This is the homepage for the University of Jesus.
You are invited to click on any of the LABELS on the lower left column of this page to begin a daily study of one of the Books of the New Testament.
After you click on the Book of your choice, simply repeatedly click on SHOW OLDER POSTS until you arrive at the first page of posts. Then scroll down to the bottom of that page for the first post of the Book.
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God bless you.



Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times and in every way.

Peace at all times? Even when bad things are happening around us and to us?

Peace in every way? No fear for the future, anxiety in the present or guilt over the past?

Such peace is possible, but only in the way Paul suggests here – The Lord of peace himself give you peace…

The Teacher promised to give His peace to those who trust Him. The peace He Himself lived every day in every circumstances.

Jesus was peaceful in the storms of life. At peace when His enemies attacked! Peaceful even on the cross!

Paul gives the key to receiving the peace of Jesus. It is living with the sense of His continual presence in our lives.

The Lord be with all of you.

When the Lord is present there is peace!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all.



We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies.

To some people, work is a bad word. They would rather live at the expense of another’s labor.

Here Paul lays down the law - If a man will not work, he shall not eat.

Paul doesn’t say if any cannot work, but rather if one can and won’t!

Apparently some in Thessalonica were expecting the immediate return of Jesus. They stopped working and became dependent on the largesse of others.

Not only were they a burden to hardworking friends, they became busybodies. Going from house to house, gossiping and generally being a nuisance.

Such people became a bad example of what it means to be a student of Jesus.

Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.

There is something noble in work. Right thinking people respect one who earns his own bread, even if in the most menial job.

Paul reminds them of his own conduct when he was living among them.

We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone's food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.

Good students of Jesus do not feel entitled to the benefits of another’s labor. They do not take advantage of the bonds of love between believers. They remember the Teacher’s words – It is more blessed to give than to receive! To have something to give, one must work!



Finally, brothers, pray…and pray…

Jesus’ life was filled with prayer. Another word for communication with His Heavenly Father!

He prayed often, sometimes all night. Other times He seemed to be in a constant state of communication with the Father. Interrupting his conversations with others to address God directly in the moment!

Prayer can and should be like that. Not only specific times when we stop what we are doing and take time to pray, but also a more general sense of God’s presence with us all the time!

A kind of running dialogue in our minds with the ever-present Teacher, Father and Holy Spirit!

Students of Jesus learn to be like their Teacher. They constantly talk to God for He is with them always.

It is natural to converse with those we love. One true measure of the strength of any relationship is the desire to communicate.

As with any relationship, specific circumstances are the subject of conversation. It is the same in our relationship to God. We can talk about anything all the time, but when situations arise we naturally pray specifically about them.

Here Paul reminds the believers to pray for certain things. For Paul and his fellow-workers! For the message of Jesus to be received by others! For personal safety from those who might persecute them!

Sometimes we share our problems with our friends. We do so knowing they do not have the ability to change the situation. We simply find comfort in someone who is willing to listen because they are interested in our welfare

Our Heavenly Father not only cares for us and hears our prayers; He has the power to help us, to change things!

May the Lord direct your hearts into God's love and Christ's perseverance.



He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the hero. He comes from heaven on an unlikely rescue mission. He succeeds gloriously!

He alone lives a perfect life, overcomes every temptation!

He dies alone, paying for the sins of everyone who ever lived!

He becomes the first to defeat death, rising never to die again!

The glory is all His!

But wait!

Jesus graciously shares His glory with everyone who trusts Him. The Good News of His victory over sin and death is the message of the Gospel. Those who believe enter into all the benefits of His victory!

...Saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth.

Students of Jesus share in the glory of their Teacher. The honor of forgiveness of sins! An invitation to live with Him forever!

And more...we are invited to share His glory now through a changed life - So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you…

The glory of Jesus enlightens our hearts and lives. His victory gives us hope for the future and His teaching give us power for the present. His power works in us to change our hearts and win victories every day!

May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.



For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.

The truth must be loved to be received. If a person does not love the truth, he is liable to believe a lie.

It is the truth that saves. A lie can only condemn.

Here Paul warns about a secret power of lawlessness already at work. It is the work of Satan in the world.

This is no surprise. In the very beginning it was he who led Adam and Eve into rebellion against God’s command. Lawlessness is his goal for mankind, and ultimate ruin his plan for the world.

Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden because of disobedience. Willful disobedience to God is wickedness. And wickedness leads to destruction.

Here Paul predicts the coming of the man of lawlessness!

He will oppose and will exalt himself over everything that is called God or is worshiped, so that he sets himself up in God's temple, proclaiming himself to be God.

Many ideas about who this person is have been proposed through the years. Some have even suggested is not one person, but a general state of lawlessness that will pervade society immediately before Jesus comes.

It is not as important to know exactly who or what Paul is talking about as it is to avoid falling into the trap of lawlessness. This is done by loving the truth of God.
There are two spirits evidently at work in the world today: lawlessness and obedience.

Nobody likes to be told what to do. There is a spirit of rebellion in every person. But anyone who has been changed by the power of God loves to be told what to do by Jesus.



They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power…

God’s grace only looms large in our minds when we understand what would happen to us without it! When we realize the ultimate fate awaiting those who do not receive God’s grace revealed in Jesus!

Paul says – God is just!

What does this mean?

It means His very nature is about fairness. While God is also merciful, His mercy does not make Him unfair. Every wrong must be made right!

Those who are persecuting the believers in Thessalonica will be punished. In fact, every sin will receive a fair penalty. And sin’s punishment is separation from God, hell!

But God is more than just. He is also love. His love sends Jesus to take our punishment on the cross.

Jesus’ death pays for the sins of those who trust Him. Another fate awaits those who reject God’s grace. They will pay for their own sins!

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.

The thought of hell – separation from God – is a terrible thought. The idea of evil behavior going unpunished is equally troubling.

God is just and loving. Jesus takes the punishment of our sins. Now when God graciously extends the mercy of forgiveness, He is also just because the price of sin was paid by Jesus.

Why do you think Jesus spoke so often about the reality of hell?

He wanted the world to know the greatness of God’s saving grace.



Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and Peace! What gifts from God!

God’s grace is revealed in the coming of Jesus. His perfect life freely given up on the cross for our sins!

What does this empowering grace produce?


Trust in Jesus is the hallmark of His students.

Grace also brings peace. Peace with God and therefore peace within. And peace in our relationships!

For Grace which produces trust and brings peace also fills our hearts with God’s love. The same love that flows out to the world in the coming of Jesus, now overflows from our hearts to others by the power of the Holy Spirit within.

Paul’s prayer is for God’s grace and peace to continue to be with them. For the results are already growing in the lives of the Christians in Thessalonica!

Your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.

The Teacher says – He who is forgiven much, loves much!

Love for one another is proof of God’s grace. Love in our hearts is the evidence of our relationship with Jesus.

All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering.

How can students of Jesus know they are following the Teacher? A growing trust in Him and increasing love in our hearts for others!



This second letter to the church in Thessalonica is very similar to the first one.

It commends the believers’ perseverance under persecution and teaches about the Second Coming of Jesus.

Since the content is similar to the first letter, it is generally thought to have been written a short time after the first. Probably while Paul was still in Corinth about 50 A.D.

