Bible Reading Plan

Being connected to God is important. Diving into the Word daily is a great way to ensure that you are continually developing a relationship with your creator. Join us as we read through the Bible.

This is a Two-Year Bible Reading Plan.  We are currently in Year 2 of the Study.  
 
A prayer for when you read the Scriptures:
 

“Take away, O Lord, the veil of my heart while I read the Scriptures.  Blessed art thou, O Lord:  O teach me thy statutes!  Give me a word, O Word of the Father: touch my heart:  enlighten the understandings of my heart:  open my lips and fill them with thy praise.”

-Lancelot Andrewes (1755-1626), quoted in the Oxford Book of Prayer, 285

February 

1 Eccl. 8:9 – 9:12; 1 Cor. 16:5 – 12

2 Eccl. 9:13 – 10:20;1 Cor. 16:13 – 24

3 Eccl. 11 – 12; Acts 19:11 – 22

4 Song of Sol. 1 – 3:5; Acts 19:23 – 34

5 Song of Sol. 3:6 – 6:3; Acts 19:35 – 20:1

6 Song of Sol.6:4 – 8:14; 2 Cor. 1:1 – 11

7 1 Kings 5 – 6:13; 2 Cor. 1:12 – 22

8 1 Kings 6:14 – 7:12; 2 Cor. 1:23 – 2:11

9 1 Kings 7:13 – 51; 2 Cor. 2:12 – 17

10 1 Kings 8:1 – 21; 2 Cor. 3:1 – 11

11 1 Kings 8:22 – 53; 2 Cor. 3:12 – 18

12 1 Kings 8:54 – 66; 2 Cor. 4:1 – 15
 
13 1 Kings 9; 2 Cor. 4:16 – 5:10
 

14 1 Kings 10; 2 Cor. 5:11 – 21

 

15 1 Kings 11:1 – 25; 2 Cor. 6:1 – 13

16 1 Kings 11:26 – 43; 2 Cor. 6:14 – 7:1

17 1 Kings 12:1 – 24; 2 Cor. 7:2 – 16

18 1 Kings 12:25 – 13:10; 2 Cor. 8:1 – 15

19 1 Kings 13:11 – 34; 2 Cor. 8:16 – 24

20 1 Kings 14; 2 Cor. 9:1 – 5

21 1 Kings 15:1 – 32; 2 Cor. 9:6 – 15

22 1 Kings 15:33 – 16:28; 2 Cor. 10:1 – 11

23 1 Kings 16:29 – 17:24;2 Cor. 10:12 – 18

24 1 Kings 18; 2 Cor. 11:1 – 15

25 1 Kings 19; 2 Cor. 11:16 – 33

26 1 Kings 20:1 – 21; 2 Cor. 12:1 – 10

27 1 Kings 20:22 – 43; 2 Cor. 12:11 – 21

28 1 Kings 21; 2 Cor. 13

 

 

 

 

February 18-24

Below are some questions and study notes to help you in your reading. 
 
 

1 Kings 12.25-13.10

 

12.25-33.  Jereboam’s first actions are problematic and demonstrate disobedience to the Lord (Yahweh) and a disregard of the prophet’s words (cf. 11.38).

           

Question:  Does expediency ever trump obedience in your life?

 

            12.25.  In seeking to establish his kingdom, Jereboam fortifies Shechem and establishes it as his capital city.  He also establishes another “stronghold” east of the Jordan (Penuel/Peniel).

 

            12.26-30.  Jereboam reasons that if the people keep going south to Jerusalem to the temple that they will eventually want to re-join the Southern Kingdom.  So he places two gold calves in Bethel (on the southern border) and Dan (the northern border).  In so doing, he violates the commandments against making “image” (cf. Exodus 20.4-6; Deuteronomy 4.15-19; 5.8-10).  For the words he uses in verse 28, cf. the words of Aaron in Exodus 32.4.

 

            12.31-33.  In addition to the gold calves, Jereboam makes other accommodations to a religion for the Northern Kingdom in violation of various commands from the Lord.

                        12.31.  For “the high places,” cf. 3.2-3; Deuteronomy 18.9-13.  The non-Levitical priests are a violation of Deuteronomy 18.1-8.

                        12.32-33.  Jereboam moves the Feast of Tabernacles up a month (cf. Leviticus 23.24).  Also, Jereboam’s priestly activities are not part of a king’s duties according to Deuteronomy 17.14-20.

 

13.1-3.  A “man of God” from Judah speaks out against Jereboam’s altar.  His prophecy will be fulfilled both immediately (verse 5) and 300 years later (see 2 Kings 23.15-18).  Is it significant that there was no “man of God” from the northern kingdom willing to speak out against the altar?

 

13.4-6.  Jereboam issues a command to have the man of God seized and suffers the Lord’s judgment.  The prophet will heal Jereobam, another sign that the prophecy will come true.

