Read THE Book 2019

Welcome to RTB 2019, a place to read through the Bible in the year 2019 and stay in contact with others who are doing the same thing and have a little hand-holding as you go. Want to jump right in? You can click on the “Read THE Book 2019” tab above to find the most current weekly notes.

Some of my local friends know that I’ve been teaching through the Bible chronologically for many years. My goal was to help you sort out all that confusing timeline stuff so that when you read the Bible, especially the Old Testament, you have an understanding of where you are, when you are, and what was going on in the world at that time.

In 2017 I decided to do a trial run of a read-through-the-Bible-in-a-year discussion group that met every week to discuss what we read as we followed a reading schedule using the traditional book by book order. Have I mentioned that “book by book order” does not flow chronologically? Nope – the books are grouped into sections, but they don’t always flow in the order that the events happened. So to help us along, I wrote a weekly reading guide with three sections: What’s Going On? When and Where Are We? And Who’s Who? This was a one page handout that gave you just a little head’s up about things I thought you might want to know at the beginning of each week’s assigned reading to help you keep your bearings. The trial run turned out to be a success for those who finished.

I have decided to go ahead and make those weekly notes available here on the website so that anyone can read along at their own pace. If you missed the January 1st start date, the notes are designed so that you can start at week 1 any time of year and begin your own journey to Read THE Book. Feel free to contact me and let me know how I can help get you started. It doesn’t matter to me how you use this information as long as it does what I always imagined it might do. If it helps you to Read THE Book, then I’m happy to know I’ve made it a little easier.

Want to be part of the local discussion group? There are two groups to choose from. One will meet in Scottsboro, AL at the First Methodist Church on Sunday nights at 5:00 PM. Another group meets at Jamoka’s Coffee shop in Guntersville, AL Mondays at noon.

And of course, I’ll be having several workshops throughout the year that give the overview of the whole Bible, known as “THE Bible Story.” I encourage anyone local to try to come to this workshop as it will really help you get all the chronology sorted out. You’ll even make your own timeline showing the major people and events from Genesis to Revelation and that will come in handy as you are reading. If you want to host a workshop at your church, just let me know

It is my prayer that anyone who is thinking about making a New Year’s Resolution to read through the Bible in 2019 will join with me and let’s make a commitment to each other to do it together! It seems like everything is just a little easier when you have friends who can share the same experience with you. The reading schedule will begin on January 1, 2019 and I’ll have all the information you need well before that, so keep checking back as I post new information here.

Let’s Do This!

Daily Reading Schedule [Word][PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word][PDF]

Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Group Guidelines & Reading Schedule

Daily Reading Schedule [Word] [PDF]
One-Sheet Schedule Overview [Word] [PDF]

