Thursday, October 05, 2006

Study on Nehemiah

STUDY ON NEHEMIAH DESIGNED FOR TRINITY BAPTIST CHURCH ILORA
(Written by Rev Dele Kolade)

AN INTRODUCTION

The book of Nehemiah is a master piece autobiographical narrative and a good example of a community life built around common goal, mobilized behind an eculion task, led by a character resourced with people’s skill. At the time, Israel was under the Persian Empire. The historical dating of the events in this book is pegged around 445-432 BCE. The narrative is all about Nehemiah marshalling the community towards rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem, the socio-religious reform, and the repopulation of the city. These events are complemented by the account of EZRA. In 445 BCE,Artaxerxes 1 authorized Nehemiah to super intend the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall, a task completed within 52 days. The material we are about to study is about is about the community strategies employed by Nehemiah which led to the completion of this great project within 52 days amidst intimidations from enemies and socio-religious challenges from within the community itself.

THE BIRTH OF A VISION (NEH. 1:1-3) PART ONE

It takes a soul ignited by God’s fire to initiate divinely ordained spiritual awakening resulting in accomplishment of God’s intent. The scripture in view today is the beginning of God’s more over an individual the “conflagration” of which positively affected the entire Judean community.

The phrase, “the words of Nehemiah, the son of Hachalian” (Vs 1), Is a testimony to the historicity of the book and a formula suggesting its an autobiographical narrative. The name “Nehemiah” means “God has comforted” looking at the nature of the events in the book, can there be any connection between the name of the principal character and the events in the book?

Nehemiah was employed in the Persian court as a cupbearer (ref. Vs 11).
How relevant is Nehemiah’s Job background to his new divine appointment? How can Christians utilize their secular influence in promoting the work of God?

HANANI’S MISSION (VS 2-3) – Hanani a brother of Nehemiah and his associates’ report to Nehemiah was the very beginning of the great change about to take pace in Jerusalem. What lessons can we as Christians learn from the way Hanani communicated with Nehemiah?

The report was a sorry case of the people (remnant) of Judah who returned from exile and the once glorious Jerusalem now in ruin. What 4 problems were mentioned in verse 3? What are some of the problems we can also identify in the church today?

THE BIRTH OF A VISION (1:4 – 11) PART TWO

Our reactions to divine instruction revelations and promptings usually demonstrate what actions we will probably take. Our aliveness to the things of God is always demonstrated in our reactions to the divine promptings. Nehemiah’s reaction after hearing the “bad report” tells a lot about his relationship with God even before Hanani and his associates came to Susan. Vision thrives only in a heart that is alive in Christ.
What 4 reactions of Nehemiah are mentioned in verse 4? What do they communicate about him?

Vs 5-11 give a summary of the petitive and intercessory prayers of Nehemiah, the contents of which finds parallels in some other prayers in the Bible. These interesting parallels may be attestation to Nehemiah’s closeness with the scriptures of religious tradition of his people. Check up the following parallels:
Þ Neh 1:56 vs Deut 7:9, Dan 9:4, 1kings 8:23
Þ Neh. 1:5a vs Deut 7:21
Þ Neh 1:6 vs 1Kg 8:28-29, 8:52, 2Chro. 6:40, 7:15, Ps.130:2
Þ Neh 1:7 vs Deut 5:31, Deut 34:5
Þ Neh 1:8 vs Deut 4:27, Deut 28:64
Þ Neh 1:9 vs Deut 12:5, Deut 12:11, Deut 30:14
Þ Neh 1:10 vs Ex 32:11, 1Chron 17:21, Deut 9:29

What significance does the epithet “God of heaven” have in relation to Nehemiah’s situation and location at the time of the prayer? There is a great relevance in Nehemiah reiterating the universality of God at the time of his prayer. (vs 5)

What does the phrase “day and night” indicate about the prayer life of Nehemiah, what lessons can we learn from his piety? Vs 6a

What can we deduce from the “solidarity and representational confessions in his prayer? Vs 6-7.

In our prayer today, how we appropriate the theology of “reminding God of His promises? Vs 8-9

There is a strong indication in verse 11 that other faithful Jews were busy praying for divine intervention. The sovereignty of God is further entrenched in Nehemiah’s appeal to God grant him favor before the king. Do we also recognize God’s sovereignty over our earthly leaders?

THE LEGAL BACKING (2:1-10)

Many a time favor and break through around may be an indication of divine sanction to a project or a decision. When God gives a vision He backs kit with provision. It is necessary for every visionary to pray in favor with men and resources to accomplish the vision. Before you set out to seek for help from men, pray for divine openings and favor first. Four months after learning about Jerusalem’s sorry condition, Nehemiah found an opportunity to request help from the emperor (Nisan is around March – April)

What does the context indicated in verse 1 tell of Nehemiah’s previous nature ad attitude? What as Christian workers can we learn about our attitude to work from this picture?

Vs 2. As leaders in various capacities, we must appreciate the emperor’s ability to right discern Nehemiah’s condition and him further question. Do we also study people’s countenance? Do we investigate interrogate or intimidate people who look (negatively) different from how we used to know them?

Vs 3. Is there any relationship between importances attached by Nehemiah to the burial place of his ancestors?

The king’s open ended question of what do you want is a clear sign of divine breakthrough. As a leader, are you also interested in the interest of your subordinates? That Nehemiah again resorted to God before responding to the king’s question again re-emphasized his intimacy with God and the fact that he always consulted God on every issue of his life. (Vs 4)

Nehemiah was very specific in his response and request (vs 5). One of the reasons why we don’t get what we want (either from people or God) is because we are not specific in our demands or requests.

Part of planning is timing. It is essential to set our projections around specific time frame. The king wanted to know when Nehemiah will finish the task of rebuilding Jerusalem What do you suggest necessitated this question from the king?( Vs 6 )

Vs 7-9 shows Nehemiah’s request for approval document and other resources that can help him fulfill his task. How do you think we should also request for things we need to fulfill our God’s given vision?