 

13.7-10.  The man of God refuses an offer from Jereboam to eat with him since he has been given specific instructions from the Lord not to do so.  “He is not to be entertained by those who flagrantly violate the Lord’s will and reject his promises” (Gerard Van Groningen, “1-2 Kings,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1989), 244).  Unfortunately, the man of God will not remain diligent against deception.

 

1 Kings 13.11-34

 

The story continues to follow the prophet from Judah who is, himself, deceived by another prophet into eating at Bethel.  “Following as it does the account describing the initial policies of Jeroboam, this story serves at least two primary functions.  First of all, it does denounce Jeroboam’s activities, making it clear from the start that such religious revisions are no less idolatrous than the worship of totally alien gods.  And, second, it underscores the importance of following even the lesser details of God’s instructions.  Such obedience is especially expected of those who have been commissioned to deliver divine messages, i.e., prophets” (Terry L. Brensinger, “1 & 2 Kings,” in the Asbury Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), accessed at http: biblegateway.com).

 

13.11-19.  We don’t know why the “old prophet” chooses to be deceitful.  But the story highlights the need for diligence in seeking the truth.

            13.11.  “Sons” may refer to members of the “prophetic guild” rather than biological sons.  (Harper Collins Study Bible).

 

13.16-19.  Note that the emphasis of the Lord’s prohibition is on eating and drinking “in this place.”  The prophet from Judah was not to eat and drink at Bethel for that would have been giving “a stamp of approval” on the altar there. 

            13.18-19.  The fact that the message was attributed to “an angel” may have been a hint to the “man of God” that this was not a direct message from the Lord.  Even if so, the narrator makes clear that the old prophet is lying.

 

13.20-22.  The “old prophet” announces the Lord’s judgment on the prophet of Judah for his disobedience. 

            13.20.  “A ‘table’ was normally the mark of a wealthy home” (Donald J. Wiseman, 1 and 2 Kings, TOTC.  (Downer’s Grove, IL:  IVP, 1993), 158).

 

13.23-28.  The Lord’s judgment is carried out in “supernatural fashion.”

 

13.29-32.  Though he is the one who deceived the “man of God” from Judah, the “old prophet” identifies with the message of judgment against Bethel and the other “high places” enacted by Jereboam.

 

13.33-34.  Cf. 12.31.  Jereboam’s disobedience is summarized and emphasized.  Not only is he allowing non-Levites to be priests but he is ordaining “any who wanted” to be priests. 

 

1 Kings 14

 

14.1-3.  When Jeroboam’s son Abijah (“Yahweh is my father”) becomes ill, Jeroboam sends his (anonymous) wife to Ahijah the prophet who had predicted Jereboam’s rise to power (11.29-39).   Perhaps Jereboam thought that they would receive another good word from Ahijah.  This would not be the case as Ahijah condemned Jereboam’s leading the northern kingdom into apostasy.

            14.3.  This may have been a form of “payment” for the prophet’s services.  Cf. 1 Samuel 9.1-21; 2 Kings 8.7-16.

 

14.4-5.  Though (nearly?) blind, Ahijah receives a “vision” from the Lord informing him that Jereboam’s wife would be coming to him.  There is an ironic tinge to Jereboam’s view of the prophet:  “prophets may be able to look into the future but not be able to see what is going on in the present” (John Goldingay 1 & 2 Kings for Everyone (Louisville:  Westminster/John Knox, 2011), 67).

 

14.6-9.  Ahijah immediately lets Jereboam’s wife know that he knows who she is, and he gives her “heavy tidings” (NRSV).  Jereboam will be judged by the Lord for not following in the footsteps of David.  “Jeroboam was condemned for his religious activities (13:34; 14:9).  By establishing counterfeit shrines and images, he rejected Jerusalem and its temple, invited religious syncretism, and led his people astray. Insofar as he did not walk in the ways of David (14:8), Jeroboam now becomes the negative example with whom future evil kings will be compared” (Brensinger).

 

14.10-11.  The harsh sentence against Jereboam and his descendants is pronounced by Ahijah.  The language is particularly graphic (cf. the footnotes in the NASB).  To be denied burial (verse 11) was a curse (cf. Deuteronomy 28.26).  It must have been a sad day for Ahijah having been the one who pronounced Jereboam’s reign.  Jereboam had squandered the opportunity given to him by the Lord. 

 

14.12-14.  The son’s death is predicted.  Yet, his death is seen as “a blessing” for he alone shall receive burial, and he alone had something “good” found in him (perhaps suggesting that he alone had kept the covenant)..  “The story does imply that the boy seemed likely to die anyway.  God does not need to intervene to make this happen.  God needs only to decline to intervene to heal him.  God’s actual action is to give his death new meaning for his parents” (Goldingay, 68).

 

14.15-16.  Ahijah extends the judgment from the house of Jereboam to the nation of Israel.  For the fulfillment, cf. 2 Kings 17.23

 

14.17-18.  The death of the child with an acknowledgement of the fulfillment of Ahijah’s prophecy.  For Tirzah, cf. 12.25.  Jereboam may have moved his capital from Shechem to Tirzah.

