Bible Study 9-11-11

 Bible Study 9-11-11
 Light on the Lessons

 Genesis 50:15-21; Romans 14:1-12; Matthew 18:21-35

Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost (Proper 19, Lectionary 24); Cycle A; September 11, 2011

Participant Guide

I Getting Started

1. Tell of a time when something that looked bad at the start actually turned out O.K.

2. “In one way or another, most believers like their own style and expression of faith, but disdain at least some other faith styles. Like minded people gather together in congregations and soon the congregation takes on a faith style that won’t welcome believers with a different way to express their faith.” What comments would you make on that statement?

3. Which is easier for you, to forgive or to be forgiven?

II Check the Texts

1. Genesis 50:15-21

The Joseph story extends from Genesis 37 – 50. It is a complete story, almost like a novel. It is worthwhile to read the whole tale at one sitting. Skip chapters 38 and 49, which are inserts that interrupt the narrative. Our lesson is the denouement of this fascinating story.

A. Recall as much of the Joseph story as you can, to reconstruct the events leading up to this lesson.

B. Joseph had buried his father in Canaan (verses 13-14), an event attended by a host of people, including his brothers (verses 7-9). So, after that warm family event, why do you think the brothers were so terrified (verse 15)? Why did they plead their father’s wishes (verse 16)?

C. In verse 18, what do you think motivated the brothers to say what they did? Compare this verse with 37:5-11; what is its literary function?

D. What point is Joseph making by his statement in verse 20?

E. What connection can you find between Joseph’s forgiveness (see verse 21) and the understanding of life he expresses in verse 20?

2. Romans 14:1-12

Most meat in Rome, and other Hellenistic cities, came from sacrifices made in pagan temples. While Gentiles were accustomed to eating this meat without religious concern, Christians of Jewish background often abstained from this meat.

A. To whom does Paul refer as “weak”? Do you think he means that as a pejorative term? Why would he urge the Romans congregation to welcome them?

B. On what principle does Paul discourage judgment in verse 4a? (See Mark 10:42-45 for clues.)

C. To what do you think Paul has in mind when he talks about “days” in verse 5?

D. What is Paul saying in verse 6? How do verses 7-8 explicate the principle underlying Paul’s statements in verse 6?

E. How would you state the point of verses 10-12 in your own words?

F. Which of the following passages from Matthew present the teaching of Jesus which most likely underlies what Paul is saying in this passage: Matthew 6:25-33, 15:16-20, or 18:8-9?

3. Matthew 18:21-35

A. In verses 21-22, to what situation does this advice apply? How many times does Jesus say we should forgive: 7, 77, or infinite? How does that advice compare with verses 15-17, studied last week? Read Genesis 4:24; what connection do you find with these verses? What contradictions?

B. How would you state in your own words the point of the parable in verses 23-34? Though introduced as a parable of “the kingdom of heaven,” do you think the parable is more about the nature of the kingdom or the nature of the King of that kingdom?

C. How would you describe the basic ethical principle behind verse 33? (See 1 John 4:11, 19 for clues.)

D. Some suggest that the parable originally ended at verse 33. Matthew added verses 34-35. If this is so, what might Matthew have had in mind when he added the concluding verses? What petition in a very famous prayer echoes verse 35?

III What Does It All Mean?

1. How have you experienced God’s activity in your life this week.

2. Some folks contend that in God’s providence, everything in the end works out for good. What do you think?

3. In your experience, how does God guide your life? What are the channels of communication God uses?

4. Some say God controls everything that happens. Others disagree. We traditionally think of God as “omnipotent;” what, then, might limit God’s actions?

5. Jesus and Paul make a big point of “judge not!” At the same time, they make sharp judgments, as in the sharp words Jesus had for the Pharisees and scribes. How confusing is this for you? When is it important to make judgments about people and when is it not? When we do make judgments, what ought to be our attitude?

6. In an era which celebrates freedom, why do you think the secular world has adopted “don’ts” (don’t smoke, eat fats, sit around, eat meat, and so forth) while the Christian world has dropped many “no-nos” (don’t dance, go to the movies, play cards, and so forth)?

7. We talk a lot about forgiving others. How about forgiving ourselves? Do you think forgiving ourselves is more difficult or easier than forgiving others?

IV Into the Week

1. You go home and someone asks, “What did you learn today?” What do you reply?

2. Start each day with this pray, “Today is the Lord’s day. I thank you for it, Lord. Thank you for giving me its joys. Amen.”

3. Continue to claim at least 10 minutes each day exclusively for “putting on Christ.” Use the exercise for last week, or pray the following softly, “I need not fear. I am God’s child and God cares for me. I am not afraid.”

GENESIS 50:15-21: If ever there was a man who could not have been blamed for exacting vengeance on his brothers, it would surely be Joseph! Heartlessly sold as a slave, they wiped him off as a family member. Now that he held power after years of unjust slavery and imprisonment in Egypt, he could well have taken it out on his brothers. Most people would. Would you? This account offers us a superb example of full and free forgiveness based on heartfelt fear and love of God and trust in him.

 ROMANS 14 :1-12: How often doesn’t it happen that matters neither forbidden nor commanded by God can cause anger, division and hatred even among Christians? Paul admonishes the Roman Christians not to permit the eating or non-eating of meat, nor the observance or non-observance of particular holy days, to colour their judgment of each other. It is of utmost importance to think of each other as individually saved by God’s gracious forgiveness in order to live and die for him. Then we will respect one another.

MATTHEW 18:21-35: Jesus’ story about the two debts emphasises that it isn’t the number of time one forgives, but the extent to which one forgives which is critical. As we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, so this story teaches that we are to forgive those who sin against us in the same measure as the heavenly Father has forgiven us. Jesus’ strong warning at the conclusion of the story surely teaches how refusal to forgive cuts one off from God.

 

 

GENESIS 50:15-21: If ever there was a man who could not have been blamed for exacting vengeance on his brothers, it would surely be Joseph! Heartlessly sold as a slave, they wiped him off as a family member. Now that he held power after years of unjust slavery and imprisonment in Egypt, he could well have taken it out on his brothers. Most people would. Would you? This account offers us a superb example of full and free forgiveness based on heartfelt fear and love of God and trust in him.

 

ROMANS 14 :1-12: How often doesn’t it happen that matters neither forbidden nor commanded by God can cause anger, division and hatred even among Christians? Paul admonishes the Roman Christians not to permit the eating or non-eating of meat, nor the observance or non-observance of particular holy days, to colour their judgment of each other. It is of utmost importance to think of each other as individually saved by God’s gracious forgiveness in order to live and die for him. Then we will respect one another.

 

MATTHEW 18:21-35: Jesus’ story about the two debts emphasises that it isn’t the number of time one forgives, but the extent to which one forgives which is critical. As we pray in the Lord’s Prayer, so this story teaches that we are to forgive those who sin against us in the same measure as the heavenly Father has forgiven us. Jesus’ strong warning at the conclusion of the story surely teaches how refusal to forgive cuts one off from God

 

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