Peter Says That Jesus Is the Christ
18One day Jesus was praying alone. Only his disciples were with him. He asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"
19They replied, "Some say John the Baptist. Others say Elijah. Still others say that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."
20"But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "The Christ of God."
21Jesus strongly warned them not to tell this to anyone. 22He said, "The Son of Man must suffer many things. The elders will not accept him. The chief priests and teachers of the law will not accept him either. He must be killed and on the third day rise from the dead."
23Then he said to all of them, "If anyone wants to follow me, he must say no to himself. He must pick up his cross every day and follow me. 24If he wants to save his life, he will lose it. But if he loses his life for me, he will save it. 25What good is it if someone gains the whole world but loses or gives up his very self?
26"Suppose you are ashamed of me and my words. The Son of Man will come in his glory and in the glory of the Father and the holy angels. Then he will be ashamed of you.
27"What I'm about to tell you is true. Some who are standing here will not die before they see God's kingdom."
Saul Becomes a Believer
1Meanwhile, Saul continued to oppose the Lord's followers. He said they would be put to death. He went to the high priest. 2He asked the priest for letters to the synagogues in Damascus. He wanted to find men and women who belonged to the Way of Jesus. The letters would allow him to take them as prisoners to Jerusalem.
3On his journey, Saul approached Damascus. Suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. 4He fell to the ground. He heard a voice speak to him. "Saul! Saul!" the voice said. "Why are you opposing me?"
5"Who are you, Lord?" Saul asked.
"I am Jesus," he replied. "I am the one you are opposing. 6Now get up and go into the city. There you will be told what you must do."
7The men traveling with Saul stood there. They weren't able to speak. They had heard the sound. But they didn't see anyone. 8Saul got up from the ground. He opened his eyes, but he couldn't see. So they led him by the hand into Damascus. 9For three days he was blind. He didn't eat or drink anything.
10In Damascus there was a believer named Ananias. The Lord called out to him in a vision. "Ananias!" he said.
"Yes, Lord," he answered.
11The Lord told him, "Go to the house of Judas on Straight Street. Ask for a man from Tarsus named Saul. He is praying. 12In a vision he has seen a man named Ananias. The man has come and placed his hands on him. Now he will be able to see again."
13"Lord," Ananias answered, "I've heard many reports about this man. They say he has done great harm to God's people in Jerusalem. 14Now he has come here to arrest all those who worship you. The chief priests have given him authority to do this."
15But the Lord said to Ananias, "Go! I have chosen this man to work for me. He will carry my name to those who aren't Jews and to their kings. He will bring my name to the people of Israel. 16I will show him how much he must suffer for me."
17Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. He placed his hands on Saul. "Brother Saul," he said, "you saw the Lord Jesus. He appeared to you on the road as you were coming here. He has sent me so that you will be able to see again. You will be filled with the Holy Spirit."
18Right away something like scales fell from Saul's eyes. And he could see again. He got up and was baptized. 19After eating some food, he got his strength back.
Saul spent several days with the believers in Damascus.
Jesus Talks With a Woman From Samaria
1The Pharisees heard that Jesus was winning and baptizing more disciples than John. 2But in fact Jesus was not baptizing. His disciples were. 3When the Lord found out about all this, he left Judea. He went back to Galilee again.
4Jesus had to go through Samaria. 5He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar. It was near the piece of land Jacob had given his son Joseph. 6Jacob's well was there. Jesus was tired from the journey. So he sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7A woman from Samaria came to get some water. Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.
9The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" She said this because Jews don't have anything to do with Samaritans.
10Jesus answered her, "You do not know what God's gift is. And you do not know who is asking you for a drink. If you did, you would have asked him. He would have given you living water."
11"Sir," the woman said, "you don't have anything to get water with. The well is deep. Where can you get this living water?
12"Our father Jacob gave us the well. He drank from it himself. So did his sons and his flocks and herds. Are you more important than he is?"
13Jesus answered, "All who drink this water will be thirsty again. 14But anyone who drinks the water I give him will never be thirsty. In fact, the water I give him will become a spring of water in him. It will flow up into eternal life."
15The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water. Then I will never be thirsty. And I won't have to keep coming here to get water."
