The set apart fellowship of believers

It’s not where we meet but how we walk.

1 John 1:3 – “what we have seen and heard we also declare to you, so that you may also have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Yeshua the Anointed One.”

The apostle John makes it clear that the purpose of his epistle was to encourage faith in Yeshua and like-mindedness among those who would read and hear its message. He uses the word translated as fellowship four times in just this first chapter, so it must be important. Three times it is used in the context of having unity or like-mindedness with other believers, and once for unity of purpose with God.

We typically view fellowship as the common assembly of individuals in a congregation; the local fellowship of believers gathered together. But seeing how John uses the term here in these instances brings out this other aspect of meaning: unity of purpose and understanding.

The Greek word koinonia which is translated as fellowship can mean a shared contribution or participation (such as giving to the poor), or it can mean the specific share or portion that one has among a shared ideal (such as the sufferings or Messiah or the holy Spirit), or it can mean a shared unity around a common idea or purpose. This is the intent that John uses here in the opening verses of this epistle: the shared unity of purpose that believers have relating to a common understanding of God as the Father and Yeshua as the Anointed One of God.

This shared unity is what John is seeking to enjoin with those who were to hear the message of his epistle. Those who have a common understanding of God as a Father, of Yeshua as the Anointed Son of God, and who walk in the teachings of Yeshua have a common purpose; i.e., fellowship with one another. This does not mean that these believers have to all be in one location, just one mindset.

1 John 1:7 – If we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Yeshua his Son cleanses us from all sin.

This singular mindset is what creates the unity that allows believers to “walk in the light,” that is, to walk obediently according to the commands of God as communicated through the Anointed Yeshua. This is where our true fellowship lies, not just in a building once or twice a week. As we walk with God our purpose transcends any local assembly and we become participants in the set apart group known as the Kingdom of God in this world.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Pleasing God through holy prayer

We should simply be obedient to his plain will for us.

As the apostle Paul provides Timothy instruction on correct doctrine and appropriate conduct within the congregation, he begins to focus on the various groups within the assembly: men, women, widows, and slaves, along with the roles of overseers and deacons.

But first and foremost is the admonition to prayer; praying specifically for leaders and officials so that the message of the kingdom can be spread through the peaceful lives of obedient believers.

1 Timothy 2:1-2, 8 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. … I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands apart from anger or quarreling…

While violence was common in that generation and persecution was ever present, the kingdom message had been historically spreading through the persecutions and scatterings of the believers, even the persecution brought on by Paul himself prior to his conversion.

Acts 8:3-4 – “But Saul was ravaging the church, and entering house after house, he dragged off men and women and committed them to prison. Now those who were scattered went about preaching the word.”

However, as Paul’s missionary efforts throughout the empire were coming to fruition in the waning years of his life, he encourages prayer for peaceful and dignified existence to exhibit the wonderful salvation of God to all.

1 Timothy 2:3-4 – “This [praying for leaders and peace and harmony] is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

I can’t think of a more timely and appropriate lesson that we could learn from the Bible at this time in history. Our country and our world is becoming more fractured and oppositional with each passing week and month. If believers, instead of chastising administrations and leaders would instead join together and pray for them, “lifting up holy hands apart from anger and quarreling,” we may see real change towards peace and harmony. God’s desire of people experiencing salvation and coming to the knowledge of the truth could become much more of a reality than we are currently seeing.

Out of all of the actions we as believers can take in influencing this world, praying for leaders and for peace and unity is something that only we can do. If we believe we have been set apart as God’s people, then, as his children, we have the right and responsibility to petition him for this to come to pass. This is not an opportunity for us to lift up our preferred candidate over others, but a chance to ask for God’s involvement and enlightening of all those in authority, that they would make decisions that honor him and not just try to influence the polling statistics.

If this is something that pleases God, then we should simply be obedient to his plain and hopeful will for us, and the obligation that he has laid out for believers. If we consider ourselves holy and set apart, then it is time for us to act like it.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

All types of gifts have value in the life of the congregation

The community of Messiah is far more than just a weekly event.

1 Corinthians 12:20-25 – As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you! ” Or again, the head can’t say to the feet, “I don’t need you! ” On the contrary, those parts of the body that are weaker are indispensable. And those parts of the body that we consider less honorable, we clothe these with greater honor, and our unrespectable parts are treated with greater respect, which our respectable parts do not need. Instead, God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the less honorable, so that there would be no division in the body, but that the members would have the same concern for each other.

