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Everything Is Under Jesus’ Control
1 For this reason we must pay closer attention to what we have heard. Then we won’t drift away from the truth. 2 After all, the message that the angels brought was reliable, and every violation and act of disobedience was properly punished. 3 So how will we escape punishment if we reject the important message, the message that God saved us? First, the Lord told this saving message. Then those who heard him confirmed that message. 4 God verified what they said through miraculous signs, amazing things, other powerful acts, and with other gifts from the Holy Spirit as he wanted.
5 He didn’t put the world that will come (about which we are talking) under the angels’ control. 6 Instead, someone has declared this somewhere in Scripture:
“What is a mortal that you should remember him,
or the Son of Man that you take care of him?
7 You made him a little lower than the angels.
You crowned him with glory and honor.
8 You put everything under his control.”
When God put everything under his Son’s control, nothing was left out.
However, at the present time we still don’t see everything under his Son’s control. 9 Jesus was made a little lower than the angels, but we see him crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death. Through God’s kindness he died on behalf of everyone. 10 God is the one for whom and through whom everything exists. Therefore, while God was bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was the right time to bring Jesus, the source of their salvation, to the end of his work through suffering.
Jesus Became One of Us to Help Us
11 Jesus, who makes people holy, and all those who are made holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus isn’t ashamed to call them brothers and sisters. 12 He says,
“I will tell my people about your name.
I will praise you within the congregation.”
13 In addition, Jesus says,
“I will trust him.”
And Jesus says,
“I am here with the sons and daughters God has given me.”
14 Since all of these sons and daughters have flesh and blood, Jesus took on flesh and blood to be like them. He did this so that by dying he would destroy the one who had power over death (that is, the devil). 15 In this way he would free those who were slaves all their lives because they were afraid of dying. 16 So Jesus helps Abraham’s descendants rather than helping angels. 17 Therefore, he had to become like his brothers and sisters so that he could be merciful. He became like them so that he could serve as a faithful chief priest in God’s presence and make peace with God for their sins. 18 Because Jesus experienced temptation when he suffered, he is able to help others when they are tempted.
Christ Is Superior to Moses
1 Brothers and sisters, you are holy partners in a heavenly calling. So look carefully at Jesus, the apostle and chief priest about whom we make our declaration of faith. 2 Jesus is faithful to God, who appointed him, in the same way that Moses was faithful when he served in God’s house. 3 Jesus deserves more praise than Moses in the same way that the builder of a house is praised more than the house. 4 After all, every house has a builder, but the builder of everything is God.
5 Moses was a faithful servant in God’s household. He told the people what God would say in the future. 6 But Christ is a faithful son in charge of God’s household. We are his household if we continue to have courage and to be proud of the confidence we have.
7 As the Holy Spirit says,
“If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.
8 Don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled
and tested me in the desert.
9 That is where your ancestors tested me,
10 although they had seen what I had done for 40 years.
That is why I was angry with those people. So I said,
‘Their hearts continue to stray,
and they have not learned my ways.’
11 So I angrily took a solemn oath
that they would never enter my place of rest.”
12 Be careful, brothers and sisters, that none of you ever develop a wicked, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. 13 Encourage each other every day while you have the opportunity. If you do this, none of you will be deceived by sin and become stubborn. 14 After all, we will remain Christ’s partners only if we continue to hold on to our original confidence until the end.
15 Scripture says,
“If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.
Don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled.”
16 Who heard God and rebelled? All those whom Moses led out of Egypt rebelled. 17 With whom was God angry for 40 years? He was angry with those who sinned and died in the desert. 18 Who did God swear would never enter his place of rest? He was talking about those who didn’t obey him. 19 So we see that they couldn’t enter his place of rest because they didn’t believe.
We Will Enter God’s Place of Rest
1 God’s promise that we may enter his place of rest still stands. We are afraid that some of you think you won’t enter his place of rest. 2 We have heard the same Good News that your ancestors heard. But the message didn’t help those who heard it in the past because they didn’t believe.
3 We who believe are entering that place of rest. As God said, “So I angrily took a solemn oath that they would never enter my place of rest.” God said this even though he had finished his work when he created the world. 4 Somewhere in Scripture God has said this about the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.”
5 God also said in the same passage, “They will never enter my place of rest.” 6 However, some people enter that place of rest. Those who heard the Good News in the past did not enter God’s place of rest because they did not obey God. 7 So God set another day. That day is today. Many years after your ancestors failed to enter that place of rest God spoke about it through David in the passage already quoted: “If you hear God speak today, don’t be stubborn.” 8 If Joshua had given the people rest, God would not have spoken about another day. 9 Therefore, a time of rest and worship exists for God’s people. 10 Those who entered his place of rest also rested from their work as God did from his.
11 So we must make every effort to enter that place of rest. Then no one will be lost by following the example of those who refused to obey.
12 God’s word is living and active. It is sharper than any two-edged sword and cuts as deep as the place where soul and spirit meet, the place where joints and marrow meet. God’s word judges a person’s thoughts and intentions. 13 No creature can hide from God. Everything is uncovered and exposed for him to see. We must answer to him.
Christ Is Superior to Other Chief Priests
14 We need to hold on to our declaration of faith: We have a superior chief priest who has gone through the heavens. That person is Jesus, the Son of God. 15 We have a chief priest who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses. He was tempted in every way that we are, but he didn’t sin. 16 So we can go confidently to the throne of God’s kindness to receive mercy and find kindness, which will help us at the right time.
1 Every chief priest is chosen from humans to represent them in front of God, that is, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sin. 2 The chief priest can be gentle with people who are ignorant and easily deceived, because he also has weaknesses. 3 Because he has weaknesses, he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins in the same way that he does for the sins of his people.
4 No one takes this honor for himself. Instead, God calls him as he called Aaron. 5 So Christ did not take the glory of being a chief priest for himself. Instead, the glory was given to him by God, who said,
“You are my Son.
Today I have become your Father.”
6 In another place in Scripture, God said,
“You are a priest forever,
in the way Melchizedek was a priest.”
7 During his life on earth, Jesus prayed to God, who could save him from death. He prayed and pleaded with loud crying and tears, and he was heard because of his devotion to God. 8 Although Jesus was the Son of God, he learned to be obedient through his sufferings. 9 After he had finished his work, he became the source of eternal salvation for everyone who obeys him. 10 God appointed him chief priest in the way Melchizedek was a priest.
You Need Someone to Teach You
11 We have a lot to explain about this. But since you have become too lazy to pay attention, explaining it to you is hard. 12 By now you should be teachers. Instead, you still need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word. You need milk, not solid food. 13 All those who live on milk lack the experience to talk about what is right. They are still babies. 14 However, solid food is for mature people, whose minds are trained by practice to know the difference between good and evil.
1 With this in mind, we should stop going over the elementary truths about Christ and move on to topics for more mature people. We shouldn’t repeat the basics about turning away from the useless things we did and the basics about faith in God. 2 We shouldn’t repeat the basic teachings about such things as baptisms, setting people apart for holy tasks, dead people coming back to life, and eternal judgment. 3 If God permits, we will do this.
4 Some people once had God’s light. They experienced the heavenly gift and shared in the Holy Spirit. 5 They experienced the goodness of God’s word and the powers of the world to come. 6 Yet, they have deserted Christ. They are crucifying the Son of God again and publicly disgracing him. Therefore, they cannot be led a second time to God.
7 God blesses the earth. So rain often falls on it, and it produces useful crops for farmers. 8 However, if the earth produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
God Will Not Forget You
9 Dear friends, even though we say these things, we are still convinced that better things are in store for you and that they will save you. 10 God is fair. He won’t forget what you’ve done or the love you’ve shown for him. You helped his holy people, and you continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to prove that you’re working hard so that you will remain confident until the end. 12 Then, instead of being lazy, you will imitate those who are receiving the promises through faith and patience.
13 God made a promise to Abraham. Since he had no one greater on whom to base his oath, he based it on himself. 14 He said, “I will certainly bless you and give you many descendants.” 15 So Abraham received what God promised because he waited patiently for it.
16 When people take oaths, they base their oaths on someone greater than themselves. Their oaths guarantee what they say and end all arguments. 17 God wouldn’t change his plan. He wanted to make this perfectly clear to those who would receive his promise, so he took an oath. 18 God did this so that we would be encouraged. God cannot lie when he takes an oath or makes a promise. These two things can never be changed. Those of us who have taken refuge in him hold on to the confidence we have been given. 19 We have this confidence as a sure and strong anchor for our lives. This confidence goes into the holy place behind the curtain 20 where Jesus went before us on our behalf. He has become the chief priest forever in the way Melchizedek was a priest.
Christ Is Superior to Melchizedek
1 Melchizedek was king of Salem and priest of the Most High God. He met Abraham and blessed him when Abraham was returning from defeating the kings. 2 Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything he had captured.
In the first place, Melchizedek’s name means king of righteousness. He is also called king of Salem (which means king of peace). 3 No one knows anything about Melchizedek’s father, mother, or ancestors. No one knows when he was born or when he died. Like the Son of God, Melchizedek continues to be a priest forever.
4 You can see how important Melchizedek was. Abraham gave him a tenth of what he had captured, even though Abraham was the father of the chosen people. 5 Moses’ Teachings say that members of the tribe of Levi who become priests must receive a tenth of everything from the people. The priests collect it from their own people, Abraham’s descendants. 6 Although Melchizedek was not from the tribe of Levi, he received a tenth of everything from Abraham. Then Melchizedek blessed Abraham, who had God’s promises. 7 No one can deny that the more important person blesses the less important person.
8 Priests receive a tenth of everything, but they die. Melchizedek received a tenth of everything, but we are told that he lives. 9 We could even say that when Abraham gave Melchizedek a tenth of everything, Levi was giving a tenth of everything. Levi gave, although later his descendants would receive a tenth of everything. 10 Even though Levi had not yet been born, he was in the body of Abraham when Melchizedek met him.
11 The people established the Levitical priesthood based on instructions they received. If the work of the Levitical priests had been perfect, we wouldn’t need to speak about another kind of priest. However, we speak about another kind of priest, a priest like Melchizedek, not a Levitical priest like Aaron.
12 When a different kind of priesthood is established, the regulations for those priests are different. 13 The priest whom we are talking about was a member of a different tribe. No one from that tribe ever served as a priest at the altar. 14 Everyone knows that our Lord came from the tribe of Judah. Moses never said anything about priests coming from that tribe. 15 The regulations were different. This became clear when a different priest who is like Melchizedek appeared. 16 That person is a priest, not because he met human requirements, but because he has power that comes from a life that cannot be destroyed. 17 The Scriptures say the following about him: “You are a priest forever, in the way Melchizedek was a priest.” 18 The former requirements are rejected because they are weak and useless. 19 Moses’ Teachings couldn’t accomplish everything that God required. But we have something else that gives us greater confidence and allows us to approach God.
20 None of this happened without an oath. The men from the tribe of Levi may have become priests without an oath, 21 but Jesus became a priest when God took an oath. God said about him, “The Lord has taken an oath and will not change his mind. You are a priest forever.” 22 In this way Jesus has become the guarantee of a better promise.
23 There was a long succession of priests because when a priest died he could no longer serve. 24 But Jesus lives forever, so he serves as a priest forever. 25 That is why he is always able to save those who come to God through him. He can do this because he always lives and intercedes for them.
26 We need a chief priest who is holy, innocent, pure, set apart from sinners, and who has the highest position in heaven. 27 We need a priest who doesn’t have to bring daily sacrifices as those chief priests did. First they brought sacrifices for their own sins, and then they brought sacrifices for the sins of the people. Jesus brought the sacrifice for the sins of the people once and for all when he sacrificed himself. 28 Moses’ Teachings designated mortals as chief priests even though they had weaknesses. But God’s promise, which came after Moses’ Teachings, designated the Son who forever accomplished everything that God required.
Jesus’s Priestly Work Is Superior to Other Priests’ Work
1 The main point we want to make is this: We do have this kind of chief priest. This chief priest has received the highest position, the throne of majesty in heaven. 2 He serves as priest of the holy place and of the true tent set up by the Lord and not by any human.
3 Every chief priest is appointed to offer gifts and sacrifices. Therefore, this chief priest had to offer something. 4 If he were on earth, he would not even be a priest. On earth other priests offer gifts by following the instructions that Moses gave. 5 They serve at a place that is a pattern, a shadow, of what is in heaven. When Moses was about to make the tent, God warned him, “Be sure to make everything based on the plan I showed you on the mountain.”
6 Jesus has been given a priestly work that is superior to the Levitical priests’ work. He also brings a better promise from God that is based on better guarantees. 7 If nothing had been wrong with the first promise, no one would look for another one. 8 But God found something wrong with his people and said to them,
“The days are coming, says the Lord, when I will make a new promise to Israel and Judah. 9 It will not be like the promise that I made to their ancestors when I took them by the hand and brought them out of Egypt. They rejected that promise, so I ignored them, says the Lord. 10 But this is the promise that I will make to Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my teachings inside them, and I will write those teachings on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 11 No longer will each person teach his neighbors or his relatives by saying, ‘Know the Lord.’ All of them from the least important to the most important will all know me 12 because I will forgive their wickedness and I will no longer hold their sins against them.”
13 God made this new promise and showed that the first promise was outdated. What is outdated and aging will soon disappear.
Christ Offered a Superior Sacrifice
1 The first promise had rules for the priests’ service. It also had a holy place on earth. 2 A tent was set up. The first part of this tent was called the holy place. The lamp stand, the table, and the bread of the presence were in this part of the tent. 3 Behind the second curtain was the part of the tent called the most holy place. 4 It contained the gold incense burner and the ark of the Lord’s promise. The ark was completely covered with gold. In the ark were the gold jar filled with manna, Aaron’s staff that had blossomed, and the tablets on which the promise was written. 5 Above the ark were the angels of glory with their wings overshadowing the throne of mercy. (Discussing these things in detail isn’t possible now.)
6 That is how these two parts of the tent were set up. The priests always went into the first part of the tent to perform their duties. 7 But only the chief priest went into the second part of the tent. Once a year he entered and brought blood that he offered for himself and for the things that the people did wrong unintentionally. 8 The Holy Spirit used this to show that the way into the most holy place was not open while the tent was still in use.
9 The first part of the tent is an example for the present time. The gifts and sacrifices that were brought there could not give the worshiper a clear conscience. 10 These gifts and sacrifices were meant to be food, drink, and items used in various purification ceremonies. These ceremonies were required for the body until God would establish a new way of doing things.
11 But Christ came as a chief priest of the good things that are now here. Christ went through a better, more perfect tent that was not made by human hands and that is not part of this created world. 12 He used his own blood, not the blood of goats and bulls, for the sacrifice. He went into the most holy place and offered this sacrifice once and for all to free us forever.
13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of cows sprinkled on unclean people made their bodies holy and clean. 14 The blood of Christ, who had no defect, does even more. Through the eternal Spirit he offered himself to God and cleansed our consciences from the useless things we had done. Now we can serve the living God.
15 Because Christ offered himself to God, he is able to bring a new promise from God. Through his death he paid the price to set people free from the sins they committed under the first promise. He did this so that those who are called can be guaranteed an inheritance that will last forever.
16 In order for a will to take effect, it must be shown that the one who made it has died. 17 A will is used only after a person is dead because it goes into effect only when a person dies.
18 That is why even the first promise was made with blood. 19 As Moses’ Teachings tell us, Moses told all the people every commandment. Then he took the blood of calves and goats together with some water, red yarn, and hyssop and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, “Here is the blood that seals the promise God has made to you.” 21 In the same way, Moses sprinkled blood on the tent and on everything used in worship. 22 As Moses’ Teachings tell us, blood was used to cleanse almost everything, because if no blood is shed, no sins can be forgiven.
23 The copies of the things in heaven had to be cleansed by these sacrifices. But the heavenly things themselves had to be cleansed by better sacrifices. 24 Christ didn’t go into a holy place made by human hands. He didn’t go into a model of the real thing. Instead, he went into heaven to appear in God’s presence on our behalf. 25 Every year the chief priest went into the holy place to make a sacrifice with blood that isn’t his own. However, Christ didn’t go into heaven to sacrifice himself again and again. 26 Otherwise, he would have had to suffer many times since the world was created. But now, at the end of the ages, he has appeared once to remove sin by his sacrifice. 27 People die once, and after that they are judged. 28 Likewise, Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of humanity, and after that he will appear a second time. This time he will not deal with sin, but he will save those who eagerly wait for him.
We Can Enter the Most Holy Place Because of Christ’s Superior Work
1 Moses’ Teachings with their yearly cycle of sacrifices are only a shadow of the good things in the future. They aren’t an exact likeness of those things. They can never make those who worship perfect. 2 If these sacrifices could have made the worshipers perfect, the sacrifices would have stopped long ago. Those who worship would have been cleansed once and for all. Their consciences would have been free from sin. 3 Instead, this yearly cycle of sacrifices reminded people of their sins. 4 (The blood of bulls and goats cannot take away sins.)
5 For this reason, when Christ came into the world, he said,
“‘You did not want sacrifices and offerings,
but you prepared a body for me.
6 You did not approve of burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin.’
7 Then I said, ‘I have come!
(It is written about me in the scroll of the book.)
I have come to do what you want, my God.’”
8 In this passage Christ first said, “You did not want sacrifices, offerings, burnt offerings, and sacrifices for sin. You did not approve of them.” (These are the sacrifices that Moses’ Teachings require people to offer.) 9 Then Christ says, “I have come to do what you want.” He did away with sacrifices in order to establish the obedience that God wants. 10 We have been set apart as holy because Jesus Christ did what God wanted him to do by sacrificing his body once and for all.
11 Every day each priest performed his religious duty. He offered the same type of sacrifice again and again. Yet, these sacrifices could never take away sins. 12 However, this chief priest made one sacrifice for sins, and this sacrifice lasts forever. Then he received the highest position in heaven. 13 Since that time, he has been waiting for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 With one sacrifice he accomplished the work of setting them apart for God forever.
15 The Holy Spirit tells us the same thing: 16 “This is the promise that I will make to them after those days, says the Lord: ‘I will put my teachings in their hearts and write them in their minds.’”
17 Then he adds, “I will no longer hold their sins and their disobedience against them.”
18 When sins are forgiven, there is no longer any need to sacrifice for sins.
19 Brothers and sisters, because of the blood of Jesus we can now confidently go into the holy place. 20 Jesus has opened a new and living way for us to go through the curtain. (The curtain is his own body.) 21 We have a superior priest in charge of God’s house. 22 We have been sprinkled with his blood to free us from a guilty conscience, and our bodies have been washed with clean water. So we must continue to come to him with a sincere heart and strong faith. 23 We must continue to hold firmly to our declaration of faith. The one who made the promise is faithful.
Encourage Each Other
24 We must also consider how to encourage each other to show love and to do good things. 25 We should not stop gathering together with other believers, as some of you are doing. Instead, we must continue to encourage each other even more as we see the day of the Lord coming.
26 If we go on sinning after we have learned the truth, no sacrifice can take away our sins. 27 All that is left is a terrifying wait for judgment and a raging fire that will consume God’s enemies. 28 If two or three witnesses accused someone of rejecting Moses’ Teachings, that person was shown no mercy as he was executed. 29 What do you think a person who shows no respect for the Son of God deserves? That person looks at the blood of the promise (the blood that made him holy) as no different from other people’s blood, and he insults the Spirit that God gave us out of his kindness. He deserves a much worse punishment. 30 We know the God who said,
“I alone have the right to take revenge.
I will pay back.”
God also said,
“The Lord will judge his people.”
31 Falling into the hands of the living God is a terrifying thing.
32 Remember the past, when you first learned the truth. You endured a lot of hardship and pain. 33 At times you were publicly insulted and mistreated. At times you associated with people who were treated this way. 34 You suffered with prisoners. You were cheerful even though your possessions were stolen, since you know that you have a better and more permanent possession.
35 So don’t lose your confidence. It will bring you a great reward. 36 You need endurance so that after you have done what God wants you to do, you can receive what he has promised.
37 “Yet, the one who is coming will come soon. He will not delay.
38 The person who has God’s approval will live by faith.
But if he turns back, I will not be pleased with him.”
39 We don’t belong with those who turn back and are destroyed. Instead, we belong with those who have faith and are saved.
Faith Directed People’s Lives
1 Faith assures us of things we expect and convinces us of the existence of things we cannot see. 2 God accepted our ancestors because of their faith.
3 Faith convinces us that God created the world through his word. This means what can be seen was made by something that could not be seen.
4 Faith led Abel to offer God a better sacrifice than Cain’s sacrifice. Through his faith Abel received God’s approval, since God accepted his sacrifices. Through his faith Abel still speaks, even though he is dead.
5 Faith enabled Enoch to be taken instead of dying. No one could find him, because God had taken him. Scripture states that before Enoch was taken, God was pleased with him. 6 No one can please God without faith. Whoever goes to God must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who seek him.
7 Faith led Noah to listen when God warned him about the things in the future that he could not see. He obeyed God and built a ship to save his family. Through faith Noah condemned the world and received God’s approval that comes through faith.
8 Faith led Abraham to obey when God called him to go to a place that he would receive as an inheritance. Abraham left his own country without knowing where he was going.
9 Faith led Abraham to live as a foreigner in the country that God had promised him. He lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who received the same promise from God. 10 Abraham was waiting for the city that God had designed and built, the city with permanent foundations.
11 Faith enabled Abraham to become a father, even though he was old and Sarah had never been able to have children. Abraham trusted that God would keep his promise. 12 Abraham was as good as dead. Yet, from this man came descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore.
13 All these people died having faith. They didn’t receive the things that God had promised them, but they saw these things coming in the distant future and rejoiced. They acknowledged that they were living as strangers with no permanent home on earth. 14 Those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for their own country. 15 If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they could have found a way to go back. 16 Instead, these men were longing for a better country—a heavenly country. That is why God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has prepared a city for them.
17 When God tested Abraham, faith led him to offer his son Isaac. Abraham, the one who received the promises from God, was willing to offer his only son as a sacrifice. 18 God had said to him, “Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name.” 19 Abraham believed that God could bring Isaac back from the dead. Abraham did receive Isaac back from the dead in a figurative sense.
20 Faith led Isaac to bless Jacob and Esau.
21 While Jacob was dying, faith led him to bless each of Joseph’s sons. He leaned on the top of his staff and worshiped God.
22 While Joseph was dying, faith led him to speak about the Israelites leaving Egypt and give them instructions about burying his bones.
23 Faith led Moses’ parents to hide him for three months after he was born. They did this because they saw that Moses was a beautiful baby and they were not afraid to disobey the king’s order.
24 When Moses grew up, faith led him to refuse to be known as a son of Pharaoh’s daughter. 25 He chose to suffer with God’s people rather than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a little while. 26 He thought that being insulted for Christ would be better than having the treasures of Egypt. He was looking ahead to his reward.
27 Faith led Moses to leave Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. Moses didn’t give up but continued as if he could actually see the invisible God.
28 Faith led Moses to establish the Passover and spread the blood on the doorposts so that the destroying angel would not kill the firstborn sons.
29 Faith caused the people to go through the Red Sea as if it were dry land. The Egyptians also tried this, but they drowned.
30 Faith caused the walls of Jericho to fall after the Israelites marched around them for seven days.
31 Faith led the prostitute Rahab to welcome the spies as friends. She was not killed with those who refused to obey God.
32 What more should I say? I don’t have enough time to tell you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. 33 Through faith they conquered kingdoms, did what God approved, and received what God had promised. They shut the mouths of lions, 34 put out raging fires, and escaped death. They found strength when they were weak. They were powerful in battle and defeated other armies. 35 Women received their loved ones back from the dead. Other believers were brutally tortured but refused to be released so that they might gain eternal life. 36 Some were made fun of and whipped, and some were chained and put in prison. 37 Some were stoned to death, sawed in half, and killed with swords. Some wore the skins of sheep and goats. Some were poor, abused, and mistreated. 38 The world didn’t deserve these good people. Some wandered around in deserts and mountains and lived in caves and holes in the ground.
39 All these people were known for their faith, but none of them received what God had promised. 40 God planned to give us something very special so that we would gain eternal life with them.
Faith Directs Our Lives
1 Since we are surrounded by so many examples of faith, we must get rid of everything that slows us down, especially sin that distracts us. We must run the race that lies ahead of us and never give up. 2 We must focus on Jesus, the source and goal of our faith. He saw the joy ahead of him, so he endured death on the cross and ignored the disgrace it brought him. Then he received the highest position in heaven, the one next to the throne of God. 3 Think about Jesus, who endured opposition from sinners, so that you don’t become tired and give up.
4 You struggle against sin, but your struggles haven’t killed you. 5 You have forgotten the encouraging words that God speaks to you as his children:
“My child, pay attention when the Lord disciplines you.
Don’t give up when he corrects you.
6 The Lord disciplines everyone he loves.
He severely disciplines everyone he accepts as his child.”
7 Endure your discipline. God corrects you as a father corrects his children. All children are disciplined by their fathers. 8 If you aren’t disciplined like the other children, you aren’t part of the family. 9 On earth we have fathers who disciplined us, and we respect them. Shouldn’t we place ourselves under the authority of God, the father of spirits, so that we will live? 10 For a short time our fathers disciplined us as they thought best. Yet, God disciplines us for our own good so that we can become holy like him. 11 We don’t enjoy being disciplined. It always seems to cause more pain than joy. But later on, those who learn from that discipline have peace that comes from doing what is right.
12 Strengthen your tired arms and weak knees. 13 Keep walking along straight paths so that your injured leg won’t get worse. Instead, let it heal.
14 Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. 15 Make sure that everyone has kindness from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you. 16 Make sure that no one commits sexual sin or is as concerned about earthly things as Esau was. He sold his rights as the firstborn son for a single meal. 17 You know that afterwards, when he wanted to receive the blessing that the firstborn son was to receive, he was rejected. Even though he begged and cried for the blessing, he couldn’t do anything to change what had happened.
18 You have not come to something that you can feel, to a blazing fire, to darkness, to gloom, to a storm, 19 to a trumpet’s blast, and to a voice. When your ancestors heard that voice, they begged not to hear it say another word. 20 They couldn’t obey the command that was given, “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that even Moses said he was trembling and afraid.
22 Instead, you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, to the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to tens of thousands of angels joyfully gathered together 23 and to the assembly of God’s firstborn children (whose names are written in heaven). You have come to a judge (the God of all people) and to the spirits of people who have God’s approval and have gained eternal life. 24 You have come to Jesus, who brings the new promise from God, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better message than Abel’s.
25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen when God speaks. Your ancestors didn’t escape when they refused to listen to God, who warned them on earth. We certainly won’t escape if we turn away from God, who warns us from heaven. 26 When God spoke to your ancestors, his voice shook the earth. But now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the sky.”
27 The words once more show clearly that God will change what he has made. These are the things that can be shaken. Then only the things that cannot be shaken will remain. 28 Therefore, we must be thankful that we have a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Because we are thankful, we must serve God with fear and awe in a way that pleases him. 29 After all, our God is a destructive fire.
1 Continue to love each other. 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to believers you don’t know. By doing this some believers have shown hospitality to angels without being aware of it. 3 Remember those in prison as if you were in prison with them. Remember those who are mistreated as if you were being mistreated.
4 Marriage is honorable in every way, so husbands and wives should be faithful to each other. God will judge those who commit sexual sins, especially those who commit adultery.
5 Don’t love money. Be happy with what you have because God has said, “I will never abandon you or leave you.” 6 So we can confidently say,
“The Lord is my helper.
I will not be afraid.
What can mortals do to me?”
7 Remember your leaders who have spoken God’s word to you. Think about how their lives turned out, and imitate their faith.
8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
9 Don’t get carried away by all kinds of unfamiliar teachings. Gaining inner strength from God’s kindness is good for us. This strength does not come from following rules about food, rules that don’t help those who follow them. 10 Those who serve at the tent have no right to eat what is sacrificed at our altar.
11 The chief priest brings the blood of animals into the holy place as an offering for sin. But the bodies of those animals were burned outside the Israelite camp. 12 That is why Jesus suffered outside the gates of Jerusalem. He suffered to make the people holy with his own blood. 13 So we must go to him outside the camp and endure the insults he endured. 14 We don’t have a permanent city here on earth, but we are looking for the city that we will have in the future. 15 Through Jesus we should always bring God a sacrifice of praise, that is, words that acknowledge him. 16 Don’t forget to do good things for others and to share what you have with them. These are the kinds of sacrifices that please God.
17 Obey your leaders, and accept their authority. They take care of you because they are responsible for you. Obey them so that they may do this work joyfully and not complain about you. (Causing them to complain would not be to your advantage.)
18 Pray for us. We are sure that our consciences are clear because we want to live honorably in every way. 19 I especially ask for your prayers so that I may come back to you soon.
20 The God of peace brought the great shepherd of the sheep, our Lord Jesus, back to life through the blood of an eternal promise. 21 May this God of peace prepare you to do every good thing he wants. May he work in us through Jesus Christ to do what is pleasing to him. Glory belongs to Jesus Christ forever. Amen.
22 I urge you, brothers and sisters, to listen patiently to my encouraging words. I have written you a short letter. 23 You know that Timothy, our brother, has been freed. If he comes here soon, both of us will visit you.
24 Greet all your leaders and all God’s holy people. Those who are with us from Italy greet you.
25 May God’s good will be with all of you!
1 From James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To God’s faithful people who have been scattered.
When You Are Tested, Turn to God
2 My brothers and sisters, be very happy when you are tested in different ways. 3 You know that such testing of your faith produces endurance. 4 Endure until your testing is over. Then you will be mature and complete, and you won’t need anything.
5 If any of you needs wisdom to know what you should do, you should ask God, and he will give it to you. God is generous to everyone and doesn’t find fault with them. 6 When you ask for something, don’t have any doubts. A person who has doubts is like a wave that is blown by the wind and tossed by the sea. 7 A person who has doubts shouldn’t expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 A person who has doubts is thinking about two different things at the same time and can’t make up his mind about anything.
9 Humble believers should be proud because being humble makes them important. 10 Rich believers should be proud because being rich should make them humble. Rich people will wither like flowers. 11 The sun rises with its scorching heat and dries up plants. The flowers drop off, and the beauty is gone. The same thing will happen to rich people. While they are busy, they will die.
12 Blessed are those who endure when they are tested. When they pass the test, they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him. 13 When someone is tempted, he shouldn’t say that God is tempting him. God can’t be tempted by evil, and God doesn’t tempt anyone. 14 Everyone is tempted by his own desires as they lure him away and trap him. 15 Then desire becomes pregnant and gives birth to sin. When sin grows up, it gives birth to death.
16 My dear brothers and sisters, don’t be fooled. 17 Every good present and every perfect gift comes from above, from the Father who made the sun, moon, and stars. The Father doesn’t change like the shifting shadows produced by the sun and the moon.
18 God decided to give us life through the word of truth to make us his most important creatures.
19 Remember this, my dear brothers and sisters: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and should not get angry easily. 20 An angry person doesn’t do what God approves of. 21 So get rid of all immoral behavior and all the wicked things you do. Humbly accept the word that God has placed in you. This word can save you.
22 Do what God’s word says. Don’t merely listen to it, or you will fool yourselves. 23 If someone listens to God’s word but doesn’t do what it says, he is like a person who looks at his face in a mirror, 24 studies his features, goes away, and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 However, the person who continues to study God’s perfect teachings that make people free and who remains committed to them will be blessed. People like that don’t merely listen and forget; they actually do what God’s teachings say.
26 If a person thinks that he is religious but can’t control his tongue, he is fooling himself. That person’s religion is worthless. 27 Pure, unstained religion, according to God our Father, is to take care of orphans and widows when they suffer and to remain uncorrupted by this world.
Don’t Favor Rich People Over Poor People
1 My brothers and sisters, practice your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ by not favoring one person over another. 2 For example, two men come to your worship service. One man is wearing gold rings and fine clothes; the other man, who is poor, is wearing shabby clothes. 3 Suppose you give special attention to the man wearing fine clothes and say to him, “Please have a seat.” But you say to the poor man, “Stand over there,” or “Sit on the floor at my feet.” 4 Aren’t you discriminating against people and using a corrupt standard to make judgments?
5 Listen, my dear brothers and sisters! Didn’t God choose poor people in the world to become rich in faith and to receive the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? 6 Yet, you show no respect to poor people. Don’t rich people oppress you and drag you into court? 7 Don’t they curse the good name of Jesus, the name that was used to bless you?
8 You are doing right if you obey this law from the highest authority: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 9 If you favor one person over another, you’re sinning, and this law convicts you of being disobedient. 10 If someone obeys all of God’s laws except one, that person is guilty of breaking all of them. 11 After all, the one who said, “Never commit adultery,” is the same one who said, “Never murder.” If you do not commit adultery but you murder, you become a person who disobeys God’s laws.
12 Talk and act as people who are going to be judged by laws that bring freedom. 13 No mercy will be shown to those who show no mercy to others. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
We Show Our Faith by What We Do
14 My brothers and sisters, what good does it do if someone claims to have faith but doesn’t do any good things? Can this kind of faith save him? 15 Suppose a believer, whether a man or a woman, needs clothes or food 16 and one of you tells that person, “God be with you! Stay warm, and make sure you eat enough.” If you don’t provide for that person’s physical needs, what good does it do? 17 In the same way, faith by itself is dead if it doesn’t cause you to do any good things.
18 Another person might say, “You have faith, but I do good things.” Show me your faith apart from the good things you do. I will show you my faith by the good things I do. 19 You believe that there is one God. That’s fine! The demons also believe that, and they tremble with fear.
20 You fool! Do you have to be shown that faith which does nothing is useless? 21 Didn’t our ancestor Abraham receive God’s approval as a result of what he did when he offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice on the altar? 22 You see that Abraham’s faith and what he did worked together. His faith was shown to be genuine by what he did. 23 The Scripture passage came true. It says, “Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded by God to be his approval of Abraham.” So Abraham was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person receives God’s approval because of what he does, not only because of what he believes. 25 The same is true of the prostitute Rahab who welcomed the spies and sent them away on another road. She received God’s approval because of what she did.
26 A body that doesn’t breathe is dead. In the same way faith that does nothing is dead.
1 Brothers and sisters, not many of you should become teachers. You know that we who teach will be judged more severely.
2 All of us make a lot of mistakes. If someone doesn’t make any mistakes when he speaks, he would be perfect. He would be able to control everything he does. 3 We put bits in the mouths of horses to make them obey us, and we have control over everything they do. 4 The same thing is true for ships. They are very big and are driven by strong winds. Yet, by using small rudders, pilots steer ships wherever they want them to go. 5 In the same way the tongue is a small part of the body, but it can brag about doing important things.
A large forest can be set on fire by a little flame. 6 The tongue is that kind of flame. It is a world of evil among the parts of our bodies, and it completely contaminates our bodies. The tongue sets our lives on fire, and is itself set on fire from hell. 7 People have tamed all kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and sea creatures. 8 Yet, no one can tame the tongue. It is an uncontrollable evil filled with deadly poison.
9 With our tongues we praise our Lord and Father. Yet, with the same tongues we curse people, who were created in God’s likeness. 10 Praise and curses come from the same mouth. My brothers and sisters, this should not happen! 11 Do clean and polluted water flow out of the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree produce olives? Can a grapevine produce figs? In the same way, a pool of salt water can’t produce fresh water.
13 Do any of you have wisdom and insight? Show this by living the right way with the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you are bitterly jealous and filled with self-centered ambition, don’t brag. Don’t say that you are wise when it isn’t true. 15 That kind of wisdom doesn’t come from above. It belongs to this world. It is self-centered and demonic. 16 Wherever there is jealousy and rivalry, there is disorder and every kind of evil.
17 However, the wisdom that comes from above is first of all pure. Then it is peaceful, gentle, obedient, filled with mercy and good deeds, impartial, and sincere. 18 A harvest that has God’s approval comes from the peace planted by peacemakers.
Stop Fighting With Each Other
1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Aren’t they caused by the selfish desires that fight to control you? 2 You want what you don’t have, so you commit murder. You’re determined to have things, but you can’t get what you want. You quarrel and fight. You don’t have the things you want, because you don’t pray for them. 3 When you pray for things, you don’t get them because you want them for the wrong reason—for your own pleasure.
4 You unfaithful people! Don’t you know that love for this evil world is hatred toward God? Whoever wants to be a friend of this world is an enemy of God. 5 Do you think this passage means nothing? It says, “The Spirit that lives in us wants us to be his own.”
6 But God shows us even more kindness. Scripture says,
“God opposes arrogant people,
but he is kind to humble people.”
7 So place yourselves under God’s authority. Resist the devil, and he will run away from you. 8 Come close to God, and he will come close to you. Clean up your lives, you sinners, and clear your minds, you doubters. 9 Be miserable, mourn, and cry. Turn your laughter into mourning and your joy into gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the Lord’s presence. Then he will give you a high position.
Stop Slandering Each Other
11 Brothers and sisters, stop slandering each other. Those who slander and judge other believers slander and judge God’s teachings. If you judge God’s teachings, you are no longer following them. Instead, you are judging them. 12 There is only one teacher and judge. He is able to save or destroy you. So who are you to judge your neighbor?
Don’t Brag About Your Plans for the Future
13 Pay attention to this! You’re saying, “Today or tomorrow we will go into some city, stay there a year, conduct business, and make money.” 14 You don’t know what will happen tomorrow. What is life? You are a mist that is seen for a moment and then disappears. 15 Instead, you should say, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and carry out our plans.” 16 However, you brag because you’re arrogant. All such bragging is evil.
17 Whoever knows what is right but doesn’t do it is sinning.
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Timothy’s Report to Paul
1 We thought it best to remain in Athens by ourselves. But, because we couldn’t wait any longer for news about you, 2 we sent our brother Timothy to you. He serves God by spreading the Good News about Christ. His mission was to strengthen and encourage you in your faith 3 so that these troubles don’t disturb any of you. You know that we’re destined to suffer persecution. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we told you ahead of time that we were going to suffer persecution. And as you know, that’s what happened. 5 But when I couldn’t wait any longer, I sent Timothy to find out about your faith. I wanted to see whether the tempter had in some way tempted you, making our work meaningless.
6 But Timothy has just now come back to us from you and has told us the good news about your faith and love. He also told us that you always have fond memories of us and want to see us, as we want to see you. 7 So brothers and sisters, your faith has encouraged us in all our distress and trouble. 8 Now we can go on living as long as you keep your relationship with the Lord firm.
9 We can never thank God enough for all the joy you give us as we rejoice in God’s presence. 10 We pray very hard night and day that we may see you again so that we can supply whatever you still need for your faith. 11 We pray that God our Father and the Lord Jesus will guide us to you. 12 We also pray that the Lord will greatly increase your love for each other and for everyone else, just as we love you. 13 Then he will strengthen you to be holy. Then you will be blameless in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all God’s holy people.
