Did you know that there was a guide for Disciples that was their teaching tool while on missions. It is said to have been written before Saul became Paul and written for the scattered communities of Believers. The Didache covers a great many things and brings perfect light to some of Jesus’ teachings and purpose that have been perverted especially in these last 60 years. In the Didache we learn many truths that were confused by the translators both of older times and recent.
The text is written like the Book of Proverbs as it addresses the reader as “My Child”. The basic setup is describing two ways, one of life and the other death. How a person conducts him/herself in life determines the fate of the spirit within. The choice is simple, follow the ways of Jesus or follow the Adversary.
The Didache covers the right way to baptize, when to fast and how to pray. It also examines and states a proper way of holding the Lord’s Supper and an example on how to give thanks to God. The writer introduces basics for appointing bishops and some specific qualities required of them.
There are two ways, one of life and one of death! And there is a great difference between the two ways.
The way of life is this: First, you shall love God who made you. And second, love your neighbor as yourself, and do not do to another what you would not want done to you. The meaning of these sayings is this: Bless those who curse you, and pray for your enemies, and fast for those who persecute you. For what reward is there for loving those who love you? Do not the heathens do the same? But you should love those who hate you, and then you shall have no enemies. Abstain from fleshly and bodily lusts: If someone strikes your right cheek, turn the other also, and be perfect. If someone forces you to go one mile, go two. If someone takes your cloak, give also your coat. If someone takes from from you what is yours, don't ask for it back. You really cannot. Give to everyone who asks you, and don't ask for it back. The Father wants his blessings shared. Happy is the giver who lives according to this rule, for that one is guiltless. But the receiver must beware; for if one receives who has need, he is guiltless, but if one receives not having need, he shall stand trial, answering why he received and for what use. If he is found guilty he shall not escape until he pays back the last penny. However, concerning this, there is a saying: "Let your alms sweat in your hands until you know to whom to give them." (1)
The difference between life and death has to do with the way we live our days. Following the path of light written in the Word and you live, not doing so leads to death. So what are the basic tenants we are to follow? Love God the Father, Creator; Give the same love to others as you would have love for yourself; Treat others how you wish to be treated. We are told that loving our neighbor should include those who we dislike, in fact we should show them love them more, how else would we share God’s Love than to show our “enemies” that it is better to love than to hate. We are, after all, made of the same flesh and bone but with slight variations.
America was on the verge of equality until certain incidents occurred that caused racial tensions to rise way beyond what they should have. It was due to an act of justice that led to a violent outbreak. The violence caused the city and the nation to be separated by ethnic groups. The end result was a movement that separated a nation. Certain rights were given to a group individuals under false pretenses and the persons took to destroying the rights of others to further the cause of destroying good moral values and the family. These things have led to people taking up causes that go against the values on which America was built on. Violence does beget violence but true love and understanding begets peace.
The next grouping is the physical side of living. Our bodies, though made of flesh, are special and uniquely made. They are not meant for others to view over the internet or be paraded on stages or screens. Over-sexualization of the human body leads to disobedience of the Commandments and total misuse can lead to physical and eternal death. When someone strikes you or verbally abuses you stand up for yourself, do not let them see your actions as weakness but strength by standing firm. They will get their due. Do not give into your own anger and strike back but kill the individual with God’s love and forgiveness. When we are given a task don’t just do the mission and say it is complete, do more than required because God never stopped with us after creation. Material things should have no high place in the movement of our lives, if someone is in need and you have extra, give all you can, do not hoard things because you will only cause yourself calamity when many are in need and know that you have more than enough.
Once again we are speaking of violent behaviors. God does not want violence, He desires peace.
Giving of yourself and your material goods is one of the many other things God desires of us. However, remember this if you are on the receiving side, you best have actual need or when you are discovered you will face the consequences of your thievery. Those in need will have blessings bestowed but those who are greedy will live destitute and faithless in the long run. Be aware of where and to whom the material things and funds are given. We have seen this with the recent disasters as misfortunes where people are asking for donations so they can help and instead pocket it. The sympathies of people when a situation hits a family are one thing but to ask for funds when all things are already being provided for is theft.
Brothers and Sisters, this first part of the Didache tells us to be watchful and diligent in staying in the Word. This part gives us the basis on the following of the greatest commandment and living a Christ like life are only the beginning of these teachings.
The second commandment of the teaching is this: Do not commit murder; do not commit adultery; do not corrupt boys; do not have illicit sex; do not steal; do not practice magic; do not practice witchcraft; you shall not murder a child, whether it be born or unborn. Do not covet the things of your neighbor. Do not swear or bear false witness. Do not speak evil of others; do not bear grudges. You should not be double-minded or double-tongued, for a double-tongue is a deadly snare. Your speech should not be false nor empty, but fulfilled by action. Do not be covetous, or greedy, or hypocritical, or malicious, or arrogant. Do not have designs against your neighbor. Hate no one; correct some, pray for others, and some you should love more than your own life.
Notice the Commandments and the Morality Laws? They are there. This specifically speaks of adulterous and sexually immoral behaviors, pedophilia, homosexuality, abortion, thievery, abduction, astrology, sorcery, murder, lying, bitter, two-faced, back stabbing, and more. It looks to be a short-hand version of the Ten Commandments to the Gentiles who never heard them. This section also covers the Morality Laws, and the things God and Jesus flat out abhor. Some of these are common sense practices and are also found in Codes of Law from other nations so most of these are nothing new to the receivers of this teaching. The main difference is that these are from God and emphasized by Jesus as things not to do in order to live an eternal life in the light not in the darkness of death.
Looking into these teachings, they speak of behaviors that affect mankind both physically and spiritually. The teachings are telling us what we must not do in order to live a right life with ourselves, in the community, and out in the world. I will not go into detail on all these “do not’s” and “should not’s” (although I would love to) because, simply, these are the opposite of the good morals, ethics, values, and characteristics that Believers need to be abiding in.
These teachings are called archaic by today’s standards of society. I have heard people say that the world is so depraved we should be rid of laws altogether so people can do what they see as right in their own eyes. Yeah that would be great until they are wronged and start complaining to others and crying that it shouldn’t happen and the perpetrators should be punished. This causes witch hunts and accusation band wagons that destroy careers. Does that sound familiar in society’s current situation?
The Didache teachings have just as much relevance today as they did even before they were written. So what do we do with this? Before the 20th Century it was easier to abide by these teachings, today it is an even worse struggle but it must be done. We need to live with a good moral compass, giving yourself over to Christ and following His ways all the time (not just Sunday in church). Do not being judgmental of others and stop giving in or compromising to appeal to a sinner’s ways. Have a compassionate, loving heart towards others but know when it is time to exert the tough love that the Father and Jesus has shown us.
Remember brothers and sisters, God’s rules are not to be changed or broken to satisfy our own thinking on how we should live. They were, after all, “set in stone”.
My child, flee evil of all kinds, and everything like it. Don't be prone to anger, for anger leads to murder. Don't be jealous or quarrelsome or hot-tempered, for all these things lead to murder. My child, don't be lustful, for lust leads to illicit sex. Don't be a filthy talker or allow your eyes a free reign, for these lead to adultery. My child, don't observe omens, since it leads to idolatry. Don't be an enchanter, or an astrologer, or a purifier, or be willing to see or hear about these things, for these all lead to idolatry. My child, don't be a liar, since a lie leads to theft. Don't love money or seek glory, for these things lead to thievery. My child, don't grumble, since it leads to blasphemy, and don't be self-willed or evil-minded, for all these things lead to blasphemy. On the contrary, be gentle, since the gentle will inherit the earth. Be long-suffering and pitiful and guileless and gentle and good, and with trembling, treasure the words you have received. Don't exalt yourself or open your heart to overconfidence. Don't be on intimate terms with mighty people, but with just and lowly ones. Accept whatever happens to you as a blessing, knowing that nothing comes to pass apart from God.
Right out the gate the author discusses the death blow to the mental and emotional state of others when we give in to anger. Then the author speaks of the physical death. In the time this was written there were few ideas about mental control measures so they understood that these emotional responses could lead to ungodly, negative actions. Technology and mass media have made it easier for children and adults to be subjected to violence and sexual situations which makes individuals believe it is ok to view. This corrupts the mind into believing these are the new norms for society. Illicit sexual desires (anything besides husband and wife consensual sex), and the taking of another’s life are not acceptable behaviors. We are not animals and our behaviorisms can be controlled. All we have to do is not give in to them. Sex is reserved for marriage (man to woman nothing else),killing is only acceptable during war (and even then it is still painful to the mind). Matters that ruin the minds also ruin the heart. Be heart healthy and do not give in to temptation.
The next part about witchcraft, occultisms, and divination are the forms of idolatry that were prevalent in that time. We can include: celebrity worship, alcohol/drug dependency, anything that deals with seeking future events that gives glances that do not fall in line with Godly Teachings. There are things that we are just not supposed to do because they may be tricks of the Adversary.
The love of materialism, having selfish desires, and bearing false witness are worldly things that lead away from God. They are the thieves that steal our soul from the eternal glory and light of God. Anything that goes against God’s teachings is considered blasphemy. Claiming you are something you are not, belittling someone who has done nothing against you or others (bigotry), gossip, and other similar actions are things that lead away from God and destroy another’s heart as well as your own.
This section is not without a hope of relief and salvation. The basic message in being right with God is being a humble servant towards others without thought of yourself. I have mentioned numerous times our lot in life as caretakers and this part is no different. We should accept the situation we find ourselves in and not wanting more or better for that is the situation in which God has placed us. When God is moving in our lives we should not question it, just move because God places us where we are needed as caretakers. Those that try to control their own destiny will eventually fall and fail. If not them personally in this life, then their future generations who seem to reap the benefits will eventually have to deal with the consequences. The eternal soul is what matters, not human fame and fortune.
Accept the hand that God dealt and if mankind gives you a rotten egg, take it to God so that you will understand how to deal with it. Stay from the trappings of man for they are not of God but the Adversary who does everything to go against God’s Plan.
Brothers and Sisters, walk through the days without a chip on your shoulder, God will knock it off. Rather, accept the way that you are and God will provide.
I pray that you receive God’s Love and Blessings as you walk humbly with Christ letting Him lift you and take care of you as you do His Will on earth.
This final part on the Way to Life talks about community living and the breaking of social status.
[My child, remember day and night him who speaks the word of God to you, and honor him as the Lord. For wherever his lordship is spoken of, there he is.]
Seek each day the faces of the saints, in order that you may be refreshed by their words. Do not initiate divisions, but rather bring peace to those who contend against one another. Judge righteously, and do not take social status into account when reproving for transgressions. Do not waver in your decisions. Do not be one who opens his hands to receive, or closes them when it is time to give. If you have anything, by your hands you should give ransom for your sins. Do not hesitate to give, and do not complain about it. You will know in time who is the good Rewarder. Do not turn away from one who is in want; rather, share all things with your brother, and do not say that they are your own. For if you are sharers in what is imperishable, how much more in things which perish! Do not remove your hand from your son or daughter; teach them the fear of God from their youth. Do not give orders to your servants when you are angry, for they hope in the same God, and they may lose the fear of God, who is over both of you. God is surely not coming to call on us according to our outward appearance or station in life, but to them whom the Spirit has prepared. And you, servants, be subject to your masters as to God's image, in modesty and fear. You should hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not in any way neglect the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, neither adding nor taking away anything. In your gatherings, confess your transgressions, and do not come for prayer with a guilty conscience. This is the way of life!
Notice that right away social status does not matter, a sin is a sin and all face the same consequences. Also, sharing in material needs, nourishment, and services is seen as a normal way of life. Little money changed hands between believers.
Does anyone see the Scripture in the next part? Proverbs 22: 6 anyone? This goes without saying. The parent is responsible for the child until he or she is old enough be on their own. This is true for today’s world because it is actually a basic rule of life. The problem is outside influences but if the parents do right by their children, the outside will not be the teacher.
