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“The End of the Earth” (Acts 1:8)
E. EARLE ELLIS
SOUTHWESTERN BAPTIST THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY
To Uwe Rosenkranz have been granted the above mentioned titles.
Time to remember the commandement, JESUS gave to his disciples in Acts 1:8:
As has long been recognized, the book of Acts was organized to depict, among other things, the geographical progress of the Christian message from Jerusalem through Judea and Samaria to the lands of Syria, Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. In this respect it presents the expansion of the Christian witness from the center of Judaism to the center of the Roman Empire, from the mission to Palestinian Jews to the mission to Jews and Gentiles of the diaspora. Luke, the author of Acts and sometime companion and co-worker of Paul, devotes almost all of the latter part of his work to the Pauline mission. But he pictures Paul’s ministry as arising from his teachings in the synagogue and, consequently, as directed to Jews as well as to Gentiles. Even in the last chapter of Acts Luke represents the Apostle’s initial preaching at Rome as primarily devoted to his appeal to the Jews, some of whom “were persuaded … and some disbelieved.” The book of Acts, then, does not describe a transition of the Christian mission from the Jews to the Gentiles since Jews are recipients of the message throughout the book. If Acts, like Paul’s letter to the Romans, underscores the rejection of the gospel message by the majority of the Jewish religious leaders and by the nation, it does not omit the continuing positive response of many individual Jews. This fact is important for a proper interpretation of Acts 1:8: You shall be my witnesses In Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria And to the end of the earth (ἐχάτου τῆς γῆς). The Isaian wording of the concluding phrase may reflect a summary of the risen Jesus’ commission to his disciples in terms of the Servant of the Lord in Isa 49:6 or it may be Luke’s interpretive rendering. In either case it is a conscious allusion by Luke to the verse in Isaiah where the phrase has a geographical connotation: I will give you as a light to the Gentiles That my salvation may reach To the end of the earth (ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς). The prophecy in Isaiah is not merely that the Servant’s mission of salvation will include Gentiles but, much more, that in the course of including Gentiles the mission will extend “to the end of the earth.” As it is taken up in Acts 13:47, the prophecy retains the same double motif, Gentile inclusion and earth-wide extension. In Acts 1:8 the abbreviated form, “to the end of the earth,” has only geographical connotations even if there are secondary implications for the inclusion of Gentiles. Therefore, it cannot be equated with the risen Jesus’ commission in Matt 28:19 to “go and make disciples of all nations,” that is, to go to the Gentiles. If the structure of Acts and the force of the idiom, ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς are geographical, what is the location that is in Luke’s mind? Since Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria are specific places, probably the “end of the earth” is also. For two reasons the reference is understood by some scholars to be Rome.10 (1) It fits the plan of Acts which ends at Rome, and (2) it accords with the (assumed) meaning of the phrase in Pss Sol 8:15 (16) LXX: [God] brought someone from the end of the earth … He decreed war against Jerusalem. “The end of the earth” is thought by some writers to refer to Pompey’s coming from Rome to overrun Jerusalem in 63 B.C. But for at least three reasons this suggestion is unacceptable. First, in the context the phrase is probably an allusion to Jer 6:22 where “end of the earth” is used with reference to the Babylonian conquest. The Psalms of Solomon, like the Qumran Commentary on Habakkuk, identifies Babylon, as a type, with Rome or with the Romans and does so fully a century before the Apostle Peter and John the prophet make this equation.12 Second, in its application to Pompey the phrase could refer to Spain since Pompey came to the East in 67 B.C. after a command in Spain (77–71 B.C.). Third, the phrase “end(s) of the earth” had a common and apparently fixed meaning that was used of Spain but could by no means apply to the capital city of the Roman Empire. II In classical antiquity the inhabited earth was pictured as a disc surrounded by the “Outer Sea” (ὠκεανός). “The ends of the earth” (τὰ ἔσχατα τῆς γῆς) referred, as W. C. van Unnik has shown, to the most distant points on the rim of the disc, for example, the Arctic on the North, India on the East, Ethiopia on the South and Spain on the West.15 A computer search that I made of the phrase in Thesaurus Linguae Grecae fully confirms van Unnik’s findings. The expression has that significance in the Septuagint and in the Patristic writers (often quoting the Septuagint), where the phrase most often appears in Greek literature. It was used in the same way in the classical writers and apparently retained this geographical meaning from the fifth century B.C. to the sixth century A.D. Thus, Herodotus († c. 420 B.C.) speaks of an army going down through Ethiopia to “the ends of the earth” (τὰ ἔσχατα γῆς), and a millennium later Procopius († c. A.D. 560) speaks of Roman soldiers on the eastern frontier of Persia and India as being “at the ends of the inhabited world” (ταῖς τῆς οἰκουμε̄νης ἐσχαταῖς). Writing near the turn of the first century, the geographer Strabo († c. A.D. 21) makes this understanding of the phrase very clear: [The] inhabited world is an island. For wherever it has been possible for man to reach the ends of the earth (τὰ ἔσχατα τῆς γῆς), sea has been found. And this sea we call “Oceanus.” Citing Homer, he writes thus of the southern bounds of the earth: [The] Ethiopians live at the ends of the earth on the banks of Oceanus (ἐπὶ τῷ ὠκεανῲ ἔσχατοι). Concerning the “end of the earth” westward Strabo is even more specific: Gades is “situated at the end of the earth” (ἐσχάτη τῆς γῆς). Gades was a prestigious city and the commercial hub of the western reaches of the Roman Empire. It was located west of Gibraltar near the modern Cadiz, Spain, in the area that Strabo had earlier identified with equivalent terminology: [The] promontory of Iberia which they call the Sacred Cape is the most westerly point of the inhabited world (δυσμικώτατον τῆς οἰκουμένης). Diodorus Siculus († c. 20 B.C.) described Gades in similar terms: The city of Gadeira [Gades] is situated at the end of the inhabited world (τά ἔσχατα τῆς οἰκουμένης). Pausanius († c. A.D. 180) makes a more general allusion to the exile of the Messenians, who returned to Greece after “fate scattered them to the ends of the earth” (γῆς τὰ ἔσχατα), that is, to Italy, Sicily and western lands (εὐεσπερίτας). The “western lands” also probably refer to Spain. In conclusion, the use of the phrase, “end(s) of the earth,” in Greek literature confirms the initial exegetical impression stated above that the phrase in Acts 1:8 must have a geographical significance. In its westward extent “the end of the earth” refers generally to Spain and specifically to the region around Gades, west of Gibraltar. This usage rules out the view that the phrase in Acts alludes to Rome. A reference to Rome at Acts 1:8 is also excluded by two further considerations. First, Rome does not mark the extent or the completion of the Christian mission in Acts, but only a new base from which the gospel will be continued further “without hindrance” (Acts 28:31, ἀκωλύτως). Second, if Rome might possibly have been termed the “end of the earth” by a parochial Psalmist in Jerusalem, it could never have been called that by Luke, who had been in the capital and who wrote in the diaspora to Theophilus (Acts 1:1), a cosmopolitan patron who may have resided at Rome and who, in any case, would have thought it absurd to give such a designation to the ruling center of the Empire. III If “the end of the earth” in Acts 1:8 refers to a specific place on the rim of the world, only two locations come into serious consideration, Ethiopia on the South and Spain on the West. The former place has been suggested on the basis of the episode of the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26–40. It is supported by Luke’s explicit statement that the eunuch was “returning” (8:28) to his land, and that after his conversion and baptism he “was going on his way” (8:39, ἐπορεύετο τὴν ὁδόν). However, against identifying Ethiopia as the place in mind at Acts 1:8 are the following considerations: (1) At most, Luke portrays only a prospective evangelization of Ethiopia by an otherwise insignificant representative figure. (2) He places the episode in the midst of the Christian missionary enterprise “in Judea and Samaria” and (3) gives no further attention to the movement of Christianity southward. (4) On the whole he structures the latter half of his work around the mission of Paul and that means, geographically, the movement of Christianity westward. Is there evidence that may support the view that in Acts 1:8 Luke has in mind the western “end of the earth,” that is, Spain? It is the Apostle himself who first refers to Spain as the western goal of his mission. Writing to the Christians in Rome, he says: When I go to Spain I hope to see you in passing. Clement of Rome, a younger contemporary of Paul, who wrote a letter to Paul’s church at Corinth a few years (c. A.D. 70) or a few decades (c. A.D. 95) after the Apostle’s martyrdom in Rome (c. A.D. 67), is the earliest and best evidence that Paul did in fact fulfil his intention to undertake a mission to Spain. He summarizes the Apostle’s achievements in part as follows: Having become a preacher in the East and in the West (τῇ δύσει) [Paul] received the noble (γενναῖον) renown of his faith Having taught righteousness in the whole world Having reached the limits of the West (τὸ τέρμα τῆς δῡσεως) And having witnessed before the governing authorities Thus he departed from the world And was received up into the holy place.… In writings of the classical period the phrase, τὸ τέρμα τῆς γῆς, was an idiom equivalent to ἔσχατα τῆς γῆς. Like the latter phrase such terminology referred in its westward reference most often to Spain (and sometimes to Gaul or Britain) but, for the reasons mentioned above, never to Rome.32 The following examples may suffice to illustrate this usage: [Ephorus] imagined that the Iberians, who dwell in such a large part of the western world (ἐσπερίου τῆς), were a single city. The distance from East to West (δύσιν) [is] greater … From India to Iberia is less than 200,000 stadia … The first part of Europe is the Western (ἐσπέριον), namely, Iberia [The Greeks] say that the Western section [of the world] is from the Gulf of Issus [east of Tarsus] to the capes of Iberia, which are the most westerly parts (δυσμικώτατα). The regions to the West (δύσιν) of Europe as far as Gades … The temple of Hercules in Gades [is said to be] … the end of both earth and sea (γῆς καὶ θαλάττης τὸ πέρας). The city of Gades is located at the limits of Europe (τὸ τῆς Ευρώπης τέρμα). You have come from the Pillars of Hercules [= the straits of Gibraltar] From the Ocean and From the uttermost limits of the earth (terminisque ultimis terrarum). The last four examples show, I believe, that in its specific reference τὸ τέρμα τῆς δῡσεως; in I Clem 5:7, like the westward reference of ἐσχάτου τῆς γῆς in Acts 1:8, refers to the region around Gades, west of Gibraltar. IV In view of the meaning of “end of the earth” in the Greco-Roman literature, the phrase in Acts 1:8 almost certainly alludes to the extension of the Gospel to Spain and, more specifically, to the city of Gades. The command is, of course, addressed to the apostles as a whole and not to Paul, and one might argue that it refers to “the ends of the earth,” that is, to the extent of their missions generally, with the singular ἐσχάτου employed as an allusion to Isa 49:6. However, in Acts 13:47 Luke explicitly applies to the Pauline mission the commission to the “end of the earth” and thereby specifies the apostle who will be the one to fulfil the command in his contribution to the church’s expanding mission. Furthermore, he does not hesitate to alter the Old Testament text elsewhere, for example in Acts 2:17–21, to highlight his interpretation or application of it. If he had wished to indicate the spread of the gospel to the bounds of the earth universally, he could easily have utilized the plural ἐσχάτων or ἐχάτους without foreclosing the allusion to Isaiah, especially at Acts 13:47. In the light of these factors, of the total plan of Acts and of the equivalent idiom in I Clem 5:7, Luke very probably used the singular intentionally and with contemporary geographical usage in mind, that is, “the end of the earth” as it was applied to Gades and to the adjacent region at the extreme limits of the West. If the author of Acts is Luke, he doubtless knew of Paul’s plans for a Spanish mission. If he wrote before the mission was undertaken, say A.D. 62–63, or when it was in progress, the open-ended conclusion of Acts would, to some extent, be clarified. In that case Luke did not mention the mission to Gades because, as he finished his volume, it was still outstanding. If he wrote after Paul’s mission to Spain but during the Neronian persecution (A.D. 65–68), he may well have had other reasons for ending his book without explicitly mentioning either Paul’s release or a subsequent Spanish mission. If he wrote after A.D. 68, however, it is more difficult to perceive why he would create or record a preview of the gospel going to Gades and then say nothing more about it. As both J. B. Lightfoot and Adolf Harnack46 recognized, Paul’s release from his first Roman imprisonment is a basic historical fact from which critical reconstructions of early Christian history should proceed. That his release was followed by a journey to Spain is well attested in I Clem 5:7 and is entirely in accord with Paul’s earlier mission strategy known from the book of Acts and from his letters. Paul established churches in hub-cities that were centers of trade and transport or were on well-traveled arteries of the Roman road system—Philippi, Thessalonica, Corinth, Ephesus. Thereby, he was able to evangelize not only the local populace but also merchants, travelers and visitors passing through. In his concern to evangelize Spain he would, following his earlier practice, have considered Gades the prime location for his purposes. Settled by Phoenicians, Gades in Paul’s day was an allied Roman municipium that Strabo rated in the density of its populace, in wealth and in prestige as the second city of the Roman world. It was a major commercial center connected to other Spanish cities by “a splendid road system” (Albertini) and with fishing and merchant ships plying their trade along the western coasts of Europe and Africa and as far north as Britain.49 It maintained a flourishing seatraffic with Rome, which in good weather was only a seven-day voyage, and it may have exported fish as far east as Palestine.51 There is little evidence for Jewish settlements in Spain in the first century. Josephus states in one place that Antipas was exiled there in A.D. 39, and a later rabbinic tradition says that a temple-weaver migrated there after the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The best evidence for a Jewish presence in Spain is Paul’s stated intention in Rom 15:24, 28 to go there since he customarily preached first to Jews and God-fearers in the synagogue. This is also sufficient answer to the objection that Paul would not have been fluent in the language(s) used at Gades. With the phrase, “the end of the earth,” in Acts 1:8 Luke signals his knowledge of a (prospective) Pauline mission to Spain and his intention to make it a part of his narrative. For reasons that are not altogether clear, he concludes his book without mentioning the Spanish mission. If he wrote before A.D. 68, the omission can be explained. It is less easy to do so if he wrote after that date. To the various reasons advanced by numerous scholars for an early date for Acts, Acts 1:8 now adds one more. All of the arguments together lead me, after some consideration, to revise my dating of Luke-Acts from an earlier judgment of “about A.D. 70” to a date in the mid-sixties. Ellis, E. E. (1991). “The End of the Earth” (Acts 1:8). Bulletin for Biblical Research, Vol. 1, 123–132.
