Acts Lesson Eleven

Acts Lesson Eleven: 5:17-42 – Truth and Consequences

17 Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple complex, and tell the people all about this life.” 21 In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach. 

When the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin—the full Senate of the sons of Israel—and sent orders to the jail to have them brought. 22 But when the temple police got there, they did not find them in the jail, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing in front of the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” 24 As the commander of the temple police and the chief priests heard these things, they were baffled about them, as to what could come of this. 

25 Someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple complex and teaching the people.” 26 Then the commander went with the temple police and brought them in without force, because they were afraid the people might stone them. 27 After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, 28 “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!” 

29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. 31 God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.” 

33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men  to be taken outside for a little while. 35 He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men. 36 Not long ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his partisans were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following. That man also perished, and all his partisans were scattered. 38 And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So they were persuaded by him. 40 After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name. 42 Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah. (HCSB)

In this lesson, we’ll see how the persecution against the church grows. Still, at the same time, the church stands firm in its beliefs and conviction, denying the religious establishment to continue proclaiming the Gospel.

Let’s do a quick summary of Acts to this point before diving further into this passage. After the events at Pentecost, the message of the resurrection of Jesus spread rapidly throughout Jerusalem, as well as the surrounding area. This led to many professing faith in Jesus. The Apostles not only preached the Gospel, but they also performed many signs and wonders. Their work left little doubt that God was behind this new movement. However, as is often the case, the established order was not happy with this new movement. The religious leaders had opposed Jesus, crucified Him, and were now starting to fight against the Apostles as they saw their grip on religious teaching and authority slipping. There is a quote by a Christian martyr, Hugh Latimer, who said, “Whenever you see persecution, there is more than a probability that truth is on the persecuted side.”

I will break this passage into four sections with corresponding themes.

  • The religious council was attacking the truth, 5:17-28.
  • The Apostles were affirming the truth, 5:29-32.
  • Gamaliel was avoiding the truth, 5:33-39.
  • The church was announcing the truth, 5:40-42.

Attacking the Truth: Acts 5:17-28

There were three reasons that the religious leaders, the Sadducees, arrested the Apostles.

  • Peter and John had not obeyed the official order to stop preaching in the name of Jesus. By refusing to obey, they were guilty of defying the law of the nation.
  • The message of the church was in direct conflict with the doctrine of the Sadducees, who didn’t believe in a resurrection, by teaching and giving evidence that Jesus had, in fact, been resurrected.
  • The religious leaders were filled with jealousy because of the success and acceptance of these uneducated and unauthorized men. 

This time it wasn’t just Peter and John who were arrested; it was all twelve of the Apostles. The passage indicates that they were put in a “city jail.” This would be a structure where those incarcerated would be visible to anyone passing by. The irony is that even while being detained in an openly visible structure, they would still be released by God’s hand. 

The faith displayed by the Apostles is an example to all of us. They knew that they had been ordered to stop teaching in Jesus’ name, they knew they had disobeyed the Sanhedrin’s order, they knew that this was a serious offense, but most importantly they knew that they were being obedient to God and Jesus’ command to go and make disciples. This knowledge gave them unshakeable faith and determination regardless of the consequences.

Their faith was rewarded as during the night, an angel set them free. This fact pours more irony on the already stoked fire. Not only don’t Sadducees believe in the resurrection, but they also don’t believe in angels (Acts 23:8). However, the angel didn’t just set the Apostles free; they were told to go right back to preaching the Gospel, the very act that put them in the jail they were just freed from. What did they do? They obediently went back to the same location and continued to preach the same message. How many of us would follow in their footsteps, going from freedom right back to the actions that got us jailed in the first place?

In the meantime, the Sanhedrin had convened and asked for the “prisoners” to be brought before the council. One can only imagine their astonishment as they went to the jail, with the guards on duty, in full view of everyone, and the Apostles were nowhere to be found. This astonishment was likely compounded when the situation was explained to the Sanhedrin. The religious leaders were trying to stop the Apostles from performing miracles, but another miracle had occurred because the religious leaders had put them in jail!

Let’s take a moment to contrast the two groups.

  • Sanhedrin.
    • Educated.
    • Ordained.
    • Approved.
    • Lacking in a ministry of power.
  • Apostles.
    • Ordinary laymen.
    • Uneducated.
    • Ministry powered by the Holy Spirit.

The religious council was desperately trying to protect themselves, their positions, and hold on to their dead traditions. The Apostles were risking their physical lives to share the Gospel. The church was proclaiming the new; the religious council was defending the old.

There are numerous emotions in this section.

  • Jealousy – verse 17.
  • Baffled – verse 24.
  • Fear – verse 26.

Still, the high priest accuses them of defying the law and stirring up trouble. The high priest wouldn’t even mention Jesus’ name, instead saying “in this name” and “this man’s blood.” However, even this was an admission that the church was growing. It’s possible that the high priest may have sensed a critical moment here. If the Apostles were correct, then the Sanhedrin was guilty of unjustly executing Jesus, and His blood was on their hands. As the trial progresses, the Apostles become the judges, and the council is on trial.

Affirming the Truth: Acts 5:29-32

The conviction of the Apostles didn’t waver from Peter had stated in Acts 4:19-20. They continued to obey God and trust Him, regardless of their circumstances or perceived danger. They stood firm in serving only one master, God. Diplomats try to reach an agreeable outcome for everyone; ambassadors faithfully represent those who sent them. The Apostles acted as faithful ambassadors to God; 2 Corinthians 5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, certain that God is appealing through us. We plead on Christ’s behalf, “Be reconciled to God.” 

Paul restates the charges he made in chapters three and four and then declares other facts on the events happening in Jerusalem.

  • The Sanhedrin was responsible for the death of Jesus.
  • Jesus has been raised from the dead.
  • Not only was Jesus resurrected, but He also sits at God’s right hand.
    • The place of honor, power, and authority.
    • Stephen would see Jesus standing at God’s right hand.
  • The work of the Holy Spirit is evidence that Jesus kept His promise that He would send the Helper.

The statement that Jesus had been raised from the dead must have been particularly unsettling to the Sadducees as that was in direct conflict with their theology. 

Peter once again calls on the Sanhedrin to repent, submit to the lordship of Jesus, and receive salvation. Once again, the council ignores the very message that would lead to their eternal rescue. If we take a moment to reflect on the Apostle’s challenge to the Sanhedrin, it is really quite remarkable. The very organization that held the power of religious authority and religious punishment in Israel is being challenged to their face by a group of common folk. 

Avoiding the Truth: Acts 5:33-39

The main player in this section is Gamaliel, a highly respected Pharisee. Since the Pharisees and Sadducees were often at odds with each other, it is not a stretch to think Gamaliel’s position was at least partly motivated by a desire to see the Sadducees not accomplish what they had set out by arresting the Apostles and bringing them before the Sanhedrin. Let’s consider some facts regarding this man.

  • He was a scholar who was highly respected by the people.
  • He was rather liberal in his application of the Law.
  • He was moderate in how he approached problems, as evidence by this event.
  • He was Paul’s teacher (Acts 22:3).
  • He was the grandson of the famous rabbi, Hillel.
  • Rabbinic tradition stated he had the title of president of the high court.
  • His power within the Sanhedrin is evidenced by him and not the high priest, ordering the Apostles to be removed from the proceedings.
  • As a Pharisee, he would have at least had sympathy with the Apostles theologically.
    • A belief in the coming Messiah, resurrection, and life after death.
    • Oral tradition that gave them flexibility and openness to change.
  • When the Sadducees agreed to his advice, this was an indication of how well respected and distinguished he was in Jewish society.

We might think that what Gamaliel did was wise and helpful to the young church. However, there were several aspects of his advice that demonstrated a lack of wisdom and understanding.

  • He grouped Jesus together with two rebels. 
    • This is evidence that he had already rejected the evidence that the Apostles presented.
    • To him, Jesus was just another zealous Jew who was trying to free Israel from Rome.
    • Theudas and Judas never did the things attributed to Jesus. Neither were raised from the dead.
  • Gamaliel assumed that history would repeat itself.
    • Both Theudas and Judas had rebelled against the establishment.
      • Both were subdued.
      • Their followers abandoned the cause and fled.
    • If the Sanhedrin were patient, the same thing would happen again.
    • While it is true that cycles occur in history, the events taking place were breaking into new territory.
      • Ministry on the level of what Jesus accomplished had never occurred before. 
      • The events surrounding His crucifixion were new; darkness, earthquake, the veil being torn in two in the temple.
      • Jesus was resurrected and seen by hundreds before being seen ascending to heaven.
      • The events surrounding Pentecost were new.
      • God had visited the earth in the form of a man.
    • Gamaliel’s assumption is that if something is not from God, it must fail. This fails to take into account man’s sinful nature and the presence of Satan in the world.
      • Cults often grow faster than the church and cause many to be trapped in lies.
        • Mormons.
        • Jehovah’s Witnesses.
      • False religions.
        • Islam.
        • Buddhism.
        • Hinduism.
      • It is true that in the end, they will all fail. However, in the meantime, these false religions are leading millions to eternal damnation.
  • His motivation.
    • The council was facing an issue that demanded a decision, and he was promoting a position of neutrality.
      • However, neutrality is a decision.
      • Each person is either for or against God; there is no middle ground.
      • His vote could be interpreted as “no,” but maybe someday he would believe…if the movement persevered.
    • Jesus made it clear that one can’t be neutral about Him and His message. Matthew 12:30 Anyone who is not with Me is against Me, and anyone who does not gather with Me scatters. 
    • The council knew what Elijah said in 1 Kings 18:21 Then Elijah approached all the people and said, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If Yahweh is God, follow Him. But if Baal, follow him.” But the people didn’t answer him a word.
    • Being neutral is often a quiet and cowardly decision to reject God. The first group destined for hell is the cowards. Revelation 21:8 But the cowards, unbelievers, vile, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars – their share will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.
  • If Gamaliel was really afraid of fighting against God, he should have honestly investigated the evidence presented, searched through Scripture, listened to the eyewitnesses, and asked God for wisdom. 
    • He was presented with the opportunity of eternal salvation but rejected it.
    • Daniel Defoe, who wrote Robinson Crusoe, stated that nobody was born a coward. “Truth makes a man of courage and guilt makes that man of courage a coward.”
    • What some would call caution, God would call cowardice.
    • The Apostles were ambassadors.
    • Gamaliel was a religious politician.

Announcing the Truth: Acts 5:40-42

There were at least some in the Sanhedrin that wanted to kill the Apostles. However, Gamaliel’s speech tempered the flames, and they reached a compromise. The compromise was that they would receive a flogging, likely thirty-nine lashes, they were commanded to no longer speak in the name of Jesus, and they were released. 

  • Deuteronomy 25:1-3 “If there is a dispute between men, they are to go to court, and the judges will hear their case. They will clear the innocent and condemn the guilty. If the guilty party deserves to be flogged, the judge will make him lie down and be flogged in his presence with the number of lashes appropriate for his crime. He may be flogged with 40 lashes, but no more. Otherwise, if he is flogged with more lashes than these, your brother will be degraded in your sight. 
  • 2 Corinthians 11:24 Five times I received 39 lashes from Jews.
  • There were strict guidelines for carrying out this punishment.
    • Although Deuteronomy 25:3 states forty lashes, over time, the standard practice was to give thirty-nine in case of a miscount. 
    • Regardless of how many lashes were given, it was a severe punishment.
    • The recipient was placed in a kneeling position with their upper body bare.
    • The lash was a triple strap of calf hide.
    • Two lashes were given across the back and then one across the chest, with the cycle repeated as necessary to reach the number required by the punishment.
    • People had been known to die during the punishment.

As brutal as the punishment was, it still wasn’t enough to stop them from obeying God. Much to the contrary, they left the Sanhedrin rejoicing that they were worthy of sharing in the suffering of their Lord. Also, they continued to meet in homes and gather in the temple area, teaching and proclaiming the Gospel message.

Applications.

  • No matter how difficult your circumstances, do you trust that God is with you, and do you have faith to follow Him? There were numerous times that it would have been easier for the Apostles to fall away, yet they held firm. Have you taken the necessary spiritual steps to prepare yourself for persecution? Do you spend time in the Word daily, pray without ceasing, gather with other believers, and hold firm to obedience to God? Reassess these areas of your life and prepare yourself to face persecution. None of us desire it, many will not face it to the level in this passage, but some of us will.
  • When confronted with falsehood, stand firm in the truth. A practice of mine is that whenever I’m in a discussion with others about spiritual matters, usually unbelievers, but it can be with other believers over doctrinal issues, as much as possible, I let Scripture do the arguing/convincing. If I try and support a position with my words, it becomes an opinion. However, if I use Scripture, more weight is added to the discussion. Additionally, if the other parties in the conversation continue to reject what Scripture says, they are rejecting God. 
  • If you do face actual persecution, whatever the form, rejoice that you have been permitted to share this with Jesus, knowing that He is walking with you during the experience.
  • Don’t be neutral in your Christian walk. Your actions either align with or go against God. There are no gray areas. Be firm yet gentle in your actions, always letting the light of Christ shine through you, penetrating the darkness of this world and reaching the lost with the saving message of the Gospel.

