The book of Romans is the first epistle (letter) we come to in the New Testament. It was from the apostle Paul (1:11) to the church at Rome (1:7), but was recorded by a scribe named Tertius (16:22).

At the time of writing, Paul desired to visit the church in Rome, but hadn’t had the opportunity yet (1:10; 15:22-24). He was in Corinth when the book was written, shortly before going to Jerusalem with the gift to minister to the needy saints in Judea (15:25-26). After arriving in Jerusalem Paul was arrested and spent more than two years in custody (Acts 21:30-33; 24:27). Eventually he would appeal to Caesar and thus be taken to Rome as a prisoner (Acts 25:10-12; 28:16).

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The full name of the book is “The Acts of the Apostles,” though we typically refer to it as “Acts.” This book is the continuation of Luke’s writing (Acts 1:1; cf. Luke 1:3). In the first record, he wrote about the life and deeds of the Messiah, finishing just before His ascension. In the book of Acts, Luke picks up where he left off and proceeds to tell about the beginning of the church “…in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” This phrase (from 1:8) reveals how the gospel would spread to the whole world.

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When Does Life Begin?

This past week, I received the following inquiry:
“When would you say a person’s soul is created?”

It is an immensely important question. At what point are we a living being? When does human life begin? It is a question which needs a clear and definitive answer, especially in light of the freedom with which pregnancies are being terminated in our present day. Between 2010 and 2019 (the last year for which we have statistics), there were just shy of 1 million abortions reported in Canada1. From 2009 to 2018 (the last year for which data is available), our neighbours to the South have reported just over 6.7 million abortions.2

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John is the fourth and final gospel account. The author is the apostle John, a former fisherman along with James, his brother, working on the boat of Zebedee, their father. He was part of the inner circle of Jesus’ friends (Peter, James, and John), in fact, he described himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” (John 13:23; 20:2; 21:7, 20). In addition to the gospel account, he wrote 4 other books: 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, and the Revelation.

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Luke is the third of the four gospel accounts. The author is the only gospel writer (in fact, the only New Testament writer) who is not Jewish. A statement by Paul in Colossians 4:10-14 identifies Luke as a Gentile (presumed to be Greek) and a physician.

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The Fragrance Of Christ

“Now thanks be to God who always leads us to triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?”
– 2 Corinthians 2:17 –

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Mark is the second and shortest of the four gospel accounts. The author’s given name is John, though we typically refer to him by his surname, Mark. He lived with his mother, Mary, in Jerusalem (Acts 12:12), but left to join Paul on his first missionary journey (Acts 12:25; 13:13). Paul was upset that John Mark turned back before the first journey was ended, and thus refused to take him on his second journey (Acts 15:37). Instead, John Mark went on a second journey with his cousin Barnabas (Acts 15:39; Colossians 4:10). About 10 years later, we find that Paul considered John Mark to be a fellow worker (Philemon 1:24) and eventually sought to have him by his side at Rome (2 Timothy 4:11).

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We Are Not … Peddling The Word Of God

“For we are not, as so many, peddling
the word of God; but as of sincerity,
but as from God, we speak in the
sight of God in Christ.”
– 2 Corinthians 2:17 –

It is an unfortunate truth that not all who preach and teach the gospel message do so with integrity. In fact, Paul declared there to be many “…peddling the word of God…”, whom he labeled as “…deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:13). With some in Corinth casting doubt on the apostle’s legitimacy, he affirmed that he was not among the gospel peddlers. Let us consider Paul’s conduct with the word of God as evident through three characteristics he makes mention of.

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Matthew is the first and longest of the four gospel accounts. The author was Jewish by birth and called to be an apostle of Christ (Matthew 10:1-4). His Greek name is Matthew, his Hebrew name is Levi. Matthew worked as a tax collector for the Roman government among his own people until Jesus called him to be a disciple (Matthew 9:9).

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Follow Me

In the gospels we see Jesus inviting those who would become His apostles to “follow” Him. In John 1:40, John the Baptist pointed Andrew and another disciple to Jesus who bid them to “Come and see,” and so they followed Him and stayed the entire day with Him. On the next day, the Lord called Philip to “follow Me” (John 1:43), which he did, also bringing his friend Nathanael to the Lord. In Matthew 4:19, Jesus approached four fishermen (Peter, Andrew, James, and John) and called them to follow Him, that they should become fishers of men. And in Matthew 9:9, Matthew heard Jesus call out “Follow Me,” which he did, leaving his tax office behind.

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