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Contact me at Mom25dogs@gmail.com

Friday, March 25, 2016


Easter - a Christian religious holiday to celebrate the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent, a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance. The week before Easter is called Holy Week, and it contains the days of the Easter Triduum, including Maundy Thursday, commemorating the Maundy and Last Supper, as well as Good Friday, commemorating the crucifixion and death of Jesus. In western Christianity, Eastertide, the Easter Season, begins on Easter Sunday and lasts seven weeks, ending with the coming of the fiftieth day, Pentecost Sunday.

Easter Tridium - Easter Triduum, Holy Triduum, Paschal Triduum, or The Three Days - is the period of three days that begins with the liturgy on the evening of Maundy Thursday (the vigil of Good Friday) and ends with evening prayer on Easter Sunday. As such, the Easter Triduum runs from the evening of Maundy Thursday (excluding most of Thursday) to the evening of Resurrection Sunday. It recalls the passion, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, as portrayed in the canonical Gospels.

Maundy Thursday - also known as Holy Thursday, Covenant Thursday, Great and Holy Thursday, Sheer Thursday, and Thursday of Mysteries - is the Christian holy day falling on the Thursday before Easter. It commemorates the Maundy and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles as described in the Canonical gospels. It is the fifth day of Holy Week, and is preceded by Holy Wednesday and followed by Good Friday.

Maundy (from Latin mandatum or mendicare) - Washing of the Feet - is a religious rite observed by several Christian denominations. John 13:1–17 mentions Jesus performing this act. Specifically, in verses 13:14–17, He instructs them: 14 "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. 15 For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. 16 Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." It is a ceremony practiced in the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches. In the protestant denominations, some literally practice this and some rarely do. Among groups that do not observe foot washing as an ordinance or rite, the example of Jesus is usually held to be symbolic and didactic. Among these groups, foot washing is nevertheless sometimes literally practiced. First, some reserve it to be a practice of hospitality or a work of necessity. Secondly, some present it as a dramatic lesson acted out in front of the congregation.

Last Supper - is the final meal that, in the Gospel accounts, Jesus shared with his Apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. It was at this meal that Jesus washed His disciples feet. Jesus taught, prayed and prophesied to His disciples in that last meal. It was His last words and actions with them before He was arrested, tortured and crucified. The Lord's Supper (aka Communion or Eucharist) was instituted by Jesus Christ during his Last Supper. Giving his disciples bread and wine during the Passover meal, Jesus commanded his followers to "do this in memory of me" while referring to the bread as "my body" and the wine as "my blood". Through the Eucharistic celebration, Christians remember Christ's sacrifice of himself once and for all on the cross. For us, today, taking the Lord's Supper (Communion or Eucharist) is a sacrament that we do in remembrance of what Jesus did for us. His words are read and we partake in a yeastless cracker (yeast was used by Jesus to represent sin in one of His teachings, because it spreads and grows) and the juice of the grape (either wine or grape juice). The cracker represents the body of Christ which was sinless and broken for us. The juice represents the blood of Christ that was slain on our behalf.

Good Friday - is the religious holiday we have to remember Jesus was arrested, tortured, mocked, beaten with 39 lashes, a crow of thorns cruelly mashed on his head. He was slapped, mocked, made fun of. Then He was paraded back and forth before the soldiers, people and leaders.

Luke 23:13-25 (Contemporary English Version - CEV) Pilate called together the chief priests, the leaders, and the people. (14) He told them, "You brought Jesus to me and said he was a troublemaker. But I have questioned him here in front of you, and I have not found him guilty of anything that you say he has done. (15) Herod didn't find him guilty either and sent him back. This man doesn't deserve to be put to death! (16) I will just have him beaten with a whip and set free." (17) (SEE 23:16) (18) But the whole crowd shouted, "Kill Jesus! Give us Barabbas!" (19) Now Barabbas was in jail because he had started a riot in the city and had murdered someone. (20) Pilate wanted to set Jesus free, so he spoke again to the crowds. (21) But they kept shouting, "Nail him to a cross! Nail him to a cross!" (22) Pilate spoke to them a third time, "But what crime has he done? I have not found him guilty of anything for which he should be put to death. I will have him beaten with a whip and set free." (23) The people kept on shouting as loud as they could for Jesus to be put to death. (24) Finally, Pilate gave in. (25) He freed the man who was in jail for rioting and murder, because he was the one the crowd wanted to be set free. Then Pilate handed Jesus over for them to do what they wanted with him.

Jesus took the place of the criminal Barabbas who was a rioter and murderer. Jesus, who was without sin, took the place of the sinner, Barabbas. Jesus was forced to carry His own cross (or at least the crossbeam) to the hill of Calvary and He was crucified which is a slow, hideously torturous way to die. This all is represented on Good Friday.

The eight-day festival of Passover is celebrated in the early spring, from the 15th through the 22nd of the Hebrew month of Nissan. It commemorates the emancipation of the Israelites from slavery in ancient Egypt. After many decades of slavery to the Egyptian pharaohs, God saw the people’s distress and sent Moses to Pharaoh with a message: Set my people free! But Pharaoh refused so God sent 10 plagues to change his mind. After each plague, Pharaoh still refused until the last one. The last one was the worst. The Angel of Death went throughout the land killing every firstborn child. God told the Israelite slaves to kill a perfect lamb and paint their doorposts and lintel with the blood of a lamb, one without a spot or blemish. When the Angel of Death saw the blood of the lamb on the door post and lintel, he "passed over" that household without killing the firstborn. After this horror, Pharoah let the Israelites leave. They not only were given the green light, but they gave such gifts and donations to the Israelites to take with them because they were now afraid of them. But it happened so fast, that they were unable to spare the time to let bread rise before baking it. So their bread had no yeast and was flat. It was their version of our "fast food"! How many Israelite slaves were set free that day? The estimates are 600,000 adult males! When you add the females and the numerous children, it would have been well over a million, maybe MILLIONS! God commanded them to set aside a religious holiday in remembrance of this event in their history. The Jewish calendar year begins in late September or early October with the celebration of Rosh Hashana. Unlike our calendar which is based on the solar year, the Jewish calendar uses twelve lunar months of 29 to 30 days in length. The new moon marks the beginning of each month with the full moon occuring halfway through the month. The seventh month in a normal Jewish calendar year is the month of Nisan (also called Abib in the Old Testament). Passover is based on the Jewish calendar, a lunar calendar with twelve 28-day months. Every two or three years, there is a thirteenth month called Adar II included in the calendar. Jewish holidays begin at sundown the day before the date specified for the holiday. Hebrew days begin and end at sundown, Passover begins at sundown on the preceding day.

