Biblical Exposition

2 Corinthians: St. Paul Bears His Soul

by Steve Ray on June 26, 2017

(In this article I emphasize Paul and his apostolic calling along with the actual letter. In 1 Corinthians I emphasized the city of Corinth, the immorality and the actual letter.)

The water was cold and his legs were numb. His skin was wrinkled after the many hours of bobbing in the waves desperately clinging to a beam ripped from the ship as it capsized in the storm.

It was dark and the moon was still hidden by the frightening storm clouds swirling low over the sea. But he was not concerned for himself, even though in dire straits. Far be it from this rugged traveler to worry about himself when he had the churches on his mind. God had called and the apostolic call was more important than his own comfort, even more crucial than his own life.

It was hard work—even harder than staying afloat in the waves. Separation by miles of mountains and seas made the internal struggle acute. The brethren in other cities and lands, exposed to temptations, divisions, pagan cultures, and sin were on his mind. His labor of prayer was intense. At times he longed for them as a parent longs for a lost child. His prayers were agonizing—and his prayers were heard.

Writing to one of these churches, the church in Corinth, Paul describes his labors, imprisonments, beatings—his sufferings external and internal. He humbly boasts, “Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned.

Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the churches” (2 Cor 11:24-28).

To another church north along the coast of the Aegean Sea, Paul again pours out his heart, informing them that he is “praying earnestly night and day” for them (1 Thes 3:10). Paul begins his letter of Second Corinthians by expressing this concern: “For I wrote you out of much affliction and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to cause you pain but to let you know the abundant love that I have for you” (2 Cor 2:4).

This is the life of Paul, former persecutor of the Church, now himself persecuted for their sake. Involved with taking the life of others, he now lays down his own life for others. Having watched Stephen pray while the rocks crushed his body, Paul now prays under the crushing weight of his apostolate and concern for the churches. Nowhere in the letters of Paul is he more intimate, more personal, or more vulnerable than in Second Corinthians.

For the whole article, click here.

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1 Corinthians: Standing Firm in a Pagan Culture

by Steve Ray on June 25, 2017

(In this article I emphasize the city of Corinth, the immorality and the actual letter; in the next article on 2 Corinthians I will emphasize Paul and his apostolic calling along with the actual letter.)

It was a wicked city. The sandals from travelers of every country in the Empire trudged over its cobblestone streets. Vice and immorality was imported along with exotic cargo and trade goods from around the world—but sensuality and license were also part of the city’s stock, trade, and religion.

As a major crossroad of the Empire, ships were unloaded, dragged over the isthmus, and reloaded for transport around the world. During the loading and unloading of ships thousands of travelers entered Corinth to revel in her pleasures and bask in her luxury. Roman soldiers, imperial dignitaries, shipmates, slaves, traders, preachers, and prostitutes all passed through the beautiful Roman city nestled in the Greek province of Achaia.

St. Paul—the rugged traveler and fiery preacher—arrived by ship or along the coastal road from Athens, the philosophical and intellectual center of Greece and the world. He now stood looking out over the city of Corinth, the economic and commercial center and the Roman capital in Greece. To the south, and majestically rising almost 2,000 feet above the city of Corinth, stands the mountain of Acrocorinth. Here, overlooking the city below stood the famous temple of Aphrodite.

The finite and pagan gods of Greece and Rome were often as immoral as the human residents. People resemble their deities. Aphrodite was the goddess of love and beauty, of sexual freedom and courtesans. The Temple of Aphrodite at one time boasted of a thousand temple prostitutes who paraded their “sacred service” in the city and certainly were behind Paul’s exhortation to avoid union with prostitutes (1 Cor 6:15-16).

It is in this newly rebuilt city, under the shadow of the temples of Apollos and Aphrodite, and milling about in the pagan throngs among pagan shrines and deities, that St. Paul preached the word of God. Here he lived for eighteen months, and founded a church. It was here that he was dragged to the Judgment Seat to make defense of his gospel (Acts 18:12) and it is to Corinth that he wrote three letters. “Wait,” you say, “I only know of First and Second Corinthians. Where do you find a third letter?” We will discover that in a moment.

Paul arrived in Corinth about ad 51 or 52. He walked up the Lechaion Road through the Agora (marketplace) into the heart of Corinth. Two Jews befriended Paul and invited him to share their trade for making much needed money. Aquilla and Priscilla were tent-makers, which was Paul’s trade as well (Acts 18:3). With his usual pattern of going to the Jew first, Paul “argued in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded Jews and Greeks” (Acts 18:4) but when the Jews rejected Paul’s message he shook out his garments and went out to the Gentiles. God told him to stay in Corinth and not to be afraid, so Paul “stayed a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them” (Acts 18:11).

For the whole story, click here.

