Monday, November 08, 2010

The New Testament in a Year: James 4-5 and 1 Peter 1-3

For my own personal study, I am using a combination of tools. These include listening to an audio version of the Bible (TNIV) and a series of commentaries in addition to the text itself. I recognize that not everyone will have access to these materials. I can at least provide a link to the Biblical text itself. For this purpose, I've found that is a very useful tool. Not only does it include the TNIV, which enables me to link to the same text as what I'm listening to with the audio version, but one can easily switch to another translation (if one so desires) simply by using the drop-down menus. I hope that this is helpful.

This week, I am working through James, chapters 4-5 and 1 Peter, chapters 1-3.

Chapter 4

  • Verse 2 - I have to assume that James is employing hyperbole to at least some extent.  It's hard for me to believe that he's seriously accusing people in his audience of having committed murder as a result of whatever greed they might have.  That said, it certainly seems an apt description of human nature.
  • Verse 12 - Throughout most of this letter, James has some fairly harsh things to say to his audience.  Perhaps this makes him sound a bit hypocritical when he suggests that no one has the right to judge another person.  Perhaps it's important to note that James is (as was noted just above) speaking in generalities rather than to particular people?  Of course, Paul seemed not to worry about calling out individuals who he considered to have sinned.  How are we to follow the advice to take sin seriously while also obeying the injunction against judging others?
  • Verse 17 - How does this verse follow from the verses that come before it?  "So then" implies such a progression.
Chapter 5
  • Verse 3 - The "last days" seem to be hanging on yet....
  • Verse 4 - One doesn't perhaps expect non-Christian secular business owners to listen to James here, but it seems to me that a surprising number of "guilty parties" in this matter profess Christian faith.  Or, at least, if they don't, I wonder how the CEO-to-worker ratio can remain so off-balance (although it does seem to be improving).
  • Verse 12 - Granting that the word "swear" here seems to have less to do with cursing, and more to do with taking oaths, I still wonder why James considers this something to be avoided "above all."
1 Peter
Chapter 1
  • Verses 1-2 - Someday, I need to do some research into how Jews (and Christians) of the first century (who haven't been sitting with the writings of Paul and Peter on these matters for two centuries) understood the concepts of election of God's foreknowledge, and on what basis.
  • Verse 4 - The concept of "inheritance" is one that shows up in Scripture quite a lot, too.  I should focus more on this sometime....
  • Verses 10-11 - There's some interesting Christological discussion here.  Apparently the prophets (of the Old Testament era?) were led by the "Spirit of Christ."
Chapter 2
  • Verse 2 - Here (and in the previous chapter) Peter encourages believers to be like children.  Contrast this with Paul's concern that the Corinthians were immature and not ready for adult things, and the author of Hebrews' similar complaint of his audience.
  • Verses 18-20 - Clearly, Peter's instruction that believers should live godly lives of obedience extends to slaves--even slaves with cruel masters.  I wonder what Peter would say to abolitionists of more modern times (and, by this, I mean non-slaves who acted to end slavery, rather than slaves who sought freedom).
Chapter 3
  • Main point - Do what is right, even when others don't do what is right to you.

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