenant privileges until he united himself
with the nation by submitting himself to the whole Mosaic Law. Yet
now such restrictions were removed by the plain guidance of the
Spirit of God. Evidently an entirely new dispensation had begun.

Acts 11:1-18

At Jerusalem Peter's strange action in receiving Gentiles into the
Church without requiring them to become Jews gave rise to some
discussion. Acts 11:1-18. But the apostles had no difficulty in
convincing the brethren of the necessity for what he had done.
The guidance of the Holy Spirit had been perfectly plain. When
the brethren heard what Peter said, "they held their peace, and
glorified God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted
repentance unto life."

The freedom of the Gentiles had not yet, however, fully been
revealed. For a time the case of Cornelius seems to have been
regarded as exceptional. The Holy Spirit had plainly commanded
Peter to receive Cornelius and his friends without requiring
them to be united to the people of Israel, but perhaps similar
definite guidance was required before others could be received. The
underlying reason for Gentile freedom, in other words, had not yet
fully been revealed.

The revelation, however, was not long delayed; it came especially
through the Apostle Paul. But meanwhile Paul was being prepared for
his work.

Acts 9:19-30, and Parallels

After the journey to Arabia, which was mentioned at the end of
Lesson XVI, Paul returned to Damascus, and preached to the Jews,
endeavoring to convince them that Jesus was really the Messiah.
His preaching aroused opposition, and the Jews, with the help of
an officer of King Aretas of Arabia, had tried to kill him. But
the brethren lowered him over the city wall in a basket, and so
he escaped to Jerusalem, Acts 9:23-25; II Cor. 11:31-33, where he
desired to become acquainted with Peter. No doubt he then talked
with Peter especially about the events of the earthly ministry of
Jesus and the appearances of the risen Christ. He also engaged in
preaching to the Greek-speaking Jews. But when these Greek-speaking
Jews sought to kill him, the brethren sent him away to Tarsus. He
was unwilling to go, being desirous of repairing the harm which
he had done to the church at Jerusalem; but a definite command of
the Lord Jesus sent him now forth to the country of the Gentiles.
Acts 9:26-30; 22:17-21; Gal. 1:18-24. He labored in or near Tarsus,
preaching the faith which formerly he had laid waste.

Acts 11:19-26

Meanwhile an important new step in the progress of the gospel into
the Gentile world was taken at Antioch. Acts 11:19-26. Antioch, the
capital of the Roman province of Syria, was situated on the Orontes
River, near the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea. It was
the third greatest city of the empire, ranking immediately after
Rome and Alexandria. And among the great Gentile cities it was the
first which was encountered on the march of the gospel out from
Jerusalem to the conquest of the world.

At Antioch, certain unnamed Jews of Cyprus and Cyrene, who had been
scattered from Jerusalem by the persecution at the time of Stephen's
death, took the important step of preaching the word of God to the
Gentiles. Before, they had spoken only to Jews; here they spoke
also to the Gentiles. Gentiles were received no longer merely in
isolated cases like the case of Cornelius, but in large numbers.
To investigate what had happened, Barnabas, an honorable member of
the early Jerusalem church, Acts 4:36, 37, was sent from Jerusalem
to Antioch. Barnabas at once recognized the hand of God, and sent
to Tarsus to seek Paul. He and Paul then labored abundantly in the
Antioch church. At Antioch the disciples of Jesus were first called
"Christians"--no doubt by the Gentile population of the city. The
fact is not unimportant. It shows that even outsiders had come to
see that the Christian Church was something distinct from Judaism. A
distinct name had come to be required.


     1. Describe the conversion of Cornelius in detail. What was the
        importance of the event?

     2. What was the meaning of Peter's vision on the housetop at

     3. What important step was taken at Antioch?

     4. Trace the part of Barnabas in furthering the work of Paul.

     5. Show how every successive step in the offering of the gospel
        to the Gentiles was taken under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


The First Missionary Journey and the Apostolic Council

Acts 11:27 to 12:25

After a time of rapid growth in the Antioch church, a prophet,
Agabus by name, came down from Jerusalem and prophesied a famine.
The disciples determined to send relief to their brethren in
Jerusalem. This they did by the instrumentality of Barnabas and
Paul. Acts 11:27-30.

Meanwhile the Jerusalem church had been suffering renewed
persecution under Herod Agrippa I, who, as a vassal of Rome, ruled
over all Palestine from A.D. 41 to 44. James the son of Zebedee, one
of the apostles, had been put to death, and Peter had escaped only
by a wonderful interposition of God, Acts, ch. 12.

Acts, Chapters 13, 14

After Barnabas and Paul had returned to Antioch from their labor of
love in Jerusalem, they were sent out, under the guidance of the
Holy Spirit, upon a mission to the Gentiles, which is called the
first missionary journey. Acts, chs. 13, 14. This missionary journey
led first through the island of Cyprus, then, by way of Perga in
Pamphylia to Pisidian Antioch on the central plateau of Asia Minor.

