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Deuteronomy – Brief Commentary

Deuteronomy reveals Yahweh and that which Yahweh required of Israel. There are specific attributes of Yahweh revealed in Deuteronomy, namely, Yahweh is unique and jealous, faithful, loving, gracious, and judging.[1] The overall main requirements that Yahweh required Israel are found in the interrogative statement made by Moses in Deut. 10:12-13 which reads,

Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’s commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good?

What is more, on account of Yahweh’s sovereign decree and command to Israel, Israel is required to “go in” and “possess the land” of Canaan (cf. 1:8). Finally, Deuteronomy reveals the mystery of divine decree and human responsibility in the demesne of providence (cf. 29:29).      

Deuteronomy revealed Yahweh as unique and jealous. For example, revealing the uniqueness of Yahweh the text reads, “To you it was shown that you might know that the LORD, He is God; there is no other besides Him. . . . Know therefore today, and take it to your heart, that the LORD, He is God in heaven above and on the earth below; there is no other” (4:35, 39). Commentator Thompson wrote that Yahweh’s uniqueness made known His sovereignty and demanded Israel to have a monotheistic orthopraxy, when he wrote,

The phrases Yahweh is God and there is no other besides him give expression to the simple fact that in Israel Yahweh alone was to be Sovereign (cf. verse 39). There was no other power in the universe which could determine the destinies of men on earth. If such a view is not fully-developed monotheism, it is certainly a practical monotheism. . . . The miraculous mercies of the past and the prospect of future blessing could be urged as a ground for serious reckoning with the claims of Yahweh’s ultimate sovereignty over the whole earth.[2]

Yahweh is revealed also to be jealous in Deuteronomy. The jealousy of Yahweh is righteous and directly related to His uniqueness because there were devastating consequences for Israel if they did not worship and serve Yahweh alone:

You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me. (5:8-9)   

Another attribute that Deuteronomy revealed about Yahweh is His faithfulness. Yahweh told Israel in 5:10 that He will show lovingkindness to thousands to those who love Him and keep His commandments. Yahweh promised that He keeps all His promises in Deut. 7:9 which reads, “Know therefore that the LORD your God, He is God, the faithful God, who keeps His covenant and His lovingkindness to a thousandth generation with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (7:9).

Another attribute of Yahweh revealed in Deuteronomy is Yahweh’s love. Yahweh’s love for Israel is unconditional because His love is solely based on who He is – not who Israel is. For example, Deuteronomy 7:7-8 revealed Yahweh’s unconditional love which reads, “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you…” (7:7-8a, b).

Next, Deuteronomy revealed Yahweh to be gracious. Moses reminded Israel in chapter eight of Yahweh’s gracious acts toward them, from testing and humbling Israel to teach them to live by God’s words (8:1-3), disciplining them (8:4-6), bringing them into a good land to bless them (8:7-10), leading them through a terribly dangerous desert teaming with some of the most deadly arachnids[3] and serpents on planet earth (8:15), providing water to quench thirst (8:15-16), and to humble Israel and test them for their ultimate good in the end (8:16).  In other words, everything Yahweh had done to Israel was for their good even though it did not seem pleasant at the time. As a final point, Deut. 7:12-16 revealed Yahweh’s intentions to bestow upon Israel an overflow of blessing if they listen to Yahweh’s judgments.   

Deuteronomy revealed the righteous nature of Yahweh’s judging. For example, Yahweh’s judging includes higher than the highest judgment, no partiality, justice for orphans and widows, food and clothing for the aliens, and promise keeping (10:17-22).

Moses repeated Yahweh’s parameters for judgment in 1:16-18 to remind the Israelite the following (this served as a transition into what Yahweh required of Israel):

Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your fellow countrymen, and judge righteously between a man and his fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall not fear man, for the judgment is God’s. The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.’ I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.[4]

Yahweh required Israel to possess the land of Canaan for themselves and dispossess the land of Canaan from its inhabitants. For example, Yahweh through Moses commanded Israel to possess the land when he ordered: “See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their descendants after them” (1:8). Correspondingly, Yahweh through Moses commanded Israel to dispossess the land when he ordered: “Hear, O Israel! You are crossing over the Jordan today to go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than you, great cities fortified to heaven” (Deut. 9:1; 11:23; 12:2, 29; 18:14; 19:1).

Also, Yahweh required Israel to listen to His words (18:18-19). Yahweh required Israel to keep their vows (23:21). Yahweh required Israel to love Him wholeheartedly and hold fast to Him (11:22). Yahweh required Israel to write His words on their hearts (11:18). Also, after Israel had possessed and dispossessed the land they were to institute the theocracy with all God’s statutes and ordinances (12:1-26:19).

Finally, Deuteronomy revealed the mystery of divine decree and human responsibility in the demesne of providence (Deut. 29:29). The New Dictionary of Theology defines Providence as follows:

Providence is the beneficent outworking of God’s sovereignty whereby all events are directed and disposed to bring about those purposes of glory and good for which the universe was made. These events include the actions of free agents, which while remaining free, personal and responsible are also the intended actions of those agents.[5]

To this effect, it is inescapable to see the compatibilism[6] of God’s sovereign decree and human decision in bringing about this providence of God, specifically in Deuteronomy 28:1-31:29. If one objectively reads the rest of the OT and is a student of history one will notice that all the curses mentioned in the text literally came upon Israel as well as all the blessings, virtually as if it were fixed, because it was fixed. Yet Yahweh holds Israel responsible and demands repentance, faith, and obedience to come from them. This is not a contradiction but demands eyes to see which only Yahweh can bestow.    

What Yahweh had done was beyond Israel’s comprehension because they did not have a heart to know it. For example, the text reads, “Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4). However, God promises restoration in chapter 30 in a future time when He will change their hearts and they will repent and turn to Yahweh. Then Israel will have the ability to be obedient: “Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (30:6).[7]

[1] All five attributes of Yahweh from Dr. Essex’s course outline. Keith Essex. Old Testament Studies I BI 501. (Unpublished course notes: The Master’s Seminary, 2013), 25-6.

[2] J. A. Thompson. Deuteronomy; TOTC. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1974), 109.

[3] According to the American Heritage College Dictionary, the term Arachnid is any of various arthropods of the class Arachnida, characterized by four pairs of segmented legs and a body divided into two regions (eight legs total). Derived from the Greek word ἀράχνη (aráchnē), meaning “spider” but includes scorpions and other creatures. The American Heritage College Dictionary: Third Edition. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1993), 69.

[4] Also, see Deut. 16:18-20, 17:6-13 and 19:15-21 for Yahweh’s parameters for judging.

[5] New Dictionary of Theology. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1988), 541.

[6] According to Ronald H. Nash, compatibilism is “the theory that in ways that may be impossible to comprehend, determinism and human free will are compatible in the sense that both can exist in the case of human action. Major Christian thinkers like Augustine, Martin Luther, John Calvin, and Jonathan Edwards did not repudiate human freedom, as is sometimes thought. They defined the notion of human freedom so that it is compatible with determinism.” Ronald H. Nash. Life’s Ultimate Questions. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 327.

[7] At the same time, concerning human responsibility, Yahweh requires repentance and obedience (Deut. 30:10-14).

Numbers – Brief Commentary

Numbers discloses Israel’s 40 years of wilderness wandering. What is more, Numbers teaches concerning Israel’s obedience and disobedience to Yahweh that there are curses and consequences for disobedience. These curses and consequences for disobedience are evidenced by Yahweh’s response to Israel, namely, discipline by death.

The first ten chapters of Numbers begins with the first generation of the sons of Israel who left Egypt and their subsequent census by Moses. Yahweh commanded Moses to, “Take a census of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathers’ households, according to the number of names, every male, head by head, from twenty years old and upward, whoever is able to go out to war in Israel, you and Aaron shall number them by their armies” (1:2-3). This is the first generation of Israelite warriors who were supposed to enter Canaan and begin to drive out its inhabitants. After several chapters of commands, in chapter ten of Numbers the sons of Israel set out on their journey from Sinai to what appears to be a promising conquest (cf. 10:11-36). However, rebellion of the sons of Israel against Yahweh is recorded in chapter 11 when the people complain (cf. 11:1-3). Yahweh’s response to Israel’s complaining was in wrath, disciplining them to the point which resulted in the death of some (11:33-34).

