Summary: Bible study with questions for application
Verse 1- Verily, verily, verily, verily, verily
Paul is absolutely adamant that he is telling the truth:
1. “I tell the truth (positive)
2. “in Christ” (outer authority)
3. “I am not lying” (negative)
4. “my conscience also bearing me witness” (inner authority#1)
5. “in the Holy Spirit” (inner authority#2).
And yet Jesus (Matt. 5:34-36) and James (5:12) both prohibit swearing oaths. Paul is not swearing, and he is not implying that the other things he’s written are false, but he really wants his readers to know how sincerely he means what he’s going to say next. Jesus does a similar thing when he says “verily verily” throughout the Gospel of John (in the righteous KJV, dude!).
Check out John 3:3, 5:24, 6:47, 8:58, 10:7, 12:24 for some examples.
Underline the reference you looked up. Write here why you think it merits the double verily:
In what circumstances ought we to say
• “I tell the truth in Christ…” etc.?_____________________________________________________
• merely “Yes” or “No” _______________________________________________________________
And why are we tempted to ‘swear’?_____________________________________________________
Verse 2- Powerful heaviness and sorrow without ceasing in my heart
Not only is Paul factually accurate, but he is passionately heartfelt too. His conscience tells him he is telling the truth, and his heart beats this truth into him without interruption. He is completely gutted about this truth, totally weighed down by it.
Read Jeremiah 4:19-22 and 9:1-6. What comparisons can be drawn between Jeremiah and Paul?
Is there anything that has weighed you down this much?
Is there anything that should?
Verse 3- I could even pray that I became a thing doomed to destruction, cut off from Christ without hope of being redeemed, so that my kin would not be
Like all of us, Paul had non-Christian relatives, Jews who had rejected their Messiah. This is the thing he was so tortured by, but it was something that unavoidably true, confirmed fivefold. Clearly, Paul wants to swap places, so dear are his ‘long-lost cousins’ to him.
Post Golden Calf. Read Exodus 32:9-14, 30-34. What comparisons can be drawn between Moses and Paul?
We have a number of choices facing us: a) try to ignore the reality of hell; b) care less; c) be agonised even to the point of trying to do deals with God, whose decrees have been set before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4).
How are we going to pray for our non-Christian relatives in the light of this?
Should we have a special anguish in our hearts for Jews today?
Verses 4&5- “He said I have many mansions/And there are many rooms to see/But I left by the back door/And I threw away the key” (U2, ‘The First Time’)
They had so many things:
1. The adoption, that relationship which God was pleased to establish between himself and the Israelites in preference to all other nations.
2. The glory, the shekinah glory in the pillar of cloud and in the Holy of Holies, God’s supernatural presence
3. The covenants, God’s indissoluble, unconditional compacts with Noah, Abraham, Jacob, David, etc.
4. The law, the 10 Commandments, God’s actual character in written code, the schoolmaster to bring us to Christ (Galatians 3:24)
5. The sacrificial system, assuring the Israelites of a future redemption whilst other nations were “excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world” (Ephesians 2:12).
6. The promises of God in the whole of Scripture, notably that a Messiah would come and save His people.
7. The fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, etc. These Jews’ great-grandads were some of the people who knew God better than anyone had ever done. What a heritage!
8. Jesus is Jewish! He’s still Jewish now, according to his human nature(see Romans 1:3). How much closer could you get in terms of flesh and blood?!
They threw them away and are still throwing them away today.
In future weeks, we will learn just why God has permitted so many Jews to reject their Messiah, and also that He certainly hasn’t finished with them yet.
Have you had any conversations about Jesus with a Jew? How did they go?
List up to 8 privileges we have as Christians today, and meditate on how we use/abuse them.