Proverbs 3

Chapter three naturally divides into three sections, each with its own theme. In the first section, Solomon gave a series of six commands or instructions to his son (Proverbs 3:1-12). Each command is followed by an explanation or result, and each pair comprises two verses. If his son obeyed his instructions, he would have “a long and full life” (Proverbs 3:1-2). The active pursuit of “truth and mercy” will cause a person to gain favor with others (Proverbs 3:3-4). Trusting in God and acknowledging him in everything results in a straight path (Proverbs 3:5-6). True fear of God – rejecting evil – has physical benefits as well as spiritual (Proverbs 3:7-8). God responds favorably to those who prioritize him with their money (Proverbs 3:9-10). Discipline from God is good because it is proof of his personal love (Proverbs 3:11-12).

The theme of the second section is the value of seeking wisdom (Proverbs 3:13-26). This has two subdivisions. In the first, Solomon used a series of word pictures to describe the beauty and value of wisdom itself, calling it incomparable, though he compared it to gold, silver, and rubies (Proverbs 3:13-20). 1 The concept that God used wisdom during the creation will come up again in chapter eight. In the second division of this section, Solomon encouraged his son to pursue wisdom and not let go when he found it (Proverbs 3:21-26). The benefits he listed include security in decision-making, peace in sleep, and confidence in every life situation.

The third section contains a series of practical instructions Solomon gave regarding how he wanted his son to treat other people (Proverbs 3:27-35). Some of these are reflected in the Mosaic law, but these are less “legal” and more “moral” and are general principles that believers should follow today, as they are found in some form throughout the New Testament. Help your neighbor when you have the ability (1 John 3:17-18). Accuse someone only when legitimately harmed (Romans 12:16-21). Do not imitate evil people (3 John 11). God will curse the wicked and bless the righteous (James 4:4-6).

Notes:

  1. The word for rubies in Proverbs 3:15 occurs only six times in the Hebrew text, all in poetry books. Three of these times, rubies are compared with wisdom (Job 28:18; Proverbs 3:15; 8:11), once with a virtuous wife (Proverbs 31:10), and once with bodies (Lamentations 4:7). The last occurrence is not a comparison (Proverbs 20:15).

2 Peter 3

Chapter three begins with the same phrase as in 2 Peter 1:13. Peter’s goal was to “STIR UP” his readers “BY WAY OF REMINDER,” cementing in their minds the correct method of spiritual growth (2 Peter 1:5-7), the source of truth (2 Peter 1:20-21), and the dangers of being weak in truth (2 Peter 2:1-22). In wrapping up his letter, Peter noted that standing firm for the truth of Scripture would draw the attention of those who mock the truth (2 Peter 3:3-4). Similar to Paul’s assessment in Romans 1:18-19, Peter wrote that this mocking comes from a deliberate suppression and rejection of the truth that God has made clear to everyone (2 Peter 3:5).

One of the arguments the mockers will use is that nothing seems to change, 1 that God does not seem to move so he must not truly exist, and believers are simpletons for believing such nonsense. Peter comforted his readers by reminding them that God is not bound by time, and, because of his infinite longsuffering and desire for all to be saved, he will hold off his judgment until just the right time (2 Peter 3:8-9). However, when that time does come, his judgment will be swift and strong, and nothing will be able to stand against it. This should cause all believers to follow the path of spiritual growth God has given us, as we await the fulfillment of his promises (2 Peter 3:10-13). Peter mentioned that even Paul’s letters were already being misused and misunderstood, just like the other words given by God. By saying this, Peter publicly acknowledged Paul’s apostolic authority and placed him on the same level as the Hebrew prophets who spoke from God (2 Peter 1:21). He closed with a final encouragement to hold fast to the truth and a command that we should grow in both the grace and knowledge of Jesus, a balance that is not always well-maintained.

Notes:

  1. This is the same argument used by evolutionists today called “uniformitarianism.” They hold that “the present is the key to the past,” so whatever is happening today must have always occurred the same way. It is this belief, ignoring the miraculous events of an instantaneous Creation and catastrophic global Flood, that allows them to promote a theory that the Earth is billions of years old and that evolution accounts for what we observe today.

Acts 13

Chapter thirteen records the first missionary tour from Antioch to other Gentile regions. It is important to note that the Holy Spirit specifically chose Barnabas and Saul for this mission (Acts 13:1-3), a nod back to Jesus’ discussion with Ananias in Acts 9:15. There are five significant points about their work shown in this chapter that would characterize the rest of Paul’s ministry. First, they started “IN THE JEWISH SYNAGOGUES” wherever they went (Acts 13:5, 46). This was a theological issue for them (see Romans 1:16; John 4:22). Second, the Holy Spirit empowered them to perform miracles as a part of their ministry (Acts 13:6-12). This is the first time Luke associated miracles with either Barnabas or Saul. Third, Saul’s message in the synagogues was similar to what he had heard Stephen say in chapter seven, a recounting of Israel’s history of prophets sent by God, culminating with Jesus as the Messiah (Acts 13:16-41). Whereas Stephen emphasized their rejection of the prophets, Saul focused on Jesus as the one they had always anticipated. Fourth, their message was often received warmly by many God-fearing Gentiles but only a few Jews (Acts 13:42-45, 50). Twice Luke wrote that the Jews became jealous because of the Gentile response to Paul (Acts 13:45; 17:5). Later Paul told the Romans that was exactly part of God’s plan (Romans 11:11). Fifth, the Jewish rejection of the gospel helped spur Paul on to his ultimate commission, preaching to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46-52).

It is also important to recognize that Saul used his Gentile name, Paul, as he ministered in Gentile lands. 1 Luke’s note in Acts 13:9 that he was “ALSO KNOWN AS PAUL” seems to indicate that he probably went by both names in Antioch, depending on who he was with. However, since the majority of his work from this point on was in Gentile territory, Luke felt comfortable changing his usage to “Paul,” as he would call himself in his messages and letters. During his regular trips to Jerusalem and the Temple, he most certainly would have gone by “Saul.”

Their first stop was in Cyprus (Acts 13:4-12), where the Holy Spirit used Paul to identify and punish a sorcerer who was actively working against the gospel. Much like Peter with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11), Paul spoke under the power of the Spirit and blinded Elymas, the sorcerer. This display of power convinced the audience, including the proconsul, leading to their belief in Christ.

As they worked through southern Galatia, many people believed. However, a coalition of legalistic Jews had followed them and “INCITED THE GOD-FEARING WOMEN OF HIGH SOCIAL STANDING AND THE PROMINENT MEN OF THE CITY” to stand against and begin persecuting Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13:50). So they continued to Iconium.

Notes:

  1. A Jew born outside of Israel would have both a Hebrew (synagogue) name and a Greek or Latin name. Saul/Paul embraced both names and backgrounds, depending on his immediate audience.