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Why does God Allow Suffering?

Julian Spriggs M.A.

The problem of suffering is probably the most frequent objection to the Christian faith. It is often asked by unbelievers when you are trying to witness to them, either as a genuine question, or as a way of asking difficult questions to catch you out! Otherwise it can be asked by Christians experiencing suffering. The question that is asked is normally something like this, “If God is good, then why does he allow suffering and injustice in the world?”

Suffering comes on different levels. In the news there are constant reports of suffering around the world. These include man-made problems such as wars or terrorism, or natural disasters such as earthquakes or famines. On a more local level, there is the on-going problem of crime, whether it is robbery, murder or rape. Suffering also affects us or our loved-ones personally, through sickness, bereavement, accidents, redundancy, relationship difficulties, of financial difficulties. The list seems endless!

Our human response is often to say, “It is not fair!”, or “It is not just!”, or to ask, “How can God allow it!”, and “Why doesn't he stop it?”. We frequently tend to blame God for suffering. After natural disasters, these questions are often asked in the newspapers and on the television. At these times they often interview religious leaders, and we see they rarely give satisfactory answers.

As “logical” human beings we come to the conclusion that if God is all-powerful, then he cannot not be good, or else he would want to stop all the suffering. Or conversely, if God is all good, then he cannot be all-powerful, otherwise he would be able to stop all the suffering. To us it can appear that either God lacks goodness, or power, or both.

So what is the problem?

This is a major problem for the Christian faith and world-view, which has no simple answers. It is a uniquely Christian problem, because the Bible consistently claims that God is both all-powerful and all-good, in both the Old and New Testaments. God is regularly called, “God Almighty”, showing that he is all-powerful. He is also described as good, just and loving toward his creation and his people. Many other religions do not have this problem in their faith, as they do not claim their god to be both good and all-powerful. One of the major perplexities of the Christian faith, which is often asked in the Bible, is, “Why do the righteous suffer?”

But what does the Bible have to say about suffering?

There is no simple answer to this question, as the Bible never wrestles with this issue in a purely abstract or theoretical way. The Bible is always very practical, so that theology is always applied to every-day life. It appears that the existence of suffering is assumed. The Bible does not seem to gives a complete explanation of why it exists, and why it affects those who are trying to live a life pleasing to God. This is the root of the frustration and unanswered questions. However the Bible does give us some helpful and practical insights of how to handle it, and how God uses it in our lives.

The story of Job

The story of Job is an extreme example of a highly righteous man who suffered dreadful calamities in his personal life. It is significant that the book of the Bible that speaks most about suffering does so through the experiences of one individual, rather than by some abstract philosophical teaching. In this article I want to look at the first two chapters of Job, so I would recommend that you take time to read them carefully, and observe what happened in the life of Job.

Firstly, it is important to note that Job is a completely righteous man, who loved and served God with all his heart and lived in the fear of the Lord. This is stated clearly at the beginning: “He was blameless and upright, he feared God, and turned away from evil” (1:2). Later God repeated this twice (1:8, 2:3). We should also note that Job’s faith is being put to the test. Satan asks God, “Does Job fear God for nothing?”. Job is a very wealthy man, who has been greatly blessed by God (1:2,10). The test that is being set is whether Job will continue to have faith, and continue to worship and fear God even if the blessing is taken away? It is questioning Job’s motives for worshipping God, does he do so out of genuine love for God, or are his motives selfish? Does he worship God just to get God’s material blessings? Throughout the test, Job faced the temptation to curse God and die, as his wife suggests (2:9).

In the account, it is clear that Job’s sufferings were sent by Satan, but God allowed Satan to afflict Job (1:12, 2:6,7)

The sufferings come in two stages: In the first, God allows Satan to touch all he has, his possessions (1:11) - his great wealth and large family. However God places a limit on Satan’s activity - he is not allowed to touch Job himself. Four catastrophes then happen (1:13-18): two of these come through other people - the Sabean and Chaldean raiders, and two come through what we would call today, “natural disasters” - the fire from heaven (lightning), and the wind storm. Through all these he lost all his possessions, and all his children.

It is important to note that Job has no idea of why this has happened to him. He does not know about Satan’s conversation with God and the test of faith that is going on. To him, all these events would appear to be “natural” events that could happen in the ancient Near East. To him, it is not obvious that God is involved, or that they came from Satan.

