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Copyright, 1922, by 

The Trustees of the Presbyterian Board of 

Publication and Sabbath School Work 

Printed in the United States of America 


Section I 



Lesson Page 

I. Before Abraham 7 

11. The Patriarchs 10 

HI. Egyptian Bondage and Deliverance 13 

IV. Moses as Leader and Lawgiver 16 

V. The Conquest and Settlement of Canaan 19 

VI. The Period of the Judges 22 

VII. Samuel and Saul: Prophecy and Monarchy 25 

VIII. David and Solomon; Psahns and Wisdom 28 

IX. The Ivingdom of Israel 31 

X. The Ivingdom of Judah, to Hezekiah 34 

XL Judah, from Hezekiah to the Exile 37 

XII. The Exile and the Restoration 40 

XIIL The Jewish State Under Persia 43 

XIV. Israel's Religious Life 46 

XV. "The Coming One" 49 

Section II 


I. The Preparation 55 

II. The Commg of the Lord 58 

III. The Baptism. 61 

IV. The Early Judean Ministry 64 

V. The Beginning of the GaUlaean Ministry 67 

VI. The Period of Popularity 70 

VII. The Turning Point 73 

VIII. Jesus as Messiah 76 

IX. The Prediction of the Cross 79 

X. The Last Journeys 83 

XL Teaching in the Temple 86 

XII. The Crucifixion 89 

XIIL The Resurrection 93 


Lesson Page 

XIV. The Beginnings of the Christian Church 96 

XV. The First Persecution 99 

XVI. The Conversion of Paul 102 

XVII. The Gospel Given to the Gentiles 105 

XVIII. The First Missionary Journey and the Apostolic Council. . 109 

XIX. The Second Missionary Journey 112 

XX. The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistle to the 

Galatians 115 

XXI. The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistles to the 

Corinthians and to the Romans 118 

XXII. The First Imprisonment of Paul 122 

XXIII. The Close of the Apostohc Age 125 


This book surveys the history of God's redeeming grace. It reviews 
Old Testament history, disclosing the stream of God's redeeming pur- 
poses flowing down through the older times. It reviews New Testament 
history, disclosing the broadening and deepening of that purpose for us 
men and for mankind in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and his 

The chapters included in this book appear also as a part of Teaching 
the Teacher, a First Book in Teacher Training, and are issued in this 
form to supply the demand for a brief Bible history, for popular reading. 

Harold McA. Robinson. 


The Development of the Church in Old 
Testament Times 

By James Oscar Boyd, Ph.D., D.D. 

Before Abraham 

Genesis, Chapters 1 to 11 

That part of the globe which comes within the view of the Old 
Testament is mostly the region, about fifteen hundred miles square, 
lying in the southwestern part of Asia, the southeastern part of Europe, 
and the northeastern part of Africa. This is where the three conti- 
nents of the Eastern Hemisphere come together. Roughly speaking it 
includes Asia Minor, Mesopotamia, S>Tia, Palestine, Arabia, and 
Egypt, with a fringe of other lands and islands stretching beyond 

The heart of all this territory is that little strip of land, lying be- 
tween the desert on the east and the Mediterranean Sea on the west, 
knowTi as Syria and Palestine. It is some four hundred miles in length 
and varies from fifty to one hundred miles in width. It has been well 
called "the bridge of the world," for like a bridge it joins the largest 
continent, Asia, to the next largest, Africa. And as Palestine binds the 
lands together, so the famous Suez Canal at its southern end now binds 
the seas together. To-day, therefore, as in all the past, this spot is the 
crossroads of the nations. 

Palestine has long been called the "Holy Land," because it is the 
scene of most of the Bible story. Yet it would be a mistake to sup- 
pose that that Bible story is hmited to Palestine. The book of Genesis 
does not introduce the reader to Canaan (as it calls Palestine) until 
he has reached its twelfth chapter. There is a sense in which the history 
of God's people begins with Abraham, and it was Abraham who went 
at God's bidding into the land of Canaan. The story of Abraham will 
be taken up in the second lesson; but the Bible puts before the hfe of 
Abraham all the familiar story that lies in the first eleven chapters of 
Genesis and that forms the background for the figures of Abraham and 
his descendants. 

The location of this background is the basin of the Tigris and Eu- 
phrates Rivers. These two streams are mentioned in Gen. 2 : 14 (the 
Tigris under the form "Hiddekel") as the third and fourth "heads" 


of the "river that went out of Eden to water the garden" in which 
our first parents dwelt. The region is at the southern end of what is 
now called Mesopotamia. At the northern end of this river basin 
towers the superb mountain known as Mount Ararat. But the "moun- 
tains of Ararat," mentioned in Gen. 8 : 4 as the place where Noah's 
ark rested when the waters of the Flood had subsided, are no particular 
peak, but are the highlands of Kurdistan, which in ancient times were 
called Urartu (Ararat). Between Kurdistan on the north and the 
Persian Gulf on the south, the highlands of Persia on the east and the 
great Syrian Desert on the west, occurred the earliest drama of human 

That drama was a tragedy. It became a tragedy because of man's 
sin. The wonderful poem of creation in Gen., ch. 1, has for the refrain 
of its six stanzas, "God saw that it was good." Best of all was man, 
the last and highest of God's works — man, made in "his own im- 
age," after his likeness. On the sixth "day," when God made man, 
God said of his work, "Behold, it was very good." More than that: 
through the kindness of God man is put in a "garden," and is 
ordered to "dress it and to keep it." Ch. 2 : 15. Adam sees his superi- 
ority to the rest of the animal kingdom, over which he is given "do- 
minion." He is thus prepared to appreciate the woman as a helpmeet 
for him, so that the unit of society may ever mean for him one man 
and one woman with their children. Adam is also warned against sin 
as having disobedience for its root and death as its result. 

All this prepares us to understand the temptation, the miserable 
fall of the woman and the man, their terror, shame, and punishment. 
Ch. 3. And we are not surprised to see the unfolding of sin in the life 
of their descendants, beginning with Cain's murder of Abel, and grow- 
ing until God sweeps all away in a universal deluge. Chs. 4, 6. 

God's tender love for his foolish, rebellious creatures "will not let 
them go." At the gates of the garden from which their sin has for- 
ever banished them, God already declares his purpose to "bruise" the 
head of that serpent, Rom. 16 : 20, who had brought "sin into 
the world and death by sin," Gen. 3 : 15. Through the "seed of the 
woman" — a "Son of man" of some future day — sinful man can escape 
the death he has brought upon himself. And from Seth, the child 
"appointed instead of" murdered Abel, a line of men descends, who 
believe this promise of God. Ch. 5. In Enoch we find them "walking 
with God," V. 24, in a fellowship that seemed lost when paradise was 


lost. In Lamech we find them hoping with each new generation that 
God's curse will be at length removed. V. 29. And in Noah we find 
them obedient to a positive command of God, ch. 6 : 22, as Adam 
had been disobedient. 

In the Flood, Noah and his family of eight were the only persons to 
survive. When they had come from the ark after the Flood, God gave 
them the promise that he would not again wipe out "all flesh." Ch. 
9:11. But after it appeared that God's judgments had not made them 
fear him, God was just as angry with Noah's descendants as he had 
been with the men before the Flood. Pride led them to build a tower to 
be a rallying point for their worship of self. But God showed them 
that men cannot long work together with a sinful purpose as their 
common object; he broke up their unity in sin by confusing their speech, 
ch. 11, and scattering them over the earth, ch. 10. This second dis- 
appointment found its brighter side in the Une of men descended from 
Noah thropugh Shem, ch. 11 : 10, who also cherished God's promises. 
And the last stroke of the writer's pen in these earUest chapters of the 
Bible introduces the reader to the family of Terah in that line of Shem, 
and thus prepares the way for a closer acquaintance with Terah's son, 
Abraham, "the friend of God." 


1 . About how large is the world of the Old Testament, and where does 

it lie? 

2. What special importance has Palestine because of its position? 

3. How much of the story in Genesis is told before we are carried to 


4. Locate on a map the scene of those earhest events in human 


5. Show how the first two chapters of Genesis prepare for the tragedy 

of sin and death that follows. 

6. How does the brighter side of hope and faith appear from Adam to 


7. What effect did the Flood have on men's sin and their faith in 


8. Trace the descent of the man God chose to become "the father of 

the faithful." 


The Patriarchs 

Genesis, Chapters 12 to 50 

God's purpose to save and bless all mankind was to be carried 
out in a wonderful way. He selected and "called" one man to 
become the head and ancestor of a single nation. And in this man 
and the nation descended from him, God purposed to bless the whole 

Abraham was^that man, and Israel was that nation. God made 
known his purpose in what the Bible calls the Promise, Gal. 3 : 17, the 
Blessing, v.. 14, or the Covenant, v. 17. Its terms are given many 
times over in the book of Genesis, but the essence of it lies already in 
the first word of God to Abraham, Gen. 12 : 3, "In thee shall all the 
families of the earth be blessed." 

To believe this promise was a work of faith. It was against all 
appearances and all probability. Yet this was just where the religious 
value of that promise lay for Abraham and for his children after him 
— in faith. They had to believe something on the basis solely of their 
confidence in the One who had promised it. Or rather, they had to 
beheve in that Person, the personal Jehovah, their God. They must 
absolutely trust him. To do so, they must "know him." And that 
they might know him, he must reveal himself to them. That is why 
we read all through Genesis of God's "appearing" or "speaking" to this 
or the other patriarch. However he accomplished it, God was always 
trying thus to make them better acquainted with himself; for such 
knowledge was to be the basis of their faith. Upon faith in him de- 
pended their faith in his word, and upon faith in his word depended 
their power to keep alive in the world that true rehgion which was 
destined for all men and which we to-day share. Abraham's God is 
our God. 

Not Abraham's great wealth in servants. Gen. 14 : 14, and in flocks 
and herds, ch. 13 : 2, 6, but the promise of God to bless, constituted 
the true "birthright" in Abraham's family. Ishmael, the child of 
doubt, missed it; and Isaac, the child of faith, obtained it. Gal. 4 : 23. 
Esau "despised" it, because he was "a profane [irreligious] person," 
Heb. 12 : 16, and Jacob schemed to obtain it by purchase. Gen. 25 : 31, 
and by fraud, ch. 27 : 19. Jacob bequeathed it to his sons, ch. 49, and 


Moses delivered it in memorable poetic form to the nation to retain 
and rehearse forever. Deut., ch. 32, 

When Abraham, the son of Terah, entered Canaan with Sarah his 
wife and Lot his nephew and their great company of servants and fol- 
lowers, he was obeying the command of his God. He no sooner enters 
it than God gives him a promise that binds up this land with him and 
his descendants. Gen. 13 : 14-17. Yet we must not suppose that 
Abraham settled down in this Promised Land in the way that the Pil- 
grim Fathers settled in the Old Colony. Although Canaan is promised 
to the "seed" of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as a possession, they did 
not themselves obtain a foothold in it. Apart from the field of the 
cave Machpelah, at Hebron in the south, Gen., ch. 23, and a "shoul- 
der" (shechem) or fragment of land near Shechem ("Jacob's Well"), 
in the center of Canaan, the patriarchs did not acquire a foot of the 
soil of what was to become "the Holy Land." Abraham wandered 
about, even going down to Egypt and back. Isaac was sometimes at 
Hebron and sometimes at Beer-sheba on the extreme southern verge 
of the land. Jacob spent much of his manhood in Mesopotamia, and 
of his old age in Egypt. For after divine Providence in a remarkable 
manner had transplanted one of Jacob's sons, Joseph, into new soil, 
Gen,, ch. 37, his father and his brothers were drawn after him, with the 
way for their long Egyptian residence providentially prepared for 
them, Gen, 50 : 20, 

Side by side with the growth of a nation out of an individual we find 
Grod's choice of the direction which that growth should take. Not 
all, even of Abraham's family, were to become part of the future people 
of God. So Lot, Abraham's nephew, separates from him, and there- 
after he and his descendants, the Ammonites and the Moabites, go 
their own way. As between Abraham's sons, Ishmael is cast out, and 
Isaac, Sarah's son, is selected. And between Isaac's two sons, Esau 
and Jacob, the choice falls on Jacob. All twelve of Jacob's sons are 
included in the purpose of God, and for this reason the nation is called 
after Jacob, though usually under his name "Israel," which God gave 
him after his experience of wrestUng with "the angel of the Lord" at 
the river Jabbok. Gen. 32 : 22. Those sons of his are to become the 
heads of the future nation of the "twelve tribes", Acts 26: 7. 

Even while Lot, Ishmael, and Esau are thus being cut off, the great- 
est care is taken to keep the descent of the future nation pure to the 
blood of Terah's house. Those three men all married alien wives: 


Lot probably a woman of Sodom, Ishmael an Egyptian, and Esau two 
Hittite women. The mother of Isaac was Sarah, the mother of Jacob 
was Rebekah, and the mothers of eight of the twelve sons of Jacob 
were Leah and Rachel; and all these women belonged to that same house 
of Terah to which their husbands belonged. Indeed, much of Genesis 
is taken up with the explanation of how Isaac and Jacob were kept 
from intermarrying with the peoples among whom they lived. 

The last quarter of the book, which is occupied with the story of 
Joseph and his brethren, is designed to link these "fathers" and their 
God with the God and people of Moses. The same Jehovah who had 
once shown his power over Pharaoh for the protection of Abraham 
and Sarah, and who was later to show his power over another Pharaoh 
''who knew not Joseph," showed his power also over the Pharaoh of 
Joseph's day, in exalting Joseph from the dungeon to the post of high- 
est honor and authority in Egypt, and in delivering Jacob and his whole 
family from death through Joseph's interposition. What their long 
residence in Egypt meant for God's people will be seen in another 


1. In what promise does God reveal to Abraham his plan to bless the 


2. How was Abraham brought to believe in God's promise? What 

difference did it make whether he and his descendants believed 
it or not? 

3. Did the patriarchs see that part of the promise fulfilled which gave 

them possession of "the Holy Land"? Read carefully Gen. 
15 : 13-16 and Heb. 11:9, 10, 14-16. 

4. Make a "family tree" in the usual way, showing those descendants 

of Terah who play any large part in the book of Genesis. Under- 
score in it the names of those men who were in the direct line of 
"the Promise." 

5. How were Isaac and Jacob kept from marrying outside their own 


6. Explain Joseph's words, "Ye meant evil against me; but God meant 

it for good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much 
people alive." Gen. 50 : 20. 


Egyptian Bondage and Deliverance 

Exodus, Chapter 1 

God says through his prophet Hosea, Hos. 11:1, "When Israel was 
a child, then I Loved him, and called my son out of Egypt." See also 
Matt. 2 : 15. There was a loving, divine purpose in the Egyptian 
residence of God's people. What was it? What did this period mean 
in the career of Israel? 

Most obviously, it meant growth. From the ''seventy souls," Ex. 
1 : 5, that went down into Egypt with Jacob, there sprang up there a 
populous folk, large enough to take its place alongside the other nations 
of the world of that day. Observe the nature of the land where this 
grow^th took place. Egypt was a settled country, where the twelve 
developing tribes could be united geographically and socially in a way 
impossible in a country like Palestine. However oppressed they were, 
they nevertheless were secluded from the dangers of raids from with- 
out and of civil strife within — just such dangers as later almost wrecked 
the substantial edifice slowly erected by this period of growth in 

Egypt meant also for Israel a time of waiting. All this growth was 
not accomplished in a short time. It lasted four hundred and thirty 
years. Ex. 12 : 40, 41. Through this long period, which seems like a 
dark tunnel between the brightness of the patriarchs' times and that 
of Moses' day, there was nothing for God's people to do but to wait. 
They were the heirs of God's promise, but they must wait for the ful- 
fillment of that promise in God's own time, wait for a leader raised up 
by God, wait for the hour of national destiny to strike. As Hosea, 
ch.U : 1 expresses it, this "child" must wait for his Father's "call." The 
Egyptian period left an indelible impression on the mind of Israel. It 
formed the gray background on which God could lay the colors of his 
great deliverance. It is because God knew and planned this that he so 
often introduces himself to his people, when he speaks to them, as "Je- 
hovah thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the 
house of bondage." 

In the third place, this Egyptian period meant for Israel a time of 
chastisement. The oppression to which the descendants of Jacob were 
exposed, when "there arose a new king over Egypt, who knew not 


Joseph," Ex. 1 : 8, was so severe, prolonged, and hopeless, v. 14, that 
it has become proverbial and typical. Since every male child was to 
be put to death, v. 22, it is clear that the purpose of the Egyptians was 
nothing less than complete extermination. "It is good for a man that 
he bear the yoke in his youth": if that be true, then the children of 
Israel derived good from the school of discipline in which they grew 
up. True, as we read their later story, we feel that no people could be 
more fickle. Yet there is no other nation with which to compare 
Israel. And it is very probable that no other nation would have been 
serious-minded enough even to receive and grasp the divine revelation 
and leading of Moses' and Joshua's time. God, who had "seen the 
affliction of his people," who had "heard their cry" and sent Moses to 
them to organize their deliverance, wrote forever on this nation's soul 
the message of salvation in a historical record. At the start of their 
national life there stood the story, which they could never deny or 
forget, and which told them of God's power and grace. 

Exodus, Chapters 5 to 15 

All this lay in Israel's experience in Egypt. The next lesson will tell 
of the character and work of the man whom God chose to be leader. 
The means by which Moses succeeded in the seemingly impossible task 
of marching a great horde of slaves out from their masters' country, 
was the impression of God's power on the minds of Pharaoh and his 
people. It was a continued, combined, and cumulative impression. 
Of course it could not be made without the use of supernatural means. 
We must not, therefore, be surprised to find the story in Exodus bristling 
with miracles. To be sure, the "plagues" can be shown to be largely 
natural to that land where they occurred. And the supreme event of 
the deliverance, the passage of Israel through the Red Sea on dry 
ground, was due, according to the narrative itself, to a persistent 
wind, Ex. 14 : 21, such as often lays bare the shallows of a bay, only 
to release the waters again when its force is spent. 

Nevertheless, it is not possible to remove the "hand of God" from 
the account by thus pointing out some of the means God used to ac- 
complish his special purposes. It was at the time, in the way, and in 
the order, in which Moses announced to Pharaoh the arrival of the 
plagues, that they actually appeared. This was what had its ultimate 
effect on the king's stubborn will. And when Israel was told to "go 
forward," with the waters right before them, and when the Egyptians 


were saying, ''They are entangled in the land, the wilderness hath 
shut them in," Ex. 14 : 3 — it was just at that juncture that the east 
wind did its work at God's command; when Israel was over safely, it 
went down. Such things do not ''happen." It made a profound im- 
pression on Israel, on Egypt, and on all the nations of that day; all 
united in accepting it as the work of Israel's God. Ex. 15 : 11, 14-16; 
Josh. 2 : 10. 

The important point for the nation was to know, when Moses and 
Aaron came to them in the name of God, that it was their fathers' God 
who had sent them. On account of this need, which both the people 
and their leaders felt, God proclaimed his divine name, Jehovah (more 
precisely, Yahweh, probably meaning "He is," Ex. 3 : 14, 15), to Moses, 
and bade him pronounce the same to Israel, to assure them that he was 
"the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob," and thus what Moses 
came now to do for them was just what had been promised to those 
fathers long before. The passover night was the fulfillment of God's 
good word to Abraham. Ex. 13 : 10, 11 . How that word went on and 
on toward more and more complete fulfillment will be the subject of the 
succeeding lessons. 


1. What advantages had Egypt over Palestine as the place for Israel 

to grow from a family into a nation? 

2. What value was there for Israel in a negative time of waiting at the 

beginning of its history? 

3. Compare the effect on Israel with the effect on a man, of passing 

through a time of difficulty while developing. 

4. Name the ten "plagues of Egypt" in their order. How far can they 

be called "natural"? 

5. If the east wind drove back the Red Sea, what did God have to do 

with Israel's escape from the Egyptian army? 

6. Why should w^e not be surprised to find many miracles grouped at 

this stage of Bible history? 

7. How did God identify himself in the minds of the people with the 

God of their fathers? What was his personal name? 


Moses as Leader and Lawgiver 

Exodus, Chapters 2 to 4 

One of the things Israel had to wait for through those centuries in 
Egypt was a leader. When the time came God raised up such a leader 
for his people in Moses. 

The story of how Moses' life was preserved in infancy, and of how 
he came to be brought up at the court of Pharaoh with all its advan- 
tages for culture, is one of the most fascinating tales of childhood. 
Ex. 2 : 1-10. But not many who know this famihar tale could go on 
with the biography of the man of forty who fled from Pharaoh's ven- 
geance. Moses found by personal contact with his "brethren," the 
children of Israel, that they were not yet ready for common action, and 
would not easily acknowledge his right to lead them. After killing an 
Egyptian slave driver there was nothing for Moses to do but to flee. 
Vs. 11-15. 

He spent the second forty years of his life, Acts 7 : 23, 30; Ex. 7 : 7, 
in the deserts about the eastern arm of the Red Sea — the region known 
to the Hebrews as Midian. There he married the daughter of the 
Midianite priest Reuel. (Jethro was probably Reuel's title, meaning "his 
excellency.") While herding his sheep in the mountains called Horeb 
(Sinai) , Moses received at the burning bush that personal revelation of 
the God of his fathers, which lay at the base of all his future labors for 
God and his people. Ex. 3 : 1 to 4 : 17. It was a commission to lead 
Israel out of their bondage in Egypt into the land promised to their 

Though very humble as to his fitness for such leadership, Moses was 
assured of Jehovah's presence and help. He was equipped with extra- 
ordinary powers for convincing the proud Pharaoh that his demands 
were God's demands; and he was given the aid of his brother Aaron, who 
had a readiness of speech which Moses at this time seems to have lacked. 

Exodus, Chapters 16 to 24 

How the two brothers achieved the seemingly impossible task of 
winning out of Egypt, and of uniting a spiritless and unorganized 
mass of slaves upon a desperate enterprise, is the narrative that fills 
the early chapters of Exodus. But with Israel safe across the Red 


Sea, Moses' leadership had only begun. He instituted an organization 
of the people for relieving himself of his heavy duties as judge. He 
determined the hne of march, and sustained the spirits of the fighting 
men in their struggle against the tribes of the desert who challenged 
Israel's passage. 

But, above all, Moses became the "mediator" of the "covenant," 
Heb. 9 : 19-21, between the Hebrews and Jehovah their God at Mount 
Sinai. On the basis of the Ten Commandments, Ex. 20:2-17; 
Deut. 5 :6-21, that guide to God's nature and will which formed the 
Hebrew constitution, the people agreed to worship and obey Jehovah 
alone, and Jehovah promised to be their God, fulfiUing to them his 
promises made to their fathers. By solemn sacrifices, according to the 
custom of the time, when the symbolism of altar and priesthood was 
well understood, this covenant was sealed. 

Exodus, Chapter 25 to Numbers, Chapter 36 

After long seclusion on the mount alone with God, Moses ordered the 
erection of a house of worship. It had to be portable, so as to accom- 
pany them in their wanderings and express visibly, wherever set up, 
the reUgious unity of the twelve tribes. Aaron and his sons were con- 
secrated to be the official priesthood of this new shrine and were clothed 
and instructed accordingly. Minute details regulated all sacrifices, and 
similar minute instructions enabled the priests to decide questions of 
ceremonial cleanness and uncleanness in matters of food and health. 

AU these laws and regulations, mainly recorded in Leviticus, were 
given through Moses, either alone or in association with his brother. 
It is not surprising to learn that there were those who challenged this 
exclusive leadership in every department of the national life. We 
read of a willful disregard of divine orders even in the family of Aaron, 
with immediate fatal results. Lev. 10 : 1-7. Like punishment over- 
took those members of the tribe of Levi who showed jealousy of the 
house of Aaron, and those elements in other tribes that claimed rights 
equal or superior to those of Moses. Num., chs. 16, 17. It would be 
strange, indeed, if God, who had vindicated his servant Moses against 
Pharaoh, should let his own authority as represented by Moses be chal- 
lenged within the camp of Israel. He punished to save. 

Just as God took up the Sabbath and circumcision, old customs of 
the preceding era, into the law of Israel, so also he spoke to this people 
through an elaborate system of feasts and pilgrimages, which bound 


up their whole year with the worship of God. Indeed, the principle of 
the seventh part of time as sacred was extended to the seventh year, 
and even to the fiftieth year (the year following the seventh seven), 
for beneficent social and economic uses. Lev., ch. 25. 

When at length the nation, thus organized and equipped, set forth 
from Sinai, Num. 10 : 11, they required a leadership of a different 
kind — military leadership and practical statesmanship. They found 
both in Moses. He it was who led them through all the long wander- 
ings in the peninsula of Sinai, bearing their murmurings and meeting 
their recurrent difficulties with a patience that seems almost divine, 
save for that one lapse which was to cost him and Aaron their entrance 
into the Promised Land. Num. 20 : 10-12. 

At the border of the land, from the top of Pisgah in the long moun- 
tain wall of Moab, Moses at last looked down into that deep gorge 
of the Jordan Valley at his feet, which separated him from the hills of 
Canaan, Beyond this river and the Dead Sea, into which it empties, 
lay the land long ago promised to the seed of Abraham. Moses had 
been permitted to lead the people to its very gateway ; but it remained 
for another, his younger helper, Joshua, to lead them through the gate 
into the house of rest. 

The Book of Deuteronomy 

But before he surrendered his power to another and his life to his 
Maker, the aged Moses rehearsed in the ears of Israel the great prin- 
ciples of God's law. He pleaded earnestly with them to accept it from 
the heart, to adapt it to the changed conditions of their new settled 
life with its new temptations, and to hand it down as their most precious 
heritage to their children after them. This is the purpose and sub- 
stance of the book of Deuteronomy, which gets its name from the fact 
that it is a "second lawgiving." It is the Law of Sinai repeated, but 
in oratorical form, charged with the feeling and spirit of that "man of 
God," whose name is forever linked with the Law and with the God 
who gave it to mankind. 


1. How did Moses' forty years in Egypt and his forty years in Midian 

help to prepare him for leadership? 

2. What was the constitution of the new Hebrew State established at 

Sinai? How was it ratified? 


3. How was the tabernacle suited to the religious needs of Israel dur- 

ing Moses' lifetime? 

4. Show how the Law of Moses takes up the old principle of the Sab- 

bath and applies it to the life of Israel. 

5. Where did Moses' leadership end, and what was his last service to 

the nation? 

The Conquest and Settlement of Canaan 

The Book of Joshua 

On the death of Aaron his son, Eleazar, succeeded him as high priest. 
But when Moses died, it was not a son who succeeded him in the 
political and moral leadership of Israel, for that position was not 
hereditary. Joshua, a man of Ephraim, was divinely designated for 
this work. He was fitted for the difficult undertaking by military ex- 
perience, Ex. 17 : 9-14, by personal acquaintance with Canaan, Num. 
13 : 8, 16; 14 : 6, 30, 38, and by long and intimate association with 
Moses, Ex. 33 : 11; Num. 11 : 28; Deut. 34 : 9; Josh. 1:1. The book 
of Joshua, which records his career, divides naturally into two parts, 
first, the conquest, chs.l to 12, and second, the settlement, chs. 13 to 22. 
Two further chapters, chs. 23, 24, contain Joshua's valedictory address. 

Before Moses' death two and a lialf tribes had already received their 
assignment of territory on the east of the Jordan, out of lands con- 
quered from the Amorite kings, Sihon and Og. But the fighting men 
of these tribes agreed to accompany the other tribes and share their 
struggle till all had obtained an inheritance. So when the great host 
l^assed over the Jordan, not far from where it empties into the Dead 
Sea, the men of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh crossed with the rest. 
Jehovah, who at the Red Sea a generation earlier had struck terror 
into the hearts of all nations by his wonderful interposition to save 
Israel and destroy its enemies, repeated here his saving help, by stem- 
ming the swift current of the Jordan River, till all had passed over dry 
shod to the western side. 

Once over, they found themselves face to face with Jericho, a city 
which commanded the passes into the mountain country beyond. 
Spies previously despatched to learn the weakness of Jericho had re- 
ported the panic of its inhabitants and so prepared the Hebrews to 


believe God's word, when through Joshua he announced a bloodless 
victory here at the beginning of their conquest. Without a blow 
struck Jericho fell, and all its inhabitants were "devoted," at Jehovah's 
strict command. Even their wealth was to be "devoted," that is, the 
cattle slain and the goods added to the treasury of the sanctuary. 
Only Rahab, who had saved the spies, and her family were excepted. 
One man, Achan, disobeyed the ban on private spoils. His covetous- 
ness and deception, revealed by Israel's defeat in the expedition against 
Ai which followed the fall of Jericho, and detected by the use of the 
sacred lot, was punished by the execution of all who were privy to 
the crime. 

Better success attended the second attempt to take Ai. With these 
two cities reduced, Jericho at the bottom and Ai at the top of the 
valley leading up from the Jordan floor to the central highland, Joshua 
was in a position to attack anywhere without fear of being outflanked. 
Middle, south, and north was the order commended by military con- 
siderations. Accordingly those cities which, because in the middle of 
the land, felt themselves the most immediately threatened, took the 
first steps to avert the menace. A group of five towns lying just north 
of Jerusalem, with Gibeon at their head, succeeded by a ruse in getting 
a treaty of peace from Joshua. The Gibeonites deceived Joshua by 
representing themselves as having come from a great distance to seek 
an alliance. Joshua's pride was flattered and he fell a victim to the 
trick. The consequences were serious, for these Canaanites, though 
reduced to vassalage, remained as aUens in the heart of the land, and 
cut off the southern from the northern tribes of Israel. 

A confederacy of the chief cities in the region south of Gibeon, 
headed by the king of Jerusalem, determined to strike the first blow. 
But their campaign against the Gibeonites, now the allies of Israel, 
ended in a quick advance by Joshua and his complete subjugation of 
all these cities, the humiliation and death of their kings, and the "de- 
votion" of the inhabitants who fell into his hands. 

