Digging Deeper: A Mind to Work

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 8 min.

Did you know that about 90 years after the people of the House of Judah returned from captivity in Babylon, their capital city of Jerusalem still did not have a defensive wall around it?

The Jewish governor of Judea challenged his compatriots to unite and complete a project to protect Jerusalem and its inhabitants from their enemy’s opposition.

Decades earlier, the ancestors of these folks had built a semblance of a sacrificial altar and later a temple. But Jerusalem was undefended from hostile neighbors since it had no protective wall. The Bible records that the Jews recognized the importance of their participation to build a wall and worked with determination through the effective leadership of their governor. This Digging Deeper recounts this story to grasp an applicable lesson for God’s people who perform His work today.

Needing a wall

This building project occurred during the Persian Empire period of Old Testament history. Judea and much of the Ancient Near East were governed by this vast empire. Starting with Persia’s king, Cyrus, the people of the House of Judah were permitted to depart from the land of their captivity to rebuild their temple and city if they remained loyal to the Persian king and were peaceful contributors to the realm. Cyrus followed a policy of repatriation for the Jews and other formerly captive peoples, as noted in history.

Decades later, King Artaxerxes of Persia appointed as governor of Judea his cupbearer, Nehemiah (Nehemiah 1:11), to direct the project of rebuilding the walls around Jerusalem. The entire Book of Nehemiah details this exciting saga of Nehemiah’s leadership over God’s people who accepted this challenge. They had lacked the necessary leadership until Nehemiah arrived. The Jews were being opposed by many nearby enemies. A wall around the city was vital for their protection.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible summarizes Nehemiah 4: “This chapter relates, how the Jews, while building, were mocked by their enemies, to which no answer was returned but by prayer to God, and they went on notwithstanding in their work, Nehemiah 4:1 and how that their enemies conspired against them, to hinder them by force of arms, Nehemiah 4:7 to oppose which, both spiritual and temporal weapons were made use of, so that the work was still carried on, Nehemiah 4:13” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Facing opposition

In Nehemiah 4:1, Sanballat, the satrap (governor of a whole province) for Samaria, mocked the Jews and worked to discourage their progress. Nehemiah turned to God in prayer after learning of Sanballat’s opposition (Nehemiah 4:4-5). Arno Gaebelein’s Annotated Bible notes that this “… is another of the brief ejaculatory prayers of Nehemiah. There are seven of them in this book: chapters 2:4; 4:4-6; 5:19; 6:14; 13:14, 22, 29” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Nehemiah’s effective leadership skills were the result of his constant prayer.

Our focus verse details what followed: “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work” (Nehemiah 4:6 KJV throughout). Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible explains the Hebrew of this passage: “The original is very emphatic: ויהי לב לעם לעשות  vayehi leb leam laasoth, ‘For the people had a heart to work.’ Their hearts were engaged in it; and where the heart is engaged, the work of God goes on well” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

David Guzik’s Enduring Word Commentary makes this vital point about the result of Nehemiah’s prayer: “The immediate answer to the prayer made no difference in the enemies. The prayer was answered in the people of God doing the work. Nehemiah’s prayer asked God to take care of his enemies, and God answered by taking care of His people… We often miss God’s answer of our prayers, because we pray for Him to do a work in the lives of others we are in conflict with – and He answers by moving in our lives, but we resist that moving. It is as if He tried to give us a mind to work in a situation, but we resisted it” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Prayer and hard work

Commenting on the importance of joining prayer to work, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Old Testament asserts: “After praying, Nehemiah and the Jews continued with the work. Some Christians pray and then wait for things to happen, but not Nehemiah! As in all his efforts, he blended the divine perspective with the human. He faced Sanballat’s opposition with both prayer and hard work. Once he committed the problem to the Lord, he trusted God to help them achieve their goal” (Victor Publishing, 2000, p. 682). This combination of prayer and work empowers God’s people to perform His will.

HandFuls on Purpose, Vol. 06, (1) by James Smith and Robert Lee provides three vital actions taken by these Jews:

“1. A Mind to Work (Nehemiah 4:6). They had no mind to sit moping over their difficulties, or to spend their time in mere talk or fault-finding. The love of God constrained them…

2. A Heart to Pray. ‘Nevertheless, we made our prayers unto God’ (Nehemiah 4:9). A working mind should always be accompanied with a praying heart…

3. An Eye to Watch. ‘We set a watch against them day and night’ (Nehemiah 4:9). Watching and praying are frequently linked together in the Scriptures of truth (see Matthew 26:41; Mark 13:33; Ephesians 6:18; 1 Peter 4:7)” (Bible Analyzer

Christians need to join prayer with watchfulness, as K.L. Brooks’ Summarized Bible declares: “Nehemiah 4:13. Having prayed, they set a watch. We cannot secure ourselves by prayer, without watchfulness. Matthew 26:41. Prayer without watchfulness is presumption. Watchfulness without prayer is hypocrisy” (e-Sword 13.0.0). This is an example of faith as displayed by works. Brooks continues with another lesson on watchfulness: “God’s people are often a despised people, loaded with contempt, but the reproaches of enemies should rather quicken them to duty than drive them from it. Those who cast contempt on God’s people, in reality despise God Himself and prepare for themselves everlasting shame” (Ibid.).

Completing the job

The good news is that these pioneers did complete the wall they had built only halfway in chapter 4: “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days” (Nehemiah 6:15 KJV). Fifty-two days was record time. Nehemiah’s leadership in this project was vital. Charles Simeon’s Homileticae explains the state of the project before he came: “The walls of Jerusalem still continued in their desolate condition, notwithstanding the Jews had returned thither about ninety years: but, at the instigation of one single man, the people combined; and engaging heartily in the work, they effected in a short space of time what had appeared utterly impracticable: Nehemiah says, ‘So built we the wall; for the people had a mind to work’” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Ger deKoning’s KingComments makes some pointed remarks on Nehemiah 4 that Christians must consider: “There is a kind of people who stand by and comment from the sidelines, but disappear when there is opposition. Some also want to contribute in an easy way, so they avoid effort. They send money – and insist on getting proof of payment in order to be able to use the gift as a tax-deductible item – and in doing so they think they can redeem their service in the kingdom of God. But they do not have a heart to work. Work in and for the church is not regulated by a collective labor agreement” (BPBible

God’s people have always faced opposition from those who insist their work must be stopped. The Popular Commentary by Paul Kretzman provides the proper response: “Those who undertake the work of the Lord in true faith will not permit the ridicule of the enemies to discourage them, but will piously trust in the power of God to support them” (e-Sword 13.0.0). A New Testament admonition parallels this lesson from Nehemiah: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58 KJV).

As Christians approach the very end of the age, this will be even more important for God’s work to be completed through them. Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible offers two final lessons: “1. Good work goes on well when people have a mind to it. 2. The reproaches of enemies should rather quicken us to our duty than drive us from it” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Phebe

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 8 min.

Did you know that Paul may have entrusted a female Christian to transport his epistle to a church he had never yet visited?

He asked Christians in Rome to warmly welcome her when she arrived. In the last chapter of his epistle to them, Paul commends a woman who was on her way there who had served the brethren of Cenchrae, in modern Greece, and him personally. This Digging Deeper discovers who this outstanding female Christian was, why Paul praised her, and the assignment he gave her.

In this study we focus on: “I commend unto you Phebe [or, Phoebe] our sister, which is a servant of the church which is at Cenchrea: That ye receive her in the Lord, as becometh saints, and that ye assist her in whatsoever business she hath need of you: for she hath been a succourer of many, and of myself also (Romans 16:1-2 KJV throughout). This is the only mention of her in our New Testament and nothing further is known about her. Nonetheless, what an impression she made on Paul, as we will discover. She was one of those women who labored with Paul in the Gospel (Philippians 4:3), not in preaching (1 Corinthians 14:34), but in serving.