At Pisidian Antioch, as regularly in the cities that he visited,
Paul entered first into the synagogue. In accordance with the
liberal Jewish custom of that day, he was given opportunity to
speak, as a visiting teacher. The congregation was composed not
only of Jews but also of Gentiles who had become interested in
the God of Israel and in the lofty morality of the Old Testament
without definitely uniting themselves with the people of Israel--the
class of persons who are called in the book of The Acts "they that
feared God" or the like. These "God-fearers" constituted a picked
audience; they were just the Gentiles who were most apt to be won
by the new preaching, because in their case much of the preliminary
instruction had been given. But the Jews themselves, at Pisidian
Antioch as well as elsewhere, were jealous of the new mission to
the Gentiles, which was proving so much more successful than their
own. Paul and Barnabas, therefore, were obliged to give up the work
in the synagogue and address themselves directly to the Gentile
population. So it happened very frequently in the cities that Paul
visited--at first he preached to both Jews and Gentiles in the
synagogues, and then when the Jews drove him out he was obliged to
preach to the Gentiles only.

Being driven out of Pisidian Antioch by a persecution instigated
by the Jews, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe,
which, with Pisidian Antioch, were in the southern part of the great
Roman province Galatia, but not in Galatia proper, which lay farther
to the north. Then, turning back from Derbe, the missionaries
revisited Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch, strengthening the
disciples and appointing elders; and then returned to the church at
Syrian Antioch from which the Holy Spirit had sent them forth.

The Epistle of James

During the progress of the Antioch church and of the mission which
had proceeded from it, the church at Jerusalem had not been idle. At
the head of it stood James, the brother of Jesus, who was not one of
the twelve apostles and apparently during the earthly ministry of
Jesus had not been a believer, but who had witnessed an appearance
of the risen Lord. James was apparently attached permanently to
the church at Jerusalem, while the Twelve engaged frequently in
missionary work elsewhere. From this James there has been preserved
in the New Testament a letter, The Epistle of James, which is
addressed "to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion." This
letter was written at an early time, perhaps at about the time of
the first missionary journey of Paul. In the letter, James lays
stress upon the high moral standard which ought to prevail in the
Christian life, and he has sometimes been regarded as an advocate
of "works." But this judgment should not be misunderstood. The
"works" of which James is speaking are not works which are to be put
alongside of faith as one of the means by which salvation is to be
obtained; they are, on the contrary, works which proceed from faith
and show that faith is true faith. James does not, therefore, deny
the doctrine of justification by faith alone. Only he insists that
true faith always results in good works. Paul meant exactly the same
thing when he spoke of "faith working through love." Gal. 5:6. Paul
and James use somewhat different language, but they mean the same
thing. Faith, according to both of them, involves receiving the
power of God, which then results in a life of loving service.

Acts 15:1-35; Galatians 2:1-10

The wonderful success of the first missionary journey of Paul and
Barnabas caused great joy to the Antioch church. But the joy was
soon marred by certain persons, commonly called "Judaizers," who
came down to Antioch from Jerusalem and said that unless the Gentile
converts kept the Law of Moses they could not be saved. The demand
was directly contrary to the great principle of justification by
faith alone; for it made salvation depend partly upon human merit.
The entire life of the Church was in danger. But Paul, guided by a
revelation from God, determined to comply with the wishes of the
brethren at Antioch by going up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and
certain others, in order to confer with the leaders of the Jerusalem
church. Paul did not need any authorization from those leaders, for
he had been commissioned directly by Christ; nor did he need to
learn from them anything about the principles of the gospel, for the
gospel had come to him through direct revelation. But he did desire
to receive from the Jerusalem leaders, to whom the Judaizers falsely
appealed, some such public pronouncement as would put the Judaizers
clearly in the wrong and so stop their ruination of the Church's

The conference resulted exactly as Paul desired. Acts 15:1-35;
Gal. 2:1-10. The Jerusalem leaders--James, the brother of the
Lord, Peter, and John the son of Zebedee--recognized that they had
absolutely nothing to add to the gospel of Paul, because he had been
commissioned by Christ as truly and as directly as the original
Twelve. Joyfully, therefore, they gave to Paul and Barnabas the
right hand of fellowship. God had worked for Paul among the Gentiles
as truly as he had worked for Peter among the Jews. With regard
to the propaganda of the Judaizers, the Jerusalem church, after
speeches by James and Peter presenting the same view as the view of
Paul, sent a letter to the Gentile Christians in Antioch and Syria
and Cilicia declaring them to be absolutely free from the Mosaic
Law as a means of salvation, and directing them to refrain, out
of loving regard for the Jews in the several cities, from certain
things in the Gentile manner of life which were most abhorrent to
Jewish feeling.

Such was the result of the "Apostolic Council," which took place at
about A.D. 49. It was a great victory for the Gentile mission and
for Paul, for it established clearly the unity of all the apostles
under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. No wonder the church at
Antioch rejoiced when the letter of the Jerusalem church was read.


     1. Describe in detail the release of Peter from prison in the
        closing days of the reign of Herod Agrippa I.

     2. Enumerate the visits of Paul to Jerusalem which have been
        studied so far.

     3. What happened, on the first missionary journey, at Paphos? at
        Perga? at Pisidian Antioch? at Lystra?

     4. Describe the Apostolic Council in detail. What was the
        meaning of the letter which was sent out from the council?