Acts Lesson Ten

Acts 5:12-16 – Signs and Wonders

12 Many signs and wonders were being done among the people through the hands of the apostles. By common consent they would all meet in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 None of the rest dared to join them, but the people praised them highly. 14 Believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers—crowds of both men and women. 15 As a result, they would carry the sick out into the streets and lay them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 In addition, a large group came together from the towns surrounding Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (HCSB)

After the sobering incident with Ananias and Sapphira, we see the church continue to grow and the Apostles performing many signs and wonders. Satan attempted to disrupt the work of the church, but if anything, the incident in the preceding passage brought attention to the power and work of the church resulting in more people hearing about it and increased curiosity with this new movement.

Verse 12

God gave the Apostles the power that allowed them to perform miracles (signs and wonders). Although the miracles were predominately done by the Apostles, there were other believers who were able to perform miracles through the power of the Spirit. Acts 6:8 Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 

The reason that the Apostles performed the majority of the miracles is that this was how their authority and the ministry of the church as authenticated.

  • Romans 15:18-19 For I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to make the Gentiles obedient by word and deed, 19 by the power of miraculous signs and wonders, and by the power of God’s Spirit. As a result, I have fully proclaimed the good news about the Messiah from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs of an apostle were performed with great endurance among you—not only signs but also wonders and miracles.
  • Hebrews 2:4  At the same time, God also testified by signs and wonders, various miracles, and distributions of gifts from the Holy Spirit according to His will.

When we look back through the Bible, we see miracles performed at the beginning of a new era.

  • Moses performed great signs and wonders a the beginning of the age of Law.
  • Elijah and Elisha performed miracles at the beginning of the era of the Prophets.
  • Jesus and the Apostles performed miracles when the New Covenant began.

In each case, God called our attention to the new era. It was His way of saying, “follow these leaders because I have sent them.”

These wonders were also the fulfillment of Jesus’ promise that His followers would do greater works in answer to believing prayer. John 14:12-13 I assure you: The one who believes in Me  will also do the works that I do. And he will do even greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in My name, I will do it so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

When Jesus performed miracles, He has three purposes in mind.

  • To show compassion and meet human needs.
  • To present His credentials as the Son of God.
  • To convey spiritual truth.
  • An example would be when Jesus fed the 5,000. This miracle met their physical need, revealed that He was the Son of God, and presented an opportunity to preach a sermon about the Bread of Life.

The Apostolic miracles followed a similar pattern. An example is the healing of the crippled beggar.

  • Healing the crippled man met his need.
  • The healing proved to the people that Peter and John were servants of the living Christ, thus verifying their credentials to carry on Jesus’ work.
  • The Gospel message that Peter preached resulted in more people coming saving belief in Jesus.

Before we proceed, let’s quickly discuss the issue of the Apostolic age and the requirements to be an Apostle. The key requirement that can no longer be fulfilled is to have seen the risen Christ. The one exception was Paul. However, in his case, Jesus gave a direct commandment for Paul to preach the Gospel. Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, “Go! For this man is My chosen instrument to take My name to Gentiles, kings, and the Israelites. 16 I will show him how much he must suffer for My name!”

If anyone claims to be an Apostle today, I would be highly skeptical of that claim. The meaning of the Greek word for “Apostle” means “one who fulfills the role of being a special messenger (generally restricted to the immediate followers of Jesus Christ, but also extended, as in the case of Paul, to other early Christians active in proclaiming the message of the Gospel) of Jesus Christ. [Taken from the Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament based on Semantic Domains.]

When we consider the context of Acts and the New Testament church, it is not difficult to see that the original followers were, in effect, special messengers commissioned to spread the Gospel and birth the church. For someone to claim today that they were a “special messenger” would beg the question of what their specific commission from Jesus entailed. All followers of Christ are directed by the Great Commission to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Those who claim to be present-day Apostles would need to give justification for calling themselves an Apostle. I realize many may not agree with this. Still, it is important to highlight the requirements and definition of an Apostle since Satan utilizes many different methods to undermine the church, and false teachers often are very damaging.

Peter, and presumably the rest of the twelve Apostles, would gather in Solomon’s Colonnade to share the Gospel with those who were going to the temple. We need to remember that the temple in Jerusalem was not one single building. It covered a sizable area that contained various buildings, gates, and porches. What was likely occurring is that Jesus’ early followers would worship in the temple and then gather at Solomon’s Colonnade to preach. This would ensure a steady stream of people going to and from the temple. 

Verse 13

This verse can be confusing when connected to the following verse. Here it says, “none of the rest dared to join them,” but in the next verse, it says, “Believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers.” How do we resolve this seeming contradiction? There are two resolutions to this question.

  • The first is that not all of the believers would gather at Solomon’s Colonnade since that seemed to be the focal point for the persecution from the religious leaders in their attempt to crush this new movement. However, given the power and zeal of the early church, it seems unreasonable that any true believer would be afraid of being arrested. 
  • The second is that all of the true believers in Jesus would gather, and those who hadn’t become fully committed followers were afraid to be associated with them. For many in countries with religious freedom or at least religious tolerance, this may not resonate. But for those in countries where persecution is real, it would hit home. Only fully committed followers of Jesus would have the courage and faith to gather with fellow believers, not worrying about the consequences. For those who live in persecuted countries or have met people from those countries, there is a rock-solid aspect of their faith in Jesus. I believe that this second possibility is the correct one.

There was a paradox at work here. First, there was no doubting the power of the Spirit, as demonstrated by the healings that were occurring. It is natural that the display of healing power would be attractive. Second, there was the judgmental power of the Spirit, as demonstrated by the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira. This power demands commitment and responsibility from those who profess allegiance to the Spirit.

Another thing to note is that even among those who were not followers of Jesus, they praised them for the miracles that were being performed. 

Verse 14

Even though the power of the Spirit was both wondrous and terrifying, the number of those who believed in the Gospel continued to grow. This growth was an indication of the success of the evangelism of the early church as it was powered by the Spirit. This illustrates an important point as we share the Gospel. We should never try to hide the challenging aspects of living as a follower of Christ; facing persecution, not being popular, and being rejected are just a few. Even though it was widely known that Ananias and Sapphira were struck dead for lying, the church continued to grow. It was this manifestation of power that leads directly into the final two verses in this passage.

Verses 15-16

The people of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas may have been fearful of the power on display in the early church, but that didn’t mean that they were afraid to tap into the benefits. We see that those who were sick or those who had sick family members or friends would move them into the streets so that even with the mere passing of Peter’s shadow would heal them. This aligns with an accepted cultural/historical belief regarding a person’s shadow. A shadow was viewed with superstition and was thought to be an extension of the person, representing their power and personality. A similar event is the woman who was healed by touching Jesus’ robe in Luke 8:44. Even though Luke doesn’t explicitly state that Peter’s shadow healed anyone, it does underline the healing reputation of the Apostles.

 Although the passage doesn’t mention any of the other Apostles by name, but considering the context of what has occurred so far in Acts, it is reasonable to think that this same belief would be manifested by the shadow of any of the twelve. One can only imagine what people were thinking and talking about as they witnessed this amazing display of healing power manifested through ordinary men. It is also easy to consider how the religious leaders felt about this display. The church was displaying the powerful work of the Spirit as the religious leaders were focused on stopping this very work. It would be interesting to know what the average citizen of Jerusalem felt regarding this dichotomy. The official religious leaders who weren’t able to perform these miracles and a group of uneducated laborers healing numerous people while standing up to and confronting those who were supposed to shepherd the people.

However, not were the residents of Jerusalem being healed, but people from all the towns around Jerusalem were bringing those who were sick as well as those who were tormented by evil spirits. This reminds us of what is recorded in Mark 6:53-56 When they had crossed over, they came to land at Gennesaret and beached the boat. 54 As they got out of the boat, people immediately recognized Him. 55 They hurried throughout that vicinity and began to carry the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. 56 Wherever He would go, into villages, towns, or the country, they laid the sick in the marketplaces and begged Him that they might touch just the tassel  of His robe. And everyone who touched it was made well. 

The main difference at this point is, unlike Jesus, their ministry was confined to Jerusalem, and the people came to them instead of them going to the people. This would change by Acts 9 when the Apostles began to venture forth from Jerusalem to the surrounding areas.

The passage ends with the phrase, “and they were all healed.” It wasn’t just some of them or most of them…it was all of them.

On the heels of the shocking and frightening events of Acts 5:1-11, the young church continued to grow and to spread the life-giving message of the Gospel throughout Jerusalem, with the news reaching locations outside of the capital. There is a principle contained here which all believers should remember. A church that is firmly rooted in Jesus, has unshakeable faith, is characterized by holiness, lives out the call to evangelize the lost, and is unified in spirit and purpose is a church that can’t be stopped and one that has nothing to fear, regardless of the persecution that is hurled at it. 

Applications.

  • Are you a “closet Christian” or do people around you know that you are a follower of Christ? That doesn’t mean we should act in an overbearing manner, but it does mean that people around us should see a difference in how we act. If not, prayerfully consider why that is the case. Are you afraid of what others may think or do? Do you feel that you are lacking in some areas of your walk? Whatever it may be, ask for that area to be strengthened and let your light shine to those around you.
  • Meet with other believers on a regular basis. The absolute minimum is during the weekly worship service. But honestly, that isn’t what Christian fellowship is meant to be. Meet with others on a more frequent basis to encourage and pray for each other. Join a small group for Bible study and prayer. If you are comfortable and feel led, lead a small group and disciple others. 
  • Is your life something that others would praise or think highly of? Our goal should be to share the Gospel, shine the light, make Jesus known to those around us. All of this is done for His glory, not ours. 
  • We may not have a “healing touch” as described in this passage, but all of us can to pray for those in need around us. Make it a habit to pray for others. Think of one or two who don’t know Jesus and pray daily that they would come to know Christ. Pray for the sick that you know. Pray for the leaders in your church. Pray for opportunities to share the Gospel.

2 Peter Lesson One

2 Peter 1:1-15 – Growth in Faith

Simeon Peter, a slave and an apostle of Jesus Christ: 

To those who have obtained a faith of equal privilege with ours through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. 

May grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 

His divine power has given us everything required for life and godliness through the knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness. By these He has given us very great and precious promises, so that through them you may share in the divine nature,  escaping the corruption that is in the world because of evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with goodness, goodness with knowledge, knowledge with self-control, self-control with endurance, endurance with godliness, godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they will keep you from being useless or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. The person who lacks these things is blind and shortsighted and has forgotten the cleansing from his past sins. 10 Therefore, brothers, make every effort to confirm your calling and election, because if you do these things you will never stumble. 11 For in this way, entry into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be richly supplied to you. 

12 Therefore I will always remind you about these things, even though you know them and are established in the truth you have. 13 I consider it right, as long as I am in this bodily tent, to wake you up with a reminder, 14 knowing that I will soon lay aside my tent, as our Lord Jesus Christ has also shown me.  15 And I will also make every effort that you may be able to recall these things at any time after my departure. (HCSB)

Verse 1

The use of the term “Simeon” instead of “Simon” is the first curious feature of the letter. The spelling of his name is Semitic and would be directed at a Palestinian setting. The only other place where Peter is called Simeon is in Acts 15:14, likely because of its Palestinian setting. 

In calling himself a slave of Jesus, he means that he’s placed himself under the authority of Jesus and submits to His lordship. It also implies a sense of honor to be Jesus’ servant. There is some Old Testament connection with the use of the term “servant.” 

  • Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – Exodus 32:13a Remember Your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Israel.
  • Moses – Deuteronomy 34:5a So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab.
  • Samuel – 1 Samuel 3:9-10 He told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If He calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 
  • David – 1 Samuel 17:32 David said to Saul, “Don’t let anyone be discouraged by him;  your servant will go and fight this Philistine!” 

It was also used in the New Testament  for Paul, James, and Jude. It denotes not only humility but also honor in serving Jesus. Additionally, not only was Peter writing as a servant, but he was also an apostle of Jesus. Such a title would denote authority within the infant Christian church.

Verse 2

Peter’s greeting here is similar but not an exact copy of his greeting in 1 Peter. 

As we grow in our relationship with Jesus and God, our knowledge of them increases. We understand God’s unconditional acceptance through grace as we place our trust in Jesus. When this happens, a transformation begins in our hearts, which is evident in our behavior. As the transformation grows, we experience abundant grace and peace not only with God but also with others.

Verse 3

The first question to ask when reading this verse is, “who is Peter referring to with the term ‘divine power?’”

  • Jesus
    • Jesus is called “God” in verse 1.
    • Jesus appears last in verse 2, making a reference to Jesus natural.
    • Power refers to Jesus in verse 16 of this chapter.
  • Father
    • Due to holding the primary place in the Trinity.
    • Peter would likely view the Father as the one who possesses divine power.

Therefore, it is likely that Peter is referring to Jesus, although the ambiguous nature of the passage infers that Peter is not distinguishing between God the Father and Jesus.

The main point is that Jesus has provided everything that believers need for “life and godliness.” Also, the term “us” refers to all Christians and not just apostles or Jewish Christians. Additionally, salvation is accomplished by understanding Jesus’ glory and goodness, and they trust God with their salvation.

Verse 4

The phrase “by these” ties in neatly with “glory and goodness” from the previous verse. As believers, we inherit the promises of God as we grow in the knowledge of Jesus and become more like Him. 

The phrase “divine nature” creates a tension of already-not yet. When we become a Christian, we inherit a divine nature and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. However, we still have a sinful nature and won’t be fully perfected until we dwell in heaven. 

The word “corruption” refers to sin in the world and the way it corrupts everything, especially us. We escape corruption as followers of Jesus.

