Perpetua, a short narrative

Here is a short narrative of the life of Perpetua that captures some highlights from her journal. For All Saints Day, we will take a look at her life and the encouragement we can take away from her life to help us continue in the faith. Read and enjoy!

“It will all happen in the prisoner’s dock as God wills, for you may be sure that we are not left to ourselves but are all in his power.”

We have little idea what brought Perpetua to faith in Christ, or how long she had been a Christian, or how she lived her Christian life. Thanks to her diary, and that of another prisoner, we have some idea of her last days—an ordeal that so impressed the famous Augustine that he preached four sermons about her death.

Perpetua was a Christian noblewoman who, at the turn of the third century, lived with her husband, her son, and her slave, Felicitas, in Carthage (in modern Tunis). At this time, North Africa was the center of a vibrant Christian community. It is no surprise, then, that when Emperor Septimius Severus determined to cripple Christianity (he believed it undermined Roman patriotism), he focused his attention on North Africa. Among the first to be arrested were five new Christians taking classes to prepare for baptism, one of whom was Perpetua.

Her father immediately came to her in prison. He was a pagan, and he saw an easy way for Perpetua to save herself. He entreated her simply to deny she was a Christian.

“Father do you see this vase here?” she replied. “Could it be called by any other name than what it is?”

“No,” he replied.

“Well, neither can I be called anything other than what I am, a Christian.”

In the next days, Perpetua was moved to a better part of the prison and allowed to breast-feed her child. With her hearing approaching, her father visited again, this time, pleading more passionately: “Have pity on my gray head. Have pity on me, your father, if I deserve to be called your father, if I have favored you above all your brothers, if I have raised you to reach this prime of your life.”

He threw himself down before her and kissed her hands. “Do not abandon me to be the reproach of men. Think of your brothers; think of your mother and your aunt; think of your child, who will not be able to live once you are gone. Give up your pride!”

Perpetua was touched but remained unshaken. She tried to comfort her father—“It will all happen in the prisoner’s dock as God wills, for you may be sure that we are not left to ourselves but are all in his power”—but he walked out of the prison dejected.

The day of the hearing arrived, Perpetua and her friends were marched before the governor, Hilarianus. Perpetua’s friends were questioned first, and each in turn admitted to being a Christian, and each in turn refused to make a sacrifice (an act of emperor worship). Then the governor turned to question Perpetua.

At that moment, her father, carrying Perpetua’s son in his arms, burst into the room. He grabbed Perpetua and pleaded, “Perform the sacrifice. Have pity on your baby!”

Hilarianus, probably wishing to avoid the unpleasantness of executing a mother who still suckled a child, added, “Have pity on your father’s gray head; have pity on your infant son. Offer the sacrifice for the welfare of the emperor.”

Perpetua replied simply: “I will not.”

“Are you a Christian then?” asked the governor.

“Yes I am,” Perpetua replied.

Her father interrupted again, begging her to sacrifice, but Hilarianus had heard enough: he ordered soldiers to beat him into silence. He then condemned Perpetua and her friends to die in the arena.

Perpetua, her friends, and her slave, Felicitas (who had subsequently been arrested), were dressed in belted tunics. When they entered the stadium, wild beasts and gladiators roamed the arena floor, and in the stands, crowds roared to see blood. They didn’t have to wait long.

Immediately a wild heifer charged the group. Perpetua was tossed into the air and onto her back. She sat up, adjusted her ripped tunic, and walked over to help Felicitas. Then a leopard was let loose, and it wasn’t long before the tunics of the Christians were stained with blood.

This was too deliberate for the impatient crowd, which began calling for death for the Christians. So Perpetua, Felicitas, and friends were lined up, and one by one, were slain by the sword.[1]


[1] Mark Galli and Ted Olsen, 131 Christians Everyone Should Know (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2000), 362-63.