In the second stage God allows Satan to touch his bone and flesh (2:5) - Job’s body. Again God places a limit on Satan - he is not allowed to kill him. Job is then inflicted with dreadful sores (2:7). He is in dreadful physical agony, and is ritually unclean. Again Job has no idea why he has caught such a dreadful sickness. This could be a “natural” event. Again, it is not obvious to him that God is involved, or that it came from Satan. We, as readers of the book, have more insight into the situation than Job or his friends do. We know that this test of faith is going on, and that God and Satan are involved.

So far Job passed the test!

After the first stage, Job worshipped, and did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing (1:20-22). He did not accuse God of being unjust. After the second stage, Job did not sin with his lips (2:10). Then Job’s friends come to try and comfort him. However they make his suffering worse. At a time like this, he needs compassion, not advice. Initially they showed sympathy, when they sat in silence (2:12-13). Through the next chapters of the book, they continually give the wrong explanation for Job’s situation. They continually claim that he must have sinned, which was a popular view of suffering among Jews. However, as readers of the book, we know that Job was innocent, as God had twice said at the beginning (1:8, 2:3), and Job knows that he was innocent (eg. 9:15).

So where did Job’s suffering come from?

Looking at his situation from a natural level, there were three sources of his suffering: The first was the raiders, the Sabeans and Chaldeans. They came and plundered Job’s possessions because they wanted them! We see human greed at work as they stole his possessions. They also killed the servants, showing murder and brutality. They exercised their free will to come and raid Job. The second source was what we could call today, natural disasters the fire from heaven, and the wind storm. The third source of suffering was sickness, when his body was afflicted with sores, and other symptoms.

However, looking on a spiritual level, we see that his suffering came from Satan, but Satan was only an instrument in the hands of God in the testing of Job. The suffering was allowed by God. The fire from heaven was described as “the fire of God” (1:16). God took the responsibility for Job’s misfortune, saying that Satan incited God against Job (2:3). Through his sufferings, Job saw the sovereignty of God. After first stage, he said, “the Lord gave, the Lord took away” (1:21). Then after the second stage, he said, “Shall we not receive the bad from God, as well as the good?” (2:10).

Job’s experience shows us that suffering comes on a natural level: human sin, natural disasters and human sickness. On a spiritual level, the suffering was caused by Satan, but was allowed by God.

Where does suffering come from today?

Today too, suffering comes on a natural level, but from different sources. We need to face the reality that suffering can come from our own sin, from our own choices. This was not the case in Job’s life, as God declared, even though his friends said it was. We have free choice of actions, but our actions have consequences, both on ourselves, and, importantly, on others as well.

God made the world, so the world belongs to him. He made us and knows the best for us. He gave his law, which can be seen as the Maker's instructions for the good life. If we ignore or reject God's ways we will suffer, but not necessarily immediately. The effects can take time to show in our lives. There are many examples of our own sin leading to suffering. These are a few examples from many: sexual promiscuity can lead to sexually-transmitted diseases, like AIDS; overwork can lead to stress and burn-out; carelessness can lead to accidents; selfishness in relationships can lead to relationship breakdown and divorce, using drugs can lead to addiction.

We must be clear that not all suffering is a result of our own sin. Job’s friends were wrong, and did not understand his situation. We should not think that if someone is sick, or suffering, they must have sinned. We should not judge or condemn them, that is not the Biblical response. However, if we ourselves are suffering, we should ask God if there is sin to repent of, a lifestyle to change, and he will come in gentle conviction. It is wrong to blame God for this sort of suffering.

Probably the majority of suffering in the world is caused by other people’s sin. People exercise their free-will, either for good or for bad. For Job , this was the Sabean and Chaldean raiders. On a modern global level, this includes: wars, terrorism, pollution, environmental damage, injustice. On a local or individual level, this includes: drunken drivers, plane crashes through negligence, adultery, theft, mugging, rape. Again, it is wrong to apportion blame to God for these.