The servant and master dialogue is also found to be spoken by Jesus. One of the Apostles, Thomas, was a servant. He was given up by his master to follow Jesus. The master understood that the Spiritual debt was more important than any earthly debt and let Thomas follow his heart.
You should hate all hypocrisy and everything which is not pleasing to the Lord. Do not in any way neglect the commandments of the Lord, but keep what you have received, neither adding nor taking away anything.
This last part was held to a high standard in that there was always someone who tried to pervert the Word. This is a warning against False Teachers. These early Christians were still with Jesus and the Apostles teachings fresh in their minds so they could tell if there was hypocrisy being taught.
Look into the Old Testament and what Jesus reiterated and you will find what displeases them and what abhors them. We are to keep the Commandments they are God’s Law not recommendations. Also keep the Scriptures as they are without adding or taking away anything. Man’s thinking does not override God’s Word.
Brothers and sisters, this was not just a grouping of believers in a building, it was a community of believers that worshipped together daily. They shared meals and material goods. They prayed together, sang as one, took care of each other as family because they were the new definition of blood related (blood of Jesus). Each person had skill or trade to bring to the community that helped others. These were not communes, these were a people group that studied God’s Word and did their best to live a Christ-like life.
The way of death, on the other hand, is this: It is evil and accursed—murders, adulteries, lust, illicit sex, thefts, idolatries, magical arts, sorceries, robberies, false testimonies, hypocrisy, double-heartedness, deceit, haughtiness, depravity, self-will, greediness, filthy talking, jealousy, over-confidence, loftiness, boastfulness—those who do not fear God. The way of death is the way of those who persecute the good, hate the truth, love lies, and do not understand the reward for righteousness. They do not cleave to good or righteous judgment; they do not watch for what is good, but for what is evil. They are strangers to meekness and patience, loving vanities, pursuing revenge, without pity for the needy and oppressed. They do not know their Creator; they are murderers of children, destroyers of God's image. They turn away from those who are in need, making matters worse for those who are distressed. They are advocates for the rich, unjust judges of the poor. In a word, the way of death is full of those who are steeped in sin. Be delivered, children, from all of this!
This section truly speaks for itself so I will not go into great detail. The Roman Imperial areas in which this was first found had settlements of all types of people and there were many religions that relied on idols, speaking to the dead, chance (roll of the dice), some had no moral code attached to them and allowed debauchery of all sorts.
Today’s society is filled with immoral and amoral behaviors of all sorts. It is filled with people who believe that having double standards is a normal way of living. Behavioral and life choices of many show a lack of good judgement and even though their life seems fine, on the inside they are dying a slow death.
The Way of Death is everything worldly that is not in line with God’s Will for His creation. It is the choosing to live as they see fit in their own eyes while ignoring or not understanding consequence. The Way of Death is anything that destroys the physical, emotional, or mental state of man and in a sense makes him a creature less than God’s intended design. It is the following of man-made traditions that pervert the Word of God in any way shape or form.
What about the person who believes in Christ but is not truly in Christ. The Way of Death is seeking gratitude where it is not needed, boasting of your deeds without thanking or giving credit to God, compulsive lying, not being the Good Samaritan, etc. The Christian that does not rely on Jesus nor gives thanks but is the first to put money in the offering plate so he does not have to show his faith outside the church is another example. So as you can see, the way to death is not following God’s Word.
See that no one leads you astray from the way of this teaching, since all other teachings train you without God. For if you are able to bear the entire yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect; but if you are not able, then at least do what you can. Concerning food, do what you are able to do and be on guard against meat offered to idols, for that is to worship dead gods.
When in our youth and even into early adulthood there are many obstacles that the Adversary can tempt people with. Believers in God have it real bad as the Adversary’s desire is to thwart God’s plan in our lives. If someone says, “Jump off this rock and don’t worry, the ground is soft and will ease your fall.” Would you do it? Look at the conditions, the land on the side you are jumping to is 25 feet down and it looks a bit jagged with thorns and loose rock but grassy with no way back up. Still going to do it? There is also a large fire ant hill right nearby but there is one tiny spot that is clear, soft sand. Still going to try it?
When Peter was led to the Gentile by the Holy Spirit, he was forced to do things that were not the norm for him but it done so that he would have a clearer understanding on how they lived. He was not led astray by the actions and foods. Peter kept the Word on his heart and did not lose himself to the ways of man.
The false/man-made idols were still being worshipped and had grain and drink offerings mostly set before them. Yes in some spots they sacrificed animals but sometimes the food that went to the idols was already prepared. This food went either back to their own home or was given to leaders or the needy.
In this day and age it is easier to be coerced into falling away. In fact, there are so many ways that it is surprising that we have not completely been torn apart. We do not know what we are eating unless we grow it ourselves so that makes it hard to distinguish whether someone might have offered up the animal before the slaughter. If you think about it, the farmer or breeder raises the animals then when the time comes offers them up for money. Of course this is the way of doing things in society today because we need money to survive, but it was not like that back then.
Jesus warned the Jews about being led astray and even corrected the Sanhedrin in their misguidance through God’s Law which they perverted to suit the society and themselves. But this section has a deeper meaning. Temptations of man to do things that are apart from God lead to sin. If one is tempted and another sees and desires the same, the first caused the second to stumble. When helping one in correction from temptation or sin do not fall in the same trappings so you cause the person to stumble further. Keep God’s Word on your heart and stay in the teachings otherwise you will suffer the same.
The first century Christian Community was very successful in turning Jews back to and Gentiles into the Way of Life which was through Christ and continued to a relationship with God. No one was “converted”, they did not mutate or transform, they had a renewed heart that led them to God.
Concerning baptism, you should baptize this way: After first explaining all things, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in flowing water. But if you have no running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, then in warm. If you have very little, pour water three times on the head in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, both the baptizer and the candidate for baptism, plus any others who can, should fast. The candidate should fast for one or two days beforehand.
This is the process in which Baptism should occur. Baptism is the outward expression of the inward acceptance of the covenant made through the blood, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. John the Baptist made people clean through a repentant baptism in preparation for the coming Messiah by washing the sins away in the flowing water of the Jordan. For he said, “Repent and be baptized”.
The best way to baptize is in water that flows. This is done so to symbolize a removal of the sins. Nowadays we have a Baptismal that water is poured into and is still. It is good but a flowing one would be better. Why cold water? the temperature of the water is important because if you are baptized in cold water the pours stay closed so that no new sin can enter in. But it is ok for warm water due to the temperature of the surrounding area and how quickly the pours would close. Full immersion is preferred but a pouring is acceptable. Even before going into the water one should not eat or drink for one to two days. Why? Because you must enter the covenant humbly, with the understanding that the earthly foods only fill the body while the spirit needs the bread of life. By fasting, the body becomes dependent on God’s Word so it is a full acceptance of Jesus through the trust that His Word is sufficient for life.
Notice two things that did not have an alternative mode here. First the person must understand and accept the Word and the sacrifice that Jesus made finishing the need for the blood sacrifices for our salvation. Secondly, the fasting. The only thing about the fasting is the time limit. A child can fast for one and be good but an adult, two days.
The waiting for Resurrection Day to be baptized did not start until late first century to early second century. Instead it was basically an on the spot acceptance and washing bringing more and more into the Body of Christ. This was both right and proper going along with the Great Commission.
Perry Stone wrote on the first century Byzantine Church. In his explanation of things the men and women were baptized separately because they went into the water in the nude. This was the process: After the fasting was complete, the candidates lined up dressed in white robes and entered into a cavern inside a hill. At the lowest point there was a pool of cold flowing water. Upon entering the water, the outer garment was removed and the appointed priest, deacon, or elder, asked for confirmation of beliefs then the person was immersed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Upon exiting the water they were given their white garment and a glass of milk mixed with honey to cleanse the inner self. When all Baptisms were complete, the whole Community of Believers shared in Communion then a celebration meal. Now that is a blessed time.
Baptism has sure changed since then as it is a full community observance. Certain denominations do things a little backwards by baptizing before the candidate even realizes what is going on, then later has to go through classes to explain everything and then accept the covenant. The Great Commission that Jesus spoke before He ascended said to make Disciples of all mankind baptizing and maintaining obedience to the Word. To make Disciples one must first explain everything to which they outwardly show their acceptance through baptism then they are followed up with constantly through the speaking of the Word. That is the process of Baptism.
Have you been immersed in the waters of Baptism? I personally was Baptized as a baby through the Lutheran Church, went through the Catechism, and had my first Communion by the time I was 8. But I did not truly know Jesus. I was chosen to give a sermon when I was 9 on a children’s Sunday, but I still did not know Jesus. I went through 25 1/2 years thinking I was good to go until I truly discovered what Jesus was doing in my life. When I truly became aware of Jesus, I gave a public confession and was Baptized by immersion. I was 26 when I truly gave my life to God. When did you?
When living in the Community of Believers or Body of Christ there are times that worship is done as a community and times that worship is a private matter. Worship, as we know is a many faceted thing. The Community of Believers that received this writing had basic understandings yet needed warnings and a how to since it was a young community. One thing they did learn is that each person is known to God and wants to hear their needs, their praises, and they understood that they cannot do things which involve their eternal rest, alone.
Your fasts should not be with the hypocrites, for they fast on Mondays and Thursdays. You should fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. And do not pray like the hypocrites, but rather as the Lord commanded in the gospel: Our Father in heaven, holy be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us enough bread day-by-day. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. Pray this three times each day.
One thing to note right away, this prayer was not ended with “In Jesus Name”. That is because this is a direct prayer to God as well as our way of expressing full devotion and worship of God alone. That came after the need to recognize Jesus as mediator.
Fasting: A Private Matter
This part has to do with devotional piety. The writer notes that a separation between hypocrites and their fast days was necessary to make things right with God. Thing is, there were those that fasted Mondays and Thursday while the Way believers fasted on Wednesdays and Fridays. The reason, the believers fasted in preparation for the Sabbath while the hypocrites fasted after the Sabbath and not right before. The other part is openly stating and boasting of the fast. Fasting is not a public event. It is a private, physical showing of the spiritual, personal devotion to God. Jesus said that it is a private matter between the sinner and God, the same as prayer.
Prayer: Communication with God
Jesus presented a way to pray with the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer begins with praises to the Father and asks for the will of the Father to be the main activity on earth as it is in Heaven. Now the bread is a two-fold meaning, continue to sustain us with physical nourishment as the Word nourishes our soul. The debt is our sins to which we are slaves to. God forgives us but to receive ultimate forgiveness we need to forgive others as god has forgiven us. The time of trial is asking that we stay from the temptations in life through staying in the Word and understand that He is our rescuer. Basically, Praise God and know that we cannot do things without Him. We cannot save ourselves nor recover from our sinfulness without God.
The writer notes that we should pray three times a day. These prayer times were instituted by Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob respectively. Abraham instituted Morning Prayer, Isaac prayed mid- day and Jacob closed out his day in prayer. Jesus proclaimed we should pray constantly and persistently.
The Early Community of Believers conducted the Eucharist every time they met to worship. It was a huge but solemn event. Now remember Paul’s instruction on the Communion had not been published yet so we will not see the doctrine here. This is what the writer of the Didache said concerning the Celebration of the Lord’s Supper.
Concerning the Eucharist, give thanks this way. First, concerning the cup: We thank you, our Father, for the holy vine of David your servant, which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever.
Next, concerning the broken bread: We thank you, our Father, for the life and knowledge which you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever. Even as this broken bread was scattered over the hills, and was gathered together and became one, so let your church be gathered together from the ends of the earth into your kingdom. To you is the glory and the power through Jesus Christ forever. Allow no one to eat or drink of your Eucharist, unless they have been baptized in the name of the Lord.
