The Other Guy by Joshua Creel
My parents decided to name me after not one, but two Bible heroes. Yes, for those who did not know, my full name is Joshua Caleb Creel. You can imagine that my favorite Bible stories as a kid were the spies being sent into Canaan and the fall of Jericho. I loved those stories because Joshua was a hero! Oh, and there was that other guy, Caleb, too. Sadly, for a long time that's exactly how I thought of Caleb; he was the other guy, the one that went with Joshua. I figured that Joshua must have been the real hero since God selected him to lead the army of Israel in conquest of Canaan. Caleb? He was the other guy.
Thankfully, I've learned better. I've learned that the importance of Bible characters isn't determined by how much is written about them, but their faithfulness to God in whatever role they have. While Caleb's role was not as prominent as Joshua's, his faith was just as great (see Joshua 14). The "other guy" was truly a mighty man in the Lord!
This Summer several of our brethren are going to enlighten us about the value of the other guys (and gals) of the Bible. And as we learn these Major Lessons from Minor Characters I pray that not only will we grow in our appreciation of these lesser known Bible characters, but we will also be reminded of the importance of each person in the body of Christ. After all, the body needs the "proper working of each individual part" for it to truly grow (Ephesians 4.16). In Christ, there are no "other guys".
Hellenists by Steve Patton
What is a Hellenist or Greek-speaking Jew in the New Testament? He is a Jew or Jewish proselyte (convert) who is not from Palestine. He speaks Greek as his native language and has been schooled in Greek culture and ideas. He was regarded by Jerusalem Jews as a foreigner even though he is a practicing Jew. He may be a follower of Moses and the Law but he is not really “like them.” Even in Jerusalem Hellenists had their own synagogues separate from the local Jews (Acts 6:9). He is accepted but not fully. That is clear from the New Testament because they are not simply referred to as Jews but as Hellenists. This helps to explain why there was a problem in the Jerusalem church about the care of Christian widows who were Hellenists. Though sisters in Christ, Hellenist widows were not quite the same. The apostles’ actions taught the brethren otherwise (6:1-4).
There is a good lesson in that for us. We must learn to make no distinction between Christians of different nationalities, cultures or races. All are the same. God shows no respect of persons and neither should I (Rom. 2:11; Acts 10:34,35).
I can think of my own subtle prejudices through my life toward other Christians. As a teen I am pretty sure I thought that Southern Christians were just a little better than others and that white ones were probably the best. They were more like me and talked with my accent. I was comfortable with them. A wider experience through college and evangelism work throughout the country quickly changed that view. But I think I still felt that American Christians were the strongest and most faithful. The rest of the world was fortunate to have American Christians to help them out.
Getting to know brethren from around the world and, eventually traveling overseas to work with them in their home countries, changed my view forever. The gospel produces the same strong, faithful Christians anywhere. Truly some of my heroes in the faith are "foreigners," some who may never set foot in this country. Men with names like Zerihun, Lalande, Corazza, Benson, who labor in their homelands as giants in the faith. Men with godly families who do God’s work with great knowledge, skill, dedication and sacrifice. I am not their equal and they have taught me much about my prejudices.
The New Testament church owed much to converted Hellenists. Stephen was apparently a Hellenist. Hellenists started the great Antioch church. Hellenist Jews were the backbone of many of the early churches throughout Asia Minor and Europe. The first century church was better off for them, just as we are enriched by Christians from “every nation under heaven.” Thank God for your brethren all over the world and pray for them daily. And recognize them as your equal in the faith. Remember - Jesus was a foreigner.
Revelation chapters 6-7
The handout for Revelation 6-7 can be downloaded here.
Revelation Chapters 4-5
The outline for the most recent Revelation sermon is available here.