In this category we should include the persecution of believers by unbelievers, as an example of other people’s sin which causes suffering. Jesus experienced this through his ministry, and supremely on the cross. He warned his disciples that this would happen to them (Mk 13:9f), and was experienced continually by Paul and the apostles through the Book of Acts. Paul also warned the Christians about this suffering, that it is - “through many persecutions we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). Earlier, Jesus had called people to, “take up your cross and follow me” (Mk 9:34). The uncomfortable truth in the New Testament is that Christians should expect persecution, because the darkness does not like the light!

Much suffering today, like in Job’s time, comes from natural disasters. For Job, this was the fire from heaven and the violent storm. Today it is the same, whether it is earthquakes, hurricanes, floods or storms.

The final source of suffering today is sickness. For Job, this was the second stage, when he was afflicted with sores. Today, as then, sickness comes in many forms, and affects everyone at greater or lesser level through their lives. With medical advances, we have a greater understanding of sicknesses, whether caused by infection or genetic disorders.

Probably the most important truth we need to understand in this question is that natural disasters and sickness come as a result of us living in a fallen world. In the beginning, God made a perfect world without suffering or death. However the world we now live in is tainted with sin; it is no longer perfect. We need to appreciate that suffering was not part of God’s original creation, but that the creation itself is disordered because of human sin. After the fall, the ground was cursed (Gen 3:17-19). Adam’s sin affected not only himself, but also the ground he lived on. In the Book of Romans, Paul wrote that the creation itself is groaning, subject to futility (Rom 8:19-23).

On a spiritual level, as in Job’s time, suffering is caused by Satan, but allowed by God. The Bible consistently teaches the reality of the devil and the powers of darkness. Satan is the destroyer, and the enemy of the people of God. But Satan is not as strong as God. It is certainly not true that there is a dualism between good and evil, as understood by some eastern religions. From the story of Job, we see that Satan remains under God’s control, who set limits on Satan’s activity. However we need to accept the fact, however difficult we may find it, that suffering in the Bible was allowed by God, and sometimes was even sent directly by God as an act of judgement. An example would be the plagues of Egypt, which would probably appear to the people at the time as natural disasters. The Bible makes it clear consistently that God does act in judgement as a punishment for sin, whether in this life, or at the final judgement.

A look at the bigger picture

To gain the biblical understanding of many issues it is necessary to look at the beginning and the end. Probably the most important questions of life are, “Where did we come from?”, and “Where are we going?”. We should be clear that suffering was not part of God’s original intention for his creation. In the creation account, after each day, it says, “And God saw that it was good” (Gen 1). He made a perfect world without suffering or death.

God created the world because he wanted relationship with us, but to have a meaningful relationship it was necessary to give humanity the free choice to respond to God’s love. Otherwise God would have to relate to people who would be little more than robots, with no free will. It is impossible to make someone love us. People had the free choice either to love God, or not. God wanted people to choose to love and obey him. The sad truth is that people chose selfishness, rather than obedience to God, which is the essence of sin. They rejected God and rebelled against their Creator, and it is this rebellion that led to suffering and death. Because of this, the root cause of all suffering is sin, the consequence of living in a fallen world.

It is impossible to understand the problem of suffering without accepting that we live in a fallen world. The Biblical world-view is based on the foundation that the world was created by a good God, and was without sin, suffering or death. After the fall, sin and death affected all of God’s creation, including mankind and the rest of the physical world.

Suffering has no part in the glorious future God has for us

In contrast to this gloomy prospect, we can bring a wonderful note of hope. For believers, there is the promise that after our lives end on this earth, there will be no more suffering. The problem of sin will be finally dealt with, and there will be no more death. The saints in glory are described this way: “They will hunger no more, and thirst no more, the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat, for the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to the springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7:16-17)

What about now?

During this life, we need to accept the uncomfortable fact that suffering is something we cannot avoid. However, God works through suffering to bring good out of it. This happens in several ways:

The first is that God frequently uses various forms of suffering to bring us to Christ. Difficulties and hardships in this life show us our need of him. They show us we cannot manage on our own. Someone once said that God’s greatest evangelistic tool was trouble, that more people come to Jesus as a result of difficulties in life, than many other ways. To show this, all we need to do is to listen to the testimony of many believers.

