The Syrophoenician Woman – 8 Points for Bible Study

Bible Study February 13, 2016  – Matthew 15:21-28; Mark 7:24-30

1. The woman’s name is not known. Her identity by Matthew says she is a Canaanite.  As there was no country of Canaan at that time, the term may be a Semitic identification of reference by the Jews to the Phoenicians. Mark identifies her as “….a Greek born in Syrian Phoenicia…” (Mark 7:26).

2. Her story is a lesson in faith and love as she came to Jesus and begged him to drive the demon out of her daughter (Mark 7:26).

3. It is evident, that from the answer Jesus gave her; “First let the children eat all they want” (Mark 7:27) all involved understood the tension between the Jews and the Greeks.

4. Love – Jesus said the greatest commandment is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the Greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40).  Jesus also said in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” The Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13 list a number of admirable attributes such as, speaking in tongues, the gift of prophecy, faith to move mountains, giving to the poor, suffering martyrdom and being burned at the stake, but concludes that these great accomplishments are nothing without love. The Apostle John says “Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). However, Reverend Al Green reminds us that love is “Something that can make you do wrong, make you do right, love.” It is a mother’s love in this case, that makes the women risk prejudicial condemnation, to go to a person from a group that despised her people, and seek healing for her daughter. I’m sure this didn’t sit will with the Jews or her people, the Greeks of Syrophoenicia. Love however, conquered all.

5. In her initial call for help, she recognized him as being a direct desendent of King David. “A Canaanite woman from the vicinity came to him, crying out, “Lord, son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly  from demon-possession.” (Matthew 15:22)

6. Jesus ignored her plea, but she was persistent. “Jesus did not answer a word. So his disciples came to him and urged him, “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us.” (Matthew 15:23)

7. There seems to be no real answer at why Jesus ignored the woman and spoke to her as he did in Matthew 15:24-26. Was he being witty to let her know he didn’t despise her like other Jews? Was he teaching his disciples a lesson regarding the scope of their ministry in the future? Did Jesus in his humanness have to come to grips with the true mission of his Father, God? Was he testing the woman’s level of faith? Or, was he using the woman as an example of what level faith in the healing power of God produced a response? No one knows the answers, but we know the woman had faith.

8. Faith – Many times the drive of the inward assurance of success outweighs the skill level. This is not to say that the woman didn’t have sufficient language skills to make her point to Jesus. In order to make the attempt, as She “begged Jesus to drive the demon out of her daughter” (Mark 7:26), she had to have great faith that she would succeed. How many know how to solve their problems of life, but don’t have faith to not only take the first step in the right direction, but approach the task with the tenacity of guaranteed success. The Greek word parakaleo indicates an urgent call. Urgent enough that despite what may appear as rudeness from Jesus put him in a witty, seemingly challenging conversation which resulted in her showing him she had faith that be could and would heal her daughter. For, “Then Jesus answered, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is request is granted.” And her daughter was healed from that very hour” (Matthew 15:28).

Study Guide:                                                                                                                                                    Syswerda, Jean E, Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Zondervan, 1999

 

 

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Priscilla Bible Study Key Points – for Bible Study March 28, 2015

For our lesson of Priscilla, Acts 18-19, Romans 16:3-4, I Corinthians 16-19, Timothy 4:19 on pages 221-224, in our main text Women of the Bible by Jean E Syswerda.

1.  Her name, diminutive of “Prisca”, means “worthy” or “venerable.” (1.)

2.  Aquila and Priscilla are mentioned six times in four different books of the New Testament and they are always named as a couple and never individually. (See number 4)

3. Of those six references, Priscilla’s name is mentioned first, four times, which is unusual for such a male dominated society.  (2.)

4. Through out Scripture the man is usually named first: Adam and Eve, and Ananias and Sapphira, making the four appearances of Priscilla’s name first, a notable exception.  Examples:

A. Acts 18:2-3: “There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.  And because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them.”

B. Acts 18:18: “Paul stayed on in Corinth for some time.  Then he left the brothers and sailed for Syria, accompanied by Priscilla and Aquila.  Before he sailed, he had his hair cut off at Cenchrea because of a vow he had taken.”

C.  Acts 18:26: “He began to speak boldly in the synagogue.  When Priscila and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately.”

D.  Romans 16:3-4: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus.  They risked their lives for me.  Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them.”

E. I Corinthians 16:19: “The churches in the province of Asia send you greetings.  Aquila and Priscilla greet you warmly in the Lord, and so does the church that meets at their house.”

F. 2 Timothy 4:19: “Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus.”

5. While this view is not likely among scholars, some scholars have suggested that Priscilla was the author of Hebrews.  Hebrews is the only book in the New Testament with author anonymity. (3)

6.  Paul met them in Corinth, Acts 18:2: “There he met a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, who had recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Cladius had ordered all Jews to leave Rome.  Paul went to see them.”  Priscilla and Aquila were tent makers, as was Paul.  Priscilla and Aquila had  been among the Jews expelled from Rome by Roman Emperor Claudius in the year 49.  They ended up in Corinth for many months.