A similar campaign followed in the north, with the city of Hazor 
at the head of the Canaanite forces. At the "waters of Merom," a 
small lake a few miles north of the Sea of Galilee, a surprise attack by 
Joshua deprived his enemies of their advantage in horsemen and 
chariots on the level ground they had selected for battle, and resulted 
in the utter rout of the Canaanites and the general slaughter of every 
soul that did not escape by flight from the "devoted" towns. 


Thus from Mount Hermon on the north to the wilderness of the 
wandering on the south, the whole land had been swept over and 
reduced to impotence by the Hebrew invader. It was time to appor- 
tion it now to the several tribes. This was accomplished under the 
direction of Joshua and Eleazar. Judah and Joseph, the two strongest 
tribes, were assigned, the one to the south and the other to the north 
of the main mountain mass. Levi's inheritance was to be "the Lord," 
that is, the religious tithes, and his dwelling was to be "among his 
brethren," that is, in designated towns throughout all the land. A 
commission of three representatives from each of the seven other west- 
ern tribes divided the rest of the conquered territory into seven fairly 
equal parts. These then were assigned to the seven tribes by lot at 
the tabernacle at Shiloh. As for the eastern tribes, when they returned 
to their homes across the Jordan, they built an altar at the ford, as a 
permanent "witness" to the unity of all the sons of Jacob, however the 
deep gorge of the Jordan might cut them off from one another. 

At Shechem, where Abraham built his first altar in Canaan, Joshua 
had renewed the covenant between the people and their God as soon 
as he had secured control of Mount Ephraim, the middle high- 
lands. He had not only read the Law of Moses to all the people here, 
but also inscribed it on stones for the sake of permanence and pub- 
hcity. And now, when the conquest was complete and Joshua was 
nearing his end, he reassembled the people at the same spot, to remind 
them there of that solemn covenant, and to leave with them his final 
charge of fideHty to their God and his one central sanctuary. 


1 . How was Joshua specially fitted to succeed Moses as leader of Israel? 

2. Which tribes received their inheritance east of the Jordan? How 

did these show their sense of the unity of all Israel (a) at the be- 
ginning, and (6) at the close of the conquest? 

3. What justification can be urged for the stem measures which Israel 

took with the Canaanites and their possessions? 

4. What was the plan of Joshua's campaign, and what relation did the 

capture of Jericho and Ai bear to it? 

5. How did the men of Gibeon deceive Joshua, and why? What last- 

ing damage was caused by his treaty with them? 

6. Locate on a map the inheritance of each of the tribes. 


The Period of the Judges 

The Books of Judges and Ruth 

In Egypt, Israel had grown from a family into a folk. In the wilder- 
ness the folk had become a nation. In the conquest the nation had 
gotten its home. But in the period of the Judges which followed the 
conquest this steady advance seemed interrupted. What do we find 
at this time? 

We find a loose confederacy of tribes, aware of their common origin, 
yet too jealous of local names and rights to combine for a common end, 
too selfish to help one another until the danger of one has become a 
tragedy for all. 

The nature of the land the Hebrews had occupied helped this divisive 
tendency. The great gash of the Jordan Valley, its bed two or three 
thousand feet below the mountain country on either side, cut off the 
eastern minority from the western majority. In the west a plain sepa- 
rated the foothills of the central range from the seashore. This plain 
not only contained enemies like the PhiHstines whom only a united 
Israel could have conquered, but also quickly altered the type of its 
Hebrew settlers. Right across the mountain belt from the sea to the 
Jordan stretched an almost unbroken plain (Esdraelon), varying from 
sea level to the lower level of the Jordan. This cut off the mountaineers 
to the north (GaUlee) from those to the south (Ephraim). And a 
glance at any physical map will show how even in the mountain coun- 
try deep, lateral valleys reach up from either side so far toward the 
center that communication from north to south is only by a series of 
violent grades, save along that narrow ridge in the middle where runs 
the highroad between Hebron, Jerusalem, Shechem, and Jezreel. 

Under these conditions only some strong positive force could pre- 
vent the disintegration of the Hebrew nation. Such a force the re- 
ligion of Jehovah was intended to be, and would have been, if the peo- 
ple had remained faithful to it. It had one high priest, descendant of 
Aaron, and associated therefore with all the memories of Moses and 
Sinai. It had a single sanctuary, the seat of Ark and oracle, the center 
of pilgrimage three times a year. It had one law for all Hebrews, a 
law far superior to the codes of all other nations, and revealing the 
nature and will of a single moral and spiritual deity. All this provided 


the focus for a mighty nation, with a pure "theocracy," that is, a gov- 
ernment by God himself. But the people did not remain faithful. 
They fell away in this time of the Judges. 

The Book of Judges, which tells the story of this period, records a 
long list of names, each one connected with some particular enemy 
of Israel, some tribe or group of tribes dehvered, and some definite 
term of years during which the deliverer "judged" the people. On 
this list the most conspicuous names are those of Deborah and of 
Gideon in the north, of Jephthah east of the Jordan (Gilead), and of 
Samson in the south. Most of the other judges are httle more than 
names to us. Deborah stands out, not only because she was a woman, 
but also for her wonderful "song" preserved in the fifth chapter, cele- 
brating Barak's victory over the Canaanites near Mount Carmel. 
Gideon is memorable for his strategems and his persistence, and for 
his near approach to a real kingship, which was offered to him and his 
house after his victory, but which he declined, saying, "Jehovah shall 
rule over you." Ch. 8 : 23. His son Abimelech was actually termed 
king in and around the city of Shechem for a few years, but perished 
miserably for his sins. Ch. 9 : 6, 56. Jephthah's career was mainly con- 
cerned with the region east of the Jordan, but his admirable "apology' - 
for Israel showed his sense of Hebrew solidarity. Samson's picturesque 
story, with its petty loves and hates, its riddles and its practical jokes, 
ended in a sacrificial death which in part redeems its meanness. But 
neither Samson nor any of his predecessors accomplished anything 

Two words of caution belong to the study of this book and of these 
times. First, we must not suppose that one judge necessarily follows 
another in point of time because his story follows the other's story in 
the book. Judges 10 : 7 shows that oppressions of different sections of 
the land by different enemies might be taking place at the same time, 
and suggests that the figures assigned to each judge at the close of his 
story cannot safely be added together to find the total length of this 
period. And second, those figures themselves (nearly always forty or 
eighty) are to be taken as "round numbers," rather than as precise 
data such as we look for to-day to make out a table of chronology. 
In the same way the four hundred and eighty years of I Kings 6 : 1 is 
evidently intended as twelve times forty years, to represent the whole 
time from the Exodus to Solomon. For when we have subtracted from 
the beginning of it one forty-year term for the wanderings, and from 


the end of it three forty-year terms for Eli, I Sam, 4 : 18, Saul, Acts 
13 : 21, and David, I Kings 2:11, then we have left eight forty-year 
terms for the Judges. Eight times forty is three hundred and twenty. 
Those three hundred and twenty years would then^correspond with 
the three hundred years mentioned by Jephthah in Judg. 11 : 26 as 
dividing Moses' days from his own. Under these circumstances we 
are wise to wait for further light from archaeology before fixing the 
precise date of any one of these interesting persons, 

There are three additions or appendices to the Book of Judges. The 
first of them, including chs. 17, 18, tells how the Danites came to live 
in the extreme north, and the origin of the idolatrous sanctuary at that 
city of Dan which was reckoned as the northern limit of Canaan — 
"from Dan to Beer-sheba." The second occupies the three remaining 
chapters of Judges, and records the civil war between Benjamin and the 
other tribes on account of "the sin of Gibeah," Hos. 10 : 9. And the 
third appendix is the story of Ruth the Moabitess which now makes a 
separate book in the Bible. Besides its inherent charm the story 
claims special notice because of the light it throws on that Bethlehem 
family which was soon to furnish the nation its great king, David. 


1. What influences made for the loss of Hebrew unity as soon as 

Joshua's generation was dead? 

2. What forces remained to bind the tribes together? Why did not 

these forces suffice? 

3. How were the persons selected who ruled Israel in this period? 

Were they "judges" in the same sense as our judges to-day? 
What besides? 

4. What three groups of tribes tended to draw together under com- 

mon leaders? Tell the exploits of one distinguished judge belong- 
ing to each of these groups. 

5. With what reserve should we use the figures in this book to con- 

struct a chronology of the period? 

6. Point out the relation of the book of Ruth to the closing portion 

of the Book of Judges. What lends Ruth peculiar historical 


Samuel and Saul : Prophecy and Monarchy 

The First Book of Samuel 

Sometimes Eli and sometimes Samuel are called the last of the Judges. 
But neither of these was a judge in the same exclusive sense as Gideon 
or Samson. Eli was the high priest, but exercised the office of judge 
for his time. Samuel was a prophet, who also "judged Israel" in the 
interval between EU's death and Saul's accession. Both men mark 
the time of transition between the period of the Judges and the 
monarchy. And the two names are most closely linked, for it 
was under EU's instruction, at the sanctuary in Shiloh, that Samuel 
grew up. 

The story of Hannah and her dedication of her little son to God as 
a "Nazirite," I Sam. 1:11; compare Num. 6 : 1-8, to dwell all his hfe 
at the house of God, I Sam. 1 : 28, has a peculiar charm for young and 
old. It gives a picture of personal piety in a rude age, and thus serves 
to correct our idea of the times. Beginning at a very early age, I Sam. 
3 : 1 to 4 : 1, Samuel became the chosen and recognized mouthpiece of 
Israel's God. 

That is the essential meaning of a prophet — one who speaks for God. 
Exodus 4 : 16 is instructive, for it shows that as Aaron was to be "a 
mouth" to Moses, while Moses was *'as God" to Aaron, so the prophet 
was God's mouthpiece or spokesman. Of course a prophet was often a 
person who also spoke before — one, that is, who predicted what should 
come to pass. And the fact that his words were actually fulfilled be- 
came a proof of his divine commission, both in theory, Deut. 18 : 22, 
and in practice, Isa. 44 : 26. But the bulk of the prophets' messages 
were, Uke those of Samuel, addressed to their own time. They were 
preachers of righteousness, warners against sin, the nation's conscience, 
and the Lord's remembrancers. 

It is the chief glory of Samuel that he was not only first in the long 
hne of the Hebrew prophets — the most remarkable succession of men 
the world has ever seen — but also the founder of the prophetic order. 
By the prophetic order we mean the prophets as a group conscious 
of their solidarity, the identity of their principles and aim. Samuel 
gathered about his dominating personality those persons who were 
sympathetic with him in spirit, and who shared with him some of that 


power of testimony which "the word of Jehovah" conferred. They 
seem to have hved together, I Sam. 19 : 20, in communities similar to 
those two centuries later under Ehjah and Elisha. They used musical 
instruments in their devotions, which were public as well as private. 
Ch. 10 : 5. They were the center of patriotic zeal as well as of religious 
effort. In fact, the behef in Israel's God was so evidently the bond 
that bound Israel together, that for the common man patriotism 
and reUgion were in danger of being regarded as one and the same 

It is not surprising, therefore, that out of Samuel's time and from 
the forces which Samuel set in motion, there came two movements which 
changed the course of the nation's history: an outward movement for 
independence, and an inward movement for monarchy. A revival of 
rehgion could not fail to rouse the subjected Hebrews against their 
oppressors, the Philistines. The reverses they suffered in battle against 
their better armed and better led enemies put it into their minds to 
set up a king, "like all the nations." 

Samuel, as the national leader, was God's agent in selecting, con- 
secrating, and establishing the first king. He chose Saul, of the tribe 
of Benjamin, a man of heroic proportions though of modest demeanor. 
Ch. 9 : 2, 21. His choice met the popular approval, at first with gen- 
eral and outward acquiescence, though with much inward reserve 
and individual revolt; but after his first successful campaign with 
universal loyalty. Ch. 10 : 27; 11 : 12-15. 

That first military effort of the new monarch was against the Am- 
monites. But a greater test remained in the menace of the Philistines, 
whose garrisons at strategic points in the mountains of Israel served to 
keep the tribes in check. Under those circumstances Saul was cau- 
tious, for he had but a small force, inadequately armed, at his dis- 
posal. But the initiative, for which all Israel waited, was taken by 
Saul's son, Jonathan. Unknown to his father, Jonathan, accom- 
panied only by his armor-bearer, but encouraged by an indication of 
God's will and by the enemy's slackness, ch. 14 : 12, attacked boldly 
a Philistine garrison that relied too much on the natural strength of 
its position. He began in this way a panic in the enemy's ranks, and 
soon drew after him in pursuit of them not only Saul's small army 
but multitudes of Hebrews who in their hiding places only waited such 
a signal to fall upon the hated oppressor. The victory of Michmash 
was overwhelming, the mountain country was cleared of the Phil- 


istines, and an independent people began to enjoy the reign of their 
first king. 

Unhappily Saul did not prove himself so well equipped for the 
kingship in character and disposition as in personal prowess. Jealousy, 
natural in a king whose claim to authority was so new and weak, was 
heightened in Saul by a malady that induced fits of sullenness and rage. 
His humihty and modesty of other days gave place to envy, vanity, 
and cruelty. Even God's express commands through the same prophet 
on whose divine commission Saul's claim to the throne rested were 
not heeded, for Samuel had to rebuke him for disobedience and only 
refrained from publicly rejecting him at Saul's abject entreaty. Ch. 
15 : 30. 

Room was found in Saul's heart for jealousy of the popularity and 
success of David, ch. 18 : 8, the young man of Bethlehem in Judah 
whom at first he had loved and attached to his person, ch. 16 :21. 
Jonathan, though heir to his father's throne and aware that David had 
been designated as Jehovah's choice for king, ch. 20 : 15, 31, had noth- 
ing but affection for David his friend. But Saul pursued David openly, 
after failing in repeated secret attempts to make away with him. And 
the close of Saul's life is marred by his vindictive pursuit of his rival, 
till death in battle with the Philistines at Mount Gilboa brought the 
first king of Israel to a miserable end and left the way open for David 
to become his successor. 


1. Who shares with Samuel the leadership of Israel in the time of 

transition from the judges to the kings, and what relation did he 
bear to Samuel? 

2. What was a prophet, what is meant by the prophetic order, and 

what is Samuel's particular service and distinction among the 

3. What motive led to the popular demand for a king, and how did 

Samuel as God's representative regard this demand? 

4. Sketch the character of Saul. What was his achievement for Israel? 

Wherein did he fail? 

5. Compare Saul and Jonathan in abihty and character. 


David and Solomon : Psalms and Wisdom 

The Second Book of Samuel; I Kings, Chapters 1 to 11; 
I Chronicles, Chaptfer 10 to II Chronicles, Chapter 9 

One of Saul's sons, Ish-bosheth, for a short time after the death of 
his father and brothers in battle, attempted to maintain his right to 
succeed Saul on the throne. But when Abner, his kinsman and the 
head of the army, turned to David, son of Jesse, who was already- 
reigning at Hebron as king over Judah, all the tribes followed him. 
Both Ish-bosheth and Abner soon perished. 

With his new dignity David promptly acquired a new capital, better 
suited than Hebron in location and strength to be the nation's center. 
He captured the fortress of Jebus, five miles north of Bethlehem, his 
old home, from its Canaanitish defenders, and enlarged, strengthened, 
and beautified it. Under its ancient name of Jerusalem he made it 
both the political and the religious capital of Israel. 

The Ark of the Covenant, which in Eli's time had been captured by 
the Philistines, had been returned by them, and for many years had 
rested in a private house, was regarded as the very heart and symbol 
of the national religion. David therefore brought it first to Jerusalem, 
and instead of uniting with it its former housing, the old Mosaic taber- 
nacle, he gave it a temporary home in a tent, intending to build a splen- 
did temple when he should have peace. But war continued through 
the days of David, and at God's direction the erection of a temple, 
save for certain preparations, was left to Solomon, David's successor. 

David was victorious in war. His success showed itself in the en- 
largement of Israel's boundaries, the complete subjection — for the 
time — of all alien elements in the land, and the alUance with Hiram, 
king of Tyre, with the great building operations which this alliance 
made possible. A royal palace formed the center of a court such as 
other sovereigns maintained, and David's court and even his family 
were exposed to the same corrupting influences as power, wealth, 
jealousy, and faction have everywhere introduced. Absalom, his 
favorite son, ill requited his father's love and trust by organizing a 
revolt against him. It failed, but not until it had driven the king, now 
an old man, into temporary exile and had let loose civil war upon the 


Solomon, designated by David to succeed him, did not gain the 
throne without dispute, but the attempt of Adonijah, another son, to 
seize the throne failed in spite of powerful support. The forty-year 
reign of Solomon was the golden age of Hebrew history — the age to 
which all subsequent times looked back. Rapid growth of commerce, 
construction, art, and literature reflected the inward condition of 
peace and the outward ties with other lands of culture. But with art 
came idolatry; with construction came ostentation and oppression; 
with commerce came luxury. The splendor of Jerusalem, wherein 
Solomon "made silver . . . to be as stones, and cedars ... as 
the sycomore- trees," I Kings 10 : 27, contained in itseK the seeds of 

However, there are two great types of literature which found their 
characteristic expression in the days of David and Solomon and are 
always associated with their names — the psalm with David, and the 
proverb (or, more broadly, "wisdom") with Solomon. Kingdom, 
temple and palace have long since passed away, but the Psalter and 
the books of Wisdom are imperishable monuments of the united 

The Psalms 

The Psalter is a collection of one hundred and fifty poems, of various 
length, meter, and style. As now arranged it is divided into five books, 
but there is evidence that earUer collections and arrangements preceded 
the present. Among the earhest productions, judged both by form and 
by matter, are those psalms which bear the superscription *'of David," 
though it would not be safe to assert that every such psalm came 
from David's own pen or that none not so labeled is not of Davidic 
origin. Judged alike from the narrative in the book of Samuel, and 
from the traditions scattered in other books as early as Amos, ch. 6 : 5, 
and as late as Chronicles, I Chron. 15 : 16 to 16 : 43; ch. 25, David was 
both a skilled musician himself and an organizer of music for public 
worship. It is not surprising, therefore, to find a body of rehgious 
poems ascribed to him, which not only evidence his piety and good 
taste, but also, though individual in tone, are well-adapted to com- 
mon use at the sanctuary. 

The psalms are poems. Their poetry is not simply one of substance, 
but also a poetry of form. Rime, our famihar device, is of course ab- 
sent, but there is rhythm, although it is not measured in the same 


strict way as in most of our poetry. The most striking and char- 
acteristic mark of Hebrew poetic form is the parallel structure: two 
companion lines serve together to complete a single thought, as the 
second either repeats, supplements, empjiasizes, illustrates, or con- 
trasts with the first. 

Proverbs; Job; Ecclesiastes 

Poetry is also a term to which the book of Proverbs and most of the 
other productions of "Wisdom" are entitled. While they are chiefly 
didactic (that is, intended for instruction) instead of lyric (emotional 
self-expression), nevertheless the Wisdom books are almost entirely 
written in rhythmic parallelism and contain much matter unsuited to 
ordinary prose expression. In the Revised Version the manner of 
printing shows to the English reader at a glance what parts are prose 
and what are poetry (compare, for example, Job, ch. 2 with Job, ch. 3) , 
though it must be admitted that a hard and fast line cannot be drawn 
between them. Compare Eccl., ch. 7 with Proverbs. 

"The wise," as a class of public teachers in the nation (see Jer. 
18 : 18), associated their beginnings with King Solomon (Prov. 24 : 23; 
25 : 1), whose wisdom is testified to in the book of Kings, as well as 
his speaking of "proverbs," that is, pithy sayings easy to remember and 
teach, mostly of moral import. I Kings 4 : 29-34. But the profound- 
est theme of wisdom was the moral government of God as seen in his 
works and ways. The mysteries with which all men, to-day as well as 
in ancient times, must grapple when they seek to harmonize their 
faith in a just and good God with such undeniable facts as prosperous 
sinners and suffering saints, led to the writing of such books as Job 
(the meaning of a good man's adversities) and Ecclesiastes (the vanity 
of all that mere experience and observation of life afford). In the 
case of these Wisdom books, as in that of the Psalms, the oldest name — 
that of the royal founder — is not to be taken as the exclusive author. 
Solomon, like David, made the beginnings; others collected, edited, 
developed, and completed. 


1. In what tribe and town did David first reign as king? How did he 
secure a new capital when he became king of all Israel? How and 
why did he make this the religious capital also? 


2. What advantages and disadvantages did David's continual wars, 

and his imitation of other kings' courts, bring to him, his family, 
and his people? 

3. What was David's part in the development of religious poetry? 

How does Hebrew poetry differ generally from English poetry in 
form? Name the books of the Old Testament written chiefly or 
wholly in poetry. 

4. Who built the first Temple? Who were "the wise" in Israel, whom 

did they venerate as their royal patron, and what did they aim to 
accomplish by their writings? 

The Kingdom of Israel 

I Kings, Chapter 12 to II Kings, Chapter 17 

With the death of Solomon came the lasting division of the tribes 
into two kingdoms, a northern and a southern, known as the Kingdom 
of Israel and the Kingdom of Judah. Rehoboam on his accession an- 
nounced a policy of repression and even oppression that alienated com- 
pletely the loyalty of Ephraim and the other northern tribes, which 
were never attached to the house of David in the same way as the 
tribe of Judah was. Under a man of Ephraim, therefore, Jeroboam the 
son of Nebat, who in earlier years had challenged even Solomon's title, 
the ten tribes revolted from Rehoboam and established a separate state. 

Rehoboam found himself too weak to prevent this secession, and he 
and his descendants of David's dynasty had to content themselves with 
the narrow boundaries of Judah. To be sure, in Jerusalem they pos- 
sessed the authorized center of public worship for the whole nation. 
It was to offset this advantage that Jeroboam made Bethel, that spot 
associated in the minds of the people with the patriarchs themselves, 
his religious capital. And, influenced perhaps by the Egyptian example 
of steer worship (for he had long lived as a fugitive in Egypt in Solo- 
mon's reign), he made golden steers and placed them in the sanctuary at 
Bethel and in that at Dan in the extreme north. (See close of Lesson 
VI.) To these places and under these visible symbols of brute force, Jero- 
boam summoned his people to worship Jehovah. It was the old na- 
tional religion but in the degraded form of an image worship forbidden 
by the Mosaic Commandments. 


A throne thus built on mere expediency could not endure. Jero- 
boam's son was murdered after a two years' reign. Nor did this usurper 
succeed in holding the throne for his house any longer than Jeroboam's 
house had lasted. At length Omri, commander of the army, succeeded 
in founding a dynasty that furnished four kings. Ahab, son of Omri, 
who held the throne the longest of these four, is the king with whom we 
become best acquainted of all the northern monarchs. This is partly 
because of the relations between Ahab and Elijah the prophet. Ahab's 
name is also linked with that of his queen, the notorious Jezebel, a 
princess of Tyre, who introduced the worship of the Tyrian Baal into 
Israel and even persecuted all who adhered to the national religion. 

This alliance with Tyre, and the marriage of Ahab's daughter to a 
prince of Judah, secured Israel on the north and the south, and left 
Ahab free to pursue his father's strong policy toward the peoples to 
the east, Moab and Syria. Upon Ahab's death in battle against Syria, 
Moab revolted, and the two sons of Ahab, in spite of help from the 
house of David in Jerusalem, were unable to stave off the ruin that 
threatened the house of Omri. Jehu, supported by the army in which 
he was a popular leader, seized the throne, with the usual assassination 
of all akin to the royal family. His inspiration to revolt had been due 
to Jehovah's prophets, and his program was the overthrow of Baal 
worship in favor of the old national religion. Though Jehu thoroughly 
destroyed the followers of Jezebel's foreign gods, he and his sons after 
him continued to foster the idolatrous shrines at Bethel and Dan, so 
that the verdict of the sacred writer upon them is unfavorable: they 
"departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, where- 
with he made Israel to sin." 

Mesha, king of Moab, II Kings 3 : 4, lived long enough to see his 
oppressors, the kings of Omri's house, overthrown and the land of 
Israel reduced to great weakness. (See article "Moabite Stone" in any 
Bible dictionary.) Jehu's son, Jehoahaz, witnessed the deepest humilia- 
tion of Israel at the hands of Syria. But it was not many years after 
Mesha's boasting that affairs took a complete turn. Jehu's grandson, 
Jehoash, spurred by Elisha the prophet even on his deathbed, began 
the recovery which attained its zenith in the reign of Jeroboam II, 
fourth king of Jehu's line. Though little is told of this reign in the 
Book of Kings, it is clear that at no time since Solomon's reign had a 
king of Israel ruled over so large a territory. It was the last burst of 
glory before total extinction. 


There is a history lying between the reigns of Jeroboam I, founder 
of the Northern Kingdom, and of Jeroboam II, its last prosperous 
monarch, which has scarcely been referred to in this brief sketch of its 
kings. It is the history of Jehovah's prophets. 

Hosea; Amos; Jonah 

. Reference has ah-eady been made to the rise of the prophetic order 
as such, in the time of Samuel. (Lesson VII.) With each crisis in the 
affairs of the nation God raised up some notable messenger with a word 
from him to the people or to the ruler. But all along the fire of devotion 
to God and country was kept alive by humbler, unnamed men, who 
supphed a sound nucleus of behevers even to this Northern Kingdom 
with its idolatrous shrines and its usurping princes I Kings 18 •4- 
19 : 18. 6 • » 

The greatest names are those of Ehjah and Ehsha. The earher 
struggle to keep Israel true to Jehovah focuses in these two men, one 
the worthy successor of the other. Their time marked perhaps the 
lowest ebb of true rehgion in all the history of God's Kingdom on earth. 
It is no wonder, therefore, that such stern, strong men were not only 
raised up to fight for the God of Moses and Samuel and David, but 
also endowed with exceptional powers, to work wonders and signs for 
the encouragement of the faithful and the confounding of idolators 
and sinners. Such was the purpose of their notable miracles. 

Ehjah and Elisha wrote nothing. But in their spirit rose up Hosea 
and Amos a century later— men who have left a record of their proph- 
ecies in the books that bear their names. Denunciation of sin, espe- 
cially in the higher classes, announcement of impending punishment for 
that sin, and promise of a glorious, if distant, future of pardon, peace, 
and prosperity through God's grace and man's sincere repentanc^- 
these things form the substance of their eloquent messages. Hosea is 
noteworthy for his striking parable of a patient husband and a faith- 
less wife to illustrate God's love and Israel's infidehty. Amos, himself 
a herdsman from Judah sent north to denounce a king and people 
not his own, is startUng in the suddenness with which he turns the 
popular rehgious ideas against those who harbor them. See, for ex- 
ample, ch. 3 : 2, where Amos makes the unique "relation between Je- 
hovah and Israel the reason, not for Israel's safety from Jehovah's 
wrath, as the people thought, but for the absolute certainty of Israel's 
punishment for all its sins. These two prophets, the last of the Northern 


Kingdom, had the melancholy duty of predicting the utter overthrow 
of what the first Jeroboam had set up in rebellion and sin two centuries 


1. When, why, and under whose lead did the ten tribes break away 

from the house of David? 

2. Outline the fortunes of the kings of Israel from Jeroboam I to Jero- 

boam II. 

3. Who were the outstanding prophets in the Northern Kingdom, and 

what was the substance of their messages? 

The Kingdom of Judah, to Hezekiah 

I Kings, Chapter 12 to II Kings, Chapter 17; II Chronicles, Chapters 10 to 28; 
Obadiah; Joel; Micah; Isaiah (in part) 

The revolt of Jeroboam and the ten northern tribes reduced the 
dominion ruled by Rehoboam, grandson of David, to narrow bounds. 
Before his disastrous reign was over, Judah was still further humiliated 
by an invasion under Shishak, a Pharaoh of the twenty-second dynasty 
of Egypt, who despoiled Jerusalem of the treasures which Solomon 
had amassed. After the death of Rehoboam and the short reign of his 
son, Abijam, Judah was ruled successively by Asa and Jehoshaphat, 
each succeeding his father peacefully and each reigning long and, on 
the whole, prosperously. Another invasion from the south which 
threatened to be as disastrous as that of Shishak, under "Zerah the 
Ethiopian" was repelled by Asa. Internal reforms, both religious and 
civil, were carried out by these vigorous rulers. 

The natural rivalry and intermittent warfare between north and 
south, which had arisen through the division under Rehoboam, ceased 
for a time after Jehoshaphat entered into alliance with King Ahab and 
took Athaliah, Ahab's daughter, as wife for his son Joram. The kings 
of Samaria and Jerusalem made common cause against Syria and 
Moab, and a temporary success seemed to crown the new policy. But 
prophets of Jehovah repeatedly warned the king who sat on David's 
throne of the danger to the true religion from such an alliance with 
Baal worshipers. 


It was not long before their warnings were justified by the facts. 
Athahah, Joram's queen, was the daughter not only of Ahab but also 
of Jezebel and brought with her to Jerusalem the fierce spirit and 
heathen habits of her Tyrian mother. King Ahaziah her son lost his 
life through his close association with King Jehoram of Israel, his 
uncle, for Jehu made away with both kings at the same time, and with 
all the princes of Judah, kinsmen of Ahaziah, on whom he could lay 
his hands. The old tigress at Jerusalem, Athaliah, now turned upon 
her own flesh and blood, the children of Ahaziah, and murdered them 
all so as to secure the power for herself. One grandson alone, the 
infant Joash, escaped, saved by an aunt who hid him and his nurse 
from the cruel queen mother. Six years later this child was proclaimed 
king in the Temple courts by Jehoiada, the high priest. AthaUah was 
slain, and a new era began in Judah with the destruction of Baal wor- 
ship and the repair of Jehovah's Temple. 

Joash was too weak to do more than buy off the king of Syria when 
his army threatened Jerusalem, and he himself met his death in a con- 
spiracy. The same fate befell his son Amaziah, after a reign that prom- 
ised well but was wrecked on the king's ambition to subdue the North- 
ern Kingdom under him. Uzziah (or Azariah) succeeded to the throne, 
though for half of his long reign he and his kingdom seem to have 
been in a state of vassalage to Jeroboam II, the powerful ruler of Israel. 
The latter part of Uzziah's reign was more prosperous, in spite of the 
king's pitiable state — for he was stricken with leprosy and had to live 
apart. It was on this account that he associated his son Jotham with 
himself, and during the sixteen years of Jotham's reign — most of which 
was included within the long nominal reign of Uzziah — the PhiUstines, 
Ammonites, and Arabians were defeated in warfare, while consider- 
able building both in and out of the capital helped to prepare the little 
kingdom for the troublous days just ahead. 