Bearer of an epistle

M.R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament explains Phebe’s circumstance: “Conybeare (‘Life and Epistles of St. Paul’) assumes that Phoebe was a widow, on the ground that she could not, according to Greek manners, have been mentioned as acting in the independent manner described, either if her husband had been living or she had been unmarried” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Paul probably wrote his Epistle to the Romans from Corinth during his third evangelistic journey. Phebe likely was the one who either transported Paul’s Epistle to the Romans or traveled with those who did. Hastings’ Dictionary of the Apostolic Church explains why it was transported by a friend instead of the official postal service: “The Imperial post was not available for private correspondence, and such a letter could be sent only by special messenger or by a trusted friend who happened to be travelling” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Paul commends Phebe unto the Roman brethren. Webster’s 1913 Unabridged Dictionary, in its second definition, defines this word and illustrates it from Romans 16:1: “To recommend as worthy of confidence or regard; to present as worthy of notice or favorable attention” (Bible Analyzer Paul provided her a letter of commendation, as explained by the NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible: “People of high status wrote letters of recommendation to peers on behalf of those of somewhat lower status. Often such a letter introduced the letter’s bearer, praising them and showing why they merited the help requested. The bearer of a document might also be called on to explain the sense of the document, making Phoebe’s qualifications important here” (Tecarta Bible App). At that time, supposed emissaries for Paul could turn up in a city purporting to bring word from Paul yet deceive brethren (2 Thessalonians 2:2). Signed letters from the apostles authenticated their true representatives.

In Romans 16, Paul greets several brethren in this capital city. Henry Morris’ Defender’s Study Bible makes this key point: “Phebe is the first of thirty-five personal names mentioned in this last chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans, most of whom are mentioned nowhere else in Scripture. The reason why so much apparently personal information was included in the Scriptures by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit is probably to illustrate the Spirit’s concern with individuals” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Paul greets these brethren from his location in southern Greece today. The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible explains how he knew them: “Paul had been engaged in missionary work for 25 years when he wrote Romans. He had developed relationships with believers scattered all across the eastern Mediterranean world” (Tecarta Bible App). Evidently, these folks now lived in Rome. This source continues: “Phoebe was a prominent Christian who was planning to travel to Rome. Paul probably took the opportunity of her planned trip to entrust her with the delivery of his letter to the Roman Christians” (Ibid.).

Who was Phebe?

The Expository Notes of Dr. Constable declares Paul gave special mention of several women in this chapter: “Notice that the ministry of women in the Roman church is quite evident in this chapter. Paul referred to nine prominent women: Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Tryphena, Thyphosa, Persis, Rufus’ mother, Julia, and Nereus’ sister” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Lange’s Commentary on the OT and NT explains that Phebe’s name: “…is derived from Φοῖβος, Phœbus (Apollo) [the sun god], but there is nothing remarkable in this, since the etymology would be as little recalled then, as now, in the case of proper names.—R.] See 2 Corinthians 5:12” (e-Sword 13.0.0). One may wonder why she retained a pagan name after her conversion. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges clarifies: “The early Christian converts seem to have had no scruple in retaining a pre-baptismal name even when the name (as in this case) was that of a heathen deity. Cp. Hermes, (Romans 16:14); Nereus, (Romans 16:15); and such derivative names as Demetrius (3 John 1:12)” (Ibid.).

Paul first refers to Phebe as our sister – i.e., a fellow believer. Then he calls her a servant. This has aroused much scholarly discussion on just how Paul used this term so early in the history of the Church of God. The ESV Study Bible explains: “Scholars debate whether Phoebe is a servant in a general sense, or whether she served as a deacon [deaconess], since the Greek word diakonos can mean either ‘servant’ (13:4; 15:8; 1 Cor. 3:5; 1 Tim. 4:6) or ‘deacon’ (referring to a church office; Phil. 1:1; 1 Tim. 3:8, 12)” (Tecarta Bible App). Later the office of deaconess became an ordained position in the church. However, it is unclear here whether Paul intended this meaning.

Paul writes that Phebe had served the church at Cenchrea. The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible reports that this location was: “A port about six miles (nine kilometers) from Corinth, where Paul is apparently located as he writes this letter (Acts 20:2-3)” (Tecarta Bible App). M. R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament describes Cenchrea further: “It was a thriving town, commanding a large trade with Alexandria, Antioch, Ephesus, Thessalonica, and the other cities of the Aegean. It contained temples of Venus, Aesculapius, and Isis. The church there was perhaps a branch of that at Corinth” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

A patron and benefactress

In Romans 16:2, Paul asks the Roman brethren to receive Phebe in the Lord – i.e., as a fellow believer. Then he calls her a succourer (i.e., benefactor or patron). The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible defines this word as: “The ‘patron,’ an important figure in the Greco-Roman world who used their money and influence to support various causes. Phoebe used her worldly advantages to help many believers, including Paul himself” (Tecarta Bible App).

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible describes benefactors further: “Wealthy benefactors helped their cities or other people, who in turn owed them honor. Most benefactors were male, but a number (some estimate 10 percent) were women. Benefactors of religious associations often allowed the latter to meet in the benefactors’ homes. Letters were normally carried by travelers. Phoebe is probably a well-to-do businesswoman traveling on business; Corinth and Rome had close trade ties” (Tecarta Bible App).

When Paul declares in Romans 16:2 that she had been a succourer of himself also, he may have meant that she had been instrumental in his recovery from an illness, as explained by Hasting’s Dictionary of the Apostolic Church: “Gifford (op. cit. p. 231) conjectures that the personal reference (‘and of mine own self’) may be to an illness in which Phoebe ministered to St. Paul at Cenchreae, and that his recovery was the occasion of his vow [Acts 18:18]. Certainly we may assume that she received him into her home when he visited or passed through Cenchreae (cf. Lydia at Philippi, Acts 16:15; 40), and that she ‘mothered’ him as did the mother of Rufus (Romans 16:13)” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Barclay’s Daily Study Bible notes the importance of women to the early New Testament church: “There can have been no time in the Christian Church when the work of women was not of infinite value. It must have been specially so in the days of the early Church. In the case of baptism by total immersion, as it then was, in the visitation of the sick, in the distribution of food to the poor, women must have played a big part in the life and work of the Church, but they did not at that time hold any official position” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Phebe must have been an outstanding female servant of God’s church in the first century to whom Paul likely entrusted this treasured epistle. Paul’s description of her, though in only two verses, stands as a testament to his appreciation for the many women who backed him in his difficult circumstances of preaching the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: A Crown of Thorns

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 8 min.

Did you know that Jesus wore a crown before He died?

Christians understand that when He returns to take command of His kingdom He will be adorned with many crowns (Revelation 19:12). Even before He died, He was crowned and proclaimed king. However, it was not a proclamation by believers. Additionally, this crowning relates to the curse upon the earth from Genesis 3. What type of crown was this and how does it relate to the curse? This Digging Deeper recounts this event to discover its spiritual significance.

Our focus verse is: “And when they had platted a crown of thorns, they put it upon his head, and a reed in his right hand: and they bowed the knee before him, and mocked him, saying, Hail, King of the Jews!” (Matthew 27:29 KJV throughout). This heartless act by the Roman soldiers as executioners is also recorded in Mark 15:17; John 19:2; John 19:5.

This scene occurs not long before Jesus was taken to Calvary to be crucified. Because of their military experience, these hardened and brutal Roman soldiers placed little value on human life. They mocked this helpless Jew who had been turned over to them for crucifixion by the Roman governor, Pilate.

A crown of torture

Before capturing the spiritual significance of this encounter, it is necessary to examine a couple of words used in this verse. Gary Everett’s Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures claims the word platted comes from the “The Greek verb πλέκω  (G4120) which means, ‘to twine, braid.’ This word is only used three times in the New Testament, and only in reference to this crown of thorns” (e-Sword 13.0.0). This organic crown was braided into the shape of a victor’s laurel. Ethelbert Bullinger in his Companion Bible attests that the Greek word for crown is “Stephanos (used by kings and victors); not diadema, as in Revelation 12:3; 13:1; 19:12″ (Ibid.). Victors’ garlands in Greco-Roman games were woven from leafy twigs of local plants, shrubs, or trees.

