(I am speaking in human terms because of the weakness of your flesh.) 1 For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these natural branches be grafted back into their own olive tree?
For see what this very thing, this sadness 1 as God intended, has produced in you: what eagerness, what defense of yourselves, 2 what indignation, 3 what alarm, what longing, what deep concern, 4 what punishment! 5 In everything you have proved yourselves to be innocent in this matter.
But when I saw that they were not behaving consistently with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas 1 in front of them all, “If you, although you are a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you try to force 2 the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
For 1 it is right for me to think this about all of you, because I have you in my heart, 2 since both in my imprisonment 3 and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel all of you became partners in God’s grace 4 together with me.
By faith Abel offered God a greater sacrifice than Cain, and through his faith 1 he was commended as righteous, because God commended him for his offerings. And through his faith 2 he still speaks, though he is dead.
Such trials show the proven character of your faith, 1 which is much more valuable than gold – gold that is tested by fire, even though it is passing away 2 – and will bring praise 3 and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 4
These men are 1 dangerous reefs 2 at your love feasts, 3 feasting without reverence, 4 feeding only themselves. 5 They are 6 waterless 7 clouds, carried along by the winds; autumn trees without fruit 8 – twice dead, 9 uprooted;
But I have a few things against you: You have some people there who follow the teaching of Balaam, 1 who instructed Balak to put a stumbling block 2 before the people 3 of Israel so they would eat food sacrificed to idols and commit sexual immorality. 4
So 1 I looked 2 and here came 3 a pale green 4 horse! The 5 name of the one who rode it 6 was Death, and Hades followed right behind. 7 They 8 were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill its population with the sword, 9 famine, and disease,
When you leave me today, you will find two men near Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah on Benjamin’s border. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you have gone looking for have been found. Your father is no longer concerned about the donkeys but has become anxious about you two! 1 He is asking, “What should I do about my son?”’
Then Saul said, “Scatter out among the army and say to them, ‘Each of you bring to me your ox and sheep and slaughter them in this spot and eat. But don’t sin against the Lord by eating the blood.” So that night each one brought his ox and slaughtered it there. 1
These words of Ish-bosheth really angered Abner and he said, “Am I the head of a dog that belongs to Judah? This very day I am demonstrating 1 loyalty to the house of Saul your father and to his relatives 2 and his friends! I have not betrayed you into the hand of David. Yet you have accused me of sinning with this woman today! 3
Gad went to David and told him, “Shall seven 1 years of famine come upon your land? Or shall you flee for three months from your enemy with him in hot pursuit? Or shall there be three days of plague in your land? Now decide 2 what I should tell the one who sent me.”
So the royal scribes 1 were summoned in the first month, on the thirteenth day of the month. Everything Haman commanded was written to the king’s satraps 2 and governors who were in every province and to the officials of every people, province by province according to its script and people by people according to its language. In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written and sealed with the king’s signet ring.
The king’s scribes were quickly 1 summoned – in the third month (that is, the month of Sivan), on the twenty-third day. 2 They wrote out 3 everything that Mordecai instructed to the Jews and to the satraps and the governors and the officials of the provinces all the way from India to Ethiopia 4 – a hundred and twenty-seven provinces in all – to each province in its own script and to each people in their own language, and to the Jews according to their own script and their own language.
You must 1 observe the Sabbath 2 rather than doing anything you please on my holy day. 3 You must look forward to the Sabbath 4 and treat the Lord’s holy day with respect. 5 You must treat it with respect by refraining from your normal activities, and by refraining from your selfish pursuits and from making business deals. 6
The one who slaughters a bull also strikes down a man; 1 the one who sacrifices a lamb also breaks a dog’s neck; 2 the one who presents an offering includes pig’s blood with it; 3 the one who offers incense also praises an idol. 4 They have decided to behave this way; 5 they enjoy these disgusting practices. 6
“If a man divorces his wife and she leaves him and becomes another man’s wife, he may not take her back again. 1 Doing that would utterly defile the land. 2 But you, Israel, have given yourself as a prostitute to many gods. 3 So what makes you think you can return to me?” 4 says the Lord.
You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but are never filled. You drink, but are still thirsty. You put on clothes, but are not warm. Those who earn wages end up with holes in their money bags.’” 1