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Ezra and Nehemiah in the Light of the Texts from Persepolis
H. G. M. WILLIAMSON THE UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
Between the years of 1931 and 1939 a major excavation of Persepolis, one of the capitals of the Achaemenid empire, was undertaken by the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago. During the course of these excavations, many discoveries of texts were made, of which three are of particular concern to us here. The first and largest group to be unearthed was found initially by accident during the third season (1933), when E. E. Herzfeld was still leader of the excavation. “When leveling debris for the construction of a road, Herzfeld discovered great numbers of cuneiform tablets in the northeastern remnants of the Terrace fortification.” These “remnants” proved to have been a bastion on the northern edge of the terrace, the tablets being located in its southeastern portion. In 1935, when E. F. Schmidt had succeeded Herzfeld as director, work was begun on the Treasury, and here in 1936 a further, though much smaller, group of tablets was found in Room 33. Finally, principally in Hall 38 of the Treasury, a number of (probably) ritual objects, such as pestles, mortars and plates, were discovered. Made of a hard green stone known as (impure) chert, and usually highly polished, many of these objects were found to have Aramaic inscriptions written on them. Although the three groups of texts, and especially the fortification and treasury tablets, share a number of points in common, it is important to distinguish carefully their individual characteristics. Most obviously distinctive is the small group of about 200 texts in Aramaic (not all legible). Cameron was the first to study these texts, and he came to the conclusion that they referred to the delivery of the objects on which they were written at Persepolis. Bowman, however, to whom was entrusted the publication of the material, rejected this conclusion in favor of the view that they described the objects’ use in the religious haoma ceremony. Subsequent study has vindicated Cameron’s basic approach, so that although several differences of opinion, to say nothing of a number of obscurities, remain in the realm of detail, the general approach that should be taken to these texts is now agreed. For instance, instead of Bowman’s translation of text no. 18: בסרך בירתא ליד מתרך סגנא 1) In the ritual of the fortress, beside Mithraka the segan, בגפשת / עבד סחר זנה רב/ 2) I Bago-paušta used this plate, a large one, [ליד ב] גפת גנזברא קדם מזדדת 3) [beside Ba]ga-pāta the treasurer (and) before Mazda-data אפגנזברא אשכר שנתי /// /// /// 4) the sub-treasurer. ’škr of year 19 we should probably translate along the lines: 1) In the fortress of Sāruka, (which is) under the authority of Mithraka the prefect, 2) I Bago-paušta handed over this plate, a large one, 3) under the authority of/to (or ‘made for’) Baga-pāta the treasurer in the presence of Mazda-dāta 4) the sub-treasurer (as) tribute/a gift of year 19. The texts are dated to the years 479/78–436/35 B.C. or perhaps a little later, during the reigns of Xerxes and Artaxerxes I, so that they overlap with the work of Ezra and Nehemiah on a traditional dating. By far the largest group of texts, of which over two thousand have been published to date, are the so-called fortification tablets, which date from the earlier period of 509–494 B.C. Being written in Elamite, they are by no means perfectly understood, but the number of them, together with the degree of overlap between one text and another, means that there is no doubt about the general situation. For the most part they record receipts or payments in kind for a variety of purposes. Their discovery in the ‘fortifications’ of Persepolis is an explicable accident of history which has no bearing on the fact that they give us a direct insight into various aspects of administration at one of the Achaemenid capital cities. The situation with regard to the treasury tablets is not dissimilar. Published in a variety of works by G. G. Cameron, they date from 492–458 B.C. The chief difference from the fortification tablets is that payments are now made in cash rather than in kind. So far as I can tell, this wealth of material has largely been ignored by biblical scholars, and even occasional references that may be found in commentaries hardly do justice to their potential. In what follows I cannot, of course, attempt fully to remedy this situation. The most I can set out to achieve is to draw attention to the relevance and scope of this material, in the hope that others with the necessary linguistic skills may be able later to refine what will, I fear, be seen in retrospect as a very crude comparison. Towards the conclusion of my 1987 Tyndale Biblical Archaeology Lecture, I made a start on this comparison by suggesting six ways in which the Persepolis material could help forward our understanding of Neh 5:14–19. I shall not repeat that discussion here, but will provide rather an introduction to three more general topics—language, religion, and travel—while emphasizing once more that this is far from an exhaustive survey. 1) Language We may begin by noting, then, that despite the geographical distance which separates Arachosia from Judah, there are several points of contact between the language of the Aramaic texts from Persepolis and that of Ezra and Nehemiah. This is due, of course, to the fact that both reflect the current language of Persian administration, and to that extent little is added to what was already known or strongly surmised from other sources. Thus, for instance, we have the regular opening of the texts with b + place name + byrt’, “in the fortress of X,” to set alongside be’aẖmeta’ bîrta’ of Ezra 6:22 and the Hebrew bešûšan habbîra of Neh 1:1; the official title gnzbr’, “the treasurer,” to compare with Hebrew haggizbār at Ezra 1:8 and the Aramaic plural gizzabrayyā’ at Ezra 7:21; the use of the anarthrous kl in the summary of a list, which may help explain the unusual Hebrew kol-kēlîm at Ezra 1:11; and the use of PN + šmh (literally, “his name”) to mean “a man named PN,” exactly like šēšbas̱s̱ar šemēh at Ezra 5:14. Although we should not, therefore, expect any major new advance of understanding in this area, there are nevertheless a few matters, of which we will here consider three examples, concerning which our texts can add clarification. To take first the idiom just referred to, Clines has observed that it “is found regularly in contemporary papyri in reference to slaves,” from which he concludes that “the possibility must be considered that he (Sheshbazzar) was a high-ranking Babylonian official of slave status.”26 Hinz, however, has made out a strong case for the suggestion that those so designated in the Persepolis texts were wealthy nobles in the area of the three named fortresses who regarded it as a privilege to supply the vessels needed for the periodic festival at Persepolis. If he is right, then, of course, no deductions can be drawn from the use of this idiom about the social status of the individuals concerned.28 We might surmise that it was used rather in cases where the individual was unknown personally to the recipient of the document, for in our texts it is striking that it is only used in connection with the donors of the vessels, whose names are hardly ever repeated, but never in connection with the various officials, whose names recur frequently and who would have been known to others in the state bureaucracy. This would also, of course, readily explain its use with slaves—and with Sheshbazzar in the context presupposed by Ezra 5:14. Second, light can be shed from these texts on the troublesome ’eben gelāl referred to in connection with the building of the temple at Ezra 5:8 and 6:4, and which has generally been translated into English by “large stones” or the like. A number of other translations have been proposed, however, among which we may notice most recently the suggestion that the reference is to cobble or rubble fill in connection with what is known as pier-and-rubble construction.31 In something like a quarter of the Aramaic texts from Persepolis, the objects described are said to be zy gll, which Bowman translates “of stone.” In some cases, a further modifier is added, varying from one text to another. Sometimes an adjective is used, and on other occasions another noun joined by zy. The meaning of these words is uncertain, but the suggestion that the first group refers to something like coloring or patterning and the second to the type of stone seems reasonable. On the basis of this material, together with the evidence collected concerning Akkadian galālu for the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary, Bowman wrote an article in 1965 arguing, inter alia, that (i) a distinction should be drawn between galālu (and some later Aramaic uses of gll) meaning “pebble,” “cobble,” and the many passages in Akkadian of the Persian period where such a meaning is inappropriate; he reckoned Ezra 5:8 and 6:4 among the latter; (ii) because of the variety of objects described by gll (including stelae, pillars, window frames and dishes), gll cannot refer to either the shape or type of stone: it “should be translated simply as ‘stone,’ without further specification” (67); (iii) the use of ’bn should be regarded as a determinative; whether or not gll once had a more specific meaning, by the time of Ezra, with or without the determinative ’bn, it simply meant “stone.” Although Bowman’s article is a helpful collection of material and is certainly moving in the right direction, its conclusion nevertheless raises two particular difficulties. First, Aramaic is not Akkadian, and to speak of ’eben as “a determinative” is inappropriate. It is simply not a usage that would have been recognized by Aramaic speaking Jews in Judah. Whatever its history, the phrase must have meant something more to them than just “stone,” for which ’eben alone would have sufficed. Secondly, Delaunay has argued that “stone” is also inappropriate for gll in the Persepolis texts on the ground that it would be superfluous, and even absurd, so to qualify certain vessels when in fact they are all made of stone in any case. (It should be remembered, however, that the Persians were obsessed with bureaucratic pedantry, so that Delaunay’s objection may not be so strong as at first appears.) Delaunay thus returns to a proposal of Herzfeld that, in accordance with the root meaning of gll, the reference is to turning or polishing, and so work that might attract extra remuneration. This suggestion seems to fit the varied uses of both gll and galālu, and one may well imagine how it could come to be used without the pedantically correct use of ’eben, “stone,” with it; compare, for instance, how we regularly speak of “hardback” and “paperback” without thereby implying that either is the exact equivalent of “book.” Bowman seems to have fallen into the trap of asserting that “all gll is ’bn, therefore all ’bn is gll.” Thus “dressed/hewn/polished stone” seems appropriate for the Biblical occurrences. A final line of support for this understanding may come from an Aramaic gloss on one of the fortification tablets. PFT 1587 is translated by Hallock, “185 (BAR of) grain, supplied by Hatarbanus, Ramakka received. It was taken (to) Persepolis (for) rations of makers of stone (sculptures). Second month, … th year.” The Aramaic gloss reads rmk ybl prs ptp lnqry gll, and is translated (apparently by Bowman; cf. PFT p. 82) “Ramakka brought (it to) Persepolis, (for) rations of diggers of stone.” The Elamite text, however, as Hallock’s bracketed explanation suggests, implies something more than just quarrymen, for which other terms are used (cf. PTT 9); the word in question translated “makers” is elsewhere used with such other finished products as wine and oil. The Aramaic translation nqr can reasonably fit with this, for although in all the cognate languages the root can have the meaning “to quarry, bore,” it is also used, both in Aramaic and Akkadian, for carving stone or the like. Indeed, when it is thought by Bowman to occur in a very damaged text on one of his mortars (no. 160), he translates “chiseled(?),” and comments, “The word nqwr may be from the root nqr meaning ‘to chisel,’ ‘to shape stones by chiseling,’ ‘to whet a millstone.’ ” It may be suggested that here again the evidence is best explained if gll means not just “stone,” but stone that has been worked in some particular manner. A final area where our texts may help towards a better understanding of the vocabulary of Ezra and Nehemiah derives, strangely enough, not from the Aramaic texts at all, but the Elamite. Not infrequently in the records of payments in kind to some individual, there is reference also to what Hallock translates as his “boys” (puhu); for instance, we are told concerning Parnaka, a well-known senior official, that “Daily (by) Parnaka together with his boys 48 BAR is received. (By) Parnaka himself 18 BAR is received. (By) his 300 boys 1 QA each is received.” There is a good deal of evidence, however, that “boy” is a reference to status rather than age. For instance, though rations vary, theirs are often as much as an adult male, they receive rations of wine, they do “men’s” work, and occasionally are even referred to in the same text as “men” (ruh). It thus looks as though puhu has a similar semantic range as Hebrew na’ar in Nehemiah 4 and 5 (and 13:19; perhaps also at 6:5), where the ne‘ārîm are clearly a group who owe particular and personal loyalty to Nehemiah (or whoever). And since it is clear from the Persepolis texts that their rations or salary were a designated fraction of their master’s, we may perhaps understand better why, after complaining about the heavy burdens that his predecessors as governor had laid upon the people in terms of both cash and kind, Nehemiah adds, “Even their ne‘ārîm lorded it over the people” (Neh 5:15). 2) Support of local cults At Ezra 6:9–10 and 7:17–20 we are told that Darius I, and later Artaxerxes I, gave instructions that material support should be given by the empire for the regular sacrifices in the Jerusalem temple. Earlier skepticism about the likelihood of such support was countered most effectively by de Vaux, who was able to adduce several examples of Achaemenid concern for the continuation of local cults, no doubt partly in order that they might be able effectively to pray for “the life of the king and his sons” (Ezra 6:10; cf. Jer 29:7; AP 30:25–26; and the Cyrus Cylinder, ANET 316), and today most commentators accept that there is little difficulty in principle with the biblical statement. The Persepolis fortification tablets lend strong support to this conclusion and illuminate some of the practicalities involved. PFT 303, 336–77 and 2029–30 record delivery of various goods for use in the service of a number of different named and unnamed gods; for example, “7 (BAR of) grain, supplied by Bakamira, Anbaduš received, and utilized (it) for (the god) Humban. 22nd year” (PFT 340). Within the region covered by these texts, the following are some of the gods mentioned: Ahuramazda, Humban, Mišduši, Mithra, Šimut, Pirdakamiya, Turma, Mariraš, Narišanka and Adad. Here we have Persian, Elamite and Babylonian gods all being honored by their separate devotees within a circumscribed area, and all being supported equally by funds from the imperial treasury.46 Viewed in this light, the addition of another god to whatever list may have been supported by the treasury of “Beyond the River,” specifying the quantities to be supplied, need have surprised nobody. The commodities listed as being supplied for the gods are grain, wine, flour, beer and tarmu grain, which at first sight overlaps only very partially with the biblical lists. Quite apart from the fact that naturally the needs of the individual cults concerned will have had to be considered, there are other reasons why this dissimilarity need not worry us unduly; to appreciate this, however, each piece of evidence needs to be considered in its chronological and religious context. First in time comes Darius’s order that “whatever is needed—young bulls, rams, or sheep for burnt offerings to the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine or oil, as the priests at Jerusalem require—let that be given to them …” (Ezra 6:9). As noted, there is no direct parallel for this, because it is so much earlier than our other sources, but in principle it is not unreasonable in the light of what we have already seen. Second come the fortification tablets, and here it is of interest to observe that the grain rations could quite openly be used for the purchase of sheep for sacrifice. For instance: 80 (BAR of) grain, supplied by Mamannuwiš, Ururu the priest received and delivered, and in its stead he received 8 sheep, and utilized (them) for the gods. 2 sheep for (the god) Adad, 2 sheep for the shrine (?), 2 sheep for (the place) Tikrakkaš, 2 sheep for (the place) Hapidanuš, total 8 yearling sheep, were issued (at) the granary (?) (PFT 352; cf. 362–64 and 2030). A possible reason for this cumbersome procedure is suggested by Hinz, who sees in it a somewhat artificial means whereby a Zoroastrian, who of course could not accept animal sacrifice in any shape,48 was nevertheless able to support a cult in which such sacrifice was normal. The date at which, if at all, or to what extent, the Achaemenids embraced Zoroastrianism, is a highly contentious issue, but a move in that direction between the early years of Darius I and the period of the fortification tablets is not unreasonable, and could explain the difference between them and Ezra 6. Alternatively, grain may simply have been used as the basic unit of currency in the treasury, with the system of reckoning up for animals in terms of grain in place from the start, in which case there is no real development to be detected between the two periods. Next in order come the treasury tablets which, while not dealing directly with support for local cults, are relevant here because of their testimony that for a number of years up until the time of Ezra payment in kind was being supplemented, if not replaced, by payment in silver in the imperial treasuries. And this, then, leads straight back, fourthly, to the text of Ezra 7:15–20, where Ezra is given cash to enable him to buy both animals and other materials for the sacrificial cult. The different manner in which these grants were paid to the Jews by Darius and Artaxerxes is thus neatly explained by factors which we could only have learned about from the two collections of Elamite texts from Persepolis which come in between. Four other smaller matters also deserve mention here. First, several of these texts specify a particular ceremony for which the supply is made; for instance, “3 marriš (of) wine, supplied by Parsauka, Mardonius the priest received, and (utilized it for) the divine tamšiyam (ceremony) of (the god) Humban. (At) Uratukaš. 23rd year” (PFT 348). The meaning of tamšiyam is uncertain, but Hallock himself favors the suggestion of I. Gershevitch, which he reports as follows: “it is to be connected with Av. zaoša-, ‘pleasure.’ Thus it would represent OP *daušiyam, a neuter adjective used as a substantive, meaning ‘what serves for satisfaction, propitiatory offering’ ” (19). If this is so, then one may more readily understand how so very “Jewish” a word as nyẖwẖyn, “pleasing sacrifices, soothing offerings,” could be included in Darius’s decree at Ezra 6:10. It is generally believed that Jewish scribes would have had a hand in drafting such a document.52 It was a happy coincidence for them that they could pass off one of their most technical items of cultic vocabulary as though it were the Aramaic equivalent of a ceremony better known in Achaemenid circles. Second, PFT 741–74 record rations paid to individuals who exercised religious functions, for instance: “12 (marriš of) wine, supplied by Miššabadda, Harima received (for) performing (?) the lan (ceremony at) Harbus. It was given to him as rations by the king, (for) a whole year. 23rd year” (PFT 753).53 This may be set alongside Ezra 7:24, where Artaxerxes orders the treasurers in Beyond the River: “Be it further known to you that you have no authority to impose tribute, tax, or dues upon any of the priests and Levites, the musicians, gatekeepers, temple servants, or (other) servants of this house of God.” The specific mention of support for officially recognized cultic officials is thus common to both contexts, and this further undermines Weinberg’s attempt to argue that the community as a whole was exempt from tax. Third, most of these rations to individuals engaged in religious functions are given for a specified period, as in the text just cited, and as in this further typical example: “12 marriš (of) wine, supplied by Parnizza, Kurka the Magus, the lan performer (?) (at) Marsaškaš, received (for) the libation of the lan (ceremony). From the sixth month through the fifth month, total 12 months, (starting in?) the 17th year” (PFT 757). The time involved in the grants recorded in Ezra is not specified, but on the basis of the quantities involved the suggestion has been advanced that the allowance at Ezra 7:22 was intended to last for two years. Some such limitation certainly seems plausible in the light of our texts. Finally, alongside Ezra 6:9, in which it is stated that the necessary supplies are to be given them “day by day,” a phrase often attributed to the Chronicler, it is worth setting a text such as PFT 748, where concerning the allocation of a ration of beer for the lan ceremony we are told, “(For) a period of 12 months he received (for) 1 month 3 marriš. Daily he receives 1 QA” (lines 7–11). It was clearly not unusual for an allowance to be made for an extended period but for it to be released on a day-by-day basis. 