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides pertinent historical background: “Hellenistic [Greek culture] vassal princes wore garlands; soldiers may have used an available shrub such as acanthus to weave a wreath for Jesus. Imitating Hellenistic garlands, the soldiers may have intended the thorns to point especially outward, but some of the thorns would nevertheless turn inward, scraping the scalp. Scalp wounds bleed particularly profusely” (Tecarta Bible Apps). David Guzik’s Enduring Word Commentary additionally notes: “Kings wear crowns, but not crowns of torture. The specific thorn-bushes of this region have long, hard, sharp thorns. This was a crown that cut, pierced, and bloodied the head of the King wearing it” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Royal diadems were much more elaborate, as Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains: “A crown was worn by kings, commonly made of gold and precious stones. To ridicule the pretensions of Jesus that he was a king, they probably plucked up a thornbush growing near, made it into something resembling in shape a royal crown, so as to correspond with the old purple robe, and to complete the mockery” (e-Sword 13.0.0). As John Bengel’s Gnomon New Testament asserts, “They treated Jesus as a madman who fancied Himself a King” (Bible Analyzer

Thorns and the curse

Various suggestions have been offered over the years as to which thorny bush was chosen for this crown. However, Henry Alford’s The Greek Testament cautions: “It does not appear whether the purpose of the crown was to wound, or simply for mockery—and equally uncertain is it, of what kind of thorns it was composed…Some flexile shrub or plant must be understood—possibly some variety of the cactus or prickly pear” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The Biblical Illustrator by Joseph S. Exell adds: “According to the Rabbis and the botanists, there would seem to have been from twenty to twenty-five different species of thorny plants growing in Palestine; and different writers have, according to their own judgment or fancies, selected one and another of these plants as the peculiar thorns which were used upon this occasion. But why select one thorn out of many?” (e-Sword 13.0.0). However, there is a more substantial significance.

The NET Bible provides a hint of the spiritual significance of this act: “In placing the crown of thorns on his head, the soldiers were unwittingly symbolizing God’s curse on humanity (cf. Genesis 3:18) being placed on Jesus. Their purpose would have been to mock Jesus’ claim to be a king; the crown of thorns would have represented the ‘radiant corona’ portrayed on the heads of rulers on coins and other artifacts in the 1st century” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

This source asserts that apart from the specific thorn employed, more important is the connection of thorns to the first human sin described in Genesis. When one reads the punishment God imposed after this sin, it becomes plain that God cursed the serpent and the ground from which Adam and Eve would grow their food. Instead of the unhindered harvest of luscious fruits and vegetables, the ground would yield thorns and thistles to impede their efforts (Genesis 3:14, 17). Because of Jesus’ future sacrifice for sin, God did not curse Adam and Eve directly though they would suffer sin’s consequences in painful childbirth and laborious work (Genesis 3:16-19).

Curse from sin

Joseph S. Exell’s The Biblical Illustrator comments on the relationship of thorns to sin: “It may well be that more than one kind of thorn was platted in that crown: at any rate sin has so thickly strewn the earth with thorns and thistles that there was no difficulty in finding the materials, even as there was no scarcity of griefs wherewith to chasten Him every morning and make Him a mourner all His days” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible establishes this spiritual significance: “[1.] Thorns came in with sin, and were part of the curse that was the product of sin, Genesis 3:18. Therefore Christ, being made a curse for us, and dying to remove the curse from us, felt the pain and smart of those thorns, nay, and binds them as a crown to him (Job 31:36); for his sufferings for us were his glory” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Jesus vicariously suffered by bearing on Himself this curse, represented by the thorns. John Trapp’s A Commentary on the Old and New Testaments elaborates: “Christ, by wearing this crown of thorns, the firstfruits of the curse, took away the sin and curse of all his people; who must therefore, by their obedience, set a crown of gold on his head, Song of Solomon 3:11…” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Christ’s crown of thorns will be replaced by His bejeweled royal diadems (Revelation 19:12) when He sits upon the throne of David (Luke 1:32).

More lessons of the thorny crown

Matthew Henry goes on to explain two more significances of the thorns of Genesis: “[2.] Now he answered to the type of Abraham’s ram that was caught in the thicket, and so offered up instead of Isaac, Genesis 22:13. [3.] Thorns signify afflictions, 2 Chronicles 33:11. These Christ put into a crown; so much did he alter the property of them to them that are his, giving them cause to glory in tribulation, and making it to work for them a weight of glory.” (e-Sword 13.0.0). When Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his son, Isaac was a type of Christ, and Abraham in this action was a type of the Father.

Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible takes this significance a step further: “The ‘crown of thorns’ may allude to (1) mocking Jesus’ claim to kingship or (2) the curse of Genesis 3:18 (cf. Galatians 3:13). Thorns are a symbol of rejecting the gospel (cf. Hebrews 6:8)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Those who reject Jesus’ sacrifice for them will continue to experience the effects of the curse in their efforts to save themselves.

This mockery of Jesus as a king did not involve only these Roman soldiers, as A New and Concise Bible Dictionary by George Morrish explains: “Though applied to His sacred head by the rough soldiers, it was connived at by Pilate, who presented the Lord in this garb to the Jews, but which only drew forth their cry, ‘Crucify Him.’ We read that the robe was taken off Him, but nothing is said of the crown, so that He may have worn that on the cross” (Bible Analyzer If this was the case, during His crucifixion Jesus suffered not only the nails of the cross and the spear wound of the Roman soldier but also the crown of thorns jammed into his skull.

Jesus’ crown of thorns should instill in all believers a terrifying awareness of the consequences of their sins. Jesus willingly took upon Himself this curse so that they may be forgiven and enter His kingdom as kings and priests (Revelation 1:6; 20:6). Each of these two offices provides distinguishing headwear to signify leadership. Priestly miters and kingly crowns will likely be worn by those Jesus has saved and transformed (Exodus 28:40-29:6). This results from Jesus bearing their crowns of thorns.

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Lovingkindness

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 7 min.

Did you know that when Myles Coverdale produced his Coverdale Bible in 1535, he coined a word to describe the special relationship that exists between God and His people?

This relationship is so extraordinary, it took a newly created word to explain its meaning in English. This Digging Deeper uncovers the deeper meaning of the magnificent biblical word lovingkindness to better understand the special relationships of God and His saints.

The Coverdale Bible was the first complete modern English translation of the Bible and the first complete printed Bible translation into English. Coverdale realized there was no one English word to fully translate the original Hebrew word, so he brought together two English words: loving and kindness. English translations following Coverdale’s continued to employ this word. Hastings Dictionary of the Bible explains this word’s meaning: “Two ideas are blended in this expressive word; it denotes kindness which springs from the loyalty of love” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Marital love is comparable to this relationship – e.g.: “And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies” (Hosea 2:19).

Our focus verse is the first time this English word appears in our Bible: “Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them” (Psalm 17:7 King James Version throughout). David was in danger of his life at this time, as Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible explains: “David was now exposed to imminent danger; common interpositions of Providence could not save him; if God did not work miracles for him, he must fall by the hand of Saul. Yet he lays no claim to such miraculous interpositions; he expects all from God’s lovingkindness” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

A marvelous and ordinary blessing

The Expository Notes of Dr. Constable explains why David could rely on his relationship with the Everlasting God: “The psalmist based his request on God’s loyal love for him as seen in His deliverance of those who take refuge in Him. He called on God to deliver him immediately” (e-Sword 13.0.0). There are times in life when God’s people need immediate deliverance. For David, this was such a time. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible describes what God’s people may expect from God’s lovingkindness: “Such is the lovingkindness of God to his people in Christ; which is sovereign, free, special, distinguishing, everlasting, and unchangeable; it is better than life, and passes knowledge; and which is set upon men and not angels, some and not all…” (Ibid.).

Be sure to notice in Psalm 17:7 that David prayed for marvelous lovingkindness. C.H. Spurgeon’s The Treasury of David explains the addition of this descriptor: “Marvellous in its antiquity, its distinguishing character, its faithfulness, its immutability, and above all, marvellous in the wonders which it works. That marvellous grace which has redeemed us with the precious blood of God’s only begotten, is here invoked to come to the rescue” (e-Sword 13.0.0). For Christians, this marvelous lovingkindness is the essence of Christ’s sacrificial love for them.