The Second Missionary Journey

The Apostolic Council, which was studied in the last lesson, was
an important step in the progress of Christian liberty. By it the
Judaizers were definitely repudiated, and salvation was based upon
faith alone apart from the works of the law. But many practical
difficulties still remained to be solved.

Galatians 2:11-21

One such difficulty appeared at Antioch soon after the council. Gal.
2:11-21. The council had established the freedom of the Gentile
Christians from the Mosaic Law, but it had not been determined that
the Jewish Christians should give up the Law. No doubt the Jewish
Christians were inwardly free from the Law; they depended for
their salvation not at all upon their obedience to God's commands
as set forth in the Law of Moses, but simply and solely upon the
saving work of Christ accepted by faith. But so far as had yet
been revealed, it might conceivably be the will of God that they
should still maintain their connection with Israel by observing the
whole of the Law including even its ceremonial requirements. In
order, however, that the ceremonial requirements of the Law might
be observed, the Jews had always been accustomed to avoid table
companionship with Gentiles. What should be done, therefore, in
churches like the church at Antioch, which were composed both of
Jewish Christians and of Gentile Christians? How could the Jewish
Christians in such churches continue to observe the ceremonial law,
and still hold table companionship with their Gentile brethren?

This question faced the apostle Peter on a visit which he made
to Antioch after the Apostolic Council. At first he answered the
question in the interests of Gentile freedom; he allowed the unity
of the Church to take precedence over the devotion of Jewish
Christians to the ceremonial law. He held table companionship,
therefore, with the Gentile Christians, and he did so out of true
conviction with regard to the new Christian freedom. But when
certain men came to Antioch from James, Peter was afraid to be seen
transgressing the ceremonial law, and so began to withdraw himself
from table companionship with his Gentile brethren.

Peter's action, because of its inconsistency, endangered the
very life of the Church. Peter had given up the keeping of the
ceremonial law in order to hold table companionship with the Gentile
Christians. Then he had undertaken the keeping of the ceremonial law
again. Might not the Gentile Christians be tempted to do the same
thing, in order to preserve their fellowship with the greatest of
the original apostles? But if the Gentile Christians should begin
to keep the ceremonial law, they could not fail to think that the
keeping of the ceremonial law was somehow necessary to salvation.
And so the fundamental principle of Christianity--the principle of
salvation by Christ alone apart from human merit--would be given up.
The danger was imminent.

But God had raised up a man to fight the battle of the Church.
Absolutely regardless of personal considerations, devoted solely to
the truth, the Apostle Paul withstood Peter before the whole Church.
It is exceedingly important to observe that Paul did not differ from
Peter in principle; he differed from him only in practice. He said
to Peter in effect, "You and I are quite agreed about the principle
of justification by faith alone; why, therefore, do you belie your
principles by your conduct?" In the very act of condemning the
practice of Peter, therefore, Paul commends his principles; about
the principles of the gospel the two chief apostles were fully
agreed. Undoubtedly Peter was convinced by what Paul said; there was
no permanent disagreement, even about matters of practice, between
Peter and Paul. Thus did the Spirit of God guide and protect the

Acts 15:36 to 18:22

Soon afterward Paul went forth from Antioch on his "second
missionary journey." Acts 15:36 to 18:22. Journeying with Silas
by the land route to Derbe and to Lystra, where Timothy became
his associate, he then apparently went to Iconium and Pisidian
Antioch and then northward into Galatia proper, that is "Galatia"
in the older and narrower sense of the term. Finally he went down
to Troas, a seaport on the Ægean Sea. At Troas he must have been
joined by Luke, the author of The Acts, since the narrative in Acts
here begins to be carried on by the use of the first person, "we,"
instead of "they," thus showing that the author was present.

Setting sail from Troas, the apostolic company soon came to Philippi
in Macedonia, where an important church was founded. At last
Paul and Silas were imprisoned, and although they were released
through divine interposition and by the second thought of the city
authorities, they were requested by the authorities to leave the

Arriving at Thessalonica, Paul preached in the synagogue, and
founded an important church, chiefly composed of Gentiles. But after
a stay shorter than had been intended, persecution instigated by
the Jews drove Paul out of the city. He went then to Athens, where
he preached not merely in the synagogue but also directly to the
Gentile passers-by in the market place.

At Corinth, the capital of the Roman province Achaia, embracing
Greece proper, large numbers of converts were won, and Paul spent
about two years in the city. Not long after the beginning of this
Corinthian residence, he wrote the two Thessalonian Epistles.

The First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was written just after Paul
had received his first news from the Thessalonian church. He had
been obliged to leave Thessalonica before he had intended. Would his
work in that city be permanent? Would the converts remain faithful
to Christ? These were serious questions. The Thessalonian converts
were living in the midst of a corrupt paganism, and Paul had not had
time to instruct them fully in the things of Christ. Every human
probability was against the maintenance of their Christian life.
But at last Paul received his first news from Thessalonica. And the
news was good news. God was watching over his children; the great
wonder had been wrought; a true Christian church had been founded
at Thessalonica. The letter which Paul wrote at such a time is very
naturally a simple, warm expression of gratitude to God. At the
same time, in the letter, Paul comforts the Thessalonians in view of
the death of certain of their number, gives instruction about the
second coming of Christ, and urges the converts to live a diligent
and orderly life.

