The Minor Prophets: Obadiah

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical context

    A. 845 B.C. (Butler, Coffman, Hailey, Waddey); 586 B.C. (Lewis)

      1. There are several instances of Edom opposing Israel that could fit the events described
      2. Proponents of the late date argue: “Despite all cases made, the calamity here spoke of can hardly be other than that brought about by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C. (cf. Obad. 20).” (Lewis)
      3. Coffman favors the early date, “during the days of Jehoram after the Philistines and the Arabians attacked and captured the city of Jerusalem. It is true, of course, that the eventual fall of Jerusalem to the Babylonians is mentioned; but there is no reason whatever to understand this as anything else but a prophecy.” (Coffman)
      4. Reasons for the early date: “Edom had recently revolted (II Kings 8:20-22; II Chron. 21:820). Obadiah does not mention the wholesale deportation of the population as occurred in 586 B.C. Salves are not said to go east to Babylon, but to Phoenicia and the west (Ob. 20).” (Waddey)

    B. “The enmity between these two peoples dates from the birth of Isaac’s twin sons, Jacob and Esau (Gen. 25:21-26). The event that triggered the feud was Jacob’s obtaining of Esau’s birthright by deceit (Gen. 25:27-34; 27:1-45). God considered the Israelites and Edomites brethren. Edomites were not to be abhorred by Israel (Deut. 23:7) and Israel was forbidden to take Edom’s land (Det. 2:1-8). Edomites could enter the congregation of Israel after three generations (Deut. 23:8). The Edomites, however, were not inclined to show kindness or tolerance toward Israel. Edom’s anger tore ‘perpetually’ and he kept his wrath forever (Amos 1:11). During the long trek of the Exodus, they refused the weary Hebrews right of passage over their King’s Highway (Num. 20:14-21). Economics were a major cause of strife between the two nations. The border between them, the Arabah, was a major caravan route. Copper ore was found there in abundance.” (Waddey)

II. About the prophet

    A. “His name means ‘servant of the Lord.’ He was a godly, patriotic citizen of the kingdom of Judah who recorded his righteous indignation toward the wicked Edomites.” (Waddey)
    B. “Despite the fact of most scholars denying that Obadiah may be positively identified with any of the others, we are inclined to give credence to the allegation by Josephus that this Obadiah and the devout steward of Ahab’s household (1 Kings 18) who hid the true prophets from the wrath of Jezebel are one and the same person.” (Coffman)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The danger of pride (3-4)

      1. “The Edomites were justifiably proud of their fortress stronghold…Their great error was that of trusting in themselves instead of trusting in God.” (Coffman)
      2. “Edom’s pride and boasting rested on her assumption of strategic impregnability. One explorer of the territory has stated that a handful of men stationed in the Sik could easily hold off a whole army of invaders….Edom’s presumptuous boasting in her defenses and her wealth reminds us of many nations, both past and present, whose proud necks have been bowed by the Omnipotent Ruler of the Universe.” (Butler)
      3. “Pride is deceitful and ‘goes before a fall.’ Pride, which leads to vanity and a sense of independence from God, must be judged and exposed.” (Hailey)
      4. “The pride of the ‘elder brother’ will condemn one. Pride promotes strife, as seen in the disciples (Mark 9:33-37). Pride keeps one from believing God (James 3:13-18). Christians cannot worship with an arrogant heart (James 2:1-6). Strife is often produced by pride, and will prevent one’s worship (I Cor. 11:20). Christians should be willing to take ‘second place.’ No Christian will resent Christ’s lesson on ‘washing the saints’ feet.’ Pride and strife are sinful!” (Young)
      5. “The destiny, doom, and deliverance of nations are in the hand of God…He alone has the power to build up or to debase and cast down.” (Hailey)
      6. Proverbs 16:18; 1 Timothy 6:17

    B. The danger of siding with the enemy (10-14)

      1. “Obadiah is a standing rebuke to the spirit who prefers not to become involved in the problems of others, but it is even more a rebuke to him who finds a sadistic joy in the misfortunes of another.” (Lewis)
      2. “Wrong or violence is all the more heinous when committed against a brother and the Israelites (Jacob) were brothers to the Edomites (Esau). We recall others sinning against their own; Joseph and his brethren; Ammon and Tamar; Saul and Jonathan; David and Absalom. The strong ties of blood between the Edomites and the Israelites should have impelled the Edomites to give aid to the oppressed people of Judea, but quite to the contrary, they not only gloated over the plundering of their cities and villages but joined in with the enemies of the Israelites….We should not be surprised at the judgment of shame and ‘cutting-off’ pronounced upon the Edomites for their actions toward their brethren.” (Butler)
      3. “Christians cannot compromise with sin and wrong….God’s truth is not to be betrayed. God’s truth is not to be sacrificed. When one stands with the enemy, he is as ‘one of them.’” (Young)
      4. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18

    C. The knowledge that God will avenge evil (15-16)

      1. “In the last analysis, the justice of God is retributive. In the final judgment, men shall be rewarded according to what they have done during the present life; and there has never been a true theology that can get rid of this basic truth.” (Coffman)
      2. 2 Corinthians 5:10; Galatians 6:7-8; Matthew 6:14-15
      3. Remember that it is God to whom vengeance belongs, not man! (Romans 12:17-21; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9)

Butler, Paul T. (1968). The Minor Prophets: The Prophets of the Decline. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 2: Hosea, Obadiah and Micah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Highers, Alan. “The Living Message of the Book of Amos.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]


What Kind of Example Are You?