  • You may use any Bible translation that you are comfortable with.
  • I have scheduled readings for Monday through Saturday with an average of about five chapters a day. Take Sunday off, use that day to catch up, or read some Psalms.
  • Each Sunday I will post notes about what you will be reading the next week. These notes will have three sections: What’s Going On, When and Where Are We, and Who’s Who. These notes are designed to guide you as you read through the Bible and my way of pointing out some things I wish someone had told me the first time I read through the Bible. For example, there are places the books don’t go in chronological order and there are times that when you begin a new book things have changed significantly in the world. I’ll try to help you keep it all straight.
  • You can Subscribe to the blog so that you will get an email notification when a new blog is posted by adding your email on the right side of the screen and hit “Subscribe”
  • I will be leading local discussion groups and encourage you to attend if you can. Or form your own discussion group with friends where you can share your a-ha moments, questions, and reflections with each other. If you are flying solo, please stay connected by following along on the website and use the comments section if you want to ask questions or share your own thoughts. One big advantage to this format is anyone can begin their reading journey at any point in the year and follow along at their own pace.
  • If you are part of the discussion group and you get behind or take time off for vacation, illness, or unexpected what-not, I suggest you rejoin the group when you are able and pick up with where the group is reading. You might miss stuff. That’s ok! Read the notes from the weeks you missed and don’t try to catch up. The goal is to stay with the group so that you can be current on discussions. You can read what you missed later.
  • I have decided not to include the Psalms in our reading schedule. Suggestions for how you might read through them:
    • Read one Psalm every day. There are 150 so you will read each one at least twice
    • Read 3-5 Psalms every Sunday
    • Wait until December (we finish our plan on Nov 30th) and then read all of the Psalms by reading five or six Psalms each day of December
    • Work your way through the book of Psalms any way that works for you
    • I don’t normally recommend the King James Version for daily reading. But the Psalms are at their most beautiful in the KJV. Consider reading them in several different translations
  • Consider keeping a journal as you read through the Bible for personal reflection. Everyone has their own style, but you might want to keep notes and random thoughts as you go along. I filled up a large 5 subject notebook in 2017 with my own a-ha moments and I’ve read through the Bible many, many times.
  • Some weeks will be lighter than others. I tried to keep the readings even throughout, but I want us to come to natural breaks in the story at the end of each week.
  • On the master schedule, there is a place to mark what you’ve read with an X. It feels good to mark things off as you accomplish them!
  • I’ve built in two breaks. One is halfway through the Old Testament and the other is between the Old and New Testaments. Use these weeks to catch up if you need to.
  • If you have never read all the way through the Bible before, your goal is just to keep up and finish! If you have read through the Bible before, I suggest that each time you read it through you find a different goal for that year. For example, you might read a different translation or use a study Bible with notes, or you might use the various maps to follow the story by location, learn the Names of God and see how they are used differently in different passages, etc. The last time I read through the Old Testament, I underlined all the words that God spoke in red. The words of Jesus are often in red in the New Testament and I thought it would be good to see the Words of the Lord in the OT the same way.
  • If at any time you read something that troubles you, ask Holy Spirit to guide you in your understanding. You may need to set something aside and trust that as the Lord wants you to learn something from that passage, He will bring it up at the right time. Don’t let it upset you if you struggle with some of the things you read. Bring it to the group and let’s talk about it. There are things that I struggle with, too. It’s ok. God knows our struggles and loves us anyway.

I suggest you begin each day with a prayer that might go something like this…..

Thank You, Father, for Your Word. Please guide me as I read today and help me understand what YOU would have me understand and absorb what YOU would have me absorb. Hide the words and the message in my heart so that I may carry it with me into everything I do. Open the eyes of my heart to what You would have me see, learn, know, and remember. Take me by the hand and walk with me on this journey. Send Holy Spirit to be my guide, my teacher, my helper, and my shield. In the Holy Name of Jesus I pray, Amen.

Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Week 43: 1-2 Corinthians

“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love.” 1 Corinthians 16: 13-14 NIV

What’s Going On?

Paul wrote these two letters to a church in Corinth, Greece in response to specific questions and reports he has received. We read about Paul’s stay in Corinth in Acts 18:18 during his second missionary journey. Later, the people of that newly established church are having problems that Paul addresses in these two letter/books. Corinth was a major port city and was buzzing with opportunity, filled with people of many different nationalities and cultures. There was a huge statue of Aphrodite, the goddess of love (think of her when you read the “love chapter” in 1 Corinthians 13), and where there are Greek goddesses, there are usually temple prostitutes. No wonder these people needed some instruction about living a new kind of life based on God’s kind of love.

1 Corinthians will address several main concerns: divisions within the church, court cases between church members, Christian “freedom” (remember that a large majority of the people in Corinth are actually slaves), marriage, sacrifices to idols, and general immorality – including sexual immorality. There are also questions about proper worship behaviors including the Lord’s Supper, spiritual gifts, offerings, Christian love and unity within the church. The question also arises about the resurrection, of both Christ and His followers.

We learn in 2 Corinthians that there have been some false teachers challenging Paul’s gospel. He will continue to answer some specific questions and address concerns within the Corinthian church. This letter contains some insight to Paul’s burden to not only share the Gospel message, but to care for these early churches and their members. He loves them deeply and is concerned for their spiritual progress. Paul discloses how hard his mission is and that he is willing to suffer humiliation, but his faith carries him on to do the work he felt called to do. So often a teacher is in front of his student, but Paul makes it clear that he is walking side by side with his fellow believers, sharing in their hardships and frustrations. He defends his ministry against those who oppose his teachings, boasting about his sufferings as one who so strongly believes in what he is teaching that he is willing to endure the hardships for the sake of the Gospel message.

