Conversations about specific texts, filled with arcs, brackets, phrases, word studies, etc.

Malachi 1:1–2:9

Meditating on Malachi
This passage has reminded me once again of the value of slowing down and taking the time to pray and read, reread, pray, meditate, reread, pray… well you get the picture.

I used the Phrasing module to divide the text so that I could group the units of “dialogue” in colored boxes. Seeing the structure of the text helps highlight the themes and main point of each section.

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Hebrews 12:18-29

Summary: Since believers have encountered glorious spiritual realities, they must not reject Jesus’ voice but thank him for his kingdom and worship him acceptably.

This passage should impact both our daily worship of God and our Sunday worship as we gather with God’s people.


Notice that the first half of this passage, verses 18-24, are structured as a Negative-Positive. The readers have not come to a physical place (described in 18b-21); rather they have come to spiritual realities (described in 22-24).

Then the second half, verses 25-29, is a Bilateral. And the two halves of the Inference in this relationship are a negative and a positive command, which are both grounded upon the reality of God’s warnings from heaven and his promised destruction of everything except what cannot be shaken. Here are the two Inferences: Do not reject the voice of Jesus (25a) - his covenant and blood - but rather do thank God for his kingdom and worship him acceptably (28a-c).

And all of verses 25-29 is an Inference from the spiritual realities of the New Covenant, contrasted with the Old, in 18-24.

Because the proposition containing the Inference is the emphasized half of the whole Inference relationship, the two emphases of the whole passage are found in 25a and 28-29. Because believers are God’s New Covenant people, the recipients of tremendous spiritual and eternal blessings, they must be thankful for his kingdom, and worship him in an acceptable way.

And what way is that? “With reverence” and with “awe” (28). Why reverence and awe? Because “our God,” the God of the New Covenant, “is a consuming fire” (29).


How do you view God? How do you respond to God’s words? How do you feel when you read or sing or hear about the majesty and glory and love of God? How you respond shows whether or not you are truly encountering God or just a figment of your imagination.

For a quick look at people who encountered God shows this! Isaiah saw his glory in Isaiah 6:1-7 and denounced himself as full of sin in the light of God’s holiness. This isn’t just an Old Testament reality either, for when John, the beloved disciple, saw the glory of the ascended Christ, he “fell at his feet as though dead” (Rev 1:17). And the sinless, perfected saints in Heaven fall down before the throne of God in worship (Rev 4:9-11; 5:8-10).

This reveals that those who “see” the glory of God today worship him with reverence and with awe. They fear him in his unapproachable majesty, yet rest in his undeserved favor in Christ. They bow in amazement at the incomparable companionship of glory and mercy, justice and grace, shining from the face of Christ.

So ask the Lord for a godly, reverential awe of him as you read his Word. Ask him to show you his glory in Christ as you hear the Scriptures read and preached. Without the fear of the Lord, you cannot truly know anything at all, or live in a way that pleases him (Psalm 111:10; Prov 1:7).

(In another study on worship, I briefly described and applied three NT passages: Romans 15:1-6, 1 Corinthians 9:3-14, and 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. In a study of 2 Timothy 3:10-17, I demonstrated that we must study what God commanded Israel in the OT if we want to please him in the NT era). And in an examination of Matthew 15:1-9, I showed that Jesus would condemn our own passion for any elements of worship that are not directly commanded by God in his Word.)

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Romans 11:16-24

From 2 Peter 2:17-22, I demonstrated how its teaching, specifically that of verses 20-22, fills out our understanding of the eternal security of the believer. Romans 11:16-24 also contains a difficult phrase: “you too will be cut off” in verse 22.

Let’s look at the passage as a whole first. Then we’ll focus on the application of verse 22, in light of the overall context, to the truth that is clearly taught elsewhere in the NT, that all genuine believers in Jesus Christ will enter Heaven.

The overall structure of the passage is that 16 makes a Concession that supports the emphasis of 17-24.

Within 17-24, there is a twofold Progression (17-18 and 19-24). The main points there are the call not to be arrogant (18a) and to fear God instead of being proud (20d-e, 22d).