Revelation 21-22:1-5 The Kingdom of Heaven

Revelation 21-22:1-5

The Kingdom of Heaven

The passage’s “purpose is to strengthen the faith, hope and resolution of the church as it faces its ultimate trial.”[1]

The Kingdom of Heaven IS NOT a place where Christians float around on clouds in the sky.

The Kingdom of Heaven IS NOT a place in which you and I get to be chunky babies with undersized wings.

The Kingdom of Heaven IS NOT up there and out there somewhere.

The Kingdom of Heaven IS NOT a place where Christians gather for an all day, every day, forever worship service consisting of contemporary Christian music (it’s not One Day, all day, everyday).

The Kingdom of Heaven IS a new and sinless earth, created in the fashion of the beginning prior to the fall (not over a long period of time, see Revelation 20), where God himself will be among us and he will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death will be no more, and there will be no crying or mourning, and there will be no pain because the former things will have passed away!

The Kingdom of Heaven IS where the church will forever drink fully from the well of the Holy Spirit (water of life).

The Kingdom of Heaven IS NOT where those whose treasure was in the inferior will be.

The Kingdom of Heaven IS where the church will enjoy the full presence of the Triune God forever.

The Kingdom of Heaven IS the place where Kings and nations will dwell in perfect peace and bring what is the Lords into his capital.

1. Kingdom of Heaven: Place for those who do Father’s work

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

(Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

A. There is a distinction between doing spiritual works and doing the Father’s plan with

spiritual works

2. Kingdom of Heaven: Place for people from all nations

I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” And to the centurion Jesus said, “Go; let it be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed at that very moment.

(Matthew 8:11-13 ESV)

3. Kingdom of Heaven: Place where those who belong to Jesus are gathered to him

He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”

(Matthew 13:24-30 ESV)

4. Kingdom of Heaven: Place for those whose treasure is NOT in this life

“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.

“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.

(Matthew 13:44-46 ESV)

5. Kingdom of Heaven: Place for the trained

“Have you understood all these things?” They said to him, “Yes.” And he said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.”

(Matthew 13:51; Matthew 13:52 ESV)

6. Kingdom of Heaven: Place for the forgiver

Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. “Therefore the kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who wished to settle accounts with his servants. When he began to settle, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. And since he could not pay, his master ordered him to be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and payment to be made. So the servant fell on his knees, imploring him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you everything.’ And out of pity for him, the master of that servant released him and forgave him the debt. But when that same servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii, and seizing him, he began to choke him, saying, ‘Pay what you owe.’ So his fellow servant fell down and pleaded with him, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you.’ He refused and went and put him in prison until he should pay the debt. When his fellow servants saw what had taken place, they were greatly distressed, and they went and reported to their master all that had taken place. Then his master summoned him and said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you pleaded with me. And should not you have had mercy on your fellow servant, as I had mercy on you?’ And in anger his master delivered him to the jailers, until he should pay all his debt. So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.”

(Matthew 18:21-35 ESV)

7. The Kingdom of Heaven: Place for the wise

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

(Matthew 25:1-13 ESV)

8. The Kingdom of Heaven: Place where faithfulness is rewarded with more work and faithlessness is banished

“For it (it = KOH from the previous section) will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted to them his property. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one, to each according to his ability. Then he went away. He who had received the five talents went at once and traded with them, and he made five talents more. So also he who had the two talents made two talents more. But he who had received the one talent went and dug in the ground and hid his master’s money. Now after a long time the master of those servants came and settled accounts with them. And he who had received the five talents came forward, bringing five talents more, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me five talents; here I have made five talents more.’ His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ And he also who had the two talents came forward, saying, ‘Master, you delivered to me two talents; here I have made two talents more.’

