We discuss Christ teaching and explanation by Paul to understand that every person is individually responsible to seek a path to peace in every situation. Focus on the aspects that depend on you, irrespective of what others do or fail to do. To illustrate finding path to peace, Jesus paid the temple tax despite acknowledging unfair implementation of the tax law. Also, Paul recommended circumcision of Timothy despite a church ruling that circumcision of Gentile believers was not necessary. Other examples include Daniel negotiating a compromise diet of vegetables and water to avoid violating his relationship with God while obedient to King Nebuchadnezzar; and a city clerk in Ephesus that diffused a developing riot instigated by craftsmen concerned about their business shrinking because of growing acceptance of Paul’s message.
This bible study discusses the individual responsibility for peace based on Christ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount and an explanation by Paul in his letter to Romans. Christ message declares God’s promise of blessing and binary classification of people based on performing the individual responsibility for peace: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God” [Matthew 5:9]. Further, Apostle Paul explains the individual responsibility for peace by advising every person to seek a path to peace in every situation, focus on aspects that depend on you, irrespective of what others do or fail to do.
Both Christ and Paul also provide examples for finding a path to peace by avoiding battles that do not have to be fought even if they appear justified. Jesus illustrated this strategy for peace by paying the temple tax after acknowledging potential grounds for objection based on unfair implementation of the tax law. He paid the tax “…so that we may not cause offense…” [Matthew 17:27] to avoid potential issues that could distract people from his mission. In his illustration of the peace strategy, Paul recommended circumcision of Timothy (Acts 16:3) despite a church ruling that circumcision of Gentile believers was not necessary. He recommended the circumcision to forestall potential arguments that could distract people from his message.
Additionally, we discuss two examples of finding a path to peace through conflict resolution. One example comes from Daniel, regarding his negotiating a compromise diet to substitute unacceptable diet decreed by King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 1:8–16). The other example comes from Ephesus, where a city clerk diffused a riot instigated by craftsmen that were opposed to Paul’s message. The craftsmen saw their business of making shrines for idol worship was shrinking because of the growing acceptance of Paul’s message (Acts 19:23–41).
You may have at times needed to mediate in a dispute between two parties, calm down a crowd, or help an individual resolve an internal conflict. The bible provides guidance on conducting mediation, through several successful examples. We discuss a few of the examples to understand what they did and from them learn how to prepare for, and the approach to conducting, a mediation.
The first example comes from a city clerk defusing a mob in Ephesus during Paul’s mission with Silas. A large crowd had gathered in the city theater and threatened to riot. The city clerk calmed and dispersed the crowd by explaining the facts in a way to convince them the riot was not necessary. We will also look at King Solomon’s mediation of a dispute between two ladies over a baby and commander Joab helping King David resolve an internal dispute between David the father and David the king. We use these examples to learn the Christian basis for, and approach to, mediation. The study is presented in two sessions. This session focuses on using the Scriptures (e.g., Christ’s teaching on seeking peace and Paul’s letters to the Romans and Galatians) to understand the city clerk’s successful mediation in Ephesus.
This bible study is focused on understanding the fear of God as referenced through an event in Ephesus during Paul’s ministry. As a result of the event, Jews and Greeks in Ephesus were filled with fear, the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor, several people openly confessed their sins, many gave up their practice of sorcery, and the gospel spread widely and grew in power. What is fear and how did it make people turn to God?
Generally, fear arises out of recognizing an extraordinary power to cause or drive events that inflict physical or emotional pain or bodily harm. If one responds by keeping away, hiding, or succumbing to the source of power, then that is negative fear. Christ discourages us from such fear through his teaching in Luke 12:4. If, in contrast, one responds to recognition of such power by seeking to please God, then the fear is positive and is the fear of God. Christ encourages us to fear God through his teaching in Luke 12:5. We discuss the events in Ephesus and several other similar events described in the bible to share an understanding of the fear of God. Also, we make a case that we can learn the nature of fear of parents by understanding fear of God and use the relationship in attempting to understand aspects of parent-child interactions.