The main point of the passage, then, is that the nature of the Gentiles as engrafted branches should cause them to fear God in humility. It is faith that connects believers to God’s gracious covenant promises (17c-d, 20c).

So Gentile Christians must fear God instead of being arrogant, and must cling to faith in Christ instead of turning to unbelief (“continue in his kindness”). (Notice how faith and fear are united, as well as unbelief and arrogance. Yet being in Christ is not a reward for faith, but the unmerited kindness of God.)

The question now is this: What does it mean to be “cut off” if you don’t fear God, if you don’t cling to faith in Christ?

What Paul writes elsewhere in Romans and in Galatians helps us understand this passage. Not all Jewish people in his day were really Jewish people. That is, “no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical” (Rom 2:28). Rather, to be a true Israelite, you must be spiritually circumcised, praised by God, not men (Rom 2:29). Paul clarifies this truth further in chapter 9, “not all who are descended from Israel belong to Israel, 7 and not all are children of Abraham because they are his offspring” (Rom 9:6-7). A true descendant of Abraham is a child of promise (Rom 9:8), that is, one whose birth is miraculous (Gal 4:23), who is in Christ through faith (Gal 3:26, 29).

Therefore, the warning in Romans 11 about the original branches being cut off doesn’t refer to being part of God’s people of promise, by grace through faith, and then being cut off, but being part of a group that externally shares in the benefits of the covenant. It is the same with the warning to the Gentiles in Romans 11: it is those who only look like they are part of the covenant who will be cut off.

Yet such people are often externally indistinguishable from genuine believers; therefore, Scriptural authors address all believers with warnings. God will use those warnings to preserve his saints, so they will never be cut off.

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Asking and answering doctrinal questions with specific passages, carefully studied.


@Mildred-Codilla I saw that no-one has replied to this yet, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

One outline that is helpful is this: God - Man - Christ - Response. It presents God as holy and righteous, man as sinful, Christ as the answer through his death on the cross, and the required response of repentance and faith.

It would be important to quote Scripture there as well, since it is God’s Word that is powerful to save, not our words. For example, the 10 Commandments show our sinfulness, as does Romans 3:23. Romans 6:23 is helpful to show God’s gift of salvation, and its source in Christ.

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The inclusion of the church in the OT

This was awesome to listen to you gentleman work through these passages. I especially appreciated looking at Isaiah 49 and Acts 13! Thank you so much!

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Eating blood

@ReeseT said in Eating blood:

However, it does seem that abstaining from blood hasn’t actually changed in the NT.

Hi, Reese. Your reply to Mildred’s question reminded me that I arced Acts 15:13-21 in answer to her question, and posted it in Theological Discussions, but never actually posted anything here. Here’s my original post, including my arc. So I’ll do that now!

To summarize (and I’m interested in your interaction on my thoughts here), the four practices in Acts 15:21 (and in verse 29, which you quoted) cannot be something necessary for obedient Christians at all times simply because they are listed here, because the whole point for James is that the church not prescribe such things as necessary for salvation for non-Jews. That is important to note.

(The exception is “sexual immorality” (v. 20 and 29), since it is condemned elsewhere in the NT. But the other members of this Series are not; in fact, several other places in the NT show that Christians are free to practice them (with the possible exception of “things polluted by idols,” depending on its exact meaning here - see 1 Corinthians 10:27-30).)

There are several passages that show that Christians are not bound by any of the food restrictions in the OT. For example, Acts 10:9-16 shows that we are not bound by Jewish food laws, since all foods are now clean to us. That means that a regulation like Deut 12:23 isn’t binding for us. Also, Colossians 2:16-17 and 20-23 says that we should not let ourselves be judged by anyone regarding “food and drink” (v. 16). There are other passages in the NT as well that are clear that believers are not under the Law as a covenant—a covenant that prescribed what not to eat and so on.

So why did this church council ask Gentile believers to abstain from these things? The likely reason was to promote peace within the church; thus the motive behind it was love.

