Ephesians: An Overview

Ladies,

I pray that this post finds each of you well!

Warning: My oldest has begun typing his writing assignments for homeschool on my computer, and in order to teach him self sufficiency and all that, I have turned off all spelling and grammar helps. I, having developed a complete dependence on such tools, am about to find out just what I am made of. I will do my best to rise to the challenge, but just…have grace if I have a bunch of misspelled words or a comma splice or seven.

Are you ready to begin Ephesians? Five weeks. I think we can make it!

This week, per our usual, is our overview week. The focus: read the book. Get aquainted with the text. However, I do want to add two steps this week.

  1. I want to you mark the pronouns. Mark all the first person pronouns with one color and all of the second person pronouns with a different color. I want us to observe closely how Paul uses these pronouns in this epistle. I think, once we tie in some key words and phrases that Paul uses in these coming weeks, we will see some of his back and forth between Jew and Gentile. Step one is just getting them on our radar! So just work on being aware of when he switiches between first and second person this week.
  2. Then go through it again and mark all the “together” words: both, all, together, etc. We are going to be watching these closely too!

Ladies, I look forward to digging into this book with you as our last study for this year! I pray that it is fruitful and the Lord helps us to see his Word more clearly.

Be diligent! And may the Lord bless your diligence with understanding!

2 Thessalonians

Ladies,

Shortest. Study. Ever. At least as far as what we have done in the past! But that is OK! As I have said before, if I were to make it longer I’d be making stuff up! And so, here also ends the shortest intro.

Keywords:

  • References to time (be sure to mark in a significant way references to Jesus’ coming!)
  • References to God the Father
  • References to Jesus
  • Faith
  • Suffering/Persecution
  • Tribulation
  • Kingdom
  • References to the Son of Perdition (pronouns, the Wicked, etc.)
  • Chosen
  • Salvation
  • Work/labor

Read the whole book before going back and dissecting it.

1:1-2 Who wrote this letter and to whom was it written?

1:3-5 List everything you learn about the church at Thessalonica. What do we learn about their persecution/tribulation? Why do they suffer?

1:6-10 What is God going to do? When? How? To whom? What is their punishment?

**Note the reference to 2 groups in v. 10.

  1. To be glorified in his saints
  2. To be admired in all them that believe

Ladies, if you have not started a page in your commonplace book on the word “saints,” I highly recommend that you do so! Especially as we venture into Ephesians in the coming weeks! So far in our studies, we have seen “saints” mentioned in Acts 9:13, 41; and 26:10; Hebrews 6:10 and 13:24; and 1 Thessalonians 3:13 – just to get your started.

1:11-12 What is Paul’s prayer for them?

2:1-2 What is about to be discussed? Why? What, specifically, is the concern Paul is addressing?

2:3-12 List the order of events given in these verses. List everything you learn about the Son of Perdition. When will he be revealed? What will happen to him and why? What will happen to those who are deceived?

2:13-17 What reassurance does Paul give them? What does he entreat them to do? What do we learn about God?

3:1-5 What are Paul’s prayer requests? What is his desire for them?

3:6-15 What command is given? How were Paul and his cohort their example? (1 Thess. 2:1-12) Why is this command needed? How are they to deal with those who disobey?

3:16-18 What do we learn about Paul and his epistles?

Ladies, before you put the Thessalonian epistles aside, do your best to summarize both letters in your commonplace book. What is Paul doing in each letter? What is his purpose? What is the basic gist of his message for them? Do your best! Just a small handful of sentences. If you struggle to do this, that’s OK. This is a skill that takes developing. Give it time!

As we enter our break (Only one week this time!), for my outlining ladies:

Keep working with little passages out of books! Write out the subject of each paragraph (i.e. George Washington) and now add in what about that subject is being discussed (i.e. George Washington’s presidency, or George Washinton’s family life). You aren’t using complete sentences, just go for the basics! Gradually, you will be able to get more and more specific and begin being able to spot the topic sentence on which all other sentences in the paragraph depend or expound. Time and practice, ladies! Once you get this under your belt, you will begin seeing these relationships within Scripture!

You may even try outlining 2 Thessalonians since it is probably the shortest book we are going to be dealing with for a while. Remember, there is some subjectivity here. Just give it a shot and see if you can see the flow of the text!

Have a wonderful week off, ladies! I will see you back here for Ephesians! Until then, be diligent! And may the Lord bless your diligence with understanding!

2 Thessalonians: An Overview

Ladies,

Keeping things simple this week! Read through 2 Thessalonians.

Take note of:

  1. Your general first impressions
  2. The purpose of the letter
  3. Questions that arise from your reading
  4. Repeated words and ideas that will be keywords as you study

Just get acquainted with the text this week, ladies! We will probably study the whole epistle through next week. (Like I said, suuuuper short!)