Leviticus 23: 5-8
In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at twilight (*when God says a new day begins) is Yahweh's Passover. Then on the fifteenth day of the same month there is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to Yahweh; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work. But for seven days you shall present an offering by fire to Yahweh. On the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work.

This passage tells us that the Passover is on the 14th and the Feast of Unleavened Bread begins the 15th; back-to-back. The first day (and the last day) of the Feast of Unleavened Bread is a Sabbath. This is a “special” Sabbath, also called a “high Sabbath”. Therefore, the Sabbath for which Jesus had to be removed from the cross was the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, not the weekly Sabbath. Unlike the weekly Sabbath that is every Friday night to Saturday night, this special Sabbath can fall on any day of the week.

Passover is not a Sabbath. It is the day of preparation for the High Sabbath (the first day of the Seven Day Feast of Unleavened Bread. Jesus died on Passover, but was removed from the cross before sunset, which began the High Sabbath, the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.

John 19:31-34 (CEV) Since it was Friday and the next day was an especially important day of worship, the Jews didn't want the bodies to stay on the crosses. So they asked Pilate to have the men's legs broken and their bodies removed. (32) The soldiers broke the legs of the first man and then of the other man who had been crucified with Jesus. (33) When the soldiers came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they didn't break his legs. (34) However, one of the soldiers stabbed Jesus' side with his spear, and blood and water immediately came out.

According the the scripture, the Jews wanted Jesus crucified and killed before the Passover Feast began. So it happened on the day of the Jewish Passover holiday. His body was taken down from the cross and carried to a tomb. The Jews were not allowed to do "laborious" work or to handle a dead body and be "unclean" during their High Sabbath.

Luke 23:32-46 (CEV) Two criminals were led out to be put to death with Jesus. (33) When the soldiers came to the place called "The Skull," they nailed Jesus to a cross. They also nailed the two criminals to crosses, one on each side of Jesus. (34) Jesus said, "Father, forgive these people! They don't know what they're doing." While the crowd stood there watching Jesus, the soldiers gambled for his clothes. The leaders insulted him by saying, "He saved others. Now he should save himself, if he really is God's chosen Messiah!" (35) (SEE 23:34) (36) The soldiers made fun of Jesus and brought him some wine. (37) They said, "If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself!" (38) Above him was a sign that said, "This is the King of the Jews." (39) One of the criminals hanging there also insulted Jesus by saying, "Aren't you the Messiah? Save yourself and save us!" (40) But the other criminal told the first one off, "Don't you fear God? Aren't you getting the same punishment as this man? (41) We got what was coming to us, but he didn't do anything wrong." (42) Then he said to Jesus, "Remember me when you come into power!" (43) Jesus replied, "I promise that today you will be with me in paradise." (44) Around noon the sky turned dark and stayed that way until the middle of the afternoon. (45) The sun stopped shining, and the curtain in the temple split down the middle. (46) Jesus shouted, "Father, I put myself in your hands!" Then he died.

Easter Sunday - is the religious holiday to celebrate Christ's rising from the dead. He died but that was not the end of the story! He rose from the dead. After the Jewish Passover observance, there were women disciples of Christ who went to the tomb to begin preparing Jesus' body for permanent burial. When they got there, they discovered Jesus was no longer dead but had risen. They ran to tell the others and some of the disciples, including Peter, ran to the tomb to see for themselves.

This is the most sacred and exciting event to us as Christians! Jesus, the Son of God, was not only born; not only lived a sinless life; not only ministered and taught; not only was arrested, tortured and killed; but HE AROSE FROM THE DEAD IN VICTORY! We need to look at this part of the story with awestruck eyes!

Luke 24:1-12 (CEV) Very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, carrying the spices that they had prepared. (2) When they found the stone rolled away from the entrance, (3) they went in. But they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus, (4) and they did not know what to think. Suddenly two men in shining white clothes stood beside them. (5) The women were afraid and bowed to the ground. But the men said, "Why are you looking in the place of the dead for someone who is alive? (6) Jesus isn't here! He has been raised from death. Remember that while he was still in Galilee, he told you, (7) 'The Son of Man will be handed over to sinners who will nail him to a cross. But three days later he will rise to life.' " (8) Then they remembered what Jesus had said. (9) Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and some other women were the ones who had gone to the tomb. When they returned, they told the eleven apostles and the others what had happened. (10) (SEE 24:9) (11) The apostles thought it was all nonsense, and they would not believe. (12) But Peter ran to the tomb. And when he stooped down and looked in, he saw only the burial clothes. Then he returned, wondering what had happened.

John 20:1-25 (CEV) On Sunday morning while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene went to the tomb and saw that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. (2) She ran to Simon Peter and to Jesus' favorite disciple and said, "They have taken the Lord from the tomb! We don't know where they have put him." (3) Peter and the other disciple started for the tomb. (4) They ran side by side, until the other disciple ran faster than Peter and got there first. (5) He bent over and saw the strips of linen cloth lying inside the tomb, but he did not go in. (6) When Simon Peter got there, he went into the tomb and saw the strips of cloth. (7) He also saw the piece of cloth that had been used to cover Jesus' face. It was rolled up and in a place by itself. (8) The disciple who got there first then went into the tomb, and when he saw it, he believed. (9) At that time Peter and the other disciple did not know that the Scriptures said Jesus would rise to life. (10) So the two of them went back to the other disciples. (11) Mary Magdalene stood crying outside the tomb. She was still weeping, when she stooped down (12) and saw two angels inside. They were dressed in white and were sitting where Jesus' body had been. One was at the head and the other was at the foot. (13) The angels asked Mary, "Why are you crying?" She answered, "They have taken away my Lord's body! I don't know where they have put him." (14) As soon as Mary said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there. But she did not know who he was. (15) Jesus asked her, "Why are you crying? Who are you looking for?" She thought he was the gardener and said, "Sir, if you have taken his body away, please tell me, so I can go and get him." (16) Then Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him, "Rabboni." The Aramaic word "Rabboni" means "Teacher." (17) Jesus told her, "Don't hold on to me! I have not yet gone to the Father. But tell my disciples that I am going to the one who is my Father and my God, as well as your Father and your God." (18) Mary Magdalene then went and told the disciples that she had seen the Lord. She also told them what he had said to her. (19) The disciples were afraid of the Jewish leaders, and on the evening of that same Sunday they locked themselves in a room. Suddenly, Jesus appeared in the middle of the group. He greeted them (20) and showed them his hands and his side. When the disciples saw the Lord, they became very happy. (21) After Jesus had greeted them again, he said, "I am sending you, just as the Father has sent me." (22) Then he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. (23) If you forgive anyone's sins, they will be forgiven. But if you don't forgive their sins, they will not be forgiven." (24) Although Thomas the Twin was one of the twelve disciples, he wasn't with the others when Jesus appeared to them. (25) So they told him, "We have seen the Lord!" But Thomas said, "First, I must see the nail scars in his hands and touch them with my finger. I must put my hand where the spear went into his side. I won't believe unless I do this!"