The mighty kingdom of Assyria, with its capital at Nineveh on the 
Tigris River, was the force which God used to punish his faithless 
people. Lying beyond the kingdoms of Syria, Israel's nearest neigh- 
bors on the north, AssjTia was not at first felt to be the menace which 
in the end it proved to be. Whenever Assyria was strong, Syria was 
weak, and the king in Samaria could breathe freely. But there came 
a day when a king of unusual power ascended the throne at Nineveh, 
Tiglath-pileser (or Pul, as he was also called, see II Kings 15 : 19, 29), 
and the fate of both Syria and Israel was sealed. 


Ahaz, the son of Jotham who had just died, saw in this Assyrian 
the means of dehvering Judah out of the hands of Pekah, king of Israel, 
and Rezin, king of Syria, who had joined forces to capture Jerusalem 
and put a king of their own on the throne of David. By a great present 
Ahaz bought the support of Tiglath-pileser, who sent an army to 
attack Judah's foes. Syria was devastated, the inhabitants were car- 
ried away captive from all the eastern and northern parts of Israel 
(Gilead and Galilee), Phoenicia and Philistia were overrun, and Ahaz, 
among other kings, went to Damascus in person to do homage to this 
irresistible conqueror. 

In the Northern Kingdom, reduced now to little more than the cen- 
tral highlands of Ephraim and Manasseh, Hoshea, a proteg6 of the 
Assyrian king, reigned for a few years. But he and his foohsh advisers, 
unable to read the signs of the times, looked to Egypt for help and 
revolted. This time the end had come. Shalmaneser, now on the 
Assyrian throne, came against Samaria, and after a siege lasting al- 
most three years, took and destroyed it. The whole population was 
carried away, after the drastic policy of deportation practiced by 
Assyria, and an alien population was introduced to take their places. 
Thus ended the Northern Kingdom after lasting a little over two 
centuries. And thus began that strange mixed people, known as the 
Samaritans, who settled in the central part of the Holy Land. 

The effect of Israel's doom upon the minds of the king and people of 
Judah may be imagined. From the pages of Micah and Isaiah, con- 
temporary prophets in Judah, can be seen how God was speaking to 
Judah through the ruin of Israel. Ahaz's policy of relying on human 
help from Assyria instead of divine help from Jehovah was refuted by 
its outcome. With Syria and Samaria ruined, there lay nothing be- 
tween Jerusalem and the Assyrian. And it is in Hezekiah's reign — 
the next after that of Ahaz — that the ruthless conqueror from Nineveh 
is found overrunning Judah itself. How king, prophet, and people 
met that crisis will begin the next lesson, for it belongs to the period 
when the Southern Kingdom is all that remained of the organized He- 
brew nation in Palestine. 


1. What were the relations between the kingdoms of Judah and Israel 
in general? 


2. Who altered these relations for a time? How? With what con- 

sequences for Judah's pohtics and religion? 

3. Who was Joash, and how did he come to the throne? 

4. What was the occasion of Judah's first intimate contact with Assyria? 

Discuss Ahaz's policy in the light of Isa. 7 : 1-9. 

5. WTiat were the stages in the downfall of the Northern Kingdom? 

What became of the conquered people, and who replaced them? 
See II Kings, ch. 17. 

Judah, from Hezekiah to the Exile 

II Kings, Chapters 18 to 25 ; II Chronicles, Chapters 29 to 36; 

Isaiah (in part); Nahum; Habakkuk; Zephaniah; Jeremiah; 

Lamentations; Ezekiel, Chapters 1 to 32 

Although outwardly Judah appeared to be the same after the fall 
of the Northern Kingdom as before, it was not so. A very different 
situation confronted Hezekiah from that which had confronted his 
father Ahaz when he called on Assyria for help against Syria and 
Israel. Now there were no "buffer states" between Assyria's empire 
and little Judah. And it was only a score of years after Samaria fell 
when Jerusalem felt the full force of AssjTia. Sennacherib, fourth in 
that remarkable list of the six kings^ who made Nineveh mistress of 
Asia, sent an army to besiege Jerusalem, wdth a summons to Hezekiah 
to surrender his capital. 

A different spirit ruled this king. Isaiah, the same great prophet 
who had counseled Ahaz to resist Pekah and Rezin but had failed to 
move him to faith in Jehovah, found now in Ahaz's son a vital faith in 
the God of Israel in this far sorer crisis. In reponse to that faith Isaiah 
was commissioned by God to assure king and people of a great deliver- 
ance. The case, to all human seeming, w^as hopeless. But the re- 
sources at God's disposal are boundless, and at one blow "the angel 
of Jehovah" reduced the proud Assyrian host to impotency and drove 
them away in retreat. II Kings 19 : 35. Scribes who record the 
achievements of ancient monarchs are not accustomed to betray anj-- 
of the failures of their royal heroes. But between the lines of Sennach- 

1 Tiglath-pileser, 745-727 B.C.; Shalmaneser, 727-722; Sargon, 722-705; Sennach- 
erib, 705-681; Esar-haddon, 680-668; Ashurbanipal, 668-626. 


erib's records we can read confirmation of the Bible's report of some 
great catastrophe to Assyrian arms. Jehovah rewarded the faith of 
his people in him. 

The seventh century before Christ, which began just after this event, 
witnessed both the rise of Assyria to its greatest height, and its sudden 
fall before the Chaldeans, a people from the Persian Gulf, who suc- 
ceeded in mastering ancient Babylon and in winning for it a greater 
glory than it had ever known in former times. Even in Hezekiah's 
reign these Chaldeans, under their leader Merodach-baladan, were 
already challenging the supremacy of Nineveh, and in doing so were 
seeking allies in the west. When the king of Judah yielded to the 
dictates of pride and showed to these Chaldean ambassadors his treas- 
ures, Isaiah announced to him that the final ruin of Judah was to come 
in future days from this source, and not from Nineveh as might then 
have been anticipated. 

Manasseh, Hezekiah's successor, was indeed taken as a captive to 
Babylon for a time, but the captor was a king of Assyria. II Chron. 
33 : 11. Manasseh was thus punished for his great personal wicked- 
ness, for he is pictured as the worst of all the descendants of David, an 
idolator and a cruel persecutor. Yet his reign was long, and at its 
close he is said to have repented and turned to Jehovah. But this did 
not prevent his son Amon from following in his evil ways. A revolt of 
the people within two years removed Amon, however, and set his 
young son, Josiah, upon the throne. Josiah's reign is important for 
the history of Judah. 

By putting together all that can be gleaned from Kings, Chronicles, 
and the prophets, it can be seen that Josiah gradually came more and 
more under the influence of the party in Judah that sought to purge 
the nation of its idolatry and bring it back, not merely to the com- 
paratively pure worship and life of Hezekiah's and David's daj^s, but 
to an ideal observance of the ancient Law of Moses. The climax in the 
progressive reformation in Judah was reached in Josiah's eighteenth 
year, 622 B.C., when the king and all the people entered into a ''solemn 
league and covenant" to obey the Law of Moses both as a religious 
obligation and as a social program. 

The Law book which was found while workmen were restoring the 
Temple passed through the hands of Hilkiah, the high priest, who 
therefore committed himself, together with the priests, to this reform. 
And what the true prophets of Jehovah thought of it may be seen, for 


example, from Jer., ch. 11, which tells that this prophetic leader preached 
in the streets of Jerusalem and through the cities of Judah, saying, 
"Hear ye the words of this covenant, and do them." 

Josiah attempted to attach to Jerusalem all those elements in the 
territory of the former kingdom of Israel which were in sympathy with 
Jehovah's Law, and at Bethel itself he defiled the old idolatrous altar 
and slew its priests. In fact, it was on northern ground, at Megiddo, 
that Josiah met his tragic end and the new wave of patriotic enthusi- 
asm was shattered, when, in battle against Pharaoh-necho and a great 
Egyptian army, the king of Judah was killed. 

Josiah's four successors were weak and unworthy of David's line. 
After Jehoahaz, the son whom the people put on the throne to succeed 
Josiah, had been removed by Necho, Jehoiakim, another son, reigned 
for eleven years. He owed his throne to the Pharaoh and was at first 
tributary to him. But early in his reign came the first of many cam- 
paigns of the Chaldeans into Palestine, as Nebuchadnezzar, master of 
Asia, extended his power farther and farther south after crushing the 
Egyptians at Carchemish in 605 B.C. Jehoiakim had to bow to 
Nebuchadnezzar's yoke and seems to have lost his life in a fruitless 
attempt to shake it off. A great number of the leaders of Judah, 
nobles, priests, soldiers, and craftsmen, were deported, together with 
Jehoiachin, the young son of Jehoiakim, who had worn the crown but 
three months, 598 b.c. 

For eleven years more, however, the remnant of Judah maintained a 
feeble state under Zedekiah, a third son of Josiah and the last of David's 
line to mount the throne. In spite of his solemn oath to the king of 
Babylon and in the face of the express warnings from Jehovah through 
his prophets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, this weak and faithless king re- 
volted from Babylon, put his trust in the Egyptian army, and pre- 
pared to stand a siege. But Jerusalem's end had now come, as Samaria's 
had come before, and through a breach in the northern wall the Chal- 
dean army entered; the king fled and was captured, blinded, and 
deported, and the whole city, including houses, w^alls, gates, and even 
the Temple — that famous Temple of Solomon which had stood nearly 
four centuries — was totally destroyed, 587 b.c. All that remained of 
the higher classes, together with the population of Jerusalem and the 
chief towns, were carried away to Babylonia, to begin that exile which 
had been threatened even in the Law, and predicted by many of the 
prophets, as the extreme penalty for disobedience and idolatry. 



1. How did the fall of Samaria affect the Kingdom of Judah? 

2. How did Hezekiah meet the threats of Sennacherib? What was 

the outcome? 

3. Which king carried through a reformation of religion? What was 

the basis of the covenant he imposed on Judah? How did he 
meet his end? 

4. Describe the relations of the Chaldeans to Judah in the time of 

Hezekiah, of Jehoiakim, of Zedekiah? 

5. When did Jerusalem fall? Did it fall unexpectedly and without 


The Exile and the Restoration 

Ezekiel, Chapters 33 to 48; Daniel; Ezra, Chapters 1, 2 

When the northern tribes were carried away by Assyria they lost 
their identity in the mass of the nations. Only individuals from among 
them attached themselves to the organized nucleus of Judah. From 
that time the one tribe of Judah stood out so prominently as repre- 
sentative of the whole nation, that "Jew" (that is, man of Judah) 
has been equivalent to Hebrew. Paul says that he was of the tribe of 
Benjamin; the aged prophetess Anna is said to have been of the tribe 
of Asher, Luke 2 : 36, and all the priests were of course of the tribe of 
Levi; yet long before New Testament times all such Israelites were 
commonly referred to as "Jews." 

Judah did not lose its identity among the nations when Jerusalem 
fell. The Jews who were not deported, among them the prophet Jere- 
miah, were put under the government of a certain Jewish noble, Geda- 
liah, who ruled the land from Mizpah as representative of the great 
king. Many fugitives returned to live under his sway when they 
found that it was beneficent. But Gedaliah was soon murdered by a 
prince of David's house, whom the king of Ammon had set on to do 
this mischief and then received and protected. The other Jewish 
leaders feared to remain within reach of the king of Babylon after this 
insult to him, and against the warnings of Jeremiah they all went 
down to Egypt. That removal ended all organized Jewish life in 
Palestine for nearly half a century. 


In Babylon, however, an event occurred long before that time had 
elapsed, which marked the political recognition of Judah's separate 
identity as a nation. That event was the release of Jehoiachin from 
prison by the new king of Babylon, Evil-merodach, successor of Neb- 
uchadnezzar. Jehoiachin, it will be remembered, was the unfortunate 
prince of David's Hne who held the throne only three months after his 
father Jehoiakim's death and was then deported to Babylon in 598. 
From that time on, through all the remainder of Nebuchadnezzar's long 
reign, he had been imprisoned in Babylon. But now he was not only 
released, but given a pension from the royal treasury for the rest of his 
life and a standing superior to all the other captive princes in 

This was in 562, and many Jewish hearts must already have begun 
to beat with fresh hope, as the old loyalty to David's house flamed up, 
and the promises of a restoration recorded in the old Law and the 
Prophets were echoed by the prophet of the Exile, Ezekiel. This 
man, himself a priest by birth, had been carried to Babylon at the same 
time as Jehoiachin, and through all those years of doom had there 
preached to his countrymen, first to the portion exiled with him while 
Jerusalem still stood, but after 587 to the whole people united in a 
common catastrophe. His voice had even reached to Jerusalem, as 
he joined Jeremiah in reminding King Zedekiah of his oath to Neb- 
uchadnezzar. With the elevation of Jehoiachin and the stirring of 
the national hopes, Ezekiel became the prophet of hope. He pictures 
the breath of Jehovah stirring to life the dry bones in the valley of 
death. Ezek., ch. 37. And he warns the optimistic people that only 
as God takes away from them their old stony heart and gives them a 
heart of flesh, and sprinkles clean water upon them to cleanse them 
from their pollution through idolatry, can they be fit to form the new 
community wherein God shall indeed reign. Ch. 36 : 25, 26. What 
such a community might outwardly and visibly resemble, Ezekiel 
pictures in a long, detailed, descriptive vision wherewith his book 
closes. Chs. 40 to 48. 

Another outstanding Jew of the Exile was a man of an entirely dif- 
ferent type. Daniel, a noble youth carried away from Judah to Babylon 
at the first clash of Nebuchadnezzar's armies with the Jews, 605 b.c, 
and brought up at the court, succeeded through interpreting a dream of 
the king in attracting his notice and winning his favor, much as Joseph 
had done in ancient Egypt. Dan., ch. 2. From his position of political 


power, Daniel was able, doubtless, to minister to the interests of his 
brethren, the Jewish exiles. Possibly it is to him that Jehoiachin owed 
his astonishing reversal of fortune. At any rate Belshazzar, the last 
ruler of the Chaldean state, still maintained Daniel in power, in spite 
of the very solemn warning of ruin to that state which Daniel fearlessly 
pronounced. Ch. 5. When the Persians succeeded the Chaldeans as 
masters of Babylon, this Jewish statesman still held his high post, and 
retained it in spite of the bitter enmity of officials who used his Jewish 
faith as a handle against him. Ch. 6. In fact, there is no better way 
to understand the favor accorded the Jews by Cyrus, the Persian con- 
queror, and the edicts preserved in Ezra 1 : 2-4; 6 : 3-5, than by sup- 
posing that Daniel, who had the king's ear, brought to his attention 
the earlier prophecies of Jeremiah and of other spokesmen for Jehovah, 
God of the Jews. 

Certainly, however the affair was managed, it turned out entirely 
to the Jews' liking. All who were willing to return to Palestine were 
permitted and encouraged to go. They were assisted by the gifts of 
their brethren who could not, or would not, leave Babylon. They bore 
back with them the old vessels for the service of the sanctuary which 
Nebuchadnezzar had carried off. And, best of all, they took with them 
royal authority to erect the Temple of Jehovah on its ancient site, at 
the expense of the king of Persia, that is, out of taxes and tribute he re- 
mitted. At their head went a prince of the old royal house, and a high 
priest who was grandson of that high priest whom Nebuchadnezzar 
had executed half a century before. Their number totaled forty-two 
thousand three hundred and sixty, with enough slaves in addition to 
make the entire company number nearly fifty thousand. 

Their purpose was threefold: to reoccupy the Holy Land, to rebuild 
Jerusalem, and to erect a temple where Solomon's Temple had stood. 
We should be likely to rate the importance of these three objects in the 
same order as that in which they have just been named. But not so 
the believing Jew. It was above all else the sacred house of his God 
that he wanted to see restored, so that the prescribed sacrifices of the 
Law might be resumed, the nation's sin might thus be atoned for, and 
God might once more visibly dwell among his people. All else was in 
order to this one great end. The origin of Judaism, which lies in the 
movements of this time, cannot be understood unless this supreme 
motive is clearly grasped. Hoj\' Judaism developed under the new con- 
ditions will be the subject of the next lesson. 



1. What is meant by ''a Jew"? 

2. How did government of Hebrews by a Hebrew come to an end in 

Palestine for the first time since Saul's day? 

3. What was the first political event to arouse the exiled Jews from 

their depression? 

4. Compare Ezekiel and Daniel in their personality, position, and 


5. When Cyrus captured Babylon in 539, what did he do for the Jews, 

and how came he to do it? 

6. How many Jews returned to Palestine under Cyrus, and what was 

their uppermost motive? 

The Jewish State Under Persia 

Ezra, Chapters 3 to 10; Esther; Nehemiah; Haggai; 
Zechariah; Malachi 

For two centuries Judea, like the rest of western Asia, was under 
the domination of the Persians, whose great royal names, Cyrus, Darius, 
Xerxes, Artaxerxes, are familiar to every student of history. The Old 
Testament spans one of those two centuries of Persian rule, 539-430, 
while for the other century, 430-332, we are dependent for the little we 
know about the Jews upon some documents recently discovered in 
Egypt, an occasional notice in classical historians, and the brief nar- 
rative of Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first Christian century. 

Even in the century covered by the books of the Bible there are long 
stretches of silence separating periods that are fairly reported. First 
comes the time of Zerubbabel and Jeshua, the leaders, civil and religious, 
under whom the Jews returned and erected the Temple. This story 
carries us, though with a seventeen-year gap in its midst, from 538, 
the year after Cyrus took Babylon, to 515, the sixth year of Darius the 
Great, and is recorded in the first six chapters of the book of Ezra. To 
help us in understanding this time we have also the prophecies of 
Haggai and Zechariah, though the last six chapters of Zechariah belong 
to another age. 

After the completion of the new Temple the curtain falls on Judea 
and, save for a single verse, Ezra 4 : 6, we hear no more of it for fifty- 


seven years. However, the interesting story of Esther belongs in these 
years, for the Ahasuerus of the Bible is the Xerxes of Greek history — 
that vain, fickle, and voluptuous monarch who was beaten at Salamis 
and Plataea. The Jews must have been a part of the vast host with 
which he crossed from Asia to Europe. But the drama unfolded in the 
book of Esther was played far from Palestine, at Susa, the Persian 

With the seventh year of the next reign — that of Artaxerxes I — the 
curtain rises again on Judea, as we accompany thither the little band of 
Jews whom Ezra, the priestly "scribe," brought back with him from 
Babylonia to Jerusalem. This account is found in the last four chapters 
of the book of Ezra, most of it in the form of personal reminiscences 
covering less than one year. 

The curtain falls again abruptly at the end of Ezra's memoirs, and 
rises as abruptly on Nehemiah's memoirs at the beginning of the book 
which bears his name. But there is every reason to believe that the 
letters exchanged between the Samaritans and the Persian court, pre- 
served in the fourth chapter of Ezra, belong to this interval of thirteen 
years between the two books of Ezra and Nehemiah. For this alone can 
explain two riddles: first, who are "the men that came up from thee unto 
Jerusalem," Ezra 4 : 12, if they are not Ezra and his company, ch. 7? 
And second, what else could explain the desolate condition of Jerusalem 
and Nehemiah's emotion on learning of it, Neh. 1 : 3, if not the mischief 
wrought by the Jews' enemies when "they went in haste to Jerusalem," 
armed with a royal injunction, and "made them to cease by force and 
power"? Ezra 4 : 23. 

Some persons are inclined to date the prophet Malachi at just this 
time also, shortly before Nehemiah's arrival. But it is probably better 
to place the ministry of this last of the Old Testament prophets at the 
end of Nehemiah's administration. Nehemiah's points of contact with 
Malachi are most numerous in his last chapter, ch. 13, in which he writes 
of his later visit to Jerusalem. Compare Neh. 13 : 6 with ch. 1:1. 

In Cyrus' reign the great Return was followed immediately by the 
erection of an altar and the resumption of sacrifice. Preparations for 
rebuilding the Temple, however, and even the laying of the corner 
stone, proved a vain beginning, as the Samaritans, jealous of the new- 
comers and angered by their own rebuff as fellow worshipers with the 
Jews, succeeded in hindering the prosecution of the work for many 
years. Ezra 3 : 1 to 4 : 5. 


It was not until the second j'ear of Darius' reign, 520, nearly two 
decades later, that the little community, spurred out of their selfish- 
ness and lethargy by Haggai and Zechariah, arose and completed the 
new Temple, in the face of local opposition but with royal support. 
Ch. 4 : 24 to 6 : 15. 

Fifty-seven years later, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes, 458, 
came Ezra with some fifteen hundred men, large treasures, and sweep- 
ing privileges confirmed by a royal edict, the text of which he has 
preserved in the seventh chapter of his book. He was given the king's 
support in introducing the Law of God as the law of the land, binding 
upon all its inhabitants, whom he was to teach its contents and punish 
for infractions of it. How Ezra used his exceptional powers in carrying 
out the reform he judged most needed — the dissolution of mLxed mar- 
riages between Jew and Gentile forbidden by the Law — is told in detail 
in his own vivid language in chs. 9, 10. It helps us to understand 
Malachi's zeal in this same matter. Mai. 2 : 11. And the difl&culty of 
this reform appears also from Nehemiah's memoirs, since the same 
abuse persisted twenty-five years after Ezra fought it. Neh. 13 : 23-27. 

After the failure to fortify Jerusalem recorded in Ezra 4 : 8-23, 
Nehemiah, a Jew in high station and favor at Artaxerxes' court, ob- 
tained from his king a personal letter, appointing him governor of 
Judea for a limited time, with the special commission to rebuild the 
walls and gates of Jerusalem. The same bitter hostility which the 
Samaritans and other neighbors in Palestine throughout had shown 
toward the returned Jews, reached its climax in the efforts of Sanballat 
and others in public and private station to hinder Nehemiah's purpose. 
But with great energy and bravery, and with a personal appeal and 
example that swept all into the common stream of patriotic service, 
Nehemiah built the ruined walls and gates in fifty-two days, instituted 
social reforms, ch. 5, and imposed a covenant on all the people to obey 
the Law which Ezra read and expounded. Chs. 8 to 10. Elements in 
the little nation that joined with his enemies to discredit and even to 
assassinate him were banished or curbed. The origin of the peculiar 
sect of the Samaritan is connected with Nehemiah through his rigor 
in banishing a grandson of the high priest who had married Sanballat's 
daughter. This disloyalty of the priesthood is also one of Malachi's 
chief indictments against his nation, and the basis of his promise that 
a great reformer, an "Elijah," should arise to prepare the sinful people 
for the coming of their God. 



1. How long after the Return was the Temple finished? Who hindered? 

Who helped? 

2. What are the scene and the date of the book of Esther? 

3. Compare the return of the Jews to Jerusalem under Ezra with that 

under Zerubbabel (a) in date, (6) in numbers, (c) in purpose and result. 

4. Tell the story of Nehemiah : the occasion of his return, his enemies, 

his achievements. In what did Ezra help him? 

5. Associate the ministry of the three prophets of this period after the 

Exile with the leaders and movements they respectively helped. 

Israel's Religious Life 

It has often been said that while civilization owes its art and letters 
to Greece and its law and order to Rome, it owes its religion and ethicS 
to Palestine. This is true, within limits, provided we understand that 
what Israel contributed was not the product of its "native genius for 
religion," but was due to the persistent grace of its God, who took this 
"fewest of all peoples" and made of it the custodian of his revelation 
and the cradle of his redemption for the whole world. When, however, 
the Hebrew claimed preeminence through these two things, a saving 
God and a righteous Law, it was no idle boast. So Moses eloquently 
asks in Deuteronomy: "What great nation is there, that hath a god 
so nigh unto them, as Jehovah our God is whensoever we call upon him? 
And what great nation is there, that hath statutes and ordinances so 
righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?" Deut. 4 : 7, 8. 

Religion as developed in Israel had two sides, an inward and an 
outward. On its inward side it consisted of a faith in Jehovah cherished 
in the hearts of the people, together with the sentiments of reverence 
and love, and the purposes of loyalty and consecration, which grew out 
of that faith. On its outward side religion consisted of certain objects 
and ceremonies, adapted to express by act and symbol the relation be- 
tween God and his people. 

But there is also another distinction often made in speaking of re- 
ligion, the distinction between individual religion and national religion. 
Each member of the Hebrew nation held a personal relation to his God. 
The Law of God addressed him individually as it said to him, "Thou 


shalt not." And, on a still higher level, Moses summed up that Law for 
him in these memorable words, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with 
all thy heart." Yet the entire body of Israel, as such, held a relation to 
God which his spokesmen are continually trying to illustrate and en- 
rich by all sorts of figures. God is Israel's "Rock," "Possessor" or 
"Purchaser," "Redeemer," "Father" — until Isaiah can even say to the 
nation, "Thy Maker is thy husband," and Hosea and Ezekiel can por- 
tray God's dealings with Israel under the allegory of a marriage. 

It would be a mistake, however, to suppose that all the inward re- 
ligion was individual and all the outward religion national. There was 
provision in the ceremonial law, not only for sacrifices on a national 
scale, like those of the day of atonement, but also for each man to ex- 
press outwardly his own penitence or devotion or gratitude or obliga- 
tion to God by means of a personal sacrifice, publicly offered but pri- 
vately planned and provided. And, on the other hand, the psalms and 
the prophets cannot be understood, unless we realize the general re- 
ligious life of the nation that lies back of these highly individual forms 
of expression. That was why, when David thinking of himself could 
write, "The Lord is my shepherd," the whole people could take that 
sentence and the psalm it begins for use in public worship as the col- 
lective expression of Israel's trust in its God. 

The great fact of sin is responsible for the perversion of the true 
relation between these different varieties of religious life. In theorj', 
every symbolic object and action at tabernacle or Temple was merely 
the outward expression of an inward idea or feeling or resolve. Every 
smoking sacrifice on the altar was supposed to come from an offerer 
drawing near to God in the sincere belief "that he is, and that he is a 
rewarder of them that seek after him." Heb. 11 : 6. But in fact the 
offerer was in constant danger of looking upon all the gifts and victims 
he brought as so many bribes with which he might buy the favor of an 
offended God, or, worse still, might obtain an "indulgence" to do some 
evil deed he planned. This is what Jeremiah means when he cries, 
"Will ye steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely . . . 
and come and stand before me in this house, which is called by my 
name, and say, We are delivered; that ye may do all these abomina- 
tions?" Jer. 7 : 9, 10. 

If the private worshiper was in danger of abusing the worship of 
God in this way, how much more was the priest, the professional sac- 
rificer and celebrant, in danger of looking upon all his duties as a kind 


of authorized magic! "Do this external act, and that inward benefit 
will surely follow." "Offer this lamb, and cease to think about that 
black sin for which the lamb is the official price." Yes, even this: 
"Go and do it again, but don't forget to bring another lamb!" Is it 
any wonder that at length Malachi, after lashing the priests of his late 
day for their laziness, cynicism, and greed, cries out in Jehovah's name, 
"Oh that there were one among you that would shut the doors [of the 
Temple], that ye might not kindle fire on mine altar in vain!" Mai. 1 : 10. 

All along the course of Hebrew history we find prophets and psalm- 
ists protesting against this sinful perversion of ceremonial religion. 
See for example I Sam. 15 : 22; Ps. 40 : 6-8; 50; Isa. 1 : 10-17; Micah 
6 : 6-8. 

And yet it would be a mistake to say that the prophet stood for 
pure and spiritual religion, and the priest for merely external, formal 
religion. Some of the greatest of the prophets, as Jeremiah, Ezekiel, 
Zechariah, were priests. And how far the prophets could become pro- 
fessional declaimers and deceivers may be seen, for example, from 
Micah 3 : 5-8. 

The Hebrew prophets, notably Amos and Hosea, are sometimes 
represented as the "inventors" of "ethical monotheism," that is, of 
religion as consisting in the worship of one God, who is the moral ideal 
of man and demands moral living in man. But in fact, that is precisely 
the basis of all genuine Old Testament religion, from the very begin- 
ning. See Heb., ch. 11. And, particularly, that is the basis of the entire 
Law, even of the ceremonial law. For that Law must not be judged by 
its sinful abuse, but by the principles of righteousness, holiness, re- 
pentance, and fellowship that underlie every article in the sanctuary, 
every sacrifice on the altar, every rite prescribed and observance com- 
manded. At their best the priests were allies of the true prophets, and 
external religion as centering in the Temple was for the time a fitting 
expression of Israel's personal and national faith. If it had not been 
so, then such psalms as Psalms 24, 42, 65, 84, 122 could never have 
been written, preserved, and used. 


1. What ground had Israel for "glorying"? See Rom. 9 : 4, 5. 

2. Give illustrations to show that individual as well as national re- 

ligion in Israel expressed itself externally, and that spiritual as 


well as ceremonial religion belonged to both the nation and the 

3. What sinful abuse of sacrifice were the prophets constantly attack- 

ing? Did they thereby condemn Temple, altar, priesthood, and 
ceremonial law in themselves? 

4. Were all the prophets spiritually minded, or all the priests merely 

''professional"? Give instances from history of alliances between 
prophets and priests. 

"The Coming One" 

The Old Testament points forward. The whole impression it leaves 
upon us is that of an unfinished thing. Its history moves toward a 
goal outside of itself. Its religion is a religion of expectation. All its 
institutions are typical, that is, they represent more than themselves, 
because they belong to a larger order of things which appears imper- 
fectly in them. 