David Guzik’s Enduring Word Commentary tells us why David added this descriptive adjective: “Yet David spoke of more than lovingkindness here; he spoke of marvelous lovingkindness, and that by Your right hand. ‘The wonder of extraordinary love is that God should make it such an ordinary thing, that he should give to us “marvellous lovingkindness,” and yet should give it so often that it becomes a daily blessing, and yet remains marvellous still (Spurgeon)'” (e-Sword 13.0.0). How gracious is our God that such lovingkindness is an uninterrupted gift!

Ger de Koning’s Commentary on the Whole Bible challenges Christians to be mindful of God’s generosity: “This is a beautiful expression. Every display of God’s lovingkindness to us is a wonder. Do we also have an eye for that and bow down in worship to Him for it? The first wonder of God’s lovingkindness is that He has saved us (Titus 3:4-6). After that, He has shown us countless more wonders of His lovingkindness. Has He not often helped us in His lovingkindness in all kinds of situations, for which we ourselves saw no solution and for which we then resorted to Him?” (Bible Analyzer

The meaning of hesed

Longsuffering is invariably the translation of the Hebrew word hesed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia offers an etymology: “‘Lovingkindness’ in the King James Version always represents this word (30 times), but of ḥeṣedh there are many other renderings, e.g. ‘mercy’ (frequently), ‘kindness’ (38), ‘goodness’ (12). The word is derived from ḥāṣadh, meaning, perhaps, ‘to bend or bow oneself,’ ‘to incline oneself’; hence, ‘to be gracious or merciful’” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The BiblicalTraining Library provides another explanation of the meaning of the Hebrew word: “Ḥesed in the OT signifies an attitude of either God or man born out of mutual relationship. Hesed is the attitude that each expects of the other, e.g., master/subject, host/guest, friend/relative. Primarily ḥesed is not a disposition but a helpful action; it corresponds to a relationship of trust. Hesed in a sovereign protects his dominion; ḥesed gives men security in their mutual dealings…However, the principal connotation of ḥesed is ‘loyal love’—a love which is associated with the covenant (Deuteronomy 7:12; 1 Samuel 20:8). Men could always rely upon the divine ḥesed.”

An example of the saints’ trust in God is: “How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings” (Psalm 36:7 KJV). David proclaimed his trust in the Almighty: “Cause me to hear thy lovingkindness in the morning; for in thee do I trust: cause me to know the way wherein I should walk; for I lift up my soul unto thee” (Psalm 143:8).

Expecting and giving hesed

The BiblicalTraining Library continues: “When ḥesed refers to God it indicates in general the divine love flowing out to sinners in unmerited kindness. On the divine side ḥesed comes to designate particularly grace. In a religious sense the ḥesed of God always signifies His merciful and faithful aid…God has promised ḥesed; one may expect it but dare never claim it.”

Notice how David requested this grace: “To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions” (Psalm 51:1). After his shameful conduct with Bathsheba, David needed lovingkindness!

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia explains that hesed is also expected from God’s people: “Being such an essential and distinctive quality of God, the prophets taught that it should also characterize His people. It is part of the Divine requirement in Micah 6:8, ‘to love kindness’ (compare Zechariah 7:9, ‘Show kindness and compassion every man to his brother’)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). David set an example of sharing and proclaiming God’s lovingkindess to others: “I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation” (Psalm 40:10 KJV). This is an essential part of the message Christians are to proclaim through the gospel today!

The word lovingkindness does not appear in our New Testament. Rather, equivalent words there are “mercy” “goodness,” “kindness,” “brotherly love.” Cheyne, in the Encyclopedia Biblica notes that chesed [hesed] is answered by the Greek word philadelphia (ISBE, e-Sword 13.0.0). Philadelphian Christians should generously and consistently shower fellow believers with lovingkindness. God’s people not only receive such marvelous lovingkindness from God, but they are also expected to exhibit the same to others (John 13:35). In this way, God’s lovingkindness is paid forward. Lovingkindness is not just something we get – it is also something we give.

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Cæsarea Philippi

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 8 min.

Did you know that one of the greatest confessions of faith in Christ was made by an apostle while traveling with Jesus to a northerly Gentile area near Caesarea Philippi?

After traveling with his disciples for some time, Jesus decided to ask them who they thought He was. This was also the occasion when Jesus assigned the future leadership of the church, after He ascended to Heaven, to the apostle Peter. Historically, Caesarea Philippi had been a center of pagan worship. This Digging Deeper researches the verbal exchange between Jesus and His disciples to better understand why Jesus chose this distant geographical location to discuss His identity and prepare them for His coming death and ascension to heaven.

Our focus passage is: “When Jesus came into the coasts [region] of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 16:13-17 KJV throughout). Peter’s confession of faith revealed the kind of disciple he was deep inside even though he failed to understand Christ at times (Matthew 16:23).

Jesus journeys North

This episode was during Jesus’ withdrawals from Jewish territories because of opposition He was facing, as explained by Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers: “The order of the journeyings of our Lord and His disciples would seem to have been as follows:—From the coasts of Tyre and Sidon they came, passing through Sidon, to the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee (Mark 7:31); thence by ship to Magdala and Dalmanutha, on the western shore (Matthew 15:39; Mark 8:10); thence, again crossing the lake (Mark 8:13), to the eastern Bethsaida (Mark 8:22); thence to Cæsarea Philippi. There is in all these movements an obvious withdrawal from the populous cities which had been the scene of His earlier labours, and which had practically rejected Him and cast in their lot with His enemies” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Matthew reports that Jesus came to the coasts (region) of Caesarea Philippi (Matthew 16:13). Mark clarifies further that Jesus came to the towns of Caesarea Philippi (Mark 8:27), not the city itself. This was the extreme northeast corner of Galilee near the source of the Jordan River and was located at the base of the southwest slope of Mt. Hermon. It was also near the former border of the tribe of Naphtali and was the most northerly area of Palestine that Jesus visited. This trip was shortly before His transfiguration, as described in Matthew 17. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary notes: “The transfiguration probably took place on mount Hermon which rears its majestic head 7,000 feet above Caesarea Philippi” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The ESV Study Bible provides essential background material for this city: “Caesarea Philippi, some 25 miles (40 km) north of the Sea of Galilee, had been a center of the worship of (1) Baal, then of (2) the Greek god Pan, and then of (3) Caesar. At this time it was an important Greco-Roman city, with a primarily pagan Syrian and Greek population. In fact, its name had recently been changed from Paneas to Caesarea Philippi by Philip the Tetrarch (one of Herod the Great’s sons), in honor of himself and Augustus Caesar. Excavations at the site have revealed coins minted to depict the temple built to honor Augustus Caesar, and a pagan cave dedicated to Pan, with shrines and cult niches that are still visible today” (Tecarta Bible App). Pan was the Greek god of the forest, shepherds, nature, and fertility. He was depicted as half man and half goat. During a summer archaeological dig in Jerusalem in 1971, over 70 of us Ambassador College students saw these cult niches during a day trip to this area.

The Son of Man

In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked His followers what was being said about Him by the common people, not the Pharisees, Sadducees, and teachers of the Law. Then He pointedly asked His disciples what they thought of Him, as explained by the New King James Study Bible: “In the face of the surrounding idols, Christ led His disciples into a proclamation of His deity by first soliciting from them what other people said. In the end, however, what mattered was the apostles’ own beliefs concerning Jesus” (Tecarta Bible App). Peter, the spokesman for these disciples, proclaimed Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the living God, thereby acknowledging Jesus’ divinity.

