31 December, 2017
Study 4 From the Book of 2 Peter is: 2 Peter 3:1-10
1- What arguments do the scoffers of verse 3 use? What is the best defence against them (verse 2)?
2- In verses 5-7 Peter refutes the scoffers by reference to the unfailing fulfilment of God’s word. Explain from these three verses how the words and actions of God in the past assure us that in the future He will again do what He has said. Is there a similarity between the people of Noah’s day and our own (cf. Mt. 24:37-39)?
3- Why is ‘the day’ so slow in coming (verse 9)? Cf. Ezk. 18:23, 32.
Note. Verse 10. 'Elements’: the material elements of the universe; but as many think, with specific reference to the heavenly bodies.
30 December, 2017
Study 3 From the Book of 2 Peter is: 2 Peter 2
1- Although we have the lamp of prophecy it is necessary to beware of false teachers. Note from today’s passage the forms of evil in which the false teachers of whom the apostle speaks, indulged. By which are you most liable to the snared? How far is this kind of behaviour seen in modern society? How would you meet the claim of those who profess to be free from the restraints of convention (verse 19, cf. Jn. 8:34-36)? Cf. verse 20 with Mt. 12:43-45; Heb. 6:4-8.
Note. Verses 4-10 are parenthetical, interrupting the description of the false teachers which is resumed in 10b.
28 December, 2017
Study 2 From the Book of 2 Peter is: 2 Peter 1:12-21
1- Of what does Peter take such care to remind his readers? Does any Christian not need this kind of reminder? Cf. 3:1, 2; Dt. 32:18; Heb. 2:1.
2- How do verses 16:21 provide an answer to theologians who claim that truth does not require a basis of historic fact?
3- Explain from verses 20, 21 the nature of the inspiration of Scripture. What gives it its authority, and what should govern its interpretation.
Note. Verse 19. ‘The written word of prophecy has been confirmed by the vision of the Lord’s glory…on the mount of Transfiguration, and Christian may well trust themselves to its guidance in this dark world, till light has dawned, which will render the lamp of an external revelation unnecessary’ (Swete). This lamp of prophecy is referred to again in 3:2.
27 December, 2017
Study 1 From the Book of 2 Peter is: 2 Peter 1:1-11
1- How do verses 1 and 10 describe the Christian’s relation to God? What is meant by ‘knowledge’ in verses 2, 3, 8? What provision has God made for our present life, and what will be our final position (verses 3, 4, 11)
2- If our salvation is the product of God’s call and power (verses 10, 3), why are we urged to zealous effort (verses 5, 10)?
3- Analyse the picture of the fully developed Christian, given in verses 5-7, in relation to (a) his personal character; (b) his attitude to God; and (c) his dealings with others. Observe that all rests upon. A basis of faith, but faith without these added qualities is not enough.
26 December, 2017
Study 0 From the Book of 2 Peter is: The Introduction of the Book
The second Epistle of Peter was written just before his death (1:14, 15). We may regard it as his last word, and this fact lends added significance to the final message, ‘Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (3:18).
Peter is obviously concerned about the heresies and moral evil which have crept into the church, and is writing to warn, to exhort and to comfort. In contrast with the gloomy picture which he draws is the prominence he gives to the hope of our Lord’s return. He explains that this is delayed, not through any slackness on God’s part, but through His forbearance (3:9). He is afraid that the Christians, under the stress of persecution and temptation, will forget the commandments which have been delivered to them through the prophets and the apostles. He writes to remind them of their calling and to stir them up (1:9, 12, 13, 15; 3:1, 2).
Chapter 2 is strikingly similar in content to the Epistle of Jude. As Peter dwells on the evil which is rampant, he stresses more than ever the call to holiness which he had given in his first letter. ‘You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lets you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability’ (3:17). The essential antidote to error is the true knowledge of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the key to this Epistle. See 1:2, 3, 8; 2:20; 3:18.
25 December, 2017
Study 7 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon Revision
THE WHOLE SONG OF SOLOMON REVISION
TOMORROW WE WILL START THE BOOK OF 2 PETER
Most of the study questions have been concerned with the Song’s meaning at the level of human love between the sexes. Re-reading the Song, draw out some of the lessons it can teach us about Christ’s love for us, and our love for Him. How does our personal devotion to Christ measure up to these very high standards?
24 December, 2017
Study 6 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon 8:5-14
1- What does this passage add to all we have already learnt of the nature of love? What attacks may true love have to face?
