How Not to Run a Church

The books in the Bible from the Apostle Paul are much different from those written by James, Peter, John, and Jude. That’s because Paul didn’t follow Jesus during Jesus’s time here on Earth. In fact, before his conversion, Paul spent most of his time hunting Jesus followers, not encouraging them.

Check out this quote from Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth.

1 Corinthians 15: 6 After that, [Jesus] appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, 8 and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. 9 For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.”

In verse 9, the original Greek word we translate as “persecuted” means “to aggressively chase” or “to hunt down”. Paul felt so guilty about his past that he calls himself an apostle that was “abnormally born”. The original Greek word means “miscarriage” or “lifeless abortion”. Paul calls himself a lifeless abortion. His letters can be harsh sometimes because he demands so much from himself and others.

If you’re following the math, Paul is actually the 13th apostle because he demonstrates the “strong change” God can perform in our lives. Isn’t it incredible that God chose a murderer (like Moses and David) to write one third of the New Testament? Paul went from hunting Jesus followers…to planting churches for Jesus followers all over the Mediterranean.

This quote in 1 Corinthians 15 is yet another reason the books of James, Peter, John, and Jude should come before the books of Paul in the New Testament. Jesus appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and then to Paul. In the original order of the Bible before the Latin Vulgate translation, the letters from James, Peter, John, and Jude are followed by:

  • Romans

  • 1 and 2 Corinthians

  • Galatians

  • Ephesians

  • Philippians

  • Colossians

  • 1 and 2 Thessalonians

  • Hebrews

  • 1 and 2 Timothy

  • Titus

  • Philemon

These books are in a very specific order based on the spiritual age of the reader. Romans is an open letter to new believers, just like the letters from James, Peter, John, and Jude. The audience changes with 1 Corinthians. Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians do not target young believers with a fragile faith, they target young churches with a fragile congregation. The letters to the churches are followed by Hebrews, which is an absolute masterclass in Rabbinical theology. Finally, Paul writes letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon, which discuss topics for church elders and church planters.

See how the Bible was written in the spiritual age of the reader, not the chronological age of the universe?


All Roads Lead to Rome

In the opening chapter of Romans, we learn why the Jesus followers in Rome were so important. The Romans constructed a massive road network that connected the Western civilized world. Planet Earth didn't have road construction on this scale again until America’s National Interstate and Defense Highways Act of 1956.

Think about that for second.

Before Social Media, before the Internet, before 24-hour news networks, all the information of the world went in and out of Rome.

Romans 1: 7 To all who are in Rome, loved by God, called as saints.

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you because the news of your faith is being reported in all the world. 9 For God, whom I serve with my spirit in telling the good news about His Son, is my witness that I constantly mention you, 10 always asking in my prayers that if it is somehow in God’s will, I may now at last succeed in coming to you. 11 For I want very much to see you, so I may impart to you some spiritual gift to strengthen you, 12 that is, to be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.

13 Now I want you to know, brothers, that I often planned to come to you (but was prevented until now) in order that I might have a fruitful ministry among you, just as among the rest of the Gentiles. 14 I am obligated both to Greeks and barbarians, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 So I am eager to preach the good news to you also who are in Rome.

If Paul was writing this letter today, it might be addressed to “all who are on Twitter” or “all who are on Facebook”. If you believe Jesus will return to Earth one day, like the Bible or Quran predict, his return will be live streamed on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. So to all who are on the Internet, Paul’s letter to the Romans is a letter to you.

Romans 1:14 reveals a lot about the purpose of Paul’s letter. Paul was obligated to preach to the “Greeks”, which meant “non-Jew” to Jewish people; and to the “barbarians”, which mean “non-Romans” to Roman people. So it was Paul’s job to explain “The Way” to people who may not have any background or understanding of the Jewish faith.

The result is one of the most important letters ever written. Just listen to the way some of our greatest theologians describe the book of Romans:

  • Martin Luther: This epistle is really the chief part of the New Testament, and is truly the purest gospel. It is worthy not only that every Christian should know it word for word, by heart, but also that he should occupy himself with it every day, as the daily bread of the soul. We can never read it or ponder over it too much; for the more we deal with it, the more precious it becomes and the better it tastes.