Matthew 28:1-20 (CEV) The Sabbath was over, and it was almost daybreak on Sunday when Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. (2) Suddenly a strong earthquake struck, and the Lord's angel came down from heaven. He rolled away the stone and sat on it. (3) The angel looked as bright as lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. (4) The guards shook from fear and fell down, as though they were dead. (5) The angel said to the women, "Don't be afraid! I know you are looking for Jesus, who was nailed to a cross. (6) He isn't here! God has raised him to life, just as Jesus said he would. Come, see the place where his body was lying. (7) Now hurry! Tell his disciples that he has been raised to life and is on his way to Galilee. Go there, and you will see him. That is what I came to tell you." (8) The women were frightened and yet very happy, as they hurried from the tomb and ran to tell his disciples. (9) Suddenly Jesus met them and greeted them. They went near him, held on to his feet, and worshiped him. (10) Then Jesus said, "Don't be afraid! Tell my followers to go to Galilee. They will see me there." (11) While the women were on their way, some soldiers who had been guarding the tomb went into the city. They told the chief priests everything that had happened. (12) So the chief priests met with the leaders and decided to bribe the soldiers with a lot of money. (13) They said to the soldiers, "Tell everyone that Jesus' disciples came during the night and stole his body while you were asleep. (14) If the governor hears about this, we will talk to him. You won't have anything to worry about." (15) The soldiers took the money and did what they were told. The people of Judea still tell each other this story. (16) Jesus' eleven disciples went to a mountain in Galilee, where Jesus had told them to meet him. (17) They saw him and worshiped him, but some of them doubted. (18) Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth! (19) Go to the people of all nations and make them my disciples. Baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, (20) and teach them to do everything I have told you. I will be with you always, even until the end of the world.

Mark 16:1-11 (CEV) After the Sabbath, Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of James bought some spices to put on Jesus' body. (2) Very early on Sunday morning, just as the sun was coming up, they went to the tomb. (3) On their way, they were asking one another, "Who will roll the stone away from the entrance for us?" (4) But when they looked, they saw that the stone had already been rolled away. And it was a huge stone! (5) The women went into the tomb, and on the right side they saw a young man in a white robe sitting there. They were alarmed. (6) The man said, "Don't be alarmed! You are looking for Jesus from Nazareth, who was nailed to a cross. God has raised him to life, and he isn't here. You can see the place where they put his body. (7) Now go and tell his disciples, and especially Peter, that he will go ahead of you to Galilee. You will see him there, just as he told you." (8) When the women ran from the tomb, they were confused and shaking all over. They were too afraid to tell anyone what had happened. (9) Very early on the first day of the week, after Jesus had risen to life, he appeared to Mary Magdalene. Earlier he had forced seven demons out of her. (10) She left and told his friends, who were crying and mourning. (11) Even though they heard that Jesus was alive and that Mary had seen him, they would not believe it.

During the 40 days Jesus lived in His resurrected body before ascending into heaven, He met with His disciples.

1 Corinthians 15:3-7 (CEV, this book was a letter written by Apostle Paul to the Corinthian church) I told you the most important part of the message exactly as it was told to me. That part is: Christ died for our sins, as the Scriptures say. (4) He was buried, and three days later he was raised to life, as the Scriptures say. (5) Christ appeared to Peter, then to the twelve. (6) After this, he appeared to more than five hundred other followers. Most of them are still alive, but some have died. (7) He also appeared to James, and then to all of the apostles.

Ascension - the resurrected Jesus was taken up to Heaven in his resurrected body, in the presence of eleven of his disciples (from thence forward, they are referred to as His Apostles), occurring 40 days after the resurrection. In the biblical narrative, an angel tells the watching disciples that Jesus' second coming will take place in the same manner as his ascension.

Acts 1:1-15a (Easy to Read Version - ERV) Dear Theophilus, The first book I wrote was about everything Jesus did and taught from the beginning (2) until the day he was carried up into heaven. Before he went, he talked to the apostles he had chosen. With the help of the Holy Spirit, he told them what they should do. (3) This was after his death, but he showed them that he was alive, proving it to them in many ways. The apostles saw Jesus many times during the 40 days after he was raised from death. He spoke to them about God's kingdom. (4) One time when Jesus was eating with them, he told them not to leave Jerusalem. He said, "Wait here until you receive what the Father promised to send. Remember, I told you about it before. (5) John baptized people with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (6) The apostles were all together. They asked Jesus, "Lord, is this the time for you to give the people of Israel their kingdom again?" (7) Jesus said to them, "The Father is the only one who has the authority to decide dates and times. They are not for you to know. (8) But the Holy Spirit will come on you and give you power. You will be my witnesses. You will tell people everywhere about me--in Jerusalem, in the rest of Judea, in Samaria, and in every part of the world." (9) After Jesus said this, he was lifted up into the sky. While they were watching, he went into a cloud, and they could not see him. (10) They were staring into the sky where he had gone. Suddenly two men wearing white clothes were standing beside them. (11) They said, "Men from Galilee, why are you standing here looking into the sky? You saw Jesus carried away from you into heaven. He will come back in the same way you saw him go." (12) Then the apostles went back to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. This mountain is about a half mile from Jerusalem. (13) When they entered the city, they went to the upstairs room where they were staying. These are the ones who were there: Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James (the son of Alphaeus), Simon, the Zealot, and Judas (the son of James). (14) The apostles were all together. They were constantly praying with the same purpose. Some women, Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers were there with the apostles. (15) After a few days there was a meeting of the believers. There were about 120 of them.