The occasion of the people’s complaint caused Moses to complain (11:10-15). Later, Miriam and Aaron complain against Moses. Miriam is disciplined by Yahweh with leprosy. In both complaints the anger of Yahweh against the people and against Miriam and Aaron is placated because of Moses’ intercessory prayers. These events conciliated should be understood as acts of God’s mercy and grace for not utterly destroying the people. What is more, God’s anger is not without self-control. Therefore, Moses’ intercession is a form of anthropomorphism, in that God led Moses to intercede. The best example of this is Moses’ intercession for the sons of Israel in chapter 14 and God pardoning them according to Moses’ intercession (14:11-20).

The main disobedience to Yahweh to bring about discipline by death was a bad report of the land from the disobedient spies sent out by Moses (13:32). This bad report of the land was like a defiant seed planted in the hearts of the sons of Israel occasioning them to all-out rebellion in chapter 14. However, Joshua and Caleb had faith in Yahweh to see the sons of Israel victorious. What is more, it is to them granted the leadership of the second generation into the land of Canaan to drive out its inhabitants. This is the principle foremost way the blessings for obedience and the consequences for disobedience are evidenced by Yahweh’s response to Israel, namely, discipline by death, because the entire first generation of the sons of Israel out of Egypt are to die in the wilderness. For example, Numbers 14:30-35 explained Israel’s obedience and disobedience to Yahweh when the text reads,

Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you, except Caleb the son of Jephunneh and Joshua the son of Nun. Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey—I will bring them in, and they will know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses will fall in this wilderness. Your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they will suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years, and you will know My opposition. I, the LORD, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die.’” (Num. 14:30-35)

As a last point, the spies who brought back a bad report of the land die immediately of the plague (14:36-37).

Numbers 15:32-36 recorded the death of a man. This man died because of his disobedience to Yahweh while working on the Sabbath. Moreover, Yahweh disciplined by death those involved in Korah’s rebellion by causing the earth to swallow Korah’s rebellion up and the objects of wrath to descend alive into Sheol (16:1-35). Also, the next day Numbers 16:41-50 records 14,700 people who suffered God’s wrath because of their disobedience and their sympathizing with Korah and his company. So serious was Yahweh about grumbling and the defiance of the people against what He had instituted in leadership and worship that if the people of Israel even came near the tent of meeting they would die (18:22).

Numbers 20:8-29 recorded Moses and Aaron’s disobedience concerning the waters at Meribah. Moses and Aaron did not follow Yahweh’s instructions fully in the method He wanted them to follow to let Israel drink the water from the rock. Because Moses and Aaron failed to treat Yahweh as holy neither of them would enter Canaan. What is more, the disobedience at Meribah led to Aaron’s subsequent death at Mount Hor.

However, in spite of all Israel’s consequences for disobedience the sons of Israel are blessed by Yahweh and cannot forfeit Yahweh’s unconditional covenant He made with their forefathers.  The grace and mercy of Yahweh is evidenced by the bronze serpent on a pole. For example, in chapter 21 the people complain and start to suffer death by fiery serpents. Then, the LORD commanded Moses to, “…Make a fiery serpent, and set it on a standard; and it shall come about, that everyone who is bitten, when he looks at it, he will live” (Num. 21:8). This concept is a typological illustration of what happens to the sinner who looks at the Lord Jesus Christ by faith and trusts in His saving cross on their behalf; that is, the believing sinner lives life eternal.

Numbers begins to shift from the discipline of Israel to their blessing with war victories in chapter 21. Moreover, Balak the king of Moab hired Balaam to curse Israel in chapter 22 but Balaam cannot. Instead, God forces Balaam to only bless Israel. A section of the last of these three blessings, Balaam prophesizes the enmity between the Seed of the woman toward the seed of the serpent by the crushing of the serpent’s head by the Seed of the woman, a reference to Genesis 3:15, when he said, “I see him now, but not now; I behold him, but not near; A star shall come forth from Jacob, A scepter shall rise from Israel, And shall crush through the forehead of Moab, And tear down all the sons of Sheth” (Num. 24:17). Moab is the seed of the serpent who is at war with the Seed of the woman (the Seed of the woman is Jesus Christ, who is the promised Messiah from the Israelites). This connection is unmistakably apparent and is the ultimate blessing of Yahweh on Israel, who takes away their sins.

            In conclusion, Numbers discloses Yahweh’s response to Israel’s disobedience, namely, discipline by death. However, Yahweh blessed Israel, allowing the second generation to enter the Land and promised them a King to rise from Israel.

Leviticus – Brief Commentary

The following is merely an expositional synopsis of the book of Leviticus. The purpose of this expositional synopsis is to make some expositional observations to point out some key features from the book of Leviticus for the reader. The reader of this article is encouraged by the author to read the book of Leviticus in its entirety. This synopsis is merely a brief commentary on the book of Leviticus and is by no means adding to or taking away from the book of Leviticus, neither is this synopsis intended to be a substitute.

Leviticus reveals how the Old Testament saint was to approach the Holy God. The OT saints were identified from four categories: from the assembly of Israel as a whole (4:13), from leaders (4:22), from priests (4:3) or from common persons (4:27). The sons of Israel were set apart as a people consecrated to YHWH. Likewise, their purpose was to be identified with YHWH as His people reflecting holiness (11:44-45).

The OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH by means of conviction-confession (i.e. 5:4d-5), repentance (i.e. turning from sin), and blood sacrifice to make atonement for the OT saint as a shadow of what would only be found in the sacrifice of the seed of the woman (cf. Gen 3:15). The blood sacrifice for atonement was because of the OT saints’ sins against YHWH. Lastly, the OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH through obedience to the sacrificial system administered by the anointed priest Aaron and the anointed priest who would be in his place among his sons (7:22), as well as obedience to YHWH’s commands.

Conviction and confession were where the OT saint began to approach God. For example, Leviticus 5:4d-5 explained how a man would not know of his swearing thoughtlessly with his lips to do evil or to do good or rash oaths, that later he would become aware of them through conviction and know his guilt. Then the OT saint would need to confess his sin as Lev. 5:4d-5 reads, “and then he comes to know it, he will be guilty in one of these. So shall it be when he becomes guilty in one of these, that he shall confess that in which he has sinned.” What is more, on the day of Atonement the high priest would lay his hands on the scapegoat and confess over it all the sins of the sons of Israel (16:21). 

Leviticus 1:1-7:38 reveals six offerings in which the Old Testament saint would participate in to maintain his relationship with YHWH. These offerings were the burnt offering, the grain offering, the sin offering, the guilt offering, the ordination offering, and the sacrifice of peace offering (7:37-38). Concerning the burnt offering Lev. 1:4 reads, “He shall lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, that it may be accepted for him to make atonement on his behalf.” This is the first of many times the word atonement is found in Leviticus. The word atonement in Leviticus is from the Hebrew trilateral verb root כָּפַר and means, “to be atoned for; make amends, pardon, release, appease, forgive, annulled, covering over and therefore forgetting sin.”[1] What is more, the noun in Hebrew of the word Atonement is כַּפֺּ֫רֶת and means, “(traditionally: mercy seat): the golden cover on the ark of the covenant, the place where atonement is made.”[2] It was through these sacrifices in place of the OT saint’s sin that atonement was made and the OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH. God demanded an innocent blood sacrifice to atone for sin. At this point one must appeal to the NT where one will see that the OT sacrificial system pointed to the ultimate one time sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross for the forgiveness of sins on behalf of everyone who would ever believe in Him for eternal life, including the OT saint. For example, Hebrews 10:4 and 9:13-15, 22 explained that the sacrifice of Christ on the cross is how the OT saint maintains his relationship with YHWH eternally, not only temporarily, when these texts read, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4)

And –

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the transgressions that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance… And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness. (9:13-15, 22)

The Day of Atonement occurred once every year and was how the OT saint maintained his relationship with YHWH yearly. To this effect, Lev. 16:30 explained that the OT saint would be clean before the LORD when it reads, “for it is on this day that atonement shall be made for you to cleanse you; you will be clean from all your sins before the LORD.” In Leviticus 16 the Day of Atonement ceremony is described where two goats participate in the ceremony; one goat to signify a substitutionary sacrifice, the other goat sent out into the desert to signify removal of sin (see also Leviticus 17; 23:26-44). Once a year on the Day of Atonement the high priest of the people of Israel would go into the Holy of Holies, where the mercy seat was located, and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat for the sins of the people. For Israel the mercy seat was the place where, or the way in which, the OT saint maintained his relationship with Yahweh. This is a type of what Christ has done completely for everyone who would ever believe in Him. The two goats served as a sacrificial type that pointed to and would be fulfilled by Jesus Christ’s sacrifice of Himself on the Cross, because the blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins. After Jesus Christ offered up Himself on the cross as a onetime substitutionary sacrifice for sin, He was then raised to life from the dead on the third day. Then He sat down at the right hand of God. This means that Jesus Christ now sits on God’s throne. Therefore, Jesus Christ is the fulfillment and fullness of the true meaning and purpose of the mercy seat.

