the church leader.
my dear friend Gaius.
love you because we follow the truth, 2dear
friend, and I pray that all goes well for you. I hope
that you are as strong in body, as I know you are in
spirit. 3It makes me very happy when the
Lord's followers come by and speak openly of how you obey
the truth. 4Nothing brings me greater
happiness than to hear that my children are obeying the
friend, you have always been faithful in helping other
followers of the Lord, even the ones you didn't know
before. 6They have told the church about your
love. They say you were good enough to welcome them and
to send them on their mission in a way that God's
servants deserve. 7When they left to tell
others about the Lord, they decided not to accept help
from anyone who wasn't a follower. 8We must
support people like them, so that we can take part in
what they are doing to spread the truth.
wrote to the church. But Diotrephes likes to be the
number-one leader, and he won't pay any attention to us. 10So
if I come, I will remind him of how he has been attacking
us with gossip. Not only has he been doing this, but he
refuses to welcome any of the Lord's followers who come
by. And when other church members want to welcome them,
he puts them out of the church.
friend, don't copy the evil deeds of others! Follow the
example of people who do kind deeds. They are God's
children, but those who are always doing evil have never
speaks well of Demetrius, and so does the true message
that he teaches. I also speak well of him, and you know
what I say is true.
have much more to say to you, but I don't want to write
it with pen and ink. 14I hope to see you soon,
and then we can talk in person.
pray that God will bless you with peace!
friends send their greetings. Please give a personal
greeting to each of our friends.
Ezra Comes to Jerusalem
Ezra 7 1-6Much
later, when Artaxerxes was king of Persia, Ezra came to
Jerusalem from Babylonia. Ezra was the son of Seraiah and
the grandson of Azariah. His other ancestors were
Hilkiah, Shallum, Zadok, Ahitub, Amariah, Azariah,
Meraioth, Zerahiah, Uzzi, Bukki, Abishua, Phinehas,
Eleazar, and Aaron, the high priest.
was an expert in the Law that the LORD
God of Israel had given to Moses, and the LORD
made sure that the king gave Ezra everything he asked
Jews, including priests, Levites, musicians, the temple
guards, and servants, came to Jerusalem with Ezra. This
happened during the seventh year that Artaxerxes was
helped Ezra, and he arrived in Jerusalem on the first day
of the fifth month of that seventh year, after leaving
Babylonia on the first day of the first month. 10Ezra
had spent his entire life studying and obeying the Law of
the LORD and teaching it to others.
Artaxerxes Gives a Letter to
was a priest and an expert in the laws and commands that
the LORD had given to Israel. One
day King Artaxerxes gave Ezra a letter which said:
12Greetings from the
great King Artaxerxes to Ezra the priest and expert
in the teachings of the God of heaven.
13-14Any of the people
of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom
may go with you to Jerusalem if they want to. My
seven advisors and I agree that you may go to
Jerusalem and Judah to find out if the laws of your
God are being obeyed.
15When you go, take the
silver and gold that I and my advisors are freely
giving to the God of Israel, whose temple is in
Jerusalem. 16Take the silver and gold that
you collect from everywhere in Babylonia. Also take
the gifts that your own people and priests have so
willingly contributed for the temple of your God in
17Use the money
carefully to buy the best bulls, rams, lambs, grain,
and wine. Then sacrifice them on the altar at God's
temple in Jerusalem. 18If any silver or
gold is left, you and your people may use it for
whatever pleases your God. 19Give your God
the other articles that have been contributed for use
in his temple. 20If you need to get
anything else for the temple, you may have the money
you need from the royal treasury.
21Ezra, you are a priest
and an expert in the laws of the God of heaven, and I
order all treasurers in Western Province to do their
very best to help you. 22They will be
allowed to give as much as 7,500 pounds of silver,
500 bushels of wheat, 550 gallons of wine, 550
gallons of olive oil, and all the salt you need.
23They must provide
whatever the God of heaven demands for his temple, so
that he won't be angry with me and with the kings who
rule after me. 24We want you to know that
no priests, Levites, musicians, guards, temple
servants, or any other temple workers will have to
pay any kind of taxes.
25Ezra, use the wisdom
God has given you and choose officials and leaders to
govern the people of Western Province. These leaders
should know God's laws and have them taught to anyone
who doesn't know them. 26Everyone who
fails to obey God's Law or the king's law will be
punished without pity. They will either be executed
or put in prison or forced to leave their country, or
have all they own taken away.
Ezra Praises God
King Artaxerxes was so kind, Ezra said:
Praise the LORD God
of our ancestors! He made sure that the king honored
the LORD's temple in Jerusalem.