Both books include a call for unity. There was much division within the early church and Paul urged them to work together for the common cause. Factions were beginning to arise: followers of Paul, or of Peter, or Apollos. Paul encouraged them to set aside their differences and follow Christ. I can’t help but notice, however, that the teachings of Paul can easily become quite legalistic if we allow ourselves to become wrapped up in following his advice to these early churches more so than to follow the teaching of Christ. Paul was, after all, a former Pharisee. As always, keep your eyes on the Big Picture and know that Paul is always pointing to Christ. This, above all else, is what we can learn from Paul.

When and Where Are We?

Paul wrote the first letter about 55 AD while he was staying in Ephesus which is where he went when he left Corinth. The second letter was written shortly after that while he was in Macedonia (Philippi is the capitol of Macedonia) on his third missionary journey.

Who’s Who?

Paul – the author of both letters

Titus – One of Paul’s Gentile companions who delivers the letter to the church in Corinth and spends some time as an early church leader there before joining Paul on some later mission trips

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: 1 Corinthians 1-6
  • Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 7-11
  • Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 12-16
  • Thursday: 2 Corinthians 1-4
  • Friday” 2 Corinthians 5-9
  • Saturday: 2 Corinthians 10-13
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Week 42: Romans

“May God, the source of hope, fill you with all joy and peace by means of your faith in Him, so that your hope will continue to grow by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 (GNT))

What’s Going On?

For the next six weeks we are going to be reading letters that were written by the early Christians. As the Gospel message began to spread throughout the world, early leaders emerged and churches began to form. Paul would travel around to these areas and then stay in touch with these believers though letters, many of which are now part of our New Testament. While Paul wrote the first group of letters, there were others that contributed their writings, as well. We’ll meet them in a few weeks.

The next thirteen books were all written by Paul. However, we aren’t going to be reading them in the order in which they were written. They are grouped together into categories and need a bit of rearranging for them to line up with Paul’s travels that we read about in the book of Acts. For now, just know that the book of Acts will supply our chronology of events, but the letters of Paul, which were all written within the time frame of Acts, are not going to be organized sequentially.

We begin this new section with Paul’s letter to the Christian church in Rome. In most of the other letters written by Paul, he is addressing people he has already met in a place he had already visited in order to address questions or concerns that had come up after he left. Not so with Romans. This letter was written to a church that Paul very much hoped to visit, but had not been to. Therefore, the book of Romans is the Gospel message Paul was likely sharing orally in the places he visited, but written out here for a group he had not yet had the opportunity to speak to. I think of this book as “The Gospel in a Nutshell.”  

Paul shares the plan of salvation, not just salvation for the Jews, but for all mankind. Remember in Acts when they held the Council at Jerusalem to determine whether Christians had to convert to Judaism before becoming followers of Jesus? This book practically serves as a handbook on “How to Become a Christian” for a new community of believers, both Jew and Gentile. Paul will explain God to those who don’t have an Old Testament foundation and he’ll explain the need for salvation to those who may not think they need it. He’ll address the Jews who want to hold on to their old beliefs. He’ll explain how important Faith is, Faith in the Righteousness of the One, True God.

The believers who were gathering in Rome had no concrete teaching to base their faith on. Surely the gospel story had spread far and wide out into the world, but the Truth of Jesus Christ needed verification and it was Paul’s hope to go to Rome and provide it as no other Apostle had yet been there and the Gospels written by Matthew, Mark, and Luke were probably just being written about this same time. Although Paul had hoped to visit Rome as part of a missionary journey to Spain, he would be sidetracked when he was arrested, tried, and imprisoned before finally appealing to Caesar, meaning he requested he be sent to Rome to meet with the Emperor. His journey to Rome might not have occurred in the way he planned, but he will finally arrive in Rome about five years after writing this letter.

When and Where Are We?

This letter was likely written about 56 AD while Paul was on his third missionary journey, probably while he was visiting Corinth. This would line up with Acts chapter 20.

Who’s Who?

Paul – (Saul) A Hebrew, a Pharisee who had studied under Gamaliel, a great Hebrew scholar. He also claimed to be a Roman citizen having been born in Tarsus which was apparently granted Roman citizenship, giving him the opportunity to speak to both Jews and Romans with credibility.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Romans 1-3
  • Tuesday: Romans 4-6
  • Wednesday: Romans 7-8
  • Thursday: Romans 9-11
  • Friday: Romans 12-14
  • Saturday: Romans 15-16
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Week 41: The Acts of the Apostles

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”  Acts 1:8

What’s Going On?