From Lev.18:1-25:55 there are many Laws in which Israel was to obey. It was obedience to what YHWH had instituted through the sacrificial system and conduct that maintained the OT saint’s relationship with YHWH. This was only a temporal sense. Concerning the sacrifice on the eighth day of the ordination of Aaron and his sons, Lev. 9:6 reads, “Moses said, ‘This is the thing which the LORD has commanded you to do, that the glory of the LORD may appear to you.’” When the OT saint drew near to YHWH in obedience and reverence then YHWH appeared to them and their relationship was retained (cf. 10:3). YHWH consumed the burnt offering with fire (9:23-24). This caused the people to fall on their faces (9:24), an expression of fear and worship.

In conclusion, Leviticus reveals how the Old Testament saint was to approach a Holy God.  In Leviticus, the Old Testament saint maintained his relationship with Yahweh by the sacrificial system instituted by Yahweh which was a type of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ.

[1] Edward W. Goodrick and John R. Kohlenberger III. The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1999), 4085.

[2] Ibid., 4085.

Exodus – Brief Commentary

The following is merely an expositional synopsis of the book of Exodus. The purpose of this expositional synopsis is to make some expositional observations to point out some key features from the book of Exodus for the reader. The reader of this article is encouraged by the author to read the book of Exodus in its entirety. This synopsis is merely a brief commentary on the book of Exodus and is by no means adding to or taking away from the book of Exodus, neither is this synopsis intended to be a substitute.

Exodus is about the departure of the sons of Israel from Egyptian bondage, led by Moses to worship God at Mount Sinai.

Exodus revealed two things concerning Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. First, concerning Israel’s deliverance Exodus revealed that Yahweh’s promises are irrevocable (2:24; 6:4, 5). Second, concerning Israel’s deliverance Exodus revealed that Yahweh is compassionate (34:6-7). What is more, Exodus revealed Yahweh’s purpose for the sons of Israel in two ways. First, God decreed to set Israel apart from all the other nations and establish a covenant with them (Ex. 19:5-6). Second, God decreed to drive out the rebellious inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel to occupy the land, fulfilling His promise to Abraham (2:24-25; 6:4, 5; see Gen. 12:1-2, 7; 15:18-21).

In the ancient Near East if one didn’t have a name, then that indicated that one didn’t exist (see 17:14-16; 32:32-35). Exodus 3:13-14 revealed Moses’ inquiry of how he was to introduce God (3:6) to the sons of Israel (pre-deliverance from Egypt) when the text reads,

Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I will say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (3:13-14)

According to John Calvin the name “I AM WHO I AM” and “I AM” revealed that God is eternal and self-existent. To this effect, John Calvin explained “I AM WHO I AM” and “I AM” means that God is self-existent and eternal when he wrote,

I AM THAT I AM. The verb in the Hebrew is in the future tense, “I will be what I will be;” but it is of the same force as the present, except that it designates the perpetual duration of time. This is very plain, that God attributes to himself alone divine glory, because he is self-existent and therefore eternal; and thus gives being and existence to every creature. Nor does he predicate of himself anything common, or shared by others; but he claims for himself eternity as peculiar to God alone, in order that he may be honored according to his dignity. Therefore, immediately afterwards, contrary to grammatical usage, he used the same verb in the first person as a substantive, annexing it to a verb in the third person; that our minds may be filled with admiration as often as his incomprehensible essence is mentioned.[1]

According to A Grammar for Biblical Hebrew, by Barrick and Busenitz, there is technically no tense in Hebrew verbs but the tense is always a function of context and context alone.[2] Hebrew tense being determined by the context shows that Calvin is wrong in his grammatical claim (i.e. his claim of the verb being in the future tense) but right in his assessment of the context. Calvin’s right assessment of “I AM WHO I AM” is that God’s name means that God is self-existent and possesses the divine attribute called eternality. This is clearly revealed from the context because in the very next verse God said, “This is my name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations” (Ex. 3:15). Eternity is not a measurement of time but rather a fixed state without a beginning and end. Therefore, only God can be self-existent and eternal. Angels and humans will spend eternity forever in one of two places but there was a point in which they came into existence ontologically. However, concerning God there was no point in which He came into existence ontologically. He has always existed ontologically. Therefore, if YHWH is eternal and He makes a promise then that promise is eternally irrevocable. Concerning the relationship to YHWH’s eternality and His promises Ex. 2:24-25 reads, “So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.” One might think that God forgot of the covenant He made with Abraham because the Sons of Israel are in Egyptian bondage in Exodus chapter one. However, God did tell Abram in Gen. 15:13 that Abram’s descendants would be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years but afterwards would come out with possessions. Likewise, God connects His name YHWH with His promises in Ex.6:2-9. The point is, God made a promise to Abraham. The fact of Israel’s deliverance in Exodus revealed that Yahweh has kept His promise because it is irrevocable.

Second, concerning Israel’s deliverance Exodus revealed that Yahweh is compassionate (34:6-7). There is a false ideology first proposed by Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144, who taught a dichotomy between the Hebrew God of the OT (a god of wrath) and the NT Christian god of love and compassion. However, Exodus decries the heresy of Marcion when Ex. 34:6-7 reads, “Then the LORD passed by in front of him and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.’” God bestowed upon Israel his lovingkindness and compassion by delivering them from Egyptian bondage. As a final point, the God of the OT and the God of the NT is the same God.

Exodus revealed God as Yahweh the covenant keeping God who chose to enter into a covenant with the sons of Israel as a nation. This is made known in Ex. 19:5-6 which reads, “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be my own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation…” Exodus revealed that Israel is set apart from all the other nations of the earth to enter into covenant with God, being set apart as His possession. Israel experienced a very special and unique privilege, receiving the Mosaic Covenant on Mount Sinai.

Lastly, Exodus revealed that God decreed to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel to occupy the land, fulfilling His promise to Abraham. Indeed, Ex. 2:24-25 revealed the purpose for Israel in the plan of leading Israel out of Egypt for occupation of Canaan as the text reads, “So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.” What is more, God promises to Moses this fulfillment in Ex. 6:4-7 when the text reads,

I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.

Initially, God revealed his plan to drive out the inhabitants of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel to occupy the land in Gen. 12:1-5. Then in Gen 12:7 God tells Abram that He will give Abram’s descendants the land of Canaan. In Gen. 15:13-16, 18-21 God promised Abram specifically His plan for the next four hundred years to drive out the inhabitance of Canaan by leading the sons of Israel out of Egyptian bondage (even extending much further into the Millennial Kingdom when the Seed of the woman, i.e. Jesus Christ, will establish His 1,000 year reign on earth in the land of Canaan fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant in the Eschaton). God entered into a covenant with Abram for Abram’s descendants to occupy the land because the text reads,

God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve, and afterward they will come out with many possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you will be buried at a good old age. . . On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenite and the Kenizzite and the Kadmonite and the Hittite and the Perizzite and the Rephaim and the Amorite and the Canaanite and the Girgashite and the Jebusite. (Gen 15:13-15, 18-21)

E.V. Powers

[1] Calvin, John. Calvin’s Commentaries (Vol. II). (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1979), 73.