It is natural for any dynamic group of believers to have questions about many things, as well as problems. But this is especially true of a new fellowship. So it is not unusual the relatively young church in Thessalonica would have issues Paul needed to address.

This letter is filled with encouragement to continue to follow Jesus as well as correction about some false ideas.

Paul is a good student of Jesus. Remember how Jesus explained many things to His disciples when He was present with them? But no more so than in the hours before His death!
This was because He knew His departure would alter His relationship with them. He would be physically separated from them.

Here Paul is in a similar situation, having been forced to leave Thessalonica because of death threats. And like Jesus, Paul has a strong desire to communicate the truths they need to survive in his absence.

No doubt, Paul would prefer to speak face to face with them about the problems he has heard about in the church there. Unable to do so, he writes a second letter to clear up some misunderstandings that have developed.

There are four themes in the letter:

1. Commendation for the progress in faith they have made.
2. Encouragement to continue in the face of persecution.
3. Correction of certain behavior arising from false ideas about Jesus’
immediate return.
4. Instruction about the true nature and time of Jesus’ return.

The overall thrust is to establish the church on a more firm foundation.



May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through.

Is it possible to be thoroughly sanctified, set apart for God? Is a blameless life attainable for students of Jesus?

Paul says it is!

But how?

Here is the precise point many students of Jesus go wrong. They mistakenly think holiness depends only on their efforts. They attempt it on their own.

They fail of course. Sin often, get discouraged with themselves and sometimes give up! The exact opposite result Paul hopes for the new believers in Thessalonica!
Students of Jesus can grow in the likeness of Jesus, sin less and less, and do many good things, but they can never live completely blameless/sinless lives.

Being blameless can only come through trust in Jesus's work, not personal effort. It is not something believers can do for themselves! Note carefully what Paul wrote about this:

May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul is praying for someone to keep them blameless! But who?

The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it.

It is God, through Jesus’ life, forgiving every sin and declaring us to be blameless. Keeping us blameless in spite of our many failings!

Students of Jesus cooperate with the leading of the Spirit. Often overcome sin and do the right thing. Fulfill their destiny, become more like the Teacher! But...

The very best student of Jesus can never be blameless in their thoughts and actions. Yet, by the grace of God the worst students are kept blameless! What an encouraging thought to close this Letter!

The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.



I Thessalonians 5:16-22

Be joyful always…for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.


Is it possible to be happy all the time? Happy when you lose a job? Happy when the doctor gives you a bad report? Happy when a loved one dies?

Sorrow and pain are a part of every life. So how can one be joyful in such circumstances?

Paul is not talking about living without some negative feelings when bad things happen. He is saying that students of Jesus can maintain a joyful spirit even in the worst times.

Jesus said - In the world you will have trouble. Be of good cheer. I have overcome the world!

Our deep and lasting joy is belonging to Jesus. This joy transcends circumstances. Our most valuable possession – our relationship to Him – cannot be destroyed by any of the bad things that happen in life.

Paul continues by giving advice for being joyful always – Pray continually. By communicating our problems to God, we gain a measure of peace because we trust Him to work everything out for our ultimate good.

Paul also counsels – Give thanks in all circumstances. In every situation – good and bad – students of Jesus learn to find something for which to be thankful. They learn to look up and see beyond the temporary setback to the ultimate victory Jesus has already won for them.

You will never meet a thankful person who is not also a happy person. When we focus on what we don’t have or what is wrong with what we do have, we are caught up in ourselves. But when we thank God, our thoughts are on Him.

We can be joyful always because we know God wants us to be happy. And God is powerful to make us so. Joy…is God’s will for us!



Live in peace with each other.

Peace with God, peace within and peace between people! What is more important than peace? Every good thing is possible only in peace.

Jesus is called the Prince of Peace, because He alone can create peace in all of these areas of life.

He is our peace with God. He makes this peace by His death on the cross in our place. Paying for our sins!

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, God forgives all who trust in Him. Forgiven by God we enjoy a clean conscience before Him. Inner peace!

At peace with God and peaceful in our souls, we make peace with others. If we receive the peace of Jesus, we freely give what we have been given. We do everything to live in peace with everyone else.

Paul gives some very practical advice about how to keep the peace in all our relationships.

First, he counsels respect for our spiritual leaders. If everyone is doing their own thing without regard for those God has appointed as leaders, chaos – not peace – is the result.

Paul encourages a strong work ethic. Staying busy occupies the mind and body productively and effectively removes many temptations and troubles between people.

Paul advises help and encouragement toward the weak. And patience with everyone! He also warns against the tendency to get even when someone wrongs us.

In these ways, a student of Jesus becomes more like the Teacher - a peacemaker! Making peace is how Jesus lives. Only following Him makes this kind of life possible for us!

Always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.



About times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

Here Paul echoes the words of Jesus. The Lord’s return will be unexpected. Like a thief in the night!

But Paul says students of Jesus who are paying attention to the Teacher will not be surprised - But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief.

We may not know the time of Jesus’ second coming, but we know He is coming! The logical response is to be prepared all the time. In this way, students of Jesus will be prepared whenever it happens.
They prepare by staying alert and self-controlled. Watchful and expectant! Restraining behavior contrary to the desires of the Teacher!

In fact, Paul here repeats the caution to be self-controlled, because giving in to temptations leads to an unprepared heart and life. Surprised by the Lord’s sudden arrival!

Paul also encourages them to live in faith, love and hope. These three work together to create a prepared heart and life.

Faith in Jesus leads to choices pleasing to Him. Love proves and sustains our relationship with Him. And hope produces constancy and endurance.

Those who do not trust Jesus, love Him, and hope for His return will not be prepared when it happens. Paul says such people are in the darkness.

On the other hand, students of Jesus are in the light. They understand. And together, they support one another in staying prepared.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.



Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.

Apparently some in Thessalonica think only those who are alive when Jesus returns will be saved. They mistakenly believe they will be forever separated from their loved ones who happen to die before Jesus comes.

Not so! Paul tells them the dead will actually the first to be with Jesus!

According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive...will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep…For the Lord himself will come down from heaven…and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Here is the order: Jesus returns. The dead rise to meet the Lord. The living join them.

This is what the resurrection of Jesus means to His students. Death is not the end of the relationships they hold so dear in this life. There is no final Goodbye at the grave.

This is the great hope of the resurrection of Jesus. It means Jesus is alive and those who follow Him will be with Him. And it also means they will also be re-united with all other students of Jesus, even those who are in the grave!

We do not want our closest relationships to end. We want them to continue forever! The resurrection of Jesus answers this great desire of our hearts.

When Jesus returns what a reunion it will be! How long will it last? Paul says – forever!

And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words.



Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you…

God supernaturally intervened in human history. God came down to earth…Jesus came! His birth, death and resurrection! Amazing things!

Jesus also ascended into heaven, promising an even more spectacular return to claim those who believe in Him.

Those who lived at the time of these incredible events naturally expected Jesus to return any day. Imagine the temptation to interrupt the daily routine of work and all the essential chores of life. Why bother if it will all end soon?

Simply stop and wait expectantly for Jesus to come back and rescue from all of life’s struggles. Run around excitedly, talking of nothing else!

It is this temptation Paul addresses here. Since nobody knows when Jesus will return, he reminds the Thessalonians of his prior instructions about this. Settle down, mind your own business and keep your job!