The book of Acts is the second part of the letter written by Luke to Theophilus and picks up right where the book of Luke left off. This book will tell us about the acts, or activities, of the early apostles and how they carried out their calling with the help of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the book can be broken up into three sections based on Acts 1:8: The Gospel spreads throughout Jerusalem in chapters 1-7, then into Judea and Samaria in chapters 8-11, and finally be in position to spread throughout the world in chapter 12-28.

Jerusalem – Almost immediately following the arrival of the Holy Spirit, we see opposition beginning to stir. But Peter speaks to the crowd that what is happening had been prophesied by Joel, David, Abraham, and all of the Old Testament prophets. The crowd listens intently and Peter’s position as the leader of the early Jewish/Christian church is firmly established. We’ll follow the movements of the disciples, now called apostles, as the community of Jerusalem begins to be transformed.

Judea and Samaria – The movement will expand as the persecution in Jerusalem increases after the stoning of Stephen. One of the men leading the persecution was Saul, a Pharisee who no doubt believed he was doing the right thing to protect the Jewish beliefs as he understood them. But Saul would have a life altering experience on the Road to Damascus when Jesus Himself appears and tells him to stop persecuting the Christians. Saul will adopt the new name of Paul and spend the next several years gaining the trust of the Christians he had once tried to persecute.

The world – The question will arise about Gentile converts having to follow Jewish law. The decision is made at the Council at Jerusalem that Gentiles, now equipped with The Holy Spirit, are not bound by Old Testament food laws or the law of circumcision.  Paul will spend the rest of his life sharing the Gospel through a succession of missionary journeys all around the Mediterranean Sea.  

Paul will constantly be charged with “disturbing the peace” and sent to trial, punished, and even imprisoned. At the end of the book we find Paul sitting in prison in Rome after appealing to Caesar and awaiting his opportunity to speak on his own defense. While the outcome isn’t revealed here, we do know from outside resources that both Peter and Paul will be put to death by Nero. It makes sense to me, although there is no evidence to suggest this, that perhaps the two letters written by Luke are a part of the defense strategy. The two books together give an orderly account of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and show Peter and Paul being primarily responsible for being leaders of the new Christian movement: Peter to the Jewish converts and Paul to the Gentiles. I can see Luke carefully interviewing eye-witnesses for the purpose of supporting both Peter and Paul, not to mention the opportunity to witness the Good News to the very Emperor himself. While this may not be the primary reason for Luke’s account, it is interesting that his two letters are the epitome of a concise testimony that can be understood by Jew and Gentile alike to tell The Good News of salvation.

When and Where Are We?

The book of Acts takes place 30-65 AD. During this time we’ll follow Paul on his missionary journeys that will carry the Gospel message over a thousand miles away and into the heart of the Roman Empire where the message will explode throughout the empire and change the entire world.

Who‘s Who?

  • Luke – the author of the letter who becomes a part of the story when he joins Paul in chap 16.
  • Peter – becomes the leader of the new group of apostles and is the head of the church in Jerusalem
  • Saul/Paul – persecutor of Christians but becomes their greatest spokesman after meeting Jesus

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Acts 1-5
  • Tuesday: Acts 6-10
  • Wednesday: Acts 11-15
  • Thursday: Acts 16-20
  • Friday: Acts 21-24
  • Saturday: Acts 25-28
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Week 40: The Gospel According to John

“Jesus’ disciples saw Him do many other miracles besides the ones told about in this book, but these are recorded so that you will believe that He is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that believing in Him you will have life.” John 20:30-31 (TLB)

What’s Going On?

This week we are going to read one more account of the life of Jesus, but this week you’ll notice the story unfolds in an entirely different way. The first three gospel are often referred to as the “Synoptic Gospels” which uses the Greek roots “syn” meaning ‘together’ and of course “optic” meaning ‘to see,’ so they are “seen together.” While Matthew, Mark, and Luke tell us so much about the teachings, the parables, the miracles, the familiar stories of Jesus that are so often found in stained glass window images, John is written not so much to tell us what happened, but to tell us WHY.

John was one of the twelve disciples and one of Jesus’ earliest followers. While there is no way to know for sure, many believe that John was one of the two men referenced in 1:35, along with Andrew: “The next day John (the Baptist) was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!” When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?” They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?” “Come,” He replied, “and you will see.” So they went and saw where He was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon. (John 1:35-39) I love what William Barclay says about this while speculating if John was one of those two men: “He could tell you the very hour of the day and no doubt the very stone of the road he was standing on when he met Jesus. At 4 pm on a spring afternoon in Galilee, life became a new thing for him.”