In the last lesson we saw how priest and prophet had their own 
place in Israel. But both priest and prophet also typified a perfect 
priesthood and a perfect prophecy, to be realized under ideal conditions 
which were never present in those times. When, for example, Aaron 
made atonement for the sins of the nation once each year, as provided 
in Lev., ch, 16, he had to present first the blood of the bullock which 
was the sin offering for himself, before he presented the blood of the 
goat which was the sin offering for the people. But ideally, in his posi- 
tion as mediator between God and the sinful people, he was a sinless 
man; the blood of the bullock and the pure, white garments he put on 
were supposed to indicate that he was sinless for the moment. Noth- 
ing could be clearer than that he typified a perfect high priest for God's 
people, who should be really a sinless man — one who needed no mechan- 
ism of altar, victim, and dress to make him pure from personal sin. 
See Heb., chs. 5 to 10, especially ch. 7 : 26-28. 

Again Moses looks forward to the realization in the future of the 
ideal communication between God and his people typified in the 
prophet. "A prophet," says he, "Jehovah thy God will raise up unto 
thee." "From the midst of thee, like unto me." Deut. 18 : 15-19. 
This ideal prophet will perfecftly hear and perfectly transmit divine 


truth to men. It was on the basis of this promise that many persons 
described our Lord as ''the prophet," meaning thereby that perfect 
prophet promised by Moses. John 1 : 21, 25; 7 : 40. 

But there was another institution of Old Testament times which 
more than prophet or priest was associated in the people's minds with 
the ideal future. This was kingship. God himself was theoretically 
King — sole King — of Israel. Isa. 33 : 22. But at the entreaty of his 
sinful and harassed people he instructed Samuel to "make them a 
king." And while Samuel warned them of the evils which the monarchy 
would bring with it because of the sinfulness of the men who should 
be king, he nevertheless set up a throne that by its very nature was 
unique. The king of Israel was in a peculiar sense the representative of 
Jehovah. He ruled for God. He was his own "anointed," set apart 
for the exercise of supreme authority over God's people on earth and 
entitled to their religious as well as patriotic devotion. See, for ex- 
ample. Psalms 21, 101. 

After the failure of Saul to obey God's instructions, Samuel anointed, 
at God's dictation and against his own human judgment, David the 
son of Jesse. This man proved himself, not indeed sinless nor the ideal 
king, but a man after God's heart. Acts 13 : 22, because his dominant 
purpose was to do God's will. To David therefore was given the re- 
markable promise contained in II Sam., ch. 7. In a word, this promise 
was an irrevocable, eternal "covenant," granting sovereignty to David's 
"house" — that is, his posterity considered as a unit — over God's 
Kingdom on earth. 

The story of how men came to understand better and better the 
vastness of this covenant, which Isaiah calls "the sure mercies of 
David," ch. 55 : 3, forms the subject of that special Old Testament 
study called ' ' Messianic Prophecy . " In the psalms and in the prophecies 
we are able to trace a growing faith, that by an ideal king of David's 
line Jehovah will finally work his long delayed will in and through 
Israel. This Person is commonly called "the Messiah," because 
"Messiah" means "Anointed." Its Greek equivalent is "the Christ." 
While other persons also were anointed with oil when they assumed 
office, kings were always so anointed and the idea belongs peculiarly 
to kingship. By the time our Lord appeared, no other side of the 
work which this ideal, promised, longed-for Coming One was to do, 
was so prominent as that of ruling for God as the King of Israel. For 
this reason Jesus of Nazareth is known to all who believe in his claims 


as "the Christ," and such believers are thence called "Christians." 
This title of Christ connects Jesus with the line of David, to which he 
actually belonged by descent, and it also connects him with the promise 
to David, of which he was the heir and the fulfillment. 

We have thus seen that "the Coming One," Luke 7 : 19; John 11 : 27, 
toward whom the eyes of Israel were directed, was to be prophet, priest, 
and king. In all these offices and the various duties they involved he 
was to be the one chosen from among the people — a man therefore, 
"servant of the servants of God." Yet this is not all. Alongside these 
promises there was a promise also that Jehovah himself would come to 
dwell among his people. The Holy of Holies, with its Ark of the Pres- 
ence and its Mercy seat for revelation and atonement, was itself typical 
of an ideal presence of God among men. And through psalm and 
prophet we can trace this promise also. Now it is terrible with its 
threat to sinners, and now it is glorious with its hope for the oppressed. 
At length in Malachi we read in the clearest words, "The Lord, whom 
ye seek, will suddenly come to his temple." Mai. 3 : 1, 5. Preceded 
by his "messenger" to "prepare the way before him," Israel's divine 
Lord himself is to come for judgment and salvation. See also Ps. 
96 : 13; 98 : 9. 

It was not made so plain to the men of ancient Israel just how these 
two lines of promise were to be united, as it appears to us now in the 
light of later facts. But we, who worship Jesus of Nazareth not only 
as "Son of David according to the flesh," but as divine Lord from 
heaven, "in two distinct natures and one person for ever," can look 
back on those old prophecies of "men who spake from God, being moved 
by the Holy Spirit." II Peter 1:21. We can see in them God's purpose 
to make this great Son of David a true "Immanuel," Isa. 7 : 14 — a 
Person in whom God actually is "%vith us." God gave to him such 
names as "Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, 
Prince of Peace," because he should really be all that these names 
imply. Isa. 9 : 6. For the Child who was born in little Bethlehem, the 
"city of David," was not merely one who should be "ruler in Israel," 
but also one "whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting." 
Micah 5:2. 


1. How did the priests and prophets in Israel point forward to an 
ideal Priest and Prophet? 


2. What was the relation of Israel's king to Jehovah? In whose "house" 

was this office made eternal? In what Person has this promise 
been fulfilled? 

3. How was the promise that God himself should be "the Coming 

One" consistent with the promise of a human Prophet, Priest, and 
King? Where is it indicated in the Old Testament that both 
promises might be fulfilled in one Person? 


The Life of Christ and the Development of 
the Church in New Testament Times 

By John Gresham Machen, D.D. 

The Preparation 

At the time when the Old Testament narrative closes, the Jews were 
under the rule of Persia. The Persian control continued for about one 
hundred years more, and then gave way to the empire of Alexander the 
Great. Alexander was king of Macedonia, a country to the north of 
Greece; but the language and culture of his court were Greek. After 
Greece proper had been conquered by Alexander's father, Philip, 
Alexander himself proceeded to the conquest of the East. The Persian 
Empire fell in 331 b.c, and with the other Persian possessions Jeru- 
salem came into the hands of the conqueror. In 323 b.c, when Alex- 
ander died, his vast empire, which extended around the eastern end 
of the Mediterranean Sea and to the borders of India, at once fell to 
pieces. But the kingdoms into which the empire was divided were to 
a large extent Greek kingdoms. Short-lived, therefore, as Alexander's 
empire was, it had the permanent efifect of spreading the Greek lan- 
guage and Greek civilization over the Eastern world. It became thus, 
as will be seen, one of the most important factors in the divine prepara- 
tion for the gospel. 

After the death of Alexander, the country of Judea became a bone 
of contention between two of the kingdoms into which Alexander's empire 
was divided — the Greek kingdom of Syria and the Greek kingdom of 
Egypt. At last, however, the Syrian kingdom, with its capital at Antioch, 
near the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea, gained the 
upper hand. Judea became part of the territory of the Syrian monarchs. 

In the reign of Antiochus IV of Syria, called Antiochus Epiphanes, 
175-164 B.C., the Jews began a war for independence. Antiochus 
Epiphanes had desecrated the Temple at Jerusalem by setting up an 
image of a heathen god in the Holy of Holies. The result was the glori- 
ous revolt of the Jews under Mattathias and his sons — the family of the 
Maccabees. The Maccabean uprising, of which a stirring account has 
been preserved in the First Book of the Maccabees, an apocryphal 
book attached to the Old Testament, certainly constitutes one of the 
most glorious chapters in the history of liberty. The uprising was 
successful, and for about one hundred years the little country of the 



Jews, though surrounded by powerful neighbors, succeeded in main- 
taining its independence. 

At first the Maccabees had been animated by a rehgious motive; the 
revolt had been due not to an interference with what may be called 
civil liberty, but to the desecration by Antiochus Epiphanes of the 
Temple and to the attempt at prohibiting the worship of Jehovah. 
As time went on, however, the Maccabean rulers became more worldly 
in their purposes and thus alienated the devout element among their 
people. Hence the little kingdom became an easy prey to the next 
great world empire which appeared upon the scene. 

That empire was the empire of Rome. Originally a small city-state 
in Italy, Rome had gradually extended her conquests until she came into 
conflict with Greece and with the Greek kingdoms of the Eastern world. 
Weakened by many causes, the successors of Alexander soon suc- 
cumbed, and among them the monarchs of Syria. Judea could not 
resist the new conqueror. In 63 b.c, the famous Roman general, 
Pompey, entered Jerusalem, and Jewish independence was at an end. 

The Roman control was exerted in Palestine for a time through sub- 
servient high priests, until in 37 B.C. Herod the Great was made 
king. Herod was not a real Jew, but an Idumaean; and at heart he had 
little or no attachment to the Jews' religion. But he was wise enough 
not to offend Jewish feeling in the outrageous way that had proved so 
disastrous to Antiochus Epiphanes. Throughout his reign Herod was 
of course thoroughly subservient to the Romans; though a king, he 
was strictly a vassal king. Herod reigned from 37 b.c. to 4 b.c. His 
kingdom embraced not only Judea, but all Palestine. It was near the 
end of Herod's reign that our Saviour was born. Thus the reckoning 
of the Christian era, which was instituted many centuries after Christ, 
is at least four years too low; Jesus was born a little earlier than 4 b.c. 

When Pompey conquered Jerusalem in 63 b.c, Rome was still a 
republic. But before many years had elapsed Julius Caesar assumed 
the supreme power, and the ancient Roman liberties were gone. After 
the assassination of Caesar in 44 b.c, there was a long period of civil 
war. Finally Augustus was triumphant, and the Roman Empire began. 
In the long reign of Augustus, 27 b.c to a.d. 14, our Saviour was born. 

The political events which have just been outlined did not take place 
by chance. They were all parts of the plan of God which prepared for 
the coming of the Lord. When Jesus finally came, the world was pre- 
pared for his coming. 


In the first place, the Roman Empire provided that peace and unity 
which was needed for the spread of the gospel. War interrupts com- 
munication between nations. But when the apostles went forth from 
Jerusalem to spread the good news of Christ to the world, there was no 
war to interrupt their course. Nation was bound to nation under the 
strong hand of Rome. Travel was comparatively safe and easy, and 
despite occasional persecution the earliest missionaries usually enjoyed 
the protection of Roman law. 

In the second place, the Greek language provided a medium of com- 
munication. When the Romans conquered the Eastern world, they 
did not endeavor to substitute their own language for the language 
which already prevailed. Such an attempt would only have produced 
confusion. Indeed, the Romans themselves adopted the Greek language 
as a convenient medium of communication. Greek thus became a 
world language. The original, local languages of the various countries 
continued to be used (Aramaic, for example, was used in Palestine), 
but Greek was a common medium. Thus when the apostles went forth 
to the evangelization of the w^orld, there were no barriers of language to 
check their course. 

In the third place, the dispersion of the Jews provided the early 
missionaries everyw^here with a starting point for their labors. As a 
result not only of captivity, but also of voluntary emigration, the Jews 
in the first century were scattered abroad throughout the cities of 
the w^orld very much as they are scattered to-day. But there was one 
important difference. To-day the Jewish synagogues are attended 
only by Jews. In those days they were attended also by men of other 
races. Thus when Paul and the other Christian missionaries exercised 
their privilege of speaking in the synagogues, they were speaking not 
only to Jews but also to a picked audience of Gentiles. 


1. Name in order the foreign powers which possessed the country of 

the Jews, beginning with Old Testament times and continuing 
down to the present day. 

2. W^hat was the importance of the Maccabean uprising in the prepara- 

tion for the coming of the Lord? What would have happened if 
Antiochus Epiphanes had been successful? 

3. What was the importance of the Roman Empire for the spread of 

the gospel? of the Greek language? of the dispersion of the Jews? 


The Coming of the Lord 

John 1: 1-18 

When the Son of God came to earth for our salvation, the world was 
ready for his coming. The whole course of history had been made to 
lead up to him. And he was well worthy of being thus the goal of 
history. For the One who came was none other than the eternal Son of 
God, the Word who was with God and who was God. He had existed 
from all eternity; he had been the instrument in creating the world. 
He was himself truly God, the same in substance with the Father, and 
equal in power and glory. Yet the One who was so great humbled him- 
self to be born as a man and finally to suffer and die. His coming was 
a voluntary act, an act of the Father in giving him for the sins of the 
world, and his own act which he performed because he loved us. It 
was an act of infinite condescension. The Son of God humbled himself 
to lead a true human life; he took upon himself our nature. He was 
born, he grew in wisdom and stature, he suffered, he died. He was 
always God, but he became also man. Who can measure the depth of 
such condescending love? 

What, then, was the manner of his coming? The story is told, in 
beautiful narrative, in the first two chapters of Matthew and Luke. 

Luke 1 : 5-25, 57-80 

First, the birth of John the Baptist, the forerunner, was announced 
by the angel Gabriel to Zacharias, a devout priest, as he was ministering 
in the Temple. Luke 1 : 5-25. Zacharias was old; he had given up 
hope of children. The promise seemed to him too wonderful to be true; 
he doubted the angel's word. But the punishment which was inflicted 
upon him for his doubt was temporary merely, and the bitterness of it 
was swallowed up in joy for the child that was born. The tongue of 
Zacharias, which had been dumb on account of his sin, was loosed, and 
he uttered a wonderful song of praise. Vs. 57-80. 

Luke 1:26-56 

But before John was born, in fulfillment of the angel's promise, 
there was a promise of a greater than John. Luke 1 : 26-56. "The 


angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 
to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house 
of David; and the virgin's name was Mary." It was a far more won- 
derful promise than that which had come to Zacharias, not only be- 
cause of the greater glory of the promised Son, but also because of the 
mystery of his birth. The child was to have no human father, but was 
to be given by the power of the Holy Spirit. But this time, despite 
the strangeness of the promise, there was no unbelief, as in the case of 
Zacharias. "Behold, the handmaid of the Lord," said Mary; "be it 
unto me according to thy word." And then Mary went to Judea to visit 
her kinswoman Elisabeth, the wife of Zacharias; and while in Judea she 
gave glorious expression to her thanksgiving in the hymn which is called, 
from the first word of it in the Latin translation, the "Magnificat" — 
"My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God 
my Saviour." Then Mary returned to her own home in Nazareth. 

Matthew 1:18-25 

But another announcement of the Saviour's birth was made to 
Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary. Matt. 1 : 18-25. Joseph was to 
have the high privilege of caring for the child that was to be born. 
"Fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife," said the angel to Joseph 
in a dream, "for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit." 
And here again, there was no unbelief and no disobedience. Joseph 
"did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took unto him his 

Luke 2: 1-7 

Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth, a town of the northern part of 
Palestine, which was called Galilee. But the promised Child was to 
belong to the house of David, and it was fitting that he should be born 
at Bethlehem, a Httle to\NTi five miles south of Jerusalem where David 
himself had been bom. To cause him to be born at Bethlehem, God 
made use of an event of world politics. Luke 2 : 1-7. A decree had 
gone out from the emperor, Augustus, that the whole empire should 
be enrolled. This enrollment or census seems to have been carried out 
in the kingdom of Herod the Great by the Jewish method which took 
account of family relationships. So, although at the time Joseph and 
Mary were living at Nazareth, they went up to the home of Joseph's 
ancestors, to Bethlehem, to be enrolled. And at Bethlehem the Saviour 


was born. There was no room in the lodging place. The Child was 
laid, therefore, in a manger that was intended for the feeding of cattle. 

Luke 2:8-20 

But humble as were the surroundings of the newborn King, his 
birth was not without manifestations of glory. Luke 2 : 8-20. Shep- 
herds, keeping watch in the fields by night, heard a multitude of the 
heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, 
and on earth peace among men in whom he is well pleased." The 
shepherds went then to see the sign which had been made knoAvn to 
them. It was a strange sign indeed — Christ the Lord, the promised 
King, wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger! 

Luke 2:21-38; Matthew 2: 1-12 

Forty days after the birth of Jesus, Joseph and Mary made the 
offering according to the Old Testament law, and presented the Child, 
as the first-born, to the Lord in the Temple at Jerusalem. Luke 2:21- 
38. Then they must have returned to Bethlehem, for it was at Beth- 
lehem that gifts were presented by Wise Men from the East. Matt. 
2 : 1-12. The Wise Men had been guided to Bethlehem partly by a 
wonderful star which they had first seen in their own country, and partly 
by questions which were answered by the scribes. 

Matthew 2: 13-23 

But the life of the infant Saviour was not all to be a hearing of angels' 
songs and a reception of gold and frankincense and myrrh. The Lord 
had come to suffer for the sins of the world, and the last great suffering 
on the cross was anticipated by the persecution which came in the 
early days. Matt. 2 : 13-18. The suspicions of Herod, the jealous 
king, had been aroused by the questions of the Wise Men. He sent to 
Bethlehem to put a possible rival out of the way. But it was too late. 
The king's rage was vented upon the innocent children of the little town, 
but God had cared for the infant Saviour. The Lord was finally to die 
for the sins of the world. But meanwhile many words of wisdom and 
grace were to fall from his lips; his hour was not yet come. Joseph 
was warned of God in a dream, and took the young Child and his 
mother away to Egypt, out of the way of harm, until Herod the Great 
was dead. Then they returned to Nazareth, where the Child was to 
spend long, quiet years of preparation for his work. 



1. What life had our Saviour Hved before he came to earth? Did he 

cease to be God while he was on earth? 

2. Why did he come? 

3. Who was his forerunner? What sort of persons were the parents of 

the forerunner? 

4. How did Jesus come to be born at Bethlehem? 

5. What was the character of his mother? 

The Baptism 

Luke 2:40-50 

The New Testament tells very little about the boyhood and early 
manhood of our Saviour. One incident, however, is narrated. Luke 
2 : 41-50. Joseph and Mary, we are told, were in the habit of going 
up from Galilee to Jerusalem every year in the spring at the feast of 
the passover. When Jesus was twelve years old, he went up with 
them. But when they left Jerusalem on the return, Jesus remained 
behind in the Temple, to study the Old Testament; and when Joseph 
and Mary found him, he replied to their inquiries, "Knew ye not that I 
must be about my Father's business?" The incident shows the presence 
even in the human consciousness of the boy Jesus of a knowledge of the 
great mission that he was called to fulfill and of his special relation 
to God. 

Luke 2:51, 52 

But the consciousness of these great things did not prevent our 
Saviour from performing the humble tasks of daily life and from being 
obedient to his human parents. Luke 2 : 51, 52. Jesus became a car- 
penter, and since Joseph also was a carpenter, no doubt Jesus learned 
the trade in early youth. Mark 6:3; Matt. 13 : 55. For many years, 
till he was about thirty years old, the Saviour of the world labored at 
the carpenter's bench, and lived as an obedient son in a humble home 
at Nazareth. Luke 3 : 23. 

At last, however, the time came for the beginning of his public 
ministry. Before that ministry is studied, it may be well to cast a 
glance at the condition of the country into which Jesus now came 


When Herod the Great died in 4 b.c, his dominions were divided 
among his three sons. Archelaus received Judea, the southern part 
of Palestine, with Jerusalem as its chief city; Herod Antipas, the 
"Herod" who is mentioned in the Gospels in connection with Jesus' 
public ministry, received Galilee and a district to the east of the Jordan 
River called Perea; and Philip received a region lying to the east of 
Galilee and to the north of Perea. When Archelaus was banished in 
A.D. 6, his territory was placed under the control of Roman officials 
called procurators. The procurator who was in office during Jesus' 
public ministry was Pontius Pilate. Herod Antipas, with the title of 
"tetrarch," continued to rule until a.d. 39; Philip until about a.d. 33. 
The public ministry of Jesus extended from a.d. 26 or 27 to a.d. 29 or 
30. During most of that time he was in the territory of Herod Antipas 
and of Pontius Pilate, though occasionally he entered the territory of 

Matthew 3: 1-12, and Parallels 

The beginning of Jesus' public ministry was prepared for by the work 
of John the Baptist. Matt. 3 : 1-12, and parallels. John was the last 
and greatest prophet of the old dispensation, who came just before the 
dawn of the new age. For centuries prophecy had been silent. But 
at last a prophet came in the spirit and power of Elijah to prepare the 
heart of the people for the promised Messiah. 

Even in dress and in manner of life, John was like a prophet of the 
olden time. His food was locusts and wild honey; he was clothed with 
a rough camel's-hair garment; and his preaching was carried on in the 
deserts. The substance of his message is summed up in the words, 
"Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." Matt. 3 : 2. 

The phrase, "kingdom of heaven," or "kingdom of God," was evi- 
dently familiar to the hearers of John, and the meaning of the phrase, 
up to a certain point, is perfectly clear. As the kingdom of Caesar is 
the place where Csesar bears rule, so the Kingdom of God is the place, 
or the condition, where God bears rule. In one sense, the whole uni- 
verse is the Kingdom of God, for nothing happens apart from God's 
will. But evidently John was using the phrase in some narrower sense; 
he meant by the Kingdom of God the condition where God's will is 
wrought out to completion, where the sinful disobedience which pre- 
vails in the world is banished and God is truly King. 

The Jews expected an age which should be under the perfect control 


of God. But they were surprised by what John the Baptist said about 
the requirements for entrance into that age. They had supposed that 
all Jews would have the blessing of the Kingdom, but John told them 
that only the righteous would be allowed to enter in. It was a startling 
message, since the hearers of John knew only too well that they did 
not possess the righteousness which was required. Repentance, there- 
fore, or cleansing from sin, was necessary. And the sign of cleansing 
was baptism. 

Matthew 3: 13 to 4: 11, and Parallels 

Among those who came to be baptized was Jesus of Nazareth. 
Matt. 3 : 13-15, and parallels. Jesus did not need to be baptized for 
his own sake, for he had no sin to be washed away. But his baptism 
was part of what he was doing for his people. Just as on the cross he 
received the punishment of sin, though there was no sin of his own, 
so in his baptism he represented the sinful people whom he came to save. 

When Jesus had been baptized, there was a wonderful event which 
was perceived not only by him but also by John the Baptist. Matt. 
3 : 16, 17, and parallels. The Holy Spirit descended upon him in the 
form of a dove, and there was a voice from heaven which said, 
"This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." This event 
marks the beginning of Jesus' public ministry as Messiah. He had 
been the Messiah already, and he had already possessed the Holy 
Spirit; but now the power of the Spirit impelled him to come forward 
definitely as the promised One. 

At the very beginning, however, there was temptation to be over- 
come. Matt. 4 : 1-11, and parallels. Jesus was led up from the deep 
Jordan Valley, where the baptism had taken place, into the wilderness 
on the heights. And there he was tempted. The temptation was based 
upon the holy experience which he had just received. The voice from 
heaven had designated Jesus as Son of God. *'If that be true," said 
the Tempter, "if thou art really Son of God, use thy power to obtain 
creature comfort, test out thy power by casting thyself down from a 
pinnacle of the Temple, obtain the immediate enjoyment of thy power 
by doing obeisance to me." The Devil quoted Scripture for his evil 
purpose. But Jesus did not need to repudiate the Scripture in order 
to refute him. The Holy Scriptures themselves contained a sufficient 
answer to every suggestion of the Evil One. The great victory was 
won. The Kingdom of the Messiah was not to be a worldly realm, and 


it was not to be won by worldly means. The path to the Messiah's 
throne led by the way of the cross. And that path our Saviour was 
willing to tread for our sakes. 


1. What is known about the boyhood and youth of Jesus? 

2. Describe the physical features and the political divisions of Pales- 

tine at the time of our Lord. Where was Jesus born, where did 
he spend his youth, and where was he baptized? 

3. What was the meaning of John's baptism? Why was Jesus baptized? 

4. What was the meaning of each of the three temptations, and how 

did Jesus overcome them? 

The Early Judean Ministry 

John 1 : 19-34 

After the temptation Jesus descended again into the Jordan Valley, 
where the baptism had taken place. There he received the testimony 
of John the Baptist. John 1 : 19-34. John had come not to perform a 
work of his own, but to be a witness to the greater One who was to 
follow. He put aside, therefore, all thoughts of personal ambition, 
declared plainly that he was not the Christ, and rejoiced when his 
disciples left him in order to follow the One whom he had come to 
announce. John had had revealed to him, moreover, not merely the 
fact that Jesus was the Saviour, but also something of the way in which 
the salvation was to be wrought. Jesus was to die, like a sacrificial 
lamb, for the sins of others. "Behold, the Lamb of God," said John to 
his disciples, "that taketh away the sin of the world!" 

John 1:35-51 

Two pairs of brothers, in those early days, left John to follow the 
Saviour. John 1 : 35-42. One pair consisted of Andrew and Peter; 
the other, no doubt, consisted of the two sons of Zebedee, James and 
John, although John, who wrote the Gospel in which this narrative is 
contained, has never mentioned his own name in his book. Two other 
men, besides these four, came to Jesus on the following day— Philip 
and Nathanael. Vs. 43-51. 


John 2: 1-11 

After the meeting with these six disciples, our Lord ascended again 
from the valley of the Jordan to the higher country of Galilee. And 
there, in the village of Cana, he wrought the first of his miracles. John 
2 : 1-11. He was a guest at a wedding feast, and when the wine ran 
out he supplied the lack by turning water into wine. Thereby he not 
only manifested his power, but also indicated the manner of his min- 
istry. He was not to be an austere person like John the Baptist, living 
far from the habitations of men. On the contrary, his ministry was, for 
those whom he came to win, a ministry of joy. He entered not merely 
into the sorrows, but also into the joys of men; the One who was to die 
for the sins of the world was also mlling to grace a marriage feast! 

John 2:12-22 

After a brief sojourn at Capernaum, on the shores of the Sea of 
GaUlee, where he was afterwards to carry on a large part of his min- 
istry, Jesus went southward to Jerusalem at passover time. At Jeru- 
salem his first recorded act was an act of stern rebuke. John 2 : 13-22. 
The Temple area was filled with the tables of those who sold the sheep 
and oxen and doves which were intended for sacrifice; the sacred 
precincts of God's house had been made a place of business. There 
was no hesitation on the part of Jesus; he made a scourge of cords and 
drove the traffickers out. It is a mistake to suppose that the wonder- 
ful gentleness of our Saviour or his gracious participation in innocent 
joys was any indication of weakness. Though always merciful to the 
penitent, Jesus could be indignant against blatant sinners; and the 
righteous anger of the Saviour was a terrible thing. 

John 2:23-25 

At Jerusalem Jesus won adherents because of the miracles which he 
wrought. But he was able to distinguish true devotion from that 
which was false. He "knew all men, . . . and needed not that any 
one should bear witness concerning man; for he himself knew what was 
in man." John 2 : 24, 25. 

John 3:1-15 

One example of this knowledge was afforded by the case of Nico- 
demus, John 3 : 1-15; Jesus knew what Nicodemus lacked. Nico- 


demus, a ruler of the Jews, came to Jesus by night, to discuss the sub- 
stance of what Jesus had been saying. But our Lord would not waste 
time with things that lay on the surface. He went straight to the heart 
of the matter, and said to Nicodemus, ''Ye must be born anew." V. 7. 
None of the learning, none of the worldly influence of Nicodemus 
would avail; true life could come only by a new birth, which all, rich 
and poor, learned and ignorant, must receive, and receive, not by their 
own efforts, but by the mysterious power of the Spirit of God. Jesus 
spoke, too, on that memorable night, of the sacrificial death which he 
himself was to die for the sins of men. "As Moses lifted up the serpent 
in the wilderness," he said, "even so must the Son of man be lifted up; 
that whosoever belie veth may in him have eternal life." 

John 3:22-30 

Then Jesus left Jerusalem, the capital, and carried on, through his 
disciples, a ministry of baptism in the country districts of Judea. 
John 3 : 22-30. He was thus engaging in a work which before had 
belonged peculiarly to John the Baptist. Some of John's disciples were 
perhaps inclined to be envious. But there was no envy in the heart 
of John himself. He had come not for his own sake but to be a wit- 
ness to Jesus as Messiah. And now he rejoiced in the growing promi- 
nence of Jesus. "The friend of the bridegroom," he said about him- 
self, "rejoices at the voice of the bridegroom. He must increase, but 
I must decrease." Vs. 29, 30, in substance. 

John 4:1-42 

When this early Judean ministry was over, Jesus went back to 
Galilee. On the way he passed through Samaria. John 4 : 1-42. 
The inhabitants of Samaria were not of pure Jewish race, and although 
they accepted the five books of Moses and looked for the coming of 
a Messiah, they did not accept all of the Old Testament. They were 
despised by the Jews. But even for the Samaritans, and for the most 
degraded among them, the Saviour had a message of hope. Wearied 
by his journey, our Lord was sitting by Jacob's well near the city of 
Sychar. When his disciples had gone into the city to buy food, a 
woman came to draw water at the well. For that woman it was a 
memorable hour. Jesus was willing to labor, and that in the midst 
of his weariness, for one sinful soul, as well as for all the multitudes 
that had crowded around him in Judea. The woman was of sinful 


life, and she could not hide her sin from Jesus But Jesus searched 
out her sin, not in order to condemn her, but in order to bring to her 
the message of salvation. Attracted, then, by what the woman had 
said, a number of the Samaritans came to Jesus and recognized him 
as the Messiah and as the Saviour of the world. 


1. Give an account of the testimony of John the Baptist to Jesus. 

How did John know that Jesus was the Messiah? 

2. What happened at Cana? Who, besides Jesus, was a guest at the 


3. Give an outhne of all the journeys of Jesus up to his passage through 


4. Give an account, fuller than the outline given, of the early Judean 

ministry. What did Jesus say when he was asked to give a sign? 

5. What is the meaning of the "new birth"? Is it still necessary to-day 

if a man is to be saved? How does it come? 

The Beginning of the Galilaean Ministry 

After passing through Samaria, Jesus arrived in Galilee, and it 
was in Galilee that a large part of his ministry was carried on. The 
Galilaean ministry is narrated for the most part by the first three 
Gospels, which are called Synoptic Gospels, whereas the Gospel Ac- 
cording to John deals more particularly with the work in Judea. 