What Kind of Example Are You? Lessons from the letters of John

3 John 1-12


    A. John’s opinion of him

      1. “Beloved…whom I love in the truth” (3 John 1; 2 Timothy 4:11; 1 Peter 5:12; 1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 2:2)
      2. Prayer for wealth and health “just as your soul prospers” (3 John 2)

    B. Gaius’ faithfulness caused John’s joy (3 John 3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:6)
    C. Gaius’ support of missionaries (3 John 5-8)


    A. A heart dominated by pride and love for power (3 John 9; Romans 12:3)
    B. Prating against John with malicious words (3 John 10; Ephesians 4:29)
    C. Refusing to receive traveling brethren (3 John 10)
    D. Forbidding the hospitality of others to the point of disfellowship (3 John 10)


    A. Good testimony from all (3 John 12; Matthew 5:14-16; 1 Timothy 3:7; Proverbs 22:1)
    B. Good testimony from John and his fellow workers (3 John 12)
    C. Good testimony from the truth (3 John 12; Romans 12:1-2)

Ask for the Old Paths

          In the entertainment industry, nostalgia is big business. The Star Wars franchise began in 1977, was resurrected in the late ‘90s and again just a few years ago to huge profits. Netflix just announced this past week that it was developing a new She-Ra cartoon, originally a popular series in the 1980s. Big-screen adaptations of Transformers, G.I. Joe, and the like attract adults who were fans when they were much younger. The same is true in the music industry, with bands begging for fans to spend money on reunion tours and greatest hits albums.
          Spiritually, there is value in pursuing the pure, original doctrine of God. This was true under the old covenant, and it is still true today in this Christian age. The weeping prophet relayed this message from Jehovah to the people: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls” (Jeremiah 6:16).
          This principle holds true today. Following the example of first century Christians, we should “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). The only way to do that is to know the apostles’ doctrine, to study the Word and walk in it.
          God can make us complete through His Word: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Again, the only way this can happen is to make an effort to know the Scriptures; God will not force it upon us.
          The importance of knowing God’s untarnished Word is also shown when we connect Romans 10:17 and Hebrews 11:6. Without a diligent, seeking faith—which is developed by hearing the Word—it is impossible to please God.
          Whatever new doctrine comes along, as Christians we must stand firm in the old ways of the apostles who were inspired by God. When someone tries to lead you astray, “ask for the old paths.”

The Minor Prophets: Amos

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical context

    A. Amos 1:1; during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam (son of Joash) in Israel; sometime between 786-742 B.C. (Lewis); 790-749 B.C. (Coffman); 765-750 B.C. (Waddey); 760 B.C. (Butler); 755 B.C., or “somewhere near the end of Jeroboam’s reign” (Hailey)
    B. “Two years before the earthquake”

      1. “There were many earthquakes in that part of the world, and even an unusually severe one would not make any permanent intrusion into the records kept by the people.” (Coffman)
      2. Mentioned 200 years later in Zechariah 14:5
      3. The uninspired Josephus (Antiquities of the Jews, 9:10:4) mentioned an earthquake in connection with Uzziah’s transgression in 2 Chronicles 26:18-21, but this cannot be verified with inspired information

    C. “This was a period of great peace and prosperity during which it seemed that the rich became richer and the poor became poorer. Some lived in opulence and luxury, but often at the expense of the poor and destitute….The people were careful to offer their sacrifices and to perform all their religious functions, but it had become mere formalism and religious ritual which was totally devoid of meaning.” (Highers)

II. About the prophet

    A. “‘Amos’ means ‘to bear,’ ‘to place a load upon’ (Laetsch), or ‘burdened’ or ‘burden-bearer’ (Eiselen). He lived up to his name; for as Jehovah laid upon him the task of declaring His divine oracles to apostate Israel, he bore the burden and fulfilled his mission.” (Hailey)
    B. Amos 7:14: “a sheepbreeder and a tender of sycamore fruit.”
    C. “The fact that his father’s name is not mentioned suggests that he was probably from a poor, obscure family.” (Waddey)
    D. “God selected a rustic and rough-hewn man of integrity to be a prophet, and he sent him from a small southern village into the wealthy, sophisticated city of Bethel as a messenger of truth and righteousness. Amos may not have had impeccable manners, his fashion of dress may not have been flawless, and his accent of speech may well have been colored by his rural upbringing, but it is unquestioned that he was faithful to that divine imperative which, in essence, placed a farm-boy in the pulpit of the sanctuary at Bethel.” (Highers)
    E. “Although of a common ancestry, in one way he was an outsider, having come from Judah. As an outsider he could view the situation in Israel more objectively than the local residents could.” (Hailey)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The importance of righteousness, wherever and whoever you may be (1:3,6,9,11,13; 2:1,4,6)