3) Travel and Transportation There are several accounts in Ezra and Nehemiah of journeys between Babylon and Jerusalem, included in which there is reference to the transportation of specified items for the temple or city. Ezra 1:7–11 includes an inventory of the temple vessels, and concludes, “all these did Sheshbazzar bring up, when they of the captivity were brought up from Babylon to Jerusalem.” Ezra 8 comprises a fuller account of Ezra’s journey, again with a list of valuable items transported, but this time with the details of the accounting procedures at both the start and the conclusion of the journey. Finally, in Nehemiah 2 we are told how Nehemiah traveled with a smaller party from Susa to Jerusalem carrying letters to various officials requesting both a safe conduct on the journey and materials for rebuilding after his arrival. Although a number of other such journeys are mentioned or presupposed by the narrative, these three provide the most detail for comparative purposes. The texts from Persepolis contain a great deal of information which can be treated as background against which to read these various accounts. Because they are not narrative documents, it is necessary to combine information from different groups of texts in order to build up a composite whole. There is admittedly a danger of misrepresentation in this procedure, but this is partly offset by the number of texts at our disposal which helps to develop a reasonably rounded picture. The first point to be made is the simple observation that without question the Achaemenid bureaucracy went to enormous lengths to record carefully all manner of payments and receipts at the central treasuries. Hallock’s A texts (PFT 1–57), for instance, record details of the transport of commodities in the sense of how they were taken away from a given center; they are thus comparable to a receipt by the bearer; for example, “22 (BAR of) barley loaves (?), supplied by Bakabada, was taken to Persepolis for the (royal) stores. 24th year” (PFT 3). The B texts (PFT 58–137), on the other hand, record how commodities were delivered to a given center; they are thus comparable to a receipt by the recipient to the bearer. As a brief example, “22 (BAR of) tarmu (grain) Sunkišip took, and delivered (it at) Tandari. Hapikra received (it). 24th year” (PFT 114). Other collections of texts deal with tax receipts and other deposits, payments of salaries and making provision for special officials and for royal occasions, payments of allowances to mothers who have just had babies, travel rations and the like. These texts were not just receipts, however, but were clearly used as part of a broader accounting procedure. One group of texts (PFT 233–58) is accounting balances, noting the total amount that was being “carried forward as balance,” and sometimes a note of the date on which the calculation was made; for instance, “9,502 (BAR of) grain has been carried forward (as) balance, entrusted to Bakasušta, (at) Liduma. In the 22nd year, twelfth month, the accounting was done” (PFT 240). Finally, in PFT 1961–2014 there are longer and more elaborate accounting texts itemizing payments and receipts and balances brought or carried forward. The treasury texts too, though somewhat different in nature, demonstrate not dissimilar concerns, while the Aramaic texts remind us that sometimes special items which had been supplied (under whatever circumstances and for whatever purpose) could be individually marked with all necessary detail.57 In this context, it should come as no surprise to find the detailed care attested in the biblical texts enumerated above regarding procedures of payments and receipt. To Sheshbazzar an itemized list was brought out and counted over by the treasurer (Ezra 1:8), while in Ezra’s case the items were first weighed out by Ezra to specified individuals (8:25–27) who then in turn weighed them out to other officials on their arrival in Jerusalem; “everything was checked by number and by weight and the total weight was recorded in writing” (Ezra 8:34). Indeed, by now we should have learned from Persepolis to expect nothing less. The formula used when noting such payments, attested at Ezra 1:8, has already been compared with AP 61, but a further point of comparison comes now from the Aramaic texts at Persepolis. As was seen above, there are at least two levels of authority involved with the manufacture or delivery of the items in question, one introduced by lyd, the other by qdm. The latter is used only with the sub-treasurer (’pgnzbr’), and is probably to be understood as indicating that he was personally present when the vessel was made/made over. The other indicates only more generally under whose authority the work was done. In Ezra 1:8, when we are told that Cyrus brought out the temple vessels by the hand of Mithredath the treasurer who then counted them out to Sheshbazzar, we should probably see a similar procedure, Cyrus himself, of course, not being personally responsible for bringing out the vessels. Despite all the care that went into these recording and accounting procedures, mistakes were sometimes made. These usually involve a mistake in the numbers concerned, the causes being anything from a simple slip to more serious miscalculations in accountancy. For example, at PFT 661 we seem to have a simple error of 6 for 8; at 855 a slip in the list (23 for 32) has led to an error in the final total; at 864 the total (228) is out by one in the tens unit, but in 1023 the total (88) is out by one in the ones unit; in 1011 a figure in the body of the list is out by a factor of one, but in 1028 by a factor of ten. Sometimes, it is possible to trace how an error has arisen. At PFT 865 the scribe put only one month’s ration total instead of the three months that the account was for; at 932 a line has been left out accidentally as the scribe’s eye jumped from one figure of 15 to the next (parablepsis); at 860 Hallock tells us that an erasure left some signs undeleted even though the scribe wrote his new text over the top—it is not difficult to imagine that a later copyist, when drawing up a combined account, might have been led into error as a consequence; PFT 259–66 involve large quantities of wine together with some kind of fractional charge or deduction. In his discussion Hallock (15) sets out the somewhat complicated procedure by which this deduction is calculated, but even then, when applying his results to the related account text 2006 two errors of figures have additionally to be conjectured. Finally, an occasional glimpse allows us to see why such miscalculations might have occurred. PFT 77 reads: 12 “cowhides” of camels, 7 “cowhides” of yearling camels, 2 “cowhides” of camel calves (?), total 21 “cowhides,” supplied by Takmašbada, Šandupirzana received. Included among these “cowhides” (were) 2 aššana. They were received (in) the ninth month, on the first day, 24th year. It is not difficult to see how the two “included” items could be misunderstood as additional by a careless scribe. It has long bothered commentators that we are faced with errors of similar kinds in some of the lists in Ezra and Nehemiah. For example, there are differences between some of the figures in what purports to be the same list in Ezra 2 and Nehemiah 7, and neither there nor in Ezra 1:11 do the totals equal the sum of the parts. Not a few of these discrepancies can be accounted for on the basis of the system of numeral notation probably used at some stage in the transmission of the text, but that does not account for every case. It is thus reassuring to find that the sources which may lie behind the biblical text are no worse off than the products of the royal scribes and accountants at Persepolis. A substantial group of over 300 of our texts (PFT 1285–1579; 2049–57; cf. 1780–87; 1942: 19–22; 1953: 34–35) deal with the provision of rations for travelers, and contain several matters of interest for us. We learn of journeys by both small and large groups of workers and others over shorter and longer distances. Kandahar, India, Arachosia, Babylon, Sardis and Egypt, for instance, are all mentioned as starting points or destinations. The rations referred to, however, are generally only sufficient for a single day (1 or 1 1/2 QA of flour per person), from which it has been not unreasonably deduced that there must have been supply stations at single day’s journey intervals along the major routes of the empire.61 The authorizing and accounting system appears to have operated as follows: the leader of each group of travelers was given some kind of document (of which more below) by the king or other senior official, authorizing him to draw so much each day in the way of rations from the supply stations. Each time he did this, a document such as those that we have was drawn up by an official at the supply station and sent to Persepolis. There, the commodities issued will have been credited to the account of the supply station by debiting the account of the official who had issued the authorizing document. There are two words for this kind of authorizing document: halmi is usually translated “sealed document,” and Cameron suggested that it might be a loan-word from Aramaic ẖtm. The other is miyatukkam, which is thought to derive from Old Persian with some such meaning as “authorisation,” so that semantically the two words are not far removed from each other. They seem to be used more or less interchangeably. Sadly, no example of such an authorizing document has survived at Persepolis, partly, no doubt, because they would often have been written in Aramaic on papyrus or parchment. It has been suggested by Benveniste, however, that AD 6 is just such a document, for in it Arsames, the satrap of Egypt who is temporarily on leave back home in Babylon, writes to various of his subordinates along the way to Egypt, commanding them to provide daily rations for Neẖtiẖur, his officer. In Driver’s translation, the first five lines read: From. Aram to Marduk the officer who is at …, Nabû-dalâni the officer who is at La‘ir, Zātōhi the officer who is [at] ’Arzūhin, ’Upastabar the officer who is at Arbel, H̱alšu (?) and Māt-âl-Ubaš (?), Bagafarna the officer who is at Sa‘lan, Frādafarna and Gavazāna (?) the officers who are at Damascus. And now:—behold! one named Neẖtiẖur, [my] officer, is going to Egypt. Do you give [him] (as) provisions from my estate in your provinces every day two measures of white meal, three measures of inferior meal, two measures of wine or beer, and one sheep, and for his servants, 10 men, one measure of meal daily for each, (and) hay according to (the number of) his horses; and give provisions for two Cilicians (and) one craftsman, all three my servants who are going with him to Egypt, for each and every man daily one measure of meal; give them these provisions, each officer of you in turn, in accordance with (the stages of) his journey from province to province until he reaches Egypt.… Clearly, some distinction needs to be drawn between this text and the halmi of the Persepolis tablets on account of the fact that Arsames refers only to his personal estates, not the more official supply stations, but in general the comparison drawn by Benveniste seems apposite. Turning with these introductory remarks on the travel ration texts to a comparison with the biblical data, several points stand out: (1) Both Ezra (Ezra 8:36) and Nehemiah (Neh 2:8–9) took with them letters from the king authorizing the payment of certain grants for their work. While these cannot be equated with the documents carried by the travelers in the Persepolis tablets, since they do not refer to supplies for the journey, they would doubtless have functioned in exactly the same way. Indeed, it may be wondered whether the unusual use of an Old Persian loan-word at Ezra 8:36 (dātê hammelek; in Hebrew elsewhere only in Esther) may not be intended precisely as the equivalent of miyatukkam. (2) In addition, Nehemiah requested that he be given letters “addressed to the governors of Beyond the River so that they may grant me a safe conduct until I reach Judah” (Neh 2:7). These too are likely to have been recognizably in the same class as the halmi. (3) Ezra’s letters are addressed “to all the treasurers of Beyond the River” (Ezra 7:21). In the light of the administrative structures probably to be deduced from the Aramaic texts considered above, we may say that these are likely, strictly speaking, to have been “subtreasurers” (’pgnzbr’), who were actually responsible for making the payments, and who operated under the authority of the treasurer of the satrapy. The plural ’ahašdarpenê hammelek, “the royal satraps,” at Ezra 8:36, remains a puzzle, however. (4) According to the figures supplied in the biblical text, Ezra’s caravan will have numbered approximately 1,500 men, and we are not told how many women and children accompanied them. Nehemiah’s group, of course, was much smaller, though he had an armed escort with him. It is unlikely, in my opinion, that the list in Ezra 2 is intended to describe a single caravan, but it is rather a summary of all in the land by 520 B.C., including some who had not been in exile. We cannot, therefore, say anything about the size of the first parties which returned. Traveling parties of many sizes are attested in our texts, and since more than 72 percent of the dated texts come from only two years it must be assumed that such traveling companies were by no means an uncommon sight on the empire’s highways. PFT 1532, for instance, speaks of 2,454 gentlemen, and no. 1527 of 1,150 workers,72 though the majority of texts deal with smaller numbers. (5) With regard to Nehemiah’s armed guard (and Ezra’s refusal of such an escort) we may observe that a number of titles of uncertain meaning crop up in these texts which Hallock tentatively associates with those who might have accompanied the caravans. We should note especially the “elite guide” (literally, “safe-keeper”), and his comment that “Persons with this title … are involved particularly with groups of foreigners, for whom special guidance and protection would be required” (42). In addition, as is probably attested by these texts, and as is already known from other sources, there were mounted couriers, who must have been armed, moving rapidly from one station to the next, as well as many other travelers. Whatever risks he took, Ezra is certainly not to be pictured as leading his party through totally deserted and trackless wastes. (6) Part of Ezra’s anxiety was doubtless caused by the fact that he was transporting gold, silver, and valuable vessels for the temple (Ezra 8:25–27). In this connection, it is hard to resist citing PFT 1342, even though it is not fully understood: “8 BAR (of) flour (was) supplied by Karma. Mannuya the treasurer took silver from Susa, and went to Matezziš. 2 gentlemen daily received each 1 1/2 QA. Ninth (Elamite) month, (for) a period of 16 days, 22nd year.” There are several unusual points about this text: we do not normally find references to someone of the rank of treasurer among the travelers; nor to the transportation of silver (but cf. PFT 1357 and PFa 14); nor are the rations ever for so long as 16 days.74 It is clearly tempting to assume that these three factors are somehow related, but it remains strange that Mannuya did not make all haste to deposit his silver safely. Did he have to wait for an escort, or until the road had been made safe? Perhaps there is a hint that Ezra had good cause to pray earnestly for a safe journey and to give thanks after his arrival in Jerusalem. (7) Finally, in view of both Ezra 2:66–67 and Neh 2:9, it is worth pointing out that animals (especially horses) are sometimes included in these texts as receiving rations, and indeed that PFT 1780–87 relate exclusively to rations for animals on journeys (e.g., PFT 1785: “17.4 BAR [i.e., 17 BAR, 4 QA] (of) grain, Miramana received for rations, and gave (it) to horses of Abbalema, (as) rations (for) 2 days. He carried a sealed document of the king. 19 horses, 1 received 3 QA. And 15 mules, 1 received 2 QA. In the second (Elamite) month, 23rd year”). Conclusion In drawing these remarks to a close, it is worth reminding ourselves that the chronologically restricted testimony of the Persepolis tablets is probably an accident of history, and that the type of administration which they reflect will have lasted throughout the years of the Achaemenid empire. There can thus be no objection to comparing them closely with Ezra and Nehemiah, with which we have seen they demonstrate some striking points of contact. Furthermore, as in the case of Neh 5:14–19, dealt with on a previous occasion (see above, n 19), the biblical passages referred to here have tended to be clustered in concentrated sections, despite the more thematic nature of the discussion. Not surprisingly, it will be found that these are passages which deal with points of closest contact between the Persian administration and the Jewish leaders. To that extent, our discussion has not only illuminated some obscurities in our texts, but has also shown how well they fit into their purported setting. On the other hand, it is important to be careful not to try to prove too much from such comparisons. There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding the detailed understanding of these texts, some of the points raised above could well be coincidental, and it may be assumed that government practices were as well known to storytellers as to historians. Nevertheless, when due allowance has been made, it remains the case that the more we learn of the system of Persian rule, the more the objections of an earlier generation of scholars to the substantial authenticity of the accounts in Ezra and Nehemiah may be seen to have been unwarranted; and with that we must remain content. Williamson, H. G. M. (1991). Ezra and Nehemiah in the Light of the Texts from Persepolis. Bulletin for Biblical Research, Vol. 1, 41–61.
Published: January 31, 2017, 06:09 | No Comments on Ezra and Nehemiah in the Light of the Texts from Persepolis- by Uwe Rosenkranz
We rebuke Prince Charles
and false pope Francis
for giving appraisal to
ISLAM and Muhammed,
forcing muslim invasion of europe-
By Pope St Peter Simon II
Pope Francis Says ‘Arab Muslm Invasion’ Will Bring UNITY To The World
Prince Charles Urges Brits To Think Of Muhammad This Christmas,
Speaks Out Against ‘Aggressive Populism’
That´s why we excommunicated Bergnolio and rebuke him,
because he is a fake pope.
The Throne of St.Petrus belongs to the HOLY BLOODLINE
of Jewish Apostels of Messiah Jesus Christ.
12 tribes Grand Pope decree stands against
ISLAMIC jihad and muslim invasion of Europe.
Pope Leo IV ordered the Vatican City walls
rebuilt as protection from Muslim invaders in 848-849
Pope Leo IV – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Pope Saint Leo IV (790 – 17 July 855) was Pope from 10 April 847 to his death in 855. He is remembered for repairing Roman churches that had been damaged during Arab raids on Rome, and for organizing a league of Italian cities who fought the sea Battle of Ostia against the Saracens.
Published: December 23, 2016, 11:29 | No Comments on Merry Christmas everybody and a Happy New Year- By Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz
HOW TO HAVE JOY
via Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.lockman.org
LESSON ONE: Overview
LESSON TWO: Chapter 1 Observation Worksheet and Historical Background
LESSON THREE: Chapter 1
LESSON FOUR: Chapter 2 Observation Worksheet and 2:1–11
LESSON FIVE: Chapter 2:12–30
LESSON SIX: Chapter 3 Observation Worksheet and 3:1–9
LESSON SEVEN: Chapter 3:10–21
LESSON EIGHT: Chapter 4 Observation Worksheet and 4:1–7
LESSON NINE: Chapter 4:8–23
How to Do a Chapter Study
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
Observation Worksheets on Philippians, located in the Appendix
Philippians—a wellspring of spiritual truths that has brought countless believers new joy and peace in their daily walk. You will find Philippians a beautiful and a profitable book. It contains many principles of life that will literally transform your attitude toward people and circumstances as you become a doer of those things which you are about to learn in the next nine weeks.
You need to discipline yourself to study daily rather than cramming all your study into one sitting. To understand God’s truth there must be meditation and prayer. Joshua 1:8 says that we should meditate on God’s Word night and day so that we may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then we will make our way prosperous, and then we will have success. You may get right answers in one “cramming” session, but in all probability, you will miss many precious jewels of insight that come only through prayerful meditation.
Inductive Bible study begins with the Bible itself. It is finding out what the Bible says. However, all the good study habits and methods in the world will mean very little to the student of God’s Word apart from the revelation of the Holy Spirit. John 14:26; John 16:13; and 1 Corinthians 2:6–16 teach us that it is the work of the indwelling Spirit to reveal and to guide us into all truth. So always begin with prayer, Beloved, asking God to guide you into His truth (John 16:13).
1. If you have never done a Precept course before, it might be helpful to read the chapters entitled “The Rule of Context—Context Rules!” and “Getting the Big Picture” in How to Study Your Bible.
The purpose of this first lesson is to discover the context of the book of Philippians. This lesson lays the foundation for all the other lessons. Since context rules interpretation and Scripture must always be interpreted in light of its context, the first step in your study of a letter (epistle) is to begin with the Overview (the view of the entire book) to discover the context.
Since Philippians is a letter, the place to begin your study is with the author because he is the first person mentioned in this book. Therefore, the first step in our study will be to identify what the book tells you about the author. Then as you evaluate these facts, you will begin to see the context of Philippians unfold right before your eyes. It’s exciting and you are going to be awed by what you see.
2. Now let’s begin. Read Philippians and mark in blue each mention of the author’s name and the pronouns that refer specifically to him, such as I, me, my.
You can use the Observation Worksheets, located in the Appendix, for assignments. These Observation Worksheets are just what they say—worksheets. They contain the text of Philippians from the New American Standard Bible printed double-spaced. We encourage you to use these and then transfer the most important things to your Bible.
3. Now look at the places where you marked Paul in the text, and make a list of what Philippians says about him. Use the chart “The Author and Recipients of Philippians” at the end of this lesson to note what each chapter says about him. List only information about the author, not any instructions or commands. Do this before going on to number 4.
4. Although Philippians 1:1 opens with “Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus, to all the saints …,” did you observe from the rest of the letter that the author was only one of them: Paul? If this is not clear, read Philippians 2:19 and remember that singular pronouns are used throughout the book.
