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Studying the Scriptures, Lesson 3

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These are my personal notes from a recent sermon series on studying the Bible. Everything in italics is the commentary I wrote down, along with some of my own thoughts as I take in this information. The plain text is quotes taken form Bible passages, the references are underlined.

The sermon is as follows:

Certain elements that are repeated are more likely to be remembered, and are well noted. Those are elements that require special attention. Knowing why certain elements are repeated is helpful when studying and getting to know the Bible better.

The importance of knowing the scriptures in one's everyday life:


Deuteronomy 6:4-9
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. 6 These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Jesus repeated certain themes many times, in teaching his disciples.
e.g. "He who has ears to hear, let him hear" has been repeated 9 times.

What sort of elements are repeated?

1) Repetition of Terms, Phrases and Clauses

Psalm 136, "His love endures forever" is repeated 26 times.
Hebrews 11, the phrase "by faith" occurs 18 times. It shows the importance of faith in one's walk with God.

1 Corinthians 15:12-18
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. 14And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. 15More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. 16For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. 17And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. 19If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.

The word "if" is repeated often in this passage, to emphasize how one's belief hinges on a very important element, which is the resurrection of Christ.

2) Repetition of Characters

Certain characters instrumental in bringing about the emphasis of a certain point appear more than once in scripture.

e.g. Barnabas is remembered as the "Son of Encouragement". His example was used more than once as someone who helped others in need. This emphasizes a good example for Christians to follow.

Acts 4:36
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Barnabas was instrumental in assisting Saul get past the reputation of his old life.

Acts 9:27
27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.

Barnabas also helped the Greek Christians.


Acts 11:19-25
19Now those who had been scattered by the persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to Jews. 20Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. 21The Lord's hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.

22News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.

25Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.

Barnabas also defended John-Mark when Paul had his doubts about him. This caused a "sharp disagreement" between Barnabas and Paul.

Acts 15:36-39
36Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, "Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing." 37Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus,40but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

In this passage of Paul's letter written near the end of his life, he mentions he had dealt with others who had abandoned him, but mentions John-Mark among those who were helpful to him in his ministry. So, Barnabas had acted in good faith on John-Marks' behalf, with good results, back in Acts. Paul also emphasizes the importance of spiritual mentoring. It seems under Barnabas' influence, John-Mark went on to be very fruitful.

2 Timothy 4:9-11

9Do your best to come to me quickly, 10for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, and Titus to Dalmatia. 11Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. 12I sent Tychicus to Ephesus. 13When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my scrolls, especially the parchments.

3) Repetition of Incidents and Circumstances

A particular point can be made in the repetition of a certain incident.
For example, in the book of Judges it mentions repetitively that the children of Israel "did evil in the sight of God."
The heart of the matter:

Judges 21:25 25
"In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit."

Another example is Jesus versus the Pharisees in the book of Matthew. This ultimately lead to the death of Jesus.
Matthew 23: Jesus condemns the ways of the Pharisees, when he says "woe to you" in seven instances throughout the passage. This undoubtedly creates a lot of tension between them and Jesus, as a result. It underlines an important point in Jesus' ministry, where he is warning the people about the hypocrisy of the teachers of the Jewish law. They received the brunt of Jesus' condemnations.

A related situation is repeating a pattern that occurred earlier in scriptures. Example of the things that took place in the Old Testament were a pattern for things to come:


Hebrews 10:1
The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.

Paul mentions the same thought here:

Colossians. 2:16-17
16Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.

Other repeating examples mentioned:

The Passover lamb, and the way it was to be prepared, and the shedding of its blood, was symbolic of Christ's ultimate sacrifice.

Exodus 12:5-14
5 The animals you choose must be year-old males without defect, and you may take them from the sheep or the goats. 6 Take care of them until the fourteenth day of the month, when all the people of the community of Israel must slaughter them at twilight. 7 Then they are to take some of the blood and put it on the sides and tops of the doorframes of the houses where they eat the lambs. 8 That same night they are to eat the meat roasted over the fire, along with bitter herbs, and bread made without yeast. 9 Do not eat the meat raw or cooked in water, but roast it over the fire—head, legs and inner parts. 10 Do not leave any of it till morning; if some is left till morning, you must burn it. 11 This is how you are to eat it: with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand. Eat it in haste; it is the LORD's Passover.