Notice that Jesus referred to Himself as “the Son of man.” Joseph Sutcliffe’s Commentary on the Old and New Testaments explains: “It is very remarkable, that when our Saviour was about to disclose his Godhead, he calls himself the Son of man, which marks his humanity, that he was the son of Adam, or rather, the second Adam, the promised Seed. The same name was given Ezekiel, when favoured with high revelations, but in a different sense to this title of Christ: for in Christ it signifies the sovereign Judge of heaven and earth, the Father having given him authority to execute judgment, because he is by preëminence the Son of man. John 5:27” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible expands this further: “This phrase was used several times in the OT. It implies humanity (Psalm 8:4; Ezekiel 2:1) and deity (Daniel 7:13). The phrase was not used by the rabbis of Jesus’ day; therefore, it had no nationalistic or militaristic implications. This was Jesus’ self-chosen designation because it combined the twin aspects of His person, fully God and fully man (cf. Philippians 2:6-8; 1 John 4:1-3). See note at Matthew 8:20” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The object lesson of “the rock”

It was after Peter’s confession of faith that Jesus gave him the keys of the kingdom of heaven, authorizing Peter as the human leader of the new church in Jesus’ absence (Matthew 16:18-19). Jesus declared He would build His church upon “this rock” – referring to Himself. It was not a coincidence that Jesus chose this location to announce it, as explained by the New King James Study Bible: “The site for pagan worship centered on a massive stone facade, which Jesus referred to in His play on words concerning ‘rock’ in v. 18” (Tecarta Bible App). The surrounding rock made an impressive object lesson for these disciples.

This story appears in the three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 16:13-20; Mark 8:27-30; Luke 9:18-21. In all three, Jesus concluded the conversation by commanding the disciples to tell no man that He was Jesus the Christ. Scholars refer to this as “the Messianic Secret.” At that time, many Jews expected a conquering champion Messiah who would rid the Holy Land of the despised Romans and restore the glory days of David and Solomon. Jesus had not come at that time to conquer the world. Rather, He came to die as the sacrifice for human sin. He foretold His death and resurrection soon after this discussion about His identity (Matthew 16:21-23).

Why did Jesus choose this spot to reveal His identity and prepare them for the establishment of His church? The Holman KJV Study Bible replies: “That ­Jesus’ identity as the Messiah was announced here demonstrates that ­Jesus is superior to Caesar and to all idols and mythical gods” (Tecarta Bible App). At that time, Caesar was declared by many as the divine son of God who brought peace (Pax Romana) to the Roman world. By contrast, Jesus called for their full allegiance to Him as Savior and King of the world.

Jesus knew His time with them was limited and that He needed to prepare His disciples to carry on preaching the gospel in His absence, as explained by the Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary, edited by Joseph S. Exell: “This conversation at Cæsarea Philippi is universally regarded as marking a new era in the life of Christ. His rejection by ‘His own’ [the Jews] is now complete.… With the very small band He has gathered around Him He withdraws to the neighbourhood of the Gentile town of Cæsarea Philippi; not for seclusion only, but, as the event shows, to found an Ecclesia—His church (Gibson)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). That church continues to proclaim His royal gospel to the world even today.

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Aquila and Priscilla

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank | Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 6 min. 43 sec.

Did you know that a husband and a wife risked their lives for Paul and that they upgraded the theology of a gifted orator in the New Testament church?

This couple proved influential in the early church due to their dedication to the gospel and their generosity to local brethren. This Digging Deeper explores what the New Testament reveals about them and why they were so influential in the ministry of the apostle Paul.

Our focus verses are: “After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them. And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers” (Acts 18:1-3 KJV throughout). This chapter details some of Paul’s second evangelistic journey when he established a Church of God in Corinth, located in the southern province of Achaia. This is the first reference to this couple in the New Testament, and it was here that Paul first met them. They may have become Christians through Paul’s evangelism while he lived and worked with them.

Origins for a love story

Likely, Aquila had been born to Jewish parents. His birthplace was Pontus, a Roman province. The Jamiesson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary notes that Pontus was: “…the most easterly province of Asia Minor, stretching along the southern shore of the Black Sea. From this province there were Jews at Jerusalem on the great Pentecostal day (Acts 2:9), and the Christians of it are included among ‘the strangers of the dispersion,’ to whom Peter addressed his First Epistle (1 Peter 1:1)” (e-Sword 13.0.0). As a youth, Aquila learned the trade of tentmaking and later married a woman named Priscilla (Prisca).

Aquila and Priscilla are their Latin names; their Jewish names are not given. It was common then for diaspora Jews (Jews living outside the Holy Land) to adopt a second name that was Gentile. They are always named together in the New Testament. However, a few times Priscilla is named before Aquila (Acts 18:18; Romans 16:3; 2 Timothy 4:19). The NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible offers a couple of potential reasons: “Priscilla’s name is usually listed first, an unusual practice in Greco-Roman society, indicating her higher social status or greater prominence in the Christian community (or both)” (Tecarta Bible App). Bob Utley’s You Can Understand the Bible further explains: “Her name matches a wealthy Roman family name (gens Prisca). She is never said to be a Jew. What a great love story it would be if she were a wealthy Roman lady who fell in love with an itinerant Jewish tentmaker or leather worker!” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Expelled from Rome

This couple had been living in Italy until Emperor Claudius issued an edict expelling Jews from Rome. The Holman KJV Study Bible provides historical background: “It appears that in a.d. 41 emperor Claudius prohibited Jews from gathering together in Rome. Then in a.d. 49 he expelled them altogether, probably because the earlier measures did not work. Presumably Aquila and Priscilla were expelled at this time” (Tecarta Bible App). They may have been living in Rome or they may have lived elsewhere in Italy but decided it was best to leave regardless.

The Biblical Theology Study Bible offers an intriguing reason the Jews were expelled: “Corroborated by the Roman historian Suetonius (Life of Claudius 25.4), who says that the expulsions resulted from riots instigated by a certain ‘Chrestus.’ Suetonius probably misunderstood conflicts between Jews and Christians over ‘the Christ’ as a conflict involving an individual named Chrestus (a common slave name)” (Tecarta Bible App). Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah may have been verbally and physically assaulted by unbelieving Jews. The emperor may then have decided to expel them all.

Tents and Leather

Acts 18:3 states that Paul decided to stay with Aquila and Priscilla in Corinth because they shared the same trade, as explained by the Holman KJV Study Bible: “Tentmakers refers to people who worked in leather, possibly related to working in the goat hair cloth that was made in Cilicia, Paul’s home region. Later rabbinic tradition confirmed the importance of teachers having a trade to help support themselves” (Tecarta Bible App). M.R. Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament adds: “It was a Rabbinical principle that whoever does not teach his son a trade is as if he brought him up to be a robber” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The NIV Cultural Background Study Bible explains why Paul and this couple joined forces: “People of the same trade often lived and ran shops in the same neighborhood with one another, but most Jewish people lived in Jewish enclaves distinct from wider trade connections. Tarsus [Paul’s home city] was known for its textile industry, but many scholars think that the term translated ‘tentmaker’ more often referred generally to leather workers. Certainly tools for leatherworking would have been easier for Paul to carry from one city to the next” (Tecarta Bible App).

Faithful workers for God’s people

When Paul departed from Corinth for Ephesus eighteen months later, he took Aquila and Priscilla with him and left them there as he continued to Syrian Antioch (Acts 18:11, 18-19). While there, Aquila and Priscilla met a scholar mighty in the scriptures and a gifted orator from Alexandria, Egypt named Apollos who only knew of the baptism of John the Baptist. They took him aside to upgrade his theology so that Apollos could continue preaching with greater truth (Acts 18:24-26). Having learned from Paul, this couple was competent to instruct Apollos about all that Jesus had accomplished and taught. The spouses worked as a team for Apollo’s spiritual education. On his third evangelistic journey, Paul finds Aquila and Pricilla still in Ephesus where they had opened their home to the brethren for worship services (1 Corinthians 16:19). It is from here that Paul writes his first epistle to the Corinthians.

A brief time later, we find this husband and wife back in Rome. Perhaps Paul sent them there, before he left Ephesus, to help organize Rome’s young church. In his epistle to the Romans, written before he visits the capitol city, Paul declares that they had risked their lives for him (Romans 16:3-4). Returning to Rome may have put their lives at risk from the Roman government that had expelled Jews earlier. Paul and all the churches of the Gentiles thanked them for their sacrifice.