Studying The Bible With What?

Last night our pastor started a new series called "Digging Deeper" to teach us how to study the Bible for ourselves. If you follow my blog, you know I do my own Bible studies using the common reference materials. I learned how to use them about 25 years ago and have gone through so many Bible studies (with groups, in church and on my own through books, DVD's and Bible study magazines) that I've learned how to do it on my own but it can be a little overwhelming when you first start. It was so exciting to see people pouring over a Bible study and seeing it for themselves. The light goes on in their eyes. I have enough teacher in me to get a thrill seeing others "get it" for themselves.

There are so many in this world who haven't read and studied the Christian's Holy Bible. In a developed country like America where we have a free education system, churches on every corner, Christian books and references available, Bibles of every translation (and translated into every human language)... is there any reason why we haven't read it? And how can we make comments as though we know what we are talking about when we haven't read it?

I've heard people say, "I don't believe the Bible is the word of God. It's just myths and stories. How can you believe in every word? It's just man's interpretation so it can't be word for word from God." Unless you have read it through and done some studies, then you really don't know what you are talking about. I understand why someone would say it if they haven't read it for themselves. But, nonetheless, those comments are empty if you haven't delved into it for yourself. I challenge everyone to pick up the Bible and read it. Start with Genesis 1:1 and go all the way through Revelation 22:21. It doesn't have to be the King James Version (KJV) because that was the first English translation from the original Greek and Hebrew. But that translation was in the English language of 1611. We don't still speak like that. But we have scholars who have formed committees and have studied original texts and then translated it into our modern English. This doesn't make it any less God's Word, it's just using words and speech patterns that we use today.

Let's look at the difference between translations.

Revelation 22:7-9 (KJV)
(7) Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.
(8) And I John saw these things, and heard them. And when I had heard and seen, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel which shewed me these things.
(9) Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

This is the way they spoke in 1611 and someone who read it, would have understood the flow of speech but it's hard for us to understand. Let's look at a couple of translations in modern English.

Rev 22:7-9 (Modern King James Version - MKJV)
(7) Behold, I come quickly. Blessed is he who keeps the Words of the prophecy of this Book.
(8) And I, John, saw and heard these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel showing me these things.
(9) Then he said to me, Behold! See, do not do it! For I am your fellow-servant, and of your brothers the prophets, and of those who keep the Words of this Book. Do worship to God.

Rev 22:7-9 (Contemporary English Version - CEV)
(7) Remember, I am coming soon! God will bless everyone who pays attention to the message of this book.
(8) My name is John, and I am the one who heard and saw these things. Then after I had heard and seen all this, I knelt down and began to worship at the feet of the angel who had shown it to me.
(9) But the angel said, Don't do that! I am a servant, just like you. I am the same as a follower or a prophet or anyone else who obeys what is written in this book. God is the one you should worship.

Rev 22:7-9 (Amplified Version - AMP)
(7) “And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed (happy, prosperous, to be admired) is the one who heeds and takes to heart and remembers the words of the prophecy [that is, the predictions, consolations, and warnings] contained in this book (scroll).”
(8) I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship before the feet of the angel who showed me these things.
(9) But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers the prophets and with those who heed and remember [the truths contained in] the words of this book. Worship God.”

The meaning has not changed but it's easier to understand in modern English. Find a translation that you can understand.

We have the luxury of reference books.

Concordance - an alphabetical index of the principal words of a book, as of the Bible, with a reference to the passage in which each occurs. Let's say you want to look up the word "fellowservant". You turn to your concordance and look for that word. The concordance will give you a list of all the Bible verses that include the word, "fellowservant". Here is the list in the King James Version:

Mat 18:29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all.
Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee?
Col 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
Col 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:
Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
Rev 22:9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God.

Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the King James Version - This LARGE book has 3 sections: a concordance that lists every word in the King James Version of the Bible, a Greek dictionary and a Hebrew dictionary. To use Strong's you would begin by looking up the word "fellowservant" in the concordance but you would see some numbers to the side, like this:

Mat 18:29 And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. G4889
Mat 18:33 Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? G4889
Col 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; G4889
Col 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: G4489
Rev 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. G4889
Rev 22:9 Then saith he unto me, See thou do it not: for I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren the prophets, and of them which keep the sayings of this book: worship God. G4889

Now flip to the Greek dictionary and locate the number, 4889, to see the definition of the word, "fellowservant".

soon'-doo-los (pronunciation)
From G4862 and G1401; a co-slave, that is, servitor or ministrant of the same master (human or divine): - fellowservant.

If the number is H387 then you turn to the Hebrew dictionary and locate the number, 387, to see the definition.

loots (pronunciation)
A primitive root; properly to make mouths at, that is, to scoff; hence (from the effort to pronounce a foreign language) to interpret, or (generally) intercede: - ambassador, have in derision, interpreter, make a mock, mocker, scorn (-er, -ful), teacher.

Lets look at another example. We studied this last night in our Digging Deeper class. We looked at this passage:

John 21:15-17 (KJV) So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. (16) He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (17) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

If we look in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance for all the occurrences of "lovest" and "love" in this passage this is what we find.

Verse 15 "lovest" G25
Perhaps from ἄγαν agan (much; or compare [H5689]); to love (in a social or moral sense): - (be-) love (-ed).

Verse 15 "love" G5368
From G5384; to be a friend to (fond of [an individual or an object]), that is, have affection for (denoting personal attachment, as a matter of sentiment or feeling; while G25 is wider, embracing especially the judgment and the deliberate assent of the will as a matter of principle, duty and propriety: the two thus stand related very much as G2309 and G1014, or as G2372 and G3563 respectively; the former being chiefly of the heart and the latter of the head); specifically to kiss (as a mark of tenderness): - kiss, love.