As students of Jesus, they have an obligation to be good employees and good citizens. They should be concerned about their influence with those who do not yet share their enthusiasm for Jesus.

…so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

If they become idle, shiftless and dependent on others, it won’t be long before students of Jesus will be the object of scorn by hard-working, conscientious people. The very people they should be influencing to become students of Jesus also!

Today, with nearly 2,000 years between us and the mind-boggling events of Jesus’ life on earth, students of Jesus better understand this truth. Life goes on, and so must we…even if we expect Him to return any time now.



Finally, brothers, we instructed you how to live in order to please God, as in fact you are living.

Paul reveals an amazing truth here. It is possible to live in such a way that God is pleased!

Paul doesn’t say the believers could live perfect lives. If such were possible then Jesus’ death on the cross would make no sense, since He died for the sins of the world!

But Paul does say our lives can be pleasing to God. Not sinless, but sinning less by becoming more like Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit within.

Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.

With the help of the Holy Spirit within, becoming more like the Teacher is a growing, developing life-process - Now we ask you and urge you in the Lord Jesus to do this more and more.

As students of Jesus learn to think and act more like Him, God is more and more pleased!

This is an awesome thought! What we think about, what we say and what we do is of interest to our Creator. And we have it within our power to please Him!

Pleasing God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – is on the mind of these students of the Teacher. Though Paul reminds them who they are following - For you know what instructions we gave you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.

Twice Paul uses the phrase, more and more, to describe his expectation for the believers in Thessalonica. Becoming more and more like Jesus is the destiny of every student of the Teacher!



Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again...

Why does Paul write? He is in relationship with these new Christians and desires to communicate with them any way he can! If he can’t be with them in person, he writes a letter!

Communication is the essence of relationship. Proof of love, care and concern! Without it, there is no living connection.

Sometimes people speak of a personal relationship with Jesus, but few can explain what this these words actually mean.

Some think they have a relationship with Jesus because they pray to Him for forgiveness. Others may think they have a personal relationship with Jesus because they go to church.

Going to church and believing Jesus is the Savior does not necessarily lead to a close personal relationship with Him.

Praying on Sunday at church is fine, but what about all the other days in the week? See you next Sunday, Jesus!
Is it possible to have a personal relationship with Jesus only one day in the week?

Students of Jesus are in close contact with the Teacher. They are developing the discipline of awareness of His presence! They seek to be in personal moment-by-moment dialogue with Him.

Each moment of every day the relationship renews as every experience is shared with the Teacher. In real-time communication! Not only in church, at meals or before sleep at night!

The more a student pays attention to the Teacher, the closer the relationship becomes as positive changes create greater desire for more communication. In this dynamic personal relationship, students are changed to become more like the Teacher.



But, brothers, when we were torn away from you…out of our intense longing we made every effort to see you.

We strongly desire to be with those we love. Something is missing when we are separated from them. That’s how Paul feels about the students of Jesus in Thessalonica.

When he was forced to leave the city under extreme duress, he missed them. He wanted to return to be with them, because he grew to love them.

Paul had another relationship. A personal connection with the Teacher, Jesus Christ! It changed his life!

Being a student of Jesus filled his heart with such love and joy. He wanted to share this relationship with those who didn’t have it. That’s what led him from his home in Tarsus to the city of Thessalonica in the first place.

There, he found men and women who – through his life and teaching – entered into a relationship with Jesus also.
The relationship Paul enjoyed with his new brothers and sisters was the creation of Jesus. A bond second in intensity only to his relationship with the Teacher!

It is Jesus who creates relationships. He came to earth to bring people into a relationship with God, through Him. And everyone who comes into relationship with Jesus enjoys a connection with every other believer.

For what is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy.

This is the unique and amazing thing about a relationship with Jesus and those who follow Him – There is no final parting, no end!



For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children...

Paul reminds the believers in Thessalonica how he treated them when he was with them. He behaved like Jesus. That’s what good students of the Teacher try to do.

Jesus not only taught His followers about love, compassion and mercy, He lived His message. He practiced what He preached. His students experienced a personal demonstration of the truths gave.

The life of Jesus reveals a Teacher who was patient with His students. They often failed to understand His teaching at first. And they were slow to change their way of thinking and living.

Time and again, Jesus gently repeated the principles of the kingdom of God, using examples from everyday life, parables and illustrations. Above all, Jesus kept living the principles in His own life.

Understanding the Teacher’s way, Paul also exhibited patience with those he hoped would become students of Jesus - we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children.

Jesus was a living example of the kind of life He called everyone to live. By following Jesus, Paul also served as a model of good behavior before his hearers - You are witnesses, and so is God, of how holy, righteous and blameless we were among you who believed.

Paul was a good student of the Teacher. He reminds the believers in Thessalonica how he treated them. - Encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God, who calls you into his kingdom and glory.

Paul personally experienced the love of Jesus and it changed his life - We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well…

Students of Jesus become like the Teacher!



We are not trying to please men but God, who tests our hearts.

Why do students of Jesus do what they do? Of course, it is important to try to do the right thing, but perhaps more crucial – from God’s point of view - are the motives for our actions.

Paul knows what he is talking about from personal experience. Both as a persecutor of Christians in his early life and now as an apostle in later life!

In both instances, Paul seeks to please God. He persecutes Christians when he mistakenly thinks it pleases God. Then he meets Jesus and begins to teach the Good News for the same reason!

Paul sums it up with these words - We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else.

Here Paul informs the believers in Thessalonica about what motivates him to teach about Jesus. To become successful students of Jesus they too must learn to have a higher motive for following Him than seeking the approval of people.

With the help of our God we dared to tell you his gospel in spite of strong opposition.

Knowing this is a tremendous encouragement to the new Christians because they too face opposition. Like Paul, they must learn to seek to please God even if it means the disapproval of others.

Pleasing the Teacher is the motivation for every successful student of Jesus. For to become more like Him will sometimes bring persecution from others! Why?

Sometimes because of jealousy or prejudice! Often because doing the right thing makes those who are unwilling to change their lives feel condemnation by comparison. If anyone can change for the better, then everyone could! People do what they do, but God is testing their hearts, the motives.



You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.

Paul is extremely complimentary to the Christians in Thessalonica. In spite of persecution, they are not side-tracked from the purpose of every student of Jesus. To become more like the Teacher!

These new Christians find a living model of Christ-likeness in Paul and his missionary partners. They not only believe the message about Jesus Paul preaches, they want to become like Paul in their way of living.

This happens because Paul is an example for them of what it means to be a good student of Jesus - You know how we lived among you for your sake.

Every student of Jesus has an influence on every other student of Jesus. Here we see a living example in the lives of Paul and the Thessalonians how powerful a model of Christ-like living can be to change lives!

Paul mentions the joy given by the Holy Spirit. It is through the work of the Spirit in our lives that becoming more like Jesus is possible.

Jesus is the perfect model for Paul. Through Paul’s example, the Thessalonians look to Jesus as a model for their lives. Then something else happens.

The Thessalonians became a model for others also - And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia.

Apparently their faith is so strong it motivates them to spread the message of Jesus beyond the city of Thessalonica. Others, who never met Paul, begin to speak of the Thessalonians as a model of changed lives.

They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven …Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath.