5. On the chart entitled “Philippians at a Glance,” located at the end of the lesson, note anything you observe about the times in which this book is written. This helps you understand the historical setting of the book of Philippians.
As you continue to observe Philippians, you will glean more information that will help you complete this At a Glance chart.
Have you ever felt like you were in a prison of sorts, dear friend? Remember, not all prisons have bars and locked doors. Or maybe you have actually been in prison. When you look at Paul, who was in a very real prison, what does he exemplify? Do you think Paul’s attitude was unique, or do you think it’s possible for any believer to have this attitude no matter his or her prison? Can God work this attitude in all of us? Do you think Philippians tells us how? Think about it as you study this “freeing” letter.
Today we’ll continue to look at Philippians as a whole. Our study will still be focused on the people mentioned in the book because the people are easy to see.
1. Read all of Philippians and mark on your Observation Worksheets every mention of the recipients with orange. The recipients are the people who received this letter. Be sure to mark all of the pronouns for the recipients, such as you, your, yourselves, who, whom, and any synonyms, like brethren and beloved.
2. As you did yesterday for the author, list the facts (not instructions) you observe about the Philippians on the chart “The Author and Recipients of Philippians.”
3. Did you observe anything about the Philippians relating to the historical setting (the times in which this letter was written) that needs to be added to that section of your “Philippians at a Glance” chart? If so, add it.
By marking the text and answering some 5 Ws and H (who, what, when, where, why, how) kinds of questions about the author and the recipients, you have been able to discover certain facts about the historical setting of this book.
Do you realize what has just happened? So many times people think the only way to understand the historical setting of a book is to read commentaries, but they aren’t aware that careful observation of the text can reveal this to you.
What a blessing this is for people who speak other languages who do not have commentaries in their language or easy access to them if they do exist.
4. What did the recipients do that might have prompted Paul to write this letter to them? Write your answer below.
How are you doing, dear friend? If this is your first Precept course, you may be panting at the pace and the work, but don’t be discouraged. You are laying such a critical foundation, one that you’ll be proud of in the right sense of the word. If you persevere, you’ll find yourself building a mansion of joy that you can dwell in no matter what your circumstances, and it will be more than worth the discipline you have exercised. So press on, valiant one.
DAY THREE AND DAY FOUR
As you have probably observed, Christ, rejoice/joy, mind/attitude and their synonyms are used throughout Philippians. (A synonym is a word that has the same meaning as another word within a particular context.) Therefore, these are key words for this book.
Discovering key words is vital to your understanding of the meaning of a text. Like keys, key words “unlock” what a passage of Scripture is about. Observing key words and phrases is important because they help identify the author’s repeated emphasis and how he accomplishes his purpose for writing.
It will be helpful to make a Key Word Bookmark for Philippians. You might use the one on the back of your Precept book which has suggestions for marking frequently used words such as “Christ.” Write Christ, joy/rejoice, and mind/attitude on the blank side and mark each of these the way you want to mark them on your Observation Worksheets. You’ll add other key words as you continue to study.
1. Read Philippians and mark the key words Christ and rejoice/joy, along with their synonyms and pronouns.
2. Read Philippians again and mark mind/attitude.
3. On the page “Key Words in Philippians” at the end of this lesson, list what Paul says about rejoice/joy and what he says about mind/attitude. As you make your lists, be sure to note what is said regarding these key words in relation to Christ.
4. Record these key words on the “Philippians at a Glance” chart.
By the way, have you ever heard someone say, “The joy of the Lord is my strength”? Did you wonder what he or she was talking about? By the end of this study of Philippians you will not only know the answer but we pray you’ll be saying it yourself.
5. Did you notice any other key words (with their synonyms) repeated in all four chapters? If you noticed any key repeated words and their synonyms, record these below. Then read Philippians and mark the other key words you observed.
6. Read through Philippians to see what the author talks about the most. Pay attention to the key words you’ve marked.
7. In Philippians the key words Christ and rejoice are the main subjects or themes of the book. The theme of a book is the main subject(s) or topic(s) in the book.
a. Use words from the text to summarize the main themes of Christ and rejoice/joy. You might look at your list on these key words to see any possibilities. Consider the following:
1) The theme should be based on an objective evaluation of what the author emphasizes through repetition, not just a subjective leaning toward what ministered the most to you.
2) You do not have to “come up” with the theme. It should always be based on repetition in the book and its context.
b. Record the theme of Philippians in the appropriate location at the top of your “Philippians at a Glance” chart. When you have completed your chart, you will have a wonderful visual tool that will give you the main content of Philippians on one concise chart.
Part of the beauty of inductive Bible study is to look at what you have discovered out of only one source: God’s Word. Later in this study you may read some commentaries to check your work and to see what other people say. It will be exciting to see what you discovered all by yourself with just the Word, the Holy Spirit, and you.
1. For the last four days you have evaluated Philippians as a whole, and we rejoice over you. Our task today will be to look at the four chapters to observe how each chapter relates to the whole letter. So the next step is to identify the chapter theme for each chapter.
a. Read only chapter 1, looking for the theme of that chapter.
What is the chapter about? Use words from the text.
When you have identified the chapter theme, write it in the space for chapter 1 on your “Philippians at a Glance” chart.
b. Following the same process, read chapters 2–4 and identify the theme of each chapter. Then write each in the appropriate space on the At a Glance chart.
c. Fill in any other information you learned from this week’s study to complete the “Philippians at a Glance” chart.
2. Philippians has so much to teach us about the relationship believers have with the Lord Jesus Christ. As you study it, Beloved, make sure you have this relationship. Did you find your heart touched with a longing for a deeper intimacy that provokes the same words as Paul’s when he said, “For to me, to live is Christ”?
Think about what God has taught you this week from your study of His Word. Ponder these things in your heart as you go about your day and turn it into an occasion for prayer.
Thank you, dear one, for your diligence in study this week. May our Lord reward you greatly by giving you great wisdom and understanding.
THE AUTHOR AND RECIPIENTS OF PHILIPPIANS
KEY WORDS IN PHILIPPIANS
PHILIPPIANS AT A GLANCE
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
Observation Worksheet on Philippians 1, located in the Appendix
Personal observation is the only solid foundation upon which to build a superstructure of correct interpretation and accurate application. Without it, you will never be sure of your doctrine!
DAY ONE THROUGH DAY THREE
We spent one week looking at Philippians as a whole. We identified the context of this letter and the historical setting. This week we will begin to narrow our focus by looking at chapter 1.
1. Pray and ask God to open your eyes that you might behold wondrous truth out of His Word.
2. These next three days, you will be observing chapter 1. If this is the first time you have ever done a Chapter Study, you may want to read the chapter entitled “Focusing In on the Details” in How to Study Your Bible. If you don’t have this book, see “How to Do a Chapter Study” in the Appendix of this Precept book.
3. In the Overview you marked some words that were key to the whole book of Philippians. As you focus on just one chapter, you’ll observe other words key to this one chapter but not necessarily key to the whole book.
Read the Observation Worksheet on Philippians 1, located in the Appendix. Look for additional key words in this chapter and mark each (along with its pronouns and synonyms) in a distinctive way. Add these to your Key Word Bookmark.
Remember, a key word or phrase is one that is vital to the understanding of the text.
Mark each use of God and the Holy Spirit and their synonyms. If you see any mentions of Jesus Christ that you missed marking during your Overview of the book, mark them now. Be sure to also mark personal pronouns (such as I, You, He, Him, or His).
4. Every key word is the basis for a list. A list is every fact about a particular word or person in a single chapter.
Using the key words you marked in chapter 1, record on a separate sheet of paper in list form all the information you learned about each word. You don’t need to redo the lists you made in Lesson 1.
5. Read your Observation Worksheet again. If you see key words that you missed before, mark them and make a list on each word.
6. Read Philippians 1 again and mark the following:
Terms of Conclusion/Result
Expressions of Time
If you need to review the definitions of these terms, see “How to Do a Chapter Study” in the Appendix of this book or read “Focusing In on the Details” in How to Study Your Bible.
7. Identify the theme of chapter 1. As you do, be sure to review the theme of chapter 1 on your “Philippians at a Glance” chart that you completed last week. Now that you have studied chapter 1 more thoroughly, you may discover that the additional insights you gained cause you to reevaluate your choice of the theme. Record the theme in the space provided on the Observation Worksheet.
Please do not permit yourself to be defeated by fear, inadequacy, discouragement, or by comparing yourself with others. None of that is from the Father but is from the enemy of your soul who wants to keep you ignorant of the truth which makes you free (John 8:32) and sanctifies you (John 17:17).
One of the first observations you might have made is that Paul and Timothy are apparently together while writing this letter to the saints living in Philippi. Therefore, as you study, find out how Paul and Timothy became acquainted with the Philippians, where Philippi was located (see the map at the end of this lesson), what the city was like, and how Christianity first came there. Remember, in inductive study examine the Scripture for information first.
Read Acts 15:36 through Acts 17:1. Look for the answers to the following questions and write them out in the space provided. As you read, you may want to refer to the map at the end of the lesson.
1. How did Paul and Timothy become acquainted with each other?
2. How did they become acquainted with the Philippians?
3. Why did they go to Philippi?
4. Was there any record of a synagogue in Philippi? Where did the people worship?
5. Record the significant things that you have learned about Philippi and the visit there. Be sure you include how the gospel came to Philippi.
6. Did Paul visit Philippi again? Read Acts 20:1–6 and note what you learn.
1. We’ve seen that Paul preached the gospel at Philippi. Then he wrote this letter to those who had believed it. Where did he write it from, according to the text of Philippians 1?
2. Read Acts 28:16–17, 23–24, 30–31 and note what you learn.
3. Read 2 Timothy 1:8–18, 4:6–22 and Philippians 1:12–26. Is this the same imprisonment or a different one? Give your answer and reasons. Use Scripture to support your view and record your references.
4. Following is “The Sequence of Events in Paul’s Life after His Conversion.” Reading this chart may prove helpful in understanding the chronological order of Paul’s life.
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
Servants, saints, overseers, deacons—who are they? What are their responsibilities? What are their qualifications?
1. Paul often referred to himself as a servant or bond-servant of our Lord. Doulos is the transliteration of the Greek word translated “bond-servant.” The picture of a bond-servant is seen in Deuteronomy 15:12–18 when a person who had served six years as a slave decided to remain with his master. For a clearer understanding of all that is involved in being a bond-servant, read Deuteronomy 15:12–18.
a. Why would someone want to be a bond-servant?
b. How long was one to remain a bond-servant?
c. Read the following Scriptures and see how they can be cross-referenced with Deuteronomy 15:12–18 and with the term “bond-servant.” Write down the points of similarity.
1) 1 Corinthians 6:19–20
2) Galatians 1:10
a. Look up “saint” (Philippians 1:1). Write down the transliteration and its definition. If you have never done a word study, you may want to read the section “It’s All Greek to Me!” in How to Study Your Bible.
b. How does Philippians 1 describe saints?
c. Read 1 Corinthians 1:1–2 and note what you learn about saints.
d. What has the Spirit of God spoken to your heart through your study today? Write out personal applications using the personal pronoun “I.”
a. Look up the transliteration and the definition of the Greek word for “overseer” (Philippians 1:1).
b. Read the following verses and note what you learn about an overseer.
1) 1 Timothy 3:1–7
2) Acts 20:17, 28–30
3) 1 Peter 5:1–3
a. Look up the transliteration and the definition of the Greek word for “deacon” (Philippians 1:1).
b. Read 1 Timothy 3:8–13 and list the qualifications of a deacon.
3. Based on your study, are there differences between overseers and deacons? If so, note below what they are.
1. Read Philippians 1:3–11.
a. List what you observe about Paul’s feelings toward those in Philippi.
b. Now list what Paul prays for them.
c. Let’s look more closely at what Paul says in verse 10. Do word studies on the following:
d. Keeping in mind what you learned from the word studies, what is Paul praying for in verse 10 and how does this relate to verse 9?
e. In verse 11 Paul speaks of their being “filled with the fruit of righteousness.” What do you think Paul means by this statement? According to his prayer, how would this filling be accomplished?
f. Meditate on Paul’s prayer. How does his prayer for the Philippian believers compare with what you pray for your fellow believers?
g. Beloved, has God put it on your heart to pray Philippians 1:9–11 for anyone? Why not stop and pray now.
2. Prayerfully read through Philippians 1:12–26 and meditate on this passage.
a. What is Paul’s passion in this passage?
b. What is his attitude toward the fact that Christ is being preached “in pretense”? Is this the same as preaching wrong doctrine? Why or why not?
c. Turn Philippians 1:20 into a personal prayer and write it below. Then make it your prayer.
3. Paul seemed to look forward to death! In Philippians 1:21 he said that to die was gain. According to the text, why did Paul look forward to death?
4. From Philippians 1:21, 23 and 2 Corinthians 5:6–8, where does a Christian’s soul and spirit go when he dies?
5. What about you, do you look forward to being absent from this body and at home with the Lord? Can you say with Paul, “to live is Christ and to die is gain”?
DAY FOUR AND DAY FIVE
We want you to study what it means to suffer for His sake as Philippians 1:29 teaches. So many of us want to run away from suffering, to avoid it at all costs. We do not realize the awful price we may pay if we are not willing to suffer.
Are you wondering what we mean by the statement “the awful price we may pay if we are not willing to suffer”? See if you can find out as you study this subject of “suffering for His sake.”
1. Prayerfully read and meditate on the following passages of Scripture. As you do, record any pertinent insights you gain about suffering.
a. Matthew 5:10–12
b. John 15:18–21
c. Romans 5:1–5
d. Romans 8:16–18
e. 2 Corinthians 1:7; 4:8–18
f. Philippians 3:10
g. 1 Thessalonians 3:2–4
h. 2 Timothy 3:10–12
i. Hebrews 10:32–36
j. 1 Peter 1:6–9; 2:18–25; 4:1; 4:12–5:1; 5:8–10—If you’re not sure of the meanings of “perfect” and “confirm” in 1 Peter 5:10, look up the definitions.
2. Summarize, as briefly as you can, the purpose of suffering in a Christian’s life. How are we to respond to suffering?
We are living in a time in which there is a prevalent teaching that if one is truly filled with the Spirit and believes God, he could be healed from all illness. There is also a teaching that presumes that if one is not living in prosperity—materially, physically, socially, and emotionally—he could not possibly be filled with the Spirit. The Word of God does not teach that these things are the norm for all children of God. So many times when man comes upon a truth, he overemphasizes it to the neglect of other truths; therefore, through imbalance, he comes up with perversion of truth. Scripture must agree with Scripture. May we never forget this truth! Study the whole counsel of God, and proclaim the whole counsel of God.
3. Spend the rest of your study time reading what your commentaries say about Philippians 1.
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
Observation Worksheets on Philippians 2, located in the Appendix
This week we’ll observe Philippians 2. This is a rich chapter that deserves careful observation and prayerful meditation. If you will read it aloud repeatedly, you will find yourself memorizing much of it; and how rich you will be. Make it yours in mind, in heart, in life.
DAY ONE AND DAY TWO
1. Observe Philippians 2. Remember, a true understanding of God’s Word is revealed by His Spirit. Seek Him in prayer.
If needed, see “How to Do a Chapter Study” or review “Focusing In on the Details” in How to Study Your Bible to refresh your memory.
2. Begin memorizing Philippians 2:12–15. A good way to memorize Scripture is to write it out on a card that you can carry with you. Read it aloud three times every morning, noon, and night. If you will do this regularly, you will find that you will have it memorized in no time.
Many times we find ourselves doctrinally correct, serving in our church, and witnessing to the world; yet, we are divided, striving among ourselves, proud of our staunch stand on and knowledge of the Word of God, and impatient and angry with those who will not see that God’s Word is true and that Christ is the only way! Everything is correct doctrinally, but what about our conduct?
1. Read Philippians 1:27–2:4 and ask God to open your eyes to the truth of His Word. Come with a teachable spirit and be spoken to by your Lord. In the following space, list the commands of this passage with regard to our behavior towards others.
2. Go to Ephesians 4:1–6 and read this passage with the same heart’s attitude and prayer as described in number 1. What does God implore His children to do in this passage?
3. The first two verses of Philippians 2 are very important. Behavior is based on belief! Doctrine is fundamental to duty. These truths are seen in Philippians 2:1–2. Read it carefully and see if you can understand what we are saying.
4. Verses 1–2 of Philippians 2 comprise one sentence. The core of the sentence is “make my joy complete.” Fill out the following chart:
Make My Joy Complete
5. According to verse 2, what is your responsibility?
6. Philippians 2:5–11 is one of the greatest passages in the Word of God on the Incarnation of the Lord Jesus Christ. The doctrine of the Incarnation teaches that God became man, that Christ was God in the flesh. These seven verses are saturated with doctrine at its richest! What a picture of our Christ: His majesty, His humility, His love, His obedience! He has been given to us as an example, as a pattern, as a way of life so that we might let this mind be in us which was also in Christ Jesus.
Prayerfully read Philippians 2:5–11 and answer the following questions:
a. What does this passage teach about Christ before He became a man?
b. What did He do in order to become (or when He became) man?
c. What was His station in life as a man? In other words, what position did He hold as a man when He was on earth according to this passage?
d. Compare His position before He became man and after He became man. How do they contrast?
e. To what extent was Christ obedient?
f. What attitude was necessary for His obedience?
g. What was God’s response to Christ’s obedience?
h. How will all mankind someday respond to Jesus Christ?
i. What will mankind’s response bring the Father?
j. Fill out the following chart showing, step by step, the stages in Christ’s humiliation and in His exaltation. The number of lines on this chart is for your convenience in writing; they do not, in any way, indicate the number of steps or stages.