Verse 16 "lovest" G25
Verse 16 "love" G5368

Verse 17 "lovest" G5368
Verse 17 "lovest" G5368
Verse 17 "love" G5368

Now let's look at the passage with the original Greek words:
John 21:15-17 (KJV) So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, agapao thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I phileo thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. (16) He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, agapao thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I phileo thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. (17) He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, phileo thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Phileo thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I phileo thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

Now let's unpack it. Our pastor reminded us that this exchange happened after Jesus was crucified and resurrected. If you remember, Peter was the only disciple who followed the crowd who had arrested Jesus. While Jesus was being tortured with beatings and being mocked, Peter was mingling with the crowd just outside. When some of the crowd accused him of being a friend or follower of the Jesus that had been arrested and who was being beaten by the soldiers, Peter denied being Jesus' disciple 3 times (see John 18). In Luke 22, before Jesus was arrested, Peter vowed to Jesus that he would follow Jesus even if it meant jail or death. But Jesus prophesied that Peter would deny him 3 times before the cock crowed (the sun rose).

Luke 22:31-34 (CEV) Jesus said, "Simon, listen to me! Satan has demanded the right to test each one of you, as a farmer does when he separates wheat from the husks. (32) But Simon, I have prayed that your faith will be strong. And when you have come back to me, help the others." (33) Peter said, "Lord, I am ready to go with you to jail and even to die with you." (34) Jesus replied, "Peter, I tell you that before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don't know me."

When they first arrested Jesus, Peter did jump in and grab a sword and lopped off the ear of one of the soldiers. But Jesus stopped Peter and put the ear back on the soldier and healed him. But after that, the disciples scattered except for Peter who fearfully followed the crowd and mingled. As we said earlier, sure enough, Peter denied being a disciple of Jesus 3 times.

Luke 22:60-62 (CEV) Peter replied, "I don't know what you are talking about!" Right then, while Peter was still speaking, a rooster crowed. (61) The Lord turned and looked at Peter. And Peter remembered that the Lord had said, "Before a rooster crows tomorrow morning, you will say three times that you don't know me." (62) Then Peter went out and cried hard.

You can imagine how Peter felt at the moment Jesus looked at him. He realized he had denied being a friend and follower of the one he had vowed to follow to death just hours before. I'm sure he felt ashamed, humiliated, devastated. The Greek word for "looked at" (in the King James it's "looked upon") means to stare fixedly with a discerning eye.

Jesus is crucified and 3 days later rose from the dead. Peter is one of the first to go to the tomb and sees it's empty. Jesus meets with His disciples and He specifically talks to Peter and asks him this question 3 times.

Jesus is saying, "Peter do you love me with the totally committed, self sacrificing love of God?" and Peter replies, "You know I love you like a friend." Jesus repeats His question and Peter answers the same way. Then Jesus asks Peter, "Do you even love me as a friend?" Now, remember, Peter had denied being Jesus' follower and friend to the crowd! But Jesus is telling Peter, "I know you denied me. I know you betrayed me by denying me. But I forgive you and love you anyway. I died for you. I love you with the self sacrificing love of God, do you love Me?" How do you think Peter responded? It made me think of this scripture:

Romans 5:6-8 (English Standard Version - ESV) For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (7) For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— (8) but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus knew Peter would deny him before he even did it. Jesus caught Peter's eye right after his 3rd denial. Peter knew Jesus knew. But Jesus still loved Peter enough to die for him. Jesus still loved Peter enough to forgive him. Jesus still loved Peter enough to seek him out and speak to him in love! This overwhelming love and forgiveness creates in Peter's heart a response of love and devotion. Jesus reached out to Peter and Peter took His Hand in response. Peter never wavered again. He had been so scared when Jesus was arrested. He denied knowing Jesus. What was he scared of? He was scared of being arrested with Jesus and being tortured and executed with Him. After Jesus' crucifixion, the disciples, including Peter, hid. He even tried going back to his old occupation of fishing. He was afraid, devastated, ashamed, confused. But Jesus sought out Peter (and the other disciples) and He showed Peter His love and forgiveness. The disciples became apostles after Jesus ascended to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit down to them. Do you know how the Apostle Peter died? He was arrested and executed. Church tradition says he was crucified. He supposedly told his executioners that he was not worthy to die the same death as Jesus so they crucified him upside down. He was afraid before, later he was no longer afraid. The difference? Jesus' willingness to die to save Peter. Jesus' willingness to forgive Peter, Jesus' love and voluntary self sacrifice for Peter (for all of us too). Also, the Holy Spirit came into their hearts and empowered them to act boldly in the service of God.

Now let's apply this to our lives. Jesus knew me and knew I would be born in 1959 and I would be born a sinner (because of the original sin of Adam and Eve). Jesus knew I would act on my sinful nature by sinning. He knew I could not save myself. My sinful nature and my sins would send me to hell for eternity. He still loved me enough to die for me and save me from my sins. "God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."

People tend to think, "I've got to get my life right before I start going to church." WRONG! No matter what sins you have committed, Jesus loves you and died to save you. You cannot save yourself. You cannot "get your life right". There is no sin bad enough that Jesus cannot forgive. I don't care if you are the worst person in the world, Jesus can forgive you and set you free. Even if no human being can forgive you, Jesus can. If you think you are too sinful then you are saying Jesus didn't do enough on the cross. But He died for ALL sin. His death defeated ALL sin. All we have to do is accept it.

Once I realize how sinful I am and that I cannot save myself. And once I realize Jesus died for me anyway and accomplished salvation for me despite my sinful self,,, the love rises up in me in response to Jesus' love! He initiates the love and I respond. This is what happened to Peter. Jesus initiates an encounter with Peter and offers him love and forgiveness. Peter responds with a deeper love than he could ever muster on his own. Jesus was telling Peter he was still commissioned to serve God. Peter was still loved, still in a relationship with God and could still be used by God to do a mighty work. He had not lost all. Jesus gave him all!

Meditating on those verses gives me a deeper insight. Do you see how using the Bible and a reference book, like Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, can help you see it more deeply?

What other study aids are there?

