October 1 – 2 Corinthians 1:1 – 4:18
As you read the opening two chapters of this letter, keep your eyes open for Paul’s feelings and concern for the Corinthians as well as feelings for himself. Also, can you detect what may have lain beneath the tense relationship between Paul and the Corinthians? In chapters three and four, Paul begins the defense of his ministry. What’s at the heart of it?
October 2 – 2 Corinthians 5:1 – 7:16
In 2 Cor. 5:12 we probably have a hint of why Paul is so deeply concerned for the Corinthians and so deeply moved to defend his ministry. There are “those who boast about outward appearance.” What in this section (5:1- 6:13) makes Paul’s ministry the one to follow? Of what does Paul sternly warn them in 6:14-7:1? What brings Paul comfort and leads him to express joy in 7:2-16?
October 3 – 2 Corinthians 8:1 – 9:15
These two chapters address the Corinthians’ earlier commitment to participate in the offering for the impoverished saints in Jerusalem. Note how Paul uses his personal relationship with them to encourage them; the provisions he has made to help them participate (sending Titus and two brothers to them, 8:16-24); and the motivation he offers in 9:6-15. It’s helpful to link God’s “inexpressible gift” (9:15) with 8:9. How can Paul’s advice here enable us to be “cheerful givers”?
October 4 – 2 Corinthians 10:1 – 13:14
In these four chapters Paul defends his ministry against the “super-apostles” (12:13) who are in reality “false apostles” (11:13). His authority is “for building them up and not destroying them” (10:8; 12:19; 13:10). How does Paul respond to the implied criticism against him, so that the Corinthians will heed the message he brings? Ultimately what is crucial for the messengers of God’s Word today?
October 5 – Mark 1:1 – 3:35
We now move in our journey through the New Testament from Greece to Italy and Rome. Early patristic evidence suggests that Rome was the place from which Mark wrote the Gospel which has his name attached. Note the title: “the beginning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” It implies that the record that follows is the beginning. The Gospel will keep on traveling, advancing from one person to the next, one place to the next. As you read the first three chapters, what would you say makes this “good news”? And yet for the “goodness” of Jesus, what accounts for the questioning and opposition that wants “to destroy Him”? (2:6,16,18,24; 3:1,5-6; 3:22,30) What response do Jesus’ actions evoke from you?
October 6 – Mark 4:1 – 6:29
How do the parables of 4:1-34 provide commentary on Mark 1:1 – 3:35? (Did you notice the frequent reference to hearing? See 3:9, 23, 24,33.) In 4:35-5:43, we have the record of four different kinds of mighty deeds Jesus did. Please identify the four categories represented. How can this display of authority be an aid to you in your discipleships? In the first portion of chapter six, we see opposition to Jesus from his own townspeople–and although Jesus authorizes the twelve to cast out demons and heal the sick, King Herod has John the Baptist killed. What does this suggest the follower of Jesus can expect in his or her discipleship?
October 7 – Mark 6:30 – 8:21
This unit has two feedings–one of 5,000 (6:30-44) with twelve basketsful of leftovers and one of 4,000 (8:1-10) with seven basketsful of leftovers, with the former being done in Jewish territory and the latter in Gentile territory (the Decapolis of Ten Towns). How might the Syrophoenician’s response to Jesus’ comments about taking the children’s bread and giving it to the dogs fit in with this? At the same time that we see Jesus serving Gentiles, how does He deal with the Jewish leaders? (7:1-13; 8:11-13) and the disciples (7:14-23; 8:14-21)? On what basis does Jesus offer His critique? (See 7:13.) And recall Jesus’ words to the disciples when they are scared because they think they are seeing a ghost–Mark 6:49-50. What is His statement an echo of? What might this section say to us for our discipleship?