As Paul faced death during his second Roman imprisonment, he wrote to young Timothy in Ephesus, who likely was serving there as pastor, and asks Timothy to fondly greet Prisca and Aquila who had returned to Ephesus and were probably assisting Timothy serve the brethren (2 Timothy 4:19). Notice that here she is referred to as Prisca. The diminutive form of Prisca was Priscilla. Just before his execution, Paul made sure to again greet and thank the couple who had supported him so loyally and who had served his small congregations with sacrificial love. Their dedication to God’s work and hospitality for the brethren became an outstanding model of service in the New Testament. Through the centuries, many other dedicated couples have sacrificed their pleasures for the good of God’s work and His people.

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Pleasures for Evermore

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank
| Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 7 min.

Did you know that King David declared that there are pleasures at God’s right hand to be enjoyed forever?

He often faced life-threatening dangers. Even as he fled from King Saul or some of his many enemies, including one of his sons, David trusted the Almighty not only to preserve his mortal life but also to grant him God’s eternal pleasures in a better world should he die at the hand of his persecutors. He expressed his faith in a psalm of trust. This Digging Deeper on David’s Psalm 16 explores his confidence to discover how this assurance also pertained to Jesus’ resurrection and to God’s people today. Our study of certain aspects of this psalm will give Christians great hope for facing the future – by life or even by death.

Over these past two troublesome years, we have witnessed the deaths of millions of people around the world due to Covid-19. No doubt, you know of people, including Christians, who have contracted it. You may even know some who have died from this dreaded disease. Covid-19 has made most of us consider our mortality more seriously. As we journey through life, we face many perils. Yet the Christian has trust in God who has delivered him/her repeatedly. Even in the face of our temporality, we can continue to trust Him not to leave us forever in the dust of the earth. Our God is One in whom we can completely trust to restore us to life eternal.

Death is an ever-present prospect for all of us. None of us likes to think about it; yet it is assured (Hebrews 9:27), unless we are alive when Jesus returns (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Jesus Himself faced death. We will discover what gave Him such confidence in God’s promise of restored life as He faced crucifixion. One of the Messianic Psalms quoted in the New Testament is Psalm 16. In this Psalm, David writes, under inspiration, prophetically about Jesus’ trust in the Father to raise him again. Being the God of the Old Testament, Jesus knew the promises of this psalm since He was the one who inspired David to write it.

Our focus verse is: “Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Psalm 16:11 KJV throughout). Immediately, David declared his trust in Almighty God (v. 1). He avowed his love for God’s people and disdain of idol-worshipers (vv. 3-4). God was ever in David’s mind (vv. 8-9). It is important to note that verses 10 and 11 have a prophetic aspect that David inscribed about his greater descendant, Jesus Christ.

Die we must, but rise we shall

Peter’s Pentecost sermon made it plain that Psalm 16:9-10 did not apply to David in his lifetime for Peter declared that David was dead, buried, and his sepulcher was still in Jerusalem (Acts 2:29-32). Paul later cited this passage from Psalm 16 as well in which he explained that David did see corruption; therefore, David’s prophetic statements concerned his greater heir (Acts 13:33-37). As Peter and Paul both explained, Jesus did not see corruption because he was raised from the dead after three days and three nights. Because Jesus is alive, He assures His followers, who compose His spiritual body, that they too shall live eternally: “Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:54). Jesus was the first to tread the path from death to life. He will not be the last, for He promised every believer: “Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also” (John 14:19).

What an encouragement for all true believers this is: die we must but rise to eternal life we shall. The bodies of believers shall be delivered from corruption by virtue of their union with Christ. The victory of Jesus over death was both a victory for Himself and for his spiritual body, the church.

David seemed to know something about a future life (Psalm 16:9), even though this psalm’s prophetic aspect applied directly to Christ. David is yet in his grave, but Bible readers are assured that he will live again in the Kingdom of God when he reigns over the united tribes of Israel during the Millennium and beyond (Hosea 3:5; Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24-25). Along with all the faithful saints of the Old Testament era, he shall reign with Christ in the eternal theocracy.

In this coming kingdom will be fullness of joy in God’s presence along with pleasures for evermore (Psalm 16:11). Christians are assured such pleasures because of their position in Christ as His spiritual body. Because God has shown Jesus the path of life, He also will show it to those united in Christ. Though their bodies go down to the grave, they will not be left there forever.

When Jesus appears the second time, all who have died in Him shall be raised up incorruptible and glorious: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:52-55 KJB:PCE).

The pleasure is in God’s presence

Editor J.R. Dummelow in A Commentary on the Holy Bible clarifies Psalm 16:11: “The contrast which the Ps. draws is not, perhaps, so much between life here and life hereafter, as between life without God and life with Him. In its very nature, however, the latter life is enduring, and hence the Psalmist’s words contain an anticipation (though it may be a dim and only semi-conscious one) of the immortality which Christ has brought to light” (e-Sword 13.0.0). God’s people will be at that time in the Almighty’s presence at His right hand, a position of honor since that is where Christ is now (Psalm 16:11).

The apostle Paul supported this prospect of pleasures for evermore in God’s presence when he wrote: “But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV). Albert Barnes in his Notes on the Bible on Psalm 16:11 elaborates: “Happiness there, whatever may be its nature, will be eternal. Losses, disappointment, bereavement, sickness, can never occur there; nor can the anticipation of death, though at the most distant period, and after countless million of ages, ever mar our joys” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

David Guzik’s Enduring Word Commentary demonstrates how these promises fortified King David: “David had full confidence that his life with God – both now and forevermore – would be marked by the highest and best pleasures. This is life lived above shallow entertainments and excitements” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Based on God’s assurance recorded by David, Christians now experience benefits and prospects because Jesus Christ is alive. Even in the face of death, we have every reason to live joyously in hope. At God’s right hand, this place of honor, will be inconceivable pleasures for evermore.

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Old and Grayheaded

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank
| Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 6 min.

Did you know that a psalmist entreated God to not forsake him in his old age until he had proclaimed God’s truth to the next generation?

He accepted his mission seriously by asking God to strengthen him in his final years so that God’s truth would be perpetuated to future generations. Senior citizens have a responsibility by deed and word to convey God’s truth to younger people who look to them as mentors and role models. This Digging Deeper explores this sacred responsibility to discover how God continues to work with people no matter their age or physical condition.

Our focus verses are: “O God, thou hast taught me from my youth: and hitherto have I declared thy wondrous works. Now also when I am old and grayheaded, O God, forsake me not; until I have shewed thy strength unto this generation, and thy power to every one that is to come” (Psalm 71:17-18 KJV throughout). This verse parallels a previous one: “Cast me not off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength faileth” (Psalm 71:9).

A song of the aged

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible introduces this psalm thus: “It is a psalm of great value as describing the feelings of a good man when he is growing old, and is an illustration of what there has been occasion so often to remark in this exposition of the Book of Psalms, that the Bible is adapted to all the conditions of human life” (e-Sword 13.0.0). The Bible is written for people of all ages. G. Campbell Morgan’s Exposition on the Bible adds: “This is pre-eminently a song of the aged, and, like old age, it is reminiscent. The singer passes from memory to hope, and from experience to praise” (Ibid.). This psalmist explains that he has served the true God since his youth (Psalm 71:5-6). He then asks God to not abandon him now that he is older, as explained by Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible: “Still keep me alive. Give me health, and strength, and ability to set forth thy praise, and to make known thy truth” (Ibid.).

The author understands he has a responsibility to teach the next generation about God and His plan, as explained by the NIV Biblical Theology Study Bible: “The psalmist knows that it was critical that the faith be passed down through the generations. God told the Israelites to teach their children of him at any time of day or night (Deuteronomy 6:7), and he stressed that each generation needed to enter into the covenant anew (Deuteronomy 5:2–3; 29:14–15; Joshua 24:25–27). It was not enough to be born an Israelite; each generation had to appropriate the faith for themselves, and it was the responsibility of the entire community to proclaim the faith boldly and to pass it down: parents, priests, and even the king (as here)” (Tecarta Bible App). This is the sacred duty of previous generations.

Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains how this conveyed instruction benefits civilization: “Society thus makes progress. One generation becomes wiser and better than the one which went before it, and the experience of all ages thus accumulates as the world advances, enabling a future age to act on the results of all the wisdom of the past. Man thus differs from the inferior creation. The animals, governed by instinct alone, make no progress” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Seniors are to pass along life lessons to younger people that will save them time, effort, and suffering.

Blessings and Responsibilities

The Scriptures abound with God’s promises to the elderly so that growing older should be a pleasurable time with a deep commitment to God, such as:

Psalm 92:12-14 “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. (13) Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. (14) They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing.”

Psalm 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

However, there are also exhortations to this senior population:

Titus 2:1-5 “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine: (2) That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.  (3) The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; (4) That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children,  (5) To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.”

Notice, that the elderly in a community, family, or congregation have an example to set and a duty to instruct younger folks with godly wisdom. However, it is equally important that the younger generation recognizes the value of instruction from their seniors, as explained by Henry Morris in his Defender’s Study Bible: “This is a worthy prayer for all elderly believers, as well as a reminder to younger Christians that the older generation still has much to contribute to the present spiritual conflict in terms of accumulated experience and wisdom…A concerned Christian should continue to serve the Lord, in prayer if nothing else, as long as he has breath” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Leave a godly legacy

As people age, they may become resentful about limitations and infirmities associated with aging, leading to complaints to others and even to God. The ESV Study Bible addresses this matter: “The book of Psalms readily confesses that the believer’s life is full of many troubles and calamities and acknowledges that these are under God’s control (you who have made me see [v. 20]); and since God governs these troubles, he can also relieve them (hence the confidence of vv. 20–21)” (Tecarta Bible App). But they must not forget that God has some form of service assigned to every believer for the younger generation and those that follow in future generations. We all create a legacy. We must decide whether it will be a godly one. We have the potential to produce an abundant harvest if we have sowed the seeds of good fruit.

Joseph Benson’s Commentary of the Old and New Testaments provides us fitting food for thought in conclusion: “Those that have been taught of God from their youth, and have made it the business of their lives to honour him, may be sure he will not leave them when they are old and gray-headed, will not leave them helpless and comfortless, but will make the evil days of old age their best days, and such as they shall have reason to say they have pleasure in” (e-Sword 13.0.0). 

Digging Deeper: The Fullness of the Blessing

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank
| Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 7 min.

Did you know that, when Paul announced he planned to visit Christians in Rome, he was confident God would impart to them a blessing in its fullness?

Paul had never met most of the brethren of the capital of the Roman Empire, except perhaps those who had met him in other locations of his ministry. Nevertheless, through the years a Church of God had developed in the capital. For some time, Paul desired to visit these outlying Christians but obstacles prevented him from doing so. This Digging Deeper considers the background to Paul’s joyful announcement to understand the spiritual interaction between brethren and ministry that imparts a full blessing. Readers will discover an anticipated blessing through Paul’s ministry to the Church of God at Rome.

Several countries have a day of national thanksgiving for the year’s blessings, usually in the autumn. Americans observed their Thanksgiving Day not long ago. Traditionally at the Thanksgiving meal family and friends recount what they are grateful for. People enjoy so many blessings that it is often difficult to choose just one. They may sense a “fullness of the blessing.”

Our focus verses are: “When therefore I have performed this, and have sealed to them this fruit, I will come by you into Spain. And I am sure that, when I come unto you, I shall come in the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:28-29 KJV throughout). Paul wrote this epistle around AD 57 or 58, probably from Corinth. He explained he had been much hindered in coming to visit them for some years (Rom 1:13; 15:22-23). He planned to visit them on his way to Spain; however, first, he planned to travel to Jerusalem to deliver a gift from the Macedonian and Achaian brethren to the suffering Judeans (Romans 15:24-27).

A roundabout way to Rome

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible provides historical context for traveling by ship in that time: “I will go to Spain and visit you on the way. Friends often announced travel plans in letters. Ships from the east would normally stop in Rome; voyagers to Spain would travel on from there to Tarraco, some 900 miles (nearly 1,500 kilometers). (By road one could also travel from Italy to southern Gaul then across the Pyrenees mountain range.) Travel to Cordoba would be even farther” (Tecarta Bible App).

As it later turned out, Paul was delayed in coming to Rome because he was arrested in Jerusalem. Through various unexpected events, he finally arrived in Rome—but as a prisoner. His intentions were right but he could not anticipate all that would happen to change his circumstances for his visit to Rome. The Pulpit Commentary by Spence and Exell teaches us an important lesson here: “How different from his anticipations were the circumstances of his first visit to Rome we know from the Acts. So man proposes, but God disposes, and all for final good (cf. Philippians 1:12, seq.)” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Explanatory Notes by Rhoderick D. Ice explains how Paul’s plans changed: “He certainly did not expect to reach Rome as a prisoner (see note on Acts 28:16). Yet his coming was with this blessing (Romans 1:11; Acts 28:30-31)(e-Sword 13.0.0).  Even though he did not arrive in Rome in freedom, his visit did provide these brethren a fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. The Roman authorities permitted him to have visitors since he was under house arrest (Acts 28:30-31). Without question, his presence in this great city turned out to be the fullness of the blessing of Christ’s good news but in a way he did not experience.

Spiritual fullness in the Gospel

It is important to understand more fully the phrase “in the fullness of the blessing.” Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Bible explains: “This is a Hebrew mode of expression, where one noun performs the purpose of an adjective, and means with a full or abundant blessing'” (e-Sword 13.0.0). Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers clarifies how Paul would offer such a blessing: “By ‘the fulness of the blessing of Christ’ the Apostle means the full or abundant measure of those spiritual blessings which he, as the Minister and Apostle of Christ, was commissioned to impart to them” (Ibid.).  

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible details some of what that blessing involved: “There is a fulness in the Gospel; it is full of the deep things of God, which the Spirit searches and reveals, 1 Corinthians 2:10; it is full of the doctrines of grace and truth, which Christ himself is said to be full of, John 1:14, it is full of exceeding great and precious promises transcribed from Christ, and out of the covenant of grace; and it is full of a variety of food, of milk for babes, Hebrews 5:13, and meat for strong persons, Hebrews 5:14” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Paul’s time in Rome, even as a prisoner, turned out to be such a blessing, as explained by the Commentary on the Whole Bible by Ger de Koning: “Paul knew something else too, that if he were to come, he would ‘come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ’. Well, that full blessing came. It was from the prison in Rome where he wrote letters about the highest blessings of the church. We have these letters in our Bible. You can read about the ‘fullness of the blessing’ in these letters to the believers in Ephesus, Colossae and Philippi. These letters provide you with a view of Christ’s full blessing” (BP Bible These letters, along with Philemon, are today called the Prison Epistles. All of them are rich in spiritual blessings for Christians of all ages and have reached every nation on earth by the distribution of the Bible.

The blessing today

Ministers and brethren today may enjoy the same rich blessing of Christ, as noted by Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: “There is then a happy meeting between people and ministers, when they are both under the fulness of the blessing. The blessing of the gospel is the treasure which we have in earthen vessels. When ministers are fully prepared to give out, and people fully prepared to receive, this blessing, both are happy. Many have the gospel who have not the blessing of the gospel, and so they have it in vain. The gospel will not profit, unless God bless it to us; and it is our duty to wait upon him for that blessing, and for the fulness of it” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Handfuls on Purpose, Vol 1. by Smith and Lee teaches an important lesson from this story: “It is a great blessing to be assured that when we go in God’s Name we go in God’s power, and in the fulness of the Gospel of Christ. Although Paul went to Rome in chains, he nevertheless went in the fulness of the blessing. Nothing can hinder our usefulness is [sic ‘as’] Christians but sin. This blessed assurance ought to characterise every preacher of the Gospel” (Bible Analyzer In the end, brethren in Rome, as well as those in Asia Minor (modern Turkey), were blessed by Paul’s visit and his prison epistles. Today Christians enjoy the fullness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ when they read and study these foundational books. Additionally, they are blessed by their ministers who preach these books with the spiritual gifts given them to edify God’s church (1 Corinthians 14:3; 2 Corinthians 10:8).