Vine's Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words - much like Strong's but even more. It takes the important words (not every single word like Strong's) and defines them. It is only the New Testament, but you can look up the word from the King James in Vine's and see the definition. Our pastor said that while Strong's may give you a short meaning, Vine's gives you a paragraph. Let's look at an example.

If we look up the word "love" in Vine's this is what you will see (much more detail than Strong's):

A — 1: ἀγαπάω
(Strong's G25 — Verb — agapao — ag-ap-ah'-o )
and the corresponding noun agape (B, No. 1 below) present "the characteristic word of Christianity, and since the Spirit of revelation has used it to express ideas previously unknown, inquiry into its use, whether in Greek literature or in the Septuagint, throws but little light upon its distinctive meaning in the NT. Cp., however, Leviticus 19:18; Deuteronomy 6:5 .

"Agape and agapao are used in the NT (a) to describe the attitude of God toward His Son, John 17:26; the human race, generally, John 3:16; Romans 5:8; and to such as believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, particularly, John 14:21; (b) to convey His will to His children concerning their attitude one toward another, John 13:34 , and toward all men, 1 Thessalonians 3:12; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 2 Peter 1:7; (c) to express the essential nature of God, 1 John 4:8 .
"Love can be known only from the actions it prompts. God's love is seen in the gift of His Son, 1 John 4:9,10 . But obviously this is not the love of complacency, or affection, that is, it was not drawn out by any excellency in its objects, Romans 5:8 . It was an exercise of the Divine will in deliberate choice, made without assignable cause save that which lies in the nature of God Himself, Cp. Deuteronomy 7:7,8 .
"Love had its perfect expression among men in the Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:14; Ephesians 2:4; 3:19; 5:2; Christian love is the fruit of His Spirit in the Christian, Galatians 5:22 .
"Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments, John 14:15,21,23; 15:10; 1 John 2:5; 5:3; 2 John 1:6 . Self-will, that is, self-pleasing, is the negation of love to God.
"Christian love, whether exercised toward the brethren, or toward men generally, is not an impulse from the feelings, it does not always run with the natural inclinations, nor does it spend itself only upon those for whom some affinity is discovered. Love seeks the welfare of all, Romans 15:2 , and works no ill to any, 13:8-10; love seeks opportunity to do good to 'all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith,' Galatians 6:10 . See further 1 Corinthians 13 and Colossians 3:12-14 ." * [* From Notes on Thessalonians, by Hogg and Vine, p. 105.]
In respect of agapao as used of God, it expresses the deep and constant "love" and interest of a perfect Being towards entirely unworthy objects, producing and fostering a reverential "love" in them towards the Giver, and a practical "love" towards those who are partakers of the same, and a desire to help others to seek the Giver. See BELOVED.

A — 2: φιλέω
(Strong's G5368 — Verb — phileo — fil-eh'-o )
is to be distinguished from agapao in this, that phileo more nearly represents "tender affection." The two words are used for the "love" of the Father for the Son, John 3:35 (No. 1); 5:20 (No. 2); for the believer, John 14:21 (No. 1); 16:27 (No. 2); both, of Christ's "love" for a certain disciple, John 13:23 (No. 1); 20:2 (No. 2). Yet the distinction between the two verbs remains, and they are never used indiscriminately in the same passage; if each is used with reference to the same objects, as just mentioned, each word retains its distinctive and essential character.

Phileo is never used in a command to men to "love" God; it is, however, used as a warning in 1 Corinthians 16;22; agapao is used instead, e.g., Matthew 22:37; Luke 10:27; Romans 8:28; 1 Corinthians 8:3; 1 Peter 1:8; 1 John 4:21 . The distinction between the two verbs finds a conspicuous instance in the narrative of John 21:15-17 . The context itself indicates that agapao in the first two questions suggests the "love" that values and esteems (cp. Revelation 12:11 ). It is an unselfish "love," ready to serve. The use of phileo in Peter's answers and the Lord's third question, conveys the thought of cherishing the object above all else, of manifesting an affection characterized by constancy, from the motive of the highest veneration. See also Trench, Syn., xii.
Again, to "love" (phileo) life, from an undue desire to preserve it, forgetful of the real object of living, meets with the Lord's reproof, John 12:25 . On the contrary, to "love" life (agapao) as used in 1 Peter 3:10 , is to consult the true interests of living. Here the word phileo would be quite inappropriate.
Note: In Mark 12:38 , AV, thelo, "to wish," is translated "love" (RV, "desire").

You can see it goes into much more detail. Just studying one word can be so interesting and uplifting!!!

Nave's Topical Bible - is a topical concordance of the Bible, and contains Biblical references to over 20,000 topics. If we pick the topic of "love" then Nave's shows us where that word is used and in what context. Here is Nave's on "love":

