Tuesday, September 23, 2014

THEY LIVE Bible Study

I use film and television to teach Biblical principles and to illustrate Biblical themes and stories. Some of these Bible studies I release on Amazon, but there are some I never intend to release that way. I will be making SOME of these others available here on my blog for free.

Today I will be posting a Bible study I published using the film THEY LIVE. I've written about that film at other times on this blog, here:



To use the Bible study, you only need to watch the sections of the film that are listed, and then read the Bible passages and discussion the questions. This Bible study worked out very well and I hope you enjoy it as much as my class did. This movie is a hard "R" for violence and language, but then so is the Book of Revelation, which I kind of used the film to illustrate. So remember the rating when you think about who you might like to do this Bible study with. The film is by John Carpenter, and of course this whole thing is simply my commentary or reflection upon the film, I have no connection to the movie makers or studios behind the film, and claim no endorsement thereby.

“They Live” Bible Study


Deuteronomy 24:14-15
 You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land in one of your towns.15 You shall pay them their wages daily before sunset, because they are poor and their livelihood depends on them; otherwise they might cry to the Lord against you, and you would incur guilt.

Proverbs 19:1-7
Better the poor walking in integrity
    than one perverse of speech who is a fool.
Desire without knowledge is not good,
    and one who moves too hurriedly misses the way.
One’s own folly leads to ruin,
    yet the heart rages against the Lord.
Wealth brings many friends,
    but the poor are left friendless.
A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and a liar will not escape.
Many seek the favor of the generous,
    and everyone is a friend to a giver of gifts.
If the poor are hated even by their kin,
    how much more are they shunned by their friends!
When they call after them, they are not there.

Luke 1:46-56
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47     and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
    Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
    and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
    from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
    he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
    and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
    and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
    in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
    to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Reflect on the Bible passages in light of the film clips.

Compare the world as Carpenter sees it to the world we live in today.

What are the main problems the world is facing in the film?

The main character’s name is Nada. What is the significance of this?

What is the Welfare Office like in the film? How is Nada treated?

What are the sources of resentment towards the poor?

What are the tensions between the Deuteronomy and Proverbs passage?

What does the Luke passage tell us about the Christian attitude towards the poor?

How well are Christians living this out?

What kind of man is Nada?

What does it say that Carpenter made one of his protagonists of the poor a preacher?

How can religion both support and challenge the structures of power that the preacher was crying out against?

What kind of church is leading the revolution? What do you think of this?

Romans 3:9-18
What then? Are we any better off? No, not at all; for we have already charged that all, both Jews and Greeks, are under the power of sin, 10 as it is written:
“There is no one who is righteous, not even one;
11     there is no one who has understanding,
        there is no one who seeks God.
12 All have turned aside, together they have become worthless;
    there is no one who shows kindness,
        there is not even one.”
13 “Their throats are opened graves;
    they use their tongues to deceive.”
“The venom of vipers is under their lips.”
14     “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
15 “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
16     ruin and misery are in their paths,
17 and the way of peace they have not known.”
18     “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

2 Corinthians 4:1-15
Therefore, since it is by God’s mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God. And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. For we do not proclaim ourselves; we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. 11 For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh. 12 So death is at work in us, but life in you.
13 But just as we have the same spirit of faith that is in accordance with scripture—“I believed, and so I spoke”—we also believe, and so we speak, 14 because we know that the one who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus, and will bring us with you into his presence.15 Yes, everything is for your sake, so that grace, as it extends to more and more people, may increase thanksgiving, to the glory of God.

Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

Reflect on this quote: “They use their tongues to deceive. The venom of snakes is under their lips. Their mouths are full of bitterness and curses. And in their paths, nothing but ruin and misery, and the fear of God is not before their eyes. They have taken the hearts and minds of our leaders. They have recruited the rich and the powerful. And they have blinded us to the truth. The human spirit is corrupt. Why do we worship greed? Because outside the limit of our sights, feeding on us, perched on top of us, from birth to death are our owners.”

Reflect on this quote: “Wake up! They’re all about you, all around you.”