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written very soon after
the former Epistle. It reiterates the teaching of I Thessalonians,
with correction of a misunderstanding which had crept into the
church with regard to the second coming of Christ.


     1. What practical question arose at Antioch after the Apostolic

     2. How did Paul show the agreement in principle between himself
     and Peter?

     3. What was the inconsistency of Peter's action? Did Paul
        necessarily condemn Jewish Christians who continued to observe
        the ceremonial law? What principle was at stake at Antioch?
        What does Paul in his Epistles say about Peter after this
        time? Was there any permanent disagreement?

     4. Why did Paul separate from Barnabas at the beginning of the
        second missionary journey? What does Paul say afterwards about
        Barnabas? Was there any permanent disagreement between Paul
        and Barnabas or between Paul and Mark?

     5. Describe what happened at Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica,
        Berea, Athens, Corinth.

     6. What was the occasion for the writing of I Thessalonians? of
        II Thessalonians?


The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistle to the Galatians

At Corinth, on the second missionary journey, the Jews made
charges before the Roman proconsul Gallio against Paul. But Gallio
dismissed the charges as concerning only the Jewish Law. It was
an important decision. Judaism was tolerated in the Roman Empire,
and if Christianity was regarded as a variety of Judaism it would
be tolerated too. Such was usually the practice of the Roman
authorities in the very early days; the Roman authorities often
protected the Christian missionaries against the Jews.

Finally leaving Corinth, Paul went by way of Ephesus, where he made
only a brief stay, to Palestine and then back to Syrian Antioch.

Acts 18:23 to 21:15

After having spent some time at Syrian Antioch, he started out on
his third missionary journey. Acts 18:23 to 21:15. First he went
through Asia Minor to Ephesus, apparently passing through Galatia
proper on his way. At Ephesus he spent about three years.

The Epistle to the Galatians

It was probably during this Ephesian residence that Paul wrote the
Epistle to the Galatians; and probably "the churches of Galatia" to
which the Epistle is addressed were churches in Galatia proper in
the northern part of the great Roman province Galatia. Another view
regards the Epistle as being addressed to the well-known churches
at Pisidian Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, which were in the
southern part of the Roman province. When this view is adopted, the
writing of the Epistle is usually put at a somewhat earlier time in
the life of Paul.

The occasion for the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians can
easily be discovered on the basis of the letter itself. After Paul
had left Galatia, certain other teachers had come into the country.
These teachers were men of the Jewish race, and they are usually
called "Judaizers." What they taught can be established fairly well
on the basis of Paul's answer to them. They agreed with Paul in
believing that Jesus was truly the Messiah, and that he had risen
from the dead. Apparently they had no objection to Paul's doctrine
of the deity of Christ, and they agreed, apparently, that faith in
Christ is necessary to salvation. But they maintained that something
else is also necessary to salvation--namely, union with the nation
of Israel and the keeping of the Mosaic Law. The Judaizers, then,
maintained that a man is saved by faith and works; whereas Paul
maintained that a man is saved by faith alone.

The Galatian Christians had been impressed by what the Judaizers had
said. Already they had begun to observe some of the Jewish fasts
and feasts. And they were on the point of taking the decisive step
of uniting themselves definitely with the people of Israel and
undertaking the observance of the Mosaic Law. It was to keep them
from taking that decisive step that Paul wrote the Epistle.

At first sight the question at issue might seem to have little
importance to-day. No one in the Church nowadays is in danger of
uniting himself with Israel or undertaking to keep the ceremonial
law. If Paul had treated the question in Galatia in a merely
practical way, his letter would be of no value to us. But as a
matter of fact Paul did not treat the question in a merely practical
way; he treated it as a question of principle. He saw clearly that
what was really endangered by the propaganda of the Judaizers
was the great principle of grace; the true question was whether
salvation is to be earned partly by what man can do or whether it is
an absolutely free gift of God.

That question is just as important in the modern Church as it was in
Galatia in the first century. There are many in the modern Church
who maintain that salvation is obtained by character, or by men's
own obedience to the commands of Christ, or by men's own acceptance
of Christ's ideal of life. These are the modern Judaizers. And the
Epistle to the Galatians is directed against them just as much as it
was directed against the Judaizers of long ago.

Paul refuted the Judaizers by establishing the meaning of the cross
of Christ. Salvation, he said, was obtained simply and solely by
what Christ did when he died for the sins of believers. The curse of
God's law, said Paul, rests justly upon all men, for all men have
sinned. That curse of the law brings the penalty of death. But the
Lord Jesus, the eternal Son of God, took the penalty upon himself by
dying instead of us. We therefore go free.

Such is the gospel of Jesus Christ as preached by Paul, and as
defended in the Epistle to the Galatians. That gospel, Paul said, is
received by faith. Faith is not a meritorious act; it simply means
accepting what Christ has done. It cannot be mingled with an appeal
to human merit. Christ will do everything or nothing. Either accept
as a free gift what Christ has done, or else earn salvation by
perfect obedience. The latter alternative is impossible because of
sin; the former, therefore, alone can make a man right with God.