For concerning this, the Lord has said, "Do not give what is holy to dogs."
The “holy vine of David” refers to the promise God made to him that his line will produce the Messiah who will save us from sin made known through the miracle birth of Jesus. The blood of human imperfection was mixed with the holiness of the Word making it sinless and perfect. When given up, this Blood covered the sins of man as did the first Sheep that gave of its life to cover Adam, Eve and their descendants up to that moment.
The life and knowledge is the Word signified by Bread. This nourishment was spread and scattered, manipulated, but brought back together in the body of the Messiah, Word made flesh. All those who gather in the belief of the truth of the Word become one with the Word and thereby strengthen its hold on the earth.
The washing of sin through the outward showing of the inward heart transformation was also the way of showing people that even though we are broken we have a Savior that has glued us back together with His Blood. When we are baptized we show that we are dead to the world then cleansed and raised because Jesus gave us the key to the door which brings us to new life. Doing this outward act cleanses us and is deemed necessary to accept the offering of His Life and the Word which helps us grow in Him.
Dogs have had a bad rap especially during this time where they literally ate whatever they could. The Holy things were not meant for animal consumption even though they are part of God’s Creation. The main difference is that they became a source of food. Certain animals became domesticated and became part of the family, which meant they were no longer used for food. These animals actually symbolize or represent our purpose for which we were originally created (caretakers of the earth). The difference is, they do not know sin so they do not need the covering.
When we come to this table, we come with the knowledge and understanding of what God did for us through His Son. We are to confess that we are sinners, yet believe and follow God’s Word and ask forgiveness. We thank Him for the offering that cleanses us and nourishes us. The human doctrine that explains all this adds so much when all He wants is for us to know Jesus, that we are forgiven, and we must follow His Word in all things.
So far on this journey we have seen things that are similar with many more differences in the conduct of the Body of Christ between the very early community and today’s church. The thanksgiving prayer for after the Lord’s Supper goes a little deeper than some of the prayers today.
The Eucharist was actually the part of the full meal shared by the community at gatherings. Before the Remembrance was delivered, there was a time for fellowship, forgiving and making things right in the eyes of the community and the presence of God. The Remembrance was encircled by the singing of songs, persistent prayer, and other forms of worship. Once the meal and Remembrance was conducted was a prayer which we see here:
After the Eucharist when you are filled, give thanks this way: We thank you, holy Father, for your holy name which you enshrined in our hearts, and for the knowledge and faith and immortality that you made known to us through Jesus your servant. To you be the glory forever. You, Master Almighty, have created all things for your name's sake. You gave food and drink to all people for enjoyment that they might give thanks to you; but to us you freely give spiritual food and drink and life eternal through Jesus, your servant. Before all things we thank you because you are mighty. To you be the glory forever. Remember, Lord, your church. Deliver it from all evil and make it perfect in your love, and gather it from the four winds sanctified for your kingdom which you have prepared for it. For Yours is the power and the glory forever. Let grace come, and let this world pass away! Hosanna to the Son of David! If anyone is holy, let him come; if anyone is not holy, let him repent. Maranatha! Amen. [But permit the prophets to make thanksgiving as much as they desire.]
The very first thing of value here is that they understood the proper order to whom ALL worship belongs. It is the Father’s name which is greater. We have songs today that gift Jesus more worship and glory and we know that Jesus said to do things in His name that go to the Father but Jesus never asked to be worshiped. God’s Name is the Only name to which all worship should be directed. Yes all things to God should be directed through Jesus because He commanded it but not solely worshiping Jesus as some churches do today.
This particular Prayer of Thanksgiving is a great example of how they used the model of the Lord’s Prayer. The prayer first praises God and recognize Him as the creator and giver of life. This is followed by thanking for the provisions both physical and spiritual. Then there is the request for forgiveness and deliverance from all evils. Then it ends with the recognition once again of who is truly in charge and a request for the future kingdom, there is also the addition of recognition of Jesus as the Messiah. They used the model prayer nearly perfect.
So what do we do to remedy the mistakes of ages past and stop the confusion of the sacrificial meal itself. Is it a Remembrance? Does the bread and wine truly transform into Jesus? Is it just done in Memorial? We should understand that some of those things were transferred in by pagan beliefs. Jesus Himself said to do this in Remembrance of me. We remember the fact that He is the spotless Lamb, the Word made Flesh for our understanding. He came to correct the humanness of God’s Word and to bring all people one step closer to the Father. The sacrifice of the Body was to pour out the purest, clean blood that cleansed the earth and made it God’s again.
The Devil is on His last ditch effort to remove us from His presence once again. Only God can stop him but we are His instruments in Faith and Trust of our Lord, Jesus Christ. We must continue to fight the good fight daily. Knowing the truths found in Scripture and understanding how the Word was spread throughout the land will only strengthen us. We must purify ourselves of the traditions and temptations of man and fully focus on God. That will defeat Satan once and for all.
CHAPTER ELEVEN In this next instruction we see the blessings and warnings when it comes to the traveling prophets.
Welcome the teacher when he comes to instruct you in all that has been said. But if he turns and trains you in another tradition to the destruction of this teaching, do not listen. If he teaches so as to increase righteousness and the knowledge of the Lord, receive him as the Lord. Act according to the precepts of the gospel concerning all apostles and prophets: Let every apostle who comes to you be received as the Lord. But he must not remain more than one day, or two, if there's a need. If he stays three days, he is a false prophet. And when the apostle goes away, let him take nothing but bread to last him until his next night of lodging. If he asks for money, he is a false prophet. In addition, if any prophet speaks in the Spirit, you shall not try or judge him; for every sin will be forgiven, but this sin cannot be forgiven. But not everyone who speaks in the Spirit is a prophet; only he is a prophet who has the ways of the Lord about him. By their ways will the false prophet and the prophet be known. Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet. And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. The ancient prophets acted in this way, also. But whoever says in the Spirit, "Give me money," or something else like this, you must not listen to him. But if he tells you to give for the sake of others who are in need, let no one judge him.
There are many ways to recognize a false prophet. The examples given here are: teaching in a way that is against or a perversion of the Gospel, preaching a false doctrine, overstaying the welcome, asking for compensation (particularly monetary) , non-spiritual actions, does not do as preached, these are things to watch out for. Do those not sound familiar these days especially?
When Jesus sent out the 70 this is what He said: “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field. Go! I am sending you out like lambs among wolves. Do not take a purse or bag or sandals; and do not greet anyone on the road. “When you enter a house, first say, ‘Peace to this house.’ If someone who promotes peace is there, your peace will rest on them; if not, it will return to you. Stay there, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house. “When you enter a town and are welcomed, eat what is offered to you. Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
So What Does This All Mean
First things, Jesus sent by 2 x 2. When you go it alone into an unknown territory you risk many things and even though God has your back, it is best to go with another. He sent them out without the material things of the world to weigh them down. He was teaching them to be reliant on God alone.
If a person overstays his/her welcome in a home (unless a parsonage is being built because believers want the individual to stay on the long term) then that person is not truly a prophet of God. Up until about the 1940s preachers sometimes went around to three or more communities preaching on Sundays and Wednesdays. They had one place where they hung their hat which was usually a small place central to the communities where he preached. Some did not even have vehicles and either walked or rode a horse to the different locations. And they did not ask for extra pay for traveling.
God’s Teachings are not about wealth in the physical sense, it is Spiritual
Speaking of pay, Prophets of old were hardly, if ever paid with money. It was goods and services which the community of believers provided for the Man of God. Once the Roman Catholics took over and the Pontiffs desired money over goods, corruption set in. There are many who say they are people of God, but their god is the almighty dollar without which they could not survive. Money is a necessary evil to make certain things happen but it is how it is used, not for personal gain but for the good of mankind in the simplest form (food, clothing, shelter). Of the tithes and offerings that are asked for in the church, find out how much goes into the pocket of the preacher and the staff. If they make more than you (or more than $35,000) then give of yourself. In other words, give of yourself and your gifts. Give of food and other services offerings for that is what should be given. There is, however, a reason to give monetarily and that is for assistance in purchasing things for the missions and ministries of the church as well as building maintenance. Just make sure you designate it as such.
Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, Give to God what is God’s
Any prophet who orders a meal in the Spirit does not eat it; if he does, he is indeed a false prophet. This one is tricky When a preacher sits with others and is speaking on spiritual matters he must not eat, if he does then he is not in the spirit and is a false.
And any prophet who teaches the truth, but does not do what he teaches, is a false prophet. Remember the saying do as I say not as I do??? Pharisee and Sadducee anyone.
When a prophet, proved true, works for the mystery of the church in the world but does not teach others to do what he himself does, he will not be judged among you, for his judgment is already before God. Do not judge self-desiring prophet (One who cares for his own salvation and not others) for the judgement is already upon him. Remember, “do not judge lest ye be judged”.
Final thoughts. A Prophet (Preacher) of God is not to be found wanting of material things nor is the person to fend for self. This person should be living in humility not lavished in luxury. Also, if the pastor is found not following the Scripture and does not ask to be forgiven, makes excuses (i.e. we are all human or he/she made me do it) yet continues in the sin, it is time to get a new pastor. Just be aware of the wolf in sheep’s clothing.
Welcome anyone coming in the name of the Lord. Receive everyone who comes in the name of the Lord, but then, test them and use your discretion.
If he who comes is a transient, assist him as far as you are able; but he should not remain with you more than two or three days, if need be. If he wants to stay with you, and is a craftsman, let him work for his living. But if he has no trade, use your judgment in providing for him; for a Christian should not live idle in your midst. If he is dissatisfied with this sort of an arrangement, he is a Christ peddler. Watch that you keep away from such people.
Test them???? Come up with a series of questions that a believer would know and if they are found to be truthful, let them stay if not send them on their way. Transients are travelers, nomads, persons with no real place to call home. Feed them, cloth them, let them rest then send them on their way. If the person can be useful because of the spiritual gifts or trades, let the person stay and earn his/her keep. Then if they choose to stay and are acceptable, let them stay. The idle one should be let go as the Scriptures warn against an IDLE Heart:
A worthless [Idle] person digs up evil [gossip] — it is like scorching fire on his lips. Proverbs 16:27 (CJB)
We hear that some of you are leading a life of idleness — not busy working, just busybodies! We command such people — and in union with the Lord Yeshua the Messiah we urge them — to settle down, get to work, and earn their own living. And you brothers who are doing what is good, don’t slack off! 2 Thessalonians 3:11-13 (CJB)
Speaking of IDLE HEARTS, how many additional people showed up in church today? What is the expected number on Easter Sunday? Are there other Holy Week Services such as Maundy Thursday, or Good Friday? How many that show up for those will not be seen again until Christmas? Do you not think that maybe we can do something about that? We can, in fact we have to.
This is the most important time for the Christian calendar, yes even more important than Christmas. How many people do you know that can be considered like the thief that asked Jesus forgiveness while hanging on the Cross? You know the type, Christian when convenient for them. Should we not be working on them year round to get them to turn their backs on the evils of this world and face God. Would you rather them know that God is there for them now and not just when they think they need Him. We have an old Hymn that the chorus goes:
I need thee oh I need thee
every hour I need thee
Oh bless me every hour
I come to thee.
Not only do we need God, He needs us. We are His inheritance. Yes that sounds weird that our creator has us as His inheritance but it is true. Every time we lose a soul to the world, part of God’s inheritance slips from His fingers. He even made it easy for us to stay in His arms thanks to the reason for this season. Without the Sacrifice, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension of our Lord Jesus Christ, we are completely and utterly lost. There is nothing greater than to know that Jesus, Yeshua, Iesha, Immanuel, is the King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Son of the Living God who gave up His very existence as the Word Incarnate in order for us to reconnect with God in a personal relationship. He walks and talks with us if we listen. We do not have to tune everything out to hear Him because He will make the rocks, trees, grass, and leaves sing of His Glory. Why would someone not want this??? It baffles me.