      1. After writing about the transgressions of Israel’s neighbors, Lewis notes, “The significant thing about this series, which in general denounces atrocities of war, is that Amos announces that God is concerned with sin wherever it occurs. God is not merely a god of the hills limited in power and dominion to his own people. He is the international God of justice punishing sin wherever it occurs, calling the neighbors who do not worship him into account.” (Lewis)
      2. “He shows that God is no respecter of persons. If Israelites sin against Him, He will condemn them as readily as other nations.” (Butler)
      3. This is why the Great Commission is so important – ignorance is no excuse for sin! (Matthew 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16)

    B. The “omni-” attributes of God

      1. “God’s omnipotence may be seen in His acts of creation (4:13; 5:8), in His control over the forces of nature (4:6-11), in His supremacy over the nations (chs. 1-2; 5:9; 9:7), and in the titles by which He is called: ‘Jehovah,’ ‘the Lord Jehovah,’ ‘Jehovah, the God of hosts,’ ‘the Lord.’” (Hailey)

        a. “‘Jehovah, the God of hosts, is his name…’ This means tht the eternal God has every conceivable power and ability to do as he wills. Blessed be his name forever.” (Coffman)
        b. “God is sovereign over things visible (the mountains), things invisible (the wind), and things rational (man and his thought). He is in direct executive control of the world, as is evident when he makes the morning darkness, brings about the sequence of day and night. No place is beyond his reach, even the heights fo the earth being beneath his feet.” (Motyer, quoted by Coffman)

      2. “The omnipresence of God is plainly taught (9:2-4) or clearly implied (chs. 1-2).” (Hailey)

        a. Concerning 9:2-4, Butlercomments, “These verses sound very much like David’s Psalm 139, praising God for His allseeing providence.” (Butler)

      3. “His omniscience is indicated (9:2-4) and declared in His knowledge of man’s thoughts (4:13).” (Hailey)

        a. “He is the omnipotent Creator; He is the omniscient Revealer; He is the benificent Sustainer. God is the searcher of the heart (Jer. 17:10; Psa. 139:2).” (Butler)
        b. Revelation 2:23

    C. The danger of indifference (6:1-6)

      1. “The things listed were not sinful in and of themselves. It was not evil to rest on a bed of ivory or to eat beef and mutton, etc. It was wrong because they were not grieved or concerned about the sad state of affairs in the nation.” (Waddey)
      2. “Indifference is a greater enemy of truth than opposition.” (Highers)
      3. “Their feasts were characterized by revelry, songs, music, choice meats, and the best of wines to satiate their lusts, and by cushions and silken tapestries upon which to recline (6:1-7). These luxuries were enjoyed by the wealthy, whose eyes were closed to the afflictions and needs of the poor (6:6). For this they would go away into captivity.” (Hailey)
      4. “They were blind, deaf and dumb to the spiritual rottenness then prevalent. They were not the least concerned that this nation whose destiny was holiness and truth was sick unto death with the leprosy of sin. The injustice, cruelty, decadence did not bother them. They were perfectly satisfied as long as they had food and drink and were rich enough to satisfy their desires.” (Butler)
      5. Revelation 3:15-16

Butler, Paul T. (1968). The Minor Prophets: The Prophets of the Decline. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 1: Joel, Amos and Jonah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

Highers, Alan. “The Living Message of the Book of Amos.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]

The Minor Prophets: Joel

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical context

    A. Debate over the date of writing

      1. “The date of Joel is vigorously disputed, the dates assigned by commentators ranging all the way from the tenth century B.C. to the second century B.C.” (Coffman)
      2. A number of scholars in the brotherhood have placed Joel’s life and writing in the time of Joash, who became king at seven years old and reigned 40 years (2 Chronicles 24:1)
      3. 837 B.C. (Coffman); ca. 830 B.C. (Hailey); 830-810 B.C. (Waddey); 840-830 B.C. (Butler)
      4. “Although it must be admitted that the evidence for the late date is impressive, the balance falls in favor of the earlier.” (Hailey)
      5. “If an early date of approximately 835 B.C. is to be accepted, then Joel is quoted or alluded to by Isaiah, Amos, Micah, Nahum, Zephaniah, Obadiah, Ezekiel and Malachi. He would thus be the first to speak of the ‘Day of the Lord.’” (McGee)

    B. “Those who would date Joel in the pre-exilic period—often as early as the ninth century to make him among the earliest prophets—point out that the enemies dealt with in the book are the Philistines, Phoenicians, Egyptians, and Edomites rather than those of the exilic period. Furthermore there is no reference either to Assyria which emerged as a power as early as 760 B.C. or to Babylon which followed but which had fallen out of the picture by 537 B.C.” (Lewis)
    C. “Politically, both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms had recently cast off the devastating yoke of Ahab and Jezebel in the North and Athaliah, daughter of Jezebel, in the South. King Joash was a mere child of seven when crowned king of Judah. The nation was guided by the high priest Jehoiada who served as regent for the young king. Jehu was seeking to stamp out the last vestiges of Jezebel’s influence in the North. Spiritually, both nations were at a low ebb.” (Waddey)
    D. “The religious reform instituted by Jehoiada at this same time seems to have been superficial and short-lived. The people turned reformation into formalism.” (Butler)