The woman on television talks about staring at the television and dreaming of being famous, and that is all she has to do. Reflect on this.

What functions does television play in the film so far?

How do people treat each other in the film? What is the substance of inter-personal relationships?

How do Paul’s reflections in Romans and Corinthians illuminate this?

What is the shanty town like in the film?

What does Nada’s new friend say about life and the way it works? What does Nada say about this? What do you think of this?

What does the man on the hacked signal say? What do you think of this?

Reflect on this quote: “They are safe as long as they are not detected. That is their method of survival. Keep us asleep, keep us selfish, keep us sedated.”

Reflect: “They are dismantling the sleeping middle class.”

What does the in-breaking signal do to people?

Reflect: “This world may have blinded me. But the Lord has let me see.”

What do you think of Paul’s warning that people are blinded to the truth by sin?

What does the old man say about End of the World cults? What do you think of this?

What does Frank say about his curiosity? How does Nada respond. Reflect on this.  

00:22:09- 00:42:11

2 Timothy 3:1-9
 You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them! For among them are those who make their way into households and captivate silly women, overwhelmed by their sins and swayed by all kinds of desires, who are always being instructed and can never arrive at a knowledge of the truth. As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these people, of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith, also oppose the truth. But they will not make much progress, because, as in the case of those two men,[a] their folly will become plain to everyone.

Amos 6:1-8
Alas for those who are at ease in Zion,
    and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
the notables of the first of the nations,
    to whom the house of Israel resorts!
Cross over to Calneh, and see;
    from there go to Hamath the great;
    then go down to Gath of the Philistines.
Are you better than these kingdoms?
    Or is your territory greater than their[c] territory,
O you that put far away the evil day,
    and bring near a reign of violence?
Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory,
    and lounge on their couches,
and eat lambs from the flock,
    and calves from the stall;
who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp,
    and like David improvise on instruments of music;
who drink wine from bowls,
    and anoint themselves with the finest oils,
    but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!
Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile,
    and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.
The Lord God has sworn by himself
(says the Lord, the God of hosts):
I abhor the pride of Jacob
    and hate his strongholds;
    and I will deliver up the city and all that is in it.

Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

What is it like when the Shanty Town is destroyed?

What is on the television as the people rummage through the waste of the town?

What kind of people does Amos cry ‘woe’ to?

How do we see this in our own world?

What is this all about?

Why do you think Nada goes back for the glasses?

What are some of the things that Nada sees with the glasses, what items contain what messages?

What are the writers saying with this?

How might these match up with the desires of the evil one in the Bible?

What do you think of all of this?

What does the money say on it? What do you think of this?

Reflect on all of this in light of the Timothy passage.

How does the new ability to see change the way we might look at the various conversations he hears going on around him?

Psalm 23

Matthew 4:1-11
hen Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. The tempter came and said to him, “If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.” But he answered, “It is written,
‘One does not live by bread alone,
    but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Then the devil took him to the holy city and placed him on the pinnacle of the temple, saying to him, “If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,’
    and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
so that you will not dash your foot against a stone.’”
Jesus said to him, “Again it is written, ‘Do not put the Lord your God to the test.’”
Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their splendor; and he said to him, “All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.” 10 Jesus said to him, “Away with you, Satan! for it is written,
‘Worship the Lord your God,
    and serve only him.’”
11 Then the devil left him, and suddenly angels came and waited on him.

Mark 1:21-28
They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22 They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23 Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24 and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” 25 But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” 26 And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27 They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, “What is this? A new teaching—with authority! He[m] commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” 28 At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

1 John 3:11-13
 For this is the message you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12 We must not be like Cain who was from the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous. 13 Do not be astonished, brothers and sisters,[d] that the world hates you. 

Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

Why do you think Nada is so obsessed with what is going on in the church?

How do the police function and act in the film?

How does this compare to real life?

How do they treat the Priest during the attack? What do you think of this?

What have the glasses done for and to Nada? Reflect on this?

Would you want this awareness? Why or why not?

Reflect on this quote: “it figures it would be something like this.”