 

14.19-20.  A summation of Jereboam’s reign giving reference to a source for information.  “By comparison with Jereboam’s great sin his other doings were not noteworthy” (Wiseman, 162).

 

14.21-31.  A summary of Rehoboam’s seventeen-year reign in Judah (the Southern Kingdom). 

            14.21.  Rehoboam’s mother was an Ammonite suggesting one possible reason for his apostasy.

            14.22-24.  “Rehoboam reintroduces the practices for which the Canaanites had been punished” (Van Groningen, 245).

            14.25-28.  Rehoboam’s defeat at the hands of Pharaoh Shoshenq I (the Hebrew version of the name is Shishak) is datable from Egyptian sources to 925 BC (cf. 2 Chronicles 12.2-12).  Since Jereboam had ties to Egypt, it’s possible that Shishak’s attack was in partial support of Jereboam, and/or an attempt to reestablish Egyptian control over trade routes.  The result is that the gold shields of Solomon (10.16-17) are taken by the Egyptians, and Rehoboam is reduced to casting bronze shields.

 

            14.29-31.  The “concluding formula” (Wiseman, 164; see 11.41-43) for Rehoboam.

 

1 Kings 15.1-32

 

15.1-8.  Rehoboam is succeeded by his son Abijah.  Most Hebrew manuscripts render the name Abijam.  Abijah means “my father is Yahweh.”

            15.2.  For Maacah, see 2 Chronicles 11.20-23; 13.2. 

            15.3-5.  “As is typical throughout the book of Kings, the evil kings of the North are compared to Jeroboam, but the evil kings of the South are contrasted to David” (Brensinger). Though Abijah committed the same sins as Rehoboam, the Lord allowed him to reign for the sake of David. 

15.4.  For “a lamp in Jerusalem,” cf. 11.36.

15.5.    For the incident with Uriah the Hittite, cf. 2 Samuel 11-12.

            15.6.  The conflict between the northern and southern kingdoms continued for the three years of Abijah’s reign.

            15.8.  We are not told the the cause of Abijah’s death.

 

15.9-10.  Asa is noted as the son of Abijah in verse 8 yet the mother of both is given as “Maacah daughter of Abishalom.”  It’s possible that Maacah was actually Asa’s grandmother and held the prestigious position of “Queen Mother” early in his reign (since Asa may have been very young).

 

15.11-15.  In contrast to Abijah, Asa’s reign is marked by fidelity to the Lord.  “Note how ‘doing the right’ is shown in specific acts and yet is a general statement” (Wiseman, 167). 

            What specific acts mark you as a person who does “the right?”

 

            15.13.  The fact that Asa needed to remove Maacah as “Queen Mother” indicates that the position had considerable prestige.  The “Wadi Kidron” (or “Kidron Valley”) became the dumping ground for Jerusalem.

 

15.16-24.  The narrator turns to the conflict between Asa and Baasha of the northern kingdom here. 

15.16.  Baasha is introduced here because of the conflict but his reign will not be described until later in 15.33-16.7.

15.17.  Ramah was only five miles north of Jerusalem.

15.18-20.  Asa enters into a treaty with the King of Aram (approximately present-day Syria).  Though the narrator of 1 Kings does not put a negative spin on the treaty, 2 Chronicles 16.7-10 does. 

            15.18.  “Tabrimmon means ‘good is Rimmon,’ the Thunder-god, a title of Baal” (Wiseman, 168).

 

            15.20.  These cities were on the eastern boundary of Israel.  Kinnereth/Chinneroth is Galilee in the New Testament.

 

            15.21.  For Tirzah, see 14.17.  It would be the capital of Israel until replaced by Samaria (16.23-24).

            15.22.  Asa uses the stones and timber left behind by Baasha at Ramah to fortify two fortresses. 

            15.23-24.  The concluding formula concerning Asa.  The disease in the feet is thought by some to be “gout;” Wiseman (169) interprets it as “a vascular disease with ensuing gangrene” (hence, the resulting death).

15.25-26.  Back to the northern kingdom with Nadab succeeding his father Jereboam.  “The editor now rapidly disposes of five northern kings before slowing down to discuss Ahab and Elijah” (Brensinger).

 

15.27-28.  Baasha kills Nadab while Nadab is on a military expedition against the Philistines.  “It is likely that Baasha was a commander in Nadab’s army and was able to secure the support of the military for his revolt” (NIV Study Bible).

 

15.29-30.  See 14.10-11 for the prophecy.  Jereboam’s dynasty was short-lived.

 

15.31-32.  The concluding formula for Nadab.

 

1 Kings 15.33-16.28

 

15.33-34.  The editor “re-introduces” Baasha.  This is the third time that Baasha appears in the narrative but the first time that the narrator discusses his actual reign.  Though Baasha will reign for 24 years, the summation of his reign is negative for he continued to “walk in the way of Jereboam.”

 

16.1-4.  As with Jereboam, a prophet predicts the demise of Baasha’s dynasty.  For verse 4, cf. 14.11.