II. About the prophet

    A. “Twelve men in the Bible bear the name Joel which means ‘Jehovah is God’; however, there is no valid reason for connecting the others with the prophet.” (Lewis)
    B. “He definitely is a man of moral integrity. He was undoubtedly a native of Judah and most likely of Jerusalem itself for he speaks like a native (2:1, 15, 32; 3:16, 17, 21; 2:32; 3:20). He was very familiar with the Temple and the ministry of the priests (1:9, 13, 14, 16; 2:14, 17; 3:18).” (Butler)
    C. “From the internal evidence some have concluded that possibly Joel was a priest or the son of a priest, but this is purely conjectural.” (Hailey)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The importance of loving, yet uncompromising preaching (2:1, 11)

      1. Joel 2:1, “Sound an alarm…Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble…”
      2. “Borrowing the metaphor of war, Joel calls for the watchmen to sound the trumpet of alarm to awaken the people to the imminent danger of invasion.” (Waddey)
      3. “No compromise is found in his words as he warns of impending judgment upon the sinners of Israel. And yet Joel is no heartless, pityless preacher. He cries to the Lord for the people (1:19). He reminds them of God’s graciousness and mercy (2:13).” (McGee)
      4. “The preaching and the teaching of judgment causes men to live righteously and to love and respect God’s love and will….But often men deceive and rationalize themselves into thinking that judgment is either not near or altogether impossible.” (McGee)
      5. Cf. Ecclesiastes 8:11; Ephesians 4:15; 2 Timothy 4:2-5
      6. The judgment at the time of Joel came by way of a plague of locusts; Joel warned that such natural occurrences were often used as discipline from Jehovah and called the people to repent to avoid further calamity
      7. “The natural calamity they faced was so terrible and overwhelming, so far beyond the normal bounds, it could only be explained as a divine judgment.” (Waddey)

        a. This was not the first time locusts were used by God in judgment
        b. The plague in Egypt (Exodus 10:3-6)
        c. Solomon prayed for deliverance from locusts, among other plagues (1 Kings 8:37)
        d. Locusts were used figuratively by John in Revelation 9

      8. We must take care that we do not immediately assign the motive of judgment to natural disasters we see today

        a. Remember that Joel was inspired to interpret and identify them as God’s chastisement upon His people
        b. However, we can still trust in the faithfulness of God, even when we face the tragedies that often come with natural disasters
        c. Natural disasters can also serve to remind us of our dependence upon God

    B. The importance of internal spirituality (2:12-13)

      1. “God’s people are in grave danger when the outward forms of religion are not accompanied with a spiritual undergirding (see Matt. 22:36-40)….How useless is the Lord’s Day worship if all of the divinely authorized ‘acts’ are correct but the heart is far from God (see Matt. 15:8-9).” (McGee)
      2. “Repentance means a complete turn-about, and not only so, but a turning toward the Lord. Reformation is not repentance! One must not only change by giving up former habits and sinful ways but one must in a positive way turn unto the Lord and do His will and walk in His way! It is all the heart which God demands. The heart, of course, means the dwelling place of the personality—the intellect, the will, the emotions. All of man’s mind, all of man’s will, all of man’s desires are to be turned toward God’s will….This must be a turning of the inner man, not merely an outward, ritualistic ‘rending of the garments.’” (Butler)
      3. Mark 12:30; Deuteronomy 6:5
      4. God wants “all men everywhere” to turn to Him (Acts 17:30; 2 Peter 3:9)

    C. The establishment of the church foretold (Joel 2:28-32)

      1. “This is that” (Acts 2:16-21)
      2. Verse 29 “refers to the universality of membership in the Lord’s church and the consequent reception of a measure of God’s Spirit in the hearts of all believers during the times of the Messiah. Many of the Christians to whom Colossians and Ephesians were originally addressed were slaves; and in is a most accurate and extensive fulfillment of these very words.” (Coffman)

Butler, Paul T. (1968). The Minor Prophets: The Prophets of the Decline. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 1: Joel, Amos and Jonah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

McGee, Pat. “The Living Message of Joel.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]

The Minor Prophets: Hosea

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical context

    A. Hosea 1:1; 800-722 B.C. (Waddey), 790-725 B.C. (Butler), 750-725 B.C. (Hailey), “…in the years following 746 B.C., slightly after the time of Amos” (Lewis)
    B. “Thus Hosea was contemporary with Amos, but somewhat later.” (Coffman)
    C. “Although Hosea predicts, but does not record, the actual captivity of Israel which took place in 722 B.C., he still may have lived through the event. He would have been very old.” (Butler)
    D. “The time of Hosea’s early ministry was a time of material prosperity (cf. 2:8-13), but it was a society falling apart at the seams morally.” (Butler)
    E. Some of the more egregious sins were spelled out by the prophet in 4:2, 11-12: swearing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery, harlotry, wine, idolatry
    F. “Religious leaders eagerly joined the masses in their sin. Jehovah’s worship was commonly mixed with the pagan practices of disgusting Baal worship. So widespread was spiritual ignorance that the people thought they were loyal to God when in reality they were but idolatrous pagans.” (Waddey)
    G. “When Israel came into Palestine she came into a land already inhabited for more than a thousand years. She learned farming from the peoples she did not drive out. But Canaanite farming was integrally connected with religious customs which Israel adopted….Subtly the religion crept in on them.” (Lewis)