John might have been present during some of the events during Jesus’ early ministry in Judea, before the other disciples were present, explaining why some of the information in chapters 2-5 aren’t included in the other accounts. When Jesus first arrives in Galilee, after the miraculous catch of fish, we read that Jesus called out to two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who are in their boat preparing their nets. Immediately they left everything and began following Jesus. (Mt 4:18-22; Mk 1:16-20; Luke 5:10-11) So James and John join Peter and Andrew into a full time ministry that would not only shape their own lives, but the lives of all who would read of their encounter with Jesus. These men would have had opportunity to hear Jesus talking to the large crowds that followed Him, but they would also have had some quiet moments of personal conversation and private teachings that would surely shape their faith and understanding that is so beautifully revealed in John’s writings.

Time and time again, we’ll see John refer to himself as “the one whom Jesus loved” which kind of puts a lump in my throat. Not only were John and his brother James, along with Peter, the earliest followers of Jesus, they will be part of the inner circle that will experience some things that the other disciples won’t be a part of. They were there for the Transfiguration, found in Matthew 17, Mark 9, and Luke 9 but again, is left out of the book of John. Why would John not tell about the day he saw Jesus turn into a dazzling white light talking with Moses and Elijah? You’d think John would have a lot to say about that day! But he IS the one who tells us that Jesus is the “Light of the world” and references Light more than any other author in the Bible.

The Gospel according to John contains some of the most loved words in the Bible and should be read with a different expectation than the other accounts. We read Matthew, Mark, and Luke to learn about Jesus, but we fall in love with Him in the book of John. We can feel John’s love for Him and it is contagious. It’s no wonder that this book ends the four Gospel accounts. It was likely written many years after the first three and so John is looking back through aged eyes that see things in retrospect, reflecting wisdom and insight guided by Holy Spirit to bring us into a closer relationship, not with Jesus the man, but with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: John 1-3
  • Tuesday: John 4-7
  • Wednesday: John 8-10
  • Thursday: John 11-14
  • Friday: John 15-17
  • Saturday: John 18-21
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Week 39: The Gospel According to Luke

Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the things that have been accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word have delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having followed all things closely for some time past, to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, that you may have certainty concerning the things you have been taught.” Luke 1:1-4 (ESV)

What’s Going On?

The book of Luke is the first of two letters written by Luke to Theophilus. The second is the book of Acts, or The Acts of The Apostles. Little is known about Theophilus other than what we learn in the opening verses of the book. He was a wealthy Gentile who had little background in the customs of the Jews and this book, unlike the book of Mark, doesn’t spend much time explaining things to a Gentile audience but instead, tells the stories in a way that needs no explanation. We also know he loved God! His name, when interpreted from the Greek, actually tells us “Theo” meaning God, and “Philus” from the word “Phileo” which means Love. So Theophilus literally means God-Love. It is likely that Theophilus asked Luke to put together a full report of all of the events concerning the life and teachings of Jesus and as his patron, Luke took great care to collect the information and compile it into the version we now place right along with the other three Gospel accounts. I imagine him interviewing, much the same way a reporter would, all of the people who had been witnesses to the events that he records. He takes great care in recording the PARABLES and includes some of the most familiar that weren’t found in Matthew or Luke – the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son, for example. He also pays special attention to the many PRAYERS that are found throughout the account.

Matthew was a Jew talking to other Jews. Mark was a Jew who is talking to Gentiles and Luke is a Gentile talking to other Gentiles. In fact, Luke is likely the only Gentile author in the New Testament – perhaps even the whole Bible! In this account of the life of Jesus, Luke isn’t presenting Jesus as the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy. He unfolds the story not just as the Savior for the Jews, but the One come to save ALL. My guess is that most in the Greek and the Roman world weren’t sitting around waiting for a Savior. So Luke tells the stories and records the words of Jesus in a way that shows us that everyone who comes to believe in Jesus will be set free – not necessarily from sin or eternal separation from God, or from a powerful government, but from ourselves and our own human nature.

