Need to make a distinction between creation story I (1:1-2:3) and creation II (2:4-). For example, in creation I: orderly creation by speaking the word, "let there be light," and the order of creation is: light first, then sky, land/sea, plants, sun/moon/stars, living things, creature, male and female in the image of God. God rested on the seventh day. In creation II: man was made first from the dust of ground, before creature, woman out of man’s rib, prohibited fruit of knowledge of good and evil.
Noah’s vineyard: Noah started planting vine. He didn't know that he was naked when he drank wine too much. Ham didn't cover him, and he was cursed.
Babel tower in ch. 11: scattering people by mixing of language. Is diversity a punishment or a blessing?
Abram’s call in ch. 12. Tripled blessings and promise. I will make you a great nation, …and all the earth will be blessed through you.
Abraham saves Lot, his nephew. *Melchizedek of king of Salem, priest of the Most High blesses Abraham.
Abraham’s believing in God’s promise=rightousness in ch. 15.
Covenant ceremony: split animals, smoking fire pot, ch. 15.
Abram=>Abraham (father of nations), Sarai=>Sarah (mother of nations), ch.17.
Abraham bargains with God, starting from 50, 45, 40, 30, 20 and finally 10 righteous men. There were not even 10 righteous men in that city.
Lot and his wife, his two daughters, flee. His wife -> pillar of salt.
Incest: Lot’s daughters wanted to maintain family line, so they slept with their father. First son named Moab, second son named Ben-Ammi
Circumcision is the sign of covenant. Ch. 15.
Abraham and Abimelech squabble over water at Beersheba.
Sacrifice of Issac at Moriah. Ch. 22.
Jacob wrestles at Jabbok with "man". Jacob named Israel. Altar=Peniel.
Hamor rapes Dinah (daughter of Jacob). Revenged.
Sons of Israel : Reuben Joseph Dan Gad Simeon Benjamin Napthali Asher Levi Judah Issachar Zebulon
Judah cheats Tamar. *right of levirate marriage. Tamar also cheats him. Judah: "she is more in the right than I"
Joseph and Potipar’s wife.
Joseph places silver cup in Benjamin’s bags.
Israel and family move to Egypt: 70 persons. Dwell in Goshen.
Ten plagues: pollution of Nile, frogs, gnats, filies, cattle plague, boils, hail and thunderstorm, locusts, thick darkness, death of first sons.
The first Passover was in Egypt.
Consecration of the first son. Ch. 13.
Led by pillar of cloud, and pillar of fire.
Song of the Sea=song of Miriam. Ch.15.
God provides quail and manna.
Jethro: Moses’ father-in-law, a priest of Midian, suggests a system of judging to help ease Moses’burden of responsibility.
10 commandments in ch.20. *also in Deutronomy 5.
Three annual feasts: unleavened bread, harvest (weeks), ingathering (Succoth or Booths).
Who is Moses? Of Levi, escape to Midian desert, marrying Zipporah, Jethro being his father-in-law, receiving the law at Sinai, first meeting God at burning bush.
Leviticus: Holiness code. Holy, be holy as I am holy.
Kinds of offerings: burnt, cereal, peace, sin, guilt. But no love offering!
Nadab and Abihu died, because of unauthorized offerings. (they are sons of Aaron).
Day of atonement in ch. 16. Very important. Please read.
The holiness code in 19:1, "You shall be holy for I am holy."
Blood, neighbor, alien.
Sabbath year (7th): all rest. *Jubilee: 50th year. Return of property. Back to original condition to recovery. Jubilee is unique in Leviticus. Only appears here.
Numbers: they are marching, that’s why number is important(census), murmuring, before Canaan.
1:1-10:10 Census, continuation of Leviticus at Sinai.
10:10-36:13 Israel on the move.
Miriam turned out leprosy why? because she blamed Moses’ marriage with Zipporah. Healed and comes back to tent after 7 days. Moses’ petition to healing. Moses’ humbleness.
12 spies go into Canaan. Bad reports from 10, but only Joshua and Caleb only report good report. "if God is with us, we can…"
Korah, Dathan, Abiram’s rebellion against Moses’ leadership. *jealousy.
Moses’ mistake: striking the rock at Meribah Kadesh, desert of Zin.
Aaron dies, his son Elezar takes over his priesthood.
Moses’ bronze serpent on pole, everyone who see this is healed.
Balaam’s story: Balaam hired by Balak, king of Moab, to curse Israel, but he didn’t. blessed instead. Know ass’s story. She-ass saw the angel of the Lord.
Joshua to be Moses’ successor.
Deuteronomy: Moses’ farewell addresses in Moab
theme: keeping the commands=prosperity. Opp=perish
10 commandments in 5:6-21.
Shema ((am:$): Hear!!! 6:4- "Hear O Israel, ….you shall love your God with all your heart, mind and strength."
Warning against self-righteousness, ch.9-10.
ch.12-26 : Law code, note Sabbath year, cities of refugee, the levirate marriage, "the wandering Aramean was my father…" in ch.26.
ch.27: the liturgy of blessing and curses on mts. Gerizim and Ebal.
Moses speech: "I have set before you LIFE and DEATH.." in 30:19.
The songs of Moses: 32:1-43.
Moses dies at mt. Nebo. Nobody know his grave.
"Never since has there arisen a prophet in Israel like ( ), whom the Lord know face to face. *Answer is Moses!
Historical Books: Joshua, Judges, 1-2 Samuel, 1-2 Kings, I-II Chronicles, Ezra &Nehemiah, Ruth, Esther
Joshua: complete victory at Canaan and occupation of it. Allotment also.
God promises to be with Joshua. "courageous and faithful" (1:5-9).
Joshua sends 2 spies to Jericho.
Rahab (harlot) hides 2 spies. Agreement made to save her and whole her household when Israel attacks Jericho. Crimpson cord is signal.
The ark of the covenant step into the Jordan; Jordan river parted and Israel crossed over on the dry ground. 12 stones to mark the crossing, erected at Gilgal.
The new generation of Israel is circumcised at Gilgal.
The Fall of Jericho: how did it fall? Simple! Marching around the wall once a day for days, and on the seventh day march seven times. And shout!
But fail at Ai, because Achan sinned, hid some valuable plunders.
The Gibeonites trick Joshua by pretending they are foreigners. A Result is that they became hewers of wood and drawers of water.
The sun stops: Joshua says, "Sun, stand still at Gibeon"
Joshua divides up the land according to the tribe. But Levi does not have inheritance.
Cities of refugee: to protect unintentional killers (homicide).
covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem. "Choose this day whom you will serve . . . but as for me and my household we will serve the Lord." Ch. 24.
Judges: conquest was not complete according to this book (1:19-36).
A cycle of story in this book goes like this: Israelites did evil in the sight of the Lord-> They are under of foreign power, suffering->God sends a judge to save them->Again, evil-> . . . .
Recognize 21:25, "in those days Israel had no king…." Also very frequently the following phrase appears: "Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord"
Deborah: woman judge. Working with Barak, fighting Canaan.