But acceptance of the saving work of Christ means more than
salvation from the guilt of sin; it means more than a fresh start in
God's favor. It means also salvation from the power of sin. All men,
according to Paul, are dead in sin. Salvation, then, can come only
by a new creation, as Paul calls it, or, as it is called elsewhere
in the New Testament, a new birth. That new creation is wrought
by the saving work of Christ, and applied by the Holy Spirit. And
after the new creation has been wrought, there is a new life on the
basis of it. In the new life there is still a battle against sin.
But the Christian has received a new power, the power of the Holy
Spirit. And when he yields himself to that new power, he fulfills
in its deepest import the law of God. Only he fulfills it not by
obedience in his own strength to a law which is outside of him, but
by yielding to a power which God has placed in his heart. This new
fulfillment of the law on the part of Christians is what Paul means
when he speaks of "faith working through love"; for love involves
the fulfillment of the whole law.

Such was the gospel of Paul as it is set forth in the Epistle to the
Galatians. Paul had received it from the Lord Jesus Christ. Without
it the Church is dead. It need not be put in long words, but it must
be proclaimed without the slightest concession to human pride, if
the Church is to be faithful to the Saviour who died. We deserved
eternal death; the Lord Jesus, because he loved us, died in our
stead--there is the heart and core of Christianity.


     1. Describe Paul's first visit to Corinth.

     2. Where did Paul go at the beginning of the third missionary

     3. What was the occasion for the writing of the Epistle to the

     4. What great principle is defended in the Epistle? What is
        the meaning of the death of Christ? What is the meaning of
        "justification by faith"?

     5. Give an outline of the Epistle, showing the three great

     6. Why does Paul give, in the first part of the Epistle, a
        review of certain facts in his life?


The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistles to the Corinthians and to
the Romans

Another Epistle, in addition to the Epistle to the Galatians, was
written by Paul at Ephesus on the third missionary journey. This was
the First Epistle to the Corinthians.

The First Epistle to the Corinthians

In I Corinthians, the details of congregational life are more
fully discussed than in any other of the Epistles of Paul. Paul
had received information about the Corinthian church partly
through what was said by the "household of Chloe," who had come to
Ephesus from Corinth, and partly by a letter which the Corinthian
church had written. The information was not all of a favorable
character. In Corinth, a Christian church was in deadly battle with
paganism--paganism in thought and paganism in life. But that battle
was fought to a victorious conclusion, through the guidance of an
inspired apostle, and through the Holy Spirit of God in the hearts
of believers.

First Paul dealt in his letter with the parties in the Corinthian
church. The Corinthian Christians were in the habit of saying, "I
am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ," I
Cor. 1:12; they seem to have been more interested in the particular
form in which the gospel message was delivered than in the message
itself. Paul treated the subject in a grand and lofty way. The party
spirit in Corinth was merely one manifestation of intellectual
pride. In reply, the apostle directed his readers to the true
wisdom. And if you would possess that wisdom, he said, give up your
quarreling and give up your pride.

Then there was gross sin to be dealt with, and a certain lordly
indifference to moral purity. In reply, Paul pointed to the true
moral implications of the gospel, and to the law of love which
sometimes, as in Paul's own case, causes a Christian man to give up
even privileges which might be his by right.

In chs. 12 to 14 of the Epistle, Paul dealt with the supernatural
gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy and speaking with tongues.
These gifts were not continued after the Apostolic Age. But it is
important for us to know about them, and the principles which Paul
used in dealing with them are of permanent validity. The greatest
principle was the principle of love. It is in connection with the
question of gifts of the Spirit that Paul wrote his wonderful hymn
about Christian love. Ch. 13.

Paganism of thought was creeping into the Corinthian church in
connection with the doctrine of the resurrection. Paul dealt with
this question by appealing to the plain historical evidence for the
resurrection of Christ. That fact itself had not been denied in
Corinth. It was supported by the testimony not only of Paul himself,
but also of Peter, of the apostles, and of five hundred brethren
most of whom were still alive. Paul had received the account of the
death, the burial, the resurrection, and the appearances of Jesus
from Jerusalem, and no doubt from Peter during the fifteen days
which the two apostles had spent together three years after Paul's
conversion. In I Cor. 15:1-7 Paul is reproducing the account which
the primitive Jerusalem church gave of its own foundation. And in
that account Christianity appears, not as an aspiration, not as
mere devotion to an ideal of life, not as inculcation of a certain
kind of conduct, but as "a piece of information" about something
that had actually happened--namely, the atoning death and glorious
resurrection of Jesus our Lord.

The Second Epistle to the Corinthians

The First Epistle to the Corinthians did not end all difficulties
in the Corinthian church. On the contrary, after the writing of
that letter, certain miserable busybodies had sought to draw the
Corinthian Christians away from their allegiance to the apostle.
A brief visit which Paul had made to Corinth had not ended the
trouble. At last Paul had left Ephesus in great distress. He had
passed through a terrible personal danger, when he had despaired
of life, but more trying still was the thought of Corinth. Finding
no relief from his troubles he went to Troas and then across to
Macedonia. There at length relief came. Titus, Paul's helper,
arrived with good news from Corinth; the church had returned to its
allegiance. To give expression to his joy and thanksgiving, Paul
wrote the Second Epistle to the Corinthians. In the Epistle he also
dealt with the matter of the collection for the poor at Jerusalem,
and administered a last rebuke to the Corinthian trouble makers.

