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LA Launches Investigation into Famous Church Arson

An arson investigation is under way after fire destroyed a historic church in South Los Angeles early Sunday, authorities said.

The blaze at Victory Baptist Church broke out shortly before 2:30 a.m. and quickly grew to major emergency status, said Nicholas Prange, a spokesperson with the Los Angeles Fire Department.

Two firefighters were hospitalized with mild to moderate injuries after battling the flames, Prange said. One became trapped by a collapsing ceiling before being rescued, he said.

The Los Angeles Times said Victory Baptist has played a major role in the spiritual and political history of South LA.

Founded in a local storefront on Easter Sunday in 1943, the church moved into its current building on McKinley Ave a year later. In the 1950s, its Sunday night services were broadcast on television nationally.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at the church in 1964.

An arson team with the House of Worship Task Force was part of the investigation, officials said.

What does Jesus say about fighting unbelief

Health issues, job losses, death of loved ones, ongoing stressful circumstances — all these things can make a believer struggle with unbelief. We start to doubt if God is working in the situation or question His goodness.

Oftentimes, we can become so focused on the challenging situation that we lose sight of God and His ability. In those moments, we need help to bolster our faith.

Jesus can help us overcome our unbelief when we cry out to Him. Just as He did for the father of the demon-possessed boy, Jesus can help us see our weakness, demonstrate His power, and redirect our focus to Him. He faithfully helps us in our unbelief and patiently shows us that He is trustworthy.

Biblical Context and Background

Directly after the event of the Transfiguration, Jesus and the “inner circle” of disciples descended the mountain and found the rest of the disciples unable to heal a demon-possessed boy (Mark 9:2-14).

Experts in the law were arguing with the disciples, and the boy’s father was overwhelmed (Mark 9:14,17-18).

Commenting on the disciples’ lack of faith, Jesus requested that the boy be brought to Him (Mark 9:19). The father explained the condition of his son: “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us” (Mark 9:22).

Based on the father’s reply, his experience with the disciples has caused him to doubt Jesus’ ability. Christ repeated the father’s words: “‘If you can?’ said Jesus. ‘Everything is possible for one who believes’” (Mark 9:23).

After Jesus’ corrective statement, the man cried out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).

Although he believed in Jesus, he also struggled with doubts and weakness in his faith. Jesus immediately demanded that the demon leave the boy and heals him of the painful possession (Mark 9:25-27).

In this conversation between the Lord and the boy’s father, we learn how Jesus helped the man overcome unbelief. By noticing these aspects of the conversation, we can note how Christ helps us with our doubts and questions.

He Points Out Areas of Weakness

In their conversation, Jesus started by pointing out the father’s struggle with doubt. The man had asked Jesus for help but doubted the Lord’s ability: “If you can” (Mark 9:22). Jesus answers this doubt by reminding the man that anything is possible for the one who believes (Mark 9:23).

The problem was that the man was focusing on the challenging circumstance instead of God. He witnessed the disciples’ inability to heal his son and was overwhelmed by the seriousness of his situation.

The man’s son was suffering, and he questioned if Jesus could free his son from the demon. Jesus’ reply allowed the man to see the weakness of his faith, which was the first step in overcoming his doubts.

Like the father of the demon-possessed boy, we often focus on challenging situations and forget the truth of Jesus’ strength.

These circumstances can discourage us, but they can also reveal areas of doubt in our life. Jesus uses these situations to help us recognize our weaknesses, so we can start focusing on His strength.

He Patiently Demonstrates His Power

Christ demonstrated His authority over the spiritual world that day and showed the boy’s father His ability and trustworthiness. Both the disciples and the boy’s father displayed weakness of faith and doubts.

Jesus bemoaned their lack of faith when He said, “’You unbelieving generation,’” … “‘how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?’” (Mark 9:19). He addressed both the crowd and the disciples.