Of children for parents
See Children Of God
See God, Love of
Of man for God
Exo_20:6; Deu_5:10; Deu_6:5; Deu_7:9; Deu_10:12; Deu_11:1; Deu_13:3; Deu_30:6; Deu_30:16; Deu_30:20; Jos_22:5; Deu_11:13; Deu_11:22; Jos_23:11; Psa_18:1; Psa_31:23; Psa_37:4; Psa_45:10-11; Psa_63:5-6; Psa_69:35-36; Psa_73:25-26; Psa_91:14; Psa_97:10; Psa_116:1; Psa_145:20; Pro_8:17; Pro_23:26; Isa_56:6-7; Jer_2:2-3; Mar_12:29-30; Mar_12:32-33; Mat_22:37-38; Luk_11:42; Joh_5:42; Rom_5:5; Rom_8:28; 1Co_8:3; Phi_1:9; 2Th_3:5; 2Ti_1:7; 1Jo_2:5; 1Jo_2:15; 1Jo_3:17-18; 1Jo_4:12; 1Jo_4:16-21; 1Jo_5:1-3; 2Jo_1:6; Jud_1:21
Of man for Jesus
General references
Mat_10:37-38; Mat_25:34-40; Mat_27:55-61; Mar_9:41; Luk_2:29-30; Luk_7:47; Joh_8:42; Joh_14:15; Joh_14:21; Joh_14:23; Joh_14:28; Joh_15:9; Joh_16:27; Joh_17:26; Joh_21:17; Act_21:13; 1Co_16:22; 2Co_5:8; 2Co_5:6; 2Co_5:14-15; Gal_5:6; Gal_5:22; Gal_6:14; Eph_3:17-19; Eph_4:15; Eph_6:24; Phi_1:9; Phi_1:23; Phi_1:20-21; Phi_3:7-8; Col_1:8; 2Th_3:5; 2Ti_1:13; 2Ti_4:8; Phm_1:5; Heb_6:10; Jam_1:12; Jam_2:5; 1Pe_1:8; 1Pe_2:7; Rev_2:4
Instances of love for Jesus:
Mat_26:6-13; Joh_12:3-8; Luk_10:39
Mat_17:4; Joh_13:37; Joh_18:10; Joh_20:3-6; Joh_21:7
The disciples
Mar_16:10; Luke 24:17-41; Joh_20:20
Mary Magdalene and other disciples
Mat_27:55-56; Mat_27:61; Mat_28:1-9; Luk_8:2-3; Luk_23:27; Luk_23:55-56; Luk_24:1-10; Joh_20:1-2; Joh_20:11-18
A man of Gadara out of whom Jesus cast an evil spirit
Mar_5:18 Joseph of Ari
Women of Jerusalem
Of man for man
General references
Lev_19:18; Lev_19:34; Deu_10:19; Psa_133:1-3; Pro_10:12; Pro_15:17; Pro_17:9; Pro_17:17; Son_8:6-7; Mat_5:41-47; Mat_10:41-42; Mat_19:19; Gal_5:14; Mat_25:34-40; Mar_9:41; Mar_12:30-33; Luk_6:31-35; Mat_7:12; Luk_10:30-37; Joh_13:14-15; Joh_13:34-35; Joh_15:12-13; Joh_15:17; Rom_12:9-10; Rom_13:8-10; 1Co_8:1; 1Co_13:1-13; 1Co_14:1; 1Co_16:14; 2Co_8:7-8; Gal_5:13; Gal_5:22; Gal_5:26; Eph_5:2; Phi_1:9; Phi_2:2; Col_2:2; Col_3:12-14; 1Th_1:3; 1Th_3:12; 1Th_4:9; 1Ti_1:5; 1Ti_1:14; 1Ti_2:15; 1Ti_4:12; 1Ti_6:2; 1Ti_6:11; 2Ti_2:22; Tit_3:15; Phm_1:12; Phm_1:16; Heb_10:24; Jam_2:8; 1Pe_1:22; 1Pe_2:17; 1Pe_3:8-9; 1Pe_4:8; 2Pe_1:7; 1Jo_2:9-11; 1Jo_3:11; 1Jo_3:14; 1Jo_3:16-19; 1Jo_3:23; 1Jo_4:7; 1Jo_4:11-12; 1Jo_4:20-21; 1Jo_5:1-2; 2Jo_1:5
Exemplification of the love of man for man
General references
Exo_32:31-32; Psa_133:1-3; Pro_24:17-18; Mat_5:41-42; Mat_10:41-42; Mat_25:34-40; Mar_9:41; Luk_10:25-37; Act_20:26-27; Act_20:31; Act_26:29; Rom_1:12; Rom_5:7; Rom_9:1-3; Rom_12:15-16; Rom_14:19; Rom_14:21; Rom_15:1-2; Rom_15:5; Rom_15:7; Rom_15:14-15; Rom_15:24; Rom_15:32; Rom 16:1-16; Rom_16:19; Col_4:7; 1Co_1:4; 1Co_4:14-16; 1Co_8:13; 1Co_10:24; 2Co_1:3-6; 2Co_1:14; 2Co_1:23-24; 2 Cor 2:1-17; 2Co_3:2; 2Co_4:5; 2Co_6:4-6; 2Co_6:11-13; 2Co_7:1-4; 2Co_7:7; 2Co_7:12; 2Co_11:2; 2Co_12:14-16; 2Co_12:19-21; 2Co_13:9; Gal_4:11-20; Gal_6:1-2; Gal_6:10; Eph_3:13; Eph_4:2; Eph_4:32; Eph_6:22; Eph_6:24; Phi_1:3-5; Phi_1:7-8; Phi_1:23-26; Phi_2:19; Phi_3:18; Phi_4:1; Col_1:3-4; Col_1:24; Col_1:28-29; Col_2:1; Col_2:5; 1Th_1:3-4; 1Th_2:7-8; 1Th_2:11-12; 1Th_2:17-20; 1Th_3:5; 1Th_3:7-10; 1Th_3:12; 1Th_5:8; 1Th_5:11; 1Th_5:14; 2Th_1:4; 1Ti_1:5; 1Ti_5:9-10; 1Ti_6:2; 1Ti_6:11; 2Ti_1:3-4; 2Ti_3:8; 2Ti_2:10; Phm_1:8-9; Phm_1:12; Phm_1:16-21; Heb_5:2; Heb_6:9-10; Heb_13:1-3; Heb_13:22; Jam_1:27
See Fraternity
Instances of:
Abraham for Lot
Naomi, Ruth, and Boaz
Ruth 1-3
David's subjects
2Sa_15:30; 2Sa_17:27-29
Obadiah for the prophets
Jehoshabeath for Joash
Nehemiah for Israelites
Mordecai for Esther
Job's friends
Centurion for his servant
Roman Christians for Paul
Of money:
The root of evil
See Riches
Of parents for children
See Parents; Brother; Fraternity; Friendship

Easton's Bible Dictionary - is a reference work on topics related to the Christian Bible compiled by Matthew George Easton. Many of the entries in Easton's are encyclopedic in nature, though there are also short dictionary-like entries. Let's look at Easton's definition of "love":

This word seems to require explanation only in the case of its use by our Lord in his interview with “Simon, the son of Jonas,” after his resurrection (John 21:16, John 21:17). When our Lord says, “Lovest thou me?” he uses the Greek word agapas; and when Simon answers, he uses the Greek word philo, i.e., “I love.” This is the usage in the first and second questions put by our Lord; but in the third our Lord uses Simon's word. The distinction between these two Greek words is thus fitfully described by Trench: “Agapan has more of judgment and deliberate choice; philein has more of attachment and peculiar personal affection. Thus the 'Lovest thou' (Gr. agapas) on the lips of the Lord seems to Peter at this moment too cold a word, as though his Lord were keeping him at a distance, or at least not inviting him to draw near, as in the passionate yearning of his heart he desired now to do. Therefore he puts by the word and substitutes his own stronger 'I love' (Gr. philo) in its room. A second time he does the same. And now he has conquered; for when the Lord demands a third time whether he loves him, he does it in the word which alone will satisfy Peter ('Lovest thou,' Gr. phileis), which alone claims from him that personal attachment and affection with which indeed he knows that his heart is full.”
In 1 Cor 13:1-13 the apostle sets forth the excellency of love, as the word “charity” there is rendered in the Revised Version.