2- What qualities are here shown to be characteristic of true love?
1- 8:6. ‘Set me as a real…’ in ancient times men carried their seal fastened to breast or wrist for safe preservation. The girl desires to be thus held fast on the heart and arm of her beloved. ‘Jealousy is cruel as the grave’: better, ‘Ardent love is unyielding as Sheol’.
2- 8:8-10. The girl recalls her brothers’ earlier words. They had waited to see if she would be as a wall against temptation, or as an open door to give it entrance. Here she claims that she has shown herself as a wall.
3- 8:11, 12. Solomon appears to have offered her a vineyard of great wealth; but she put it aside in favour of the vineyard which was hers in her beloved.
23 December, 2017
Study 5 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon 6:4 – 8:4
1- In 2:16 the girl’s first thought was of her claim upon her lover. Now (6:3) she thinks first of his claim on her. In 7:10 her claim is no longer mentioned. Her concern is to satisfy him by giving herself. The importance of this for human marriage relations is clear. But can these stages in love apply to our relation to Christ? If so, how?
2- 8:4. The warning is repeated here for the third time (see also 2:7; 3:5). Why do you think it was given, and with such emphasis?
1- 6:4. “Tirzah”: the name (meaning ‘delight’) of a beautiful town, which later became the royal residence of the kings of northern Israel.
2- 6:12, 13. A possible translation, in line with the three-character analysis, is ‘My soul has unwittingly brought me to the chariots of the companions of my prince’; i.e., she fell in with some of Solomon’s retinue. She fled, but they called her back, and gazed upon her, as she put it, as if she were a company of dancers.
3- 7:1-6. These verses may be part of the song composed by the women (6:9b, 10), or may be spoken by Solomon. In verses 7, 8 he is certainly the speaker.
22 December, 2017
Study 4 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon 5:2-6:3
1- Is there any underlying reality in the disturbing dream of 5:2-7? Would we be right to see in this passage teaching about, e.g., the importance of response in love, or the likelihood of suffering if response is lacking?
2- How far is the bridge’s delight in, and praise of, her lover a feature also of our relationship to Christ? Do we meditate on Him as our ‘beloved’ and our ‘friend’ (5:16)?
1- 5:2. ‘I slept’: these words indicate that the bride is relating a dream.
2- 5:4. The door was bolted—on the inside (see verse 5)
3- 5:10 ‘Distinguished among ten thousand’; literally, ‘marked out by a banner’, i.e., as outstanding among the rest as a standard bearer.
21 December, 2017
Study 3 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon 3:6 – 5:1
1- What do you make of Solomon’s entrance here, and of his part in the whole of the Son? See also, e.g., 1:1, 12; 6:8, 9, 12; 7:1,5; 8:11, 12.
2- What do these frank expressions of a man’s physical delight in his bride teach us about the place of sexual attraction in love and marriage? What is the significance of the private garden image?
3- Scripture uses marriage as a picture of God’s relationship to His people and Christ’s relationship to His church. See, e.g., Is. 62:4, 5; Eph. 5:21-33. Is there, therefore, a sense in which 4:8-15 illustrates this relationship? Cf. Pss. 147:10, 11; 149:1. Is our heart reserved for Christ alone?
1- 3:7. ‘Liter: in verse 9, ;palanquin’: a couch covered by a canopy home by four or more men.
2- 4:4. The neck, decked with ornaments, is compared to a battlemented tower, hung with shields.
3- 4:8. On the three-character analysis the bride hears the voice of her beloved, calling her to himself and the verse may be taken as a poetic description of the dangers to which she is exposed in the palace.
20 December, 2017
Study 3 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon 2:8 – 3:5
1- What purpose do the various pictures from nature serve in revealing the quality of love?
2- What characteristics of true love emerge in 2:16, 17 and 3:1-5?
1- 2:10-12. An appeal to respond to the approach of love, like nature to the return of summer.
2- 2:15. The enemies may be small-‘little foxes’ but the mischief done great. If the blossom is spoiled, there will be no fruit.
3- 2:17. A picture of evening, not of early morning. The shadows flee away when the sun that causes them sets. The bride asked her beloved to wait until the evening, When it came, she ‘sought him but found him not’ (3:1)
19 December, 2017
Study 1 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon1:1-2:7
1- Much of this passage consists of conversation. The analysis provides one answer to the problems of how many characters are speaking and where the break occurs. What do you think is the basic situation?