The Commentary of the Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges relates the following in regard to this passage of Scripture:

“God had specially provided against this [schisms in the body] by giving to those who occupy the less honourable and ornamental positions in society the compensation of being the most indispensable portions of it. The ‘comely parts’—the wealthy, the refined, the cultivated, the intellectual—obtain honour and respect by the very nature of their gifts. God has signified His Will that due honour and respect should be paid to those to whom it is not instinctively felt to be owing, by so ordering society that we cannot do without them. But our class distinctions and jealousies, our conflicts between capital and labour, shew how little Christians have realized this obvious truth.”

It would seem that we still need to learn these lessons today. While the passage under consideration is less about social class convention and more about differing gifts and abilities, it is true that gatherings of believers have become less community-oriented and more focused on becoming an event that one attends. Those “less honorable” parts of this community are becoming more and more marginalized to where they have less opportunity to participate meaningfully in the life of the congregation. In a sense, class distinctions among believers still persist.

Applying the metaphor that Paul provides, believing congregations represent the body of Messiah to the world. If one is not even caring for the extremities of one’s own body, how can the body function as it should? Paul’s admonition to the Corinthian body is that “the members would have the same concern for each other.” The word used here for concern is actually a Greek phrase meaning “over-anxious to the point of distraction.” It’s the same phrase used by Yeshua in the famous passage in Matthew 6 about not being anxious for tomorrow.

Matthew 6:34 – “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

It seems odd to apply this same type of anxiety to the care and concern believers should be exhibiting for one another. Can we truly say we are “anxious to the point of distraction” about the well-being of others and for the equality of different types of spiritual gifts that may be exhibited in our believing community?

1 Corinthians 12:18 – But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose.

Paul says that the differences in ability and gifting among us exist for the purpose of causing us to be a diverse community with spiritual abilities far beyond just any one of us as individuals. We need to learn to recognize the value that these diverse abilities and gifts provide the whole for the sake of honoring the God who has put the body together just the way he wants it to be.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Forgiveness that creates unity among believers

Opinions do not equate to biblical core doctrine.

Romans 14:4 – Who are you to judge another’s household servant? Before his own Lord he stands or falls. And he will stand, because the Lord is able to make him stand.

I really dislike commenting on Romans 14 because I believe it is such a widely misunderstood passage. The root of Paul’s teaching, while true, unfortunately seems to get painted as a “live and let live” philosophy about any and all doctrinal differences that believers may have about what they believe, and yet that is not actually the case.

I believe that what Paul is commenting on is the unforgiving spirit between believers who have differences of opinion about man-made tradition and practice, some things having value, but not all. These man-made traditions are not necessary for all to believe like the cornerstone doctrines of the faith.

Here Paul lists some of those differences of opinions:

Romans 14:5-6 – One person judges one day to be more important than another day. Someone else judges every day to be the same. Let each one be fully convinced in his own mind. Whoever observes the day, observes it for the honor of the Lord. Whoever eats, eats for the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; and whoever does not eat, it is for the Lord that he does not eat it, and he gives thanks to God.

These issues are discussing the man-made traditions, specifically fasting on days that were considered special days that had arisen among the Jews and some believers. Some even included multiple days each week, as illustrated by the parable of Yeshua:

Luke 18:11-12 – “The Pharisee was standing and praying like this about himself: ‘God, I thank you that I’m not like other people ​– ​greedy, unrighteous, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of everything I get.'”

Why was he fasting twice a week? There is no command within the Torah to do so. The only fast that is commanded is that of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur. There was no other honoring of other days for fasting, whether for personal self-righteousness (as this Pharisee represents) or communal observance.

Additionally, Luke represents that the disciples of John the baptizer also fasted regularly, along with those restrictive practices of the Pharisees.

Luke 5:33 – “Then they said to him, “John’s disciples fast often and say prayers, and those of the Pharisees do the same, but yours eat and drink.”

It would seem that many Jewish believers who had been raised with these traditions, along with disciples who had come to Messiah under the ministry of John the baptizer began to carry them over into their New Covenant practices, and were encouraging others to do so, as well. Even today orthodox Jews have three other annual fast days on their traditional annual calendar that are not commanded within the Torah. This demonstrates how hard it is to kill these types of traditions.

The Jews had many restrictions and designations for honoring days that arose far above the holy calendar that God had provided in Torah. In this passage, Paul is trying to create a sense of unity between the believers. There were plenty of different traditions they had been raised in, but he was encouraging them not to judge one another about issues that were not clearly commanded in Torah.

Romans 14:1 – “Accept anyone who is weak in faith, but don’t argue about disputed matters.”