Verses 5-7

The phrase “for this very reason” links verses 5-7 to verses 3-4. However, holiness doesn’t happen by chance or inaction. Instead, it requires effort on our part to pursue holiness. The virtues presented, starting here and ending in verse 7, should not be viewed as a template to follow in order. However, we should take note of the first and last virtues in the list.

  • Faith – the root of all virtues.
  • Love – the goal and climax of the Christian life. 

Trusting God is the foundation on which all other virtues build. 

  • Knowledge – Rooted in God’s grace. True knowledge discerns the difference between truth and lies, right versus wrong.
  • Self-control – One of the fruits of the spirit listed in Galatians 5:23 and a requirement for knowledge. It is the inner strength to control our sinful desires and cravings.
  • Endurance – The characteristic of endurance for a believer is found in numerous Scripture passages and is particularly important to the recipients of Peter’s letter. Courage to deal with difficult periods in our lives.
  • Godliness – Living a life of obedience to God’s commands. It is understood as reverence and obedience.
  • Brotherly affection – The love bond between fellow believers and the family-like care and devotion that should set apart the Christian community. 
  • Love – A spirit of love is the ultimate expression and proof that a person is a Christian. To share in each other’s burdens. Those who have love possess all the other virtues.

Verse 8

The phrase “these qualities” points back to the list contained in verses 5-7. There are three main points Peter is making.

  • The list of virtues needs to be apparent in the lives of believers.
  • There must be spiritual growth (increasing) through the process of sanctification. 
  • Unbelievers and false Christians will lack virtues listed in the preceding verses. 

Verse 9

Some translations use the term “nearsighted,” but a better translation is the one in the HCSB, shortsighted. Peter is saying that those who do not possess the virtues listed above have become blind to the saving grace and forgiveness of sins that they once embraced. They are not living as forgiven sinners but as unconverted people. Believers who live immoral lives signify that forgiveness of sins is not valued, while those who treasure being forgiven live in a way that pleases God. They are in a state of spiritual illness.

Verse 10

“Therefore” connects this verse to the previous one. Peter is exhorting the reader to hold fast to their faith through concentrated effort and not by being lax. We must be careful to understand that Peter is not endorsing work’s based salvation but evidence of salvation because of behavior and virtues that the believer displays. When a believer has an active faith that pursues God, they will not stumble. The correct understanding of “stumble” is not that we won’t sin but that we will not forsake God or commit apostasy. Believers who possess the virtues described in verses 5-7 are daily growing their relationship with God. Additionally, God has no doubt about our eternal state. Instead, the believer may have doubts about their eternal destiny, causing them to stumble.

Verse 11

Peter now turns to the eschatological kingdom, the one that believers will enter on the Day of the Lord and the one that the lost will never see. Peter is once again inferring that entrance into heaven is based upon salvation with works, much like James talks about. Salvation without works is either a bare existence salvation or a false salvation. For those who do enter heaven, the reward we will receive goes beyond anything that we deserve.

Verse 12

This is a simple verse but a stark reminder of how weak our faith and commitment can be. For those who have experienced the saving grace of Jesus, that should be something we never forget. However, how many of us do fall away or go through periods of intentional disobedience? How many times have we read of some ministry leader who has wandered from the path and fallen into sin? Think about the Exodus generation. They witnessed miracles first-hand yet were openly disobedient. We fool ourselves if we think that could never happen to us. Therefore, we need pastors, elders, deacons, family, and spiritual friends to constantly remind us and encourage us to stay on the narrow path. We need to do the same to those around us. It is easy to get complacent in our faith. Peter is calling for us to be focused and intentional to prevent this complacency. 

Verse 13

Peter is using an illustration, bodily tent, to denote his physical body. As long as he was still alive, he felt called to be a constant encouragement to those around him. He would rouse those who had fallen into a spiritual stupor to wake up and press into God.

Verse 14

Peter understands that this life is short, even if we live to 80 years. At some point, our “bodily tent” will give way, and we will pass into eternity through one of two doors. None of us know when that will happen to us; some may die young, and some may live a long time. Our next breath is never guaranteed. Additionally, in the context of this letter, Peter may have begun to observe the persecution that would soon fall upon the church from the Roman government, and he knew that danger was swiftly approaching.

Verse 15

Here Peter is basically restating what is contained in verse 12, that he will never cease to look after fellow Christians and steer them back onto the narrow path. There is also an inference that his writing will be a guide even after he has been killed.

Applications

  • We must ask the question, “Are we truly a Christian?” If the answer is yes, we all have the Holy Spirit living within us to empower and equip us to live a victorious life. If the answer is no, I pray that the truth of the Gospel will be revealed to you, and you will surrender your life to Christ.
  • Our spiritual state will only grow if we are intentional to cultivate it through: Bible study, prayer, worship, fellowship, and service. Just as the athletes we watch or the musicians we listen to, their ability was cultivated through countless hours, weeks, or years of dedicated practice. The Christian life requires the same, or even more, dedication.
  • We must take responsibility to pursue godliness. However, it isn’t done in our power but in the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Take an inventory of how well you display the virtues in verses 5-7. Then ask your spouse, children, close Christian friends, or co-workers how they would rate you. Then take that feedback and address the areas where you are lacking.

1 Peter Lesson Eleven

1 Peter 5:1-14 – Elders

Therefore, as a fellow elder and witness to the sufferings of the Messiah and also a participant in the glory about to be revealed, I exhort the elders among you: Shepherd God’s flock among you, not overseeing out of compulsion but freely, according to God’s will; not for the money but eagerly; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. In the same way, you younger men, be subject to the elders. And all of you clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because 

God resists the proud 

but gives grace to the humble.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you. 

Be serious! Be alert! Your adversary the Devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him and be firm in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are being experienced by your fellow believers throughout the world. 

10 Now the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will personally restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little.  11 The dominion belongs to Him forever. Amen. 

12 I have written you this brief letter through Silvanus (I know him to be a faithful brother) to encourage you and to testify that this is the true grace of God. Take your stand in it! 13 The church in Babylon, also chosen, sends you greetings, as does Mark, my son. 14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace to all of you who are in Christ. (HCSB)

As we conclude our study of 1 Peter, the focus is on leadership within the church. There are three possible reasons for Peter to address the elders specifically at the close of the letter.

  • Leaders may face the majority of the persecution, at least at the beginning.
  • It may be a reference to Ezekiel 9:6, where the judgment in God’s temple begins with the elders.
  • It may be because elders are the leaders of God’s people.

All are reasonable possibilities, and it may be that all three are a correct understanding of the passage.

Now, let’s define what a biblical elder is, as the understanding has changed in the minds of many since the church was first established. The term “pastor,” which is often used for the leadership of a church, is not a biblical term. What we today understand as a pastor is the same as the “elder” that Peter is talking about here. The Greek term is presbyteroi and was used to denote leadership positions in churches found in the New Testament.

  • Acts 11:30 They did this, sending it to the elders by means of Barnabas and Saul.
  • Acts 15:2 But after Paul and Barnabas had engaged them in serious argument and debate, the church arranged for Paul and Barnabas and some others of them to go up to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem concerning this controversy.
  • Acts 15:4 When they arrived at Jerusalem, they were welcomed by the church, the apostles, and the elders, and they reported all that God had done with them.
  • Acts 15:6 Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter.
  • Acts 21:18 The following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present.
  • Acts 14:23When they had appointed elders  in every church and prayed with fasting, they committed them to the Lord in whom they had believed.
  • 1 Timothy 5:17 The elders who are good leaders should be considered worthy of an ample honorarium,  especially those who work hard  at preaching and teaching.

Another thing to note about New Testament churches is that the term elder is always used in the plural. There was never one person in charge of a local congregation. I’m not suggesting you should leave your church if there is one pastor who is the sole authority figure. There are many other factors to consider in that decision. However, I am saying that a church modeled after the example in the Bible is led by a plurality of men who function like the term “elder” that Peter is using in this letter. 

Verse 2

Now that we’ve defined what an elder is let’s look at the responsibilities of an elder.

  • Elders are to shepherd God’s flock. This is a reminder that the congregation is not theirs, they belong to God, and God has placed the shepherd in a leading role. 
    • A primary task of shepherding is faithfully preaching the Word. 
    • Another task is raising new leaders within the congregation to carry on the work or plant a new church.
    • To ensure the flock is discipled in accordance with Matthew 28:19-20.
  • The term “overseeing” in Greek is the word episkopountes, signifying another role. 
    • From the context in this passage, the position of elder and overseer were the same in the New Testament church.
    • This is not necessarily true for the modern church. An overseer could be in an official position or as a lay helper in an area of the church.
  • They should never serve out of compulsion. If their heart is not in serving, they shouldn’t do it. Serving should be in response to the leading of the Holy Spirit and in line with God’s will. 
  • Serving should be a selfless act and not to try and become wealthy. There is always the danger that they could be tempted by the prospects of becoming wealthy through their ministry or even steal funds from the church. There are examples of the first in some megachurches and/or prosperity gospel churches. The New Testament has examples of false teachers driven by a love of money.
    • 2 Corinthians 2:17 For we are not like the many  who market God’s message  for profit. On the contrary, we speak with sincerity in Christ, as from God and before God.
    • 2 Cor 11:7-15 Or did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted,  because I preached the gospel of God to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by taking pay from them to minister to you. When I was present with you and in need, I did not burden anyone, for the brothers who came from Macedonia  supplied my needs. I have kept myself, and will keep myself, from burdening you in any way. 10 As the truth of Christ is in me, this boasting of mine will not be stopped in the regions of Achaia. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows I do! 12 But I will continue to do what I am doing, in order to deny the opportunity of those who want an opportunity to be regarded just as our equals in what they boast about. 13 For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. 14 And no wonder! For Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it is no great thing if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness. Their destiny will be according to their works.
    • 1 Timothy 6:5-10 and constant disagreement among people whose minds are depraved and deprived of the truth, who imagine that godliness  is a way to material gain. But godliness with contentment is a great gain.For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains. 

Throughout the Bible, the relationship of leaders to those under them is often described as a shepherd-like relationship.

  • Psalm 23 – Yahweh’s relationship to David.
  • Isaiah 40:11 – Yahweh to Israel.
  • Jeremiah 23:1-4 – Israel’s corrupt shepherds will be replaced by faithful shepherds.
  • Ezekiel 34:1-10 – Yahweh will rescue His people from selfish shepherds.
  • Zechariah 11:4-17 – A caring shepherd is replaced by a worthless and uncaring shepherd.
  • Matthew 9:35-38 – Jesus appoints new shepherds for His people.
  • John 10:1-18 – Jesus is the good shepherd.
  • John 21:15-17 – Peter is to be a shepherd.

Verse 3

Elders are to act as examples and not as heavy-handed rulers. 

  • Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them over and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles dominate them, and the men of high position exercise power over them.
  • Mark 10:42 Jesus called them over and said to them, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles dominate  them, and their men of high positions exercise power over them. 

Followers of Jesus are to be servants and not heavy-handed rulers.

  • Matthew 20:28just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life—a ransom for many.
  • Mark 10:45 For even the Son of Man  did not come to be served, but to serve,  and to give His life —a ransom  for many.

Verse 4

This verse ties back into verse one with the idea of suffering followed by glory. The implication is that those who serve faithfully will receive a great reward later. Peter calls Jesus “the chief Shepherd,” a term not used anywhere else in the New Testament or the Septuagint. By using this title, Peter reminds all ministry leaders that they are servants under Jesus. The “crown” could be an extra reward for being a faithful servant, or it could be eternal life. The other New Testament references of “crown” or in Greek stephanos talk about entrance into heaven, so we should interpret the term as signifying eternal life.

Verse 5

Although there are various interpretations of what Peter means by the term “younger,” in this case, the literal interpretation is the correct one. Younger people, in general, are more prone to act in a disobedient manner. At the same time, Peter is not condoning lemming-like obedience if the elders are not acting in a manner prescribed for them. However, Peter is saying that those who are under leadership should follow and submit to leaders without complaining or resisting the guidance of the leaders. This is critical to create a spirit of unity and harmony within each local church body. A vital component of this is by acting with humility. When each of us remembers that we are created beings and sinners, it is more difficult to complain about others. Pride, the opposite of humility, often gets in the way when we try and accomplish things in a group.

Verse 6

Peter uses terminology here, “mighty hand,” that is connected with God delivering Israel out of Egypt.

  • Exodus 3:19 However, I know that the king of Egypt will not allow you to go, unless he is forced by a strong hand.
  • Exodus 32:11 But Moses interceded with the Lord his God: “Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people You brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and a strong hand?
  • Deuteronomy 4:34 Or has a god attempted to go and take a nation as his own out of another nation, by trials, signs, wonders, and war, by a strong hand and an outstretched arm, by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?

Just as Yahweh delivered His people from bondage in Egypt, He will also deliver the recipients of Peter’s letter. The image of God’s mighty hand emphasizes the power of God.

Verse 7

Depending on the translation you use, it may read “cast” or “casting” all your care(s) on Him. The second option is a better understanding of the original Greek as it explains how we humble ourselves under God’s strong hand. There is a double implication in the text. Believers humble themselves by casting their worries on God, while those who are prideful will continue to worry. Worry is a form of pride in that when believers are filled with anxiety; they believe they must solve their problems in their own strength. They only trust a little “g” god, themselves. When we cast our anxiety on God, we demonstrate trust in Yahweh.

Verse 8

As Peter draws to a close in the letter, he continues to encourage his readers. In addition, Peter tells them to always be on guard.

  • Be serious.
  • Be alert.

Peter also uses a lion as symbology for Satan.