II. About the prophet

    A. “The name means ‘deliverance,’ or ‘salvation,’ indicating that Hosea himself stands in the prophecy as a type of God Himself, especially in the matter of his unselfish and constant love for his sinful wife.” (Coffman)
    B. “Hosea apparently was a resident of the northern kingdom and has been described as ‘The home missionary of North Israel.’…Hosea was an eyewitness of the debaucheries and injustices that were the features of life in Samaria and the northern kingdom.” (Coffman)
    C. Married the harlot Gomer at the Lord’s command
    D. Gomer bore three children; only the first is known to be Hosea’s child

      1. A son, Jezreel, meaning “vengeance” (1:4-5)

        a. “It foretold a day of vengeance which was coming upon the dynasty of Jehu and the nation (1:4-5).” (Waddey)
        b. “…as a threat to the reigning house, which was soon to end.” (Lewis)

      2. A daughter, Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “no mercy” (1:6-7)

        a. “This signified that the nation’s day of grace was rapidly drawing to a close.” (Waddey)
        b. “…a threat that God will not pity and forgive the house of Israel.” (Lewis)

      3. A son, Lo-Ammi, meaning “not my people” (1:8-10)

        a. “This implied that Israel had forfeited her position as God’s people. It is obvious that by giving his son this name, the prophet doubted whether the child was his.” (Waddey)
        b. “…the threat contained in this child’s name obviously is that of the breaking of the relationship.” (Lewis)

    E. “Thus Hosea’s tragedy with a faithless wife becomes a type of God’s majestic, compassionate love for a backsliding Israel.” (Connally)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The importance of knowing God’s Word (4:6)

      1. “It is not scientific, secular, or technical knowledge that is meant, but religious knowledge, the knowledge of God through his revealed will, the Bible; and even more than this is meant; it means conformity to the will of God.” (Coffman)
      2. “As always the religious leaders are primarily responsible for the moral, ethical and religious knowledge of a nation….Ignorance of the law, neglect of its adherence or willful indifference and disobedience to its practices are fatal to any people.” (Connally)
      3. “One is led to think of the terrible condition of the Gentiles described in Romans 1:18ff when one sees the knowledge of God rejected. They ‘refused to have God in their knowledge…’ ‘they exchanged the truth of God for a lie…’ and so God gave them up to serve the enslaving and degrading passions of their bodies.” (Butler)
      4. John 12:48; Acts 17:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; James 1:21-25; 2 Peter 3:18

    B. The importance of mercy (6:6)

      1. “Mercy” (NKJV, KJV), “goodness” (ASV), “steadfast love” (ESV), “loyalty” (NASB)
      2. “God was not here repudiating the covenant he had made with Israel, which surely included sacrifice, nor was he changing that covenant. What he did in this verse is to condemn the people, not for offering sacrifices, but for omitting the true devotion, loyalty to God, and integrity of heart that were necessary accompaniments of sacrifice.” (Coffman)
      3. “He does not exclude sacrifices, rather, he stresses that outward ritual without inner goodness is profitless.” (Waddey)
      4. “The people who were offering the sacrifices were not doing it because they had faith in Jehovah—there was no love in their hearts for God. Their offerings were abominable, revolting, sickening to the heart of God.” (Butler)
      5. Today, we must worship God in the right way and with the right attitude, understanding both the “what” and the “why”

        a. When observing the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
        b. When praying and singing (1 Corinthians 14:15)
        c. When giving (2 Corinthians 9:7)
        d. When hearing the Word preached (Acts 2:41; 13:42; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

    C. The love of God (14:4-9)

      1. “Their sin of apostasy will be considered as a terrible disease which Jehovah will heal. Their reward will be His great love which He will bountifully bestow upon them; at the same time His anger will be turned away.” (Hailey)
      2. “When God’s people shall have humbled themselves and turned to Him in penitent thanksgiving, He will shower them with His love and blessings.” (Butler)
      3. “Thus, our task is clear. We must rebuke sin whenever and wherever it is found. We must labor diligently and untiringly to correct the errors and evils of the people. Yet, through it all our faith and strength must not fail, and we must make men see the love and forgiveness of God to all those who will repent. To this task we are dedicated until Jesus comes or we die, so help us God!” (Connally)
      4. “Jehovah accomplished this redemption under the Messiah, and today the spiritual Israel of prophecy enjoys the favor of Jehovah and acts as the leavening influence for good in a world of wickedness.” (Hailey)
      5. The love of God is on full display today in His care for the church (Ephesians 5:25-32)

Butler, Paul T. (1968). The Minor Prophets: The Prophets of the Decline. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 2: Hosea, Obadiah and Micah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

Connally, Andrew M. “The Living Message of Hosea.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]

The Life of John the Baptist

John the Baptist

We completed a six-lesson study on the life of John the Baptist on Sunday. You can download an 18-page PDF document with all the lessons included below. I appreciate the opportunity to study and teach God’s Word. We can learn much from the attitude of John the Baptist: his humility, his boldness, and his devotion to the truth. I pray that we may echo his zeal as we teach the truth, always seeking followers for Christ and never for ourselves.