Jael, a brave woman, kills Sisera (commander of Canaanite army) by tent pegs. Ohhop!
Gideon fights Midianites, with jars, torches and trumpets, with 300 men. Why only 300 men? God does not want Israelites to say that they are strong, so they win.
Jephthah’s daughter: o, poor girl. Because of her father’s careless vow, she became victim(?), she was offered for burnt offering.
Samson: Nazirite vow. Slay 1000 men with jawbone of donkey. Delilah lures him. Fatal death and end. Blinded.
1 Samuel: Saul’s story
Hannah is barren and she prays; Eli priest at Shiloh. Samuel is born and dedicated to the Lord, working under Eli’s charge.
Samuel anoints Saul, the first king in Israel and also David to be king later.
Saul: first king, loses favor of the Lord, try to kill David, kill himself at battle
Jonathan: son of Saul, friend of David
Michal: daughter of Saul and wife of David
David: son of Jesse, youngest son, king to replace Saul.
Goliath: philistine, killed by David.
2 Samuel: David’s reign
David: laments Saul’s death. Anointed king of Judah at Hebron. Two years later anointed king of Israel. Brings ark of the covenant. Try to build temple but not allowed (thru Nathan the prophet). Bathsheba became his wife after killing her husband Uriah.
Absalom’s coup (his son) attempted.
Joab: David’s chief military commander, kills Abner, Absalom.
Mephibosheth: Jonathan’s crippled son saved by David.
Hiram, king of Tyre: supplies cedar, carpenters for David’s house and for Solomon’s work in his house and temple.
Nathan: prophet to David. Ewe lamb parable.
Abiathar and Zadok: David’s priests.
Adonijah: son of David, wants to be king but killed by Solomon.
(Adonijah was supported by Abiathar and Joab).
Solomon: son of David (thru Bathsheba), king after David. Asking for wisdom. Builds temple. The end is evil. Following after wives’ foreign gods. Solomon was supported by Nathan and Zadok.
Rehoboam: son of Solomon. Follows young men’s advice instead of old advisors. Northern tribes stood against him. So, divided into two kingdoms (Northern kingdom, Israel, and Southern kingdom, Judah).
Jeroboam: first king of Israel. Evil.
Ahab: evil. Jezebel is his wife. Association with Elijah.
Jezebel: Phoenician. Evil. Plot to take Naboth’s vineyard. Try to kill Elijah. The end is terrible: the dogs eats up her body.
Elijah: mt. Carmel, fight Baar priests. Fire comes to burn his offerings.
Elisha: Elijah casts his mantle on him.
Elijah: taken up into heaven with a chariot of fire and horses of fire.
Elisha: Curing Naaman’s leprosy, who is commander of Aram.
Gehazi: Elisha’s servant, takes money from Naaman and becomes leper.
Hezekiah: king of Judah. Very good. Consults Isaiah. Become ill. Sign: "sun-dial"
Isaiah: predicts Babylonian captivity.
Josiah: king of Judah. Reforming king. Repairs temple. Book of law found in the temple. Religious reform. Passover re-instituted.
1-2 Chronicles: treat lightly. Because of overlapping contents found in Kings.
Little attention to Northern kingdom.
Nothing about Elijah and Elisha.
Levites given much credit throughout.
Ezra & Nehemiah
The edict of Cyrus, king of Persia -> Israel returns to rebuild temple.
Under Darius of Persia, a second group comes to Jerusalem. Work supported by prophets such Haggai and Zechariah.
Nehemiah: he was cupbearer to the king, returns to Jerusalem as governor, to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah’s reforms: tithes, put away foreign wives.
Ezra: the priest, brings the book of law. Contemporary of Nehemiah. Put away foreign wives.
This is a beautiful story, developing around field and harvest and levirate marriage. Read it as a whole.
Naomi is Ruth’s mother-in-law, who lost her husband and her two sons.
Levirate marriage is custom in this story.
Boaz: marrying Ruth. Becomes ancestor of David.
Ruth: from Moab; Ruth’s adamant saying: I will go wherever you go; where you will die, I will die; where you are buried, I will be buried…
Queen Vashti: refuses to appear at king’s banquet and is deposed as a result of king’s furor.
Mordeicai: a Jew, a monor official, cousin of Esther, asking Esther to work for Israelites by approaching king (which means risking her life).
Hamaan: high official. Want to get rid of Jews. Hanged.
Esther: our heroine queen. Approached king. Hamaan’s Plot discovered. Saves her people.
That is why Purim is established to mark this event.
Prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel & Minor prophets: Amos, Hosea, Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum, Habukkuk, Haggai, Zechariah, Obadiah, Obadiah, Malachi, Joel, Jonah
son of Amoz, at the times of king Uzziah, Ahaz, Hezekiah.
song of vineyard (5:8); I planted best quality vine but produced bad.
call narrative (6:1-8). The Lord is on throne. I am a man of unclean lips… cleaned by a live coal. Take a note of v.8: whom shall I send? Here I am. Send me."
sign of Immanuel: 7:1-17
a child is born: 9:6-7
the branch from Jesse : 11:1-9. *also here peaceful garden where children can play with lions.
Servant song (ch.40-55). Especially note: 53:3-6; 55:1-8.
the spirit of the Lord is on me, to preach good news to (61:1-4)
new heaven and new earth (65:17-25)
Jeremiah jailed and taken to Egypt
Active in Jerusalem before, during and after the fall of Jerusalem.
New covenant in ch.31.
criticizing the lying prophets and priests (ch.5,7)
call narrative: I am only a child.
no wife and children.
the image of potter and pottery (ch.18-19)
lamenting his birth because of his hard time (suffering from his people).
word like fire and hammer (23:28-32)
bearing a yoke of bars: symbolizing slavery to Babylon.
the story of the scroll (ch. 32): written, destroyed, and rewritten. Who is his scribe? Baruk.
Ezekiel exilic period, by the river Chebar, in Babylon.
wheel within a wheel (1:16)
eat scroll (2:8-9) also 3:1-3. Eat scroll is very unique expression.
brick and siege. Iron plate. Lie upon your left side 390 days, …
pack baggage and dig a hole through the wall (12:3-6): why? symbolically telling the fall of Jerusalem.
Vision of the VALLEY OF DRY BONES (ch. 37). Lesson: Israel is recovered.
Daniel Dream interpreter, post-exilic, apocalyptic, written in Aramic.
Daniel and 3 friends: Shadrach, Mesach, Abednego)
Interpretation of dream: statue (gold, silver, bronze, iron and clay). Empires.
Three friends cast into fiery furnace. But safe and give glory to God.
Handwriting on the wall: Mene Mene Tekel Parsin. "your days are numbered.."
Daniel cast into Lion’s den but safe. Daniel was praying regularly.
Daniel’s dream about 4 beasts.
recognize verses: like a son of man with the clouds (7:13); come to everlasting life (12:2)
Amos ah! justice and justice, for the poor, he was among the shepherds of Tekoa, sycamore tree. Criticized the wealthy, a wrong concept of the day of the Lord.