According to Strong’s definitions, “arguing” about these “disputed matters” is a phrase which literally means “passing judgment on discussions, considerations, or debates.” It would have been illogical and quite honestly heretical for Paul to consider legitimate commands within the Torah as being “debatable” opinions. He himself kept the Fast of Yom Kippur and the commands of the Torah (see Acts 18:21; 21:24). These have never been in question among believers in the one true God.

I believe Romans 14 is about Paul trying to minimize the unjust judgment that was going on among believers in the congregation. Those who were mistreating or arguing with others who were disagreeing over points of opinion rather than true doctrinal issues.

Romans 14:10 – But you, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God.

Paul is encouraging some latitude among the believers because they were all subservient to the one true God. There should not be disputes over opinions and preferences; Paul implies those things may have been helpful to those immature believers in their new-found faith. Those who relied on these traditional practices were to be shown grace by the more mature believers for the sake of the unity of the congregations. As they were to grow in the faith, God could change their hearts as they began to recognize the futility of the man-made traditions, and that would take time.

Unfortunately, we see the same thing today among believing congregations. People will argue vehemently over how to dress when meeting together, or what time of day the meeting should take place, or what type of music should be performed. I have seen disputes over whether chairs or pews should be used or if children should be included in the meetings or separated out. ALL of these issues are non-essential to the faith and have caused strife and unnecessary divisions within the kingdom of God today.

However, if we can take Paul’s advice and learn rather to accept one another’s misunderstandings about these “debatable” issues, we can exhibit forgiveness that creates unity among God’s people that others will be able to recognize, to God’s glory and honor.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Set apart through unity of the truth

Understanding the power of Yeshua’s prayer, the Spirit, and the word of God.

John 17:17 – Set them apart in the truth; your word is truth.
1 John 5:6 – …and it is the Spirit that is testifying, because the Spirit is the truth…

Truth is a rare commodity these days. Objective reality is giving way to personal perception. What is true for one individual is no longer necessarily considered true for another; rather, situational circumstance and opinion are considered as being the guiding standards. The truth has become fluid and fills the shape of whatever container it is represented in.

This should be concerning for believers, but not unexpected. What is happening in the world around us has been happening among the congregations of Messiah for millennia. There is so much factionism and disunity evidenced by the multiplicity of denominations that it is small wonder the world is being influenced in this direction. The inward segregations of Messiah’s believing community are being evidenced by the outworking of societal divisiveness.

Counter to this chaos runs the stability of God’s word and his Spirit, at least according to Yeshua. “Your word is truth…your Spirit is the truth.” Yeshua believed in bedrock, foundational and objective truth; so should we.

The Greek word for truth is used in the following ways throughout the New Testament:

  • universally, what is true in any matter under consideration (opposed to what is feigned, fictitious, false)
  • of a truth, in reality, in fact, certainly
  • what is true in things appertaining to God and the duties of man
  • the truth, as … opposed alike to the superstitions of the Gentiles and the inventions of the Jews, and to the corrupt opinions and precepts of false teachers even among Christians

According to Yeshua, the truth is what sanctifies and sets apart believers from all other humans on this planet and distinguishes false groups from true. Through this sanctification by truth, we are subject to his rule and guidance.

Yeshua prayed for our unity in the truth, so that others would know that God truly sent him. If we are frustrated that the world does not recognize him, then we must realize it is because we are not fulfilling his prayer for us of unity and oneness. James says that “the prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective,” (James 5:16); how much more so the prayer of the Son of God? I cannot envision a world in which a prayer of the Messiah would not be fulfilled.

John 17:20-22 – “I pray not only for these, but also for those who believe in me through their word. “May they all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us, so that the world may believe you sent me. “I have given them the glory you have given me, so that they may be one as we are one.

The apostle Paul likewise encouraged and sought for the unity of believers:

Ephesians 4:11-15 – And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, equipping the saints for the work of ministry, to build up the body of Messiah, until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, growing into maturity with a stature measured by Messiah’s fullness. Then we will no longer be little children, tossed by the waves and blown around by every wind of teaching, by human cunning with cleverness in the techniques of deceit. But speaking the truth in love, let us grow in every way into him who is the head ​– ​Messiah.

There it is again: the truth, spoken in love. This is what causes us to grow together toward maturity in Messiah. When we speak the truth, the word of God, in love, we open up opportunities to build bridges and strengthen internal ties. The truth, guided by the Spirit of God, draws us together in the Messiah and provides the goal of increased unity in our community. As we unify internally, there becomes less disunity in the outworking of our social lives and culture. This striving together in the truth of God’s word, guided by his Spirit, creates unity. This unity then reestablishes a basis for all truth, and subjective opinions once again become subject to the objective reality of God.