16He told her, "Go. Get your husband and come back."
17"I have no husband," she replied.
Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18The fact is, you have had five husbands. And the man you have now is not your husband. What you have just said is very true."
19"Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20Our people have worshiped on this mountain for a long time. But you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
21Jesus said, "Believe me, woman. A time is coming when you will not worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know. Salvation comes from the Jews.
23"But a new time is coming. In fact, it is already here. True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. They are the kind of worshipers the Father is looking for.
24"God is spirit. His worshipers must worship him in spirit and in truth."
25The woman said, "I know that Messiah is coming." (He is called Christ.) "When he comes, he will explain everything to us."
26Then Jesus said, "I, the one speaking to you, am he."
The Disciples Join Jesus Again
27Just then Jesus' disciples returned. They were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What do you want from her?" No one asked, "Why are you talking with her?"
28The woman left her water jar and went back to the town. She said to the people, 29"Come. See a man who told me everything I've ever done. Could this be the Christ?"
30The people came out of the town and made their way toward Jesus.
31His disciples were saying to him, "Rabbi, eat something!"
32But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about."
33Then his disciples asked each other, "Did someone bring him food?"
34Jesus said, "My food is to do what my Father sent me to do. My food is to finish his work.
35"You say, 'Four months more, and then it will be harvest time.' But I tell you, open your eyes! Look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest right now. 36Those who gather the crop are already getting paid. They are already harvesting the crop for eternal life. So those who plant and those who gather can now be glad together.
37"Here is a true saying. 'One plants and another gathers.' 38I sent you to gather what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work. You have gathered the benefits of their work."
Many Samaritans Believe in Jesus
39Many of the Samaritans from the town of Sychar believed in Jesus. They believed because of the woman's witness. She said, "He told me everything I've ever done."
40Then the Samaritans came to him and tried to get him to stay with them. So he stayed two days.41Because of his words, many more people became believers.
42They said to the woman, "We no longer believe just because of what you said. We have now heard for ourselves. We know that this man really is the Savior of the world."
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
1There was a Pharisee named Nicodemus. He was one of the Jewish rulers. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. We know that God is with you. If he weren't, you couldn't do the miraculous signs you are doing."
3Jesus replied, "What I'm about to tell you is true. No one can see God's kingdom without being born again."
4"How can I be born when I am old?" Nicodemus asked. "I can't go back inside my mother! I can't be born a second time!"
5Jesus answered, "What I'm about to tell you is true. No one can enter God's kingdom without being born through water and the Holy Spirit. 6People give birth to people. But the Spirit gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised when I say, 'You must all be born again.'
8"The wind blows where it wants to. You hear the sound it makes. But you can't tell where it comes from or where it is going. It is the same with everyone who is born through the Spirit."
9"How can this be?" Nicodemus asked.
10"You are Israel's teacher," said Jesus. "Don't you understand these things?
11"What I'm about to tell you is true. We speak about what we know. We give witness to what we have seen. But still you people do not accept our witness. 12I have spoken to you about earthly things, and you do not believe. So how will you believe if I speak about heavenly things?
13"No one has ever gone into heaven except the One who came from heaven. He is the Son of Man.14Moses lifted up the snake in the desert. The Son of Man must be lifted up also. 15Then everyone who believes in him can live with God forever.
16"God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son. Anyone who believes in him will not die but will have eternal life.
17"God did not send his Son into the world to judge the world. He sent his Son to save the world through him. 18Anyone who believes in him is not judged. But anyone who does not believe is judged already. He has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
19"Here is the judgment. Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light. They loved darkness because what they did was evil.
20"Everyone who does evil things hates the light. They will not come into the light. They are afraid that what they do will be seen. 21But anyone who lives by the truth comes into the light. He does this so that it will be easy to see that what he has done is with God's help."
Jesus and the Rich Young Man
16A man came up to Jesus. He asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to receive eternal life?"
17"Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter the kingdom, obey the commandments."
18"Which ones?" the man asked.
Jesus said, " 'Do not commit murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not give false witness.19Honor your father and mother.' (Exodus 20:12-16; Deuteronomy 5:16-20) And 'love your neighbor as you love yourself.' " (Leviticus 19:18)
20"I have obeyed all those commandments," the young man said. "What else do I need to do?"
21Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go and sell everything you have. Give the money to those who are poor. You will have treasure in heaven. Then come and follow me."
22When the young man heard this, he went away sad. He was very rich.
23Then Jesus said to his disciples, "What I'm about to tell you is true. It is hard for rich people to enter the kingdom of heaven. 24Again I tell you, it is hard for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. But it is even harder for the rich to enter God's kingdom."
25When the disciples heard this, they were really amazed. They asked, "Then who can be saved?"
26Jesus looked at them and said, "With man, that is impossible. But with God, all things are possible."
27Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What reward will be given to us?"
28"What I'm about to tell you is true," Jesus said to them. "When all things are made new, the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne. Then you who have followed me will also sit on 12 thrones. You will judge the 12 tribes of Israel. 29Everyone who has left houses or families or fields because of me will receive 100 times as much. They will also receive eternal life. 30But many who are first will be last. And many who are last will be first.
Revelation 21, 22
The New Jerusalem
1I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth were completely gone. There was no longer any sea.
2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem. It was coming down out of heaven from God. It was prepared like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband.
3I heard a loud voice from the throne. It said, "Now God makes his home with people. He will live with them. They will be his people. And God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or sadness. There will be no more crying or pain. Things are no longer the way they used to be."
5He who was sitting on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down. You can trust these words. They are true."
6He said to me, "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. I am the Beginning and the End. Anyone who is thirsty may drink from the spring of the water of life. It doesn't cost anything! 7Anyone who overcomes will receive all this from me. I will be his God, and he will be my child.
8"But others will have their place in the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. Those who are afraid and those who do not believe will be there. Murderers and those who pollute themselves will join them. Those who commit sexual sins and those who practice witchcraft will go there. Those who worship statues of gods and all who tell lies will be there too. It is the second death."
9One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and spoke to me. The bowls were filled with the seven last plagues. The angel said, "Come. I will show you the bride, the wife of the Lamb."
10Then he carried me away in a vision. The Spirit took me to a huge, high mountain. He showed me Jerusalem, the Holy City. It was coming down out of heaven from God. 11It shone with the glory of God. It gleamed like a very valuable jewel. It was like a jasper, as clear as crystal.
12The city had a huge, high wall with 12 gates. Twelve angels were at the gates, one at each of them. On the gates were written the names of the 12 tribes of Israel. 13There were three gates on the east and three on the north. There were three gates on the south and three on the west. 14The wall of the city had 12 foundations. Written on them were the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb.
15The angel who talked with me had a gold measuring rod. He used it to measure the city, its gates and its walls.
16The city was laid out like a square. It was as long as it was wide. The angel measured the city with the rod. It was 1,400 miles long. It was as wide and high as it was long.
17He measured the wall of the city. It was 200 feet thick. The angel did the measuring as a man would. 18The wall was made out of jasper. The city was made out of pure gold, as pure as glass.
19The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of jewel. The first foundation was made out of jasper. The second was made out of sapphire. The third was made out of chalcedony. The fourth was made out of emerald. 20The fifth was made out of sardonyx. The sixth was made out of carnelian. The seventh was made out of chrysolite. The eighth was made out of beryl. The ninth was made out of topaz. The tenth was made out of chrysoprase. The eleventh was made out of jacinth. The twelfth was made out of amethyst.
21The 12 gates were made from 12 pearls. Each gate was made out of a single pearl. The main street of the city was made out of pure gold, as clear as glass.
22I didn't see a temple in the city. This was because the Lamb and the Lord God who rules over all are its temple. 23The city does not need the sun or moon to shine on it. God's glory is its light, and the Lamb is its lamp.
24The nations will walk by the light of the city. The kings of the world will bring their glory into it. 25Its gates will never be shut, because there will be no night there. 26The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it.
27Only what is pure will enter it. No one who fools others or does shameful things will enter it. Only those whose names are written in the Lamb's Book of Life will enter the city.
The River of Life
1Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life. It was as clear as crystal. It flowed from the throne of God and of the Lamb. 2It flowed down the middle of the city's main street.
On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing 12 crops of fruit. Its fruit was ripe every month. The leaves of the tree bring healing to the nations.