INSPECTION FOR PROJECTION (2:11-20)

Most visions, missions and projects are unfulfilled today because of initial lack of proper evaluation and planning. In today’s passage, Nehemiah demonstrates a very important leadership and visionary skill that we should all understand and emulate. Whenever we fail to plan and plan well then we are simply planning to woefully fail. Nehemiah is not only a good strategist but also a good communicator. How do we go about evaluation and communication of our vision? 2:11-20

FIELD OR OFFICE? (VS11) Many a time we are detached from reality because we are not at the real point or place of action. The “location” of our evaluation is important because where we are determines how we see what we see. We are plan from wrong places or wrong people our panning becomes non-effective. Nehemiah came down to where the actual problems are to have a better personal view and assessment of the matter. How should the church emulate Nehemiah in this regard?

TIME FOR PLANNING.(VS11-16)
Nehemiah demonstrated not only great planning skills but put planning in it right place. He never rushed into action but concentrated his efforts first in understanding by him the situation on the ground. He spent the first 3 days only inspecting the damage or the severity of the situation.
Why do you think Nehemiah went on inspection in the night? How do we apply this action in our planning today?
Why should Nehemiah go with only few people to inspect the damage?

MOTIVATION & MOBILIZATION (VS 17-20)
Many visionaries fail today not for lack of vision but for lack of necessary communication skill to mobilize people to work. Nehemiah knew how to arrest people’s attention and help them own the vision and the project. The sense of ownership in necessary in mobilizing people around a project

What are some of the communication skills Nehemiah employed in his address to the people?

Of what importance is his reference to the divine approval in vs 18a?

THE WORK FORCE (3:1-32)
Genuine leaders don’t act alone but they connect with others. Nehemiah knew how to connect with others and how to mobilize others to work. Pastoring is not the same as doing ministry all alone but developing people to do ministry. The picture in this passage is about a strategic division of labor by employed by Nehemiah to accomplish the big task by sharing it among the people. This can be described as using cells to handle task. What can we learn from this passage?
i. It gives a clear picture of the topography of Jerusalem
ii. It re-echoes the importance of record keeping
iii. It gives impressive evidence of Nehemiah’s organizational and administrative skill
iv. It shows widespread support for the wall building project.


Of what importance is the involvement of Eliashib and his priestly crew in the building project? Does Eliashib heading the list of the workers tell you something about the pastorate position in God’s kingdom business?

What does the apparent omission of Nehemiah’s name from the list of the workers suggest?





HANDLING OPPOSITIONS (4:1-23)

Our ability to rightly handle opposition is a major pre requisite to fulfillment of our vision and aspiration in life. That you have opposition is a clear sign that you have a strong position. Nehemiah was surrounded by opposition from every side-Sanballant from the north, the Arabs, under the influence of Geshem to the south; the Ammorites to the east and the Ashdodites to the west. Apart from these external oppositions were also internal traitors. It must be said that oppositions to Nehemiah’s vision began right away from the very beginning of his mission. Let us study how he handled his much opposition

The oppositions from the very onset were not happy with Nehemiah mission. What do you think is the reason for there grieve in 2:10?

What do you suggest caused the increase in the number of opposition in 2:19?

The people were mocked and indicted against the emperor’s authority.
What do you think the motives of the enemies were?
In 2:20 Nehemiah decided to answer the enemies. Why do you think Nehemiah should do that?

When Sanballat heard of the commencement of the building project he became greatly incensed. Why do you think he should feel this way? (4:1)

Sanballat raised 5 sarcastic questions aimed at derailing the workers. How do you analyses these questions and what could their effect had been?

· What are those feeble Jews doing?
· Will they fortify themselves or restore their wall?
· Will they offer sacrifices or expect a miracle to aid them in the project?
· Will they finish in a day or in record time?
· Can they bring the stones back to life from those heaps of rubble-burned as they are? Tobiah also rained verbal attack on the Jews’ workmanship and the quality of their building materials. He suggested that if a nimble fox jump on their wall it would knock it over.

Nehemiah response was also verbal but not directed directly at the enemies but an imprecatory prayer addressed to God (4:4-5)

Strategically, Nehemiah translated oppositions’ insult into catalyst for greater action. Vs 6. What can we learn from this response? What major factor is identified in this verse making the work possible?

· Vs 7-8 present a sudden change in enemies’ tactics of attack. Now, the 4 major enemies blocks came together to plan a major physical attack.
· What were the responses of Jews to the new plan of the enemies? Vs.9
· Does the addiction of watching with prayer tell you of anything? Vs 9
· What were some of the negative effects of this new development (plan of the enemies) on the Jews and the work? Vs 10-12

A new strategy for the project was developed by Nehemiah; “watching and working”. What do you think can be the dangers if the principle of combining watching with working is not practiced? Vs 17-18. What are some of the practical examples of non-application or misapplication of this principle in the Christian life today? How do we prevent and or redress these anomalies in our lives?
v How do you see Nehemiah speech of vs 14?

v What does the sounding of the trumpet represent? Vs 20.

v Why was the trumpeter needed vs 19

v Why do you think the trumpeter should be near Nehemiah? What does this imply in ministry?

v What does vs 23 connote?

SOCIO-ECONOMIC CHALLENGES (5:1-19)
It was not only the threat of the external enemies that raised its head against the work but also the multifaceted internal socio-economic challenges. At time we over concentrate on the external threats and we loose sight of the many internal challenges. In this passage, certain internal challenges were recognized and consequently tackled to ease the internal frictions there were developing among the people.

The first group of the complainers were probably landless poor formers who were forced to pledge the labor of their sons and daughters in exchange for essential food stuffs. How do we relate this to our contemporary child labor and abuse saga? Vs 1-2

The second group of debtors complained that they have had to pledge fields, vineyard and houses in order to get grain. (Vs 3). How do you understand their desperation for survival in term of our attitude towards possessions?