The second is that God uses suffering to bring us to Christian maturity, to build our character, to make us more like Christ. This is consistently taught in the New Testament, for example: “suffering should be seen as God's discipline” (Heb 12:11), “suffer various trials so that the genuineness of your faith is tested by fire” (1 Pet 1:6), and “the testing of your faith produces endurance” (James 1:3).

The third is that God uses suffering to bring about his greater purposes. This is particularly seen in the life of Joseph, when after all his sufferings, he said to his brothers, “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good” (Gen 50:20). For us, it is much easier to see this in hindsight, rather than at the time, as the writer of Hebrew so realistically notes, "Now discipline (suffering) always seems painful rather than pleasant at the time, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it." (Heb 12:11). The challenge here is how we respond to suffering. There is a choice set before us. Do we respond in faith, maintaining our trust in God, in spite of the circumstances; or do we react in resentment, and blame God, which ultimately leads to bitterness?

The fourth is the encouraging promise that God more than compensates for suffering. We need to gain an eternal perspective, and look beyond the confines of this life. Paul said this, "I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory about to be revealed to us." (Rom 8:18), and "This slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure" (2 Cor 4:17). During his life, Paul certainly endured much suffering, but kept his hope. The promises he received for a better world, a better life in glory in heaven, gave him the strength to endure during his life. This same hope can also give us the strength to endure now, too.

The fifth truth is also an encouragement, that God is personally involved in our suffering. God is not remote and uninvolved, but he suffers alongside us. We are not alone in our pain and suffering. Jesus became on one of us, and was tempted in every way (Heb 4:15), and suffered on the cross. God does not promise to take away all pain and suffering, at least not yet. However, he does promise that he will never leave us or forsake us. He will meet us in the midst of it and give us his grace to endure it, as long as we call out to him in faith.

The cross

These insights into suffering were all demonstrated supremely on the cross. It was sin that put Jesus on the cross, where he paid the price for all sin, past, present and future, and that sin was as a result of man's free choice. We also see that on the cross God worked through suffering. The people who crucified Jesus intended it for evil, to get rid of a trouble maker; but God meant it for good, the salvation of all who put their trust in Jesus. Also on the cross, God more than compensated for suffering. Jesus had an eternal perspective, “for the joy set before him endured the cross” (Heb 12:1-2). Even during his sufferings he saw ahead to his victory, resurrection and our salvation. And the cross proves that God is involved in suffering. On the cross, God suffered for us, and with us (Is 53:5).

How do we respond to suffering?

Now we come to some practical questions. When faced with suffering how should we respond? We should remember that suffering comes in many forms, not just physical sickness.

Firstly, how should we respond when we are suffering in some way ourselves? One thing we need to accept, is that we will never know all the answers to our questions. Job never received answers to the questions he asked, but came away with a far greater revelation of God, and of his creative power. In many ways, the Book of Job tells us more about how to respond to suffering, and how not to, than it explains it philosophically.

We do need to ask God whether there is any sin to repent of, or a lifestyle to change, even something very practical like taking more exercise. We should be open to the specific gentle conviction of the Holy Spirit, and resist the vague heavy condemnation that comes from Satan.

Also it is important to ask God if he is wanting to speak to us personally through our suffering. Is he using the current difficulties in my life. I have known a number of people who were made redundant from their job, and saw their career come to an end, only to realise that God had something else for them, like being called into full-time service for him.

Through the dark times of suffering, above all we need to hold on to hope. We must remember that better times are coming, either in this life, or in the life to come if we a believer. We need to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, the one who suffered, and was tempted in every way. Also it is very important to remember that it is God’s job to avenge and judge evildoers. If we hold on to resentment, it will ultimately destroy us. Instead, we are to receive God’s grace, and extend forgiveness.

Then through the difficulties we need to heed the call to endure and remain in a place of trusting God , like Job’s test.

Secondly, we will consider the lessons from Job of how to respond to the suffering of others. This is particularly difficult when a loved-one is suffering in whatever way. Above all, we are called to respond in compassion, and not to judge. It is job of the Holy Spirit to bring conviction of sin, not ours! The best thing Job’s friends did was to keep silent for a week. It is altogether too easy for us to make people’s suffering worse by saying the wrong things, or trying to give simple explanations, which are probably wrong. Job’s friends certainly made Job’s sufferings worse, rather than better. I remember meeting a couple once who were expelled from a church after their son had died of a brain tumour, because they did not have enough faith for his healing. When I heard this from them, I was shocked at the extreme lack of compassion shown by that church. Instead, we should pray for the one suffering, praying for God’s comfort and blessing.