Why do people believe the lie that says, I got Jesus, I am good and can wait on the Lord. Yes His grace is enough but we cannot just sit idly by waiting for our meeting. If you believe that lie, you will miss the call over the intercom saying you are next and when you are informed you will be just like that thief who heard about him but still committed sin.
Support for modern day religious leaders is monetarily. Did you know that that is NOT what God intended? Going way back to the Levites, they were not given a land inheritance of their own but received a portion to live on within the tribes and were the prophets and priests the people went to in order to get spiritually filled.
Every genuine prophet who wants to live among you is worthy of support. So also, every true teacher is, like a workman, entitled to his support. Every first fruit, therefore, of the products of vintage and harvest, of cattle and of sheep, should be given as first fruits to the prophets, for they are your high priests. But if you have no prophet, give it all to the poor. If you bake bread, take the first loaf and give it according to the commandment. If you open a new jar of wine or of oil, take the first fruit and give it to the prophets. If you acquire money or cloth or any other possession, set aside a portion first, as it may seem good to you, and give according to the commandment.
The terms that the translator uses in the first two sentences, worthy and entitled, are to confirm the Scripture decrees of the Levites. The true prophets and teachers are of God and are to freely be given the support of the community. The firstfruits given out of proper devotion of God strengthen the prophet or priest to be able to serve the community in a right godly manner.
This falls in line with what the Prophet Malachi says: Bring the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house (Malachi 3:10). God’s Storehouse is the place where people are to bring their firstfruits to share with the community. The very first, as a thanks to God also goes to feed those who serve God so they do not have to toil the land to feed and clothe their families therefore giving them the ability to fully concentrate on serving God and the community. In accordance with all things, if there is no prophet of God nearby, give the items to those in need because that is what we were first commanded to do as caretakers.
Today we have this issue of not wanting to follow that because we are too concerned with the self. Jesus taught that as God’s children we are to be selfless not selfish with the blessings we are given. Our blessings do not just include money but every aspect of our being. If you purchase food at a store to make something, purchase extra to give to a food drive or bank. Instead of selling old clothes, give them away. Use your gifts and give a portion to the community at large then you will be giving them back to God through your service. If everyone did that then we would not have so many issues and the devil’s snare of greed and selfishness would go away.
Pastors will tell you to be good stewards of your tithes. If their idea of tithes is only money, then they are not serving God. Give to others in need but first make sure your pastor and his family are provided for so that his focus is on God and worrying about the physical needs of self.
This teaching of the Apostles has some difficulties. As Christians today celebrate the Lord’s Day on Sunday, the early Christians celebrated on God’s Sabbath Day. There was no change to the day before Sunday was established as the Lord’s Day by the Roman Catholic Church.
Up to this point everything taught in the Didache has been clearly in accordance with what we know from what Jesus taught in the Gospels. Not much is known about all the teachings during the 40 days He spent with the Apostles after being raised from the dead but we can guess He discussed with them worship as well as deeper life lessons. This discussion on the Lord’s Day mixes certain Tabernacle and Synagogue traditions that continued to be practiced because of being a sect of Judaism. There are pieces missing from this translation that leave much to conjecture and leaves the reader curious to find out if the document was at one time tampered with.
On the Lord's day, gather yourselves together and break bread, give thanks, but first confess your sins so that your sacrifice may be pure. However, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until he has reconciled, so that your sacrifice may not be profaned. For this is what the Lord has said: "For from the rising of the sun to its setting my name is great among the nations, and in every place incense is offered to my name, and a pure offering; for my name is great among the nations, says the of hosts. . . . For I am a great King, says the Lord of hosts, and my name is reverenced among the nations."
So the first two lines are in concert with the Gospels which we know to be true. Jesus tells us to confess our sins before we enter into His courts with praise. We should have no outstanding issues with anyone that clouds our minds with things that set us apart from God. According to Matthew, Jesus said, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift. Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.” (Matt.5:23-25
In the Gospels, Jesus never spoke of worshiping Him but maintaining worship of God. In fact the only thing that Jesus said to do in His name was to baptize. The thing I have issues with here is Jesus saying the incense offered to His Name. This is meant for God alone. To offer this causes Jesus worship. Incense was used in the Jewish Temple practices to call upon the Lord of Hosts. It was also used to confuse the demons so they would not enter the Lord’s presence.
What do we do with this knowledge. First we do recognize that Jesus returned to the Father as the mediator between us and God. Secondly, we recognize that Jesus is the Word incarnate so we do worship Him but only as the Savior and final sacrifice needed to reestablish the right teachings of the Word which has returned to God’s presence and joins Him when called through the incense. Thing is though, God is ever present thanks to that great sacrifice so the incense is only needed to cleanse the place of the evil one. Yes we celebrate Jesus as King but one that does not demand our worship but invites us. Staying in God’s Word provides for worship in every moment of every hour whether in darkness or light.
So how do we correct this? Every time we gather together, let no one who is at odds with his brother come together with you, until he has reconciled, so that your offering may not be profaned then confess your sins so that your offering may be pure, break bread and give thanks. For our God is great and His Word is what gives us life. In other words, truly forgive those who wronged you and ask for forgiveness from who you have wronged.
Forgiveness between mankind is an integral part of receiving God’s forgiveness because of our sins against Him. His Grace and Mercy provide for that forgiveness but we still are accountable and need to be in obedience to His Word. The Word is from God and our very breath is also of God. He is our oxygen, our blood, every muscle. Without Him we are just skin and bone, dust, and will return to the earth and die in darkness. With God there is hope. Where are you?
The Apostles could not maintain a presence in every place they visited and planted a church so they had to enlist people who were in the Spirit to lead the people.
This portion is all too familiar for some and will probably surprise others. Once again we see them saying that the appointed leader should be humble, not be attached to money (all funds go to the church with little going into the leaders pocket), transparent, and knowledgeable. Once appointed they should be treated as the congregation wishes to be treated and not looked upon with evil intent. The portion reads:
Appoint bishops for yourselves, as well as deacons, worthy of the Lord, of meek disposition, unattached to money, truthful and proven; for they also render to you the service of prophets and teachers. Do not despise them, after all, for they are your honored ones, together with the prophets and teachers.
A Servant Leader
The appointed bishop should fall under the same category as other leaders where care is given. They have a responsibility to the deacons as instructor of deeper meanings so the deacons can grow as well as make Disciples of all men. The deacons need to be well versed in all aspects of care which means the bishop should have served as a deacon as well
Unattached to Money
The Love of money is the root of all evil. To afford an opportunity for a bishop to fall, give him control of the money. That is what we are NOT supposed to do. There should be no contact between any head of the church and the funds that are given for the Glory of God to conduct missions and take care of other building and program needs. The bishop can hear about it but money should not be of any concern
We are all human, we make mistakes, and we have skeletons. How many times did God appoint a person who sinned, was forgiven and given a second chance through making the person a prophet, a priest/pastor, or other type of religious leader? When going through the rigors of election to a position, it is best to be open and honest. If you are deemed worthy to speak God’s Word to a flock then you are good to go. When making the final decision, consult God. He knows where He wants His shepherds
Given Honor but Not Glory
To God be all Glory, no one else. The bishop has many responsibilities. Some of which are passed down to others who do the work. Gratitude is received with humility and the Glory is given to God. The mission of the church is to learn, love, and grow in Christ so we can become Disciples and share the Word with the world. The head of the church is responsible for giving the go ahead with the mission while those chosen for the mission implement the plan. They are not to be despised for to despise them is to despise God. He supplied them with the Spiritual Gift and others with other Spiritual Gifts. Do not hate on the chosen because you were not. Do not despise the bishop for choosing others above you. God has a mission for you, have patience.
This portion reiterates one very important aspect of Christian leadership that many falter on, money. God does not want us dependent on the world and His shepherds doubly so. I am not saying that leaders should be paupers or totally dependent on the flock for survival but they should not have certain worries or be tempted by desires that pull them away from the study and announcement of the Word.
How often do we see churches fall when they are consumed with money and numbers in the church. The concern should be the spiritual welfare of the community not how much individuals put in the offering plate. Also, a church that closes its main doors without someone left outside to welcome the late comers or those who come up but are frightened on how others will look at them because it is the first time for them in a church is not a church concerned with saving souls. Be watchful of those types of churches.
The 16th and final portion of the DIDACHE Teachings of the Apostles focuses on last days. It is here that the Apostolic final warnings about living a right life are given and as you read you will see that the final days look a lot like what we are going through today. Of course, people have noted the same thing in times past but we can honestly say that never since the time of Noah has the world been as bad as it is in this day and age. I have to tell you that as I was reading this I got a bit scared for the world as we see things happening daily that press for the Adversary’s complete takeover of the world as we know it.
Watch over your life, that your lamps are never quenched, and that your loins are never unloosed. Be ready, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. Come together often, seeking the things that are good for your souls. A life of faith will not profit you if you are not made perfect at the end of time. For in the last days false prophets and corrupters will be plenty, and the sheep will be turned into wolves, and love will be turned into hate. When lawlessness increases, they will hate and persecute and betray one another, and then the world-deceiver will appear claiming to be the Son of God, and he will do signs and wonders, and the earth will be delivered into his hands, and he will do iniquitous things that have not been seen since the beginning of the world. Then humankind will enter into the fire of trial, and many will be made to stumble and many will perish; but those who endure in their faith will be saved from under the curse itself. And then the signs of the truth will appear: the first sign, an opening of the heavens; the second sign, the sounding of the trumpet; and the third sign, the resurrection of the
dead— not of every one, but as it is said: "Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him." Finally, "Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven' with power and great glory."
The writer starts right at the heart of the matter with saying do not give in to things of the world but stay in the Word and things of the Spirit. He repeats what Jesus said about the timing and that we need to be in constant communion with each other in the Father’s Name and Presence.
It then moves to false prophets and corrupters. All I can say to this is hello You Tube and other social media outlets as well as some televangelists and the “Popular” or celebrity pastors. There is so much confusion and people trying to scare others by perverting the Bible even worse than those who decided what should be in it and what shouldn’t. There are so many movements out there that it is almost impossible to seek the truth of the matter anymore.
Love for one another has been blinded. With all the ethnic tensions due to place of origin, color of skin, belief systems, and mainstream society’s acceptance of sin being the norm, the world cannot seem to get along at all. Christianity is under attack all over the world. Lawlessness has increased to the point of a hopeless return. Paul writes in Romans that this would happen due to the degradation of society and the lack of God in people’s lives to the point that God allows us to wallow in sin. We are living in a godless society. It is only a matter of time for the great deceiver to show face. Maybe it already has come and we are so blind we cannot see it. Fortunately, no one person has claimed to be the Son of God who has done signs and wonders just yet but all sings are pointing to seeing it happen very soon.
There is relief for those who stay faithful and notice there is nothing about a rapture of the church. We will see three signs before the final appearance of the Messiah, Son of God: An opening up of the heavens, the trumpet, then raising of the saints. Now we can only guess how the heavens will be opened up. Maybe the firmament will loosen the clouds, maybe the sky will change, we are uncertain but we will know because there will be a great change. The great trumpets will sound and that will shake the earth so that the holy ones (the dead who were faithful servants) will rise up. Then we will see the Son of Man enter the world from the heavens. That will be a glorious sight.
Remember this Brothers and Sisters NO ONE knows the time of these happenings so do not pay attention to those who say they know or try to predict the end. We do not know. Yes there are signs in the heavens but they can be changed and have been. We are to be prepared at all times not just when someone says the end is about to happen. Do not quit jobs and give everything up at the last minute because that will not help matters if you try to make good when it is almost too late. But live now as if you are always ready for the Son of Man to come. Be faithful servants daily and live for the Father by doing what HE instructs us to do through His Word and the teachings of His Son, Jesus. God’s Grace and Mercy be with you all.
