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May 21, 2022

1SAMUEL 7-8:
Having won the war with Israel, the Philistines thought their idol Dagon had given them victory. The ark of God was put in Dagon's temple. Then God not only proved that He is greater than Dagon by what happened in the temple, but He also struck the Philistines in all five of their territories with plagues of death, tumors, and rats ravaging the land. The Philistine fortune tellers and priests devised a creative plan to test if these disasters had happened on their own, or because of God's hand was against them. In the story it is clear that the Philistine people knew about the plagues God used against the Egyptians. Once again, God proved that He is God. For any any agnostic or atheist in the audience, this seems to me to be the kind of story that no one would have just made up, especially if you compare this with literature of the same age.

This is a psalm of trust in the face of injustice. The psalmist asks for God’s vengeance on arrogant and evil leaders. Those who take advantage of others are called ‘stupid fools’. There is a parable that forms an interesting parallel: Luke 12:20, where God says to the rich man, “You fool, this very night your soul will be required of you.”

ROMANS 2:25—3:
In chapter 2 of Romans, Paul warned of a coming judgment of God, where God will judge everyone's secret life. The trouble is, however, that we all will be judged guilty of sin. Paul has shown us that it doesn't matter if you are Jew or non-Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, we all need a radical transformation. We need to become a ‘true Jew’, which is “one whose heart is right with God].” What each one of us needs is “a change of heart produced by God’s Spirit.” Paul calls this “circumcision of the heart.”

NLT Translation notes:
Rom 3:21 But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him[, and this way is not based on// without keeping] the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Mosesi and the prophets long ago.

[The Greek says “apart from the Law,” so NLT’s translation is technically possible, but I think it is saying something Paul is NOT saying and is doctrinally defective. In most of my suggested changes to the NLT text, I am concerned with clear communication, here however I am concerned with avoiding misunderstanding that would lead to wrong teaching.]
22 We are made right with God by [fully believing//placing our faith] in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.
[Here is an excellent example of the point I keep harping on. Note that using the verb form ‘believe’ instead of the abstract noun form makes it clear that the same word is used later in the verse. Cohesion of ideas makes better understanding. Secondly, it is easier for people to ‘do’ a verb than it is to ‘do’ an abstract noun. It is easier to ‘practice’ something than it is to ‘make a practice of’ something. It is easier to ‘eat’ apples than it is to ‘practice the consumption of’ apples.]
27 Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on [fully believing//faith].
[Notice again the cohesion of the verb ‘believe’ in 26-31.]
28 So we are made right with God [by our fully believing//through faith] and not by obeying the law.]
29 After all, is God the God of the Jews only? Isn’t he also the God of the [non-Jews//Gentiles]? Of course he is.
30 There is only one God, and he makes people right with himself only by [believing in that message (the Good News)//fully believing//faith], whether they are Jews or [non-Jews//Gentiles].
31 Well then, if we emphasize [fully believing//faith], does this mean that we can forget about the law? Of course not! In fact, only when we have [fully believe//faith] do we truly fulfill the law.


Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.