[2] Page 94

Genesis – Brief Commentary

The following is merely an expositional synopsis of the book of Genesis. The purpose of this expositional synopsis is to make some expositional observations to point out some key features from the book of Genesis for the reader. The reader of this article is encouraged by the author to read the book of Genesis in its entirety. This synopsis is merely a commentary on the book of Genesis and is by no means adding to or taking away from the book of Genesis, neither is this synopsis intended to be a substitute.   

Genesis is the book of beginnings for the reason that the first verse of Genesis reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Consequently, the rest of the content in Genesis is also derivation. For example, the origin of the creation of the universe (1:1-31), the origin of sin and the fall of man from innocence and paradise with God into a state of death, original sin and total depravity (3:1-24) are all revealed in Genesis. Likewise, the origin of catastrophism, namely, a universal flood that destroys all but eight persons and two of every kind of animal (6:1-8:14), and the origin of the dispersion of the nations through the means of God confusing one language into many at Babel (11:1-9) are all revealed in Genesis.

Throughout the origins listed above one can trace the development of the Noahic and Abrahamic covenants in Genesis by means of the need of covenant(s). After the first man and the first woman fell from the created paradise with God, God promised a seed from the woman that will crush the serpent’s head in Genesis 3:15. To this effect, God judges the spiritual serpent and proclaims the serpent’s impending doom of a crushed head when Genesis 3:15 reads, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (ESV).

The Noahic and the Abrahamic Covenants are the two unilateral or unconditional covenants in Genesis. God is the covenant maker and covenant keeper. Concerning the first of these two covenants, the Noahic Covenant, there are four components in its staging. First, there is the rationale of the covenant. Second, there is the root of the covenant. Third, there are the recipients[1] of the covenant. Fourth, there is the ratification of the covenant.

The Noahic Covenant

First, there is the rationale of the covenant. Since man sinned in Genesis 3 the human race became totally depraved and hostile in mind and heart toward God (Gen. 6:1, 5-8). Man had multiplied on the face of the earth and as Genesis 6:5 states, “Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” God was sorry and grieved in His heart that He made man. God’s heart is pure righteousness. On the other hand, man’s heart is wicked continually, as indicated in Genesis 6:5, hence the conflict. God decreed to “blot out” man, animals, creeping things and birds as indicated in Genesis 6:7 [i.e. the end of all flesh (6:13)].

The decree of judgment on man by God is the need for the Noahic Covenant because the fulfillment of Gen. 3:15 has not come to fruition. It is for the sake of the offspring of the woman that God cannot destroy every individual person. God is sovereign and does not revise His decrees because God is eternal and unchanging. Consequently, as the historical narrative unfolds in Genesis God will continue His fulfillment of the promise in Genesis 3:15 because Genesis 6:8 indicates that Noah “found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” Further revelation reveals that Noah is not the ultimate fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 but is in the seminal line of this promise. This is an element of what is called the creation mandate. The Noahic Covenant is a part of the creation mandate (“Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth…” Gen. 1:28-30; 9:1-7) along with the Abrahamic Covenant. To this purpose, Dr. Essex states, “The God of Creation chose to bless sinful mankind and to reestablish human rule of the Earth through Abraham and his Seed, with his physical seed who will inherit the Land.”[2]

Second, there is the root of the Covenant. God tells Noah in Genesis 6:18 the following, “But I will establish My covenant with you; and you shall enter the ark—you and your sons and your wife, and your sons’ wives with you.” The root of the Noahic Covenant is the rest of the surviving flesh on the earth, namely, eight people and two of every kind of animal to repopulate the earth. After the universal flood subsided in Genesis 8:20-22 God promises never again to drown all flesh by flood even though man is still wicked and “the intent of man’s heart is evil from his youth.”

Thirdly, there are the recipients of the Noahic Covenant. The recipients of the Noahic covenant are Noah, his sons, their offspring, all the animals on the ark and their offspring (Genesis 9:8-10).

Fourthly, there is the ratification of the Noahic Covenant. God set a rainbow in the clouds established as a sign of the Noahic Covenant for God, man and every living creature of all flesh; ratifying that God will never again destroy all flesh by means of flood (Genesis 9:12-17).

The Abrahamic Covenant

Concerning the Abrahamic Covenant, God established His covenant with Abraham as an everlasting covenant, calling Abram and announcing His covenant (Gen. 12), ratifying His covenant with Abram (Gen. 15), and giving Abraham circumcision as a sign of the covenant (Gen. 17).

What is more, one can observe seven sections of the Abrahamic Covenant[3]. First, there is the need for the Covenant. Second, there is the initiation of the Covenant. Third, there is the making of the Covenant. Fourth, there is the sign of the Covenant. Fifth, there is the purpose of the Covenant. Sixth, there is the blessing of the covenant. Seventh, there is the reaffirmation of the Covenant.

The need for the Abrahamic Covenant is redemptive. God’s promise of the seed of the woman to bruise the head of the serpent in Gen. 3:15 has not come to its ultimate fulfillment at the time of Abram (1:1-11:26). It is through the Abrahamic Covenant that God will continue the toledot (line of descents) of the seed of woman to bring about redemption of God’s chosen people. Post-fall, the Noahic Covenant brought God’s grace on all flesh (common grace) and the Abrahamic covenant will bring about God’s grace on his elect (special grace).

The initiation of the Abrahamic Covenant is the call of Abram and the announcing of the covenant. For example, in Gen. 12:1-3 God called Abram from Abram’s kindred to the land God is going to show Abram. Then God announces the covenant, namely, that God will make out of Abram a great nation, bless Abram, make Abram’s name great, make Abram a blessing to others, bless those who bless Abram, curse those who curse Abram and bless all the families of the earth. 

In Genesis 15:1-21 God came to Abram and made the Abrahamic covenant with Abram. God promises Abram an offspring. Abram believes God because the text reads, “And he believed the LORD, and he counted it to him as righteousness” (15:6). God tells Abram to bring Him a heifer, a female goat, a ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. A deep sleep falls on Abram where God again speaks to Abram revealing the future of Abram and his offspring. God makes the covenant with Abram by passing through the dead animal pieces observed by a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch. God passing through the dead animal pieces is an expression of the unconditional nature of the Abrahamic Covenant because God in doing so is in effect saying, “If I do not keep my side of the covenant may what happen to these animals happen to me.” Hebrews 6:13, referring to Gen. 22:16-17 validates this when it reads, “For when God made the promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself”.

Concerning the sign of the covenant, God commands Abraham to circumcise every male in the flesh of their foreskins when they are eight days old (Gen. 17:1-14).    

The purpose of the Covenant found in Gen. 18:17-19 is uniform with the need for the covenant, namely God’s redemptive plan to save some from God’s judgment on evil through the man God has appointed (the seed of the woman). The seed of the woman is the blessing from the Covenant (22:15-18). Abraham did not withhold his son. This is typological of God not withholding His Son to have his heal bruised. Lastly, the reaffirmation of the Abrahamic Covenant is found in Gen. 26:2-5, 23-25; 28:10-17; 35:9-12; 50:24.

In conclusion, Genesis is the book of beginnings. One can trace the development of the Noahic Covenant and the Abrahamic Covenant through Genesis by means of the need of covenant(s). This need is endowed by God as the Creator. When Adam sinned against God, Adam immediately died spiritually and mankind was in need of a Savior to be saved from the coming eternal wrath of God. God promised that Savior as early as Genesis 3:15. The Lord Jesus Christ is the Seed of the woman, the Seed of Abraham and therefore Christ is the redeemer of the elect to save them from the wrath of God.

[1] Irvin A. Busenitz, “Introduction to the Biblical Covenants; The Noahic Covenant and The Priestly Covenant,” TMS Journal. (1999): 173-189.

[2] Keith Essex. BI 501 – Old Testament Studies I. (unpublished course notes: The Master’s Seminary, 2013)

[3] All seven taken from Dr. Keith Essex. Ibid., 10.

1 Peter 1:3-6 Commentary; Christian Hope Part 3

Sound doctrine is and will always be inseparably constrained to sound living. There are many men who quote many men for social media “likes”, feeble applause, and religious upward mobility. All the while the doctrine coming from their mouths does not align with their lives. It is all a show, and they are the stars of their own show. This is self-deception. It is also the very thing Peter, the apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, aimed to protect the Christians throughout Asia Minor from in their quest to live holy before God. Trials and suffering were inevitable, not only in the Christian life, but to the Christian personally. It was not simply that Christians would find a platform for ministry in the midst of other’s sufferings, but they would endure suffering themselves for the cause of Christ.