12 "On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn—both men and animals—and I will bring judgment on all the gods of Egypt. I am the LORD. 13 The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood, I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

14 "This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the LORD -a lasting ordinance. 15 For seven days you are to eat bread made without yeast. On the first day remove the yeast from your houses, for whoever eats anything with yeast in it from the first day through the seventh must be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day hold a sacred assembly, and another one on the seventh day. Do no work at all on these days, except to prepare food for everyone to eat—that is all you may do.

Example of Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt, a pattern of one suffering for the ultimate good of many, for Joseph ended up in a position of authority and saved his people and the people of Egypt from starvation during a severe famine.

Acts 7:9-17
9"Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt. But God was with him 10and rescued him from all his troubles. He gave Joseph wisdom and enabled him to gain the goodwill of Pharaoh king of Egypt; so he made him ruler over Egypt and all his palace.
11"Then a famine struck all Egypt and Canaan, bringing great suffering, and our fathers could not find food. 12When Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers on their first visit. 13On their second visit, Joseph told his brothers who he was, and Pharaoh learned about Joseph's family. 14After this, Joseph sent for his father Jacob and his whole family, seventy-five in all. 15Then Jacob went down to Egypt, where he and our fathers died. 16Their bodies were brought back to Shechem and placed in the tomb that Abraham had bought from the sons of Hamor at Shechem for a certain sum of money.17"As the time drew near for God to fulfill his promise to Abraham, the number of our people in Egypt greatly increased.

Example of Abraham, and his pattern of faith for all Christians. It involved being ready to give up even that which is most precious to him in this life, in obedience to God.

Hebrews 11:8-10
By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. 9By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. 10For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.

The examples of leprosy in the Old Testament is a pattern for sin in the New Testament.

The consequences of Miriam's sin:

Numbers 12:10-11
10 When the cloud lifted from above the Tent, there stood Miriam—leprous, like snow. Aaron turned toward her and saw that she had leprosy; 11 and he said to Moses, "Please, my lord, do not hold against us the sin we have so foolishly committed.

Naaman obeyed specific commands by a prophet of God, to be cleansed of his leprosy. But it involved obedient action on his part. Just as baptism is required to cleanse a sinner.
2 Kings 5:1
1 Now Naaman was commander of the army of the king of Aram. He was a great man in the sight of his master and highly regarded, because through him the LORD had given victory to Aram. He was a valiant soldier, but he had leprosy.
2 Kings 5:10-14
10 Elisha sent a messenger to say to him, "Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan, and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleansed."

11 But Naaman went away angry and said, "I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn't I wash in them and be cleansed?" So he turned and went off in a rage.

13 Naaman's servants went to him and said, "My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, 'Wash and be cleansed'!" 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

New Testament use of Old Testament patterns.

If one puts the OT verses in context, one will see why Paul used it in his ministry.

In Acts 2, there is Peter's use of Joel 2:
1When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues[a] as the Spirit enabled them.

5Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. 6When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. 7Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? 8Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? 9Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome 11(both Jews and converts to Judaism Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" 12Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"

13Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine."

14Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! 16No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17" 'In the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
Your sons and daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
your old men will dream dreams.
18Even on my servants, both men and women,
I will pour out my Spirit in those days,
and they will prophesy.
19I will show wonders in the heaven above
and signs on the earth below,
blood and fire and billows of smoke.
20The sun will be turned to darkness
and the moon to blood
before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord.
21And everyone who calls
on the name of the Lord will be saved.'

Romans 4:1-3 quotes Genesis 15:6. as a pattern of faith.
1What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness."

2 Corinthians 9:6-9
uses Psalms 112:9 parallels.
6Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. 7Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 8And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 9As it is written:
"He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor;
his righteousness endures forever."

Whenever a pattern is seen because of its repeated use, then it is something to which we should pay particular attention.
Everything that is written in the Bible is important, but some things are emphasized for putting across a particular pattern of thought.
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