Bible Studies

Joel by Apelu Tielu - 2023


The book of Joel is like a literature review of Israel’s prophetic and historic writings. He references the Exodus and the works of prophets like Isaiah 13, Ezekiel 30, Malachi 4, Obadiah, Zephaniah 1-2, Jeremiah 4-6, and specific words from Amos 3:18; and it seems like he is using these works and, perhaps, other traditions of Israel to interpret the message that he is hearing from God. This is fairly consistent with the way Jews and Israel interpret scriptures. And this appears to have a bearing on how he shapes and delivers his message. The book is written in poetic form, like many other prophetic books, perhaps for ease to memorise and to remember.

Like other prophets, he is writing about a serious disaster that is coming, which is a severe famine caused by locust infestation, which he sees as a judgment for Judah’s (Isael) sin. Interestingly, he does not accuse Judah of any particular sin, perhaps because he expects the people to have learnt about this from the works of other prophets. 

To describe the disaster that is coming, he references the plagues in the book of Exodus. So, he is using this biblical literature of Israel to make sense of the disaster that is unfolding by offering an explanation of what is happening and how all this might end if the people repent, which is salvation, for God’s compassion is far greater than his anger.

Obadiah by Apelu Tielu - 2023


The name Obadiah, in Hebrew, means, servant of God. In the texts that Rabbinic Judaism accepted as scriptures render it, ‘Ōbadyȃ, ‘worshiper of Yahweh’. The Septuagint, the Greek version of the OT, uses Abdiou (Αβδιου), and the Vulgate, the Latin version of the Bible that the Church used before the reformation uses Abdias: ‘servant of Yahweh’. The name Obed, grandfather of David, is a variant of Obadiah. Aside from that, not much else is known about him, other than the fact that he was a prophet of Yahweh.


Scholars have placed his time of prophetic work at around the 6th century BC. He was not considered a ‘professional prophet’, but, like Amos, God had called him for a specific task.

Hosea by Apelu Tielu - 2023


Hosea was active as a prophet in the northern kingdom (Israel) in the 8th century BC, for over six decades, from the reign of king Jeroboam II to the time of Hoshea, the last king of Israel. He seems to reflect an awareness of the war between Syria and Ephraim, a northern tribe (Hosea 5:8–15), but his oracles do not indicate any knowledge of the defeat of the northerners by the Assyrians in 721 BC, and their subsequent exile to Assyria (2 Kings 17).


In the opening chapter of the book, we hear about the prophet’s own situation. Hosea receives direction from God as to how he is to behave. The actions he undertakes provide a series of signs to the people of Israel concerning their fate (1:2–10). The future looks grim, but he also reminds them of God’s persistent love for them, which gives them hope.


The name Hosea means “salvation”, and the oracles in his book provide occasional glimpses of that desired outcome before the final oracle assures Israel, “I will heal their disloyalty; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them” (14:4–9).


Hosea's wife is named as Gomer, from the verb gamar, which means “to complete or bring to an end”. Is she the one to bring to completion the salvation to which Hosea looks? Gomer is an adulterous woman, and she is a metaphor for Israel who would follow other gods and then return to God of the Israelites (3:3–5). Hosea regularly pleads with Israel to “return to the Lord” (2:7; 4:5; 6:1; 12:6; 14:1–2).


Not only does Gomer signify the behaviour of Israel; the names of her children are similarly significant. The first son, Jezreel (“God sows”) signals punishment (1:4). A daughter, Lo-ruhamah (“not pitied”) signals God's continuing refusal to forgive Israel (1:6). A second son, Lo-ammi (“not my people”) seals their fate, it would seem: “you are not my people, and I am not your [God]” (1:9). The names tell a story; a story that does not bode well for Israel.

Paul’s Letter to the Church in Rome by Apelu Tielu - 2023


Paul’s letter to the Romans is considered his most influential work. It is also considered the first and most outstanding piece of Christian theology, making him the first Christian theologian. Much of today’s Christian theology finds its root in this epistle. It is the favourite book of many Church leaders including Martin Luther.

 Romans is the only epistle that Paul wrote to a church that he did not establish. As a result, it can be viewed as it was intended for the wider Church. The epistle was written at a time when he was still a controversial figure due to his early persecution of the Church. He planned to visit the churches in Rome on his to Spain, which he never reached. It was important to him that he explained himself and his gospel and answered his critics. We are blessed with having the result in which he sets out what he preaches and why.

 Paul features large in NT. Luke spends much of his history of the early church in Acts writing about Paul as its main hero. In fact, if you take a close look at the book of Acts, it almost looks like a biography of Paul’s and his ministry, or a defence of Paul. There are 7 Paul’s letters and in addition a number of others written by admirers in his name; altogether, 13; in other words, half of the NT’s 26 books. And the other, the Acts of the Apostles, gives most of its attention to Paul.

 In addition, Paul’s 7 letters were written in the late 40s or early 50s, just a little over 20 years after Jesus. In contrast the Gospels, of which the first, Mark, was written in the early 70s. His first letter to the church in Thessalonica is considered the earliest of all the books in the NT, written somewhere between 48 or 52. Luke, who wrote Acts in the 80s, draws on stories and anecdotes about Paul. It appears, in addition, that he sometimes accompanied Paul.

 In his somewhat idealised account, Luke portrays Paul as a hero and generally much more harmonious with other leaders in the early church than we know from the letters that he actually was. We are fortunate to be able to supplement the letters with Luke’s information and sometimes correct the latter in the light of them, such as where there are differences about the number of times Paul revisited Jerusalem and about his theology.

 Paul’s letters were written not to be included in a permanent body of sacred writings, but in response to specific situations. This gives them a sense of immediacy. They are dealing with concrete issues. When we read them with that in mind, they come alive.

 In these studies, we are reading Romans in that light. As an explanation of what he preaches and why, it is more abstract than his other letters, but even then, we can detect when he writes he has concrete criticisms and concerns in mind. We will study Romans one chapter at a time.

The Gospel of Luke by Apelu Tielu - 2022


In this study, we will be exploring the Gospel of Luke. Luke has 24 chapters, but we will be following the main themes as set out by the New Interpreters Bible. But we will also have a look at the evangelist Luke and his work, which includes the Gospel of Luke (Luke) and the Acts of the Apostles (Acts). We will look at Luke in relation to the other Synoptic Gospels to give us an idea of what Luke is trying to achieve. We will do this extra bit in the first session when we also look at the prologue, which is the first 4 verses of Luke. Below is the schedule of the studies that were covered. Contact us if you would like a copy of all the studies.