The disciples had repeatedly witnessed Jesus’ miracles that demonstrated His divinity and power. He had power over the elements (Mark 4:41), power over demons (Mark 1:25), and even power over death (Mark 5:41-42).

All these signs served as proof of His identity as the Messiah and Son of God (John 30-31). Similarly, Jesus showed the boy’s father that He is powerful and capable by driving out the demon from the boy.

Importantly, Jesus also dealt with Thomas in a similar way. Thomas was skeptical of the other disciples’ claims that Jesus was resurrected.

He claimed, “Unless I see the nail marks in His hands, and put my finger where the nails have been, and put my hand into His side, I will never believe” (John 20:25, BSB).

When Christ appeared to Thomas, He took care to show the disciple His hands, feet, and side. As He told Thomas, “Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe” (John 20:27).

In His patience with our doubts and questions, Jesus willingly gets down to our level. He shows us His strength and power so that we can overcome our unbelief.

Today, Christians have the complete Word of God. By reading Scripture and seeing Jesus’ faithfulness as our Lord and Savior, we can grow in our faith.

He ensured that the disciples would record His words and deeds for them and future generations of people who would place faith in Him because of the disciples’ testimony (John 14:26; 17:20). Thus, one of the ways Jesus shows us His power today is through His Word.

He Redirects Our Focus on Him

Driving out the demon from the boy, Jesus showed that He is powerful and capable. However, his words to the boy’s father show that the one who has faith trusts that God is capable and willing.

As John D. Grassmick notes in his commentary, “Faith sets no limits on God’s power and submits itself to His will” (“Mark,” Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament Edition).

Jesus knew that He could and would heal the boy despite the faith of the father. Yet, in most instances in the gospel accounts, Jesus focuses on the individual’s faith in Him.

He was just as concerned with a person’s spiritual life as He was with their physical ailments (John 5:13-14; 9:35-41). Our Lord cared about the boy’s physical oppression by a demon and the father’s struggle with unbelief.

Instead of focusing on doubts and the assumed “strength” of our own faith, we must focus on God and His strength. Followers of Christ are not immune from hardships that shake their faith. Paul struggled with a “thorn in the flesh” that made him feel weak.

The Lord told him, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Our weakness and struggle with faith point us back to our need for Jesus because our strength and faith come from Him.

When we experience unbelief, Jesus brings our focus back on Himself instead of focusing on the situation or our perceived ability.

Why Does This Matter?

In the moments when we experience unbelief, Jesus helps us understand our need for Him. He shows us our weakness in contrast to His power. All our self-sufficiency and perceived strength fade away, and we are left fully aware of our neediness.

Scripture reminds us that “if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself” (2 Timothy 2:13). Despite our weakness and doubts, Jesus continues to stay faithful. He helps us overcome our unbelief by reminding us of our need for Him and redirecting our focus on Him.

How Powerful Is the Devil?

This is something we should all think about.

In a message addressed to the king of Tyre, but obviously meant for Satan, we have these words, “You were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… You were the anointed cherub who covers; I established you; you were on the holy mountain of God… You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity was found in you” (Ezekiel 28:12-15).

And in Isaiah, “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!… For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God… I will be like the Most High'” (Isaiah 14:12-14).

Satan was the highest of the created beings. As such, he is extraordinarily powerful. He is also subtle, deceitful, vile, and hateful beyond imagination. Jesus called him the “prince of this earth” and the “father of lies.” (See John 8:44)

His name Lucifer means “the light one.” His name Satan means the “adversary.” His name Beelzebub, according to some, means the “lord of the flies” or the “restless lord.” His name Apollyon means “destroyer.” (See Unger’s Bible Handbook, Chicago: Moody Press, 1966, p. 520-521.) The apostle Peter said that he is like a roaring lion going to and fro seeking whom he may devour (see 1 Peter 5:8).