3There will no longer be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city. God's servants will serve him. 4They will see his face. His name will be on their foreheads.
5There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun. The Lord God will give them light. They will rule for ever and ever.
6The angel said to me, "You can trust these words. They are true. The Lord is the God of the spirits of the prophets. He sent his angel to show those who serve him the things that must soon take place."
Jesus Is Coming
7"Look! I am coming soon! Blessed are those who obey the words of the prophecy in this book."
8I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things.
After I had heard and seen them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel. He is the one who had been showing me these things.
9But he said to me, "Don't do that! I serve God, just as you do. I am God's servant, just like the other prophets and all who obey the words of this book. Worship God!"
10Then he told me, "Do not seal up the words of the prophecy in this book. These things are about to happen. 11Let those who do wrong keep on doing wrong. Let those who are evil continue to be evil. Let those who do what is right keep on doing what is right. And let those who are holy continue to be holy."
12"Look! I am coming soon! I bring my rewards with me. I will reward each person for what he has done. 13I am the Alpha and the Omega. I am the First and the Last. I am the Beginning and the End.
14"Blessed are those who wash their robes. They will have the right to come to the tree of life. They will be allowed to go through the gates into the city.
15"Outside the city are the dogs and those who practice witchcraft. Outside are also those who commit sexual sins and murder. Those who worship statues of gods, and everyone who loves and does what is false, are outside too.
16"I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this witness for the churches. I am the Root and the Son of David. I am the bright Morning Star."
17The Holy Spirit and the bride say, "Come!" Let those who hear say, "Come!" Anyone who is thirsty should come. Anyone who wants to take the free gift of the water of life should do so.
18I am warning everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book. If you add anything to them, God will add to you the plagues told about in this book. 19If you take any words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from you your share in the tree of life. He will also take away your place in the Holy City. This book tells about these things.
20He who gives witness to these things says, "Yes. I am coming soon."
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!
21May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen.
2 Peter 3:1-18
The Day of the Lord
1Dear friends, this is now my second letter to you. I have written both of them as reminders. I want to stir you up to think in a way that is pure. 2I want you to remember the words the holy prophets spoke in the past. Remember the command our Lord and Savior gave through your apostles.
3First of all, here is what you must understand. In the last days people will make fun of the truth. They will laugh at it. They will follow their own evil longings. 4They will say, "Where is this 'return' he promised? Everything goes on in the same way it has since our people of long ago died. In fact, it has continued that way since God first created everything."
5Long ago, God's word brought the heavens into being. His word separated the earth from the waters. And the waters surrounded it. But those people forget things like that on purpose. 6The waters also flooded the world of that time. It was destroyed.
7By God's word the heavens and earth of today are being reserved for fire. They are being kept for the day when God will judge. Then ungodly people will be destroyed.
8Dear friends, here is one thing you must not forget. With the Lord a day is like a thousand years. And a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow to keep his promise. He is not slow in the way some people understand it. He is patient with you. He doesn't want anyone to be destroyed. Instead, he wants all people to turn away from their sins.
10But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar. Fire will destroy everything in them. God will judge the earth and everything in it.
11So everything will be destroyed. And what kind of people should you be? You should lead holy and godly lives. 12Live like that as you look forward to the day of God. It will make the day come more quickly. On that day fire will destroy the heavens. Its heat will melt everything in them.
13But we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth. Godliness will make its home there. All of this is in keeping with God's promise.
14Dear friends, I know you are looking forward to that. So try your best to be found pure and without blame. Be at peace with God. 15Remember that while our Lord is waiting patiently to return, people are being saved.
Our dear brother Paul also wrote to you about that. God made him wise to write as he did. 16He writes the same way in all his letters. He speaks about what I have just told you. His letters include some things that are hard to understand. People who don't know better and aren't firm in the faith twist what he says. They twist the other Scriptures too. So they will be destroyed.
17Dear friends, you already know that. So be on your guard. Then you won't be led down the wrong path by the mistakes of people who don't obey the law. You won't fall from your safe position.
18Grow in the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Get to know him better.
Give him glory both now and forever. Amen.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-12
The Man of Sin
1Brothers and sisters, we want to ask you something. It has to do with the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. It concerns the time when we will go to be with him.