Which brings us to some decisions that need making:

Next up, chronologically, is 1 Corinthians (approx. 56 A.D.). 1 Corinthians is quite lengthy for an epistle (16 chapters) and quite dense. If we can manage 2 chapters a week, we would look at wrapping up the week of December 14. That is a pretty fast pace, and puts us right into the thick of the holiday season…

With that in mind, enter option B:

We could fudge on our chronology just a bit and jump to Ephesians (approx. 60 A.D.). With much less rushing, we could wrap Ephesians up in 5 weeks. Even with a week off in between, we would finish the study the week before Thanksgiving (final post Nov. 16) and pick back up with 1 Corinthians after the new year.

Think about what would work best for you and let me know! I will put up a poll on our Facebook group this week, but also feel free to comment on the website! Speak now or forever hold your peace!

Have a wonderful week, ladies!

1 Thessalonians 2:13-5:28

Ladies,

So I’ve been reading a lot lately about language and its effects on the brain. (I can sense your excitement already!) Self-education is really becoming my passion, and I am trying to share with you all what I am learning because, let’s be honest, exegetical Bibile study is a self-education process (with the Spirit’s aid, of course!). With that said, I have some good news and some bad news.

The bad news: I am going to harp some more on outlining and narration (summarization), which I know are some of the more difficult and uncomfortable practices for a lot of you.

The good news: The stars have aligned! And by “stars”, I mean my desire to try and teach the fundamentals of outlining and my son’s grammar curriculum! More on this shortly!

So why are these so important? (I’ve learned new things!!)

In her fascinating book, Endangered Minds, Jane Healy, Ph.D. states:

“The invention of writing…changed thinking. Many scholars believe the precision required to get thought into words on paper refined mental capabilities, logical thought, and the ability of a culture to reason out its complexities.” (p. 87)

In her book, Healy discusses extensively language and how it actually physically shapes the brain, priming it for the higher-order thinking skills. We discussed the process of critical thinking some in my post on the theological commonplace book. It consists of fact gathering (grammar), analysis (logic), and the ability to develop and express your own opinion/position (rhetoric). I told you that this is when you “own” what you believe; when you are able to articulate it clearly. Language is truly at the heart of the whole process! God, in his infinite wisdom, chose language as the medium with which to reveal himself! Coincidence? I think not!

Therefore, ladies, our goal is to “own” what we believe; to know why we believe it and be able to discuss it with the assurance of understanding. We have discussed how these practices of outlining and narration (summarization) aid in this process. Now I want to tell you what I’ve been learning: Why these methods help!

It all comes down to passive learning vs. active learning. One of the downfalls we are seeing within the public education system (of which many of us are a product) is an increase in passive learning. This is the one-sided taking in of information. It can be in the form of a screen, a lecture, a sermon, something that is basically projected at you, but you are not able to interact with it in return; it is a one-sided transfer of information. This form of education leaves necessary language skills underdeveloped, handicapping many students’ analytical abilities which revolve largely around internal monologue and external expression (verbal and written).

Active learning, by contrast, is about interacting with what is being received. Discussion (in person is better, if you can get it!), the ability to question and probe, writing (narration), working through the connections of a passage (outlining); these are all ways of interacting with the text! These are forms of active learning.

Ladies, let me tell you… I have really been trying to up my narration game on all my reading (outside of just Bible study), narrating small passages after a day’s reading session. Oh. My. Word. (Pun intended!) The difference in my retention is amazing! As I write things down in my own words, I am more easily making connectins between the things I am reading, I am thinking things through more thoroughly, etc. And, ladies, the more I do it, the easier it becomes! These are skills and skills can be learned! But learning takes time and practice, and getting started is often difficult if you don’t know how. So, here is what we are going to attempt this week:

Work through your study as usual, and if you have time left, take just a few minutes this week give this a try:

Outlining: Allow me to figuratively take a page from my son’s literal book (Grammar for the Well-Trained Mind). Find a book, open it to a page with several paragraphs. Read the first paragraph and just jot down the most basic topic being discussed in one or two words. If it is discussing a person, just their name. If it is discussing an event, just jot down the event. No detail. Just find the basic topic.

Narration: Start small!! Find a little passage where an event happens (fiction books will be best here, or news stories) and simply try to jot down with no detail, the order of events. 3-4 paragraphs max for this exercise.

Baby steps, ladies. Baby. Steps.

Now let’s get to the good stuff, shall we?

Read 1 Thessalonians 2:13-5:28 in its entirety.

Keywords:

  • References to time and place
  • References to God the Father and Jesus
  • Affliction/Suffering/Persecution/Tribulation
  • Wrath
  • Faith
  • References to Jesus’ coming
  • Sanctification
  • Holiness
  • Love/affection
  • Asleep
  • Light/Day
  • Dark/Night
  • Sober
  • Salvation

2:13-20 A refresher from last week to set the stage for the “wherefore” in 3:1: How was Paul’s message received? How did the non-believing Jews respond? (Acts 17:1-10) After their separation, what was Paul’s desire? What obstacle was he dealing with?

3:1-6 What was their solution to their problem? What was Timothy’s mission? What reminder did he give them? What was Timothy’s report?

**Note on timing: Paul arrived in Athens in Acts 17:22. We see Timothy returning from Macedonia in Acts 18:5. Thus, this letter to the Thessalonians must have been written sometime after Acts 18:5.