 

16.5-7.  The concluding formula concerning Baasha’s reign.  Though the destruction of Jereboam’s dynasty had been decreed by the Lord, Baasha is still held accountable for his actions (verse 7).

 

16.8-14.  The focus on Elah’s reign is almost exclusively on his assassination (verses 9-11).  Elah’s father (Baasha) had killed his predecessor; here, Elah receives the same treatment.  Zimri (perhaps an Aramean name) perhaps conspires with Arza, another “servant” of the king.

            16.11.  For the action, cf. 15.29.  “Friend” may refer to “advisor.”

            16.12-13.  Focus on the prophecy being fulfilled. 

 

16.15-20.  Though Elah only ruled two years, Zimri rules far less—only seven days!  “The people of Israel, who had rejected the Davidic house, are sheep without reliable shepherds” (Van Groningen, 246).

            16.15.  “The siege of Gibbethon lasted intermittently for twenty-four years (15.27)” (Wiseman, 172).

            16.16.  The army refuses to accept Zimri as King and make Omri, their commander, king.

            16.17.  The army leaves Gibbethon and attacks Tirzah.  “All Israel” most likely refers to the army (cf. 1 Samuel 14.25).

            16.18-20.  Zimri commits suicide when he realizes that his defeat is imminent.  Zimri’s reign of seven days is sufficient for the narrator to judges his reign negatively as he has the other northern kings.

 

16.21-23.  There is civil war between forces favoring Tibni and the forces favoring Omri.  The “twelve” years of Omri’s reign include the “civil war” years (cf. verses 15 and 23).

16.24.  The only accomplishment of Omri’s reign that is noted is his founding the city of Samaria as his capital city.  This was a shrewd and strategic move on Omri’s part.  The entire region would later be known by the name “Samaria.”

 

16.25-28.  “Omri gets only half-a-dozen verses in the story…(Yet), Assyrian annals often refer to Omri.  The records of the Moabites relate how he oppressed them for a long period.  Politically, he was a significant figure in the development of Ephraim.  But 1 Kings isn’t interested in all that.  If you want to know about it, it says, you can go and look in the state records” (Goldingay, 1 and 2 Kings, 75).  Indeed, Assyrian sources refer to Israel as “the house of Omri” for a century and a half after his death.  But the narrator’s primary interest in Omri is that “he did more evil than all who were before him.”

 

1 Kings 16.29-17.24

 

16.29-34.  Ahab is introduced as being worse than his father, Omri.  Not only did he “do more evil,” and considered what Jereboam had done to be “trivial,” he marries a Canaanite woman and begins to worship the Canaanite god (“Baal” or “Master”)!  The attitude of the people under Ahab is so hardened that Hiel disregards the curse that Joshua had put upon Jericho (cf. Joshua 6.29).

 

17.1.  Elijah (whose name means “Yahweh is my God”) appears out of “nowhere” to take on Ahab and his corrupt reign.  The exact location of Tishbe is unknown but it is stated as being in “Gilead” which was the region east of the Jordan.  Since Baal was considered to be the god of the storm and of fertility, by taking on the dew and the rain, Elijah was striking Baal right where he was supposed to be the strongest. 

 

17.2-6.  One of the first of several incidents in which Yahweh provides provision and protection for Elijah.

            17.2-4.  By heading “east,” Elijah was taking himself out of Ahab’s “jurisdiction” (Harper Collins Study Bible).  Donald J. Wiseman (1 and 2 Kings, TOTC.  (Downer’s Grove, IL:  IVP, 1993), 176) interprets the Hebrew to read “over look” the Jordan.  In either case, Elijah was hiding in a place not easily accessible to Ahab.  The Kerith Ravine (NIV)  or Wadi Cherith (NRSV) would have only contained water during the rainy season. 

            17.5.  Elijah “did according to the word of the Lord.”  “Our obedience is an essential aspect of God’s protecting grace” (Wiseman, 177).

17.6.  “Ravens are voracious eaters and robber birds.  But, at the Lord’s direction, these birds bring food.  Elijah has direct confirmation that not Baal but the Lord is Master of creation” (Gerard Van Groningen, “1-2 Kings,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1989), 247).

 

17.7-16.  The widow of Zerephath.  “The following two incidents or miracles emphasize God’s unceasing provision based on what others gave to the prophet” (Wiseman, 177).

 

            17.7-9.  The Lord stops the water in the Wadi and then sends Elijah to Zarephath in Sidon.  Sidon was the home territory of Jezebel, King Ahab’s wife (see 16.31).  Hence, the Lord is sending Elijah into the midst of “enemy territory.”  Furthermore, the Lord is sending Elijah to “a widow” who will provide for him.  Widows were “the poorest of the poor.”  In order to demonstrate his trust in the Lord, Elijah needed to go where he didn’t want to go.

 

            17.10.  The woman was probably running a little low on water herself, but she goes to get Elijah a drink.  It was an act of great hospitality on her part.