EXALTATION Philippians 2:9–11
HUMILIATION Philippians 2:6–8
Why did Christ have to become man? Why was the Incarnation necessary?
1. Prayerfully read Hebrews 2:9, 14–16. According to this passage, list why Christ became man.
2. Read Hebrews 2:17–18 and record any other reasons for our Lord’s Incarnation.
3. Read Mark 10:45 and state the two reasons you see for His coming. One of these reasons is the same as one of the reasons found in Hebrews 2:9, 14–16.
4. Christ was born to die. The reason for Christmas was the cross. The cross that cast its shadow across that precious Child in the manger was to be the means of our salvation. The cross was God’s Christmas tree on which He would hang His gift for all mankind, Christ. O Father, thank You for Your unspeakable gift!
a. To fully appreciate Christ’s humiliation, His obedience, His laying aside for us the glory that was His, read the Scriptures below. As you read these passages, watch Christ and sense His attitude.
1) Isaiah 52:13–53:12
2) Psalm 22
b. Summarize the ways these two passages show His humiliation. Do not hurry through this study and do not do this study lightly. Let the full impact of this truth hit you. Stand at the foot of the cross and behold the Lamb of God slain for you.
c. Now bow before the Father. Beseech Him that you might fully realize what it is to have this mind, this attitude which was also in Christ Jesus.
The path of exaltation is humiliation! This truth is contrary to the mind of the world. Men are anxiously seeking to establish themselves, to build the biggest and the best, to be number one—even in Christian circles. What do the Scriptures teach about all this competition?
1. Read 1 Peter 5:6. Look up the word “humble” and write its definition in the space provided. Then state the command, the result, and the time given in 1 Peter 5:6.
a. definition of humble
2. Read the following verses and record what each verse teaches regarding humility and/or pride.
a. Proverbs 15:33
b. Proverbs 22:4
c. Proverbs 25:6–7
d. Isaiah 57:15
e. Matthew 11:29
f. Matthew 20:26–27
g. Matthew 23:12
h. James 4:6
3. Now feel free to check your commentaries on Philippians 2:1–11.
We thank God upon every remembrance of you. We pray that you will not grow weary of doing good; that you will remain steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord as you know your labor will not be in vain; that you will grow in your knowledge of our God and Savior through your diligent study of His Word; that you will study as unto the Lord and permit each lesson to become an act of worship and obedience; that you will remember the work of Precept Ministries International diligently in your prayers, asking God that we will be totally obedient to the heavenly vision of God for this ministry to Christ and His precious body.
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
As you study this week, you will be looking for answers to the following questions. Take these questions to the Lord, meditate upon them, and seek His wisdom, His understanding.
1. What does it mean in Philippians 2:12 when it says “work out your salvation”?
2. What is grumbling?
We are going to study Philippians 2:12–13. Verse 12 often becomes a puzzle to people. Is it saying that I am to work for my salvation? What does it mean “with fear and trembling”? Am I to be afraid of God?
Understanding and obeying the truth of these verses is absolutely liberating. It brings forth fruitful living.
1. First, let’s look at verses 12 and 13.
a. In verse 12, who is to do the work?
b. In verse 13, who is doing the work?
c. From verse 12, write the word that follows “work.”
d. From verse 13, write the two words that follow “at work.”
e. So we see that verse 12 shows man’s responsibility in working out what God works in him in verse 13.
2. What is God working in us?
3. For whom or what is He working these things?
4. What is to be our attitude toward our responsibility?
5. Why would Paul bother to tell them to work out this salvation not only in his presence but also in his absence?
6. Look up the following words in your concordance, expository dictionary, word study books, commentaries, or other tools which are available to you. Record the English transliteration of the Greek words and their definitions.
a. work out
c. to will
d. to work
7. Read Ephesians 4:30 and 1 Thessalonians 5:19. What is the difference between “grieving” the Spirit and “quenching” the Spirit? Check the context of both passages.
a. Look up the Greek words for “grieve” and “quench.” Record the English transliteration and the definition of each word.
b. Would disobedience to Philippians 2:12 relate to either or both of these verses? How?
8. By way of personal application, write what you have learned from Philippians 2:12–13. Personalize your writing by using the pronoun “I.”
1. From Philippians 2:14–15 answer the following questions:
a. What is the difference between “grumbling” and “disputing”? Record the English transliteration of the Greek words and their definitions.
b. When are we allowed to grumble or dispute?
2. How does verse 15 relate to verse 14?
3. Look up the following references to grumbling and record your findings.
a. Jude 16 (context 3–4, 14–16)
b. Numbers 13:16–14:38. Also, check Hebrews 3:17–19 to see what God says about these grumblers.
c. 1 Corinthians 10:1–13—How does this compare with the passage you just read in Numbers? First Corinthians 10:6–11 tells us five things we are not to do. List them.
4. Now, how do you apply what you’ve learned about “grumbling”?
Spend time in prayer concerning application of the truths you’ve studied so far this week, Beloved.
DAY THREE AND DAY FOUR
1. In Philippians 2:16, Paul tells the Philippians that “holding fast the word of life” will cause him to glory so that he will not have run in vain or toiled in vain. What does Paul mean when he says, “holding fast the word of life”? Look up “holding” and record the definition below.
2. What in Philippians 2 would show you how to “hold fast the word of life”? List your findings; but as you do, do not make the Word say what it does not say!
3. What was the world like in Paul’s day? Does it, in any way, parallel our world today? Would those who were to hold fast the word of life have the same pressures we have today?
4. Paul uses the phrase “the day of Christ” three times in Philippians. It is also used in Paul’s letters to the Corinthians. Look up the following references to “the day of Christ,” and record what you learn about that day. Check the context of the verses as you read them!
a. Philippians 1:6
b. Philippians 1:9–10
c. Philippians 2:16
d. 1 Corinthians 1:7–8
e. 2 Corinthians 1:12–14
5. As you just saw, “the day of Christ” is connected with believers and the coming of Christ. Read the following Scriptures and see if they relate to “the day of Christ.” Record your observations.
a. 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20
b. 1 Thessalonians 3:12–13
c. 1 Thessalonians 5:23
d. 1 John 3:1–3
6. Paul used the illustration of his being “poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your [the Philippians’] faith.”
a. Read the passages below and note what you learn about the drink offering.
1) Exodus 29:38–41
2) Numbers 15:1–10
b. Considering what the Old Testament says about the drink offering and the context of Philippians 2, why do you think Paul used the illustration in Philippians 2:17?
7. Since all Scripture is profitable for our learning and admonition, write what you have learned about your life from Philippians 2:16–17. Be as specific as possible. Do you pour out your life as a sacrificial offering in behalf of the faith of others? How? How much of your time and energies are spent in behalf of the furtherance of the gospel?
Read Philippians 2 once more. It is no accident that Paul turns in his letter to comments and instructions about Timothy and Epaphroditus. As Paul has instructed the Philippians to be Christ-minded and to live above reproach, it is only natural that these two men would come to mind; they have listened to and obeyed his teaching. Once again God is showing us that living like Christ is possible if we will pay the price of humility and obedience, if we will draw upon the power of the Spirit within, and if we will carry out the desires of the One who works in us both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
1. At the end of this lesson is a chart, “Living Demonstrations of the Attitude of Christ.” List on the chart what you learned about the following:
a. the attitude of Christ in Philippians 2:5–8,
b. Timothy in Philippians 2:19–24,
c. Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25–30, and
d. Paul from your study in this book.
2. Meditate on what you have learned. As you have studied these men—Christ, Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus—and as you have seen their examples of godly living, how have you measured up? Record your answer on the following chart.
Where I Have Failed
How I Can Improve
3. Read what your commentaries have to say about Philippians 2:12–30. Take pertinent notes on another sheet of paper.
We pray that this has been a profitable week of study for you and that God has taught you, personally, what He expects from you.
Do you know what we need at Precept Ministries International? We need a support team of those who would be an Epaphroditus—people who will do more than just purchase a workbook.
God has ordained that Precept Ministries International be dependent to a great degree upon the regular support of those who are taught by this ministry. We need your regular faithful support in ministry, in prayer, and in giving if we are going to continue to reach out and minister to a world that is perishing because of a famine for the Word of God.
Working as hard as we do, giving as much as we do, we cannot do it alone. We cannot go forward by ourselves.
We need you, Epaphroditus, just as you say you need us. Will you contact us for information regarding our E-Team?
As you list the qualities of Paul, Timothy, and Epaphroditus, if possible, list them opposite the same qualities of the attitude of Christ so you can note the parallels.
LIVING DEMONSTRATIONS OF THE ATTITUDE OF CHRIST
Description of the Attitude of Christ
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
Observation Worksheet on Philippians 3, located in the Appendix
This third chapter of Philippians is absolutely rich with insights into those things which are necessary for life if you are going to be one of those who reaches the goal and receives the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
DAY ONE AND DAY TWO
You will be spending two weeks on this chapter. This week we’ll begin with a Chapter Study. It is vital that you lay the solid foundation of correct observations as these will greatly aid you in your assignments.
As you study chapter 3, meditate and pray, asking God to give you “a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him” (Ephesians 1:17).
You may want to read the directions in the Appendix on “How to Do a Chapter Study” or review “Focusing In on the Details” in How to Study Your Bible in order to refresh your memory about how to do an Observation Worksheet.
1. In Philippians 3:3–4 Paul talks about having confidence in the flesh, trusting in the flesh.
a. From your observations of Philippians 3:1–6, what do you think Paul means by having “confidence in the flesh”?
b. On the following chart, list in the left-hand column each thing in which Paul says he could have had confidence.
c. In the right-hand column list modern-day parallels to each thing in which Paul could have had confidence. In other words, how do the things in which Paul could have had confidence parallel the things in which a churchgoer or religious person might put their confidence today?
Paul’s List of Confidences
A Religious Man’s Confidences
2. What are the Philippians to beware of? Based on the context of Philippians, what do you think Paul means?
3. In Philippians 3:2–3 Paul makes a play on words. In verse 2 he refers to the “false circumcision,” warning the Philippians to beware of them. Then in verse 3 Paul refers to himself as being part of the “true circumcision.” What was circumcision? What was its purpose? This topic will be our next subject of study.
a. If you do not know what circumcision is, look it up.
b. Genesis 17 contains the first mention of circumcision. Read this chapter carefully and list everything you learn about circumcision.
c. Circumcision was the sign of the covenant that God made with Abraham and his seed or descendants. Read Genesis 15:6 and, comparing that with Romans 4:3–13, answer the following questions:
1) What was Abraham’s relationship with God when circumcision was instituted?
2) What role or part did circumcision have?
4. In Philippians 3:3, Paul said that those who were really of the circumcision, the true circumcision, were those who put no confidence in the flesh. Many Jews had lost sight of the true purpose of circumcision, and they had come to trust in the rite itself rather than the reason for the rite.
a. Read Romans 2:25–29. When was circumcision of true benefit?
b. Can you think of any church rituals in which people might put their confidence as the Jews did in circumcision and, thereby, miss their true significance? Record your answer along with an appropriate explanation.
c. Suppose you were to die and stand before God and God said to you, “Why should I let you into heaven?” What would be your answer?
1. Prayerfully read through Philippians 3, giving yourself time to reflect on the purpose of this chapter.
2. In Philippians 3:7–8 Paul uses the verb “count” several times.
a. The verb tenses are given below.
Philippians 3:7—“have counted” (perfect tense—past completed action with a result continuing to the present)
Philippians 3:8—“count” (both uses, present tense—continuing action; indicative mood—occurring at the time of writing)
b. Note below what Paul said he “counted.”
c. What do you think Paul is trying to convey to his reader through these verb tenses and the repetition of this verb?
3. What do you think Paul means in Philippians 3:9 when he talks about a “righteousness … derived from the Law” versus the “righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith”?
a. To help answer this question, look at the following verses and note what you learn.
1) Philippians 1:9–11
2) Philippians 3:4–6
b. What kind of righteousness do you have? How do you know?
Spend your study time today finding out what your commentaries have to say about Philippians 3:1–9. Take pertinent notes on a separate sheet of paper for future reference. Next week we will finish our study of Philippians 3, so please do not read beyond verse 9 in your commentaries.
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
Observation Worksheet on Philippians 3, located in the Appendix
The pinnacle of a life of joy is the mountaintop of Philippians 3. To climb this mountain, to reach its goal is to conquer that which would keep you in the valley.
When you stand on that mountaintop, you can see life in its proper perspective. And as you stand there viewing the valleys below you, you realize that you were not a fool to count all loss for the sake of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus. And with eyes full of tears, you weep for those who will never know the fresh joy, the awesome beauty, the glorious freedom of this mountain life. They know only the valley.
DAY ONE AND DAY TWO
Please do not consult your commentaries until you are told to do so.
1. Before you begin your study this week, you need to prayerfully read through Philippians 3. As you read, ask God to illuminate your understanding so that you might comprehend the depths of the truth contained in this chapter. Tell God that you want this truth to go beyond your mind to the very heart of your spirit so that you may desire with all your being to “attain to the resurrection from the dead.”
2. Now, let’s focus on verses 10–11. What is Paul saying about knowing Christ? To help answer this, look up the definitions of the following words.
3. What do you think Paul means in Philippians 3:12 when he says that he wants to “lay hold of” that for which he was laid hold of by Christ Jesus? Look up the definitions for:
b. press on
4. As you read through Philippians 3, you observed that Paul was headed toward a goal. What was his goal? As you answer this question, do not simply write the words of the text but, rather, explain this goal in your own words so that even a non-Christian may be able to understand it.
5. According to Philippians 3, what would it take to reach this goal?
6. Honestly, what are your goals in life? State them in concrete terms on the following chart. Then next to each goal, write what it will take to achieve each goal. Be as specific as possible.
Things I Must Do to Achieve These Goals
7. Do any of your goals conflict? If so, how are you going to resolve these conflicts? Which goals have top priority? Go back to your chart and give each goal a numerical evaluation, the most important being number 1.
8. What is the promise in Philippians 3:15? How does this promise relate to what has gone before in the previous verses? To whom is it addressed? Look up the definition of “attitude” and note it.
9. To what standard have you attained? Think about your answer; talk to the Lord about it. Are you mature? Do you want to be?
10. Finally, read Philippians 3:12–16. Ask God to show you how this applies to your life. Note below what He tells you.
1. As you read Philippians 3:17–21, how do you think it relates to Philippians 3:10–16?
2. In Philippians 3:18 Paul refers to a group of people who are “enemies of the cross.” He then gives a brief description of this group. List his description.
3. In light of Paul’s description, what do you think he means when he calls them “enemies of the cross”? Stop and think about what the cross means in a Christian’s life. Read the following passages and record your insights before you answer this question.
a. Matthew 10:34–39
b. Luke 14:25–33
c. Romans 6:1–14
d. Galatians 2:19–21
Now, what do you think Paul means by “enemies of the cross”?
4. Was it right for Paul to set himself up as an example for others? Read 1 Corinthians 4:14–17; 11:1; and 1 Thessalonians 1:5–7. Should any Christian be able to tell another Christian to be a follower of him? Why?
Read what your commentaries have to say about Philippians 3:10–21. Take pertinent notes on another sheet of paper.
Let’s end this week with application.
1. Here are some questions for meditation.
a. How are you walking?
b. Where are you walking?
c. Why are you walking there?
2. Can you tell others to follow your example of Christianity? What, if anything, needs to change in your life so that you can tell others to follow your example? Make a list of these things on the following chart:
Things I Need to Change
I Will or I Will Not
When I Will Begin
How I Will Begin
3. The remainder of your study today will be creative. Take some truth that God has spoken to you through Philippians 3 and develop it in such a way that you can share it with others.
You might write
a letter of exhortation,
a teaching outline,
a short article for your church publication or a magazine, or even draw a picture!
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
Observation Worksheet on Philippians 4, located in the Appendix
Philippians 4 is one of the most practical chapters in all of the Word of God.
DAY ONE AND DAY TWO
Philippians 4 has the answer to some of the common conflicts facing every Christian. Observe this chapter.
Give adequate time and meditation to this chapter. Read it over and over again until you find yourself able to quote portions of it. Become doers of the Word. What victory and peace it will bring!
Today we will concentrate on verses 4–7.
1. Look up the following words or phrases in your concordance, expository dictionary, or other available tools. Do whatever is necessary to gain a clear understanding of what God is saying. Record your findings.
a. gentle spirit
2. When you observe verses 4–7 carefully, you will find a list of things God tells you to do. List them below. Ask the Lord to show you how each one applies to you. Is there anything you need to work out that He is working in you?
Today you will do some cross-reference work on Philippians 4:4–7. Look up each reference and study the verses. Then explain what the verse teaches you about any facet of anxiety.
1. Psalm 55:22
2. Isaiah 26:3
3. Isaiah 41:10
4. Isaiah 43:1–2
5. Matthew 6:24–34
6. Hebrews 13:5–6
7. 1 Peter 5:6–7 (These verses are one sentence.)
What a blessing you will receive today as you see all the truths you have learned this week illustrated in 2 Chronicles 20:1–30.