In 1 Peter 1:6, Peter explained to the believers they were to rejoice in what they experienced as they enduring inevitable trials, even as though trials multiply and increase. They were not rejoicing because they were experiencing trials or even because they had some temporal goal or plan to look forward to in the midst of their trials. They rejoiced because of the doctrine of salvation and all its implications, especially related to the doctrine of the last things (i.e. eschatology) (cf. vv. 2-4). Their hope was not based on “getting through the trial” or “we are all in this together,” it was that God had elected the Christians unto salvation and they would inherit the kingdom of God, eternal life in Christ Jesus, and because the Spirit sealed them for the day of redemption. This was the hope of the Christian, not secular, socialist utopia or post-apocalyptic dystopia. Peter was not trying to harness humanity, restrict or advance government powers. He aimed to point the believers to a kingdom that transcends all the kingdoms of this world.

Despite what Christians suffered in this life, they held reservations to the eternal kingdom with all of its riches and glories in Christ Jesus. The trials were necessary means to prove the faith of believers (cf. v. 6). Christian faith in the face of trials is more valuable than currency. It has more value than precious gold (cf. v. 6), but the faith must be tested to prove if this is so. True faith must be tested by refiner’s fire. It must reach otherwise unreasonable temperatures so that it can prove to be genuine. The proof is not for God, it is for the Christian to his or herself. This is the faith to which Peter called the believers in Asia Minor and it stands for all time as the faith to which believers in the present and future age are called to the glory of God the Father.

Once the faith is tested by refiner’s fire, it brings certain results to the believer. First, when it proves authentic, and found inseparably constrained to the glorious hope of salvation in Jesus Christ by precept and action, it produces a great joy. Peter called it “inexpressible.” This is not giddiness, or even averting the trials as though they have not occurred. It is not a joy that is incoherent, but rather a joy so full and so deep, due to the source of the joy and object of the joy, that words cannot adequately express. It is “full of glory” and therefore, we know for certain, it transcends human happiness, or emotional contentedness. This joy is found in the fact of the changed nature, through the new birth, given to the believer by God, who elected the Christian unto salvation, sent His Son to die on behalf of the elect. The substitute, Jesus Christ, laid down His life on behalf of the elect, while they were enemies of God, and satisfied God’s wrath against them, bearing on Himself the punishment for the sins of the elect. Because of the sacrifice of Christ, a person who has been elected by God’s sovereign grace can therefore trust in the personal righteousness of Christ to be saved from the wrath of God and by consequence have the perfect righteousness of Christ credited to their account. Joy is found to be inexpressible and full of glory due to the depth and scope of what has been accomplished on behalf of all who did not deserve this salvation. But even the joy must yield to the reality of why the believers were called to be joyful. This is shown in the outcome of the endurance of trials.

The outcome, for believers, was not merely overcoming the trial itself. There are many peddlers of God’s word who point men to their trials, give them mantras and “recipes” to overcome their trials, without joining them to the teachings of Jesus Christ. There is no shortage of individuals ready to bring encouragement, as long as you will pay a fee for their brand of encouragement. But all of those things are shakable and fleeting even if they are religious. The outcome of faith in the face of refining trials, and the various kinds of trials as they assail the believer’s life is not temporal things at all. It is what Peter has called “the outcome of your faith.” The outcome of the believer’s faith is the salvation of the soul.

True faith does not hide itself in the cares of this world on any level (cf. Mark 4:19). True faith is unimpressed with the spirit of this age, and does not conform to it (see. Romans 12:2). In fact, true faith is painstakingly consistent with the Old Testament faith given to the elect Israelites who trusted YHWH. The elect Israelites believed that God would atone for their individual sins as well as the collective sins of the nation. What is more, the elect Israelites trusted God to rule over them as their true King. True faith is therefore not only unshakable, but it does not change based on the pragmatic winds of a changing world. True faith can be traced from the Old Testament into the New Testament and seen as consistent in those who possessed true faith and yet this hour worship the object of their faith, the Triune God. A faith that is built upon ungodly fear, self-preservation, or a sense of self-righteousness is not the faith of God, but the faith of devils. It merely believes God exists and may even tremble before Him (see. James 2:19), but does not prove to be given to the individual by God at all because it does not lead to trust in the Person of Christ and His works by both precept and action.

  • Doron Gladden

1 Peter 1:3-6 Christian Hope (Part 2)

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials” 1 Peter 1:3-6.

The beginning of Peter’s epistle began doctrinally, theologically, and interested in practical Christian living in the context of trials. Peter was interested in the true fellowship that is shared by Christians in their position in Christ, the position in which there exists no dichotomy between where christians stand positionally and their belief in unity through sound doctrine. Peter exemplified this unity with his fellow Apostles, as they impacted one another in the truth and we know this by Peter’s mention of Paul later in Peter’s second epistle (i.e. 2 Peter 3:15-16).

The doxology from the third verse of 1 Peter chapter 1, namely, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” is the center of the message of hope, namely God the Father who sent God the Son to save the elect from the wrath of God. If one desires to give a message of hope, then that message must begin with what Christ has accomplished on behalf of the elect by the work of His cross. True Christian hope is tied to mercy. Hopelessness, then, is tied directly to God’s wrath, for it is the height of all hopelessness to reject the Lord Jesus Christ and abide in the wrath of God. Whether one possesses good temporal health or is not experiencing good, temporal health is irrelevant. Adversely, if one believes on the Lord Jesus Christ for the remission of sins committed against God, then such a person abides in His mercy. This mercy is a blessing extended as a gift from the grace of God. One may lay claim to this blessing whether in good, temporal health, or riddled by sickness, diseases, or trials. Hope is tied directly to one’s position in Christ. This is where Peter began his epistle. He did not appeal immediately to what the believers were experiencing, but rather to what the Triune God had accomplished on their behalf.

What is more, the believer’s hope is tied to the sound doctrine of the new birth. Peter wrote that the believer not only received mercy, but the believer had been “born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead . . .” The new birth not only grants the believer access to eternal life, that is its greatest feature, but it ultimately brings the believer, in triumph, over death to an unshakeable kingdom. True hope leads to the eternal benefits of God’s Kingdom. These are given to the believer as a gracious gift through the mercy of God. The world at-large wants nothing to do with this kind of hope. The best the world can offer is sympathy for the fallen nature. The best the world can give is assurances for things that will not last. The undertones of the eternal kingdom of God versus the temporal, visible empire of Rome was evident in this verse. During the days in which the Apostle Peter wrote the epistle of 1 Peter, Christians would have seen Rome in all its earthly glory. Its expansion was far-reaching throughout the known world. During the time this epistle was written, Rome was at the height of its power. But more sinister, Rome had begun to turn its attention toward Christians as enemies of the state and a threat to its existence. This is because the kingdoms of this world are ruled over by the prince of the power of the air (cf. Ephesians 2:2).

The believers were not to hope in what the world could provide for them. In every case, what the kingdoms of this world offer is at the expense and exchange of the soul. The world cannot offer the Christian an inheritance, because the Christian does not belong to the world. In verse 4, Peter wrote the consequence of the living hope the believer possesses is an inheritance: eternal, undefiled, unfading glory. The Christian’s receipt of this inheritance is as certain as the inheritance being delivered. The inheritance is not only preserved, but the believer is preserved and protected by the power of God through the faith He grants to them in accordance with their salvation by the grace of God through Christ (v. 6). The believer is preserved in order to receive the inheritance to be revealed at the last time (v. 5). We know this is certain, and that it is eternal because Peter expressed to the believers not only when the inheritance would be given to them, but he told them “where”, “reserved in heaven for you” (v. 4).

