15 When one of those who reclined at table with him heard these things, he said to him, e“Blessed is everyone who will feat bread in the kingdom of God!” 16 But he said to him, g“A man once hgave a great banquet and invited many. 17 And at the time for the banquet he isent his servant1 to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’ 18 But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it. Please have me excused.’ 19 And another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused.’ 20 And another said, j‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ 21 So the servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house became angry and said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly to the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in kthe poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ 22 And the servant said, ‘Sir, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ 23 And the master said to the servant, ‘Go out to the highways and hedges and compel people to come in, that my house may be filled. 24 For I tell you,2 mnone of those men who were invited shall taste my banquet.’”
11 oTheir wives likewise1 must be dignified, not slanderers, but sober-minded, pfaithful in all things. 12 Let deacons each be qthe husband of one wife, qmanaging their children and their own households well. 13 For rthose who serve well as deacons gain a good standing for themselves and also great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus.
The Mystery of Godliness
14 I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15 if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth. 16 Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness:
tseen by angels,
uproclaimed among the nations,
vbelieved on in the world,
wtaken up in glory.
Warning Against Adultery
5 wMy son, be attentive to my wisdom;
xincline your ear to my understanding,
2 that you may keep ydiscretion,
and your lips may zguard knowledge.
5 Her feet ggo down to death;
her steps follow the path to3 Sheol;
6 she hdoes not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
7 And inow, O sons, listen to me,
and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
8 Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
9 lest you give your honor to others
and your years to the merciless,
10 lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your jlabors go to the house of a foreigner,
11 and at the end of your life you kgroan,
when your flesh and body are consumed,
12 and you say, l“How I hated discipline,
and my heart mdespised reproof!
13 I did not listen to the voice of my teachers
or incline my ear to my instructors.
14 nI am at the brink of utter ruin
in the assembled congregation.”
15 Drink owater from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
16 Should your psprings be scattered abroad,
streams of water qin the streets?
17 rLet them be for yourself alone,
and not for strangers with you.
18 Let your ofountain be blessed,
19 a lovely udeer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts vfill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated4 always in her love.
20 Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with wa forbidden woman
and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
23 cHe dies for lack of discipline,
and because of his great folly he is dled astray.
Ezra Sent to Teach the People
7 Now after this, vin the reign of vArtaxerxes king of Persia, wEzra the son of Seraiah, son of Azariah, son of Hilkiah, 2 son of Shallum, son of Zadok, son of Ahitub, 3 son of Amariah, son of Azariah, son of Meraioth, 4 son of Zerahiah, son of Uzzi, son of Bukki, 5 son of Abishua, son of Phinehas, son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the chief priest— 6 this Ezra went up from Babylonia. He was a scribe xskilled in the Law of Moses that the Lord, the God of Israel, had given, and the king granted him all that he asked, yfor the hand of the Lord his God was on him.
7 And there went up also to Jerusalem, in the seventh year of Artaxerxes the king, some of the people of Israel, and zsome of the priests and aLevites, the singers and gatekeepers, and the temple bservants. 8 And Ezra1 came to Jerusalem in the fifth month, which was in the seventh year of the king. 9 For on the first day of the first month he began to go up from Babylonia, and on the first day of the fifth month he came to Jerusalem, cfor the good hand of his God was on him. 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it dand to eteach his statutes and rules in Israel.
11 This is a copy of the letter that King Artaxerxes gave to Ezra the priest, the scribe, a man learned in matters of the commandments of the Lord and his statutes for Israel: 12 “Artaxerxes, fking of kings, to Ezra the priest, the gscribe of the Law of the God of heaven. Peace.2 hAnd now 13 iI make a decree that anyone of the people of Israel or their priests or Levites in my kingdom, who freely offers to go to Jerusalem, may go with you. 14 For you are sent by the king jand his seven counselors to make inquiries about Judah and Jerusalem according to the Law of your God, which is in your hand, 15 and also to carry the silver and gold that the king jand his counselors have freely offered to the God of Israel, kwhose dwelling is in Jerusalem, 16 lwith all the silver and gold that you shall find in the whole province of Babylonia, and mwith the freewill offerings of the people and the priests, vowed willingly for the house of their God that is in Jerusalem. 17 With this money, then, you shall with all diligence buy bulls, rams, and lambs, with their grain offerings and their drink offerings, and nyou shall offer them on the altar of the house of your God that is in Jerusalem. 18 Whatever seems good to you and your brothers to do with the rest of the silver and gold, you may do, according to the will of your God. 19 The vessels that have been given you for the service of the house of your God, you shall deliver before the God of Jerusalem. 20 And whatever else is required for the house of your God, which it falls to you to provide, you may provide it out of the king’s treasury.
21 “And I, Artaxerxes the king, make a decree to all the treasurers in the province Beyond the River: Whatever Ezra the priest, the scribe of the Law of the God of heaven, requires of you, let it be done with all diligence, 22 up to 100 talents3 of silver, 100 cors4 of wheat, 100 baths5 of wine, 100 baths of oil, and salt without prescribing how much. 23 Whatever is decreed by the God of heaven, let it be done in full for the house of the God of heaven, lest his wrath be against the realm of the king and his sons. 24 We also notify you that it shall not be lawful to impose otribute, custom, or toll on anyone of the priests, the Levites, the singers, the doorkeepers, the temple servants, or other servants of this house of God.
25 “And you, Ezra, according to the wisdom of your God that is in your hand, pappoint magistrates and judges who may judge all the people in the province Beyond the River, all such as know the laws of your God. qAnd those who do not know them, you shall teach. 26 Whoever will not obey the law of your God and the law of the king, let judgment be strictly executed on him, whether for death or for banishment or for confiscation of his goods or for imprisonment.”
27 rBlessed be the Lord, the God of our fathers, swho put such a thing as this into the heart of the king, to beautify the house of the Lord that is in Jerusalem, 28 tand who extended to me his steadfast love before the king and his counselors, and before all the king’s mighty officers. I took courage, for the hand of the Lord my God was on me, and I gathered leading men from Israel to go up with me.