Christians must remember that Satan appears as “an angel of light” — very beautiful, very seductive, very appealing (2 Corinthians 11:14). His initial appearance is not that of some hideously deformed creature. That view comes later. Satan’s guile and power notwithstanding, every Christian has the power, in the name of Jesus, to resist him and to overcome him. Jesus gave His disciples authority over all the power of the enemy (see 1 John 3:8, Luke 10:19, and James 4:7).

Excerpt taken from Answers to 200 of Life’s Most Probing Questions, Copyright 1984 by Pat Robertson. 

Who Really wrote the Dead Sea scrolls?

In November 1946, as the sun slowly rose over the Judean Desert, three Bedouin cousins went looking for a lost goat in the hills close to the Dead Sea. Intent on finding the animal, they stumbled instead on some of the most important religious texts in the ancient world—the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some 100,000 fragments from around 900 manuscripts, found in 11 caves, have been discovered to date, and new scroll fragments continue to be found to this day. 

Written on animal parchment and papyrus, most of the manuscripts are sectarian, though about 100 of them are biblical text, providing insight into the Bible and shedding light on the histories of Judaism and Christianity. Every book of the Hebrew canon—the Christian Old Testament—are among the texts (except Esther). They also contain previously unknown prayers, hymns, mystical formulas, and the earliest version of the Ten Commandments.

The Dead Sea Scrolls are estimated to be 2,000 years old. While their authenticity is not in doubt, what remains a mystery is their authorship. In this ancient whodunnit, here are some possibilities.

First theories 

The Essenes, a monastic Jewish sect that lived in a nearby desert complex known in Arabic as Khirbet Qumran (ruins of Qumran), is the most common answer among scholars. This notion was set forth by Roland de Vaux, a French archaeologist who, with an international team, excavated Qumran between 1952 and 1957. He came to this conclusion in a couple of ways.

Flavius Josephus, a first-century Romano-Jewish historian who would have known the Essenes, wrote about them in his book, The History of the Jews. Millenia later, De Vaux matched Josephus’ descriptions with those of the region’s inhabitants written in the newly discovered scrolls. Similarities include communal living, wearing linen shifts, and ritual bathing.

Josephus wrote, for example, that at the fifth hour, after “they have clothed themselves in white veils, they then bathe their bodies in cold water.” And indeed, de Vaux and his team excavated a number of mikva’ot (the plural of the Hebrew word mikveh) on the site. These ritual baths would contain around 85 gallons of mostly “living water”—rain or seawater that had not been stored—enabling members to immerse themselves at set times of the day. These common rituals surely confirmed the Essenes and the locals were one and the same, no?

Furthermore, Josephus wrote the Essenes “take great pains in studying the writings of the ancients, and choose out of them what is most for the advantage of their soul and body.” That must be a reference to the sea scrolls, right?

De Vaux concluded the scrolls’ authors had lived in Qumran, since 11 scrolls were discovered close to the site. And, since the Essenes had lived in Qumran, they and the scroll authors appeared to be one and the same.

Debating identities

And yet, many scholars contest the identification of the Qumran community as Essene. For example, many devoutly observant Jews, not just the Essenes, practiced ritual immersion in mikva’ot. In addition, Josephus describes the Essenes as an urban phenomenon rather than a community of hermits in the desert. The Jewish philosopher Philo seems to agree, writing that the Essenes lived “in many cities of Judea and in many villages and grouped in great societies of many members.”

Furthermore, a growing number of scholars have suggested that the people who hid the scrolls around Khirbet Qumran may not be the same people who wrote the scrolls. In fact, given that the Dead Sea Scrolls encompass nearly the full range of the Hebrew Bible, some historians believe that it is almost impossible for a remote, small group of scribes to have written such a large corpus.

Jerusalem origins? 

Some scholars argue it is far more likely that many—if not all of the scrolls—were written by professional scribes working in the Temple in Jerusalem. This so-called “Jerusalem Origin Theory” was first advanced in 1960 by the German theologian Karl Heinrich Rengstorf, who argued that the scrolls must have formed part of an extensive library maintained at the Temple.