28God has told the king, his advisors, and
his powerful officials to treat me with kindness. The
LORD God has helped me, and I
have been able to bring many Jewish leaders back to
The Families Who Came Back with
Ezra 8 Artaxerxes
was king of Persia when I led the following chiefs of the
family groups from Babylonia to Jerusalem:
of the Phinehas family;
of the Ithamar family;
son of Shecaniah of the David family;
and 150 other men of the Parosh family, who had family
son of Zerahiah with 200 men of the Pahath Moab family;
son of Jahaziel with 300 men of the Zattu family;
son of Jonathan with 50 men of the Adin family;
son of Athaliah with 70 men of the Elam family;
son of Michael with 80 men of the Shephatiah family;
son of Jehiel with 218 men of the Joab family;
son of Josiphiah with 160 men of the Bani family;
son of Bebai with 28 men of the Bebai family;
son of Hakkatan with 110 men of the Azgad family;
Jeuel, and Shemaiah who returned sometime later with 60
men of the Adonikam family;
and Zaccur with 70 men of the Bigvai family.
Ezra Finds Levites for the
brought everyone together by the river that flows to the
town of Ahava where we camped for three days. Not one
Levite could be found among the people and priests. 16So
I sent for the leaders Eliezer, Ariel, Shemaiah,
Elnathan, Jarib, Elnathan, Nathan, Zechariah, and
Meshullam. I also sent for Joiarib and Elnathan, who were
very wise. 17Then I sent them to Iddo, the
leader at Casiphia, and I told them to ask him and his
temple workers to send people to serve in God's temple.
was kind to us and had them send a skillful man named
Sherebiah, who was a Levite from the family of Mahli.
Eighteen of his relatives came with him. 19We
were also sent Hashabiah and Jeshaiah from the family of
Merari along with twenty of their relatives. 20In
addition, 220 others came to help the Levites in the
temple. The ancestors of these workers had been chosen
years ago by King David and his officials, and they were
all listed by name.
Ezra Asks the People To Go
without Eating and To Pray
the Ahava River, I asked the people to go without eating
and to pray. We humbled ourselves and asked God to bring
us and our children safely to Jerusalem with all of our
possessions. 22I was ashamed to ask the king
to send soldiers and cavalry to protect us against
enemies along the way. After all, we had told the king
that our God takes care of everyone who truly worships
him, but that he gets very angry and punishes anyone who
refuses to obey. 23So we went without food and
asked God himself to protect us, and he answered our
The Gifts for the Temple
chose twelve of the leading priests--Sherebiah, Hashabiah
and ten of their relatives. 25-27Then I
weighed the gifts that had been given for God's temple,
and I divided them among the twelve priests I had chosen.
There were gifts of silver and gold, as well as the
articles that the king, his advisors and officials, and
the people of Israel had contributed. In all there were:
25 tons of silver; 100 silver articles weighing 150
pounds; 7,500 pounds of gold; 20 gold bowls weighing 270
ounces; and 2 polished bronze articles as valuable as
said to the priests:
You belong to the LORD,
the God of your ancestors, and these things also
belong to him. The silver and gold were willingly
given as gifts to the LORD. 29Be
sure to guard them and keep them safe until you reach
Jerusalem. Then weigh them inside God's temple in the
presence of the chief priests, the Levites, and the
heads of the Israelite families.
priests and Levites then took charge of the gifts that
had been weighed, so they could take them to the temple
of our God in Jerusalem.
The Return to Jerusalem
the twelfth day of the first month, we left the Ahava
River and started for Jerusalem. Our God watched over us,
and as we traveled along, he kept our enemies from
arriving in Jerusalem, we rested for three days. 33Then
on the fourth day we went to God's temple, where the
silver, the gold, and the other things were weighed and
given to the priest Meremoth son of Uriah. With him were
Eleazar son of Phinehas and the two Levites, Jozabad son
of Jeshua and Noadiah son of Binnui. 34Everything
was counted, weighed, and recorded.
who had returned from exile offered sacrifices on the
altar to the God of Israel. Twelve bulls were offered for
all Israel. Ninety-six rams and seventy-seven lambs were
offered on the altar. And twelve goats were sacrificed
for the sins of the people. 36Some of those
who had returned took the king's orders to the governors
and officials in Western Province. Then the officials did
what they could for the people and for the temple of God.
Punishes the Guilty
1LORD God, you punish
Show what you are like and punish them now.
judge the earth. Come and help us!
Pay back those proud people for what they have done.
long will the wicked celebrate and be glad?
of those cruel people strut and boast,
they crush and wound your chosen nation, LORD.
murder widows, foreigners, and orphans.
"The LORD God of Jacob doesn't
see or know."
you fools see? Won't you ever learn?
gave us ears and eyes! Can't he hear and see?
instructs the nations and gives knowledge to us all.
Won't he also correct us?
LORD knows how useless our plans
LORD, you bless everyone
that you instruct and teach by using your Law.
give them rest from their troubles,
until a pit can be dug for the wicked.
won't turn your back on your chosen nation.
and fairness will go hand in hand,
and all who do right will follow along.
will stand up for me against those cruel people?
you had not helped me, LORD,
would soon have gone to the land of silence.
I felt my feet slipping,
you came with your love and kept me steady.
when I was burdened with worries,
you comforted me and made me feel secure.
you are opposed to dishonest lawmakers
gang up to murder innocent victims.
LORD God, are my fortress,
that mighty rock where I am safe.
will pay back my enemies,
and you will wipe them out for the evil they did.