Thursday, April 14, 2011

Lenten Bible Study

My wife asked me to put together a small group Bible study for Lent, and here is the outline I put together. Feel free to email me with questions or comments. My gratitude goes out to my brother in Christ, Perry Robinson, an Eastern Orthodox Christian and student of Sacred Scripture. He has always challenged me to think hard about what the Scripture means.

LIGHT, LIFE, AND LOVE: The Good News about Jesus

I. The Basics

A. Three Images of the Gospel
1. Light (phos)
2. Life (zoe) -- life force, rather than bios (individual life)
3. Love (agape) -- charity, rather than eros (romantic desire) or philia (friendship)

B. What Do These Images Have in Common?
1. Power (dynamis)
2. Activity (energeia)
3. Work (ergon)
4. NOT suffering or passion (pathos)

C. Supporting Images
1. Substance (ousia)
2. Nature (physis)
3. Spirit (pneuma) (NOT psyche, the worldly soul, or sarx, flesh)
4. Glory (doxa) / Kingdom (basileia) of God
5. Grace (charis)
6. Knowledge (gnosis) / Truth (alethos) / Believing (pisteuo)
7. Icon / character / seal / form (morphe)
8. Bread / Food / Water / Wine

II. What News Does St. John Bring?

A. The Light of Men (John 1:1-14 and 3:19-21; cf. John 8:12)

B. The Bread of Life (John 6:25-71)
1. Jesus does the Father's will (John 6:38; cf. Mark 7:24, Luke 22:42)

2. Jesus does the Father's work
a. He gives eternal life (zoe aionios; cf. 1 John 1:1-2 and 5:10-13)
b. He raises creation on the last day (cf. John 11:24)

3. The Pharisees murmur among themselves, denying Jesus's work

4. Why is this a "hard saying?"

C. God Is Love (1 John 3:10-19 and 4:7-21)

III. What News Does St. Paul Bring?

A. The Reward of Eternal Life (Rom. 2:6-11; cf. 2 Cor. 5:10):
1. Same Term As St. John; Different Usage
a. Eternal life refers to the end, not the current state
b. St. Paul's formulation is instead living life in Christ Jesus
2. St. Paul's contrast: wrath + fury vs. glory + honor + peace + immortality

B. Life in Christ Jesus (Rom 5-8):
1. The life of all men (Rom. 5)
a. "... much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by His life" (Rom. 5:10; cf. 1 Cor. 1:28-31)
b. Adam's sin brought death to all men; Jesus Christ brings life to all men (Rom. 5:12-21; cf. Titus 2:11, 1 Tim. 2:3-4, Eph. 1:9-10)

2. Baptism brings the new life (Rom. 6:3-12; cf. John 3:5-7; Titus 3:3-7, 1 Peter 3:18-22)
a. Baptism = death to sin and newness of life unto resurrection (Rom. 6:3-6; cf. Gal. 2:15-21)
b. Christ's sacrifice liberates from sin; "the life He lives He lives to God" (Rom. 6:8-10; cf. Col. 3:1-4 -- "your life is hid with Christ in God")

3. ... but sin remains in the passions of the flesh apart from God (Rom 6:12-7:25; cf. Eph. 2:3, 2 Peter 1:3-11, "partakers of the divine nature" vs. "corruption ... because of passion")
a. St. Paul warns not to let sin rule; it lacks its old dominion (Rom. 6:12-14)
b. If sin is allowed to rule, "the end of those things is death" of life in Christ (Rom. 6:21, cf. Gal. 6:8)
c. Imperfect analogies to the end of sin's dominion
(i) freedom from slavery (Rom. 6:17-18)
(ii) a husband who dies (Rom. 7:1-3)
d. The passion of the flesh, not the law, allows sin (Rom. 7:13-25; cf. Gal. 5:13-24)

4. "The Spirit of life in Christ Jesus" vs. "the mind set on the flesh" (Rom. 8:1-17; cf. Titus 1:15)

5. Salvation of all creation reflected in bodily resurrection (Rom. 8:18-24; cf. 2 Cor. 5:1-4 -- "that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life")

6. God's coworkers who love Him: called, justified, and glorified (Rom. 8:28-30 and 15:17-19; cf. 2 Cor. 6:1 "working together with Him")

7. "the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord," the ultimate power (Rom. 8:31-38; cf. Eph. 1:15-23)

C. One Body in Christ and in Love
1. Rom. 12
2. 1 Cor. 1:10-24 -- "Christ the power and wisdom of God" -- and 12-14:1
3. Gal. 5:6 -- "faith working through love"
4. 2 Cor. 5:14-15 -- "the love of Christ controls us"
5. Eph. 1:22-23, 2:14-22, 4:1-16, and 5:28-33 (marriage)

D. Participation in Christ (1 Cor.)
1. 1 Cor. 2 -- "the mind of Christ"
2. 1 Cor. 6:13-20 -- "one spirit with Him"
3. 1 Cor. 8:1-3 -- "'Knowledge' puffs up, but love builds up," "If one knows God, he is loved by Him"
4. 1 Cor. 10:16-17 and 11:23-32 -- participation in Body and Blood
5. 1 Cor. 15 -- As by Adam, all men die; so by Christ, all men are made alive (cf. Hebr. 10:12-13)

E. Unveiled Glory (2 Cor.)
1. 2 Cor. 3:12-18 -- "changed into His likeness from one glory to another"
2. 2 Cor. 4 -- "let light shine out of darkness"
3. 2 Cor. 5:17-6:1 -- "he is a new creation" (cf. Gal 6:14-15)
4. 2 Cor. 11:14 -- Satan disguised as an angel of light (cf. Gal. 1:8)

F. God's Eternal Plan of Grace (Eph.)
1. Eph. 1 -- the plan for all creation
2. Eph. 2:1-10 -- made alive by Christ
3. Eph. 3:17 -- the mystery and power of God (cf. 1 Tim. 3:14-16)
4. Eph. 3:14-19 -- "rooted and grounded in love"
5. Eph. 4:22-24 and 30 -- the likeness of God, the new nature
6. Eph. 5:5-14 -- once you were darkness, but now you are light

G. The Great Exchange: God Dies on the Cross
1. Rom 6:6 "We know our old self was crucified with Him so that the sinful body might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin."
2. 2 Cor. 5:21 "For our sake He made Him to be sin who knew no sin so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God."
3. 2 Cor. 8:9b "... though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that by His poverty you might become rich"
4. 2 Cor. 13:4a "For He was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God."
5. Gal. 3:13-14 "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us."
6. Gal. 5:24 "And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires."
7. Phil. 2:5-17 "Christ Jesus, who, though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men." (kenosis)
8. Phil. 3:3-12 "...that I may ... share His sufferings, becoming like Him in death, that if possible I may attain resurrection of the dead."
9. Col. 1:11-29 "the first-born from the dead"
10. Col. 2:9-15 "in Him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily"

III. What News Does the Epistle to the Hebrews Bring?

A. The Very Stamp of His Nature (Hebr. 1)

B. Jesus, Who for a Little While Was Made Lower than the Angels (Hebr. 2)

C. A High Priest Tempted As We Are But without Sin (Hebr. 4:14-16)

D. The Elementary Doctrine of Christ (Hebr.5-6:1)

E. The Divine Sacrifice (Hebr. 9:11-28) ("mediator" - Hebr. 9:15, cf. 1 Tim. 2:5-7 "one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus")

F. Our God Is a Consuming Fire (Hebr. 12:18-19)