The American scholar Norman Golb took this a step further and suggested that the scrolls were evacuated from a number of libraries in Jerusalem and Judea at large as the Roman army under General Titus approached Jerusalem around 70 A.D.

New technology, including artificial intelligence–based analysis of handwriting conducted at the Netherland’s University of Groningen in 2021, bolsters this theory. For example, the research found that different forms of script, and the varying biomechanical behaviour of wielding a pen, show that more than one scribe may have worked on the same Great Isaiah Scroll. Careful analysis of the text has also identified subtle changes in the style of Hebrew, or in the Aramaic, Greek, or even Nabatean of other documents.

Another question is the presence of many duplicates of certain biblical books; why copy more than one version if the scroll was only for local use? The fact that the scrolls represent a near-complete collection of Hebrew Scripture also seems to suggest a more prominent source than a remote breakaway sect.

Reaching compromises  

Some modern archaeologists believe the Essenes authored some of the Dead Sea Scrolls, but not all. Recent evidence suggests that during the Roman siege of Jerusalem, when the Temple and much of the city was destroyed, Jews may have escaped to safety through sewers. Researchers have found artefacts, including pottery and coins, in the sewers dating from this time of siege—sewers that lead to the Valley of Kidron, a short distance from the Dead Sea … and Qumran. Perhaps some of the Dead Sea Scrolls travelled this way as well.

Another clue to the compromise theory is the pottery in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were found. According to Jan Gunneweg of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, like DNA, no clay on Earth has the exact chemical composition so the specific area in which pottery was made can be determined. Her conclusion: Only half of the pottery that held Dead Sea Scrolls is local to Qumran.

Gaining new insights

Modern scientific testing has added to the debate. In recent years, the scrolls have also been analysed by linguistic experts, who proposed a date range from 225 B.C. to A.D. 50, based on the style of writing as well as the size and variability of the characters. This appears to roughly match the later carbon dating of the inks, which were made of carbon soot from oil lamps mixed with olive oil and honey or water.

These tests produced a date range between 385 B.C. and A.D. 80, which would extend the origins of the Dead Sea Scrolls well beyond the estimated occupation of the Qumran settlement.

The bottom line: Research is still ongoing and the debates continue to fly. What’s not debated is that the Dead Sea Scrolls provide a rare glimpse into the first-century Jewish world, whoever their authors were.

Do Christians Need Government?

Government was instituted by God to bring His laws to people and to carry out His will and purposes. In the Old Testament, government maintained the place of worship, provided judges to decide civil cases between the people, restrained and punished lawbreakers, and mobilized the nation for action against external enemies.

The first government was a theocracy, where God dealt directly with the people. When God was in charge of things, no other government was necessary.

He worked through the family, clan, or tribe. The father or patriarch acted as the agent of God for the rest of the family.

During the period of the judges the people became rebellious, and clear direction from God was lacking. Both religious and civil life became confused, and “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 17:6, Judges 21:25).

At the close of the period of the judges, God raised up Samuel, who was both a prophet and a judge. At that time, the formal religious life of the country was under the direction of the high priest. During Samuel’s administration, the people asked for a king, and God gave them a monarchy which rose to its height during the reign of David and his son Solomon (1 Samuel 8:4-5, 1 Samuel 19-20, 1 Kings 9:3-5, 1 Kings 10:23).

When the perfect government is established during the Millennium, Jesus Christ will combine in Himself the offices of prophet, priest, and king.

This will be a perfect theocracy, made possible because the perfect law of God will be universally accepted by all mankind, and “the earth shall be full of knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). Perfect government comes from God and is controlled by God.

Short of that, the next best government is a limited democracy in which the people acknowledge rights given by God but voluntarily grant government limited power to do those things the people cannot do individually. Contrast these forms of government with Communism, which maintains that the dictatorship of the proletariat is supreme and an essential evolution of history; that God does not exist; and that citizens have only those privileges granted by the state.