The believer’s hope is not in the temporal, earthly things (cf. Philippians 3:19). The world has conditioned the mind to assess one’s standing in terms of what one possesses in this life. It is why self-preservation is at an all-time high. There is an absence of the knowledge of the power of God. Even so, when individuals speak of God’s power they reduce it to what they believe is entitled to them in this life, all the while claiming they are displaying God’s power. The Charismatic movement, secular humanism, modern evangelicalism, Islam, Roman Catholicism, and other movements all point to what is advantageous for the individual in this life while either redefining what eternity means, or failing to address it at all. But then, only true, biblical Christianity can proclaim the power of God as it is directly related to God’s Word in Scripture. Hope is then tied to biblical doctrine. Hope is tied to the new birth, and true faith in Jesus Christ alone. How callous and deceitful is it to offer hope in people and objects that will perish? How dangerous is it to offer hope in self-preservation? The hope of the believer is the salvation granted to them by God in Jesus Christ. The believer is kept by God’s power, not to live forever in this world, but to live eternally in the heavenly, kingdom of God. True faith is not tested by a life of ease and comfort. True faith must endure trials, testing, and hostility. But true faith also produces unspeakable joy in the heart of the believer since the believer is reconciled to God. Peter stressed how salvation and the inheritance of the saints is not only tested, but how faith triumphs in the face of refinement and suffering (v. 6).

Doron Gladden

1 Peter 1:2 – Christian Hope: Part 1

There are no shortages of men and women who step forward to offer hope. Unfortunately, many try to sell a pseudo hope. You can hear voices from modern evangelicalism, the voice of the Muslim, or the voice of the secular Humanist, or the voice of the Roman Catholic or any other “leader” and guru, religious or irreligious all trying to sell hope. However, if one desires to possess hope, one must come to the truth and know that true hope is tied to a position and Person, namely the Lord Jesus Christ. Apart from a salvific position in Him there is no hope.

During the time in which the epistle of Peter was written, the known world, especially Christians, were under the hopeless, crushing weight of the Roman Empire. Through investigating the facts of Church history, one will discover that Peter himself suffered a gruesome death as a martyr under the wicked and diabolical rule of the Roman Caesar Nero. Paul shared in the same blessed martyrdom, although at a different time, but under the same circumstances, namely death by execution. But even though the epistle was written to those who were suffering under the weight of the Roman Empire, the apostle Peter did not call for men to hide in his person or in his ministry, as so many personality cultists are prone to do today. Peter established the new birth in Jesus Christ and the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit as the sure foundation, the hope that is within every believer in the midst of unspeakable trials and relentless oppression.

Peter did not call for the hope of better days ahead simply because one’s outlook is geared toward the “hope” of better days ahead. Peter began where the Christian must: position in Christ, the finished work of Christ, and the Person of Christ. This is the foundation of the believer’s hope, whether in trials and sufferings, or in the face of the last enemy: death. It is inconsistent and callous for the believer to offer a false hope to unbelievers, such as man-centered mantras telling them “we will get through this together,” “stay strong,” or “stay positive.” Even the hashtag social media campaigns that play on the emotions, gather a consensus around a trial, but never really addresses man’s sin nature and how that sin nature has alienated he or she from God. It is hopeless to disguise hope in man’s performance or state of mind, as if positive thinking will remedy the world’s ills. Peter, however, began His encouragement toward Christians with what God had accomplished for sinners.

He wrote to those of specific regions and identified them as the “chosen” (verse 1) or as one translations puts it, “the elect” (ESV). But in either case these people are “the chosen.” They are those whom God has appointed and elected unto salvation in the churches to whom Peter wrote. They are aliens, not in the terrestrial sense, but those who would be considered immigrants, scattered by the dispersion of Jews throughout the Roman Empire whose physical and geographical home is Israel. But more than Jews, they are believers, Christians who find their homes in the regions of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia (see verse 1). This is a broad group of believing Jews and likely some of them Gentiles whose faith was in Jesus Christ. Their faith was so strong, they suffered for it.

Peter identified himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ. This is the office to which Christ directly and specifically appointed Peter to bear fruit for the kingdom of God and to feed the Lord’s sheep (cf. John 21:17). Peter was far removed from his personal denial of the Lord at the mock trial of Christ (cf. Matthew 26:72). In this epistle, He is armed with the power of the Holy Spirit, boldness in Christ, the compassion and desire to see Christians walking upright in the way of truth, in Christ (cf. 1 Peter 1:13-23). He had demonstrated, by his own example, the believer’s hope is in Christ alone.

It is clear as to what standard Peter called the believers to hope. All efforts to stimulate hope are not equal. Some men call for hope in their personal experiences. Some call for hope in the results of their ministry. Some call for hope in feelings and vague reassurances. However, Peter invoked the standard to which all men must hold to have real hope. First, he called for a hope rooted in divine election, the sound doctrine by which God the Father appointed and chose for Himself those where to receive salvation, faith, and eternal life in Jesus Christ on the basis of what Christ has fully accomplished on the cross—that is propitiation (the satisfaction of wrath) for the sins of the elect. Peter first identified this by calling the believers “the chosen” or “chosen ones.” This is not a general or hypothetical group, but a specific group among the entire regions of Asia Minor. This was not the general populace but solely, and exclusively those who were the “elect” within the specified regions.

From chapter 1 verse 2 of 1 Peter, Peter identified the standard to which these believers were held and to which they were appointed. But more than that, he identified the standard of election. The beginning of verse 2 answers the standard of election. It answers these questions, namely “who chose these believers?”, “how were they chosen?”, and “how are they kept and sustained as chosen ones?”

Verse 2: κατὰ πρόγνωσιν θεοῦ πατρὸς ἐν ἁγιασμῷ πνεύματος εἰς ὑπακοὴν καὶ ῥαντισμὸν αἵματος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, χάρις ὑμῖν καὶ εἰρήνη πληθυνθείη.

(according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctification of [the] Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of blood of Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace may be multiplied)

It is through the foreknowledge of God the Father that these believers were chosen, appointed to be heirs of eternal life in Christ, by the sanctifying work of the Spirit. The Spirit is identified as the agent through which the work of sanctification has taken place to cleanse the believers of sin and to commend them to God based on what Christ has accomplished. The Spirit’s work of cleansing the believer produces a sure hope because the cleansing in the believer eliminates alienation from God, eliminates abiding in His wrath, and as such eliminates condemnation before Him (cf. Romans 8). This work of sanctifying those who are believers is Spirit’s work. To this effect, the believer will act in accordance with what He or she has been given. Peter wrote these believers were, by evidence of their obedience to Christ and being sprinkled with his blood, chosen ones. The standard to which the believer is elected is the foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying means of the Spirit, and this produces the obedience that assures the believer he or she belongs to Christ, who has satisfied the wrath of God against them as their substitute on the cross through the vicarious, propitiatory, penal-substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross and His resurrection from the dead whereby men are saved if they confess with their mouths the Lord Jesus, repent of their sins, and believe God raised Him from the dead. Peter’s initial greeting concluded with the premise that if these things were indeed the case what belonged to the “chosen ones” in the regions represented was grace and peace supplied to them in the fullest measure and multiplied, that is to be increasing! This is where hope begins. Hope begins with who God is, what He has accomplished, and for whom He has accomplished the work of redemption. Although this epistle has a historical context, the elect from every nation can rest in the hope supplied in this initial greeting. What follows is how the believer must respond in the face of trials given the sound doctrine of the new birth and kingdom of God.

– Doron Gladden

Gospel Presentation

God is the Creator of the Universe and owns everything (cf. Gen 1:1; Psalm 24:1). Man is the creature created by God. Man in his fallen state is an idolater – that is, man worships created things instead of the Creator. Furthermore, man in his fallen state lives a life with no real regard that God is the Creator and Law Giver. Nevertheless, the basic requirements of God’s Law is written on every human heart. In fact, God’s standard is so high that he considers hatred in your heart for another person murder and lust in your heart for another person adultery, that is, your guilt before God is the same as if you acted these sins out physically (cf. Matt 5:21-22, 27-28). God sees through all deceptions even to the very core of our inner men, namely, the center of our souls – that is the heart (cf. 1 Sam 16:7; Heb 4:12-13).