Who were the Apostles and what is so important about them?
Why study them?
Each Apostle was unique with some sharing certain trades, some shared attitudes, some shared causes. But each one was transformed to live for the propagation of the Kingdom. Though not much is known about some we do have an idea how each one died according to writings and monuments. Catholicism assigned each one a symbol but Jesus gave us more. Through the Apostles, Jesus gave us knowledge on how a common person with common problems can be remade into an instrument to transform communities. Jesus took fishermen, Zionists, friends, siblings, servants, and money changers and gave them a new purpose.
There’s just something about Andrew The Apostle that really gets me excited for Christ. Andrew was a Disciple of John the Baptist who met Jesus along with John (the Beloved) who would be the first to begin following Him in the ministry. The reason Andrew is an exciting figure? Andrew is known for bringing people directly to Christ. Andrew was drawn to Jesus’ teachings and since John the Baptist was only a prophet, he sent Andrew to follow and learn from Jesus. Andrew brought Simon Peter to Jesus. He brought the young man with the bread and fish to Jesus. He along with Phillip, brought Greeks to meet Jesus and Jesus prophesied to them of the Word getting out to the world.
Andrew is the epitome of the Fisher of Men for the Glory of God.
When John the Baptist proclaimed Jesus as the Son of God, something must have stirred deep within Andrews soul. You know that butterfly feeling we get when we are around someone we love. Andrew was compelled to learn from Him and stayed near just listening to Jesus’ Words. Thus, Andrew enjoyed precious moments of intimacy with Jesus.
Lesson One: Listen Close and Get Excited for the Lord
When we first met Jesus through someone telling us of him or by learning from our parents about our Savior, there was this mystery about who He is. Once digging deeper and learning more the excitement about wanting to be a part of Him and having Jesus in our hearts in order to tell others about Him just was so crazy good. Then we hear that still small voice inside welcoming us home. I know I shouted His name in praise and worship.
After this, Andrew invited Jesus to come to Galilee where his brother Simon Peter was taking care of the family business. He was skeptical about Jesus thinking Jesus was just another prophet that Andrew would follow for a while then would disappear. Boy was he wrong. Peter was so determined to test Jesus that he challenged Him. After Jesus showed Simon Peter that He knew where to fish, he gave in and dropped his nets to follow Jesus.
Lesson Two: Sometimes people need to see to believe (remember this one we may see it again)
Andrew brought Jesus to Simon Peter so that he may follow Him. We will suffer challenges in our time when people may not believe because they do not see the full results of Jesus in our lives and need proof. That is when we give them a Bible or pamphlet and ask the them to read something. Well, what they do not see is the private prayer that we speak for them to see Jesus work in their own lives. Of course the proof seekers may need additional things so an archaeological Bible may come in handy. The point is pray that they may see with their heart for the proof they need. Jesus will provide.
The third thing to look at involves Andrew and the Bread and Fishes. Jesus had a very large crowd listening and it was getting to be time to eat. What is said here highlights the realism of Andrew’s thought, as he was still learning who Jesus really is. The question in his mind was, "but what good is that for so many?", and recognized the insufficiency of his minimal resources. Jesus, however, knew how to make them sufficient for all those present. Jesus is basically letting Andrew and the Disciples know that He is enough and if they need physical food to survive, He will provide and bring more than what is sufficient.
Lesson Three: Trust Jesus that when you think you just don’t have enough to survive, He will provide you with what you need.
Ever have that time where you just could not provide for your family. You know, that Thanksgiving where you couldn’t afford to give your family a decent meal. You pray and next thing you know, Jesus provides through friends and neighbors. That happened to us. PRAYER WORKS. Jesus provides for the humble faithful servants even when you begin to doubt.
Andrew’s purpose was to bring people to Christ and move others to follow Him. He was not part of the “inner circle” but brought the ones who would be to Him. Andrew will always be remembered as the first called by Christ.
Pope Benedict said that Andrew will be remembered as the Apostle to the Greeks especially after the Pentecost. You could say that he was the first Apostle to truly take the Word to those who were called Gentile.
JAMES SON OF ZEBEDEE
James, Son of Zebedee, was the elder brother of John and called Son of Thunder. He was zealous for Christ and did not mince words and actions when it came to the life of Jesus and the Faith that developed within. There is not much known about him except that he was part of the inner circle with John and Peter and that he died by the sword 17 years after Christ being the second martyr (first being Stephen whose death was called for by Saul).
Being the elder brother of the one whom Jesus loved one has to wonder if He shared the same love for the elder brother. According to scholars of the past century, it is possible that because of James’ temper and zeal, Jesus may have showered extra compassion for him so that he would learn compassion and love for all men and not just Jews.
We would find out later in the Acts of the Apostles that this is true. But there remains an issue. Since there were three men named James who were close to Christ, one being step brother to Him, some of the historical accuracy was lost in literature. What we do know can be broken down into many lessons but these three life lessons stick out.
Lesson One: We, as Christians, must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ, even our own life.
As is said many times in Scripture, Jesus desires our full devotion. “Because He once loved us” remains true today as it did when He made that one time sacrifice. That by the way is the once talked about in that saying. It is not, as some say, that He loved us one time in our lives then forgot, not by any means. God’s love is eternal and our sacrifice for Him is our full devotion to everything in His name even to our death.
Lesson Two: Change due to faith in Christ Jesus is inevitable and necessary.
To know and love Christ is to attempt to emulate Him in all things we do. For some people this means a major change in our lives. This means asking (not begging) for forgiveness for past mistakes. Making amends with those who persecute us even if they were the ones who wronged us. Showing care and compassion rather than hate, bigotry, and disgust because of simple differences is the way we should be living. We must learn to love unconditionally as Jesus loves us.
Lesson Three: Riches and fame carry no importance, strength in faith and willingness to give silently of the self are qualities God desires of us.
There are some who want to written in the annals of history as great men and women but they believe that riches and fame is the way to accomplish this. They flaunt their riches and attain control through the greedy desires of others. Some gain fame through being a preacher of the word some want to hear rather than what they need to hear. Some do not give without making it known (flaunting their “helping others”) and do not even mention God. The silent anonymous giver, the person who serves without desire for compensation, the searcher for souls who gives all glory to the Father and takes not for the self. That is who we should be.
James learned this through being directly associated with Christ. He learned this through watching Christ and learning from His mistakes of attitude towards others, even his own kin. James the Great (Older one of the two) would die by the sword speaking the Truth in Christ. Never regretting the day he left his father’s nets in the Sea of Galilee, sacrificing everything for the Glory of God.
Scripture does not tell us much about Bartholomew/Nathanael. Most of the information comes from traditions or extra biblical texts. What we do know is that was from Cana in Galilee and that he was sent to Armenia and maybe India. His first name was Nathanael and Jesus spoke of him as a man with “no guile” (John 1:47). Some scholars even say that he was the only Disciple who is of royal lineage as a son of Absalom, a son of David.
Bartholomew was introduced to Christ by his close friend Philip and Jesus told Bartholomew that He knew him before their meeting when Jesus said “When thou was under the fig tree, I saw thee” (John 1:48-50). When Jesus sent people out He sent them together.
Being of no guile means that Bartholomew was a man of integrity even though he had some prejudices especially with Jesus coming from Nazareth and the fact they both come from David’s line. But Jesus found him trustworthy, transparent, and very studious when it came to scriptural knowledge.
So the young Bartholomew had some lessons to learn in the transformation from Jew to Christian but for him it was easy because of his knowledge.
What can we learn from this young man?
Lesson One: Stay in Scripture and learn with a renewal of spirit daily. Don’t just read two chapters OT and a chapter NT and say that you are good, that doesn’t work. Pick a section to concentrate and meditate on. Take the time to read, Pray, reread in prayer, and Listen.
Lesson Two: Our personal prejudices can skew our judgment. By being open to God's word, we come to know the truth. Do not change His Word to match your beliefs, change your beliefs to match His Word. God's Word is eternal, our mortal experiences are temporary.
Lesson Three: Be a Christian of Integrity. The Value and Character of a Christian should emulate Christian ways as well as some Jewish ways as that is where we have received our systems. We are made in the Image of God meaning His Values, Character, which is turned to our Mindset, Ethics and Morals.
Lesson Four: Recognize that God is Omniscient. God knows all and sees all things. It is God who really has ultimate control over us and not ourselves. Once we can give all to God, surrendering our whole selves 100% to Him and continue in His ways we will be a part of His great inheritance which is us living with Him in His Kingdom. Remember: We are not our own.
Like most of the Disciples, Bartholomew abandoned Jesus when He was captured and crucified. He was very outspoken still and yet maintained only a portion of his prejudices as Jesus worked on him with that. He was the youngest of the Disciples and sometimes the most outspoken. Bartholomew was known to be very intellectual for his age in the reading and understanding of Scripture. He was a good man who died being flayed alive in India while a missionary there.
Side note: While doing my research I have noticed one major factor of similarity here. All the Disciples who fled from Jesus died a martyr’s death. John is the only one who was there of the Twelve and the only one to die of natural causes. Things that make you go Hmmm. Stay faithful, live longer?????
John is the Apostle that did not become a martyr. He died from old age after exile in Patmos. I know this is a strange way to start this but it is a very important point because Jesus chose him to care for His mother Mary. Thinking on this more, since Jesus is God Incarnate then He would have known John’s devotion and finally his fate making him the perfect one to entrust His mother’s well-being.
John was younger brother to James (whom some confuse as brother to Jesus) the sons of Zebedee, and was the third to follow Jesus. Tradition places John as a cousin to Jesus through his mother Salome being a possible sister of Mary but we do not have concrete evidence. This may be why he and James were part of the “Inner Circle” along with Peter.
His name means, “The Lord is Gracious”, which actually is far from the truth of him until John’s later years. John was an aggressive young man, passionate, zealous, and personally ambitious which explains why Jesus called him and James, “Sons of Thunder”. These attitudes would make for great lessons in faith and changing outlooks on life in Christ. He is the prime example of what can happen if we allow Christ to remake us in His image, while His strength is made perfect in our weakness.
John was the spiritual one of the group. He did not question the fact of the truth in the Resurrection and was the first to notice Jesus along the sea side. John would later have a vision in the Spirit that would take him deep into the realm of present/future events so that he could forewarn all of us through his Revelation. He understood the fact that Jesus is eternal. He was there in the beginning as the Word through which the world was created, and will be there at the end of all things.
John lived for a full century and it is said he died in Ephesus. He continually talked about tolerance and love. Considering his youth, John learned that intolerance was not a characteristic that Jesus would have us continue and that the greatest thing is love.
Some Christians believe that John never died. This is false as his death and burial are recorded in historical records. He died knowing the Kingdom had arrived and grows in the hearts of the faithful.
JAMES THE LESS
As much as I would love to write volumes on one they called less, I cannot. This is mainly because there is honestly not a lot written of this young man except that he was brother to either Jude (Thaddeus) or Matthew.
James the Less (I will just say James from here on) must have done something in Jesus’ eyes for him to be chosen as one of the twelve but not all great and revered men such as James had to be remembered as doing great deeds, he was chosen and that should be enough. It is said that a man does not need to do great things for him to be remembered.
Sometimes the greatest thing in one’s life is just being there.
How many of us just sit by a lonely person holding a hand or laying a hand on a shoulder and that be enough for that person to know that someone cares. So if there is one lesson we can learn:
1. Just being there as a Christian when another just needs someone who cares IS ENOUGH.
A Chaplain’s job is just that. The stranger’s shoulder, the short but kind words, the presence of a faithful believer. But one does not have to have the title to do that. Giving that last dollar so someone can get a morsel to eat. Taking food or clothing to one who is need. Sharing the Gospel with someone who cannot read it or understand it for themselves. Building that home and just knowing that it will be supporting those less fortunate. That is being there for another.