  • Roaring lion – used to strike fear into the hearts of God’s people. The roar is a metaphor for persecution to intimidate believers and cause them to abandon their faith. 
  • Devour – if Satan can cause believers to abandon their faith, then he has devoured them.

Consider the contrast between God and Satan.

  • God cares for His children. Asks them to bring their worries to Him. Promises to protect them.
  • Satan aims to bring terror to believers and tries to pile worry and fear on them.

Peter warns us that even though Satan is defeated, he is still a crazed enemy. However, if we don’t fear his bark (roar), we will never be devoured by his bite.

Verse 9

Peter continues his warning against Satan. In the previous verse, Peter warns us to be on our guard. In this verse, he encourages us to be proactive in resisting Satan. The Greek word for resist, antistete, is also used in an active tense in:

  • Acts 13:8  But Elymas the sorcerer (this is the meaning of his name) opposed  them and tried to turn the proconsul away from the faith.
  • Galatians 2:11  But when Cephas  came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face because he stood condemned.
  • 2 Timothy 3:8 Just as Jannes and Jambres  resisted Moses,  so these also resist the truth, men who are corrupt in mind,  worthless  in regard to the faith.
  • 2 Timothy 4:14-15 Alexander  the coppersmith did great harm to me. The Lord will repay him according to his works. 15 Watch out  for him yourself because he strongly opposed our words.

This verse also adds weight to the argument that the persecution that the readers were facing was not governed officially by the Roman government or the emperor. Instead, this was widespread discrimination and abuse suffered in the Greco-Roman world by Christians because of their allegiance to Jesus and refusal to participate in many of the normal societal activities. 

Verse 10-11

These two verses conclude the body of the letter and summarize the main points of the letter.

Verse 10

Peter focuses on God’s strength as the means by which believers can persevere and obtain salvation. God’s grace impacts believers in the following ways:

  • Restoration
  • Establishing
  • Strengthening
  • Supporting

All this occurs regardless of the believer’s circumstances, but they are especially beneficial during times of suffering.

Peter is also saying that before we attain glory, each of us will go through periods of trials and suffering. The phrase “suffered a little” should not be interpreted as a short period of our earthly existence, although it may. Instead, it should be compared to our eternal glory and residence in heaven. When viewed in that light, our earthly suffering, no matter how intense or long, is short in comparison.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day. 17 For our momentary light affliction is producing for us an absolutely incomparable eternal weight of glory. 18 So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Verse 11

God is the sovereign ruler over all of creation for all of time.

Verse 12

Silvanus is Silas who is mentioned often in the book of Acts as Paul’s partner in ministry and missionary journeys. Silvanus would deliver the letter and act as an interpreter if the recipients had questions as to the meaning of what was written. The phrase “to be a faithful brother” indicates that Peter had absolute trust in Silvanus’ ability to interpret and answer questions on his behalf.

Peter then gives one last encouragement for them to take their stand in the grace of God. Peter is also implying that failing to stand would indicate apostasy and judgment on the last day.

Verse 13

There are various interpretations of the church in Babylon. The one that makes the most sense from a contextual standpoint in Peter’s letter is that Babylon represents the church at large. All of us are foreigners/exiles while we are living in our physical body here on earth. Our true home is heaven, and once we die, or Jesus returns, our exile will end, and we will live in our true home.

The “Mark” referenced here is John Mark, who went with Paul on his first missionary journey. Peter is not Mark’s literal father. Peter is likely older, maybe much older, and feels affection towards Mark as a father would towards a son.

Verse 14

Although it would seem strange to many cultures today, in the Greco-Roman and Mediterranean world, greeting others with a kiss was common practice. This practice indicated respect and brotherly love for others and was devoid of any sexual overtones.

Finally, closing with a wish of peace was significant to the recipients of the letter. They were being tossed by persecution and discrimination. They were in need of the peace that only Jesus could provide.

Applications

  • If you are in any type of leadership position within the church, make sure you are doing it for the right reason – according to God’s will? 
  • If you are in any type of leadership position, make sure you are doing it with the correct attitude? 
    • Not for any type of financial benefit.
    • With a spirit of humility and not heavy-handedness.
    • Setting a Christ-like example by serving as a leader.
  • Regardless of whether you are in a leadership position or not, do you support those over you? We may not always agree with them, but as long as they are not in disagreement with Scripture, we have no biblical grounds to complain about their leadership. It is easy to get discouraged when the congregation is always complaining and nitpicking about leaders, and it is little wonder that the average life-span of an elder (pastor) in the Western church is just over three years due to burn-out.
  • Do you approach spiritual warfare with a serious attitude? Western culture can picture Satan as a little red guy with a pitchfork or some similar picture. However, a proper understanding of him should drive us to consider his evil intent and desire to see us fail as a Christian. We should immerse ourselves in reading Scripture, prayer, an accountability partner, and Christian fellowship.
  • Do we rest in God’s grace and the assurance that no matter what we go through, an amazing and indescribable eternity awaits us?

1 Peter Lesson Two

1 Peter 1:13-25 – Holy Living

13 Therefore, with your minds ready for action, be serious and set your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the desires of your former ignorance. 15 But as the One who called you is holy, you also are to be holy in all your conduct; 16 for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy.

17 And if you address as Father the One who judges impartially based on each one’s work, you are to conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your temporary residence. 18 For you know that you were redeemed from your empty way of life inherited from the fathers, not with perishable things like silver or gold,  19 but with the precious blood of Christ,  like that of a lamb without defect or blemish. 20 He was chosen before the foundation of the world but was revealed at the end of the times for you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

22 By obedience to the truth, having purified yourselves for sincere love of the brothers, love one another earnestly from a pure heart, 23 since you have been born again—not of perishable seed but of imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. 24 For

All flesh is like grass,

and all its glory like a flower of the grass.

The grass withers, and the flower falls,

25 but the word of the Lord endures forever.

And this is the word that was preached as the gospel to you. (HCSB)

There are three imperatives in this passage.

  • Unshakable hope in Jesus, verse 13
  • Holiness, verse 15
  • Live in reverent fear, verse 17

Verses 13-16

Verse 13

The word “therefore” reaches back to the first twelve verses in the letter. The readers are encouraged to live a godly life because they have a foundation in God’s saving work explained in verses 1-12. Order is essential here.

  • What God has done for us.
  • How we should live our lives.

If the order is reversed, we have a works-based righteousness instead of holiness being a result of God’s grace and power and our response to the love Jesus displayed by going to the cross.

  • Minds ready for action – means to be ready to undertake serious work.
  • Be serious – some translations have “sober” here. Sober is to be understood as having clear minds not impaired, distracted, or controlled by the things of the world.

Verse 14

There are several ideas flowing beneath the surface of this verse.

  • Even as followers of Jesus, we struggle with the temptation of this world and the danger of falling away from God.
  • However, as God’s children, we are to fight those temptations by living a life of obedience through faith and in God’s power and strength.
  • Just as children often have similarities with their earthly parents, we are to be similar to our heavenly Father.

Verse 15

  • The idea of being “called” should not be viewed as an invitation. Instead, it is a picture of God’s power in drawing people from a life in darkness to a life of light, from death to life.
  • Once again, the order is important. God’s power has pulled us from darkness and now equips us to live in holiness if we are obedient.
    • God’s people are to live differently from the world.
    • God’s people separate themselves from the evil desires of the world.
    • To be holy means to be apart from evil.

Verse 16

  • Why are we to be holy?
  • Because God is holy, and if we are God’s people, we should reflect God’s character.
    • Leviticus 11:44-45 For I am Yahweh your God, so you must consecrate yourselves and be holy because I am holy. You must not defile yourselves by any swarming creature that crawls on the ground. For I am Yahweh, who brought you up from the land of Egypt to be your God, so you must be holy because I am holy.
    • When thinking about Old Testament covenants, before Israel could be a blessing to other nations, they first had to be holy.
    • Holiness is the starting point for God’s covenant people.
  • Holy doesn’t mean sinless perfection. That is impossible in this life. It does mean to be set apart. If we are God’s children, then we should be acting like Him.

Verses 17-21 Theme is to live in reverent fear.

Verse 17

  • Believers are to live in fear of Yahweh.
  • The question is, what type of fear is Peter talking about?
    • Reverent fear – a feeling of utmost respect and honor towards Yahweh.
    • Terror fear – a feeling of trepidation and apprehension.
    • From the context of the passage and the general concept of the Christian life as being a life filled with joy, it seems clear that Peter is talking about reverent fear.
    • At the same time, we need to examine whether our reverent fear is still…reverent or if it has become dull over time.
    • A responsible and confident driver also has a healthy fear for the damage that their vehicle could inflict on others through reckless behavior.
  • Our loving Father will also be our impartial judge on the last day.

Verse 18

The first idea to note is that verses 18-19 together form a negative/positive couplet. First, Peter illustrates what does not redeem someone with what does redeem someone.

  • Redeemed
    • Signifies liberation.
    • In this verse, it signifies leaving the emptiness of life they inherited from their fathers.
    • In the Old Testament emptiness is often associated with the idol worship practiced by pagans.
    • In the New Testament, it illustrates pre-Christian life.
      • Romans 1:21  For though they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God or show gratitude. Instead, their senseless minds were darkened.
      • Ephesians 4:17  Therefore, I say this and testify in the Lord: You should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their thoughts.
    • The life of unbelievers is a life characterized by futility, emptiness, and chasing after false gods.
      • Pursuing money.
      • Pursuing possessions.
      • Both are temporary.

Verse 19

The details of the purchase price are now revealed.

  • In contrast to the temporary things the lost pursue, believers are purchased with the everlasting and infinitely precious blood of Jesus.
  • Jesus poured out His life to redeem sinners.
  • Early Christians believed that Christ’s sacrifice as the sinless lamb fulfilled:
    • The Passover.
    • The prophetic suffering servant.
    • The entire Old Testament sacrificial system.

Verse 20

There are two main thoughts here:

  • Before the foundation of the world.
    • It was not mere chance that brought Jesus into the world at that particular time and place.
    • It was part of God’s plan.
    • Ephesians 1:4  For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight.
  • Revealed at the end of the times.
    • Followers of Jesus enjoy the blessing of living at the time God is fulfilling His saving promises.
    • “The end of the times” signifies the time that started with the ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
    • This does not mean, and should not be confused with, the eschatological end times.
    • Peter indicates that Jesus’ birth, life, and death ushered in “the end of the times.”

Verse 21

  • We are believers in God through Jesus, not through any other means. John 14:6b  No one comes to the Father except through Me.
  • Believers put their faith in God because of the finished work of Jesus.
  • Jesus’ resurrection is the foundation of the living hope found in 1:3.
  • A holy life is a life that trusts in God’s promises.
  • A holy life is one in which God is prized above all things, in which believers trust and hope in His goodness.

Verses 22-25 The theme is a command to love each other.

Verse 22

  • Purpose of their conversion is to love fellow believers.
  • It is achieved by obedience to the truth – faith in God’s promises of salvation.
  • It rises from a pure heart that has been cleansed by the blood of Jesus.
  • Peter uses two different Greek words for love in this verse.
    • One is brotherly love.
    • One is divine love, agape.
    • Unbelievers can display brotherly love to each other. However, it takes a Christian controlled by the Holy Spirit to show agape love.

Verse 23

  • Peter explains the origin of their birth.
    • Not of a perishable seed – human birth.
    • But of an imperishable seed – the Word of God.
      • Romans 10:17  So faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ.
      • Galatians 3:2  I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by hearing with faith?
    • A seed and the Word have similar characteristics.
      • A seed is small but, once planted has the power of life in it and produces fruit.
      • The Word is small and seemingly insignificant. Yet, it has power and life within it. The Word must be planted to do good, but when it is planted in a person’s heart, it produces good fruit.
      • Fruit produced by the Word is lasting, eternal fruit, but things of the flesh don’t last.

Verse 24

  • Peter quotes the text from Isaiah 40:6-8 here.
    • Israel will be restored from their exile in Babylon.
    • Babylon was viewed as invincible at the time that Israel was taken into exile.
    • Those persecuting the recipients of Peter’s letter may have been viewed as invincible.
    • In both cases, Peter is saying that their power is short-lived and that Yahweh and His people endure forever.

Vese 25

  • God’s Word is enduring.
  • It is imperishable.
  • Nothing can overpower God.
  • The promises contained in Isaiah are fulfilled in the proclamation of the Gospel.

Applications.

  • Do you take your faith seriously and prepare yourself for spiritual work? Peter’s words at the beginning of this passage exhort us always to be prepared and to have the proper attitude towards our salvation.
  • Do you take the holiness of God seriously and have a reverent fear of God? We love to read the passages that tell us how loving and merciful God is, which is true. But we often neglect or ignore the passages that tell us that God is also our judge. An infinitely holy God can’t be in the presence of sin. Will our lives allow us to enter into God’s presence or will we be cast out of His presence? We would do well to remember Matthew 7:23 Then I will announce to them, “I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers.”
  • Do we immerse ourselves in the Word? We need to be reading the Bible daily, feeding on the truths contained in it. Those seeds of truth will plant themselves in our hearts and grow, producing fruit in our lives.
  • Do we have agape love for our brothers and sisters? Many countries have large megachurches, which in themselves are not necessarily bad. However, they often feel impersonal, and there is little to no connection with other believers. When we look back at the church in the book of Acts, we see a church that closely connected believers together. Make sure you are connected with a church that promotes connecting in smaller groups, replicating the intimacy that is found in the early church.