5:24: "Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream."
Amos is from Judah but goes up to North (Israel), facing Amaziah high priest. (7:7-10)
Hosea whoredom and gomer
infidelity of Israel
3 sons named after prophetic messages.
recognize 11:1-3; 13:14
Micah, you should love kindness, walk humbly with God (6:8)
Ruler will come from Bethlehem (5:2). Messianic connection.
I will purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord (3:9)
Oracles against Nineveh
Habakkuk questions, why are the wicked prosperous?
"The righteous will live by their faith" 2:4
Haggai silver is mine, and the gold is mine… rebuild temple.
A contemporary of Haggai, your king rides on a donkey! Messianic image.
Obadiah Indictment of Edom
My messenger! "Elijah will come again, before the great and terrible day of the Lord." 4:5-6
Joel like noel song, we sing joel, joel, because God pours out his spirit on all flesh. (2:28)
Jonah joking about God. Then I ran away to Tarsis. I don’t like Neneveh. They are my enemy. I did not know how much I was so stingy and a narrow-minded person.
Psalms & Wisdom literature
Whenever you are in a worship service, carefully learn which psalms are used. Know them by heart. The most important psalms are: 1, 8, 22, 46, 51, 84, 90, 91, 100 and 137.
During your devotional time, read psalms.
Proverbs proves the system of reward and punishment.
be familiar with following verses:
3:6, 9:10, 15:1, 16:9, 22:6, 22:1, 25:21-22
some verses contain PERSONIFIED WISDOM. (1:20, 3:17, 8:1-36, 9:1-6, 16:1, 31:10-31
Ecclesiastes vanity, vanity, vanities, I know because I experienced all.
A little dark color of wisdom: for example, "better to go to the mourner’s house than to feasting house" "death is better than birth"
identify the following verses:
1:1-3, 7-8, 14-16, 18; 3:1-9; 5:5, 12; 7:1-2; 10:19; 11:1; 12:1
Song of Solomon
A lyric love poem, no god is mentioned like Esther.
Look at special language:
"My beloved is like…"
"Make haste, my beloved, .."
"I am a rose of Sharon, a lily of the valleys"
"…for love is strong as death, jealousy is cruel as the grave."
Basically, this book talks about human suffering in a different way. Namely, it is against deuteronomic view of blessing and punishment. This book seems to tell us that there is no clear reason why the innocent are suffering. Rather, a deeper level of our relationship with God must be placed upon us among any other things.
Focus on the plot how it happened (heavenly meeting with satan,...), and how his four friends came to tell him what? What was its final product of all this process?
Mark. mark this is a kind of the early gospel, written around 68-73 C.E, the time of the Roman-Jewish war (66-70 C.E).
Audience: Christians facing persecution.
Human condition: self-centered (saving life, being great, power over)
Jesus: ‘son of man’ messianic secrecy, limited authority
Disciples: afraid, do not understand, want power
purpose of writing: to empower fearing Christians
HOW TO BEGIN
Jesus appears as adult and identity as messiah is unknown.
HOW TO END
ends in failure and fear as women flee from the grave.
ending at 16:8 (short ending), longer ending is after 16:9.
1:15, "The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand"
3:17, Boanerges = sons of thunder (James and John)
2:27-28, "The Sabbath was made for man"
4:11, "To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God"
8:34-35, "For whoever would save his life will be lost it…"
14:51, young man who left the linen cloth and ran away.
Deaf and dumb man, "Ephphatha, be opened" 7:34
Blind man of Bethsaida: "I see men, but they look like trees, walking" (8:22-26)
The seed growing secretely (4:26-29)
Matthew Jesus as royal Davidic King, great teacher, judge
Audience: Christian Jews in conflict with Pharisees
Human condition: blind hypocrisy
Vision: follow law with integrity, leading to society of righteousness
Jesus: royal figure who fulfills the law and prophets, teacher, publicly known, founds the church, model of righteousness
Disciples: model of discipleship, understand, little faith, commissioned
HOW TO BEGIN:
royal genealogy (from Abraham to Joseph)
infancy narrative: wise men, Herod’s plot to kill Jesus, fleeing to Egypt
HOW TO END:
disciples commissioned on mountain in Galilee
Sermon on the Mount (especially 5:1-12 & the Lord’s prayer 6:9-13)
check the difference with Luke’s sermon on the Plain. for example, blessed are those who are poor (Luke)
Peter on the water (14:28-33)
Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi. Peter (Petroj) = rock, "I will build my church"
picture of last judgment: sheep and goats (25:31-46)
death of Judah: potter’s field (27:3-10)
UNIQUE MIRACLE AND HEALING
Tax in fish’s mouth (17:24-27). Go to Michigan Lake and try it, whether you can find coin in fish's mouth.
Two blind men: have mercy on us, Son of David! (9:27-31)
weeds in the wheat (13:24-30)
the kingdom of heaven is like: mustard seed, leaven, hidden treasure, pearl of great value,
net thrown into the sea (13:31-50)
unforgiving servant (18:23-35)
laborers in the vineyard (20:1-16): "the last will be first and the first will be last"
two sons (21:28-32) "which of the two did the will of his father?" "tax collectors and
prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you"
marriage feast and wedding garment (22:1-14): a king preparing a feast. "For many are called but few are chosen"
Ten wise and foolish virgins (25:1-13), "keep awake therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour"
Talents: 5, 2, and 1 talent. Cf.: pounds (same amount) in Luke
Last judgment (25:31-46)
Luke very like social gospel (like Amos)
Date: 80-90 C.E
Audience: predominantly Gentile Christians or Gentile God-fearers
Human condition: society without mercy, iniquities in wealth and power
Vision: society with mercy, sharing of wealth, use of power to serve
Jesus: devoted to God first, came to seek and save the lost, prophet’s tragic death.
Disciples: 12 and 70 sent out
HOW TO BEGIN
Lowly Jesus (manger),
Infancy narrative: Elizabeth, Zechariah,…annunciation to Mary, shepherds in the field, magnificat, Simeon and Anna the prophetess
Roman events (emperor Augustus, registration at hometown), orderly account as historian
(I examined the past)
HOW TO END
Jesus explains scripture (24:46-49)
shows necessity of suffering (24:25-26)
on the road to Emmaus (24:13-32), disciples’ eyes were opened when Jesus gave . ..
Commissioning in Jerusalem, promise of Spirit.
teaching of John the Baptist (3:10-14) "share tunics, be content with your pay"
genealogy of Jesus: from Joseph to Adam.
Christ rejected at Nazareth (4:16-30), reading the scroll of Isaiah, "the spirit of the Lord is on me"
sermon on the plain (6:20-49): blessed are you who are poor (not in spirit), blessed are you who hunger now, blessed who weep now, and Woe to you who are rich, . .
woman sinner wets Jesus’ feet with her tears (7:36-50)
the ministering women: Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna (8:1-3)
Mission of the 70 or 72
Mary and Martha (10:38-42): Mary listening to Jesus, Martha working in the kitchen.