SCOTUS rules on pastor’s role in execution

Texas likely violated the religious liberties of a death row prisoner when it denied the man’s request to have his pastor touch him and pray over him during his execution, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Thursday.

In an 8-1 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the high court found that Texas’ policy disallowing John Ramirez’s request was an unnecessary burden to a religious exercise. Justice Clarence Thomas was the lone dissenter.

“[Texas fails] to show that a categorical ban on audible prayer is the least restrictive means of furthering this compelling interest, and they do not explain why other jurisdictions can accommodate audible prayer but Texas cannot feasibly do so,” Roberts wrote in the majority opinion.

Ramirez’s execution, originally set for September but halted while the court weighed the case, can now be rescheduled, providing the Texas prison system changes its policy to allow touch and prayer in the death chamber. Texas prison officials said in a statement that the agency “respected the court’s decision and will be making appropriate modifications to our practices to align with today’s ruling.”

The decision comes months after the court heard arguments on the case and follows years of back-and-forth between the high court and the Texas prison system over the religious rights of prisoners set for execution. The Supreme Court has repeatedly blocked Texas executions over concerns that the state was not equally and fairly accommodating condemned prisoners’ religious liberties, which are protected by federal statute.

Challenges to the state’s religious accommodations have prompted the high court to stop several executions in recent years, even as it rejected last-ditch appeals to stop about a dozen other Texas executions for reasons including a prisoner’s youth at the time of murder, or claims of false testimony or junk science presented at trial.

The justices halted the execution of Ramirez, a 37-year-old sentenced to die for the robbery and fatal stabbing of a Corpus Christi store clerk in 2004, hours after he was set to die in September. Texas prison officials had denied his request to have pastor lay hands on him and pray over him as he died, claiming it would involve security risks, though the state later told the justices that the risk of disruption was likely low.

Since the justices opted to hear Ramirez’s case last September, one man has been executed in Texas, but several other executions have been rescheduled or taken off the calendar while waiting for the court to resolve the religious rights question. Four people are scheduled to be executed in the state between April and August.

During oral arguments in November on Ramirez’s case, several conservative justices seemed concerned that ruling for Ramirez, and again ordering Texas to change its execution policy, could increase their own workload. They theorized that deciding Ramirez should be allowed to be touched by his pastor would open the door for other prisoners to bring forth personalized requests.

“If we rule in your favor here, this is going to be a heavy part of our docket for years to come,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who previously penned the court’s sole opinion against religious limitations in Texas executions, told the prisoner’s attorney.

Texas’ procedure for allowing religion in the execution chamber has undergone several iterations in the last few years, after repeated guidance from the high court. For decades, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice allowed its staff chaplains to rest a hand on a prisoner’s leg and pray quietly during an execution, but the agency only employed Christian and Muslim advisers.

After multiple orders by the justices halting executions over concerns of religious discrimination and violation of liberties, the department’s policy now allows prisoners’ personal religious advisers to be in the death chamber — provided they clear a background check and orientation — but they can’t touch the prisoners or speak.

A “call from God” prevents a suicide attempt.

One Saturday night, a pastor was working late and decided to call his wife before he left for home. It was about 10:00 PM, but his wife didn’t answer the phone.
The pastor let it ring many times. He thought it was odd that she didn’t answer but decided to wrap up a few things and try again in a few minutes.
When he tried again, she answered right away. He asked her why she hadn’t answered before, and she said that it hadn’t rung at their house. They brushed it off as a fluke and went on their merry ways.
The following Monday, the pastor received a call at the church office, which was the phone that he’d used that Saturday night. The man that he spoke with wanted to know why he’d called on Saturday night. The pastor couldn’t figure out what the man was talking about. Then the man said, “It rang and rang, but I didn’t answer.”
The pastor remembered the mishap and apologized for disturbing him, explaining that he’d intended to call his wife. The man said, “That’s okay. Let me tell you my story. You see, I was planning to commit suicide on Saturday night, but before I did, I prayed, ‘God if you’re there, and you don’t want me to do this, give me a sign now.’
At that point, my phone started to ring. I looked at the caller ID, and it said, ‘Almighty God’. I was afraid to answer!” The church that the pastor attends is called Almighty God Tabernacle.

