Taking the Epistle

A biblical journey through the epistles

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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17

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Jesus Christ – Fulfilled prophecy and the kingdom of heaven is at hand – Matthew 4:12-17 – 04/13/2016

Matthew 4:12 (ESV) Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee. 13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.” 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse twelve of chapter four.

V12 Now when he heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew into Galilee.

The “he” that is referred to in this article is of course referring to Jesus. Because of Matthew’s gospel and this verse we see the reason why Jesus withdrew into Galilee and why he was there before choosing his first disciples. We see that it was the arrest of John was the event that prompted the movement of Jesus.

This is one thing I love about the bible, the knowledge and treasures to explain details that may not seem correct or perhaps little pieces of scripture that seem simply “for information purposes only” and may be seen as the writer supplying more information than is necessary but these small pieces of an otherwise scriptural puzzle will show up inconsistencies as no longer inconsistent. I see this touted quite often as an inconsistency of the bible as to “why the messiah appeared in Jordan and then in Galilee at the same time?” and this may be too much explanation but I am here to help resolve such matters. Often times the folks who tout inconsistencies in the bible simply have not researched the scripture in full and pieced together the timeline.

I do find it interesting that the messiah retreated to an area that was disregarded by the Jewish state, one that was regarded as uneducated, cosmopolitan and worst of all polluted by Gentiles! From this area Jesus would pick many of his disciples as common, salt of the earth people. These people were tradesmen, fishermen or agricultural people. I recognize this type of people as for the last eight years of my life I have lived in Central California.

V13 And leaving Nazareth he went and lived in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, 14 so that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled: 15 “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—16 the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned.”

We read that he left Nazareth and that was a sad, sad story that we see explained in full in Luke 4…

Luke 4:16 (ESV) And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. 17 And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 20 And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” 22 And all spoke well of him and marveled at the gracious words that were coming from his mouth. And they said, “Is not this Joseph’s son?” 23 And he said to them, “Doubtless you will quote to me this proverb, ‘Physician, heal yourself.’ What we have heard you did at Capernaum, do here in your hometown as well.” 24 And he said, “Truly, I say to you, no prophet is acceptable in his hometown. 25 But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, 26 and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow. 27 And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.” 28 When they heard these things, all in the synagogue were filled with wrath. 29 And they rose up and drove him out of the town and brought him to the brow of the hill on which their town was built, so that they could throw him down the cliff. 30 But passing through their midst, he went away.

Consider the scene – The town the Messiah had earthly family in he chose to grace his hometown Synagogue and showed them face to face that he was the literal fulfilment of those prophecies (read verbatim from Isaiah 61:1-2) that they all knew so well and were praying for to be fulfilled, HE WAS THERE, IN FRONT OF THEIR VERY EYES and they threw him out of the very place they prayed for him to come to! From a theological point of view it is tremendously sad.

Even the move to Capernaum was done to fulfill scripture; you may recognize the quoted text as being lifted straight from Isaiah 9:1-3…

Isaiah 9:1 (ESV) But there will be no gloom for her who was in anguish. In the former time he brought into contempt the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the latter time he has made glorious the way of the sea, the land beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations. 2 The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone. 3 You have multiplied the nation; you have increased its joy; they rejoice before you as with joy at the harvest, as they are glad when they divide the spoil.

And then we see the focus of Jesus mission and the beginning of the preaching mission of Jesus…

V17 From that time Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

There are three parts to this sentence and I would like to focus on these separately…

  • From that time Jesus began to preach, – I love the Greek word “kerussein” which speaks of a heralds proclamation from a King or royalty and how fitting is that Jesus uses this at the beginning of his teaching ministry because he was heralding a life giving message from one who was far greater, far holier and far better than an earthly king.Jesus was also a healer who taught with “authority, not like the scribes or Pharisees” (Matthew 7:29)

    Matthew 7:28 (ESV) And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.

  • Saying, “Repent, – Jesus very much continued the message that John had preached in the same place (Matthew 3) and therefore completing what John had said by announcing that the messiah was coming and of course Jesus WAS the Messiah!
  • For the kingdom of heaven is at hand. – Here he was! The living embodiment of heaven standing in front of them, if they only know that the star of the morning, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords and the majesty that stood before them, they would rightly have fell on their face and worshipped him like he deserved.

I love that the first words in his ministry were these because we all have to come to that same place, fall to our knees, repent and be forgiven of our sins. Then and only then can we begin that journey with Jesus Christ.

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will start in verses eighteen through twenty two of chapter four studying when Jesus called his first disciples. I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority – Titus 2:11-15

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Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority – Titus 2:11-15 – 01/28/2016

This bible study is part of a series on the book of Titus, in order to see the full series please check out our “epistle” page or alternatively please check out our page dedicated to the book of Titus for other studies in this book.