  • John Calvin: When any one understands this Epistle, he has a passage opened to him to the understanding of the whole Scripture.

  • J. I. Packer: All roads in the Bible lead to Romans, and all views afforded by the Bible are seen most clearly from Romans, and when the message of Romans gets into a person’s heart there is no telling what may happen.

  • John Piper: Romans is the most important theological, Christian work ever written.

Paul’s letter to the Romans takes about an hour to read in its entirety. I highly encourage everyone to read it for themselves. Don’t wait for your church to read it to you three verses at a time over 52 weeks. Read what all the great theologians are raving about for yourself:

Romans has 16 chapters because it teaches us how to love each other. When we love each other, the sum of our parts become whole. Let’s quickly have a look at chapter 12, which spells this out for us.

Romans 12: 1 Therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, I urge you to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God; this is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.

Present your bodies as a living sacrifice basically means to “give up your free-will”.

Many Gifts but One Body

3 For by the grace given to me, I tell everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he should think. Instead, think sensibly, as God has distributed a measure of faith to each one. 4 Now as we have many parts in one body, and all the parts do not have the same function, 5 in the same way we who are many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another. 6 According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts:

If prophecy, use it according to the standard of one’s faith; 7 if service, in service; if teaching, in teaching; 8 if exhorting, in exhortation; giving, with generosity; leading, with diligence; showing mercy, with cheerfulness.

Romans 12: 9 Love must be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. 10 Show family affection to one another with brotherly love. Outdo one another in showing honor. 11 Do not lack diligence; be fervent in spirit; serve the Lord. 12 Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. 13 Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. 14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. 16 Be in agreement with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Try to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. 18 If possible, on your part, live at peace with everyone. 19 Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for His wrath. For it is written: Vengeance belongs to Me; I will repay, says the Lord. 20 But

If your enemy is hungry, feed him. If he is thirsty, give him something to drink. For in so doing you will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

21 Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.

Some of these qualities are easier said than done. It feels much easier for me to “show family affection” and “pursue hospitality” than to “be diligent” and “persistent in prayer”. The reverse may be true for you because we all have unique challenges to our faith.

@jesusfollowersinamerica: I am great at “weeping with those who weep”, but I struggle to “be in agreement” and “live at peace” with everyone, ESPECIALLY the Jesus followers in America who are currently supporting Donald J Trump. I disagree with everything “the Trumper” stands for. Trump disgusts me so badly that I should follow the advice in verse 20 and feed him a McDonald’s cheeseburger and a Diet Coke. 🤣

Yuck, even Trump’s favorite foods are gross. #cheeseburgerfraud #sugarfraud #electionfraud #taxfraud #businessfraud #fraudfraud #rapist #bragsaboutrape #bribespornstars #epsteinisland #whitesupremecist #encouragesmurderofgovernmentofficials

If you follow Jesus and support Trump, which of the qualities in Romans 12 does Trump best represent? Has Trump ever treated anyone as good as himself? Ever?

How can you not understand that Trump is lying to you to use your voting power to achieve his own megalomania?

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Letters to the Early Churches

Paul traveled all throughout the Mediterranean planting and growing the earliest churches. A church is not a building, a church is any group of people that all follow Jesus. Jesus says wherever two or more are gathered, there he will be. So that means church is everywhere two or more are gathered: at the grocery store, in a home, or in a physical building that the two or more people finance from a local bank to use once a week.

In the New Testament, the books of Corinthians, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians are instructional letters from Paul to the groups of Jesus followers meeting in those areas. On the map below, see if you can find the cities of Corinth, Ephesus, Philippi, and Thessalonica. Colossae was a small town near Ephesus and Galatia was the name of the region in modern day Turkey that included the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra.

The Bible documents that Paul traveled to more than 50 cities between Jerusalem and Rome to plant the first churches in his 20+ years of ministry.