Paul wrote about this motive elsewhere, so this idea fits in the overall context of the New Testaments and food laws. For example, in Romans 15, Paul addressed a controversy within the Roman church about this, and urged seeking the good of one’s neighbors, so that they could glorify God together in unity, in spite of their difference conclusions (v. 1-6). In 1 Corinthians 8:13, Paul stated that if eating meat offered to an idol would cause his brother to sin, he would “never eat meat” in that case! He wrote in 1 Corinthians 9 that he “became as a Jew, in order to win Jews,” doing that "
for the sake of the gospel" (see verses 19-23).

So I would say that believers are not bound today by the food regulations in verse 20; however, we are bound not to do anything that would lead a brother or sister into soul-destroying sin, which would include eating food with blood in certain circumstances, determined by wisdom.


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Need help with one of our online courses? Ask away!

Prophetic Christmas Course phrasing

@Loys I’m glad you enjoyed the course and the live videos, and have learned a lot! That’s very encouraging.

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A Prophetic Christmas course question on Luke 2:8-20

@Brent-Karding Thanks Brent!

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Get guidance for using the Biblearc toolbox. (And request new features.)


Here are the answers in brief, Christian:

No, there isn’t such a list currently, but we will try and provide this in the next version of Biblearc. Probably not.

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How to Bracket a Book

Here are the steps I followed to bracket the whole book of Galatians:

1. Bracket every section of the book in separate tabs, including a summary of the message of each section.
2. Copy and paste the summaries into the Notes tab so you can relate each large bracket to each other, from smallest to largest, writing new summaries as you go.
3. Identify the core proposition of the book.
4. Write a Main Point Summary based on the biggest relationships of the book.

Let’s go through what that looked for me in Galatians, so that you can do this in a book yourself!

I. Original Summaries:

Note: the bolded font indicates the emphasis in the largest bracketing relationship.

1:1-10 - The Galatians must turn away from the perverted gospel because Paul, a God-called apostle, is seeking to please only God.

1:11-24 - The gospel Paul preaches didn’t come from man, because he received it from Jesus Christ, as demonstrated by his God-accomplished conversion and his subsequent lack of communication with the earlier apostles.

2:1-10 - When Paul went to Jerusalem to explain his gospel to the pillars to preserve his ministry, they didn’t add to his gospel but rather gave their blessing to Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles.

2:11-21 - Paul rebuked Peter because he tried to force Gentiles to follow the Jewish law, thus acting contrary to the truth of justification by faith, which glorifies the grace of God and carries out the purpose of Christ’s death.

3:1-14 - The Galatians know from experience and from the Scripture that justification, the blessing of the Spirit, and becoming a true Israelite happens through faith alone.

3:15-29 - God’s people were held captive under the law, but now that Jesus has come, they all experience his promised covenant, becoming his children through faith in Christ.

4:1-11 - God sent his Son and his Spirit into believers’ hearts and so redeemed them from slavery and made them his sons and heirs; how can they throw all that away by returning to slavery?

4:12-20 - The Galatians should become like Paul because they fully trusted him in the past, and because his goal was not to exclude them but to make them Christlike.

4:21-5:1 - The law teaches that since believers are born through promise, set free by Christ, they must stand firm in that freedom.

5:2-12 - Circumcision would sever believers from Christ, because salvation is through faith that works through love; but Paul was confident they would remain in his truth, and that their troublers would be severed from God’s people.

5:13-6:10 - The way to serve each other through love, instead of destroying each other, is to follow the leading of the life-giving, flesh-opposing Spirit (which looks like bearing each other’s burdens and living according to the principle of sowing and reaping).

6:11-18 - It is vital to remember that the cross of Jesus Christ is our only ground of boasting and our only distinguishing mark.

II. Joining of Brackets and New Summaries:

Then I started relating the brackets to each other and writing new summaries. The best way to do this is by opening the entire book in a discourse module, removing verse divisions so that you have each section above as one “proposition” (i.e. 1:1-10, 1:11-24, etc.), and writing your summaries in the “Mine” column. (To save space, turn off the ESV column so you can only see your “Mine” column.)