Instructions on the Way Christians Should Live
1 Now then, brothers and sisters, because of the Lord Jesus we ask and encourage you to excel in living a God-pleasing life even more than you already do. Do this the way we taught you. 2 You know what orders we gave you through the Lord Jesus. 3 It is God’s will that you keep away from sexual sin as a mark of your devotion to him. 4 Each of you should know that finding a husband or wife for yourself is to be done in a holy and honorable way, 5 not in the passionate, lustful way of people who don’t know God. 6 No one should take advantage of or exploit other believers that way. The Lord is the one who punishes people for all these things. We’ve already told you and warned you about this. 7 God didn’t call us to be sexually immoral but to be holy. 8 Therefore, whoever rejects this order is not rejecting human authority but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.
9 You don’t need anyone to write to you about the way Christians should love each other. God has taught you to love each other. 10 In fact, you are showing love to all the Christians throughout the province of Macedonia. We encourage you as believers to excel in love even more. 11 Also, make it your goal to live quietly, do your work, and earn your own living, as we ordered you. 12 Then your way of life will win respect from those outside the church, and you won’t have to depend on anyone else for what you need.
Comfort About Christians Who Have Died
13 Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be ignorant about those who have died. We don’t want you to grieve like other people who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and came back to life. We also believe that, through Jesus, God will bring back those who have died. They will come back with Jesus. 15 We are telling you what the Lord taught. We who are still alive when the Lord comes will not go into his kingdom ahead of those who have already died. 16 The Lord will come from heaven with a command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the dead who believed in Christ will come back to life. 17 Then, together with them, we who are still alive will be taken in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. In this way we will always be with the Lord. 18 So then, comfort each other with these words!
Be Ready for the Day of the Lord
1 Brothers and sisters, you don’t need anyone to write to you about times and dates. 2 You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 When people say, “Everything is safe and sound!” destruction will suddenly strike them. It will be as sudden as labor pains come to a pregnant woman. They won’t be able to escape. 4 But, brothers and sisters, you don’t live in the dark. That day won’t take you by surprise as a thief would. 5 You belong to the day and the light not to the night and the dark. 6 Therefore, we must not fall asleep like other people, but we must stay awake and be sober. 7 People who sleep, sleep at night; people who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8 Since we belong to the day, we must be sober. We must put on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 It was not God’s intention that we experience his anger but that we obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake in this life or asleep in death, we will live together with him. 11 Therefore, encourage each other and strengthen one another as you are doing.
Paul Encourages the Thessalonians
12 Brothers and sisters, we ask you to show your appreciation for those leaders who work among you and instruct you. 13 We ask you to love them and think very highly of them because of the work they are doing. Live in peace with each other.
14 We encourage you, brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not living right, cheer up those who are discouraged, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. 15 Make sure that no one ever pays back one wrong with another wrong. Instead, always try to do what is good for each other and everyone else.
16 Always be joyful. 17 Never stop praying. 18 Whatever happens, give thanks, because it is God’s will in Christ Jesus that you do this.
19 Don’t put out the Spirit’s fire. 20 Don’t despise what God has revealed. 21 Instead, test everything. Hold on to what is good. 22 Keep away from every kind of evil.
23 May the God who gives peace make you holy in every way. May he keep your whole being—spirit, soul, and body—blameless when our Lord Jesus Christ comes. 24 The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do this.
25 Brothers and sisters, pray for us.
26 Greet all the brothers and sisters with a holy kiss.
27 In the Lord’s name, I order you to read this letter to all the brothers and sisters.
28 The good will of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
2 Thessalonians 1
1 From Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
To the church at Thessalonica united with God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
Paul’s Prayer for the Thessalonians
3 We always have to thank God for you, brothers and sisters. It’s right to do this because your faith is showing remarkable growth and your love for each other is increasing. 4 That’s why we brag in God’s churches about your endurance and faith in all the persecutions and suffering you are experiencing. 5 Your suffering proves that God’s judgment is right and that you are considered worthy of his kingdom.
6 Certainly, it is right for God to give suffering to those who cause you to suffer. 7 It is also right for God to give all of us relief from our suffering. He will do this when the Lord Jesus is revealed, coming from heaven with his mighty angels in a blazing fire. 8 He will take revenge on those who refuse to acknowledge God and on those who refuse to respond to the Good News about our Lord Jesus. 9 They will pay the penalty by being destroyed forever, by being separated from the Lord’s presence and from his glorious power. 10 This will happen on that day when he comes to be honored among all his holy people and admired by all who have believed in him. This includes you because you believed the testimony we gave you.
11 With this in mind, we always pray that our God will make you worthy of his call. We also pray that through his power he will help you accomplish every good desire and help you do everything your faith produces. 12 That way the name of our Lord Jesus will be honored among you. Then, because of the good will of Jesus Christ, our God and Lord, you will be honored by him.
2 Thessalonians 2
Don’t Be Deceived About the Day of the Lord
1 Brothers and sisters, we have this request to make of you about our Lord Jesus Christ’s coming and our gathering to meet him. 2 Don’t get upset right away or alarmed when someone claims that we said through some spirit, conversation, or letter that the day of the Lord has already come. 3 Don’t let anyone deceive you about this in any way. That day cannot come unless a revolt takes place first, and the man of sin, the man of destruction, is revealed. 4 He opposes every so-called god or anything that is worshiped and places himself above them, sitting in God’s temple and claiming to be God.
5 Don’t you remember that I told you about these things when I was still with you? 6 You know what it is that now holds him back, so that he will be revealed when his time comes. 7 The mystery of this sin is already at work. But it cannot work effectively until the person now holding it back gets out of the way. 8 Then the man of sin will be revealed and the Lord Jesus will destroy him by what he says. When the Lord Jesus comes, his appearance will put an end to this man.
9 The man of sin will come with the power of Satan. He will use every kind of power, including miraculous and wonderful signs. But they will be lies. 10 He will use everything that God disapproves of to deceive those who are dying, those who refused to love the truth that would save them. 11 That’s why God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe a lie. 12 Then everyone who did not believe the truth, but was delighted with what God disapproves of, will be condemned.
Paul Encourages the Thessalonians
13 We always have to thank God for you, brothers and sisters. You are loved by the Lord and we thank God that in the beginning he chose you to be saved through a life of spiritual devotion and faith in the truth. 14 With this in mind he called you by the Good News which we told you so that you would obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
15 Then, brothers and sisters, firmly hold on to the traditions we taught you either when we spoke to you or in our letter.
16 God our Father loved us and by his kindness gave us everlasting encouragement and good hope. Together with our Lord Jesus Christ, 17 may he encourage and strengthen you to do and say everything that is good.
2 Thessalonians 3
Paul’s Final Instructions for the Thessalonians
1 Finally, brothers and sisters, pray that we spread the Lord’s word rapidly and that it will be honored the way it was among you. 2 Also pray that we may be rescued from worthless and evil people, since not everyone shares our faith. 3 But the Lord is faithful and will strengthen you and protect you against the evil one.
4 The Lord gives us confidence that you are doing and will continue to do what we ordered you to do. 5 May the Lord direct your lives as you show God’s love and Christ’s endurance.
6 Brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we order you not to associate with any believer who doesn’t live a disciplined life and doesn’t follow the tradition you received from us. 7 You know what you must do to imitate us. We lived a disciplined life among you. 8 We didn’t eat anyone’s food without paying for it. Instead, we worked hard and struggled night and day in order not to be a burden to any of you. 9 It’s not as though we didn’t have a right to receive support. Rather, we wanted to set an example for you to follow. 10 While we were with you, we gave you the order: “Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat.”
11 We hear that some of you are not living disciplined lives. You’re not working, so you go around interfering in other people’s lives. 12 We order and encourage such people by the Lord Jesus Christ to pay attention to their own work so they can support themselves. 13 Brothers and sisters, we can’t allow ourselves to get tired of doing what is right.
14 It may be that some people will not listen to what we say in this letter. Take note of them and don’t associate with them so that they will feel ashamed. 15 Yet, don’t treat them like enemies, but instruct them like brothers and sisters.
16 May the Lord of peace give you his peace at all times and in every way. The Lord be with all of you.
17 I, Paul, am writing this greeting with my own hand. In every letter that I send, this is proof that I wrote it.
18 The good will of our Lord Jesus Christ be with all of you.
1st Timothy 1
1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and Christ Jesus our confidence.
2 To Timothy, a genuine child in faith.
Good will, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord are yours!
A Warning About False Teachers
3 When I was going to the province of Macedonia, I encouraged you to stay in the city of Ephesus. That way you could order certain people to stop teaching false doctrine 4 and occupying themselves with myths and endless genealogies. These myths and genealogies raise a lot of questions rather than promoting God’s plan, which centers in faith.
5 My goal in giving you this order is for love to flow from a pure heart, from a clear conscience, and from a sincere faith. 6 Some people have left these qualities behind and have turned to useless discussions. 7 They want to be experts in Moses’ Teachings. However, they don’t understand what they’re talking about or the things about which they speak so confidently.
8 We know that Moses’ Teachings are good if they are used as they were intended to be used. 9 For example, a person must realize that laws are not intended for people who have God’s approval. Laws are intended for lawbreakers and rebels, for ungodly people and sinners, for those who think nothing is holy or sacred, for those who kill their fathers, their mothers, or other people. 10 Laws are intended for people involved in sexual sins, for homosexuals, for kidnappers, for liars, for those who lie when they take an oath, and for whatever else is against accurate teachings. 11 Moses’ Teachings were intended to be used in agreement with the Good News that contains the glory of the blessed God. I was entrusted with that Good News.
God’s Mercy to Paul
12 I thank Christ Jesus our Lord that he has trusted me and has appointed me to do his work with the strength he has given me. 13 In the past I cursed him, persecuted him, and acted arrogantly toward him. However, I was treated with mercy because I acted ignorantly in my unbelief. 14 Our Lord was very kind to me. Through his kindness he brought me to faith and gave me the love that Christ Jesus shows people.
15 This is a statement that can be trusted and deserves complete acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, and I am the foremost sinner. 16 However, I was treated with mercy so that Christ Jesus could use me, the foremost sinner, to demonstrate his patience. This patience serves as an example for those who would believe in him and live forever. 17 Worship and glory belong forever to the eternal king, the immortal, invisible, and only God. Amen.
Guidelines for the Church
18 Timothy, my child, I’m giving you this order about the prophecies that are still coming to you: Use these prophecies in faith and with a clear conscience to fight this noble war. 19 Some have refused to let their faith guide their conscience and their faith has been destroyed like a wrecked ship. 20 Among these people are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan in order to teach them not to dishonor God.
1st Timothy 2
1 First of all, I encourage you to make petitions, prayers, intercessions, and prayers of thanks for all people, 2 for rulers, and for everyone who has authority over us. Pray for these people so that we can have a quiet and peaceful life always lived in a godly and reverent way. 3 This is good and pleases God our Savior. 4 He wants all people to be saved and to learn the truth. 5 There is one God. There is also one mediator between God and humans—a human, Christ Jesus. 6 He sacrificed himself for all people to free them from their sins. This message is valid for every era. 7 I was appointed to spread this Good News and to be an apostle to teach people who are not Jewish about faith and truth. I’m telling you the truth. I’m not lying.
8 I want men to offer prayers everywhere. They should raise their hands in prayer after putting aside their anger and any quarrels they have with anyone.
9 I want women to show their beauty by dressing in appropriate clothes that are modest and respectable. Their beauty will be shown by what they do, not by their hair styles or the gold jewelry, pearls, or expensive clothes they wear. 10 This is what is proper for women who claim to have reverence for God.
11 A woman must learn in silence, in keeping with her position. 12 I don’t allow a woman to teach or to have authority over a man. Instead, she should be quiet. 13 After all, Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 Besides that, Adam was not deceived. It was the woman who was deceived and sinned. 15 However, she and all women will be saved through the birth of the child, if they lead respectable lives in faith, love, and holiness.
1st Timothy 3
Guidelines for Leaders in the Church
1 This is a statement that can be trusted: If anyone sets his heart on being a bishop, he desires something excellent. 2 A bishop must have a good reputation. He must have only one wife, be sober, use good judgment, be respectable, be hospitable, and be able to teach. 3 He must not drink excessively or be a violent person, but he must be gentle. He must not be quarrelsome or love money. 4 He must manage his own family well. His children should respectfully obey him. 5 (If a man doesn’t know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?) 6 He must not be a new Christian, or he might become arrogant like the devil and be condemned. 7 People who are not Christians must speak well of him, or he might become the victim of disgraceful insults that the devil sets as traps for him.
8 Deacons must also be of good character. They must not be two-faced or addicted to alcohol. They must not use shameful ways to make money. 9 They must have clear consciences about possessing the mystery of the Christian faith. 10 First, a person must be evaluated. Then, if he has a good reputation, he may become a deacon.
11 Their wives must also be of good character. They must not be gossips, but they must control their tempers and be trustworthy in every way.
12 A deacon must have only one wife. Deacons must manage their children and their families well. 13 Those deacons who serve well gain an excellent reputation and will have confidence as a result of their faith in Christ Jesus.
14 I hope to visit you soon. However, I’m writing this to you 15 in case I’m delayed. I want you to know how people who are members of God’s family must live. God’s family is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.
16 The mystery that gives us our reverence for God is acknowledged to be great:
He appeared in his human nature,
was approved by the Spirit,
was seen by angels,
was announced throughout the nations,
was believed in the world,
and was taken to heaven in glory.
1st Timothy 4
A Prophecy About the Last Times
1 The Spirit says clearly that in later times some believers will desert the Christian faith. They will follow spirits that deceive, and they will believe the teachings of demons. 2 These people will speak lies disguised as truth. Their consciences have been scarred as if branded by a red-hot iron. 3 They will try to stop others from getting married and from eating certain foods. God created food to be received with prayers of thanks by those who believe and know the truth. 4 Everything God created is good. Nothing should be rejected if it is received with prayers of thanks. 5 The word of God and prayer set it apart as holy.
Guidelines for Serving Christ
6 You are a good servant of Christ Jesus when you point these things out to our brothers and sisters. Then you will be nourished by the words of the Christian faith and the excellent teachings which you have followed closely. 7 Don’t have anything to do with godless myths that old women like to tell. Rather, train yourself to live a godly life. 8 Training the body helps a little, but godly living helps in every way. Godly living has the promise of life now and in the world to come. 9 This is a statement that can be trusted and deserves complete acceptance. 10 Certainly, we work hard and struggle to live a godly life, because we place our confidence in the living God. He is the Savior of all people, especially of those who believe.
11 Insist on these things and teach them. 12 Don’t let anyone look down on you for being young. Instead, make your speech, behavior, love, faith, and purity an example for other believers. 13 Until I get there, concentrate on reading Scripture in worship, giving encouraging messages, and teaching people. 14 Don’t neglect the gift which you received through prophecy when the spiritual leaders placed their hands on you to ordain you. 15 Practice these things. Devote your life to them so that everyone can see your progress. 16 Focus on your life and your teaching. Continue to do what I’ve told you. If you do this, you will save yourself and those who hear you.
1st Timothy 5
Guidelines for Dealing With Other Christians
1 Never use harsh words when you correct an older man, but talk to him as if he were your father. Talk to younger men as if they were your brothers, 2 older women as if they were your mothers, and younger women as if they were your sisters, while keeping yourself morally pure.
3 Honor widows who have no families. 4 The children or grandchildren of a widow must first learn to respect their own family by repaying their parents. This is pleasing in God’s sight.
5 A widow who has no family has placed her confidence in God by praying and asking for his help night and day. 6 But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead although she is still alive. 7 Insist on these things so that widows will have good reputations. 8 If anyone doesn’t take care of his own relatives, especially his immediate family, he has denied the Christian faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
9 Any widow who had only one husband and is at least 60 years old should be put on your list of widows. 10 People should tell about the good things she has done: raising children, being hospitable, taking care of believers’ needs, helping the suffering, or always doing good things.
11 Don’t include younger widows on your list. Whenever their natural desires become stronger than their devotion to Christ, they’ll want to marry. 12 They condemn themselves by rejecting the Christian faith, the faith they first accepted. 13 At the same time, they learn to go around from house to house since they have nothing else to do. Not only this, but they also gossip and get involved in other people’s business, saying things they shouldn’t say.
14 So I want younger widows to marry, have children, manage their homes, and not give the enemy any chance to ridicule them. 15 Some of them have already turned away to follow Satan. 16 If any woman is a believer and has relatives who are widows, she should help them. In this way the church is not burdened and can help widows who have no families.
17 Give double honor to spiritual leaders who handle their duties well. This is especially true if they work hard at teaching the word of God. 18 After all, Scripture says, “Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing grain,” and “The worker deserves his pay.”
19 Don’t pay attention to an accusation against a spiritual leader unless it is supported by two or three witnesses. 20 Reprimand those leaders who sin. Do it in front of everyone so that the other leaders will also be afraid.
21 I solemnly call on you in the sight of God, Christ Jesus, and the chosen angels to be impartial when you follow what I’ve told you. Never play favorites.
22 Don’t be in a hurry to place your hands on anyone to ordain him. Don’t participate in the sins of others. Keep yourself morally pure.
23 Stop drinking only water. Instead, drink a little wine for your stomach because you are frequently sick.
24 The sins of some people are obvious, going ahead of them to judgment. The sins of others follow them there. 25 In the same way, the good things that people do are obvious, and those that aren’t obvious can’t remain hidden.
1st Timothy 6
1 All slaves who believe must give complete respect to their own masters. In this way no one will speak evil of God’s name and what we teach. 2 Slaves whose masters also believe should respect their masters even though their masters are also believers. As a result, believers who are slaves should serve their masters even better because those who receive the benefit of their work are believers whom they love.
Guidelines for Living a Godly Life
Teach and encourage people to do these things. 3 Whoever teaches false doctrine and doesn’t agree with the accurate words of our Lord Jesus Christ and godly teachings 4 is a conceited person. He shows that he doesn’t understand anything. Rather, he has an unhealthy desire to argue and quarrel about words. This produces jealousy, rivalry, cursing, suspicion, 5 and conflict between people whose corrupt minds have been robbed of the truth. They think that a godly life is a way to make a profit.
6 A godly life brings huge profits to people who are content with what they have. 7 We didn’t bring anything into the world, and we can’t take anything out of it. 8 As long as we have food and clothes, we should be satisfied.
9 But people who want to get rich keep falling into temptation. They are trapped by many stupid and harmful desires which drown them in destruction and ruin. 10 Certainly, the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Some people who have set their hearts on getting rich have wandered away from the Christian faith and have caused themselves a lot of grief.
11 But you, man of God, must avoid these things. Pursue what God approves of: a godly life, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. 12 Fight the good fight for the Christian faith. Take hold of everlasting life to which you were called and about which you made a good testimony in front of many witnesses.
13 In the sight of God, who gives life to everything, and in the sight of Christ Jesus, who gave a good testimony in front of Pontius Pilate, 14 I insist that, until our Lord Jesus Christ appears, you obey this command completely. Then you cannot be blamed for doing anything wrong. 15 At the right time God will make this known. God is the blessed and only ruler. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. 16 He is the only one who cannot die. He lives in light that no one can come near. No one has seen him, nor can they see him. Honor and power belong to him forever! Amen.
17 Tell those who have the riches of this world not to be arrogant and not to place their confidence in anything as uncertain as riches. Instead, they should place their confidence in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. 18 Tell them to do good, to do a lot of good things, to be generous, and to share. 19 By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves which is a good foundation for the future. In this way they take hold of what life really is.
20 Timothy, guard the Good News which has been entrusted to you. Turn away from pointless discussions and the claims of false knowledge that people use to oppose the Christian faith. 21 Although some claim to have knowledge, they have abandoned the faith.
God’s good will be with all of you.
2nd Timothy 1
1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will—a will that contains Christ Jesus’ promise of life.
2 To Timothy, my dear child.
Good will, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord!
Paul’s Prayer for Timothy
3 I constantly remember you in my prayers night and day when I thank God, whom I serve with a clear conscience as my ancestors did. 4 I remember your tears and want to see you so that I can be filled with happiness. 5 I’m reminded of how sincere your faith is. That faith first lived in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice. I’m convinced that it also lives in you.
Paul’s Advice for Timothy
6 You received a gift from God when I placed my hands on you to ordain you. Now I’m reminding you to fan that gift into flames. 7 God didn’t give us a cowardly spirit but a spirit of power, love, and good judgment. 8 So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord or be ashamed of me, his prisoner. Instead, by God’s power, join me in suffering for the sake of the Good News. 9 God saved us and called us to be holy, not because of what we had done, but because of his own plan and kindness. Before the world began, God planned that Christ Jesus would show us God’s kindness. 10 Now with the coming of our Savior Christ Jesus, he has revealed it. Christ has destroyed death, and through the Good News he has brought eternal life into full view. 11 I was appointed to be a messenger of this Good News, an apostle, and a teacher.
12 For this reason I suffer as I do. However, I’m not ashamed. I know whom I trust. I’m convinced that he is able to protect what he had entrusted to me until that day.
13 With faith and love for Christ Jesus, consider what you heard me say to be the pattern of accurate teachings. 14 With the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us, protect the Good News that has been entrusted to you.
News About Paul’s Coworkers
15 You know that everyone in the province of Asia has deserted me, including Phygelus and Hermogenes.
16 May the Lord be merciful to the family of Onesiphorus. He often took care of my needs and wasn’t ashamed that I was a prisoner. 17 When he arrived in Rome, he searched hard for me and found me. 18 May the Lord grant that Onesiphorus finds mercy when that day comes. You know very well that he did everything possible to help me in Ephesus.
2nd Timothy 2
Remain Focused on Jesus
1 My child, find your source of strength in the kindness of Christ Jesus. 2 You’ve heard my message, and it’s been confirmed by many witnesses. Entrust this message to faithful individuals who will be competent to teach others.
3 Join me in suffering like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4 Whoever serves in the military doesn’t get mixed up in non-military activities. This pleases his commanding officer. 5 Whoever enters an athletic competition wins the prize only when playing by the rules. 6 A hard-working farmer should have the first share of the crops. 7 Understand what I’m saying. The Lord will help you understand all these things.
8 Always think about Jesus Christ. He was brought back to life and is a descendant of David. This is the Good News that I tell others. 9 I’m suffering disgrace for spreading this Good News. I have even been put into prison like a criminal. However, God’s word is not imprisoned. 10 For that reason, I endure everything for the sake of those who have been chosen so that they, too, may receive salvation from Christ Jesus with glory that lasts forever. 11 This is a statement that can be trusted:
If we have died with him, we will live with him.
12 If we endure, we will rule with him.
If we disown him, he will disown us.
13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful
because he cannot be untrue to himself.
14 Remind believers about these things, and warn them in the sight of God not to quarrel over words. Quarreling doesn’t do any good but only destroys those who are listening.
15 Do your best to present yourself to God as a tried-and-true worker who isn’t ashamed to teach the word of truth correctly. 16 Avoid pointless discussions. People who pay attention to these pointless discussions will become more ungodly, 17 and what they say will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are like that. 18 They have abandoned the truth. They are destroying the faith of others by saying that people who have died have already come back to life.
19 In spite of all that, God’s people have a solid foundation. These words are engraved on it: “The Lord knows those who belong to him,” and “Whoever worships the Lord must give up doing wrong.”
20 In a large house there are not only objects made of gold and silver, but also those made of wood and clay. Some objects are honored when they are used; others aren’t. 21 Those who stop associating with dishonorable people will be honored. They will be set apart for the master’s use, prepared to do good things.
22 Stay away from lusts which tempt young people. Pursue what has God’s approval. Pursue faith, love, and peace together with those who worship the Lord with a pure heart. 23 Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments. You know they cause quarrels. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel. Instead, he must be kind to everyone. He must be a good teacher. He must be willing to suffer wrong. 25 He must be gentle in correcting those who oppose the Good News. Maybe God will allow them to change the way they think and act and lead them to know the truth. 26 Then they might come back to their senses and God will free them from the devil’s snare so that they can do his will.
2 Timothy 3
Watch Out for Sinful People
1 You must understand this: In the last days there will be violent periods of time. 2 People will be selfish and love money. They will brag, be arrogant, and use abusive language. They will curse their parents, show no gratitude, have no respect for what is holy, 3 and lack normal affection for their families. They will refuse to make peace with anyone. They will be slanderous, lack self-control, be brutal, and have no love for what is good. 4 They will be traitors. They will be reckless and conceited. They will love pleasure rather than God. 5 They will appear to have a godly life, but they will not let its power change them. Stay away from such people.
6 Some of these men go into homes and mislead weak-minded women who are burdened with sins and led by all kinds of desires. 7 These women are always studying but are never able to recognize the truth.
8 As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men oppose the truth. Their minds are corrupt, and the faith they teach is counterfeit. 9 Certainly, they won’t get very far. Like the stupidity of Jannes and Jambres, their stupidity will be plain to everyone.
Teach the Truth
10 But you know all about my teachings, my way of life, my purpose, my faith, my patience, my love, and my endurance. 11 You also know about the kind of persecutions and sufferings which happened to me in the cities of Antioch, Iconium, and Lystra. I endured those persecutions, and the Lord rescued me from all of them. 12 Those who try to live a godly life because they believe in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. 13 But evil people and phony preachers will go from bad to worse as they mislead people and are themselves misled.
14 However, continue in what you have learned and found to be true. You know who your teachers were. 15 From infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures. They have the power to give you wisdom so that you can be saved through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 Every Scripture passage is inspired by God. All of them are useful for teaching, pointing out errors, correcting people, and training them for a life that has God’s approval. 17 They equip God’s servants so that they are completely prepared to do good things.
2nd Timothy 4
Continue to Do Your Work
1 I solemnly call on you in the presence of God and Christ Jesus, who is going to judge those who are living and those who are dead. I do this because Christ Jesus will come to rule the world. 2 Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach.
3 A time will come when people will not listen to accurate teachings. Instead, they will follow their own desires and surround themselves with teachers who tell them what they want to hear. 4 People will refuse to listen to the truth and turn to myths.
5 But you must keep a clear head in everything. Endure suffering. Do the work of a missionary. Devote yourself completely to your work.
6 My life is coming to an end, and it is now time for me to be poured out as a sacrifice to God. 7 I have fought the good fight. I have completed the race. I have kept the faith. 8 The prize that shows I have God’s approval is now waiting for me. The Lord, who is a fair judge, will give me that prize on that day. He will give it not only to me but also to everyone who is eagerly waiting for him to come again.
Paul’s Final Instructions to Timothy
9 Hurry to visit me soon. 10 Demas has abandoned me. He fell in love with this present world and went to the city of Thessalonica. Crescens went to the province of Galatia, and Titus went to the province of Dalmatia. 11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you. He is useful to me in my work. 12 I’m sending Tychicus to the city of Ephesus as my representative.
13 When you come, bring the warm coat I left with Carpus in the city of Troas. Also bring the scrolls and especially the parchments.
14 Alexander the metalworker did me a great deal of harm. The Lord will pay him back for what he did. 15 Watch out for him. He violently opposed what we said. 16 At my first hearing no one stood up in my defense. Everyone abandoned me. I pray that it won’t be held against them. 17 However, the Lord stood by me and gave me strength so that I could finish spreading the Good News for all the nations to hear. I was snatched out of a lion’s mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from all harm and will take me safely to his heavenly kingdom. Glory belongs to him forever! Amen.
19 Give my greetings to Prisca and Aquila and the family of Onesiphorus. 20 Erastus stayed in the city of Corinth and I left Trophimus in the city of Miletus because he was sick. 21 Hurry to visit me before winter comes. Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, Claudia and all the brothers and sisters send you greetings.
22 The Lord be with you. His good will be with all of you.
1 From Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ. I was sent to lead God’s chosen people to faith and to the knowledge of the truth that leads to a godly life. 2 My message is based on the confidence of eternal life. God, who never lies, promised this eternal life before the world began. 3 God has revealed this in every era by spreading his word. I was entrusted with this word by the command of God our Savior.
4 To Titus, a genuine child in the faith we share.
Good will and peace from God the Father and from Christ Jesus our Savior are yours!
Guidelines for Leaders in the Church
5 I left you in Crete to do what still needed to be done—appointing spiritual leaders in every city as I directed you. 6 A spiritual leader must have a good reputation. He must have only one wife and have children who are believers. His children shouldn’t be known for having wild lifestyles or being rebellious. 7 Because a bishop is a supervisor appointed by God, he must have a good reputation. He must not be a stubborn or irritable person. He must not drink too much or be a violent person. He must not use shameful ways to make money. 8 Instead, he must be hospitable, love what is good, use good judgment, be fair and moral, and have self-control. 9 He must be devoted to the trustworthy message we teach. Then he can use these accurate teachings to encourage people and correct those who oppose the word.
Correct Whoever Teaches What Is Wrong
10 There are many believers, especially converts from Judaism, who are rebellious. They speak nonsense and deceive people. 11 They must be silenced because they are ruining whole families by teaching what they shouldn’t teach. This is the shameful way they make money.
12 Even one of their own prophets said, “Cretans are always liars, savage animals, and lazy gluttons.” 13 That statement is true. For this reason, sharply correct believers so that they continue to have faith that is alive and well. 14 They shouldn’t pay attention to Jewish myths or commands given by people who are always rejecting the truth. 15 Everything is clean to those who are clean. But nothing is clean to corrupt unbelievers. Indeed, their minds and their consciences are corrupted. 16 They claim to know God, but they deny him by what they do. They are detestable, disobedient, and unfit to do anything good.
Guidelines for Christian Living
1 Tell believers to live the kind of life that goes along with accurate teachings. 2 Tell older men to be sober. Tell them to be men of good character, to use good judgment, and to be well-grounded in faith, love, and endurance.
3 Tell older women to live their lives in a way that shows they are dedicated to God. Tell them not to be gossips or addicted to alcohol, but to be examples of virtue. 4 In this way they will teach young women to show love to their husbands and children, 5 to use good judgment, and to be morally pure. Also, tell them to teach young women to be homemakers, to be kind, and to place themselves under their husbands’ authority. Then no one can speak evil of God’s word.
6 Encourage young men to use good judgment. 7 Always set an example by doing good things. When you teach, be an example of moral purity and dignity. 8 Speak an accurate message that cannot be condemned. Then those who oppose us will be ashamed because they cannot say anything bad about us.
9 Tell slaves who are believers to place themselves under their masters’ authority in everything they do. Tell them to please their masters, not to argue with them 10 or steal from them. Instead, tell slaves to show their masters how good and completely loyal they can be. Then they will show the beauty of the teachings about God our Savior in everything they do.
11 After all, God’s saving kindness has appeared for the benefit of all people. 12 It trains us to avoid ungodly lives filled with worldly desires so that we can live self-controlled, moral, and godly lives in this present world. 13 At the same time we can expect what we hope for—the appearance of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. 14 He gave himself for us to set us free from every sin and to cleanse us so that we can be his special people who are enthusiastic about doing good things.
15 Tell these things to the believers. Encourage and correct them, using your full authority. Don’t let anyone ignore you.
1 Remind believers to willingly place themselves under the authority of government officials. Believers should obey them and be ready to help them with every good thing they do. 2 Believers shouldn’t curse anyone or be quarrelsome, but they should be gentle and show courtesy to everyone.
What God Did for Us
3 Indeed, we, too, were once stupid, disobedient, and misled. We were slaves to many kinds of lusts and pleasures. We were mean and jealous. We were hated, and we hated each other.
4 However, when God our Savior made his kindness and love for humanity appear, 5 he saved us, but not because of anything we had done to gain his approval. Instead, because of his mercy he saved us through the washing in which the Holy Spirit gives us new birth and renewal. 6 God poured a generous amount of the Spirit on us through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 As a result, God in his kindness has given us his approval and we have become heirs who have the confidence that we have everlasting life. 8 This is a statement that can be trusted. I want you to insist on these things so that those who believe in God can concentrate on setting an example by doing good things. This is good and helps other people.
Advice for Titus
9 Avoid foolish controversies, arguments about genealogies, quarrels, and fights about Moses’ Teachings. This is useless and worthless. 10 Have nothing to do with people who continue to teach false doctrine after you have warned them once or twice. 11 You know that people like this are corrupt. They are sinners condemned by their own actions.
12 When I send Artemas or Tychicus to you, hurry to visit me in the city of Nicopolis. I have decided to spend the winter there. 13 Give Zenas the lawyer and Apollos your best support for their trip so that they will have everything they need.
14 Our people should also learn how to set an example by doing good things when urgent needs arise so that they can live productive lives.
15 Everyone with me sends you greetings. Greet our faithful friends.
God’s good will be with all of you.
1 From Paul, who is a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and our brother Timothy.
To our dear coworker Philemon, 2 our sister Apphia, our fellow soldier Archippus, and the church that meets in your house.
3 Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
Paul’s Prayer for Philemon
4 Philemon, I always thank my God when I mention you in my prayers because 5 I hear about your faithfulness to the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 6 As you share the faith you have in common with others, I pray that you may come to have a complete knowledge of every blessing we have in Christ. 7 Your love for God’s people gives me a lot of joy and encouragement. You, brother, have comforted God’s people.
Paul’s Advice About Onesimus
8 Christ makes me bold enough to order you to do the right thing. 9 However, I would prefer to make an appeal on the basis of love. I, Paul, as an old man and now a prisoner for Christ Jesus, 10 appeal to you for my child Onesimus (Useful). I became his spiritual father here in prison. 11 Once he was useless to you, but now he is very useful to both of us.
12 I am sending him back to you. This is like sending you a part of myself. 13 I wanted to keep him here with me. Then he could have served me in your place while I am in prison for spreading the Good News. 14 Yet, I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I want you to do this favor for me out of your own free will without feeling forced to do it.
15 Maybe Onesimus was gone for a while so that you could have him back forever—16 no longer as a slave but better than a slave—as a dear brother. He is especially dear to me, but even more so to you, both as a person and as a Christian.
17 If you think of me as your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. 18 If he wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, promise to pay it back. I’m writing this with my own hand. I won’t even mention that you owe me your life. 20 So, because we’re brothers in the Lord, do something for me. Give me some comfort because of Christ. 21 I am confident as I write to you that you will do this. And I know that you will do even more than I ask.
22 One more thing—have a guest room ready for me. I hope that, because of your prayers, God will give me back to you.
Greetings From Paul’s Coworkers
23 Epaphras, who is a prisoner because of Christ Jesus like I am, 24 and my coworkers Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke send you greetings.
25 The good will of our Lord Jesus Christ be yours.
God Has Spoken to Us Through His Son
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors at many different times and in many different ways through the prophets. 2 In these last days he has spoken to us through his Son. God made his Son responsible for everything. His Son is the one through whom God made the universe. 3 His Son is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact likeness of God’s being. He holds everything together through his powerful words. After he had cleansed people from their sins, he received the highest position, the one next to the Father in heaven.
God’s Son Is Superior to the Angels
4 The Son has become greater than the angels since he has been given a name that is superior to theirs. 5 God never said to any of his angels,
“You are my Son.
Today I have become your Father.”
And God never said to any of his angels,
“I will be his Father,
and he will be my Son.”
6 When God was about to send his firstborn Son into the world, he said,
“All of God’s angels must worship him.”
7 God said about the angels,
“He makes his messengers winds.
He makes his servants flames of fire.”
8 But God said about his Son,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.
The scepter in your kingdom is a scepter for justice.
9 You have loved what is right and hated what is wrong.
That is why God, your God,
anointed you, rather than your companions, with the oil of joy.”
10 God also said,
“Lord, in the beginning you laid the foundation of the earth.
With your own hands you made the heavens.
11 They will come to an end, but you will live forever.
They will all wear out like clothes.
12 They will be taken off like a coat.
You will change them like clothes.
But you remain the same, and your life will never end.
13 But God never said to any of the angels,
“Sit in the highest position in heaven
until I make your enemies your footstool.”
14 What are all the angels? They are spirits sent to serve those who are going to receive salvation.
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1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will.
To God’s holy and faithful people who are united with Christ in the city of Ephesus.
2 Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
God Chose Us Through Christ
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! Through Christ, God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing that heaven has to offer. 4 Before the creation of the world, he chose us through Christ to be holy and perfect in his presence. 5 Because of his love he had already decided to adopt us through Jesus Christ. He freely chose to do this 6 so that the kindness he had given us in his dear Son would be praised and given glory.
7 Through the blood of his Son, we are set free from our sins. God forgives our failures because of his overflowing kindness. 8 He poured out his kindness by giving us every kind of wisdom and insight 9 when he revealed the mystery of his plan to us. He had decided to do this through Christ. 10 He planned to bring all of history to its goal in Christ. Then Christ would be the head of everything in heaven and on earth. 11 God also decided ahead of time to choose us through Christ according to his plan, which makes everything work the way he intends. 12 He planned all of this so that we who had already focused our hope on Christ would praise him and give him glory.
13 You heard and believed the message of truth, the Good News that he has saved you. In him you were sealed with the Holy Spirit whom he promised. 14 This Holy Spirit is the guarantee that we will receive our inheritance. We have this guarantee until we are set free to belong to him. God receives praise and glory for this.
Paul’s Prayer for the Ephesians
15 I, too, have heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. For this reason 16 I never stop thanking God for you. I always remember you in my prayers. 17 I pray that the glorious Father, the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, would give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know Christ better. 18 Then you will have deeper insight. You will know the confidence that he calls you to have and the glorious wealth that God’s people will inherit. 19 You will also know the unlimited greatness of his power as it works with might and strength for us, the believers. 20 He worked with that same power in Christ when he brought him back to life and gave him the highest position in heaven. 21 He is far above all rulers, authorities, powers, lords, and all other names that can be named, not only in this present world but also in the world to come. 22 God has put everything under the control of Christ. He has made Christ the head of everything for the good of the church. 23 The church is Christ’s body and completes him as he fills everything in every way.
God Saved Us Because of His Great Love for Us
1 You were once dead because of your failures and sins. 2 You followed the ways of this present world and its spiritual ruler. This ruler continues to work in people who refuse to obey God. 3 All of us once lived among these people, and followed the desires of our corrupt nature. We did what our corrupt desires and thoughts wanted us to do. So, because of our nature, we deserved God’s anger just like everyone else.
4 But God is rich in mercy because of his great love for us. 5 We were dead because of our failures, but he made us alive together with Christ. (It is God’s kindness that saved you.) 6 God has brought us back to life together with Christ Jesus and has given us a position in heaven with him. 7 He did this through Christ Jesus out of his generosity to us in order to show his extremely rich kindness in the world to come. 8 God saved you through faith as an act of kindness. You had nothing to do with it. Being saved is a gift from God. 9 It’s not the result of anything you’ve done, so no one can brag about it. 10 God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.
God Has United Jewish and Non-Jewish People
11 Remember that once you were not Jewish physically. Those who called themselves “the circumcised” because of what they had done to their bodies called you “the uncircumcised.” 12 Also, at that time you were without Christ. You were excluded from citizenship in Israel, and the pledges God made in his promise were foreign to you. You had no hope and were in the world without God.
13 But now through Christ Jesus you, who were once far away, have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 So he is our peace. In his body he has made Jewish and non-Jewish people one by breaking down the wall of hostility that kept them apart. 15 He brought an end to the commandments and demands found in Moses’ Teachings so that he could take Jewish and non-Jewish people and create one new humanity in himself. So he made peace. 16 He also brought them back to God in one body by his cross, on which he killed the hostility. 17 He came with the Good News of peace for you who were far away and for those who were near. 18 So Jewish and non-Jewish people can go to the Father in one Spirit.