Paul spent more than 2 years in Ephesus, preaching to Ephesians. Ephesus had one of the greatest amphitheaters in antiquity and it’s still in use today. You can watch concerts and operas on the same stage that Paul used to preach the Good News 2,000 years ago. 24,000 Ephesians, Greeks, barbarians, and Jews could all hear Paul at the same time.

When you read Paul’s letters to these early churches, it’s easy to see that Paul was the defacto leader of the early Jesus movement. Paul’s like “do what I’m telling you, and charge it all to my account, because I’m the reason you even exist in the first place”. 🤣

And just when you think he’s conceited, Paul reminds you that he’s a lifeless abortion who murdered Jesus followers. Just think about how crazy it would be for you to write a letter to a church that you are growing about how you previously murdered Jesus followers. That was Paul’s life. He was all in. 💯

Share this with another believer who is all in.


The letters to the churches reveal the struggles of these early Jesus followers. Nobody knew the “right way” to do “The Way” because they didn’t even have a Bible yet. Many of the earliest Jesus followers were Jewish so these churches started with Jewish traditions, but the huge influx of Gentiles created chaos and confusion. These churches had infighting about who was in charge, who was allowed in, and which traditions they should all follow.

Paul was having none of it. In Colossians 3:11, Paul writes, “In Christ there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all.”

See, The Way” is egalitarian, which means we are all equal. If you are Christian AND you are racist at the same time, then you are wrong. Racism is still a serious problem in rural churches today, so the struggles of the early church haven’t really changed that much in the past 2,000 years.

The Bible says that in whatever way you judge other people, that same judgment will be used unto you. So be careful, you don’t want God to look at you the same way that you look at “inferior” people. Even worse, God may actually treat you the way that you treat all those “inferior” people.

I really enjoy how the Bible threatens its followers with their own judgment. 🤣

Learn what I’m learning each week from my private video newsfeed.

Paul points out all kinds of problems in these early churches, not just their racism. Fortunately, he also provides a remedy to fix them. One of my favorite examples from the letters to the churches is the “Fruits of the Flesh” in Galatians 5. Whenever I hear pastors talk about the “Fruits of the Spirit”, they almost always skip the “Fruits of the Flesh” which are way more interesting.

Galatians 5: 16 I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. 17 For the flesh desires what is against the Spirit, and the Spirit desires what is against the flesh; these are opposed to each other, so that you don’t do what you want. 18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.

Of course we have two desires within ourselves that are “opposed to each other”. The neural networks in our brains are organized as “Generative Adversarial Networks”.

19 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 Since we live by the Spirit, we must also follow the Spirit. 26 We must not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.

Paul says that the Fruits of the Flesh are obvious. The reason they are obvious to us is because we can FEEL them. The Fruits of the Flesh are the desires of our body, which correlate to what psychologists call our “System 1” neural network. If you want to read more about our mind and body divide, open the following story in a new tab:

The Fruits of the Flesh are way more interesting in the original Greek. For example, what does “sexual immorality” mean? Sexual immorality is the weird, kinky sex that other people are having, right? The original Greek word that Paul wrote is “porneia”, which is where we get the English word “pornography”.

Does your body want sexual immorality? Not really.

Does your body want porn? Of course.

Porn is currently 30-35% of all the electrons flying around the Internet right now. 

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Another interesting Fruit of the Flesh is “sorcery”. The original Greek word that Paul wrote is “pharmakeia”. Recognize that word? Pharmakeia is where we get the English word “pharmacy”. Pharmakeia means drugs, and not just heroin. Think about it: if you could travel back in time to 1611 and give the translators of the King James Bible a bottle of Advil and some Penicillin, they would probably call you a sorcerer. 💯

If you gave those King James translators a Valium and a weed gummy, they might just burn you at the stake. 🔥

When was the last time you felt your body want some sorcery? Never.

When was the last time you felt your body want some drugs? Always.

And for all you high-horse judgers out there, coffee is drugs. Beer and wine are drugs. Beer and wine even get their very own Fruit of the Flesh. The original Greek word translated as “drunkeness” is “methai”, which literally means “full of alcohol”.