1. Read through 2 Chronicles 20:1–30 at least two times before you begin.
2. List the chain of events as they occur in this chapter. Do not be wordy!
3. Analyze Jehoshaphat’s prayer. How did his prayer begin; on what were his petitions based, etc.?
4. How does Philippians 4:6 compare with 2 Chronicles 20:1–30?
5. When did the Lord set ambushes and rout out the enemy?
6. Read 2 Chronicles 20:27, 29–30. What was the result of Jehoshaphat’s obedience? Why? Be specific.
7. In 2 Chronicles 20:15 we find that blessed statement “the battle is not yours but God’s.” Read 1 Samuel 17:31–51 and see how David’s experience compares with Jehoshaphat’s. Then compare Psalm 33:16–22 with 2 Chronicles 20:1–30 and 1 Samuel 17:31–51. Record any pertinent notes to aid you in your Precept discussion.
8. Now see what your commentaries say about Philippians 4:1–7.
You have seen the reality of Philippians 4:4–6 in Jehoshaphat’s life and in David’s life. Now let others see the reality of it in your life
THIS LESSON INCORPORATES
This is your final week of study on Philippians. You are to be commended for your perseverance and diligence. These have been weeks of much discipline. Maybe, like Paul, you have labored to the point of exhaustion, but labors such as these pay high dividends. These labors enable you to hold forth the Word of life, handling it accurately and without shame. In this day of great apathy in the church, how we praise the Lord for Christians who are willing to discipline themselves in such a way!
1. In Philippians 4:8 Paul gives a command that should revolutionize our thinking. Then in verse 9, there follows a wonderful promise. Close observation of these two verses shows that the promise rests on the fulfillment of specific conditions. Read both verses in their context and record on the following chart the promise and the conditions. Be specific.
2. In verse 8, Paul tells us what our minds are to dwell on. List below what those things are.
3. “Dwell on” in Philippians 4:8 is present tense imperative.
a. Look up the definition of this word and note it below.
b. Why do you think Paul gives Christians this command in verse 8? To put it another way, of what profit is the command of Philippians 4:8 to the Christian? How does it relate to Philippians 4:6–7?
4. The verb “practice” in Philippians 4:9 is present tense imperative. How does this help you understand Paul’s instruction in this verse?
5. In Scripture the “mind” and the “heart” are often interchangeable. Look up the following verses and read them carefully. Write what these verses are saying.
a. Proverbs 4:23
b. Proverbs 23:7 (the first statement)
c. Isaiah 26:3
d. Matthew 9:4
e. Matthew 15:18–20
f. 1 Corinthians 2:16
6. Read 2 Corinthians 10:3–5 carefully. Note how these verses relate to your mind and how to handle your thought life.
7. List in a logical order all you have learned about your mind. Record your insights in a personal way. For example, I have learned that …
This teaching on the mind is vital to good mental health. Study this truth well; then share it! If you were to obey the teaching of Philippians 4:8, how would it change your life? What you read, watch, listen to, say, think.…
DAY TWO AND DAY THREE
Contentment in All Circumstances of Life
1. Prayerfully read Philippians 4:10–13 asking the Holy Spirit to reveal the truths of these verses to you in a very real way. As you study, keep in mind Paul’s circumstances and his attitude toward these circumstances as manifested in the letter to the Philippians. Paul lived what he believed, and he practiced what he preached. Do you?
2. It seems that the beginning of contentment in all circumstances of life is the realization of two facts. First, God controls all the circumstances of life. Second, this God, who controls or rules as Sovereign Ruler over the whole universe, loves us and promises that everything will result in good to conform us to the image of His Son (Romans 8:28–29).
Read Romans 8:28–29 and write out how these verses relate to contentment in every circumstance of life.
3. Read 1 Corinthians 10:13. How does this verse relate to Philippians 4:10–13 and to what you have learned thus far?
4. Compare Philippians 4:10–13 with Philippians 2:14. How do they fit together?
5. Read Job 1. What verses show the reality of Philippians 4:10–13 in Job’s life?
6. If you want a real blessing and if you have never read Joseph’s life, read Genesis 39–42 and 45 to see the truth of Philippians 4:10–13 illustrated in a man’s life. How would you have responded? How do you respond? Have you learned the secret? Have you learned to do or bear all things through the One who constantly infuses His strength into you?
7. Although this assignment is last, it is vital! Read and meditate upon Hebrews 13:5–6.
Remember the truths you have learned. Meditate on them, practice them, and God will greatly use you in ministering to others. If you live in obedience to these verses, others will see and want to know your secret of life!
DAY FOUR AND DAY FIVE
1. Read Philippians 4:14–19 carefully, asking God to open the eyes of your understanding.
2. Read 2 Corinthians 8:1–15; 9:6–15.
a. In 2 Corinthians 8:7, what is this “gracious work” that Paul is referring to?
b. Who is our example in giving as seen in the following verses?
1) 2 Corinthians 8:9
2) 2 Corinthians 9:15
c. Explain the principle of equality in giving referred to in 2 Corinthians 8:13–15. What is Paul referring to in 2 Corinthians 8:15?
d. List any other principles of giving taught in 2 Corinthians 8 and 9.
3. Read Deuteronomy 15:7–11. Is this passage applicable today? If so, how?
4. Look up the following verses and record what you learn from them. Do you see any promises or commands? If so, record them.
a. Psalm 41:1
b. Proverbs 3:27
c. Proverbs 11:25
d. Proverbs 25:21–22
e. Proverbs 28:27
f. Luke 3:11
g. 1 John 3:17
5. God’s Word teaches that we are to support those who “perform sacred services” or “proclaim the gospel” (1 Corinthians 9:13–14). Study the following verses and record the principle taught in each.
a. 1 Corinthians 9:7–14
b. Galatians 6:6–10
6. Do you think the promise of Philippians 4:19 is conditional, being based upon the Philippians’ generosity as seen in Philippians 4:14–18?
7. If you have time, read what your commentaries say about Philippians 4:8–19.
May God give us His sensitivity to others, and may we seek the Spirit’s leadership in prayer so that His Spirit may lead us to those who have a need that we are to meet.
Paul and Timothy, bond-servants of Christ Jesus,
To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are in Philippi, including the overseers and deacons:
2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you,
4 always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all,
5 in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.
6 For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.
7 For it is only right for me to feel this way about you all, because I have you in my heart, since both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, you all are partakers of grace with me.
8 For God is my witness, how I long for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus.
9 And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment,
10 so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ;
11 having been filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
12 Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel,
13 so that my imprisonment in the cause of Christ has become well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to everyone else,
14 and that most of the brethren, trusting in the Lord because of my imprisonment, have far more courage to speak the word of God without fear.
15 Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will;
16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel;
17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment.
18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will rejoice,
19 for I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayers and the provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,
20 according to my earnest expectation and hope, that I will not be put to shame in anything, but that with all boldness, Christ will even now, as always, be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.
21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.
22 But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose.
23 But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;
24 yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake.
25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,
26 so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;
28 in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God.
29 For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,
30 experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.
Therefore if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there is any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and compassion,
2 make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose.
3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves;
4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others.
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
12 So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your salvation with fear and trembling;
13 for it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.
14 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;
15 so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,
16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain.
17 But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.
18 You too, I urge you, rejoice in the same way and share your joy with me.
19 But I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, so that I also may be encouraged when I learn of your condition.
20 For I have no one else of kindred spirit who will genuinely be concerned for your welfare.
21 For they all seek after their own interests, not those of Christ Jesus.
22 But you know of his proven worth, that he served with me in the furtherance of the gospel like a child serving his father.
23 Therefore I hope to send him immediately, as soon as I see how things go with me;
24 and I trust in the Lord that I myself also will be coming shortly.
25 But I thought it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, who is also your messenger and minister to my need;
26 because he was longing for you all and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick.
27 For indeed he was sick to the point of death, but God had mercy on him, and not on him only but also on me, so that I would not have sorrow upon sorrow.
28 Therefore I have sent him all the more eagerly so that when you see him again you may rejoice and I may be less concerned about you.
29 Receive him then in the Lord with all joy, and hold men like him in high regard;
30 because he came close to death for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete what was deficient in your service to me.
Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things again is no trouble to me, and it is a safeguard for you.
2 Beware of the dogs, beware of the evil workers, beware of the false circumcision;
3 for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh,
4 although I myself might have confidence even in the flesh. If anyone else has a mind to put confidence in the flesh, I far more:
5 circumcised the eighth day, of the nation of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the Law, a Pharisee;
6 as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to the righteousness which is in the Law, found blameless.
7 But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ.
8 More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ,
9 and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith,
10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death;
11 in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.
13 Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead,
14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
15 Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, have this attitude; and if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you;
16 however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.
17 Brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.
18 For many walk, of whom I often told you, and now tell you even weeping, that they are enemies of the cross of Christ,
19 whose end is destruction, whose god is their appetite, and whose glory is in their shame, who set their minds on earthly things.
20 For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ;
21 who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity with the body of His glory, by the exertion of the power that He has even to subject all things to Himself.
Therefore, my beloved brethren whom I long to see, my joy and crown, in this way stand firm in the Lord, my beloved.
2 I urge Euodia and I urge Syntyche to live in harmony in the Lord.
3 Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.
4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice!
5 Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near.
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things.
9 The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
10 But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at last you have revived your concern for me; indeed, you were concerned before, but you lacked opportunity.
11 Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.
12 I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.
13 I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
14 Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction.
15 You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone;
16 for even in Thessalonica you sent a gift more than once for my needs.
17 Not that I seek the gift itself, but I seek for the profit which increases to your account.
18 But I have received everything in full and have an abundance; I am amply supplied, having received from Epaphroditus what you have sent, a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well-pleasing to God.
19 And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.
20 Now to our God and Father be the glory forever and ever. Amen.
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you.
22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar’s household.
23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.
HOW TO DO A CHAPTER STUDY~ Let’s Get Started!
To learn more about doing a chapter study and other inductive Bible study skills, we encourage you to keep on hand a copy of How to Study Your Bible. If you don’t yet have a copy, you can order one by visiting www.precept.org or calling 800-763-8280.
A chapter study helps you to focus in on the details in the chapter to better understand what the author is saying. Each of the skills is used to bring important points to light.
• Look for the 5 Ws and H
Read the text asking the 5 Ws and H—Who, What, When, Where, Why, How. For example, when studying John 1, read the text asking questions like:
Who is this about?
Where was the Word?
Who was the Word?
What did the Word do?
Don’t expect every verse or chapter to answer all the 5 Ws and H about a particular subject or person, but you should read with a questioning mind-set.
Marking key words and phrases and making lists help you to answer the 5 Ws and H.
• Mark key words and phrases
Key words are repeated words within a text which are vital to its meaning.
Mark in a distinctive way each key word or phrase in the chapter along with its pronouns and synonyms. Use colors and/or symbols.
Example: “” is a repeated word that is key to understanding John 1.
The next step is to list what the chapter says about each of the key words. Look at each place you marked a key word and list what the text says.
A list is a compilation of the facts given about a particular word or person. It gives the 5 Ws and H (who, what, when, where, why, how) about that word or person. Use words from the text.
A list about the Word from John 1 begins this way:
was in the beginning, v. 1
was with God, v. 1
was God, v. 1
was in the beginning with God, v. 2
• Mark and evaluate:
Contrasts—point out differences. To mark a contrast, put a symbol in the margin by the verse(s), such as .
John 1:17: “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”
“But,” “however,” or “nevertheless” might indicate a contrast.
John 4:2: “… Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were.…”
Comparisons—point out similarities. To mark a comparison, put a symbol in the margin by the verse(s), such as .
John 10:9: “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.…”
Sometimes “like” or “as” indicate a comparison.
John 3:14–15: “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.”
Terms of Conclusion—show that a conclusion or summary is being made. These help us understand “why.”
Look for the words signifying a conclusion or result such as “therefore,” “for this reason,” and “finally.”
John 12:50: “I know that His commandment is eternal life; the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me.”
Expressions of Time—give timing, sequence of events, or progression.
Look for words such as “then,” “after,” “when,” “until,” “the day of.…”
John 1:2: “He was with God.”
• Identify subjects or themes
Identify main subjects, events, or points of a chapter by observing it paragraph by paragraph. Paragraphs can be shown with boldface type for the first verse number of a paragraph, by a paragraph symbol, or by an indention at the beginning of a paragraph.
Read each paragraph, and in the margin list the event, subject, or main point of the paragraph.
John testified about the Light
6 There came a man sent from God, whose name was John.
Precept Ministries International. (2014). Philippians: How to Have Joy (1st edition, S. i–100). Chattanooga, TN: Precept Ministries International.
- Divine alteration
- Sacred Mysteries: the return of the dew that we hardly knew we’d lost
- The One True Story introduction
- How the gospel solves problems with self-condemnation
- Quick reminder: Preach the true Gospel everytime
- Things Christians Just Don’t Get To Do
- Do you depend on God?
- 27 Christian Quotes about Happiness- by Archbishop Dr. Uwe AE.Rosenkranz via faithlive
- 7 things the bible says about SEX – by S.E. Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz, MA,DD.
- Thora Portion and conflict solution- via ArchBishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz
Published: November 2, 2016, 10:16 | No Comments on PHILIPPIANS HOW TO HAVE JOY – via Archbishop Rosary
2 Can Someone Please Volunteer?
4 Problems Facing Your Church Volunteer Team Building Teams That Last………………………………………………………
3 Recruitment: The Ingredients for Growth…………………………………….
4 Training: The Backbone of Your Team……………………………………..
15 Appreciation: The Secret to Making People Feel Valued…………………
.20 Burnout: The Reality Every Team Faces…………………………………..
.28 The Great Invitation…………………………………………………………..
.37 About Proclaim…………………………………………………………………
38 About the Author………………………………………………………………
3 Building Teams That Last Thriving volunteer teams don’t sprout up overnight. They don’t bound up to the stage after the perfect announcement. They don’t line up at your door after reading their bulletins. And whether or not you have one is not an indicator of how clearly your church communicates the gospel. If you want to build a church volunteer team that lasts, there are two things you have to do: you need to get people on your team, and you need to keep them there. You don’t necessarily want just anybody to join your team, and you can’t possibly keep everyone from quitting. But the best volunteer programs are the ones that get more of the right people on your team, and that keep more of the right people for longer. In this ebook we’ve split these two phases of your volunteer program into four pieces—recruitment, training, appreciation, and burnout—so you’ll walk away with the tools you need to build a volunteer team that lasts. 4 Recruitment: The Ingredients for Growth Right now, there are people in your church who want to volunteer, but aren’t involved yet. Some of them are waiting for the right opportunity—the role that perfectly aligns with their gifts. Others are literally just waiting to be asked. The challenge for your staff is finding the right times to ask, the right ways to ask, and the right people to ask. If you’re struggling to develop a solid volunteer program, here are 13 tips to help you recruit more volunteers.
- Share opportunities in multiple ways
Announcements, newsletters, and church bulletins are a great way to tell your congregation what’s going on in your church. They let you cast a wide net and communicate with everyone at once, and you’re sure to get some of the people you need. But that shouldn’t be the only way people hear how to get involved. Sometimes it’s better to use a fishing pole than a net. An announcement to everyone doesn’t have the same impact on someone as a personal invitation. People want to know they’re in the right place, that they belong, and that you really are talking to them specifically. A personal invitation leaves no doubt that this opportunity is for them. Every two weeks I lead a Bible study with high school students. When I send a group message to all of them at once, I get crickets. At best, a couple of the most actively involved kids respond. It’s only when I personally call, message, text, or talk to each 5 kid individually that they realize I’m really inviting them and I really want them to respond to the invitation. The big announcements are an important piece of the puzzle, but you can’t rely on those to connect with every person. Even the people who want to get involved can miss, forget about, or dismiss an announcement. Each piece of your volunteer recruitment plan should direct people to a personal conversation with a real person.
- Define who you’re looking for
If people don’t know what kind of person you need to fill a role, they’re less likely to believe they’re the right person for the job. If you’re desperate for volunteers, you might be tempted to let this slide, but if your goal is to develop a healthy program and get the right people in the right roles, be upfront about what it takes to succeed in a particular role. If you need friendly extroverts who like to meet new people, ask for them specifically. If you need someone who can focus on one task for a long time, say so. If you need someone with experience, or if a particular skill would make someone better suited for the job, let people know. Defining the personalities, skills, or knowledge people need to succeed will undoubtedly shrink the pool of eligible volunteers—but that’s not something to be afraid of if it means putting together a volunteer program that lasts. The more specific you are about the type of person you need, the more likely someone in your congregation will realize, “Hey, that’s me!”
- Explain the purpose before the task
6 There are lots of reasons why people volunteer. Most of them aren’t “I really like to say ‘Hi’ to strangers” or “I love the software you use.” Before you ever get to the specific micro-level tasks a particular role entails, make sure people know why you need them to help. “We want people to feel like they belong here before they set foot inside our doors.” “We want every detail of our service to look thoughtfully prepared—because it’s true.” Whether this happens from the stage, in personal conversations, or in volunteer-interest meetings, don’t miss your opportunity to cast the vision for your volunteers. If they don’t understand why they’re perfectly arranging several hundred pens or folding bulletins or shaking hands, they might quit before they even start. Share why you need volunteers, what the job is, and how to do it—in that order.