I joined the following Brackets, in the order given:

1:6-2:21 (Ground) (1:6-9 and 1:10-2:21)

3:1-6:10 (Ac-Res) (3:1-5:1 and 5:2-6:10)

3:1-6:18 (Id-Exp) (3:1-6:10 and 6:11-18)

1:6-6:18 (Neg-Pos) (1:6-2:21 and 3:1-6:18)

1:1-6:18 (Ac-Mn) (1:1-5 and 1:6-6:18)

III. The Core Proposition of the Book"

All this means that 5:2-6:10 is at the heart of the book’s logic. The core of 5:2-6:10 (Id-Exp) is 5:13-6:10 (Ac-Mn). The core of 5:13-6:10 is 5:13-15 (Concessive). The core of 5:13-15 is 5:13b-15b (Neg-Pos). The core of 5:13b-15b is 5:13b-14b (Ground). The core of 5:13b-14b is 5:13b-c (Neg-Pos). The core of 5:13b-c, and thus of the entire book of Galatians, is 5:13c: "Serve one another through love."

But notice in the MPS (Main Point Summary) that this service comes from the gospel, from responding rightly to their Christ-purchased freedom from the law.

IV. Writing the Main Point Summary:

I did this by summarizing the biggest relationships (after the Ac-Mn), which was the Neg-Pos of 1:6-6:18 (“Paul writes to exhort the Galatians to turn away… and stand”). “According to the true gospel which he preached” comes from 1:6-2:21, and “which would result in a life of loving service to others” comes from 5:2-6:10.

The bold font in the MPS shows the core emphasis of the book as a whole.

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Adding diagram in forum

@JamesCWilliams Good question! In the Discourse or Phrasing module, click on the Print button to save the Phrase/Arc/Bracket as a JPEG.

Then, once you’ve start to write a forum post, click on the right-most button above the text box. It looks like a cloud with an upward-pointing arrow in it. You can select your JPEG saved on your computer from the window that opens, and it will attach it to your post.

Just make sure it’s not too large - I’ve had trouble with large images. You can save it as a smaller-sized image when you click Print if the image won’t load.

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Ama sinceramente a tu prójimo

El amor al prójimo tiene su base en nuestra purificación.
Nuestra purificación tiene como motivación el amor fraternal sincero, y como su medio la obediencia a la verdad.

No puedo hablar de amar a mi prójimo con un corazón puro, a menos que sea un beneficiario de la purificación que la verdad de Dios causa en mí.
No puedo hablar de amar a mi prójimo con un corazón puro, a menos que, por la gracia de Dios, haya en mí una disposición a quitar el pecado que me impide hacerlo.

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Cada Uno Hacía lo que le Parecía Bien

No había en esos días un rey para el pueblo de Dios. Cuando la figura de autoridad no estuvo presente, ellos comenzaron a hacer conforme a su propio criterio, conforme a lo que ellos les agradaba.

Algo muy similar a esto es lo que ocurre en la iglesia en nuestros tiempos, no porque carezcamos de autoridad, pues tenemos la Palabra de Dios, sino porque no queremos verla. Debido a esto la tendencia es a hacer lo que nos parece bien, no lo que Dios ha dicho, a enfocarnos en qué quiere la gente, no en qué quiere Dios, en complacer a las masas, no en darles lo que Dios tiene para ellas.

IGLESIA, existimos para ser el cuerpo de Cristo, para dar a conocer las virtudes de aquel que nos llamó de las tinieblas a Su luz admirable, y para ello, Dios nos ha equipado con Su Palabra, en la cual nos revela cuál es el tipo de adoración (y por ende adoradores) que Él busca. No haciendo lo que a nosotros nos parece bien, sino aquello que Él ha expresado que Le parece bien, que Le es agradable.

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Quienes no deben ser acusados de disolucion y rebeldia, los hijos o los ancianos?

@Sebastián-Winkler Muchas gracias, creo que es correcto pues en timoteo 3 se precisa mejor.

Dios te bendiga.

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