1 Peter Lesson One

A Living Hope – 1 Peter 1:1-12

Today’s lesson begins a study on 1 Peter. Before digging into the first passage to discuss, let’s set the stage with some background information.

Destination and Situation of the Readers: Written to the churches in Asia Minor who were faced with suffering and persecution for their faith.

Date: Likely around A.D. 62-63 before Nero’s persecution begins.

Author: The author claims to be Peter, and there is no evidence in the writer’s letter to disagree with his authorship.

Theme: To encourage believers to hold fast while they endure the suffering and persecution of the present evil age, knowing that they will receive a great reward on the day of salvation.

Theology: The author presents three theological lessons in this book.

  • Hope in the midst of suffering.
  • Christians belong to the ancestral people of God.
  • The blessings that believers enjoy now or hope to enjoy in the future, Christ’s death and resurrection, and Christ’s victory over all evil spiritual beings.

Now, let’s look at today’s lesson.

1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ:

To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ.

May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

A Living Hope

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy,  He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. You rejoice in this,  though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things. (HCSB)

Verses 1-2

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ: To the temporary residents dispersed in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, chosen according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and set apart by the Spirit for obedience and for sprinkling with the blood of Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you.

Some things to note about these first two verses.

  • The introduction is not in a standard format for letters of the period.
  • Peter introduces himself as an apostle of Jesus.
    • This should not be interpreted as being merely a messenger of Christ.
    • Jesus designated Peter as an authoritative messenger and interpreter of the Gospel.
    • This means that the letter is not just good advice; it is a binding apostolic word for the church.
  • The letter is addressed to “the temporary residents.” Other translations may say “pilgrims.”
    • Because they are “chosen” by God, they are residing temporarily on earth.
      • 1 Peter 2:11  Dear friends, I urge you as strangers and temporary residents to abstain from fleshly desires that war against you.
      • Hebrews 11:13  These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth.
    • Their true home is in heaven.
  • They are “chosen according to the foreknowledge of God.” This is a challenging concept to wrap our brains around, and there is much discussion and debate on the ideas of predestination and foreknowledge. The two main camps are the Calvinists and the Arminians, and what makes it even more challenging is that Scripture can support both of their positions. I won’t get into a lengthy and detailed discussion of the two camps, as that would be an entire lesson. The important point to reflect on here is that the recipients of the letter are believers of the Gospel.
    • Romans 8:29  For those He foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.
    • 2 Thessalonians 2:13  But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
  • This is a cyclical letter intended for each of the churches listed, located in modern-day Turkey.
  • The believers are being sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
    • Conversion is not just an intellectual understanding of the Gospel.
    • It involves obedience and submission to the Gospel.
  • They have been cleansed by the sacrificial blood of Jesus.
  • Entrance into the New Covenant has two parts.
    • Obedience to the Gospel.
    • Cleansing through the sacrificial blood of Jesus.
  • The Trinity is contained in the introduction, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • It closes with a prayer that grace and peace be multiplied in their lives.

Verses 3-5

Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. According to His great mercy,  He has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and into an inheritance that is imperishable, uncorrupted, and unfading, kept in heaven for you. You are being protected by God’s power through faith for a salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.

Peter begins this section with the theme for the entire passage, praise for God.

  • Because He has given us a new birth.
    • None of us can take credit for the new birth.
    • It is entirely through God’s grace and mercy.
  • He has given us a living hope.
    • The resurrection of Jesus.
    • Victory over death.
    • Everything they could suffer in this world is insignificant compared with the future blessings of resurrection and eternity with God.
  • He has given us an inheritance.
    • In the Old Testament, the land was the inheritance.
    • In the New Covenant, Peter understands that the inheritance is the end-time hope that all believers have.
    • Our eternal home is in heaven.
    • It is still a physical hope: a new heaven and a new earth.
      • 2 Peter 3:13  But based on His promise, we wait for the new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness will dwell.
      • Revelation 21:1  Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth has passed away, and the sea no longer existed.
  • However, the focus on salvation should be on our future glory.
    • Inheritance is another way of looking at our salvation. Our full and final inheritance will be received in the new heaven and new earth.
    • It will be revealed in the last time; our salvation is a future event.
    • Believers can rest in the assurance that God’s power will protect them through their trials here and bring them to salvation.
      • This doesn’t mean we won’t’ experience trials.
      • But God will preserve us so that we will receive our final inheritance.
      • This requires faith on our part.
      • God’s protection works in conjunction with our believing.
        • The root of sin is unbelief.
        • If we are faithful, God’s power protects us from unbelief and sin.

Verses 6-9

You rejoice in this,  though now for a short time you have had to struggle in various trials so that the genuineness of your faith—more valuable than gold, which perishes though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. You love Him, though you have not seen Him. And though not seeing Him now, you believe in Him and rejoice with inexpressible and glorious joy, because you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls.

In verses 3-5, the focus was on praise to God. Now, in verses 6-9, the focus shifts to joy and love, even as they face various trials.

  • There are two types of trials.
    • Those brought on by our own poor choices.
    • Those that God allows us to experience to shape and mold us for greater works and keep us on the narrow path.
      • Acts 14:22  Strengthening the disciples by encouraging them to continue in the faith and by telling them, “It is necessary to pass through many troubles on our way into the kingdom of God.”
      • Romans 5:3-4  And not only that, but we also rejoice in our afflictions, because we know that affliction produces endurance, endurance produces proven character, and proven character produces hope.
      • James 1:2-4  Consider it great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing.
      • These trials are never enjoyable, but God is working out His plan through them.
  • The persecutions of Christians under the rule of Nero were starting at the time this letter was written.
    • Nero’s persecution was the first of nine conducted by the Roman Empire.
    • The persecutions lasted for about 250 years.
    • Peter’s death was likely during this first persecution.

Verse 7

Why does God allow us to suffer?

  • Suffering functions as the test for faith.
    • Those with genuine faith will persevere through the trials.
      • They will continue to trust God even in the deepest valleys of suffering.
      • Their faith will be strengthened and purified through the sufferings.
      • Their transformation into Christ-likeness includes the ability to undergo suffering to glorify God.
    • Those who have a shallow or false faith will not persevere through the sufferings. In the end, they will be seen as false Christians.
  • The trials of life test our faith to prove its sincerity. A faith that cannot be tested cannot be trusted. A person who abandons their faith when the going gets tough is only proving that they had no faith at all.
  • We also suffer because our “new life” values are in direct conflict with a fallen and sinful world. In our current world, this has led to secularism and pluralism negatively affecting the church-many hot topics in the world clash with the truth of Scripture.
    • Same-sex marriage.
    • All religions lead to the same God and heaven.
    • Relative truth, each of us has our own set of truth values, and we must accept and respect the truths of others.
    • The idea that some portions of Scripture are a fairy tale.
    • The lack of personal responsibility and accountability. I can do anything I want. I’m not at fault for my actions.
    • There are more, but in each case, the values of a follower of Jesus are in direct conflict with the world.

Verse 8

What is our hope based on?

  • The end of verse 7 answers that, the revelation of Jesus, and verse 8 expounds on it.
    • Our sufferings should not make us miserable.
    • Our lives should be filled with love for Jesus.
    • Jesus is precious to those who believe in Him.
    • The recipients of the letter, and us, have never seen Him, yet we believe in Him.
    • Believing is not based on seeing. John 20:29  Jesus said, “Because you have seen Me, you have believed. Those who believe without seeing are blessed.”
  • Peter’s main point here is that the hope of believers is not destroyed by the trials they undergo. Their lives are characterized by a hope that fills the present with love and joy while they wait for the eternal joy in anticipation. If we trust Jesus with our present salvation, we can also trust Him with our future salvation.

Verse 9

This expounds on the previous verse be defining the reward awaiting those who believe in Jesus.

  • The reason for the believer’s love and joy is the promise of future salvation.
  • We see from verse 5 that it will be completed “in the last time.”
    • This doesn’t mean that salvation isn’t a present-tense idea.
    • As in many places in the Bible, this is an “already, not yet” concept that will not reach its completion until Jesus returns.
    • Believers enjoy salvation now but will experience its fullness at a future date.

Verses 10-12

10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that would come to you searched and carefully investigated. 11 They inquired into what time or what circumstances the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating when He testified in advance to the messianic sufferings and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. These things have now been announced to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Angels desire to look into these things.

Verse 10

This verse builds upon the previous verse in expanding upon the idea of salvation.

  • The salvation that was prophesied in the past, the recipients of the letter were now experiencing.
    • Believers in Jesus are the fulfillment of prophecy.
    • The prophecy was intended for Peter’s readers.
  • This salvation was not experienced in the same way by the Old Testament prophets.
    • God’s grace through the New Covenant.
    • The prophets carefully investigated the salvation they prophesied about.

Verse 11

  • The prophets didn’t live in the time of fulfillment.
  • Their prophecies were inspired by the Spirit of Christ, indicating authority and accuracy.
  • The prophets predicted these events but didn’t know when they would occur.
  • They hoped to experience the fulfillment of their prophecies.
  • The recipients of the letter do live in the time of fulfillment.
  • The prophets discovered that Jesus would first suffer and only after that would glory follow.
    • Often, this is a pattern in our lives.
    • Suffering is not a sign that Jesus has forsaken us.
    • Suffering is a sign of our fellowship with Jesus.
    • Suffering does not reduce the living hope given to us through the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Verse 12

  • Although the prophets desired to live in the time of fulfillment, God revealed to them that they would not experience it.
  • The Old Testament prophecies do not apply to the recipients but were intended for them.
  • The prophets were guided by the Spirit of Christ, but those who evangelize the Gospel message do so through the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • The Gospel fulfills what is contained in the Old Testament.
  • Believers are blessed to live in the time of prophetic fulfillment. Matthew 13:16-17  “But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them.”
  • Angels don’t experience the Gospel in the same way that humans do since they are not the recipients of redemption.
    • Angels marvel at what God has done through the sacrifice of Jesus.
    • The recipients of the letter actually experience it.

Applications.

  • Do we consider ourselves “temporary residents” of the earth? As a follower of Christ, our identity is in Him and not our country, ethnicity, the school we attended, job, etc. This may be hard for some to come to grips with, but our true identity is not defined by anything on this earth.
  • As a follower of Christ, our future hope is secure. Do you really believe that, or do you struggle with the assurance of your salvation? If you believe in the infallible truth of Scripture, you should never doubt your salvation if you have placed your trust in Jesus. Doubting is the ploy of the enemy to hamper your work for God.
  • All of us will suffer trials as we go through life. Some of us will suffer more than others. Do you focus on the present trial, or do you focus on the future assurance?
  • Understand that biblical salvation is offensive to the culture we live in. As we share the Gospel message, we will face opposition. Some opposition may be minor, but some could be quite violent. Our task, both individually and corporately as the church, is to faithfully and boldly preach the true Gospel message whenever and wherever the opportunity presents itself.

Ruth Lesson Eight

The Royal Line – Ruth 4:13-22

13 Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” 16 Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and took care of him. 17 The neighbor women said, “A son has been born to Naomi,” and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

David’s Genealogy from Judah’s Son

18 Now this is the genealogy of Perez:

Perez fathered Hezron.

19 Hezron fathered Ram,

who fathered Amminadab.

20 Amminadab fathered Nahshon,

who fathered Salmon.

21 Salmon fathered Boaz,

who fathered Obed.

22 And Obed fathered Jesse,

who fathered David. (HCSB)

The concluding section of chapter four is broken down into two parts: the narrative around the child born to Boaz and Ruth and a ten-generation genealogy.

Verse 13

Boaz took Ruth and she became his wife. When he was intimate with her, the Lord enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son.

Facts to note concerning this verse.

  • Boaz fulfilled his promise to marry Ruth.
  • Ruth’s social progression has reached its conclusion.
    • A Moabite foreigner (2:10).
    • Lowest on the servant scale (2:13)
    • Maidservant (3:9).
    • Boaz’s wife.
  • Boaz fulfilled his promise to continue the family line of Mahlon.
  • Ruth becomes pregnant through Yahweh.
    • Ruth was married to Mahlon for ten years but was not able to get pregnant.
    • Ruth quickly became pregnant after marrying Boaz, maybe on the wedding night.
    • Yahweh closed Ruth’s womb during a marriage that was not based on obedience.
    • Yahweh opened Ruth’s womb and honored the prayers presented in verses 11-12.
  • At least nine months elapse between the beginning of the verse and the end.
  • Ruth gives birth to a son, establishing Mahlon’s lineage.
  • The royal line is preserved through the actions of these two humble and obedient people.

Verses 14-15

14 Then the women said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has not left you without a family redeemer today. May his name become well known in Israel. 15 He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Indeed, your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.”

The women are likely neighbors or at least townspeople who know the situation surrounding Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz. In the Old Testament, praise or blessings denoted positive relationships between the two parties. The women also acknowledge that a family redeemer has now arrived on the scene for Mahlon’s lineage.

The one question in verse 14 is who is “his name” referring to, Yahweh or Obed?

  • The focus on the verse seems to be on Obed and not Yahweh, although Yahweh is to be praised.
  • The last part of verse 14 indicates that the “name” is currently not well known in Israel.
  • Obed’s name will become well known throughout Israel in the future, if for no other reason than he’s King David’s grandfather.
  • The “name” is clearly referring to Obed.

In verse 15, the women discuss the implications of the birth of a son.