The third group of debtors has had to borrow silver in order to pay the Persian royal tax, again using their fields and vineyards as collateral (vs 4).
The unfortunate thing is that the creators who were foreclosing on loans to all three groups were members of the Jewish community. Is there any
relation in this situation with the African economic woes?


NEHEMIAH’S RESPONSE (6-13)
How good will it be if all leaders will spontaneously respond to the cry of the oppressed and the marginalized in the society just as Nehemiah did. Reflect on the following actions of Nehemiah in resolving the issue and see how these actions can be applied today in conflict resolution.

§ He boldly confronted the upper class and expressed his displeasure at their exploitation on their brethrens vs 6-7.
§ Soberly reflected on the issue .Vs 7a
§ He convened a public assembly o deal with the brutal creditors. Vs 7b
§ The response was a great repentance and restitution. Vs 12-13

Read through vs 14-19 and careful dilate on the practical example of Nehemiah in helping the less privilege and sacrificially serving God and his nation. What can leaders learn from this selfless service?

COU TERACTING ANTAGONISM (6:1-19)
Nehemiah, in this portion of the book demonstrated wisdom and prudence in dealing with the multi-dimensional antagonism besetting him and invariably his noble vision of re-fortifying and re-populating Jerusalem. It is interesting to see the many nature of the antagonism, the tactics employed and the many people involved in the various plots.

What can you probably attribute the sudden soft tone of the enemies words in vs 2 to? Can it be connected to the incredible progress chalked as started in vs 1?

Sunballat and Geshem wanted to meet with Nehemiah at Ono, 20 miles northwest of Jerusalem and for that matter one of the most remote parts of the province.

Is there anything we can learn from the courteous but candid response of Nehemiah to the request for a meeting with the enemies of Ono? Vs 3

Vs 4 why should the same message (which was already rejected) sent again 4 more time?
Nehemiah was very consistent in giving the same response. What can we learn from this consistency as Christians?

Vs 5-7 presents a change in enemies’ attack tactics. An opened letter was reportedly sent to Nehemiah accusing him of rebelling against Persian Empire. Why do you think the letter was left unsealed? If Sanballat really thought Nehemiah was traitorous, why would he want to meet with him? Nehemiah responded by refuting the allegations and praying for more divine support.

FALSE PROPHECIES (vs 10-14) Nehemiah has to contend with false prophecies from Shemaia (10) and Noadiah(vs 14)
§ How do you see Shemiaiah prophecy of fear in relation to some of our contemporary so called “prophets”?
§ What do you think is wrong with Nehemiah going into the temple’s innermost (vs 10, 13)
§ What would have been the negative consequences of Nehemiah listening to these false prophecies according to vs 13?

Vs 14 suggest very strongly that Tobiah had many political and religious supporters from inside Jerusalem.

Written By
Rev Dele Kolade
(Pastor in charge)

Contextual exegesis of Acts 8:9-25 (By Rev Dele Kolade)

CONTEXTUAL EXEGESIS OF ACTS 8:9-25 FROM THE GREEK TEXT OF THE BIBLE
(SUBMITTED BY OLADELE KOLADE AS PART REQUIREMENT FOR ADMISSION INTO THE MPHIL PROGRAM)

INTRODUCTION
This exegetical paper is written against the background that Luke is the author of Acts. My observation of the style of the writing of Acts is that of conscious selectivity of work around important persons and significant places. The interspersing of happenings which is seen throughout Acts is also evident in this passage my work is focusing on. In more concise words, I will say that the Luke’s presentation of theology and history in Acts is around certain geography (Jerusalem, Samaria, Antioch, Rome etc) and biographies (Paul, Philip, Peter). Luke sets his Acts’ presentation in a number of cultural contexts among which is this Samaria setting This passage is a narration of the beginning of the church’s mission beyond the borders of Jerusalem, and the story of Philip, a charismatic leader who zoom into the mission’s hall of fame after the demise of Stephen. The textual descriptions argues that this is (Hellenist )deacon Philip, and not Apostle Philip especially judging from the fact that verse one clearly states that the Apostles remain in Jerusalem. There is no other suggestion from the rest of the book of Acts to support the idea that it was Apostle Philip. Again is the fact that from the record of Luke, the initiators of cross cultural missions were mainly Hellenists and not the Hebrew. The sending down of the Apostles from Jerusalem to Samaria would have also been unnecessary if it were to be Apostle Philip who was at Samaria.
This missionlogical development is the beginning of the fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy of Acts 1:8 which set out the panoramic move of the gospel, taking over the entire global geography, and putting Jerusalem as the starting point. As observed from the narrations of Luke, it took persecution and aggression for the church to step out of Jerusalem to the other territories. It must be humbly recognized that those at the center stage of this cross cultural mission in the early part of the church’s missions were mainly Hellenist brethren.
Both the location and the characters of this particular story are of very great significance. Samaria at this time was a sub province of Judea and was under Roman’s rule. Unlike Judea, Samaria was inhabited by a mixed population segregated both socially and religiously from the Jews since the days of Nehemiah, and Ezra. (1). The Judean Jews considered the Samaritans as racially impure, religiously heterodox and politically treacherous. This Philip mission to Samaria however shows how the gospel is indeed a barrier breaker, and also the beginning of the unfolding of the Church’s mission participation in God’s global redemptive plan. Samaria, which can be considered the middle wall between the Jews and the Gentiles, gives way as the evangelist Philip triumphantly enters the land with the good news. What follows is the unfolding drama of power shift as the gospel penetrates Samaria.

EXEGETICAL ANALYSIS OF THE PASSAGE

(I must first define certain confines of this work. This work was personally typed on my pc. I could not get a Greek font with accent mark on my pc; nevertheless, the interpretation of the text was done using accented Greek New Testament. Again is the problem of getting the other form of sigma on the computer. The bold Zetas were used to represent bigger sigma. I hope you will bear with me).