19 That is why you are no longer foreigners and outsiders but citizens together with God’s people and members of God’s family. 20 You are built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. 21 In him all the parts of the building fit together and grow into a holy temple in the Lord. 22 Through him you, also, are being built in the Spirit together with others into a place where God lives.
Paul’s Work of Spreading the Good News
1 This is the reason I, Paul, am the prisoner of Christ Jesus for those of you who are not Jewish.
2 Certainly, you have heard how God gave me the responsibility of bringing his kindness to you. 3 You have heard that he let me know this mystery through a revelation. I’ve already written to you about this briefly. 4 When you read this, you’ll see that I understand the mystery about Christ. 5 In the past, this mystery was not known by people as it is now. The Spirit has now revealed it to his holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is the Good News that people who are not Jewish have the same inheritance as Jewish people do. They belong to the same body and share the same promise that God made in Christ Jesus. 7 I became a servant of this Good News through God’s kindness freely given to me when his power worked in me.
8 I am the least of all God’s people. Yet, God showed me his kindness by allowing me to spread the Good News of the immeasurable wealth of Christ to people who are not Jewish. 9 He allowed me to explain the way this mystery works. God, who created all things, kept it hidden in the past. 10 He did this so that now, through the church, he could let the rulers and authorities in heaven know his infinite wisdom. 11 This was God’s plan for all of history which he carried out through Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 We can go to God with bold confidence through faith in Christ. 13 So then, I ask you not to become discouraged by the troubles I suffer for you. In fact, my troubles bring you glory.
Paul Prays That God Would Strengthen Christians
14 This is the reason I kneel in the presence of the Father 15 from whom all the family in heaven and on earth receives its name. 16 I’m asking God to give you a gift from the wealth of his glory. I pray that he would give you inner strength and power through his Spirit. 17 Then Christ will live in you through faith. I also pray that love may be the ground into which you sink your roots and on which you have your foundation. 18 This way, with all of God’s people you will be able to understand how wide, long, high, and deep his love is. 19 You will know Christ’s love, which goes far beyond any knowledge. I am praying this so that you may be completely filled with God.
20 Glory belongs to God, whose power is at work in us. By this power he can do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. 21 Glory belongs to God in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time and eternity! Amen.
Christ’s Gifts to the Church
1 I, a prisoner in the Lord, encourage you to live the kind of life which proves that God has called you. 2 Be humble and gentle in every way. Be patient with each other and lovingly accept each other. 3 Through the peace that ties you together, do your best to maintain the unity that the Spirit gives. 4 There is one body and one Spirit. In the same way you were called to share one hope. 5 There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over everything, through everything, and in everything.
7 God’s favor has been given to each of us. It was measured out to us by Christ who gave it. 8 That’s why the Scriptures say:
“When he went to the highest place,
he took captive those who had captured us
and gave gifts to people.”
9 Now what does it mean that he went up except that he also had gone down to the lowest parts of the earth? 10 The one who had gone down also went up above all the heavens so that he fills everything.
11 He also gave apostles, prophets, missionaries, as well as pastors and teachers as gifts to his church. 12 Their purpose is to prepare God’s people, to serve, and to build up the body of Christ. 13 This is to continue until all of us are united in our faith and in our knowledge about God’s Son, until we become mature, until we measure up to Christ, who is the standard. 14 Then we will no longer be little children, tossed and carried about by all kinds of teachings that change like the wind. We will no longer be influenced by people who use cunning and clever strategies to lead us astray. 15 Instead, as we lovingly speak the truth, we will grow up completely in our relationship to Christ, who is the head. 16 He makes the whole body fit together and unites it through the support of every joint. As each and every part does its job, he makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.
Live as God’s People
17 So I tell you and encourage you in the Lord’s name not to live any longer like other people in the world. Their minds are set on worthless things. 18 They can’t understand because they are in the dark. They are excluded from the life that God approves of because of their ignorance and stubbornness. 19 Since they no longer have any sense of shame, they have become promiscuous. They practice every kind of sexual perversion with a constant desire for more.
20 But that is not what you learned from Christ’s teachings. 21 You have certainly heard his message and have been taught his ways. The truth is in Jesus. 22 You were taught to change the way you were living. The person you used to be will ruin you through desires that deceive you. 23 However, you were taught to have a new attitude. 24 You were also taught to become a new person created to be like God, truly righteous and holy.
25 So then, get rid of lies. Speak the truth to each other, because we are all members of the same body.
26 Be angry without sinning. Don’t go to bed angry. 27 Don’t give the devil any opportunity to work.
28 Thieves must quit stealing and, instead, they must work hard. They should do something good with their hands so that they’ll have something to share with those in need.
29 Don’t say anything that would hurt another person. Instead, speak only what is good so that you can give help wherever it is needed. That way, what you say will help those who hear you. 30 Don’t give God’s Holy Spirit any reason to be upset with you. He has put his seal on you for the day you will be set free from the world of sin.
31 Get rid of your bitterness, hot tempers, anger, loud quarreling, cursing, and hatred. 32 Be kind to each other, sympathetic, forgiving each other as God has forgiven you through Christ.
1 Imitate God, since you are the children he loves. 2 Live in love as Christ also loved us. He gave his life for us as an offering and sacrifice, a soothing aroma to God.
3 Don’t let sexual sin, perversion of any kind, or greed even be mentioned among you. This is not appropriate behavior for God’s holy people. 4 It’s not right that dirty stories, foolish talk, or obscene jokes should be mentioned among you either. Instead, give thanks to God. 5 You know very well that no person who is involved in sexual sin, perversion, or greed (which means worshiping wealth) can have any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. 6 Don’t let anyone deceive you with meaningless words. It is because of sins like these that God’s anger comes to those who refuse to obey him. 7 Don’t be partners with them.
8 Once you lived in the dark, but now the Lord has filled you with light. Live as children who have light. 9 Light produces everything that is good, that has God’s approval, and that is true. 10 Determine which things please the Lord. 11 Have nothing to do with the useless works that darkness produces. Instead, expose them for what they are. 12 It is shameful to talk about what some people do in secret. 13 Light exposes the true character of everything 14 because light makes everything easy to see. That’s why it says:
“Wake up, sleeper!
Rise from the dead,
and Christ will shine on you.”
15 So then, be very careful how you live. Don’t live like foolish people but like wise people. 16 Make the most of your opportunities because these are evil days. 17 So don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants. 18 Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit 19 by reciting psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs for your own good. Sing and make music to the Lord with your hearts. 20 Always thank God the Father for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Advice to Wives and Husbands
21 Place yourselves under each other’s authority out of respect for Christ.
22 Wives, place yourselves under your husbands’ authority as you have placed yourselves under the Lord’s authority. 23 The husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. It is his body, and he is its Savior. 24 As the church is under Christ’s authority, so wives are under their husbands’ authority in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave his life for it. 26 He did this to make the church holy by cleansing it, washing it using water along with spoken words. 27 Then he could present it to himself as a glorious church, without any kind of stain or wrinkle—holy and without faults. 28 So husbands must love their wives as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife loves himself. 29 No one ever hated his own body. Instead, he feeds and takes care of it, as Christ takes care of the church. 30 We are parts of his body. 31 That’s why a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and the two will be one. 32 This is a great mystery. (I’m talking about Christ’s relationship to the church.) 33 But every husband must love his wife as he loves himself, and wives should respect their husbands.
Advice to Children and Parents
1 Children, obey your parents because you are Christians. This is the right thing to do. 2 “Honor your father and mother 3 that everything may go well for you, and you may have a long life on earth.” This is an important commandment with a promise.
4 Fathers, don’t make your children bitter about life. Instead, bring them up in Christian discipline and instruction.
Advice to Slaves and Masters
5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with proper respect. Be as sincere as you are when you obey Christ. 6 Don’t obey them only while you’re being watched, as if you merely wanted to please people. But obey like slaves who belong to Christ, who have a deep desire to do what God wants them to do. 7 Serve eagerly as if you were serving your heavenly master and not merely serving human masters. 8 You know that your heavenly master will reward all of us for whatever good we do, whether we’re slaves or free people.
9 Masters, treat your slaves with respect. Don’t threaten a slave. You know that there is one master in heaven who has authority over both of you, and he doesn’t play favorites.
Put On All the Armor That God Supplies
10 Finally, receive your power from the Lord and from his mighty strength. 11 Put on all the armor that God supplies. In this way you can take a stand against the devil’s strategies. 12 This is not a wrestling match against a human opponent. We are wrestling with rulers, authorities, the powers who govern this world of darkness, and spiritual forces that control evil in the heavenly world. 13 For this reason, take up all the armor that God supplies. Then you will be able to take a stand during these evil days. Once you have overcome all obstacles, you will be able to stand your ground.
14 So then, take your stand! Fasten truth around your waist like a belt. Put on God’s approval as your breastplate. 15 Put on your shoes so that you are ready to spread the Good News that gives peace. 16 In addition to all these, take the Christian faith as your shield. With it you can put out all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Also take salvation as your helmet and the word of God as the sword that the Spirit supplies.
18 Pray in the Spirit in every situation. Use every kind of prayer and request there is. For the same reason be alert. Use every kind of effort and make every kind of request for all of God’s people. 19 Also pray that God will give me the right words to say. Then I will speak boldly when I reveal the mystery of the Good News. 20 Because I have already been doing this as Christ’s representative, I am in prison. So pray that I speak about this Good News as boldly as I have to.
Greetings From Paul
21 I’m sending Tychicus to you. He is our dear brother and a faithful deacon in the Lord’s work. He will tell you everything that is happening to me so that you will know how I’m getting along. 22 That’s why I’m sending him to you so that you may know how we’re doing and that he may encourage you.
23 May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give our brothers and sisters peace and love along with faith. 24 His favor is with everyone who has an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.
1 From Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus.
To God’s people in the city of Philippi and their bishops and deacons—
to everyone who is united with Christ Jesus.
2 Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
Paul’s Prayer for the Philippians
3 I thank my God for all the memories I have of you. 4 Every time I pray for all of you, I do it with joy. 5 I can do this because of the partnership we’ve had with you in the Good News from the first day you believed until now. 6 I’m convinced that God, who began this good work in you, will carry it through to completion on the day of Christ Jesus. 7 You have a special place in my heart. So it’s right for me to think this way about all of you. All of you are my partners. Together we share God’s favor, whether I’m in prison or defending and confirming the truth of the Good News. 8 God is my witness that, with all the compassion of Christ Jesus, I long to see every one of you.
9 I pray that your love will keep on growing because of your knowledge and insight. 10 That way you will be able to determine what is best and be pure and blameless until the day of Christ. 11 Jesus Christ will fill your lives with everything that God’s approval produces. Your lives will then bring glory and praise to God.
Nothing Matters Except That People Are Told About Christ
12 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what happened to me has helped to spread the Good News. 13 As a result, it has become clear to all the soldiers who guard the emperor and to everyone else that I am in prison because of Christ. 14 So through my being in prison, the Lord has given most of our brothers and sisters confidence to speak God’s word more boldly and fearlessly than ever.
15 Some people tell the message about Christ because of their jealousy and envy. Others tell the message about him because of their good will. 16 Those who tell the message about Christ out of love know that God has put me here to defend the Good News. 17 But the others are insincere. They tell the message about Christ out of selfish ambition in order to stir up trouble for me while I’m in prison. 18 But what does it matter? Nothing matters except that, in one way or another, people are told the message about Christ, whether with honest or dishonest motives, and I’m happy about that.
Paul Honors Christ Whether He Lives or Dies
Yes, I will continue to be happy 19 for another reason. I know that I will be set free through your prayers and through the help that comes from the Spirit of Jesus Christ. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will have nothing to be ashamed of. I will speak very boldly and honor Christ in my body, now as always, whether I live or die. 21 Christ means everything to me in this life, and when I die I’ll have even more. 22 If I continue to live in this life, my work will produce more results. I don’t know which I would prefer. 23 I find it hard to choose between the two. I would like to leave this life and be with Christ. That’s by far the better choice. 24 But for your sake it’s better that I remain in this life. 25 Since I’m convinced of this, I know that I will continue to live and be with all of you. This will help you to grow and be joyful in your faith. 26 So by coming to you again, I want to give you even more reason to have pride in Christ Jesus with me.
Fighting for the Faith
27 Live as citizens who reflect the Good News about Christ. Then, whether I come to see you or whether I stay away, I’ll hear all about you. I’ll hear that you are firmly united in spirit, united in fighting for the faith that the Good News brings. 28 So don’t let your opponents intimidate you in any way. This is God’s way of showing them that they will be destroyed and that you will be saved. 29 God has given you the privilege not only to believe in Christ but also to suffer for him. 30 You are involved in the same struggle that you saw me having. Now you hear that I’m still involved in it.
Have the Same Attitude as Christ
1 So then, as Christians, do you have any encouragement? Do you have any comfort from love? Do you have any spiritual relationships? Do you have any sympathy and compassion? 2 Then fill me with joy by having the same attitude and the same love, living in harmony, and keeping one purpose in mind. 3 Don’t act out of selfish ambition or be conceited. Instead, humbly think of others as being better than yourselves. 4 Don’t be concerned only about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others. 5 Have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had.
6 Although he was in the form of God and equal with God,
he did not take advantage of this equality.
7 Instead, he emptied himself by taking on the form of a servant,
by becoming like other humans,
by having a human appearance.
8 He humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death,
death on a cross.
9 This is why God has given him an exceptional honor—
the name honored above all other names—
10 so that at the name of Jesus everyone in heaven, on earth,
and in the world below will kneel
11 and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord
to the glory of God the Father.
12 My dear friends, you have always obeyed, not only when I was with you but even more now that I’m absent. In the same way continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling. 13 It is God who produces in you the desires and actions that please him.
14 Do everything without complaining or arguing. 15 Then you will be blameless and innocent. You will be God’s children without any faults among people who are crooked and corrupt. You will shine like stars among them in the world 16 as you hold firmly to the word of life. Then I can brag on the day of Christ that my effort was not wasted and that my work produced results. 17 My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service I offer to God for your faith. Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you. 18 For this same reason you also should be filled with joy and share that joy with me.
Paul Will Send Timothy and Epaphroditus
19 I hope that the Lord Jesus will allow me to send Timothy to you soon so that I can receive some encouraging news about you. 20 I don’t have anyone else like Timothy. He takes a genuine interest in your welfare. 21 Everyone else looks after his own interests, not after those of Jesus Christ. 22 But you know what kind of person Timothy proved to be. Like a father and son we worked hard together to spread the Good News. 23 I hope to send him as soon as I see how things are going to turn out for me. 24 But the Lord gives me confidence that I will come to visit you soon.
25 I feel that I must send Epaphroditus—my brother, coworker, and fellow soldier—back to you. You sent him as your personal representative to help me in my need. 26 He has been longing to see all of you and is troubled because you heard that he was sick. 27 Indeed, he was so sick that he almost died. But God had mercy not only on him but also on me and kept me from having one sorrow on top of another. 28 So I’m especially eager to send him to you. In this way you will have the joy of seeing him again and I will feel relieved. 29 Give him a joyful Christian welcome. Make sure you honor people like Epaphroditus highly. 30 He risked his life and almost died for the work of Christ in order to make up for the help you couldn’t give me.
Run Straight Toward the Goal
1 Now then, brothers and sisters, be joyful in the Lord. It’s no trouble for me to write the same things to you, and it’s for your safety. 2 Beware of dogs! Beware of those who do evil things. Beware of those who insist on circumcision. 3 We are the true circumcised people of God because we serve God’s Spirit and take pride in Christ Jesus. We don’t place any confidence in physical things, 4 although I could have confidence in my physical qualifications. If anyone else thinks that he can trust in something physical, I can claim even more. 5 I was circumcised on the eighth day. I’m a descendant of Israel. I’m from the tribe of Benjamin. I’m a pure-blooded Hebrew. When it comes to living up to standards, I was a Pharisee. 6 When it comes to being enthusiastic, I was a persecutor of the church. When it comes to winning God’s approval by keeping Jewish laws, I was perfect.
7 These things that I once considered valuable, I now consider worthless for Christ. 8 It’s far more than that! I consider everything else worthless because I’m much better off knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. It’s because of him that I think of everything as worthless. I threw it all away in order to gain Christ 9 and to have a relationship with him. This means that I didn’t receive God’s approval by obeying his laws. The opposite is true! I have God’s approval through faith in Christ. This is the approval that comes from God and is based on faith 10 that knows Christ. Faith knows the power that his coming back to life gives and what it means to share his suffering. In this way I’m becoming like him in his death, 11 with the confidence that I’ll come back to life from the dead.
12 It’s not that I’ve already reached the goal or have already completed the course. But I run to win that which Jesus Christ has already won for me. 13 Brothers and sisters, I can’t consider myself a winner yet. This is what I do: I don’t look back, I lengthen my stride, and 14 I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.
15 Whoever has a mature faith should think this way. And if you think differently, God will show you how to think. 16 However, we should be guided by what we have learned so far.
17 Brothers and sisters, imitate me, and pay attention to those who live by the example we have given you. 18 I have often told you, and now tell you with tears in my eyes, that many live as the enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 In the end they will be destroyed. Their own emotions are their god, and they take pride in the shameful things they do. Their minds are set on worldly things. 20 We, however, are citizens of heaven. We look forward to the Lord Jesus Christ coming from heaven as our Savior. 21 Through his power to bring everything under his authority, he will change our humble bodies and make them like his glorified body.
1 So, brothers and sisters, I love you and miss you. You are my joy and my crown. Therefore, dear friends, keep your relationship with the Lord firm!
2 I encourage both Euodia and Syntyche to have the attitude the Lord wants them to have. 3 Yes, I also ask you, Syzugus, my true partner, to help these women. They fought beside me to spread the Good News along with Clement and the rest of my coworkers, whose names are in the Book of Life.
Always Be Joyful
4 Always be joyful in the Lord! I’ll say it again: Be joyful! 5 Let everyone know how considerate you are. The Lord is near. 6 Never worry about anything. But in every situation let God know what you need in prayers and requests while giving thanks. 7 Then God’s peace, which goes beyond anything we can imagine, will guard your thoughts and emotions through Christ Jesus.
8 Finally, brothers and sisters, keep your thoughts on whatever is right or deserves praise: things that are true, honorable, fair, pure, acceptable, or commendable. 9 Practice what you’ve learned and received from me, what you heard and saw me do. Then the God who gives this peace will be with you.
Thanks for Your Gifts
10 The Lord has filled me with joy because you again showed interest in me. You were interested but did not have an opportunity to show it. 11 I’m not saying this because I’m in any need. I’ve learned to be content in whatever situation I’m in. 12 I know how to live in poverty or prosperity. No matter what the situation, I’ve learned the secret of how to live when I’m full or when I’m hungry, when I have too much or when I have too little. 13 I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me. 14 Nevertheless, it was kind of you to share my troubles.
15 You Philippians also know that in the early days, when I left the province of Macedonia to spread the Good News, you were the only church to share your money with me. You gave me what I needed, and you received what I gave you. 16 Even while I was in Thessalonica, you provided for my needs twice. 17 It’s not that I’m looking for a gift. The opposite is true. I’m looking for your resources to increase. 18 You have paid me in full, and I have more than enough. Now that Epaphroditus has brought me your gifts, you have filled my needs. Your gifts are a soothing aroma, a sacrifice that God accepts and with which he is pleased. 19 My God will richly fill your every need in a glorious way through Christ Jesus. 20 Glory belongs to our God and Father forever! Amen.
21 Greet everyone who believes in Christ Jesus. The brothers and sisters who are with me send greetings to you. 22 All God’s people here, especially those in the emperor’s palace, greet you. 23 May the good will of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and from our brother Timothy.
2 To God’s holy and faithful people, our brothers and sisters who are united with Christ in the city of Colossae.
Good will and peace from God our Father are yours!
Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our prayers for you. 4 We thank God because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 5 You have these because of the hope which is kept safe for you in heaven. Some time ago you heard about this hope in the Good News which is the message of truth. 6 This Good News is present with you now. It is producing results and spreading all over the world as it did among you from the first day you heard it. At that time you came to know what God’s kindness truly means. 7 You learned about this Good News from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant. He is taking your place here as a trustworthy deacon for Christ 8 and has told us about the love that the Spirit has given you.
9 For this reason we have not stopped praying for you since the day we heard about you. We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through every kind of spiritual wisdom and insight. 10 We ask this so that you will live the kind of lives that prove you belong to the Lord. Then you will want to please him in every way as you grow in producing every kind of good work by this knowledge about God. 11 We ask him to strengthen you by his glorious might with all the power you need to patiently endure everything with joy. 12 You will also thank the Father, who has made you able to share the light, which is what God’s people inherit.
What God Has Done Through Christ
13 God has rescued us from the power of darkness and has brought us into the kingdom of his Son, whom he loves. 14 His Son paid the price to free us, which means that our sins are forgiven.
15 He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation.
16 He created all things in heaven and on earth,
visible and invisible.
Whether they are kings or lords,
rulers or powers—
everything has been created through him and for him.
17 He existed before everything
and holds everything together.
18 He is also the head of the church, which is his body.
He is the beginning,
the first to come back to life
so that he would have first place in everything.
19 God was pleased to have all of himself live in Christ. 20 God was also pleased to bring everything on earth and in heaven back to himself through Christ. He did this by making peace through Christ’s blood sacrificed on the cross.
21 Once you were separated from God. The evil things you did showed your hostile attitude. 22 But now Christ has brought you back to God by dying in his physical body. He did this so that you could come into God’s presence without sin, fault, or blame. 23 This is on the condition that you continue in faith without being moved from the solid foundation of the hope that the Good News contains. You’ve heard this Good News of which I, Paul, became a servant. It has been spread throughout all creation under heaven.
Paul Describes His Work
24 I am happy to suffer for you now. In my body I am completing whatever remains of Christ’s sufferings. I am doing this on behalf of his body, the church. 25 I became a servant of the church when God gave me the work of telling you his entire message. 26 In the past God hid this mystery, but now he has revealed it to his people. 27 God wanted his people throughout the world to know the glorious riches of this mystery—which is Christ living in you, giving you the hope of glory.
28 We spread the message about Christ as we instruct and teach everyone with all the wisdom there is. We want to present everyone as mature Christian people. 29 I work hard and struggle to do this while his mighty power works in me.
1 I want you to know how hard I work for you, for the people of Laodicea, and for people I have never met. 2 Because they are united in love, I work so that they may be encouraged by all the riches that come from a complete understanding of Christ. He is the mystery of God. 3 God has hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Christ. 4 I say this so that no one will mislead you with arguments that merely sound good. 5 Although I’m absent from you physically, I’m with you in spirit. I’m happy to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
6 You received Christ Jesus the Lord, so continue to live as Christ’s people. 7 Sink your roots in him and build on him. Be strengthened by the faith that you were taught, and overflow with thanksgiving.
Beware of Requirements Invented by Humans
8 Be careful not to let anyone rob you of this faith through a shallow and misleading philosophy. Such a person follows human traditions and the world’s way of doing things rather than following Christ.
9 All of God lives in Christ’s body, 10 and God has made you complete in Christ. Christ is in charge of every ruler and authority. 11 In him you were also circumcised. It was not a circumcision performed by human hands. But it was a removal of the corrupt nature in the circumcision performed by Christ. 12 This happened when you were placed in the tomb with Christ through baptism. In baptism you were also brought back to life with Christ through faith in the power of God, who brought him back to life.
13 You were once dead because of your failures and your uncircumcised corrupt nature. But God made you alive with Christ when he forgave all our failures. 14 He did this by erasing the charges that were brought against us by the written laws God had established. He took the charges away by nailing them to the cross. 15 He stripped the rulers and authorities of their power and made a public spectacle of them as he celebrated his victory in Christ.
16 Therefore, let no one judge you because of what you eat or drink or about the observance of annual holy days, New Moon Festivals, or weekly worship days. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body that casts the shadow belongs to Christ.
18 Let no one who delights in false humility and the worship of angels tell you that you don’t deserve a prize. Such a person, whose sinful mind fills him with arrogance, gives endless details of the visions he has seen. 19 He doesn’t hold on to Christ, the head. Christ makes the whole body grow as God wants it to, through support and unity given by the joints and ligaments.
20 If you have died with Christ to the world’s way of doing things, why do you let others tell you how to live? It’s as though you were still under the world’s influence. 21 People will tell you, “Don’t handle this! Don’t taste or touch that!” 22 All of these things deal with objects that are only used up anyway. 23 These things look like wisdom with their self-imposed worship, false humility, and harsh treatment of the body. But they have no value for holding back the constant desires of your corrupt nature.
Live as God’s People
1 Since you were brought back to life with Christ, focus on the things that are above—where Christ holds the highest position. 2 Keep your mind on things above, not on worldly things. 3 You have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your life. When he appears, then you, too, will appear with him in glory.
5 Therefore, put to death whatever is worldly in you: your sexual sin, perversion, passion, lust, and greed (which is the same thing as worshiping wealth). 6 It is because of these sins that God’s anger comes on those who refuse to obey him. 7 You used to live that kind of sinful life. 8 Also get rid of your anger, hot tempers, hatred, cursing, obscene language, and all similar sins. 9 Don’t lie to each other. You’ve gotten rid of the person you used to be and the life you used to live, 10 and you’ve become a new person. This new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator. 11 Where this happens, there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, uncivilized person, slave, or free person. Instead, Christ is everything and in everything.
12 As holy people whom God has chosen and loved, be sympathetic, kind, humble, gentle, and patient. 13 Put up with each other, and forgive each other if anyone has a complaint. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 Above all, be loving. This ties everything together perfectly. 15 Also, let Christ’s peace control you. God has called you into this peace by bringing you into one body. Be thankful. 16 Let Christ’s word with all its wisdom and richness live in you. Use psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to teach and instruct yourselves about God’s kindness. Sing to God in your hearts. 17 Everything you say or do should be done in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Advice for Wives and Husbands, Parents and Children, Slaves and Masters
18 Wives, place yourselves under your husbands’ authority. This is appropriate behavior for the Lord’s people. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and don’t be harsh with them.
20 Children, always obey your parents. This is pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, don’t make your children resentful, or they will become discouraged.
22 Slaves, always obey your earthly masters. Don’t obey them only while you’re being watched, as if you merely wanted to please people. Be sincere in your motives out of respect for your real master. 23 Whatever you do, do it wholeheartedly as though you were working for your real master and not merely for humans. 24 You know that your real master will give you an inheritance as your reward. It is Christ, your real master, whom you are serving. 25 The person who does wrong will be paid back for the wrong he has done. God does not play favorites.
1 Masters, be just and fair to your slaves because you know that you also have a master in heaven.
Advice for All Christians
2 Keep praying. Pay attention when you offer prayers of thanksgiving. 3 At the same time also pray for us. Pray that God will give us an opportunity to speak the word so that we may tell the mystery about Christ. It is because of this mystery that I am a prisoner. 4 Pray that I may make this mystery as clear as possible. This is what I have to do.
5 Be wise in the way you act toward those who are outside the Christian faith. Make the most of your opportunities.
6 Everything you say should be kind and well thought out so that you know how to answer everyone.
Greetings From Paul and His Coworkers
7 I’m sending Tychicus to you. He is our dear brother, trustworthy deacon, and partner in the Lord’s work. He will tell you everything that is happening to me. 8 I’m sending him to you so that you may know how we are doing and so that he may encourage you. 9 I’m sending Onesimus with him. Onesimus is from your city and is our faithful and dear brother. They will tell you about everything that’s happening here.
10 Aristarchus, who is a prisoner like me, sends greetings. So does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. You have received instructions about Mark. If he comes to you, welcome him. 11 Jesus, called Justus, also greets you. They are the only converts from the Jewish religion who are working with me for God’s kingdom. They have provided me with comfort. 12 Epaphras, a servant of Christ Jesus from your city, greets you. He always prays intensely for you. He prays that you will continue to be mature and completely convinced of everything that God wants. 13 I assure you that he works hard for you and the people in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14 My dear friend Luke, the physician, and Demas greet you. 15 Greet our brothers and sisters in Laodicea, especially Nympha and the church that meets in her house.
16 After you have read this letter, read it in the church at Laodicea. Make sure that you also read the letter from Laodicea.
17 Tell Archippus to complete all the work that he started as the Lord’s servant.
18 I, Paul, am writing this greeting with my own hand. Remember that I’m a prisoner. God’s good will be with you.
1st Thesallonians 1
1 From Paul, Silas, and Timothy.
To the church at Thessalonica united with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Good will and peace are yours!
Paul’s Prayer for the Thessalonians
2 We always thank God for all of you as we remember you in our prayers. 3 In the presence of our God and Father, we never forget that your faith is active, your love is working hard, and your confidence in our Lord Jesus Christ is enduring. 4 Brothers and sisters, we never forget this because we know that God loves you and has chosen you. 5 We know this because the Good News we brought came to you not only with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit, and with complete certainty. In the same way you know what kind of people we were while we were with you and the good things we did for you.
6 You imitated us and the Lord. In spite of a lot of suffering, you welcomed God’s word with the kind of joy that the Holy Spirit gives. 7 This way, you became a model for all the believers in the province of Macedonia and Greece. 8 From you the Lord’s word has spread out not only through the province of Macedonia and Greece but also to people everywhere who have heard about your faith in God. We don’t need to say a thing about it. 9 They talk about how you welcomed us when we arrived. They even report how you turned away from false gods to serve the real, living God 10 and to wait for his Son to come from heaven. His Son is Jesus, whom he brought back to life. Jesus is the one who rescues us from God’s coming anger.
1st Thessalonians 2
Paul Remembers When He Was With the Thessalonians
1 You know, brothers and sisters, that our time with you was not wasted. 2 As you know, we suffered rough and insulting treatment in Philippi. But our God gave us the courage to tell you his Good News in spite of strong opposition.
3 When we encouraged you, we didn’t use unethical schemes, corrupt practices, or deception. 4 Rather, we are always spreading the Good News. God trusts us to do this because we passed his test. We don’t try to please people but God, who tests our motives. 5 As you know, we never used flattery or schemes to make money. God is our witness! 6 We didn’t seek praise from people, from you or from anyone else, 7 although as apostles of Christ we had the right to do this.
Instead, we were gentle when we were with you, like a mother taking care of her children. 8 We felt so strongly about you that we were determined to share with you not only the Good News of God but also our lives. That’s how dear you were to us! 9 You remember, brothers and sisters, our work and what we did to earn a living. We worked night and day so that we could bring you the Good News of God without being a burden to any of you. 10 You and God are witnesses of how pure, honest, and blameless we were in our dealings with you believers. 11 You know very well that we treated each of you the way a father treats his children. We comforted you and encouraged you. Yet, we insisted that 12 you should live in a way that proves you belong to the God who calls you into his kingdom and glory.
Paul Remembers How the Thessalonians Received the Word of God
13 Here is another reason why we never stop thanking God: When you received God’s word from us, you realized it wasn’t the word of humans. Instead, you accepted it for what it really is—the word of God. This word is at work in you believers.
14 You, brothers and sisters, were like the churches of God in Judea that are united with Christ Jesus. You suffered the same persecutions from the people of your own country as those churches did from the Jews 15 who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and who have persecuted us severely. They are displeasing to God. They are enemies of the whole human race 16 because they try to keep us from telling people who are not Jewish how they can be saved. The result is that those Jews always commit as many sins as possible. So at last they are receiving God’s anger.
17 Brothers and sisters, we have been separated from you for a little while. Although we may not be able to see you, you’re always in our thoughts. We have made every possible effort to fulfill our desire to see you. 18 We wanted to visit you. I, Paul, wanted to visit you twice already, but Satan made that impossible.
19 Who is our hope, joy, or prize that we can brag about in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Isn’t it you? 20 You are our glory and joy!
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2 Corinthians 1
1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and from Timothy our brother.
To God’s church in the city of Corinth and to all God’s holy people everywhere in Greece.
2 Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
God Comforts Paul and the Corinthians
3 Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the Father who is compassionate and the God who gives comfort. 4 He comforts us whenever we suffer. That is why whenever other people suffer, we are able to comfort them by using the same comfort we have received from God. 5 Because Christ suffered so much for us, we can receive so much comfort from him. 6 Besides, if we suffer, it brings you comfort and salvation. If we are comforted, we can effectively comfort you when you endure the same sufferings that we endure. 7 We have confidence in you. We know that as you share our sufferings, you also share our comfort.
God Rescued Paul When He Was Suffering
8 Brothers and sisters, we don’t want you to be ignorant about the suffering we experienced in the province of Asia. It was so extreme that it was beyond our ability to endure. We even wondered if we could go on living. 9 In fact, we still feel as if we’re under a death sentence. But we suffered so that we would stop trusting ourselves and learn to trust God, who brings the dead back to life. 10 He has rescued us from a terrible death, and he will rescue us in the future. We are confident that he will continue to rescue us, 11 since you are also joining to help us when you pray for us. Then many people will thank God for the favor he will show us because many people prayed for us.
Paul’s Reason for Being Proud
12 We are proud that our conscience is clear. We are proud of the way that we have lived in this world. We have lived with a God-given holiness and sincerity, especially toward you. It was not by human wisdom that we have lived but by God’s kindness. 13 We are only writing you what you already knew before you read this. I hope you will understand this as long as you live, 14 even though you now understand it only partially. We are your reason to be proud, as you will be our reason to be proud on the day of our Lord Jesus.
Why Paul Changed His Plans
15 Confident of this, I had previously wanted to visit you so that you could benefit twice. 16 My plans had been to go from the city of Corinth to the province of Macedonia. Then from Macedonia I had planned to return to you again in Corinth and have you support my trip to Judea.
17 You don’t think that I made these plans lightly, do you? Do you think that when I make plans, I make them in a sinful way? Why would I say that something is true when it isn’t? 18 You can depend on God. Our message to you isn’t false; it’s true. 19 God’s Son, Jesus Christ, whom I, Silvanus, and Timothy told you about, was true not false. Because of him our message was always true. 20 Certainly, Christ made God’s many promises come true. For that reason, because of our message, people also honor God by saying, “Amen!”
21 God establishes us, together with you, in a relationship with Christ. He has also anointed us. 22 In addition, he has put his seal of ownership on us and has given us the Spirit as his guarantee.
23 I appeal to God as a witness on my behalf, that I stayed away from Corinth because I wanted to spare you. 24 It isn’t that we want to have control over your Christian faith. Rather, we want to work with you so that you will be happy. Certainly, you are firmly established in the Christian faith.
2 Corinthians 2
1 I decided not to visit you again while I was distressed. 2 After all, if I had made you uncomfortable, how could you have cheered me up when you were uncomfortable?
3 This is the very reason I wrote to you. I didn’t want to visit you and be distressed by those who should make me happy. I’m confident about all of you that whatever makes me happy also makes you happy.
4 I was deeply troubled and anguished. In fact, I had tears in my eyes when I wrote to you. I didn’t write to make you uncomfortable but to let you know how much I love you.
Forgive the Person Who Sinned
5 If someone caused distress, I’m not the one really affected. To some extent—although I don’t want to emphasize this too much—it has affected all of you. 6 The majority of you have imposed a severe enough punishment on that person. 7 So now forgive and comfort him. Such distress could overwhelm someone like that if he’s not forgiven and comforted. 8 That is why I urge you to assure him that you love him. 9 I had also written to you to test you. I wanted to see if you would be obedient in every way.
10 If you forgive someone, so do I. Indeed, what I have forgiven, if I have forgiven anything, I did in the presence of Christ for your benefit. 11 I don’t want Satan to outwit us. After all, we are not ignorant about Satan’s scheming.
Paul’s Mission as Christ’s Spokesman
12 When I went to the city of Troas, the Lord gave me an opportunity to spread the Good News about Christ. 13 But I didn’t have any peace of mind, because I couldn’t find Titus, our brother, there. So I said goodbye to the people in Troas and went to the province of Macedonia.
14 But I thank God, who always leads us in victory because of Christ. Wherever we go, God uses us to make clear what it means to know Christ. It’s like a fragrance that fills the air. 15 To God we are the aroma of Christ among those who are saved and among those who are dying. 16 To some people we are a deadly fragrance, while to others we are a life-giving fragrance.
Who is qualified to tell about Christ? 17 At least we don’t go around selling an impure word of God like many others. The opposite is true. As Christ’s spokesmen and in God’s presence, we speak the pure message that comes from God.
2 Corinthians 3
The Ministry That Comes From Christ Is Greater Than Moses’ Ministry
1 Do we have to show you our qualifications again? Do we, like some people, need letters that recommend us to you or letters from you that recommend us to others? 2 You’re our letter of recommendation written in our hearts that everyone knows and reads. 3 It’s clear that you are Christ’s letter, written as a result of our ministry. You are a letter written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, a letter written not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
4 Christ gives us confidence about you in God’s presence. 5 By ourselves we are not qualified in any way to claim that we can do anything. Rather, God makes us qualified. 6 He has also qualified us to be ministers of a new promise, a spiritual promise, not a written one. Clearly, what was written brings death, but the Spirit brings life.
7 The ministry that brought death was inscribed on stone. Yet, it came with such glory that the people of Israel couldn’t look at Moses’ face. His face was shining with glory, even though that glory was fading. 8 Won’t the ministry that brings the Spirit have even more glory? 9 If the ministry that brings punishment has glory, then the ministry that brings God’s approval has an overwhelming glory. 10 In fact, the ministry that brings punishment lost its glory because of the superior glory of the other ministry. 11 If that former ministry faded away despite its glory, how much more does that ministry which remains continue to be glorious?
12 Since we have confidence in the new promise, we speak very boldly. 13 We are not like Moses. He kept covering his face with a veil. He didn’t want the people of Israel to see the glory fading away. 14 However, their minds became closed. In fact, to this day the same veil is still there when they read the Old Testament. It isn’t removed, because only Christ can remove it. 15 Yet, even today, when they read the books of Moses, a veil covers their minds. 16 But whenever a person turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.
17 This Lord is the Spirit. Wherever the Lord’s Spirit is, there is freedom. 18 As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 4
Paul Is Never Discouraged
1 We don’t become discouraged, since God has given us this ministry through his mercy. 2 Instead, we have refused to use secret and shameful ways. We don’t use tricks, and we don’t distort God’s word. As God watches, we clearly reveal the truth to everyone. This is our letter of recommendation.
3 So if the Good News that we tell others is covered with a veil, it is hidden from those who are dying. 4 The god of this world has blinded the minds of those who don’t believe. As a result, they don’t see the light of the Good News about Christ’s glory. It is Christ who is God’s image.
5 Our message is not about ourselves. It is about Jesus Christ as the Lord. We are your servants for his sake. 6 We are his servants because the same God who said that light should shine out of darkness has given us light. For that reason we bring to light the knowledge about God’s glory which shines from Christ’s face.
7 Our bodies are made of clay, yet we have the treasure of the Good News in them. This shows that the superior power of this treasure belongs to God and doesn’t come from us. 8 In every way we’re troubled, but we aren’t crushed by our troubles. We’re frustrated, but we don’t give up. 9 We’re persecuted, but we’re not abandoned. We’re captured, but we’re not killed. 10 We always carry around the death of Jesus in our bodies so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our bodies. 11 While we are alive, we are constantly handed over to death for Jesus’ sake so that the life of Jesus is also shown in our mortal nature. 12 Death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
13 The following is written, “I believed; therefore, I spoke.” We have that same spirit of faith. We also believe; therefore, we also speak. 14 We know that the one who brought the Lord Jesus back to life will also bring us back to life through Jesus. He will present us to God together with you.