2What if you receive a prophecy, report or letter that is supposed to have come from us? What if it says that the day of the Lord has already come? If it does, we ask you not to become easily upset or alarmed.
3Don't let anyone trick you in any way. That day will not come until people rise up against God. It will not come until the man of sin appears. He is a marked man. He is sentenced to be destroyed. 4He will oppose everything that is called God. He will oppose everything that is worshiped. He will give himself power over everything. He will set himself up in God's temple. He will announce that he himself is God.
5Don't you remember? When I was with you, I used to tell you those things.
6Now you know what is holding the man of sin back. He is held back so that he can make his appearance at the right time. 7The secret power of sin is already at work. But the one who now holds that power back will keep doing it until he is taken out of the way.
8Then the man of sin will appear. The Lord Jesus will overthrow him with the breath of his mouth. The glorious brightness of Jesus' coming will destroy the man of sin.
9The coming of the man of sin will be Satan's work. His work will be seen in all kinds of fake miracles, signs and wonders. 10It will be seen in every kind of evil that fools people who are dying. They are dying because they refuse to love the truth. The truth would save them.
11So God will fool them completely. Then they will believe the lie. 12Many will not believe the truth. They will take pleasure in evil. They will be judged.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, 5:1-11
The Lord Is Coming
13Brothers and sisters, we want you to know what happens to those who die. We don't want you to be sad, as other people are. They don't have any hope.
14We believe that Jesus died and rose again. When he returns, many who believe in him will have died already. We believe that God will bring them back with Jesus.
15That agrees with what the Lord has said. When the Lord comes, many of us will still be alive. We tell you that we will certainly not go up before those who have died.
16The Lord himself will come down from heaven. We will hear a loud command. We will hear the voice of the leader of the angels. We will hear a blast from God's trumpet. Many who believe in Christ will have died already. They will rise first. 17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them. We will be taken up in the clouds. We will meet the Lord in the air. And we will be with him forever.
18So cheer each other up with these words of comfort.
1Brothers and sisters, we don't have to write to you about times and dates. 2You know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3People will be saying that everything is peaceful and safe. Then suddenly they will be destroyed. It will happen like birth pains coming on a pregnant woman. None of the people will escape.
4Brothers and sisters, you are not in darkness. So that day should not surprise you as a thief would. 5All of you are children of the light. You are children of the day. We don't belong to the night. We don't belong to the darkness.
6So let us not be like the others. They are asleep. Instead, let us be wide awake and in full control of ourselves.
7Those who sleep, sleep at night. Those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But we belong to the day. So let us control ourselves. Let us put the armor of faith and love on our chest. Let us put on the hope of salvation like a helmet.
9God didn't choose us to receive his anger. He chose us to receive salvation because of what our Lord Jesus Christ has done.
10Jesus died for us. Some will be alive when he comes. Others will be dead. Either way, we will live together with him. 11So cheer each other up with the hope you have. Build each other up. In fact, that's what you are doing.
Jesus Is Taken Up Into Heaven
1Theophilus, I wrote about Jesus in my earlier book. I wrote about all he did and taught 2until the day he was taken up to heaven. Before Jesus left, he gave orders to the apostles he had chosen. He did this through the Holy Spirit. 3After his suffering and death, he appeared to them. In many ways he proved that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of 40 days. During that time he spoke about God's kingdom.
4One day Jesus was eating with them. He gave them a command. "Do not leave Jerusalem," he said. "Wait for the gift my Father promised. You have heard me talk about it. 5John baptized with water. But in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit."
6When the apostles met together, they asked Jesus a question. "Lord," they said, "are you going to give the kingdom back to Israel now?"
7He said to them, "You should not be concerned about times or dates. The Father has set them by his own authority. 8But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem. You will be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria. And you will be my witnesses from one end of the earth to the other."
9After Jesus said this, he was taken up to heaven. They watched until a cloud hid him from their sight.
10While he was going up, they kept on looking at the sky. Suddenly two men dressed in white clothing stood beside them. 11"Men of Galilee," they said, "why do you stand here looking at the sky? Jesus has been taken away from you into heaven. But he will come back in the same way you saw him go."
New International Readers Version (NIrV)