The Bible in 50 Words

God made.
Adam bit.
Noah arked.
Abraham split. Jacob fooled.
Joseph ruled.
Bush talked.
Moses balked. Pharaoh plagued.
People walked.
Sea divided.
Tablets guided. Promise landed.
Saul freaked.
David peeked. Prophets warned.
Jesus born.
God walked.
Love talked. Anger crucified.
Hope died.
Love rose. Spirit flamed.
Word spread.
God remained.

The Prince who became a monk

Throughout the extensive history of the Church, there have been numerous events of lasting significance.

Each week brings anniversaries of impressive milestones, unforgettable tragedies, amazing triumphs, memorable births, notable deaths and everything in between.

Some of the events drawn from over 2,000 years of history might be familiar, while other happenings might be previously unknown by most people.

The following pages highlight anniversaries of memorable events that occurred this week — March 20 through Mach 26 — in Christian history. 

This week marks the anniversary of when Thomas Cranmer, a leader of the English Reformation credited with helping craft the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer, was executed.

Cranmer served as the Archbishop of Canterbury during the reign of King Henry VIII and helped oversee the Church of England’s break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Cranmer was tried for treason under Catholic monarch Queen Mary I, partly because of his beliefs and partially because he supported Lady Jane Grey’s claim to the throne.

“After a long trial and imprisonment, he was forced to proclaim to the public his error in the support of Protestantism, an act designed to discourage followers of the religion,” noted BBC.

“Despite this, Cranmer was sentenced to be burnt to death in Oxford on 21 March 1556. He dramatically stuck his right hand, with which he had signed his recantation, into the fire first.”

This week marks the anniversary of when 80-year-old Prince Stefan Nemanja of Serbia abdicated his throne and became an Orthodox Christian monk.

A ruler known for fighting multiple wars and for building Orthodox monasteries, Prince Stefan transferred his royal authority to one of his sons at a council held in Ras.

“After his abdication, Nemanja took the name Symeon. He joined another son, Sava, at the famous monastic community at Mount Athos, Greece,” states the Christian History Institute.

“There Symeon and Sava acquired a decayed monastery, Hilander (also transliterated ‘Chilander’), which they refurbished and expanded to house a Serbian religious community. Within a decade, its numbers had swelled to two hundred monks. Because of the monks’ learning, it became a cultural magnet for Serbia.”

The Christian History Institute reports that while sources differ on the exact date of the prince’s abdication, “all agree the event took place on the 23rd or 25th of March in either 1195 (O.S.) or 1196 (if the new calendar is retroactively followed).”

This week marks the anniversary of Francis Asbury, a Methodist bishop and circuit rider known for spreading Methodism in the United States, preaching his final sermon.

During his ministry career, Asbury had reportedly traveled around 300,000 miles, preached over 16,000 sermons and ordained around 4,000 clergy during his ministry.

Asbury gave his final sermon at a church in Richmond, Virginia, apparently so weak from illness that he had to be carried from his bed to the pulpit, where he sat on a table.

“Asbury often had to stop and catch his breath during his hour-long sermon,” recounted the Association of Religion Data Archives.

“A week later, his death became imminent at the Spotsylvania home of his old friend George Arnold. With loved ones surrounding him, Asbury lifted both hands to the sky and breathed his last breath.”

Peter 3:12: The Lord’s face?

This verse continues Peter’s reference to David’s Psalm 34, verses 12–16. What David wrote describes the very specific choices made by those who want to love life and see good days.