- Make it simple to get involved
The more hurdles you put between potential volunteers and the finish line (volunteering in your program), the less volunteers you’re going to have. A strong volunteer program should be easy to get involved in. If someone checks a box in your bulletin saying they want to volunteer, someone should contact them within a couple of days to find out how they’d like to volunteer and what their schedule looks like. Don’t place a huge burden on new volunteers—start them out with a limited schedule so the initial burden is as small as possible. This isn’t to say you shouldn’t be thorough or that you shouldn’t have a vetting process for particular roles (like children’s ministry volunteers). It just means that whatever your process is, it should happen quickly, and most of the actual work should happen on your end. 7 If the position requires a higher level of responsibility or higher expectations for knowledge, skill, etc., that should be very clear before someone ever starts the process of trying to be a volunteer.
- Let people try it before committing
Even if you clearly communicate what it’s like to be a volunteer, some people are still going to feel like they had no idea what they were getting into. Maybe they’ve never been in a room full of third graders before. Maybe they didn’t realize how it would actually affect their schedule. If you let people try something out before they commit to doing it regularly, it’s a lot less stressful to say, “Yes.” It also makes it easier for one of you to say, “No,” if you have to. You might want people try several different roles before they decide which one they want to do (if you need certain roles more than others, let people know). This helps you and the volunteer to know that they are in the best possible role—which hopefully means they’ll stay longer, and provide a greater benefit to your ministry. You need volunteers you can count on regularly. Providing a volunteer “test-drive” is a great way to make sure nobody gets stuck in a role they aren’t cut out for—and it helps keep your church from getting left out to dry. It’s also an important part of preventing volunteer burnout before it happens.
- Follow up with potential volunteers
Sometimes getting to know a potential volunteer might reveal that someone isn’t the right fit for your ministry. Sometimes, they might just not be the right fit right now. School, weddings, moving, job-hunting, and other major transitions can make it hard to commit to volunteering—but those things don’t last forever. 8 After getting to know a potential volunteer, you may also find that you don’t feel like they’re ready. Maybe there’s a maturity issue, or you see or hear something else that makes it clear this isn’t the right time. Maybe you know about a better opportunity for this person down the road. Whether the decision is made on your end or theirs, take note of the people who might make good volunteers in the future. Put a date in your calendar to follow up with them. Building relationships with the people in your congregation should never feel like a waste of time, and if you personally invest in potential volunteers, more of them will become actual volunteers. Know the difference between “not now” and “never.”
- Create clear expectations
The more defined a role is, the easier it is to get involved. Your volunteer program should have a solid volunteer training strategy, and every volunteer should know these three things:
- Where they need to be
- What they’re doing
- Why they’re doing it
When you “just wing it” through training new volunteers, it can make people feel like their role isn’t as important to you, your church, or your ministry. You’re also bound to miss something important. Meet with your staff and prepare everything you want your volunteers to know. This is your chance to cast the vision for what volunteering looks like in your church. You should also make it clear what not to do. Volunteers are not the same as employees, but they absolutely represent your church, and you’re inviting them to be 9 part of your ministry. If someone has a bad experience with one of your volunteers, they’re probably going to associate that experience with your ministry. Put together a “code of conduct” for your volunteers. You don’t need to scare anyone or preemptively wag your finger—focus on the incredible privilege your team has, and use this as an opportunity to share why their role matters to your ministry.
- Pray for volunteers
In the six years I’ve been a volunteer leader with Young Life, not one year has gone by where we didn’t take some time to reflect on Matthew 9:37–38 and pray for more volunteers. Invite your existing volunteers to be part of this process. They’re some of your best recruiters, and chances are they know other people who could volunteer too. Our Young Life staff gives every volunteer a card with Matthew 9:37–38 on it for us to write down names of people who could be volunteers too. There are a lot of things you can’t control. But none of those things matter when you ask God for help and remember his sovereignty. Your passionate plea from the pulpit asking for more volunteers can only go so far. Your announcements, bulletins, and flashy videos can’t change someone’s schedule or address every excuse. But long after your words are forgotten, the Holy Spirit continues working on people’s hearts. Prayer is the most valuable piece of your volunteer recruitment program, and the Holy Spirit is your most valuable team member.
- Teach your church about the body of Christ
10 1 Corinthians 12:12–31 offers a powerful picture of the diversity of the church. Each member of your congregation is unique, and plays a particular role in the body of Christ. This is a passage the church can always benefit from spending more time in, but if your team is hurting for volunteers, this passage is also a great way to show people that each of us is uniquely gifted to serve a particular purpose, and each of us can benefit the entire body. During or after a sermon on this passage, consider whether it’s appropriate to share about the opportunities available to your church. You may want to talk about some of your partner ministries and highlight some of your greatest needs. This isn’t about guilting people into volunteering. This is about being the church. Whether or not people are capable of volunteering, they should walk away from a teaching on 1 Corinthians 12 feeling affirmed in who they are and confident in what they’re capable of. On the other hand, nobody should walk away from this thinking “volunteering is for hands, and I’m more of an eye, really.” There are plenty of very legitimate reasons for 11 not getting involved in your volunteer program, but that’s not one of them. If you bring volunteering into the conversation, it should be clear that there is a role for everyone.
- Help people identify their gifts
A lot of people have no idea what they’re gifts are. They don’t really know what they’re good at, or they feel like the things they’re good at don’t line up with how the church talks about “gifts” and “talents.” For some, the topic of spiritual gifts stirs up questions about their identity. Helping members of your congregation identify their gifts isn’t just valuable to your church or your volunteer program—it’s part of the process of helping people recognize who they are in Christ, and truly seeing that they are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). 12 There are lots of different methods for identifying spiritual gifts, but what they all come down to is this: being familiar with the different expressions of the Holy Spirit and being familiar with yourself. There is no substitute for knowing the Holy Spirit and knowing the people in your church. But not every pastor has the privilege of personally knowing every person in the church—and not every pastor has the time to evaluate spiritual gifts with every member of the congregation. Lifeway provides a free spiritual gift assessment tool you can share with your church. If you can, try to identify volunteer roles in your church that align with each expression of the Holy Spirit, so people can easily see where they fit.
- Appreciate the volunteers you have
Volunteer appreciation plays an important role in a healthy volunteer recruitment program. Why? Because your current volunteers are some of your biggest assets. 13 People are most likely to share a very positive or a very negative experience. You can’t guarantee every person will have a positive experience, but you can do your best to make sure every person knows they are valued. Public volunteer appreciation also gives you the opportunity to show people what volunteering is like and how your church feels about its volunteers. This isn’t about providing some extravagant gift as incentive to volunteer. It’s about showing your church that it’s an honor to be a volunteer, and to talk about what makes someone a good one. Highlight ways your volunteers are pointing people to Jesus, setting up the gospel, and caring for the people in your congregation. Any public volunteer appreciation you do should leave people with two thoughts:
- That’s so cool that so-and-so does that for our church.
- I wonder what I could do to help?
- Showcase volunteer testimonies
It’s one thing when a pastor says, “Hey, you should all volunteer. I think you’ll like it.” It’s another thing when someone you know shares how much they love what they do. When you want to draw people to a particular role, consider letting one of your volunteers share about their experience. This could be a huge growth opportunity for the volunteer, and you might find that their testimony is far more compelling than anything you could say. Help your volunteers put their experience into words. If they aren’t comfortable sharing on stage, see if filming their testimony would be more comfortable.
- Highlight the benefits
14 Your volunteers’ desire to serve shouldn’t be rooted in any form of compensation. But as you probably know, volunteering can be a deeply enriching experience. Highlighting those benefits upfront can help fuel someone’s desire to serve others and be part of your ministry. I’m not saying you should try to accommodate the person who asks,”What’s in it for me?” Highlighting the benefits of volunteering is a strategy to draw the right people into your program. People who have the motivation to stay involved for the long haul. If a desire for better relationships with fellow church members, spiritual growth, and the satisfaction of serving others motivates someone to volunteer, they’re probably the type of person you want to have on your team. Once you get people to join your team, it’s time to dig into the next big piece of your volunteer program: training. 15 Training: The Backbone of Your Volunteer Program Nobody likes to feel like they don’t know what they’re doing. Maybe more than that, nobody likes to look like they don’t know what they’re doing. If either of those scenarios is the reality for people who volunteer at your church, it might not just be a personal problem—it could be a training problem. When new volunteers step through the door to your church office (or send the email, make the phone call, etc.), they’re committing to try something. Some are willing to try harder than others. Solid volunteer training captures that “I want to help” energy and turns potential volunteers into people you can count on. It also helps people decide if something is really the right fit for them. Poor training, on the other hand, dries up a potential volunteer’s desire to help—fast. Just because you have a training program in place doesn’t mean you’re covered here. People learn in different ways. If you’re only utilizing one strategy for training your new volunteers, people who would otherwise be a great fit for your church may feel like they “just don’t have it,” and give up. The more complex a volunteer’s role is, the more important it is that you provide multiple ways for them to learn. The volunteers who work with your presentation software, for example, are going to have varying levels of technical expertise. Some of them might be able to jump into a program on their own and play around until they figure out what they need to do. Others need to have a clear model they can follow, or one-on-one instruction. Whether they’re putting together the slides or running the presentation, the task will require some people to learn and grow more than others. 16 Anytime you have a new batch of volunteers, part of getting to know them should involve finding out how they learn best. If they don’t know, then you can default to your go-to training strategy. If they can tell you how they learn best, it’ll help you make the best use of your time together. In this chapter, we’ll look specifically at training someone how to run your presentations, but the strategies apply to any volunteer role. Here are four basic strategies for training new volunteers.
- “Hands-on” training
One-on-one attention is the most obvious way to train someone how to use a new program, but it’s also the most time consuming. It requires you to give personal instruction to each volunteer, and only you can decide if you have the time to do that. Hands-on training doesn’t mean you throw a new volunteer into a live presentation and watch over their shoulder while they struggle through the service. The best way for them to practice is in a controlled environment—a no-pressure situation. Guide them through each step of the service, and then see if they can repeat the process without you. You could walk them through a practice presentation. Maybe have them create a copy of last weekend’s service using the pieces you had—a list of songs, notes from the pastor, events coming up, verses that need to go on slides, etc. You could also write out step-by-step instructions for them, which is a good test of both their ability to follow and your ability to communicate directions (so you can get better at training, too). Or, have them write down what you ask them to do, so they remember it better (and they can put it in their own words). Whatever you have them do, the important part of one-on-one training is that an expert (or at least someone who mostly knows what they’re doing) is right there to answer questions or provide correction. 17
- “Hands-off” observation
Similar to hands-on one-on-one training, this strategy allows you to give personal guidance to a volunteer. The difference is, this may not require you to set aside additional time for training. Just do the job as usual, with one change: Have them watch you work through the entire process start to finish. Invite them to join you when you’re putting together the presentation for the next service. Pull out an extra chair and let them watch you during the actual service. Let them see everything the job requires you to do. Watching gives your volunteer the freedom to ask the questions they need answered, so you don’t explain things they already figured out through observation, and they don’t feel dumb for not understanding what you’re telling them to do. If you have steps written out somewhere, show them when you check off each step. Encourage them to take their own notes along the way. When you’re done showing them the whole process, that may be the best time to switch seats and let them drive. See if they can follow your steps, but encourage them to ask questions, and wait until they ask for help—don’t preemptively create and run the entire presentation for them.
- Learn, teach, repeat
Once you’ve trained a new volunteer, see if they know everything they need to be able to teach another new volunteer. Sometimes explaining a process to someone else helps you understand it better. You’re not just playing “telephone” with detailed instructions—you’re explaining what you just learned in your own words. 18 This strategy is perhaps the best test of your own ability to train others, and it’s one of the best ways to multiply your expertise and your time. The more people available to answer technical questions, the less burden there is on you. If people know in advance that they’re going to have to teach someone else how to do what they’re learning, they may ask more questions the first time around and pay closer attention to what they’re doing. They’ll be more prepared to perform the tasks themselves, and they’ll be better equipped to repeat the process for someone else. If you choose this strategy, be sure you remove other factors that could add to the stress of teaching (don’t use a live presentation in front of your whole church). Be sensitive to the fact that teaching is stressful enough on its own for a lot of people. If someone isn’t comfortable teaching others, it’s okay to choose another strategy—they might just want to understand the process better before they try to show someone else.
- Independent learning
A tech-savvy self-guided learner probably doesn’t want you to hold their hand through every step of the training. Sitting through meetings or in-depth one-on-one sessions may actually slow down their learning process. They may prefer to learn how your presentations work by playing with the features themselves. They still need to know your church’s process—but maybe not how to use the tools. Who knows—they may even discover a better way for your church use a tool or do a job. These people need a one-stop-shop where they can find out everything they need to know and explore their new role on their own. This could be a page on your website, or something as simple as an email with links to pages, articles, and tools you want them to be familiar with. That’s one of the ways Proclaim makes it easy for new volunteers to get started. If you’ve got a self-guided learner on your team, they can see all our training videos, step- 19 by-step guides to presentations, and training on particular features and processes on our Proclaim help page. Find what works for your church Even if you’re just getting to know your volunteers, you have a relationship with each of them. Get to know your team, and if possible, be willing to try a few different training strategies. If someone doesn’t understand what they’re supposed to do, it doesn’t always mean that they aren’t a good fit—they might just need you to teach them in another way. Any of these strategies can be mixed and matched based on your needs and the learning styles of your volunteers. Use training as the time to give your volunteers every opportunity to see if this is the right fit for them—before your church has to count on them, and before they commit to making the role a regular part of their life. So your team is starting to grow, and you’re figuring out the best way to train your new volunteers. We still need to talk about why people quit, and how to keep them from doing it—but first, let’s make these new volunteers feel more appreciated (so more of them will stick around longer). 20 Appreciation: The Secret to Making People Feel Valued I’ve been volunteering as a youth leader with Young Life for six years. Once or twice a year, one of our regular leader gatherings includes a time where volunteers are recognized for their years of service, and the community of people who support us generously provide a small gift of some kind. It’s something simple to physically accompany the words, “Thank you.” A Young Life shirt, a hat, a blanket, or a mug stuffed full of candy. Gift cards to the coffee shops we call home after countless hours spent in conversation with kids. Vouchers for a free meal at a local restaurant or a service provided by a local business that supports the ministry of Young Life. A couple of years ago, a friend who was volunteering with me was bothered by the gift. It was too extravagant. It wasn’t fair to ask people to thank us with their money. And the gift was too impersonal to really feel like sincere gratitude. To him, the whole thing felt inauthentic, forced, and inconsiderate of the people who have already done so much to support us. I understood how he felt, but I also believed that for these people who only knew some of the volunteers personally, the gesture was sincere effort to show every volunteer that they genuinely support the work they do, whether they know each volunteer personally or not. But my friend didn’t feel valued as a volunteer, and he hated feeling like people had a financial burden to say thank you to him. He’s not an ungrateful person. But the thought and effort that went into the gift and the gesture of physically providing something to say thank you was lost on him. It didn’t communicate what it was intended to communicate. And unfortunately, when we use 21 cookie-cutter formulas to show appreciation, some people are going to feel unvalued every time. People receive love in different ways. The things that make you personally feel valued, respected, and cared for might not mean much to someone else. That doesn’t mean they’re ungrateful—it might just mean that they’re different than you. (It’s still totally possible that they are ungrateful, but that’s a whole other conversation.) My friend feels more valued through words of affirmation—a note or personal conversation would’ve meant more to him than that gift ever could. My local Young Life area doesn’t by any means limit the way they thank volunteers to these gifts (they send cards and seize every opportunity to thank volunteers throughout the year in one-on-one and group meetings) but to my friend, the build-up made the gift seem like it was supposed to be the pinnacle of thankfulness, and it fell short. Making large groups of people feel appreciated is too complicated to try just one thing. The bigger your church or ministry is and the more volunteers you have, the harder it is to get to know them all on a personal level—and the more important it is that each volunteer feels personally valued. This is the only formula to make someone feel valued: get to know them. Learn what makes them feel personally cared for, and then do that. Do lots of completely different things to appreciate them and see what sticks. Note: one of the best indicators of how someone prefers to be appreciated is how they choose to show appreciation to others. As you get to know your volunteers and genuinely seek to appreciate them, here are seven ideas for you to try. Full disclosure: most of these come straight from Gary Chapman’s 5 Love Languages series. While Chapman’s focus is on marriages, the principles apply to any personal or professional relationship that involves communicating you care about another person. 22
- Acts of service
For some of your volunteers, words, gifts, and even time spent together isn’t what actually communicates that you appreciate them. You can spend time with someone you don’t like. You can give things to people out of obligation. You can say things without really meaning them. Some of your volunteers might feel most loved when people do nice things for them: give them a ride to some appointment they’re dreading, or make a meal for them when they’re stressed or busy. Help them study for that class, offer to babysit, or take care of something else they keep putting off because they’re too busy. (My go-to is usually babysitting). Acts of service shows people that they are worth making sacrifices for, that you’re thinking of them, and that you care about them enough to help make their lives a little easier. If you don’t know enough about your volunteers to know what’s going on in their lives and what you can do for them, it may be time to refer to method #2.
- Quality time
Some of your volunteers may feel most loved when someone makes a point of spending quality time with them. Go to a movie or the park, or invite them over for dinner. Bring your families together. Find something to do where you can just hang out with the people you want to appreciate—something that says, “You’re worth spending time with.” It’s not an appointment. It’s not a meeting. And it has nothing to do with the ministry they’re involved with or the role they serve in. It’s two people investing in a personal friendship. 23 When you like being around the people you serve with, the time you spend serving becomes that much more enjoyable, too.
