The BIBLETEXTS Online Bible Commentary

Excerpts that are relevant to the Bible Lesson for Sunday, January 4, 1998

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TEV - Today's English Version heading and whole paragraph/s - (Copyright 1976, 1992, American Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Since the two software editions of the TEV both use the 1976 edition, usually the TEV texts are taken from the 1976 edition. The 1992 edition is used only when it provides a significantly clearer translation.)

NRSV - New Revised Standard Version texts - (Copyright, 1989, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the USA. Used by permission. All rights reserved.)

KJV/Strong's - Strong's numbers for the words in the King James Version (KJV) texts - (from the ABS Reference Bible CDROM, American Bible Society. Used by permission.) For a listing of some Bible study resources that are keyed to the Strong's number system, browse or click on

Textual and exegetical commentary, and cross references - Commentary: by Robert Nguyen Cramer, unless otherwise noted. Cross references: mostly from various American Bible Society materials

<GT> I Corinthians 8

"The Question about Food Offered to Idols" (TEV) - 4 So then, about eating the food offered to idols: we know that an idol stands for something that does not really exist; we know that there is only the one God. 5 Even if there are so-called "gods," whether in heaven or on earth, and even though there are many of these "gods" and "lords," 6 yet there is for us only one God, the Father, who is the Creator of all things and for whom we live; and there is only one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created and through whom we live.

<RR> Exodus 15

"The Song of Moses" (TEV) - 1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD: "I will sing to the LORD, because he has won a glorious victory; he has thrown the horses and their riders into the sea. 2 The LORD is my strong defender; he is the one who has saved me. He is my God, and I will praise him, my father's God, and I will sing about his greatness. 3 The LORD is a warrior; the LORD is his name.

6 "Your right hand, LORD, is awesome in power; it breaks the enemy in pieces. 7 In majestic triumph you overthrow your foes; your anger blazes out and burns them up like straw. 8 You blew on the sea and the water piled up high; it stood up straight like a wall; the deepest part of the sea became solid. 9 The enemy said, "I will pursue them and catch them; I will divide their wealth and take all I want; I will draw my sword and take all they have." 10 But one breath from you, LORD, and the Egyptians were drowned; they sank like lead in the terrible water.

11 "LORD, who among the gods is like you? Who is like you, wonderful in holiness? Who can work miracles and mighty acts like yours? 12 You stretched out your right hand, and the earth swallowed our enemies. 13 Faithful to your promise, you led the people you had rescued; by your strength you guided them to your sacred land. 14 The nations have heard, and they tremble with fear; the Philistines are seized with terror.

15 The leaders of Edom are terrified; Moab's mighty men are trembling; the people of Canaan lose their courage. 16 Terror and dread fall upon them. They see your strength, O LORD, and stand helpless with fear until your people have marched past -- the people you set free from slavery. 17 You bring them in and plant them on your mountain, the place that you, LORD, have chosen for your home, the Temple that you yourself have built. 18 You, LORD, will be king forever and ever."

<B1> Psalm 145

"A Hymn of Praise" (TEV) - 1 I will proclaim your greatness, my God and king; I will thank you forever and ever. 2 Every day I will thank you; I will praise you forever and ever. 3 The LORD is great and is to be highly praised; his greatness is beyond understanding.

4 What you have done will be praised from one generation to the next; they will proclaim your mighty acts. 5 They will speak of your glory and majesty, and I will meditate on your wonderful deeds. 6 People will speak of your mighty deeds, and I will proclaim your greatness. 7 They will tell about all your goodness and sing about your kindness. 8 The LORD is loving and merciful, slow to become angry and full of constant love. 9 He is good to everyone and has compassion on all he made.

<B2> Psalm 107

"In Praise of God's Goodness" (TEV) - 4 Some wandered in the trackless desert and could not find their way to a city to live in. 5 They were hungry and thirsty and had given up all hope. 6 Then in their trouble they called to the LORD, and he saved them from their distress. 7 He led them by a straight road to a city where they could live. 8 They must thank the LORD for his constant love, for the wonderful things he did for them. 9 He satisfies those who are thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.

<B3> Psalm 86

"A Prayer for Help" (TEV) - 8 There is no god like you, O Lord, not one has done what you have done. 9 All the nations that you have created will come and bow down to you; they will praise your greatness. 10 You are mighty and do wonderful things; you alone are God.

<B4> Acts 17

"In Athens" (TEV) - 22 Paul stood up in front of the city council and said, "I see that in every way you Athenians are very religious. 23 For as I walked through your city and looked at the places where you worship, I found an altar on which is written, "To an Unknown God.' That which you worship, then, even though you do not know it, is what I now proclaim to you. 24 God, who made the world and everything in it, is Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in man-made temples. 25 Nor does he need anything that we can supply by working for him, since it is he himself who gives life and breath and everything else to everyone.

26 From one man he created all races of mankind and made them live throughout the whole earth. He himself fixed beforehand the exact times and the limits of the places where they would live. 27 He did this so that they would look for him, and perhaps find him as they felt around for him. Yet God is actually not far from any one of us; 28 as someone has said, "In him we live and move and exist.' It is as some of your poets have said, "We too are his children.' 29 Since we are God's children, we should not suppose that his nature is anything like an image of gold or silver or stone, shaped by the art and skill of man. 30 God has overlooked the times when people did not know him, but now he commands all of them everywhere to turn away from their evil ways.