Departure from Herod, "It cannot be that a prophet should perish away from Jerusalem" (13:31-33)
teaching on humility (14:7-14), do not sit in the place of honor.
Zacchaeus at Jericho (19:1-10) in tree, repent, salvation
Lamentation over Jerusalem (19:41-44)
"Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me"
"today you will be with me in paradise"
The road to Emmaus (24:13-53)
barren fig tree (13:6-9)
friends at midnight (11:5-8)
Good Samaritan (10:29-37)
Rich Fool (12:13-21)
Great Banquet (14:16-24). Three excuses (marrying, field working, business).
Go out into the roads … compel people to come in" "None of those who were invited will taste my dinner."
Lost coin (15:8-10)
Lost son (prodigal son) (15:11-32)
Dishonest Steward (16:1-13) "No slave can serve two masters"
Rich Man and Lazarus (16:19-31). "Father Abraham, have mercy on me"
Unjust judge and widow (18:1-8). Ask and ask and ask.
Pharisee and tax collector (18:9-14)
UNIQUE MIRACLE AND HEALING
Large catch of fish (5:1-11)
10 lepers healed but only one returned and thanked. (17:11-19)
The son of widow of Nain, raised. (7:11-17)
John so called "spiritual" gospel, mystic language
Key words: eternal life, the Word,
Date: 90-110 C.E
Audience: small, close-knit and deeply spiritual community expelled from synagogue
Human condition: not knowing God, immoral, spiritually dead
Vision: knowing God, mystical relation with God, eternal life now, abide in God.
Jesus: sent from heaven, witnesses to the Father, dies a glorified death of love, will be available spiritually to believers after his death.
Disciples: know who Jesus is. Receive Holy Spirit.
HOW TO BEGIN
The Word (logos) became flesh.
HOW TO END
Jesus appears with wounds, eats breakfast, breathes the Holy Spirit on them,
"Jesus did many other things, but we cannot write all of them, because they are too much."
Jesus: Do you love me? Three times to Peter. Feed my sheep.
PURPOSE OF WRITING
…that you may have life that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God…
Spiritual language (gnostic, mystic)
"I AM" language: I am bread of life, living bread, living water, the way, the resurrection
Believing in Jesus = eternal life = already begun = relationship with God.
Dualistic example: light/darkness, born from above and the earth, etc.
the prologue (1:1-8): the word became flesh, the word was with God.
the testimony of John the Baptist: "Behold, the Lamb of God"
No Jesus’ baptism is found in John
The wedding at Cana (2:4-10)
Nicodemus coming by night to Jesus (3:3-6, 16-18)
Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well (4:5-26)
I am the bread of life (ch.6)
Jesus as water of life (ch.7)
The woman caught in adultery (ch.8)
Jesus as light of the world (ch.8)
Jesus as Shepherd (ch.10)
Raising of Lazarus, brother of Mary and Martha at Bethany (11:3-50)
washing disciples’ feet (13:6-35)
last discourse (ch.14-16)
Peter’s denial (ch.18)
Thomas’ suspicion (ch.20)
Epilogue (ch.21): appearance by sea of Tiberias, large catch of fish, fish fry.
Acts: this is like history of the early Christian church in Jerusalem and outside. A sequel of Luke.
ch.1-7: the founding of the church. especially recognize 1:8: if the Holy Spirit comes, you will receive ...
2:14-17: Peter at Pentecost. His sermon starts.
3:6: Peter heals a crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate.
"I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ...stand up and walk..
5:1-11: Ananias and Sapphira lied about the sale of property and they died because of this sin.
7:51-53: Stephen's long sermon. "you stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears.."
"Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" (56)
8:26-40: Philip baptizes the Ethiopian Eunuch who was reading the prophet Isaiah but didn't understand it.
9:4: conversion of Saul. on the road to Damascus. "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?"
ch10: Peter and Cornelius. Peter's dream about a large sheet with unclean creatures.
11:9 "what God has made clean, you must not call profane"
ch13: Paul and Barnabas commissioned to be missionaries from Antioch church.
ch15: the Council at Jerusalem. Issue was circumcision. James's decision. (15:19), Paul and Barnabas separate because of John Mark. Paul with Silas.
ch16: The conversion of Lydia (she was a dealer in purple cloth)
17:22-24 Paul in Athens (in Areopagus) "I see how extremely religious you are in every way"
ch22-26: Paul's hardship. before Jerusalem people, before Festus, and before king Agrippa
*People to know in Acts:
Apollos: popular, smart evnagelist in Corinth. reawakened by Aquila and Priscilla
Dorcas: benevolent woman of Joppa, raised by Peter.
ROMANS: righteousnes. Paul's theological masterpiece.
Know 1:16-17, which is thematic verses: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel; it is the power of God for salvation to everyone...to the Jews first and also to the Greek.....the righteousness of God ...through faith for faith: "the one who is righteous will live by faith"
ch.1-8: mainly about righteousness and faith, the law and gospel, universal sin, no condemnation in Christ
ch.9-11: the problem of Israel. "all Israel will be saved"
ch.12: ethical focus. 12:1 "...to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship"
*suggestion: please read all Romans.
1 Corinthians: a call to unity by the love of God
writing context: divisiveness of the congregation(4 factions?), disputed matters in the church
(sexual immorality), serious disorders.
So, Christian discipline (ch5-10), worship (modest women, Lord's supper institution, spiritual gifts).
variety of gifts but one body with many members.
ch.13: Love chapter! Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious....
ch15-16: the gospel of Christ's resurrection. *15:3-4: Pre-Pauline creed.
2 Corinthians: Letter of tears!! Reconciliation is theme.
*5:17-21: "so if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation:...who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation.." Reconciliation and reconciliation.
Paul defends his ministry (ch.10-13)
context: agitators appeared in the church. different gospel.
justification by faith: "there is no longer Jew or Greek, ...for all of you are one in Christ" 3:28
Christian liberty (ch.5-6): not by circumcision but by love, the Spirit.
*the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. (5:22)
Ephesians: post-Paul, unity of the church.
unique phrases: "the heavenly places" (1:3; 3:10). "whole armor of God" (6:13)
important verses: 1:3-10; 5:21-25
ch.4-6: one Lord, one baptism, one faith.
Philippians: be glad and rejoice! Paul's letter from a prison.
recognize 1:6; 2:5-11; 4:4-9 (rejoice and again rejoice!!)
Colossians: Post-Paul, concerned with christology (the supremacy of Christ)
1:15-18 "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;...he is the head of the body, the church.."
2:8: read it.
1 Thessalonians: concerns about the second coming & how to be ready for it.
4:13-18: recognize also 5:16-18 (pary without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.."
2 Thessalonians: the day of the Lord is delayed.
Read the Day of the Lord (2:1-12).
Philemon: Onesimus a slave back to his master, Philemon.