Luke 4: 16-30 

After the healing of a nobleman's son, when Jesus was at Cana of 
Galilee, our Lord began his preaching in the Galilaean synagogues. 
Early in this period he went to Nazareth, the place where he had 
been brought up. Luke 4 : 16-30. But the pe^ople of Nazareth could 
not believe that the carpenter's Son whom they had known was really 
chosen by God to fulfill the glorious prophecies of Isaiah. When 
rebuked by Jesus they even desired to kill him. Thus did they illus- 
trate, to their own eternal loss, the words of Jesus that "No prophet 
is acceptable in his own country." 

Leaving Nazareth, our Lord went do-wTi and dwelt at Capernaum, 


making that city apparently the center of his work. But before the 
details of the Galilaean ministry are studied, it will be well to cast a 
hurried glance at the geographical features of the country where Jesus' 
ministry was carried on. 

The political divisions of Palestine have already been mentioned — 
Galilee in the north, under the tetrarch, Herod Antipas; Samaria 
and Judea to the south, under the Roman procurator, Pontius Pilate. 
But the physical features of the country do not correspond at all to 
the political divisions. Physically the country is divided into four 
narrow strips, each about one hundred and fifty miles long, running 
from north to south. The westernmost strip is the coastal plain, 
along the Mediterranean Sea, into which Jesus hardly went; then 
comes the low hill country, the "shephela"; then the highlands, upon 
which Jerusalem is situated, reaching an altitude of some 2500 feet 
above sea level. These central highlands of Palestine are broken 
by the plain of Esdraelon, in southern Galilee. A little to the north 
of this plain, in a hill country, lies the town of Nazareth. East of the 
central highlands is the deep valley of the Jordan River. The Jordan 
rises in the extreme north of Palestine, one of its sources being 
on the slopes of the lofty Mount Hermon; then flows southward to 
the lake called "the waters of Merom"; then, issuing from that lake, 
it flows, after a short course, into the Lake of Gennesaret, or Sea of 
Galilee, which is about twelve miles long; then, issuing from the Lake 
of Gennesaret, it flows southward, through a very deep valley to the 
Dead Sea, which has no outlet and is extremely salt. During most 
of its course the Jordan Valley lies far below the level of the sea, being 
on account of this peculiarity absolutely unique among the river valleys 
of the world. The Dead Sea is 1292 feet, and the Lake of Gennesaret 
682 feet, below sea level. It was on the shores of the Lake of Gennesaret 
that a large part of our Lord's ministry was carried on. Centuries 
of misrule have now ruined the country, but in those days GaUlee 
supported a large population. The shores of the lake, particularly, 
were lined with villages and towns. The work of our Lord was thus 
carried on amid "life's throng and press," though from time to time 
he sought out the desert places for rest and prayer. 

Matthew 4: 18-22, and Parallels 

At the beginning of the ministry on the shores of the Lake of Galilee, 
Jesus called the two pairs of brothers — Simon Peter and Andrew, and 


James and John. Matt. 4 : 18-22, and parallels. They had known 
Jesus before, and had devoted themselves to his service. But now 
they were commanded to show their devotion by leaving their ordinary 
occupation and becoming Jesus' permanent followers. 

Mark 1:21-39, and Parallels 

The Gospels give a vivid picture of a Sabbath which Jesus spent 
at Capernaum near the beginning of his Galiliean ministry. Mark 1 : 
21-34, and parallels. As usual, he went into the synagogue. Our 
Lord knew how to find God's handiwork in the flowers of the field; 
but he was not like those who think that the worship of God through 
nature is any substitute for the public worship of the Church. In 
the synagogue the people were astonished at Jesus' teaching: "He 
taught them as having authority, and not as the scribes." But 
they were also astonished at his power; he commanded even the un- 
clean spirits and they obeyed him. He was not merely a teacher, 
but also a healer; he brought not merely guidance, but also active help. 

After the synagogue service, Jesus went into the house of Simon 
and Andrew with James and John. In the house he healed Simon's 
wife's mother who was sick of a fever. Others had heard of the won- 
derful power of Jesus, and desired to be healed. But in order not to 
break the Sabbath, they waited until sunset, when the Jewish Sabbath 
was over. At sunset they brought to Jesus those who were sick and 
those who were possessed with demons, and Jesus put forth his divine 
power to heal. 

It had been a crowded, busy day. Our Lord must have been weary 
as night at last came. But even in such busy days, he took time to 
seek the source of all strength. A great while before the dawn he 
went out into a desert place and there prayed. Mark 1 : 35-39, and 

Matthew 9:1-8, and Parallels 

After a tour in the Galilaean synagogues, w4th both preaching and 
healing, our Lord returned to Capernaum. There, as is told in one 
of the vivid narratives of the Gospels, Jesus healed a paralytic. Matt. 
9 : 1-8, and parallels. The sick man could not be brought in by the 
door of the house because of the crowds. But he and his friends were 
not to be denied. The four friends who bore his couch lowered him 
through the roof into the place where Jesus was. They had found the 
Healer at last. But bodily healing was not the first gift which Jesus 


bestowed. "Son," said Jesus, "thy sins are forgiven." It was a strange 
physician indeed who could forgive sins. The scribes said that the 
word of Jesus was blasphemy. And so it was, unless Jesus himself 
were God. As a proof of his divine power, the Lord said also to the 
paralytic, "Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk." And so the man 
went away from the presence of the great Healer, whole in body and 
in mind. 


1. Describe the political and the physical divisions of Palestine. In 

what parts of the country was our Lord's ministry carried on? 
Where was Nazareth? Capernaum? Point out these places on 
a map. 

2. Describe the call of the four disciples. When and where had they 

followed Jesus before? What was their occupation? 

3. Give an account of the Sabbath in Capernaum that is described in the 

Gospels. What great divisions of Jesus' work were illustrated on 
that day? 

4. Describe the healing of the paralytic. What can be learned from 

this incident about the nature of Jesus' person? Why were the 
scribes offended? 

The Period of Popularity 

During the first part of the Gahla^an ministry, our Lord had the 
favor of the people. Great crowds followed him so that he could 
scarcely enter into a house. On one occasion he embarked in a little 
boat and put forth a short distance into the lake, so as to be able to 
speak to the throng on the shore. 

This popularity, it is true, was not universal. The common people 
heard Jesus gladly, but the official teachers were hostile. These teachers, 
who are called scribes, belonged for the most part to the sect of the 
Pharisees. At the time of Christ there were two chief parties among 
the Jews — the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The Sadducees were a 
worldly aristocracy, in possession of the high-priestly offices at Jerusa- 
lem, favored by the Romans, and satisfied with the existing political 
order. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were a strict Jewish party, 
insisted on a strict interpretation of the Mosaic Law, and added to 


the Law a great mass of oral *' tradition/" which ostensibly consisted 
of interpretation of the Law, but really meant an enormous and oppres- 
sive addition to it. The Pharisees were opposed to Jesus for at least 
two reasons. In the first place, they were envious of his success in 
teaching, which endangered their own position. In the second place, 
they were opposed to the contents of his teaching; he rejected their 
interpretation of the Law, and rebuked them for paying such atten- 
tion to the detailed rules which were set forth in their tradition as to 
forget the weightier matters of justice and mercy. 

The Conflict of Jesus with the Pharisees was precipitated particularly 
by the attitude of Jesus toward the Sabbath. The Sabbath controversy 
was carried on partly in Galilee and partly, John, ch. 5, during a visit 
of Jesus to Jerusalem. The Pharisees had developed for the preserva- 
tion of the Sabbath an elaborate set of rules which went far beyond 
what was set forth in the Old Testament. They were offended, there- 
fore, when Jesus refused to rebuke his disciples for plucking the ear.s 
of wheat on the Sabbath Day, and when he himself insisted on using 
the Sabbath to perform works of mercy like the healing of the man 
that had a withered hand. 

But for the present the opposition of the Pharisees was held in 
check by the favor which our Lord had among the people. 

This favor was due partly to the teaching of Jesus and partly to 
his miracles. He interpreted the Scriptures in a fresh, original way; 
''He taught as one having authority and not as their scribes." And 
he had power to heal every manner of disease and to cast out demons. 
It was no wonder that the crowds followed so wonderful a teacher. 

Matthew 4:17 

The Galilsean teaching of Jesus began with the proclamation of the 
Kingdom of God. The message sounded at first somewhat like the 
message of John the Baptist. Quite like John, Jesus came forward 
with the summons, ''Repent ye; for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." 
But the new teacher differed from John in the more complete account 
which he gave of the nature of the Kingdom, and especially in the 
central place in the Kingdom which he assigned to himself. 

Matthew, Chapters 5 to 7 

The nature of the Kingdom of God is set forth in the great dis- 
course of our Lord which is commonly called the Sermon on the Mount. 


Matt., chs. 5 to 7. Having gone up from the shores of the Sea of 
Galilee to the heights which surround the lake, our Lord taught his 
disciples what was to be the life of those who should have a part 
in the Kingdom of God. In one sense, the Kingdom lay altogether in 
the future; it would be ushered in with full power only at the end 
of the world. But in another sense, it was present already wherever 
there were those who were truly submitting their lives to Jesus. 

The Sermon on the Mount contains certain features which are 
fundamental in all of Jesus' teaching. 

In the first place, God is presented, in the Sermon on the Mount, 
as "Father." The fatherhood of God, in the teaching of Jesus, is some- 
times misunderstood. Jesus did not mean that God is Father of all 
men. God stands indeed to all men in a relation which is analogous 
to that of a father to his children; he cares for all, he makes his sun to 
rise upon all. Matt. 5 : 45. But in the teaching of Jesus and in the 
whole New Testament the lofty term, "Father," is reserved for a 
still more intimate relationship. So in the Sermon on the Mount 
the great world without is sharply distinguished from the company 
of Jesus' disciples; it is only the latter who can say, "Our Father which 
art in heaven." 

There was nothing narrow in such teaching; for although in Jesus' 
teaching the intimate relation of sonship toward God was offered 
only to those who should be of the household of faith, yet the door 
of the household of faith was open wide to all who would be willing 
to come in. Indeed Jesus himself died on the cross with the purpose 
of opening that door. Our Saviour did far more than teach men that 
they were already children of God; he came to make them children 
of God by his saving work. 

In the second place, the Sermon on the Mount tells what kind of 
life is led by those who should have entered into the Kingdom and 
been made the children of God. That life is far more than obedience 
to a set of external rules; the purity which Jesus demanded is a purity 
of the heart. The life in the Kingdom is also far removed from all 
pretense; the children of God engage in prayer and good works not 
to be seen by men but to be seen by God. Finally, the life in the 
Kingdom is a life of perfect trust; all anxious thought for the morrow is 
banished, since God will care for his children. 

One difficulty arises in the reading of the Sermon on the Mount. 
How can such an ideal be attained? It might be possible to obey a 


set of rules, like the rules of the Pharisees, but how is it possible for 
sinful men to attain purity of heart? The righteousness of the King- 
dom of heaven exceeds by far the "righteousness of the scribes and 
Pharisees." How can such righteousness be attained? 

The answer to this question was partly understood even by the 
first hearers of the Sermon on the Mount. The disciples of Jesus 
knew even then that Jesus alone could give them entrance into the 
Kingdom; they trusted in him already not merely as teacher but also 
as Saviour. But the answer to the question is far plainer to us; for 
we know the cross. The atoning death of Christ it was that gave men 
the kind of righteousness required for entrance into the Kingdom 
of God, for it gave them the righteousness of Christ himself. The 
significance of the cross was spoken of by our Lord even during his 
earthly ministry, but the full explanation of it was left to the apostles. 
The saving work of Jesus could be fully explained only after it had 
been done. 


1. What is the meaning of "the kingdom of God," in Jesus' teaching? 

2. Who were the Sadducees? Who were the Pharisees, and why were 

they opposed to Jesus? 

3. Give an outline of the Sermon on the Mount. 

The Turning Point 

The teaching of Jesus was carried on in various ways. Sometimes 
there were extended discourses like the Sermon on the Mount. On 
the other hand, much of the most precious teaching of our Lord is 
contained in brief sayings which were uttered in answer to some objec- 
tion or in view of some special situation. One other form of teaching 
requires special attention — namely, the parables. 

Mark 4: 1-34, and Parallels 

A parable is a narrative taken from ordinary life, but intended to 
teach some spiritual lesson. It differs from an allegory in that the 
application is not to be carried out in such detail. Ordinarily a parable 
teaches simply one lesson; there is only one point of similarity 


between the literal meaning of the parable and the deeper spiritual 
truth. Thus when our Lord compared God's answer to prayer with 
the answer which an unjust judge gives to an importunate widow, 
the details in the two cases are not intended to be similar; God is 
very different from the unjust judge. But there is one point of similarity 
— importunity does have its effect in both cases. 

The distinction between a parable and an allegory is not an absolute 
distinction, and sometimes the two shade into each other. Thus the 
parable of the Wicked Husbandmen, which Jesus uttered nearly at 
the close of his earthly ministry, partakes largely of the nature of 
allegory. The details to a considerable extent are significant — the 
wicked husbandmen represent the Jews and their leaders, the servants 
who were first sent represent the prophets, the son who was sent last 
represents Jesus himself. But many of Jesus' parables are parables 
pure and simple; they are not intended to be pressed in detail, but 
teach, each of them, some one lesson. 

The purpose of Jesus in using parables was twofold. In the first 
place the parables were not clear to those who did not wish to learn. 
In accordance with a principle of the divine justice, willful closing 
of the eyes to the truth brought an increase of darkness. But in the 
second place, to those who were willing to receive the truth, the parables 
were made gloriously plain; the figurative form of the teaching only 
served to drive the meaning home. 

The ministry of Jesus did not consist merely of teaching. Along 
with the teaching there went wonderful manifestations of divine power. 
These manifestations of divine power were of various kinds. Many 
of them were miracles of healing; Jesus had power to make the lame 
to walk, the dumb to speak, the deaf to hear. He also had power to 
cast out demons. At the presence of the Son of God, Satan and his 
ministers had put forth all their baneful power. But the demons 
were obliged to flee at Jesus' word. 

Matthew 8:23-27, and Parallels 

Not all of the miracles, however, were miracles of healing. Some 
of the most notable of them were of a different kind. But all of them 
were manifestations of Jesus' divine power. When, on the lake, in 
the midst of the frightened disciples, our Lord said to the winds and 
the waves, "Peace, be still," the Ruler of all nature was revealed. The 
particular form of Jesus' miracles depended upon his own inscrutable 


will; but all of the miracles revealed him as the Master of the world. 
He who had made the world in the beginning could still put forth 
the same creative power. A miracle, as distinguished from the ordinary 
course of nature, is a manifestation of the creative, as distinguished 
from the providential, power of God. 

Matthew 14: 1.5-21. and Parallels 

Among the miracles of Jesus the feeding of the five thousand seems 
to have been particularly important. Its importance is indicated by 
the fact that it is narrated in all four of the Gospels. Matt. 14 : 13-21, 
and parallels. Even the Gospel of John, which is concerned for the 
most part with what happened in Judea, here runs parallel with the 
Synoptic Gospels and narrates an event which happened in GalUee. 

This event marks the climax of the popularity of our Lord and at 
the same time the beginning of his rejection. Even before this time 
he had been rejected by some; his popularit}^ had been by no means 
universal. He had been opposed by the scribes and Pharisees; he 
had not been understood even by the members of his own household; 
and he had been rejected twice at the town where he had been brought 
up. But for the most part he had enjoyed the favor of the people. 

At the time of the feeding of the five thousand, this popular favor 
had reached its height. Jesus had withdrawn from the crowds into 
a lonely place across the lake from Capernaum. But such was his 
popularity that he could not escape. The people follow^ed him even 
when he tried to be alone; they had had no thought of food or of lodging 
for the night, so eager had they been to listen to his teaching. When 
evening came, therefore, they were in want. But our Lord had pity 
on them because they were like sheep without 'a shepherd. By a 
gracious manifestation of his divine power he made the five loaves and 
two fishes suffice for all the multitude. 

Matthew 14:22-34, and Parallels 

After the feeding of the five thousand Jesus found at last the solitude 
which he had sought; he went up into the mountain to pray. The mul- 
titudes were making their way around the lake by the shore; the disciples 
had taken the only boat and were rowing hard against the wind. 
But about three o'clock at night our Lord came to the disciples 
walking upon the water. It is no wonder that they bowed before 
him and said, ''Of a truth thou art the Son of God." 


John 6:22-71 

Meanwhile the multitude had gone on foot around the lake to Caper- 
naum. When they found Jesus there before them they were astonished. 
But their astonishment, unfortunately, was not of the Idnd that leads 
to true and abiding faith. They had valued the earthly bread which 
Jesus had given them, but were not willing to receive the spiritual 
bread. Jesus himself, he told them, was the Bread of life who had 
come down from heaven; only those could truly live who would feed 
upon him by accepting his saving work. John 6 : 22-71. 

It seemed to the Jews to be a hard saying. How could the Jesus 
whose family they knew be the bread which had come down from 
heaven? Many even of those who had formerly followed Jesus were 
offended at this "hard saying." The popularity of Jesus at this time 
began to wane. 

But there were some disciples who remained. Jesus had chosen 
twelve men, whom he called apostles. He had had them as his com- 
panions, and already he had sent them out on a mission to teach and 
to heal. Turning now to them, he asked, "Would ye also go away?" 
Then Peter, speaking for the others, showed the difference between 
true disciples and those who are offended at every hard saying. "Lord," 
he said, "to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life." 


1. What is a parable? How does it differ from an allegory? 

2. Why did Jesus use parables? Mention some of the parables recorded 

in the Gospels. 

3. What is a miracle? Why did Jesus work miracles? 

4. What is the particular importance of the feeding of the five thousand? 

5. Why were the people offended by the discourse on the Bread of life? 

Jesus as Messiah 

The waning of Jesus' popularity was by no means sudden. Even 
after the discourse on the Bread of life, we frequently find the multi- 
tudes around him. But in general, from that time on our Lord seems 
to have withdrawn from the crowds more frequently than before, 
in order to devote himself to the instruction of his intimate disciples. 


Matthew 15:21-39, and Parallels 

At this time our Lord withdrew into Phoenicia, northwest of Palestine. 
In Phoenicia he healed the daughter of a Syrophoenician woman. It 
was a foretaste of the rich streams of mercy which after Pentecost 
were to flow out into the whole world. 

After a brief stay in Phoenicia, Jesus returned to Galilee, where 
he engaged again in controversy with the Pharisees and again, by his 
divine power, fed a great multitude. This second time four thousand 
men were fed. There were also miracles of heahng, and in general 
the essential characteristics of the Galilsean ministry were continued. 

Matthew 16:13-20, and Parallels 

But before long Jesus departed again from Galilee, and finally went 
with his disciples to the regions of Csesarea Philippi, northeast of 
Galilee. Near Caesarea Philippi occurred the great confession of Peter, 
which is one of the most important incidents of the Gospel record. 
Matt. 16 : 13-20, and parallels. 

"Who," Jesus asked of his disciples, "do men say that I am? And 
they told him, saying, Ehjah; but others, One of the prophets. And 
he asked them, But who say ye that I am? Peter answereth and saith 
unto him. Thou art the Christ." Mark 8 : 27-29. 

In this confession Peter recognized that Jesus was the "Messiah," 
the "Anointed One," or according to the Greek translation of the 
same w^ord, "the Christ." It was by no means the first recognition 
of the fact. The Messiahship of Jesus had been revealed to Joseph 
and Mary and Zacharias and Elisabeth even before Jesus was born; 
it had been revealed to the shepherds and the Wise Men who greeted 
the infant Saviour; it had been revealed to John the Baptist; it had 
been revealed to the little group of disciples w^ho left John at the Jordan 
in order to follow Jesus; it had been proclaimed by Jesus himself in 
his conversations with Nicodemus and with the Samaritan woman; 
it had been recognized even by the unclean spirits. 

But although Jesus had been proclaimed as Messiah before, the 
confession of Peter w^as by no means a matter of course. Although 
the disciples had already accepted Jesus as the Messiah it required 
considerable faith and devotion to continue to accept him, for Jesus 
was not the kind of Messiah whom the Jews had been expecting. They 
had been expecting a Messiah who, as anointed king of Israel, would 


deliver God's people from the Roman oppressors, and make Jerusalem 
the center of the whole world. 

Such expectations seemed to be set at nought by the Prophet of 
Nazareth. No kingly pomp surrounded him; he mingled freely with 
the common people; he lived in the utmost humility, having not even 
a place to lay his head. Political Messiahship he definitely refused. 
When, after the feeding of the five thousand, the people were about 
to come and make him a king — that is, the Messianic king — he left 
them and withdrew into the mountain. John 6 : 15. It is no wonder 
that they were disappointed. All their enthusiasm seemed to be ruth- 
lessly quenched. Jesus would have absolutely nothing to do with the 
kind of Messiahship which they offered. 

By this attitude of Jesus no^ only the multitudes were discouraged. 
Even the members of Jesus' household failed to understand, and the 
very forerunner of Jesus, John the Baptist himself, was assailed, 
momentarily at least, by doubts. Conceivably the twelve apostles 
also might have been discouraged. But their faith remained firm. 
Despite all disappointments, despite the refusal of our Lord to accept 
what were supposed to be prerogatives of Messiahship, Peter was 
able still to say, at Csesarea Philippi, "Thou art the Christ." 

But in what sense was Jesus the Christ? He was not an earthly 
king who would lead the armies of Israel out to battle against the 
Romans. He was not that sort of Messiah. What then was he? What 
was Jesus' own conception of Messiahship? 

In order to answer that question fully, it would be necessary to 
return to the study of the Old Testament. Jesus accepted to the full 
the Old Testament promises about the Messiah; what he rejected 
was merely a false interpretation of them. 

Even those promises of the Old Testament which make the Messiah 
a king of David's line were fulfilled in Jesus. He was actually of David's 
line, and he was born in David's city. He was also the I^ng of Israel. 

Only his kingship was exercised in ways different from those which 
the people generally were expecting. And there were other features 
of the Old Testament promises which Jesus also fulfilled. Jesus was 
Qot only Son of David; he was also Son of Man. The title "Son of 
Man," which was Jesus' own Messianic designation of himself, does not 
denote merely the humanity of Jesus in distinction from his deity. On 
the contrary, it is plainly taken from the stupendous scene in Dan. 7 : 
13, where "one like unto a son of man" is represented as coming with 


the clouds of heaven, and as being in the presence of God. It indi- 
cates, therefore, not the human weakness of Jesus, but his exalted 
position as supreme Ruler and Judge. 

It is not surprising that for a time at least during his earthly ministry- 
Jesus used this title of the Messiah rather than the other titles, for 
the title Son of Man was without the political associations which Jesus 
desired to avoid. It had been employed, not so much by the masses 
of the people, as by the circles which read the books which are called 
the "Apocalypses." In these books, on the basis of Daniel and other 
Old Testament prophecies, the Messiah was represented not as a 
political king, but as a heavenly, supernatural person. The title, 
therefore, was admirably fitted to designate the lofty character of 
the Messiah's person, without the dangerous political associations 
which had gathered around certain other titles. 

Indeed for a time, in the early Galilsean ministry, our Lord seems 
to have kept his Messiahship somewhat in the background. Public 
proclamation of his Messiahship would have aroused false, worldly 
hopes of political upheaval. Before proclaiming himself again as 
Messiah, our Lord needed to make clear by his teaching and by his 
example what kind of Messiah he was; before finally setting up his 
Kingdom he needed to show that that Kingdom was not of this world. 
But he was Messiah and King from the beginning, and even at the 
beginning his Messiahship had been made known. 


1. Mention some of the titles which are used to designate Jesus as 

Messiah, and explain their meaning. Was the title "Son of Man" 
ever used with reference to Jesus by anyone except Jesus himself? 

2. What was the significance of Peter's confession? 

3. Why did Jesus become less popular than he was at first? 


The Prediction of the Cross 

Peter's confession at Caesarea Phihppi was a triumph of faith, for 
which Jesus pronounced Peter blessed. Through a revelation from 
God, Peter had been made able to endure the disappointment involved 
in Jesus' refusal of kingly honors. But another trial of faith was soon 
to come. 


Matthew 16:21-28, and Parallels 

After Peter's acknowledgment of Jesus as Messiah, our Lord began 
to teach the disciples more of what his Messiahship meant. Matt. 
16 : 21-28, and parallels. It meant, he said, not worldly honors, 
and not merely a continuation of the humble life in Galilee, but actual 
sufferings and death. This teaching was more than Peter could endure. 
"Be it far from thee. Lord," he said, "this shall never be unto thee." 
In such rebellion against God's will Jesus recognized a repetition 
of the temptation which had come to him at the first, immediateh^ 
after the voice from heaven had proclaimed him to be the Messiah — 
the temptation to use his Messianic power for his own worldly glor}'. 
And now as well as then the temptation was resolutely overcome. 
"Get thee behind me, Satan," said Jesus: "thou art a stumbling- 
block unto me : for thou mindest not the things of God, but the things 
of men." 

Jesus was thus ready to tread the path of suffering which he had 
come into the world, for our sakes, to tread. And he called upon his 
true disciples to tread that path after him. Yet all the suffering was 
to be followed by a greater glory than Peter had ever conceived; and 
almost immediately there was a wonderful foretaste of that glory. 

Matthew 17:1-13, and Parallels 

Six days after the scene at Csesarea Philippi, our Lord took Peter 
and James and John, his three most intimate disciples, with him up 
upon a high mountain — no doubt somewhere on the slopes of the lofty 
Mount Hermon. There he was transfigured before them. Matt. 17 : 
1-13, and parallels; "his face did shine as the sun, and his garments 
became white as the light." With him appeared Moses and Elijah, 
talking with him. And they were talking about what seems to be a 
strange subject at such a moment. They were talking not of the 
glories of Jesus' Kingdom, but of the "departure" which he was about 
to accomplish at Jerusalem. Luke 9 : 31. The "departure" included 
not only the resurrection and the ascension, but also the crucifixion. 
Even the shining light of the transfiguration was intended to point 
to the cross. 

Matthew 17: 14-20, and Parallels 

After the glorious experience on the mountain, our Lord came at 
once into contact with the repulsiveness of human misorv. Matt. 


17 : 14-20, and parallels. But he did not shrink from the sudden 
transition. As he came down from the mountain, he found at the 
bottom a boy possessed of a demon, who "fell on the ground, and 
wallowed foaming." It was a depressing sight, very unlike the bright- 
ness of the transfiguration. Even more discouraging, moreover, than 
the condition of the boy himself was the powerlessness of the disciples. 
They had tried to cast the demon out but had failed miserably, not 
because the power might not have been theirs, but because of their 
unbelief. The father of the boy, too, was lacking in faith. ''I believe," 
he said; "help thou mine unbelief." Jesus did help his unbelief, and 
the unbelief of the disciples. He rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed 
the boy. 

At this period Jesus repeated on several occasions the prophecy of 
his death. The tragedy on Calvary did not overtake him unawares. 
He went deliberately to his death for our sakes. 

Matthew 18: 1-6, and Parallels 

Even on such solemn days, when the shadow of the cross lay over 
the path, the disciples were unable to overcome the pettiness of their 
character. On the very journey when Jesus had told them about his 
approaching death, they had quarreled about the question as to which 
of them should be greatest in the Kingdom of heaven. Thereby they 
had shown how far they were from understanding the true nature of 
the Kingdom. If the Kingdom was finally to be advanced under the 
leadership of such men, some mighty change would have to take place 
in them. That change did take place afterwards, as we shall see, 
at Pentecost. But at present the pettiness and carnal-mindedness 
of the disciples added to the sorrows of our Lord. Despite the intimacy 
into which he entered with his earthly friends, he towered in lonely 
grandeur above them all. 

After the transfiguration and related events near Csesarea Philippi, 
our Lord returned to Galilee. But apparently he did not resume 
permanently his Galilsean ministry. Soon we find him passing through 
Samaria, and laboring in Judea and in that country east of the Jordan 
River which is called Perea. This part of Jesus' ministry is recorded 
particularly in the Gospels According to Luke and According to John, 
although Matthew and Mark contain important information about 
the latter part of the period. The general character of the period is 
fixed by the expectation of the cross. Jesus had set his face toward 


Jerusalem to accomplish the atoning work which he had come into 
the world to perform. 

Luke 10: 1-24 ; John, Chapter 5 

At the beginning of the period Jesus sent out seventy disciples, to 
prepare for his own coming into the several cities and villages which 
he was intending to visit. The Seventy were in possession of some- 
thing of Jesus' power; they were able to report with joy that the demons 
were subjected to them. 

During the same period we find Jesus in Jerusalem at the feast of 
tabernacles. Even during the period of the Galilaean ministry Jesus 
had gone up to Jerusalem at least once, at the time of one of the Jewish 
feasts; and in connection with the healing of a man at the pool of 
Bethesda he had then set forth the true nature of his person and his 
relation to God the Father. John, ch. 5. At the later period with 
which we are now dealing, the same teaching was continued. Chs. 7, 8. 

Matthew 11:27, and Parallels 

It is particularly the Gospel of John which records the way in which 
Jesus set forth the nature of his own person, but what is fully set forth 
in the Gospel of John is really implied all through the Synoptic Gospels, 
and in Matt. 11 : 27; Luke 10 : 22 it is made just as plain as it is in 
John. According to his own teaching, Jesus stood in a relation toward 
God the Father which is absolutely different from that in which other 
men stand toward God. In the plainest possible way, our Lord laid 
claim to true deity. "I and my Father," he said, *'are one." All the 
Gospels present the true humanity of Jesus, the Gospel According to 
John, no less than the Synoptists. But all the Gospels also set forth 
his deity. He was, according to a true summary of the Gospel teach- 
ing, "God and man, in two distinct natures, and one person for ever." 


1. What trial of Peter's faith came just after his great confession? 

2. What was the meaning of the transfiguration? 

3. What event took place just afterwards? 

4. Give an account of Jesus' teaching at the time of the feast of taber- 

nacles. John, chs. 7, 8. How was this teaching received? 

5. Give an account of the mission of the Seventy and compare it with 

the previous mission of the Twelve. 