Anhr de tiz onomati Simwn prouphrcen en th polei
mageuwn kai existanvn to eqnoz thz Samareiaz, legwn einai tina eauton megan w proseicon pantez apo mikrou ewz megalou legontez Outoz estin h dunamiz tou qeou h kaloumenh Megalh. proseicon de autw dia to ikanw cronw taiz mageiaiz exestakenai autouz. ( Acts 8:9-11).

We must give a particular attention first to the Luke’s use of the catchphrase, “now those”, (hoi men oun) in Vs 4 as an indication that there is a deliberate turning to a new direction. There is a deliberate attempt by Luke in interspersing his narratives in a way to give panoramic historical developments weaved around certain people and places. Luke in a stylish way introduces a doublet after the catchphrase to give a summary of the Samaria mission. Philip is seen entering Samaria, breaking the new ground with power evangelism. The dramatic shaking of Samaria’s spiritual foundation is seen in people turning to Philip’s message, and the apostolic confirmation of the new church movement in Samaria is to give the new mission move the apostolic blessing. Verse 5 bears testimony to the fact that this missionary Philip is the same Philip mentioned in Acts 6:5, and Acts 21:8, as a part of the scattered group. The content and the consequences of Philip’s power evangelism are what Luke captures in verses 6 to 8.
Verse 9 gives the picture of what used to be in Samaria before the advent of Philip. The former power broker is identified here as one Simon, a magician (magos). The effect of Simon’s magic was the bewitchment of the entire community. taiz mageiaiz is used here as an instrumental dative, “with his magic”, showing by what means Simon was bewitching the people. The Greek word “existamai” translated as amazed in NIV and bewitched in KJV literarily means “to remove out of its place” and this was used in the New Testament to the mind. It can therefore be said that as a result of Simon’s magic the people were “out of their minds”. Luke further describes how powerful and influential Simon was by the use of the word “ethnos” in Vs. 9 to indicate that the whole city was under the influence of this magician. The phrase “both high and low” in Vs.10 shows his influence cutting across various age, economic, and social background, and this was so for a long time as Luke intimates in Vs.11. Simon had a great resume which captured the whole land in amazement.
The characteristic boastful disposition of Simon can be likened to that of Theudas in Acts 5:36. He was popularly called “dynamis tou theou” (power of God). tina eauton megan used in verse 9 means “a very great man” in his own estimation. Luke by this expression presents Simon as someone of conscious self glorification and who was boastfully aware of his achievements.



ote de episteusan tw Filippw euaggelizomenv peri thz basileiaz tou qeou kai tou onomatoz Ihsou Cristou ebaptizonto andrez te kai gunaikez. o de Simvn kai autoz episteusen kai baptisqeiz hn proskartervntv Filippv, qevrvn te shmeia kai dunameiz megalaz ginomenaz existato.(Acts 8:12-13)

Verse 12 is a strategic continuation of the story of Philip’s exploit after a brief interlude with a flash back to what used to be in Samaria. This intentional break presents an occasion for a better juxtaposition. Luke’s introduction of the adversative de is intended to draw attention to the big contrast between Simon and Philip. The duo can be contrasted based on their source of power, motive of operation and the attendant results of their activities.
The source of Philip’s power, preaching and practices is the Holy Spirit and the motive of his mission is purely liberating and redemptive. Simon’s practice of magic however is linked with demoniac and his motive was purely political and not redemptive or liberating. The attitudes of the two to their success are also not the same. Unlike Simon’s boastful disposition, Philip was drawing attention not to himself but Christ the Savior (Vs 5 and 12)
The phrase “believed Philip”(episteusan tv filippv) does not imply that Philip was the object of the converts’ trust as this will not be in tandem with Luke’s report of other conversions(9:42, 11:17, 16:31-34). This expression “believed Philip is similar to the phrase in Acts 2:41 where converts “accepted Peter’s message and were baptized”. The implication of the phrase is that the people accepted what Philip represents and proclaims: the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ. The Samaritans’ submission for baptism is a strong attestation to their conviction and commitment to their new found faith in Christ. That Simon, the previous power broker also believed shows the great impact the ministry of Simon had on Samaria and unveils the great power shift from magic to the miracle of redemption and liberation. Now, this same Simon that all Samaritans followed everywhere now followed Philip everywhere. There is no clear indication from the text to authenticate the assertion that Simon’s conversion was faked. The verb in the expression “and Simon also himself believed” only describes him with reference to his supposed state, but not really his actual position. He may not have been wholly sincere. Nevertheless, that he was following Philip everywhere may not necessarily be for further instructions but rather for the spectaculars. Simon’s amazement is typical of the unbeliever’s reaction to their encounter with God’s mighty move and this typically comes prior to repentance. In Simon’s case this was reversed: his amazement at the Spirit’s move comes after his conversion and not as a precondition of it. This singular attitudinal error signals Simon’s spiritual malformation. He was interested in the “spectaculars” and not necessarily the “spiritual”. The attention of Simon was basically on the signs and wonders he saw in Philip’s operations. Instead for Simon to be following Christ he was following signs.