7. Priscilla and Aquila were among known the earliest known missionaries. Acts 18:24-26: Meanwhile a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus.  He was a learned man, with a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. He had been instructed in the way of the Lord, and he spoke with great fervor and taught about Jesus accurately, though he knew only the baptism of John.  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue. When Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately”.

1. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999, pg. 221.

2. Beyond Sex Roles:What the Bible Says about a Woman’s Place in Church and Family, Gilbert Bilezikian, Baker Academy, 2006, pp 200-201.

3. NIV Study Bible  (All Scriptures)

Women of the Bible – Priscilla– 03/28/2015

Priscilla is our twenty-second study in our series from Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Jean E Syswerda. The study of Priscilla is found on page 221. The Bible Study will meet 4:00p.m. to 6:00 p.m. For complete information contact Glenda at 727-542-4683.

Our Spring Pot Luck and Open House is scheduled for April 11, 2015. If you have not attended one of our Bible Studies, this is a good time to come and see what we are about. We welcome all visitors, no participation on the Pot-Luck items required, Come and be Our Guest.

For information contact Glenda at 727-542-4683.

The Church at Philadelphia, They Got it Right!

Revelation 3:7-13

The church at Philadelphia, like the church at Smyrna was a church which received a passing grade from Jesus in His message to John.  The church passed simply because it kept God’s commands to endure hardships patiently (verse 10).  Here we may assume that keeping the faith, persevering, holding fast and staying in line for the love of God was not an easier task than it was in the other six churches.  However, this church continued to love the Lord and stay on task in spite of the problems inside and outside the church.

As I look at the church of Philadelphia, the lesson is simple.  This church did what God told them to do in spite of the surrounding influences.  They didn’t let false teachings creep in, they didn’t set their own rules, they didn’t let complacency be their guide, and they most certainly got back on track whenever they fell off. Did they fall off the track?  While the text doesn’t specifically say that they did, I believe that they did.  However, with practicing love and patient endurance, they understood that following God was the most important thing that they could do.

What can we gain from this lesson of the church of Philadelphia?  I encourage you to follow these conclusions:  First, follow God in all things.  No matter what the choices are, follow God’s choices and plan of action.  No matter what problems you are faced with, follow God’s guidelines.  No matter what others do, follow God’s orders.  So many times we get off track because we forget God’s directions and respond inaccurately to what someone else does or does not do.  Enduring hardship is especially difficult when it comes from another believer.  But, no matter what the hardship is we must follow God.  Others may not understand God’s instructions to you as you do.  This doesn’t mean we abandon the task, for it is only in wholly following God that we become what He wants us to be and achieve the perfections He has in store for you.  So always remember to follow God.

Secondly, in gaining lessons from the church of Philadelphia, we learn not to respond to the failure of other believers.  What God has in store for you and the hardships that you face have nothing to do with the faithfulness of other believers.  God’s instructions to you are your personal instructions from God.  He may not have given the one you feel should help you the same message, but, when it is a God-sent message, there is help for you.  Don’t get frustrated when the when the help doesn’t come in the expected manner.  So many times we makes our friends our earthly guides.  They can get in the way of what God is trying to accomplish through us.  We spend too much time complaining about what other in Christ don’t do.  We often make other believers the sacrificial lamb for our failures, not fully understanding that when God gives us a command, He is speaking to you and Satan will often confound the message to get you off-track.  Why shouldn’t we focus on others when they seem like stumbling blocks?  That’s simple,  they are not our stumbling block, but Satan is.  Ephesians 6:12 reminds us that we struggle not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world, against the spiritual forces  in the heavenly reals (NIV).  When we are opposed to doing what God has commanded remember the enemy is Satan and not the other Christian brother or sister.

Finally, that we must understand that the maturity levels in the faith are not the same.  Paul reminds us in Ephesians 4:12-13 that we must work with all our fellow believers to  give them a chance to develop in the faith.  We must try to bring the most out of the believers in our surroundings so they will grow into mature Christians.  This is why it is important to understand the Spiritual Gifts of the believers around us.  If we don’t understand what those around us are sent from God to accomplish, we will never understand how they fit into the task God has individually given us.  Given the scriptual fact that the maturity level of all Christians is not the same (Ephesians 4:14), and knowing that the Spirit has given all believers a “manifestation for the common good” (I Corinthians 12:7),  we must remember that all the answers and ways of carrying out the efforts of the common good are not always going to be expressed and carried out in the same manner. Many will be opposite to the was we all feel the should be.  But there is a standard, and that is to follow God’s commands.

What do we do to be sure we follow God’s commands?  Test everything through God.  Test everything through Scripture, prayer and patience. Always be insistent to do God’s will and follow his path.  Be firm to follow. Resolute to do what is required. Vacate vacillation and withdraw from wavering.  Always remember the Church of Philadelphia got it right.