The Last Journeys 

John, Chapter 9 

During the latter part of Jesus' ministry, with which Lesson IX 
began to deal, Jesus spoke some of the most beautiful of his parables. 
A number of them, such as the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal 
Son, are recorded only by Luke. From the same period the Gospel 
According to John records some notable teaching of Jesus, in addition 
to that which was mentioned in the last lesson. Part of this teach- 
ing was introduced by the healing of the man born blind. John, ch. 9. 
This miracle, which had been performed on the Sabbath, had aroused 
the special opposition of the Pharisees. In answer to them, our Lord 
pointed out the difference between those leaders of the people who 
are like robbers breaking into the sheepfold or at best like hirelings 
who flee at the first approach of danger, and the good shepherd who is 
willing to lay down his life for the sheep. Such a shepherd was Jesus 
himself, and his life was soon to be laid down. 

John 11:1-53 

Finally, after various journeyings of Jesus iu Judea and in Perea, 
there occurred in Bethan^^ a little village near Jerusalem, one of the 
most notable of our Lord's miracles. John 11 : 1-44. At Bethany 
lived a certain Lazarus with his sisters Martha and Mary, whom 
Jesus knew well. Lazarus fell ill during the absence of Jesus across 
the Jordan in Perea; and the illness resulted in his death. On the 
fourth day after Lazarus' death, Jesus came to Bethany. Martha 
came to meet him; Mary remained mourning in the house, until her 
sister brought word that Jesus had arrived. Then she, too, went to 
meet the Lord. When Jesus saw her and her friends weeping for the 
one who had died, he, too, wept with them. But he had power not 
only to sj^mpathize, but also to help. Going with the sisters to the 
tomb, he caused the stone to be removed, then prayed, and then called 
with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth." At the word of Jesus, the 
dead man came out of the tomb. Jesus was Master over death and 
the grave. 

It was not the first time that our Lord had raised the dead. He 
had raised the daughter of Jairus in Galilee and the son of the widow 


of Nain. But the raising of Lazarus is especially important, not only 
because of the wonderfully vivid way in which the incident is narrated 
in the Gospel According to John, but also because it served to hasten 
the crisis in Jerusalem. Both the Sadducees and the Pharisees were 
now aroused. The movement instituted by Jesus had reached alarm- 
ing proportions. If allowed to continue it would be full of danger. 
The Romans, it was feared, would regard it as rebellion and would 
utterly destroy the nation of the Jews. The diverse parties among the 
Jewish leaders were becoming more and more united against the strange 
Prophet from Galilee. 

John 11: 54 

For a short time still the crisis was delayed. Our Lord retired from 
Judea to a city called Ephraim, near the wilderness. We also find him, 
in this period of his life, again beyond the Jordan, in Perea. In this 
Perean residence is to be placed a portion of the teaching contained 
in the Synoptic Gospels, such as the teaching concerning divorce. 
Matt. 19 : 3-12, and parallels, the words to the rich young ruler, 
vs. 16-30, and parallels, and the parable of the Laborers in the Vine- 
yard. Matt. 20 : 1-16. 

Luke 19:2-10 

Before long, however, Jesus went up to Jerusalem for the last time. 
On the way, when he was passing through Jericho, in the Jordan 
Valley, he healed two blind men, and converted the tax collector 
Zacchseus. The conversion of Zacchaeus was in accord with Jesus' 
custom all through his ministry. The taxgatherers were despised by 
the rest of the Jews at the time of Christ. They had allied themselves 
with the Roman oppressors, and no doubt most of them were guilty 
of abominable extortion on their own account. By the Pharisees, 
particularly, they were regarded as belonging to the very dregs of the 
people, with whom no true observer of the law could be intimate. 
But Jesus was bound by no limits in his saving work. He did not 
condone sin — either the sin of the taxgatherers or the sin of the Pharisees. 
But he was willing to save from sin all who would believe. The whole, 
he said, need not a physician, but they that are sick. The Son of 
Man had come to "seek and to save that which was lost." 

John 11:55 to 12:1 

Toiling up the long ascent from Jericho, our Lord arrived at last, 
six days before the passover, at the village of Bethany, which is less 


than two miles from Jerusalem. During the remaining time before 
the crucifixion Jesus went every morning into the city and returned 
in the evening to lodge with his friends at Bethany. 

Matthew 26:6-13, and Parallels 
Soon after his arrival at Bethany, when Jesus was reclining at table 
in the house of a certain Simon the leper, he was anointed by Mary 
the sister of Lazarus. Matt. 26 : 6-13; Mark 14 : 3-9; John 12 : 2-8. 
This anointing is not to be confused with a somewhat similar event 
which had taken place some time before, when Jesus had been anointed 
by a woman who had been a notorious sinner. Luke 7 : 36-50. The 
disciples murmured at the waste. The precious ointment, they said, 
might have been sold for a great sum, which could have been distributed 
to the poor. Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, had a special cause 
for dissatisfaction; in his case the mention of the poor was only a cloak 
for covetousness. Judas kept the bag, and if the proceeds of the oint- 
ment had been put into his keeping, he could have indulged his thiev- 
ing propensities. But all the murmuring, whether it proceeded from 
more sordid motives or from a mere misunderstanding of the true 
spirit of the woman's act, was rebuked by our Lord. The woman, 
he said, had anointed his body beforehand for the burial. The days 
just before the crucifixion were no time for true disciples to murmur 
at an act which was prompted by overflowing love for the Saviour 
who was so soon to die. 

Matthew 21: 1-11, and Parallels 

On the day after the supper at Bethany, that is, on the day after 
the Jewish Sabbath, on the ninth day of the Jewish spring month 
Xisan, our Lord entered into Jerusalem. Matt. 21 : 1-11, and paral- 
lels. It was a triumphal entry; Jesus was received publicly by the 
multitudes as the Messiah, the promised King of Israel. Even the 
manner of his entrj"- was in accordance with prophecy; he came riding 
over the IMount of Olives and into the city mounted on an ass, in 
accordance with Zech. 9 : 9. The promised King of Israel at last 
had come. The multitudes strewed palm branches in the way, and 
cried, ''Hosanna to the son of David." 

1. Where was Perea? Jericho? Bethany? Ephraim? Find on a 
map the places mentioned in this lesson, 


2. Give an account of all the times when Jesus, during his earthly 

ministry, raised the dead. In what Gospels are these incidents 

3. What is the special importance of the raising of Lazarus? 

4. Give an account of some of those parables of Jesus which are con- 

tained only in the Gospel According to Luke. 

Teaching in the Temple 

Despite the enthusiasm which the multitudes had shown at the 
time when Jesus entered into Jerusalem, despite the shouts of those 
who cried, "Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord," Jesus 
knew that he was going to his death, and that Jerusalem would soon 
turn against her King. "When he drew nigh," we are told in the Gospel 
According to Luke, "he saw the city and wept over it, saying. If thou 
hadst known in this day, even thou, the things which belong unto 
peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes." Luke 19 : 41, 42. 

On the Sunday of the triumphal entry it was already late when 
Jesus entered into the Temple area. He did nothing, therefore, that 
day, except look about him; and then he returned to Bethany with the 
twelve apostles. Mark 11 : 11. 

Matthew 21:12-19, and Parallels 

On Monday, however, the final conflict began. Entering into the 
city, our Lord cast out of the Temple those who bought and sold, 
just as he had done at the beginning of his public ministry. The 
rebuke which he had administered several years before had had no 
permanent effect. But Jesus did not hesitate to rebuke again those 
who made God's house a place of business. The rulers, of course, 
were incensed. But popular favor for a time put a check upon their 
hate. On the way into the city, Jesus said to a fig tree, which was 
bearing leaves only, ''No man eat fruit from thee henceforward for 
ever." The motives of our Lord's act are not fully known to us; 
but at least he was able afterwards to point out through the case of 
the fig tree the limitless power of faith. The disciples were exhorted 
to pray in faith. But their prayers, Jesus said, must be in love; no 
unforgiving spirit should be left in their souls when they prayed to their 
heavenly Father for their own forgiveness. 


The next day, Tuesday, was a day of teaching. Our Lord spent 
the day in the Temple, meeting the attacks of his enemies. And he 
had an answer to every inquiry; the trick questions of his enemies 
always redounded to their own rebuke. 

Matthew 21 : 23-32, and Parallels 

First our Lord was questioned as to the authority by which he had 
cleansed the Temple the day before. Matt. 21 : 23-32, and parallels. 
He answered that question by another question: *'The baptism of 
John, whence was it? from heaven or from men?" The chief priests 
and elders could not say. They were not really sincere seekers for 
divine authority. But Jesus was not content with having silenced 
them. He also pointed out, positively, their sin in not receiving the 
word of God which had come through John. 

Matthew 21:33-46, and Parallels 

Still more scathing was the rebuke which Jesus uttered through the 
parable of the Wicked Husbandmen. Matt. 21 : 33-46, and parallels. 
The wicked husbandmen had been put in charge of a vineyard. But 
when the time came to render the fruit of the vineyard to the owner, 
they killed the servants who were sent to them and finally the owner's 
son. The chief priests and Pharisees needed no elaborate explanation; 
they would probably in any case have applied the parable to them- 
selves. But as a matter of fact Jesus made the application abundantly 
plain. "The kingdom of God," he said, "shall be taken away from 
you, and shall be given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." 

Matthew 22:1-14 

Just as plainly directed against the wicked leaders of the people, 
and against the rebellious nation itself, was the parable of the Marriage 
of the King's Son. Matt. 22 : 1-14. Those who were bidden to the 
feast refused to come in; but from the highways and hedges the king's 
house was filled. So the covenant people, the Jews, had rejected the 
divine invitation; but the despised Gentiles would be received. 

Matthew 22:15-40, and Parallels 

The rulers w^ould have liked to put Jesus to death at once; but they 
still feared the people. So they adopted the underhand method of 
trying to catch him in his speech. First came the Pharisees and the 


Herodians, the latter being the partisans of the Herodian dynasty, 
with their adroit question about giving tribute to Csesar, Matt. 22 : 
15-22, and parallels; then the Sadducees, the worldly aristocracy, 
who did not believe in the resurrection, with their attempt to make 
the doctrine of the resurrection ridiculous, vs. 23-33, and parallels; 
then an individual Pharisee with his question about the greatest com- 
mandment in the law. Vs. 24-40, and parallels. Jesus had a won- 
derful, profound answer for them all. But only the last inquirer seems 
to have been at all willing to learn. *'Thou art not far," Jesus said to 
him, "from the kingdom of God." Mark 12 : 34. 

Matthew 22:41-46, and Parallels 

Then, after all the questions which had been put to him, our Lord 
put one question in turn. "David himself," he said in effect, "calls 
the Messiah Lord; how is the Messiah, then, David's son?" In this 
way Jesus was presenting to the people a higher conception of Messiah- 
ship than that which they had been accustomed to hold. The Messiah 
was indeed David's Son, but he was not only David's Son. Matt. 
22 : 41-46, and parallels. 

Apparently on the same day, our Lord called attention to the poor 
widow who was casting her mite into the collection box. A gift, he 
said, is measured in the estimation of God not by its amount, but by 
the sacrifice which it means to the giver. Mark 12 : 41-44, and parallel. 

Matthew, Chapter 23 

Finally, on the same memorable Tuesday, our Lord denounced 
openly the formalism and hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. 
Matt., ch. 23. It was also perhaps on the same day that certain Greeks 
desired to see Jesus, John 12 : 20, 21— a foretaste of that entrance of 
Gentiles into the Church which was to come after the resurrection. 
We are not told exactly how Jesus received the Greeks, but the im- 
portance of the moment was marked by a voice from heaven which 
came as a divine confirmation of Jesus' message. 

Matthew, Chapters 24, 25 

When Jesus, on the same day, had gone out of the Temple and had 
ascended to the Mount of Olives, a hill which lay on the way to Bethany, 
he taught his disciples about the coming destruction of the Temple 


and also about the end of the world. Matt., ch. 24, and parallels. 
The time of the end of the world, he said, is unknown to all except 
God, and in expectation of it men should always be watchful. This 
duty of watchfulness he illustrated by the parables of the Ten Virgins, 
Matt. 25 : 1-13, and of the Talents. Vs. 14-30. Then our Lord drew 
a great picture of the last awful judgment of God, when the wicked 
shall be separated from the good. Vs. 31^6. 


1. Where was the Mount of Olives? Describe the route between 

Bethany and the Temple in Jerusalem. 

2. Compare the two occasions when Jesus cleansed the Temple. 

3. On what occasions during his ministry did Jesus speak about John 

the Baptist? 

4. Give a full account of the questions which were put to Jesus on 

the Tuesday of the last week, and of the answers of Jesus. 

5. What were the "woes" which Jesus pronounced against the scribes 

and Pharisees? 

6. What did Jesus say after the Gentiles came to seek him? 

The Crucifixion 

Matthew 26:1-5, 14-16, and Parallels 

On the Wednesday of the week before the crucifixion, the chief priests 
and elders of the Jews took counsel how they might put Jesus to death. 
The difficulty was that if they arrested so popular a teacher in the 
midst of the crowds who had come to Jerusalem for the approaching 
feast of the passover, there would be a tumult. At first, therefore, the 
enemies of Jesus thought that they might have to wait until the 
passover was over. But they were helped out of their difficulty by 
one of Jesus' own friends. Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve apostles, 
proved to be a traitor. He received a promise of thirty pieces of silver, 
and watched for a time when Jesus would be away from the crowds 
so that he could be delivered quietly into the hands of his enemies 
Matt. 26 : 1-5, 14-16, and parallels. 


Matthew 26: 17-19, and Parallels 

Meanwhile, on Thursday, Jesus arranged for the celebration of the 
passover in company with the apostles. The passover feast com- 
memorated the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, especially the pass- 
ing over of Israel's first-born when the first-born sons of the Egyptians 
were slain. The feast was opened on the evening of Nisan 14, Nisan 
being a spring month, and the first month of the Jewish year. Accord- 
ing to Jewish reckoning, the evening of Nisan 14 constituted the begin- 
ning of Nisan 15. Starting from that time, the feast continued for 
seven days, no unleavened bread being used within that period. The 
first and most solemn act of the whole feast was the eating of the 
paschal lamb on the evening of Nisan 14. 

This passover supper was celebrated by Jesus and the apostles on 
Thursday evening, Nisan 14. And the feast was to be continued into 
the Christian era. The symbols were changed; bread and wine were 
to be used instead of the paschal lamb. But the fundamental meaning 
of the feast remained the same; both the passover and the Lord's 
Supper had reference to the atoning death of Christ. The paschal 
lamb prefigured the Lamb of God who was to die for the sins of the 
world; the bread and wine also symbolized the body of Christ broken 
for us and the blood of Christ poured out for the remission of our sins. 
Thus what the passover symbolized by way of prophecy is symbolized 
in the Lord's Supper by way of commemoration. And on that last 
evening our Lord changed the symbols in order to suit the new dis- 
pensation when, since the Lamb of God had once been offered up, 
other sacrifices should be no more. 

Matthew 26:20-35, and Parallels 

Jesus gathered with his apostles for the feast in an upper room. 
Matt. 26 : 20, and parallels. Then, lamentably enough, there was a 
strife among the apostles as to who should be the greatest. Luke 
22 : 24-30. As a rebuke of all such inordinate ambitions our Lord 
gave an example of humility by washing the feet of his disciples. John 
13 : 1-20. The traitor, Judas Iscariot, then left the apostolic company, 
John 13 : 21-35, and parallels, and the Lord's Supper was instituted. 
I Cor. 11 : 23-25; Matt. 26 : 26-29, and parallels. Then the denial 
of Peter was foretold; before the cock should crow twice Peter would 
deny his Lord three times. 


John, Chapters 14 to 17 

Then followed some of the most precious teaching of Jesus — teach- 
ing which is preserved only in the Gospel According to John. Chs. 
14 to 17. Our Lord spoke of the mission which he had come into the 
world to fulfill and of the mission which his apostles were to fulfill 
through the power of the Holy Spirit. The meaning of Jesus' redeeming 
work could not fully be explained until it had been accomplished. 
And it was to be explained by the Holy Spirit speaking through the 


Matthew 26:36-46, and Parallels 

After they had sung a hymn, our Lord went out with the eleven 
apostles to the Garden of Gethsemane, outside of Jerusalem, on the 
slopes of the Mount of Olives. Matt. 26 : 36-46, and parallels. 
There he sought strength in prayer for the approaching hour when 
he was to bear the penalty of our sins. The disciples were no help to 
him in his agony; Peter and James and John slept while he prayed. 
But God the Father heard his prayer. 

Matthew 26:47 to 27:1 

Soon the traitor came with the Temple guard, and Jesus was arrested, 
Matt. 26 : 47-56, and parallels. On the same evening there was an 
informal hearing of the Prisoner in the house of Annas, the father-in- 
law of Caiaphas, the high priest. Matt. 26 : 57, 58, 69-75, and paral- 
lels. Meanwhile Peter and "another disciple," who was no doubt 
John the son of Zebedee, the writer of the Fourth Gospel, had entered 
into the house. There Peter denied his Lord. 

The next morning there was a more formal meeting of the sanhedrin, 
the highest court of the Jews. Luke 22 : 66-71, and parallels. This 
meeting was intended to confirm the results of the informal hearing 
in the house of Annas. But both meetings were little more than a 
form. The court had really decided the question beforehand; it had 
determined to bring Jesus by any means, lawful or otherwise, to his 
death. When faced by his enemies, our Lord declared plainly that 
he was the Messiah, the Son of God. That answer was enough to 
satisfy the accusers. Jesus was judged guilty of blasphemy. 

Matthew 27:2-56, and Parallels 

But the sanhedrin did not possess the power of life and death. Before 
Jesus could be executed, therefore, the findings of the sanhedrin had 


to be confirmed by Pilate, the Roman procurator. And at first Pilate 
was recalcitrant to the Jews' demands; he was not able to find in Jesus 
any cause of death. John 18 : 28-38, and parallels. In his perplexity, 
Pilate sent the prisoner to be examined by Herod Antipas, the tetrarch 
of Galilee, who was at the time in Jerusalem. Luke 23 : 6-12. But 
this hearing also was without decisive result. 

At last Pilate yielded, against his better judgment, to the importunity 
of the Jewish leaders and the mad shouts of the crowds, who had turned 
now against the One whom formerly they had honored. Matt. 27 : 
15-30, and parallels. Pilate delivered Jesus up to the will of the Jews. 
Before the execution, however, the Prisoner was cruelly scourged 
and mocked by the Roman soldiers. Then when a last effort of Pilate 
had failed to placate the wrath of Jesus' enemies, John 19 : 4-16, our 
Lord was finally taken out of the city to be crucified. Luke 23 : 26-33, 
and parallels. 

The Prisoner at first was compelled to bear the cross on which he 
was to be put to death, but when his strength gave way a certain Simon 
of Gyrene was pressed into service. A crowd of people from Jerusalem 
followed the Prisoner, and especially a number of women who lamented. 
At last the place of execution was reached. It was called "Golgotha," 
or according to the Latin translation of the name, "Calvary." There 
they crucified our Lord. Matt. 27 : 33-56, and parallels. 

With him were crucified two thieves, of whom one repented at the 
last hour, and received salvation. A number of sayings which Jesus 
uttered on the cross are recorded in the Gospels. At the moment of 
death, he cried, "It is finished." John 19 : 30. The meaning of that 
saying is plain. The work for which our Lord came into the world 
at last was done. The Lord of glory had died to wash away the sins 
of all believers. The just penalty of sin had been borne by the One 
who knew no sin. 


1. Summarize the teaching of Jesus on the last evening before the 


2. What happened in Gethsemane? 

3. Describe the trial of Jesus before the sanhedrin and before Pilate. 

4. Why did the Jewish leaders put Jesus to death? Why did Jesus 

consent to die? 

5. Give an account of the crucifixion of our Lord. 



The Resurrection 

The death of Christ was the greatest event that history has ever 
seen. By that event the grace of God triumphed over sin, and a lost 
world was redeemed. Apart from Christ we all deserve eternal death. 
But the Lord of glory, on Calvary, bore the guilt which belonged to 
us, and made us children of God. 

So great an event was accomplished without flare of heavenly 
trumpets or blazing of heavenly light. To many, the death of Christ 
seemed to be merely the execution of a criminal. But there were not 
wanting some strange phenomena which marked the greatness of the 
event. From twelve o'clock on the day of the crucifixion there was 
darkness until three o'clock, when Jesus died. Then the veil of the 
Temple was rent, there was an earthquake, and graves were opened. 
Thus was nature made to recognize the suffering and the triumph of 
her Lord. 

After Jesus had died, his side was pierced by one of the soldiers 
whom Pilate had sent at the instance of the Jews in order that those 
who had been crucified should be killed and their bodies removed 
before the Sabbath. From the body of Jesus there came out blood 
and water. The event was witnessed by John the son of Zebedee, 
the writer of the Fourth Gospel. John 19 : 31-42. 

Matthew 27:57-66 

Then, in the late afternoon of the same day Joseph of Arimathea, 
a secret disciple of Jesus, removed our Lord's body from the cross 
and placed it in a new tomb. Mark 15 : 42-46, and parallels. Another 
secret disciple, or half -disciple, Nicodemus, came also to anoint the body. 
John 19 : 39. Certain women also came to see where Jesus was laid. 
Luke 23 : 55, 56, and parallels. The chief priests and Pharisees, on 
the other hand, obtained a guard from Pilate, to watch the tomb, 
lest the disciples of Jesus should steal the body of Jesus away and 
say that he had risen from the dead. Matt. 27 : 62-66. 

Matthew 28:2-4, 11-15 

The next day was Saturday, the Old Testament Sabbath. The 
friends of Jesus rested on that day. But very early on Sunday morn- 
ing, the women started to the tomb bearing spices in order to anoint 


the body. But before they arrived, our Lord had already risen 
from the dead. There had been an earthquake, an angel had rolled 
away the stone from the sepulcher, and our Lord himseK had risen. 
At the sight of the angel, the soldiers of the guard, in their fear, "be- 
came as dead men." Matt. 28 : 2-4. All that they could do was to 
report the event to the chief priests who had sent them. Vs. 11-15. 

Matthew 28: 1, and Parallels ; John 20:2; 
Matthew 28:5-10, and Parallels 

Then the women arrived at the tomb, and found it empty. Matt. 
28 : 1, and parallels. One of them, Mary Magdalene, went back to 
tell Peter and John. John 20 : 2. The others remained at the tomb, 
and there saw two angels who announced to them that Jesus was 
risen from the dead. On their way back to the city Jesus himself 
met them, and they fell down, grasped his feet, and worshiped him. 
Matt. 28 : 5-10, and parallels. 

John 20:3-18 

Meanwhile, at the message of Mary Magdalene, Peter and John 
ran to the tomb, found it empty, and believed that Jesus really was 
risen. John 20 : 3-10. But Mary Magdalene, after they had gone, 
stood weeping at the tomb; she supposed that some one had taken 
the body of her Lord away. Then Jesus himself came to her, her 
sorrow was changed into joy, and she joined her voice to that of the 
other women who told the disciples of the glad event. Vs. 11-18. 

I Corinthians 15:5;Luke 24: 13-49; John 20:19-23 

Thus far, Jesus himself had been seen only by the women. But 
now he appeared to Peter, I Cor. 15 : 5; Luke 24 : 34, and to two 
of the disciples who were walking to the village of Emmaus. At first 
the two disciples did not know him; but they recognized him at Emmaus 
when he broke the bread. Then, on the evening of the same Sunday, 
he appeared to the apostles in Jerusalem. I Cor. 15 : 5; Luke 24 : 
36-49; John 20 : 19-23. All doubts were removed when he showed 
them the wounds in his hands and his side, and partook of food in 
their presence. Then he interpreted the Scriptures to them, as he 
had done to the two disciples on the walk to Emmaus, showing them 
that it was necessary that the Messiah should suffer. Finally he 
breathed upon them, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit." 


John 20:24-29 

Thomas, one of the apostles, who had been absent from this meet- 
ing with the risen Lord, refused to beheve at the mere word of the 
others. But Jesus dealt very graciously with the doubting disciple. 
Again, one week later, he came to the apostles, the doors of the room 
being shut, and presented to Thomas his hands and his side. All 
doubts now melted away in the joy of meeting with the risen Lord. 
Thomas answered and said unto him, "My Lord and my God." John 
20 : 24-29. 

John 21:1-24; I Corinthians 15:6; Matthew 28:16-20 

The apostles then went back to Galilee in accordance with Jesus' 
command, and in Galilee also Jesus appeared to them. First he 
appeared to seven of the disciples on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. 
Among the seven was John the son of Zebedee, who has given an 
account of the event in his Gospel. John 21 : 1-24. Then there was 
a great appearance of Jesus on a mountain. At that time, apparently, 
not only the eleven apostles were present, but also five hundred other 
disciples. I Cor. 15 : 6; Matt. 28 : 16-20. On the mountain Jesus 
instituted the sacrament of baptism, and gave his disciples the Great 
Commission to make disciples of all nations. The execution of that 
commission has sometimes been attended with discouragements. But 
the risen Lord promised always to be with his Church. 

I Corinthians 15: 7; Acts 1: 1-11 

After the appearances in Galilee, the apostles returned to Jerusalem. 
It was no doubt in Jerusalem that Jesus appeared to James, his own 
brother, I Cor. 1.5 : 7, who during the earthly ministry had not believed 
on him. Other appearances also occurred there. At one or more of 
these appearances Jesus commanded the apostles to wait in Jerusalem 
until the Holy Spirit should come upon them. Then, said Jesus, they 
were to be witnesses of him "both in Jerusalem, and in all Juda?a and 
Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." Acts 1 : 8. 
Finally, forty days after the resurrection, Jesus led his disciples out 
to the Mount of Olives, on the way to Bethany, and there he was 
taken from them in a cloud into heaven. The disciples were saddened 
and bewildered by the departure of their Lord. But their sadness 
was soon turned into joy. "Two men stood by them in white apparel; 
who also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye looking into heaven? 


this Jesus, who was received up from you into heaven, shall so come 
in like manner as ye beheld him going into heaven." Acts 1 : 10, 11. 
The disciples went then into the city, where they were constantly in 
the Temple, praising God. 


1. Describe the burial of Jesus. How long did his body rest in the 


2. Enumerate the persons who saw the empty tomb. 

3. Enumerate, so far as the facts are known, the persons who saw 

Jesus after the resurrection. 

4. In what books of the New Testament are the facts about the resur- 

rection mentioned? 

5. What is the importance of the resurrection of Jesus for our Christian 


6. Describe the change which the resurrection produced in the early 

disciples of Jesus. 

The Beginnings of the Christian Church 

The Christian Church is founded on the fact of the resurrection 
of Jesus; if that fact had not occurred there would be no Church to-day. 
The disciples of Jesus of Nazareth were evidently far inferior to him 
in spiritual discernment and in courage. Evidently they could not 
hope to succeed if he had failed. And with his death what little 
strength they may have had before was utterly destroyed. In the 
hour of his trial they had deserted him in cowardly flight. And when 
he was taken from them by a shameful death, they were in despair. 
Never did a movement seem to be more hopelessly dead. 

But then the surprising thing occurred. Those same weak, dis- 
couraged men began, in a few days, in Jerusalem, the very scene of 
their disgrace, a spiritual movement the like of which the world has 
never seen. What produced the wonderful change? What was it 
that transformed those weak, discouraged men into the spiritual 
conquerors of the world? 

The answer of those men themselves was plain. Their despair, 
they said, gave way to triumphant joy because the Lord Jesus had 


risen from the dead, and because they were convinced of his resur- 
rection by the empty tomb and by the appearances of Jesus himself. 
No other real explanation has yet been discovered to account for the 
sudden transformation of the despair of the disciples into triumphant 
joy. The very existence of the Christian Church itself, therefore, 
is the strongest testimony to the resurrection; for without the resur- 
rection the Church could never have come into being. 

Acts 1:12-26 

After the ascension of Jesus, which was studied in the last lesson, 
the apostles returned to Jerusalem, and obeyed the command of Jesus 
by waiting for the coming of the Holy Spirit. But the period of wait- 
ing was not a period of idleness; it was spent, on the contrary, in prais- 
ing God and in prayer. One definite action was taken — the place of 
Judas, the traitor, who had killed himself in his remorse, was filled 
by the choice of Matthias. Acts 1 : 15-26. At that time, certain 
women and a number of other disciples were gathered together with 
the apostles, making a total of about one hundred and twenty persons. 
It was upon that little company of prajang disciples, or rather upon 
the promise of Jesus which had been made to them, that the hope of 
the world was based. 

Acts, Chapter 2 

At last, at the feast of Pentecost, fifty days after the passover, the 
promise of Jesus was fulfilled; the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples 
to fit them for the evangelization of the world. Acts 2 : 1-13. They 
were all together in one place; there was a sound as of a rushing, mighty 
wind; cloven tongues, like tongues of fire, sat upon each one of them; 
they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other 
languages as the Spirit gave them utterance. When the crowd came 
together to see the wonderful thing that had happened, Peter preached 
the first sermon of the Christian Church. Vs. 14-36. At the preach- 
ing of Peter three thousand persons were converted; the campaign 
of world conquest had begun. Vs. 37-42. 

The campaign from the beginning was a campaign of witnessing, 
in accordance with Jesus' command. Acts 1 : 8. The Christian 
Church was to conquer the world, not by exhorting men to live a cer- 
tain kind of Hfe, but by bringing them a piece of news. The Son of 
God, said the Christian missionaries, died on the cross and then rose 
again. That was the good news that conquered the world. Christianity 


from the beginning was a way of life, but it was a way of life founded 
upon a piece of news, a way of life founded upon historical facts. The 
meaning of the facts was not revealed all at once, but it was revealed 
in part from the very beginning, and throughout the Apostolic Age 
the revelation came in greater and greater fullness, especially through 
the instrumentality of Paul. 

The life of the Early Church in Jerusalem was in some respects like 
that of the Jews. The disciples continued to observe the Jewish fasts 
and feasts and were constantly in the Temple. But a new joy animated 
the company of believers. Their Lord was indeed taken from them 
for a time, and they did not know when he would return, but mean- 
while he was present with them through his Spirit, and already he 
had saved them from their sins. 