Akousantez de oi en Ierosolumoiz apostoloi oti dedektai h Samareia ton logon tou qeou apesteilan proz autouz Petron kai Ivannhn. oitinez katabantez proshuxanto peri autvn opvz labvsin pneuma agion oudepv gar hn ep oudeni autvn epipeptvkoz monon de bebaptismenoi uphrcon eiz to onoma tou kuriou Ihsou. tote epetiqesan taz ceiraz ep autoiz kai elambanon pneuma agion.(Acts 8:14-17)

The Jerusalem church receives the news of the move of God in Samaria with all gladness. Peter and John apostolic visit to Samaria is in solidarity with Philip work there and not to overthrow his leadership. The text indicates clearly that although the believers in Samaria had believed and were baptized in the name of Jesus Christ but they were yet to receive the Holy Spirit. Luke is silent on the delay between the two baptisms. This notwithstanding, the Samaritans qualification for the gift of the Holy Spirit is in line with Peter’s prophetic declaration in Acts 2:39 “For the promise is for you, for your children, and for all who are far away, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to Him”. The coming of the Holy Spirit is also necessary for the Samaritan congregation to be able to fully participate in the messianic mission work. It can be inferred from Jesus’ promise of the Spirit’s baptism that without this the believer is unable to fully participate in the missionary vacation. The Apostle distributes the Spirit blessing by prayer and laying of their hands on the new believers. This laying of hands practice is similar to what the Apostles did in Acts 6:6 when they commissioned the seven deacons to help heal the rift between Hellenist and Hebrew believers. Paul’s laying of his hands on the certain disciples at Ephesus (Acts 19:6) is another of such examples. The church of the New Testament was united in the Spirit and this is a cardinal reason why the y were able to do a lot of exploit for the Lord.


idvn de o Simvn oti dia thz epiqesevz tvn ceirvntvn apostolvn didotai to pneuma, proshnegken autoiz crhmata legvn, Lote kamoi thn exousian tauthn ina v ean epiqv taz ceiraz lambanh pneuma agion.(Acts 8:18-19)

In a very stylish way and an organized interjectory manner, the spotlight of the narration returns to Simon. This new shift is calculated at exposing Simon’s theological miscalculation and an x-ray of his insatiable lust for power. The dia in Vs 18 with genitive has the sense of by means of, indicating that the Spirit’s coming is by the laying on of hands by the Apostle, this at least as Simon concluded. This does not however imply that the Holy Spirit is given by the Apostles as in there teachings the Spirit coming is attributed to the Grace of God. There were other instances in the New Testament where people received the Spirit without the Apostles’ laying on of hands. The encounter in Cornelius house is a good example. The gift of the Spirit coming on the Samaritan is in line with the Spirit authenticating gentile churches at Caesarea (Acts 10:47, 11:17, 15:8), and Galatia (Acts 15:12). There is a strong indication from Simon’s offer of money for the ability to give out the Spirit, that he was exploiting the community financially by his practice of magic. Simon may not see anything wrong in paying for spiritual power. It may also be suggested that Simon may be thinking of power continuity given the fact that the Apostles and Simon may not continue to stay at Samaria. Simon’s request may therefore be a calculated plot to assume the leadership role of the new church.



Petroz de eipen proz auton, To argurion sou sunsoi eih eiz apvleian oti thn dvrean tou qeou enomisaz dia crhmatvn ktasqai ouk estin soi meriz oude klhroz en tv logv toutv h gar kardia sou ouk estin euqeia enanti tou qeou. metanohson oun apo thz kakiaz sou tauthz kai dehqhti tou kuriou ei ara afeqhsetai soi h epinoia thz kardiaz sou, eiz gar colhn pikriaz kai sundesmon adikiaz orv se onta.(Acts 8:20-23)

Luke captures the rebuke of Simon by Peter in a manner that shows how serious the apostle sees the attempt to want to commercialize God’s grace is. Verse 20 gives one of the two instances of the use of optative in the New Testament as imprecation. (Mk 11:14). Luke uses the word “kardia” in verse 21 as a metonym for the mind and this can be understood as intention, desire, or affection. Peter calls Simon to immediate repentance. The word “metanoeo” means to repent with regret accompanied by a true change of heart towards God, or regret for the course pursued resulting in the wiser view of the past and future. Peter’s use of the word “ara” indicates Peter’s uncertainty of Simon’s readiness for genuine repentance and not about God forgiving him. In verse 23, Peter is seen using the Old Testament intertext of “gall of bitterness “(Deut. 29:18), and “chains of wickedness” (Isa. 58:6). In the New Testament time, the gall of noxious reptiles was considered as the source of their venom-so gall in this passage is used as an expressive metaphor to denote malice or moral corruption of the wicked. (2). This metaphoric representation of Simon shows how corrupt Peter sees the man, an indication that he is seen as a potential threat to the faith development of this new faith community. Peter in this expression does not only see the wickedness of the heart of Simon but a possibility that he may be a very bad influence on the rest of the community. Simon’s apocryphal profile attributes all manners of heresies and subversive activities to him.




apokriqeiz de o Simvn eipen, Lehqhte umeiz uper emou proz ton kurion opvz mhden epelqh ep eme vn eiphkate. Oi mev ouv diamarturamenoi kai lalhsantez tov logon tou kuriou upestrefon eiz Ierosoluma, pollaz te kvmaz tvn Samaritvn euhggelizonto.(Acts 8:24-25)·

Simon’s request for intercession shows how fearful he is now. This plea is also an indication in his believe in the apostolic power to help him appeal to God. This does not however show true sign of remorse for what he actually deed but a sign that he does not want any evil to befall him. This suggests strongly that Simon must be a very self centered individual.
The introduction of “men oun” in verse 25 is strictly used as resumptive or transitional, “and so”, “now”. There is no suggestion for its being used to intend a contrast between Philip’s preaching and that of the apostles (3). It is clearly stated by Luke that the Apostles also continue to preach the same message even as they return to their base at Jerusalem. Luke draws curtain on the apostolic visit to Samaria in a strategic manner to show continuity of mission.