 

            17.11-12.  This additional request by Elijah is a bit much for the woman!  She has barely enough to provide one last meal for her and her son.  Trust is giving what you don’t want to give.

 

            17.13-16.  Elijah calls up on the woman to trust in the Lord and give what she didn’t want to give.  “This Phoenician woman, in whose land Baal was honored as the god of fertility, the sun, and the owner of all nature, learns that the Lord, whom Elijah serves, alone supplies food and drink” (Van Groningen, 247).

 

17.17-24.  The widow’s son.

            17.17-18.  The woman attributes her son’s illness and subsequent death to the Lord’s judgment of her sin. 

            17.19-21.  No where in the Old Testament had God raised a person from the dead.  But Elijah demonstrates a trust in the Lord and is able to believe when you can’t believe

            17.22-24.  The story ultimately demonstrates that the Lord has power over life and death.  For a similar story with Elisha, see 2 Kings 4.18-37.

 

1 Kings 18

 

18.1-2.  The word of the Lord comes to Elijah again (cf. 17.2, 8).  Here, the Lord will end the drought and demonstrate his ability to send rain.

 

18.3-4.  We’re introduced to Obadiah who has an important position in Ahab’s administration yet “feared the Lord greatly.”   Obadiah’s name means “servant of the Lord (Yahweh).”  He has acted as “a double agent” (John Goldingay 1 & 2 Kings for Everyone (Louisville:  Westminster/John Knox, 2011), 82.), serving Ahab while, at the same time, protecting Yahweh’s prophets.  We also learn that Elijah is not Yahweh’s only prophet.

 

18.5-6.  Ahab and Obadiah go separate ways on a mission to find grass to feed their animals. 

 

18.7-9.  While on his mission, Obadiah meets Elijah.  Elijah gives Obadiah a different mission.  He is to go and bring Ahab back to Elijah!  Wiseman (180) sees this as “a challenge to side publicly with Elijah rather than be a secret supporter.”

 

18.10.  Obadiah protests.  Ahab has been searching diligently for Elijah.  It becomes apparent how well-protected Elijah had been by the Lord. 

 

18.11-12.  Perhaps Obadiah assumes that Elijah had not been found due to “the Spirit of the Lord” carrying him away.  We have an example in 2 Kings 2.11.  If Elijah was not found, Ahab would kill Obadiah since he had gone against his “oath” (see verse 10).

 

18.13-14.  Obadiah reminds Elijah of what we (the readers) already know concerning his hiding of the prophets of Yahweh.

 

18.15-16.  Elijah makes his own solemn oath.  He will appear to Ahab today

 

18.17-18.  The word translated “troubler” refers to “one who is consorting with dark, supernatural forces.”  One commentator translates it as King Ahab saying to Elijah, “Is that you, Israel’s hex” (Simon J. DeVries, 1 Kings.  WBC 12.  (Waco:  Word Books, 1985), 217)?  Elijah retorts that he is not the one who has “consorted with dark, supernatural forces;” Ahab has by “abandoning the Lord’s commands and…following the Baals” (NIV, altered).

 

18.19.  The time for confrontation between the Lord and Baal (and his female “consort,” Asherah) has come.  The prophets of Baal and Asherah “have royal patronage and support; they eat at Jezebel table” (Goldingay, 87). 

 

18.20.  Mount Carmel “may have been chosen as it lay on the border of Israel and Phoenician territory and possibly as a high place venerated by both parties” (Wiseman, 180).

 

18.21.  Elijah confronts the people with a choice.  One cannot serve both Baal and Yahweh which is exactly what many (if not most) of the people were doing.  “Elijah is urging Israel to trust in Yahweh alone for its health care, its harvest, and its security.  This is counterintuitive and countercultural” (Goldingay, 86).

“How long will you waver between two opinions?”  The word for “waver” means “to limp, to halt, to hop, to dance, or to leap.”  The word translated opinion speaks of branches or forks in a tree limb or a road, or it may suggest hobbling on “crutches.” 

 

            Have you ever “wavered” between “two opinions?”

 

18.22-24.  Elijah allows the prophets of Baal (the prophets of Asherah are not mentioned through the rest of the story) to make the choice concerning which bull to use. 

 

18.25-29.  Elijah allows the prophets of Baal to go first showing that he “has utter confidence that Baal will not or cannot answer” (DeVries, 229).

            18.26.  The word translated “danced” (NIV) is the same word translated as “waver” in verse 21.  See the comment there.

            18.27.  “Elijah’s taunt is that Baal was acting in a merely human manner…Was the god musing on the action to take (“deep in thought”)?  Had he gone aside to answer the call of nature (NIV follows the Greek version and translates “busy”) or had he left on a journey with Phoenician merchants?  Was Baal asleep as Yahweh was not” (Wiseman, 181)?

            18.28.  “In the summer (Baal) seemed to die; when the rains come in the fall, it was a sign that he had come back to life.  The prophets’ gashing of themselves then identifies with the dying (Baal) and seeks to bring him back to life” (Goldingay, 87).  Or, it could be an attempt to arouse Baal’s “pity.”