2. Being a Silent Witness is not the best thing but sometimes the only thing we can do.
When a person sees your actions and just wants to talk, we become the ear for Christ. Hearing and listening to the pain and suffering and knowing when it is the right time to say something is a great characteristic that not all Christians are born with but God enables us to be the listener and guide to the right person. Knowing that you brought the person to one who can help in whatever capacity is needed.
James the Less, the silent Apostle who did nothing spectacular but is still seated at the table with Jesus because he followed, listened, shared, and loved.
We can learn a lot from Apostle Peter and I am not talking about Peter whom the Catholics venerated as the First Pope when he did not desire that. I am talking about Peter the Rock (Cephas), Peter the Fisherman, Peter the Disciple who questioned His Master, Peter who thought he could walk on water himself, Peter the Declarer, Peter the Denier, Peter the Forgiven, Peter the Valiant, and Peter the Man of God.
Peter was a simple fisherman whose life was turned upside down when Jesus came into his life. He was a gruff man who paid little heed to others and was more concerned with caring for his family than worship having no time for “frivolous activities”. This sounds like some people we know today doesn’t it? Maybe even it was our own lives.
Think of that moment that we read about of when Peter met Jesus for the first time. His brother told him about Jesus and still wanted nothing to do with him until that day when very few if no fish were being netted up. Jesus directed Peter to a place on the lake and told him to drop the nets there. Lo and behold, there were so many in the net it nearly toppled the boat.
Lesson One: Listen to the Father because He truly does know best.
Peter was a bit hesitant and did not believe what Jesus was telling him to do at first. When He finally gave in and did what Jesus asked. The result, he fed the community for a week from the haul. God guides us to do the right thing when we listen. There is no entitlement here. He desires us to listen and learn from the actions we do that follow His direction to us. If we do not listen, there is a good chance we will fail only to be picked up once we learn from our mistakes.
Then there was the moment that Peter walked on water when Jesus commanded him. Well, Peter got distracted by the world (the wind and rolling water) causing him to fall into the water. Jesus was there to lift him up and save him from drowning. Jesus exclaims, “Ye of little faith”.
Lesson Two: Keep your focus on the spiritual and not so much in the world, if you fall Jesus is still there, you just have to look.
Peter was distracted by the world around him and lost focus on what mattered most. As difficult as it is in this day and age, our focus should on Jesus. He is the one who saves us, His is the world beyond this one and we cannot take the current world with us. When we begin to rely on worldly things we change our faith and trust. Keeping our eyes on Jesus places Him deep within us so we won’t lose ourselves to sin.
When Jesus told the Disciples that He must go into Jerusalem and Peter basically told Jesus it was a bad idea and Jesus berated him. What was Peter thinking?
Lesson Three: You cannot stand in the way of God’s Plan
God’s Plan is just that, His. Even with our free will we do not have a say in God’s Ultimate Plan for us. When God directs, go His way. If He calls, answer. I learned the hard way in my youth not to go against God’s Plan but after much soul searching and opening my ears and heart (and many bumps in the road) I broke down and listened closer than ever before. I have been faithful and He has blessed.
Peter was called Cephas because of the truth he spoke about Jesus, not because Peter was to be the head of the Roman Catholic Church. Jesus brother James was the first pastor/priest of the Jerusalem Church of the "Way" which is what the people named that sect of Messianic Jews.
A wealthy tax collector of Capharnaum (Capernaum) also known as Levi was a public servant and possible brother of James the Less as both were sons of Alphaeus. He was hated by the Jews because he collected taxes for Rome while also pocketing some for his family.
9 As Jesus passed on from there, he saw a man called Matthew sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Matthew 9:9 (ESV)
14 And as he passed by, he saw Levi the son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax booth, and he said to him, “Follow me.” And he rose and followed him. Mark 2:14 (ESV)
27 After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth. And he said to him, “Follow me.” 28 And leaving everything, he rose and followed him. Luke 5:27-28 (ESV)
He left the tax booth without hesitation. Remember the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus said, “You cannot serve God and mammon”. Think of the impact on the sinner’s life where Matthew was trying to be a good Jew but at the same time held captive by the need to support his family no matter what. He compromised his principles of godly living to live richly in the world.
Matthew's names mean "a gift of God." Why Jesus would have taken this particular tax collector is not known but as the stories continue we see the transformation of a greedy tax collector turn into one of the first Apologists for Christ.
Since Matthew could write, as he was a publican (civil servant) for Rome, it seems planned that he would be the writer of the first gospel. His writing of the life and teachings of Jesus was brought to the Sanhedrin in his (and Christianity’s) defense. It is his message that would reverberate through the ages. How this man was reformed and blessed through living and learning with Christ is definitely a God thing. But it proves that God has an ultimate plan and can change the lives of whom He chooses to make the Word known.
So what can we learn from Matthew’s life?
1. Even the greediest person can be reformed and become a believer. Here we can use the analogy of a Scrooge-like person. All Jesus had to do was come into Matthew’s life. Today it is a little bit harder and may take drastic measures to humble the greedy, but if God ordains it, He will make a way for it to come to pass.
2. Defending the Gospel is a life-long effort. Through heartache, pain, and suffering, Matthew served God and shred the Gospel even and the point of death. We must not fear those who we are serving and sharing the Gospel with because that is our commission in life.
After the Pentecost and dealing with the Sanhedrin, Matthew preached in Ethiopia where he died a martyr's death by beheading.
Jude or Thaddeus
Jude, Thaddeus, or Lebbeus, a “man with three names” as he was called by Jerome. Here we have another Nationalist who would be transformed into a warrior for Christ.
The New Testament states that he asked Jesus at the Last Supper, "But Lord, why do you intend to show yourself to us and not to the world? (John 14:22 NIV) “Judas Thaddeus was interested in making Christ known to all nations as an earthly king, not as Servant Savior.
1. To share Jesus with the world you must know Him personally yourself.
Jesus came to redeem those who truly believe in God from the sins of the world. He desires a personal relationship with us in order to share His Word with the rest of the world. With this relationship there will be trials and temptations because the Adversary is constantly trying to get us away from salvation.
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.Revelation 3:20
The Psalms gives us this tidbit about God’s knowledge of us:
O Lord, you have searched me and known me! You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways. Even before a word is on my tongue, behold, O Lord, you know it altogether. You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high; I cannot attain it. (Psalm 139: 1-6)
We are incapable of knowing God as well as He knows us so He sent Jesus to relate with us in human form. The Disciples saw Him, knew Him as a brother, followed Him, and became as close as humanly possible like Him. To have a personal relationship with our redeemer is to believe in Him, Trust Him, Love Him as He loves us.
2. Release your heart from the knowledge of the world and Live for Christ.
One of the hardest things for a person who is deep in the ways of the world, is to give it up. That means not being transformed or molded into believing that certain ways of worldly living are the best and only way to get along in the world. It means not to be so concentrated on worldly idealisms while trying to keep friends and family who cannot escape the world that you get caught up in their sins and transgressions. Releasing yourself from the world does not mean you cannot live in the world without knowing what is going on. We have to know the Adversary and be able to recognize when he is tempting the world with false idols and idealism's which lead us to the path of death.
Give up control of the things you cannot and you will do well. Let God have control of the situations in your life while going about your daily business. Keep God’s Word on your heart and in your mind so that your very soul sings praises to His name and you know the right way of living. These are just some of the ways to release your heart from the world.
Simon was not from Canaan but Galilee, he is also called Zealot. The word used to describe this Simon was actually a derivative of the Hebrew word, Kana which means, “To be ardent or zealous”. This Simon was a champion for the Judean cause, a fanatical Nationalist who hoped that the Messiah would bring war to Rome. Zealots were reckless and had disregard for the suffering involved in the struggle for independence from Rome and the desire for purity of faith.
Simon Zelotes was devoted to the Law and the prophets and would not hesitate to kill or be killed for the faith. He was literally a man filled with hatred for anything non-Jewish especially those who compromised and were loyal to Rome. His was a story of the social conditions of the time, a rebel with a religious cause. The Zealots can trace their origins to the Maccabean Revolt who wanted the land restored to the old theocracy with a strict understanding of the Mosaic Law. So why did Jesus have Simon on board as one of the twelve? One can assume it was to help change the outlook of people who wanted change through violence. Sounds familiar with today’s circumstance, doesn’t it.
Simon’s zeal would change when he followed Christ but it was not instantaneous. One can guess that Simon heard Jesus and when He would speak of the Kingdom, Simon jumped right in thinking that this would be the warrior king they were waiting for. Boy was he a little early on that one. Simon exchanged his worldly weapons for those of a more spiritual nature but the willingness to face danger or death for the cause would make him one of the boldest and strongest Disciples of Christ.
While doing my research I need to point out that when we view the twelve Disciples as one unit, we can understand that there is formed a practical exposition of the function of the church, the only qualification to enter in the fellowship is the ability to consent to the appeal of Christ and to be obedient to the requirement of self-surrender. So Simon’s passion was not eradicated, it was enhanced, and redirected towards the greater Spiritual cause of Christ.
1. Simon’s transformation teaches that the most zealous of hearts can be transformed to the will of God.
The enthusiasm that Simon shows for Christ’s coming kingdom is proof of that. Simon’s whole outlook was changed and he became a warrior in the love and compassion of Jesus. Those who came to Simon learned of God’s love and the reasons for following. Since he was inherently a man of the Law, Simon also understood the need for full devotion to the cause of Christ.
2. A man of war can be transformed into a man of peace.
When we seek out others for the kingdom, we do not need to seek someone who is like us but different. Remember, God is a God of all people so He favors the challenge of seeking diversity in order to transform all to have one similar goal. To be part of God’s inheritance. Besides, if we were all the same it would get pretty boring wouldn’t it.
Simon did not change overnight but his desire to follow a cause for the good of the nation, of the world never changed.
Are you Zealous for Christ?? Would you give your life for the cause? Are you willing to stand up for Jesus and be counted?
Did you answer those truthfully to yourself or just playing lip-service as a twice a year Christian? The choice is yours. Can you truly say, “As for Me and My Household, We Serve the Lord”
The Apostle Thomas was an analytical man with a very critical mind. He was also a loyal follower of Christ. Seems like the two would contradict each other but Thomas, while in Christ’s presence, knew Jesus was the Messiah. Thomas saw and believed. The inquisitive mind of Thomas was a driving factor in his doubtful nature. On the flip side, the same mind would encourage the pursuit of answers which would lead him to a greater faith. Thomas was even ready to die with him until the last minute in the garden when they all fled except John who stood by Mary. There are many different stories and ideas of who he was prior to leaving everything and following Jesus. Franco Zeffirelli characterized him as a servant. Extra biblical texts note that he was a leader in his community, a fisherman, even a carpenter. No matter his past, Thomas became a driving force in spreading the Gospel. What lessons can we learn from this man?
1. We do not have to see to believe.
We all know that individual who needs to use his or her senses to fully understand and believe something. Most people like that need physical proof. They need to witness miracles to have faith. How many in ancient times did not see Him but heard God’s voice then in fearful respect and trust, believed in God who is greater than themselves. The creation of idols assisted those who needed to see their god in order to believe it would help them. Thomas needed to see Jesus, to feel the wounds.
We do not have the same opportunity as the Disciples and other followers who saw Jesus first hand but we have the Holy Spirit with us. Jesus gave us the constant companion who helps guide us in the Word and is that little voice to remind us right from wrong. Something we know for certain, Jesus is Alive and Well within our hearts.
Jesus lovingly chided Thomas while giving him a lesson in faith right after the incident by saying,
"Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." John 20:29
This is a blessing for us who can believe and have faith in what we know we cannot see with our mortal eyes but have the sight of God in the eyes of our hearts.