- Words of affirmation
This is me. I’m the guy that constantly wants to know what you think of me. My greatest fear is being misunderstood. And the single greatest thing someone can do to show me they appreciate what I’m doing is to tell me. When someone tells me I did a good job, it motivates me to do a good job again. When someone calls out a specific thing that they notice about me—something I did or said, how I approached a situation, or how something about me makes me well-suited to my role—it gives me the fuel I need to keep doing and saying those things to the best of my ability. People who respond well to words of affirmation aren’t constantly looking for a pat on the head or waiting to be singled out for every little good thing they do. But when you notice someone doing an exceptional job, or faithfully and consistently serving your church or ministry in a particular way, tell them. Tell them how glad you are to have their help. If you notice specific things about them and the way they serve that role, all the better. If your words of affirmation aren’t specific, they don’t mean as much. People can tell when you just said the same thing to four other people. Or when you don’t really know what it is they do for you. People who respond well to words of affirmation feel cared about when you give them personal feedback. When you can identify particular ways they are succeeding or specific things they are uniquely gifted for. I’m a writer. And my wife is always looking for new ways to encourage me to keep writing. 24 The best way she can encourage me is to read things I write and say something about them. It’s specific and personal from someone who knows me and understands why I write. That personal affirmation is all I need to feel like what I’m doing matters. The best way to encourage your volunteers who respond to words of affirmation is to get to know them, look at the things they are doing well, and to say something about them.
For some volunteers, a thoughtful gift says “I appreciate you” in a meaningful way. It shows that you were thinking of them when you weren’t with them, and that you care about them enough to spend time and/or money on them. Whether it’s a treat you baked or a gift card you chose, it communicates that you notice them and the work they do. Like words of affirmation (and really, all of these ideas), the more personal or thoughtful your gift is, the more valued it makes someone feel. A personal gift that cost you nothing can sometimes do more to communicate your appreciation than one that cost you (or your donors) a fortune.
- Cast the vision
Nobody likes to feel like what they’re doing doesn’t really make a difference. If your role is small and you don’t feel like it matters, it’s a lot easier to leave it behind. Show your volunteers why what they’re doing matters. This can go hand-in-hand with words of affirmation, but it’s worth covering in volunteer training, too. Everyone who volunteers for your church should know how their role contributes to your church’s mission, makes your services the best they can be, and ultimately points people to Jesus. 25
- Honor their time
Every time they show up to a meeting, training, practice, or event, your volunteers are sacrificing things to be with you. They’re giving up time with friends and family. Time doing the things that help them recover from a long day at work and the wear and tear of life. Some of your volunteers would rather be meeting with you than at home doing something else. But some of them would rather be home, or would like to get home as soon as possible. They’re here because they care about your ministry, they recognize their part in what you’re doing, and because they know that boring or time-consuming meetings are often a necessary part of doing things we enjoy. Show your volunteers that you appreciate what they do by honoring their time. A couple of years ago, I was with a group of team leaders discussing how long our volunteer meetings would be for the upcoming year. Some of our volunteers wanted to spend more time together so that they could get to know each other better. Others felt like we already spent so much time together, and asking them to take off another hour for an informal social time was going to be a struggle. The compromise? We established an optional hour for dinner and hanging out before the “official” meeting started (which always lasted at least two hours anyways). We absolutely wanted to encourage people to get to know each other better and to spend more time together, but we didn’t want that to come at the cost of losing (or discouraging) volunteers who already felt stretched too far for time. How much you emphasize honoring people’s time will completely depend on the makeup of your team, but it’s important to recognize what people are giving up to be with you. Show them that you appreciate what they are already doing enough that you aren’t going to take up more of their time than you have to. You don’t have to cancel all your meetings and shush all small talk. Honoring your volunteers’ time can be as simple as starting and ending on time, being where you’ve 26 asked them to meet you before they arrive, and not letting your meetings have long gaps where nothing is happening. Clearly communicate any changes to the schedule in more than one way. Don’t just send an email—if people aren’t used to getting last minute schedule changes from you, they may not even check their email. Make sure someone has established contact with each person on your team so that nobody shows up when they don’t have to. As you get to know your volunteers, you’ll get to know the best ways to reach them last minute (which hopefully doesn’t happen very often).
- Help them grow
As your volunteers give more of their time to your ministry, they should experience personal growth—or know what they need to do to experience it. This could be closely tied to #5: as they understand more about why their role matters to the ministry, they can grow in their understanding of how God uses them in the lives of others. Help them connect the dots between what they’re doing and what God is doing. When you meet together, challenge your volunteers to try specific things that could help them grow personally and in their role. Give your greeters better tools for starting conversations, or something to reflect on while they meet new people. Give your tech volunteers freedom to experiment or try new things (I’d start with a controlled setting), or a more experienced person they can work alongside and learn from. Give your worship team members the opportunity to share something they’ve been learning or reflecting on lately—with the team or the congregation. The specific growth opportunities available to your volunteers completely depends on your church. But for most roles, some of the biggest things that will help volunteers experience personal growth are mentors and community. If you don’t have the capacity 27 to personally walk alongside your volunteers, find someone (or a group of someones) who has the time and energy to invest in the people that serve with you. Help them recognize their potential and show them they are worth investing time in and developing a personal relationship with. With respect to #6, giving your team opportunities to get to know each other can go a long ways towards personal growth and ultimately feeling valued. Know your volunteers Even the most thorough vetting process doesn’t do much to help you get to know someone personally. And the bottom line is, if you want your volunteers to feel valued, you have to know them on an individual level. Being on a first name basis isn’t good enough (but it’s definitely a start). And if you’re looking at this list thinking “I don’t have time to do any of these things,” maybe it’s time to bring someone on board who can. Who knows, maybe someone will volunteer? Maybe you’re already doing these things, and you’re reading this thinking “So why am I still losing volunteers left and right?” If you’re tired of watching your best volunteers walk away for good (or you’re worried they might some day), it’s time for us to talk about burnout. 28 Burnout: The Reality Every Team Faces Sometimes volunteers are just going to quit, and there’s nothing you can do to change their minds. People move. They get new jobs or go through transitions that make volunteering more difficult or stressful. But sometimes people quit for completely preventable reasons. They’re worn out. They don’t feel like what they do really matters to you or your ministry. They feel stuck in their role. Or they feel like no one cares if they show up or not. Each of these feelings are personal. But that doesn’t reduce these issues to personal problems or give you permission to dismiss them because you think someone “just isn’t the right fit.” They’re symptoms of burnout, and you can take steps to make sure other volunteers don’t burnout, too. These are feelings you can address before they ever become problems. And if you don’t take measures to protect your team against them, you could find yourself reading an unexpected resignation letter or having a tough conversation with one of your best volunteers. Whether you’re experiencing burnout yourself or you’re simply concerned about the health of your team, these 12 methods will help you avoid losing valuable volunteers. A lot of these methods overlap, but they each contribute to helping your volunteers feel more connected to their roles, your ministry, and the people they serve with. If you’re serious about fighting burnout, see how these 12 tips can help your volunteer program:
- Share the impact volunteers have
29 One of the best ways to remind people why what they do matters is to show them what happens as a result of their work. We don’t always get to see the direct fruits of our labor, and some roles will see more tangible ways they impact your mission, but you can always remind someone what they are contributing to, and how their contribution affects the outcome. Talk about your mission and how what they do each week makes that mission possible, or fulfills that mission in some way. If you’re having trouble communicating this to your volunteers, try to imagine your church without that role. What changes? Imagine your church without greeters. How would visitors feel when they set foot in your door? Imagine you didn’t have a volunteer running your presentations. Who would that role fall to each service? How would you work around it? Imagine that nobody in your church volunteered to play or sing in the worship band. What would worship look like each week? None of these things determine whether or not your church can share the gospel. But every volunteer role has a purpose, and they each empower your church to share the gospel more clearly, with more people, or in different ways. There’s a reason for every role. Identify that underlying purpose—the reason why your church or ministry depends on that volunteer—and highlight that purpose to your team as often as you can. Help them see how they fit into the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:4–30). Note: Be sensitive to how your team responds when you emphasize the importance of their role, and the context in which you share it. In the wrong setting, (like when someone is late to a meeting, or after you’ve just made an additional request) a reminder about the importance of a volunteer role becomes discouraging, and it can contribute to the volunteer burnout you’re trying to prevent. 30
- Give your volunteers rest
If you pay attention to your volunteers and know them personally, it’s a lot easier to tell when they need a break. Your ministry depends on your team, and they know that, but it should also be clear to volunteers that they can say no when life is too crazy. If you make volunteering an all-or-nothing commitment, you’re going to have less volunteers, and the ones you do have are going to wear out faster. This isn’t giving people the freedom to be late or to not show up when they’ve said they would be there for you—it’s about giving people permission to tell you when they can’t or shouldn’t do what is being asked of them. I’m not saying you should bend over backwards for lazy people (although Luke 13:6–9 has always made me more flexible with lazy people). All I’m saying is: pay attention. Sometimes people won’t tell you when they’re unusually stressed—they might even tell you they’re fine. What “rest” looks like is up to you and your team. For some ministries, summer is the least active time of year, and volunteers enjoy a more casual commitment. But if every volunteer role is equally active year round, you may have to find other ways to give volunteers breaks. Maybe “rest” means you celebrate your volunteers and the hard work they’ve done all year. Maybe it means less meetings, or you find a way to give them a day off from their role. Obviously, giving people a break is a lot easier when you have more than one volunteer in every role—which brings us to the next big way you can fight volunteer burnout.
- Distribute knowledge
When you’re the only one who knows how to do your job, that job can quickly become more stressful. This usually happens in some of the most difficult or important roles— 31 less people want to do it (or are capable of doing it), so the burden falls on a handful of people (or one person). They have to commit more of their lives to the role, and they feel less freedom to say no. I’ve never heard a church or ministry say, “We have too many volunteers. Seriously, we don’t need your help.” There are never enough volunteers. But that doesn’t mean we have to look at this situation and say, “Too bad.” Encourage your more experienced volunteers (or the ones who have more time) to learn multiple roles. Or see if anyone on your staff would be willing to give a volunteer a break now and then. When it comes to the long term health of your ministry, your team has to be able to support each other. It may seem like you’re asking your volunteers for one more thing, but this gives you the opportunity to show your volunteers that they can lean on each other (and you) when they need to.
- Appreciate your volunteers
You can never adequately compensate your volunteers for all the work they do for you. And the vast majority of volunteers aren’t looking for compensation. They’re volunteering. And if they’re volunteering in ministry, they’re probably hoping to get something you can’t hand them—like spiritual growth, or a more intimate relationship with God. Volunteer appreciation isn’t about compensation. Knowing that should help you decide how to appreciate your volunteers. Volunteer appreciation is about encouragement. It’s acknowledging the sacrifices your volunteers make for you and your ministry, and helping them see that what they do matters. The ways you show your volunteers that you appreciate them should come from knowing them personally and discovering what makes them feel most cared about. 32 If your volunteers feel like you care about them personally, it makes it more enjoyable to remain in their volunteer community.
- Build a volunteer community
My volunteer team doesn’t just meet together to plan youth group or go over “official volunteer business.” We’re friends. We spend time together because we enjoy each other. Sometimes our “official” meetings take longer than they need to because we hang out and talk about life—even though we’re all tired of meetings and we’re always trying to make them shorter. We didn’t become friends overnight. We’ve been volunteering together for years. During that time we’ve made an intentional effort to be part of each others’ lives. Being friends made it that much harder when one of our team members had to quit. We understood her reasons for leaving, but her absence deeply affected our team—and it was harder for her to leave because she knew she’d see us less. Building community isn’t about guilting people into staying. It’s about developing genuine relationships that lead volunteers to enjoy their role more.
- Provide clear goals
Once a volunteer has mastered the basics of their position, what’s next for them? Doing the same task in the same way at the same place gets old fast. Goals give volunteers direction for growth and can keep “the usual thing” enjoyable. Providing goals can also help your ministry get more out of your volunteers. Goals could be simple, like learning the names of 10 new people each service. Or they could be bigger, like leading a song for the first time, or preparing a devotional. Give your volunteers the option to challenge themselves to grow. 33 When people stop growing, that’s when they start getting that nagging feeling that something needs to change. If you can, you should try to map out a “volunteer career path” for each of the roles your church or ministry offers. Show volunteers that there are opportunities to take their desire to grow even further. Be reasonable, and don’t push your volunteers into the deep end, but keep fueling their desire to help by acknowledging their strengths and giving those strengths an application. “You’re great at _____. Have you ever thought about trying ____?”
- Prevent burnout, don’t react to it
By the time someone gets around to telling you that they’re quitting, they’ve probably made up their mind already. Unless you have a close relationship with your volunteers (and even if you do), they’ve likely discussed the decision with other people before they talked to you. When they get to you, they may already be too committed to their choice for you to change their minds. If your plan to fight burnout is reactionary, you’ll almost always be too late. Burnout doesn’t usually happen all of a sudden. It begins with boredom, dissatisfaction, frustration, or fatigue. Over time, those feelings grow into a desire for change, and then a decision based on those feelings. You can’t prevent every volunteer from burning out. And most won’t stay for life. But if you’re proactive about fighting burnout and you pay attention to how your volunteers feel about their roles, more of them will stay for longer.
- Come prepared, every time
34 Few things are more frustrating to a volunteer than a leader who isn’t prepared. Your volunteers take time off work, get babysitters, and plan around the time they spend with you and your ministry. When you show up late or unprepared, it can make your volunteers feel like you don’t care—or like you don’t understand what they’re giving up to be with you. Honor their time, be prepared, and give as much notice as you can when a meeting is going to be shorter or longer than usual. Those changes affect people’s lives.
- Remind them why they serve
People volunteer for a lot of different reasons. Some of those reasons—like spiritual growth or a desire to serve God—can keep volunteers going for a long time. Other reasons—like “meeting new people” or because a friend volunteered too—won’t be enough when the going gets tough. Identify the reasons why your volunteers signed up. If you think those reasons will help your volunteers persevere, reinforce them. If the reasons why they signed up won’t last or stand up to friction, try to encourage them with some of the reasons why your other volunteers have stuck around—or else help them hold onto those reasons when things get difficult. These reasons are tools for positive reinforcement and encouragement, not ways to induce guilt. Know your volunteers, and pay attention to how they respond.
- Find a mentor for every volunteer
One of the single greatest ways you can help a volunteer grow is to get them a mentor. Whether that’s a more experienced volunteer, a pastor or staff person, or another member of the congregation who enjoys developing relationships with people. 35 There are probably some people in your church right now who are more than capable of mentoring, but they either don’t know it or haven’t been given the nudge they need yet. Find ways to share this need with your congregation—it’s someone else’s spiritual growth opportunity. When your volunteers have people they can talk to about their personal lives, their relationship with God, and how they feel about their role, it’s easier to address burnout before it happens. A mentor can identify the beginnings of burnout, and you can equip them to help reignite the flame.
- Pray for your volunteers
This should be obvious. Your volunteers are your partners in ministry, and your brothers and sisters in Christ. Pray for them. Pray for their families. Pray for their own personal ministries. Pray for their gifts. Pray for their jobs, which give them the flexibility to continue working with you. Pray for their personal relationship with Jesus, and pray that he becomes an even greater part of their lives. Pray that Jesus would give them all the encouragement they need to continue. The better you know your volunteers, the more specifically you can pray for them. But even if you don’t get to develop a personal relationship with every volunteer, smother them all in prayer.
- Train them well
Whatever your volunteer training strategy is, make sure your volunteers are thoroughly prepared to fulfill their roles. Nobody likes to feel like they’re lost, or to look like they don’t know what they’re doing. A new volunteer doesn’t have to feel that way for very long before they’re ready to be 36 done. Solid training is one of the best ways for you to proactively fight volunteer burnout. Know your team Every single one of these techniques for fighting burnout depends on you to know your team. If you don’t have the capacity to get to know the people who serve with you, or there are too many volunteers for you to manage, assign team leaders for each role, and help them identify signs of burnout, too. If you don’t know the people who serve with you, you could easily wind up doing more harm than good. Fight volunteer burnout, don’t cause it. 37 The Great Invitation Volunteering truly is an opportunity. It’s not just a hole your church or ministry needs to fill—it’s a chance for the members of your church to grow in exciting new ways. It’s a way to build community with fellow believers and grow closer to the God who made us. Every role gives a glimpse of Christ and helps advance the kingdom of God. It’s not the only way for your congregation to do that, but it’s an opportunity most have the ability to attain. If you can successfully recruit, train, appreciate, and retain your volunteers, you’ll find yourself surrounded with a growing number of people who have seized the opportunity to serve, and your ministry will have more hands to lift up Christ. So go, and invite your congregation to take part in this profound opportunity. 38 39 About the Author Ryan Nelson is a volunteer leader for Young Life and a blogger for Faithlife in Bellingham, Washington. Ryan has led multiple teams of volunteers over the years and he’s come to know them all as friends. He frequently writes for the Proclaim blog
Published: October 27, 2016, 11:37 | No Comments on Every now and then- Bisher und Bald – von Archbishop Uwe AE.Rosenkranz