We also know that Luke is a doctor from Paul’s closing in the book of Colossians: “ Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings.”  He will join Paul and become part of the story in the book of Acts and will also be mentioned as one of Paul’s fellow workers in the book of Philemon, along with Mark. So it’s possible that Mark and Luke shared some of their writings and most assuredly drew from some of the same resources.

I think it’s interesting the way Luke records the MIRACLES, especially the healing miracles. Luke would have been fascinated by the physical aspects of the miracles and records them with awe and wonder. Starting with the virgin birth and then including healings of a paralytic, a crippled woman, a blind man, several demon possessions, and two separate resurrections – the widow’s son in chap 7 and a girl in chap 8. He also goes into more detail about the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus! These are all things that would have captured the attention of a doctor, even a Gentile doctor who had no background in the promises of the Old Testament.

As you read this Gospel account, pay special attention to the humanity Luke brings to the story. We see that Luke also records the genealogy of Jesus, but doesn’t connect Him with Abraham the way Matthew did, but connects Him with Adam, the first man. He also shows the lineage of Mary where Matthew showed the lineage of Joseph. He also takes great care to record the story of Jesus birth and Mary’s song – Luke surely would have asked Mary to tell the story herself! Luke, the tender-hearted, curious physician who notices the things so many others might miss surely records the stories of Jesus and those whose lives touched His in a way that no other could possibly have captured.  

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Luke 1-4
  • Tuesday: Luke 5-8
  • Wednesday: Luke 9-12
  • Thursday: Luke 13-16
  • Friday: Luke 17-20
  • Saturday: Luke 21-24
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Week 38: The Gospel According to Mark

 “So Jesus called them together and said, ‘You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.’” Mark 10:42-45 (NLT)

Mark was not one of the twelve disciples and for all we know he may not have even been an eye-witness to many of the actions that he records in his gospel. As far as I can tell, he isn’t even mentioned in any of the four gospel accounts unless he is the one referred to in Mark 14:51 where a “young man” wearing a linen garment is following Jesus the night of His arrest but is seized, his garment removed, and he fled naked. So who is Mark and why is his account recorded alongside Matthew, Luke, and John? Some assumption is made that Mark is also the John Mark that becomes a part of the story in the book of Acts and whose mother is mentioned in Acts 12:12 as someone whose home was a gathering place for the early Christians. It was her home that Peter went to after miraculously escaping from prison. There is even some speculation that The Last Supper was held in her home. We know that she was a wealthy woman and it would appear that Mark was educated in a world where few others were – thus making him a good candidate for recording the Gospel account.

John Mark was a travel companion to his cousin Barnabus (Col 4:10) and Paul in their first missionary journey but for reasons we don’t know, he left them and returned home. As Barnabus and Paul make plans for a second missionary journey, Barnabus wanted to take Mark with them, but Paul was adamant that he not join them after abandoning them at Pamphylia. This caused Barnabus and Paul to go their separate ways. Barnabus then takes Mark with him and sailed for Cyprus, his hometown. Paul teams up with Silas and Timothy and begins his second missionary journey.

Mark disappears from the story for a while but then reemerges some time later with Peter who describes him as “his son” (loved one) in 1 Peter 5:13. It would appear that Mark became the secretary/interpreter for Peter who was boldly proclaiming the Gospel to the early church in Rome. After Peter’s death, we find Mark once again with Paul who is now in prison (probably in Rome) and writing letters to continue his ministry with people he had already visited (Philemon 24, 2 Tim 4:11).

While the book of Matthew seems to be addressed to a Jewish audience, Mark assumes that his readers are Gentile. He will explain some Jewish customs, translate some Aramaic words, and leave out some of the Jewish associations that are included in Matthew’s Gospel. Since Mark was apparently recording the events that he heard Peter tell about, events that Peter had experienced personally, he wrote them as he heard them and doesn’t appear concerned with keeping things in chronological order but arranges them logically. I like to think of Mark as the one with ADHD because of his many run-on sentences, his constant use of the word “immediately,” and his use of statements that just seem to need an explanation point. Then again, this is probably the way he heard Peter telling the stories. Early tradition has the book ending after 16:8 and it is assumed that an unnamed author finishes the final verses of the book.

The Gospel According to Mark seems more focused on the ACTIONS of Jesus, where Matthew was more concerned with the TEACHINGS of Jesus. Next week when we read the account written by Luke, we’ll see a completely different emphasis and the same is true for the account recorded by the Apostle John. Isn’t it interesting that those who compiled the final version of the Bible chose to include all four Gospel accounts? Even though they are different in the way they tell of the events, they all four work together to give us the picture we have today of the Savior, Jesus Christ.