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

(Matthew 25:14-30 ESV)

Conclusion:

1. Be there, don’t miss it

2. Train for the full Kingdom now

A. Church Life (community, Kingdom work)

B. Repentance

C. Knowledge

D. Stewardship

3. Don’t get down in the fight here, look up and be encouraged

4. Don’t stop now, keep plodding!

Outline for Study

I.    John’s Vision of the New Jerusalem (21:1–8)

A.   What he sees (21:1–2)

1.   A new heaven and earth (20:1)

2.   The Holy City descending from heaven (20:2)

B.   What he hears (21:3–8)

1.   The words of the angel (21:3–4)

a.    He says God himself will mingle among his people (21:3) .

b.   He says God himself will minister to his people (21:4) .

2.   The words of the Almighty (21:5–8)

a.    He will be the Father to all the saved (21:5–7).

b.   He will be the foe to all the unsaved (21:8) : They will be cast into the lake of fire.

II.   John’s Visit to the New Jerusalem (21:9–27): The apostle records the following facts.

A.   John describes what he sees (21:9–18, 19–21, 26).

1.   The city itself (21:9–11, 18b): It is filled with God’s glory and shines like a precious jewel and pure gold.

2.   The gates and walls (21:12–14, 18a, 21a)

a.    The gates (21:12b–13, 21a): There are twelve gates, each made of solid pearl, guarded by twelve angels. The names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on the gates.

b.   The walls (21:12a, 14, 18a): The walls are made of jasper, supported by twelve foundations, on which are written the names of the twelve apostles.

2.   The size and dimensions (21:15–17)

a.    The city measures 1,400 miles long by 1,400 miles wide by 1,400 miles high (21:15–16).

b.   The walls are two hundred feet thick (21:17) .

3.   The foundations (21:19–20): Each of the twelve foundations is inlaid with a different precious jewel.

4.   The street (21:21b): It is made of pure gold, like transparent glass.

5.   The worship (21:26) : All nations bring their glory and honor to the temple.

B.   John describes what he does not see (21:22–25, 27).

1.   There is no Temple there (21:22) .

2.   There is no need of the sun (21:23–24).

3.   There are no closed gates (21:25) .

4.   There is no impurity or evil (21:27).

Revelation 22:1-5

I.          Facts about the City (22:1–2, 3a–3b, 5a, 14, 17)

A.   Its river of life (22:1–2a)

B.   Its tree of life (22:2b, 14)

C.   Its throne (22:3b)

D.   Its purity (22:3a)

E.   Its divine light (22:5a)

F.   Its invitation to enter (22:17)[2]


[1] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 21:1–8.

[2] H. L. Willmington, The Outline Bible (Wheaton, Ill.: Tyndale House Publishers, 1999), Re 21-22:17.

Revelation 20

Revelation 20

 

Key Texts: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18;

Chapter 20 is the fourth “pause” or “interlude” in the action of Revelation (7:1-17; 10:1-11; 14; 20:1-6).

These pauses are there to explain the place of the Saints in the events of the Revelation.

 

Satan – rebellious angel who incited the rebellion, the enemy of the Triune God, enemy of the church, enemy of the Gospel, liar and father of lies, persecutor of the church, accuser of Christians, stirrer upper etc.

Beast – secular power, a tool of Satan in a cheap imitation of the Trinity, that opposes the church

False Prophet – false religion, a tool of Satan in a cheap imitation of the Trinity, that opposes the church

Church – the persecuted, worshippers of the Triune God of all, faithful to Jesus, Gospel preaching, Great Commission going, disciple making, Lord’s supper administering and baptizing radical followers of Jesus

Jesus (Christ) – second person of the Trinity, creator, ultimate missionary, crucified, risen, reigning, judge of all, warrior and conqueror of his enemies, King

 

Revelation 19:21 was not intended to be read separated from 20:1-3. The Beast and False prophet are thrown into the lake of fire and then Jesus sends his forces to capture the inciter of the rebellion, Satan.