Reflect on this quote: “I’ve got one that can see.”

What happens once the aliens figure out that Nada can ‘see’?

What does he learn about the police from his first encounter with them?

Reflect on this quote: “now you’ve stumbled on something here, and maybe we can all benefit from this slight misunderstanding.”

How has Nada reacted to what he has learned? What is his initial response?

What do you think of this?

What are the different ways in which demons and evil spirits deal with Jesus and those like Him in the scriptures we read?

00:42:12- 01:12:34

Hebrews 10:19-27
Therefore, my friends,[g] since we have confidence to enter the sanctuary by the blood of Jesus, 20 by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain (that is, through his flesh), 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us approach with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how to provoke one another to love and good deeds, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
26 For if we willfully persist in sin after having received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful prospect of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 
Mark 3:23-30
 And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered.
28 “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; 29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— 30 for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.”

Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

What do you think about Nada kidnapping the woman?

Is Nada being very thoughtful about his response to his new situation? Should he be?

Reflect on this quote: “what are we gonna do?...We’re gonna wait.”

What was Nada’s story about his father all about?

Why does Frank think the creatures may have always been with us?

Why is it important for Frank and Nada to find others who ‘know’?

Why do you think some Christians sought to separate themselves complete from others?

What does Hebrews say about this?

What are some of the tactics of the aliens? Of the resistance?

Reflect on people’s acquiescence to the aliens.

What do you think of Hebrews’ attitude towards willing sinners who disregard the truth?

What do the people want to do to fight the aliens, as opposed to the leaders?

What did people want Jesus to do?

What did he want to do instead, according to the Mark passage?

Compare Jesus’ attitude about blaspheming the Holy Spirit with the Hebrew writers’ attitude about willing sin?

1 Corinthians 1:18-19
 For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written,
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
    and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”

Acts 13:26-43
“My brothers, you descendants of Abraham’s family, and others who fear God, to us[e] the message of this salvation has been sent. 27 Because the residents of Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize him or understand the words of the prophets that are read every sabbath, they fulfilled those words by condemning him. 28 Even though they found no cause for a sentence of death, they asked Pilate to have him killed. 29 When they had carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a tomb. 30 But God raised him from the dead; 31 and for many days he appeared to those who came up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem, and they are now his witnesses to the people.32 And we bring you the good news that what God promised to our ancestors 33 he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising Jesus; as also it is written in the second psalm,
‘You are my Son;
    today I have begotten you.’
34 As to his raising him from the dead, no more to return to corruption, he has spoken in this way,
‘I will give you the holy promises made to David.’
35 Therefore he has also said in another psalm,
‘You will not let your Holy One experience corruption.’
36 For David, after he had served the purpose of God in his own generation, died,[f] was laid beside his ancestors, and experienced corruption; 37 but he whom God raised up experienced no corruption. 38 Let it be known to you therefore, my brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you; 39 by this Jesus[g] everyone who believes is set free from all those sins[h] from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses. 40 Beware, therefore, that what the prophets said does not happen to you:
41 ‘Look, you scoffers!
    Be amazed and perish,
for in your days I am doing a work,
    a work that you will never believe, even if someone tells you.’”
42 As Paul and Barnabas were going out, the people urged them to speak about these things again the next sabbath. 43 When the meeting of the synagogue broke up, many Jews and devout converts to Judaism followed Paul and Barnabas, who spoke to them and urged them to continue in the grace of God.

Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

How do you think he must appear to Holly?

What is the significance of the glasses making him feel ‘high’, do you think?

Reflect on this quote: “look lady, we’re in trouble, the whole world is in trouble. They’re all around us and we never knew it.”

Reflect on this quote: “if I don’t see what you see, I’m gonna see it anyway.”

How does Holly react to him in her home? What is her attitude?

Was it right for Nada to reach out to Frank? Why or why not?

Why is Frank so resistant?

Why is Nada so insistent?

Why do you think Frank offered Nada a whole week’s pay?

What do you think of the 5-minute fight scene?