2. Being inquisitive of God is not a bad thing, just be careful and don’t make it a habit.
Thomas, like Peter, questioned Jesus as He spoke of going to Heaven and making a place for the Apostles. Thomas was confused and asked for clarity and direction. He gave a straight forward answer and that was exactly what Thomas needed to hear.
Asking questions is never a bad thing but we should not ask the question, “Why?” for anything because we already know the answer. Because He is God. Not always an acceptable answer but it is truth. Asking for proof is a no/no because the proof (9 times out of 10) is right in front of you.
Thomas was a good man who spread the Gospel to India and a few other places. His martyrdom came in the form of a spear. He was killed in India after being a driving force in the conversion of the queen.
Born in Bethsaida like Peter and Andrew, he is often referred to as Phillip the Apostle in order to distinguish him from the Phillip that occurs in Acts. Phillip was slow to recognize Jesus; however, once he found Jesus he was quick to share His greatness with his friend Nathanael Bartholomew. Both Phillip and Bartholomew are frequently named together as they frequently appear together and speak together in The Bible. Phillip is not mentioned a great deal throughout Scripture and not too much is known about him in depth. While Phillips death is not detailed in the Bible it is believed that he died the death of a Christian martyr.
1. Take Time to know Jesus
Many churches rush people to get to know Jesus so they can have the numbers in accordance to who they baptized that month. This leads to a lack of true trust in Jesus as the person did not truly get to experience Christ working to the depths of the soul. A rushed baptism is a bath not an expression of faith. Do not let the music sway you either. Worship music is awesome but is not the sole factor in someone realizing Christ was right there the whole time.
2. Once You Know Jesus Don’t Hold It In
Be excited to tell others about your transforming experience. Holding it in is the worst thing you could do. God consistently told the prophets to speak without fear and they did. Jesus commands us to do the same with the Great Commission and the numerous times before His Ascension when He gave instruction on how and what to do to get the Word out.
Phillip lived for Christ and we should do the same because that is His desire for us. It is God’s desire that we accomplish the mission which we were created for. Being Caretakers of God’s Creation.
Judas Iscariot, the traitor, was the son of Simon who lived in Kerioth of Judah. He was the only Judean of the Twelve and was considered to being the closest to Jesus outside of those who saw the transfiguration. He was the group’s treasurer and one of the more outspoken. Judas’ downfall was that of greed. This led to his being a covetous man and at times pilfered from the common purse. The cause of his betrayal is considered to be greed and the false hope of an audience to the Roman Prefect which would lead to a more civilized end to the occupation or at least would lessen the Roman grip on the religious aspects of Judean life.
Jesus was given to the Pharisees for 30 pieces of silver. This was the recompense price for a gored slave. That was about 5 weeks of wages in Jesus time which today the silver would be about $600.00. So our Lord and Savior was given for recompense of $600.
The betrayer could have been any of the Twelve; but since Judas still cared more for the world and was greedy for money, he was the most logical choice. His lust for money and desire for a material change in the current society drove him into the darkness which made the Plan possible. One thing we must remember here. It wasn’t Judas who truly put Jesus on the cross, it was and is our sins.
What can we learn for him?
1. Do not devalue our relationship with Christ.
Judas took what he could from the treasury of the Sanhedrin to hand Jesus over. He put a price on a life that has more value than he would ever know. When we care more for the world and less for the Father, we are placing an unwarranted discount on our love and trust in Christ. There is no price that we could pay that equals what God has done for us. He gives us His grace freely, and His Mercy through blood. All we have to do is accept, believe, have faith, and trust in God that we are going to share in the inheritance thanks to Jesus. Of course we still are bound to obeying the 10 Commandments and living a Christ-like life. When we are disobedient and lose faith, we devalue our relationship with Jesus.
2. It is better to listen closely than to just hear things because ears are deceiving.
Judas did not hear the right things because he truly did not listen. There are six recorded times between Matthew, Mark, and Luke, where Jesus is recorded saying, “He who has ears to hear, let him”, in one fashion or another. Hearing is an audible function that is used to translate sound vibrations into words. When God speaks to us, the vibrations react with our very souls and cause us to listen and act in an obedient manner. Listening is the response to hearing and acting in obedience is the response to listening properly.
When we do not hear things correctly, the message gets misinterpreted in our minds. That is the Adversary tugging at us so we lose sight of God’s intentions.
Reading Scripture involves hearing then listening in order to be obedient to God’s Word. Paying attention to that still small voice that resonates through our heart when we are in the right frame of mind is God speaking to us through the Holy Spirit. What we do with it is determined by how well we listen and how strong is our faith that it is God.
More people in the world today are seeing the Ten Commandments as suggestions and not required of us because of the covenant with Jesus. How can they truly live with themselves when Jesus himself said that He was here as a fulfillment of the law not the abolished or changer of it. We are still bound by these Commandments no matter how you size it. We are not bound by the sacrifices and feasts but are still bound by the moral and ethical statutes that are encompassed by the Commandments and spelled out in Leviticus. Let us look at them with open hearts and eyes.
Moses went up on the mountain and stayed for many days worshiping and learning from God. Upon his return, Moses lifted two tablets and written on them were Ten Commandments. These Commands are the basis for the Levitical Laws that cover rituals, morals and ethics, and the disciplinary actions which are set in place to ensure a healthy and prosperous life for the Children of God.
1 No Other God
“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
Probably the second most powerful phrase in the Old Testament after “In the Beginning God Created”. This verse sets the message and the mood for the Law of God. This is how God wants us to live. This is where we see that our lives are in the hands of One. How glorious are the Words of the Father who gave us life. It is for Him that we live, worship and give all praise. Yahweh, Elohim, Hashem Elohim, Adonai, Jehovah. All names with which we know the name whom God told Moses simply, I AM that I AM, ehyeh ašer ehyeh. He is our God and we are His people.
In those days there were many gods that were worshiped. Some had only altars some actually had been made from wood, stone, metal, or mud and clay, okay basically they were man made representations of what they believed their god to look like. These gods were prayed to and sacrificed to and some of the things came to be out of happenstance, come coincidence, and others by pure dumb luck. Later even after knowledge of the One True God spread there were still many places who could not give up their old ways. The Greeks and Romans worshiped many gods who had specific duties and were given human form and situations. The Celts and Druids worshiped nature
I looked at Isaiah 44:6 in many different translations and they all proclaimed the same thing, “Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God.”
That’s right, and now look at what Jesus states in John 10: 30, “I and My Father are one.” So when Jesus came and put a stop to many things and becoming the final sacrifice, giving himself, God was showing that He was truly willing to give up everything for all of His creation.
You see, our God is a jealous God but also kind and loving. He created us and when the world thought they were better off on their own, He let them try for a time and flooded the earth hoping to set things right. God stepped in again after many years and found Abraham who in faith gave all things to God. Including the life of his son, whom God did not take but gave back to Abraham.
Our God has a personal relationship with us and we will have no other gods before him.
2 No Graven Image
The world today has many objects and people we call idols. There is the popular T.V. show that finally ended. There are celebrities, money, fame, fortune, perversions, images, and many more things that take our attentions away from God. In simpler terms, anything that takes our focus, attention, desires, love, and worship, away from God could be considered an idol. Something to remember here though. God is not saying to ignore your family, just to understand that even though they are whom we love, we are to love and worship God.
How many idols did God tear down by human hands? Golden statues, graven images, wood and metal images. How many did He take out by His own power using nature as the hand?
The Graven Image also speaks of what became known as Icons. This was taken to extreme in some places where not a picture, a statue, rug, or mosaic is found with any pictorial representation of what one believes God or Jesus may look like. There are places where you will not even find pictures or statues of doves, or visual representations of the Angel of God at all.
There are three common idols in churches today:
A church building is over 100 years old and has been remodeled 3 times inside. Relocation is needed because the church is just too old and a bigger place is needed. This is an example of places of gathering moving from a tool for transformation to an object of worship. We must remind people that the building is not the church, His people are the church. God does not live in the place where we gather; He lives in the hearts of His people.
Living in traditional ways and not expanding with new revelations which help the Body of Christ increase is also an idol. Because the Lord worked in amazing ways in the past, the past can become an idol where people long for the past more than they long for the Lord. Old things pass away but their memories live on. Some traditions do not fit in today’s worldview of Christians.
Because God changed lives through a program or event, people can elevate a program to an unhealthy place. Programs can become ends in themselves and not tools used in a church’s discipleship process. When this happens, they exist as modern-day bronze snakes. An example of this is when praise bands become the center-point of worship (become the celebrity) and the Word is not prevalent.
We are a lost generation trying to find our place in the universe. Why are we searching on earth and out in the stars when the best place to start is our own hearts? God wrote His Word on our hearts so we would never forget Him. Some have stained their hearts so black with sin that the transgressions have become their gods.
How do we help them wash away the stain? How can we, as Christians reach others? Did not God give us those instructions? Did not God make a sacrifice so that we all could be white as snow? We need to remember and conduct ourselves in the manor prescribed by the moral and ethical laws and above all give direct and all attention to the 10 Commandments while worshiping God. The other thing, paying attention and conducting ourselves in the teachings of God Incarnate (Jesus) and following the Great Commission. We do these things: giving our lives to Christ and taking up our crosses daily, sharing His Word, His Truth, and Hi(s)Story mixed with our redemption story then we are showing the proper love and will have No Image that Replaces our Relationship with Him
3 Taking God’s Name in Vain
Have you ever been in a church where you accidentally let out a darn or one of the less considered curse words and one of the older members of the congregation deride you and say that you are breaking a commandment? Someone needs to look at that verse again….
Now, do not get me wrong because the vile tongue is covered in Scripture (39 times in fact) and is a big no-no for us, but it is only a small minute part of the Third Commandment. Before we go on, let us look at the NKJV translation of Exodus 20:7,
“You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.
Reminder, the first four commandments are specifically covering God and worship. The other six are the short but concise morality laws from which come the 672 Mosaic Laws.
As you can see it says nothing about using vile (curse) words which are demeaning in nature. It isn’t totally meant to address the use of words, phrases, and even gestures that may be socially uncouth or vulgar. The Third Commandment is specifically addressing the misuse of God’s name.
The fact of the matter is that God didn’t want the Israelites to say that He’d said something that He, in fact, had not. This makes sense doesn’t it? God has a reputation to protect. He doesn’t want anyone saying, “Thus saith the Lord”, if the Lord did not thus saith it. From a legalist standpoint, do not commit perjury for God opposes it. If you make a vow in His name, KEEP IT.
We hear people today say that God told him or her this or that. Did He really say it? Supposed prophets or seers today use this for emphasis and getting people’s attention. All those dreamers on You Tube who swear up and down that “God said to me that the rapture will take place on such and such date.” The time passes and oops. Many are using God’s name to say that some disaster will happen on specific dates, the day passes and oops, wrong. These are just the minions of the false prophets that will come (some of which are already here). Misinterpretation of Scriptures that turn into gospels (i.e. Prosperity Gospel and others) are examples of misusing God’s name.
Some of the conversation starters to look out for are:
Now, this is not a license to use vulgar language (even young children now a days use OMG in their texts and social media). We still need to do right by the Father and keep our minds, hearts, and mouths clean from all forked tongues.
So what does this mean for us??
We are to be on our guard not to make false claims or promises we know we cannot keep in God’s name. If a vow is made in God’s name keep it (Ordinances, Sacraments, and Covenants). Tread lightly but understand we do not always walk on pins and needles, we will make mistakes.
4 Rest and the Sabbath
The 4th Commandment starts out simple, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy”, but today’s world makes it ever so hard to do so. The day of Sabbath is traditionally Friday evening to Saturday night, it is on the weekend. It is the time for dates, dining out, games, concerts, and other things where people either work or watch others work. This is not what God had in mind. Sabbath is a day of rest and worship that must be taken to revere Our Father. As you read further you will see how Sabbath is transformed for Christians.