1 Timothy: church administration, oppose false teaching, qualifications of a bishop and deacon, etc.
2 Timothy: exhortation to have zeal.
"all scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching..." (3:16)
Titus: another pastoral letter. qualifications of a bishop
1 John: love and love. antichrist.
2 John: the elder to the elect lady and her children.
3 John: the elder to the beloved Gaius.
Revelation: read it and know symbols.
Hebrews: Jesus as high priest after the order of Melchizedek. know also faith chapter 11.
James: social concern; faith and work, not faith alone. tame tongue.
1 Peter: suffering. be courageous. 2:9-10.
2 Peter: Defending Peter's teaching. 3:8 "one day is like thousand years...."
Jude: keep faith.
The exams test your overall ability of whether you can articulate differing ministry contexts based on informed sources and resources. This means you need both knowledge (from your reading of books) and a sharp sense of what’s going on in ministry.General Tips
If I put what I am saying into a formula, it goes like this: "KUA"
What do you know (objective knowledge)? = K (know) from the resources (theology, book of order, confessions, etc)
How do you understand in your own terms = U (understand)
What is important in a context today and how do you apply (or adapt) what you know to a specific context? = A (Apply)
K: you need to cover both classic and contemporary literature to obtain necessary knowledge of a certain subject.
U: Make it your own. A mere quoting from books (persons) is not enough.
A: Application is important. How will you apply or change what you know in response to a ministry context?
Organize your thoughts coherently and clearly so that your readers might follow your point. As you might know, your readers are very diverse in terms of their age, ministry experiences, culture, and etc.
Write plainly with your thesis distinct.
Be familiar with the mood of the Reformed Tradition. If you want to know a bit of it, read my article.
Plan ahead before taking an exam. Your course-taking plan, self-study plan including old exam reviews, seeking advice from former takers, is all-important.
This exam demands a lot in terms of covering materials and the amount of time as well, and profundity of its topics is awesome. I strongly recommend that you take a relevant course for this exam.
Be familiar with confessional documents found in the Book of Confessions. Make your own comparison table by topics.
One important tactic is to use index of the book of confession. If you want to know about redemption-related confessional documents, you will find a similar word in the index. This way you can save your time by finding multiple references in various documents at one look. This is an essential tool in your class exam. In fact, in my exam I did it well.
When you apply what you found to a contemporary ministry situation, the first task is to identify core issues. As the Reformed Tradition hints, you need to approach ministry issues with a balanced mind and heart. In other words, see things deep inside of people and go beyond a mere situation. I say this kind of approach is called a balance-heartfelt approach. Move with your heart. Maintain your sense of balance as always.
When you write answers on the questions of application, think about connection between you answered at previous questions and the application question. Clearly point out what issues are there and be specific about how you reply to that context with a REMINDER that you have a PASTORAL SENSITIVITY.
Again, a balanced approach is important, because, on the one hand, you need to give a clear connection between your knowledge and application and on the other hand you have to maintain a sense of pastoral attentiveness to those involved in that situation. In this sense, your answer needs not to be a black and white logic. Rather, thinking you are a pastor, you should approach people and issues with a balanced sense of mind and heart.
Reading many books is important but too ambitious sometimes. I rather recommend that you need to focus on one important book, reading word by word, with your head and heart wide open. Read one time with close attention to each sentence. Next time when you read again, move your hand with a pen and a notepad ready. Write down what you find delights from your rereading. In other words, make summary notes on a separate notebook. This summary is enormously helpful for your final wrapping up before the exam. As often as possible, you can take this note out, and you can further reflect on it. In this way, you not only prepare for the exam very well but also find pleasure of your spiritual growth.
Christian Doctrine, revised edition, by Shirley C. Guthrie
Presbyterian Creeds, by Jack Rogers
Faith Seeking Understanding, by Daniel Migliore
Basic Christian Doctrine, John Leith
Generally, a passing rate for this exam is high compared to other exams. But this does not mean you do not study hard. The message that I want to give you is that you need to work hard. Do not expect any luck without studying enough.
Good news is that this exam is an open book test. You can put your own color tabs or make colors to highlight certain things in your book.
The first rule is a necessity that you almost memorize the first four chapters of the Book of Order, where you will find the spirit of that book; for example, the ends of the church, historic principles, and etc. You have to grasp the basic rules or spirit of the Book of Order. For example, our church is said to be connectional. Why is ‘connection’ important? Also, our church governing is performed with shared power. Why shared power is important? How and where is the mentioning or spirit of shared power represented in our book of order? Try to connect what you read with actual practice of your church ministry. Is there a similarity or discrepancy? If you do not understand or confused about the actual practice of your church or a larger church, struggle with that issues, going back to the book of order, and find a right person who you trust to talk about it.
The second rule is about your organization of the book. Have a big picture first. That is how exactly this exam asks for (of course, other exams are the same but this specific exam is more like so). As I said before, the first four chapters are fundamentally important in showing basic principles in relation to your ongoing struggles in the church, and the rest of the chapters are organized one way or another to show the connection between the first part (4 chapters) and the rest of the book. Now you can map it by relating the first part and the later part. Find an each relationship of it.
The third rule is about your approach. Again, treat the involved persons in ministry with a pastoral sensitivity. As you grasp later when you read our book of order, the ultimate purpose of our book is not to judge people but find a common ground with reconciliation in mind. So never treat so harshly with the cases or people. Again, a balance is a key.
The fourth rule is about your attention to your questions. Give enough time to think about the question. Read it three or four times. Scrutinize each word on its relationship to the other words and the sentences. For example, verbs such as explain, list, evaluate, and etc., are important ways that it gives you a direction to answering. Answer the questions directly, always with clarity. Don't hit around the bush. Don’t try to show your knowledge not related to answering the questions.
The fifth rule is about your familiarity with index of the Book of Order. What is really important is how quickly you search for a related topic from it and quickly go to the section you are looking for. Scan through this index as often as possible.
There is no specific book that I want to recommend to you, because the Book of Order itself is the best one. Read it carefully and summarize it on your own with a reminder of a big picture.
If I really recommend one little booklet though, “the great ends of the church” by PC-USA will be helpful for your understanding of a big picture of what is all about in our Presbyterian Church.
Worship and Sacrament Exam
This exam is, I think, part of the Polity plus theology exam. Principal things in the Form of Government (especially first four chapters) of the Book of Order have some overlapping intersections with the Directory for Worship. Worship is fundamental part of what the church is doing in the life of church. Also, this exam has a resonant with the theology exam in a sense that theological interpretation is involved in the discussion of worship and sacrament.
General rules for this exam is same as the theology and the polity exam.
This exam is a closed book test except a section on finding confessional heritage (using the book of confession). So, you are asked to remember a big chunk of discussions in the Directory for Worship. You have to summarize all contents so that any situational, contextual topics might be dealt without a serious problem. For example, when you are asked to lead a special funeral worship service in a situation where you feel so strange, can you respond with confidence? Suppose any unusual situations and try to give your own answers.
Biblical Exegesis Paper (take-home)
When exegetical books (bible) are declared for the exam, consult with your professor or a pastor or go to a library to gather information/materials (bibliography). You can begin with reading an introduction of each book. Have a big picture of that book. For instance, if the book of Matthew is picked out for your exegesis work, you can simply ask several questions like these:
1) Why was this book written? What is author like? For whom was it written?