15 All this is for your sake so that, as God’s kindness overflows in the lives of many people, it will produce even more thanksgiving to the glory of God. 16 That is why we are not discouraged. Though outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day. 17 Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine. 18 We don’t look for things that can be seen but for things that can’t be seen. Things that can be seen are only temporary. But things that can’t be seen last forever.
2 Corinthians 5
Faith Guides Our Lives
1 We know that if the life we live here on earth is ever taken down like a tent, we still have a building from God. It is an eternal house in heaven that isn’t made by human hands. 2 In our present tent-like existence we sigh, since we long to put on the house we will have in heaven. 3 After we have put it on, we won’t be naked. 4 While we are in this tent, we sigh. We feel distressed because we don’t want to take off the tent, but we do want to put on the eternal house. Then eternal life will put an end to our mortal existence. 5 God has prepared us for this and has given us his Spirit to guarantee it.
6 So we are always confident. We know that as long as we are living in these bodies, we are living away from the Lord. 7 Indeed, our lives are guided by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident and prefer to live away from this body and to live with the Lord. 9 Whether we live in the body or move out of it, our goal is to be pleasing to him. 10 All of us must appear in front of Christ’s judgment seat. Then all people will receive what they deserve for the good or evil they have done while living in their bodies.
Christ’s Love Guides Us
11 As people who know what it means to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others. God already knows what we are, and I hope that you also know what we are. 12 We are not trying to show you our qualifications again, but we are giving you an opportunity to be proud of us. Then you can answer those who are proud of their appearance rather than their character. 13 So if we were crazy, it was for God. If we are sane, it is for you. 14 Clearly, Christ’s love guides us. We are convinced of the fact that one man has died for all people. Therefore, all people have died. 15 He died for all people so that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for the man who died and was brought back to life for them.
16 So from now on we don’t think of anyone from a human point of view. If we did think of Christ from a human point of view, we don’t anymore. 17 Whoever is a believer in Christ is a new creation. The old way of living has disappeared. A new way of living has come into existence. 18 God has done all this. He has restored our relationship with him through Christ, and has given us this ministry of restoring relationships. 19 In other words, God was using Christ to restore his relationship with humanity. He didn’t hold people’s faults against them, and he has given us this message of restored relationships to tell others. 20 Therefore, we are Christ’s representatives, and through us God is calling you. We beg you on behalf of Christ to become reunited with God. 21 God had Christ, who was sinless, take our sin so that we might receive God’s approval through him.
2 Corinthians 6
1 Since we are God’s coworkers, we urge you not to let God’s kindness be wasted on you. 2 God says,
“At the right time I heard you.
On the day of salvation I helped you.”
Listen, now is God’s acceptable time! Now is the day of salvation!
Our Lives Demonstrate That We Are God’s Servants
3 We don’t give people any opportunity to find fault with how we serve. 4 Instead, our lives demonstrate that we are God’s servants. We have endured many things: suffering, distress, anxiety, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights, and lack of food. 6 People can see our purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives, our sincere love, 7 truthfulness, and the presence of God’s power. We demonstrate that we are God’s servants 8 as we are praised and dishonored, as we are slandered and honored, and as we use what is right to attack what is wrong and to defend the truth. We are treated as dishonest although we are honest, 9 as unknown although we are well-known, as dying although, as you see, we go on living. We are punished, but we are not killed. 10 People think we are sad although we’re always glad, that we’re beggars although we make many people spiritually rich, that we have nothing although we possess everything.
11 We have been very open in speaking to you Corinthians. We have a place for you in our hearts. 12 We haven’t cut you off. Your own emotions have cut you off from us. 13 I’m talking to you as I would talk to children. Treat us the same way we’ve treated you. Make a place for us in your hearts too.
Christians and Their Relationships With Unbelievers
14 Stop forming inappropriate relationships with unbelievers. Can right and wrong be partners? Can light have anything in common with darkness? 15 Can Christ agree with the devil? Can a believer share life with an unbeliever? 16 Can God’s temple contain false gods? Clearly, we are the temple of the living God. As God said,
“I will live and walk among them.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”
17 The Lord says, “Get away from unbelievers.
Separate yourselves from them.
Have nothing to do with anything unclean.
Then I will welcome you.”
18 The Lord Almighty says, “I will be your Father,
and you will be my sons and daughters.”
2 Corinthians 7
1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, we need to cleanse ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit and live a holy life in the fear of God.
Paul Was Comforted by What the Corinthians Did
2 Open your hearts to us. We haven’t treated anyone unjustly, ruined anyone, or cheated anyone. 3 I’m not saying this to condemn you. I’ve already told you that you are in our hearts so that we will live and die together. 4 I have great confidence in you, and I have a lot of reasons to be proud of you. Even as we suffer, I’m encouraged and feel very happy.
5 Ever since we arrived in the province of Macedonia, we’ve had no rest. Instead, we suffer in a number of ways. Outwardly we have conflicts, and inwardly we have fears. 6 Yet God, who comforts those who are dejected, comforted us when Titus arrived. 7 We were comforted not only by his arrival but also by learning about the comfort he had received while he was with you. He told us how you wanted to see me, how sorry you are for what you’ve done, and how concerned you are about me. This made me even happier.
8 If my letter made you uncomfortable, I’m not sorry. But since my letter did make you uncomfortable for a while, I was sorry. 9 But I’m happy now, not because I made you uncomfortable, but because the distress I caused you has led you to change the way you think and act. You were distressed in a godly way, so we haven’t done you any harm. 10 In fact, to be distressed in a godly way causes people to change the way they think and act and leads them to be saved. No one can regret that. But the distress that the world causes brings only death.
11 When you became distressed in a godly way, look at how much devotion it caused you to have. You were ready to clear yourselves of the charges against you. You were disgusted with the wrong that had been done. You were afraid. You wanted to see us. You wanted to show your concern for us. You were ready to punish the wrong that had been done. In every way you have demonstrated that you are people who are innocent in this matter. 12 So, when I wrote to you, I didn’t write because of the man who did the wrong or the man who was hurt by it. Rather, I wrote because I wanted you to show your devotion to us in God’s sight. 13 This is what has comforted us.
In addition to being comforted, we were especially pleased to see how happy Titus was. All of you had put his mind at ease. 14 I didn’t have to be ashamed of anything I had said to him when I bragged about you. Since everything we told you was true, our bragging to Titus has also proved to be true. 15 His deepest feelings go out to you even more as he remembers how obedient all of you were, and how you welcomed him with fear and trembling. 16 I’m pleased that I can be confident about you in every way.
2 Corinthians 8
The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem
1 Brothers and sisters, we want you to know how God showed his kindness to the churches in the province of Macedonia. 2 While they were being severely tested by suffering, their overflowing joy, along with their extreme poverty, has made them even more generous. 3 I assure you that by their own free will they have given all they could, even more than they could afford. 4 They made an appeal to us, begging us to let them participate in the ministry of God’s kindness to his holy people in Jerusalem. 5 They did more than we had expected. First, they gave themselves to the Lord and to us, since this was God’s will. 6 This led us to urge Titus to finish his work of God’s kindness among you in the same way as he had already started it.
7 Indeed, the more your faith, your ability to speak, your knowledge, your dedication, and your love for us increase, the more we want you to participate in this work of God’s kindness.
8 I’m not commanding you, but I’m testing how genuine your love is by pointing out the dedication of others. 9 You know about the kindness of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was rich, yet for your sake he became poor in order to make you rich through his poverty.
10 I’m giving you my opinion because it will be helpful to you. Last year you were not only willing to take a collection but had already started to do it. 11 So finish what you began to do. Then your willingness will be matched by what you accomplish 12 with whatever contributions you have. Since you are willing to do this, remember that people are accepted if they give what they are able to give. God doesn’t ask for what they don’t have.
13 I don’t mean that others should have relief while you have hardship. Rather, it’s a matter of striking a balance. 14 At the present time, your surplus fills their need so that their surplus may fill your need. In this way things balance out. 15 This is what Scripture says: “Those who had gathered a lot didn’t have too much, and those who gathered a little didn’t have too little.”
16 I thank God for making Titus as dedicated to you as I am. 17 He accepted my request and eagerly went to visit you by his own free will.
18 With him we have sent our Christian brother whom all the churches praise for the way he tells the Good News. 19 More than that, the churches elected him to travel with us and bring this gift of God’s kindness. We are administering it in a way that brings glory to the Lord and shows that we are doing it willingly. 20 We don’t want anyone to find fault with the way we are administering this generous gift. 21 We intend to do what is right, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of people.
22 We have also sent with them our Christian brother whom we have often tested in many ways and found to be a dedicated worker. We find that he is much more dedicated now than ever because he has so much confidence in you.
23 If any questions are raised, remember that Titus is my partner and coworker to help you. The other men are representatives of the churches and bring glory to Christ. 24 So give these men a demonstration of your love. Show their congregations that we were right to be proud of you.
2 Corinthians 9
The Reason to Give to the Christians in Jerusalem
1 I don’t need to write anything further to you about helping the Christians in Jerusalem. 2 I know how willing you are to help, and I brag about you to the believers in the province of Macedonia. I tell them, “The people of Greece have been ready to send their collection since last year,” and your enthusiasm has moved most of them to act. 3 I’ve sent my coworkers so that when we brag that you’re ready, we can back it up. 4 Otherwise, if any Macedonians come with me, they might find out that you’re not ready after all. This would embarrass us for feeling so confident as much as it would embarrass you. 5 So I thought that I should encourage our coworkers to visit you before I do and make arrangements for this gift that you had already promised to give. Then it will be the blessing it was intended to be, and it won’t be something you’re forced to do.
6 Remember this: The farmer who plants a few seeds will have a very small harvest. But the farmer who plants because he has received God’s blessings will receive a harvest of God’s blessings in return. 7 Each of you should give whatever you have decided. You shouldn’t be sorry that you gave or feel forced to give, since God loves a cheerful giver. 8 Besides, God will give you his constantly overflowing kindness. Then, when you always have everything you need, you can do more and more good things. 9 Scripture says,
“The righteous person gives freely to the poor.
His righteousness continues forever.”
10 God gives seed to the farmer and food to those who need to eat. God will also give you seed and multiply it. In your lives he will increase the things you do that have his approval. 11 God will make you rich enough so that you can always be generous. Your generosity will produce thanksgiving to God because of us. 12 What you do to serve others not only provides for the needs of God’s people, but also produces more and more prayers of thanksgiving to God. 13 You will honor God through this genuine act of service because of your commitment to spread the Good News of Christ and because of your generosity in sharing with them and everyone else. 14 With deep affection they will pray for you because of the extreme kindness that God has shown you. 15 I thank God for his gift that words cannot describe.
2 Corinthians 10
Paul’s Authority to Speak Forcefully
1 I, Paul, make my appeal to you with the gentleness and kindness of Christ. I’m the one who is humble when I’m with you but forceful toward you when I’m not with you. 2 I beg you that when I am with you I won’t have to deal forcefully with you. I expect I will have to because some people think that we are only guided by human motives. 3 Of course we are human, but we don’t fight like humans. 4 The weapons we use in our fight are not made by humans. Rather, they are powerful weapons from God. With them we destroy people’s defenses, that is, their arguments 5 and all their intellectual arrogance that oppose the knowledge of God. We take every thought captive so that it is obedient to Christ. 6 We are ready to punish every act of disobedience when you have become completely obedient.
7 Look at the plain facts! If anyone is confident he belongs to Christ, he should take note that we also belong to Christ. 8 So, if I brag a little too much about the authority which the Lord gave us, I’m not ashamed. The Lord gave us this authority to help you, not to hurt you.
9 I don’t want you to think that I’m trying to frighten you with my letters. 10 I know that someone is saying that my letters are powerful and strong, but that I’m a weakling and a terrible speaker. 11 The person who is saying those things should take note of this fact: When we are with you we will do the things that we wrote about in our letters when we weren’t with you.
Paul’s Reason for Bragging
12 We wouldn’t put ourselves in the same class with or compare ourselves to those who are bold enough to make their own recommendations. Certainly, when they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves to themselves, they show how foolish they are.
13 How can we brag about things that no one can evaluate? Instead, we will only brag about what God has given us to do—coming to the city of Corinth where you live. 14 It’s not as though we hadn’t already been to Corinth. We’re not overstating the facts. The fact is that we were the first to arrive in Corinth with the Good News about Christ. 15 How can we brag about things done by others that can’t be evaluated?
We have confidence that as your faith grows, you will think enough of us to give us the help we need to carry out our assignment—16 spreading the Good News in the regions far beyond you. We won’t brag about things already accomplished by someone else.
17 “Whoever brags should brag about what the Lord has done.” 18 It isn’t the person who makes his own recommendation who receives approval, but the person whom the Lord recommends.
2 Corinthians 11
Paul Contrasts Himself With False Apostles
1 I want you to put up with a little foolishness from me. I’m sure that you will. 2 I’m as protective of you as God is. After all, you’re a virgin whom I promised in marriage to one man—Christ. 3 However, I’m afraid that as the snake deceived Eve by its tricks, so your minds may somehow be lured away from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4 When someone comes to you telling about another Jesus whom we didn’t tell you about, you’re willing to put up with it. When you receive a spirit that is different from the Spirit you received earlier, you’re also willing to put up with that. When someone tells you good news that is different from the Good News you already accepted, you’re willing to put up with that too.
5 I don’t think I’m inferior in any way to your super-apostles. 6 Even though I’m not good with words, I know what I’m talking about. Timothy and I have made this clear to you in every possible way.
7 Did I commit a sin when I humbled myself by telling you the Good News of God free of charge so that you could become important? 8 I robbed other churches by taking pay from them to serve you. 9 When I was with you and needed something, I didn’t bother any of you for help. My friends from the province of Macedonia supplied everything I needed. I kept myself from being a financial burden to you in any way, and I will continue to do that.
10 As surely as I have Christ’s truth, my bragging will not be silenced anywhere in Greece. 11 Why? Because I don’t love you? God knows that I do love you. 12 But I’ll go on doing what I’m doing. This will take away the opportunity of those people who want to brag because they think they’re like us. 13 People who brag like this are false apostles. They are dishonest workers, since they disguise themselves as Christ’s apostles. 14 And no wonder, even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15 So it’s not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants who have God’s approval. In the end they will get what they deserve.
More Reasons for Paul to Brag
16 Again I say that no one should think that I’m a fool. But if you do, then take me for a fool so that I can also brag a little. 17 What I say as I start bragging is foolishness. It’s not something I would say if I were speaking for the Lord. 18 Since it’s common for people to brag, I’ll do it too. 19 You’re wise, so you’ll gladly put up with fools. 20 When someone makes you slaves, consumes your wealth, seizes your property, orders you around, or slaps your faces, you put up with it. 21 I’m ashamed to admit it, but Timothy and I don’t have the strength to do those things to you.
Whatever other people dare to brag about, I, like a fool, can also brag about. 22 Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they Abraham’s descendants? So am I. 23 Are they Christ’s servants? It’s insane to say it, but I’m a far better one. I’ve done much more work, been in prison many more times, been beaten more severely, and have faced death more often. 24 Five times the Jewish leaders had me beaten with 39 lashes; 25 three times Roman officials had me beaten with clubs. Once people tried to stone me to death; three times I was shipwrecked, and I drifted on the sea for a night and a day. 26 Because I’ve traveled a lot, I’ve faced dangers from raging rivers, from robbers, from my own people, and from other people. I’ve faced dangers in the city, in the open country, on the sea, and from believers who turned out to be false friends. 27 Because I’ve had to work so hard, I’ve often gone without sleep, been hungry and thirsty, and gone without food and without proper clothes during cold weather. 28 Besides these external matters, I have the daily pressure of my anxiety about all the churches. 29 When anyone is weak, I’m weak too. When anyone is caught in a trap, I’m also harmed.
30 If I must brag, I will brag about the things that show how weak I am. 31 The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, who is praised forever, knows that I’m not lying. 32 The governor under King Aretas put guards around the city of Damascus to catch me. 33 So I was let down in a basket through an opening in the wall and escaped from him.
2 Corinthians 12
Paul’s Visions and Revelations From the Lord
1 I must brag, although it doesn’t do any good. I’ll go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2 I know a follower of Christ who was snatched away to the third heaven fourteen years ago. I don’t know whether this happened to him physically or spiritually. Only God knows. 3 I know that this person 4 was snatched away to paradise where he heard things that can’t be expressed in words, things that humans cannot put into words. I don’t know whether this happened to him physically or spiritually. Only God knows. 5 I’ll brag about this person, but I won’t brag about myself unless it’s about my weaknesses.
6 If I ever wanted to brag, I wouldn’t be a fool. Instead, I would be telling the truth. But I’m going to spare you so that no one may think more of me than what he sees or hears about me, 7 especially because of the excessive number of revelations that I’ve had.
Therefore, to keep me from becoming conceited, I am forced to deal with a recurring problem. That problem, Satan’s messenger, torments me to keep me from being conceited. 8 I begged the Lord three times to take it away from me. 9 But he told me: “My kindness is all you need. My power is strongest when you are weak.” So I will brag even more about my weaknesses in order that Christ’s power will live in me. 10 Therefore, I accept weakness, mistreatment, hardship, persecution, and difficulties suffered for Christ. It’s clear that when I’m weak, I’m strong.
Paul Was Not a Burden to the Corinthians
11 I have become a fool. You forced me to be one. You should have recommended me to others. Even if I’m nothing, I wasn’t inferior in any way to your super-apostles. 12 While I was among you I patiently did the signs, wonders, and miracles which prove that I’m an apostle. 13 How were you treated worse than the other churches, except that I didn’t bother you for help? Forgive me for this wrong!
14 I’m ready to visit you for a third time, and I won’t bother you for help. I don’t want your possessions. Instead, I want you. Children shouldn’t have to provide for their parents, but parents should provide for their children. 15 I will be very glad to spend whatever I have. I’ll even give myself for you. Do you love me less because I love you so much?
16 You agree, then, that I haven’t been a burden to you. Was I a clever person who trapped you by some trick? 17 Did I take advantage of you through any of the men I sent you? 18 I encouraged Titus to visit you, and I sent my friend with him. Did Titus take advantage of you? Didn’t we have the same motives and do things the same way?
19 Have you been thinking all along that we’re trying to defend ourselves to you? We speak as Christ’s people in God’s sight. Everything we do, dear friends, is for your benefit.
Paul’s Concern About the Corinthians’ Way of Life
20 I’m afraid that I may come and find you different from what I want you to be, and that you may find me different from what you want me to be. I’m afraid that there may be rivalry, jealousy, hot tempers, selfish ambition, slander, gossip, arrogance, and disorderly conduct. 21 I’m afraid that when I come to you again, my God may humble me. I may have to grieve over many who formerly led sinful lives and have not changed the way they think and act about the perversion, sexual sins, and promiscuity in which they have been involved.
2 Corinthians 13
Paul Tells the Corinthians to Prepare for His Visit
1 This is the third time that I’ll be visiting you. Every accusation must be verified by two or three witnesses. 2 I already warned you when I was with you the second time, and even though I’m not there now, I’m warning you again. When I visit you again, I won’t spare you. That goes for all those who formerly led sinful lives as well as for all the others. 3 Since you want proof that Christ is speaking through me, that’s what you’ll get. Christ isn’t weak in dealing with you. Instead, he makes his power felt among you. 4 He was weak when he was crucified, but by God’s power he lives. We are weak with him, but by God’s power we will live for you with his help.
5 Examine yourselves to see whether you are still in the Christian faith. Test yourselves! Don’t you recognize that you are people in whom Jesus Christ lives? Could it be that you’re failing the test? 6 I hope that you will realize that we haven’t failed the test. 7 We pray to God that you won’t do anything wrong. It’s not that we want to prove that we’ve passed the test. Rather, we want you to do whatever is right, even if we seem to have failed. 8 We can’t do anything against the truth but only to help the truth. 9 We’re glad when we are weak and you are strong. We are also praying for your improvement.
10 That’s why I’m writing this letter while I’m not with you. When I am with you I don’t want to be harsh by using the authority that the Lord gave me. The Lord gave us this authority to help you, not to hurt you.
11 With that, brothers and sisters, I must say goodbye. Make sure that you improve. Accept my encouragement. Share the same attitude and live in peace. The God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All of God’s holy people greet you.
13 May the Lord Jesus Christ’s good will, God’s love, and the Holy Spirit’s presence be with all of you!
1 From Paul—an apostle chosen not by any group or individual but by Jesus Christ and God the Father who brought him back to life—2 and all the believers who are with me.
To the churches in Galatia.
3 Good will and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ are yours! 4 In order to free us from this present evil world, Christ took the punishment for our sins, because that was what our God and Father wanted. 5 Glory belongs to our God and Father forever! Amen.
Follow the Good News We Gave You
6 I’m surprised that you’re so quickly deserting Christ, who called you in his kindness, to follow a different kind of good news. 7 But what some people are calling good news is not really good news at all. They are confusing you. They want to distort the Good News about Christ. 8 Whoever tells you good news that is different from the Good News we gave you should be condemned to hell, even if he is one of us or an angel from heaven. 9 I’m now telling you again what we’ve told you in the past: If anyone tells you good news that is different from the Good News you received, that person should be condemned to hell.
10 Am I saying this now to win the approval of people or God? Am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be Christ’s servant.
Jesus Alone Gave Paul the Good News He Spreads
11 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Good News I have spread is not a human message. 12 I didn’t receive it from any person. I wasn’t taught it, but Jesus Christ revealed it to me.
13 You heard about the way I once lived when I followed the Jewish religion. You heard how I violently persecuted God’s church and tried to destroy it. 14 You also heard how I was far ahead of other Jews in my age group in following the Jewish religion. I had become that fanatical for the traditions of my ancestors.
15 But God, who appointed me before I was born and who called me by his kindness, was pleased 16 to show me his Son. He did this so that I would tell people who are not Jewish that his Son is the Good News. When this happened, I didn’t talk it over with any other person. 17 I didn’t even go to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was. Instead, I went to Arabia and then came back to Damascus.
18 Then, three years later I went to Jerusalem to become personally acquainted with Cephas. I stayed with him for fifteen days. 19 I didn’t see any other apostle. I only saw James, the Lord’s brother. 20 (God is my witness that what I’m writing is not a lie.) 21 Then I went to the regions of Syria and Cilicia. 22 The churches of Christ in Judea didn’t know me personally. 23 The only thing they had heard was this: “The man who persecuted us is now spreading the faith that he once tried to destroy.” 24 So they praised God for what had happened to me.
Paul Was Accepted as an Apostle by the Leaders in Jerusalem
1 Then 14 years later I went to Jerusalem again with Barnabas. I also took Titus along. 2 I went in response to a revelation from God. I showed them the way I spread the Good News among people who are not Jewish. I did this in a private meeting with those recognized as important people to see whether all my efforts had been wasted.
3 Titus was with me, and although he is Greek, no one forced him to be circumcised.
4 False Christians were brought in. They slipped in as spies to learn about the freedom Christ Jesus gives us. They hoped to find a way to control us. 5 But we did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the Good News would always be yours.
6 Those who were recognized as important people didn’t add a single thing to my message. (What sort of people they were makes no difference to me, since God doesn’t play favorites.) 7 In fact, they saw that I had been entrusted with telling the Good News to people who are not circumcised as Peter had been entrusted to tell it to those who are circumcised. 8 The one who made Peter an apostle to Jewish people also made me an apostle to people who are not Jewish. 9 James, Cephas, and John (who were recognized as the most important people) acknowledged that God had given me this special gift. So they shook hands with Barnabas and me, agreeing to be our partners. It was understood that we would work among the people who are not Jewish and they would work among Jewish people. 10 The only thing they asked us to do was to remember the poor, the very thing which I was eager to do.
Paul Shows How Cephas Was Wrong
11 When Cephas came to Antioch, I had to openly oppose him because he was completely wrong. 12 He ate with people who were not Jewish until some men James had sent from Jerusalem arrived. Then Cephas drew back and would not associate with people who were not Jewish. He was afraid of those who insisted that circumcision was necessary. 13 The other Jewish Christians also joined him in this hypocrisy. Even Barnabas was swept along with them.
14 But I saw that they were not properly following the truth of the Good News. So I told Cephas in front of everyone, “You’re Jewish, but you live like a person who is not Jewish. So how can you insist that people who are not Jewish must live like Jews?”
15 We are Jewish by birth, not sinners from other nations. 16 Yet, we know that people don’t receive God’s approval because of their own efforts to live according to a set of standards, but only by believing in Jesus Christ. So we also believed in Jesus Christ in order to receive God’s approval by faith in Christ and not because of our own efforts. People won’t receive God’s approval because of their own efforts to live according to a set of standards.
17 If we, the same people who are searching for God’s approval in Christ, are still sinners, does that mean that Christ encourages us to sin? That’s unthinkable! 18 If I rebuild something that I’ve torn down, I admit that I was wrong to tear it down. 19 When I tried to obey the law’s standards, those laws killed me. As a result, I live in a relationship with God. I have been crucified with Christ. 20 I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live I live by believing in God’s Son, who loved me and took the punishment for my sins. 21 I don’t reject God’s kindness. If we receive God’s approval by obeying laws, then Christ’s death was pointless.
God Approves of Those Who Believe
1 You stupid people of Galatia! Who put you under an evil spell? Wasn’t Christ Jesus’ crucifixion clearly described to you? 2 I want to learn only one thing from you. Did you receive the Spirit by your own efforts to live according to a set of standards or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you that stupid? Did you begin in a spiritual way only to end up doing things in a human way? 4 Did you suffer so much for nothing? I doubt that it was for nothing! 5 Does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you through your own efforts or through believing what you heard?
6 Abraham serves as an example. He believed God, and that faith was regarded by God to be his approval of Abraham. 7 You must understand that people who have faith are Abraham’s descendants. 8 Scripture saw ahead of time that God would give his approval to non-Jewish people who have faith. So Scripture announced the Good News to Abraham ahead of time when it said, “Through you all the people of the world will be blessed.” 9 So people who believe are blessed together with Abraham, the man of faith.
10 Certainly, there is a curse on all who rely on their own efforts to live according to a set of standards because Scripture says, “Whoever doesn’t obey everything that is written in Moses’ Teachings is cursed.” 11 No one receives God’s approval by obeying the law’s standards since, “The person who has God’s approval will live by faith.” 12 Laws have nothing to do with faith, but, “Whoever obeys laws will live because of the laws he obeys.”
13 Christ paid the price to free us from the curse that God’s laws bring by becoming cursed instead of us. Scripture says, “Everyone who is hung on a tree is cursed.” 14 Christ paid the price so that the blessing promised to Abraham would come to all the people of the world through Jesus Christ and we would receive the promised Spirit through faith.
The Relationship Between Law and Promise
15 Brothers and sisters, let me use an example from everyday life. No one can cancel a person’s will or add conditions to it once that will is put into effect. 16 The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his descendant. Scripture doesn’t say, “descendants,” referring to many, but “your descendant,” referring to one. That descendant is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: The laws given to Moses 430 years after God had already put his promise to Abraham into effect didn’t cancel the promise to Abraham. 18 If we have to gain the inheritance by following those laws, then it no longer comes to us because of the promise. However, God freely gave the inheritance to Abraham through a promise.
19 What, then, is the purpose of the laws given to Moses? They were added to identify what wrongdoing is. Moses’ laws did this until the descendant to whom the promise was given came. It was put into effect through angels, using a mediator. 20 A mediator is not used when there is only one person involved, and God has acted on his own.
21 Does this mean, then, that the laws given to Moses contradict God’s promises? That’s unthinkable! If those laws could give us life, then certainly we would receive God’s approval because we obeyed them. 22 But Scripture states that the whole world is controlled by the power of sin. Therefore, a promise based on faith in Jesus Christ could be given to those who believe.
23 We were kept under control by Moses’ laws until this faith came. We were under their control until this faith which was about to come would be revealed.
24 Before Christ came, Moses’ laws served as our guardian. Christ came so that we could receive God’s approval by faith. 25 But now that this faith has come, we are no longer under the control of a guardian. 26 You are all God’s children by believing in Christ Jesus. 27 Clearly, all of you who were baptized in Christ’s name have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There are neither Jews nor Greeks, slaves nor free people, males nor females. You are all the same in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants and heirs, as God promised.
You Are God’s Children
1 Let me explain further. As long as an heir is a child, he is no better off than a slave, even though he owns everything. 2 He is placed under the control of guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. 3 It was the same way with us. When we were children, we were slaves to the principles of this world. 4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son into the world. A woman gave birth to him, and he came under the control of God’s laws. 5 God sent him to pay for the freedom of those who were controlled by these laws so that we would be adopted as his children. 6 Because you are God’s children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into us to call out, “Abba! Father!” 7 So you are no longer slaves but God’s children. Since you are God’s children, God has also made you heirs.
8 When you didn’t know God, you were slaves to things which are really not gods at all. 9 But now you know God, or rather, God knows you. So how can you turn back again to the powerless and bankrupt principles of this world? Why do you want to become their slaves all over again? 10 You religiously observe days, months, seasons, and years! 11 I’m afraid for you. Maybe the hard work I spent on you has been wasted.
What Happened to Your Positive Attitude?
12 Brothers and sisters, I beg you to become like me. After all, I became like you were.
You didn’t do anything wrong to me. 13 You know that the first time I brought you the Good News I was ill. 14 Even though my illness was difficult for you, you didn’t despise or reject me. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were God’s messenger or Christ Jesus himself. 15 What happened to your positive attitude? It’s a fact that if it had been possible, you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Can it be that I have become your enemy for telling you the truth?
17 These people who distort the Good News are devoted to you, but not in a good way. They don’t want you to associate with me so that you will be devoted only to them. 18 (Devotion to a good cause is always good, even when I’m not with you.)
19 My children, I am suffering birth pains for you again until Christ is formed in you. 20 I wish I were with you right now so that I could change the tone of my voice. I’m completely puzzled by what you’ve done!
You Are Children of the Promise
21 Those who want to be controlled by Moses’ laws should tell me something. Are you really listening to what Moses’ Teachings say? 22 Scripture says that Abraham had two sons, one by a woman who was a slave and the other by a free woman. 23 Now, the son of the slave woman was conceived in a natural way, but the son of the free woman was conceived through a promise made to Abraham.
24 I’m going to use these historical events as an illustration. The women illustrate two arrangements. The one woman, Hagar, is the arrangement made on Mount Sinai. Her children are born into slavery. 25 Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia. She is like Jerusalem today because she and her children are slaves. 26 But the Jerusalem that is above is free, and she is our mother. 27 Scripture says:
“Rejoice, women who cannot get pregnant,
who cannot give birth to any children!
Break into shouting, those who feel no pains of childbirth!
Because the deserted woman will have more children
than the woman who has a husband.”
28 Now you, brothers and sisters, are children of the promise like Isaac.
29 Furthermore, at that time the son who was conceived in a natural way persecuted the son conceived in a spiritual way. That’s exactly what’s happening now. 30 But what does Scripture say? “Get rid of the slave woman and her son, because the son of the slave woman must never share the inheritance with the son of the free woman.” 31 Brothers and sisters, we are not children of a slave woman but of the free woman.
Live in the Freedom That Christ Gives You
1 Christ has freed us so that we may enjoy the benefits of freedom. Therefore, be firm in this freedom, and don’t become slaves again.
2 I, Paul, can guarantee that if you allow yourselves to be circumcised, Christ will be of no benefit to you. 3 Again, I insist that everyone who allows himself to be circumcised must realize that he obligates himself to do everything Moses’ Teachings demand. 4 Those of you who try to earn God’s approval by obeying his laws have been cut off from Christ. You have fallen out of God’s favor. 5 However, in our spiritual nature, faith causes us to wait eagerly for the confidence that comes with God’s approval. 6 As far as our relationship to Christ Jesus is concerned, it doesn’t matter whether we are circumcised or not. But what matters is a faith that expresses itself through love.
7 You were doing so well. Who stopped you from being influenced by the truth? 8 The arguments of the person who is influencing you do not come from the one who is calling you. 9 A little yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough. 10 The Lord gives me confidence that you will not disagree with this. However, the one who is confusing you will suffer God’s judgment regardless of who he is. 11 Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching that circumcision is necessary, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the cross wouldn’t be offensive anymore. 12 I wish those troublemakers would castrate themselves.
13 You were indeed called to be free, brothers and sisters. Don’t turn this freedom into an excuse for your corrupt nature to express itself. Rather, serve each other through love. 14 All of Moses’ Teachings are summarized in a single statement, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 15 But if you criticize and attack each other, be careful that you don’t destroy each other.
16 Let me explain further. Live your life as your spiritual nature directs you. Then you will never follow through on what your corrupt nature wants. 17 What your corrupt nature wants is contrary to what your spiritual nature wants, and what your spiritual nature wants is contrary to what your corrupt nature wants. They are opposed to each other. As a result, you don’t always do what you intend to do. 18 If your spiritual nature is your guide, you are not subject to Moses’ laws.
19 Now, the effects of the corrupt nature are obvious: illicit sex, perversion, promiscuity, 20 idolatry, drug use, hatred, rivalry, jealousy, angry outbursts, selfish ambition, conflict, factions, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild partying, and similar things. I’ve told you in the past and I’m telling you again that people who do these kinds of things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
22 But the spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There are no laws against things like that. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified their corrupt nature along with its passions and desires. 25 If we live by our spiritual nature, then our lives need to conform to our spiritual nature. 26 We can’t allow ourselves to act arrogantly and to provoke or envy each other.
Help Carry Each Other’s Burdens
1 Brothers and sisters, if a person gets trapped by wrongdoing, those of you who are spiritual should help that person turn away from doing wrong. Do it in a gentle way. At the same time watch yourself so that you also are not tempted. 2 Help carry each other’s burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings. 3 So if any one of you thinks you’re important when you’re really not, you’re only fooling yourself. 4 Each of you must examine your own actions. Then you can be proud of your own accomplishments without comparing yourself to others. 5 Assume your own responsibility.
We Will Harvest What We Plant
6 The person who is taught God’s word should share all good things with his teacher. 7 Make no mistake about this: You can never make a fool out of God. Whatever you plant is what you’ll harvest. 8 If you plant in the soil of your corrupt nature, you will harvest destruction. But if you plant in the soil of your spiritual nature, you will harvest everlasting life. 9 We can’t allow ourselves to get tired of living the right way. Certainly, each of us will receive everlasting life at the proper time, if we don’t give up. 10 Whenever we have the opportunity, we have to do what is good for everyone, especially for the family of believers.
Paul Summarizes His Teachings About Circumcision
11 Look at how large the letters in these words are because I’m writing this myself.
12 These people who want to make a big deal out of a physical thing are trying to force you to be circumcised. Their only aim is to avoid persecution because of the cross of Christ. 13 It’s clear that not even those who had themselves circumcised did this to follow Jewish laws. Yet, they want you to be circumcised so that they can brag about what was done to your body. 14 But it’s unthinkable that I could ever brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. By his cross my relationship to the world and its relationship to me have been crucified. 15 Certainly, it doesn’t matter whether a person is circumcised or not. Rather, what matters is being a new creation. 16 Peace and mercy will come to rest on all those who conform to this principle. They are the Israel of God.
17 From now on, don’t make any trouble for me! After all, I carry the scars of Jesus on my body.
18 May the good will of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit, brothers and sisters! Amen.
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1 Corinthians 4
The Work of the Apostles
1 People should think of us as servants of Christ and managers who are entrusted with God’s mysteries. 2 Managers are required to be trustworthy.
3 It means very little to me that you or any human court should cross-examine me. I don’t even ask myself questions. 4 I have a clear conscience, but that doesn’t mean I have God’s approval. It is the Lord who cross-examines me. 5 Therefore, don’t judge anything before the appointed time. Wait until the Lord comes. He will also bring to light what is hidden in the dark and reveal people’s motives. Then each person will receive praise from God.
6 Brothers and sisters, I have applied this to Apollos and myself for your sake. You should learn from us not to go beyond what is written in Scripture. Then you won’t arrogantly place one of us in opposition to the other.
7 Who says that you are any better than other people? What do you have that wasn’t given to you? If you were given what you have, why are you bragging as if it weren’t a gift?
8 You already have what you want! You’ve already become rich! You’ve become kings without us! I wish you really were kings so that we could be kings with you.
9 As I see it, God has placed us apostles last in line, like people condemned to die. We have become a spectacle for people and angels to look at. 10 We have given up our wisdom for Christ, but you have insight because of Christ. We are weak, but you are strong. You are honored, but we are dishonored. 11 To this moment, we are hungry, thirsty, poorly dressed, roughly treated, and homeless. 12 We wear ourselves out doing physical labor. When people verbally abuse us, we bless them. When people persecute us, we endure it. 13 When our reputations are attacked, we remain courteous. Right now we have become garbage in the eyes of the world and trash in the sight of all people.
14 I’m not writing this to make you feel ashamed but to instruct you as my dear children. 15 You may have countless Christian guardians, but you don’t have many spiritual fathers. I became your father in the Christian life by telling you the Good News about Christ Jesus. 16 So I encourage you to imitate me. 17 That’s why I’ve sent Timothy to you to help you remember my Christian way of life as I teach it everywhere in every church. Timothy is my dear child, and he faithfully does the Lord’s work.
18 Some of you have become arrogant because you think I won’t pay you a visit. 19 If it’s the Lord’s will, I’ll visit you soon. Then I’ll know what these arrogant people are saying and what power they have. 20 God’s kingdom is not just talk, it is power.
21 When I come to visit you, would you prefer that I punish you or show you love and a gentle spirit?
1 Corinthians 5
How to Treat Christians Who Live Like Non-Christians
1 Your own members are aware that there is sexual sin going on among them. This kind of sin is not even heard of among unbelievers—a man is actually married to his father’s wife. 2 You’re being arrogant when you should have been more upset about this. If you had been upset, the man who did this would have been removed from among you. 3 Although I’m not physically present with you, I am with you in spirit. I have already judged the man who did this as though I were present with you. 4 When you have gathered together, I am with you in spirit. Then, in the name of our Lord Jesus, and with his power, 5 hand such a person over to Satan to destroy his corrupt nature so that his spiritual nature may be saved on the day of the Lord.
6 It’s not good for you to brag. Don’t you know that a little yeast spreads through the whole batch of dough? 7 Remove the old yeast of sin so that you may be a new batch of dough, since you don’t actually have the yeast of sin.
Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 So we must not celebrate our festival with the old yeast of sin or with the yeast of vice and wickedness. Instead, we must celebrate it with the bread of purity and truth that has no yeast.
9 In my letter to you I told you not to associate with people who continue to commit sexual sins. 10 I didn’t tell you that you could not have any contact with unbelievers who commit sexual sins, are greedy, are dishonest, or worship false gods. If that were the case, you would have to leave this world. 11 Now, what I meant was that you should not associate with people who call themselves brothers or sisters in the Christian faith but live in sexual sin, are greedy, worship false gods, use abusive language, get drunk, or are dishonest. Don’t eat with such people.