Drugs, coffee, beer, and wine are all things that help us cope with the harsh reality of life, that’s the point. Check out this quote about “methai” from the cult of Dionysus, which was contemporary with the early churches planted by Paul.

Let us be merry and drink wine and sing of Bacchus . . . thanks to him Methe(Drunkenness) was brought forth, the Charis (Grace) was born, Lype (Pain) takes rest and Ania (Trouble) goes to sleep.

Isn’t this why we all still love alcohol today? Pain takes a rest and Trouble goes to sleep.

Another Fruit of the Flesh that is more interesting in Greek is “outbursts of anger”. The original word that Paul wrote is “thymoi”, which means “to heat up”. Thymoi gives us the English root “thermo”, as in thermometer. Can’t you feel your body heat up when other drivers cut you off in traffic? That’s a Fruit of your Flesh.🌡️

Here’s how I translate all the Fruits of the Flesh in English:

  1. sexual immorality (porneia) - using sex workers

  2. moral impurity (akatharsia) - dirty thoughts

  3. promiscuity (aselgeia) - lewd, public indecency

  4. idolatry (eidōlolatria) - addiction, “mirage slave”

  5. sorcery (pharmakeia) - drugs

  6. hatreds (echthrai) - hostility, enmity

  7. strife (eris) - argumentative, readiness to quarrel

  8. jealousy (zēlos) - jealous

  9. outbursts of anger (thymoi) - impulsive anger

  10. selfish ambitions (eritheiai) - the seeking of followers

  11. dissensions (dichostasiai) - contrarian, opinionated, literally to “stand apart”

  12. factions (haireseis) - racism

  13. envy (phthonoi) - schadenfreude, to feel happy when bad things happen to others

  14. drunkenness (methai) - alcoholism

  15. carousing (kōmoi) - partying, revelry, festivals

Ever felt any of those desires coming from your body? I feel them every day. If you want to read more about our natural addictions to sex, drugs, and rock and roll…open the following story in a new tab:

Here are my English translations for the Fruits of the Spirit:

  1. love (agapē) - sacrifice, a cost to you for the benefit of another

  2. joy (chara) - gratitude, thankfulness

  3. peace (eirēnē) - serenity, not needing anything

  4. patience (makrothymia) - long tempered, cool under pressure

  5. kindness (chrēstotēs) - useful, generous with your abilities

  6. goodness (agathōsynē) - good from within

  7. faithfulness (pistis) - persuadable by God

  8. gentleness (prautēs) - meekness, strong power used with elegance

  9. self-control (enkrateia) - mastery from within

If the purpose of this life is to teach us the Knowledge of Good and Evil, here are your two checklists. Learn them well.

Email this story to your bible study group.


Master of Divinity

The next book after the letters to the churches is Hebrews.

If you listen to the Bible in its original order one hundred times in a row, Hebrews will quickly become one of your favorite books because it is basically the key to the puzzle of the Old Testament. Hebrews explains some very complex rabbinical theology, which is why Paul quotes the Old Testament in 11 of its 13 chapters. Some scholars argue that Hebrews wasn’t written by Paul since the author never identifies himself, but Hebrews uses the same closing as Paul’s other letters.

@mathnerds: There’s a reason Hebrews has 13 chapters and Romans has 16 chapters.

My two favorite examples of Hebrews explaining the Old Testament are the stories of “Melchizedek” in chapter 7 and the “Faith Hall of Fame” in chapter 11. Let’s just read both of them.

Hebrews 7: 1 For this Melchizedek—

King of Salem, priest of the Most High God, who met Abraham and blessed him as he returned from defeating the kings, 2 and Abraham gave him a tenth of everything; first, his name means king of righteousness, then also, king of Salem, meaning king of peace; 3 without father, mother, or genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but resembling the Son of God— remains a priest forever.

4 Now consider how great this man was—even Abraham the patriarch gave a tenth of the plunder to him! 5 The sons of Levi who receive the priestly office have a command according to the law to collect a tenth from the people—that is, from their brothers—though they have also descended from Abraham. 6 But one without this lineage collected tenths from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises. 7 Without a doubt, the inferior is blessed by the superior. 8 In the one case, men who will die receive tenths, but in the other case, Scripture testifies that he lives. 9 And in a sense Levi himself, who receives tenths, has paid tenths through Abraham, 10 for he was still within his ancestor when Melchizedek met him.

