anyone want to chat over this?

Luke 1:46-55 (ESV)
    And Mary said,

    “My soul magnifies the Lord,
        [47] and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
    [48] for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
        For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
    [49] for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
        and holy is his name.
    [50] And his mercy is for those who fear him
        from generation to generation.
    [51] He has shown strength with his arm;
        he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
    [52] he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
        and exalted those of humble estate;
    [53] he has filled the hungry with good things,
        and the rich he has sent empty away.
    [54] He has helped his servant Israel,
        in remembrance of his mercy,
    [55] as he spoke to our fathers,
        to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”

    (see My Marked Magnificat

Don’t Get it?

We had a lively discussion in class about the parables in Matthew 13.  We threw out some ideas about the Sower and the Mustard Seed, and then had to go back and check the passage.  We heard some of the ideas we had heard before, and again had to check those out.  We did not come out with the final answer, but we will have to go back and check the text.


I wonder if “Final Answers” only really work on game shows, but we have to keep coming back to the text.

Let’s not get frustrated.  This is what the Bible is supposed to do.

The Book of Acts



What was said of O.T. Narratives holds true for the book of Acts.


  1. They do not usually teach a doctrine.
  2. They usually illustrate a doctrine taught clearly elsewhere in the Bible
  3. They record what happened, not necessarily what should have happened.
  4. What people did in the Bible is not necessarily an example to follow.
  5. The people in the Bible are less than perfect
  6. They do not always interpret themselves; we are expected to be able to judge what happened on the basis of Biblical teaching.
  7. Narratives are selective in what is included; don’t obsess over what is not said.
  8. They are not written to answer every theological question
  9. They can teach explicitly, by clearly stating something, or implicitly, but showing without saying.
  10. In the final analysis, God is the hero in all the biblical narratives.

Acts Divisions and Purpose:

            If Acts was a biography of certain leaders, it would have included more details about them.

            If it was a manual on church practices, such as baptism, church government, frequency of church meetings, the gift of tongues, etc. it would have been made made more clear by giving clear teaching on those points.

            Luke gives us summary statements at 6:7; 9:31; 12:24; 16:5; 19:20).  The book is organized around the Movement of the Gospel of Jesus into the World. 


1:1-6:7 – The Church inJerusalem –

            The earliest Christians were Jews who came to believe that Jesus is the Christ    (Messiah.).  The action in these chapters centers around Jerusalem.

6:8 to 9:30 – The Church in Judea and Samaria –

            Here the message comes to Jewish people who are dispersed away from       

9:32 to 12:24 – The First Expansion to the Gentiles

            The Gospel comes to the family of Cornelius, and a church develops in

12:15 to 16:5 – The First Geographic Expansion into the Roman World

            The mixed church in Antioch sent Paul on his first Missionary Journey, with Barnabas.  The Jerusalem Council decides that Gentiles can come to faith in  Christ without having to convert to Judaism.

16:6-19:20 – Further Westward Expansion

            The Church is becoming increasingly Gentile.

19:21 to 28:31 – Paul goes to Rome.

            Paul is brought before Governors and Kings.

Major Lessons from Acts:

            The Main interest of Acts is that the Gospel is taken to many people – Acts 1:8.  God does not play favorites with any culture or language, but wants all people to learn the Good News of Jesus.

            The Gospel Messages seem to vary in their approach, depending on the audience.  The message of Salvation by Faith in Christ is the same, but it is presented differently to Jewish scholars (16:10-12) than to Gentile Intellectuals (17:16-34).  We learn that our methods need to be flexible.

            Specific issues of worship style, length of meetings, communion, baptism, selecting church leaders, and other practices are not solved in Acts. It appears we are to accept the Gospel into our Culture and use appropriate cultural forms.  For example, the same church office is called “elder” among Jewish people and “overseer” among Gentiles – even though these leaders did the same things such as prayer, teaching and leading.  “Elder” was a preexisting concept in one culture as “Overseer” was in the other.

Assignment:  Study the Conversion of Cornelius, Acts 10.

 What are some lessons that apply today?

The Parables

      The Parables of Jesus are part of the Gospels so what was said about the Gospels holds true for the parables.  Yet there are several reasons we need to treat them separately.

The Parables have a long history of misinterpretation.  Fee & Stewart suggest this comes from a misunderstanding of such passages as Mark 4:10-12

“And when he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. [11] And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of thekingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables, [12] so that “they may indeed see but not perceive,and may indeed hear but not understand,lest they should turn and be forgiven. 

      Because the meaning seemed to be mysterious, many chose to interpret the parables in a symbolic or allegorical way.  They looked for a secret or hidden meaning.  For example
St. Augustine suggested a special meaning for every part of the story of the Good Samaritan:  The man who was beat up represents Adam; the thieves are the devil and his angels; his nakedness was his loss of immortality: and so forth for at least 17 elements.

  • Parables come in kinds.  True Parable or Story (Good Samaritan); Similitude or Illustration (Leaven in the Meal); Metaphor (Salt of the Earth); Epigram (“Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes…”).  It is not possible to make one rule for explaining all parables.  Yet it should be noted that no parable is an Allegory.
  • The Function of a Parable is to call for a response from the hearer.  Sometimes explaining a parable is like explaining a joke – we understand the parts but loose the “punch”.  Our interpretations should recapture this call to decision quality of the original telling.
  • Find the points of reference.  In Luke 7:40-42 the points of reference are the two debtors and the moneylender, which correspond to Simon, the woman who washed Jesus feet and God.  Unlike an allegory, not every element is a point of reference. Luke 7:40-42

    And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.”     [41] “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. [42] When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?”  

  • Identify the audience.  Fee & Steward suggest that we should try hearing the parable as the first audience would have heard it.  In the Good Samaritan (Lk 10:25-37) Jesus is trying to get the Pharisee to see that he can not limit God’s command for him to love by trying to limit the category of “neighbor.”
  • Parables of the  Kingdom of God.  When we read, “The Kingdom of God is like” we should understand that the whole parable is in view.  “The

    Kingdom of
    God is alike a mustard seed, which….”   So we discover what aspect of the mustard seed is like the Kingdom.  These parables are not just informational; they also call for a response.  E.g. the Sower – Mark 4:3-10.  Our response to the Gospel message is what is important.

  • To teach a parable with the intended “punch” we might try to bring the same story into our context.  What if the Good Samaritan was about an automobile accident, and the pastor and then the leader of the Boy Scout troop passed by, but the local and vocal atheist stopped to help.  Could the Atheist be the good neighbor?


            Read Matthew 13 and for each parable in this chapter, answer these questions

  1. What is the situation?
  2. Who is Jesus’ audience?
  3. What are the main reference points?
  4. What is Jesus point?
  5. How could I retell this story with “punch”?


The Sower                               The Mustard Seed                                The Weeds

Slow Down

I was at a conference this week – it was so intense they called it “Boot Camp.”  No it was not about guns and grunting under heavy packs. 

Here is what I discovered.  I could only absorb so much.  Some at the conference could absorb more than me.  We all hit our limit on the 3rd day of a 5 day conference.

I had to go and sit where it was quiet – and then some of the things that were said began to form and shape themselves in my thinking – and soon some of the information was digested into something useful.

Part of giving the Bible a FRESH READ is to give the words, the images, the thoughts time to sink in to your mind.  A hurried read is like skipping rocks across the water – it touches the surface and moves in.  A Slow and Unhurried read will all ow the word to make an impression.

So take a walk, go to the gym, spend time with your stamp collection, listen to some music and take the reading with you – let it walk about with you for a while.  Give it some time.

Even at Boot Camp they have to take a rest.