We always thank God for all of you, mentioning you in our prayers.

Paul’s predominate emotion is gratitude. Thankfulness to God and gratefulness for the faith of the believers in Thessalonica!

When persecution forces Paul to flee the city after only three weeks, he could not be surprised if the believers give up their new-found faith. Instead, Paul is relieved and happy to hear they stand firm in the face of fear!

They do more than hang on to their faith, they grow spiritually. Paul mentions three things about their spiritual condition for which he is thankful:
1. Faith produces works
2. Love prompts labor
3. Hope in Jesus inspires endurance
Real faith changes behavior. Trusting in Jesus leads students of the Teacher to change their guiding principles for life.

The world says - Live for today as if there will be no tomorrow! Jesus says – Live for today as if there will be no end to the tomorrows!

Faith changes the way the Christians in Thessalonica live their lives. Their behavior reflects a mind-set of faith – not only in tomorrow – but in an eternity of tomorrows!

Faith empowers them to say no to the sinful pleasures of their past way of life and to say yes to the new life of seeking to please Jesus.

Real love produces changes also. Love for Jesus seeks to please Him. And when the love of Jesus fills one’s heart, it spills over into loving actions toward others, behaviors inexplicable to those without such love.

And real hope of a future resurrection and life eternal leads to a lifestyle that seems extravagantly wasteful to those who cannot see beyond today.



This letter is one of the most enjoyable to read in all of the New Testament. It is filled with so much hope and gratitude.

No wonder! Paul is in high spirits! Good news has just arrived about the faithfulness of the fledgling church in Thessalonica.

From the book of Acts we learn Paul only preaches in the city of Thessalonica for three weeks, then flees for safety. Traveling on, Paul didn't know what was happening to those he left behind.

Did they succumb to the pressures of persecution and give up?

In Corinth, Paul finally receives a positive report from Timothy. His short time in Thessalonica produces surprising results! The church had not only survives but thrives.

Paul immediately sits down and pens this letter in a relieved and grateful state of mind. One can feel Paul's joy as he writes this happy letter.

This letter is very personal. We look inside Paul’s heart. Why does he do what he does, going from place to place teaching about Jesus?

Paul is a premier student of Jesus. His obsession? Making new students for Jesus.

Why? Because Jesus not only died for the sins of the world, Jesus rose from the dead. Paul serves a living Teacher!

And as he explains in this letter, Jesus will return to earth. There will be an end to things as they are now. Those who believe in Jesus and are faithful to Him will be with Him forever.

Paul can almost see the final resurrection day, when he will happily stand before Jesus with these Christians from Thessalonica! His time in Thessalonica is not lost. His work is not in vain.
We can see the smile on Paul's face as he writes, because he can see the smile of approval on the face of the Teacher he seeks to please!



What counts is a new creation!

Here Paul makes one final argument against those who are seeking to require the Christians of Galatia to keep certain customs of the Law, specifically circumcision. And it is the most persuasive one.

He simply says being circumcised or not being circumcised doesn’t really matter at all!

That’s because the only thing that really matters is whether one is being changed. A New Creation!

The Law of Moses, indeed any law or custom alone can never change a person’s heart and life. No human effort can produce a peaceful relationship with God. No amount of rule-keeping can provide a clean conscience before God.

Only Jesus can do these things for us.

This is why Paul says - May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.

The only way we can ever be in a right relationship with God is through Jesus. By His death on the cross, Jesus took the penalty for our sins and only by trusting what He accomplished will we ever find confidence before God.

It is the persistent tendency of religion to substitute imperfect human effort at rule-keeping for the perfect work of Jesus on the cross! So the apostle Paul says if you must have a rule, take this one - A New Creation!

By faith in Jesus’ death and resurrection we have forgiveness for all our failures in keeping God's rules. We are born again and set upon a path that leads to becoming more and more like Jesus in heart and life. This is the rule for students of Jesus.

Peace and mercy to all who follow this rule, even to the Israel of God.



Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.

What if opportunity knocked and nobody answered?

It happens all the time, because life is constantly presenting us with chances to do something good for someone and sometimes we fail to recognize them.

Students of Jesus learn to be aware of these occasions. Paying attention to the Teacher is how we develop the skill of seizing the moment.
We see in His life how this is accomplished. In fact, Jesus’ life is described in these words – He went about doing good!

Sometimes people approached Him and asked for His help. More often it was His insight into the situation at hand that led Him to do something good for someone. Jesus intentionally set about to be good to everyone He met.

Our Teacher shows His students how to take the focus from themselves in order to see the need of others in the moment.

The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are filled with stories of Jesus’ encounters with people. All kinds of different people in the normal day-to-day routine of His life!

For those who – like Jesus – are paying attention, opportunity constantly knocks at the door of our hearts. And like the Teacher, good students answer by thoughtful words and loving actions.

This is one very important way in which students become more like their Teacher. And like the Teacher, use their time on earth for good!

This passage of Scripture also provides a priority for our limited time and abilities. Our first concern must be for other students of Jesus, believers. But our love is broader in scope than this. It extends to all we have opportunity!



A man reaps what he sows!

Paul isn’t talking about agriculture. He’s talking about life!

Yet as surely as a farmer can only harvest what he has planted, a person’s life can only yield the fruit of the seeds of thoughts and actions.

Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character. Sow a character, reap a destiny.

Students of the Teacher have a God-given destiny to become like Jesus. To achieve this destiny we must purposely sow the seeds of Jesus’ own attitudes and actions in our lives!

This is what being a student of Jesus is all about.

Allowing the Teacher to shape our character as we follow Him and listen to Him. Cooperating with the Holy Spirit as our hearts are changed, our character transformed!

The one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life!

On the other hand, ignoring the Spirit’s leading produces another kind of harvest - The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction!

Unlike agriculture which has distinct times of planting and reaping, life is a constant process of sowing and reaping. We are sowing every minute of every day by what we think, say and do. And if only imperceptibly at times, we are experiencing a personal harvest.

This is because our hearts – our lives - are the field into which seeds are constantly being planted. Every moment of every day! All the time!

Conscious of this reality, students of Jesus purposely seek to be led by the Teacher and guided by the Holy Spirit.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.



Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.

Every student of Jesus feels certain responsibilities to every other student.

This is the law of Christ - the way of love.

It is Jesus’ law because it is how he lived His life. With a sense of responsibility for everyone else!

That’s how He lived from day-to-day! Reaching out to the poor, healing the sick, comforting the broken-hearted, freeing those ensnared by sin and bringing God’s message to everyone He met.

That’s also how He died! His death wasn’t the result of any wrongs He committed. Jesus died for the sins of everyone else!

Like Jesus, His students share each others burdens.

Yet Paul also says here:

Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.

Are these two statements contradictory: Carry each other’s burdens. Each one carries his own load?

Apparently there are some burdens we can share and some we cannot. For each person must ultimately take responsibility for their own actions.

This is what Jesus did. While He helped others and died for others, He took full responsibility for His own relationship with the Father.

Likewise, students of Jesus can encourage one another and help one another, but one student of Jesus cannot be a good student for anyone else. Every student is individually responsible to become more like the Teacher.
Being a good student of Jesus is about YOU and ME!



But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law… Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.

Students of Jesus live by the Spirit of God, not the letter of the Law. Living by the Spirit is a higher calling than rule-keeping. The Law cannot change hearts, but Jesus can!

Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the sinful nature with its passions and desires.

This is an amazing statement! It is possible for students of Jesus to enter into a process that changes their hearts, their emotions and their desires to be more like Jesus!

Here’s a way of life no Law can offer: Jesus changes the heart and so changes the behavior!

The Law says – Change your behavior! Avoid the wrong and do the right! And we fail!

Jesus says – Let me change you! Then you will desire to avoid the wrong and do the right! And we find joy in the person we are becoming!

The Law merely informs a person about what is right and wrong. The Holy Spirit transforms a student of Jesus! Taking them beyond the requirements of rules into a life of freedom to actually become more and more like their Teacher!

The Teacher lives in His students representatively through the Holy Spirit. The classroom is always in session, because life is the classroom and the Teacher is always present.

What is the curriculum in the classroom of life?

Sounds like Jesus…

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.



You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

It is somewhat ironic that Paul says one can fall from grace by trying to be right with God through rule-keeping. But the fact is, to ever be justified by keeping God’s rules would require one to keep all the rules perfectly, all the time!

However, everyone sins. Nobody is perfect. That’s why grace is needed in the first place!

In truth, if people could live perfectly sinless lives, they would have no need of the grace of God. They could earn their right standing before God through their own perfection!

Paul wants the Christians in Galatia to see the stark choice before them. They cannot choose part Grace and part Law. It is all one way or the other!

Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law.

How good one is or how bad is not the test when it comes to being accepted by God. Only one Person has ever been good enough to stand before God. His name is Jesus.

It is only by faith in Him that people can be right with God!

Of course, Paul is not saying behavior isn’t important. That it doesn’t matter how imperfectly we live! Students of Jesus are in the process of becoming more like their Teacher.

As we become more like Jesus our lives naturally change for the better and we become more pleasing to God. So Paul writes:

You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.



These things may be taken figuratively, for the women represent two covenants.

Paul uses the story of two Old Testament women to illustrate the choice before the Christians of Galatia. The choice is between two extremes. Legalism which leads to slavery or Grace which brings freedom!

God promised Abraham that through his descendants the world would be blessed. This promise was the future coming of Jesus who was born in the lineage of Abraham.

But Abraham, who was married to Sarah, grew to old age without ever having a son. Abraham mistakenly decided to have a son by one of the servants in his household. In due time, Hagar gave birth to Ishmael.

In the course of time, God kept his promise to Abraham. He and Sarah had a son named Isaac.

This resulted in confusion and contention in the household and Abraham sent Hagar and her son away. The child of the slave woman was not to share in the inheritance of the son God promised!

But what does the Scripture say? "Get rid of the slave woman and her son, for the slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with the free woman's son."

The analogy is perfect. Hagar’s child represents human effort. Sarah’s child was God’s promise, a miracle child born in old age.

Those who taught the necessity of keeping the Law of Moses represented slavery to human effort in order to please God. While Paul’s message of Jesus represents the miracle promise of Jesus’ free gift of salvation.

In this figure, Paul is urging his converts to cast out the teaching of slavery and to continue living in the promise Jesus provides.

Therefore, brothers, we are not children of the slave woman, but of the free woman.



My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…

Here we learn what Paul thinks is most important for every student of Jesus. To be transformed into the image of Jesus! Christ...formed in you!
Transformation into the likeness of Jesus! This is the goal of every student of the Teacher. To become more like Him in heart and life!

Here Paul calls the Christians in Galatia his dear children. For he labored to bring them into the new birth of faith in Jesus. They became students of Jesus and were on the way to becoming more like Jesus.

Sadly, this process is in danger of being interrupted by false teachers, who seek to enslave these students of Jesus with requirements of the Law of Moses.

You are observing special days and months and seasons and years! I fear for you, that somehow I have wasted my efforts on you.

Paul’s work is in danger of being destroyed if the Christians of Galatia turn their focus away from inner spiritual transformation. If they become entangled in religious customs that have nothing to do with being a good student of Jesus!

We can imagine Paul’s concern. He is far from them. He isn’t sure what is going on - how I wish I could be with you now and change my tone, because I am perplexed about you!

Paul does what he can. He writes this letter warning them to refuse the teaching of those who do not care about this truth - Those people are zealous to win you over, but for no good. What they want is to alienate you from us, so that you may be zealous for them.

Now as then, there is a persistent temptation for students of Jesus to think that customs and rituals are as important as spiritual formation. Falling for this leads to the dead-end of legalism, rather than the life-changing process of becoming more like Jesus which leads to eternal life.



So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.

The inheritance of God! This is everything God gives to those who are His sons and daughters. This includes forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Spirit and eternal life in heaven some day!

One does not qualify for the inheritance by the keeping of the Law, but by faith in Jesus. Not because of human effort, but because of Jesus’ perfect life, sacrificial death and triumphant resurrection!

Only a son or daughter can inherit from the father. And only those who are sons and daughters of the Heavenly Father can claim a portion in the inheritance God gives?

But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.

It is by faith in Jesus one becomes a child of God. It is by the grace of God – a free gift – not by efforts in keeping the rules, as important as that may be. In fact, Paul compares a life lived under the Law with slavery.

And a slave cannot receive the Master’s inheritance!

So how do we know we are His children?

Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, "Abba, Father."

It is the gift of the Holy Spirit in our hearts that validates our claim to the inheritance God gives His children. The Spirit of Jesus is proof of our relationship with the Father. By this we know we are His children.

It is through the Holy Spirit living in us that we know we are forgiven and living in the Family of God. And it is the Holy Spirit who helps us in our preparation to live forever in the Family of God - our final inheritance in heaven.

With Jesus as our Teacher and the Holy Spirit as our Tutor, we become more like Jesus and prepare ourselves to live forever in God’s Family.



For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

Paul uses familiar imagery here. Everyone knows clothes cover. Clothes also protect against the elements, cold and heat.

And certain clothes are needed for different occasions. What one wears to work in the field would not be suitable dress before a King.

What is the proper spiritual attire necessary to come before God and be pleasing to Him? There is only one answer – Jesus!

Anyone who comes to Jesus is covered! To be covered by Jesus means that nothing else is needed to be fully dressed before God. Without Jesus, even our best efforts at keeping God's commands leave our sins uncovered.

Paul is continuing to refute the idea that keeping parts of the Law of Moses could add anything to one’s standing before God. To be covered by Jesus’ life and death is the only way to be properly dressed before The King!

Paul reminds his readers of how they came to be clothed with Jesus. At the point their faith in Jesus led them to be baptized, they were clothed with Christ! Faith came alive and they became Sons of God by faith!

Their right standing with God did not come through any human effort. Believing is not a work. It is trusting in Jesus.

Being baptized is not a work. It is something to which one submits. In fact, it is a passive act, something that one allows another to do to him.

When faith leads one to submit to Jesus through the act of baptism in water, Jesus gives the Holy Spirit. Then with the help of the Holy Spirit a student of Jesus can actually become more like the Teacher in heart and life. It is being clothed with Jesus that matters.

If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.



So the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith.

Paul continues to marshal arguments against the teaching threatening the new churches he established in Galatia. Against the false teachers who were attempting to bind certain requirements of the Law of Moses upon students of Jesus!