Have ever wanted to just ‘beat someone into the truth’?

Do you think Paul comes off as someone who ‘beats people into the truth’? Why or why not?

Reflect on this quote: “now hold on, you’re not the first [person] to wake up out of their dream.”

Compare Nada and Frank’s situation to those Paul is talking about in 1 Corinthians and those he’s talking to in Acts.

Why do you think Frank joins Nada after ‘waking up’?

01:12:35- END

Revelation 18:9-17
And the kings of the earth, who committed fornication and lived in luxury with her, will weep and wail over her when they see the smoke of her burning; 10 they will stand far off, in fear of her torment, and say,
“Alas, alas, the great city,
    Babylon, the mighty city!
For in one hour your judgment has come.”
11 And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore, 12 cargo of gold, silver, jewels and pearls, fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet, all kinds of scented wood, all articles of ivory, all articles of costly wood, bronze, iron, and marble, 13 cinnamon, spice, incense, myrrh, frankincense, wine, olive oil, choice flour and wheat, cattle and sheep, horses and chariots, slaves—and human lives.[d]
14 “The fruit for which your soul longed
    has gone from you,
and all your dainties and your splendor
    are lost to you,
    never to be found again!”
15 The merchants of these wares, who gained wealth from her, will stand far off, in fear of her torment, weeping and mourning aloud,
16 “Alas, alas, the great city,
    clothed in fine linen,
        in purple and scarlet,
    adorned with gold,
        with jewels, and with pearls!
17 For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste!”

Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

What is the meeting of the aliens and humans like and about?

What is it like when they meet the former homeless man from the shanty town? What has become of him?

How does the man try to reason with them?  What is his argument?

What do you think of this argument?

Reflect on this quote: “we all sell out, every day, might as well be on the winning team.”

Why do the merchants mourn the destruction of the Prostitute “Babylon”?

Matthew 10:16-25
“See, I am sending you out like sheep into the midst of wolves; so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. 17 Beware of them, for they will hand you over to councils and flog you in their synagogues; 18 and you will be dragged before governors and kings because of me, as a testimony to them and the Gentiles. 19 When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given to you at that time; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. 21 Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death; 22 and you will be hated by all because of my name. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next; for truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.
24 “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master; 25 it is enough for the disciple to be like the teacher, and the slave like the master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household!
Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

What do you think of the plan to act as a spy, which the rebel leader talks about in the background as Nada and Holly meet again?

Do you think this the kind of thing Jesus was talking about in the Matthew passage? Why or why not?

What do the wrist watches represent for the aliens? For Nada and Frank?

How do you think Nada felt when he saw Holly at the meeting?

How are Nada and Frank able to manipulate their former friend from the town so easily?

Luke 22:47-53
While he was still speaking, suddenly a crowd came, and the one called Judas, one of the twelve, was leading them. He approached Jesus to kiss him; 48 but Jesus said to him, “Judas, is it with a kiss that you are betraying the Son of Man?” 49 When those who were around him saw what was coming, they asked, “Lord, should we strike with the sword?”50 Then one of them struck the slave of the high priest and cut off his right ear. 51 But Jesus said, “No more of this!” And he touched his ear and healed him. 52 Then Jesus said to the chief priests, the officers of the temple police, and the elders who had come for him, “Have you come out with swords and clubs as if I were a bandit? 53 When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness!”

Reflect on the Bible passage in light of the film clips.

What do you think of the actions of the police? Do you think this kind of thing happens in real life? Why or why not?

What does it say that the aliens attack the rebels with such force?

What does Jesus say about the force that comes to arrest him?

What does this force reveal or show about those who used it against him?

Did you figure out that Holly had betrayed them before the ending?

What is motivating Frank and Nada at this point? What have they become?

Why do you think Nada is incapable of seeing what is so obvious?

What is the cost of all of this? Is it worth it?

What have Nada and Frank accomplished by the end?

Why do you think Jesus allowed Judas to do what he did?

Reflecting on the film what should our goal ultimately be when it comes to the dark spiritual powers that threaten and oppress this world?

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