2) Certainly, you will like to know theological issues or any community issues with which people of a community struggled.
3) What is this book’s position out of the whole bible? How is Matthew different from the other gospels? And in what sense is it similar to one another?
4) How did reformers interpret this book? Like Luther or Calvin. What is, if any, a general traditional interpretation of this book?
When verses of that book are given for your take-home exam, go home and find a quiet place to gather your mind and energy. Take a deep breath and breathe it out. Pray for a guidance and courage. PRAY FOR YOUR EXEGESIS. I can tell you the difference between praying-exegesis and hardhead-exegesis.
I failed first time in an exegesis exam. By the time when I finished taking the first three in-class exams, I felt good about what I have done. So I did not pray for the exegesis paper because I believed my capacity. I did well on the exegetical part but didn’t do well on the application part. I did not take an exam so seriously first time because I was not humble enough. The second time when I started working on the exegesis paper, I prayed and prayed. It made a real difference for me. So what do you say? Praying with all your heart does make a difference in your writing exegesis paper.
My exegesis paper is given for your reference.
(Sample paper) : careful, this is not the only sample.
A. The Purposes of this Exegesis
B. Who wrote the Gospel of Matthew?
C. When, where, and for Whom did Matthew write his gospel?
D. How is Matthew 15:21-28 related to the surrounding Chapter and Book?
E. Are there Textual Critical problems in Matthew 15:21-28?
F. How does Matthew 15:21-28 compare with Mark 7:24-30?
G. What are some significant literary features of Matthew 15:21-28?
H. How does John Calvin interpret Matthew 15:21-28?
I. Theological and Practical Implications
J. Personal Summary
K. Contemporary Use of the Text
i) Situation and Audience
ii) Sermon Outline
A. The Purposes of this Exegesis
Matthew 15:21-28, the story of the Canaanite Woman (the Syrophoenician Woman in Mark 7:24-30) and Jesus, has a parallel in Mark 7:24-30. But the content and features of Matthew are quite different from the ones of Mark. A close reading of Matthew 15:21-28 reveals that in addition to its similarities to Mark's account, it contains features that distinguish it from Mark, and has emphasis on the theme of faith. So, my purposes of this exegesis are: to find and discuss the nature of faith hidden in this passage of Matthew 15:21-28, as compared with Mark; to trace the theme's occurrence throughout Matthew's Gospel; to find relevancy of my interpretation with John Calvin's; and to apply my exegetical findings to a contemporary, Reformed congregational situation, in a sermon outline that focuses on the theme of faith.
B. Who wrote the Gospel of Matthew?
The ascription of this Gospel to the apostle Matthew traces back "at least from Irenaeus (A.D. 185) and possibly from Papias, though it is not clear whether the collection of Jesus' logia by Matthew that Papias refers to is to be identified with our gospel of Matthew" (Meier 1992: 622). But, there is no internal evidence that the apostle Matthew wrote this gospel. A majority of scholars views the author of Matthew as a redactor of Mark's gospel and as a writer, after receiving various oral and written traditions that were available to him in his community. Until the last few decades, scholars tended to favor the author of Matthew as a Jewish conservative Christian. More recently, scholars see Matthew "as a moderate Hellenistic-Jewish Christian who was liberated from an earlier stringent Jewish Christianity which opposed the gentile mission and upheld the Pharisaic view of the law" (Meier 1992: 625).
C. When, Where, and For Whom did Matthew write his Gospel?
A majority of scholars points to a date of Matthew between 80 and 90 A.D. (Duling 1989: 1857). Internal references within the gospel suggest this period; its author knew about the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. (see 21:41; 22:7; 24:15-16) (Duling, 1857). This was a time of pharisaic development and conflict between formal Judaism and the newly thriving Christian communities.
The Gospel was written in Antioch, according to the majority of scholars (Boring, 105). Internal evidence of the Gospel suggests some "Greek-speaking urban area where Jews and Christians were in intense interaction" (Boring, 105).
Matthew wrote this Gospel to his audience of the newly emerging community that had to live with or against Judaism and the gentiles. The main audience was Jewish Christians who had to struggle with the existence of the Gentiles, whether they had to accept them or not. Thus, Matthew's gospel has its main sitz im leben (life-setting) in "the crisis of a church in transition, seeking to preserve what is viable in its Jewish past as it moves into the uncharted waters of a predominantly gentile future in the Greco-Roman world" (Meier 1992: 625). Matthew's church had already broken with the synagogue by the time the gospel was written. Internal references to this are shown in "their" synagogue and "my" church (16:18) (Meier 1992: 625).
D. How is Matthew 15:21-28 related to the Surrounding Chapter and the Book?
The passage, 15:21-28, has "antithetical continuity" with the previous passage, 15:1-20 (Patte, 220). Verses 15:1-20 are about the dialogue between Jesus and the Pharisees (the theme was 'bread' and 'eating'), while in 15:21-28 Jesus and the Canaanite woman also have dialogues around bread and eating. Why is it antithetical? It is because both passages deal with the aspect of faith. That is to say, a Canaanite woman, a pagan, has "great" faith (15:28) and the Pharisees, the Jewish religious authorities, make void the word of God and are hypocrites (15:6-7). The Pharisees are an example of "unbelief" (13:58) and the Canaanite woman as an example of great faith (Patte, 220).
Though Matthew's language has a Jewish tone, ultimately the theme of Matthew is faith in which Jews and gentiles together become the people of God. But the setting of the Canaanite woman's story is still a pre-Easter moment. So, this passage, 15:21-28 is a pre-sign of full inclusion of the gentile in Christ after the Post-Easter event (for example, 28:16-20, where all nations are the target of mission). So, this event carried a symbolic impact on the readers who listened to this gospel, because even before the Easter, non-Jewish people could be part of God's blessing, on condition that they come with faith.
This episode of the Canaanite woman contrasts with several other places where the disciples do not show faith. Jesus pointed out Peter’s “little faith” because Peter had doubt while walking on the sea (14:31) (Scott, 41). Jesus' disciples, who were terrified by the windstorm, also heard from Jesus, "Why are you afraid, you of little faith?" (8:23-27). In another place, Jesus was rejected by his hometown people at Nazareth (13:54-58), and he did not do many things because of their "unbelief". In sum, the main problem of the disciples in Matthew is that they have "little faith". In contrast, a Canaanite woman shows great faith, even if she is a pagan, a woman, and the mother of a demonic daughter. This event stands out in terms of the dramatic aspect of faith. After this event, Peter's confession comes in chapter 16.
Finally, this episode has a parallel in 8:5-13, where a centurion asks for his servant's cure. This episode is also about a gentile's faith (Schweizer, 329).