He advances two arguments against keeping the Law of Moses:

1. The promise of salvation by faith in Jesus pre-dates the Law of Moses - The law, introduced 430 years later, does not set aside the covenant previously established by God and thus do away with the promise.

2. If salvation depends on keeping the law, then the promise shared with Abraham would be unnecessary - For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise.

Paul then proceeds to answer the question – Why then was the Law of Moses given?

It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come…Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.

The Law cannot save from sin, because nobody can keep the Law perfectly. That’s why salvation must come through the grace of God. A promise of God, not a covenant of Law.

The coming of Jesus is the promise made to Abraham. Salvation then is by faith in Jesus, not by keeping the Law. Those teaching the necessity of keeping parts of the Law of Moses are mistaken.

But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a prisoner of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.

Students of Jesus are only and completely saved by faith in Jesus!



After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to attain your goal by human effort?

This is Paul’s question to those who may be tempted to live by the Law of Moses in order to have a right relationship with God. He reminds them that God – the Holy Spirit – came to live in their hearts by faith, not by law-keeping!

Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard?

Law – even God’s Law – does not have the power to save anyone. Law only informs a person about what is right and wrong, it cannot transform a life. Nor can keeping rules make anyone right in the sight of God, for nobody can keep the law perfectly.

All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”

God gave the Law of Moses to show what kind of life is required to please God. Of course, God knew man would not be able to keep these rules perfectly. Man’s failure was supposed to help him realize the need for something else.

That something else is the coming of Jesus, his perfect life and sacrificial death on our behalf.

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: "Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree." He redeemed us in order that…we might receive the promise of the Spirit.

It is only by faith in what Jesus has done for us that God declares us to be right before Him. And only the Holy Spirit living within can give power to change our hearts and live a life pleasing to God

Paul reminds every student of Jesus that becoming more like the Teacher requires Divine Help. Human effort alone will never do it.

Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.



I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Jesus was Jewish. All of the apostles were also. In fact, most all of the first students of Jesus were too!

So who can blame some of the early Jewish Christians who wrongly believed that Gentile Christians should keep the traditions and customs of the Law of Moses as they actually continued to do?

Jewish festivals, circumcision and other customs continued to be valued and practiced by Jewish Christians. Becoming a student of Jesus didn’t change their cultural orientation overnight. And it was difficult for some to understand why Gentiles shouldn’t become more Jewish in their behavior.

But God sent Jesus to save everyone, including the majority of people in the world who are not Jewish, rather Gentile. And receiving the Good News of Jesus – becoming a student of Jesus – was never intended to be a conversion to Judaism.

Neither did Jesus intend to destroy the Law of Moses. How could He, when He is the fulfillment of the Law of Moses and all of the prophecies of the Old Testament. Jesus is the embodiment of Judaism’s promise to the world.

A promise given to Abraham years before Moses was even born. That through his descendents One would come who would bless all nations.

What we see in the Book of Galatians is a collision of cultures with a question hanging over it. Just what if any of the customs of Judaism will be required by Gentile when they become students of Jesus?

Paul’s answer is nothing is needed except faith in Jesus and willingness to follow His teaching. This was the truth for Jewish Christians and for Gentiles too. Only Jesus!

So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified.



Galatians 2:1-10

For God, who was at work in the ministry of Peter as an apostle to the Jews, was also at work in my ministry as an apostle to the Gentiles.

Paul continues to defend himself against those who were attacking him in order to discredit his message. These false teachers were requiring the Gentile Christians to be circumcised in order to be saved.

Paul wants them to know that even in Jerusalem; the church does not require Gentiles to be circumcised.

Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem…yet not even Titus, who was with me, was compelled to be circumcised, even though he was a Greek.

He tells of false brothers who tried to require Titus to be circumcised. Paul wants them to know how he stood against this - We did not give in to them for a moment, so that the truth of the gospel might remain with you.

At issue in all of these details is whether a relationship with Jesus is sufficient for a person to be saved. By adding legalistic requirements, the false teachers are saying Jesus isn’t enough. It is Jesus, plus this or that!

Paul concludes by letting them know that the apostles in Jerusalem accepted him and his mission to the Gentiles. And they did not advise him to require circumcision as a part of the message of Jesus. That belonged to the custom of the Jews.

James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.



I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

False teachers have come into the churches of Galatia after Paul left and undermined His teaching. Because of this, Paul is in the unenviable position of defending His credentials as an apostle in order to defend his message.

He doesn’t do this to promote himself, but rather to show that His teaching comes directly from Jesus. Whereas, these false teachers do not have the authority of an apostle as Paul does.

Paul’s concern is for the spiritual health of the churches he worked so hard to establish. He fears they will fall from the grace of God into a system of legalism being taught by others. He only presents his credentials to underscore the truth of what he taught these Christians, so they won't be led into error.

Paul’s defense of his authority as an apostle of Jesus indicates something of what these false teachers must have been saying about him.

But when God…was pleased to reveal his Son in me so that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was…

Apparently, these false teachers were saying that Paul does not speak for the other apostles, some of whom were still in the city of Jerusalem.

Perhaps they made the argument that the other apostles felt as they did, that the Gentile Christians should be circumcised and keep the law. And therefore, Paul was wrong not to require they keep the custom of the Law of Moses.

Paul, therefore, is forced to present his credentials as someone called by Jesus. And that his message to them was only what Jesus Himself had revealed to him.

While the apostles in Jerusalem are primarily seeking to teach Jews, Jesus has given Paul the special mission and revelation to the Gentiles.



I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel…

This letter from the apostle Paul to the churches in the province of Galatia addresses a grave problem. The persistent tendency to legalism!

Legalism is a religious term used to describe an attempt to be right with God based on how well one keeps His rules.

Of course, students of Jesus desire to refrain from conduct the Teacher has warned against. And they desire to do everything Jesus has taught them to do. But this effort to keep the rules is best understood as a grateful response to God's grace!

Being obedient to the teaching of Jesus sounds like a good thing to do, and it is! However, a person becomes legalistic when they begin to think their attempt to be obedient is what gives them good standing with God.

The problem with this system of religion is that nobody can be perfectly obedient. Everyone sins. And since everyone sins, nobody can claim a relationship with God because of their perfect obedience.

And more importantly, legalism destroys the Good News of Jesus. In fact, legalism is no good news at all. It replaces the free gift of God’s grace with faulty human effort. If our obedience could save us, why did Jesus come to die for us?

The only basis for a peaceful relationship with God is trust in Jesus. For Jesus is the Good News. And it is our faith in His perfect obedience to God and His death on the cross in our place that makes us right before God.

Paul is fighting legalism in this letter, because some false teachers were trying to enforce certain legal requirements of the Law of Moses on the Christians in Galatia.

Legalism is such a serious perversion of the Good News of Jesus Paul writes - …Even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!



The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to address a serious problem troubling the churches in the province of Galatia. The teaching of legalism!

Legalism implies one can only be in a right relationship with God based on human effort. Legalism stands in contradiction to the Good News Jesus brings to the world...

That only through Jesus can one come into relationship with God!

Paul worked very diligently to take the Good News of Jesus to the Gentiles. He was very successful in establishing many congregations.

However, there were some legalistic teachers who followed behind him upsetting the peace of these Christians.

These false teachers were Jewish Christians who tried to convince the Gentile Christians they needed to keep certain traditions of the Law of Moses.