PERSONAL EVALUTION AND SUBMISSIONS

I see this passage bringing to the fore a timely need for a reevaluation of the contemporary church’s mission enterprise and a call for a complete overhauling of our strategies for doing mission. From this narrative, I can deduce a strong need for a paradigm shift that will capture the universal elements in the Philip’s Samaria mission campaign based on the context of the above exegized text. In view of this I want to make the following submissions:

PERSECUTION, A CATALYST FOR PROCLAMATION – Mission should not be viewed as a project of a church that sits in a comfort zone. The idea of serving God or preaching “in season and out of season” should be practically understood by the contemporary church. We must be challenged by the attitude of the early church towards persecution. It is well presented in this particular passage that persecution could not stop their proclamation. That we face much opposition is a testimony that we have a strong position as people of God. We have a divine mandate to carry out a mission to the dieing world no matter the kind of opposition we face.

THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN SCATTERED – The disciple at Jerusalem were scattered but not shattered. There is a powerful testimony in this passage showing how well discipled the early believers were. The sharing of the gospel was a responsibility of everyone and not just for a selected few “super star” individuals. The concept of “every man a beam”, need to be reechoed today. Every Christian must be a witness. It was not only the twelve apostles that were equipped to share the gospel, everyone was brought on board. The question we need to ask ourselves today is how many of our parishioners who are even in their comfort zones can meaningfully share their faith with their unbelieving communities?

A CITY UNDER SPELL – Another dimension to missions should be the reality of direct spiritual encounter with satanic forces. The Samaria’s case is an example of a community under the influence of evil forces. In our mission campaign, we must realize that their may be issue like this, and if the church is not holistically equipped to offer spiritual helps relevant to the needs of the people our ministry will seem incomplete. As a cross cultural missionary for more than a decade working in Nigeria and Ghana, I have encountered situations of direct confrontations with power of darkness. There were times when we had to exorcise demons out of people. The gospel we preach is powerful to tear down evil strongholds in people and land we enter. The contemporary church is not fully appropriating the spiritual resources at her disposal. We tend to shy away from or deny certain realities beyond our comprehension. The challenge today is retracing our steps back to the apostolic foundations. We evangelicals have done so well in many areas of the church mission campaign but we have not made a very strong mark in areas where direct demonic practices are prevalent. In some of this areas where we have our presence, most of the convert still combine their faith with some element of their past traditional spiritual experience.

THE CONTENT OF OUR MESSAGE – It is not enough that we are preaching but we must evaluate the content of our message. Luke captures the content of Philip’s message in verse 12 as “the good news of the kingdom of God” and “name of Jesus Christ”. Looking at the church in Africa for example, one could see a lot of ‘men empires’ in the name of God’s Kingdom. People are preaching themselves and building their own empire. In Acts, all I see in all of the recorded preaching is Christ. Sometimes in our mission campaign, we tend to put our denominational creed ahead of Christ decrees, we focus too much on human personalities and the expense of the one who sets out the rule of His mission. What are people preaching today, and how are they in tandem with the content of the apostolic preaching? Simon never went to Samaria for self promotion, and the apostles who came to compliment his work were not their to show they are superior to Simon, all came to fulfill their parts in the messianic mission and Christ remain the center of their ministry.

IN TOUCH – Verse 14 records the response of the Jerusalem church to the new mission development in Samaria. The apostolic mission was not fragmented project, but rather interconnected. In our contemporary mission there is a lot of fragmentation, unsupervised and unevaluated missions scattered here and there. There is an urgent need for greater mission networking today like the days of the apostle. I have met a lot of independent missionaries who are not affiliated with any Christian body, but are just doing their own things. The brethren were scattered from Jerusalem but were still in touch with Jerusalem. Every mission must be in touch with a body that can critical evaluate its vision and offer necessary assistance.

FAITH OR FRAUD? – The unfortunate development in verse 18 with Simon offering money for the apostolic gift is a picture of a serious thing happening in the church today. With the coming of the “prosperity” preachers especially in the African context, a lot of strange commercial strategies are brought into mission. Sometimes people are asked to pay some amount for the “prophet” to pray for them. Another popular practice is that in which members are asked to make certain donations in exchange for “divine prosperity”. Such prosperity only comes on those who make heavy donations. Some of these preachers claim they are being sent by God specifically to make people rich, but ironically they will never go to deprived communities, but rather they target those who are already financially sound. Simony is strongly back to the church especially because of the high level of societal gullibility.

APOSTOLIC REBUKE – Luke’s quotation of Peter’s full rebuke of Simon is intended to show the way the early church frowned at sin in the church. It is however unfortunate that in the contemporary church we seem to polish sin and shy away from openly rebuking it partly due to the fear of loosing member. Sin is a cancer that the church will have to fight against today in order to make her mission to the world more relevant. In rebuking sin, we must call the erring believer to repentance. Discipline should be corrective and not destructive.

If there is anything at all to learn from this passage, it is the timeless challenge of making our mission break barriers. There are still evidently present in our contemporary time, multifaceted barriers – social, racial, ethnic, spiritual, economical, cultural, educational, linguistic, and geographical barrier. The big challenge to Christian missiology is in evolving a global mission conversation and strategies that can help prepare the church well in making her mission break these barriers.

END NOTE
1) William Hull, The Broadman Commentary. Nashville: Broadman Press,1970
2) Alvah Hovey (ed), An American Commentary on the New Testament. Washington: Judson Press, 1982
3) Robert Hanna, A Grammatical Aid to the Greek New Testament. Grand Rapids: Bakers, 1983

BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bruce, Metzger. A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament, Stuttgart: U.B.S, 1971.
Douglas, J.D (Ed). The New Greek Interlinear New Testament, Wheaton: Tyndale, 1990
Hanna, Robert. A Grammatical Aid to the Greek New Testament, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1983
Hovey, Alvah (Ed). An American Commentary on the New Testament, Washington: Judson Press, 1982.
Hull, Williams. The Broadman Commentary. Nashville: Broadman Press, 1970
John, Fraser and McDonald, W.G. Calvin’s Commentaries, the Acts of the Apostles. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965
Lampe, Longman. The Seal of the Spirit. Green & Co, 1951.
Neil. The Acts of the Apostles. New Century Bible.
Timothy, Johnson. The Writings of the New Testament; an Interpretation. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1986
Unnik, Van. Luke-Acts, a Storm Center in Contemporary Scholarship. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996