<B5> Psalm 21

"Praise for Victory" (TEV) - 13 We praise you, LORD, for your great strength! We will sing and praise your power.

<B6> I Kings 18

"Elijah and the Prophets of Baal" (TEV) - 20 So Ahab summoned all the Israelites and the prophets of Baal to meet at Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went up to the people and said, "How much longer will it take you to make up your minds? If the LORD is God, worship him; but if Baal is God, worship him!" But the people didn't say a word. 22 Then Elijah said, "I am the only prophet of the LORD still left, but there are 450 prophets of Baal. 23 Bring two bulls; let the prophets of Baal take one, kill it, cut it in pieces, and put it on the wood -- but don't light the fire. I will do the same with the other bull. 24 Then let the prophets of Baal pray to their god, and I will pray to the LORD, and the one who answers by sending fire -- he is God." The people shouted their approval.

25 Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Since there are so many of you, you take a bull and prepare it first. Pray to your god, but don't set fire to the wood." 26 They took the bull that was brought to them, prepared it, and prayed to Baal until noon. They shouted, "Answer us, Baal!" and kept dancing around the altar they had built. But no answer came.

30 Then Elijah said to the people, "Come closer to me," and they all gathered around him. He set about repairing the altar of the LORD which had been torn down. 31 He took twelve stones, one for each of the twelve tribes named for the sons of Jacob, the man to whom the LORD had given the name Israel. 32 With these stones he rebuilt the altar for the worship of the LORD. He dug a trench around it, large enough to hold about four gallons of water. 33 Then he placed the wood on the altar, cut the bull in pieces, and laid it on the wood. He said, "Fill four jars with water and pour it on the offering and the wood." They did so, 34 and he said, "Do it again" -- and they did. "Do it once more," he said -- and they did. 35 The water ran down around the altar and filled the trench.

36 At the hour of the afternoon sacrifice the prophet Elijah approached the altar and prayed, "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, prove now that you are the God of Israel and that I am your servant and have done all this at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me, so that this people will know that you, the LORD, are God and that you are bringing them back to yourself."(U)

38 The LORD sent fire down, and it burned up the sacrifice, the wood, and the stones, scorched the earth and dried up the water in the trench. 39 When the people saw this, they threw themselves on the ground and exclaimed, "The LORD is God; the LORD alone is God!" 40 Elijah ordered, "Seize the prophets of Baal; don't let any of them get away!" The people seized them all, and Elijah led them down to Kishon Brook and killed them.

<B7> Acts 15

"The Meeting at Jerusalem" (TEV) - 16 "After this I will return, says the Lord, and restore the kingdom of David. I will rebuild its ruins and make it strong again. 17 And so all the rest of mankind will come to me, all the Gentiles whom I have called to be my own. So says the Lord, who made this 18 known long ago.'

<B8> Proverbs 2

"The Rewards of Wisdom" (TEV) - 1 Son, learn what I teach you and never forget what I tell you to do. 2 Listen to what is wise and try to understand it. 3 Yes, beg for knowledge; plead for insight. 4 Look for it as hard as you would for silver or some hidden treasure. 5 If you do, you will know what it means to fear the LORD and you will succeed in learning about God. 6 It is the LORD who gives wisdom; from him come knowledge and understanding. 7 He provides help and protection for righteous, honest men. 8 He protects those who treat others fairly, and guards those who are devoted to him.

<B9> Proverbs 3

"Advice to Young Men" (TEV) - 5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart. Never rely on what you think you know. 6 Remember the LORD in everything you do, and he will show you the right way. 7 Never let yourself think that you are wiser than you are; simply obey the LORD and refuse to do wrong. 8 If you do, it will be like good medicine, healing your wounds and easing your pains. 9 Honor the LORD by making him an offering from the best of all that your land produces. 10 If you do, your barns will be filled with grain, and you will have too much wine to store it all.

<B10> Isaiah 30

"God Will Bless His People" (TEV) - 19 You people who live in Jerusalem will not weep any more. The LORD is compassionate, and when you cry to him for help, he will answer you. 20 The Lord will make you go through hard times, but he himself will be there to teach you, and you will not have to search for him any more. 21 If you wander off the road to the right or the left, you will hear his voice behind you saying, "Here is the road. Follow it." 22 You will take your idols plated with silver and your idols covered with gold, and will throw them away like filth, shouting, "Out of my sight!" 23 Whenever you plant your crops, the Lord will send rain to make them grow and will give you a rich harvest, and your livestock will have plenty of pasture. 24 The oxen and donkeys that plow your fields will eat the finest and best fodder.