One of the main ideas they taught was the necessity of circumcision. They went so far as to say that if the Gentiles weren’t circumcised they could not be saved.

Paul saw this for what it was. An attack on the sufficiency of Jesus!

For it is only by through the life and death of Jesus that anyone can be right before God. It is trust in the work of Jesus on our behalf that makes the story of Jesus such good news for us. Because our obedience will always fall far short of the perfection required to be in fellowship with God.

The entire letter of Galatians is Paul’s argument that Jesus is not only all we need to be saved, but any attempt to add other requirements is a repudiation of Jesus.

Galatians is a letter upholding salvation as the free gift of God. Our works cannot possibly justify us before God. Our sins outweigh our obedience on the scales of God's justice! Sins can only be forgiven by the grace God provides through Jesus' sacrifice for us.

Paul knows if these churches fall into the trap of legalism they will fall from this grace of God. But this letter is for students of Jesus in every age, for it is a basic tendency to try to be worthy of God’s gift by human effort. If this was sufficient, why then did Jesus come to die for us?



The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

This raises a question. Who is righteous?

Other passages of Scripture make it clear that nobody is righteous, for all make mistakes and sin. On the other hand, everyone who comes to Jesus is made righteous on the basis of faith in Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death on the cross.

Students of Jesus are not righteous by themselves. God continuously declares them to be so based on their trust in what Jesus has done!

James is saying that every faithful student of Jesus is a person whose prayers are powerful and effective!
This true because every student of Jesus remains in a constant state of righteousness by the forgiveness Jesus provides. And because they are in a right relationship with God, their prayers are heard and answered!

James says that students of Jesus should pray when they are in trouble. This is good news because every day difficulties arise in life. Problems in marriage and family, job stresses, financial troubles, accidents and even death of loved ones.

It is of great comfort to know in every situation our prayers make a real difference, especially when we are in the middle of a life-sized problem!

James also says prayers are effective in times of illness - Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord.

Prayer is also powerful to help us overcome sin in our lives - Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.

Prayer is perhaps the most under-appreciated and under-utilized privilege available to us.

Jesus was a person of prayer. Good students of this Teacher take note.



You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.

James closes his letter with words of encouragement every student of Jesus can appreciate. Be faithful because Jesus is near!

Every student of Jesus senses His presence. In every moment of life our Teacher has promised to be with us. To never leave or forsake us!

However, when circumstances of life bring trials, difficulties, tensions and troubles, we may be tempted to ask – Why is this happening to me? Is Jesus really near right now?

James reminds us that Jesus is near and that His coming is near – Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming.

Don’t give up. It won’t be long until the trial is past. It won’t be long until Jesus returns!

James counsels patience in our trials.

Having patience, as James uses the word, is more than remaining calm when things irritate us. The word literally means to stand up under the strain of a heavy load!

It is strength under pressure. The power to be faithful when it isn’t easy to do so!

It is also waiting, as a farmer waits for the rain. Not giving up, but trusting Jesus will stay ever near.

James also warns us not to grumble against one another. Isn’t that the tendency when things aren’t going well? We look for a scapegoat, someone to blame.

The One who is near, the One who is coming is also the judge of such behaviors - The Judge is standing at the door!

So persevere because the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. He knows our trials and will intervene on our behalf! Jesus is near!



Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.

Here James sounds like Amos or another of the Old Testament prophets railing against social injustice.

Some things never change - The rich get richer and the poor get poorer!

What troubles God – and should disturb students of Jesus everywhere - is how the rich get richer and why the poor get poorer!

James says very often people enrich themselves at the expense of the poor.

Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty.

Isn’t it amazing that nothing escapes the watchful eye of the God of heaven? He sees the smallest details of our lives. He observes and judges!

He dislikes the inequity that exists in the world. A world where some live in opulent luxury while others starve to death!

A day of reckoning is coming. A day when the scales of justice will tip in favor of the oppressed!

A day of punishment is coming to the oppressor. They will receive the disapproval of God. On that day, their ill-gotten gains will do them no good.

You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.

Students of Jesus take note. God cares about fairness in all our dealings, especially when we occupy a position of power over others. God would have us become more like Jesus. Remember how He was a special friend to the poor.



You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.

James is talking about the brevity of life.

Visit with those who have lived to be a hundred years old. They will not speak of long life. Instead, they seem surprised at how fast the time flew by.

We aren’t promised a tomorrow. Physical bodies all come with a lifetime warranty, but the problem is some lifetimes are not very long!

Life is fragile, uncertain. Anything may happen.

Yesterday is gone, tomorrow may never come. Today is all we can be sure of in this life.

That’s why the Lord’s will is so important!

Because at the end of life, we pass through the door of death to behold the face of God! Then we will fully realize the importance of our relationship with Him.

Gone will be the false ideas that we are in charge of our own destiny. We make our plans and will have what we will have!

There is a limit to the power of man to determine his own fate. That’s why James counsels us to begin to include Jesus in all our daily plans now - If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that.

Someday soon for all of us it will be very clear just how dependent we are upon the Lord for everything. But whether we understand this fact or not, it remains the everyday truth nonetheless.

That’s life!

And that’s why James reminds students of Jesus to be busy doing the good they can do – while they can!

Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.



Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.

Here James shares the secret of a powerful life. Submit to God!

When Jesus asks those of us who become His students to follow Him – submit to His will – we should understand this is something He has already done.

He submitted to the will of His heavenly Father in all things. And because He humbled Himself – even to death on a cross – the Father lifted Him to the highest place. He rose from the dead and rules from heaven!

Submission is the secret to Jesus’ powerful life and James would have us know submitting to God is also our path to an exalted life!

James mentions three areas where submission is vital and shows how failing to submit leads to frustration of purpose.

Our relationships
Our prayers
Our choices

Think about how our pride can work against us in each of these areas of life. Also, Consider how humility can create greater harmony and happiness.

A humble and submissive attitude creates peace in all our relationships at work and at home. Pride causes contention. And frustration because ultimately we need the cooperation of others to accomplish almost anything.

James indicates our prayers will be answered when we stop asking for what we selfishly desire and humbly seek God’s will for our lives.

Finally, submitting to God’s will leads us away from the destructive power of sin to the better will of God for our lives – God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.

Students of Jesus will make great progress in becoming more like Jesus when they learn the power in submission. It leads to the highest and the best!



Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.

James warns of a kind of worldly wisdom. Not from heaven but of earth. Not spiritual but evil!

It is the wisdom of envy and selfish ambition, terms James mentions twice here. It is self-centered, not others-minded. The ability, position and possessions of others spark jealousy, pride and a competitive spirit.

Given free reign, this way of looking at the world leads to conflicts and evil behaviors! In the cut-throat, dog-eat-dog race to the top, anything goes. Fights, aggression, dishonesty, favoritism and self-promotion!

In short it is a selfish life. Lived with little or no regard for the welfare of others! It is me, myself and I!

The irony of this self-preoccupation is the almost total neglect of self in all the ways that ultimately matter. The final result is a lack of personal spiritual growth in the attributes that make one more fully human. The soul shrivels even as the material accomplishments and possessions pile up.

By contrast, the wisdom of Jesus brings the best kind of life, good deeds done for the benefit of others in a spirit of humility.

But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.