PDFClick here to download A Study of John the Baptist: Class notes compiled by Jason T. Carter (PDF format).

The Life of John the Baptist: The Death of John the Baptist

The Life of John the Baptist

THE DEATH OF JOHN THE BAPTIST // Matthew 14:1-12; Mark 6:14-29; Luke 9:7-9

I. Herod is reminded of John

    A. Christ was often compared to great men (Mark 6:15; Luke 9:8; cf. Matthew 16:13-14), but we must remember that He is greater than any man (Matthew 16:15-16; John 14:6; Acts 4:12)
    B. Christ’s power reminded Herod of John (Matthew 14:2; Mark 6:14; Luke 9:7-9)
    C. “While John had done no miracles during his ministry (Jn. 10:41), so powerful must have been the effect of his life and work that the tetrarch has no difficulty believing that so mighty a prophet should be risen and now working miracles too.” (Fowler, Matthew)

II. Herod’s unlawful marriage

    A. John boldly proclaimed to Herod, “It is not lawful for you to have your brother’s wife” (Matthew 14:4; Mark 9:18)

      1. Herod Antipas and Philip (not the tetrarch) were half-brothers
      2. Herodias was the daughter of Aristobulus, another half-brother of Herod Antipas and Philip
      3. Salome was Herodias’ daughter with Philip (not the tetrarch); she later married Philip (the tetrarch), who was also a half-brother of her father Philip (not the tetrarch) and Herod Antipas
      4. Herodias left Philip and married Herod Antipas
      5. “The Jews fiercely resented Herod’s incestuous marriage with Herodias for three reasons: First, he was already married; second, she was his niece; and third, she was his brother’s wife. The Jewish law expressly forbade a man’s marrying his brother’s wife, even after the brother’s death, much less while he was still alive; the one exception being that when a man died without an heir, his brother was commanded to marry the deceased’s widow and produce an heir to his estate (Leviticus 18:16; Deuteronomy 25:5-10).” (Coffman, Matthew)
      6. See also Leviticus 20:21
      7. “The forsaken wife of Antipas was a daughter of Aretas, king of Arabia, who resented the insult to his family and throne, and marched upon Herod Antipas shortly after this murder of John the Baptist, and routed him with great slaughter.” (Boles, Matthew)

    B. Too many abandon the truth due to family situations; others compromise depending on their audience

      1. It is interesting that John did not fear the consequences of speaking truth to the powerful Herod, but Herod feared the opinion of the common people in determining John’s punishment
      2. “John boldly rebuked vice even in the great. As our Lord said, when speaking of him, John was no reed shaken with the wind; he was a prophet and more than a prophet, and spoke with a prophet’s fearlessness. Luke tells us that John also reproved all the evils which Herod had done (Luke 3:19).” (Johnson and DeWelt, Mark)
      3. While we may present the truth in different ways to different people, we cannot compromise the gospel message itself (cf. 1 Corinthians 9:19-23; Ephesians 4:15)

III. Herod’s and Herodias’ opinions of John

    A. “Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just and holy man” (Mark 6:20)

      1. He even listened to John’s message “gladly”
      2. “Herod was awed by John’s virtue. He feared and esteemed him, and did many things to please the Precursor, but not the one thing against which John’s rebukes were chiefly directed. Herod would not put away Herodias.” (Johnson and DeWelt, Mark)

    B. Yet, despite this respect, “he wanted to put him to death” (Matthew 14:5)

      1. “The purpose was already in his heart, and, had it not been for fear of the people, he would already have martyred John.” (Coffman, Matthew)
      2. Cf. Matthew 5:21-22
      3. Perhaps this was a “heat of the moment” thought when Herod first heard the message, only to cool off after considering the truthfulness of the statement

    C. Herodias “wanted to kill him” but was prevented by Herod

      1. Whereas Herod protected John and listened to his preaching, Herodias’ opinion did not change over the course of time
      2. “She is under stress not only because of John’s publicly denouncing her as an adulteress. She is also menaced, because if she must return to her first husband, or at any rate, leave Herod, to whom she has attached her ambitions, these very ambitions must be immediately relinquished and her personal struggle for supremacy must begin all over at a time when she sees herself beginning to arrive at her goals.” (Fowler, Matthew)
      3. She took hold of the opportunity to exact her revenge on the occasion of Herod’s birthday
      4. “Convenient day for Herodias to execute her malicious designs. Wine, dissipation, licentiousness were all favorable to this.” (Dorris, Mark)
      5. While we may not immediately jump to thoughts of murder, do we not at times resent those who expose sin in our lives? May we consistently examine ourselves that we do not make enemies of men whose only desire is to speak truth (cf. Galatians 4:16)