Peter cites David’s words after declaring that Christians must not try to “even the score,” when insulted or treated with evil intent. Instead, we must give a blessing in exchange (1 Peter 3:9). In these verses, Peter shows how this is to our benefit. Those who want to love life and see good days refuse to use words to harm even those who have harmed them (1 Peter 3:10) and, instead, turn from evil and do good, searching for and chasing peace (1 Peter 3:11).

Finally, in this verse, Peter affirms David’s statement that God sees all of this. He is watching. He is paying attention. He knows, and He cares about those set apart for His purposes. Specifically, God is paying attention to the righteous. Peter has already made it clear that Jesus, perfectly righteous, paid the penalty for our sin when he died on the cross (1 Peter 2:22–24). Paul adds that those who trust in Christ have been made righteous by what He has done for us (Romans 3:21–25).

So God is paying attention to all Christians, to all who are His people in Jesus. His ears are open to our prayers. He is ready and willing to hear us as we reject the option to repay evil with evil, and choose instead to give good. We are to seek peace. But God also notices those who do evil. David’s and Peter’s words are meant as a comfort: God does not simply ignore the hurtful actions of those who bring suffering to His people. His face is against the evil ones. Justice will come (Romans 12:19).

Chapter Context
Peter continues teaching about Christian submission to human authorities, now addressing Christian wives. Believing wives must be subject to their own husbands, even if the husband is not a follower of Christ. By doing so, they might win them to Christ through the example of their own changed lives and hearts. Christian husbands must honor their wives. All believers must live in unity together and refuse to seek revenge. In part, God means to use our hopeful response to suffering to provoke the world to see His power in us. Christ, too, suffered and then died, was resurrected, and ascended to heaven.

Context Summary
1 Peter 3:8–22 addresses all believers, commanding Christians to be unified and to refuse to seek revenge when wronged. Peter quotes from both David and Isaiah to show that God’s people have always been called to reject evil and to do good. This is true even when we are suffering. In fact, it may be God’s will for His people to suffer, in part, to demonstrate His power. Our good example can convict others into repentance. Christ, too, suffered, died, was resurrected, and ascended to power and authority in heaven.

Breaking down Revelation 1:7

In this verse John looks forward to the second coming of Jesus Christ. It is important not to confuse the second coming with the rapture. The rapture occurs when Jesus comes in the sky and catches up Christians from the earth to be with Him. The rapture is a secret event, in the sense that only those who are saved will see Jesus. On the other hand, the second coming is a public event. John declares that every eye will see Jesus at the second coming.

Also, the tribes of Israel will have undergone a national revival when Jesus comes again. There is no mention of such a revival before the rapture. John recalls what Zechariah had prophesied about Israel’s revival when Jesus comes to earth again. Zechariah 12:10 prophesies, “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” Likely, John remembers what the angel told him and the other apostles when Jesus ascended into heaven. The angel promised that Jesus would come again in the same way as He went into heaven. Then, Jesus ascended in a cloud from the Mount of Olives (Acts 1:11–12), and at His second coming He will return in the clouds to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 24:29–30).

John’s joyful anticipation of Jesus’ return to earth caused him to exclaim, “Even so. Amen” (Revelation 1:7). We, too, should eagerly anticipate the second coming, because Jesus will reign over the earth, and we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12).

Context Summary
Revelation 1:4–8 identifies John’s audience as the seven churches in Asia. John addresses these churches with a greeting from the triune God, and he ascribes praise to Jesus. Jesus is coming in glory, John declares, and His coming will be visible to everyone. At that time, the tribes of Israel will express remorse because of His crucifixion. John concludes this passage by quoting Jesus as saying He is the beginning, the eternal Almighty One.

Chapter Summary
The Roman government had banished John to the island of Patmos in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey. While John was at Patmos, the risen, glorified Son of God appeared to him and commanded him to write ”the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this” (Revelation 1:19). John pronounces blessings to those who read and obey Revelation, and then he greets his readers warmly and describes Jesus’ appearance.