2- Can we learn anything from the different imagery used by the man (1:15-17; 2:2) and the woman to express their love and longing for one another? Does this suggest anything of the different qualities, or needs, of each?
1- 1:12-14. Women wore small bags of myrrh suspended from the neck under their dress. To the girl, her beloved was as the costliest perfume.
2- 2:1. The girl describes herself as an ordinary wild flower of the meadow
3- 2:3. The apple tree affords both shade and fruit.
4- 2:4. ‘The banqueting house’: literally ‘house of wine’, signifying ‘a place of delight’.
5- 2:7. A difficult verse. It seems to mean that love should awake or come to life of itself or in its own time, not by artificial stimulation and not before the beloved one is pleased to respond. Gazelles or hinds are noted for their timidity.
18 December, 2017
Study 0 From the Book of Song of Solomon is: Song of Solomon
The song of Solomon is unique not only for its exquisite literary charm, but also for its rich appreciation of human love and the beauty of nature, and its deep insight into the human heart. It has also appealed to Christians as a picture of the love of Christ for His church, and gives to them words in which to utter their hearts’ devotion to Him.
It is uncertain who wrote it. The phrase ‘which is Solomon’s in 1:1 may equally mean ‘which is for Solomon’ (as in the title of Ps. 72) or ‘which is about Solomon’; and there is no other clue to its authorship.
According to the earlier and more traditional interpretation, there are two main characters—Solomon and his bride. Many commentaries of great devotional beauty and insight have made this interpretation familiar, in which the bride is regarded as a ‘type’ of the church, and Solomon of Christ.
Others, however, discern in the background of the story another figure, that of a shepherd, who is the girl’s true lover. It is he whom she calls ‘my beloved’. A girl from the village of Shulem, she had gone one day to visit her garden, when she fell in unexpectedly with some of Solomon’s retinue, who took her captive to the palace (6:11-13). There the king visits her, and struck by her great beauty seeks to win her for himself. But she has a shepherd lover to whom her heart is pledged, and to whom she remain faithful. Three times the king visits her, wooing her with growing ardour, until at last, finding all his efforts of no avail, he sets her free. At the close of the book she is seen leaning on the arm of her beloved, returning to her village home, where she is received by her family and friends, as the shepherd lover’s acknowledged bride. In this view, much of the book consists of reveries in which the girl communes in thought with her beloved, and of incidents and dreams connected with him, which with artless simplicity she tells to the ladies of the court.
With these different interpretations to choose from, we must obviously form our own view from a study of the book itself. If we take the Song as it stands it is clear that we must look at it first of all as a poem, or collection of poems, about human love between man and woman. The study questions are therefore designed primarily to discover the meaning of the Son of Solomon at this level.
17 December, 2017
Study 7 From the Book of Ecclesiastes is: Ecclesiastes 11:9 – 12:14
With this lesson we end the book of Ecclesiastes. Tomorrow, we will start the book of Song of Solomon.
1- In the Preacher’s counsel to youth, (a) in what is youth to rejoice, (b) to what all-important fact must heed be given, and (c) who is to be remembered? What is the reason for this counsel?
2- Contrast the joyful hope of the Christian with the picture of death and old age given here. Cf. 2 Cor. 4:16-18; 2 Tim. 4:6-8; 1 Pet.1:3-5.
3- In summing up man’s duty, what place is given to God? How, in consequence, ought we to live?
1- 11:10 ‘Vanity’ has here the meaning of ‘transitory’ or passing’.
2- 12:2. Old age, is here compared to winter weather, when storm succeeds storm.
3- 12:3-6. A series of pictures of the failure of man’s various bodily faculties in old age, such as strength of limb, number of teeth, keenness of sight, etc. ‘When old age fears a height, and even a walk has its terrors, when his hair is almond white, and he drags his limbs along, as the spirit flags and fades’ (verse 5, Moffat)
16 December, 2017
Study 6 From the Book of Ecclesiastes is: Ecclesiastes 10:8 – 11:8
1- List the spheres in which the practical wisdom of 10:8-20 apply, and deduce any general principles for your practical guidance.
2- 11: 1-8. Since the future cannot be known, what advice does the writer give regarding and appropriate attitude in life? Cf. 9:10.