3:7-13 What is the effect of their good report? List Paul’s desires. Note the timing in v. 13.

4:1-3 What are they to do and to what end?

4:3-12 List all instructions given and any reasons Paul gives for those instructions. What lesson does he not need to teach them and why?

4:13-18 What comfort are they given? List the order of events Paul describes.

5:1-11 In what manner is the Day of the Lord going to be like a thief in the night? Whom is it NOT going to overtake as a thief and why? Contrast the “children of the day” and “they that sleep.” What do we learn about Jesus?

5:12-22 List the instructions given.

5:23-28 What is his prayer? Why is he confident it will come to pass?

Take a moment and summarize the book of 1 Thessalonians in your own words in your commonplace book!

This was a short study, ladies! Next week we will jump straight into 2 Thessalonians, which will probably be equally as short. Next week will be our overview week!

Keep up the good work, ladies! And I pray that the Lord blesses your diligence with understanding!

1 Thessalonians: Historical Context and Chapters 1 – 2

Ladies,

I am so out of practice (hence the late post)! But I am so excited to be back with you again! Be patient with me as I attempt to find my new rhythm with homeschool, library tasks, and all the other crazy life things going on right now. I will (hopefully) get things figured out soon!

Also, I have come to the realization that this study is probably going to be quite short. Like, only 3 more weeks short…SO, just as a heads up, the Corinthian epistles are next on the docket. We may take a little one-week break in between, but I’m not sure. I will have to work out how best to get at least 1 Corinthians in before we break for Christmas. We’ll see! I’ll let you know! How are we already halfway through September??

Anyway, with all that said, let’s get to the good stuff!

Keywords:

  • Highlight any references to Paul in one color.
  • Highlight any references to his audience (you, your, etc.) in a different color. This is always a good rule of thumb in all epistles, but it is especially important with Paul.
  • Mark any references to time and location
  • References to God, the Father
  • References to Jesus, the Son
  • Faith/Believe
  • Election
  • Holy Ghost
  • Suffering/Affliction
  • Gospel
  • Word
  • Kingdom
  • Jews
  • References to the coming of Jesus

Read Acts 17:1-10. Once in Thessalonica, where did Paul go? How long was he there? What did he do? What was his message? What was the response? What problem arose?

Read Chapters 1 and 2 of 1 Thessalonians in their entirety. (Remember that this is a good habit to develop. Get the sweeping overview before you dissect. Repetition is your friend!!)

1:1 Who is this letter from and to whom is it written? (**Note: We must watch closely and see if he uses keywords to further identify his audience as Jew, Gentile, or both. Paul is the only apostle who has that type of potential for a split audience.)

1:2-4 List what we learn about the Thessalonians.

**Note: We should not, as so many do, read this and assume Paul is talking to us, and conclude that we are elected! This is reading ourselves into the Scriptures. Instead, we must see that he is talking to the elect, and ask ourselves who Scripture defines as the elect. Let Scripture interpret itself. And the doctrine of election is really one of those doctrines you need to put into your commonplace book and then add to it as you work your way, systematically, through your studies (Try to avoid hopping around because you NEED to see and understand this word in its proper context!) Follow the word through your studies and see what you learn. Also, bear in mind that “chosen”, “foreknown”, and such words are related to this idea of electing someone to something. In our studies, we have encountered this idea already in Romans 11:1-11, 25-28, and 1 Peter 1:1-2. If you studied those with us, that would be a good place to start building this doctrine.

1:5-7 What do we learn about their gospel? Compare what we see here with what we saw in Acts 17:1-10.

1:8-10 What do we learn about the faith of the Thessalonians? How have they changed? What do we learn about Jesus?

2:1-12 List what you learn about how Paul and his company shared the gospel with the Thessalonians. Why did they behave this way? (v. 12) For the historical account of Philippi, see Acts 16:11-40.

**Note: (I’m really intrusive today!) v. 12 mentions the Kingdom. We know, as of Romans, the kingdom was in abeyance. (Romans 11) So, this should spark a few questions to consider.

  1. Who is Paul’s audience? Who gets the Kingdom? Does Paul ever discuss partaking in the kingdom with Gentile believers? (This is not a loaded question. I don’t know the answer. It is something I am following in my commonplace book as I build my doctrine of the kingdom. It is just something to be thinking about.)
  2. Is the kingdom in abeyance yet? If it is, is that still what they are looking toward?

I have no answers for you today, just questions to add to your load. Yay! You’re welcome! (I love you!)

2:13 What did the Thessalonians do? What do we learn about the Word of God?

2:14-16 Look carefully. Who is Paul’s audience? Who is doing the persecuting in Thessalonica? Who are their “countrymen”? What do we learn about the Jews?

2:17-20 What is Paul’s desire? What is the problem? How does Paul view them?

What a blessing! What a wonderful testimony of faith and hope. Ladies, my prayer this week is that we might live our faith out this strongly and this effectively; that it would echo throughout our spheres of influence! In a world steeped in uncertainty and fear, may we be ever steady and filled with hope!