Okay, that’s an astounding argument.

11 If then, perfection came through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need was there for another priest to appear, said to be in the order of Melchizedek and not in the order of Aaron? 12 For when there is a change of the priesthood, there must be a change of law as well. 13 For the One these things are spoken about belonged to a different tribe. No one from it has served at the altar. 14 Now it is evident that our Lord came from Judah, and Moses said nothing about that tribe concerning priests.

15 And this becomes clearer if another priest like Melchizedek appears, 16 who did not become a priest based on a legal command concerning physical descent but based on the power of an indestructible life. 17 For it has been testified:

You are a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.

18 So the previous command is annulled because it was weak and unprofitable 19 (for the law perfected nothing), but a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.

20 None of this happened without an oath. For others became priests without an oath, 21 but He became a priest with an oath made by the One who said to Him:

The Lord has sworn, and He will not change His mind, You are a priest forever.

22 So Jesus has also become the guarantee of a better covenant.

23 Now many have become Levitical priests, since they are prevented by death from remaining in office. 24 But because He remains forever, He holds His priesthood permanently. 25 Therefore, He is always able to save those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede for them.

26 For this is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He doesn’t need to offer sacrifices every day, as high priests do—first for their own sins, then for those of the people. He did this once for all when He offered Himself. 28 For the law appoints as high priests men who are weak, but the promise of the oath, which came after the law, appoints a Son, who has been perfected forever.

This is what the whole book of Hebrews is like. It’s very rabbinical. Hebrews 7 teaches us that Melchizedek is the high priest of God without a beginning or ending or genealogy. Melchizedek is the opposite of the “corrupt high priest” we learned about in Ezekiel 28. You can read more about the corrupt high priest in:

Hebrews 7:26 says Melchizedek is the kind of high priest we all need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted ABOVE the heavens. All the heavens. See, Jesus isn’t just a movement on Earth, Jesus is a movement across the whole multiverse. Treating (or trading) your neighbor as yourself is a movement across the heavens, and above the heavens. That’s the only way for all the heavens to find peace.

Just think about what Christians say when we recite the Lord’s prayer every day: Our Father in Heaven, holy is your name. Your kingdom come, YOUR WILL BE DONE ON EARTH, as it is in Heaven. What is God’s will? Peace, in the order of Melchizedek. When Jesus returns to this Earth one day, there will be 1,000 years of what? Peace, in the order of Melchizedek.

The second example that illustrates how Hebrews unlocks the Old Testament is chapter 11, the Faith Hall of Fame. We’ll read the whole chapter, but the first few verses make some pretty powerful statements about the nature of our reality.

Hebrews 11: 1 Now faith is the reality of what is hoped for, the proof of what is not seen. 2 For our ancestors won God’s approval by it.

🤯. You can read more about how our faith creates our reality in:

By faith we understand that the universe was created by God’s command, so that what is seen has been made from things that are not visible.

🤯. You can read more about how the visible is made from the invisible in:

By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain did. By faith he was approved as a righteous man, because God approved his gifts, and even though he is dead, he still speaks through his faith.

🤯. Will the faith you demonstrate on Earth still speak after you are dead?

By faith Enoch was taken away so he did not experience death, and he was not to be found because God took him away. For prior to his removal he was approved, since he had pleased God. 6 Now without faith it is impossible to please God, for the one who draws near to Him must believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him.

By faith Noah, after he was warned about what was not yet seen and motivated by godly fear, built an ark to deliver his family. By faith he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.

Rejecting this world as a lie seems to be a common theme in the Bible.

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. 10 For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

11 By faith even Sarah herself, when she was unable to have children, received power to conceive offspring, even though she was past the age, since she considered that the One who had promised was faithful. 12 Therefore from one man—in fact, from one as good as dead—came offspring as numerous as the stars of heaven and as innumerable as the grains of sand by the seashore.