During his ministry, Jesus had great compassion for those suffering or living in injustice, and demonstrated this compassion through acts of healing and kindness. Through the history of the church there has been a strong tradition of ministry to those suffering, showing practical acts of mercy to the sick and oppressed. This is a tradition that should certainly be maintained today.

The Old Testament prophets frequently stood up in support of the poor and oppressed, making a stand against injustice, wherever it comes from. The prophet Amos gives a prime example of this social concern, and boldness of speaking out against injustice. It is important that today’s church does the same.

The Bible

Pages which look at issues relevant to the whole Bible, such as the Canon of Scripture, as well as doctrinal and theological issues. There are also pages about the Apocrypha, Pseudepigrapha and 'lost books' of the Old Testament.

Also included are lists of the quotations of the OT in the NT, and passages of the OT quoted in the NT.

Why These 66 Books?
Books in the Hebrew Scriptures
Quotations in NT From OT
OT Passages Quoted in NT
History of the English Bible
Twelve Books of the Apocrypha
The Pseudepigrapha - False Writings
Lost Books Referenced in OT

Old Testament Overview

This is a series of six pages which give a historical overview through the Old Testament and the inter-testamental period, showing where each OT book fits into the history of Israel.

OT 1: Creation and Patriarchs
OT 2: Exodus and Wilderness
OT 3: Conquest and Monarchy
OT 4: Divided kingdom and Exile
OT 5: Return from Exile
OT 6: 400 Silent Years

New Testament Overview

This is a series of five pages which give a historical overview through the New Testament, focusing on the Ministry of Jesus, Paul's missionary journeys, and the later first century. Again, it shows where each book of the NT fits into the history of the first century.

NT 1: Life and Ministry of Jesus
NT 2: Birth of the Church
NT 3: Paul's Missionary Journeys
NT 4: Paul's Imprisonment
NT 5: John and Later NT

Introductions to Old Testament Books

This is an almost complete collection of introductions to each of the books in the Old Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Genesis Exodus Leviticus
Numbers Deuteronomy

Joshua Judges Ruth
1 & 2 Samuel 1 & 2 Kings Chronicles
Ezra & Nehemiah Esther

Job Psalms Proverbs

Isaiah Jeremiah Lamentations
Ezekiel Daniel

Hosea Joel Amos
Obadiah Jonah Micah
Nahum Habakkuk Zephaniah
Haggai Zechariah Malachi

Introductions to New Testament Books

This is a collection of introductions to each of the 27 books in the New Testament. Each contains information about the authorship, date, historical setting and main themes of the book.

Matthew's Gospel Mark's Gospel Luke's Gospel
John's Gospel

Book of Acts

Romans 1 Corinthians 2 Corinthians
Galatians Ephesians Philippians
Colossians 1 & 2 Thessalonians 1 Timothy
2 Timothy Titus Philemon

Hebrews James 1 Peter
2 Peter 1 John 2 & 3 John


Old Testament History

Information about the different nations surrounding Israel, and other articles concerning Old Testament history and the inter-testamental period.

Canaanite Religion
Israel's Enemies During the Conquest
Syria / Aram
The Assyrian Empire
Babylon and its History
The Persian Empire
The Greek Empire
The 400 Silent Years
The Ptolemies and Seleucids
Antiochus IV - Epiphanes

Old Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for OT studies. These include a list of the people named in the OT and confirmed by archaeology. There are also pages to convert the different units of measure in the OT, such as the talent, cubit and ephah into modern units.

More theological topics include warfare in the ancient world, the Holy Spirit in the OT, and types of Jesus in the OT.

OT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Jewish Calendar
The Importance of Paradox
Talent Converter (weights)
Cubit Converter (lengths)
OT People Search
Ephah Converter (volumes)
Holy War in the Ancient World
The Holy Spirit in the OT
Types of Jesus in the OT

Studies in the Pentateuch (Gen - Deut)

A series of articles covering studies in the five books of Moses. Studies in the Book of Genesis look at the historical nature of the early chapters of Genesis, the Tower of Babel and the Table of the Nations.