Being a good student of Jesus produces a peaceful life. Peace within and peace with others!

James says that it is in this atmosphere of peace the fruit of righteousness grows into a bountiful harvest.

A person is living wisely who focuses on becoming more like Jesus. Developing in heart the characteristics of the best person who ever lived. This is the wisdom of being a student of Jesus.



Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.

Look at Jesus life! You will find perfection. Not only in what He did but in everything He said.

Students of Jesus, who seek to be like their Teacher, soon discover how difficult it is to control their tongues. In fact, as James says, if we could fully control our tongues, we would be perfect.

Here James uses six images that speak of the power, influence and danger of the tongue.

A bit, a rudder, a raging fire, a wild animal, a spring of either sweet or bitter water, and fruit of one kind or another!

A Bit – Small but Controlling
A Rudder – Extremely Influential
A Raging Fire – Dangerously Destructive
A Wild Animal - Uncontrollable
A Spring – either Sweet or Bitter
A Fruit – either One Kind or Another

Obviously, how well one controls the tongue is critical to spiritual health and well-being. Everyone would do well to become more like Jesus and seek to tame the tongue!

One who allows free reign to their speech, saying whatever comes to mind – good or bad - destroys their life.

It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire.

The tongue is also a powerful force for good. Our words can speak health, comfort, encouragement, truth, peace, mercy, joy and love.

This is the challenge for every student of Jesus. Tame the tongue! Restrain its destructive potential! Release its life-giving power into the lives of those around us.

This is the way Jesus has shown us.



In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

Students of Jesus have puzzled over the relationship between faith and works. The problem arises over the perceived difference between what James says here – faith without deeds is dead – and Paul’s statement in the Book of Ephesians that our salvation does not come through our works.

There is no contradiction between James and Paul, only a difference in emphasis.

By emphasizing works, James isn’t saying faith is unimportant. Nor is he arguing that as long as we obey God’s commands it doesn’t matter whether we have faith or not! He is saying, true faith will reveal itself in action.

By emphasizing faith, Paul isn’t saying works are unimportant. Nor is he arguing that as long as we have faith it doesn’t matter whether we obey God’s commands or not. He is saying that all the works in the world apart from the grace of faith cannot save anyone.

True faith always produces the action or work of obedience.

You foolish man, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless.

James recalls the faith of Abraham that moved him to act in obedience to God’s command to sacrifice his son Isaac. - You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.

We understand. Both faith and works are important. They complement each other, with works completing our faith.

James is simply calling those who have faith to get busy doing what God requires.



Mercy triumphs over judgment!

Jesus will one day judge everyone. The thought of our own personal accountability before God should make us merciful in our judgments of others.

James wants us to understand that showing favoritism to some means that we are being unmerciful to others - If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, "Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right!

This is the problem with favoritism. It leaves some people outside of our love. And James says that when we do this it is a sin and we are convicted as lawbreakers! Not only because we broke the command to love everyone, but also because of our reason for failing to do so.

What causes us to show favoritism? Isn’t it because of our prejudice? Perhaps against the poor or the uneducated! Maybe that someone’s sin is particularly odious to us!

Whatever the reason, we must have forgotten that we also are sinners - For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

When we fail to show mercy to anyone, we destroy the bridge over which we ourselves must pass. For we too are sinners and must necessarily hope to receive mercy from the Righteous Judge!

The Teacher said, Judge not that you be not judged! Being merciful and loving to all - without favoritism - makes perfect sense when we understand our need for God’s love and mercy.

The tendency to judge some as unworthy of our time, fellowship or respect means we are being unmerciful and unloving. It really means we are failing to be good students of our Teacher. This is the evil of favoritism!

For Jesus loves everyone in the world, died for everyone in the world and invites everyone in the world to become His student and friend.



My brothers, as believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ, don't show favoritism.

By definition a friend is someone for whom you have a special affection. A relationship that is more open and preferential than others. James isn’t saying students of Jesus cannot have friends.

Even Jesus had special friends like this. Mary, Martha, Lazarus, Peter, James and especially John!

But having favorites is the natural result of getting to know them and therefore having admiration and affection for who they are.

Favoritism, on the other hand, stems from malignant prejudice against a person before we even get to know anything about who they really are.

We quickly judge them and accept or reject them based on their appearance, education or status - have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?

What James seeks to curb is this human tendency that instinctively works in our hearts to pre-judge people based on externals. Then automatically open our hearts to some and close them to others.

James uses the example of showing favoritism to a rich person and disrespecting a poor person. Perhaps this prejudice is pervasive because of our selfishness and insecurity. After all, a rich person may benefit us economically while a poor person cannot and may in fact have the opposite effect.

Students of Jesus follow the Teacher who had favorites but did not show favoritism. He did not seek to curry the favors of the rich, the religious intelligentsia or the political power brokers.

Jesus taught and healed and cared for the poor and the rich alike. He associated with the uneducated masses and was at home in the meanest place and He died for all and anyone can become His student!



Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…

A student of Jesus is one who practices Pure Religion. Providing for the needs of orphans and widows!
And this truth is as relevant today as when James wrote this nearly 2,000 years ago. For God does not change!

In fact, long ago in the Old Testament Scriptures, God repeatedly voiced His concern for the most helpless in society. Fatherless and widows!

In ancient times and in many countries today, to be an orphan or widow is to be among the poorest of the poor. Often in desperate need of daily necessities!

However, in modern times the more prosperous nations provide for their own citizens in the form of government subsidies for food, housing and even medical care. And not coincidentally, nations with a significant Christian population are relatively affluent.

Consequently, students of Jesus in such cultures do not often see orphans or widows in need.

How then should students of Jesus’ respond to the orphans and widows suffering throughout the world?

A recent United Nation’s study revealed that over 50% of the families throughout the world have a total net worth of under $1,100. This includes the total value of all possessions and savings.

This means that orphans and widows in such societies are virtually penniless!

This also means that anyone who has more than $1,100 dollars is richer than 50% of the people in the world.

Fortunately, the world is a smaller place today. Students of Jesus can easily reach out with significant help to the helpless who live in far-away countries and practice what James calls Pure Religion!



He chose to give us birth through the word of truth…

James is talking about the spiritual life, but he uses the comparison of physical birth and growth.
Just as we all are physically born and grow up, students of Jesus are born again. Then with Jesus as Teacher and the Holy Spirit as tutor, students of Jesus spend the rest of their lives growing up into the likeness of Jesus.

Unlike our physical existence, which eventually ends in death, our new birth and life in Jesus never ends. Our life becomes everlasting. A gift from God!

In contrast with God’s good and perfect gift of life, stands another way of living. This life does not seek to become more like Jesus. It seeks to fulfill the flesh and satisfy the cravings of human nature instead.

James also uses the metaphor of conception and birth to describe this way of living that ends, not in eternal life, but in death.

This is how the life given over to sin is described. It is a life dominated by human passions and desires which are the source of temptations.

But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.

What James is asking us to do is to pause a moment and think about what is going on inside of every human being. To get above ourselves and be sensitive to inclinations of heart that have the power to lead us away from the good life God gave us.

James is not suggesting students of Jesus can live without sin. He is reminding them not to embrace a way of living that leads to death - Do not err, my beloved brethren...
Rather to focus on the gift of life God gives through Jesus!