In I Corinthians it is the congregation that is in the forefront of
interest; in II Corinthians, on the other hand, it is the apostle
and his ministry. In this letter, the Apostle Paul lays bare before
his readers the very secrets of his heart, and reveals the glories
of the ministry which God had intrusted to him. That ministry was
the ministry of reconciliation. God and men had been separated by
the great gulf of sin, which had brought men under God's wrath and
curse. Nothing that men could do could possibly bridge the gulf. But
what was impossible with men was possible with God. By the redeeming
work of Christ the gulf had been closed; all had been made right
again between God and those for whom Christ died.

The Epistle to the Romans

Arriving at Corinth Paul spent three months in that city. During
this time he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. Paul was intending to
visit the city of Rome. The church at Rome had not been founded by
him; it was important, therefore, that in order to prepare for his
coming he should set forth plainly to the Romans the gospel which he
proclaimed. That is what he does in the Epistle to the Romans. In
the Epistle to the Romans, the way of salvation through Christ is
set forth more fully than in any other book of the New Testament.
In Galatians it is set forth in a polemic way, when Paul was in the
midst of a deadly conflict against a religion of works; here it is
set forth more calmly and more fully.

In the first great division of the Epistle, Paul sets forth the
universal need of salvation. The need is due to sin. All have
sinned, and are under God's just wrath and curse. Rom. 1:18 to
3:20. But the Lord Jesus Christ bore that curse for all believers,
by dying for them on the cross; he paid the just penalty of our
sins, and clothed us with his perfect righteousness. Ch. 3:21-31.
This saving work of Christ, and the faith by which it is accepted,
were set forth in the Old Testament Scriptures. Ch. 4. The result
of the salvation is peace with God, and an assured hope that what
God has begun through the gift of Christ, he will bring to a final
completion. Ch. 5:1-11. Thus, as in Adam all died, by sharing in the
guilt of Adam's sin, so in Christ all believers are made alive. Vs.

But, Paul goes on, the freedom which is wrought by Christ does not
mean freedom to sin; on the contrary it means freedom from the power
of sin; it means a new life which is led by the power of God. Ch.
6. What the law could not do, because the power of sin prevented
men from keeping its commands, that Christ has accomplished. Ch. 7.
Through Christ, believers have been made sons of God; there is to
them "no condemnation"; and nothing in this world or the next shall
separate them from the love of Christ. Ch. 8.

Toward the spread of this gospel, Paul goes on, the whole course of
history has been made to lead. The strange dealings of God both with
Jews and Gentiles are part of one holy and mysterious plan. Chs. 9
to 11.

In the last section of the Epistle, Paul shows how the glorious
gospel which he has set forth results in holy living from day to
day. Chs. 12 to 16.


     1. What was the occasion for the writing of I Corinthians? of II
        Corinthians? of Romans?

     2. Give outlines of these three Epistles.


The First Imprisonment of Paul

After the three months which Paul spent at Corinth on the third
missionary journey, he went up to Jerusalem in order to help bear
the gifts which he had collected in the Gentile churches for the
poor of the Jerusalem church. He was accompanied by a number of
helpers, among them Luke, the writer of the Third Gospel and the
book of The Acts. Luke had remained behind at Philippi on the second
missionary journey, and now, several years later, he joined the
apostle again. The portions of the journey where Luke was actually
present are narrated in The Acts in great detail and with remarkable

When Paul came to Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor, he sent to
Ephesus for the elders of the Ephesian church, and when they came he
held a notable farewell discourse. There was a touching scene when
he finally parted from those who loved him so well.

Acts 21:15 to 28:31

Despite prophecies of the imprisonment that awaited him Paul went
bravely on to Jerusalem. There he was warmly received by James
the brother of the Lord and by the church. Acts 21:15-26. But the
non-Christian Jews falsely accused him of bringing Gentiles with him
into the Temple. Vs. 27-40. There was an onslaught against him, and
he was rescued by the Roman chief captain, who took him into the
Castle of Antonia which the Romans used to guard the Temple area. On
the steps of the castle he was allowed to address the people, ch.
22:1-22, who listened to him at first because he used the Aramaic
language instead of Greek, but broke out against him again when he
spoke of his mission to the Gentiles.

An appeal to his Roman citizenship saved Paul from scourging, Acts
22:23-29; and a hearing the next day before the sanhedrin, ch. 22:30
to 23:10, brought only a quarrel between the Sadducees and the
Pharisees. That night Paul had a comforting vision of Christ. V. 11.

A plot of the Jews to waylay Paul and kill him was frustrated
by Paul's sister's son, who told the chief captain. The chief
captain sent the prisoner with an escort down to Cæsarea where the
procurator Felix had his residence. Acts 23:12-35. Hearings before
Felix brought no decisive result, ch. 24, and Paul was left in
prison at Cæsarea for two years until Festus arrived as successor
of Felix. Then, in order to prevent being taken to Jerusalem for
trial, Paul exercised his right as a Roman citizen by appealing to
the court of the emperor. Ch. 25:1-12. Accordingly, after a hearing
before Herod Agrippa II, who had been made king of a realm northeast
of Palestine by the Romans, v. 13; ch. 26:32, Paul was sent as a
prisoner to Rome, chs. 27:1 to 28:16.