IV. Herod’s birthday

    A. The dance (Matthew 14:6; Mark 6:22)

      1. “History reveals the corruption that was exhibited in eastern courts; dancers exhibited themselves in immodest attire and aped all of the emotions of sensual carnality.” (Boles, Matthew)
      2. What should we do when we are confronted with the temptation of lust? (Matthew 5:28-29; 2 Timothy 2:22)
      3. We must also take care that we are not the cause of temptation for our brothers or sisters (Romans 14:13)

    B. The promise (Matthew 14:7; Mark 6:22-23)

      1. The rich often enjoy showing off their wealth
      2. “This was the type of boastful, extravagant oath, characteristic of tyrants and despots of that era.” (Coffman, Mark)
      3. “A wild and reckless promise that could have been made only by one who had lost his wits by drunkenness. A drinking man is not a safe business man….But how many in our day give away the whole kingdom of their souls, with health and hope, prosperity, peace, and goodness—yea, the whole kingdom of heaven—for the paltry price of a glass of wine; the pleasure of the table; the acquisition of a little money.” (Dorris, Mark)
      4. Consider the warning in 1 John 2:15-17

    C. The request (Mathew 14:8; Mark 6:24-25)

      1. “When it is considered that Salome might have requested any things which could have been of great value to herself, and that her mother by this suggestion actually robbed her daughter of whatever benefit Herod might have bestowed upon her, all for the sake of venting her vicious hatred against John, the blindness and stupidity of evil are evident.” (Coffman, Mark)
      2. Did Herod have any option but to honor this request? (cf. Leviticus 5:4-5)

    D. The murder (Matthew 14:9-12; Mark 6:26-29)

      1. “Herod’s conscience was dead to real crimes like adultery, incest and murder, but supersensitive to the point of scrupulousness about a broken oath! What moral blindness to uphold a dubious point of honor a the expense of elementary justice!” (Fowler, Matthew)
      2. “John died as a martyr for the truth and exchanged his dungeon for a world where the wicked cease from troubling and the weary are at rest—a world in whose light his rejoicing soul could discover the ways of God.” (Boles, Matthew)
      3. The greatest testimony of the life of John comes from the Savior Himself: “Assuredly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not risen one greater than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11)

The Life of John the Baptist: “He Must Increase, But I Must Decrease”

The Life of John the Baptist


I. John vs. Jesus?

    A. Jesus and His disciples baptizing in Judea (John 3:22)

      1. Judea/Jerusalem was the starting point for the spread of the gospel, as Jesus later commissioned the apostles (Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8)
      2. “This Gospel gives the Judean ministry of Christ, almost totally omitted by the synoptics….occurred before John the Baptist was cast into prison, a fact John stressed, thus making it very early in the Lord’s ministry.” (Coffman, John)
      3. Jesus Himself did not baptize anyone (John 4:2). “There was Divine wisdom in this. The apostle Paul was forced to contend with division in the Corinthian church a few years later which had resulted from certain Christians taking pride in having been baptized by certain preachers and apostles (cf. I Cor. 1:14ff).” (Butler, John)
      4. This was the same baptism that John was administering, with a view toward Christ’s death and resurrection

        a. New Testament baptism was not preached and practiced until the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and thereafter
        b. New Testament baptism mirrors the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord (Romans 6:3-6)

    B. John baptizing in Aenon near Salim (John 3:23)

      1. The exact geographical location is unknown today
      2. However, the purpose of the location is given: “because there was much water there”
      3. If baptism could be acceptably administered by sprinkling or pouring, there would have been no need for “much water”
      4. “Immersion is the ceremony recognized as baptism by Christ and the apostles; and the appearance of other actions called baptism in the historical church should not obscure this fact.” (Coffman, John)
      5. “It would be well to pause here and define the word baptize. Every Greek Lexicon of any repute defines baptize as having a primary meaning of ‘dip, plunge, immerse, submerge.’ In the Greek language (the original language of the New Testament) this word baptize can never mean sprinkle or pour. It is to be feared that the translators of our English versions of the Bible have allowed religious prejudices to guide their translating. It is interesting to note how these translators contradict themselves. In II King 5:14 our English translators have rendered the verse thusly: ‘Then went he down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan…’ (speaking of Naaman and his cure of leprosy). The amazing fact is that they interpreted the word baptize, here used in the Septuagint, to mean dipped. When these scholars came to the New Testament they merely transliterated (change of characters of one alphabet to corresponding characters of another alphabet) the word baptize. ‘Consistency, thou art a gem!’” (Butler, John)

    C. The dispute (John 3:25-26)

      1. The precise question is not known, only that it had to do with “purification”
      2. “Verse 25 informs us of John the Baptist’s disciples beginning a disputation or argument with a Jew (probably one who favored Jesus and His ministry) over the question of cleansing. From verse 26 it seems the whole disputation was over the authority and cleansing efficacy of the two baptisms. The disciples of John began the controversy and probably challenged the Jew because he had been baptized by Jesus’ disciples. That Jesus could baptize without consulting John they could not understand, and undoubtedly argued that the Jew had not been purified or cleansed because he had not been baptized by John.” (Butler, John)
      3. Many commentators (Coffman, Lipscomb, Johnson, and Butler all included) attribute John’s disciples’ attitude to jealousy
      4. “They seem to have grown somewhat jealous that the masses were leaving John to follow Jesus.” (Lipscomb,