12 After all, do I have any business judging those who are outside the Christian faith? Isn’t it your business to judge those who are inside? 13 God will judge those who are outside. Remove that wicked man from among you.
1 Corinthians 6
Settling Disagreements Between Christians
1 When one of you has a complaint against another, how dare you go to court to settle the matter in front of wicked people. Why don’t you settle it in front of God’s holy people? 2 Don’t you know that God’s people will judge the world? So if you’re going to judge the world, aren’t you capable of judging insignificant cases? 3 Don’t you know that we will judge angels, not to mention things in this life? 4 When you have cases dealing with this life, why do you allow people whom the church has a low opinion of to be your judges? 5 You should be ashamed of yourselves! Don’t you have at least one wise person who is able to settle disagreements between believers? 6 Instead, one believer goes to court against another believer, and this happens in front of unbelievers.
7 You are already totally defeated because you have lawsuits against each other. Why don’t you accept the fact that you have been wronged? Why don’t you accept that you have been cheated? 8 Instead, you do wrong and cheat, and you do this to other believers.
9 Don’t you know that wicked people won’t inherit the kingdom of God? Stop deceiving yourselves! People who continue to commit sexual sins, who worship false gods, those who commit adultery, homosexuals, 10 or thieves, those who are greedy or drunk, who use abusive language, or who rob people will not inherit the kingdom of God. 11 That’s what some of you were! But you have been washed and made holy, and you have received God’s approval in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
Stay Away From Sexual Sins
12 Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but I won’t allow anything to gain control over my life. 13 Food is for the stomach, and the stomach is for food, but God will put an end to both of them. However, the body is not for sexual sin but for the Lord, and the Lord is for the body. 14 God raised the Lord, and by his power God will also raise us.
15 Don’t you realize that your bodies are parts of Christ’s body? Should I take the parts of Christ’s body and make them parts of a prostitute’s body? That’s unthinkable! 16 Don’t you realize that the person who unites himself with a prostitute becomes one body with her? God says, “The two will be one.” 17 However, the person who unites himself with the Lord becomes one spirit with him.
18 Stay away from sexual sins. Other sins that people commit don’t affect their bodies the same way sexual sins do. People who sin sexually sin against their own bodies. 19 Don’t you know that your body is a temple that belongs to the Holy Spirit? The Holy Spirit, whom you received from God, lives in you. You don’t belong to yourselves. 20 You were bought for a price. So bring glory to God in the way you use your body.
1 Corinthians 7
Advice About Marriage
1 Now, concerning the things that you wrote about: It’s good for men not to get married. 2 But in order to avoid sexual sins, each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband.
3 Husbands and wives should satisfy each other’s sexual needs. 4 A wife doesn’t have authority over her own body, but her husband does. In the same way, a husband doesn’t have authority over his own body, but his wife does.
5 Don’t withhold yourselves from each other unless you agree to do so for a set time to devote yourselves to prayer. Then you should get back together so that Satan doesn’t use your lack of self-control to tempt you. 6 What I have just said is not meant as a command but as a suggestion. 7 I would like everyone to be like me. However, each person has a special gift from God, and these gifts vary from person to person.
8 I say to those who are not married, especially to widows: It is good for you to stay single like me. 9 However, if you cannot control your desires, you should get married. It is better for you to marry than to burn with sexual desire.
10 I pass this command along (not really I, but the Lord): A wife shouldn’t leave her husband. 11 If she does, she should stay single or make up with her husband. Likewise, a husband should not divorce his wife.
12 I (not the Lord) say to the rest of you: If any Christian man is married to a woman who is an unbeliever, and she is willing to live with him, he should not divorce her. 13 If any Christian woman is married to a man who is an unbeliever, and he is willing to live with her, she should not divorce her husband. 14 Actually, the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and an unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise, their children would be unacceptable to God, but now they are acceptable to him. 15 But if the unbelieving partners leave, let them go. Under these circumstances a Christian man or Christian woman is not bound by a marriage vow. God has called you to live in peace. 16 How do you as a wife know whether you will save your husband? How do you as a husband know whether you will save your wife?
17 Everyone should live the life that the Lord gave him when God called him. This is the guideline I use in every church.
18 Any man who was already circumcised when he was called to be a Christian shouldn’t undo his circumcision. Any man who was uncircumcised when he was called to be a Christian shouldn’t get circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and the lack of it is nothing. But keeping what God commands is everything. 20 All people should stay as they were when they were called. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? That shouldn’t bother you. However, if you have a chance to become free, take it. 22 If the Lord called you when you were a slave, you are the Lord’s free person. In the same way, if you were free when you were called, you are Christ’s slave. 23 You were bought for a price. Don’t become anyone’s slaves. 24 Brothers and sisters, you should remain in whatever circumstances you were in when God called you. God is with you in those circumstances.
25 Concerning virgins: Even though I don’t have any command from the Lord, I’ll give you my opinion. I’m a person to whom the Lord has shown mercy, so I can be trusted. 26 Because of the present crisis I believe it is good for people to remain as they are. 27 Do you have a wife? Don’t seek a divorce. Are you divorced from your wife? Don’t look for another one. 28 But if you do get married, you have not sinned. If a virgin gets married, she has not sinned. However, these people will have trouble, and I would like to spare them from that.
29 This is what I mean, brothers and sisters: The time has been shortened. While it lasts, those who are married should live as though they were not. 30 Those who have eyes filled with tears should live as though they have no sorrow. Those who are happy should live as though there was nothing to be happy about. Those who buy something should live as though they didn’t own it. 31 Those who use the things in this world should do so but not depend on them. It is clear that this world in its present form is passing away.
32 So I don’t want you to have any concerns. An unmarried man is concerned about the things of the Lord, that is, about how he can please the Lord. 33 But the married man is concerned about earthly things, that is, about how he can please his wife. 34 His attention is divided.
An unmarried woman or a virgin is concerned about the Lord’s things so that she may be holy in body and in spirit. But the married woman is concerned about earthly things, that is, about how she can please her husband. 35 I’m saying this for your benefit, not to restrict you. I’m showing you how to live a noble life of devotion to the Lord without being distracted by other things.
36 No father would want to do the wrong thing when his virgin daughter is old enough to get married. If she wants to get married, he isn’t sinning by letting her get married. 37 However, a father may have come to a decision about his daughter. If his decision is to keep her at home because she doesn’t want to get married, that’s fine. 38 So it’s fine for a father to give his daughter in marriage, but the father who doesn’t give his daughter in marriage does even better.
39 A married woman must remain with her husband as long as he lives. If her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but only if the man is a Christian. 40 However, she will be more blessed if she stays as she is. That is my opinion, and I think that I, too, have God’s Spirit.
1 Corinthians 8
Advice About Food Offered to False Gods
1 Now, concerning food offered to false gods: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people arrogant, but love builds them up. 2 Those who think they know something still have a lot to learn. 3 But if they love God, they are known by God.
4 Now about eating food that was offered to false gods: We know that the false gods in this world don’t really exist and that no god exists except the one God. 5 People may say that there are gods in heaven and on earth—many gods and many lords, as they would call them. 6 But for us,
“There is only one God, the Father.
Everything came from him, and we live for him.
There is only one Lord, Jesus Christ.
Everything came into being through him,
and we live because of him.”
7 But not everyone knows this. Some people are so used to worshiping false gods that they believe they are eating food offered to a false god. So they feel guilty because their conscience is weak.
8 Food will not affect our relationship with God. We are no worse off if we eat that food and no better off if we don’t. 9 But be careful that by using your freedom you don’t somehow make a believer who is weak in faith fall into sin. 10 For example, suppose someone with a weak conscience sees you, who have this knowledge, eating in the temple of a false god. Won’t you be encouraging that person to eat food offered to a false god? 11 In that case, your knowledge is ruining a believer whose faith is weak, a believer for whom Christ died. 12 When you sin against other believers in this way and harm their weak consciences, you are sinning against Christ.
13 Therefore, if eating food offered to false gods causes other believers to lose their faith, I will never eat that kind of food so that I won’t make other believers lose their faith.
1 Corinthians 9
Paul’s Right to Be Paid for His Work as an Apostle
1 Don’t you agree that I’m a free man? Don’t you agree that I’m an apostle? Haven’t I seen Jesus our Lord? Aren’t you the result of my work for the Lord? 2 If I’m not an apostle to other people, at least I’m an apostle to you. You are the seal which proves that I am the Lord’s apostle. 3 This is how I defend myself to those who cross-examine me. 4 Don’t we have the right to eat and drink? 5 Don’t we have the right to take our wives along with us like the other apostles, the Lord’s brothers, and Cephas do? 6 Or is it only Barnabas and I who don’t have any rights, except to find work to support ourselves?
7 Does a soldier ever serve in the army at his own expense? Does anyone plant a vineyard and not eat the grapes? Does anyone take care of a flock and not drink milk from the sheep? 8 Am I merely stating some human rule? Don’t Moses’ Teachings say the same thing? 9 Moses’ Teachings say, “Never muzzle an ox when it is threshing grain.” God’s concern isn’t for oxen. 10 Isn’t he speaking entirely for our benefit? This was written for our benefit so that the person who plows or threshes should expect to receive a share of the crop. 11 If we have planted the spiritual seed that has been of benefit to you, is it too much if we receive part of the harvest from your earthly goods? 12 If others have the right to expect this from you, don’t we deserve even more? But we haven’t used our rights. Instead, we would put up with anything in order not to hinder the Good News of Christ in any way.
13 Don’t you realize that those who work at the temple get their food from the temple? Don’t those who help at the altar get a share of what is on the altar? 14 In the same way, the Lord has commanded that those who spread the Good News should earn their living from the Good News.
15 I haven’t used any of these rights, and I haven’t written this in order to use them now. I would rather die than have anyone turn my bragging into meaningless words. 16 If I spread the Good News, I have nothing to brag about because I have an obligation to do this. How horrible it will be for me if I don’t spread the Good News! 17 If I spread the Good News willingly, I’ll have a reward. But if I spread the Good News unwillingly, I’m only doing what I’ve been entrusted to do.
18 So what is my reward? It is to spread the Good News free of charge. In that way I won’t use the rights that belong to those who spread the Good News.
Paul’s Work as an Apostle
19 Although I’m free from all people, I have made myself a slave for all people to win more of them. 20 I became Jewish for Jewish people. I became subject to Moses’ Teachings for those who are subject to those laws. I did this to win them even though I’m not subject to Moses’ Teachings. 21 I became like a person who does not have Moses’ Teachings for those who don’t have those teachings. I did this to win them even though I have God’s teachings. I’m really subject to Christ’s teachings. 22 I became like a person weak in faith to win those who are weak in faith. I have become everything to everyone in order to save at least some of them. 23 I do all this for the sake of the Good News in order to share what it offers.
24 Don’t you realize that everyone who runs in a race runs to win, but only one runner gets the prize? Run like them, so that you can win. 25 Everyone who enters an athletic contest goes into strict training. They do it to win a temporary crown, but we do it to win one that will be permanent. 26 So I run—but not without a clear goal ahead of me. So I box—but not as if I were just shadow boxing. 27 Rather, I toughen my body with punches and make it my slave so that I will not be disqualified after I have spread the Good News to others.
1 Corinthians 10
Learn From What Happened in the Time of Moses
1 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that all our ancestors who left Egypt were under the cloud, and they all went through the sea. 2 They were all united with Moses by baptism in the cloud and in the sea. 3 All of them ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all of them drank the same spiritual drink. They drank from the spiritual rock that went with them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Yet, God was not pleased with most of them, so their dead bodies were scattered over the desert.
6 These things have become examples for us so that we won’t desire what is evil, as they did. 7 So don’t worship false gods as some of them did, as Scripture says, “The people sat down to a feast which turned into an orgy.” 8 We shouldn’t sin sexually as some of them did. Twenty-three thousand of them died on one day. 9 We shouldn’t put the Lord to the test as some of them did. They were killed by snakes. 10 Don’t complain as some of them did. The angel of death destroyed them. 11 These things happened to make them an example for others. These things were written down as a warning for us who are living in the closing days of history. 12 So, people who think they are standing firmly should be careful that they don’t fall.
13 There isn’t any temptation that you have experienced which is unusual for humans. God, who faithfully keeps his promises, will not allow you to be tempted beyond your power to resist. But when you are tempted, he will also give you the ability to endure the temptation as your way of escape.
Stay Away From Worshiping False Gods
14 Therefore, my dear friends, get as far away from the worship of false gods as you can.
15 I’m talking to intelligent people. Judge for yourselves what I’m saying. 16 When we bless the cup of blessing aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? When we break the bread aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one loaf, we are one body, although we are many individuals. All of us share one loaf.
18 Look at the people of Israel from a human point of view. Don’t those who eat the sacrifices share what is on the altar? 19 Do I mean that an offering made to a false god is anything, or that a false god itself is anything? 20 Hardly! What I am saying is that these sacrifices which people make are made to demons and not to God. I don’t want you to be partners with demons. 21 You cannot drink the Lord’s cup and the cup of demons. You cannot participate at the table of the Lord and at the table of demons. 22 Are we trying to make the Lord jealous? Are we stronger than he is?
23 Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but not everything encourages growth. 24 People should be concerned about others and not just about themselves. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the market without letting your conscience trouble you. 26 Certainly, “The earth is the Lord’s and everything it contains is his.” 27 If an unbeliever invites you to his house for dinner, and you wish to go, eat anything he serves you without letting your conscience trouble you. 28 However, if someone says to you, “This was sacrificed to a god,” don’t eat it because of the one who informed you and because of conscience. 29 I’m not talking about your conscience but the other person’s conscience. Why should my freedom be judged by someone else’s conscience? 30 If I give thanks to God for the food I eat, why am I condemned for that? 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God. 32 Don’t cause others to stumble, whether they are Jewish, Greek, or members of God’s church. 33 I try to please everyone in every way. I don’t think about what would be good for me but about what would be good for many people so that they might be saved. 1 Imitate me as I imitate Christ.
1 Corinthians 11
Advice About Worship
2 I praise you for always thinking about me and for carefully following the traditions that I handed down to you.
3 However, I want you to realize that Christ has authority over every man, a husband has authority over his wife, and God has authority over Christ. 4 Every man who covers his head when he prays or speaks what God has revealed dishonors the one who has authority over him. 5 Every woman who prays or speaks what God has revealed and has her head uncovered while she speaks dishonors the one who has authority over her. She is like the woman who has her head shaved. 6 So if a woman doesn’t cover her head, she should cut off her hair. If it’s a disgrace for a woman to cut off her hair or shave her head, she should cover her head. 7 A man should not cover his head. He is God’s image and glory. The woman, however, is man’s glory. 8 Clearly, man wasn’t made from woman but woman from man. 9 Man wasn’t created for woman but woman for man. 10 Therefore, a woman should wear something on her head to show she is under someone’s authority, out of respect for the angels.
11 Yet, as believers in the Lord, women couldn’t exist without men and men couldn’t exist without women. 12 As a woman came into existence from a man, so men come into existence by women, but everything comes from God.
13 Judge your own situation. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Doesn’t nature itself teach you that it is disgraceful for a man to have long hair? 15 Doesn’t it teach you that it is a woman’s pride to wear her hair long? Her hair is given to her in place of a covering. 16 If anyone wants to argue about this they can’t, because we don’t have any custom like this—nor do any of the churches of God.
17 I have no praise for you as I instruct you in the following matter: When you gather, it results in more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you gather as a church you split up into opposing groups. I believe some of what I hear. 19 Factions have to exist in order to make it clear who the genuine believers among you are.
20 When you gather in the same place, you can’t possibly be eating the Lord’s Supper. 21 Each of you eats his own supper without waiting for each other. So one person goes hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes in which to eat and drink? Do you despise God’s church and embarrass people who don’t have anything to eat? What can I say to you? Should I praise you? I won’t praise you for this. 23 After all, I passed on to you what I had received from the Lord.
On the night he was betrayed, the Lord Jesus took bread 24 and spoke a prayer of thanksgiving. He broke the bread and said, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this to remember me.” 25 When supper was over, he did the same with the cup. He said, “This cup is the new promise made with my blood. Every time you drink from it, do it to remember me.” 26 Every time you eat this bread and drink from this cup, you tell about the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks from the Lord’s cup in an improper way will be held responsible for the Lord’s body and blood. 28 With this in mind, individuals must determine whether what they are doing is proper when they eat the bread and drink from the cup. 29 Anyone who eats and drinks is eating and drinking a judgment against himself when he doesn’t recognize the Lord’s body.
30 This is the reason why many of you are weak and sick and quite a number of you have died. 31 If we were judging ourselves correctly, we would not be judged. 32 But when the Lord judges us, he disciplines us so that we won’t be condemned along with the rest of the world.
33 Therefore, brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, wait for each other. 34 Whoever is hungry should eat at home so that you don’t have a gathering that brings judgment on you.
I will give directions concerning the other matters when I come.
1 Corinthians 12
1 Brothers and sisters, I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding concerning spiritual gifts. 2 You know that when you were unbelievers, every time you were led to worship false gods you were worshiping gods who couldn’t even speak. 3 So I want you to know that no one speaking by God’s Spirit says, “Jesus is cursed.” No one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
4 There are different spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit gives them. 5 There are different ways of serving, and yet the same Lord is served. 6 There are different types of work to do, but the same God produces every gift in every person.
7 The evidence of the Spirit’s presence is given to each person for the common good of everyone. 8 The Spirit gives one person the ability to speak with wisdom. The same Spirit gives another person the ability to speak with knowledge. 9 To another person the same Spirit gives courageous faith. To another person the same Spirit gives the ability to heal. 10 Another can work miracles. Another can speak what God has revealed. Another can tell the difference between spirits. Another can speak in different kinds of languages. Another can interpret languages. 11 There is only one Spirit who does all these things by giving what God wants to give to each person.
12 For example, the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 By one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether we are Jewish or Greek, slave or free, God gave all of us one Spirit to drink.
14 As you know, the human body is not made up of only one part, but of many parts. 15 Suppose a foot says, “I’m not a hand, so I’m not part of the body!” Would that mean it’s no longer part of the body? 16 Or suppose an ear says, “I’m not an eye, so I’m not a part of the body!” Would that mean it’s no longer part of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, how could it hear? If the whole body were an ear, how could it smell? 18 So God put each and every part of the body together as he wanted it. 19 How could it be a body if it only had one part? 20 So there are many parts but one body.
21 An eye can’t say to a hand, “I don’t need you!” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 The opposite is true. The parts of the body that we think are weaker are the ones we really need. 23 The parts of the body that we think are less honorable are the ones we give special honor. So our unpresentable parts are made more presentable. 24 However, our presentable parts don’t need this kind of treatment. God has put the body together and given special honor to the part that doesn’t have it. 25 God’s purpose was that the body should not be divided but rather that all of its parts should feel the same concern for each other. 26 If one part of the body suffers, all the other parts share its suffering. If one part is praised, all the others share in its happiness.
27 You are Christ’s body and each of you is an individual part of it. 28 In the church God has appointed first apostles, next prophets, third teachers, then those who perform miracles, then those who have the gift of healing, then those who help others, those who are managers, and those who can speak in a number of languages. 29 Not all believers are apostles, are they? Are all of them prophets? Do all of them teach? Do all of them perform miracles 30 or have gifts of healing? Can all of them speak in other languages or interpret languages?
31 You only want the better gifts, but I will show you the best thing to do.
1 Corinthians 13
1 I may speak in the languages of humans and of angels. But if I don’t have love, I am a loud gong or a clashing cymbal. 2 I may have the gift to speak what God has revealed, and I may understand all mysteries and have all knowledge. I may even have enough faith to move mountains. But if I don’t have love, I am nothing. 3 I may even give away all that I have and give up my body to be burned. But if I don’t have love, none of these things will help me.
4 Love is patient. Love is kind. Love isn’t jealous. It doesn’t sing its own praises. It isn’t arrogant. 5 It isn’t rude. It doesn’t think about itself. It isn’t irritable. It doesn’t keep track of wrongs. 6 It isn’t happy when injustice is done, but it is happy with the truth. 7 Love never stops being patient, never stops believing, never stops hoping, never gives up.
8 Love never comes to an end. There is the gift of speaking what God has revealed, but it will no longer be used. There is the gift of speaking in other languages, but it will stop by itself. There is the gift of knowledge, but it will no longer be used. 9 Our knowledge is incomplete and our ability to speak what God has revealed is incomplete. 10 But when what is complete comes, then what is incomplete will no longer be used. 11 When I was a child, I spoke like a child, thought like a child, and reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I no longer used childish ways. 12 Now we see a blurred image in a mirror. Then we will see very clearly. Now my knowledge is incomplete. Then I will have complete knowledge as God has complete knowledge of me.
13 So these three things remain: faith, hope, and love. But the best one of these is love.
1 Corinthians 14
Speak in Ways That Can Be Understood
1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially the gift of speaking what God has revealed. 2 When a person speaks in another language, he doesn’t speak to people but to God. No one understands him. His spirit is speaking mysteries. 3 But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he speaks to people to help them grow, to encourage them, and to comfort them. 4 When a person speaks in another language, he helps himself grow. But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he helps the church grow. 5 I wish that all of you could speak in other languages, but especially that you could speak what God has revealed. The person who speaks what God has revealed is more important than the person who speaks in other languages. This is true unless he can interpret what he says to help the church grow. 6 Brothers and sisters, it wouldn’t do you any good if I came to you speaking in other languages, unless I explained revelation, knowledge, prophecy, or doctrine to you.
7 Musical instruments like the flute or harp produce sounds. If there is no difference in the notes, how can a person tell what tune is being played? 8 For example, if the trumpet doesn’t sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 In the same way, if you don’t speak in a way that can be understood, how will anyone know what you’re saying? You will be talking into thin air.
10 No matter how many different languages there are in the world, not one of them is without meaning. 11 If I don’t know what a language means, I will be a foreigner to the person who speaks it and that person will be a foreigner to me. 12 In the same way, since you’re eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in them so that you help the church grow. 13 So the person who speaks in another language should pray for an interpretation of what he says.
14 If I pray in another language, my spirit prays, but my mind is not productive. 15 So what does this mean? It means that I will pray with my spirit, and I will pray with my mind. I will sing psalms with my spirit, and I will sing psalms with my mind. 16 Otherwise, if you praise God only with your spirit, how can outsiders say “Amen!” to your prayer of thanksgiving? They don’t know what you’re saying. 17 Your prayer of thanksgiving may be very good, but it doesn’t help other people grow. 18 I thank God that I speak in other languages more than any of you. 19 Yet, in order to teach others in church, I would rather say five words that can be understood than ten thousand words in another language.
20 Brothers and sisters, don’t think like children. When it comes to evil, be like babies, but think like mature people. 21 God’s word says,
“Through people who speak foreign languages
and through the mouths of foreigners
I will speak to these people,
but even then they will not listen to me,
says the Lord.”
22 So the gift of speaking in other languages is a sign for unbelievers, not for believers. The gift of speaking what God had revealed is a sign for believers, not for unbelievers. 23 Suppose the whole congregation gathers in the same place and you speak in other languages. When outsiders or unbelievers come in, won’t they say that you’re out of your mind? 24 Now suppose you speak what God has revealed. When unbelievers or outsiders come in you will show them where they are wrong and convince them that they are sinners. 25 The secrets in their hearts will become known, and in this way they will quickly bow with their faces touching the ground, worship God, and confess that God is truly among you.
Maintain Order in Your Worship Services
26 So what does this mean, brothers and sisters? When you gather, each person has a psalm, doctrine, revelation, another language, or an interpretation. Everything must be done to help each other grow. 27 If people speak in other languages, only two or three at the most should speak. They should do it one at a time, and someone must interpret what each person says. 28 But if an interpreter isn’t present, those people should remain silent in church. They should only speak to themselves and to God.
29 Two or three people should speak what God has revealed. Everyone else should decide whether what each person said is right or wrong. 30 If God reveals something to another person who is seated, the first speaker should be silent. 31 All of you can take your turns speaking what God has revealed. In that way, everyone will learn and be encouraged. 32 People who speak what God has revealed must control themselves. 33 God is not a God of disorder but a God of peace.
As in all the churches of God’s holy people, 34 the women must keep silent. They don’t have the right to speak. They must take their place as Moses’ Teachings say. 35 If they want to know anything they should ask their husbands at home. It’s shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Did God’s word originate with you? Are you the only ones it has reached?
37 Whoever thinks that he speaks for God or that he is spiritually gifted must acknowledge that what I write to you is what the Lord commands. 38 But whoever ignores what I write should be ignored.
39 So, brothers and sisters, desire to speak what God has revealed, and don’t keep anyone from speaking in other languages. 40 Everything must be done in a proper and orderly way.
1 Corinthians 15
Jesus Came Back to Life
1 Brothers and sisters, I’m making known to you the Good News which I already told you, which you received, and on which your faith is based. 2 In addition, you are saved by this Good News if you hold on to the doctrine I taught you, unless you believed it without thinking it over. 3 I passed on to you the most important points of doctrine that I had received:
Christ died to take away our sins as the Scriptures predicted.
4 He was placed in a tomb.
He was brought back to life on the third day as the Scriptures predicted.
5 He appeared to Cephas. Next he appeared to the twelve apostles. 6 Then he appeared to more than 500 believers at one time. (Most of these people are still living, but some have died.) 7 Next he appeared to James. Then he appeared to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, he also appeared to me.
I’m like an aborted fetus who was given life. 9 I’m the least of the apostles. I’m not even fit to be called an apostle because I persecuted God’s church. 10 But God’s kindness made me what I am, and that kindness was not wasted on me. Instead, I worked harder than all the others. It was not I who did it, but God’s kindness was with me. 11 So, whether it was I or someone else, this is the message we brought you, and this is what you believed.
We Will Come Back to Life
12 If we have told you that Christ has been brought back to life, how can some of you say that coming back from the dead is impossible? 13 If the dead can’t be brought back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life. 14 If Christ hasn’t come back to life, our message has no meaning and your faith also has no meaning. 15 In addition, we are obviously witnesses who lied about God because we testified that he brought Christ back to life. But if it’s true that the dead don’t come back to life, then God didn’t bring Christ back to life. 16 Certainly, if the dead don’t come back to life, then Christ hasn’t come back to life either. 17 If Christ hasn’t come back to life, your faith is worthless and sin still has you in its power. 18 Then those who have died as believers in Christ no longer exist. 19 If Christ is our hope in this life only, we deserve more pity than any other people.
20 But now Christ has come back from the dead. He is the very first person of those who have died to come back to life. 21 Since a man brought death, a man also brought life back from death. 22 As everyone dies because of Adam, so also everyone will be made alive because of Christ. 23 This will happen to each person in his own turn. Christ is the first, then at his coming, those who belong to him will be made alive. 24 Then the end will come. Christ will hand over the kingdom to God the Father as he destroys every ruler, authority, and power.
25 Christ must rule until God has put every enemy under his control. 26 The last enemy he will destroy is death. 27 Clearly, God has put everything under Christ’s authority. When God says that everything has been put under Christ’s authority, this clearly excludes God, since God has put everything under Christ’s authority. 28 But when God puts everything under Christ’s authority, the Son will put himself under God’s authority, since God had put everything under the Son’s authority. Then God will be in control of everything.
29 However, people are baptized because the dead will come back to life. What will they do? If the dead can’t come back to life, why do people get baptized as if they can come back to life?
30 Why are we constantly putting ourselves in danger? 31 Brothers and sisters, I swear to you on my pride in you which Christ Jesus our Lord has given me: I face death every day. 32 If I have fought with wild animals in Ephesus, what have I gained according to the way people look at things? If the dead are not raised, “Let’s eat and drink because tomorrow we’re going to die!” 33 Don’t let anyone deceive you. Associating with bad people will ruin decent people. 34 Come back to the right point of view, and stop sinning. Some people don’t know anything about God. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
We Will Have Bodies That Will Not Decay
35 But someone will ask, “How do the dead come back to life? With what kind of body will they come back?”
36 You fool! The seed you plant doesn’t come to life unless it dies first. 37 What you plant, whether it’s wheat or something else, is only a seed. It doesn’t have the form that the plant will have. 38 God gives the plant the form he wants it to have. Each kind of seed grows into its own form. 39 Not all flesh is the same. Humans have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds have another, and fish have still another. 40 There are heavenly bodies and earthly bodies. Heavenly bodies don’t all have the same splendor, neither do earthly bodies. 41 The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon has another kind of splendor, and the stars have still another kind of splendor. Even one star differs in splendor from another star.
42 That is how it will be when the dead come back to life. When the body is planted, it decays. When it comes back to life, it cannot decay. 43 When the body is planted, it doesn’t have any splendor and is weak. When it comes back to life, it has splendor and is strong. 44 It is planted as a physical body. It comes back to life as a spiritual body. As there is a physical body, so there is also a spiritual body.
45 This is what Scripture says: “The first man, Adam, became a living being.” The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. 46 The spiritual does not come first, but the physical and then the spiritual. 47 The first man was made from the dust of the earth. He came from the earth. The second man came from heaven. 48 The people on earth are like the man who was made from the dust of the earth. The people in heaven are like the man who came from heaven. 49 As we have worn the likeness of the man who was made from the dust of the earth, we will also wear the likeness of the man who came from heaven. 50 Brothers and sisters, this is what I mean: Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God. What decays cannot inherit what doesn’t decay.
51 I’m telling you a mystery. Not all of us will die, but we will all be changed. 52 It will happen in an instant, in a split second at the sound of the last trumpet. Indeed, that trumpet will sound, and then the dead will come back to life. They will be changed so that they can live forever. 53 This body that decays must be changed into a body that cannot decay. This mortal body must be changed into a body that will live forever. 54 When this body that decays is changed into a body that cannot decay, and this mortal body is changed into a body that will live forever, then the teaching of Scripture will come true:
“Death is turned into victory!
55 Death, where is your victory?
Death, where is your sting?”
56 Sin gives death its sting, and God’s standards give sin its power. 57 Thank God that he gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 So, then, brothers and sisters, don’t let anyone move you off the foundation of your faith. Always excel in the work you do for the Lord. You know that the hard work you do for the Lord is not pointless.
1 Corinthians 16
The Collection for the People in Jerusalem
1 Now, concerning the money to be collected for God’s people in Jerusalem: I want you to do as I directed the churches in Galatia. 2 Every Sunday each of you should set aside some of your money and save it. Then money won’t have to be collected when I come. 3 When I come, I will give letters of introduction to the people whom you choose. You can send your gift to Jerusalem with them. 4 If I think it’s worthwhile for me to go, they can go with me.
5 After I go through the province of Macedonia, I’ll visit you. (I will be going through Macedonia.) 6 I’ll probably stay with you. I might even spend the winter. Then you can give me your support as I travel, wherever I decide to go. 7 Right now all I could do is visit you briefly, but if the Lord lets me, I hope to spend some time with you. 8 I will be staying here in Ephesus until Pentecost. 9 I have a great opportunity to do effective work here, although there are many people who oppose me.
News About Timothy, Apollos, and Others
10 If Timothy comes, make sure that he doesn’t have anything to be afraid of while he is with you. He’s doing the Lord’s work as I am, 11 so no one should treat him with contempt. Without quarreling, give him your support for his trip so that he may come to me. I’m expecting him to arrive with the other Christians.
12 Concerning Apollos, our brother in the Christian faith: I tried hard to get him to visit you with the other Christians. He didn’t want to at this time. However, he will visit you when he has an opportunity.
13 Be alert. Be firm in the Christian faith. Be courageous and strong. 14 Do everything with love.
15 You know that the family of Stephanas was the first family to be won for Christ in Greece. This family has devoted itself to serving God’s people. So I encourage you, brothers and sisters, 16 to follow the example of people like these and anyone else who shares their labor and hard work. 17 I am glad that Stephanas, Fortunatus, and Achaicus came here. They have made up for your absence. 18 They have comforted me, and they have comforted you. Therefore, show people like these your appreciation.
19 The churches in the province of Asia greet you. Aquila and Prisca and the church that meets in their house send their warmest Christian greetings. 20 All the brothers and sisters here greet you. Greet each other with a holy kiss. 21 I, Paul, am writing this greeting with my own hand.
22 If anyone doesn’t love the Lord, let him be cursed! Our Lord, come!
23 May the good will of the Lord Jesus be with you. 24 Through Christ Jesus my love is with all of you.
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We Are at Peace With God Because of Jesus
1 Now that we have God’s approval by faith, we have peace with God because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done. 2 Through Christ we can approach God and stand in his favor. So we brag because of our confidence that we will receive glory from God. 3 But that’s not all. We also brag when we are suffering. We know that suffering creates endurance, 4 endurance creates character, and character creates confidence. 5 We’re not ashamed to have this confidence, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
6 Look at it this way: At the right time, while we were still helpless, Christ died for ungodly people. 7 Finding someone who would die for a godly person is rare. Maybe someone would have the courage to die for a good person. 8 Christ died for us while we were still sinners. This demonstrates God’s love for us.
9 Since Christ’s blood has now given us God’s approval, we are even more certain that Christ will save us from God’s anger. 10 If the death of his Son restored our relationship with God while we were still his enemies, we are even more certain that, because of this restored relationship, the life of his Son will save us. 11 In addition, our Lord Jesus Christ lets us continue to brag about God. After all, it is through Christ that we now have this restored relationship with God.
A Comparison Between Adam and Christ
12 Sin came into the world through one person, and death came through sin. So death spread to everyone, because everyone sinned. 13 Sin was in the world before there were any laws. But no record of sin can be kept when there are no laws. 14 Yet, death ruled from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin in the same way Adam did when he disobeyed. Adam is an image of the one who would come.
15 There is no comparison between God’s gift and Adam’s failure. If humanity died as the result of one person’s failure, it is certainly true that God’s kindness and the gift given through the kindness of one person, Jesus Christ, have been showered on humanity.
16 There is also no comparison between God’s gift and the one who sinned. The verdict which followed one person’s failure condemned everyone. But, even after many failures, the gift brought God’s approval. 17 It is certain that death ruled because of one person’s failure. It’s even more certain that those who receive God’s overflowing kindness and the gift of his approval will rule in life because of one person, Jesus Christ.
18 Therefore, everyone was condemned through one failure, and everyone received God’s life-giving approval through one verdict. 19 Clearly, through one person’s disobedience humanity became sinful, and through one person’s obedience humanity will receive God’s approval. 20 Laws were added to increase the failure. But where sin increased, God’s kindness increased even more. 21 As sin ruled by bringing death, God’s kindness would rule by bringing us his approval. This results in our living forever because of Jesus Christ our Lord.
No Longer Slaves to Sin, but God’s Servants
1 What should we say then? Should we continue to sin so that God’s kindness will increase? 2 That’s unthinkable! As far as sin is concerned, we have died. So how can we still live under sin’s influence?
3 Don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 When we were baptized into his death, we were placed into the tomb with him. As Christ was brought back from death to life by the glorious power of the Father, so we, too, should live a new kind of life. 5 If we’ve become united with him in a death like his, certainly we will also be united with him when we come back to life as he did. 6 We know that the person we used to be was crucified with him to put an end to sin in our bodies. Because of this we are no longer slaves to sin. 7 The person who has died has been freed from sin.
8 If we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. 9 We know that Christ, who was brought back to life, will never die again. Death no longer has any power over him. 10 When he died, he died once and for all to sin’s power. But now he lives, and he lives for God. 11 So consider yourselves dead to sin’s power but living for God in the power Christ Jesus gives you.
12 Therefore, never let sin rule your physical body so that you obey its desires. 13 Never offer any part of your body to sin’s power. No part of your body should ever be used to do any ungodly thing. Instead, offer yourselves to God as people who have come back from death and are now alive. Offer all the parts of your body to God. Use them to do everything that God approves of. 14 Certainly, sin shouldn’t have power over you because you’re not controlled by laws, but by God’s favor.
15 Then what is the implication? Should we sin because we are not controlled by laws but by God’s favor? That’s unthinkable! 16 Don’t you know that if you offer to be someone’s slave, you must obey that master? Either your master is sin, or your master is obedience. Letting sin be your master leads to death. Letting obedience be your master leads to God’s approval. 17 You were slaves to sin. But I thank God that you have become wholeheartedly obedient to the teachings which you were given. 18 Freed from sin, you were made slaves who do what God approves of.
19 I’m speaking in a human way because of the weakness of your corrupt nature. Clearly, you once offered all the parts of your body as slaves to sexual perversion and disobedience. This led you to live disobedient lives. Now, in the same way, offer all the parts of your body as slaves that do what God approves of. This leads you to live holy lives. 20 When you were slaves to sin, you were free from doing what God approves of.
21 What did you gain by doing those things? You’re ashamed of what you used to do because it ended in death. 22 Now you have been freed from sin and have become God’s slaves. This results in a holy life and, finally, in everlasting life. 23 The payment for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 Don’t you realize, brothers and sisters, that laws have power over people only as long as they are alive? (I’m speaking to people who are familiar with Moses’ Teachings.) 2 For example, a married woman is bound by law to her husband as long as he is alive. But if her husband dies, that marriage law is no longer in effect for her. 3 So if she marries another man while her husband is still alive, she will be called an adulterer. But if her husband dies, she is free from this law, so she is not committing adultery if she marries another man.
4 In the same way, brothers and sisters, you have died to the laws in Moses’ Teachings through Christ’s body. You belong to someone else, the one who was brought back to life.
As a result, we can do what God wants. 5 While we were living under the influence of our corrupt nature, sinful passions were at work throughout our bodies. Stirred up by Moses’ laws, our sinful passions did things that result in death. 6 But now we have died to those laws that bound us. God has broken their effect on us so that we are serving in a new spiritual way, not in an old way dictated by written words.
Moses’ Laws Show What Sin Is
7 What should we say, then? Are Moses’ laws sinful? That’s unthinkable! In fact, I wouldn’t have recognized sin if those laws hadn’t shown it to me. For example, I wouldn’t have known that some desires are sinful if Moses’ Teachings hadn’t said, “Never have wrong desires.” 8 But sin took the opportunity provided by this commandment and made me have all kinds of wrong desires. Clearly, without laws sin is dead. 9 At one time I was alive without any laws. But when this commandment came, sin became alive 10 and I died. I found that the commandment which was intended to bring me life actually brought me death. 11 Sin, taking the opportunity provided by this commandment, deceived me and then killed me.
12 So Moses’ Teachings are holy, and the commandment is holy, right, and good. 13 Now, did something good cause my death? That’s unthinkable! Rather, my death was caused by sin so that sin would be recognized for what it is. Through a commandment sin became more sinful than ever.
God’s Standards Are at War With Sin’s Standards
14 I know that God’s standards are spiritual, but I have a corrupt nature, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I don’t realize what I’m doing. I don’t do what I want to do. Instead, I do what I hate. 16 I don’t do what I want to do, but I agree that God’s standards are good. 17 So I am no longer the one who is doing the things I hate, but sin that lives in me is doing them.
18 I know that nothing good lives in me; that is, nothing good lives in my corrupt nature. Although I have the desire to do what is right, I don’t do it. 19 I don’t do the good I want to do. Instead, I do the evil that I don’t want to do. 20 Now, when I do what I don’t want to do, I am no longer the one who is doing it. Sin that lives in me is doing it.