Even in external observances the believers were distinguished from 
the rest of the Jews. Entrance into their company was marked by 
the sacrament of baptism, which signified the washing away of sin; 
and their continued fellowship with one another and with the risen 
Lord found expression in the sacrament of the Lord's Supper, which 
commemorated the atoning death of Jesus. There were also common 
meals. And those who had property devoted it, in a purely voluntary 
way, to the needs of their poorer brethren. The disciples attended 
diligently, moreover, to the teaching of the apostles, and engaged 
constantly in prayer. 

Acts, Chapter 3 

The preaching of the apostles in Jerusalem was authenticated by 
miracles. One notable miracle is narrated in detail in the book of 
The Acts. Ch. 3. As Peter and John were going up into the Temple 
at the hour of prayer, they healed a lame beggar, who was in the habit 
of sitting at the gate. The miracle was the means of bringing to the 
people something better than bodily healing; for when the crowd 
came together in wonder at the healing of the lame man, Peter pro- 
claimed to them the good news of the salvation which Jesus had 

Acts, Chapter 4 

The Sadducees, the ruling class, being incensed at such a proclama- 
tion, laid hands upon the two apostles, and brought them before the 
sanhedrin. Acts 4 : 1-22. But even when Peter boldly announced 
to them that the name of that Jesus whom they had put to death 


was the only name which could bring salvation to men, they w(U'e 
unable to do more than warn the recalcitrant preachers. A notable 
miracle had been wrought, and they could not deny it. When Peter 
and John came again to the company of believers, all the company 
united in a glorious prayer of praise. The answer to the prayer was 
plainly given. "The place was shaken wherein they were gathered 
together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake 
the word of God with boldness." 


1. Show how the Christian Church is founded upon the fact of the 


2. Describe the choice of Matthias. 

3. Who were gathered together in the "upper room" in Jerusalem? 

4. Describe the coming of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. 

5. Was the speaking with other tongues on the Day of Pentecost 

the same as the gift of tongues described in the First Epistle 
to the Corinthians? If not, what was the difference? 

6. Why were the Sadducees opposed to the preaching of Peter and 


The First Persecution 

Acts 5: 1-11 

The life of the early Jerusalem church was full of a holy joy. But 
even in those first glorious days the Church had to battle against 
sin, and not all of those who desired to join themselves to the disciples 
were of true Christian life. One terrible judgment of God was inflicted 
in order to preserve the purity of the Church. Acts 5 : 1-11. 

A certain Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, had sold a possession, 
in accordance with the custom of those early days, and had laid part 
of the price at the apostles' feet that it might be distributed to the 
poorer disciples. Part of the price was withheld, and yet Ananias 
and his wife pretended to have given all. Ananias was not required 
to sell his field, or to give all of the price after he had sold it. His 
sin was the sin of deceit. He had lied to the Holy Spirit. Terrible 
was the judgment of God; Ananias and Sapphira were stricken down 
dead, and great fear came upon all who heard. 


Acts 5:12-42 

The apostles and the Church enjoyed the favor of the people — 
a favor which was mingled with awe. Many miracles were wrought 
by the apostles; multitudes of sick people were jbrought to be healed. 

But the Sadducees made another attempt to put a stop to the danger- 
ous movement. Acts 5 : 17-42. They laid hands upon all the apostles, 
as they had laid hands upon two of them once before, and put them 
all in prison. But in the night the apostles were released by an angel 
of the Lord, and at once, in obedience to the angel's command, went 
and taught boldly in the Temple. When they were arrested again, 
Peter said simply, "We must obey God rather than men. The Jesus 
whom you slew has been raised up by God as a Prince and a Saviour, 
and we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit." Vs. 
29-32, in substance. It was a bold answer, and the sanhedrin was 
incensed. But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, one of the most noted of the 
Jewish teachers, advocated a policy of watchful waiting. If the new 
movement were of God, he said, there was no use in fighting against 
it; if it were of men it would fail of itself as other Messianic move- 
ments had failed. The cautious policy prevailed, so far as any attempt 
at inflicting the death penalty was concerned. But the apostles before 
they were released were scourged. The suffering and shame did not 
prevent their preaching. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy 
to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus. 

« Acts 6: 1-6 

The early Jerusalem church was composed partly of Aramaic- 
speaking Jews who had always lived in Palestine, and partly of Greek- 
speaking Jews who were connected with the Judaism of the Dispersion. 
The latter class murmured because their widows were neglected in 
the daily ministrations. In order that the matter might be attended 
to without turning the apostles aside from their work of teaching 
and preaching, seven men were chosen to preside over the distribution 
of help to the needy members of the church. Acts 6 : 1-6. But these 
seven were no mere "business men." They were "full of the Spirit 
and of wisdom," and at least two of them became prominent in the 
preaching of the gospel. 

Acts 6:7 to 8:3 

One of these two was Stephen, a "man full of faith and of the Holy 
Spirit." Stephen "wrought great wonders and signs among the people," 


and also preached in the synagogues which were attended by certain 
of the Greek-speaking Jews residing at Jerusalem. By his preaching 
he stirred up opposition. And the opposition was of a new kind. Up 
to that time the objection to the Early Church had come, principally 
at least, from the Sadducees. But the Sadducees were a worldly 
aristocracy, out of touch with the masses of the people, and in 
their efforts against the Church they had been checked again and 
again by the popular favor which the disciples of Jesus enjoyed. 
Now, however, that popular favor began to wane. It became 
evident that although the disciples continued to observe the Jewish 
fasts and. feasts, their preaching really meant the beginning of 
a new era. The people were not ready for such a change, and 
especially the leaders of the people, the Pharisees, who, since the 
crucifixion of Jesus, had shown no persecuting zeal, came out in 
active opposition. 

The result was at once evident. Stephen was arrested, and was 
charged with revolutionary teaching about the Temple. The charge 
was false; Stephen did not say that the Temple worship should then 
and there be abandoned by the disciples of Jesus. But he did pro- 
claim the beginning of a new era, and the presence, in the person of 
Jesus, of one greater than Moses. So, after a great and bold speech 
of Stephen, he was hurried out of the city and stoned. As Stephen 
was stoned, he called on Jesus, saying, ''Lord Jesus, receive 
my spirit," and then kneeling down he prayed for forgiveness 
of his enemies: ''Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." Acts 
6 : 8 to 8 : 3 

Thus died the first Christian martyr. The Greek word ''martyr" 
means "witness." Others had witnessed to the saving work of Christ 
by their words; Stephen now witnessed also by his death. 

When Stephen was stoned, the witnesses had laid ''their garments 
at the feet of a young man named Saul." Saul was to become the 
greatest preacher of the faith which then he laid waste. But mean- 
while he was a leader in a great persecution. 

The persecution scattered the disciples far and wide from Jerusalem, 
though the apostles remained. But this scattering resulted only in 
the wider spread of the gospel. Every\vhere they went the perse- 
cuted disciples proclaimed the faith for which they suffered. Thus 
the very rage of the enemies was an instrument in God's hand for 
bringing the good news of salvation to the wide world. 


Acts 8:4-40 

Among those who were scattered abroad by the persecution was 
PhiHp, one of the seven men who had been appointed to care for the 
ministration to the poor. This PhiUp, who is called "the evangelist," 
to distinguish him from the apostle of the same name, went to Samaria, 
and preached to the Samaritans. It was a step on the way toward 
a Gentile mission, but the Samaritans themselves were not Gentiles 
but half-Jews. When the apostles at Jerusalem heard of the work of 
Philip, they sent Peter and John from among their own number, and 
through Peter and John the Samaritans received special manifesta- 
tions of the Holy Spirit. Acts 8 : 4-25. Then Philip went to a desert 
road leading from Jerusalem to Gaza. There he preached the gospel 
to an Ethiopian treasurer, who despite his employment in a foreign 
country may have been of Jewish descent. Vs. 26-40. Yet the preach- 
ing to him was another preparation for the spread of the gospel out 
into the Gentile world. 


1. What was the sin of Ananias and Sapphira? Was the relief of the 

needy in the early Jerusalem church what is now called com- 
munism or socialism? If not, why not? 

2. What was the fundamental difference between the two first im- 

prisonments of apostles in Jerusalem, and the persecution which 
began with the martyrdom of Stephen? Why was the latter 
more serious? 

3. Outline the speech of Stephen. 

4. Describe the progress of the gospel in Samaria. 

The Conversion of Paul 

The work of the Early Church was at first carried on only among 
the Jews. The Lord Jesus, it is true, had commanded the apostles 
to make disciples of all the nations, but he had not made it perfectly 
plain when the Gentile work should begin, or on what terms the 
Gentiles should l)e received. Conceivably, therefore, the early dis- 
ciples might have thought it might be the will of God that all Israel 
should first be evangelized before the gospel should be brought to the 


other nations; and conceivably also the men of the other nations, 
when they finally should receive the gospel, might be required to 
unite themselves with the people of Israel and keep the Mosaic Law. 
The guidance of the Holy Spirit was required, therefore, before the 
gospel should be offered freely to Gentiles without requiring them to 
become Jews. 

But that guidance, in God's good time, was plainly and gloriously 

One of the most important steps in the preparation for the Gentile 
mission was the calling of a leader. And the leader whom God called 
was one upon whom human choice never would have rested; for the 
chosen leader was none other than Saul, the bitterest enemy of the 

Saul, whose Roman name was Paul, was born at Tarsus, a center 
of Greek culture, and the chief city of Cilicia, the coast countr}^ in 
the southeastern part of Asia Minor, near the northeastern corner of 
the Mediterranean Sea. In Tarsus the family of Paul belonged by 
no means to the humblest of the population, for Paul's father and 
then Paul himself possessed Roman citizenship, which in the provinces 
of the empire was a highly prized privilege possessed only by a few. 
Thus by birth in a Greek university city and by possession of Roman 
citizenship Paul was connected with the life of the Gentile world. 
Such connection was not without importance for his future service 
as apostle to the Gentiles. 

Far more important, however, was the Jewish element in his prep- 
aration. Although Paul no doubt spoke Greek in childhood, he also 
in childhood spoke Aramaic, the language of Palestine, and his family 
regarded themselves as being in spirit Jews of Palestine rather than 
of the Dispersion, Aramaic-speaking Jews rather than Greek-speaking 
Jews, "Hebrews" rather than "Hellenists." Both in Tarsus and in 
Jerusalem, moreover, Paul was brought up in the strictest sect of the 
Pharisees. Thus despite his birth in a Gentile city, Paul was not a 
"hberal Jew"; he was not inclined to break down the separation be- 
tween Jews and Gentiles, or relax the strict requirements of the Mosaic 
Law. On the contrary, his zeal for the Law went beyond that of 
many of his contemporaries. The fact is, of enormous importance 
for the understanding of Paul's gospel; for Paul's gospel of justifica- 
tion by faith is based not upon a lax interpretation of the law of God, 
but upon a strict interpretation. Only, according to that gospel, 


Christ has paid the penalty of the law once for all on the cross. Ac- 
cording to Paul, it is because the full penalty of the law has been paid, 
and not at all because the law is to be taken lightly, that the Christian 
is free from the law. 

Acts 9:1-19, and Parallels 

Early in life Paul went to Jerusalem, to receive training under 
Gamaliel, the famous Pharisaic teacher. And in Jerusalem, when he 
had still not reached middle age, he engaged bitterly in persecution 
of the Church. He was filled with horror at a blasphemous sect that 
proclaimed a crucified malefactor to be the promised Eang of Israel, 
and that tended, perhaps, to break down the permanent significance 
of the law. It is a great mistake to suppose that before he was con- 
verted Paul was gradually getting nearer to Christianity. On the 
contrary, he was if anything getting further away, and it was while 
he was on a mad persecuting expedition that his conversion finally 
occurred. • 

The conversion of Paul was different in one important respect from 
the conversion of ordinary Christians. Ordinary Christians, like Paul, 
are converted by the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Jesus. But in 
the case of ordinary Christians human instruments are used — the 
preaching of the gospel, or godly parents, or the like. In the case of 
Paul, on the other hand, no such instrument was used, but the Lord 
Jesus himself appeared to Paul and brought him the gospel. Paul him- 
self says in one of his Epistles that he saw the Lord. I Cor. 9 : 1 ; 15 : 8. 
It was that fact which made Paul, unlike ordinary Christians, but 
like Peter and the other apostles, an actual eyewitness to the resur- 
rection of Christ. 

A wonderful thing, moreover, was the way in which Jesus appeared 
to Paul. He might naturally have appeared to him in anger, to con- 
demn him for the persecution of the Church. Instead he appeared in 
love, to receive him into fellowship and to make him the greatest of 
the apostles. That was grace — pure grace, pure undeserved favor. 
It is always a matter of pure grace when a man is saved by the Lord 
Jesus, but in the case of Paul, the persecutor, the grace was wonder- 
fully plain. Paul never forgot that grace of Christ; he never hated 
anything so much as the thought that a man can be saved by his own 
good works, or his own character, or his own obedience to God's com- 
mands. The gospel of Paul is a proclamation of the grace of God. 


Paul saw the Lord on the road to Damascus, where he had been 
intending to persecute the Church. Acts 9 : i-19, and parallels. 
As he was nearing the city, suddenly at midday a bright light shone 
around him above the brightness of the sun. Those who accompanied 
him remained speechless, seeing the light but not distinguishing the 
person, hearing a sound, but not distinguishing the words. Paul, 
on the other hand, saw the Lord Jesus and listened to what Jesus said. 
Then, at the command of Jesus, he went into Damascus. For three 
days he was blind, then received his sight through the ministrations 
of Ananias, an otherwise unknown disciple, and was baptized. Then 
he proceeded to labor for the Lord by whom he had been saved. 

Soon, however, he went away for a time into Arabia. Gal. 1 : 17. 
It is not known how far the journey took him or how long it lasted, 
except that it lasted less than three years. Nothing is said, in the 
New Testament, moreover, about what Paul did in Arabia. But 
even if he engaged in missionary preaching, he also meditated on the 
great thing that God had done for him; and certainly he prayed. 


1. Where was Paul born? Find the place on a map. What sort of 

city was it. 

2. What is known about Paul's boyhood home, and about his educa- 

tion? In what books of the New Testament is the information 

3. Why did Paul persecute the Church? 

4. Describe in detail what the book of The Acts says about the con- 

version of Paul. Where does Paul mention the conversion in his 

5. How did the conversion of Paul diflFer from the conversion of an 

ordinary Christian? In what particulars was it like the conversion 
of an ordinary Christian? 

6. What did Paul do after the conversion? 

The Gospel Given to the Gentiles 

Saul of Tarsus was not only converted directly by the Lord Jesus; 
he was also called just as directly by Jesus to be an apostle, and espe- 


cially an apostle to the Gentiles. But other instruments were also 
used in the beginning of the Gentile mission. Even Peter, whose work 
continued for a number of years afterwards to be chiefly among the 
Jews, was led by the Holy Spirit to take a notable step in the offering 
of the gospel freely to the whole world. 

Acts 9:31-43 

During the period of peace which followed after the persecution 
at the time of the death of Stephen, Peter went down to labor in the 
coastal plain of Palestine. Acts 9 : 31-43. At Lydda he healed a 
lame man, iEneas; at Joppa, on the coast, he raised Dorcas from the 
dead. And it was at Joppa that he received the guidance of the Holy 
Spirit as to the reception of Gentiles into the Church. Ch. 10. 

Acts, Chapter 10 

At midday Peter went up upon the flat housetop to pray. There 
he fell into a trance, and saw a vessel like a great sheet let down from 
heaven, and in it all kinds of animals which it was forbidden in the 
Mosaic Law to use for food. A voice came to him: ''Rise, Peter; 
kill and eat. But Peter said. Not so. Lord; for I have never eaten 
anything that is common and unclean. And a voice came unto him 
again the second time, What God hath cleansed, make not thou com- 
mon. And this was done thrice: and straightway the vessel was re- 
ceived up into heaven." 

The meaning of this vision was soon made plain. A Roman oflScer, 
Cornelius, a devout Gentile, living at Caesarea, which was a seaport 
about thirty miles north of Joppa, had been commanded in a vision 
to send for Peter. The messengers of Cornelius arrived at Peter's 
house just after Peter's vision was over. The Holy Spirit commanded 
Peter to go with them. Arriving at Caesarea, the apostle went into 
the house where Cornelius and his friends were assembled, and there 
proclaimed to them the gospel of the Lord Jesus. While he was still 
speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were present, upon 
the Gentiles as well as upon the Jews. Then said Peter, "Can any 
man forbid the water, that these should not be baptized, who have 
received the Holy Spirit as well as we?" So the Gentiles were baptized. 

A very important step had been taken. Cornelius, it is true, was a 
"God-fearer" — that is, he belonged to the class of Gentiles frequently- 
mentioned in the book of The Acts who worshiped the God of Israel 


and were friendly to the Jews. Nevertheless, he was still outside the 
covenant people, and under the old dispensation he could not be re- 
ceived into covenant privileges until he united himself with the nation 
by submitting himself to the whole Mosaic Law. Yet now such restric- 
tions were removed by the plain guidance of the Spirit of God. Evi- 
dently an entirely new dispensation had begun. 

Acts 11:1-18 

At Jerusalem Peter's strange action in receiving Gentiles into the 
Church without requiring them to become Jews gave rise to some dis- 
cussion. Acts 11 : 1-18. But the apostles had no difficulty in con- 
vincing the brethren of the necessity for what he had done. The 
guidance of the Holy Spirit had been perfectly plain. When the 
brethren heard what Peter said, ''they held their peace, and glorified 
God, saying, Then to the Gentiles also hath God granted repentance 
unto Hfe." 

The freedom of the Gentiles had not yet, however, fully been re- 
vealed. For a time the case of Cornelius seems to have been regarded 
as exceptional. The Holy Spirit had plainly commanded Peter to 
receive Cornelius and his friends without requiring them to be united 
to the people of Israel, but perhaps similar definite guidance was 
required before others could be received. The underlying reason for 
Gentile freedom, in other words, had not yet fully been revealed. 

The revelation, however, was not long delayed; it came especially 
through the Apostle Paul. But meanwhile Paul was being prepared 
for his work. 

Acts 9: 19-30, and Parallels 

After the journey to Arabia, which was mentioned at the end of 
Lesson XVI, Paul returned to Damascus, and preached to the Jews, 
endeavoring to convince them that Jesus was really the Messiah. 
His preaching aroused opposition, and the Jews, with the help of an 
officer of King Aretas of Arabia, had tried to kill him. But the brethren 
lowered him over the city wall in a basket, and so he escaped to Jerusa- 
lem, Acts 9 : 23-25; II Cor. 11 : 31-33, where he desired to become 
acquainted with Peter. No doubt he then talked with Peter especially 
about the events of the earthly ministry of Jesus and the appearances 
of the risen Christ. He also engaged in preaching to the Greek-speaking 
Jews. But when these Greek-speaking Jews sought to kill him, the 
brethren sent him away to Tarsus. He was unwilling to go, being 


desirous of repairing the harm which he had done to the church at 
Jerusalem; but a definite command of the Lord Jesus sent him now 
forth to the country of the Gentiles. Acts 9 : 26-30; 22 : 17-21; Gal. 
1 : 18-24. He labored in or near Tarsus, preaching the faith which 
formerly he had laid waste. 

Acts 11:19-26 

Meanwhile an important new step in the progress of the gospel 
into the Gentile world was taken at Antioch. Acts 11 : 19-26. Antioch, 
the capital of the Roman province of Syria, was situated on the Orontes 
River, near the northeastern corner of the Mediterranean Sea. It 
was the third greatest city of the empire, ranking immediately after 
Rome and Alexandria. And among the great Gentile cities it was the 
first which was encountered on the march of the gospel out from Jeru- 
salem to the conquest of the world. 

At Antioch, certain unnamed Jews of Cyprus and Gyrene, who had 
been scattered from Jerusalem by the persecution at the time of 
Stephen's death, took the important step of preaching the word of 
God to the Gentiles. Before, they had spoken only to Jews; here 
they spoke also to the Gentiles. Gentiles were received no longer mere- 
ly in isolated cases like the case of Cornelius, but in large numbers. To 
investigate what had happened, Barnabas, an honorable member of the 
early Jerusalem church. Acts 4 : 36, 37, was sent from Jerusalem to 
Antioch. Barnabas at once recognized the hand of God, and sent to 
Tarsus to seek Paul. He and Paul then labored abundantly in the 
Antioch church. At Antioch the disciples of Jesus were first called 
"Christians" — no doubt by the Gentile population of the city. The 
fact is not unimportant. It shows that even outsiders had come to see 
that the Christian Church was something distinct from Judaism. 
A distinct name had come to be required. 


1. Describe the conversion of Cornelius in detail. What was the im- 

portance of the event? 

2. What was the meaning of Peter's vision on the housetop at Joppa? 

3. What important step was taken at Antioch? 

4. Trace the part of Barnabas in furthering the work of Paul. 

5. Show how every successive step in the offering of the gospel to the 

Gentiles was taken under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 



The First Missionary Journey and the Apostolic 


Acts 11:27 to 12:25 

After a time of rapid growth in the Antioch church, a prophet, 
Agabus by name, came down from Jerusalem and prophesied a famine. 
The disciples determined to send relief to their brethren in Jerusalem. 
This they did by the instrumentality of Barnabas and Paul. Acts 
11 : 27-30. 

Meanwhile the Jerusalem church had been suffering renewed perse- 
cution under Herod Agrippa I, who, as a vassal of Rome, ruled over 
all Palestine from a.d. 41 to 44. James the son of Zebedee, one of 
the apostles, had been put to death, and Peter had escaped only b}-^ 
a wonderful interposition of God, Acts, ch. 12. 

Acts, Chapters 13, 14 

After Barnabas and Paul had returned to Antioch from their labor 
of love in Jerusalem, they were sent out, under the guidance of the 
Holy Spirit, upon a mission to the Gentiles, which is called the first 
missionary journey. Acts, chs. 13, 14. This missionary journey led 
first through the island of Cyprus, then, by way of Perga in Pamphylia 
to Pisidian Antioch on the central plateau of Asia Minor. 

At Pisidian Antioch, as regularly in the cities that he visited, Paul 
entered first into the synagogue. In accordance with the liberal Jewish 
custom of that day, he was given opportunity to speak, as a visiting 
teacher. The congregation was composed not only of Jews but also 
of Gentiles who had become interested in the God of Israel and in the 
lofty moralitj'' of the Old Testament without definitely uniting them- 
selves with the people of Israel — the class of persons who are called 
in the book of The Acts "they that feared God" or the like. These 
"God-fearers" constituted a picked audience; they were just the Gentiles 
who were most apt to be won by the new preaching, because in their 
case much of the preliminary instruction had been given. But the 
Jews themselves, at Pisidian Antioch as well as elsewhere, were jealous 
of the new mission to the Gentiles, which was proving so much more 
successful than their own. Paul and Barnabas, therefore, were obliged 
to give up the work in the synagogue and address themselves directly 


to the Gentile population. So it happened very frequently in the 
cities that Paul visited — at first he preached to both Jews and Gentiles 
in the synagogues, and then when the Jews drove him out he was 
obliged to preach to the Gentiles only. 

Being driven out of Pisidian Antioch by a persecution instigated 
by the Jews, Paul and Barnabas went to Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, 
which, witli Pisidian Antioch, were in the southern part of the great 
Roman province Galatia, but not in Galatia proper, which lay farther 
to the north. Then, turning back from Derbe, the missionaries re- 
visited Lystra, Iconium, and Pisidian Antioch, strengthening the 
disciples and appointing elders; and then returned to the church 
at Syrian Antioch from which the Holy Spirit had sent them forth. 

The Epistle of James 

During the progress of the Antioch church and of the mission which 
had proceeded from it, the church at Jerusalem had not been idle. 
At the head of it stood James, the brother of Jesus, who was not one 
of the twelve apostles and apparently during the earthly ministry of 
Jesus had not been a believer, but who had witnessed an appearance 
of the risen Lord. James was apparently attached permanently to the 
church at Jerusalem, while the Twelve engaged frequently in mis- 
sionary work elsewhere. From this James there has been preserved 
in the New Testament a letter. The Epistle of James, which is addressed 
"to the twelve tribes which are of the Dispersion." This letter was 
written at an early time, perhaps at about the time of the first mis- 
sionary journey of Paul. In the letter, James lays stress upon the 
high moral standard which ought to prevail in the Christian life, and 
he has sometimes been regarded as an advocate of "works." But 
this judgment should not be misunderstood. The "works" of which 
James is speaking are not works which are to be put alongside of faith 
as one of the means by which salvation is to be obtained; they are, 
on the contrary, works which proceed from faith and show that faith 
is true faith. James does not, therefore, deny the doctrine of justifi- 
cation by faith alone. Only he insists that true faith always results 
in good works. Paul meant exactly the same thing when he spoke of 
"faith working through love." Gal. 5:6. Paul and James use some- 
what different language, but they mean the same thing. Faith, accord- 
ing to both of them, involves receiving the power of God, which then 
results in a life of loving service. 


Acts 15: 1-35; Galatians 2:1-10 

The wonderful success of the first missionary journey of Paul and 
Barnabas caused great joy to the Antioch church. But the joy was 
soon marred by certain persons, commonly called "Judaizers," who 
came down to Antioch from Jerusalem and said that unless the Gentile 
converts kept, the Law of Moses they could not be saved. The demand 
was directly contrary to the great principle of justification by faith 
alone; for it made salvation depend partly upon human merit. The 
entire life of the Church was in danger. But Paul, guided by a revela- 
tion from God, determined to comply with the wishes of the brethren 
at Antioch by going up to Jerusalem with Barnabas and certain others, 
in order to confer with the leaders of the Jerusalem church. Paul did 
not need any authorization from those leaders, for he had been com- 
missioned directly by Christ; nor did he need to learn from them 
anything about the principles of the gospel, for the gospel had come to 
him through direct revelation. But he did desire to receive from the 
Jerusalem leaders, to whom the Judaizers falsely appealed, some such 
public pronouncement as would put the Judaizers clearly in the wrong 
and so stop their ruination of the Church's work. 

The conference resulted exactly as Paul desired. Acts 15 : 1-35; 
Gal. 2 : 1-10. The Jerusalem leaders — James, the brother of the 
Lord, Peter, and John the son of Zebedee — recognized that they had 
absolutely nothing to add to the gospel of Paul, because he had been 
commissioned by Christ as truly and as directly as the original Twelve. 
Joyfully, therefore, they gave to Paul and Barnabas the right hand of 
fellowship. God had worked for Paul among the Gentiles as truly as he 
had worked for Peter among the Jews. With regard to the propaganda 
of the Judaizers, the Jerusalem church, after speeches by James and 
Peter presenting the same view as the view of Paul, sent a letter to 
the Gentile Christians in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia declaring them 
to be absolutely free from the Mosaic Law as a means of salvation, and 
directing them to refrain, out of loving regard for the Jews in the 
several cities, from certain things in the Gentile manner of life which 
were most abhorrent to Jewish feeling. 

Such was the result of the ''Apostolic Council," which took place 
at about a.d. 49. It was a great victory for the Gentile mission and 
for Paul, for it established clearly the unity of all the apostles under 
the guidance of the Holy Spirit. No wonder the church at Antioch 
rejoiced when the letter of the Jerusalem church was read. 



1. Describe in detail the release of Peter from prison in the closing 

days of the reign of Herod Agrippa I. 

2. Enumerate the visits of Paul to Jerusalem which have been studied 

so far. 

3. What happened, on the first missionary journey, at Paphos? at 

Perga? at Pisidian Antioch? at Lystra? 

4. Describe the Apostolic Council in detail. What was the meaning 

of the letter which was sent out from the council? 

The Second Missionary Journey 

The Apostolic Council, which was studied in the last lesson, was 
an important step in the progress of Christian liberty. By it the 
Judaizers were definitely repudiated, and salvation was based upon 
faith alone apart from the works of the law. But many practical diffi- 
culties still remained to be solved. 

Galatians 2: 11-21 

One such difficulty appeared at Antioch soon after the council. 
Gal. 2 : 11-21. The council had established the freedom of the Gentile 
Christians from the Mosaic Law, but it had not been determined 
that the Jewish Christians should give up the Law. No doubt the 
Jewish Christians were inwardly free from the Law; they depended 
for their salvation not at all upon their obedience to God's commands 
as set forth in the Law of Moses, but simply and solely upon the sav- 
ing work of Christ accepted by faith. But so far as had yet been 
revealed, it might conceivably be the will of God that they should 
still maintain their connection with Israel by observing the whole of 
the Law including even its ceremonial requirements. In order, how- 
ever, that the ceremonial requirements of the Law might be observed, 
the Jews had always been accustomed to avoid table companionship 
with Gentiles. What should be done, therefore, in churches like the 
church at Antioch, which were composed both of Jewish Christians and 
of Gentile Christians? How could the Jewish Christians in such churches 
continue to observe the ceremonial law, and still hold table com- 
panionship with their Gentile brethren? 


This question faced the apostle Peter on a visit which he made to 
Antioch after the Apostolic Council. At first he answered the ques- 
tion in the interests of Gentile freedom; he allowed the unity of the 
Church to take precedence over the devotion of Jewish Christians 
to the ceremonial law. He held table companionship, therefore, with 
the Gentile Christians, and he did so out of true conviction with regard 
to the new Christian freedom. But when certain men came to Antioch 
from James, Peter was afraid to be seen transgressing the ceremonial 
law, and so began to withdraw himself from table companionship 
with his Gentile brethren. 