 

“Doubtless John would have been confirmed in this interpretation by his reading of Ezk. 36–48, where Israel’s restoration to their land under the Messiah, the new David, (chs. 36–37) is followed by the rebellion of Gog (chs. 38–39) and the promise of a new Jerusalem with a new temple (chs. 40–48). The prayer Jesus taught his disciples would have been yet more important (‘your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven’; Mt. 6:10); and John would also have known the beatitudes (‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven … Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth’; Mt. 5:3, 5).”[1]

 

1. Satan Bound 20:1-3

(2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6) Some of Satan’s henchmen have already been chained and other demonic hoards have been allowed to roam on God’s sovereign leash, but here Satan himself is bound.

A. Satan is not sovereign, but in fact under the control of the Triune God of the universe

B. Satan’s domain of “rule” is called the “world”

1. World – system of lies and beliefs that are contrary to the Gospel (1 John 5:19)

C. Satan’s deceptive capacity will be stopped

2. The Church Rules 20:4-6

(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Corinthians 15) The promise is that when Jesus returns he will bring with him those who have died in the faith and they will be reunited with a new body that is without sin and like Jesus’ post-resurrection body. Therefore, the one’s resurrected here must be all those who return with Jesus who are not still alive and remaining and they are described as those who come out of the tribulation period as not worshipping the beast or receiving his mark (which may indicate that the reception of the mark in a prominent place may be figurative rather than literal and indicate any type of allegiance to the unholy work of Satan either in ignorance or with full knowledge).

A. The last will be first and the first last (the great reversal will take place)

1. Matthew 19:23-20:16

a. Those in the Kingdom who have been held down by those outside of the Kingdom

will be set up front and those outside of the Kingdom will await hell.

b. Even in the Kingdom some get their “props” here and some are just faithful

and no one ever knows. However, Jesus knows and he will honor you and put you

in charge of much in his Kingdom.

 

B. Our priesthood will be fully realized in presence and without sin

1. We will be near Jesus

C. Our role as managers of God’s kingdom will be fully realized and we will function in service with no sin

1. We will be able to steward Father’s resources without any hindrance to job performance

 

3. Satan Defeated 20:7-10

“…John here follows Ezekiel’s prophecy of the invasion of Israel’s land by Gog and Magog after the Messianic kingdom has been established. Whereas in Ezk. 38 ‘Gog of the land of Magog’ comes from the north to invade the holy land, in John’s vision Gog and Magog stand for the nations in the four corners of the earth (8). They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the city God loves—a city some 1,400 miles (2,200 km) long, wide and high (21:16)! The event is as symbolic as Armageddon and represents an attack on the manifestation of Christ’s rule in the world. 9b–10 The would-be destroyers are themselves destroyed, and the devil is thrown into the fiery lake, never to trouble humanity again.”[2]

 

4. Judgment 20:11-15

The fleeing of the earth and sky are seen as precursors to the new heaven and new earth (2 Peter 3:10-13).

A. The second resurrection takes place

1. Sea gives up it’s dead

2. Death and Hades give up it’s dead

a. Death and Hades represent the face of dying and the state entered upon dying

3. Books are opened and people are judged

a. This latter feature is taken from Dn. 7:10, which reflects both ordinary court procedure and the habit of Persian kings to record every detail of events in their provinces. The important thing is that the joint testimony of the two criteria agrees, and the book of life will reveal it.[3]

1. The judgment proceeds according to two criteria: first, according to what they had done

2. Secondly, the testimony of the books.

B. Hell is for Satan and rebellious angels and people who reject the Gospel

B. Hell is eternal and conscious 20:10

 

Conclusion:

1. Take heart church, our salvation draws near, don’t give up doing Gospel work

2. Preach the Gospel at every turn

A. Don’t substitute practical advise on better life for the Good news

B. Never sacrifice the Gospel for a “crowd” of people

1. Ministry success is not defined by how many people come to participate but by how many

are faithful to the Gospel and that all who will come would come to the Gospel.


[1] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 20:1–3.

[2] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 20:7–10.

[3] D. A. Carson, New Bible Commentary : 21st Century Edition, 4th ed. (Leicester, England; Downers Grove, Ill., USA: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re 20:11–15.