  • When Naomi first returned from Moab, she was bitter and destitute.
  • With the birth of Obed, her fortunes have completely reversed.
  • Naomi no longer needs to be concerned about her future welfare.
  • The idea that Ruth is better than seven sons is a remarkable statement.
    • In Israel, the ideal family consisted of seven sons – the women are saying Ruth is better than an ideal Israelite family.
    • This also could be a prophetic reference to David, as he had seven brothers and became Israel’s greatest king.

Verses 16-17

16 Naomi took the child, placed him on her lap, and took care of him. 17 The neighbor women said, “A son has been born to Naomi,” and they named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.

Some clarification is needed on verse 16, depending on the translation you are using. Some translations use the terms “bosom” and “nurse” in this verse. Those terms can be misleading as Naomi doesn’t become a wetnurse to her grandson. The original Hebrew word that is misleadingly translated to “bosom” is actually referring to the front of a person’s body and is implying embracing a loved one. The original word that refers to “nurse” is better translated as a nanny, someone to care for the child. In essence, verse 16 is saying that Naomi will take care of Obed as any joyous and loving grandmother would care for their grandchild. In Naomi’s case, her fortunes have come full circle. Once stripped of all male support and protection, she now has an immediate redeemer/protector in Boaz and a future redeemer/protector in Obed.

Verse 17 concludes the story of Boaz, Ruth, and Naomi in the birth and naming of the baby boy. There are several things to note about this.

  • This is the only reference in the Old Testament where women, other than the mother, were present at the naming of a baby.
    • However, this doesn’t mean the women had a role in naming the baby.
    • But it does mean they were there to witness the celebration and share in its significance.
  • The child is a son.
    • The form is in the normal form of an ancient Near East birth announcement, as found in Isaiah 9:6 and Jeremiah 20:15.
    • Because the family needed a male child to act as the future kinsman-redeemer, the birth of a son was a significant event for the family.
  • The name Obed is not explained in the text.
    • It is a form of the Hebrew word meaning “to serve.”
    • It is an abbreviated form of Obadiah, which means “servant of Yahweh.”
    • Is the boy to be viewed as a servant of Yahweh or a servant of Naomi?
      • If it is the first, then the child will take away the bitterness that Naomi mentions in 1:20-21 and to redeem the estate of her late husband.
      • If it is the second, the child serves by restoring her prosperity and providing security in her old age.
      • It could be a combination of both.
  • The historical significance does not lie in Obed directly. His significance lives on and is achieved through his grandson David.

Verses 18-22

As the book of Ruth closes, the author presents the importance of the book in a concluding genealogy.

  • The biggest need in the period of the judges was a king, since “everyone did whatever he wanted” (Judges 21:25).
  • The faithful actions of Naomi, Boaz, and Ruth led not only to a restoration of the family but also the provision of a king.
  • As the grand narrative of the Bible progresses, we see how Yahweh keeps His covenant faithfulness through His people.
  • The genealogy, which points to David, has a greater significance for us. This exact same list is included in Jesus’ genealogy in the first chapter of Matthew.
    • We see that the story of Ruth points not just to David, but ultimately to Jesus.
    • Jesus is the Savior and Redeemer of all humanity if they place their trust in Him.

Summary and Conclusion on Ruth

  • The book begins with a funeral and ends with a wedding.
  • It opens with famine and closes with fullness.
  • Ruth’s love and obedience brought joy and blessing.
  • Prophetical.
    • God shows His disfavor on Israel because of their disobedience (chapter 1).
    • God uses a gentile (Ruth), just as later gentiles would be reached with the Gospel (Acts 15:14).
    • Naomi’s blessing came after Ruth’s wedding. In the same way, Israel will be restored and blessed after Christ and His church are united.
  • Typical.
    • Boaz is a picture of Christ.
    • Jesus is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.
      • He is the Lord of the harvest.
      • He supplies our needs.
      • He redeems us.
      • He gives us rest.
  • Practical.
    • Backsliding has its consequences.
      • Naomi lost her husband.
      • She lost her sons.
    • No matter how tough the circumstances we are experiencing, the best place to be is in the will of God.
    • God is willing to forgive and restore backsliders.
    • The time we spend in disobedience can never be regained.
    • But we can regain our joy and testimony.

Applications

  • Do we rejoice in the blessings and celebrations of others? If we don’t, is it because of jealousy? Just as we share in the sorrows of those around us, we should also join in their celebrations, giving glory to God for each one of them.
  • Do we keep all parts of our promise? Boaz fulfilled everything he vowed to do. Do we resemble him in our actions, or do we stop short of total fulfillment if it gets tough or we just feel like it?
  • Have we been redeemed by Jesus? If you haven’t placed your eternity in His hands, why?
  • If you’ve been redeemed but have backslidden, don’t wait to return to Him. He stands with open arms to welcome back each truly repentant heart who realizes the mistake they’ve made. Don’t let pride or guilt stand in the way of blessings.

Ruth Lesson Seven

The Redemption – Ruth 4:1-12

4 Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took 10 men of the town’s elders  and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down. He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.  I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do so. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.”

“I want to redeem it,” he answered.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.”

The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.”

At an earlier period in Israel, a man removed his sandal and gave it to the other party in order to make any matter legally binding concerning the right of redemption or the exchange of property. This was the method of legally binding a transaction in Israel.

So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”

Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. 10 I will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his home. You are witnesses today.”

11 The elders and all the people who were at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel. May you be powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem. 12 May your house become like the house of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring the Lord will give you by this young woman.” (HCSB)

Once the sun comes up, Boaz wastes no time in bringing his promise to a conclusion, regardless of whether he or the unnamed male relative is the one to redeem the land and Ruth.

This section is split into four parts.

  • Boaz preparing for “court” action, verses 1-2.
  • The court proceedings, verses 3-8.
  • Boaz’s response to the outcome of the court proceedings, verses 9-10.
  • Public reaction to the court proceedings, verses 11-12.

Verses 1-2 – Boaz preparing for court.

Boaz went to the gate of the town and sat down there. Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by. Boaz called him by name and said, “Come  over here and sit down.” So he went over and sat down. Then Boaz took 10 men of the town’s elders and said, “Sit here.” And they sat down.

From a cultural standpoint, many important meetings or decisions took place around the gates of cities, especially small or mid-size ones. The gates were also the location of official administrative and judicial business for the local community. Boaz now begins the legal process to acquire the land that belonged to Elimelech, as well as Ruth for the purpose of marriage. The citizens of Bethlehem would recognize and understand that Boaz was there on legal business.

We also see the hand of God at work here as the first verse says, “Soon the family redeemer Boaz had spoken about came by.” This wasn’t a mere coincidence; this was the divine work of God to bring this specific man through the gate soon after Boaz had arrived and sat waiting for him.

Now that the two principal players in the legal proceeding are present, Boaz needs to gather the men as the required legal assembly for the action of redeeming the land and Ruth. A few observations on this.

  • They were citizens of Bethlehem.
  • As elders, they would be responsible for the administrative actions in the city.
  • The fact that they quickly responded to Boaz’s request signifies his stature in the community.

Now the scene is set for the legal proceedings to commence.

Verses 3-8 – The court proceedings.

He said to the redeemer, “Naomi, who has returned from the land of Moab, is selling a piece of land that belonged to our brother Elimelech.  I thought I should inform you: Buy it back in the presence of those seated here and in the presence of the elders of my people. If you want to redeem it, do so. But if you do not want to redeem it, tell me so that I will know, because there isn’t anyone other than you to redeem it, and I am next after you.”

“I want to redeem it,” he answered.

Then Boaz said, “On the day you buy the land from Naomi, you will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of the deceased man, to perpetuate the man’s name on his property.”

The redeemer replied, “I can’t redeem it myself, or I will ruin my own inheritance. Take my right of redemption, because I can’t redeem it.”

At an earlier period in Israel, a man removed his sandal and gave it to the other party in order to make any matter legally binding concerning the right of redemption or the exchange of property. This was the method of legally binding a transaction in Israel.

So the redeemer removed his sandal and said to Boaz, “Buy back the property yourself.”

According to Mosaic law, the land under question was never intended to leave the family, and the concept of a kinsman-redeemer was an Israelite custom, designed to keep it in the family.

Leviticus 25:25  If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold.

Although the beginning of Ruth doesn’t specify, it is more than reasonable to assume that Elimelech was in financial trouble and sold the land in question before moving the family to Moab. Now, it is time for the land to return to its rightful family.

Another discussion point is contained in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 “When brothers live on the same property and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife, have sexual relations with her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for her. The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel. But if the man doesn’t want to marry his sister-in-law, she must go to the elders at the city gate and say, ‘My brother-in-law refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel. He isn’t willing to perform the duty of a brother-in-law for me.’ The elders of his city will summon him and speak with him. If he persists and says, ‘I don’t want to marry her,’ then his sister-in-law will go up to him in the sight of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. Then she will declare, ‘This is what is done to a man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his family name in Israel will be called ‘The house of the man whose sandal was removed.’

From this passage, it would seem that the legal levirate obligation to marry the widow only applied to the immediate brothers of a deceased man. However, it is possible, if not highly likely, that Israelite custom would follow the pecking order in the inheritance law in cases where no immediate brother existed. Numbers 27:9-11  If he has no daughter, give his inheritance to his brothers. 10 If he has no brothers, give his inheritance to his father’s brothers. 11 If his father has no brothers, give his inheritance to the nearest relative of his clan, and he will take possession of it. This is to be a statutory ordinance for the Israelites as the Lord commanded Moses.”

From Ruth 2:1, we know that Boaz was from the clan of Elimelech but below the unnamed redeemer now meeting with Boaz.

Boaz now gets right to the point.

  • Naomi is selling the family land.
  • The unnamed man has the first right to redeem it.
  • Boaz asks for the man to make a decision regarding the redemption before the witnesses gathered.
  • Boaz asks the man to make his right then because Boaz will redeem it if the man declines.
  • Boaz is carrying through with his pledge to resolve the issue as soon as it is possible.

Thinking that it is an easy decision, the man agrees to redeem it. Now Boaz presents the complicating portion of the redemption. If the man redeems the land, he will also assume responsibility for the welfare of Ruth, which contains several issues.

  • He will assume responsibility to care for and protect Ruth.
  • Not only is Ruth a widow, but she is also a Moabite, an enemy of Israel.
  • Since Mahlon and Ruth didn’t have a child together to carry on the family name, the unnamed man will need to have a child with Ruth to carry on Mahlon’s family name.

Although the primary reason for Naomi to develop this plan was for Boaz to redeem the land and Ruth was for the protection and well-being of Ruth, we see in the last portion of verse five the most critical piece of the transaction. The continuation of the family line. The next lesson will illuminate the importance of the child.

The unnamed man is now faced with a decision, of which there are four possible courses of action.

  • He could accept the moral responsibility for Elimelech’s estate, redeem the field, marry Ruth, have children with her, and take care of Naomi.
  • He could redeem the field and pledge to marry Ruth but break the pledge after completing the deal. However, doing this would tarnish his reputation and standing in the community.
  • He could reject the offer and cede the rights to Boaz. This would not have been irresponsible as Boaz has already indicated he will redeem the land and Ruth if given the opportunity.
  • He could accept the responsibility to redeem the land but reject the responsibility to marry Ruth and have children, ceding that to Boaz. This would be dangerous on two counts. First, it would have cost him respect and honor in the community in the short-term. Second, any child between Boaz and Ruth could later claim the land costing him financially in the long-term.

Considering the economic and moral ramifications of the possible decisions, he chose the third course of action. From his response, it appears he only considered the first and third choices as viable. His decision was likely based on three main factors.

  • The economic factor.
    • Cost of redeeming the property.
    • Cost of supporting Naomi.
    • Cost of marrying Ruth.
    • He probably considered these cumulative costs as exceeding the positives of acquiring the land.
  • Implications of raising a child to carry on the name of the deceased.
    • It is possible she would have only one child.
    • The child would legally be considered a descendent of Elimelech.
    • The child would legally acquire the land in question in the current discussion.
    • The child would be eligible for at least a portion of the unnamed man’s estate.
  • Ruth was a Moabite.
    • How would the ethnic implications appear to others?
    • His estate could fall to a child that was half Moabite.

Upon reaching his decision, he removed his sandal and presented it to Boaz to signify that he had forfeited his right to redemption. The first portion of verse seven indicates that this may no longer have been an understood custom and the time Ruth was written. He also tells Boaz to buy the property himself. This concluded the court negotiation, and the decision is final and binding.

Verse 9-10

Boaz said to the elders and all the people, “You are witnesses today that I am buying from Naomi everything that belonged to Elimelech, Chilion, and Mahlon. 10 I will also acquire Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon’s widow, as my wife, to perpetuate the deceased man’s name on his property, so that his name will not disappear among his relatives or from the gate of his home. You are witnesses today.”

The land now belongs to Boaz, and he has acquired the right to marry Ruth, as well as take care of Naomi.

If anyone in the future questions Boaz’s right to the land and for marrying Ruth, he can produce both the sandal that was given to signify the legality of the transaction as well as the witnesses who were present during the proceedings. Boaz had three goals, as presented in these two verses.

  • To establish the name of the deceased on his own patrimonial ancestral land.
  • To prevent the name of the deceased from being cut off from his relatives.
  • To prevent his name from being cut off from the gate of his home.

Verses 11-12

11 The elders and all the people who were at the gate said, “We are witnesses. May the Lord make the woman who is entering your house like Rachel and Leah, who together built the house of Israel. May you be powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem. 12 May your house become like the house of Perez, the son Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring the Lord will give you by this young woman.”