Peter's action, because of its inconsistency, endangered the very 
life of the Church. Peter had given up the keeping of the ceremonial 
law in order to hold table companionship with the Gentile Christians. 
Then he had undertaken the keeping of the ceremonial law again. 
Might not the Gentile Christians be tempted to do the same thing, 
in order to preserve their fellowship with the greatest of the original 
apostles? But if the Gentile Christians should begin to keep the 
ceremonial law, they could not fail to think that the keeping of the cere- 
monial law was somehow necessary to salvation. And so the funda- 
mental principle of Christianity — the principle of salvation by Christ 
alone apart from human merit — would be given up. The danger was 

But God had raised up a man to fight the battle of the Church. 
Absolutely regardless of personal considerations, devoted solely to 
the truth, the Apostle Paul withstood Peter before the whole Church. 
It is exceedingly important to observe that Paul did not differ from 
Peter in principle; he differed from him only in practice. He said to 
Peter in effect, ''You and I are quite agreed about the principle of 
justification by faith alone; why, therefore, do you belie your principles 
by your conduct?" In the very act of condemning the practice of 
Peter, therefore, Paul commends his principles; about the principles 
of the gospel the two chief apostles were fully agreed. Undoubtedly 
Peter was convinced by what Paul said; there was no permanent dis- 
agreement, even about matters of practice, between Peter and Paul. 
Thus did the Spirit of God guide and protect the Church. 

Acts 15:36 to 18:22 

Soon afterward Paul went forth from Antioch on his "second mis- 
sionary journey." Acts 15 : 36 to 18 : 22. Journeying with Silas 


by the land route to Derbe and to Lystra, where Timothy became his 
associate, he then apparently went to Iconium and Pisidian Antioch 
and then northward into Galatia proper, that is "Galatia" in the older 
and narrower sense of the term. Finally he went down to Troas, a 
seaport on the ^Egean Sea. At Troas he must have been joined by 
Luke, the author of The Acts, since the narrative in Acts here begins 
to be carried on by the use of the first person, ''we," instead of "they," 
thus showing that the author was present. 

Setting sail from Troas, the apostolic company soon came to Philippi 
in Macedonia, where an important church was founded. At last Paul 
and Silas were imprisoned, and although they were released through 
divine interposition and by the second thought of the city authorities, 
they were requested by the authorities to leave the city. 

Arriving at Thessalonica, Paul preached in the synagogue, and 
founded an important church, chiefly composed of Gentiles. But 
after a stay shorter than had been intended, persecution instigated 
by the Jews drove Paul out of the city. He went then to Athens, 
where he preached not merely in the synagogue but also directly to 
the Gentile passers-by in the market place. 

At Corinth, the capital of the Roman province Achaia, embracing 
Greece proper, large numbers of converts were won, and Paul spent 
about two years in the city. Not long after the beginning of this 
Corinthian residence, he wrote the two Thessalonian Epistles. 

The First and Second Epistles 
to the Thessalonians 

The First Epistle to the Thessalonians was written just after Paul 
had received his first news from the Thessalonian church. He had 
been obliged to leave Thessalonica before he had intended. Would 
his work in that city be permanent? Would the converts remain 
faithful to Christ? These were serious questions. The Thessalonian 
converts were living in the midst of a corrupt paganism, and Paul 
had not had time to instruct them fully in the things of Christ. Every 
human probability was against the maintenance of their Christian 
life. But at last Paul received his first news from Thessalonica. And 
the news was good news. God was watching over his children; the 
great wonder had been wrought; a true Christian church had been 
founded at Thessalonica. The letter which Paul wrote at such a 
time is very naturally a simple, warm expression of gratitude to God. 


At the same time, in the letter, Paul (comforts the Thessalonians in 
view of the death of certain of their number, gives instruction about 
the second coming of Christ, and urges the converts to live a diligent 
and orderly life. 

The Second Epistle to the Thessalonians was written very soon 
after the former Epistle. It reiterates the teaching of I Thessalonians, 
with correction of a misunderstanding which had crept into the church 
with regard to the second coming of Christ. 


1. What practical question arose at Antioch after the Apostolic 


2. How did Paul show the agreement in principle between himself 

and Peter? 

3. What was the inconsistency of Peter's action? Did Paul neces- 

sarily condemn Jewish Christians who continued to observe the 
ceremonial law? What principle was at stake at Antioch? What 
does Paul in his Epistles say about" Peter after this time? Was 
there any permanent disagreement? 

4. Why did Paul separate from Barnabas at the begimiing of the 

second missionary journey? What does Paul say afterwards 
about Barnabas? Was there any permanent disagreement be- 
tween Paul and Barnabas or between Paul and Mark? 

5. Describe what happened at Troas, Philippi, Thessalonica, Berea, 

Athens, Corinth. 

6. What was the occasion for the writing of I Thessalonians? of II 



The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistle to the 


At Corinth, on the second missionary journey, the Jews made charges 
before the Roman proconsul Gallio against Paul. But Gallic dis- 
missed the charges as concerning only the Jewish Law. It was an 
important decision. Judaism was tolerated in the Roman Empire, 
and if Christianity was regarded as a variety of Judaism it would 
be tolerated too. Such was usually the practice of the Roman authori- 


ties in the very early days; the Roman authorities often protected 
the Christian missionaries against the Jews. 

Finally leaving Corinth, Paul went by way of Ephesus, where he 
made only a brief stay, to Palestine and then back to Syrian Antioch. 

Acts 18:23 to 21:15 

After having spent some time at Syrian Antioch, he started out 
on his third missionary journey. Acts 18 : 23 to 21 : 15. First he 
went through Asia Minor to Ephesus, apparently passing through 
Galatia proper on his way. At Ephesus he spent about three years. 

The Epistle to the Galatians 

It was probably during this Ephesian residence that Paul wrote 
the Epistle to the Galatians; and probably "the churches of Galatia" 
to which the Epistle is addressed were churches in Galatia proper in 
the northern part of the great Roman province Galatia. Another 
view regards the Epistle as being addressed to the well-known churches 
at Pisidian Antioch, Iconiuni, Lystra, and Derbe, which were in the 
southern part of the Roman province. When this view is adopted, 
the writing of the Epistle is usually put at a somewhat earher time in 
the life of Paul. 

The occasion for the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians can 
easily be discovered on the basis of the letter itself. After Paul had 
left Galatia, certain other teachers had come into the country. These 
teachers were men of the Jewish race, and they are usually called 
"Judaizers." What they taught can be established fairly well on the 
basis of Paul's answer to them. They agreed with Paul in believing 
that Jesus was truly the Messiah, and that he had risen from the 
dead. Apparently they had no objection to Paul's doctrine of the 
deity of Christ, and they agreed, apparently, that faith in Christ is 
necessary to salvation. But they maintained that something else 
is also necessary to salvation — namely, union with the nation of Israel 
and the keeping of the Mosaic Law. The Judaizers, then, maintained 
that a man is saved by faith and works; whereas Paul maintained that 
a man is saved by faith alone. 

The Galatian Christians had been impressed by what the Judaizers 
had said. Already they had begun to observe some of the Jewish 
fasts and feasts. And they were on the point of taking the decisive 
step of uniting themselves definitely with the people of Israel and 


undertaking the observance of the Mosaic Law. It was to keep them 
from taking that decisive step that Paul wrote the Epistle. 

At first sight the question at issue might seem to have little impor- 
tance to-day. No one in the Church nowadays is. in danger of uniting 
himself with Israel or undertaking to keep the ceremonial law. If 
Paul had treated the question in Galatia in a merely practical way, 
his letter would be of no value to us. But as a matter of fact Paul 
did not treat the question in a merely practical way; he treated it as a 
question of principle. He saw clearly that what was really endangered 
by the propaganda of the Judaizers was the great principle of grace; 
the true question was whether salvation is to be earned partly by 
what man can do or whether it is an absolutely free gift of God. 

That question is just as important in the modern Church as it was 
in Galatia in the first century. There are many in the modern Church 
who maintain that salvation is obtained by character, or by* men's 
own obedience to the commands of Christ, or by men's own accept- 
ance of Christ's ideal of life. These are the modern Judaizers. And 
the Epistle to the Galatians is directed against them just as much 
as it was directed against the Judaizers of long ago. 

Paul refuted the Judaizers by establishing the meaning of the cross 
of Christ. Salvation, he said, was obtained simply and solely by what 
Christ did when he died for the sins of beUevers. The curse of God's 
law, said Paul, rests justly upon all men, for all men have sinned. 
That curse of the law brings the penaltj^ of death. But the Lord 
Jesus, the eternal Son of God, took the penalty upon himself by dying 
instead of us. We therefore go free. 

Such is the gospel of Jesus Christ as preached by Paul, and as de- 
fended in the Epistle to the Galatians. That gospel, Paul said, is 
received by faith. Faith is not a meritorious act; it simply means 
accepting what Christ has done. It cannot be mingled with an 
appeal to human merit. Christ will do everything or nothing. Either 
accept as a free gift what Christ has done, or else earn salvation by 
perfect obedience. The latter alternative is impossible because of sin; 
the former, therefore, alone can make a man right with God. 

But acceptance of the saving work of Christ means more than salva- 
tion from the guilt of sin; it means more than a fresh start in God's 
favor. It means also salvation from the power of sin. All men, 
according to Paul, are dead in sin. Salvation, then, can come only by a 
new creation, as Paul calls it, or, as it is called elsewhere in the New 


Testament, a new birth. That new creation is wrought by the saving 
work of Christ, and appHed by the Holy Spirit. And after the new crea- 
tion has been wrought, there is a new hf e on the basis of it. In the new 
hfe there is still a battle against sin. But the Christian has received 
a new power, the power of the Holy Spirit. And when he yields him- 
self to that new power, he fulfills in its deepest import the law of God. 
Only he fulfills it not by obedience in his own strength to a law which 
is outside of him, but by yielding to a power which God has placed in 
his heart. This new fulfillment of the law on the part of Christians 
is what Paul means when he speaks of "faith working through love"; 
for love involves the fulfillment of the whole law. 

Such was the gospel of Paul as it is set forth in the Epistle to the 
Galatians. Paul had received it from the Lord Jesus Christ. Without 
it the Church is dead. It need not be put in long words, but it must 
be proclaimed without the slightest concession to human pride, if the 
Church is to be faithful to the Saviour who died. We deserved 
eternal death; the Lord Jesus, because he loved us, died in our stead 
— there is the heart and core of Christianity. 


1. Describe Paul's first visit to Corinth. 

2. Where did Paul go at the beginning of the third missionary journey? 

3. What was the occasion for the writing of the Epistle to the Galatians? 

4. What great principle is defended in the Epistle? What is the mean- 

ing of the death of Christ? What is the meaning of "justification 
by faith"? 

5. Give an outline of the Epistle, showing the three great divisions. 

6. Why does Paul give, in the first part of the Epistle, a review of 

certain facts in his life? 


The Third Missionary Journey. The Epistles to the 
Corinthians and to the Romans 

Another Epistle, in addition to the Epistle to the Galatians, was 
written by Paul at Ephesus on the third missionary journey. This 
was the First Epistle to the Corinthians. 


The First Epistle to the Corinthians 

In I Corinthians, the details of congregational life are more fully 
discussed than in any other of the Epistles of Paul. Paul had received 
information about the Corinthian church partly through what was 
said by the ''household of Chloe," who had come to Ephesus from 
Corinth, and partly by a letter which the Corinthian church had 
written. The information was not all of a favorable character. In 
Corinth, a Christian church was in deadly battle with paganism — 
paganism in thought and paganism in life. But that battle was fought 
to a victorious conclusion, through the guidance of an inspired apostle, 
and through the Holy Spirit of God in the hearts of beHevers. 

First Paul dealt in his letter with the parties in the Corinthian 
church. The Corinthian Christians were in the habit of saying, "I 
am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ," I 
Cor. 1 : 12; they seem to have been more interested in the particular 
form in which the gospel message was deUvered than in the message 
itself. Paul treated the subject in a grand and lofty way. The party 
spirit in Corinth was merely one manifestation of intellectual pride. 
In reply, the apostle directed his readers to the true wisdom. And if 
you would possess that wisdom, he said, give up your quarreling and 
give up your pride. 

Then there was gross sin to be dealt with, and a certain lordly in- 
difference to moral purity. In reply, Paul pointed to the true moral 
implications of the gospel, and to the law of love which sometimes, 
as in Paul's own case, causes a Christian man to give up even privileges 
which might be his by right. 

In chs. 12 to 14 of the Epistle, Paul dealt with the supernatural 
gifts of the Spirit, such as prophecy and speaking with tongues. These 
gifts were not continued after the Apostolic Age. But it is important 
for us to know about them, and the principles which Paul used in 
deahng with them are of permanent validity. The greatest principle 
was the principle of love. It is in connection with the question of gifts 
of the Spirit that Paul wrote his wonderful hymn about Christian love. 
Ch. 13. 

Paganism of thought was creeping into the Corinthian church in 
connection with the doctrine of the resurrection. Paul dealt with 
this question by appealing to the plain historical evidence for the 
resurrection of Christ. That fact itself had not been denied in Corinth. 
It was supported by the testimony not only of Paul himself, but also 


of Peter, of the apostles, and of five hundred brethren most of whom 
were still alive. Paul had received the account of the death, the burial, 
the resurrection, and the appearances of Jesus from Jerusalem, and 
no doubt from Peter during the fifteen days which the two apostles 
had spent together three years after Paul's conversion. In I Cor. 
15 : 1-7 Paul is reproducing the account which the primitive Jerusalem 
church gave of its own foundation. And in that account Christianity 
appears, not as an aspiration, not as mere devotion to an ideal of 
life, not as inculcation of a certain kind of conduct, but as "a piece of 
information" about something that had actually happened — namely, 
the atoning death and glorious resurrection of Jesus our Lord. 

The Second Epistle to the Corinthians 

The First Epistle to the Corinthians did not end all difficulties 
in the Corinthian church. On the contrary, after the writing of that 
letter, certain miserable busybodies had sought to draw the Corinthian 
Christians away from their allegiance to the apostle. A brief visit 
which Paul had made to Corinth had not ended the trouble. At last 
Paul had left Ephesus in great distress. He had passed through a 
terrible personal danger, when he had despaired of life, but more trying 
still was the thought of Corinth. Finding no relief from his troubles 
he went to Troas and then across to Macedonia. There at length 
relief came. Titus, Paul's helper, arrived with good news from Corinth; 
the church had returned to its allegiance. To give expression to his 
joy and thanksgiving, Paul wrote the Second Epistle to the Corin- 
thians. In the Epistle he also dealt with the matter of the collection 
for the poor at Jerusalem, and administered a last rebuke to the Corin- 
thian trouble makers. 

In I Corinthians it is the congregation that is in the forefront of 
interest; in II Corinthians, on the other hand, it is the apostle and 
his ministry. In this letter, the Apostle Paul lays bare before his readers 
the very secrets of his heart, and reveals the glories of the ministry 
which God had intrusted to him. That ministry was the min- 
istry of reconciliation. God and men had been separated by the 
great gulf of sin, which had brought men under God's wrath and 
curse. Nothing that men could do could possibly bridge the gulf. 
But what was impossible with men was possible with God. By the 
redeeming work of Christ the gulf had been closed; all had been made 
right again between God and those for whom Christ died. 


The Epistle to the Romans 

Arriving at Corinth Paul spent three months in that city. During 
this time he wrote the Epistle to the Romans. Paul was intending 
to visit the city of Rome. The church at Rome had not been founded 
by him; it was important, therefore, that in order to prepare for his 
coming he should set forth plainly to the Romans the gospel which 
he proclaimed. That is what he does in the Epistle to the Romans. 
In the Epistle to the Romans, the way of salvation through Christ is 
set forth more fully than in any other book of the New Testament. 
In Galatians it is set forth in a polemic way, when Paul was in the 
midst of a deadly conflict against a religion of works; here it is set forth 
more calmly and more fully. 

In the first great division of the Epistle, Paul sets forth the universal 
need of salvation. The need is due to sin. All have sinned, and are 
under God's just wrath and curse. Rom. 1 : 18 to 3 : 20. But the 
Lord Jesus Christ bore that curse for all believers, by dying for them 
on the cross; he paid the just penalty of our sins, and clothed us with 
his perfect righteousness. Ch. 3 : 21-31. This saving work of Christ, 
and the faith by which it is accepted, were set forth in the Old Testa- 
ment Scriptures. Ch. 4. The result of the salvation is peace with 
God, and an assured hope that what God has begun through the gift 
of Christ, he wiU bring to a final completion. Ch. 5 : 1-11. Thus, 
as in Adam all died, by sharing in the guilt of Adam's sin, so in Christ 
all believers are made alive. Vs. 12-21. 

But, Paul goes on, the freedom which is wrought by Christ does 
not mean freedom to sin; on the contrary it means freedom from the 
power of sin; it means a new life which is led by the power of God. 
Ch. 6. TMiat the law could not do, because the power of sin prevented 
men from keeping its commands, that Christ has accomplished. Ch. 7. 
Through Christ, believers have been made sons of God; there is 
to them "no condemnation"; and nothing in this world or the next 
shall separate them from the love of Christ. Ch. 8. 

Toward the spread of this gospel, Paul goes on, the whole course 
of history has been made to lead. The strange dealings of God both 
with Jews and Gentiles are part, of one holy and mysterious plan. 
Chs. 9 to 11. 

In the last section of the Epistle, Paul shows how the glorious gospel 
which he has set forth results in holy living from day to day. Chs. 
12 to 16. 



1. What was the occasion for the writing of I Corinthians? of II Corin- 

thians? of Romans? 

2. Give outlines of these three Epistles. 

The First Imprisonment of Paul 

After the three months which Paul spent at Corinth on the third 
missionary journey, he went up to Jerusalem in order to help bear 
the gifts which he had collected in the Gentile churches for the poor 
of the Jerusalem church. He was accompanied by a number of helpers, 
among them Luke, the writer of the Third Gospel and the book of 
The Acts. Luke had remained behind at Philippi on the second mis- 
sionary journey, and now, several years later, he joined the apostle 
again. The portions of the journey where Luke was actually present 
are narrated in The Acts in great detail and with remarkable vividness. 

When Paul came to Miletus on the coast of Asia Minor, he sent to 
Ephesus for the elders of the Ephesian church, and when they came 
he held a notable farewell discourse. There was a touching scene 
when he finally parted from those who loved him so weU, 

Acts 21:15 to 28:31 

Despite prophecies of the imprisonment that awaited him Paul 
went bravely on to Jerusalem. There he was warmly received by 
James the brother of the Lord and by the church. Acts 21 : 15-26. 
But the non-Christian Jews falsely accused him of bringing Gentiles 
with him into the Temple. Vs. 27-40. There was an onslaught against 
him, and he was rescued by the Roman chief captain, who took him 
into the Castle of Antonia which the Romans used to guard the Temple 
area. On the steps of the castle he was allowed to address the people, 
ch. 22 : 1-22, who listened to him at first because he used the Aramaic 
language instead of Greek, but broke out against him again when he 
spoke of his mission to the Gentiles. 

An appeal to his Roman citizenship saved Paul from scourging, 
Acts 22 : 23-29; and a hearing the next day before the sanhedrin, 
ch. 22 : 30 to 23 : 10, brought only a quarrel between the Sadducees 


and the Pharisees. That night Paul had a comforting vision of 
Christ. V. 11. 

A plot of the Jews to waylay Paul and kill him was frustrated by 
Paul's sister's son, who told the chief captain. The chief captain sent 
the prisoner with an escort down to Caesarea where the procurator 
Felix had his residence. Acts 23 : 12-35. Hearings before Felix 
brought no decisive result, ch. 24, and Paul was left in prison at Caesarea 
for two years until Festus arrived as successor of Felix. Then, in 
order to prevent being taken to Jerusalem for trial, Paul exercised 
his right as a Roman citizen by appealing to the court of the emperor. 
Ch. 25 : 1-12, Accordingly, after a hearing before Herod Agrippa II, 
who had been made king of a realm northeast of Palestine by the 
Romans, v. 13; ch. 26:32, Paul was sent as a prisoner to Rome, 
chs. 27 : 1 to 28 : 16. 

On the journey he was accompanied by Luke, who has given a 
detailed account of the voyage — an account which is not only perhaps 
the chief source of information about the seafaring of antiquity, but 
also affords a wonderful picture of the way Paul acted in a time of 
peril. The ship was wrecked on the island of Malta, and it was not 
until the following spring that the prisoner was brought to Rome. 
There he remained in prison for two years, chained to a soldier guard, 
but permitted to dwell in his own hired house and to receive visits from 
his friends. Acts 28 : 16-31. 

During this first ,Roman imprisonment Paul wrote four of his 
Epistles — to the Colossians and to Philemon, to the Ephesians, and 
to the Philippians. Colossians, Philemon, and Ephesians were all 
written at the same time. Colossians and Ephesians were both sent 
by the same messenger, Tychicus, and this messenger was accom- 
panied by Onesimus, who bore the Epistle to Philemon. 

The Epistle to Philemon 

Onesimus was a slave who had run away from Philemon, his master. 
He had then been converted by Paul, and Paul was now sending him 
back to his master. The little letter which the apostle wrote on this 
occasion gives a wonderful picture of the way in which ordinary social 
relationships like that of master and servant may be made the means 
of expression for Christian love. Very beautiful also was the relation 
between Philemon and the apostle through whom he had been con- 


The Epistle to the Colossians 

The church at Colossae, to which the Epistle to the Colossians is 
addressed, had been founded not by Paul but by one of his helpers, 
Epaphras. A certain type of false teaching had been brought into 
the church by those who laid stress upon angels in a way that was 
harmful to the exclusive position of Christ. In reply, Paul sets forth 
in the Epistle the majesty of Jesus, who existed from all eternity and 
was the instrument of God the Father in the creation of the world. 
This was no new teaching; it is always presupposed in the earlier 
Epistles of Paul, and about it there was no debate. But in the Epistle 
to the Colossians, in view of the error that was creeping in through false 
speculation, Paul took occasion to set forth fully what in the former 
letters he had presupposed. 

The Epistle to the Ephesians 

The Epistle to the Ephesians is probably a circular letter addressed 
to a group of churches of which Ephesus was the center. In this letter 
the personal element is less prominent than in the other Pauline Epistles; 
Paul allows his mind to roam freely over the grand reaches of the divine 
economy. The Church is here especially in view. She is represented 
as the bride of Christ, and as the culmination of an eternal and gracious 
plan of God. 

The Epistle to the Philippians 

The Epistle to the Philippians was probably written later than the 
other Epistles of the first captivity. The immediate occasion for the 
writing of the letter was the arrival of a gift from the Philippian 
church, on account of which Paul desires to express his joy. Paul had 
always stood in a peculiarly cordial relation to his Philippian converts; 
he had been willing, therefore, to receive gifts from them, although 
in other churches he had preferred to make himself independent by 
laboring at his trade. But the letter is not concerned only or even 
chiefly with the gifts of the Philippian church. Paul desired also to 
inform his Philippian brethren about the situation at Rome. His 
trial is approaching; whether it results in his death or in his release, 
he is content. But as a matter of fact he expects to see the Philippians 

Moreover, Paul holds up in the letter the example of Christ, which 
was manifested in the great act of loving condescension by which he 


came into the world and endured for our sakes the accursed death on 
the cross. That humihation of Christ, Paul says, was followed by 
exaltation; God has now given to Jesus the name that is above every 

At the conclusion of the two years in prison in Rome, Paul was 
released, probably in a.d. 63. This fact is attested not by the book 
of The Acts, of which the narrative closes at the end of the two years 
at Rome, but by the Pastoral Epistles of Paul and also by an Epistle 
of Clement of Rome which was written at about a.d. 95. Clement 
says that Paul went to Spain. This he probably did immediately 
after his release. He then went to the East again, for it was in the 
East that I Timothy and Titus were written. 


1. Outline the events in the life of Paul which occurred between the 

departure from Corinth and the end of the first Roman imprison- 

2. \Vhat was the occasion for the writing of Colossians? of Philemon? 

of Ephesians? of Philippians? 

3. Give outlines of these Epistles. 

The Close of the Apostolic Age 

The Pastoral Epistles 

It was observed in the last lesson that Paul was released from his 
first Roman imprisonment, and went then to Spain and then to the 
East. At the time when I Timothy was written he has just left Timothy 
behind at Ephesus when he himself has gone into Macedonia, and 
now writes the letter with instructions for Timothy as to the way of 
conducting the affairs of the church. Similarly, the Epistle to Titus 
was written to guide Titus in his work on the island of Crete. 

After this last period of activity in the East, Paul was imprisoned 
again at Rome. During this second Roman imprisonment he wrote 
II Timothy, to encourage Timothy and instruct him, and to give 
to him and to the Church a farewell message just before his own death, 
which he was expecting very soon. 


The two Epistles to Timothy and the Epistle to Titus, which are 
called the Pastoral Epistles, are similar to one another in important 
respects. They all lay stress upon soundness of teaching and upon 
the organization of the Church. In the closing years of his life Paul 
provided for the permanence of his work; the period of origination 
was over and the period of conservation had begun. It was not God's 
will that every Christian generation should have revealed to it anew 
the whole of the gospel. What is true in one age is true in all ages. 
It was a salutary thing, therefore, that the Pastoral Epistles provided 
for the preservation of the faith which was once for all delivered unto 
the saints. 

Soon after the writing of II Timothy, Paul was beheaded at Rome. 
This event, which is attested in altogether credible Christian tradition 
outside of the New Testament, took place within the reign of the 
Emperor Nero — that is, before a.d. 68. At the time of the great fire 
at Rome in a.d. 64 Nero had persecuted the Christians, as is narrated 
by Tacitus, the Roman historian. But at that time Paul probably 
escaped by being out of the city; his execution probably did not occur 
until several years later. 

At about the time of the death of Paul disastrous events were tak- 
ing place in Palestine. James the brother of the Lord had been put 
to death by the Jews in a.d. 62, according to Josephus the Jewish 
historian, or a few years later according to another account. In a.d. 66 
the Jews rose in revolt against the Romans. In the war that fol- 
lowed there was a terrible siege of Jerusalem. Before the siege the 
Christians in the city had fled to Pella, east of the Jordan. Jerusalem 
was captured by the Romans in a.d. 70, and the Temple destroyed. 

From that time on, the Church in Palestine ceased to be of great 
relative importance; the gospel had passed for the most part to the 
Gentiles. A number of the apostles remained for many years, how- 
ever, to guide and instruct the Church, and important books of the 
New Testament were written in this period either by the apostles 
themselves or by those who stood under their direction. 

The Epistle to the Hebrews 

Even before the destruction of the Temple, the original disciples 
had begun to labor far and wide among the Gentiles. It was perhaps 
during this early period that the Epistle to the Hebrews was written. 
The name of the author is unknown, but the book is truly apostolic 


— that is, it was written either by an apostle or by one who wrote 
under the direction of the apostles. The Epistle is intended to celebrate 
the all-sufficiency of Christ as the great High Priest, who has made 
atonement by his own blood, as distinguished from the Old Testament 
types that were intended to point forward to him. 

The First Epistle of Peter 

Some years before the destruction of Jerusalem, the apostle Peter 
left Palestine. In the course of his missionary journeys he went to 
Rome, and it was perhaps from Rome that he wrote the First Epistle 
of Peter, the word "Babylon" in I Peter 5 : 13 being perhaps a figurative 
designation of Rome as the "Babylon" of that age. The Epistle was 
addressed to Christians in Asia Minor, and was intended to encourage 
the readers to Christian fortitude in the midst of persecution. The 
gospel proclaimed in the Epistle is the one great apostolic gospel of 
Christ's redeeming work which was also proclaimed by Paul. 

The Second Epistle of Peter ; The Epistle of Jude 

The Second Epistle of Peter was written by the apostle to warn 
his readers against false teaching and urge them to be faithful to the 
authority of the apostles and of the Scriptures. Closely related to 
II Peter is the Epistle of Jude, which was written by one of the brothers 
of Jesus. The apostle Peter, in accordance with a thoroughly credible 
Christian tradition, finally suffered a martyr's death at Rome. 

The apostle John, the son of Zebedee, became the head of the Church 
in Asia Minor, where, at Ephesus, he lived until nearly the end of the 
first century. During this period he wrote five books of the New 

The Gospel According to John was written to supplement the other 
three Gospels which had long been in use. It contains much of the 
most precious and most profound teaching of our Lord, as it had been 
stored up in the memory of the "beloved disciple"; and it presents 
the glory of the Word of God as that glory had appeared on earth to 
an eyewitness. 

The Epistles of John 

The First Epistle of John was written in order to combat certain 
errors which were creeping into the Church in Asia Minor and in 
order to present to the readers the true Christian life of love, founded 


upon the Son of God who had come in the flesh, and begun by the 
new birth which makes a man a child of God. 

The Second Epistle of John is a very brief letter written to warn 
an individual church of the same kind of error as is combated in I John. 

The Third Epistle is addressed to an individual Christian named 
Gains, who is praised for his hospitality to visiting missionaries, which 
was the more praiseworthy because it was in contrast to the inhospitalitj^ 
of a certain Diotrephes. The little letter sheds a flood of light upon 
the details of congregational life in the last period of the Apostolic 


The Book of Revelation 

The book of Revelation is based upon a revelation which the apostle 
John had received during a banishment to the island of Patmos, off 
the coast of Asia Minor, not far from Ephesus. Probably the book 
itself was written on the same island. The book contains letters to 
seven churches of western Asia Mmor which are intended to encourage 
or warn them in accordance with the needs of every individual con- 
gregation. The whole book is a tremendous prophecy, which strengthens 
the faith of the Church in the midst of persecutions and trials by 
revealing the plan of God, especially as it concerns the second coming 
of our Lord and the end of the world. Details of future events, espe- 
cially times and seasons, are not intended to be revealed, but rather 
great principles both of good and of evil, which manifest themselves 
in various ways in the subsequent history of the Church. The prophecj^ 
however, will receive its highest and final fulfillment only when our 
Lord shall come again, and bring in the final reign of righteousness 
and the blessedness of those whom he has redeemed. 


L When, where, and why were the three Pastoral Epistles written? 

2. Outline the life of Paul after his release from the first Roman im- 


3. What is known about the latter part of the life of Peter? 

4. What was the occasion for the writing of I Peter? of II Peter? of 

Jude? What are the characteristics of these letters? 

5. What is known about the latter part of the life of John? 

(5. What were the date and the purpose of the Gospel According to 
John; of the Epistles of John; of the book of Revelation. 

Date Due 


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