8 Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy.9 Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: 10 But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: 11 For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
This is the Fourth Commandment given to the Hebrew nation while running from Egypt. Each Seventh Day belongs to the Lord and is not a day of work but set apart as Holy. It is a day set apart for rest and worship. There were many physical reasons for this as well as the main fact of the rest day of God after the creation. Understanding this means that Moses had everyone travel and gather food and water in a six day period but on the seventh they stayed still, rested and worshiped. Jews celebrate Sabbath on Friday sundown to Saturday evening. This is a time for a big meal and worship through a set of prayers songs and a reading.
Want to know something interesting? Paul, when writing to the Christians in Colossi, said this, ”Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.” Col 2:16-17.
Before you get crazy here, Paul did not say that Jesus says that ALL the Mosaic Laws are now cancelled. There is nothing there about the morality laws and Paul persistently ensured the morality laws are still adhered to. He was just saying that because we areunder new management (the Covenant in Christ) we no longer adhere to the dietary restrictions, required ritual celebrations, and sacrifices. With Christ, Paul even said, the 4th Commandment (Sabbath) is no longer needed to be celebrated because these were mere shadows pointing to Christ. Christ is the reality, the Truth and He set us free.
I am not saying that we do not need to observe the practice. We still need to take time for rest. It is good for the body and the soul to relax and reflect on Jesus and the day. The day of worship (thinking of, praying, praising, spending time with God) for us is every day, every moment, we must rest when we can and in our rest, worship.
Here is something that people who claim Jesus abolished the laws instead of fulfilling them read too much into. Paul says in Galatians 5:14,
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: "Love your neighbor as yourself." But he goes on to say, “If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.” This is what happens when a law is broken, judgement. If you do not love (break a law) then I’m sorry, you have to deal with the consequences. Yes Jesus loves us but we must love Him back. Just because we accepted Him as Lord and Savior does not mean the slate is clean and you can sin all you want without truth in worship. NO. He will stand for you but if you did not stand for Him in obedience then you will be like the goat who was separated never to see the master again.
Tell that one to the next person that says that they can do all those things marred as bad in Leviticus because Jesus abolished them.
5 Honor Thy Father and Thy Mother
Honor thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Exodus 20:12
The first of the moral laws for living on this earth given by God in the Ten Commandments is the easiest one to fall from. This one is basic to all other social relationships and the foundation for decent human society. The first true social interactions happens with the parents and siblings. There are many Scriptures which speak of honoring our parents. There is no limit to the honor that is due our parents. Children must not shame their parents, bring heartache or pain, and never be angry towards their parents. The Apostle Paul restated this commandment in Ephesians. He also says,
Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. Ephesians 6:4
The Books of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes are wisdom books which hold moral and ethical truths that are still poignant to today’s society. Why have we failed? We failed because of our love. Love has turned from Godly things to worldly advances. Love has changed the people in the world. We have redefined love. It is one thing to show love for one another but another thing to ignore God’s great love for His creation. How has this happened???
Brothers and Sisters, Sons and Daughters, we have dishonored our parents by failing to uphold and require the 5th Commandment.
One of the problems today is that parents are bowing to the children. This world has gone from respecting elders to “let the child explore things and they will learn on their own”. By doing this, we have lost the art of our basic rights as parents regarding proper teaching and disciplining (the whole thing known as rearing) the children in the way of the Lord. We have become desensitized through the whims and teachings of child psychologists who have given more power to children causing a lack of discipline, respect, and other godly values that we, as Christians, are ordained (under strict obligation) to observe and teach. We have failed our parents by not following their teachings which were of God. Yes there have been mistranslations and nowhere in Scripture does it actually say to spare the rod (physical discipline with an implement) spoil the child. The rod spoken of in Scripture is the teachings, the wisdom of God. If we do not teach the children right, then we have spoiled their chances of being right with God. We have to reign ourselves in and honor our parents by presenting tough love to our children through godly wisdom.
Why have we had so many incidents with children doing wrong? It has gotten worse in the last 20 years. Some children were not taught right. If they were taught then the follow up and constant observance did not happen. The thing is, we let society take over once the child is in school. Children are becoming engulfed in outside negative influences from other children who were not reared in the ways of the Father and adults who think they know what children need. Disrespect, sexualization of women, and mockery are society’s pull into acceptance. Sin is the norm. I wonder what happened. Did someone’s parents go overkill on biblical traditions and forced the child into disbelief as an adult? Or, was there a free thinking parent that let everything go too far? I mean really, parents are even being sued by their own children for what they consider to be “neglect”. Come on folks.
Dr. James Dobson addressed D.C. on the National Day of Prayer with some perfect yet condemning thoughts. He let them know that all these recent immoral and thoughtless decisions are corrupting our youth. He really let the people listening understand that the U.S. needs to straighten their act up and take many things into consideration including the media and politics. He explained that parents need their rights back; also the media and LGBT communities need to back off because they are causing mental, emotional, and spiritual breakdown of the children; manipulating them into believing they are the norm.
We need to kick this country’s preverbal butt. Show a renewed love and compassion built on God to our children and let it flow outward. We need to fight evil with love. Show a different form of compassion never seen before so that the sinners see their folly and Jesus can revive us again.
Exodus 20:13 “You shall not murder” (NKJV). “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies:” (KJV) Matthew 15:19 This one is not as easy to define as many may think. Murder is more than causing one physical harm leading to the demise of the individual. It is mental as well. The Ancient Jewish sages say that it applies only to illegal killing, not for the actions of killing the enemy during war. Man, being made in the Image of God and therefore all lives of mankind are precious. ONLY GOD has the right to give and take a life.
Like I said above, this Commandment is more than just a physical act, what about the feelings and actions of the heart. Does not Jesus say that sinning in the heart is just like actually committing the sin in the flesh? One does not have to actually shed blood in order to violate this Law. Think of it like this, public shaming, harmful gossip, and slandering attack a man’s dignity and therefore is abject murder. The Jewish Pirkei Avot (Ethics of the Father), says this, “The evil tongue slays three persons: the utterer of the evil, the listener, and the one spoken about”.
Now as I mentioned before, killing of the enemy during wartime is not technically committing murder. Since time began, we have had many wars and police actions in which there were atrocities committed. Those atrocities are considered murder, yes, even though some would say they were just victims of the war it was much more than that. Killing during a firefight is much different than intentional raiding, killing just for killing, raping, and looting. These actions are against the 6th Commandment.
Thou Shalt Not Murder therefore is more than just the physical act of premeditated murder, it involves inappropriate feeling from the heart and extremely harmful words. So we really have to watch what we say or do no matter how we feel. Remember, as much as we want to say words of condemnation we must be vigilant in not letting emotions get overridden by hatefulness and disgust no matter the situation. Be wary when taking up certain causes because this day and age there are so many with deep rooted evil intentions that start out as peaceful.
Would God approve of the senseless killing that is going on today in the world? No. When we destroy our very brothers and sisters (humankind) which He created for misunderstood and misinterpreted reasons, we are committing murder. When we kill the unborn we are committing murder. Brother and Sisters in Christ, we are in a period of spiritual war with the world. Stay in the Word and keep it on your heart and God will provide strength, guidance, and comfort. May God bless you all in this time of tribulation.
7 Adultery and Thievery 8
Exodus 20:14, 15 “Thou shalt not commit adultery. Thou shalt not steal.” (KJV).
These two are the 7th and 8th Commandments. I find these two kind of close in that the adulterer is also a thief. Now remember, adultery punishment is equal for both male and female. The penalty for adultery was more severe than it is today:
If a man is found sleeping with another man's wife, both the man who slept with her and the woman must die. You must purge the evil from Israel. Deuteronomy 22:22
And the man that commits adultery with another man's wife, even he that commits adultery with his neighbor's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 20:10
Then there is the one who thinks nobody is watching has another thing coming
The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, 'No eye will see me,' and he keeps his face concealed. Job 24:15
Sorry Charlie, God sees everything. He even knows your heart’s desire.
Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery: But I say unto you, That whosoever looks on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart. Matthew 5 27-28
Don’t let your eyes direct the desires of the heart. Our eyes should be fixed on God and on the person He chooses for our life mate. Sometimes people listen to the lustful desires or wish to experiment outside of God’s design. Acting upon that temptation and even the mere thought of it leads to sin either of the body or in the heart.
Adultery violates the sworn promise of parties to a sacred covenant. It also perverts the picture of our sovereign union with God Himself. In other words, don’t do it. If you have, then be true and ask forgiveness.
As for the thief, well it is a basic understanding not to steal from others but there is a deeper meaning here, stealing from ourselves. This self-burglary involves our inner honesty within our very being. When we lie to ourselves we are rationalizing an injustice and taking away our blessing of inner peace.
Here is one for you, sin constitutes theft from God.
Then they shall confess their sin which they have done: and he shall recompense his trespass with the principal thereof, and add unto it the fifth part thereof, and give it unto him against whom he hath trespassed. Numbers 5:7
Let me explain. Jim borrows the pressure washer with the intended purpose of washing the walls and concrete around his property. Jim then also uses it to do the same for his son’s house 5 miles away. Jim stole a usage of an item by taking it elsewhere and using it without your knowledge thereby abusing a privilege. If something happened to it even in transit would you not be a little upset. Well, God lends our souls the five senses etc. to live a life for which He intended. If we misuse it such as for speaking evil, or doing things for which are not His intent then we have stolen the gifts for our own gratification. We have sinned.
Therefore, thievery has eternal ramifications because the outer action causes the inner dysfunction known as sin against God. Our thoughts can betray us. This action shows a lack of trust that God meets all our needs.
Well, what do we do? Recognize that God truly does meet all our needs, has given us a life mate, and makes our lives easy as long as we stay in Him. An exit to sin can lead to eternal darkness unless recompense is made.
9 The False Witness and Selfish One 10
We close out our look at the Ten Commandments with a look into the final two.
Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbor’s. Exodus 20: 16-17
The 9th Commandment talks about more than lying against your neighbor. Have you ever looked deeper into this? Why would God use the term that translates into neighbor? What about not speaking the Truth at all times to all people. After all, everyone is considered as neighbor, not just the people next door. Are we not also to be witnesses of the Truth which is Christ and His work in our lives? The Hebrew word for truth has the first, near middle, and last letters of the alphabet. This brings new meaning to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If we cannot speak the truth (bearing false testimony) in any fashion then we are denying our relationship with Christ who is recorded by John saying, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” John 14:6.
The 10th Commandment talks of coveting. Some have come to understand coveting to mean being jealous of, then acting upon it through theft or adultery. It is more than that, coveting refers to selfish desires and or lusting after another’s possessions or partners. When the intentions of the heart are not scripturally sound nor within godly standards, are we not breaking this commandment. Do not think that just because we do not confess it that God has no knowledge of it, He knows. We need to reveal our hearts to ourselves to understand our need for the saving grace of God to deliver us from sin. What are we commanded to do in order to deny ourselves from the desires of temptation that lead to sin? Paul tells us in Galatians 5:24, “Walk in the spirit and ye shall not fulfill the lusts of the flesh”.
We may be physically bound by the law of man but we are spiritually and physically bound by God’s Commandments and Statutes which override man’s law. Not just Jews and Christian believers, but all God’s Creation. Scripture indicates that God was known about by many peoples and was praised for His works. Our Father was feared by many and His Statutes were known of and written about since the beginning. We as Christians are given the purpose of sharing God’s Word with the world through Love and understanding. We must not give in to the evils of this world which will cause us to sin. Take special care in all you do not to go against God’s Law. Paul reminds us that we are still required to follow His Commandments because Jesus came to fulfill them with Love.
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What do we Study Scripture for? We study to get closer to God. This is not like reading a short essay or an epic novel without stopping, it is much more personal. When studying the Word of God we open up our mind and heart to hear His Word. Studying the Word is a form of Worship that God commands us to do. For He says, "This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success." Joshua 1:8.