On the journey he was accompanied by Luke, who has given a detailed
account of the voyage--an account which is not only perhaps the
chief source of information about the seafaring of antiquity, but
also affords a wonderful picture of the way Paul acted in a time of
peril. The ship was wrecked on the island of Malta, and it was not
until the following spring that the prisoner was brought to Rome.
There he remained in prison for two years, chained to a soldier
guard, but permitted to dwell in his own hired house and to receive
visits from his friends. Acts 28:16-31.

During this first Roman imprisonment Paul wrote four of his
Epistles--to the Colossians and to Philemon, to the Ephesians, and
to the Philippians. Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians were all
written at the same time. Colossians and Ephesians were both sent by
the same messenger, Tychicus, and this messenger was accompanied by
Onesimus, who bore the Epistle to Philemon.

The Epistle to Philemon

Onesimus was a slave who had run away from Philemon, his master. He
had then been converted by Paul, and Paul was now sending him back
to his master. The little letter which the apostle wrote on this
occasion gives a wonderful picture of the way in which ordinary
social relationships like that of master and servant may be made the
means of expression for Christian love. Very beautiful also was the
relation between Philemon and the apostle through whom he had been

The Epistle to the Colossians

The church at Colossæ, to which the Epistle to the Colossians is
addressed, had been founded not by Paul but by one of his helpers,
Epaphras. A certain type of false teaching had been brought into
the church by those who laid stress upon angels in a way that was
harmful to the exclusive position of Christ. In reply, Paul sets
forth in the Epistle the majesty of Jesus, who existed from all
eternity and was the instrument of God the Father in the creation
of the world. This was no new teaching; it is always presupposed
in the earlier Epistles of Paul, and about it there was no debate.
But in the Epistle to the Colossians, in view of the error that was
creeping in through false speculation, Paul took occasion to set
forth fully what in the former letters he had presupposed.

The Epistle to the Ephesians

The Epistle to the Ephesians is probably a circular letter addressed
to a group of churches of which Ephesus was the center. In this
letter the personal element is less prominent than in the other
Pauline Epistles; Paul allows his mind to roam freely over the
grand reaches of the divine economy. The Church is here especially
in view. She is represented as the bride of Christ, and as the
culmination of an eternal and gracious plan of God.

The Epistle to the Philippians

The Epistle to the Philippians was probably written later than
the other Epistles of the first captivity. The immediate occasion
for the writing of the letter was the arrival of a gift from the
Philippian church, on account of which Paul desires to express his
joy. Paul had always stood in a peculiarly cordial relation to his
Philippian converts; he had been willing, therefore, to receive
gifts from them, although in other churches he had preferred to make
himself independent by laboring at his trade. But the letter is not
concerned only or even chiefly with the gifts of the Philippian
church. Paul desired also to inform his Philippian brethren about
the situation at Rome. His trial is approaching; whether it results
in his death or in his release, he is content. But as a matter of
fact he expects to see the Philippians again.

Moreover, Paul holds up in the letter the example of Christ, which
was manifested in the great act of loving condescension by which he
came into the world and endured for our sakes the accursed death on
the cross. That humiliation of Christ, Paul says, was followed by
exaltation; God has now given to Jesus the name that is above every

At the conclusion of the two years in prison in Rome, Paul was
released, probably in A.D. 63. This fact is attested not by the
book of The Acts, of which the narrative closes at the end of the
two years at Rome, but by the Pastoral Epistles of Paul and also
by an Epistle of Clement of Rome which was written at about A.D.
95. Clement says that Paul went to Spain. This he probably did
immediately after his release. He then went to the East again, for
it was in the East that I Timothy and Titus were written.


     1. Outline the events in the life of Paul which occurred between
        the departure from Corinth and the end of the first Roman

     2. What was the occasion for the writing of Colossians? of
        Philemon? of Ephesians? of Philippians?

     3. Give outlines of these Epistles.


The Close of the Apostolic Age

The Pastoral Epistles

It was observed in the last lesson that Paul was released from
his first Roman imprisonment, and went then to Spain and then to
the East. At the time when I Timothy was written he has just left
Timothy behind at Ephesus when he himself has gone into Macedonia,
and now writes the letter with instructions for Timothy as to the
way of conducting the affairs of the church. Similarly, the Epistle
to Titus was written to guide Titus in his work on the island of

After this last period of activity in the East, Paul was imprisoned
again at Rome. During this second Roman imprisonment he wrote II
Timothy, to encourage Timothy and instruct him, and to give to him
and to the Church a farewell message just before his own death,
which he was expecting very soon.

The two Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus, which are
called the Pastoral Epistles, are similar to one another in
important respects. They all lay stress upon soundness of teaching
and upon the organization of the Church. In the closing years of
his life Paul provided for the permanence of his work; the period
of origination was over and the period of conservation had begun.
It was not God's will that every Christian generation should have
revealed to it anew the whole of the gospel. What is true in one age
is true in all ages. It was a salutary thing, therefore, that the
Pastoral Epistles provided for the preservation of the faith which
was once for all delivered unto the saints.