Considering the background of Ruth, the response by the elders at the gate is extreme in the positive sense of the word. Their response can be broken down into three parts.

  • The elders pray that Yahweh would elevate Ruth to the level of two of the matriarchs of Israel, Rachel, and Leah.
    • The term “built a house” refers to having children and establishing a family line.
    • Calling upon Yahweh to bless falls in line with Psalm 127:1a  Unless the LORD builds a house, its builders labor over it in vain.
  • They pray that Boaz would be “powerful in Ephrathah and famous in Bethlehem.” The meaning is that Boaz would be blessed in his marriage and for the marriage to prosper.
  • The reference to Tamar needs some explanation because of the background of her becoming pregnant.
    • The story of Tamar is probably the most well-known concerning levirate obligation and betrayal. This caused her to disguise herself as a prostitute and bear twins from her father-in-law, Perez and Zerah.
    • They were the ancestors of the tribe of Judah, with Perez’s descendants playing the more significant role in Israel’s history.
    • Perez is the ancestor of Boaz’s clan that is living in Bethlehem.
    • The reference to Tamar is not an endorsement of her behavior, but rather to the idea that the family line continued even though the behavior was sinful. How much greater would the blessing be for Boaz and Ruth, who had acted in the highest moral standards.
    • Their prayer is answered by the birth of David and the establishment of the eternal royal line.

Reflecting on this chapter, we see four characteristics that distinguish Boaz from the unnamed kinsman who refused to redeem the land and Ruth.

  • Willingness – Boaz didn’t hesitate in taking on his responsibility, and he settled it on the first day possible.
  • Purposeful – All of Boaz’s actions were deliberate and well-thought. He didn’t leave anything to chance and made sure everything was done correctly.
  • Faithfulness – He fulfilled all the promises he made to Ruth the night before.
  • Unselfish – His actions were to maintain the name of the deceased husband with the property in question.

Once again, we see Boaz as a typology of Christ through his redemptive actions on behave of Naomi and Ruth.  Boaz was able to be the kinsman-redeemer because of three factors.

  • He was a near relative.
  • He was able to pay the redemption price.
  • He was willing to redeem the land and Ruth.

Christ is the ultimate kinsman-redeemer.

  • Jesus became flesh and blood, becoming our “near kinsman” for all eternity.
  • Jesus paid the eternal redemption price, His blood, and life on the cross.
  • Jesus willingly went to the cross on our behalf to restore us to “land” we had before the fall, fellowship with God in His presence.

Applications.

Although not many, if any, of us will ever have an opportunity to act as a redeemer in the same manner as Boaz, we can exhibit the same characteristics.

  • Do we willingly take on our responsibilities? These could be across a broad spectrum of actions, family, job, financial, kingdom work.
  • Are we purposeful in how we plan and execute our daily tasks? This doesn’t mean we don’t rely on the Holy Spirit, but it does mean we don’t just “wing it” every day.
  • Do we display faithfulness? Do we keep our word to do the things we have promised to others?
  • Are we unselfish in our actions? Do we do things to receive something in return, or do we do things because we want to shine the light of Christ, bless others, and love our neighbors as ourselves?
  • One final application in conjunction with the Great Commission. Are we willing and purposeful in seeking opportunities to share the Gospel? Are we faithful in accurately portraying the Gospel message, not adding or taking away from it as some heretical teaching does? Do we give God glory, or do we try and take credit for the souls that are saved? 

Ruth Lesson Six

Naomi’s Plan – Ruth 3:1-18

Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, shouldn’t I find security for you, so that you will be taken care of? Now isn’t Boaz our relative? Haven’t you been working with his female servants? This evening he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfumed oil, and wear your best clothes. Go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let the man know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, notice the place where he’s lying, go in and uncover his feet, and lie down. Then he will explain to you what you should do.”

So Ruth said to her, “I will do everything you say.” She went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law had instructed her. After Boaz ate, drank, and was in good spirits, he went to lie down at the end of the pile of barley. Then she went in secretly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.

At midnight, Boaz was startled, turned over, and there lying at his feet was a woman! So he asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Ruth, your slave,” she replied. “Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.”

10 Then he said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say,  since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.  12 Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you, that’s good. Let him redeem you. But if he doesn’t want to redeem you, as the Lord lives, I will. Now lie down until morning.”

14 So she lay down at his feet until morning but got up while it was still dark. Then Boaz said, “Don’t let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he told Ruth, “Bring the shawl you’re wearing and hold it out.” When she held it out, he shoveled six measures of barley into her shawl, and she went into the town.

16 She went to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who asked her, “How did it go, my daughter?”

Then Ruth told her everything the man had done for her. 17 She said, “He gave me these six measures of barley, because he said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ”

18 Naomi said, “My daughter, wait until you find out how things go, for he won’t rest unless he resolves this today.” (HCSB)

There are three sections to this passage.

  • Verses 1-5: Naomi’s plan.
  • Verses 6-15: The execution of the plan.
  • Verses 16-18: The results of the plan.

Naomi’s Plan

Ruth’s mother-in-law Naomi said to her, “My daughter, shouldn’t I find security for you, so that you will be taken care of? Now isn’t Boaz our relative? Haven’t you been working with his female servants? This evening he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. Wash, put on perfumed oil, and wear your best clothes. Go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let the man know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. When he lies down, notice the place where he’s lying, go in and uncover his feet, and lie down. Then he will explain to you what you should do.”

So Ruth said to her, “I will do everything you say.”

Although not explicit in the conclusion of chapter two, it is safe to infer that Naomi expected Boaz to pursue Ruth in a manner that was more than a landowner being kind to a foreigner. Naomi was expecting Boaz to pursue Ruth in a way that would lead to marriage and a secure future for both her and Ruth. For whatever reason, Boaz does not follow that path, and Naomi decides to take matters into her own hand.

Verse 1

Naomi’s question to Ruth contains two parts.

  • Shouldn’t Naomi do something to find security for Ruth?
  • Shouldn’t Naomi do something so that Ruth will be taken care of and not have to worry about her future?

From a historical contextual standpoint, this was a critically important point. Women in Israel longed for the security and tranquility in the home of a loving husband. Naomi’s single reason for doing this is the welfare of her daughter-in-law. Also, it was the duty of the mother-in-law to see to the security and welfare of the widowed daughter-in-law. In this case, there is added weight as Ruth has pledged her life to Naomi until death separates them. These two women display a covenant relationship with each other where they place the other’s welfare above their own.

Verse 2

Typically, barley was threshed after the wheat was harvested, usually late May to June. The best threshing floors were rock outcroppings on hilltops. This would take advantage of the open area and wind to separate the grain from the chaff. It is also likely that the threshing floor in question here was at least on the outskirts of town, if not farther away. The rationale for doing it at night would be gentler breezes.

Verse 3-5

Although on the surface, it appears simple enough, a lot going on in the first sentence of verse three.

  • Wash – This was a typical first step in preparing for a sexual encounter or marriage.
  • Put on perfumed oil – The Hebrew verb means to anoint and likely refers to perfumed olive oil. Due to the hot climate and lack of modern deodorants, this was necessary to combat body odors.
  • Wear your best clothes – This is likely not a correct translation of the Hebrew word. Likely, Ruth was still wearing some type of clothing to indicate mourning, and changing clothes would imply a shift from mourning to everyday life.

Another reason for Boaz, or anyone, to be there at night was to act as security to ensure the grain wasn’t stolen.

Ruth wasn’t to let Boaz know she was there until he had finished eating and drinking. There is no indication that Boaz was drunk, either implicitly or explicitly. In addition, the idea of Boaz being drunk would conflict with the characteristics describing Boaz earlier in the book.

The situation gets even more complicated when Naomi tells Ruth to uncover his feet/legs and lie down with him. Understanding the cultural norms at that time make it even murkier.

  • At winnowing time, the threshing floors often became a place of illicit sex.
  • Since men often spent the night in the fields next to the collected grain, prostitutes would often visit them to offer their services.

Although Ruth’s actions could be interpreted as seductive, her actions so far and through this encounter suggest that was not the intent. Ruth is anything but a typical Moabite. Instead, Ruth possesses the characteristics of Israelite hesed, steadfast love, kindness, faithfulness, and loyalty within a relationship.

This is confirmed by Boaz’s words to her in verses 10 and 11.

  • May the Lord bless you.
  • You are a woman of noble character.

Boaz could interpret Ruth’s actions in one of three ways.

  • Boaz could wake up and interpret her actions as those of a prostitute and partake of the services offered.
  • Boaz could wake up and interpret her actions as those of a prostitute, but as a noble and virtuous Israelite chase her away.
  • Boaz could wake up and immediately recognize the true intentions of Ruth’s actions and respond favorably.

This is a reminder that sex is a wonderful gift from God to be enjoyed by a man and woman in a marriage relationship after the couple is married.

Verses 6-15

She went down to the threshing floor and did everything her mother-in-law had instructed her. After Boaz ate, drank, and was in good spirits, he went to lie down at the end of the pile of barley. Then she went in secretly, uncovered his feet, and lay down.

At midnight, Boaz was startled, turned over, and there lying at his feet was a woman! So he asked, “Who are you?”

“I am Ruth, your slave,” she replied. “Spread your cloak over me, for you are a family redeemer.”

10 Then he said, “May the Lord bless you, my daughter. You have shown more kindness now than before, because you have not pursued younger men, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t be afraid, my daughter. I will do for you whatever you say,  since all the people in my town know that you are a woman of noble character.  12 Yes, it is true that I am a family redeemer, but there is a redeemer closer than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning, if he wants to redeem you, that’s good. Let him redeem you. But if he doesn’t want to redeem you, as the Lord lives, I will. Now lie down until morning.”

14 So she lay down at his feet until morning but got up while it was still dark. Then Boaz said, “Don’t let it be known that a woman came to the threshing floor.” 15 And he told Ruth, “Bring the shawl you’re wearing and hold it out.” When she held it out, he shoveled six measures of barley into her shawl, and she went into the town.

The section is divided into two parts.

  • Verses 6-13 occurs at the threshing floor, likely between evening and midnight.
  • Verses 14-15 occur between midnight and morning and ends with Ruth returning to town with the grain.

The first subsection, verses 6-13, contains four points.

  • Ruth takes charge of the situation after Boaz wakes up and asks her who she is. This is remarkable for several reasons.
    • Ruth just described herself as a slave, and Boaz is her master.
    • Ruth is uninvited and on his turf.
    • Ruth is a woman, and Boaz is a man.
    • Ruth is a foreigner, and he is a native.
  • Because of the flipping of the roles, it begs the question, “Who is Boaz?”
  • With no warning, Ruth asks Boaz to marry her.
    • The Hebrew phrase that is translated as “Spread your cloak over me” actually means “to spread one’s wings over” and is a metaphor for the protection and provision that Yahweh provides.
      • Ruth is demanding that Boaz takes her under his wings and assume responsibility for her.
      • In Hebrew, the term “to spread one’s wings over someone” was a way to propose marriage.
      • It signified the husband’s declaration to provide for his future wife.
    • Boaz correctly interprets Ruth’s actions not as a request for sex but as a marriage proposal.
  • The basis for the proposal is that Boaz is the kinsman-redeemer for Naomi and Ruth.
    • Ruth fully understands this Israelite custom, likely from discussions with Naomi.
    • Ruth, although a Moabite, is aware and accepts the custom.

Boaz’s response is also remarkable. His response breaks down into four parts.

  • A blessing and eulogy for Ruth.
    • Asking Yahweh to bless her.
    • Acknowledgment of kindness towards Boaz.
    • Acknowledging that although Ruth could have pursued younger men, she didn’t.
  • A promise.
    • Remove any fear.
    • Boaz will pursue the marriage Ruth proposed.
    • The townspeople already recognize her noble character and would welcome the marriage.
  • A disclosure of a complication.
    • Boaz is a kinsman-redeemer.
    • However, there is a kinsman-redeemer with a closer blood tie than Boaz. That man, unnamed, will have to be given the first chance before Boaz can fulfill the promise.
  • Words of reassurance.
    • Boaz tells Ruth to rest as they can do nothing more about the situation until the morning when the issue of redemption can be brought up before the town and the man first in line to redeem Elimelech’s inheritance.
    • Boaz’s determination is expressed in the phrase “as the LORD lives,” which is an oath to make it happen.

Before moving on to the next section of the passage, let’s consider the nature of the marriage that Naomi and Ruth likely discussed and which Boaz agreed to enter.

  • So far, there has been no discussion of children.
    • The family preservation idea present in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 has not been a part of the discussion.
    • The primary reason for the marriage was not preserving Mahlon’s family name. It was to provide a secure and stable home for Ruth.
  • There are no specific instructions in the Law to cover these circumstances. Naomi’s idea is based solely on confidence that Boaz will do the right thing out of a sense of moral obligation to the family.

Boaz now senses the delicate nature of their circumstances as the sun begins to rise. Not only does Boaz need to protect Ruth’s reputation, but Boaz also has a reputation to protect as well.

  • If the workers discovered Ruth with Boaz, it would undermine his reputation and maybe his ability to effectively interact with them in the future.
  • Before allowing Ruth to leave, Boaz gives her additional grain to take back home.

Verses 16-18

16 She went to her mother-in-law, Naomi, who asked her, “How did it go, my daughter?”

Then Ruth told her everything the man had done for her. 17 She said, “He gave me these six measures of barley, because he said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’ ”

18 Naomi said, “My daughter, wait until you find out how things go, for he won’t rest unless he resolves this today.”

One can imagine that, just as Ruth and Boaz likely had a restless night, that Naomi was in the same state as she waited for Ruth to come home. Once Ruth makes it home, Naomi wants to know what happened and if her plan to join the two in marriage was a success.