This is how we can become set apart for God’s purpose and bear his image and his truth to the world, fulfilling the prayer of that most righteous man, Messiah Yeshua.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive on our Podcast Page, at Core of the Bible on Simplecast, or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: Core of the Bible on YouTube.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Children of God should play nice in the sandbox

Our differences have the potential to
affect many others if we cannot reconcile.

1 Thessalonians 5:15 – See to it that no one repays evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good for one another and for all.

When we are unforgiving toward others, it’s easy for us to repay evil for evil, to repay in kind toward an injustice that may have been directed toward us.

However, Paul here is encouraging the believers to look beyond the injustice to what is good, not only for one another (through a relationship crisis), but good for all concerned.

We tend to lose sight of the fact that all of our relationships have many different tendrils of association beyond just the isolated relationship itself. If an injustice is committed between two friends, the recognition of that injustice can become known to the other associates and friends of that relationship, and can affect many other individuals.

For example, if a romantic couple breaks up due to some differences, then the friends of the couple, who may now know each other independently of the couple who is breaking up, will be affected by the break up. They may choose to continue their relationships as friends, but will need to socially navigate around the issue with the now detached couple-friends.

This is the way issues spread throughout congregations, as well. When social stresses become active within certain relationship groups, it can spread throughout a congregation through shared connections. In the extreme, it can lead to congregations mistrust and sometimes even cause group to split into several groups if it cannot be reconciled.

But therein lies the key to its solution; reconciliation. Paul here is stressing that when these situations arise, that all parties concerned should seek the good of others for the sake of all. What affects one relationship can easily spread beyond the immediate affected group to the wider group through shared connections and relationships. Because of this, the web of unity can become brittle and break.

Paul’s solution is simple, although not always easy: don’t repay evil for evil. If someone has become offended or emotionally hurt in some way, they should not respond in kind, but should seek reconciliation through communicating the offense and working through it until a peaceful result can be achieved. This is a mature response to the casual injustices that occur every day and this should be the evident solution among all believers.

When we are always pursuing what is good for others and for all, we will be operating as peacemakers, and the strength of unity will be reinforced. In this, we can be recognized as acting as true children of God.

Matthew 5:9 – “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.


If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive at https://core-of-the-bible.simplecast.com/ or your favorite podcast streaming service.

Now also on YouTube! Just getting started, but new videos will be added regularly on many different topics, find us at: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvR_aNEyA7WEZJtF4B8fZ6g

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.

Outward strength through internal compassion and unity

Compassion and unity with one another provides a foundation for reaching others.

Finally, all of you should be of one mind. Sympathize with each other. Love each other as brothers and sisters. Be compassionate, and keep a humble attitude.

1 Peter 3:8-14

According to Peter, being compassionate is simply one of many expected traits believers should exhibit. The compassion he is speaking of here is extended not just to those outside of the faith, but to one another. If we cannot be compassionate with one another, how can we be truly compassionate towards others who are not believers?

For us to be truly compassionate with others, we should be operating from a base of harmony with one another, and recognizing one another’s needs sympathetically. Once we are able to show brotherly love to each other through humility and compassionate actions, we can then have a united purpose with those outside the faith.

Once he establishes their base actions with one another, Peter expands his directives to their attitude toward others who did not agree with their positions or their beliefs.

Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it. For the Scriptures say, “If you want to enjoy life and see many happy days, keep your tongue from speaking evil and your lips from telling lies. Turn away from evil and do good. Search for peace, and work to maintain it. The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right, and his ears are open to their prayers. But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil.” Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t worry or be afraid of their threats.

1 Peter 3:9-14

This was a very real assessment of the social status of the early believers. They were always in danger not only from the civil strife of their day, but from the religious antagonism and persecution of their Jewish brothers and sisters. Additionally, they were challenged with resisting the influences of the pagan society. Through all of this, Peter encourages them to repay evil with blessing and seeking to maintain the peace, because “this is what God has called you to do.”

In like fashion, for us to fulfill our calling, we should mimic their harmony, humility and compassionate actions with one another so we may be able to effectively stand together for God’s purpose and kingdom in a hostile world.

If you enjoy these daily blog posts, be sure to visit the growing archive of the Core of the Bible podcast. Each week we take a more in-depth look at one of the various topics presented in the daily blog. You can view the podcast archive here.

Questions or comments? Feel free to email me directly at coreofthebible@gmail.com.