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Home > What the Bible says about...

What the Bible says about...



The portable shrine that the Israelites took with them into the desert, made by Moses according to God’s command (Ex 25:8); also named the “Tent of Congregation”. It’s place was outside the camp, where all who sought the Lord could go (Ex 33:7); there God also spoke to Moses. The ark of the covenant was kept in the tabernacle even after the conquest of Canaan, its permanent place being at Shiloh (Josh 18:1). Eventually it was housed in Solomon’s Temple (I kgs 8:4).

The tabernacle was built by Bezalel, son of Uri (Ex 31:1-11), according to a design that was revealed to Moses on Mount Sinai (Ex 25:9; 26:30).


In the NT, Jesus is the priest of the heavenly tabernacle, which is the true tabernacle (Heb 8:2, 5). The original tabernacle which is described in Hebrews 9:1-10, proceeds to state that Christ’s tabernacle is more perfect, not made by man (Heb 9:11-14). The heavenly tabernacle is again mentioned in Revelation 15:5.


Ten Commandments


The imperatives pronounced by the Lord to the Israelites on Mount Sinai (decalogue, literally, “ten words”). They are recorded twice in the Pentateuch (Ex 20:1-17; Deut 5:6-21) with some differences in the formulation. These commandments were engraved on two stone tablets (Ex 31:18; 34:28; Deut 4:13; 5:19) inscribed on both sides (Ex 32:15). The biblical text does not specify the division of the commandments or their arrangement on the tablets. According to one tradition each tablet contained five commandments. There are several ways to count the commandments. The first cluster of injunctions concerns the sole worship of the Lord God: opening with God’s self introduction.

1-2 (1) a. “I am the Lord your God” (Ex 20:2).

b. “You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:3).

c. “You shall not make for yourself any carved image” (Ex 20:4).

  Commentators variously take the prohibition of polytheism and worship of images as a single commandment, considering God’s self introduction, the root of all imperatives, as the first commandment; others take this self introduction as a preamble and count the first prohibitions as two separate commandments; still others consider the whole cluster one single injunction. This paragraph is rounded off by the prohibition of perjury; 3(2) “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain” (Ex 20:7), 4(3) and the commandment on the Sabbath “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy” (Ex 20:8). This last commandment relates both to the worship of God as well as to the world of man. Accordingly, it marks the transition to the next imperatives which concern human conduct in general.

5(4) “Honor your father and your mother” (Ex 20:12).

6(5) “You shall not murder”.

7(6) “You shall not commit adultery”.

8(7) “You shall not steal”.

9(8) “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Ex 20:13).

10(9)”You  shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet  your neighbor’s wife, nor his manservant…” (EX 20:14).


The decalogue stands out as God’s proclamation of his will to all the people of Israel. This revelation thus forms the foundation for all ethical and religious obligations.


Thessalonians, The First Epistle To The  Thirteenth book of the NT.




In about 49 or 50, Paul’s second missionary journey brought him to Thessalonica (Acts 17:1-9). Accompanied by Silas and Timothy, he went, as was his custom, to preach in the local synagogue. His message was simple and to the point: the scriptures say that the messiah must suffer(i.e. die) and rise from the dead. Jesus, being the fulfillment of those Scriptures is, therefore, the messiah. Some Jews believed, as did many devout Greeks and influential women. But this success among the Gentiles aroused a jealous zeal in some of those Jews who did not believe, and they chased the apostles out of town. They went to Berea but were followed by the Thessalonian zealots. Paul proceeded to Athens and thence to Corinth(Acts 17:9-18:1). Here he was rejoined by Silas and Timothy, who came from Macedonia.


Acts 17:2 would seem to indicate that Paul and his companions were in Thessalonica only about three weeks, although it could have been somewhat longer. While the two letters show that Paul had been able to impart a great deal to them, his stay was nonetheless a short one. Some problems of the community had not been adequately dealt with, and some areas of teaching had not been fully clarified. Paul wanted to return to them but having been hindered from doing so(I Thes 2:18), the next best alternative was a letter.


Paul’s letters are usually characterized by the close personal relationship between the writer and the recipients. His epistles to Thessalonica are exemplary of this. Again and again he recalls little details of his recent time with them, what he said to them, how they responded, how he acted, what affection they shared. This intimacy has its disadvantages for the third party, since much is hinted at but unspoken. Assuming the will remember what he had taught. Paul does not always repeat it, leaving the later reader guessing. The letter gives special insight into Paul’s missionary methods, the kinds of things he emphasized in his teaching, and the way he conducted himself.


One doctrinal matter, the question of eschatology, is unique to Paul’s letters to the church in Thessalonica. This subject must have occupied a significant portion of his teaching there, and Paul seeks to clarify it in both letters. In this first letter (4:13-5:5) he focuses on the questions of the future order of events when the Lord comes for his church, and specifically, what will happen to those believers who have already died. He emphasizes that the day of the Lord will come suddenly, without warning, that the “dead in Christ” will rise to meet the coming Lord, followed by those who are still alive. (See also the following entry).




Traveling companion and fellow worker of Paul. A native of Lystra in the province of Galatia, Timothy was the son of a heathen father and a Jewish mother, Eunice. Both his mother and his grandmother Lois were believers in Jesus, and Timothy seems to have received a good Bible education (II Tim 1:5; 3:14ff). His parents did not circumcise him (Acts 16:3), but when Paul returned to Lystra on his second missionary journey, he circumcised Timothy and took him along. In Phillippi he must have been present when Paul and Silas were beaten with rods, if he was not in fact himself beaten with them. Timothy became a useful messenger for Paul, representing him at various times in Thessalonica (I Thes 3:2), Corinth (I Cor 4:17), Ephesus (I Tim 1:3) and Macedonia (Acts 19:22; cf Phil 2:19). He is named as co-author of no less than seven of Paul’s 11 letters (excluding the two to Timothy himself). From the two pastoral letters addressed to Timothy, the impression is created that he may have been a reticent person. The laying on of hands by Paul and the elders endowed him with spiritual gifts (perhaps as evangelist and teacher[I Tim 4:16; II Tim 4:5] ) and yet in both letters Paul has to exhort him to get out and use them (I Tim 4:14; II Tim 1:6). In these and the surrounding verses Timothy appears as timid. fearful  of asserting himself, perhaps because of his relative youth. According to later traditions Timothy became the first bishop of Ephesus and was martyred there in the year 97.


Tree of Life


The tree of life is the symbolic representation of immortality, for partaking of it is expected to bring eternal life. The Bible begins and ends with references to such a tree (Gen 2:9; 3:22, 24; Rev 2:7; 22:2, 14). Between these two extremities, scant references or allusions are found (cf Prov 11:30; 13:12; Ezek 31:3-9; 47:12). The tree of life is also mentioned in some of the apocryphal and pseudepigraphical writings ( I Enoch 24: 1-25:6; II Enoch 8:1-7; II Esdras [IV Ezra] 8:52).


The future possibility of eating from the tree of life is the focus of the references in the Book of Revelation. The writer of this apocalyptic work holds out a hopeful future to his readers, to counter their current situation of persecution (probably under the Emperor

Domitian). Part of that hope, for the true followers, is to “eat from the tree of life which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” That hope is offered early in the Apocalypse when the seven churches are addressed (Rev 2:7) and near the end when the river of life is described with the tree of life on its banks (Rev 22:2); and the possibility of denying access to the tree to those who are unfaithful is the threat at the close of the book (22:14).


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