13 These all died in faith without having received the promises, but they saw them from a distance, greeted them, and confessed that they were foreigners and temporary residents on the earth. 14 Now those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. 15 If they were thinking about where they came from, they would have had an opportunity to return. 16 But they now desire a better place—a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them.

Are you a temporary resident on the Earth?

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. He received the promises and he was offering his unique son, 18 the one it had been said about, Your seed will be traced through Isaac. 19 He considered God to be able even to raise someone from the dead, and as an illustration, he received him back.

@mathnerds: Verse 19 describes Abraham’s biggest test.

20 By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau concerning things to come. 21 By faith Jacob, when he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and he worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, as he was nearing the end of his life, mentioned the exodus of the Israelites and gave instructions concerning his bones.

23 By faith, after Moses was born, he was hidden by his parents for three months, because they saw that the child was beautiful, and they didn’t fear the king’s edict. 24 By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter 25 and chose to suffer with the people of God rather than to enjoy the short-lived pleasure of sin. 26 For he considered the reproach because of the Messiah to be greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, since his attention was on the reward.

How are you choosing to suffer for your faith? 

27 By faith he left Egypt behind, not being afraid of the king’s anger, for Moses persevered as one who sees Him who is invisible. 28 By faith he instituted the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that the destroyer of the firstborn might not touch the Israelites. 29 By faith they crossed the Red Sea as though they were on dry land. When the Egyptians attempted to do this, they were drowned.

It must have taken a lot of courage to walk under the ocean.

30 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after being encircled by the Israelites for seven days. 31 By faith Rahab the prostitute received the spies in peace and didn’t perish with those who disobeyed.

32 And what more can I say? Time is too short for me to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the raging of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, gained strength after being weak, became mighty in battle, and put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received their dead—they were raised to life again. Some men were tortured, not accepting release, so that they might gain a better resurrection, 36 and others experienced mockings and scourgings, as well as bonds and imprisonment.

Verse 35 makes no sense. Some men were tortured and refused to accept release to gain a better resurrection? That’s incredible. See, that’s why these people are all Hall of Famers and we aren’t.

37 They were stoned, they were sawed in two, they died by the sword, they wandered about in sheepskins, in goatskins, destitute, afflicted, and mistreated. 38 The world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and on mountains, hiding in caves and holes in the ground.

39 All these were approved through their faith, but they did not receive what was promised, 40 since God had provided something better for us, so that they would not be made perfect without us.

Share this story with someone who has faith worthy of the Hebrews Hall of Fame.


Church Elders and Church Growers

The last letters from Paul were written to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon. These letters are written for church elders and church planters—people who have already mastered all the prior material in the Bible. Paul explains how to find and develop the human capital needed to sustain a local church. Here’s an example in 1 Timothy 3.

1 Timothy 3: 1 This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” 2 An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, 3 not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy— 4 one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. 7 Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.

Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money, 9 holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. 10 And they must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons. 11 Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything. 12 Deacons must be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently. 13 For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves, and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.

The letter to Titus is very similar. Philemon, on the other hand, was already running a church in his house. Paul simply requests that Philemon keep an open mind about a man named Onesimus, who may have caused problems for Philemon’s church in the past.

Philemon 1: 8 For this reason, although I have great boldness in Christ to command you to do what is right, 9 I appeal to you, instead, on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an elderly man and now also as a prisoner of Christ Jesus, 10 appeal to you for my son, Onesimus. I fathered him while I was in chains. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is useful both to you and to me. 12 I am sending him back to you as a part of myself. 13 I wanted to keep him with me, so that in my imprisonment for the gospel he might serve me in your place. 14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent, so that your good deed might not be out of obligation, but of your own free will. 15 For perhaps this is why he was separated from you for a brief time, so that you might get him back permanently, 16 no longer as a slave, but more than a slave—as a dearly loved brother. He is especially so to me, but even more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

In the original order of the Bible, Philemon was the last book before the Revelation.

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➡️: Governing as King

⬅️: Escaping Addiction

⬆️: Table of Contents

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