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.

Digging Deeper: Simon of Cyrene

Author: Mr. Kenneth Frank
| Faculty in Theology, Living Education

Estimated reading time: 8 min.

Did you know that Jesus was so weakened by his various beatings before His crucifixion that a passerby was conscripted by Roman soldiers into carrying Jesus’ cross or crossbeam to the crucifixion site?

The Gospels draw attention to this stranger who was dragged into the commotion of the execution of a prophet from Galilee. This stranger’s sacrificial act of mercy is noted in the Gospels. Digging Deeper this week considers who he may have been, what he carried, and how this experience may have changed his life—and has changed ours.

Our focus verse is: “And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross” (Matthew 27:32 KJV throughout). This story appears in all three Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The other two references are Mark 15:21 and Luke 23:26. John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible describes Cyrene as: “… a place in Libya, and one of the five cities called Pentapolis: which were these, Berenice, Arsinoe, Ptolemais, Apollonia, and Cyrene (l); Kir in Amos 1:5 is rendered by the Targum, קירני, ‘Cyrene’, as it is also by the Vulgate Latin” (e-Sword 13.0.0). It was a capital city about 800 miles west from Jerusalem, being where Tripoli is today.

Easton’s Bible Dictionary provides important historical information about the Roman province of Cyrene that was along the Mediterranean Coast: “A hundred thousand Jews from Palestine had been settled in this province by Ptolemy Soter (323-285 B.C.), where by this time they had greatly increased in number. They had a synagogue in Jerusalem [Acts 6:9] for such of their number as went thither to the annual feasts” (e-Sword 13.0.0). The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible adds: “… its population included many local Libyans, resident Greeks and Jews” (Tecarta Bible App).

Who was Simon?

In the Bible, several people are named Simon, an abbreviated form of Simeon. He was either born Jewish or was a convert (proselyte) of the Diaspora (Jews outside the Holy Land). The Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature by John McClintock and James Strong describes him as: “A Hellenistic Jew, born at Cyrene on the north coast of Africa, who was present at Jerusalem at the time of the crucifixion of Jesus either as an attendant at the feast (Acts 2:10) or as one of the numerous settlers at Jerusalem from that place (Acts 6:9)” (e-Sword 13.0.0).  

The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible comments that: “Simon was a Greek name very commonly used by Jews (because it resembled the patriarchal name Simeon). His coming to Jerusalem probably suggests that he is Jewish by faith, whatever his ethnic background.” (Tecarta Bible App). He may have traveled to Jerusalem for Passover. Little did he suspect the experience that lay before him. Roman soldiers had the authority, called the right of impressment, to draft a passerby to help carry the cross to the crucifixion site. Simon was in the right place at the right time for this duty.

William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible characterizes what it may have been like for Simon when the Roman soldier approached him to bear Jesus’ cross: “This must have been a grim day for Simon of Cyrene. Palestine was an occupied country and any man might be impressed into the Roman service for any task. The sign of impressment was a tap on the shoulder with the flat of a Roman spear. Simon was from Cyrene in Africa. No doubt he had come from that far off land for the Passover. No doubt he had scraped and saved for many years in order to come. No doubt he was gratifying the ambition of a lifetime to eat one Passover in Jerusalem. Then this happened to him” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The burden that changed him

The reason Simon was drafted to bear the cross is that Jesus had been so weakened by His scourging that he probably stumbled in carrying His cross, though He had set out doing so (John 19:17). The ESV Study Bible declares: “The skin and muscles of his back would have been severely lacerated, and he could have suffered severe injury to his internal organs” (Tecarta Bible App). It was customary for the prisoner to carry his crossbeam, called a patibulum, to the crucifixion site, where it was attached to the upright stake. The KJV Study Bible adds: “The transverse piece was usually carried separately and attached by rope to the vertical pole at the place of execution” (Ibid.).

It was also possible Jesus had been carrying the entire cross, which could weigh up to 30-40 pounds. Describing this cross, the ESV Study Bible details: “The most common Greek word for ‘cross’ (stauros), though originally designating a ‘sharpened pole,’ became associated before the NT with various penal means of suspending bodies (before or after death), including those employing a crux, or cross-shaped device, for crucifixion” (Tecarta Bible App). If it was the entire cross Jesus was carrying, Simon may have assisted Him by carrying one end.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible suggests that the Romans inducted Simon to help Jesus carry His cross to Golgatha: “… not out of good will to Christ, but fearing lest through his faintness and weakness, he should, die before he got to the place of execution, and they be disappointed of their end, the crucifixion of him; or because they were in haste to have him executed, and he was not able to go so fast as they desired…” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

Undoubtedly, this experience was life-changing for Simon. The NKJ Study Bible notes: “Simon must have been (or later became) a Christian; it is unlikely that he would be referred to by name if he were a stranger to the Christian community” (Tecarta Bible App). Some even suggest Simon is the Simeon of Acts 13:1 who served as one of the teachers in Antioch’s young church. If that was the case, his experience carrying Jesus’ cross, no doubt, propelled him to discipleship.

Simon’s sons, Alexander and Rufus, were later known by the early church (Mark 15:21). From the world of archaeology, The NIV Study Bible reports: “A first-century ad ossuary (a limestone box containing the bones of the dead; see note on Mt 26:3) bearing the inscription ‘Alexander (son) of Simon’ was found in 1941 in Jerusalem” (Tecarta Bible App). It may have been the same Alexander. John Kitto’s Popular Cyclopedia of Biblical Literature extends this linkage further: “The family of Simon seems to have resided afterwards at Rome; for St. Paul, in his epistle to the church there, salutes the wife of Simon with tenderness and respect, calling her his ‘mother,’ though he does not expressly name her: ‘Salute Rufus, and his mother and mine’ (Romans 16:13)” (e-Sword 13.0.0).

The true weight of the matter

The Gnomon New Testament by John Bengel offers a solemn lesson for all Christians from this account: “There was neither Jew nor Roman who was willing to bear the burden of the cross. Men were present at that time from Europe, Asia, and Africa. Even in the remotest regions Christ has since found those who would bear His cross.—ἵνα ἄρῃ, to bear) Simon is not said to have borne it unwillingly. Well has Athanasius (Book i. fol. 10, 11) said, in his sermon on the Passion [Suffering], ‘Simon, a mere man, bore the cross, that all might know that the Lord underwent, not His own death, but that of men'” (Bible Analyzer 

Spiritually, Jesus carried Simon’s cross, on which he would have died for his sins. Similarly, Jesus bore the cross for each one of us to remove our sins. At baptism, Christians are symbolically crucified with Christ (Romans 6:3-7).  As Jesus’ disciples, we are to carry our crosses continually: “And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23). This means death to ourselves so that we may live unto Christ.

The Apostle Paul used this same metaphorical language: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). Jesus was crucified outside the city gates of Jerusalem (Hebrews 13:12). Notice Paul’s use of this detail: “Let us go forth therefore unto him without [outside] the camp, bearing his reproach” (Hebrews 13:13). Every Christian vicariously carries Jesus’ cross as Simon literally did. We too have been drafted to do so, not by brutal Roman soldiers, but by our Savior Who liberated us from sin.

Kenneth Frank headshot

Kenneth Frank was born and raised in New Jersey, USA and attended Ambassador College, graduating in 1973. He served in the Canadian ministry from 1973-1999, after which he returned to the USA to pastor churches in Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina for 15 years. Having earned a BA degree from Ambassador College he later earned a MA degree from Grand Canyon University before being assigned to the Charlotte office to teach at Living University, now Living Education. Currently, he teaches the Survey of the Bible course to the on-campus students and writes the Digging Deeper column for our online Bible study program. He is married, has four children, and seven grandchildren.