<B11> Jeremiah 23

"Jeremiah's Message about the Prophets" (TEV) - 23 "I am a God who is everywhere and not in one place only. 24 No one can hide where I cannot see him. Do you not know that I am everywhere in heaven and on earth? 25 I know what those prophets have said who speak lies in my name and claim that I have given them my messages in their dreams. 26 How much longer will those prophets mislead my people with the lies they have invented? 27 They think that the dreams they tell will make my people forget me, just as their fathers forgot me and turned to Baal. 28 The prophet who has had a dream should say it is only a dream, but the prophet who has heard my message should proclaim that message faithfully. What good is straw compared with wheat? 29 My message is like a fire and like a hammer that breaks rocks in pieces.

<B12> Psalm 75

"God the Judge" (TEV) - 1 We give thanks to you, O God, we give thanks to you! We proclaim how great you are and tell of(G) the wonderful things you have done.

<B13> Psalm 139

"God's Complete Knowledge and Care" (TEV) - 7 Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence? 8 If I went up to heaven, you would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there. 9 If I flew away beyond the east or lived in the farthest place in the west, 10 you would be there to lead me, you would be there to help me. 11 I could ask the darkness to hide me or the light around me to turn into night, 12 but even darkness is not dark for you, and the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are the same to you.

<B14> Psalm 91

"God Our Protector" (TEV) - 1 Whoever goes to the LORD for safety, whoever remains under the protection of the Almighty, 2 can say to him, "You are my defender and protector. You are my God; in you I trust." 3 He will keep you safe from all hidden dangers and from all deadly diseases. 4 He will cover you with his wings; you will be safe in his care; his faithfulness will protect and defend you. 5 You need not fear any dangers at night or sudden attacks during the day 6 or the plagues that strike in the dark or the evils that kill in daylight.

9 You have made the LORD your(H) defender, the Most High your protector, 10 and so no disaster will strike you, no violence will come near your home. 11 God will put his angels in charge of you to protect you wherever you go. 12 They will hold you up with their hands to keep you from hurting your feet on the stones. 13 You will trample down lions and snakes, fierce lions and poisonous snakes.

<B15> Isaiah 35

"The Road of Holiness" (TEV) - 1 The desert will rejoice, and flowers will bloom in the wastelands. 2 The desert will sing and shout for joy; it will be as beautiful as the Lebanon Mountains and as fertile as the fields of Carmel and Sharon. Everyone will see the LORD's splendor, see his greatness and power. 3 Give strength to hands that are tired and to knees that tremble with weakness. 4 Tell everyone who is discouraged, "Be strong and don't be afraid! God is coming to your rescue, coming to punish your enemies."

5 The blind will be able to see, and the deaf will hear. 6 The lame will leap and dance, and those who cannot speak will shout for joy. Streams of water will flow through the desert; 7 the burning sand will become a lake, and dry land will be filled with springs. Where jackals used to live, marsh grass and reeds will grow.

<B16> John 5

"The Healing at the Pool" (TEV) - 1 After this, Jesus went to Jerusalem for a religious festival. 2 Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool(H) with five porches; in Hebrew it is called Bethzatha.(I)

3 A large crowd of sick people were lying on the porches -- the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed.(J) 5 A man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6 Jesus saw him lying there, and he knew that the man had been sick for such a long time; so he asked him, "Do you want to get well?"

7 The sick man answered, "Sir, I don't have anyone here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am trying to get in, somebody else gets there first."

8 Jesus said to him, "Get up, pick up your mat, and walk." 9 Immediately the man got well; he picked up his mat and started walking. The day this happened was a Sabbath, 10 so the Jewish authorities told the man who had been healed, "This is a Sabbath, and it is against our Law for you to carry your mat." 11 He answered, "The man who made me well told me to pick up my mat and walk." 12 They asked him, "Who is the man who told you to do this?" 13 But the man who had been healed did not know who Jesus was, for there was a crowd in that place, and Jesus had slipped away.

<B17> Isaiah 2

"Everlasting Peace" (TEV) - 2 In days to come the mountain where the Temple stands will be the highest one of all, towering above all the hills. Many nations will come streaming to it, 3 and their people will say, "Let us go up the hill of the LORD,(D) to the Temple of Israel's God. He will teach us what he wants us to do; we will walk in the paths he has chosen. For the LORD's teaching comes from Jerusalem; from Zion he speaks to his people."

4 He will settle disputes among great nations. They will hammer their swords into plows and their spears into pruning knives. Nations will never again go to war, never prepare for battle again. 5 Now, descendants of Jacob, let us walk in the light which the LORD gives us!

<B18> Colossians 3

"The Old Life and the New" (TEV) - 12 You are the people of God; he loved you and chose you for his own. So then, you must clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Be tolerant with one another and forgive one another whenever any of you has a complaint against someone else. You must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven you. 14 And to all these qualities add love, which binds all things together in perfect unity. 15 The peace that Christ gives is to guide you in the decisions you make; for it is to this peace that God has called you together in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Christ's message in all its richness must live in your hearts. Teach and instruct one another with all wisdom. Sing psalms, hymns, and sacred songs; sing to God with thanksgiving in your hearts.

<B19> II Corinthians 13

"Final Warnings and Greetings" (TEV) - 11 And now, my brothers, good-bye! Strive for perfection; listen to my appeals; agree with one another; live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 12 Greet one another with a brotherly kiss. 13 All of God's people send you their greetings. 14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


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