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Mark 1-3
  • Tuesday: Mark 4-6
  • Wednesday: Mark 7-9
  • Thursday: Mark 10-12
  • Friday” Mark 13-14
  • Saturday” Mark 15-16
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment

Week 37: The Gospel According to Matthew

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” Matthew 5:17

What’s Going On?

Four hundred years have gone by when we open the New Testament. The book of Matthew starts off with a long list of names showing the family lineage of King David. It may not be obvious at first, but this list of names actually contains all of the Kings of the southern nation of Judah that we read about in the Old Testament. When Israel and Judah divided, the southern kingdom passed the throne from father to son all the way down the line of kings. The names should sound familiar, even Zerubbabel who acted as the leader during the era of The Return. The line continues all the way to Jacob the father of Joseph who married Mary. This is an important distinction and it’s important that it was Matthew who recorded it. It was important because the Jews were waiting for a leader to rise up from the kingly line of David and this connected Jesus to that line. Even though you and I know that Jesus didn’t inherit the DNA of Joseph, he was the LEGAL heir of Joseph, who held the lineage of the kings. We learn that a young girl, Mary, is pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they were “together” Mary is pregnant after being visited by The Holy Spirit. Joseph does the honorable thing and marries her, but only after an angel comes to him in a dream and tells him that the child Mary is carrying is the child of The Holy Spirit and that child will save His people from their sins. Savior = Messiah. Matthew is the only author to mention the kings, or Magi, that came from far-away lands because they saw the sign in the stars that there was a new “King of the Jews.”

Matthew was a Jew. He knew his family history and when he tells the story of Jesus, he is talking as a Jew to the Jews. He quotes the Old Testament almost a hundred times and mentions the Kingdom, now referring to the Kingdom of Heaven, not just the Kingdom of Israel, over fifty times. As the story of Jesus unfolds, Matthew focuses on how everything that happened fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. Matthew was an eye witness to many of the events he recorded as he was actually one of Jesus’ followers, also known as Levi the tax collector.  Tax collectors were thought of as traitors – Jews working for the Romans to collect taxes from the Jews, and pocketing extra cash from their own brothers. So, this unlikely traitor was called to leave his booth and follow Jesus, and in so doing, became an example of how Jesus takes us as we are and makes us into someone He can use for His Glory. Jesus would even be mocked for spending time with tax collectors and sinners after Matthew threw a banquet at his house and invited all of his friends to come and meet Jesus.

Matthew gives a brief description of Jesus’ early ministry, but then records in surprising detail what we now call The Sermon on the Mount. From there he seems to concentrate on the TEACHINGS of Jesus. While he does record some of the miracles, he focuses on the words of Jesus, the parables, the stories, the sayings. When we read about the Last Supper, the betrayal by Judas, the arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane, the trials before both the Sanhedrin – the Jewish ruling council, and Pilate – the Roman ruler, the mocking by the Roman soldiers, and the crucifixion of Christ we read the words of someone who was not only an eye witness, but someone who years later would recall the details of the events and carefully record them in hindsight, knowing that the cross was not the end of the story. When he recounts the resurrection story, he includes that the very earth shook as an angel came down, rolled the stone away, and then sat victoriously atop the stone, causing the guards who watched over the tomb to faint. He also remembers that the guards were paid by the chief priests and elders to spread false stories about what happened and that is why many of the Jews didn’t believe what really happened. Matthew shows a bitterness toward the Pharisees that is completely understandable. He saw that the Jews of his day were being given the answer to two thousand years’ worth of prayers and even with the Messiah right in front of them, they were missing it. He concludes his account with The Great Commission to go and make disciples – something we know that he took very seriously and was even willing to die for. Legend tells us he was martyred after becoming a missionary and carrying the Gospel message to what we now call Ethiopia.                                               

 “‘Follow Me,’ He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him.” Matthew 9:9

Weekly Reading Assignment:

  • Monday: Matthew 1-4
  • Tuesday: Matthew 5-9
  • Wednesday: Matthew 10-13
  • Thursday: Matthew 14-18
  • Friday: Matthew 19-23
  • Saturday: Matthew 24-28
Posted in RTB 2019 | Leave a comment