II. John’s response to his disciples

    A. John reaffirms his own identity as “not the Christ” (John 3:27-28; cf. John 1:19-20)

      1. “To see his great popularity and influence gradually waning, and another coming up to take his place, was well calculated to arouse jealousy. But John, in the spirit of his mission, rose to a sublime superiority over carnal weakness. He declares, first, that what he is, and what Jesus is, is due to the will of heaven. Each will till his appointed mission ‘given him from heaven.’ Next, he cites his own words before spoken, of which they were witnesses, in which he declared that he was not the Christ, but only the messenger who went before the King to prepare his way. The superiority of Jesus was only what he himself had predicted.” (Johnson, John)
      2. John’s words in verse 27 “are true in two senses. Jesus could not have enjoyed such widespread success unless God had given it; and John’s decline could not have occurred unless the Lord had willed it.” (Coffman, John)

    B. The marriage analogy (John 3:29)

      1. Used in Old Testament (Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 2:16,19-20)
      2. Used in New Testament (Ephesians 5:25-27,32; Revelation 21:2,9; 22:17)
      3. John rejoiced (cf. Romans 12:15)

    C. John’s humility on full display (John 3:30)

      1. Christ’s work was to build His church (Matthew 16:18-19)
      2. His kingdom was such that “shall never be destroyed…and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44)
      3. John’s mission as the way preparer was drawing to a close
      4. “These last words of John are in the spirit of Christian sacrifice and are a fitting close of his work.” (Johnson, John)
      5. Paul wrote, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase.” (1 Corinthians 3:6)

III. John’s exaltation of the Son of God

    A. Christ—as “He who comes from heaven”—has supreme authority (John 3:31)

      1. While John’s mission and message was from above, he himself was fully human, in contrast to Jesus who was God in the flesh (John 1:14; Romans 8:3; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 John 4:2)
      2. Since Jesus Himself (not merely His message) was from heaven, He has authority over all (cf. Matthew 28:18)

    B. The majority’s rejection of Christ’s testimony (John 3:32)

      1. “No one” is hyperbolic, as shown by the next verse – there were some who “received His testimony” (John 3:33)
      2. While we are told on other occasions that “great multitudes came to Him” (Matthew 15:30), it is evident from further examination that not all remained interested in His doctrine
      3. The parable of the sower shows the reasons why some fall away after being taught the truth (Luke 8:4-15)
      4. Jesus taught on the Sermon on the Mount that few would follow the way leading to life (Matthew 7:13-14)

    C. The truth of the Father (John 3:33-34; cf. 1 John 5:10)
    D. The love of the Father (John 3:35; cf. Matthew 3:17)
    E. The importance of belief (John 3:36)

      1. Obedient faith: second half is translated “does not believe” in NKJV; “does not obey” in ESV, NASB; “obeyeth not” in ASV
      2. “At issue is how to properly translate the single Greek word apeitheo that is found in John 3:36. This term can be translated as either ‘unbelief’ or ‘disobedience.’ To illustrate, the KJV translates the same word, apeitheo, as ‘disobedience’ in other places, such as 1 Peter 3:1 (‘obey not’); and Romans 2:8 (‘do not obey’).” (Ankerberg and Burroughs, Taking a Stand for the Bible)
      3. “In all instances, it is an OBEDIENT FAITH that is meant, and never is some special quality of faith apart from obedience intended. Salvation by ‘faith alone’ is an erroneous tenet of human creeds, but it is not the teaching of God’s word. He who does not obey the Son, in the practical sense, is an unbeliever; and all faith, of whatever degree, is dead without obedience.” (Coffman, John)
      4. Everyone has a choice to make – believe or do not believe/obey (John 3:36); narrow or wide gate (Matthew 7:13-14); light or darkness (John 12:46; 2 Corinthians 6:14); righteous or lawless (2 Corinthians 6:14); transformed by the renewing of your mind or conformed to this world (Romans 12:2)
      5. We will be judged by the choices we make (John 12:48; 2 Corinthians 5:10)

God is Faithful

          Information comes at us from all angles – television, radio, Facebook, word-of-mouth, books…sometimes it is difficult to process what is the most reliable source. One news anchor gives a certain “fact,” while an online article disputes that information and offers an alternative view. How do we know who to trust?
          Regardless of what is going on in society, we can always rely on the trustworthiness of God. James teaches us, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning” (James 1:17). We can trust God to follow through on His promises.
          He was faithful to Israel. “Therefore know that the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those who love Him and keep His commandments” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
          He is faithful to provide for His children. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
          He is faithful to fulfill His promises in eternity. “God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord” (1 Corinthians 1:9).
          The Psalmist recognized the might and fidelity of Jehovah. “O Lord God of hosts, who is mighty like You, O Lord? Your faithfulness also surrounds You” (Psalm 89:8).
          Man will lie. News reports may mislead. Facebook articles may distort the truth. Key facts are omitted in word-of-mouth. Don’t believe everything you hear or read in the world. But you can always believe God and His Word.
          It is a great blessing to be able to serve the One who rules over everything, the One who will never change or turn against us, the One who will keep His Word. God is faithful!