The Word of God teaches that man is completely sinful. “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness” (1 Jn 3:4). Sin is any violation of the Law of God. The first man Adam, whom God created very good (cf. Gen 1:31), sinned against God (Gen 3). God gave Adam one commandment, namely, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Gen 2:17). The Spiritual Serpent used the physical serpent to tempt Adam’s wife Eve, and she ate the fruit and gave it to Adam and he ate, and that was the first sin (cf. Gen 3). When Adam sinned, sin entered into the human race and into the world (cf. Rom 5:12). When Adam sinned the entire human race sinned as well because as the first human being, the entire human race was in the loins of Adam (cf. Acts 17:26; see Heb 7:10). What is more, as the first man Adam was the representative of the entire human race, death came to the human race as the consequence of Adam’s sin (cf. Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:21-22). As Judge, God imputed Adam’s sin to the entire human race. Impute means to charge to one’s account. All have sinned (cf. Rom 3:23) and “There is none righteous, no, not one” (Psalm 14:3). Man is born dead in his sin – that is, post fall (cf. Gen 3). Sin is evil and wickedness, which is any violation against the Law of God (cf. 1 Jn 3:4).

The actual sins that people commit are evidence of this reality of original sin. God cannot look on wickedness with favor. He must judge sin and as such the ultimate punishment for sin is the second death – namely, eternity in the lake of fire (see Rev 20:13-15). Every person is born dead in sin. The evidence a person has begun to be under the conviction of God is when they are awoken to the reality of the Holiness of God and sense spiritually His piercing eye (anthropomorphically) furiously directed toward their sin (i.e. both original sin – the sinful nature inherited from Adam as well as actual sins and transgressions against God). God’s character is absolutely Holy, Righteous, and Just. Concerning the Holiness of God the OT Prophet Habakkuk rightly confessed to God the following when he said, “Your eyes are too pure to approve evil, and You cannot look on wickedness with favor.” (Hab 1:13). A person must be born again by the Holy Spirit to be washed from the defilement of their sinful nature. A person must realize that for their entire life they have been at enmity with God and have hated God before they can truly seek reconciliation with Him. If a person thinks that they have loved God their whole life (i.e. as far as they can remember), the truth is – that person has never loved God in their entire life. A person might have prayed occasionally or regularly, even have gone to church, or even have grown up in the church; but none of these things makes a person a Christian.

However, a person’s relationship with God (i.e. when they are dead in their sin) is best characterized by what the OT Prophet Isaiah boldly affirmed to the godless when he described the following relationship that the unbeliever has with God; “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear” (Isa 59:2). A person must understand that they have broken God’s Law and that He would be absolutely justified in sending them to Hell for eternity. God is a righteous Judge and the absolute definition of perfect justice. God demands perfect obedience to His Law and if you break even one point of the Law only once in your life you have broken the entire Law; “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all” (Jas 2:10). God is standing at the door of eternity ready to execute perfect justice toward man for breaking His Law and demands men to repent of their sins; “God is a righteous judge, And a God who has indignation every day. If a man does not repent, He will sharpen His sword; He has bent His bow and made it ready” (Ps 7:11-12). A person will pay the eternal penalty for sin if they do not repent; “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom 6:23). To repent is to change your mind about sin and turn from it and then turn to God.

God is self-existent (cf. Exod 3:14). God’s self-existence means that He has no beginning and no end; He has always existed. This is a mystery but not a contradiction. Eternity is not a measurement. Eternity is forever and ever. Time is a measurement. When our time runs out on Earth we will stand before our Creator who is self-existent. Because He is self-existent all His attributes work at maximum capacity forever. Concerning God’s Holiness and Justice, if you break His Law you owe Him eternity. True justice is adjudicated when the punishment is equal to the crime committed. That is why our good works cannot fix the problem and pay God back because God is Eternal and it is His Law that is violated. Therefore the payment He demands is an eternal payment. Consequently, it would take forever to pay God back for even sinning against Him once. That is why man’s merits of good works can never satisfy God’s wrath and grant us eternal entrance into heaven because it would take us eternity to pay God back for one sin, hence a never-ending task without end. This presents the most important question ever asked, namely “In truth I know that this is so; But how can a man be in the right before God?” (Job 9:2).

Answer: God cannot justify the wicked without His justice being eternally satisfied because if He let sinners “off the hook” then He would contradict Himself (cf. Prov 17:15). This dilemma He alone has solved through divine accomplishment and He alone has extended mercy to some without contradiction. This is because God’s Divine attributes of Holiness and Righteousness work at maximum capacity forever. Also, God’s Divine attribute of love works at maximum capacity forever. The Word of God says that God is love (1 Jn 4:8; 16). Therefore, God’s love must be consistent with His justice. The gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is the only way a person can be right before a Holy God. The action of God the Father sending His only Begotten Son to live vicariously (fulfilling all God’s righteous requirements) for everyone who would ever believe in Christ for eternal life as well as the Lord Jesus Christ dying on the cross in substitution taking upon himself the punishment for sins committed by everyone who would ever trust in Christ to save them from the wrath of God, was an action of true love. The Bible teaches that God maintained and demonstrated perfectly His righteousness, holiness and justice and at the same time He upheld and demonstrated perfectly His love when Jesus Christ propitiated God’s wrath toward sinners by dying in their place in substitution on the cross (cf. Rom 3:21-26; 1 Jn 4:10). Propitiation means to satisfy the wrath of another. “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (cf. Rom 5:8). Christ rose from the dead and is alive in Heaven (1 Cor 15:4).

If I were merely to reform my life today by my own strength for the purpose of trying to be a better person, then how would I pay God back for the sins I committed yesterday? I still have to answer for the sins I committed yesterday and I cannot go back in time. Moreover, how do I know that my reformation will remain tomorrow and that tomorrow I will not return to my former sins? Only Christ alone can save a person from the wrath of God because Christ is God. Jesus Christ has come in the flesh; “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (1 Tim 2:5) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus Christ is the second Person of the Trinity. Jesus Christ is the same essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit yet Christ is distinct in Personhood.

Jesus Christ is self-existent. Therefore His perfect life, cross work and resurrection from the dead transcend space and time even though they occurred at a moment in space and time over 2,000 years ago. Our works could never pay God back, because He is self-existent, holy and demands eternal justice for breaking His Law. But Jesus payed the sin debt to God fully because in Jesus there is no sin and Jesus is a self-existent Person. He is the only one who has the resources to satisfy God’s wrath toward sin. Jesus Christ is God in human flesh (Jn 1:1-4; 14). The Lord Jesus Christ has two natures, that is, a divine nature and a human nature.

Jesus is fully God and fully man. Colossians 2:9 references both His divine nature and His human nature when the text reads, “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form” (cf. Philp 2:6; Heb 1:3). In order for Jesus to have a divine nature must mean that He is perfect, self-existent, the same essence as God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Jesus also has a human nature, that is, He is every way that we are in His human nature except He is without sin (cf. Jn 7:18; Heb 2:14; 4:15; 1 Jn 3:5). Jesus Christ has two natures perfectly united in one Person, therefore He is the only mediator between God and man (cf. 1 Tim 2:5). In the incarnation, He was born of a Virgin, conceived miraculously by God the Holy Spirit. Jesus lived perfectly fulfilling everything that God requires us to do. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the cross as an innocent sacrifice for those who would trust in Him alone to be saved from the wrath of God. At the right time, when Jesus died on the cross for the ungodly, God the Father charged to Jesus’ account all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Him for eternal life, and in turn, God the Father charges to the believing sinner the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is called the great exchange of the cross and is explicitly taught in the Word of God when it reads, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” This does not mean that Jesus became a sinner on the cross. In fact, He was perfectly righteous on the cross. It means that Jesus was treated as if He committed all the sins of everyone who would ever believe in Him, although He was innocent, and now God treats everyone who would ever believe in Christ only as if they lived Jesus’ perfect life.

God only saves the ungodly and sinners (cf. Rom 4:5; 1 Tim 1:15). He does not save righteous people. If you do not see your need for Christ to save you from the wrath of God then you will fall under the wrath of almighty God. If you are not convinced now when you stand before Him you will be completely convinced of it. True Christianity evidences itself by a changed life by the power of God. A person is saved by Grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone not works. Grace is not a license to sin (cf. Rom 6:1-3). True Christianity evidences itself by true discipleship; “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me’” (Lk 9:23). God now commands to men that all everywhere should repent (Acts 17:30). What you need to examine is in regards to this question, namely, “when I die will I be ready to stand before the Holy God?” Do not say that you are ready because your heart subjectively tells you that you are, for the heart is deceitful above all else (cf. Jer 17:9). But only say yes to this answer if the Word of God testifies the same concerning your life.