E. Are there Textual critical problems in Matthew 15:21-28?
In fact, there is no critical textual problem in this passage. But one thing should be marked here. In verse 26, "estin kalon" -"is good"- is close to the original, though some think that "exestin" -"is lawful"- is closer to the original because of the influence of the parallel account in Mark 7:27. The reason for favoring "estin kalon" is that "exestin was introduced into some of the Western witnesses in order to strengthen Jesus' reply (a heightening from what is appropriate or fitting to what is lawful)" (Metzger, 39-40).
Even though there are no critical textual problems in this passage, one translation issue emerges here because of 'dogs' 'kunarioij'. The issue is related with the meaning of 'dogs'. Greek word, 'kunarion' is a diminutive form (Hare, 176). So, some think this dog is a housedog (pet). But this is not the case, for Jewish people did not raise dogs in the house as Greeks did (Dufton, 417). By the way, the NIV translates verse 26 as 'to their dogs' but the NRSV has 'to the dogs.' I think that the NRSV is more appealing. As for Jewish people, dogs were not raised in houses but wandered in the fields and mountain. Dogs were a symbol of the dirty, unpleasant and savage animals. In this way, the dogs became a Jewish word of abuse for gentiles (Dufton, 417). Dogs are used to show the bitterness of gentiles' situation. Gentiles are like dogs. They are outside of God's mercy. Matthew dramatizes even more by these dogs the impossibility of this woman's destiny. One interesting point is that this woman responds in such a way that she seems to refer to these dogs as housedogs. No matter what Jesus says, for her, the urgent things are her daughter's cure.
F. How does Matthew 15:21-28 compare with Mark 7:24-30?
Matthew's text is different from Mark 7:24-30 to a surprising degree. Matthew's text is "more Jewish than its parallel" (note 24b: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel") (Davies, 542). Jesus confines his mission to Israel only. Further, Matthew's text is missing Mark's clause "let the children be fed first". In Mark's text, it seems that Jews are first saved and gentiles next. But in Matthew's text, gentiles have no possibility at all. In sum, Matthew's text is "more potentially offensive to non-Jews" (Davies, 542). But on the other hand, Matthew (the author) intensifies the desperateness of a pagan woman. In other words, here the author manifests the hopelessness of a Canaanite woman by emphasizing Jesus' mission to Israel only. This is why Matthew's text differs from Mark's version. The taste of strong Jewishness has been made in Matthew 15:21-28 by the author who wants to show the greatness of faith of this woman (Senior, 132).
Matthew, furthermore, turned Mark's Syrophoenician woman into a Canaanite. Most modern exegetes have thought that "the change to 'Canaanite' was made because of its Old Testament associations: one automatically thinks of Israel's enemies" (Davies, 547). Through this term, 'Canaanite,' readers evoke "deeply-engrained fear of and revulsion towards Gentile ways" (Davies, 547). In this regard, Chrysostom commented well: "the evangelist speaks against the woman, that he may show forth her marvelous act, and celebrate her praise the more. For when thou hearest of a Canaanitish woman, thou shouldest call to mind those wicked nations, who overset from their foundations the very laws of nature" (Davies, 547).
In fact, the change to Canaanite woman is "consistent with Matthew's addition of 'and Sidon' in verse 21." Now we have a phrase, 'Tyre and Sidon' which has "negative connotations in the biblical tradition" (Davies, 547). Thus, 'Canaanite' and 'Tyre and Sidon' work together to intensify "traditional prejudices" (Davies, 547).
The other important difference is found in the structure of Matthew and Mark. Matthew's text is basically constructed with dialogues and Mark's text with narrative. In Matthew's text, 'apokrinomai' (he answers) appears four times (v.23, 24, 26, 28). Each time Jesus responds to what has just been said (Davies, 549). During these dialogues, this woman's language is also quite different from Mark: 'have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David' (v.22), 'came and knelt before him' (v.25), 'Lord, help me' (v.25). This language demonstrates this woman's desperation and her faith in Jesus. In other words, Matthew's text focuses on faith. Jesus finally praised her faith at the last saying "O woman, great is your faith" (v.28). In contrast, Mark's text is simply narrative, it does not have such explicit faith language as Matthew. Mark's text focuses more on the miracle of Jesus (Harrisville, 276). In fact, Jesus did not praise her faith in Mark. He just said, "for this saying you may go your way" (Mk 7:29). Mark's version focuses on healing itself.
G. What are some literary features of Matthew 15:21-28?
As mentioned earlier, this passage is constructed in dialogues between Jesus and a Canaanite woman, though the disciples intervene one time. This passage is composed of "four dyadic units": a) The woman's request (v.22) and Jesus' response (v.23a); the disciples' request (v.23b) and Jesus' response (24); the woman's request (25) and Jesus' response (26); the woman's request (27) and Jesus' response (28) (Davies 1997: 541). It is more interesting to see the Greek word de (but) in Jesus' first three responses, and finally he says tote (then). During this dialogue, "dramatic tension is heightened and Jesus' eventual acquiescence, introduced by 'tote,' made all the more surprising" (Davies, 541).
Based on the above structure (four dyadic units), let us look each at in detail. When a Canaanite woman came out of Tyre and Sidon to urgently ask for help, Jesus did not say anything. His first response was silence. In fact, even before she came to Jesus, she had already three strikes against her because she was a woman, the mother of a demoniac and a pagan Canaanite (Meier 1986: 398). With great expectation of curing her daughter this Canaanite woman came. But she got no immediate answer. Virtually, she could get nothing from Jesus. But she kept on asking for help. The second step of dialogue is the intervening between Jesus and this woman by the disciples. The disciples ask Jesus to send her away, because she gets in the way and bothers them. Jesus also adds on this, "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel". Again, this woman does not withdraw, but instead comes to him and worships him. She repeats her urgent petition with "heart-rending simplicity: Lord, help me." (Meier 1986: 398). She is holding the last chance, the last thread of hope. Since this is the third time, readers expect to see a climax now. But it never happened. The audience is very disappointed by this fact of the third refusal: it is not fair to throw children's bread to the dogs. This is an extreme case of insult to this woman. This story seems to end in disaster. His third rebuff is sheer insult. But surprisingly, this woman still sticks to Jesus, and responds to Jesus with her persistent faith and humor and wit as well. "Yes, Lord," she says, "replying to him with politeness as well as faith and humility" (Meier 1986: 399). Here is an example of great faith, coming through three hills (three hills will be explained later). At the fourth time, Jesus then says to her: "O Woman, great is your faith!" This woman broke the traditional rule of three. The third time is usually the last. Number three is the last and complete. But in this episode this woman goes through it and gets the final answer from Jesus at the fourth time.
H. How does John Calvin interpret 15:21-28?
Calvin interprets this passage, 15:21-28, as an example of great faith (Calvin, 264). He understands Jesus as a tester and giver, while the Canaanite woman as one who has a test. Calvin's interesting observation is that silence is also a form of speaking. That is to say, when Jesus said nothing in response to the woman's request, Jesus "spoke within to the mind of the woman, and so this secret inspiration was a substitute for the outward preaching" (Calvin, 264). Jesus' silence was not to "extinguish the woman's faith, but rather to whet her zeal and inflame her ardour" (Calvin, 264).