Commentaries - Written by well-known and popular theologians, Bible commentaries aid in the study of Scripture by providing explanation and interpretation of Biblical text with background information on authorship, history, setting, and themes. There are quite a few to choose from: Matthew Henry's (MH and MHCC which is Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary, a shorter condensed version), Adam Clarke's (Clarke), David Guzick's (Guzick), Jamieson, Fausett and Brown's (JFB), Kiel and Delitzsch's (KandD).

Here is what David Guzick's Commentary says about our verses:

He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus said to him, “Feed My sheep.
a. Do you love Me . . . Lord, You know all things: This time, Jesus asks if Peter does in fact have a friendly devotion (phileo) to Jesus. Peter leaves the question with Jesus’ omniscience.

b. Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time: What really grieved Peter was the three-time repetition, because it was a plain reminder of his previous three-time denial.
  i. Jesus restores us by causing us to face squarely our point of failure, then challenging us to set our eyes on the work ahead.
  ii. Jesus doesn’t ask “are you sorry?” nor “will you promise never to do that again?” “Jesus Christ asks each one of us, not for obedience primarily, not for repentance, not for vows, not for conduct, but for a heart; and that being given, all the rest will follow.” (Maclaren)
c. Jesus allowed Peter a three-fold public affirmation of love to replace a three-fold denial, and gave him a three-fold challenge to feed My sheep.

This is what Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary says about these verses:

Our Lord addressed Peter by his original name, as if he had forfeited that of Peter through his denying him. He now answered, Thou knowest that I love thee; but without professing to love Jesus more than others. We must not be surprised to have our sincerity called into question, when we ourselves have done that which makes it doubtful. Every remembrance of past sins, even pardoned sins, renews the sorrow of a true penitent. Conscious of integrity, Peter solemnly appealed to Christ, as knowing all things, even the secrets of his heart. It is well when our falls and mistakes make us more humble and watchful. The sincerity of our love to God must be brought to the test; and it behoves us to inquire with earnest, preserving prayer to the heart-searching God, to examine and prove us, whether we are able to stand this test. No one can be qualified to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ, who does not love the good Shepherd more than any earthly advantage or object. It is the great concern of every good man, whatever death he dies, to glorify God in it; for what is our chief end but this, to die to the Lord, at the word of the Lord?

All these reference materials were done by scholars who diligently searched the Bible and studied it in it's original languages and have offered their work and study to us in the form of their reference books. Back in the old days, before mass paper production, printing presses and free education, most people didn't have the option to study these books. Only the rich could afford the education to be able to read and study. Only the rich could afford books. It's how the Catholic church had so much power. The priests were the only ones in the local villages who had education and access to the Bible so they interpreted the Bible to the congregation when they preached. So the only way the regular people could learn about God was through their local church and the priest. This gave the Catholic church too much power and it had problems with corruption. The people believed everything their priests told them and believed their salvation rested on what the priest said. For instance, if a priest had told them they would lose their salvation and suffer eternal damnation if they didn't paint their house blue, then the people would paint their house blue. And, of course, human beings being what they are, some used that power in an evil way. Eventually, the protestant movement broke away from the Catholic church but protestant denominations often fall into the same type of corruption if they aren't careful.

But my point is, for the first time in human history, America has every advantage. There is no reason for us to remain in ignorance of the Word of God! We have a free education system so that all who apply themselves can learn to read. We have easy access to paper, pens and pencils. We have indepth reference materials at our fingertips. We have access to books, magazines, Christian television, DVD's, Christian radio stations. We have churches on every corner with educated ministers who are trained in Bible study and communicating and teaching it. We have Bibles in every language and in easy to read translations and paraphrases. And we have the Internet. If you can't afford these reference books and Bibles, guess what!?! They are free on the Internet! Yep, all the Bible translations and study aids are available on your computer for free. Try BibleGateway.com and see what's available.

You can also download Bibles and study aids to your tablet and smart phones. I have a favorite Bible study program for my laptop. It is E-sword. Esword is a free program with all the study aids for free. You download the kernel program to your laptop and install the program. Then you start Esword and begin to select the Bible translations and study aids you want and download them. In this program, you not only can see the verses in different translations and study it using the study aids, but you can take notes in the program. I use this for all my at-home Bible studies. And it's all FREE!

If someone asks me, "Do you really believe every word in the Bible is true?", I can say, "YES!" I've read it for myself! I've studied it! I know what I'm talking about. I've sat under some wonderful teachings. I've taken advantage of what's available to me. I've parked my behind, focused, studied, listened and meditated on the words. I've taken notes and journaled. I've prayed and worshipped at His Feet. God has poured into me and caused what I've learned to grow in me so that it lives out in my life. I make myself available in an environment of study and learning and God causes it to be etched in my heart and causes me to grow in grace. Sort of like preparing the soil. I prepare the soil and wait expectantly. God plants the seed and causes it to sprout and causes it to grow and mature into a fruitful plant.

Hebrews 8:8-12 (International Standard Version - ISV) but God found something wrong with his people when he said, "Look! The days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. (9) It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors at the time when I took them by the hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt. Because they did not remain loyal to my covenant, I ignored them, declares the Lord. (10) For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord: I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. (11) Never again will everyone teach his neighbor or his brother by saying, 'Know the Lord,' because all of them will know me, from the least important to the most important. (12) For I will be merciful regarding their wrong deeds, and I will never again remember their sins."

2 Peter 3:17-18 (Easy To Read Version - ERV) Dear friends, you already know about this. So be careful. Don't let these evil people lead you away by the wrong they do. Be careful that you do not fall from your strong faith. (18) But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Glory be to him, now and forever! Amen.

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