There are also pages about covenants, the sacrifices and offerings, the Jewish festivals and the tabernacle, as well as the issue of tithing.

Are chapters 1-11 of Genesis historical?
Chronology of the Flood
Genealogies of the Patriarchs
Table of the Nations (Gen 10)
Tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-9)

Authorship of the Pentateuch
Chronology of the Wilderness Years
Names of God in the OT
Covenants in the OT
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle and its Theology
Sacrifices and Offerings
The Jewish Festivals
Balaam and Balak
Highlights from Deuteronomy
Overview of Deuteronomy

Studies in the Old Testament History Books (Josh - Esther)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the history books. These include a list of the dates of the kings of Israel and Judah, a summary of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and studies of Solomon, Jeroboam and Josiah.

There are also pages describing some of the historical events of the period, including the Syro-Ephraimite War, and the Assyrian invasion of Judah in 701 BC.

Dates of the Kings of Judah and Israel
King Solomon
The Kings of Israel
King Jeroboam I of Israel
The Syro-Ephraimite War (735 BC)
Sennacherib's Invasion of Judah (701 BC)
King Josiah of Judah
Differences Between Kings and Chronicles
Chronology of the post-exilic period

Studies in the Old Testament Prophets (Is - Mal)

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the OT prophets. These include a page looking at the way the prophets look ahead into their future, a page looking at the question of whether Satan is a fallen angel, and a page studying the seventy weeks of Daniel.

There are also a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of two of the books:
Isaiah (13 pages) and Daniel (10 pages).

Prophets and the Future
The Call of Jeremiah (Jer 1)
The Fall of Satan? (Is 14, Ezek 28)
Daniel Commentary (10 pages)
Isaiah Commentary (13 pages)
Formation of the Book of Jeremiah

Daniel's Seventy Weeks (Dan 9:24-27)

New Testament Studies

A series of articles covering more general topics for NT studies. These include a list of the people in the NT confirmed by archaeology.

More theological topics include the Kingdom of God and the Coming of Christ.

NT People Confirmed by Archaeology
The Kingdom of God / Heaven
Parousia (Coming of Christ)
The Importance of Paradox

Studies in the Four Gospels (Matt - John)

A series of articles covering various studies in the four gospels. These include a list of the unique passages in each of the Synoptic Gospels and helpful information about the parables and how to interpret them.

Some articles look at the life and ministry of Jesus, including his genealogy, birth narratives, transfiguration, the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, and the seating arrangements at the Last Supper.

More theological topics include the teaching about the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete and whether John the Baptist fulfilled the predictions of the coming of Elijah.

Unique Passages in the Synoptic Gospels
The SynopticProblem
Genealogy of Jesus (Matt 1)
Birth Narratives of Jesus
Understanding the Parables
Peter's Confession and the Transfiguration
Was John the Baptist Elijah?
The Triumphal Entry
The Olivet Discourse (Mark 13)
Important themes in John's Gospel
John's Gospel Prologue (John 1)
Jesus Fulfilling Jewish Festivals
Reclining at Table at the Last Supper
The Holy Spirit as the Paraclete

Studies in the Book of Acts and the New Testament Letters

A series of articles covering various studies in the Book of Acts and the Letters, including Paul's letters. These include a page studying the messages given by the apostles in the Book of Acts, and the information about the financial collection that Paul made during his third missionary journey. More theological topics include Paul's teaching on Jesus as the last Adam, and descriptions of the church such as the body of Christ and the temple, as well as a look at redemption and the issue of fallen angels.

There are a series of pages giving a commentary through the text of five of the books:
Romans (7 pages), 1 Corinthians (7 pages), Galatians (3 pages), Philemon (1 page) and Hebrews (7 pages)

Apostolic Messages in the Book of Acts
Paul and His Apostleship
Collection for the Saints
The Church Described as a Temple
Church as the Body of Christ
Jesus as the Last Adam
Food Offered to Idols
Paul's Teaching on Headcoverings
Who are the Fallen Angels
The Meaning of Redemption
What is the Church?
Paul and the Greek Games

Romans Commentary (7 pages)

1 Corinthians Commentary (7 pages)

Galatians Commentary (3 pages)

Philemon Commentary (1 page)

Hebrews Commentary (7 pages)

Studies in the Book of Revelation

Articles containing studies and helpful information for the study of the Book of Revelation and topics concerning Eschatology (the study of end-times).