Based on the true conviction of these things through God the Holy Spirit, you must cry out to God for mercy and ask Him to save you from His wrath. You must trust in what the Lord Jesus Christ alone has done in fulfilling the Law by His perfect life of obedience, His suffering and dying on the cross in substitution for you and His resurrection from the dead for your justification. Merely agreeing that the Bible teaches this truth is not enough. You must trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His person and Cross work alone to save you from the Wrath of God. True faith trusts in the personal righteousness of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is good news for you if you know yourself to be an ungodly sinner. God justifies sinners who place faith in Christ. Justification means “declared righteous” and justification is by faith apart from works of the Law. Even the faith to believe in Christ is a gift from God and not something that a person can take any credit for at all (cf. Ephesians 2:9-10). The Lord Jesus Christ will return imminently in great glory (Matt 24:30; 25:31) and He will execute Judgment (cf. 1 Tim 4:1). Do not delay any further; repent unto salvation and believe the Gospel.


This summary on the letter to the Hebrews is by no means exhaustive, but it is intended to be an encouragement for you to read the book of Hebrews and consider some of the following features from the book of Hebrews mentioned in this synopsis.

The human author of the book of Hebrews did not reference his name in the introduction but instead kept himself anonymous, but the divine Author is God the Holy Spirit. The Apostle Paul is the human author because of his reference to Timothy in 13:23 as well as the fact that the theological themes mostly reflect Pauline epistles. Hebrews was written sometime during the 60’s A.D. but could even have been written earlier. This short abridgment will answer what Hebrews taught concerning the Person and work of Jesus Christ, as well as why this teaching was given.

To start, Hebrews teaches that the Person Jesus Christ is the Eternal Son of God, Whom eternally has existed as the Son of God. Moreover, Christ upholds the universe by the word of His power (cf. 1:1-4). Jesus Christ is more superior and excellent than prophets (cf. 1:1), more superior and excellent than angels (1:5-14; 2:5-16), more superior and excellent than Moses (cf. 3:1-6), and more superior and excellent than kings, high priests, and animal sacrifices (cf. 4-10). The reason the author of Hebrews focused on the superiority (cf. 1:4) of the Person and position of Christ is because the original recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews were considering turning back to the old covenant. To caution the original recipients of Hebrews not to enter into collective apostasy and forfeit their souls there were given many warning passages in the epistle (cf. 2:1-4; 3:7-14; 5:11-6:8; 10:26-39; 12:15-17; 12:25-29). The author reasonably argued that if all of the types, pictures and symbols in the old covenant point to Christ who fulfilled them and instituted the new covenant, and if one abandons Christ to return to the old covenant types, pictures and symbols, then one forfeits any opportunity to be saved from the wrath of God (cf. 6:4-6; 10:29).

Concerning the work of Jesus Christ, it is His finished work alone that provides salvation from the wrath of God. The eternally begotten Son of God took human flesh to Himself permanently forever in the incarnation for the purpose of saving His people (cf. 2:1-18). The Agent of Creation (cf. 1:1-4) entered into the creation as the Author of salvation for many (cf. 1:3c; 2:10). He came to provide atonement for His people. The main subject that Hebrews teaches is the doctrine of the atonement. Hebrews 2:17 teaches the atoning work of Christ when it reads, “Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

The Greek word for propitiation in 2:17 is ἱλάσκεσθαι (hilaskesthai). It is a verb in the present infinitive middle/passive and it means “to make propitiation for (i.e. to satisfy the wrath of another).” The noun form of the same word, namely ἱλαστήριον (hilastērion) is translated “mercy seat” in 9:5. Both words share the same root in Greek. The significance in this observation is that it was on the mercy seat where the high priest under the old covenant would sprinkle the sacrificial blood on the day of atonement. The author of Hebrews explained the significance of the mercy seat in the old covenant when he wrote,

Now when these things have been so prepared, the priests are continually entering the outer tabernacle performing the divine worship, but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year, not without taking blood, which he offers for himself and for the sins of the people committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit is signifying this, that the way into the holy place has not yet been disclosed while the outer tabernacle is still standing, which is a symbol for the present time. Accordingly both gifts and sacrifices are offered which cannot make the worshiper perfect in conscience, since they relate only to food and drink and various washings, regulations for the body imposed until a time of reformation. (9:6-10)

Then the author of Hebrews explained the things described in the first covenant are a type of what Christ had done as a high priest of a better covenant when he wrote,

But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (9:11-14)

Christ has entered into the holy of holies in heaven where He is seated at the right hand of God and has made purification for sins once and for all (cf. 1:3). The things in the first covenant were cleansed with the blood of innocent animal sacrifices, but were just copies of the heavenly things that Christ has entered into with the better sacrifice of His own blood (cf. 9:23). The law was only a shadow of the good things to come and could never make sinners perfect (cf. 10:1-7). However, what Christ has done has provided full atonement by one sacrifice for sins for all time, and He has sat down at the right hand of God in heaven (cf. 10:9-18). He has offered His blood to the mercy seat in heaven.

On these realities, the author of Hebrews encouraged the original
recipients to have full assurance in Christ with the following exhortation,

Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (10:19-24)

The application of these things is for the original recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews as well as everyone who reads it today, to take heed and hope in Christ by anchoring their soul to Him in order to save them from the wrath of God and persevere with faith only in Him (cf. 6:19). That is why there are many warning passages in the epistle (cf. 2:1-4; 3:7-14; 5:11-6:8; 10:26-39; 12:15-17; 12:25-29). The original recipients of the epistle were in danger of turning back to the old covenant because of their present persecution. To turn back would have been only foolishness because God has instituted a new and better covenant with Christ as mediator. According to God, Christ is the only way of salvation. The original recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews were being persecuted by the collective apostate leaders and followers of first century Judaism (cf. 10:32-39), but the author of Hebrews wrote that even though they were being persecuted they were not persecuted to the point of blood shed (cf. 12:4). But Christ was persecuted to the point of blood shed – that is, the righteous blood He shed on the cross for the forgiveness of sins.

The author of Hebrews warned the reader not to defect from the faith. The author defined faith as follows when he wrote, “now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (11:1). The author then launched into an entire chapter of faithful examples of saints in the OT who did not waver from their faith in God. The reader appealed to a cloud of witnesses who were faithful (cf. 12:1). Therefore, the author of Hebrews tells the reader to turn away from their sin (12:1b) run with endurance (12:1c), fix their eyes on Jesus who is, “the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (12:2).

If the reader defects there can only be judgment because they have rejected their only means of salvation. Therefore, the exhortation is given to the reader because it is only Christ or judgment (cf. 10:26-31; 12:25-29). As a final point, the reader must know that when they are being disciplined by God it is a sign of assurance of salvation and should cause that person to be obedient from the heart and move forward with full assurance of salvation (cf. 12:5-8)

In conclusion, Hebrews taught that Jesus Christ is the eternally begotten Son of God and has full superiority in His person and position. Moreover, the Lord Jesus Christ is the mediator of a new and better covenant than the old covenant and has provided full redemption by shedding His blood on the cross in propitiation for His people. Therefore, there is no need to go back to the old covenant because to do so would only forfeit a person’s soul and remove them from the only way of redemption. It would remove them from the only way of redemption because to go back to the old covenant and not accept the new covenant is rejecting God’s only way of salvation. To this effect, there are many warning passages in Hebrews. Those who are His must not waver but rather have a heart of faith in full assurance of salvation in Him.

– E.V. Powers

Reader, Read the Book of Hebrews!

Outline of Hebrews:
I. The Superiority of Jesus Christ’s Position (1:1-4:13)
II. The Superiority of Jesus Christ’s Priesthood (4:14-7:28)
III. The Superiority of Jesus Christ’s Priestly Ministry (8:1-10:18)
IV. The Superiority of the Believer’s Privileges (10:19-12:29)
V. Imperatives to be Obedient to the Changeless Christ (13:1-25)

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