21 So I’ve discovered this truth: Evil is present with me even when I want to do what God’s standards say is good. 22 I take pleasure in God’s standards in my inner being. 23 However, I see a different standard at work throughout my body. It is at war with the standards my mind sets and tries to take me captive to sin’s standards which still exist throughout my body. 24 What a miserable person I am! Who will rescue me from my dying body? 25 I thank God that our Lord Jesus Christ rescues me! So I am obedient to God’s standards with my mind, but I am obedient to sin’s standards with my corrupt nature.
God’s Spirit Makes Us His Children
1 So those who are believers in Christ Jesus can no longer be condemned. 2 The standards of the Spirit, who gives life through Christ Jesus, have set you free from the standards of sin and death. 3 It is impossible to do what God’s standards demand because of the weakness our human nature has. But God sent his Son to have a human nature as sinners have and to pay for sin. That way God condemned sin in our corrupt nature. 4 Therefore, we, who do not live by our corrupt nature but by our spiritual nature, are able to meet God’s standards.
5 Those who live by the corrupt nature have the corrupt nature’s attitude. But those who live by the spiritual nature have the spiritual nature’s attitude. 6 The corrupt nature’s attitude leads to death. But the spiritual nature’s attitude leads to life and peace. 7 This is so because the corrupt nature has a hostile attitude toward God. It refuses to place itself under the authority of God’s standards because it can’t. 8 Those who are under the control of the corrupt nature can’t please God. 9 But if God’s Spirit lives in you, you are under the control of your spiritual nature, not your corrupt nature.
Whoever doesn’t have the Spirit of Christ doesn’t belong to him. 10 However, if Christ lives in you, your bodies are dead because of sin, but your spirits are alive because you have God’s approval. 11 Does the Spirit of the one who brought Jesus back to life live in you? Then the one who brought Christ back to life will also make your mortal bodies alive by his Spirit who lives in you.
12 So, brothers and sisters, we have no obligation to live the way our corrupt nature wants us to live. 13 If you live by your corrupt nature, you are going to die. But if you use your spiritual nature to put to death the evil activities of the body, you will live. 14 Certainly, all who are guided by God’s Spirit are God’s children. 15 You haven’t received the spirit of slaves that leads you into fear again. Instead, you have received the spirit of God’s adopted children by which we call out, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 If we are his children, we are also God’s heirs. If we share in Christ’s suffering in order to share his glory, we are heirs together with him.
God’s Spirit Helps Us
18 I consider our present sufferings insignificant compared to the glory that will soon be revealed to us. 19 All creation is eagerly waiting for God to reveal who his children are. 20 Creation was subjected to frustration but not by its own choice. The one who subjected it to frustration did so in the hope 21 that it would also be set free from slavery to decay in order to share the glorious freedom that the children of God will have. 22 We know that all creation has been groaning with the pains of childbirth up to the present time.
23 However, not only creation groans. We, who have the Spirit as the first of God’s gifts, also groan inwardly. We groan as we eagerly wait for our adoption, the freeing of our bodies from sin. 24 We were saved with this hope in mind. If we hope for something we already see, it’s not really hope. Who hopes for what can be seen? 25 But if we hope for what we don’t see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance.
26 At the same time the Spirit also helps us in our weakness, because we don’t know how to pray for what we need. But the Spirit intercedes along with our groans that cannot be expressed in words. 27 The one who searches our hearts knows what the Spirit has in mind. The Spirit intercedes for God’s people the way God wants him to.
Nothing Can Separate Us From God’s Love
28 We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God—those whom he has called according to his plan. 29 This is true because he already knew his people and had already appointed them to have the same form as the image of his Son. Therefore, his Son is the firstborn among many children. 30 He also called those whom he had already appointed. He approved of those whom he had called, and he gave glory to those whom he had approved of.
31 What can we say about all of this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 God didn’t spare his own Son but handed him over to death for all of us. So he will also give us everything along with him. 33 Who will accuse those whom God has chosen? God has approved of them. 34 Who will condemn them? Christ has died, and more importantly, he was brought back to life. Christ has the highest position in heaven. Christ also intercedes for us. 35 What will separate us from the love Christ has for us? Can trouble, distress, persecution, hunger, nakedness, danger, or violent death separate us from his love? 36 As Scripture says:
“We are being killed all day long because of you.
We are thought of as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 The one who loves us gives us an overwhelming victory in all these difficulties. 38 I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love which Christ Jesus our Lord shows us. We can’t be separated by death or life, by angels or rulers, by anything in the present or anything in the future, by forces 39 or powers in the world above or in the world below, or by anything else in creation.
Paul’s Concern for the Jewish People
1 As a Christian, I’m telling you the truth. I’m not lying. The Holy Spirit, along with my own thoughts, supports me in this. 2 I have deep sorrow and endless heartache. 3 I wish I could be condemned and cut off from Christ for the sake of others who, like me, are Jewish by birth. 4 They are Israelites, God’s adopted children. They have the Lord’s glory, the pledges, Moses’ Teachings, the true worship, and the promises. 5 The Messiah is descended from their ancestors according to his human nature. The Messiah is God over everything, forever blessed. Amen.
6 Now it is not as though God’s word has failed. Clearly, not everyone descended from Israel is part of Israel 7 or a descendant of Abraham. However, as Scripture says, “Through Isaac your descendants will carry on your name.” 8 This means that children born by natural descent from Abraham are not necessarily God’s children. Instead, children born by the promise are considered Abraham’s descendants.
9 For example, this is what the promise said, “I will come back at the right time, and Sarah will have a son.” 10 The same thing happened to Rebekah. Rebekah became pregnant by our ancestor Isaac. 11 Before the children had been born or had done anything good or bad, Rebekah was told that the older child would serve the younger one. This was said to Rebekah so that God’s plan would remain a matter of his choice, 12 a choice based on God’s call and not on anything people do. 13 The Scriptures say, “I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau.”
14 What can we say—that God is unfair? That’s unthinkable! 15 For example, God said to Moses, “I will be kind to anyone I want to. I will be merciful to anyone I want to.” 16 Therefore, God’s choice does not depend on a person’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.
17 For example, Scripture says to Pharaoh, “I put you here for this reason: to demonstrate my power through you and to spread my name throughout the earth.” 18 Therefore, if God wants to be kind to anyone, he will be. If he wants to make someone stubborn, he will.
19 You may ask me, “Why does God still find fault with anyone? Who can resist whatever God wants to do?”
20 Who do you think you are to talk back to God like that? Can an object that was made say to its maker, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 A potter has the right to do whatever he wants with his clay. He can make something for a special occasion or something for everyday use from the same lump of clay.
22 If God wants to demonstrate his anger and reveal his power, he can do it. But can’t he be extremely patient with people who are objects of his anger because they are headed for destruction? 23 Can’t God also reveal the riches of his glory to people who are objects of his mercy and who he had already prepared for glory? 24 This is what God did for us whom he called—whether we are Jews or not.
God Chose People Who Are Not Jewish
25 As God says in Hosea:
“Those who are not my people
I will call my people.
Those who are not loved
I will call my loved ones.
26 Wherever they were told,
‘You are not my people,’
they will be called children of the living God.”
27 Isaiah also says about Israel:
“Although the descendants of Israel are
as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore,
only a few will be saved.
28 The Lord will carry out his sentence on the land,
completely and decisively.”
29 This is what Isaiah predicted:
“If the Lord of Armies hadn’t left us some descendants,
we would have been like Sodom and Gomorrah.”
30 So what can we say? We can say that non-Jewish people who were not trying to gain God’s approval won his approval, an approval based on faith. 31 The people of Israel tried to gain God’s approval by obeying Moses’ Teachings, but they did not reach their goal. 32 Why? They didn’t rely on faith to gain God’s approval, but they relied on their own efforts. They stumbled over the rock that trips people. 33 As Scripture says,
“I am placing a rock in Zion that people trip over,
a large rock that people find offensive.
Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.”
If You Believe You Will Be Saved
1 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God on behalf of the Jewish people is that they would be saved. 2 I can assure you that they are deeply devoted to God, but they are misguided. 3 They don’t understand how to receive God’s approval. So they try to set up their own way to get it, and they have not accepted God’s way for receiving his approval. 4 Christ is the fulfillment of Moses’ Teachings so that everyone who has faith may receive God’s approval.
5 Moses writes about receiving God’s approval by following his laws. He says, “The person who obeys laws will live because of the laws he obeys.” 6 However, Scripture says about God’s approval which is based on faith, “Don’t ask yourself who will go up to heaven,” (that is, to bring Christ down). 7 “Don’t ask who will go down into the depths,” (that is, to bring Christ back from the dead). 8 However, what else does it say? “This message is near you. It’s in your mouth and in your heart.” This is the message of faith that we spread. 9 If you declare that Jesus is Lord, and believe that God brought him back to life, you will be saved. 10 By believing you receive God’s approval, and by declaring your faith you are saved. 11 Scripture says, “Whoever believes in him will not be ashamed.”
12 There is no difference between Jews and Greeks. They all have the same Lord, who gives his riches to everyone who calls on him. 13 So then, “Whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
14 But how can people call on him if they have not believed in him? How can they believe in him if they have not heard his message? How can they hear if no one tells the Good News? 15 How can people tell the Good News if no one sends them? As Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of the messengers who announce the Good News.” 16 But not everyone has believed the Good News.
Isaiah asks, “Lord, who has believed our message?” 17 So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message that is heard is what Christ spoke.
18 But I ask, “Didn’t they hear that message?” Certainly they did! “The voice of the messengers has gone out into the whole world and their words to the ends of the earth.”
19 Again I ask, “Didn’t Israel understand that message?” Moses was the first to say, “I will make you jealous of people who are not a nation. I will make you angry about a nation that doesn’t understand.” 20 Isaiah said very boldly, “I was found by those who weren’t looking for me. I was revealed to those who weren’t asking for me.” 21 Then Isaiah said about Israel, “All day long I have stretched out my hands to disobedient and rebellious people.”
God’s Continuing Love for Jewish People
1 So I ask, “Has God rejected his people Israel?” That’s unthinkable! Consider this. I’m an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. 2 God has not rejected his people whom he knew long ago. Don’t you know what Elijah says in the Scripture passage when he complains to God about Israel? He says, 3 “Lord, they’ve killed your prophets and torn down your altars. I’m the only one left, and they’re trying to take my life.” 4 But what was God’s reply? God said, “I’ve kept 7,000 people for myself who have not knelt to worship Baal.” 5 So, as there were then, there are now a few left that God has chosen by his kindness. 6 If they were chosen by God’s kindness, they weren’t chosen because of anything they did. Otherwise, God’s kindness wouldn’t be kindness.
7 So what does all this mean? It means that Israel has never achieved what it has been striving for. However, those whom God has chosen have achieved it. The minds of the rest of Israel were closed, 8 as Scripture says,
“To this day God has given them a spirit of deep sleep.
Their eyes don’t see,
and their ears don’t hear!”
9 And David says,
“Let the table set for them become a trap and a net,
a snare and a punishment for them.
10 Let their vision become clouded so that they cannot see.
Let them carry back-breaking burdens forever.”
11 So I ask, “Has Israel stumbled so badly that it can’t get up again?” That’s unthinkable! By Israel’s failure, salvation has come to people who are not Jewish to make the Jewish people jealous. 12 The fall of the Jewish people made the world spiritually rich. Their failure made people who are not Jewish spiritually rich. So the inclusion of Jewish people will make the world even richer.
13 Now, I speak to you who are not Jewish. As long as I am an apostle sent to people who are not Jewish, I bring honor to my ministry. 14 Perhaps I can make my people jealous and save some of them. 15 If Israel’s rejection means that the world has been brought back to God, what does Israel’s acceptance mean? It means that Israel has come back to life.
16 If the first handful of dough is holy, the whole batch of dough is holy. If the root is holy, the branches are holy. 17 But some of the olive branches have been broken off, and you, a wild olive branch, have been grafted in their place. You get your nourishment from the roots of the olive tree. 18 So don’t brag about being better than the other branches. If you brag, remember that you don’t support the root, the root supports you. 19 “Well,” you say, “Branches were cut off so that I could be grafted onto the tree.” 20 That’s right! They were broken off because they didn’t believe, but you remain on the tree because you do believe. Don’t feel arrogant, but be afraid. 21 If God didn’t spare the natural branches, he won’t spare you, either. 22 Look at how kind and how severe God can be. He is severe to those who fell, but kind to you if you continue to hold on to his kindness. Otherwise, you, too, will be cut off from the tree.
23 If Jewish people do not continue in their unbelief, they will be grafted onto the tree again, because God is able to do that. 24 In spite of the fact that you have been cut from a wild olive tree, you have been grafted onto a cultivated one. So wouldn’t it be easier for these natural branches to be grafted onto the olive tree they belong to?
25 Brothers and sisters, I want you to understand this mystery so that you won’t become arrogant. The minds of some Israelites have become closed until all of God’s non-Jewish people are included. 26 In this way Israel as a whole will be saved, as Scripture says,
“The Savior will come from Zion.
He will remove godlessness from Jacob.
27 My promise to them will be fulfilled
when I take away their sins.”
28 The Good News made the Jewish people enemies because of you. But by God’s choice they are loved because of their ancestors. 29 God never changes his mind when he gives gifts or when he calls someone. 30 In the past, you disobeyed God. But now God has been merciful to you because of the disobedience of the Jewish people. 31 In the same way, the Jewish people have also disobeyed so that God may be merciful to them as he was to you. 32 God has placed all people into the prison of their own disobedience so that he could be merciful to all people.
33 God’s riches, wisdom, and knowledge are so deep
that it is impossible to explain his decisions
or to understand his ways.
34 “Who knows how the Lord thinks?
Who can become his adviser?”
35 Who gave the Lord something
which the Lord must pay back?
36 Everything is from him and by him and for him.
Glory belongs to him forever! Amen!
Dedicate Your Lives to God
1 Brothers and sisters, in view of all we have just shared about God’s compassion, I encourage you to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, dedicated to God and pleasing to him. This kind of worship is appropriate for you. 2 Don’t become like the people of this world. Instead, change the way you think. Then you will always be able to determine what God really wants—what is good, pleasing, and perfect.
3 Because of the kindness that God has shown me, I ask you not to think of yourselves more highly than you should. Instead, your thoughts should lead you to use good judgment based on what God has given each of you as believers. 4 Our bodies have many parts, but these parts don’t all do the same thing. 5 In the same way, even though we are many individuals, Christ makes us one body and individuals who are connected to each other. 6 God in his kindness gave each of us different gifts. If your gift is speaking God’s word, make sure what you say agrees with the Christian faith. 7 If your gift is serving, then devote yourself to serving. If it is teaching, devote yourself to teaching. 8 If it is encouraging others, devote yourself to giving encouragement. If it is sharing, be generous. If it is leadership, lead enthusiastically. If it is helping people in need, help them cheerfully.
9 Love sincerely. Hate evil. Hold on to what is good. 10 Be devoted to each other like a loving family. Excel in showing respect for each other. 11 Don’t be lazy in showing your devotion. Use your energy to serve the Lord. 12 Be happy in your confidence, be patient in trouble, and pray continually. 13 Share what you have with God’s people who are in need. Be hospitable.
14 Bless those who persecute you. Bless them, and don’t curse them. 15 Be happy with those who are happy. Be sad with those who are sad. 16 Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be arrogant, but be friendly to humble people. Don’t think that you are smarter than you really are.
17 Don’t pay people back with evil for the evil they do to you. Focus your thoughts on those things that are considered noble. 18 As much as it is possible, live in peace with everyone. 19 Don’t take revenge, dear friends. Instead, let God’s anger take care of it. After all, Scripture says, “I alone have the right to take revenge. I will pay back, says the Lord.” 20 But,
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him.
If he is thirsty, give him a drink.
If you do this, you will make him feel guilty and ashamed.”
21 Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil with good.
Obey the Government
1 Every person should obey the government in power. No government would exist if it hadn’t been established by God. The governments which exist have been put in place by God. 2 Therefore, whoever resists the government opposes what God has established. Those who resist will bring punishment on themselves.
3 People who do what is right don’t have to be afraid of the government. But people who do what is wrong should be afraid of it. Would you like to live without being afraid of the government? Do what is right, and it will praise you. 4 The government is God’s servant working for your good.
But if you do what is wrong, you should be afraid. The government has the right to carry out the death sentence. It is God’s servant, an avenger to execute God’s anger on anyone who does what is wrong. 5 Therefore, it is necessary for you to obey, not only because you’re afraid of God’s anger but also because of your own conscience.
6 That is also why you pay your taxes. People in the government are God’s servants while they do the work he has given them. 7 Pay everyone whatever you owe them. If you owe taxes, pay them. If you owe tolls, pay them. If you owe someone respect, respect that person. If you owe someone honor, honor that person.
Love One Another
8 Pay your debts as they come due. However, one debt you can never finish paying is the debt of love that you owe each other. The one who loves another person has fulfilled Moses’ Teachings. 9 The commandments, “Never commit adultery; never murder; never steal; never have wrong desires,” and every other commandment are summed up in this statement: “Love your neighbor as you love yourself.” 10 Love never does anything that is harmful to a neighbor. Therefore, love fulfills Moses’ Teachings.
11 You know the times in which we are living. It’s time for you to wake up. Our salvation is nearer now than when we first became believers. 12 The night is almost over, and the day is near. So we should get rid of the things that belong to the dark and take up the weapons that belong to the light. 13 We should live decently, as people who live in the light of day. Wild parties, drunkenness, sexual immorality, promiscuity, rivalry, and jealousy cannot be part of our lives. 14 Instead, live like the Lord Jesus Christ did, and forget about satisfying the desires of your sinful nature.
How to Treat Christians Who Are Weak in Faith
1 Welcome people who are weak in faith, but don’t get into an argument over differences of opinion. 2 Some people believe that they can eat all kinds of food. Other people with weak faith believe that they can eat only vegetables. 3 People who eat all foods should not despise people who eat only vegetables. In the same way, the vegetarians should not criticize people who eat all foods, because God has accepted those people. 4 Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant? The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful. The servant will be successful because the Lord makes him successful.
5 One person decides that one day is holier than another. Another person decides that all days are the same. Every person must make his own decision. 6 When people observe a special day, they observe it to honor the Lord. When people eat all kinds of foods, they honor the Lord as they eat, since they give thanks to God. Vegetarians also honor the Lord when they eat, and they, too, give thanks to God. 7 It’s clear that we don’t live to honor ourselves, and we don’t die to honor ourselves. 8 If we live, we honor the Lord, and if we die, we honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 For this reason Christ died and came back to life so that he would be the Lord of both the living and the dead.
10 Why do you criticize or despise other Christians? Everyone will stand in front of God to be judged. 11 Scripture says,
“As certainly as I live, says the Lord,
everyone will worship me,
and everyone will praise God.”
12 All of us will have to give an account of ourselves to God.
13 So let’s stop criticizing each other. Instead, you should decide never to do anything that would make other Christians have doubts or lose their faith.
14 The Lord Jesus has given me the knowledge and conviction that no food is unacceptable in and of itself. But it is unacceptable to a person who thinks it is. 15 So if what you eat hurts another Christian, you are no longer living by love. Don’t destroy anyone by what you eat. Christ died for that person. 16 Don’t allow anyone to say that what you consider good is evil.
17 God’s kingdom does not consist of what a person eats or drinks. Rather, God’s kingdom consists of God’s approval and peace, as well as the joy that the Holy Spirit gives. 18 The person who serves Christ with this in mind is pleasing to God and respected by people.
19 So let’s pursue those things which bring peace and which are good for each other. 20 Don’t ruin God’s work because of what you eat. All food is acceptable, but it’s wrong for a person to eat something if it causes someone else to have doubts. 21 The right thing to do is to avoid eating meat, drinking wine, or doing anything else that causes another Christian to have doubts. 22 So whatever you believe about these things, keep it between yourself and God. The person who does what he knows is right shouldn’t feel guilty. He is blessed. 23 But if a person has doubts and still eats, he is condemned because he didn’t act in faith. Anything that is not done in faith is sin.
1 So those of us who have a strong faith must be patient with the weaknesses of those whose faith is not so strong. We must not think only of ourselves. 2 We should all be concerned about our neighbor and the good things that will build his faith. 3 Christ did not think only of himself. Rather, as Scripture says, “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
God Gives Us Unity
4 Everything written long ago was written to teach us so that we would have confidence through the endurance and encouragement which the Scriptures give us. 5 May God, who gives you this endurance and encouragement, allow you to live in harmony with each other by following the example of Christ Jesus. 6 Then, having the same goal, you will praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
7 Therefore, accept each other in the same way that Christ accepted you. He did this to bring glory to God. 8 Let me explain. Christ became a servant for the Jewish people to reveal God’s truth. As a result, he fulfilled God’s promise to the ancestors of the Jewish people. 9 People who are not Jewish praise God for his mercy as well. This is what the Scriptures say,
“That is why I will give thanks to you among the nations
and I will sing praises to your name.”
10 And Scripture says again,
“You nations, be happy together with his people!”
11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you nations!
Praise him, all you people of the world!”
12 Again, Isaiah says,
“There will be a root from Jesse.
He will rise to rule the nations,
and he will give the nations hope.”
13 May God, the source of hope, fill you with joy and peace through your faith in him. Then you will overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s Desire to Tell the Good News to the World
14 I’m convinced, brothers and sisters, that you, too, are filled with goodness. I’m also convinced that you have all the knowledge you need and that you are able to instruct each other. 15 However, I’ve written you a letter, parts of which are rather bold, as a reminder to you. I’m doing this because God gave me the gift 16 to be a servant of Christ Jesus to people who are not Jewish. I serve as a priest by spreading the Good News of God. I do this in order that I might bring the nations to God as an acceptable offering, made holy by the Holy Spirit. 17 So Christ Jesus gives me the right to brag about what I’m doing for God. 18 I’m bold enough to tell you only what Christ has done through me to bring people who are not Jewish to obedience. By what I have said and done, 19 by the power of miraculous and amazing signs, and by the power of God’s Spirit, I have finished spreading the Good News about Christ from Jerusalem to Illyricum.
20 My goal was to spread the Good News where the name of Christ was not known. I didn’t want to build on a foundation which others had laid. 21 As Scripture says,
“Those who were never told about him will see,
and those who never heard will understand.”
22 This is what has so often kept me from visiting you. 23 But now I have no new opportunities for work in this region. For many years I have wanted to visit you. 24 Now I am on my way to Spain, so I hope to see you when I come your way. After I have enjoyed your company for a while, I hope that you will support my trip to Spain.
25 Right now I’m going to Jerusalem to bring help to the Christians there. 26 Because the believers in Macedonia and Greece owe a debt to the Christians in Jerusalem, they have decided to take up a collection for the poor among the Christians in Jerusalem. 27 These Macedonians and Greeks have shared the spiritual wealth of the Christians in Jerusalem. So they are obligated to use their earthly wealth to help them.
28 When the collection is completed and I have officially turned the money over to the Christians in Jerusalem, I will visit you on my way to Spain. 29 I know that when I come to you I will bring the full blessing of Christ.
30 Brothers and sisters, I encourage you through our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love that the Spirit creates, to join me in my struggle. Pray to God for me 31 that I will be rescued from those people in Judea who refuse to believe. Pray that God’s people in Jerusalem will accept the help I bring. 32 Also pray that by the will of God I may come to you with joy and be refreshed when I am with you.
33 May the God of peace be with you all. Amen.
1 With this letter I’m introducing Phoebe to you. She is our sister in the Christian faith and a deacon of the church in the city of Cenchrea. 2 Give her a Christian welcome that shows you are God’s holy people. Provide her with anything she may need, because she has provided help to many people, including me.
3 Greet Prisca and Aquila, my coworkers in the service of Christ Jesus. 4 They risked their lives to save me. I’m thankful to them and so are all the churches among the nations. 5 Also greet the church that meets in their house.
Greet my dear friend Epaenetus. He was the first person in the province of Asia to become a believer in Christ.
6 Greet Mary, who has worked very hard for you.
7 Greet Andronicus and Junia, who are Jewish by birth like me. They are prisoners like me and are prominent among the apostles. They also were Christians before I was.
8 Greet Ampliatus my dear friend in the service of the Lord.
9 Greet Urbanus our coworker in the service of Christ, and my dear friend Stachys.
10 Greet Apelles, a true Christian.
Greet those who belong to the family of Aristobulus.
11 Greet Herodion, who is Jewish by birth like me.
Greet those Christians who belong to the family of Narcissus.
12 Greet Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who have worked hard for the Lord.
Greet dear Persis, who has worked very hard for the Lord.
13 Greet Rufus, that outstanding Christian, and his mother, who has been a mother to me too.
14 Greet Asyncritus, Phlegon, Hermes, Patrobas, Hermas, and the brothers and sisters who are with them.
15 Greet Philologus and Julia, Nereus, and his sister, and Olympas, and all God’s people who are with them.
16 Greet each other with a holy kiss.
All the churches of Christ greet you.
17 Brothers and sisters, I urge you to watch out for those people who create divisions and who make others fall away from the Christian faith by teaching doctrine that is not the same as you have learned. Stay away from them. 18 People like these are not serving Christ our Lord. They are serving their own desires. By their smooth talk and flattering words they deceive unsuspecting people.
19 Everyone has heard about your obedience and this makes me happy for you. I want you to do what is good and to avoid what is evil. 20 The God of peace will quickly crush Satan under your feet. May the good will of our Lord Jesus be with you!
21 Timothy my coworker greets you; so do Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater, who are Jewish by birth like me.
22 I, Tertius, who wrote this letter, send you Christian greetings.
23 Gaius greets you. He is host to me and the whole church.
Erastus, the city treasurer, greets you.
Quartus, our brother in the Christian faith, greets you.
25 God can strengthen you by the Good News and the message I tell about Jesus Christ. He can strengthen you by revealing the mystery that was kept in silence for a very long time 26 but now is publicly known. The everlasting God ordered that what the prophets wrote must be shown to the people of every nation to bring them to the obedience that is associated with faith. 27 God alone is wise. Glory belongs to him through Jesus Christ forever! Amen.
1st Corinthians 1
1 From Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and from Sosthenes, our brother in the Christian faith.
2 To God’s church that was made holy by Christ Jesus and called to be God’s holy people in the city of Corinth and to people everywhere who call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
3 Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
Paul’s Prayer for the Corinthians
4 I always thank God for you because Christ Jesus has shown you God’s good will. 5 Through Christ Jesus you have become rich in every way—in speech and knowledge of every kind. 6 Our message about Christ has been verified among you. 7 Therefore, you don’t lack any gift as you wait eagerly for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will continue to give you strength until the end so that no one can accuse you of anything on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God faithfully keeps his promises. He called you to be partners with his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.
God’s Wisdom Is Better Than the World’s Wisdom
10 Brothers and sisters, I encourage all of you in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to agree with each other and not to split into opposing groups. I want you to be united in your understanding and opinions. 11 Brothers and sisters, some people from Chloe’s family have made it clear to me that you are quarreling among yourselves. 12 This is what I mean: Each of you is saying, “I follow Paul,” or “I follow Apollos,” or “I follow Cephas,”b or “I follow Christ.” 13 Has Christ been divided? Was Paul crucified for you? Were you baptized in Paul’s name? 14 I thank God that I didn’t baptize any of you except Crispus and Gaius 15 so that no one can say you were baptized in my name. 16 I also baptized Stephanas and his family. Beyond that, I’m not sure whether I baptized anyone else. 17 Christ didn’t send me to baptize. Instead, he sent me to spread the Good News. I didn’t use intellectual arguments. That would have made the cross of Christ lose its meaning.
18 The message about the cross is nonsense to those who are being destroyed, but it is God’s power to us who are being saved. 19 Scripture says,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise.
I will reject the intelligence of intelligent people.”
20 Where is the wise person? Where is the scholar? Where is the persuasive speaker of our time? Hasn’t God turned the wisdom of the world into nonsense? 21 The world with its wisdom was unable to recognize God in terms of his own wisdom. So God decided to use the nonsense of the Good News we speak to save those who believe. 22 Jews ask for miraculous signs, and Greeks look for wisdom, 23 but our message is that Christ was crucified. This offends Jewish people and makes no sense to people who are not Jewish. 24 But to those Jews and Greeks who are called, he is Christ, God’s power and God’s wisdom. 25 God’s nonsense is wiser than human wisdom, and God’s weakness is stronger than human strength.
26 Brothers and sisters, consider what you were when God called you to be Christians. Not many of you were wise from a human point of view. You were not in powerful positions or in the upper social classes. 27 But God chose what the world considers nonsense to put wise people to shame. God chose what the world considers weak to put what is strong to shame. 28 God chose what the world considers ordinary and what it despises—what it considers to be nothing—in order to destroy what it considers to be something. 29 As a result, no one can brag in God’s presence. 30 You are partners with Christ Jesus because of God. Jesus has become our wisdom sent from God, our righteousness, our holiness, and our ransom from sin. 31 As Scripture says, “Whoever brags must brag about what the Lord has done.”
1st Corinthians 2
1 Brothers and sisters, when I came to you, I didn’t speak about God’s mystery as if it were some kind of brilliant message or wisdom. 2 While I was with you, I decided to deal with only one subject—Jesus Christ, who was crucified. 3 When I came to you, I was weak. I was afraid and very nervous. 4 I didn’t speak my message with persuasive intellectual arguments. I spoke my message with a show of spiritual power 5 so that your faith would not be based on human wisdom but on God’s power.
6 However, we do use wisdom to speak to those who are mature. It is a wisdom that doesn’t belong to this world or to the rulers of this world who are in power today and gone tomorrow. 7 We speak about the mystery of God’s wisdom. It is a wisdom that has been hidden, which God had planned for our glory before the world began. 8 Not one of the rulers of this world has known it. If they had, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory. 9 But as Scripture says:
“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
and no mind has imagined
the things that God has prepared
for those who love him.”
10 God has revealed those things to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches everything, especially the deep things of God. 11 After all, who knows everything about a person except that person’s own spirit? In the same way, no one has known everything about God except God’s Spirit. 12 Now, we didn’t receive the spirit that belongs to the world. Instead, we received the Spirit who comes from God so that we could know the things which God has freely given us. 13 We don’t speak about these things using teachings that are based on intellectual arguments like people do. Instead, we use the Spirit’s teachings. We explain spiritual things to those who have the Spirit.
14 A person who isn’t spiritual doesn’t accept the teachings of God’s Spirit. He thinks they’re nonsense. He can’t understand them because a person must be spiritual to evaluate them. 15 Spiritual people evaluate everything but are subject to no one’s evaluation.
16 “Who has known the mind of the Lord
so that he can teach him?”
However, we have the mind of Christ.
1st Corinthians 3
You Belong to Christ
1 Brothers and sisters, I couldn’t talk to you as spiritual people but as people still influenced by your corrupt nature. You were infants in your faith in Christ. 2 I gave you milk to drink. I didn’t give you solid food because you weren’t ready for it. Even now you aren’t ready for it 3 because you’re still influenced by your corrupt nature.
When you are jealous and quarrel among yourselves, aren’t you influenced by your corrupt nature and living by human standards? 4 When some of you say, “I follow Paul” and others say, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting like sinful humans? 5 Who is Apollos? Who is Paul? They are servants who helped you come to faith. Each did what the Lord gave him to do. 6 I planted, and Apollos watered, but God made it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is important because only God makes it grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own work. 9 We are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field.
You are God’s building. 10 As a skilled and experienced builder, I used the gift that God gave me to lay the foundation for that building. However, someone else is building on it. Each person must be careful how he builds on it. 11 After all, no one can lay any other foundation than the one that is already laid, and that foundation is Jesus Christ. 12 People may build on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw. 13 The day will make what each one does clearly visible because fire will reveal it. That fire will determine what kind of work each person has done. 14 If what a person has built survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If his work is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.
16 Don’t you know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him because God’s temple is holy. You are that holy temple!
18 Don’t deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise in the ways of this world, you should give up that wisdom in order to become really wise. 19 The wisdom of this world is nonsense in God’s sight. That’s why Scripture says, “God catches the wise in their cleverness.” 20 Again Scripture says, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are pointless.”
21 So don’t brag about people. Everything belongs to you. 22 Whether it is Paul, Apollos, Cephas, the world, life or death, present or future things, everything belongs to you. 23 You belong to Christ, and Christ belongs to God.
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Paul in Tyre
1 When we finally left them, we sailed straight to the island of Cos. The next day we sailed to the island of Rhodes and from there to the city of Patara. 2 In Patara, we found a ship that was going to Phoenicia, so we went aboard and sailed away. 3 We could see the island of Cyprus as we
passed it on our left and sailed to Syria. We landed at the city of Tyre, where the ship was to unload its cargo.
4 In Tyre we searched for the disciples. After we found them, we stayed there for seven days. The Spirit had the disciples tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem. 5 When our time was up, we started on our way. All of them with their wives and children accompanied us out of the city. We knelt on the beach, prayed, 6 and said goodbye to each other. Then we went aboard the ship, and the disciples went back home.
Paul in Caesarea
7 Our sea travel ended when we sailed from Tyre to the city of Ptolemais. We greeted the believers in Ptolemais and spent the day with them. 8 The next day we went to Philip’s home in Caesarea and stayed with him. He was a missionary and one of the seven men who helped the apostles. 9 Philip had four unmarried daughters who had the ability to speak what God had revealed.
10 After we had been there for a number of days, a prophet named Agabus arrived from Judea. 11 During his visit he took Paul’s belt and tied his own feet and hands with it. Then he said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘This is how the Jews in Jerusalem will tie up the man who owns this belt. Then they will hand him over to people who are not Jewish.’”
12 When we heard this, we and the believers who lived there begged Paul not to go to Jerusalem.
13 Then Paul replied, “Why are you crying like this and breaking my heart? I’m ready not only to be tied up in Jerusalem but also to die there for the sake of the Lord, the one named Jesus.”
14 When Paul could not be persuaded, we dropped the issue and said, “May the Lord’s will be done.”
Paul in Jerusalem
15 After that, we got ready to go to Jerusalem. 16 Some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us. They took us to Mnason’s home, where we would be staying. Mnason was from the island of Cyprus and was one of the first disciples. 17 When we arrived in Jerusalem, the believers welcomed us warmly.
18 The next day Paul went with us to visit James. All the spiritual leaders were present. 19 After greeting them, Paul related everything God had done through his work with non-Jewish people.
20 When the spiritual leaders heard about everything, they praised God. They said to Paul, “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews are now believers, and all of them are deeply committed to Moses’ Teachings. 21 But they have been told that you teach all the Jews living among non-Jewish people to abandon Moses. They claim that you tell them not to circumcise their children or follow Jewish customs. 22 What should we do about this? They will certainly hear that you’re in town. 23 So follow our advice. We have four men who have made a vow to God. 24 Take these men, go through the purification ceremony with them, and pay the expenses to shave their heads. Then everyone will know that what they’ve been told about you isn’t true. Instead, they’ll see that you carefully follow Moses’ Teachings.
25 “To clarify this matter, we have written non-Jewish believers a letter with our decision. We told them that they should not eat food sacrificed to false gods, bloody meat, or the meat of strangled animals. They also should not commit sexual sins.”
26 The next day, Paul took the men and went through the purification ceremony with them. Then he went into the temple courtyard to announce the time when the purification would be over and the sacrifice would be offered for each of them.
27 When the seven days were almost over, the Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul in the temple courtyard. They stirred up the whole crowd and grabbed Paul. 28 Then they began shouting, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches everyone everywhere to turn against the Jewish people, Moses’ Teachings, and this temple. He has even brought Greeks into the temple courtyard and has made this holy place unclean.” 29 They had seen Trophimus from Ephesus with him in the city earlier and thought Paul had taken him into the temple courtyard.
30 The whole city was in chaos, and a mob formed. The mob grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple courtyard. The courtyard doors were immediately shut.
31 As the people were trying to kill Paul, the officer in charge of the Roman soldiers received a report that all Jerusalem was rioting. 32 Immediately, he took some soldiers and officers and charged the crowd. When the crowd saw the officer and the soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 Then the officer went to Paul, grabbed him, and ordered him to be tied up with two chains.
The officer asked who Paul was and what he had done. 34 Some of the crowd shouted one thing, while others shouted something else. The officer couldn’t get any facts because of the noise and confusion, so he ordered Paul to be taken into the barracks. 35 When Paul came to the stairs of the barracks, the crowd was so violent that the soldiers had to carry him. 36 The mob was behind them shouting, “Kill him!”
Paul Speaks in His Own Defense
37 As the soldiers were about to take Paul into the barracks, he asked the officer, “May I say something to you?”
The officer replied to Paul, “Can you speak Greek? 38 Aren’t you the Egyptian who started a revolution not long ago and led four thousand terrorists into the desert?”
39 Paul answered, “I’m a Jew, a citizen from the well-known city of Tarsus in Cilicia. I’m asking you to let me talk to the people.”
40 The officer gave Paul permission to speak. So Paul stood on the stairs of the barracks and motioned with his hand for the people to be quiet. When the mob was silent, Paul spoke to them in the Hebrew language.
1 “Brothers and fathers, listen as I now present my case to you.”
2 When the mob heard him speak to them in Hebrew, they became even more quiet. Then Paul continued, 3 “I’m a Jew. I was born and raised in the city of Tarsus in Cilicia and received my education from Gamaliel here in Jerusalem. My education was in the strict rules handed down by our ancestors. I was as devoted to God as all of you are today. 4 I persecuted people who followed the way of Christ: I tied up men and women and put them into prison until they were executed. 5 The chief priest and the entire council of our leaders can prove that I did this. In fact, they even gave me letters to take to the Jewish community in the city of Damascus. I was going there to tie up believers and bring them back to Jerusalem to punish them.
6 “But as I was on my way and approaching the city of Damascus about noon, a bright light from heaven suddenly flashed around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice asking me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why are you persecuting me?’
8 “I answered, ‘Who are you, sir?’
“The person told me, ‘I’m Jesus from Nazareth, the one you’re persecuting.’
9 “The men who were with me saw the light but didn’t understand what the person who was speaking to me said.
10 “Then I asked, ‘What do you want me to do, Lord?’
“The Lord told me, ‘Get up! Go into the city of Damascus, and you’ll be told everything I’ve arranged for you to do.’
11 “I was blind because the light had been so bright. So the men who were with me led me into the city of Damascus.
12 “A man named Ananias lived in Damascus. He was a devout person who followed Moses’ Teachings. All the Jews living in Damascus spoke highly of him. 13 He came to me, stood beside me, and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ At that moment my sight came back and I could see Ananias.
14 “Ananias said, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will, to see the one who has God’s approval, and to hear him speak to you. 15 You will be his witness and will tell everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for now? Get up! Be baptized, and have your sins washed away as you call on his name.’
17 “After that, I returned to Jerusalem. While I was praying in the temple courtyard, I fell into a trance 18 and saw the Lord. He told me, ‘Hurry! Get out of Jerusalem immediately. The people here won’t accept your testimony about me.’