            18.29.  Note the passage of time.  Yahweh will have little time to respond!

 

18.30-32.  Elijah is forced to rebuild the altar of the Lord (Yahweh) revealing the antagonism to the worship of Yahweh.  He uses twelve stones as a sign of the “twelve tribes restored to united worship” (Wiseman, 182).

 

18.33-35.  Elijah makes it as difficult as possible for the Lord to “answer by fire!”

 

18.36-37.  At the time of the evening sacrifice (cf. Exodus 29.39), Elijah calls for the Lord to “answer” him.  Note how the word “answer” has been a key word throughout the narrative (verses 21, 24, 26, 29). 

18.38-39.  The Lord is the true God who “answers” by fire, and the people recognize that the Lord, not Baal, is the true God.

 

18.40.  “Elijah attempts to rid the land completely of Baal worship by slaughtering the defeated prophets. That he was unsuccessful is made unmistakably clear in later accounts, particularly those dealing with Jehu (2 Kings 10.18-29)” (Terry L. Brensinger, “1 & 2 Kings,” in the Asbury Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992), accessed at http: biblegateway.com).  Also, cf. Deuteronomy 13.5, 13-18; 17.2-5 as action against false prophets.

 

18.41-45.  Though there is no sign of rain, Elijah tells Ahab to go and celebrate the end of the drought.  Sure enough, the rain comes.

 

18.46.  By the “hand of the Lord,” Elijah is able to run ahead of Ahab traveling to his summer palace in Jezreel.

 

2 Corinthians 8.1-15

 

8.1. Paul is willing to do for others what he is unwilling to do for himself—ask for support.  Here, he calls upon a regional “rivalry” (the Macedonians) to spur the Corinthians on to generous giving as Paul collects funds for the Christians in Jerusalem.  Though translated in different ways by the English translations, the word “grace” (charis) will appear ten times in chapters 8 and 9.

 

8.2.  cf. 1 Thessalonians 1.6; 2.14.  Note that the Macedonians giving despite finding themselves in a “great affliction” and “deep poverty.”

 

8.3.  The Macedonians gave not only according to their ability but beyond their ability (dynamin—power).  Cf. Deuteronomy 15.14; Mark 12.41-44.

 

8.4.  “The term translated ‘participation’ (NASB), ‘sharing’ (NIV, NRSV) or ‘fellowship’ (KJV) was used…in business documents of Paul’s day for a ‘partnership….’  Whether Paul conceives of this ‘partnership’ officially or unofficially, it is clear that the Macedonians saw support, like hospitality, as a privilege” (Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downers Grove, IL:  IVP, 1993), 505).

 

8.5.  The reason that the Macedonians gave so willingly is that they had first given themselves “to the Lord” and then also to Paul.  Our giving reflects our devotion to God and also to others.

 

8.6-7.  “The sterling example of the Macedonians encouraged Paul to make arrangements for the completion of the Corinthian offering” (Murray J. Harris, “2 Corinthians,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary:  Volume 10:  Romans-Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Publishing, 1976), 367).

            8.7.  Cf. 1 Corinthians 1.7.  Along with the other aspects of faith in which they had “excelled,” the Corinthians were to excel in giving.  Do we perceive giving as an act of “grace?”

 

8.8.  Paul does not “command” but rather he wants to “test” their “sincerity” (cf. 7.7, 12 where the word translated “sincere” is used of the Corinthians’ response to Paul).  Though not commanding, Paul does not hesitate to “compare” the sincerity of the Corinthians’ love to others (see 8.1).

 

8.9.  The grace of giving flows out of the grace of Jesus Christ who “though wealthy became poor.”  Cf. Philippians 2.5-11.

 

8.10-11.  Paul gives his “opinion” (NASB; note that he is not commanding again, verse 8).  But, “as this is now the third time an appeal is being made to the church (1 Corinthians 16.1-4; 2 Corinthians 8.6), Paul’s primary counsel is to ‘finish the work’” (James Davis, “1-2 Corinthians,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1989), 991).

 

8.12.  What matters is the willingness to give from what one has.

 

8.13-14.  “Perhaps one reason the collection project has been languishing at Corinth was that there was some such objection as this to it:  ‘As if we had no financial problems of our own, Paul is imposing fresh burdens on us so that others can become free of burdens’” (Harris, 370).

 

8.15.  Paul quotes Exodus 16.18 which comes from the context of the story of the giving of manna to the people of Israel in the desert.

 

2 Corinthians 8.16-24

 

“Paul recommends three Christian leaders en route to Corinth” (Ralph P. Martin, 2 Corinthians,  WBC 40.  (Waco, TX:  Word Books, 1986), 272).

 

8.16-17. Paul recommends Titus who is returning to Corinth in order to collect the offering and bear the letter.  Titus is not going to Corinth just because Paul wants him to go but he shares the same “concern” and is going “on his own initiative” (NIV). 

The NIV’s translation obscures the fact that the words  translated “concern” (noun) in verse 16 and “enthusiasm” (verb form) in verse 17 share the same root; the same noun is used in verses 7 and 8 where the noun is  translated as “earnestness” (cf. the NASB which translates the words consistently). 

“On his own initiative” (NIV) translates authairetos which Paul uses in verse 3 to describe the Macedonians’ willingness to give without pressure (cf. Martin, 272).

 

8.18-19.  Along with Titus is an unnamed “brother” who is eminently qualified:  He is “praised” in all of the churches, and he has been “chosen” by the churches (of Macedonia?) to accompany Paul in the collection of the offering.

 

8.20-21.  Paul is concerned that this collection of the offering be “out in the open” and there be absolutely no possibility for any criticism of the way that the gift was collected.  Cf. 1 Corinthians 16.1-4 where Paul demonstrates the same concern for accountability.  What does this say to the contemporary church about how finances should be handled?

8.21.  Paul alludes to the Greek version of Proverbs 3.4. 

 

8.22.  Paul introduces the third “representative” en route to Corinth.  He is introduced as “our brother” and is either well-known to the Corinthians or will be introduced to them by Titus.  In either case, he, too, is marked by his “earnestness” (see above).  He has also been “tested” and has demonstrated “confidence” in the Corinthians.

 

8.23.  “As he sums up the credentials of the three delegates, Paul draws a distinction between Titus, his ‘partner’ or colleague and personally appointed representative, and the two ‘representatives (literally, ‘apostles’ but not used in the sense that Paul uses the word of himself) of the churches’ (Harris, 372f.).

            The word translated “honor” by NIV is “glory” (cf. 3.6-9, 18; 4.6).

 

8.24.  A warm appeal to the Corinthians to demonstrate “love” to the delegates and to accept them completely.

2 Corinthians 9.1-5

 

9.1-2.  Paul again makes a comparison between the Macedonians and the Corinthians in order to encourage the Corinthians to finish the collection (cf. 8.1-3).  Corinth was the capital of the province of Achaea, south of the province of Macedonia.

 

9.3-4.  Both Paul’s integrity and the Corinthians’ honor are at stake by the Corinthians’ readiness to complete the collection.

 

9.5.  “In order that the work might be finished and the contributions ready and waiting as an authentic gift, all of the brothers, including Titus, are being sent” (Davis, 992).

            The word translated by the NIV as “generous gift” is literally “blessing” (eulogia).  How ready are you to “bless” God and others with your generosity when you come to worship?

 

2 Corinthians 9.6-15

 

9.6.  Paul uses what seems to have been a well-known proverb.  It shares similar language with Proverbs 11.18 and 11.24.

 

9.7.  For the first part of the verse, cf. Exodus 25.2; 35.5, 21-22 and Deuteronomy 15.10.  The word translated “grudgingly” could be translated as “grievingly” (cf. 2.1-7).

 

9.8.  Notice the number of times the word “all” appears.  The purpose of God’s supply is that we “will abound in ever good work.”

 

9.9.  Paul quotes from the Greek version of Psalm112.9.  “Paul may be saying in 9.8-9 that their reward for sowing seed (giving money) to the poor is that their righteousness will stand forever” (Keener, 507). 

 

9.10-11.  “He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food” is a quotation from Isaiah 55.10.  God will supply what we need for us to be generous!

9.12-13.  “The service of giving may be seen not only as an offering  to meet human ‘needs,’ but also as a way to make possible the increased worship of God” (Davis, 992).

            The word “service” is translated “ministry” in 3.7-8. Cf. 4.1; 9.1.  “Praise” is a verb form of “glory” (Cf. 3.18; 4.6).

 

9.14.  Our generosity results in prayers on our behalf!  Cf. 1.11.

 

9.15.  God’s gift in Jesus Christ is the most important motivation we have for being generous.

 

2 Corinthians 10.1-11

 

“Paul’s drastic change in tone here…had led many scholars to believe that chapters 10-13 belong to a separate letter.  Others believe that Paul received new information just before penning these words” (Keener, 508).  Harris (379f.) gives multiple reasons that scholars have suggested for the change in tone.

 

10.1-2.  There were some in Corinth who were accusing Paul of being “bold” in his letters” but “timid” in person.  Paul refutes the accusation and points out that his ministry does not operate “according to the flesh” (the more literal translation of the phrase Paul repeats in verses 2-4; cf. NASB).

 

10.3-5.  “Greek sages sometimes described their battle against false ideas as a war, in terms similar to those Paul uses here.  Like those sages, Paul claims to be doing battle with false ideas” (Keener, 508).

            10.4.  Cf. Proverbs 21.22.

            10.5.  “Take every thought captive…”  “The picture seems to be that of a military operation in enemy territory that seeks to thwart every single hostile plan of battle, so that there will be universal allegiance to Christ” (Harris, 380).

            10.6.  Paul will deal with the disobedience of his opponents once the Corinthian church acknowledges his authority as an apostle (cf. Harper Collins Study Bible).

 

10.7.  The Corinthians were judging by “appearances” (literally, what is before your face).  Cf. 1 Corinthians 1.18-25; 2.6-10 where it is apparent that the Corinthians were enamored with “human (philosophical) wisdom.”  Here, Paul urges the Corinthians to judge him properly and not deny his apostleship.

 

10.8.  Paul had used his “apostolic authority” to build the church up and not tear it down (in contrast to his opponents who were causing division in the church).

 

10.9-11.  Paul argues that his words when present will match the words that he writes in his letters.  It may be that Paul was not skilled as a rhetorician and was thus judged by some in Corinth accordingly.  “In other words, Paul was a better writer than public speaker” (Keener, 508).

 

2 Corinthians 10.12-18

 

10.12.  Paul had earlier noted that he did not need a letter of “commendation” (see 3.1-3).  Here, he notes that some are commending themselves by comparing themselves to themselves!

 

10.13-14.  Paul’s opponents “refuse to recognize that the limits of Paul’s work and reputation are not due to any lack of eminence, but rather to the fact that he has devoted himself exclusively to the field that ‘God had assigned him,’ including the church at Corinth” (James Davis, “1-2 Corinthians,” Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, ed. Walter A. Elwell (Grand Rapids:  Baker Book House, 1989), 993).  Cf. Galatians 2.1-10 where Paul writes concerning the council at Jerusalem and his agreement to go to the Gentiles.  Also, Romans 15.17-21.

 

10.15-16.  Paul wants to extend his ministry to the Corinthians, and, perhaps, establish Corinth as a base of operations.

 

10.17.  Paul quotes Jeremiah 9.23-24 which he also quoted in 1 Corinthians 1.31.

 

10.18.  Paul concludes the paragraph by returning to this theme of “commendation” (cf. 10.12).  The only commendation that matters is the Lord’s.

 

2 Corinthians 11.1-15

 

11.1.  Paul continues his “foolishness” in defending his ministry, asking the Corinthians to “put up” with him. 

 

11.2.  “Fathers normally pledged their daughters in marriage, and Paul compares the Corinthian church with a daughter whom he has pledged in marriage to Christ”….(or) Paul may be “presenting the bride, as the best man would, rather than as a father betrothing her” (Craig Keener, The IVP Bible Background Commentary (Downers Grove, IL:  IVP, 1993), 510).

 

11.3.  As Eve was deceived by the serpent (cf. Genesis 3.13), so the Corinthians could be deceived.

 

11.4.  Compare Paul’s admonishment of the Galatians in Galatians 1.6-9.  Also, note how Paul asks the Corinthians to “put up” with his “foolishness” (verse 1); here, he bemoans the fact that the Corinthians so quickly “put up” with another gospel.

 

11.5.  The NIV’s translation of “super-apostles” would suggest that Paul is stating that he is in no way inferior to those who consider themselves to be “super apostles.”  The NIV footnote (as well as the NASB) translates the phrase as the most eminent apostles.  If so, the phrase may be “the description of the Twelve used by Paul’s opponents…or the apostle’s ironical description of the exalted view of the Twelve held by the ‘false apostles’” (Murray J. Harris, “2 Corinthians,” The Expositor’s Bible Commentary:  Volume 10:  Romans-Galatians (Grand Rapids, MI, Zondervan Publishing, 1976), 386).  Either way, Paul is stating that he is not “inferior” to the Twelve.

 

11.6.  While Paul (according to his opponents!) may be lacking somewhat in training in “rhetoric” (see 10.10), he is not lacking in “knowledge” (an important word to the Corinthians; cf. 1 Corinthians 8.1; 13.2, 8.

 

11.7-15.  “Another issue in the contest for authority concerned proper apostolic practice with respect to the receipt of financial support” (Davis, 994).

            11.7.  Paul had previously written the Corinthians concerning his desire to not accept payment from them for his teaching (1 Corinthians 9.3-18).  Yet, his opponents still used Paul’s working as a “tent-maker” (leather-worker) against him (perhaps even portraying him as a “false apostle” for refusing to take advantage of his “rights” as an apostle).  Paul’s opponents may have appealed “to higher-status Corinthian Christians embarrassed by Paul’s labor as an artisan” (Keener, 510). 

            11.8-9.  Paul accepted help from the “Macedonian” churches.  Acts 18.3-5 may give us the background for these verses.  Paul was working as a “leather-worker” in Corinth until Silas and Timothy arrive from Macedonia.  Cf. Philippians 4.15.

 

11.10-12.  Paul will continue his practice of not accepting support from those to whom he was preaching the good news.  The practice is not a sign that Paul does not “love” the Corinthians as his opponents were apparently claiming (verse 11).  Neither is the practice a sign that Paul is a “false prophet;” indeed, it undermines those who claim to be equal to with him in their “apostleship” (verse 12). 

 

11.13-15.  Paul’s opponents are “masqueraders,” disguising themselves as apostles when they are false-apostles and deceitful workers. 

            11.14.  cf. John 8.44.  How can you keep yourself from being deceived by Satan?