Prayer for Divine Connection (written by Rev Dele Kolade)

GLOBAL DELIVERANCE TEAM (GLODET)
CENTER FOR SPIRITUAL WARFARE AND MISSIONS
P.O.BOX 1215, OYO TOWN NIGERIA
TEL 2348038565127/2348059426557
E-mail kolade2002@yahoo.com
Website – www.delekolade.blogspot.com

PRAYER CAMPAIGN FOR DIVINE CONNECTION

INTRODUCTION
The aim of this campaign is to reach into the heaven, identify and appropriate divine blessings ordained for saints through study and prayer. Certain passages of the Bible are identified for close study. The attempt is to bring illumination into the revelation of those passages, and using these as the foundation of our prayer. The campaign is a synergic prayer campaign, aimed at employing the combine power of agreement. We shall use corporate anointing, and in agreement pray divine blessing down into our individual life. Strategic, practical principles of enjoying divine blessings shall be unearth and followed.
The prayers in this campaign are basically built on the revelations from the passages of the Bible in view. The power of the word will propel us into prayer actions and this will consequently bring intended divine allocation into our lives.

DAY ONE

FOCUS – Turning Pillows to Pillars (Gen 28)
Knowledge is power, understanding is strength, wisdom is knowledge and understanding well applied. You must know that the way you are formed largely is determined by the way you are informed. The situation you find yourself depend on the instruction you follow. Knowledge, and for that matter Divine instruction and direction give they key to unlocking you destiny and actualizing your full potential. If God will bring a radical positive change your life He will first impregnate you with a radical vision and direction. The direction you follow will determine the destination you arrive at. The difference between Jacob and Esau was more of direction and instruction and not genetic or age. Lets take a tour of Genesis chapter 28 and see what we can prayerfully make out of Jacob’s adventure.

A Charge to Discharge – Jacob was blessed and given a charged ( Vs 1). Blessings go with charges and commands. You can not have one without the other. The problem with many today is the desire for blessings but refusal of accompanying charges. Sometimes it is not because you are under a demonic attack that you suffer, but you suffer because you are disobeying some divine commands. You must come to term with divine decrees and you will begin to experience significant increase. God want you to be in charge, but you must first learn to obey His charges.

Standing by Understanding – There is no standing without understanding. It is not only necessary to be charged, but it is also important to understand clearly the term of your charges. The problem with many is not so much with accepting the charges but rather the understanding of the charges. In verse 1 and 2 the instructions were clearly stated. Divine charges are clear for all to understand. The shall not of God must be obeyed to the letter for the blessings of God to be accessed. The instruction to Jacob was “what to take” and “what not to take”. You also must know what to take, when to take what to take, and what not to take. Whatever God will give is in a particular place for a particular person. Every divine allocation is in a particular location. You must locate your place of blessing, and discover your divine placement in life. You need to come to term with the fact that you must be at the center of God’s will.

The Blessings – The verse 2 and 3 clearly spell out the blessing Jacob is entering into. I must say that the blessing is uncommon one. I am trying to understand the dimensions of the blessings of Jacob, but I must be frank with you that it is beyond what the litmus of human mind can capture. Listen to the pronouncement “And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; and give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee, and that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham”.
The blessing of Jacob is a divine blessing and not just a human favor that may fade away at any time. If you are hooked to the divine source, then you can be sure of unfailing supports. Have you ever thought about the elements in this pronouncement? It is a graduating, panoramic description of overwhelming, contagious blessing. Some of the elements include :
Ø Fruitfulness - The power of relevance, continuity, prolificacy, and fecundity was spoken into the life of Jacob. The anointing to be productive is in the divine blessing you are about to be launched into.
Ø Multiplicity – It is good to be productive, but at what degree? The Abrahamic anointing, that is being transferred to Jacob is not in arithmetic progression but in supra – geometric progression. When you are praying, be careful not to ask for okrika, or home used blessing. You are uniquely special, and you must be blessed in CAPITAL letters. God’s intention is to make you a multitude of people. The Hebrew word “qahal” translated multitude in verse 3 is one of the most important terms in the Old Testament. In this passage, it is used as assembly of nations.
Ø Continuity – It is not only that there will be multiplication, but also there will be systematic continuity. The blessing you will receive from God will surely affect the generation yet unborn. “And to thy seed” in verse 4 is a strong expression of overtaking blessings. The Hebrew ‘Zera” translated seed here means progeny, posterity or race. I decree that the Divine anointing on you affect your generation and race.
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A Mentor to Follow – “And Jacob obeyed his father and mother, and was gone to Padan-aram.” (Verse 7). One of the ills of our time is the large number of people who are mentor less but yet are authorities in their own way. It is dangerous to be an authority but not under any authority. Jacob’s mentors are the parents. Ask yourself, who is my mentor? I am not talking of “godfathers”, but successful Christians who are more experienced and who can give you godly counsels and guidance. Experience , some people say, it’s the best teacher. Some experiences are however better to be learnt from other people’s situation instead of going through those situations yourself. If you will have to personally experience everything you have learnt today, then you are a dead man. A wise person will learn from the wisdom of others. Jacob obeyed the parent. “shama”, the Hebrew word translated obeyed in this verse, means to give undivided listening attention, to understand spiritually, or to obey or give heed. Do you have anyone you listen to or you think you are the wisest or the most spiritual?

Vision and Motion – There are “mere visionaries” and there are “envisioned missionaries” there are a lot of motionless visions today. It should not be only what you dream about, but also what you do with what you dream. It is one thing to plan you work but another thing to work your plans. Do not leave your vision only in your diary, but translate it into action. Jacob went out from Beersheba after receiving the instruction. There are things God want you to get out from and there are things God want you to get into. You need to tap locomotive anointing. You have being sitting down idle for too long, it is high time you set into action. I was asked one day by someone to comment on what I’ve learnt from Peter walking on the sea, I told the person that the greatest thing in the episode was Peter getting out of the boat. The greatest move was the first step out of the boat. Your problem is not so much with the walking on the sea but rather with stepping out from the boat. You must wake up, get up, get out and get going. It is a decree coming to you NOW!