19 “I said, ‘Lord, people here know that I went from synagogue to synagogue to imprison and whip those who believe in you. 20 When Stephen, who witnessed about you, was being killed, I was standing there. I approved of his death and guarded the coats of those who were murdering him.’
21 “But the Lord told me, ‘Go! I’ll send you on a mission. You’ll go far away to people who aren’t Jewish.’”
22 Up to that point the mob listened. Then they began to shout, “Kill him! The world doesn’t need a man like this. He shouldn’t have been allowed to live this long!”
23 The mob was yelling, taking off their coats, and throwing dirt into the air. 24 So the officer ordered the soldiers to take Paul into the barracks and told them to question Paul as they whipped him. The officer wanted to find out why the people were yelling at Paul like this. 25 But when the soldiers had Paul stretch out to tie him to the whipping post with the straps, Paul asked the sergeant who was standing there, “Is it legal for you to whip a Roman citizen who hasn’t had a trial?”
26 When the sergeant heard this, he reported it to his commanding officer. The sergeant asked him, “What are you doing? This man is a Roman citizen.”
27 The officer went to Paul and asked him, “Tell me, are you a Roman citizen?”
Paul answered, “Yes.”
28 The officer replied, “I paid a lot of money to become a Roman citizen.”
Paul replied, “But I was born a Roman citizen.”
29 Immediately, the soldiers who were going to question Paul stepped away from him. The officer was afraid when he found out that he had tied up a Roman citizen.
Paul in Front of the Jewish Council
30 The officer wanted to find out exactly what accusation the Jews had against Paul. So the officer released Paul the next day and ordered the chief priests and the entire Jewish council to meet. Then the officer brought Paul and had him stand in front of them.
1 Paul stared at the Jewish council and said, “Brothers, my relationship with God has always given me a perfectly clear conscience.”
2 The chief priest Ananias ordered the men standing near Paul to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God will strike you, you hypocrite! You sit there and judge me by Moses’ Teachings and yet you break those teachings by ordering these men to strike me!”
4 The men standing near Paul said to him, “You’re insulting God’s chief priest!”
5 Paul answered, “Brothers, I didn’t know that he is the chief priest. After all, Scripture says, ‘Don’t speak evil about a ruler of your people.’”
6 When Paul saw that some of them were Sadducees and others were Pharisees, he shouted in the council, “Brothers, I’m a Pharisee and a descendant of Pharisees. I’m on trial because I expect that the dead will come back to life.”
7 After Paul said that, the Pharisees and Sadducees began to quarrel, and the men in the meeting were divided. 8 (The Sadducees say that the dead won’t come back to life and that angels and spirits don’t exist. The Pharisees believe in all these things.) 9 The shouting became very loud. Some of the scribes were Pharisees who argued their position forcefully. They said, “We don’t find anything wrong with this man. Maybe a spirit or an angel actually spoke to him!”
10 The quarrel was becoming violent, and the officer was afraid that they would tear Paul to pieces. So the officer ordered his soldiers to drag Paul back to the barracks.
11 The Lord stood near Paul the next night and said to him, “Don’t lose your courage! You’ve told the truth about me in Jerusalem. Now you must tell the truth about me in Rome.”
Some Jews Plot to Kill Paul
12 In the morning the Jews formed a conspiracy. They asked God to curse them if they ate or drank anything before they had killed Paul. 13 More than forty men took part in this plot.
14 They went to the chief priests and leaders of the people and said, “We’ve asked God to curse us if we taste any food before we’ve killed Paul. 15 Here’s our plan: You and the council must go to the Roman officer on the pretext that you need more information from Paul. You have to make it look as though you want to get more accurate information about him. We’ll be ready to kill him before he gets to you.”
16 But Paul’s nephew heard about the ambush. He entered the barracks and told Paul. 17 Then Paul called one of the sergeants and told him, “Take this young man to the officer. He has something to tell him.”
18 The sergeant took the young man to the officer and said, “The prisoner Paul called me. He asked me to bring this young man to you because he has something to tell you.”
19 The officer took the young man by the arm, went where they could be alone, and asked him, “What do you have to tell me?”
20 The young man answered, “The Jews have planned to ask you to bring Paul to the Jewish council tomorrow. They’re going to make it look as though they want more accurate information about him. 21 Don’t let them persuade you to do this. More than forty of them are planning to ambush him. They have asked God to curse them if they eat or drink anything before they have murdered him. They are ready now and are expecting you to promise that you will bring Paul.”
22 The officer dismissed the young man and ordered him not to tell this information to anyone else.
23 Then the officer summoned two of his sergeants and told them, “I want 200 infantrymen, 70 soldiers on horseback, and 200 soldiers with spears. Have them ready to go to Caesarea at nine o’clock tonight. 24 Provide an animal for Paul to ride, and take him safely to Governor Felix.” 25 The officer wrote a letter to the governor with the following message:
26 Claudius Lysias sends greetings to Your Excellency, Governor Felix:
27 The Jews had seized this man and were going to murder him. When I found out that he was a Roman citizen, I went with my soldiers to rescue him. 28 I wanted to know what they had against him. So I took him to their Jewish council 29 and found their accusations had to do with disputes about Jewish teachings. He wasn’t accused of anything for which he deserved to die or to be put into prison. 30 Since I was informed that there was a plot against this man, I immediately sent him to you. I have also ordered his accusers to state their case against him in front of you.
31 So the infantrymen did as they had been ordered. They took Paul to the city of Antipatris during the night. 32 They returned to their barracks the next day and let the soldiers on horseback travel with Paul. 33 When the soldiers arrived in the city of Caesarea with Paul, they delivered the letter to the governor and handed Paul over to him.
34 After the governor had read the letter, he asked Paul which province he was from. When he found out that Paul was from the province of Cilicia, 35 he said, “I’ll hear your case when your accusers arrive.” Then the governor gave orders to keep Paul under guard in Herod’s palace.
Paul Presents His Case to Felix
1 Five days later the chief priest Ananias went to the city of Caesarea with some leaders of the people and an attorney named Tertullus. They reported to the governor their charges against Paul.
2 When Paul had been summoned, Tertullus began to accuse him. He said to Felix, “Your Excellency, through your wise leadership we have lasting peace and reforms that benefit the people. 3 We appreciate what you’ve done in every way and in every place, and we want to thank you very much. 4 I don’t want to keep you too long. Please listen to us. We will be brief. 5 We have found this man to be a troublemaker. He starts quarrels among all Jews throughout the world. He’s a ringleader of the Nazarene sect. 6 He also entered the temple courtyard in a way that violates our tradition. So we arrested him. 8 When you cross-examine him, you’ll be able to find out from him that our accusations are true.”
9 The Jews supported Tertullus’ accusations and asserted that everything Tertullus said was true.
10 The governor motioned for Paul to speak. Paul responded, “I know that you have been a judge over this nation for many years. So I’m pleased to present my case to you. 11 You can verify for yourself that I went to Jerusalem to worship no more than twelve days ago. 12 No one found me having a discussion with anyone in the temple courtyard or stirring up a crowd in the synagogues throughout the city. 13 These people cannot even prove their accusations to you. 14 But I’ll admit to you that I’m a follower of the way of Christ, which they call a sect. This means that I serve our ancestors’ God and believe everything written in Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets. 15 I hope for the same thing my accusers do, that people with God’s approval and those without it will come back to life. 16 With this belief I always do my best to have a clear conscience in the sight of God and people. 17 After many years I have come back to my people and brought gifts for the poor and offerings for God. 18 My accusers found me in the temple courtyard doing these things after I had gone through the purification ceremony. No crowd or noisy mob was present. 19 But some Jews from the province of Asia were there. They should be here in front of you to accuse me if they have anything against me. 20 Otherwise, these men who are accusing me should tell what I was charged with when I stood in front of their council. 21 They could accuse me of only one thing. As I stood among them, I shouted, ‘I’m being tried in front of you because I believe that the dead will come back to life.’”
22 Felix knew the way of Christ rather well, so he adjourned the trial. He told them, “When the officer Lysias arrives, I’ll decide your case.” 23 Felix ordered the sergeant to guard Paul but to let him have some freedom and to let his friends take care of his needs.
24 Some days later Felix arrived with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish. He sent for Paul and listened to him talk about faith in Christ Jesus. 25 As Paul discussed the subjects of God’s approval, self-control, and the coming judgment, Felix became afraid and said, “That’s enough for now. You can go. When I find time, I’ll send for you again.” 26 At the same time, Felix was hoping that Paul would give him some money. For that reason, Felix would send for Paul rather often to have friendly conversations with him.
27 Two years passed. Then Porcius Festus took Felix’s place. (Since Felix wanted to do the Jews a favor, he left Paul in prison.)
Paul Makes an Appeal
1 Three days after Festus took over his duties in the province of Judea, he went from the city of Caesarea to Jerusalem. 2 The chief priests and the other important Jewish leaders informed Festus about their charges against Paul. They were urging 3 Festus to do them the favor of having Paul brought to Jerusalem. The Jews had a plan to ambush and kill Paul as he traveled to Jerusalem.
4 Festus replied that he would be returning to Caesarea soon and would keep Paul there. 5 He told them, “Have your authorities come to Caesarea with me and accuse him there if the man has done something wrong.”
6 Festus stayed in Jerusalem for eight or ten days at the most and then returned to Caesarea. The next day Festus took his place in court and summoned Paul.
7 When Paul entered the room, the Jews who had come from Jerusalem surrounded him. They made a lot of serious accusations that they couldn’t prove. 8 Paul defended himself by saying, “I haven’t broken any Jewish law or done anything against the temple or the emperor.”
9 But Festus wanted to do the Jews a favor. So he asked Paul, “Are you willing to go to Jerusalem to be tried there on these charges with me as your judge?”
10 Paul said, “I am standing in the emperor’s court where I must be tried. I haven’t done anything wrong to the Jews, as you know very well. 11 If I am guilty and have done something wrong for which I deserve the death penalty, I don’t reject the idea of dying. But if their accusations are untrue, no one can hand me over to them as a favor. I appeal my case to the emperor!”
12 Festus discussed the appeal with his advisers and then replied to Paul, “You have appealed your case to the emperor, so you’ll go to the emperor!”
King Agrippa Meets Paul
13 Later King Agrippa and Bernice came to the city of Caesarea to welcome Festus. 14 Since they were staying there for a number of days, Festus told the king about Paul’s case.
Festus said, “Felix left a man here in prison. 15 When I went to Jerusalem, the chief priests and the Jewish leaders brought me some information about him and asked me to condemn him.
16 “I replied to them, ‘That’s not the Roman way of doing things. A person can’t be sentenced as a favor. Before he is sentenced, he must face his accusers and have a chance to defend himself against their accusation.’
17 “So the Jewish leaders came to Caesarea with me. The next day I immediately convened court and summoned the man. 18 When his accusers stood up, they didn’t accuse him of the crimes I was expecting. 19 They were disputing with him about their own religion and about some man named Jesus who had died. But Paul claimed that Jesus is alive. 20 Their debate about these things left me puzzled. So I asked Paul if he would like to go to Jerusalem to have his case heard there. 21 But Paul appealed his case. He asked to be held in prison and to have His Majesty the Emperor decide his case. So I ordered him to be held in prison until I could send him to the emperor.”
22 Agrippa told Festus, “I would like to hear the man.”
Festus replied, “You’ll hear him tomorrow.”
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice entered the auditorium with a lot of fanfare. Roman army officers and the most important men of the city entered the auditorium with them. Festus gave the order, and Paul was brought into the auditorium.
24 Then Festus said, “King Agrippa and everyone who is present with us! All the Jews in Jerusalem and Caesarea have talked to me about this man you see in front of you. They shout that he must not be allowed to live any longer. 25 However, I don’t think that he has done anything to deserve the death penalty. But since he made an appeal to His Majesty the Emperor, I have decided to send him to Rome. 26 But I don’t have anything reliable to write our emperor about him. So I have brought him to all of you, and especially to you, King Agrippa. Then I’ll have something to write after he is cross-examined. 27 I find it ridiculous to send a prisoner to Rome when I can’t specify any charges against him.”
1 Agrippa said to Paul, “You’re free to speak for yourself.”
Paul acknowledged King Agrippa and then began his defense. 2 “King Agrippa, I think I’m fortunate today to stand in front of you and defend myself against every charge that the Jews brought against me. 3 I say this since you are especially familiar with every custom and controversy in Judaism. So I ask you to listen patiently to me.
4 “All the Jews know how I lived the earliest days of my youth with my own people and in Jerusalem. 5 They’ve known me for a long time and can testify, if they’re willing, that I followed the strictest party of our religion. They know that I lived my life as a Pharisee.
6 “I’m on trial now because I expect God to keep the promise that he made to our ancestors. 7 Our twelve tribes expect this promise to be kept as they worship with intense devotion day and night. Your Majesty, the Jews are making accusations against me because I expect God to keep his promise. 8 Why do all of you refuse to believe that God can bring dead people back to life?
9 “I used to think that I had to do a lot of things to oppose the one named Jesus of Nazareth. 10 That is what I did in Jerusalem. By the authority I received from the chief priests, I locked many Christians in prison. I voted to have them killed every time a vote was taken. 11 I even went to each synagogue, punished believers, and forced them to curse the name of Jesus. In my furious rage against them, I hunted them down in cities outside Jerusalem.
12 “I was carrying out these activities when I went to the city of Damascus. I had the power and authority of the chief priests. 13 Your Majesty, at noon, while I was traveling, I saw a light that was brighter than the sun. The light came from the sky and shined around me and those who were with me. 14 All of us fell to the ground, and I heard a voice asking me in Hebrew, ‘Saul, Saul! Why are you persecuting me? It’s hard for a mortal like you to resist God.’
15 “I asked, ‘Who are you, sir?’
“The Lord answered, ‘I am Jesus, the one you’re persecuting. 16 Stand up! I have appeared to you for a reason. I’m appointing you to be a servant and witness of what you have seen and of what I will show you. 17 I will rescue you from the Jewish people and from the non-Jewish people to whom I am sending you. 18 You will open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light and from Satan’s control to God’s. Then they will receive forgiveness for their sins and a share among God’s people who are made holy by believing in me.’
19 “At that point I did not disobey the vision I saw from heaven, King Agrippa. 20 Instead, I spread the message that I first told to the Jewish people in Damascus and Jerusalem and throughout the whole country of Judea. I spread the same message to non-Jewish people. Both groups were expected to change the way they thought and acted and to turn to God. I told them to do things that prove they had changed their lives. 21 For this reason the Jews took me prisoner in the temple courtyard and tried to murder me.
22 “God has been helping me to this day so that I can stand and testify to important and unimportant people. I tell them only what the prophets and Moses said would happen. 23 They said that the Messiah would suffer and be the first to come back to life and would spread light to Jewish and non-Jewish people.”
24 As Paul was defending himself in this way, Festus shouted, “Paul, you’re crazy! Too much education is driving you crazy!”
25 Paul replied, “I’m not crazy, Your Excellency Festus. What I’m saying is true and sane. 26 I can easily speak to a king who knows about these things. I’m sure that none of these things has escaped his attention. None of this was done secretly. 27 King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you believe them!”
28 Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think you can quickly persuade me to become a Christian?”
29 Paul replied, “I wish to God that you and everyone listening to me today would quickly and completely become as I am (except for being a prisoner).”
30 The king, the governor, Bernice, and the people who were sitting with them got up. 31 As they were leaving, they said to each other, “This man isn’t doing anything for which he deserves to die or be put in prison.”
32 Agrippa told Festus, “This man could have been set free if he hadn’t appealed his case to the emperor.”
Paul Sails for Rome
1 When it was decided that we should sail to Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were turned over to an army officer. His name was Julius, and he belonged to the emperor’s division. 2 We set sail on a ship from the city of Adramyttium. The ship was going to stop at ports on the coast of the province of Asia. Aristarchus, a Macedonian from the city of Thessalonica, went with us.
3 The next day we arrived at the city of Sidon. Julius treated Paul kindly and allowed him to visit his friends and receive any care he needed. 4 Leaving Sidon, we sailed on the northern side of the island of Cyprus because we were traveling against the wind. 5 We sailed along the coast of the provinces of Cilicia and Pamphylia and arrived at the city of Myra in the province of Lycia. 6 In Myra the officer found a ship from Alexandria that was on its way to Italy and put us on it. 7 We were sailing slowly for a number of days. Our difficulties began along the coast of the city of Cnidus because the wind would not let us go further. So at Cape Salmone, we started to sail for the south side of the island of Crete. 8 We had difficulty sailing along the shore of Crete. We finally came to a port called Fair Harbors. The port was near the city of Lasea.
9 We had lost so much time that the day of fasting had already past. Sailing was now dangerous, so Paul advised them, 10 “Men, we’re going to face a disaster and heavy losses on this voyage. This disaster will cause damage to the cargo and the ship, and it will affect our lives.” 11 However, the officer was persuaded by what the pilot and the owner of the ship said and not by what Paul said. 12 Since the harbor was not a good place to spend the winter, most of the men decided to sail from there. They hoped to reach the city of Phoenix somehow and spend the winter there. (Phoenix is a harbor that faces the southwest and northwest winds and is located on the island of Crete.)
13 When a gentle breeze began to blow from the south, the men thought their plan would work. They raised the anchor and sailed close to the shore of Crete.
14 Soon a powerful wind (called a northeaster) blew from the island. 15 The wind carried the ship away, and we couldn’t sail against the wind. We couldn’t do anything, so we were carried along by the wind. 16 As we drifted to the sheltered side of a small island called Cauda, we barely got control of the ship’s lifeboat. 17 The men pulled it up on deck. Then they passed ropes under the ship to reinforce it. Fearing that they would hit the large sandbank off the shores of Libya, they lowered the sail and were carried along by the wind. 18 We continued to be tossed so violently by the storm that the next day the men began to throw the cargo overboard. 19 On the third day they threw the ship’s equipment overboard. 20 For a number of days we couldn’t see the sun or the stars. The storm wouldn’t let up. It was so severe that we finally began to lose any hope of coming out of it alive.
21 Since hardly anyone wanted to eat, Paul stood among them and said, “Men, you should have followed my advice not to sail from Crete. You would have avoided this disaster and loss. 22 Now I advise you to have courage. No one will lose his life. Only the ship will be destroyed. 23 I know this because an angel from the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood by me last night. 24 The angel told me, ‘Don’t be afraid, Paul! You must present your case to the emperor. God has granted safety to everyone who is sailing with you.’ 25 So have courage, men! I trust God that everything will turn out as he told me. 26 However, we will run aground on some island.”
27 On the fourteenth night we were still drifting through the Mediterranean Sea. About midnight the sailors suspected that we were approaching land. 28 So they threw a line with a weight on it into the water. It sank 120 feet. They waited a little while and did the same thing again. This time the line sank 90 feet. 29 Fearing we might hit rocks, they dropped four anchors from the back of the ship and prayed for morning to come.
30 The sailors tried to escape from the ship. They let the lifeboat down into the sea and pretended they were going to lay out the anchors from the front of the ship. 31 Paul told the officer and the soldiers, “If these sailors don’t stay on the ship, you have no hope of staying alive.” 32 Then the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it drift away.
33 Just before daybreak Paul was encouraging everyone to have something to eat. “This is the fourteenth day you have waited and have had nothing to eat. 34 So I’m encouraging you to eat something. Eating will help you survive, since not a hair from anyone’s head will be lost.” 35 After Paul said this, he took some bread, thanked God in front of everyone, broke it, and began to eat. 36 Everyone was encouraged and had something to eat. 37 (There were 276 of us on the ship.) 38 After the people had eaten all they wanted, they lightened the ship by dumping the wheat into the sea.
39 In the morning they couldn’t recognize the land, but they could see a bay with a beach. So they decided to try to run the ship ashore. 40 They cut the anchors free and left them in the sea. At the same time they untied the ropes that held the steering oars. Then they raised the top sail to catch the wind and steered the ship to the shore. 41 They struck a sandbar in the water and ran the ship aground. The front of the ship stuck and couldn’t be moved, while the back of the ship was broken to pieces by the force of the waves.
42 The soldiers had a plan to kill the prisoners to keep them from swimming away and escaping. 43 However, the officer wanted to save Paul, so he stopped the soldiers from carrying out their plan. He ordered those who could swim to jump overboard first and swim ashore. 44 Then he ordered the rest to follow on planks or some other pieces of wood from the ship. In this way everyone got to shore safely.
Paul on the Island of Malta
1 When we were safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. 2 The people who lived on the island were unusually kind to us. They made a fire and welcomed all of us around it because of the rain and the cold.
3 Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire. The heat forced a poisonous snake out of the brushwood. The snake bit Paul’s hand and wouldn’t let go. 4 When the people who lived on the island saw the snake hanging from his hand, they said to each other, “This man must be a murderer! He may have escaped from the sea, but justice won’t let him live.”
5 Paul shook the snake into the fire and wasn’t harmed. 6 The people were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly drop dead. But after they had waited a long time and saw nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.
7 A man named Publius, who was the governor of the island, had property around the area. He welcomed us and treated us kindly, and for three days we were his guests. 8 His father happened to be sick in bed. He was suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, prayed, placed his hands on him, and made him well.
9 After that had happened, other sick people on the island went to Paul and were made well. 10 They showed respect for us in many ways, and when we were going to set sail, they put whatever we needed on board.
Paul Sails From Malta to Rome
11 After three months we sailed on an Alexandrian ship that had spent the winter at the island. The ship had the gods Castor and Pollux carved on its front. 12 We stopped at the city of Syracuse and stayed there for three days. 13 We sailed from Syracuse and arrived at the city of Rhegium. The next day a south wind began to blow, and two days later we arrived at the city of Puteoli. 14 In Puteoli we discovered some believers who begged us to spend a week with them.
15 Believers in Rome heard that we were coming, so they came as far as the cities of Appius’ Market and Three Taverns to meet us. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and felt encouraged. So we finally arrived in the city of Rome. 16 After our arrival, Paul was allowed to live by himself, but he had a soldier who guarded him.
Paul in Rome
17 After three days Paul invited the most influential Jews in Rome to meet with him. When they assembled, he said to them, “Brothers, I haven’t done anything against the Jewish people or violated the customs handed down by our ancestors. Yet, I’m a prisoner from Jerusalem, and I’ve been handed over to the Roman authorities. 18 The Roman authorities cross-examined me and wanted to let me go because I was accused of nothing for which I deserved to die. 19 But when the Jews objected, I was forced to appeal my case to the emperor. That doesn’t mean I have any charges to bring against my own people. 20 That’s why I asked to see you and speak with you. I’m wearing these chains because of what Israel hopes for.”
21 The Jewish leaders told Paul, “We haven’t received any letters from Judea about you, and no Jewish person who has come to Rome has reported or mentioned anything bad about you. 22 However, we would like to hear what you think. We know that everywhere people are talking against this sect.”
23 On a designated day a larger number of influential Jews than expected went to the place where Paul was staying. From morning until evening, Paul was explaining the kingdom of God to them. He was trying to convince them about Jesus from Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets. 24 Some of them were convinced by what he said, but others continued to disbelieve.
25 The Jews, unable to agree among themselves, left after Paul had quoted this particular passage to them: “How well the Holy Spirit spoke to your ancestors through the prophet Isaiah! 26 The Spirit said: ‘Go to these people and say,
“You will hear clearly but never understand.
You will see clearly but never comprehend.
27 These people have become close-minded
and hard of hearing.
They have shut their eyes
so that their eyes never see.
Their ears never hear.
Their minds never understand.
And they never turn to me for healing.”’
28 “You need to know that God has sent his salvation to people who are not Jews. They will listen.”
30 Paul rented a place to live for two full years and welcomed everyone who came to him. 31 He spread the message about God’s kingdom and taught very boldly about the Lord Jesus Christ. No one stopped him.
1 From Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle and appointed to spread the Good News of God. 2 (God had already promised this Good News through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures. 3 This Good News is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. In his human nature he was a descendant of David. 4 In his spiritual, holy nature he was declared the Son of God. This was shown in a powerful way when he came back to life. 5 Through him we have received God’s kindness and the privilege of being apostles who bring people from every nation to the obedience that is associated with faith. This is for the honor of his name. 6 You are among those who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ.)
7 To everyone in Rome whom God loves and has called to be his holy people.
Good will and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ are yours!
Paul’s Prayer and Desire to Visit Rome
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for every one of you because the news of your faith is spreading throughout the whole world. 9 I serve God by spreading the Good News about his Son. God is my witness that I always mention you 10 every time I pray. I ask that somehow God will now at last make it possible for me to visit you. 11 I long to see you to share a spiritual blessing with you so that you will be strengthened. 12 What I mean is that we may be encouraged by each other’s faith.
13 I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that I often planned to visit you. However, until now I have been kept from doing so. What I want is to enjoy some of the results of working among you as I have also enjoyed the results of working among the rest of the nations. 14 I have an obligation to those who are civilized and those who aren’t, to those who are wise and those who aren’t. 15 That’s why I’m eager to tell you who live in Rome the Good News also.
16 I’m not ashamed of the Good News. It is God’s power to save everyone who believes, Jews first and Greeks as well. 17 God’s approval is revealed in this Good News. This approval begins and ends with faith as Scripture says, “The person who has God’s approval will live by faith.”
God’s Anger Against Sinful Humanity
18 God’s anger is revealed from heaven against every ungodly and immoral thing people do as they try to suppress the truth by their immoral living. 19 What can be known about God is clear to them because he has made it clear to them. 20 From the creation of the world, God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly observed in what he made. As a result, people have no excuse. 21 They knew God but did not praise and thank him for being God. Instead, their thoughts were pointless, and their misguided minds were plunged into darkness. 22 While claiming to be wise, they became fools. 23 They exchanged the glory of the immortal God for statues that looked like mortal humans, birds, animals, and snakes.
24 For this reason God allowed their lusts to control them. As a result, they dishonor their bodies by sexual perversion with each other. 25 These people have exchanged God’s truth for a lie. So they have become ungodly and serve what is created rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen!
26 For this reason God allowed their shameful passions to control them. Their women have exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 Likewise, their men have given up natural sexual relations with women and burn with lust for each other. Men commit indecent acts with men, so they experience among themselves the punishment they deserve for their perversion.
28 And because they thought it was worthless to acknowledge God, God allowed their own immoral minds to control them. So they do these indecent things. 29 Their lives are filled with all kinds of sexual sins, wickedness, and greed. They are mean. They are filled with envy, murder, quarreling, deceit, and viciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, haughty, arrogant, and boastful. They think up new ways to be cruel. They don’t obey their parents, 31 don’t have any sense, don’t keep promises, and don’t show love to their own families or mercy to others. 32 Although they know God’s judgment that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do these things but also approve of others who do them.
God Will Judge Everyone
1 No matter who you are, if you judge anyone, you have no excuse. When you judge another person, you condemn yourself, since you, the judge, do the same things. 2 We know that God’s judgment is right when he condemns people for doing these things. 3 When you judge people for doing these things but then do them yourself, do you think you will escape God’s judgment? 4 Do you have contempt for God, who is very kind to you, puts up with you, and deals patiently with you? Don’t you realize that it is God’s kindness that is trying to lead you to him and change the way you think and act?
5 Since you are stubborn and don’t want to change the way you think and act, you are adding to the anger that God will have against you on that day when God vents his anger. At that time God will reveal that his decisions are fair. 6 He will pay all people back for what they have done. 7 He will give everlasting life to those who search for glory, honor, and immortality by persisting in doing what is good. But he will bring 8 anger and fury on those who, in selfish pride, refuse to believe the truth and who follow what is wrong. 9 There will be suffering and distress for every person who does evil, for Jews first and Greeks as well. 10 But there will be glory, honor, and peace for every person who does what is good, for Jews first and Greeks as well. 11 God does not play favorites.
12 Here’s the reason: Whoever sins without having laws from God will still be condemned to destruction. And whoever has laws from God and sins will still be judged by them. 13 People who merely listen to laws from God don’t have God’s approval. Rather, people who do what those laws demand will have God’s approval.
God Will Judge People Who Are Not Jewish
14 For example, whenever non-Jews who don’t have laws from God do by nature the things that Moses’ Teachings contain, they are a law to themselves even though they don’t have any laws from God. 15 They show that some requirements found in Moses’ Teachings are written in their hearts. Their consciences speak to them. Their thoughts accuse them on one occasion and defend them on another. 16 This happens as they face the day when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge people’s secret thoughts. He will use the Good News that I am spreading to make that judgment.
God Will Judge Jewish People
17 You call yourself a Jew, rely on the laws in Moses’ Teachings, brag about your God, 18 know what he wants, and distinguish right from wrong because you have been taught Moses’ Teachings. 19 You are confident that you are a guide for the blind, a light to those in the dark, 20 an instructor of ignorant people, and a teacher of children because you have the full content of knowledge and truth in Moses’ Teachings. 21 As you teach others, are you failing to teach yourself? As you preach against stealing, are you stealing? 22 As you tell others not to commit adultery, are you committing adultery? As you treat idols with disgust, are you robbing temples? 23 As you brag about the laws in Moses’ Teachings, are you dishonoring God by ignoring Moses’ Teachings? 24 As Scripture says, “God’s name is cursed among the nations because of you.”
25 For example, circumcision is valuable if you follow Moses’ laws. If you don’t follow those laws, your circumcision amounts to uncircumcision. 26 So if a man does what Moses’ Teachings demand, won’t he be considered circumcised even if he is uncircumcised? 27 The uncircumcised man who carries out what Moses’ Teachings say will condemn you for not following them. He will condemn you in spite of the fact that you are circumcised and have Moses’ Teachings in writing. 28 A person is not a Jew because of his appearance, nor is circumcision a matter of how the body looks. 29 Rather, a person is a Jew inwardly, and circumcision is something that happens in a person’s heart. Circumcision is spiritual, not just a written rule. That person’s praise will come from God, not from people.
Everyone Is a Sinner
1 Is there any advantage, then, in being a Jew? Or is there any value in being circumcised? 2 There are all kinds of advantages. First of all, God entrusted them with his word.
3 What if some of them were unfaithful? Can their unfaithfulness cancel God’s faithfulness? 4 That would be unthinkable! God is honest, and everyone else is a liar, as Scripture says,
“So you hand down justice when you speak,
and you win your case in court.”
5 But if what we do wrong shows that God is fair, what should we say? Is God unfair when he vents his anger on us? (I’m arguing the way humans would.) 6 That’s unthinkable! Otherwise, how would God be able to judge the world? 7 If my lie increases the glory that God receives by showing that God is truthful, why am I still judged as a sinner? 8 Or can we say, “Let’s do evil so that good will come from it”? Some slander us and claim that this is what we say. They are condemned, and that’s what they deserve.
9 What, then, is the situation? Do we have any advantage? Not at all. We have already accused everyone (both Jews and Greeks) of being under the power of sin, 10 as Scripture says,
“Not one person has God’s approval.
11 No one understands.
No one searches for God.
12 Everyone has turned away.
Together they have become rotten to the core.
No one does anything good,
not even one person.
13 Their throats are open graves.
Their tongues practice deception.
Their lips hide the venom of poisonous snakes.
14 Their mouths are full of curses and bitter resentment.
15 They run quickly to murder people.
16 There is ruin and suffering wherever they go.
17 They have not learned to live in peace.
18 They are not terrified of God.”
19 We know that whatever is in Moses’ Teachings applies to everyone under their influence, and no one can say a thing. The whole world is brought under the judgment of God. 20 Not one person can have God’s approval by following Moses’ Teachings. Moses’ Teachings show what sin is.
God Gives Us His Approval as a Gift
21 Now, the way to receive God’s approval has been made plain in a way other than Moses’ Teachings. Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets tell us this. 22 Everyone who believes has God’s approval through faith in Jesus Christ.
There is no difference between people. 23 Because all people have sinned, they have fallen short of God’s glory. 24 They receive God’s approval freely by an act of his kindness through the price Christ Jesus paid to set us free from sin. 25 God showed that Christ is the throne of mercy where God’s approval is given through faith in Christ’s blood. In his patience God waited to deal with sins committed in the past. 26 He waited so that he could display his approval at the present time. This shows that he is a God of justice, a God who approves of people who believe in Jesus.
27 So, do we have anything to brag about? Bragging has been eliminated. On what basis was it eliminated? On the basis of our own efforts? No, indeed! Rather, it is eliminated on the basis of faith. 28 We conclude that a person has God’s approval by faith, not by his own efforts.
29 Is God only the God of the Jews? Isn’t he also the God of people who are not Jewish? Certainly, he is, 30 since it is the same God who approves circumcised people by faith and uncircumcised people through this same faith.
31 Are we abolishing Moses’ Teachings by this faith? That’s unthinkable! Rather, we are supporting Moses’ Teachings.
We Have God’s Approval by Faith
1 What can we say that we have discovered about our ancestor Abraham? 2 If Abraham had God’s approval because of something he did, he would have had a reason to brag. But he could not brag to God about it. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and that faith was regarded by God to be his approval of Abraham.”
4 When people work, their pay is not regarded as a gift but something they have earned. 5 However, when people don’t work but believe God, the one who approves ungodly people, their faith is regarded as God’s approval. 6 David says the same thing about those who are blessed: God approves of people without their earning it. David said,
7 “Blessed are those whose disobedience is forgiven
and whose sins are pardoned.
8 Blessed is the person whom the Lord no longer considers sinful.”
9 Are only the circumcised people blessed, or are uncircumcised people blessed as well? We say, “Abraham’s faith was regarded as God’s approval of him.” 10 How was his faith regarded as God’s approval? Was he circumcised or was he uncircumcised at that time? He had not been circumcised. 11 Abraham’s faith was regarded as God’s approval while he was still uncircumcised. The mark of circumcision is the seal of that approval. Therefore, he is the father of every believer who is not circumcised, and their faith, too, is regarded as God’s approval of them. 12 He is also the father of those who not only are circumcised but also are following in the footsteps of his faith. Our father Abraham had that faith before he was circumcised.
13 So it was not by obeying Moses’ Teachings that Abraham or his descendants received the promise that he would inherit the world. Rather, it was through God’s approval of his faith. 14 If those who obey Moses’ Teachings are the heirs, then faith is useless and the promise is worthless. 15 The laws in Moses’ Teachings bring about anger. But where laws don’t exist, they can’t be broken. 16 Therefore, the promise is based on faith so that it can be a gift. Consequently, the promise is guaranteed for every descendant, not only for those who are descendants by obeying Moses’ Teachings but also for those who are descendants by believing as Abraham did. He is the father of all of us, 17 as Scripture says: “I have made you a father of many nations.”
Abraham believed when he stood in the presence of the God who gives life to dead people and calls into existence things that don’t even exist. 18 When there was nothing left to hope for, Abraham still hoped and believed. As a result, he became a father of many nations, as he had been told: “That is how many descendants you will have.” 19 Abraham didn’t weaken. Through faith he regarded the facts: His body was already as good as dead now that he was about a hundred years old, and Sarah was unable to have children. 20 He didn’t doubt God’s promise out of a lack of faith. Instead, giving honor to God for the promise, he became strong because of faith 21 and was absolutely confident that God would do what he promised. 22 That is why his faith was regarded as God’s approval of him.
23 But the words “his faith was regarded as God’s approval of him” were written not only for him 24 but also for us. Our faith will be regarded as God’s approval of us who believe in the one who brought Jesus, our Lord, back to life. 25 Jesus, our Lord, was handed over to death because of our failures and was brought back to life so that we could receive God’s approval.
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Cornelius Has a Vision
1 A man named Cornelius lived in the city of Caesarea. He was a Roman army officer in the Italian Regiment. 2 He and everyone in his home were devout and respected God. Cornelius gave many gifts to poor Jewish people and always prayed to God.
3 One day, about three in the afternoon, he had a vision. He clearly saw an angel from God come to him and say, “Cornelius!”
4 He stared at the angel and was terrified. Cornelius asked the angel, “What do you want, sir?”
The angel answered him, “God is aware of your prayers and your gifts to the poor, and he has remembered you. 5 Send messengers now to the city of Joppa, and summon a man whose name is Simon Peter. 6 He is a guest of Simon, a leatherworker, whose house is by the sea.”
7 After saying this, the angel left. Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier, one of those who served him regularly. 8 Cornelius explained everything to them and sent them to Joppa.
Peter Has a Vision
9 Around noon the next day, while Cornelius’ men were on their way and coming close to Joppa, Peter went on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted to eat. While the food was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw the sky open and something like a large linen sheet being lowered by its four corners to the ground. 12 In the sheet were all kinds of four-footed animals, reptiles, and birds.
13 A voice told him, “Get up, Peter! Kill these animals, and eat them.”
14 Peter answered, “I can’t do that, Lord! I’ve never eaten anything that is impure or unclean.”
15 A voice spoke to him a second time, “Don’t say that the things which God has made clean are impure.”
16 This happened three times. Then the sheet was quickly taken into the sky.
17 While Peter was puzzled by the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found Simon’s house and went to the gate. 18 They asked if Simon Peter was staying there. 19 Peter was still thinking about the vision when the Spirit said to him, “Three men are looking for you. 20 Get up, and go downstairs. Don’t hesitate to go with these men. I have sent them.”
21 So Peter went to the men. He said, “I’m the man you’re looking for. Why are you here?”
22 The men replied, “Cornelius, a Roman army officer, sent us. He’s a man who has God’s approval and who respects God. Also, the Jewish people respect him. A holy angel told him to summon you to his home to hear what you have to say.”
23 Peter asked the men to come into the house and had them stay overnight.
Peter Speaks With Cornelius
The next day Peter left with them. Some disciples from Joppa went along. 24 The following day they arrived in Caesarea. Cornelius was expecting them and had called his relatives and close friends together.
25 When Peter was about to enter Cornelius’ house, Cornelius met him, bowed down, and worshiped Peter. 26 But Peter made him get up. He told him, “Stand up! I’m only a man.”
27 As Peter talked, he entered Cornelius’ house and found that many people had gathered. 28 He said to them, “You understand how wrong it is for a Jewish man to associate or visit with anyone of another race. But God has shown me that I should no longer call anyone impure or unclean. 29 That is why I didn’t object to coming here when you sent for me. I want to know why you sent for me.”
30 Cornelius answered, “Four days ago I was praying at home. It was at this same time, three o’clock in the afternoon. Suddenly, a man dressed in radiant clothes stood in front of me. 31 He said to me, ‘Cornelius, God has heard your prayer and has remembered your gifts to the poor. 32 So send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man whose name is Simon Peter. He’s a guest in the home of Simon, a leatherworker who lives by the sea.’ 33 So I sent for you immediately. Thank you for coming. All of us are here now in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has ordered you to say.”
34 Then Peter said, “Now I understand that God doesn’t play favorites. 35 Rather, whoever respects God and does what is right is acceptable to him in any nation. 36 God sent his word to the people of Israel and brought them the Good News of peace through Jesus Christ. This Jesus Christ is everyone’s Lord. 37 You know what happened throughout Judea. Everything began in Galilee after John spread the news about baptism. 38 You know that God anointed Jesus from Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power. Jesus went everywhere and did good things, such as healing everyone who was under the devil’s power. Jesus did these things because God was with him. 39 We can testify to everything Jesus did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem. People hung him on a cross and killed him, 40 but God brought him back to life on the third day. God didn’t show him 41 to all the people. He showed Jesus to witnesses, apostles he had already chosen. We apostles are those men who ate and drank with Jesus after he came back to life. 42 He ordered us to warn the people, ‘God has appointed Jesus to judge the living and the dead.’ 43 In addition, all the prophets testify that people who believe in the one named Jesus receive forgiveness for their sins through him.”