Even after hearing the second refusal, this woman did not stop. She "admitted nothing that was opposed to her hope. This is the sure test of faith" (Calvin, 266). Again, Jesus gives a more difficult thing - harsh words of comparing this woman with a dog, "thus implying that she is unworthy of being a partaker of his grace" (Calvin, 266). This woman again does not withdraw. She accepts her status as a pagan. But she shows her faith with humility. She just looks at Jesus, who gives her hope and assurance. Calvin understood this episode as "the early manifestation of the common mercy which was at length offered indiscriminately to Jews and Gentiles after his resurrection" (Calvin, 262).
I. Theological and Practical Implications
This story clearly shows us the nature of faith. Faith points to hope and love. This woman does not see hopelessness. She keeps on asking Jesus for what she wants. What she wants is her daughter's liberation from a demon. Her faith remains until her daughter lives again as a normal person.
Especially when we live with multiple choices and alternatives in our modern lives, we believe everything should become available in a minute. Faith is understood as an easy way to get out of trouble or to get rich without paying attention to the process. As this episode tells, this woman crosses three hills: the first hill is silence; the second hill is prejudice or theology; the third hill is annihilation (totally weeding out a person's faith). This episode clearly shows a process. As time goes by, the problem might be more serious. But one who has great faith never fails. It looks like failure in the beginning, in the middle, and even in the end. But that traditional concept of the final is not an end. Faith points to Jesus, not to conditions or us. One who has great faith does not see possibility in his/her status but in Jesus our Lord.
This episode has good contrast with Peter's "little faith" incident (14:31). When Peter has faith, he could walk on the sea. But when he noticed the wind, which means when he had doubt about Jesus, he fell into the sea. The Canaanite woman does not see her own hopeless condition alone. She sees Jesus as Lord and calls upon him. She never leaves Jesus until she gets an answer. In this sense, faith is struggling hope through action.
J. Personal Summary
This passage, 15:21-28 is a very moving story and will be my story with which I should live with others in my future ministry. This story gives me a clear picture of faith. Faith is not just a mental acquiesce or an easy word to say to the troubled person. It is more than that. It is a struggling and a process. When we do not see our hopelessness alone, we see Jesus as our Lord. Faith should be persisted at until it gets an answer. The worse things get, the more this woman sticks to Jesus. Hopelessness can never win faith. There is no hopelessness if we have faith in Christ. In the darkness of the valley, faith radiates more. The Canaanite woman's story should be our story today.
K. Contemporary Use of the Text
i) Situation and audience
I will preach this Matthew 15:21-28 for a small, Presbyterian congregation that was founded few years ago. There has been much fluctuation in the size of memberships. This congregation strives to live with faith. But when things are going well, it is easy to come to church. Some members do not have strong faith in Christ. Overall, the congregation is not very patient and somehow wavers in faith. And recently, this congregation experienced several illnesses. One member suffers from a very severe disease. This person is almost desperate now because that disease recurred. Several others also suffer from their physical weaknesses. This congregation, though small, has a lot of suffering incidents. In this situation, every believer has a question about faith. I need to address the nature of faith: a process and hope in Jesus our Lord.
ii) Sermon outline
God of our father and mother, we praise your holy name. Through Jesus Christ you give us life and hope. No matter how hard our lives turn to be, give us faith with which we struggle to win finally. Fill us with your spirit of empowerment and courage. Amen.
2. Sermon outline
1) Introduction: I will begin with some common experiences of a human being. Anyone can meet with difficult situations. I ask what faith is. Today's story tells us of one woman's faith struggle. Jesus praised her: O woman, great is your faith! What can we say to this woman? Or what does this woman say to us?
2) Now I will retell the Canaanite woman story briefly.
i) The first step is to highlight her triple conditions as a woman, a pagan, and the mother of a daughter who has a demon. Who is this woman? She is a sample of the margin of marginality. In addition, I will mention the name "Canaanite" woman. A Canaanite is an enemy of Israel. She was a powerless woman, the hopeless mother of a daughter, and an enemy of Israel. What else can we put in her to make things worse?
ii) The second step is to focus on the dialogue between Jesus and the Canaanite woman, including the dialogue between Jesus and disciples. The first time Jesus does not respond to her request at all. The second time Jesus says: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." It is very dark now and the situation is hopeless for this woman. But still she sticks to Jesus and worships him. She persists and says to Jesus: "Lord, help me." But Jesus again refuses strongly to accept her request by saying, "it is not right to give children's food to the dogs". This woman is referred to as a dog. This is so far the strongest refusal, putting direct emotional damage on her. She should have given up at this point. What did she do? She responds to Jesus with politeness and humility, saying, "Yes, Lord, even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master's table." She kept asking for help for her daughter. Then finally Jesus declares that she has great faith.
3) I will summarize briefly what we learn from this story. The power of this story comes from dramatically accumulated tension as the dialogues go by. I will mention here three hills that she crossed over. The first hill is no response from Jesus. I remind the congregation that sometimes we also meet with this situation. The second hill is theology or prejudices. She was a pagan, who lives outside Israel. She was rejected because of her being a pagan. Sometimes we are also rejected by this kind of theology or prejudices. But she crossed over this second hill. She thought that now she could get an answer. But again, Jesus refused harshly. This time her emotions seemed to get hurt a lot. It was absolute hopelessness. She should have given up now. But she crossed over this third time. She accepted her being pagan but she never accepted hopelessness because she believed in Jesus as Lord.
4) I will contrast this woman' s story with Peter's incident on the sea when he walked on it and then fell into it. Peter heard from Jesus: you of little faith. Why is Peter said to have little faith? Peter could walk on the sea while he kept looking at Jesus. But he fell into the sea when he looked at the strong wind. In contrast, in this Canaanite woman's story, even though she has triple bad conditions, even when she heard all kinds of impossibility, she just saw Jesus. She did not look at her environments or any conditions. She had faith in Jesus. Persistent faith radiates well in darkness. That is why Jesus praises her faith.
5) Now I will mention here: "Let us put ourselves in this woman's position". When we think there is no more hope in our situations, or when you prayed a lot but you do not get any answer, or when in the beginning things are going well and at last things are turning bad, what would you do? Will you give up? I challenge the congregation to have this woman's faith. This faith points to endless time until we win. In this sense, there is no time limit.
6) Another challenge is that we need to endure to get an answer. As this woman's story shows, faith needs a process and perseverance. Faith sometimes requires us to cross over three hills or four hills. Sometimes faith is not an easy word to say. It is sometimes painful waiting, relentless hope in the midst of hopelessness. I ask the congregation to place their absolute faith in Jesus, no matter how difficult their situation might be. Let us remember this Canaanite woman whenever we meet with serious life questions.
7) Conclusion: I will reaffirm Jesus' grace and power. Jesus is always ready for us. Sometimes we are not ready to reach Jesus' grace. Jesus wants us to persist. Let us have the faith of this Canaanite woman. Now let us ask ourselves: What will this woman say to us now?
8) Ending with prayer
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