Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for April 21

Here’s the Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for April 21, written by James R. Strange, professor of Biblical and Religious studies, Samford University in Birmingham.

Bible Studies for Life Sunday School Lesson for April 21

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By James R. Strange, Ph.D.
Professor of Biblical and Religious studies, Samford University


Matthew 28:18–20; 2 Corinthians 5:16–21

In our second lesson on being an authentic church, we read passages that talk about one of the Church’s most important ministries: making disciples.

Christ commissioned us to make disciples as we go through life. (Matt. 28:18–20)

Matthew reminds his readers that aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry resemble parts of Moses’ life and ministry. One such resemblance is the Sermon on the Mount of Matthew 5–7. As Moses received the Torah (the law) on Mount Sinai and delivered it to the children of Israel, so Jesus assembles His disciples on a mountain and teaches them.

When He delivers His final teachings in this Gospel on a mountain, we learn that Jesus is superior to Moses in five ways.

First, whereas Moses was never worshipped, Jesus is worshipped by His disciples.

Second, Moses had great earthly authority over the children of Israel.

To Jesus, however, has been given “all authority … in heaven and on earth.” (See Dan. 7).

Third, although Jews baptized converts, they did not baptize in the name of the Father and of Moses and of the Holy Spirit. Instead, it is the Son who participates in the Trinity.

Fourth, Israelites instructed people to obey the Torah of Moses, but Jesus tells His disciples to teach new disciples “to observe everything I have commanded [the first disciples].”

Finally, Jesus is with His disciples “to the end of the age.”

There is another key difference. Like Moses, Jesus focused His ministry on the Jews, but now He tells the 11 to “make disciples of all nations.” That is, the 11 are to minister to the Gentiles.

The Great Commission of the Church includes both evangelism and discipleship, instructing those whom it baptizes how to be faithful followers of Christ.

We have been given the ministry of reconciliation. (2 Cor. 5:16–19)

In 2 Corinthians, “we” and “us” usually refer to Paul and Timothy, whereas “you” (plural) refers to the Christians in Corinth.

Paul and Timothy no longer regard anyone from a human point of view because those who live in Christ “no longer live for themselves, but for the One who died for them and was raised.”

“If anyone is in Christ” is a typical Pauline understatement. Paul means, “Many are in Christ!” God’s new creation is therefore already here, if not yet fully realized. Still, to the best of their abilities, those who are in Christ begin living now as they will live in God’s Kingdom. This is all the work of God, who reconciled Paul — a persecutor of the Church — and Timothy to Himself and to whom He gave the ministry of reconciliation. Paul and Timothy preached the good news that, through Christ, any transgressor could be reconciled to God and begin living in the new creation.

Our responsibility as Christ’s representatives includes calling others to repentance and faith in Christ. (20–21)

It was because of this reconciliation that Paul and Timothy became “ambassadors for Christ.” They appeal to the Corinthians to be reconciled to God and then remind the Corinthians that they (Paul and Timothy) have “become the righteousness of God” — that is, the means of preaching God’s righteousness — because Christ, who knew no sin, became sin for their sakes. Paul and Timothy say more by implication. If Paul and Timothy were reconciled to God so that they could preach God’s righteousness, then the Corinthians should do the same when they are reconciled to God.

So it is with the Church today.