44 While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came to everyone who heard his message. 45 All the believers who were circumcised and who had come with Peter were amazed that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured on people who were not Jewish. 46 They heard these non-Jewish people speaking in other languages and praising God.
Then Peter said, 47 “No one can refuse to baptize these people with water. They have received the Holy Spirit in the same way that we did.” 48 So Peter ordered that they should be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Then they asked Peter to stay with them for several days.
Peter Reports That Non-Jewish People Can Belong to the Church
1 The apostles and the believers throughout Judea heard that people who were not Jewish had accepted God’s word. 2 However, when Peter went to Jerusalem, the believers who insisted on circumcision began to argue with him. 3 They said, “You went to visit men who were uncircumcised, and you even ate with them.”
4 Then Peter began to explain to them point by point what had happened. He said, 5 “I was praying in the city of Joppa when I fell into a trance. I saw something like a large linen sheet being lowered by its four corners from the sky. The sheet came near me. 6 I looked into the sheet very closely and saw tame animals, wild animals, reptiles, and birds. 7 I also heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter! Kill these animals, and eat them.’
8 “But I answered, ‘I can’t do that, Lord! I’ve never put anything impure or unclean into my mouth.’
9 “A voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Don’t say that the things which God has made clean are impure.’ 10 This happened three times. Then everything was pulled back into the sky again.
11 “At that moment three men arrived at the house where we were staying. They had been sent from Caesarea to find me. 12 The Spirit told me to go with them without any hesitation. Six believers from Joppa went with me, and we visited Cornelius’ home.
13 “He told us that he had seen an angel standing in his home. The angel told him, ‘Send messengers to Joppa, and summon a man whose name is Simon Peter. 14 He will give you a message that will save you and everyone in your home.’
15 “When I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came to these people. This was the same thing that happened to us in the beginning. 16 I remembered that the Lord had said, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized by the Holy Spirit.’ 17 When they believed, God gave them the same gift that he gave us when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. So who was I to interfere with God?”
18 When the others heard this, they had no further objections. They praised God by saying, “Then God has also led people who are not Jewish to turn to him so that they can change the way they think and act and have eternal life.”
The New Church in Antioch
19 Some of the believers who were scattered by the trouble that broke out following Stephen’s death went as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and the city of Antioch. They spoke God’s word only to Jewish people. 20 But other believers, who were from Cyprus and Cyrene, arrived in Antioch. They started to spread the Good News about the Lord Jesus to Greeks. 21 The Lord’s power was with his followers, and a large number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
22 After the news about Antioch reached the church in Jerusalem, Barnabas was sent to Antioch. 23 When he arrived there, he was pleased to see what God had done for them out of kindness. So he encouraged all the people to remain solidly committed to the Lord. 24 Barnabas was a dependable man, and he was full of the Holy Spirit and faith. A large crowd believed in the Lord.
25 Then Barnabas left Antioch to go to the city of Tarsus to look for Saul. 26 After finding Saul, Barnabas brought him back to Antioch. Barnabas and Saul met with the church in Antioch for a whole year and taught a large group of people. The disciples were called Christians for the first time in the city of Antioch.
27 At that time some prophets came from Jerusalem to the city of Antioch. 28 One of them was named Agabus. Through the Spirit Agabus predicted that a severe famine would affect the entire world. This happened while Claudius was emperor. 29 All the disciples in Antioch decided to contribute whatever they could afford to help the believers living in Judea. 30 The disciples did this and sent their contribution with Barnabas and Saul to the leaders in Jerusalem.
An Angel Frees Peter From Prison
1 About that time King Herod devoted his attention to mistreating certain members of the church. 2 He had James, the brother of John, executed. 3 When he saw how this pleased the Jews, he arrested Peter too. This happened during the days of Unleavened Bread. 4 After capturing Peter, Herod had him thrown into prison with sixteen soldiers in squads of four to guard him. Herod wanted to bring Peter to trial in front of the people after Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was praying very hard to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was going to bring Peter to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers. His hands were bound with two chains, and guards were in front of the door. They were watching the prison.
7 Suddenly, an angel from the Lord stood near Peter, and his cell was filled with light. The angel nudged Peter’s side, woke him up, and said, “Hurry! Get up!” At that moment the chains fell from Peter’s hands.
8 The angel told him, “Put your shoes on, and get ready to go!” Peter did this. Then the angel told him, “Put your coat on, and follow me.”
9 Peter followed the angel out of the cell. He didn’t realize that what the angel was doing was actually happening. He thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guardposts and came to the iron gate that led into the city. This gate opened by itself for them, so they went outside and up the street. The angel suddenly left Peter.
11 When Peter came to his senses, he said, “Now I’m sure that the Lord sent his angel to rescue me from Herod and from everything the Jewish people are expecting to happen to me.”
12 When Peter realized what had happened, he went to the home of Mary, the mother of John Mark. Many people had gathered at her home and were praying. 13 Peter knocked on the door of the entryway, and a servant named Rhoda came to answer. 14 When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so happy that instead of opening the door, she ran back inside and reported, “Peter is standing at the door!”
15 The people told her, “You’re crazy!” But she insisted that Peter was at the door. They said, “It has to be his angel.”
16 But Peter kept knocking. When they opened the door, they were shocked to see him. 17 Peter motioned with his hand to quiet them down and told them how the Lord had taken him out of prison. He added, “Tell James and the other believers about this.” Then he left and went somewhere else.
18 In the morning the soldiers were in an uproar over what had happened to Peter. 19 Herod searched for Peter but couldn’t find him. So he questioned the guards and gave orders to have them executed.
Then Herod left Judea and went to Caesarea, where he stayed for a while.
20 Herod was very angry with the people of Tyre and Sidon. They were going to meet with Herod. They had agreed on what they wanted to do: They enlisted the help of Blastus to ask Herod for terms of peace. This was because their cities depended on Herod for their food supply. (Blastus was in charge of the king’s living quarters.)
21 The appointed day came. Herod, wearing his royal clothes, sat on his throne and began making a speech to them. 22 The people started shouting, “The voice of a god and not of a man!”
23 Immediately, an angel from the Lord killed Herod for not giving glory to God. Herod was eaten by maggots, and he died.
24 But God’s word continued to spread and win many followers.
Barnabas and Saul Travel to Cyprus
25 After Barnabas and Saul delivered the contribution to the leaders in Jerusalem, they returned to Antioch from Jerusalem. They brought John Mark with them.
1 Barnabas, Simeon (called the Black), Lucius (from Cyrene), Manaen (a close friend of Herod since childhood), and Saul were prophets and teachers in the church in Antioch.
2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set Barnabas and Saul apart for me. I want them to do the work for which I called them.” 3 After fasting and praying, Simeon, Lucius, and Manaen placed their hands on Barnabas and Saul, and released them from their work in Antioch.
4 After Barnabas and Saul were sent by the Holy Spirit, they went to the city of Seleucia and from there sailed to the island of Cyprus. 5 Arriving in the city of Salamis, they began to spread God’s word in the synagogues. John Mark had gone along to help them. 6 They went through the whole island as far as the city of Paphos.
In Paphos they met a Jewish man named Barjesus. He was an astrologer who claimed to be a prophet. 7 He was associated with an intelligent man, Sergius Paulus, who was the governor of the island. The governor sent for Barnabas and Saul because he wanted to hear the word of God. 8 Elymas, whose name means astrologer, opposed them and tried to distort the meaning of the faith so that the governor wouldn’t believe.
9 But Saul, also known as Paul, was filled with the Holy Spirit. He stared at Elymas 10 and said, “You are full of dirty tricks and schemes, you son of the devil! You hate everything that has God’s approval. Quit trying to distort the truth about the way the Lord wants people to live. 11 The Lord is against you now. For a while you will be blind, unable to see the light of day.”
Suddenly, Elymas couldn’t see a thing. He tried to find people to lead him. 12 When the governor saw what had happened, he believed. The Lord’s teachings amazed him.
Paul and Barnabas Go to Antioch Near Pisidia
13 Paul and his men took a ship from Paphos and arrived in Perga, a city in Pamphylia. John Mark deserted them there and went back to Jerusalem. 14 Paul and Barnabas left Perga and arrived in Antioch, a city near Pisidia. On the day of worship they went into the synagogue and sat down.
15 After reading from Moses’ Teachings and the Prophets, the synagogue leaders sent a message to Paul and Barnabas. The message said, “Brothers, if you have any words of encouragement for the people, feel free to speak.”
16 Then Paul stood up, motioned with his hand, and said, “Men of Israel and converts to Judaism, listen to me. 17 The God of the people of Israel chose our ancestors and made them a strong nation while they lived as foreigners in Egypt. He used his powerful arm to bring them out of Egypt, 18 and he put up with them for about forty years in the desert. 19 Then he destroyed seven nations in Canaan and gave their land to his people as an inheritance. 20 He did all this in about four hundred and fifty years.
“After that he gave his people judges until the time of the prophet Samuel.
21 “Then the people demanded a king, so God gave them Saul, son of Kish, from the tribe of Benjamin. After forty years 22 God removed Saul and made David their king. God spoke favorably about David. He said, ‘I have found that David, son of Jesse, is a man after my own heart. He will do everything I want him to do.’
23 “God had the Savior, Jesus, come to Israel from David’s descendants, as he had promised. 24 Before Jesus began his ministry, John the Baptizer told everyone in Israel about the baptism of repentance. 25 When John was finishing his work, he said, ‘Who do you think I am? I’m not the person you’re looking for. He will come later. I’m not even good enough to untie his sandals.’
26 “Brothers—descendants of Abraham and converts to Judaism—the message that God saves people was sent to us. 27 The people who live in Jerusalem and their rulers didn’t know who Jesus was. They didn’t understand the prophets’ messages, which are read every day of worship. So they condemned Jesus and fulfilled what the prophets had said. 28 Although they couldn’t find any good reason to kill him, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29 When they had finished doing everything that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb. 30 But God brought him back to life, 31 and for many days he appeared to those who had come with him to Jerusalem from Galilee. These people are now witnesses and are testifying to the Jewish people about him. 32 We are telling you the Good News: What God promised our ancestors has happened. 33 God has fulfilled the promise for us, their descendants, by bringing Jesus back to life. This is what Scripture says in the second psalm:
‘You are my Son.
Today I have become your Father.’
34 “God stated that he brought Jesus back to life and that Jesus’ body never decayed. He said, ‘I will give you the enduring love promised to David.’ 35 Another psalm says, ‘You will not allow your holy one to decay.’ 36 After doing God’s will by serving the people of his time, David died. He was laid to rest with his ancestors, but his body decayed. 37 However, the man God brought back to life had a body that didn’t decay.
38 “So, brothers, I’m telling you that through Jesus your sins can be forgiven. Sins kept you from receiving God’s approval through Moses’ Teachings. 39 However, everyone who believes in Jesus receives God’s approval.
40 “Be careful, or what the prophets said may happen to you.
41 ‘Look, you mockers!
Be amazed and die!
I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe even if it were reported to you!’”
42 As Paul and Barnabas were leaving the synagogue, the people invited them to speak on the same subject the next day of worship. 43 When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas. Paul and Barnabas talked with them and were persuading them to continue trusting God’s good will.
44 On the next day of worship, almost the whole city gathered to hear the Lord’s word. 45 When the Jews saw the crowds, they became very jealous. They used insulting language to contradict whatever Paul said.
46 Paul and Barnabas told them boldly, “We had to speak the word of God to you first. Since you reject the word and consider yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, we are now going to turn to people of other nations. 47 The Lord gave us the following order:
‘I have made you a light for the nations
so that you would save people all over the world.’”
48 The people who were not Jews were pleased with what they heard and praised the Lord’s word. Everyone who had been prepared for everlasting life believed. 49 The word of the Lord spread throughout the whole region. 50 But Jews stirred up devout women of high social standing and the officials of the city. These people started to persecute Paul and Barnabas and threw them out of their territory.
51 In protest against these people, Paul and Barnabas shook the dust off their feet and went to the city of Iconium. 52 Meanwhile, the disciples in Antioch continued to be full of joy and the Holy Spirit.
Paul and Barnabas in Iconium
1 The same thing happened in the city of Iconium. Paul and Barnabas went into the synagogue and spoke in such a way that a large crowd of Jews and Greeks believed. 2 But the Jews who refused to believe stirred up some people who were not Jewish and poisoned their minds against the believers. 3 Paul and Barnabas stayed in the city of Iconium for a long time. They spoke boldly about the Lord, who confirmed their message about his good will by having them perform miracles and do amazing things. 4 But the people of Iconium were divided. Some were for the Jews, while others were for the apostles.
5 In the meantime, Paul and Barnabas found out that the non-Jewish people and the Jewish people with their rulers planned to attack them and stone them to death. 6 So they escaped to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding territory. 7 They spread the Good News there.
Paul and Barnabas in Lystra
8 A man who was born lame was in Lystra. He was always sitting because he had never been able to walk. 9 He listened to what Paul was saying. Paul observed him closely and saw that the man believed he could be made well. 10 So Paul said in a loud voice, “Stand up.” The man jumped up and began to walk.
11 The crowds who saw what Paul had done shouted in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come to us, and they look human.” 12 They addressed Barnabas as Zeus and Paul as Hermes because Paul did most of the talking. 13 Zeus’ temple was at the entrance to the city. The priest of the god Zeus brought bulls with flowery wreaths around their necks to the temple gates. The priest and the crowd wanted to offer a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas.
14 When the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard what was happening, they were very upset. They rushed into the crowd 15 and said, “Men, what are you doing? We’re human beings like you. We’re spreading the Good News to you to turn you away from these worthless gods to the living God. The living God made the sky, the land, the sea, and everything in them. 16 In the past God allowed all people to live as they pleased. 17 Yet, by doing good, he has given evidence of his existence. He gives you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons. He fills you with food and your lives with happiness.” 18 Although Paul and Barnabas said these things, they hardly kept the crowd from sacrificing to them.
19 However, Jews from the cities of Antioch and Iconium arrived in Lystra and won the people over. They tried to stone Paul to death and dragged him out of the city when they thought that he was dead. 20 But when the disciples gathered around him, he got up and went back into the city.
Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria
The next day Paul and Barnabas left for the city of Derbe. 21 They spread the Good News in that city and won many disciples. Then they went back to the cities of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch (which is in Pisidia). 22 They strengthened the disciples in these cities and encouraged the disciples to remain faithful. Paul and Barnabas told them, “We must suffer a lot to enter the kingdom of God.” 23 They had the disciples in each church choose spiritual leaders, and with prayer and fasting they entrusted the leaders to the Lord in whom they believed.
24 After they had gone through Pisidia, they went to Pamphylia. 25 They spoke the message in the city of Perga and went to the city of Attalia. 26 From Attalia they took a boat and headed home to the city of Antioch in Syria. (In Antioch they had been entrusted to God’s care for the work they had now finished.) 27 When they arrived, they called the members of the church together. They reported everything God had done through them, especially that he had given people who were not Jewish the opportunity to believe. 28 They stayed for a long time with these disciples.
Controversy About Moses’ Teachings
1 Some men came from Judea and started to teach believers that people can’t be saved unless they are circumcised as Moses’ Teachings require. 2 Paul and Barnabas had a fierce dispute with these men. So Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were sent to Jerusalem to see the apostles and spiritual leaders about this claim.
3 The church sent Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem. As they were going through Phoenicia and Samaria, they told the whole story of how non-Jewish people were turning to God. This story brought great joy to all the believers.
4 The church in Jerusalem, the apostles, and the spiritual leaders welcomed Paul and Barnabas when they arrived. Paul and Barnabas reported everything that God had done through them. 5 But some believers from the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “People who are not Jewish must be circumcised and ordered to follow Moses’ Teachings.”
6 The apostles and spiritual leaders met to consider this statement. 7 After a lot of debating, Peter stood up and said to them, “Brothers, you know what happened some time ago. God chose me so that people who aren’t Jewish could hear the Good News and believe. 8 God, who knows everyone’s thoughts, showed that he approved of people who aren’t Jewish by giving them the Holy Spirit as he gave the Holy Spirit to us. 9 God doesn’t discriminate between Jewish and non-Jewish people. He has cleansed non-Jewish people through faith as he has cleansed us Jews. 10 So why are you testing God? You’re putting a burden on the disciples, a burden neither our ancestors nor we can carry. 11 We certainly believe that the Lord Jesus saves us the same way that he saves them—through his kindness.”
12 The whole crowd was silent. They listened to Barnabas and Paul tell about all the miracles and amazing things that God had done through them among non-Jewish people.
13 After they finished speaking, James responded, “Brothers, listen to me. 14 Simon has explained how God first showed his concern by taking from non-Jewish people those who would honor his name. 15 This agrees with what the prophets said. Scripture says,
16 ‘Afterwards, I will return.
I will set up David’s fallen tent again.
I will restore its ruined places again.
I will set it up again
17 so that the survivors and all the people who aren’t Jewish
over whom my name is spoken,
may search for the Lord, declares the Lord.
18 He is the one who will do these things that have always been known!’
19 “So I’ve decided that we shouldn’t trouble non-Jewish people who are turning to God. 20 Instead, we should write a letter telling them to keep away from things polluted by false gods, from sexual sins, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from eating bloody meat. 21 After all, Moses’ words have been spread to every city for generations. His teachings are read in synagogues on every day of worship.”
22 Then the apostles, the spiritual leaders, and the whole church decided to choose some of their men to send with Paul and Barnabas to the city of Antioch. They chose Judas (called Barsabbas) and Silas, who were leaders among the believers. 23 They wrote this letter for them to deliver:
From the apostles and the spiritual leaders, your brothers.
To their non-Jewish brothers and sisters in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.
Dear brothers and sisters,
24 We have heard that some individuals who came from us have confused you with statements that disturb you. We did not authorize these men to speak. 25 So we have come to a unanimous decision that we should choose men and send them to you with our dear Barnabas and Paul. 26 Barnabas and Paul have dedicated their lives to our Lord, the one named Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent Judas and Silas to report to you on our decision. 28 The Holy Spirit and we have agreed not to place any additional burdens on you. Do only what is necessary 29 by keeping away from food sacrificed to false gods, from eating bloody meat, from eating the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual sins. If you avoid these things, you will be doing what’s right.
30 So the men were sent on their way and arrived in the city of Antioch. They gathered the congregation together and delivered the letter. 31 When the people read the letter, they were pleased with the encouragement it brought them. 32 Judas and Silas, who were also prophets, spoke a long time to encourage and strengthen the believers.
33 After Judas and Silas had stayed in Antioch for some time, the congregation sent them back to Jerusalem with friendly greetings to those who had sent them. 35 Paul and Barnabas stayed in Antioch. They and many others taught people about the Lord’s word and spread the Good News.
Paul and Barnabas Disagree
36 After a while Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back to every city where we spread the Lord’s word. We’ll visit the believers to see how they’re doing.”
37 Barnabas wanted to take John Mark along. 38 However, Paul didn’t think it was right to take a person like him along. John Mark had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to work. 39 Paul and Barnabas disagreed so sharply that they parted ways. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed to the island of Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas and left after the believers entrusted him to the Lord’s care.
41 Paul went through the provinces of Syria and Cilicia and strengthened the churches.
Timothy Joins Paul in Lystra
1 Paul arrived in the city of Derbe and then went to Lystra, where a disciple named Timothy lived. Timothy’s mother was a Jewish believer, but his father was Greek. 2 The believers in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of Timothy. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to go with him. So he circumcised him because of the Jews who lived in those places and because he knew that Timothy’s father was Greek.
4 As they went through the cities, they told people about the decisions that the apostles and spiritual leaders in Jerusalem had made for the people. 5 So the churches were strengthened in the faith and grew in numbers every day.
Paul Has a Vision
6 Paul and Silas went through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit kept them from speaking the word in the province of Asia. 7 They went to the province of Mysia and tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t allow this. 8 So they passed by Mysia and went to the city of Troas.
9 During the night Paul had a vision of a man from Macedonia. The man urged Paul, “Come to Macedonia to help us.”
10 As soon as Paul had seen the vision, we immediately looked for a way to go to Macedonia. We concluded that God had called us to tell the people of Macedonia about the Good News.
Paul and Silas in Philippi
11 So we took a ship from Troas and sailed straight to the island of Samothrace. The next day we sailed to the city of Neapolis, 12 and from there we went to the city of Philippi. Philippi is a leading city in that part of Macedonia, and it is a Roman colony. We were in this city for a number of days.
13 On the day of worship we went out of the city to a place along the river where we thought Jewish people gathered for prayer. We sat down and began talking to the women who had gathered there. 14 A woman named Lydia was present. She was a convert to Judaism from the city of Thyatira and sold purple dye for a living. She was listening because the Lord made her willing to pay attention to what Paul said. 15 When Lydia and her family were baptized, she invited us to stay at her home. She said, “If you’re convinced that I believe in the Lord, then stay at my home.” She insisted. So we did.
16 One day when we were going to the place of prayer, a female servant met us. She was possessed by an evil spirit that told fortunes. She made a lot of money for her owners by telling fortunes. 17 She used to follow Paul and shout, “These men are servants of the Most High God. They’re telling you how you can be saved.” 18 She kept doing this for many days. Paul became annoyed, turned to the evil spirit, and said, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!”
As Paul said this, the evil spirit left her. 19 When her owners realized that their hope of making money was gone, they grabbed Paul and Silas and dragged them to the authorities in the public square. 20 In front of the Roman officials, they said, “These men are stirring up a lot of trouble in our city. They’re Jews, 21 and they’re advocating customs that we can’t accept or practice as Roman citizens.”
22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas. Then the officials tore the clothes off Paul and Silas and ordered the guards to beat them with sticks. 23 After they had hit Paul and Silas many times, they threw them in jail and ordered the jailer to keep them under tight security. 24 So the jailer followed these orders and put Paul and Silas into solitary confinement with their feet in leg irons.
25 Around midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God. The other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly, a violent earthquake shook the foundations of the jail. All the doors immediately flew open, and all the prisoners’ chains came loose.
27 The jailer woke up and saw the prison doors open. Thinking the prisoners had escaped, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself. 28 But Paul shouted as loudly as he could, “Don’t hurt yourself! We’re all here!”
29 The jailer asked for torches and rushed into the jail. He was trembling as he knelt in front of Paul and Silas. 30 Then he took Paul and Silas outside and asked, “Sirs, what do I have to do to be saved?”
31 They answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you and your family will be saved.” 32 They spoke the Lord’s word to the jailer and everyone in his home.
33 At that hour of the night, the jailer washed Paul and Silas’ wounds. The jailer and his entire family were baptized immediately. 34 He took Paul and Silas upstairs into his home and gave them something to eat. He and his family were thrilled to be believers in God.
35 In the morning the Roman officials sent guards who told the jailer, “You can release those men now.”
36 The jailer reported this order to Paul by saying, “The officials have sent word to release you. So you can leave peacefully now.”
37 But Paul told the guards, “Roman officials have had us beaten publicly without a trial and have thrown us in jail, even though we’re Roman citizens. Now are they going to throw us out secretly? There’s no way they’re going to get away with that! Have them escort us out!”
38 The guards reported to the officials what Paul had said. When the Roman officials heard that Paul and Silas were Roman citizens, they were afraid. 39 So the officials went to the jail and apologized to Paul and Silas. As the officials escorted Paul and Silas out of the jail, they asked them to leave the city.
40 After Paul and Silas left the jail, they went to Lydia’s house. They met with the believers, encouraged them, and then left.
Paul and Silas in Thessalonica
1 Paul and Silas traveled through the cities of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to the city of Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue. 2 As usual, Paul went into the synagogue. On three consecutive days of worship, he had discussions about Scripture with the synagogue members. 3 He explained and showed them that the Messiah had to suffer, die, and come back to life, and that Jesus, the person he talked about, was this Messiah.
4 Some of the Jews were persuaded to join Paul and Silas, especially a large group of Greeks who had converted to Judaism and the wives of many prominent men.
5 Then the Jews became jealous. They took some low-class characters who hung around the public square, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. They attacked Jason’s home and searched it for Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 When they didn’t find Paul and Silas, they dragged Jason and some other believers in front of the city officials. They shouted, “Those men who have made trouble all over the world are now here in Thessalonica, 7 and Jason has welcomed them as his guests. All of them oppose the emperor’s decrees by saying that there is another king, whose name is Jesus.”
8 The crowd and the officials were upset when they heard this. 9 But after they had made Jason and the others post bond, they let them go.
10 Immediately when night came, the believers sent Paul and Silas to the city of Berea.
Paul and Silas in Berea
When Paul and Silas arrived in the city of Berea, they entered the synagogue. 11 The people of Berea were more open-minded than the people of Thessalonica. They were very willing to receive God’s message, and every day they carefully examined the Scriptures to see if what Paul said was true. 12 Many of them became believers, and quite a number of them were prominent Greek men and women.
13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica found out that Paul was also spreading God’s word in Berea, they went there to upset and confuse the people. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the seacoast, but Silas and Timothy stayed in Berea.
Paul in Athens
15 The men who escorted Paul took him all the way to the city of Athens. When the men left Athens, they took instructions back to Silas and Timothy to join Paul as soon as possible.
16 While Paul was waiting for Silas and Timothy in Athens, he saw that the city had statues of false gods everywhere. This upset him. 17 He held discussions in the synagogue with Jews and converts to Judaism. He also held discussions every day in the public square with anyone who happened to be there. 18 Some Epicurean and Stoic philosophers had discussions with him. Some asked, “What is this babbling fool trying to say?” Others said, “He seems to be speaking about foreign gods.” The philosophers said these things because Paul was telling the Good News about Jesus and saying that people would come back to life.
19 Then they brought Paul to the city court, the Areopagus, and asked, “Could you tell us these new ideas that you’re teaching? 20 Some of the things you say sound strange to us. So we would like to know what they mean.”
21 Everyone who lived in Athens looked for opportunities to tell or hear something new and unusual.
22 Paul stood in the middle of the court and said, “Men of Athens, I see that you are very religious. 23 As I was going through your city and looking closely at the objects you worship, I noticed an altar with this written on it: ‘To an unknown god.’ I’m telling you about the unknown god you worship. 24 The God who made the universe and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth. He doesn’t live in shrines made by humans, 25 and he isn’t served by humans as if he needed anything. He gives everyone life, breath, and everything they have. 26 From one man he has made every nation of humanity to live all over the earth. He has given them the seasons of the year and the boundaries within which to live. 27 He has done this so that they would look for God, somehow reach for him, and find him. In fact, he is never far from any one of us. 28 Certainly, we live, move, and exist because of him. As some of your poets have said, ‘We are God’s children.’ 29 So if we are God’s children, we shouldn’t think that the divine being is like an image made from gold, silver, or stone, an image that is the product of human imagination and skill.
30 “God overlooked the times when people didn’t know any better. But now he commands everyone everywhere to turn to him and change the way they think and act. 31 He has set a day when he is going to judge the world with justice, and he will use a man he has appointed to do this. God has given proof to everyone that he will do this by bringing that man back to life.”
32 When the people of the court heard that a person had come back to life, some began joking about it, while others said, “We’ll hear you talk about this some other time.”
33 With this response, Paul left the court. 34 Some men joined him and became believers. With them were Dionysius, who was a member of the court, and a woman named Damaris, and some other people.
Paul in Corinth
1 After this, Paul left Athens and went to the city of Corinth. 2 In Corinth he met a Jewish man named Aquila and his wife Priscilla. Aquila had been born in Pontus, and they had recently come from Italy because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome. Paul went to visit them, 3 and because they made tents for a living as he did, he stayed with them and they worked together.
4 On every day of worship, Paul would discuss Scripture in the synagogue. He tried to win over Jews and Greeks who had converted to Judaism. 5 But when Silas and Timothy arrived from Macedonia, Paul devoted all his time to teaching the word of God. He assured the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. 6 But they opposed him and insulted him. So Paul shook the dust from his clothes and told them, “You’re responsible for your own death. I’m innocent. From now on I’m going to people who are not Jewish.”
7 Then he left the synagogue and went to the home of a man named Titius Justus, who was a convert to Judaism. His house was next door to the synagogue. 8 The synagogue leader Crispus and his whole family believed in the Lord. Many Corinthians who heard Paul believed and were baptized.
9 One night the Lord said to Paul in a vision, “Don’t be afraid to speak out! Don’t be silent! 10 I’m with you. No one will attack you or harm you. I have many people in this city.”
11 Paul lived in Corinth for a year and a half and taught the word of God to them.
12 While Gallio was governor of Greece, the Jews had one thought in mind. They attacked Paul and brought him to court. 13 They said, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are against Moses’ Teachings.”
14 Paul was about to answer when Gallio said to the Jews, “If there were some kind of misdemeanor or crime involved, reason would demand that I put up with you Jews. 15 But since you’re disputing words, names, and your own teachings, you’ll have to take care of that yourselves. I don’t want to be a judge who gets involved in those things.” 16 So Gallio had them forced out of his court.
17 Then all the governor’s officers took Sosthenes, the synagogue leader, and beat him in front of the court. But Gallio couldn’t have cared less.
Paul’s Return Trip to Antioch
18 After staying in Corinth quite a while longer, Paul left for Ephesus. Priscilla and Aquila went with him. In the city of Cenchrea, Aquila had his hair cut, since he had taken a vow. From Cenchrea they took a boat headed for Syria 19 and arrived in the city of Ephesus, where Paul left Priscilla and Aquila. Paul went into the synagogue and had a discussion with the Jews. 20 The Jews asked him to stay longer, but he refused. 21 As he left, he told them, “I’ll come back to visit you if God wants me to.”
Paul took a boat from Ephesus 22 and arrived in the city of Caesarea. He went to Jerusalem, greeted the church, and went back to the city of Antioch.
23 After spending some time in Antioch, Paul went through the regions of Galatia and Phrygia, where he strengthened the faith of all the disciples.
Apollos Tells Others About Jesus
24 A Jew named Apollos, who had been born in Alexandria, arrived in the city of Ephesus. He was an eloquent speaker and knew how to use the Scriptures in a powerful way. 25 He had been instructed in the Lord’s way and spoke enthusiastically. He accurately taught about Jesus but knew only about the baptism John performed. 26 He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him home with them and explained God’s way to him more accurately.
27 When Apollos wanted to travel to Greece, the believers in Ephesus encouraged him. They wrote to the disciples in Greece to tell them to welcome him. When he arrived in Greece, God’s kindness enabled him to help the believers a great deal. 28 In public Apollos helped them by clearly showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah and that the Jews were wrong.
Paul in Ephesus
1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul traveled through the interior provinces to get to the city of Ephesus. He met some disciples in Ephesus 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?”
They answered him, “No, we’ve never even heard of the Holy Spirit.”
3 Paul asked them, “What kind of baptism did you have?”
They answered, “John’s baptism.”
4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. John told people to believe in Jesus, who was coming later.”
5 After they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came to them, and they began to talk in other languages and to speak what God had revealed. 7 About twelve men were in the group.
8 For three months Paul would go into the synagogue and speak boldly. He had discussions with people to convince them about the kingdom of God. 9 But when some people became stubborn, refused to believe, and had nothing good to say in front of the crowd about the way of Christ, he left them. He took his disciples and held daily discussions in the lecture hall of Tyrannus. 10 This continued for two years so that all the Jews and Greeks who lived in the province of Asia heard the word of the Lord.
11 God worked unusual miracles through Paul. 12 People would take handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched Paul’s skin to those who were sick. Their sicknesses would be cured, and evil spirits would leave them.
13 Some Jews used to travel from place to place and force evil spirits out of people. They tried to use the name of the Lord Jesus to force evil spirits out of those who were possessed. These Jews would say, “I order you to come out in the name of Jesus, whom Paul talks about.” 14 Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this.
15 But the evil spirit answered them, “I know Jesus, and I’m acquainted with Paul, but who are you?” 16 Then the man possessed by the evil spirit attacked them. He beat them up so badly that they ran out of that house naked and wounded.
17 All the Jews and Greeks living in the city of Ephesus heard about this. All of them were filled with awe for the name of the Lord Jesus and began to speak very highly about it. 18 Many believers openly admitted their involvement with magical spells and told all the details. 19 Many of those who were involved in the occult gathered their books and burned them in front of everyone. They added up the cost of these books and found that they were worth 50,000 silver coins. 20 In this powerful way the word of the Lord was spreading and gaining strength.
21 After all these things had happened, Paul decided to go to Jerusalem by traveling through Macedonia and Greece. He said, “After I have been there, I must see Rome.” 22 So he sent two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, to Macedonia, while he stayed longer in the province of Asia.
A Riot in Ephesus
23 During that time a serious disturbance concerning the way of Christ broke out in the city of Ephesus.
24 Demetrius, a silversmith, was in the business of making silver models of the temple of Artemis. His business brought a huge profit for the men who worked for him. 25 He called a meeting of his workers and others who did similar work. Demetrius said, “Men, you know that we’re earning a good income from this business, 26 and you see and hear what this man Paul has done. He has won over a large crowd that follows him not only in Ephesus but also throughout the province of Asia. He tells people that gods made by humans are not gods. 27 There’s a danger that people will discredit our line of work, and there’s a danger that people will think that the temple of the great goddess Artemis is nothing. Then she whom all Asia and the rest of the world worship will be robbed of her glory.”
28 When Demetrius’ workers and the others heard this, they became furious and began shouting, “Artemis of the Ephesians is great!” 29 The confusion spread throughout the city, and the people had one thought in mind as they rushed into the theater. They grabbed Gaius and Aristarchus, the Macedonians who traveled with Paul, and they dragged the two men into the theater with them.
30 Paul wanted to go into the crowd, but his disciples wouldn’t let him. 31 Even some officials who were from the province of Asia and who were Paul’s friends sent messengers to urge him not to risk going into the theater.
32 Some people shouted one thing while others shouted something else. The crowd was confused. Most of the people didn’t even know why they had come together. 33 Some people concluded that Alexander was the cause, so the Jews pushed him to the front. Alexander motioned with his hand to quiet the people because he wanted to defend himself in front of them. 34 But when they recognized that Alexander was a Jew, everyone started to shout in unison, “Artemis of the Ephesians is great!” They kept doing this for about two hours.
35 The city clerk finally quieted the crowd. Then he said, “Citizens of Ephesus, everyone knows that this city of the Ephesians is the keeper of the temple of the great Artemis. Everyone knows that Ephesus is the keeper of the statue that fell down from Zeus. 36 No one can deny this. So you have to be quiet and not do anything foolish. 37 The men you brought here don’t rob temples or insult our goddess. 38 If Demetrius and the men who work for him have a legal complaint against anyone, we have special days and officials to hold court. That’s where they should bring charges against each other. 39 If you want anything else, you must settle the matter in a legal assembly. 40 At this moment we run the risk of being accused of rioting today for no reason. We won’t be able to explain this mob.” 41 After saying this, he dismissed the assembly.
1 When the uproar was over, Paul sent for the disciples, encouraged them, said goodbye, and left for Macedonia. 2 He went through that region and spoke many words of encouragement to the people. Then he went to Greece 3 and stayed there for three months.
Paul in Troas
When Paul was going to board a ship for Syria, he found out that the Jews were plotting to kill him. So he decided to go back through Macedonia. 4 Sopater (son of Pyrrhus) from Berea, Aristarchus and Secundus from Thessalonica, Gaius from Derbe, Timothy, and Tychicus and Trophimus from the province of Asia accompanied Paul. 5 All these men went ahead and were waiting for us in Troas. 6 After the Festival of Unleavened Bread, we boarded a ship at Philippi. Five days later we joined them in Troas and stayed there for seven days.
7 On Sunday we met to break bread. Paul was discussing Scripture with the people. Since he intended to leave the next day, he kept talking until midnight. 8 (Many lamps were lit in the upstairs room where we were meeting.)
9 A young man named Eutychus was sitting in a window. As Paul was talking on and on, Eutychus was gradually falling asleep. Finally, overcome by sleep, he fell from the third story and was dead when they picked him up. 10 Paul went to him, took him into his arms, and said, “Don’t worry! He’s alive!” 11 Then Eutychus went upstairs again, broke the bread, and ate. Paul talked with the people for a long time, until sunrise, and then left.
12 The people took the boy home. They were greatly relieved that he was alive.
Paul’s Trip to Miletus
13 We went ahead to the ship and sailed for the city of Assos. At Assos, we were going to pick up Paul. He had made these arrangements, since he had planned to walk overland to Assos. 14 When Paul met us in Assos, we took him on board and went to the city of Mitylene. 15 We sailed from there. On the following day we approached the island of Chios. The next day we went by the island of Samos, and on the next day we arrived at the city of Miletus. 16 Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus to avoid spending time in the province of Asia. He was in a hurry to get to Jerusalem for the day of Pentecost, if that was possible.
Paul Meets With the Spiritual Leaders From Ephesus
17 From Miletus Paul sent messengers to the city of Ephesus and called the spiritual leaders of the church to meet with him in Miletus. 18 When they were with him, he said to them, “You know how I spent all my time with you from the first day I arrived in the province of Asia. 19 I humbly served the Lord, often with tears in my eyes. I served the Lord during the difficult times I went through when the Jews plotted against me. 20 I didn’t avoid telling you anything that would help you, and I didn’t avoid teaching you publicly and from house to house. 21 I warned Jews and Greeks to change the way they think and act and to believe in our Lord Jesus.
22 “I am determined to go to Jerusalem now. I don’t know what will happen to me there. 23 However, the Holy Spirit warns me in every city that imprisonment and suffering are waiting for me. 24 But I don’t place any value on my own life. I want to finish the race I’m running. I want to carry out the mission I received from the Lord Jesus—the mission of testifying to the Good News of God’s kindness.
25 “Now I know that none of you whom I told about the kingdom of God will see me again. 26 Therefore, I declare to you today that I am not responsible for the spiritual death of any of you. 27 I didn’t avoid telling you the whole plan of God. 28 Pay attention to yourselves and to the entire flock in which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishops to be shepherds for God’s church which he acquired with his own blood. 29 I know that fierce wolves will come to you after I leave, and they won’t spare the flock. 30 Some of your own men will come forward and say things that distort the truth. They will do this to lure disciples into following them. 31 So be alert! Remember that I instructed each of you for three years, day and night, at times with tears in my eyes.
32 “I am now entrusting you to God and to his message that tells how kind he is. That message can help you grow and can give you the inheritance that is shared by all of God’s holy people.
33 “I never wanted anyone’s silver, gold, or clothes. 34 You know that I worked to support myself and those who were with me. 35 I have given you an example that by working hard like this we should help the weak. We should remember the words that the Lord Jesus said, ‘Giving gifts is more satisfying than receiving them.’”
36 When Paul had finished speaking, he knelt down and prayed with all of them. 37 Everyone cried a lot as they put their arms around Paul and kissed him. 38 The thought of not seeing Paul again hurt them most of all. Then they took Paul to the ship.