Vision and Direction – “---and went towards Haran” (Vs 10). Do you know and can you tell where you are walking towards? There are people who are just going but don’t know where to. Look, it is not just about going, but about knowing where you are really going. You must stop scavenging and start navigating. You must have the end in view, and walk towards your God ordained destination.

Lighted and Tarried – In every vision there must be room for revision and evaluation. There must be a strategic time set apart for you to alight and tarry on the Lord. One great menace of our generation is little time for reflection and a rush windy living. If you are always in haste you are automatically in waste. If you rush then you rust. Alone with God, that is the secret of great people of God in the Bible. Even in our relationships we need to take time and tarry. You have lived with your spouse for year without retreating, relaxing and evaluating your relationship. Great things, unusual things happen when we tarry, retreat and relax in God’s presence.

A Set Up – A ladder was set up for Jacob in His dream. There is a divine set up for you that you must discover. Life is all about connection. Before you were born there was a connection between your mother and father. In your mother’s womb, you survived because there was a connection between you and your mother. You were born into the world of connection. Someone said that even going to heaven is by connection because if you don’t know Jesus, you cant get there. There is a connection you need right now, and that is what you are getting in this prayer campaign. There was a set up for Jacob that took him beyond himself, and there is one the heaven is setting for you that will take you beyond the limit of yourself. Get the message here, a ladder was set up on the earth, and the top of it reaching heaven. If you are connected with the heaven, you will get supply that will last for eternity.

Divine Company – The Lord’s presence is the most important, and His backing the most reliable. “---for I will not leave thee, until I have done that which I have spoken to thee of” (Vs 15). Do you know that you are a child of destiny and that God is interested in blessing you? This is a powerful statement from the Lord, that you are incurably and inescapably blessed by God. In this kind of situation, it is too late to decide not to be blessed. The word of God contains things spoken concerning you and the presence and the zeal of God is set to bring them to pass. The vision of Jacob is an assurance of divine connection intended to fully launch him into his destiny. The focus of this campaign is therefore to launch you into your destiny and get you connected to the heaven’s grid.

Pillows to Pillars – In the discovery of the divine set up, Jacob respond by making a responsorial set up, turning of his stone pillows to pillars. This represents the result of encounter with God. Every pillow in your life will turn pillar. Pillow represent weakness and pillar represent strength. Your human weaknesses disappear at the face of divine power and help.
The revelation from this passage should form the platform upon which our connection prayer is built. Let the prayer point below be your guide in praying through :

1) I confess all areas of my life where I have not being obedient to your commands. (Identify specific areas, and humbly repent and confess)
2) Lord, I want to recover, help me discover your will for my life. (spread this prayer across all significant area of your life)
3) Receive the anointing to be contagiously fruitful, and to multiply in supra-geometric progression.
4) Decree and prophecy the continuity of divine grace and connection on your progeny and family.
5) Lord, launch into my life people that will help me fulfill my dream, and remove from all my relationships agents of darkness detailed by hell to derail my journey to fulfill my destiny.
6) I receive the anointing for motion and acceleration. I rebuke every stagnating and redundancy spirit. I overcome every evil environmental influence, the spirit of despondency and the failure from frustration.
7) In every affair of my life I receive clear divine direction. Lord, envision me and keep me at the center of your will. Lord , set me up and get me eternally connection to the heaven’s grip.

Trinity Vision/Mission at a Glance

Trinity Baptist Church is a member Church of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. We are part of the Oyo West Baptist Conference, and the Atanda Baptist Association. The Church was founded on the 26th March 1996 and organized on the 12th August 2000. Currently, our membership stands at 236 in all, 85 male,97 female and 54 children. We are a community of faith made up of dedicated believers who co operate together through love and submission to the Divine counsel to show forth the Glory God. We are seeking to know God more intimately and to make Him better known in the community we live and beyond.
Our MISSION is the CULTIVATION OF PERSONAL RELATIONSHIP AND COMMUNION WITH GOD WITHIN THE COMMUNITY OF FAITH AND EXPRESSING THE COMMITMENT OF THAT COMMUNION TO FULFILL GOD’S (UNIVERSAL) PURPOSE FOR SELF, OTHERS, AND THE WHOLE CREATION. We are simply SETTING THE PACE BY FAITH.
Through the ministry of Trinity Baptist Church, people are blessed and made to comprehend the gospel in practical sense and consequently own their faith. The worship atmosphere is lively, and inspiring and opportunities are given for the responsible manifestations of the gifts of the Spirit.
We are daily blessed under the ministry of Pastor and Mrs. Gbenga Mosebolatan. He is a surveyor and a product of the Nigerian Baptist Theological seminary Ogbomoso, where he graduated with BTh. He holds tenaciously to the apostolic foundation. He expounds the Scriptures in a practical manner, making it relevant to the contemporary settings. You can contact him through Trinity Baptist Church P.O.Box 43, Ilora, Oyo State Nigeria. Or e-mail him – gbenga25dec@yahoo.com. You can also call him on his cell phones – (234) 08034084270 or (234) 08051369472.

Trinity Baptist Church Ilora, Welcomes You

You are welcome to the home page of the Trinity Baptist Church Ilora, Oyo State Nigeria. TBCI is a faith community Church which started on the 26th March 1996. We belong to the Nigerian Baptist Convention, Oyo West Baptist Conference and the Atadan Association. We are a community of dedicated believers, seeking to know God more intimately and making Him better known in the community we live and beyond. We are simply SETTING THE PACE BY FAITH