Titus 2:11 (ESV) For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. 15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Paul continues his thought in the middle of this letter in verse eleven; let’s look at it in a verse by verse basis…

V11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,

Paul exposes a rich revelation here it is the grace of God that once it has appeared is what brings salvation for all people. We cannot earn it, there is no pre-selection and no one is excluded who truly wants to be saved. We also cannot earn it, work our way towards it of by some effort of ourselves. It cannot be purchased, traded or bought, it is a free gift given by God and God alone, our responsibility is to accept it, we don’t have to be separated from God, we choose to be if we fail to accept the grace of God which brings salvation for all!

None of us deserve it and we are recipients of a gift that is better and worth more in value than any lottery win. The criteria are simple and plain “all people”. From the avid churchgoer to the man on death row, the volume of sin is not important, the heart of repentance is!

V12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,

The word “training” is the same word that would be used for a parent child relationship, if you haven’t been a parent you most certainly will have been a child and you will understand what is meant by the mentoring, training, teachable moments, exhortations, encouragements, the teacher is the aforementioned “grace”. We know what we have been saved from, we have stared over the abyss and being saved, changed creatures we are taught by grace to do the following…

• Renounce ungodliness and worldly passions – We have to actually BE different to the world, we are called to be “salt” and “light” and I am testimony to a life lived completely surrendered to God’s plan will cause others to question what you have and whether they want it in their lives. In my case it was a Pastor and his wife who were the dictionary definition of “loving someone to Christ”. It made such an impact on my life.

We are called not just to give up the things of our past but we are called to renounce them, remove them completely from our present day lives. We have to completely deny the worldly passions and do what so many of us do and keep one foot in the fire. We have to live towards sanctification and we see this in the next part of what Paul says.
• Live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age – Accepting the grace of God and embracing salvation is only the first part and first step on a journey, we are called to be holy, and we are called to live self-controlled, upright lives in the age where God has placed us. We have to live (some translations call it) soberly towards our fellow man and be a good example of Christianity, we are also called to live in an upright manner showing that we take our relationship with God seriously. When you assess your life, a good barometer to use would be the question “would this bring people to Christ?” Often times I have been frustrated by lack of movement in my Christian life and when I do a decent honest self-assessment I realize that I am the problem.
• Waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ – And that is the timescale we have, we have until the Savior Jesus Christ comes in the appearing of His glory. A good question you have to answer would be “Are you living your life in the expectant hope of Jesus return? How are you preparing for that?

I love it when I hear that someone has an idea when the Lord Jesus will return, I like to listen but I am reminded that “no-one knows the hour or time” I always think about when I undergo something “Is this something I want to be doing if Jesus returns at this time?” It really cuts down on your sin! Jesus is appropriately named here “Our great God” and it should be remembered that the one you are serving is the very one who saved you from your sins, the only one who could and the only one who is holy enough to be acceptable to God the father as a sacrifice! Even if you are a Christian newbie Paul allows you to read this in verse fourteen…

V14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

And that is it in a nutshell! Jesus sacrifice and God’s grace allows us to be in communion with God because Jesus atoned for man’s sin when he went to Calvary and rose again. Jesus “gave” this was voluntary, he gave “himself” all that he could give and he gave it all “for us” because he knew that we had a debt with God that we could not pay on our own. He was doing the biggest debt forbearance known to man but he was buying something with a price and that price was him.

He is described as redeeming us from the lawlessness that was our lives past. In the same way that we can receive savings by redeeming a token or voucher, we receive eternal savings (pun intended) buy the redeeming work of Jesus. We are slaves that have been purchased from our master of sin and we are called to “purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works”. We are reserved for the good works, we are set apart and we are to hunger for holiness. We are to be zealous for the good works that we are commissioned to do for the Lord, I find it not great the task I have for the Lord but I am overwhelmed that he could accomplish it on his own, but he chooses to use me.

It is like when I let my six year old help me in the yard, often times it slows me down but I have to focus on the task at hand and it is as much about spending time with her as it is completing the task. Your heavenly father feels the same way when you labor in the tasks he has allowed you to help with.

V15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Amen to this notion! Can you imagine what the world would be like if we had a church with 4,000 believers that met on a Sunday go out and be 4,000 “salt and light” to the community around us? Imagine we declared these things zealously like we are meant to? Would you see your city be revived for Jesus Christ? I am not pointing the finger at anyone and I am as much talking to me as I am you dear reader! But imagine what it would be like if that was the case? Cities would be on fire for Jesus all over this land and beyond!

We are called to do this with all authority and let no-one despise you, we have to live beyond reproach and have nothing for your detractors to have against you in an accusatory fashion, we have to proclaim this message as urgent as if it came from an earthly ruler, this is a message that could quite literally snatch someone from the jaws of hell at the eleventh hour. That is how much authority our message is from; we are to preach it “in and out of season” and regardless of how it will be culturally received.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG