The Rapture

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The word rapture refers to an event which will mark the end of the Church Age and which will be an occasion of great joy to Christian believers. All believers, both those who have died and those who are alive at the time, will be taken up to meet Jesus Christ, who will have returned to “the air”, earth’s atmosphere. Then, the Christians and the Lord Jesus will return to heaven together. At the time of the Rapture, Christ will not set foot on earth; and He will be visible only to believers. READ 1 Thess. 4:17; Acts 1:11.

The Rapture is to be distinguished from the Second Advent of Christ. While the Rapture sets the stage for the Second Coming, these are two separate events. A chart giving comparisons between these two future appearances of Christ is found in a later section of this article.

There has been controversy for many generations concerning the timing of the final events in human history. The position held by the majority of categorical and fundamental Bible teachers is as follows:

  • We are presently in the dispensation known as the Church Age, and we do not know when this age will end.
  • The Rapture will occur at the end of the Church Age; and the day of the Rapture will be the first day of the sever-year period known as the Great Tribulation.
  • The Second Coming of Christ will occur on the last day of the Tribulation period and will usher in the thousand-year reign of Jesus Christ.

The statements above are part of a position, or viewpoint, concerning the chronology of the final events of human history, a doctrinal concept known as the Pre–Tribulation Rapture / Pre–Millennium Tribulation view. There are several other schools of though among Christian scholars; and this article does not attempt to sort out the differences in these viewpoints categorically.

The study of the various points of view, and an examination of the proofs that the Pre-Tribulation/Pre-Millennial position is the correct one, is indeed a fascinating study. But the students needs considerable background to handle such research, including a thorough knowledge of general prophecy, a good general orientation to the whole Bible, and a lot of practice in tracing threads of logic through interwoven networks of Bible doctrine. For the time being we will settle for …

A Description of the Rapture

The Rapture was promised by the Lord Jesus Christ just before His crucifixion, John 14:1–3. At the Rapture, He keeps His promise and fulfills the prophecy. The Rapture completes the Redemption of the body because the believer receives a resurrection body at that time, Phil. 3:20,21; 1 John 3:1,2. It would be useful at this point to read the description of the Rapture in 1 Cor. 15:51–53 and then to note the comments below concerning the terminology used.

mystery – a doctrine “hidden” from the Old Testament saints. The Rapture is pertinent only to the Church Age and was never revealed to believers living before the beginning of the Church Age.

we shall not all sleep — i.e., there will be some believers alive at the time of the Rapture.

we shall all be changed – refers to the resurrection body.

in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye – a reference to the time element. The Rapture is not a long, drawn out process of evacuation. We will be with Christ instantly.

the dead shall be raised incorruptible – the resurrection body does not include the decay and corruption of sin and death.

we shall all be changed – another reference to the new physical body and new personal attributes associated with the resurrection body.

this corruptible must put on incorruption -the most important feature of the resurrection body is that there will be no Sin Nature.

this mortal must put on immortality – the believer will not die but will receive an immortal body.

The dead in Christ (believers who have died previous to the Rapture) will be raised first. Then, those who are still alive will be taken up. 1 Thess. 4:16,17.

The Rapture is a rendezvous for living and dead Christians. Confidence in the Rapture is based on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1 Thess. 4:18.

In principle, the Lord Jesus Christ is the “first fruits” of the believer, as noted in 1 Cor. 15:20–23. Read this passage first, then note the following comments:

firstfruits – pictures the resurrection of Christ which is a guarantee of our bodily resurrection.

by man came death – through Adam came spiritual death with the end result of physical death for every human.

by man came also the resurrection – by Jesus Christ, in His humanity, came spiritual resurrection (salvation) followed by physical resurrection, Phil. 3:21.

The word “hope”, translated from the Greek word ἐλπίς (elpis), meaning “confidence”, is a technical designation for the Rapture in at least three Bible passages, including:

  • The living hope, 1 Peter 1:3
  • The blessed hope, Titus 2:13
  • The purifying hope, 1 John 3:3

The Rapture takes the sting out of death, 1 Cor. 15:54–56. Therefore, the Rapture removes the despair of bereavement, 1 Thess. 4:13–18. This confidence in the Rapture comes through the obtaining of wisdom, discernment, and knowledge of the Plan of God, Job 19:25–27. The edified believer has confidence. The result is blessing, peace, a relaxed mental attitude, and stability.

The believer has a “reservation” in heaven, 1 Peter 1:4; Eph. 2:6. The Rapture takes the believer to the “mansion” which Christ has prepared in advance, John 14.

The testing which the believer and the Church endure during the Church Age is terminated with the Rapture. The Body of Christ is no longer a target of Satan in spiritual warfare.

It is not known, and cannot be predicted, when the Rapture will occur. Nevertheless, the Bible directs us to pursue certain activities while waiting for the Rapture. These are given in the last section of this article. Meanwhile, take a look at …

What to do While Waiting for the Rapture

Stay in Fellowship. “And now, little children, abide in Him; that when He shall appear, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.” 1 John 2:28

Employ the Faith-Rest techniques. “Now we beseech you, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, that ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by forged letters as from us, as that day of Christ is at hand.” 2 Thess. 2:1,2

Have Confidence. “Being confident of this very things, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Phil. 1:6

Have Patience. “Be patient, therefore, unto the coming of the Lord…” James 5:7

Grow in Christ by continuing to be edified. “…be ye also patient, stablish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.” James 5:8 See also Isaiah 33:4 and 2 Tim. 2:15

Contrasts Between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ

The Rapture

The Second Coming of Christ

Only believers see Christ. The Rapture is private. Heb. 9:28; Acts 1:11

Every eye shall see Him. The Second Coming of Christ is public. Rev. 1:7

Christ meets believers in the air, 1 Thess. 4:17

Christ sets foot on the Mount of Olives, Zech. 14:4

Believers are taken off the earth, John 14:3

Unbelievers are taken off the earth, Mt. 24:37f

Believers go to heaven, 1 Thess. 4:17

At the Second Coming, believers come back to earth with Christ, 1 Thess. 3:13; Col. 3:4;, 2 Thess 4:13; Zech. 14:5

There is no timetable for the Rapture

The Second Coming is seven years after the Rapture, Matt. 24:29-30

Believers are rewarded. 1 Cor. 3:11-15; Rev. 22:12

Unbelievers are judged at the Second Coming; the Baptism of Fire takes place, Matt. 25:31,32,46

The Rapture is a source of comfort to the believer, 1 Thess. 4:18

The Second Coming of Christ is a source of terror for the unbeliever, Rev. 6:15-17

There are no changes in nature associated with the Rapture

There are many changes in nature associated with the Second Coming, Isa. 35

The world is not judged at the Rapture.

The people of the world are judged, Jude 15

The Rapture is a mystery of the Church Age, 1 Cor. 15:51

The Second Coming is the subject of extensive prophecy in the Old Testament.

The unconditional covenants such as those with Abraham and David are not fulfilled at the Rapture.

The covenants are fulfilled at the Second Coming; Israel inherits her possessions.

There is no dealing with Satan or demons at the Rapture.

At the Second Coming, Satan is bound for a thousand years, Rev. 20:2.

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Servants and Slaves in Palestine

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Some people, called hirelings, were employed for wages in ancient Palestine (Job 7:1; 14:6; Mark 1:20). But most of the servants of the Israelites, as well as those of other eastern peoples of Old Testament times, were slaves or indentured servants. Men and women who were held as property for various reasons and for various lengths of time. Some slaves were bought from neighboring nations or from foreign residents of Canaan. Some were captives taken in war. Some were children of slaves who were born in the house of the master. A slave might himself be a Hebrew who, through poverty, sold himself into servitude until he got back on his feet.

Slavery among the Hebrews was usually a mild and merciful system. The Bible, while it recognizes that slavery exists, does not approve or disapprove of the practice. Numerous standards were set up in the Law for the regulation of slavery and servitude, with laws which regulated both the conditions and the duration of the bondage.

One source of slavery was absolutely forbidden. It was punishable by death to steal or kidnap a human being for the purpose of making him a slave or to sell him to someone else as a slave. This regulation applied to Israelite and foreigner alike.

Deut. 24:7, “If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and makes merchandise of him, or sells him; then that thief shall die; and you shall put evil away from among you.”

 

Exo. 21:16, “And he that steals a man, and sells him, or if he be found in his hand, he shall be surely put to death.”

 

The Treatment of Servants

Each Israelite was considered to be a servant of God. Therefore, he was not to be treated as a bond servant, but as a hired worker; and his master was to rule over him with kindness.

Lev. 25:39-41, “And if thy brother that dwells by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond servant; But as a hired servant, and as a sojourner, he shall be with thee, and shall serve thee unto the year of jubilee: And then shall he depart from thee, both he and his children with him, and shall return unto his own family, and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return.”

There were several ways that a Hebrew could become the servant of his brethren:

  • The Israelite, through poverty, might become unable to manage his own affairs or to maintain himself as an independent citizen. In this case he might pass by sale under the power of another. The passage in Lev. 25:39 ff, which lays down the law in these matters, does not imply that such a sale was compulsory. It is understood to mean that the individual sold himself or rather, he sold the rights to his labor to another Jew, so that he might be able to earn subsistence for himself and his family.
  • A Hebrew who had been convicted of theft was required to make restitution to the extent of at least double the value of the amount stolen if the stolen property itself was recovered. In other cases he was to pay four or five times as much as he stole also note the case of Zacchaeus (Luke 19:8. If the thief could not make the required restitution, he was sold for his theft and he made restitution by his labor.

Exod. 22:1-3, “If a man shall steal …If the sun be risen upon him, there shall be blood shed for him; for he should make full restitution; if he have nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.”

  • Children of a Hebrew servant became, by condition of their birth, became servants of the master (Exod. 21:4).
  • When a man was claimed personally by a creditor, his children were usually sold into bondage with him. While the impoverished man might sell himself into servitude, it was only to work off his debt until the jubilee year. 2 Kings 4:1; Neh. 5:5; Isa. 50:1; Job 24:9.

Every Israelite, male or female, who had become a slave, might be redeemed at any time by relatives or friends by the payment of what was owed. In any case, even if he were not redeemed, he was to be released after six years of service; and he was to be given a present of food and cattle (Exod. 21:2; Deut. 15:12-14). If he brought a wife into service with him, she was to be freed with him. However, if his master had provided him with a wife, the master could require the wife to stay when the man left. The children of such a marriage stayed with the master (Exod. 21:3; Jer. 34:8 ff).
If the Hebrew servant, for love of his wife and children or other reason, preferred not to accept freedom in the seventh year or when his obligation was completed, he was brought before the elders of the community and had his ear pierced as a token of his willingness to give life long servitude to his master (Exod. 21:6; Deut. 15:17).

If a Jew were to become the slave of a Gentile, the servitude could be terminated in two ways. First, it could be terminated by the arrival of the year of jubilee. Second, the servant could be released by payment to the master of the purchase price less the value of the services rendered, based upon the pay scale of a hired laborer (Lev. 25:47-54).

During the time that the slave was possessed by his master, the master had certain power of disposing of him as he would other articles of personal property. He could, for example, leave the servant to his heirs. The servant was said to have a certain monetary value, that is, his labor had a money value; but he was not supposed to be thought of as chattel.

A slave could be freed in one of four ways:

  • By redemption through the payment of money or goods.
  • By manumission, a bill or ticket of freedom issued by the master.
  • By testamentary disposition; the master could specify that the slave was to be freed upon the master’s death, for example.
  • By any act that implied that the slave was a free citizen, such as making an heir of one’s slave.

The Law had several means for the protection of slaves or servants. A servant was entitled to full religious privilege and access to all religious functions and practices, such as sacrifices, Passover and other feasts, circumcision, etc. He was to be given a day of rest on the Sabbath. He was to receive his liberty if the case of some grievous injury such as loss of eye or limb. See other passages: Gen. 17:12; Exod. 12:44; 20:11; 21:20, 26, 27; Lev. 24:17, 22; Deut. 5:14 ff; 12:12, 18.

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Servants of God

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God commands Christians to be faithful and obedient servants.

Deut. 10:12 “And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord with all thy heart and with all thy soul.”

Micah 6:8 “He hath shown thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord required of thee, but to do justly and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?”

Psalm 100:2 “Serve the Lord with gladness; come before his presence with singing.”

Josh. 24:14,15

Service is to be rendered as unto the Lord Jesus Christ, John 12:23-26

Col. 3:24 “Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”

The believer’s service is to be rendered to people.

Christian service makes life noble.

Mark 10:43,44 “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: and whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister.”

Christian service exemplifies neighborliness.

Luke 10:36,37

Christian service is Christ-like, John 13:1-17

Christian service demonstrates love, John 21:15-17

Christian service lightens life’s burdens, Gal. 5:13-15; Gal. 6:1-10; Acts 20:17-20; Heb. 10:23-25

The place of worship and the place of service. We also “assemble” for service. The Body functions as a congregation.

As God’s servants, believers have specific responsibilities.

Christians are to leave all to follow Christ.

Phil. 3:7,8 “But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea, doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but refuse, that I may win Christ.”

Believers are to render undivided service.

1 Chron. 15:10-15

1 Sam. 7:3 “And Samuel spoke unto all the house of Israel, saying, If ye do return unto the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and Ashtaroth from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve him only; and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines. Then the children of Israel did put away Baalim and Ashtaroth, and served the Lord only.”

Believers are to serve with humility, Acts 20:18,19

Believers are to serve with courage.

Deut. 1:17 “Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man, for the judgment is God’s; and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me [Moses], and I will hear it.”

Prov. 29:25 “The fear of man bringeth a snare; but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”

Examples of faithful service

The Lord Jesus Christ served men.

Phil. 2:7 “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”

Godly men served the Lord by serving other men.

  • Peter and Andrew, Mark 1:17,18
  • Zaccheus, Luke 19:6 ff
  • Paul, Acts 9:20

The rewards of faithful service

The faithful servant gains spiritual knowledge.

Hos. 6:3 “Then shall we know, Lord; his gome unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”

The faithful servant gains divine viewpoint.

John 8:12 “Then spoke Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world; he that followeth me shall not walk darkness, but shall have the light of life.”

The faithful servant has spiritual guidance.

John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.”

The faithful servant receives honor from God.

John 12:26 “If any man serve me, let him fol­low me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.”

The faithful servant has a life of joy.

Psalm 40:8 “I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart.”

John 4:36 “And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal, that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.”

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Brief History of Crete

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Basic Features of Cretan History and Reports on the Character of the People, in Support of the Study of the Epistle to Titus

Crete is an island which forms a southern boundary to the Aegean Sea, and lies southeast of Greece. Crete is 156 miles long, seven to thirty-five miles wide, and 3,189 square miles in area. It is the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea (after Sicily, Sardinia, Cyprus, and Corsica), and is on the spine of an undersea mountain range thought to have formed at one time a land bridge between the Greek Peloponnesian peninsula and southern Turkey. In ancient times, Crete was the main stepping stone (by sea) between Greece and Africa, and between Asia Minor and Africa. The Philistines may have migrated to Palestine from Greece, having been located on Crete for a time in the ancient past.

Homer attributes to this island only ninety cities, ennhkonta polhev, yet In other places he gives it the epithet ofeJkatompoliv, hundred cities. And this number it is generally allowed to have had originally; but we must not let the term city deceive us, as in ancient times places were thus named which would rate with villages or hamlets only in these modern times. [^1]

Few places in antiquity have been more celebrated than Crete: it was not only famous for its hundred cities, but for the arrival of Europa on a bull, or in the ship Taurus, from Phoenicia; for the Labyrinth, the work of Daedalus; for the destruction of the Minotaur, by Theseus; for Mount Ida, where Jupiter was preserved 254 from the jealousy of his father Saturn; for Jupiter’s sepulchre; and above all, for its king, Minos, and the laws which he gave to his people; the most pure, wholesome, and equal, of which antiquity can boast.

Their lawgiver, Minos, is said by Homer to have held a conference every ninth year with Jupiter, from whom he is reported to have received directions for the farther improvement of his code of laws; though this be fable, it probably states a fact in disguise. Minos probably revised his laws every ninth year, and, to procure due respect and obedience to them, told the people that he received these improvements from Jupiter himself. This was customary with ancient legislators who had to deal with an ignorant and gross people, and has been practised from the days of Minos to those of Mohammed.

According to ancient authors, Crete was originally peopled from Palestine. That part of Palestine which lies on the Mediterranean was by the Arabs called Keritha, and by the Syrians, Creth; and the Hebrews called its inhabitants Kerethi orKerethim which the Septuagint have translated krhta~. In Ezekiel 25:16, we find “I will cut off the Cherethims”, translated by the Septuagint kai exoloqreusw krhtav, I will destroy the Cretans; and Zephaniah 2:5: “Woe unto the inhabitants of the seacoast, the nation of the Cherethites, Septuagint, “the sojourners of the Cretans.” That these prophets do not speak of the island of Crete is plain from their joining the Kerethim with the Pelishtim as one and the same people. “Thus saith the Lord God, Behold I will stretch out my hand upon the Philistines, and will cut off the Cherethims, and destroy the remnant of the seacoast;” Ezekiel 25:16. “Woe unto the inhabitants of the seacoasts, the nation of the Cherethites; the word of the Lord is against you: O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee;” Zephaniah 2:5.

Accordingly it appears that the Kerethim were a part of the Philistines. The Kerethim in Palestine were noted for archery; and we find that some of them were employed by David as his life guards, 2 Samuel 8:18; 15:18; 20:23; 1 Kings 1:38; 1 Chronicles 18:17; in all which places they are called, in our translation, Cherethites.

Idomeneus, who assisted Agamemnon in the Trojan war, was the last king of Crete. He left the regency of the island to his adopted son Leucus, who, in the absence of the king, usurped the empire; the usurper was however soon expelled, and Crete became one of the most celebrated republics in antiquity. The Romans at last, under Quintus Metellus, after an immense expenditure of blood and treasure, succeeded in subduing the island, on which he abolished the laws of Minos, and introduced the code of Numa Pompilius.

Crete, with the small kingdom of Cyrene, became a Roman province; this was at first governed by proconsul, next by a quaestor and assistant, and lastly by a consul. Constantine the Great, in the new division he made of the provinces of the empire, separated Crete from Cyrene, and left it, with Africa and Illyria, to his third son Constans.

In the ninth century, in the reign of Michael II., it was attacked and conquered by the Saracens. About 965, the Emperor Nicephorus Phocas, in the following century, defeated and expelled the Saracens, and reunited the island to the empire, after it had been under the power of the infidels upwards of 100 years. It remained with the empire until the time of Baldwin, earl of Flanders, who, being raised to the throne, rewarded the services of Boniface, marquis of Montferrat, by making him king of Thessalonica, and adding to it the island of Crete. Baldwin, preferring a sum of gold to the government of the island, sold it to the Venetians, A. D. 1194, under whose government it was called Candia, from the Arabic (Arabic) Kandak, a fortification, the name which the Saracens gave to the metropolis which they had built and strongly fortified.

In 1645, in the midst of a peace, it was attacked by the Turks with a fleet of 400 sail, which had on board an army of 60,000 men, under the command of four pashas, to oppose whom the whole island could only muster 3,500 infantry, and a small number of cavalry; yet with these they held out against a numerous and continually recruited army, disputing every inch of ground, so that the whole Ottoman power was employed for nearly thirty years before they got the entire dominion of the island. In this long campaign against this brave people the Turks lost about 200,000 men! [End of Clarke notes. wd]

Crete is centrally located, but very little was known of its history prior to the Greek period. It was not until the archaeological expeditions of Sir Arthur Evans in the late 19th Century that some of the true facts of ancient Cretan history became known. Evans was an out-of-work millionaire in England, so he took a position as the curator of the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford University in Oxford, England. He was an avid amateur archaeologist, but he was to achieve a reputation which placed him among the most professional.

Evans was also a numismatist, and he heard about some very interesting signet rings which had supposedly been left on the island of Crete by some ancient Egyptians. Taking an extended vacation from the museum, he sailed his personal yacht to Crete in 1894. He arrived in the harbor at Knossos in that year, and he began an archaeological dig at a place nearby called the Kephala site. On the very first day of digging, he uncovered the top of a bronze age palace. He knew that he had found something, but the property didn’t belong to him; so he covered up the hole and began negotiations with the Greek government on Crete to purchase the site.

The place that Evans bought was the site of ancient Knossos; and the palace he had found was that of King Minos, who had, up until that time, been thought of only as a legend. Evans called the civilization of King Minos the Minoan civilization. This civilization flourished from early times up until about 1400 B.C., and its discovery has been invaluable to the study of Greek and European history and languages, especially those of the eastern Mediterranean area.

The Minoan culture is distinguished by the originality and high development of its art and architecture. In fact, the Minoan culture is considered to be a forerunner of the Mycenaean civilization of ancient Greece.

Many examples of pictographic script were found at the palace site; and two basic forms were identified, labeled Minoan Linear A and Linear B. The work of decipherment began in the 1930’s, but it was not until 1953 that the Linear B script puzzle was solved, by two men named Ventris and Chadwick. They determined that Linear B is an archaic form of early Greek. Linear A is still under examination.

Sir Arthur Evans was recognized with many honors: he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Archaeologists; he was knighted in 1911; he was named president of the Society of Antiquaries from 1914 to 1919. He died at Oxford in 1941.

The Minoan civilization was destroyed in about 1400 B.C. with the eruption of the Santorini volcano at the island of Thera, about 70 miles north of Crete. It is thought that first a huge tidal wave struck the island, destroying coastal cities and populations, and that then volcanic ash came down, burying the whole island. Arthur Evans uncovered the buildings 3300 years later.

Of course, the island began to be repopulated immediately as people migrated from the mainland. In about 600 B.C., Dorian Greeks came in force and settled the island by conquest. Their cousins were the Spartan Greeks from the Peloponnesus and the Philistine Greeks of Palestine. Spartan Greeks settled on the western side of the island in cities like Lyttus. All of the Greeks on the island were warlike, fierce fighters who prided themselves on their independence and warrior qualities. Island people have a tendency to be independent, and this trait was augmented by their heredity.

There were Cretan Jews at Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:11; and Paul stopped at least once at Crete, on his voyage to Rome, Acts 27:7ff.

The following excerpts are from the works of Polybius, one of the most famous and prolific Greek historians of Roman times. The quotations are taken from his Histories, Volumes II, III, and VI. The citations indicate volume and page numbers as [II, 319], etc.

On the Cretan military [II, 319ff] – “The Cretans both by land and sea are irresistible in ambuscades, forays, tricks played on the enemy, night attacks, and all petty operations which require fraud; but they are cowardly and down-hearted in the massed face-to-face charge of an open battle”.

On Crete’s internal strife and civil wars [II, 429ff], “The city of Lyttus met with an irremediable disaster. Knossians and Gortynians had subjected the whole island, except for Lyttus (about 225 B.C.). Since Lyttus would not surrender to them, they declared war against it. At first, all the Cretans took part in the war against the Lyttans; but jealousy sprang up from some trifling cause, as is common with the Cretans. Several cities went over to the aid of Lyttus.

“Meanwhile, the city of Gortyn was having civil war, in which the elder citizens were taking the side of Knossos and the younger were siding with Lyttus. The elder Gortynians, with the help of Knossians and Aetolians, whom they had secretly let into the city and the citadel, put to death the younger citizens, delivering the city of Gortyn to Knossos.

“At about the same time, the Lyttians left with their whole force for an expedition into enemy territory. But the Knossians got word of their departure and used the opportunity to occupy Lyttus, destroying the town and sending the populace into slavery. The Lyttus military returned to a gutted city and were so distraught that they didn’t even enter the town, but sought refuge in the city of Lappa, becoming in one day cityless aliens instead of citizens.

“Thus, Lyttus, a colony of the Spartans, and allied to them by blood, the most ancient city in Crete, and the breeding place of her bravest men, was utterly and unexpectedly made away with.”

On the greed of Cretans III,373ff – “In all these respects the Cretan practice is exactly the opposite (to the Spartan). Their laws go as far as possible in letting them acquire land to the extent of their power; and money is held in such high honor among them that its acquisition is not only regarded as necessary, but as most honorable.

“So much, in fact, do sordid love of gain and lust for wealth prevail among them, that the Cretans are the only people in the world in whose eyes no gain is disgraceful…owing to their ingrained lust of wealth are involved in constant broils public and private, and in murders and civil wars.”

On Cretan treachery and conniving (this is Polybius’ rebuttal to the statements of Ephorus, Xenophon, Plato and Callisthenes that the constitutions of Sparta and Crete are similar) [III, 375ff] – “Such are the points in which I consider these two political systems to differ, and I will now give my reasons for not regarding that of Crete as worthy of praise or imitation.

“In my opinion, there are two fundamental things in every state, by virtue of which its principles and constitution are either desirable or the reverse. I mean customs and laws. What is desirable in these makes men’s private lives righteous and well-ordered and the general character of the state gentle and just. What is to be avoided has the opposite effect.

“So, just as when we observe the laws and customs of a people to be good, we have no hesitation in pronouncing that the citizens and the state will consequently be good also. Thus, when we notice that men are covetous in their private lives and that their public actions are unjust, we are plainly justified in saying that their laws, their particular customs, and the state as a whole, are bad.

Now it would be impossible to find, except in some rare instances, personal conduct more treacherous, or a public policy more unjust, than in Crete. Holding then the Cretan constitution to be neither similar to that of Sparta nor in any way deserving of praise and imitation, I dismiss it from the comparison which I have proposed to make.”

On the treachery of some citizens of the cities of Cydonia and Apollonia [VI, 31] – “The people of Cydonia at this time committed a shocking act of treachery universally condemned. For although many such things have happened in Crete, what was done then was thought to surpass all other instances of their habitual ferocity.

“For while they were not only friends with the Appolonians, but united with them in general in all the rights observed by men, there being a sworn treaty to this effect deposited in the temple of Zeus, they treacherously seized on the city, killing the men, laying violent hands on all property, and dividing among themselves and keeping the women and children, and the city with its territory.”

From Crete vs. Rhodes [VI, 285] – “Antiphatas … for, as a fact, this young man was not at all Cretan in character but had escaped the contagion of Cretan ill-breeding.”

The Story of the Capture of Achaeus

(a true, and truly Cretan, episode)

First, some background Greek history –

Philip of Macedon had won recognition as a Greek by force of arms. He announced his intention of leading a united Greek army against Persia to overthrow it once and for all. He was elected general at the city of Corinth in 335 B.C., but he was murdered shortly thereafter, and the army and generalship passed to his son, Alexander.

Alexander crossed the Hellespont in 334 B.C. with an army of 35,000 Macedonians and Greeks. He visited Troy, dedicated his armor to Athena, and placed a crown on the tomb of Achilles, whom he regarded as his ancestor. His first engagement with the Persians was at the river Granicus, east of Troy, which opened his way into Asia Minor. The second main battle was at Issus, after which he overran the whole east coast of the Mediterranean, conquering as far as Egypt. His third great battle was at Guagamela in 331 B.C., which brought the final downfall of the Persian empire. He went on to conquer territory over into India, but died at the age of 32 of a fever probably made worse by alcoholism.

Alexander had begun to think of world empire, but it was not to be. His generals fought each other to be his successor; and they finally divided the conquered territories among themselves. Ptolemy began his dynasty in Egypt, which lasted until Cleopatra. The Seleucid dynasty in Asia Minor, with the kings named Seleucus or Antiochus, lasted until 65 B.C. when Syria became a Roman province. The Antigonid rulers of mainland Greece and Macedonia also remained independent until the Roman takeover.

For the next century and a half after Alexander, the history of Asia Minor is that of the attempts by various kings to extend their dominion over the Mediterranean area. There was continuous fighting between Greeks, Egyptians, and Syrians, as first one and then the other became ambitious for more territory.

In about 215 B.C., Antiochus III took an army to hunt down a man named Achaeus, a member of the Syrian royal family, who had proclaimed himself king in Asia Minor. Achaeus and his army were forced to retreat into the city of Sardis, and Antiochus troops were camped almost all the way around the city in siege.

Now – at this time, Bolis, a Cretan, was a high ranking official in the court of Ptolemy, the Egyptian king. He was possessed of superior intelligence, exceptional courage, and much military experience. He was approached by Sosibius, the Egyptian “secretary of state”, and asked to work up a plan to save Achaeus from the clutches of Antiochus. In about three days, Bolis told Sosibius that he would take on the job; mainly because he had spent some time in Sardis and knew the layout of the land and the city. And he knew that Cambylus, another Cretan, and a friend of his, was the commander of the Cretan mercenaries in Antiochus’ army.

In fact, Cambylus and his force of Cretans had charge of one of the outposts behind the citadel where Antiochus was not able to build siege works. This portion of the surrounding forces’ line was occupied by Cambylus’s troops.

Sosibius had almost given up the idea of rescuing Achaeus; but now he thought that if anyone could do it, Bolis could. And Bolis was so enthusiastic about the idea that the project really began to move. Sosibius advanced the funds necessary for the project; and he promised Bolis a large reward from Ptolemy himself, pointing out also that King Achaeus would probably express his gratitude with money.

Bolis set sail without delay carrying dispatches in code and credentials to Nicomachus in Rhodes, a close friend of Achaeus, and to Melancomas at Ephesus. These two men had previously acted as Achaeus’ trusted agents in foreign affairs. They were in agreement with Bolis’ plan and began to make arrangements to help him in the rescue attempt. Bolis also sent word to Cambylus at Sardis that he had a matter of great urgency to discuss with him in private.

Bolis, being a Cretan and naturally astute, had been weighing every idea and testing the soundness of every plan. When Bolis met with Cambylus, (according to Polybius), “They discussed the matter from a thoroughly Cretan point of view. For they did not take into consideration either the rescue of the man in danger or their loyalty to those who had charged them with the task, but only their personal security and advantage. Both of them, then, Cretans as they were, soon arrived at the same decision, which was to divide between them in equal shares the ten talents advanced by Sosibius and then to reveal the project to Antiochus; and undertake, if assisted by him, to deliver Achaeus into his hands on receiving a sum of money in advance and the promise of a reward upon delivery of Achaeus adequate in importance to the enterprise.”

So, Cambylus left to talk to Antiochus; and Bolis sent a messenger to Achaeus with coded messages from Nicomachus and Melancomas outlining the plan to the king. Should Achaeus agree to make the attempt at escape, Bolis would go ahead with the rescue plan. Antiochus, for his part, was surprised and delighted at the offer from Cambylus. He was ready to promise anything to get Achaeus in his hands; but he was equally wary of any Cretan plan. So he demanded a detailed account of their project and how they were going to carry it out. Cambylus was able to convince him, so Antiochus urged him to put it into execution, and he advanced several talents for expenses.

Bolis, meanwhile, communicated with Nicomachus and Melancomas, who, believing that the attempt was being made in all good faith, immediately drew up letters to Achaeus in a secret mercantile code so that only Achaeus could read the messages. The letters urged Achaeus to put his trust in Bolis and Cambylus.

Bolis’ messenger gained access to the citadel in Sardis with the aid of Cambylus, and he handed the letters to Achaeus. The messenger had been completely briefed in the fake plan, and he was able to give an accurate and detailed account of everything in answer to Achaeus’ numerous questions about Bolis and Sosibius, Nicomachus and Melancomas, and especially Cambylus. The messenger was able to support the cross-questioning with confidence and honesty because he had no knowledge of the real agreement between Bolis and Cambylus.

Achaeus was convinced and agreed to the plan. He sent word back to Rhodes to Nicomachus, to tell Bolis to proceed. Achaeus figured that once he had escaped he could travel quickly back to Syria, while Antiochus was still occupied in the siege of Sardis, and create a great movement in his favor.

The rescue plan was as follows –Bolis and the messenger would go into the citadel and lead Achaeus out. The messenger would lead the way out because he knew the path and there was a new moon, making it completely dark. Bolis would be last and stick close to Achaeus. If Achaeus were to be alone, there would be no problem. But they wanted to take him alive; and if he brought some people with him, they didn’t want to take any chances of his escaping in the dark when he found out he was being kidnapped.

Cambylus took Bolis to talk personally with Antiochus, who again promised a huge reward for Achaeus. That night, about two hours before daybreak, Bolis went through the lines to the citadel and met Achaeus. Here, let Polybius pick up the narrative –

“As, however, Achaeus was second to none in intelligence, and had had considerable experience, he judged it best not to repose entire confidence in Bolis. He announced that he would first send out three or four of his friends, and after they had made sure that everything was all right, he would himself get ready to leave. Achaeus was indeed doing his best; but he did not consider that, as the saying goes, he was trying to play the Cretan with a Cretan. For there was no probable precaution of this kind that Bolis had not minutely examined.”

Achaeus dressed himself in rude clothing and put fairly good clothing on some of his retainers. Then, in darkness, they went out on the steep and difficult trail down from the citadel, the messenger in front as planned, with Bolis bringing up the rear. Again, Polybius:

“Bolis found himself perplexed … for although a Cretan and ready to entertain every kind of suspicion regarding others, he could not owing to the darkness make out which was Achaeus, or even if he were present. But he noticed that at certain slippery and dangerous places on the trail some of the men would take hold of Achaeus and give him a hand down, as they were unable to put aside their customary respect for him. So Bolis very soon determined who was Achaeus.”

Achaeus was taken in ambush by Bolis and his men, who kept Achaeus’s hands inside his garment to prevent suicide. He was taken bound hand and foot to Antiochus, who summarily executed him. Bolis and Cambylus received their rewards and went their way.

A final word from Polybius: “Thus did Achaeus perish, after taking every reasonable precaution and defeated only by the perfidy of those whom he had trusted, leaving two useful lessons to posterity, firstly to trust no one too easily, and secondly not to be boastful in the season of prosperity, but, being men, to be prepared for any turn of fortune.”

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Paul the Apostle

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The apostle Paul was one of the most famous citizens of the Roman Empire and without question one of the most influential individuals in history. He was used by the Lord in his missionary and evangelistic activities to set in motion a great deal of the organization known as the Christian Church, the Body of Christ on earth, to the extent that billions of human beings have been directly or indirectly affected by his ministry. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, he wrote the foundation documents for the Christian way of life, the Word of God which has changed the lives of millions.

Paul’s Education

Paul was educated by his mother until the age of five. From age five to ten he studied with his father in the Hebrew scriptures and traditional writings. At the same time, being a Roman citizen and living in a Greek and Roman environment, he received a thorough education in the Greek language, history, and culture.

He was sent to Jerusalem at about the age of ten to attend the rabbinical school of Gamaliel, who was the son of Simeon the son of Hillel. Gamaliel was a most eminent rabbi who was mentioned both in the Talmud and in the New Testament (Acts 5:24-40; 22:3). Gamaliel was called Rabban – one of only seven teachers so called. He was a Pharisee, but he rose above party prejudice. He composed a prayer against the Christian “heretics”. He lived and died a Jew.

At this time, Herod was dead, and the Romans had complete control of Judea, hence, there was Roman money, language, and culture. The Jews, therefore, were inclined to cling more closely to their religion as the center of unity. [Refer to the topic: Judean History]

There were two great rabbinical schools, those of Hillel and Schammai. Hillel, the grandfather of Gamaliel, held that tradition was superior to the Law. The school of Schammai despised traditionalists, especially when there teachings clashed with the writings of Moses.

The religious school of Gamaliel (Hillel) was chiefly oral and usually had a prejudice against any book but Scripture. They used a system of Scriptural exegesis, and Josephus in his writings expressed the wish to have such a power of exegesis. When school was in session, learned men met and discussed scriptures, gave various interpretations, suggested illustrations, and quoted precedents. The students were encouraged to question, doubt, even contradict.

When Paul became a Christian, his very thorough education was enormously helpful. He was able to assimilate Christian doctrines rapidly and relate them accurately to the Scripture teaching he had received. From his education, both from Gamaliel and in the desert from the Lord Jesus Christ, Paul developed a divine viewpoint attitude toward human history.

Paul knew that the existence of God can easily be perceived by anyone, that man can become aware of God, but that many men’s deliberate halted this good beginning by immoral activities which accompanied their idolatry. Therefore, Paul had an intense hatred of idolatry of any kind.

Paul’s teaching shows that the only reality is God. Idolatry distorts man’s conception of the world and external nature. Idolatry is the enemy of mankind.

Paul knew the law of growth of human nature. As a Roman, Tarsian, Hebrew, and culturally Greek, he knew of the many distortions of the life of his society. As a nation becomes unhealthy, development is halted. Societies errors as to the nature of God and the true relation of God to man prevented nations from getting rid of their besetting evil.

The books of Acts is the chief authoritative record for the ministries of Paul and the other apostles. For a brief outline of Paul’s ministry, see the Chronological Table of Paul’s Ministry. The most thorough, accurate, and interesting secular work on Paul is The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, by Conybeare and Howson.

Paul, The Prisoner for the Gentiles

The Lord made Paul a missionary to the Gentiles, even revealing to him during the period of his arrest in Palestine, and during his subsequent trials before Jewish and Roman authorities, that he should “be of good cheer, for you must bear witness of Jesus at Rome.”

After a considerable stay at Antioch after his second missionary journey, Paul departed and went over all the country of Galatia and Phrygia in order to strengthen the disciples (Acts 18:23). During this time, he also gave directions for the collection for the poor in Jerusalem.

He came to Ephesus, probably in about 53 A.D. He found there twelve disciples of Apollos who had only received John’s baptism and were not aware of the Holy Spirit and Church Age mysteries.

He taught three months in the synagogue in Ephesus. In the face of opposition, he took his classes to the school of one, Tyrannus, where he taught daily for two years. Exorcists were converted and books of magic were burned by the new converts. He paid a visit to Corinth, then returned to Ephesus where he wrote 1 Corinthians.

Paul left for Troas and Macedonia because of the danger in Ephesus from the silversmiths and craftsmen who made articles for the worship of Diana. (See Topic: Ephesus) He sailed to Macedonia to meet Titus, landed at Neapolis and went to Philippi where he was “comforted by Titus.” He sent Titus to Corinth with the second Corinthian letter and instructions for completing the collection there for needy Christians.

Paul traveled through Macedonia and finally arrived at Corinth himself, staying there about three months and writing Romans. He took ship for Miletus where he met for a few days with Ephesian elders. He then sailed (island hopping to Coos, Rhodes, and Patara) to Tyre. From Tyre he wailed to Ptolemais and reached Caesarea.

Paul was warned not to visit Jerusalem. He went anyway and was warmly received by the brethren. He had an interview with James and the elders. A charge was brought against him by the Sanhedrin that “he taught all the Jews among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their sons, neither to walk after their customs.” [For a discussion of the Sanhedrin, see topic: Jewish Religious System]

The Sanhedrin asked Paul to do a public act of the Law in order to prove his faith. There were four men who were to undergo the ritual associated with the Nazarite vow, and Paul was requested to put himself under that vow and to pay the costs of the other four men. He did so.

After this some Jews from Asia stirred up the people against him, charging him with bringing Greeks into the Temple. A Gentile man from Ephesus named Trophimus was with Paul, and the Jews supposed that Paul had brought him into the temple, which would have been a sacrilege. The mob took Paul to kill him, but soldiers of the Roman garrison appeared. Paul spoke to the mob in his own defense, telling of his mission to the Gentiles. They shouted “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live.” (Acts 22:1-23).

The Roman soldiers took Paul to the governor’s castle for interrogation by scourging, at which time Paul claimed his Roman citizenship. The next morning he was taken before the Sanhedrin, but there was no conclusion because of the dissension between the Sadducees and Pharisees. Paul was taken back to the castle for protection, and it was that night that the Lord appeared to Paul telling him to “be of good cheer.” (Acts 23:6‑10)

There arose a conspiracy among forty Jews to assassinate Paul, but Paul’s nephew brought him a warning of the plot. The Romans decided to send him to Caesarea to Felix, the procurator (governor) of Judea (Acts 22:21ff). Before Felix, Paul was merely asked from province he had come. Five days later, the high priest Ananias and some of the Sanhedrin appeared, with Tertullus as their advocate (Acts 24:1‑9). They made charges, which Paul denied. Felix delayed the proceeding further until Claudias Lysias, the captain of the Roman troops n Jerusalem, could come to give evidence.

After a few days, Felix’ wife, Drusilla, a Jewess, wanted to see and hear Paul. Paul appeared and gave the gospel to Felix and Drusilla. Felix trembled but was unrepentant. He wanted a bribe from Paul so did not acquit him. (Drusilla died in the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius, AD 79.)

Felix kept Paul a prisoner in Caesarea (under loose house arrest) for two years until the arrival of Festus, the new governor. Festus wanted Paul taken back to Jerusalem, but Paul was aware of the danger there and uttered the Latin word Caesarem apello! – “I appeal to Caesar!” Festus was thus obliged to make arrangements for Paul to travel to Rome under escort.

About this time, King Agrippa II, with his sister, Berenice, came to visit Festus, the new governor. Festus pleaded ignorance of Jewish law, so Paul made his testimony before Agrippa, with the greatest of pomp and ceremony. This episode was one of the greatest defenses of the gospel ever recorded. Agrippa said, “Almost you persuade me …”

Festus decided then that Paul was innocent or wrongdoing, and he would have let him go free if he had not appealed to Caesar.

Paul’s Voyage to Rome

Paul’s escort on the trip to Rome was a platoon of Roman soldiers under Julius, a centurion of the Augustan Cohort. They sailed in a coasting vessel to Adramyttium and Sidon. Paul was given liberty. The next port was Myra, from which they took ship to Italy.

They sailed to Crete, stayed at the port of Fair Havens for one month, sailed for Phoenix, and were driven on the rocks at Malta where they stayed for three months. From Malta they sailed in the vessel “Castor and Pollux” to Syracuse (Sicily) and Rhegium, the port city of the Italian province of Puteoli. From there they went to Rome on the Appian Way.

In Rome Paul dwelled in his own hired house under the supervision of a Prefect of the Praetorian Guard. He was permitted t o hold meetings, and he met with Jewish elders, winning some of them to Christ. This period lasted two years, during which he wrote Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, and Philippians.

He was acquitted by Nero, so he was free to travel and did so. His visits were to Crete and to Asia Minor; and it is widely thought that he traveled in Spain on a missionary journey. He is thought to have been arrested again in Ephesus and taken again to Rome from there, but this time treated as a malefactor, with his friends deserting him (except for Luke and Onesiphorus). There was persecution in Rome at this time, and a campaign of terror by Nero against the Christians. Paul was condemned and executed in Rome.

“I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith; henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day.”

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Peace of God, and Peace with God

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The word peace in the Bible, from the Greek word (EIREINEI), refers to a mental attitude of tranquility based on a relationship with God in the Christian way of life. It is a word which describes the result of a person’s correct response to God’s grace.

The Bible uses peace in two ways. There is personal peace with God which comes when a person accepts Jesus Christ as savior. Then, there is the peace of God which is available on a daily basis as the believer participates in the Christian way of life according to the plan of God.

So, where you find peace mentioned in the Bible it refers either to the reconciliation of a Christian in salvation, as in Ephesians 2:14,17, or to the mental attitude found in the believers described in 2 Timothy 1:7.

Peace with God – Peace in Salvation

Peace with God is never available apart from grace. The cross of Christ is the focal point of grace and is the source of peace. Jesus Christ is our eternal peace.

Romans 5:1 “Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

Grace removed the barrier and made peace between man and God. So, when the unbeliever responds to grace by faith, the result is peace.

Ephesians 2:14-18 provides a good illustration of how God made it possible for anyone to have peace with God, with special emphasis on the fact that such different people as Jews and Gentiles have a clear opportunity for accepting Christ.

Verse 14 deals with peace as a product of reconciliation. Verse 15 explains that the enmity between God and man, that which we call the barrier, was abolished once and for all. Verses 16 to 18 explain that the enmity has been slain for both Jews and Gentiles so that now those who were near to God, the Jews, and those who were far off, non Jews, have been brought into union with Christ through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Peace in the Christian Way of Life

In our lifetime we can experience peace on a daily basis. When the believer responds by faith to grace, God provides many blessings which can result in great inner happiness.

Isaiah 26:3,4 “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee; because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the Lord forever: for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength.”

In the Christian way of life, peace comes through fellowship with God followed by daily growth and advancement in spiritual things which brings stability, a relaxed mental attitude, orientation to the plan of God, occupation with Christ and the ability to employ faith rest principles in all areas of life.

Read Philippians 4:6-9

Peace or tranquility, precedes the enjoyment of prosperity. It is part of the preparation for prosperity. One must have peace to have the capacity for prosperity. God may hold prosperity back until there is the capacity to enjoy it.

Acts 9:31 “Then had the churches rest throughout all Judea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied.”

Read Jeremiah 29:1-7

Any loss of peace is followed by adjustment to the plan of God. Confession and restoration to fellowship, faith rest a relaxed mental attitude and peace will appear in the new situation from God’s viewpoint and follower of Christ can choose to accept God’s best plan for you.

The man or woman who receive grace and peace from the Lord is in perfect position for spiritual production and reproduction.

Read James 3:13-18

The peace of God is shown through wisdom. The Christian has to choose to follow God’s wisdom which is first pure, peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits which is unwavering without hypocrisy. The Christian can choose to follow the wisdom of the world which is leads to bitter jealousy, selfish ambition, disorder and every evil thing. Choosing God’s wisdom leads to peace in every day decision making. God allows you to make this choice of which source of wisdom to follow every day.

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Faithfulness of God

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The faithfulness of God to the believer is expressed in many ways in the Bible.

The faithfulness of God to forgive sin.

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sin, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

The faithfulness of God in keeping us saved.

2 Tim. 2:13, “If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself.

2 Thess. 3:3, “But the Lord is faithful who shall establish you and keep you from evil.

The faithfulness of God in times of pressure.

1 Cor. 10:13, “There has no testing taken you but such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tested above that you are able; but will with the testing also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it.”

The faithfulness of God in providing for us under the partnership of Christ.

1 Cor. 1:9, “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ.”

The faithfulness of God in keeping His promises to us.

Heb. 10:23, “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; for He is faithful that promised.”

The faithfulness of God to us in times of suffering.

1 Pet. 4:19, “Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well doing, as unto a faithful creator.”

The faithfulness of God in providing for the believer’s eternal future.

1 Thess. 5:24, “Faithful is He that calls you who also will do it.”

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