These include a description of the structure of the book, a comparison and contrast between the good and evil characters in the book and a list of the many allusions to the OT. For the seven churches, there is a page which gives links to their location on Google maps.

There is a page studying the important theme of Jesus as the Lamb, which forms the central theological truth of the book. There are pages looking at the major views of the Millennium, as well as the rapture and tribulation, as well as a list of dates of the second coming that have been mistakenly predicted through history.

There is also a series of ten pages giving a detailed commentry through the text of the Book of Revelation.

Introduction to the Book of Revelation
Characters Introduced in the Book
Structure of Revelation
List of Allusions to OT
The Description of Jesus as the Lamb
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
The Nero Redivius Myth
The Millennium (1000 years)
The Rapture and the Tribulation
Different Approaches to Revelation
Predicted Dates of the Second Coming

Revelation Commentary (10 pages)

How to do Inductive Bible Study

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study the Bible inductively, by asking a series of simple questions. There are lists of observation and interpretation questions, as well as information about the structure and historical background of biblical books, as well as a list of the different types of figures of speech used in the Bible. There is also a page giving helpful tips on how to apply the Scriptures personally.

How to Study the Bible Inductively
I. The Inductive Study Method
II. Observation Questions
III. Interpretation Questions
IV. Structure of Books
V. Determining the Historical background
VI. Identifying Figures of Speech
VII. Personal Application
VIII. Text Layout

Types of Literature in the Bible

These are a series of pages giving practical help showing how to study each of the different types of book in the Bible by appreciating the type of literature being used. These include historical narrative, law, wisdom, prophets, Gospels, Acts, letters and Revelation.

It is most important that when reading the Bible we are taking note of the type of literature we are reading. Each type needs to be considered and interpreted differently as they have different purposes.

How to Understand OT Narratives
How to Understand OT Law
Hebrew Poetry
OT Wisdom Literature
Understanding the OT Prophets
The Four Gospels
The Parables of Jesus
The Book of Acts
How to Understand the NT Letters
Studying End Times (Eschatology)
The Book of Revelation

Geography and Archaeology

These are a series of pages giving geographical and archaeological information relevant to the study of the Bible. There is a page where you can search for a particular geographical location and locate it on Google maps, as well as viewing photographs on other sites.

There are also pages with photographs from Ephesus and Corinth.

Search for Geographical Locations
Major Archaeological Sites in Israel
Archaeological Sites in Assyria, Babylon and Persia
Virtual Paul's Missionary Journeys
Virtual Seven Churches of Revelation
Photos of the City of Corinth
Photos of the City of Ephesus

Biblical Archaeology in Museums around the world

A page with a facility to search for artifacts held in museums around the world which have a connection with the Bible. These give information about each artifact, as well as links to the museum's collection website where available showing high resolution photographs of the artifact.

There is also page of photographs from the Israel Museum in Jerusalem of important artifacts.

Search Museums for Biblical Archaeology
Israel Museum Photos

Difficult Theological and Ethical Questions

These are a series of pages looking at some of the more difficult questions of Christian theology, including war, suffering, disappointment and what happens to those who have never heard the Gospel.

Christian Ethics
Never Heard the Gospel
Is there Ever a Just War?
Why Does God Allow Suffering
Handling Disappointment

How to Preach

These are a series of pages giving a practical step-by-step explanation of the process of preparing a message for preaching, and how to lead a small group Bible study.

What is Preaching?
I. Two Approaches to Preaching
II. Study a Passage for Preaching
III. Creating a Message Outline
IV. Making Preaching Relevant
V. Presentation and Public Speaking
VI. Preaching Feedback and Critique
Leading a Small Group Bible Study

Information for SBS staff members

Two pages particularly relevant for people serving as staff on the School of Biblical Studies (SBS) in YWAM. One gives helpful instruction about how to prepare to teach on a book in the SBS. The other gives a list of recommended topics which can be taught about for each book of the Bible.

Teaching on SBS Book Topics for SBS