Note. 11:1-2. ‘Trust your goods far and wide at sea, till you get good returns after a while. Take shares in several ventures; you never know what will go wrong in this world’ (Moffatt)
15 December, 2017
Study 5 From the Book of Ecclesiastes is: Ecclesiastes
1- Why, from a Christian standpoint, is the view of life contained in 9:1-10 untenable? Cf. Lk. 23:39-43; and note how and why one of the criminals rebuked the other and found hope for himself.
2- What do 9:11, 12, teach regarding a man’s attitude to natural talents? In what way is the value of wisdom shown in 9:13 -10:4
14 December, 2017
Study 4 From the Book of Ecclesiastes is: Ecclesiastes 7 and 8
The preacher has declared several times that man’s best course in this present world is to enjoy the portion in life which God has given him, and the fruit of his labour. In these later chapters, while still holding to this view, he inquires more closely into the king of quality of life which men should lead.
1- In the practical wisdom of chapter 7, what emerges as the guide principle for life?
2- Though the future is hidden from man’s what course of action is advocated in 8:1-7: How is the problem of death approached in 8:8-17?
13 December, 2017
Study 3 From the Book of Ecclesiastes is: Ecclesiastes 4:9 – 6:12
1- What are the blessings of friendship described in 4:9-12? How does this apply in the spiritual life? See, e., g., Mt. 18:19, 20; Lk. 10:1
2- What does 5:1-7 teach concerning worship, in respect to (a) the right attitude of spirit, (b) words spoken in God’s presence, and (c) the importance of fulfilling vows?
3- What is the teaching of 5:8-6:12 regarding money and the evils it brings?
1 - 5:1 ‘Guard your steps’: i.,e., ‘Newer enter God’s house carelessly’.
2- 5:3 As cares and labours cause a man to dream, so do many words in worship give rise to folly.
3- 5:20 ‘Then he will never brood over the fewness of his days’
4- 6:10, 11 ‘Whatever happens has been determined long ago, and what man is has been ordained of old; he cannot argue with One mightier than himself’ The meaning is that much talking against God’s dealings is profitless.
12 December, 2017
Study 2 From the Book of Ecclesiastes is: Ecclesiastes 3:1 – 4:8
1- What, according to 3:1-15, is the best attitude to life? How does the Preacher illustrate his conviction? Cf. Mt. 10:29, 30. To what practical conclusion does he come?
2- In 3:16 – 4:8, what four instances are given of the futility of life, and what reflections do they arouse in the writers’ mind?
Note. 3:1. ‘Season… time’: the two words express two thoughts, (a) that everything happens at an appointed time; and (b) that the time is appropriate in relation to the working out of God’s purpose.
11 December, 2017
Study 1 From the Book of Ecclesiastes is: Ecclesiastes 1 and 2
1- In what ways does 1:1-11 show the monotony of life? Why is such pessimism unchristian?
2- How did the writer discover that neither the pursuit of wisdom (1:12-18) nor the enjoyment of pleasure (2: 1-11) can satisfy man’s heart?
3- Though wisdom is better than folly (2:13, 14a), what three facts rob even wisdom of its power to satisfy (2:14b, 17, 18 and 23, 24-26)?
10 December, 2017
This book speaks through the mouth of Solomon, but does not in any way build on his authority. In the earlier part, the writer describes human life as seen by a shrewd observer, who disputes the arguments of those who find a satisfactory aim in life either in intellectual labour, or in the gathering of riches, or in pleasures, or even in the attainment of an ethical ideal, seeing that death terminates all, and comes to all alike.
Man cannot by searching find oat the deep things of God (3:11) but must bow before His sovereignty (3”14). Whatever appearances may indicate, God judges righteously, though judgment may be long delayed (8:12, 13).
The recurring phrase ‘under the sun’ may be regarded as indicating the purely human standpoint adopted by the writer in the earlier chapters, and as roughly equivalent to ‘in the world as man sees it’. It is salutary for the Christian to contrast the vanity and meaningless of this world, its business and pleasures, as set forth in Ecclesiastes, with our glorious heritage in Christ as set forth in the New Testament.
The book is the record of a spiritual pilgrimage, reaching its culmination in chapter 12 (cf. 12:13, 14 with Rom. 2:16. In Ecclesiastes, perhaps more than in any other book of the Old Testament, the standpoint of the writer should be borne in mind, and particularly the fact that he saw nothing for man beyond death save judgment. His attention is concentrated upon this life, for ‘our Saviour Christ. Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to fight through the gospel’ (2 Tim. 1:10) had not yet appeared.