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Last week Marcus Grodi invited me to Coming Home Network to record a new episode of EWTN’s “The Journey Home” which will be aired the 1st week of Febrary.

We also recorded a segment of Deep in Scripture. We discussed John 2, Alcohol, Mary and Miracles (audio below). Check out the Coming Home Networks website – loaded with great material, recordings, testimonies and more.

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Meet St. Paul as he Writes to the Romans; A Brief Study to Make it Easy

June 23, 2017

I love St. Paul and love to write about him and his epistles. I also enjoyed traveling through six countries filming his life story and theology. St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans is often seen as impossible to understand except by theologians — and most skip right over this masterpiece. With hopes that you will […]

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Does John 3:16 Teach “Faith Alone”? (Link fixed)

June 22, 2017

 My mother asked me, “How would you like fifty cents?” I quickly responded, “I would like it very much.” What a silly question to ask an seven year old. Of course I would like fifty cents. Fifty cents was a lot of money when I was a little boy. My mother continued, “Here is a […]

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Acts of the Apostles: The Birth of the Catholic Church

June 21, 2017

Being seasick is terrible. I experienced it earlier this year while fishing all night on the Sea of Galilee. Fishermen and travelers in the first century were often nauseated while bobbing up and down on the seas of the Roman Empire. St. Paul’s most faithful of friends was writing the life of Christ and the […]

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St. John’s Gospel: Spiritual Depths of a Master Story-Teller

June 19, 2017

St. John’s Gospel: the Theological and Spiritual Gospel By Steve Ray Eagles soar high above the surface of the earth. Their eyes survey the farthest reaches of the horizon — the connection of heaven to earth is in perspective from their lofty vantage point. From our earthbound perspective, the eagle is suspended between heaven and […]

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Luke’s Gospel: Greek Physician, Historian & Friend of Mary

June 18, 2017

Her face shone as she related the stories—the words were vibrant, and though older now, her memory was excellent. He sat enraptured as she brought the past into living color. He had traveled a long way to see her and he sat motionless, with furled brow, taking careful notes on his parchment. He spent hours […]

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Sneak Preview: Working on Next Footprints of God DVD

June 9, 2017

We leave Thursday to begin filming the story of Elijah and Elisha! This is our 9th documentary in our Footprints of God series. We will be filming it all through Jordan, Israel, the Palestinian West Bank and Egypt, especially Mount Sinai and the Monastery of St Macarius in the deserts west of Cairo. We still […]

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Were the Bereans “Bible Alone”?

June 6, 2017

Since we were in Thessalonki a while ago, just a few miles from Berea (which I have visited a number of times) I thought I’d share my argument which turns the PROTESTant idea of “sola Scriptura” on its head. You know, many Protestents appeal to the Bereans as proof of their false doctrine. Regarding the […]

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Interesting Explanation of Baptism from Protestant Dictionary – “baptism…in itself is unimportant”

May 25, 2017

I was looking up Greek definitions of the word baptism and found this interesting “definition.” This dictionary is usually very good but I found this summary of biblical passages on baptism very intriguing and disingenuous. Take a look at this definition and think about it for yourself. Analyze it and the verses used. Notice how they […]

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Am I Sick? Naw, I Don’t Think So, Just Feeding the Turkey Vultures

May 15, 2017

The lady at the pet store told me I was a sick individual. I didn’t think so, but then again I am biased and think I’m OK – and my wife tends to agree with me. The whole thing started because of a small hobby of mine. When I was a little boy my dad bought […]

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Joseph the Sissy or Joseph the Worker – Feast Day of the Worker

May 1, 2017

Today is the Feast day of St. Joseph the Worker! There are some pictures of Joseph I don’t appreciate so much. They present him almost as soft, effeminate like he just came out of a beauty parlor. It appears he never worked in the real world and has not a wrinkle on his clothes or […]

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There are Two Seas in Palestine – Which One are You Like?

April 30, 2017

Since we are on a boat sailing the Sea of Galilee today, I thought I would share this parable that we will be reading to the pilgrims. Two Seas in Palestine, by Bruce Barton “There are two seas in Palestine. One is fresh, and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees […]

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How Much Can a Camel Drink? – as he bites me!

April 28, 2017

Since we will soon be in Jordan and Israel again riding camels, I thought I would post some fun and interesting facts – and a movie of the camel trying to bite me. I recently wrote the Bible Study on Genesis for www.CatholicScriptureStudy.com. In chapter 24 Abraham sends his unnamed servant to find a bride […]

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What Does this Wood Carving Mean?

April 18, 2017

When I went to St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor Michigan the other day for a visit, I stopped by to pray at the Blessed Sacrament in the chapel. In front of the chapel was this wood carving. I also, like all of you, sat in front of it puzzled. Who are the women, what’s […]

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