The conversation then quickly shifts to the grain that Ruth brought home. In the previous section, the reader can only speculate about the reason for the gift of grain. In this section, more information is given as to the reason, and we can draw some conclusions as to why Boaz gave the grain.

  • It is possible that Boaz’s interpretation of the kinsman-redeemer principle means that he views Naomi as the true beneficiary, and his obligation is to Naomi rather than Ruth.
  • The grain could be viewed as a gift for the plan that Naomi devised.
    • Naomi encouraged Ruth to end her mourning and put on normal clothes.
    • Naomi devised the plan on how Ruth was to meet Boaz.
    • Naomi advised Ruth to present the issue of Boaz being their kinsman-redeemer.
    • Naomi was the brain behind the entire plan, and the grain is a gift in recognition of her plan.
  • It could’ve been a gift to Naomi as an indication of Boaz’s promise to redeem Ruth. Either directly or through the man who had the first chance to redeem her. In addition, since Naomi was Ruth’s legal guardian, Boaz may have intended the grain as a down payment on the bride dowry given at the time of engagement.

Naomi’s response in verse 18 indicates it is the third possibility that is the correct interpretation.

Chapter 3 continues the illustration that Boaz is a typology of Christ.

  • Redemption through a kinsman-redeemer.
    • Ruth asked Boaz to redeem her.
    • Each of us can come humbly before Jesus and ask Him for redemption from the consequences of sin, eternal condemnation, and separation from God in hell.
  • Protection.
    • Ruth sought the protection of a husband and a loving home.
    • We should daily ask for protection. This is a humble act acknowledging our reliance on God.
      • We need protection from the desires of our sinful nature.
      • From the pressures of the world.
      • From the devil, who prowls like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.
  • Responsibility.
    • Boaz accepted the responsibility to act as the kinsman-redeemer.
    • Jesus accepted the responsibility of going to the cross, demonstrating obedience to God’s plan, and accepting the responsibility of all of our sins to set us free from the condemnation we deserved.

Applications

  • Do we accept responsibility for what’s right when opportunities present themselves to us?
  • Do we act with a noble character when temptation presents itself? While Ruth was not tempting Boaz in a sexual manner, if Boaz had interpreted it that way, the situation would have had a radically different ending.
  • As we interact with our spiritual brothers and sisters, do we accept the biblical responsibility to encourage and care for each other, serve one another, sympathize with their hurts or struggles, speak the truth in love, teach and correct one another?
  • As we interact with non-Christians, do we accept the biblical responsibility to live before them in a way that shines the light of Jesus, makes the Gospel attractive to them, and share the Gospel with them?

Ruth Lesson Five

Blessings Return – Ruth 2:17-23

17 So Ruth gathered grain in the field until evening. She beat out what she had gathered, and it was about 26 quarts of barley. 18 She picked up the grain and went into the town, where her mother-in-law saw what she had gleaned. Then she brought out what she had left over from her meal and gave it to her.

19 Then her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you gather barley today, and where did you work? May the Lord bless the man who noticed you.”

Ruth told her mother-in-law about the men she had worked with and said, “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.”

20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, who has not forsaken his kindness to the living or the dead.” Naomi continued, “The man is a close relative. He is one of our family redeemers.”

21 Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also told me, ‘Stay with my young men until they have finished all of my harvest.’ ”

22 So Naomi said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “My daughter, it is good for you to work  with his female servants, so that nothing will happen to you in another field.” 23 Ruth stayed close to Boaz’s female servants and gathered grain until the barley and the wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law. (HCSB)

In this lesson, we see Ruth continuing to pick the grain and take it home to Naomi. Ruth then tells the events of the day, how she met Boaz, and the instructions that Boaz gave to her and his servants. Although most of the passage occurs on the same day, the last verse indicates that anywhere from six to ten weeks have elapsed between verses 22 and 23.

Verses 17-18

These two verses seem relatively straightforward, but a closer look reveals some startling details.

  • Ruth was obviously very industrious. She has worked the entire day, except for the mid-day meal in the last section.
  • Separating the grain from the stalks is no easy task. It requires some type of stick to beat the heads of the barley to remove the grain.
  • The amount of grain gathered was 26 quarts or about one ephah. That is an incredible amount of grain for one person to harvest in just one day. Estimates range between 30 and 50 pounds of barley.
  • Not only did Ruth harvest that much grain, but she also transported it back to Naomi’s house. We don’t know for sure, but it is probably safe to say, due to Ruth’s circumstances (Moabite and widow), that she had to carry it herself. Even if it was a short distance, not likely, that is quite an accomplishment for one woman.
  • Ruth shares the leftovers from her noon-day meal with Naomi.

Comparing the circumstances that the two women found themselves in while in Moab to the results of just one day of gathering grain, the reader sees a remarkable change of fortune. They left Moab with nothing but what they wore and maybe a few possessions, and now they have an overflowing abundance of grain. The once bitter Naomi is now overflowing with joy and optimism. This demonstrates a couple of characteristics of Yahweh.

  • If we repent and turn back, His anger lasts for only a moment.
  • His love and favor are never-ending.
  • Genesis 24:27  and said, “Praise the LORD, the God of my master Abraham, who has not withheld His kindness and faithfulness from my master. As for me, the LORD has led me on the journey to the house of my master’s relatives.”

Verses 19-22

19 Then her mother-in-law said to her, “Where did you gather barley today, and where did you work? May the Lord bless the man who noticed you.”

Ruth told her mother-in-law about the men she had worked with and said, “The name of the man I worked with today is Boaz.”

20 Then Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, who has not forsaken his kindness to the living or the dead.” Naomi continued, “The man is a close relative. He is one of our family redeemers.”

21 Ruth the Moabitess said, “He also told me, ‘Stay with my young men until they have finished all of my harvest.’ ”

22 So Naomi said to her daughter-in-law Ruth, “My daughter, it is good for you to work  with his female servants, so that nothing will happen to you in another field.”

Although we can’t read the “tone” of Naomi’s statement when Ruth comes home, we can certainly infer that she was at least mildly surprised by the amount of grain she harvested. Before even knowing who it was, Naomi is asking Yahweh to bless the man who showed such kindness and allowed Ruth to not only work but to bring a bountiful harvest home. When Naomi hears the name of Boaz, she proclaims a second blessing and tells Ruth that Boaz is a blood relative, and more importantly, a kinsman-redeemer. The relationship of Boaz to Naomi is a critical point as events unfold. Let’s review a couple of passages that talk about the kinsman-redeemer.

  • Leviticus 25:25  If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold.
  • Leviticus 25:47-49  47 “If a foreigner or temporary resident living among you prospers, but your brother living near him becomes destitute and sells himself to the foreigner living among you, or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, 48 he has the right of redemption after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him. 49 His uncle or cousin may redeem him, or any of his close relatives from his clan may redeem him. If he prospers, he may redeem himself.
  • A kinsman-redeemer had four roles according to Scripture.
    • To avenge the murder or rape of a relative. Numbers 35:9-11 The Lord said to Moses, 10 “Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you cross the Jordan into the land of Canaan, 11 designate cities to serve as cities of refuge for you, so that a person who kills someone unintentionally may flee there.
    • To recover property forfeited by a kinsman. Leviticus 25:25  If your brother becomes destitute and sells part of his property, his nearest relative may come and redeem what his brother has sold.
    • To raise a male heir to his brother who died childless, known as Levirate marriage. Deuteronomy 25:5-10 “When brothers live on the same property  and one of them dies without a son, the wife of the dead man may not marry a stranger outside the family. Her brother-in-law is to take her as his wife, have sexual relations with her, and perform the duty of a brother-in-law for her. The first son she bears will carry on the name of the dead brother, so his name will not be blotted out from Israel.  But if the man doesn’t want to marry his sister-in-law, she must go to the elders at the city gate and say, ‘My brother-in-law refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel. He isn’t willing to perform the duty of a brother-in-law for me.’ The elders of his city will summon him and speak with him. If he persists and says, ‘I don’t want to marry her,’ then his sister-in-law will go up to him in the sight of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. Then she will declare, ‘This is what is done to a man who will not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 And his family name in Israel will be called ‘The house of the man whose sandal was removed.’
    • To support a fellow kinsman and/or their dependents or redeem them from debt. Leviticus 25:35-55 35 “If your brother becomes destitute and cannot sustain himself among you, you are to support him as a foreigner or temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you. 36 Do not profit or take interest from him, but fear your God and let your brother live among you. 37 You are not to lend him your silver with interest or sell him your food for profit. 38 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God. 39 “If your brother among you becomes destitute and sells himself to you, you must not force him to do slave labor. 40 Let him stay with you as a hired hand or temporary resident; he may work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then he and his children are to be released from you, and he may return to his clan and his ancestral property. 42 They are not to be sold as slaves, because they are My slaves that I brought out of the land of Egypt. 43 You are not to rule over them harshly but fear your God. 44 Your male and female slaves are to be from the nations around you; you may purchase male and female slaves. 45 You may also purchase them from the foreigners staying with you, or from their families living among you—those born in your land. These may become your property. 46 You may leave them to your sons after you to inherit as property; you can make them slaves for life. But concerning your brothers, the Israelites, you must not rule over one another harshly. 47 “If a foreigner or temporary resident living among you prospers, but your brother living near him becomes destitute and sells himself to the foreigner living among you, or to a member of the foreigner’s clan, 48 he has the right of redemption after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him. 49 His uncle or cousin may redeem him, or any of his close relatives from his clan may redeem him. If he prospers, he may redeem himself. 50 The one who purchased him is to calculate the time from the year he sold himself to him until the Year of Jubilee. The price of his sale will be determined by the number of years. It will be set for him like the daily wages of a hired hand. 51 If many years are still left, he must pay his redemption price in proportion to them based on his purchase price. 52 If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, he will calculate and pay the price of his redemption in proportion to his remaining years. 53 He will stay with him like a man hired year by year. A foreign owner is not to rule over him harshly in your sight. 54 If he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he and his children are to be released at the Year of Jubilee. 55 For the Israelites are My slaves. They are My slaves that I brought out of the land of Egypt; I am Yahweh your God.

Ruth tells Naomi how Boaz told her to stay with his workers until they have finished all of the harvests. Boaz isn’t inviting Ruth to glean for a day or two; he tells her to continue to come until the harvest is complete.

Naomi not only approves of the offer but further explains why this is beneficial to Ruth. Boaz has female workers who participate in the harvesting. Not only did Boaz tell the male workers to leave Ruth alone, but there are also other females in the work crew, creating a safer overall environment.

Verse 23

Ruth stayed close to Boaz’s female servants and gathered grain until the barley and the wheat harvests were finished. And she lived with her mother-in-law.

There are two explicit things happening here, and one that is not readily apparent.

  • Ruth is still committed to Naomi, as seen in the last sentence.
    • Ruth made an oath to Naomi, and she is sticking to it.
    • The two women are sharing in the favor of the Lord after returning to Bethlehem, the house of bread.
  • The passage specifies two harvests.
    • Barley harvest.
      • Barley was the second most important grain.
      • It was the primary grain for the lower socio-economic class.
      • The barley harvest typically began in March or April.
      • Barley was used to assess the value of the land. Leviticus 27:16 If a man consecrates to the Lord any part of a field that he possesses, your assessment of value will be proportional to the seed needed to sow it, at the rate of 50 silver shekels for every five bushels of barley seed.
      • It coincided with Passover.
    • Wheat harvest.
      • Wheat was the most important grain.
      • The wheat harvest was typically complete around the beginning of June.
      • It culminated with the feast at Pentecost, also called the Festival of Weeks, which would begin seven weeks or 50 days after Passover.
      • Deuteronomy 16:9  “You are to count seven weeks, counting the weeks from the time the sickle is first put to the standing grain.
      • Exodus 34:22 “Observe the Festival of Weeks with the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, and the Festival of Ingathering at the turn of the agricultural year.
  • Ruth gathered grain for an extended period of time.
    • An understanding of the agricultural cycle of the region and time indicates that Ruth was able to gather grain, both barley and wheat, for approximately two months.
    • During this time, even if Ruth doesn’t continue at the same gleaning pace as on the first day, it is safe to infer that over the course of the harvest, she was able to bring an overflowing abundance to Naomi’s house to provide for their needs.

Let’s make some summary observations from this passage.

  • The Lord’s favor does not mean we will have a trouble-free life.
  • Ruth was not only a hard worker; she didn’t waste anything God had provided to her.
  • The change in Naomi occurred because of the hope she had in Boaz as a kinsman-redeemer.

Applications

  • Hard work pays off. This isn’t an endorsement of works-based salvation. However, it is an endorsement of doing our best at whatever we do. Colossians 3:23  Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men.
  • Do you practice stewardship with your resources? Ruth didn’t waste any of her mid-day meal that Boaz provided. She brought what was leftover and shared it with Naomi. How often do we see others, or maybe even ourselves, take more food than we eat and then throw the extra away? This concept doesn’t apply to just food. Do we “need” a big house just because, or could we make do with a smaller place.
  • Just as Naomi and Ruth had a kinsmen-redeemer, Boaz, to rescue them, we also have a Redeemer. No matter what our circumstances or difficulties are, we can rejoice and take comfort in the fact that Jesus is our Redeemer. When we have surrendered to His lordship, we have no more worries or fears, regardless of the difficulties that we are going through.