Soon after the writing of II Timothy, Paul was beheaded at Rome.
This event, which is attested in altogether credible Christian
tradition outside of the New Testament, took place within the reign
of the Emperor Nero--that is, before A.D. 68. At the time of the
great fire at Rome in A.D. 64 Nero had persecuted the Christians, as
is narrated by Tacitus, the Roman historian. But at that time Paul
probably escaped by being out of the city; his execution probably
did not occur until several years later.

At about the time of the death of Paul disastrous events were taking
place in Palestine. James the brother of the Lord had been put to
death by the Jews in A.D. 62, according to Josephus the Jewish
historian, or a few years later according to another account. In
A.D. 66 the Jews rose in revolt against the Romans. In the war that
followed there was a terrible siege of Jerusalem. Before the siege
the Christians in the city had fled to Pella, east of the Jordan.
Jerusalem was captured by the Romans in A.D. 70, and the Temple

From that time on, the Church in Palestine ceased to be of great
relative importance; the gospel had passed for the most part to
the Gentiles. A number of the apostles remained for many years,
however, to guide and instruct the Church, and important books of
the New Testament were written in this period either by the apostles
themselves or by those who stood under their direction.

The Epistle to the Hebrews

Even before the destruction of the Temple, the original disciples
had begun to labor far and wide among the Gentiles. It was perhaps
during this early period that the Epistle to the Hebrews was
written. The name of the author is unknown, but the book is truly
apostolic--that is, it was written either by an apostle or by
one who wrote under the direction of the apostles. The Epistle
is intended to celebrate the all-sufficiency of Christ as the
great High Priest, who has made atonement by his own blood, as
distinguished from the Old Testament types that were intended to
point forward to him.

The First Epistle of Peter

Some years before the destruction of Jerusalem, the apostle Peter
left Palestine. In the course of his missionary journeys he went
to Rome, and it was perhaps from Rome that he wrote the First
Epistle of Peter, the word "Babylon" in I Peter 5:13 being perhaps
a figurative designation of Rome as the "Babylon" of that age.
The Epistle was addressed to Christians in Asia Minor, and was
intended to encourage the readers to Christian fortitude in the
midst of persecution. The gospel proclaimed in the Epistle is the
one great apostolic gospel of Christ's redeeming work which was also
proclaimed by Paul.

The Second Epistle of Peter; The Epistle of Jude

The Second Epistle of Peter was written by the apostle to warn his
readers against false teaching and urge them to be faithful to the
authority of the apostles and of the Scriptures. Closely related
to II Peter is the Epistle of Jude, which was written by one of
the brothers of Jesus. The apostle Peter, in accordance with a
thoroughly credible Christian tradition, finally suffered a martyr's
death at Rome.

The apostle John, the son of Zebedee, became the head of the Church
in Asia Minor, where, at Ephesus, he lived until nearly the end of
the first century. During this period he wrote five books of the New

The Gospel According to John was written to supplement the other
three Gospels which had long been in use. It contains much of the
most precious and most profound teaching of our Lord, as it had been
stored up in the memory of the "beloved disciple"; and it presents
the glory of the Word of God as that glory had appeared on earth to
an eyewitness.

The Epistles of John

The First Epistle of John was written in order to combat certain
errors which were creeping into the Church in Asia Minor and in
order to present to the readers the true Christian life of love,
founded upon the Son of God who had come in the flesh, and begun by
the new birth which makes a man a child of God.

The Second Epistle of John is a very brief letter written to warn an
individual church of the same kind of error as is combated in I John.

The Third Epistle is addressed to an individual Christian named
Gaius, who is praised for his hospitality to visiting missionaries,
which was the more praiseworthy because it was in contrast to the
inhospitality of a certain Diotrephes. The little letter sheds a
flood of light upon the details of congregational life in the last
period of the Apostolic Age.

The Book of Revelation

The book of Revelation is based upon a revelation which the apostle
John had received during a banishment to the island of Patmos, off
the coast of Asia Minor, not far from Ephesus. Probably the book
itself was written on the same island. The book contains letters to
seven churches of western Asia Minor which are intended to encourage
or warn them in accordance with the needs of every individual
congregation. The whole book is a tremendous prophecy, which
strengthens the faith of the Church in the midst of persecutions
and trials by revealing the plan of God, especially as it concerns
the second coming of our Lord and the end of the world. Details of
future events, especially times and seasons, are not intended to
be revealed, but rather great principles both of good and of evil,
which manifest themselves in various ways in the subsequent history
of the Church. The prophecy, however, will receive its highest and
final fulfillment only when our Lord shall come again, and bring in
the final reign of righteousness and the blessedness of those whom
he has redeemed.


     1. When, where, and why were the three Pastoral Epistles written?

     2. Outline the life of Paul after his release from the first
        Roman imprisonment.

     3. What is known about the latter part of the life of Peter?

     4. What was the occasion for the writing of I Peter? of II
        Peter? of Jude? What are the characteristics of these letters?

     5. What is known about the latter part of the life of John?

     6. What were the date and the purpose of the Gospel According to
        John; of the Epistles of John; of the book of Revelation?

       *       *       *       *       *

Transcriber's note:

Text enclosed by underscores is in italics (_italics_).

Small capital text has been replaced with all capitals.

Variations in spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been
retained except in obvious cases of typographical error.

The cover for the eBook version of this book was created by the
transcriber and is placed in the public domain.

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